unbibium: (animated pacman)

import math

def cbm2float(e, m):
    if m==0:
        return 0
    m2 = (1 + ((m & 0x7FFFFFFF) / 0x80000000))
    e2 = (2 ** (e-129))
    print (m2, e2)
    if m & 0x80000000:
        return -(m2 * e2)
    else:
        return m2 * e2

def float2cbm(f):
    if f == 0: return (0, 0)
    e = int(math.log(f, 2))
    e2 = e + 129
    m2 = int(((f / (2 ** e))-1)  * 0x80000000) 
    if f < 0:
        return (e2, m2 + 0x80000000)
    else:
        return (e2, m2)

print(cbm2float(0x84, 0x20000000))
print("%x %x" % float2cbm(10))

print("PI in the C64 rom is at AEA8: $82,$49,$0F,$DA,$A1")
print("PI found by this program is: %x %x" % float2cbm(math.pi))
unbibium: (future self)
I have in my possession, 8-bit computers that are over 25 years old.

I have actually a massive collection in my parents' garage, twenty miles away. But I also have a fair amount cluttering up my apartment. Specifically, I have a complete working Atari 800XL with Atari 1050 disk drive, and a Commodore 64 with a 1541 disk drive. I grew up with both of these setups. I also have a monitor that works with both computers.

Now, I have the usual excuses for keeping them that collectors tend to have. But there's a unique one, in addition to all that.

Jason Scott made a BBS documentary, and I want there to be a BBS movie.

But, I have to accept that I can't make a movie, nor can I persuade someone else to start making one. I can write one or two scenes in a script, but that's about it. And, indeed, making a movie set in the 1980s is probably impossible for a low-budget movie anyway, considering how much has changed visually in the intervening decades. But one thing you'd need, that would probably cost a lot if you had to do it from scratch, is a pile of 1980s technology.

I can't seem to work up the will to throw this away. But I can't help but wonder if it would not only free up space in my apartment, but also space in my mind for other, better dreams.
unbibium: (Default)
For some reason, I have the overwhelming urge to sink dozens of dollars into upgrading and modding my Atari 800XL.

Half of it stems on what it would look like on my big-screen TV once I got the S-Video cable working.

I even bought an AtariWriter cartridge. That can only become useful if I get a dot-matrix printer.

mess sucks

Aug. 8th, 2008 01:50 pm
unbibium: (Default)
It's not computers that suck, it's open source.

I downloaded MESS, which is far from an abandoned project. It emulates old computers. I figure, why download a million emulators, when I can just download one?

Except, it takes over your whole keyboard, so that you can type on the emulated computer. Which means there's no way to quit. So I've got a $1000 computer that is displaying the BASIC interpreter for an old Galaksija machine from somewhere behind the Iron Curtain, and it won't stop until I reboot the machine.

So I use my laptop to go look up the docs. I don't find any. Or at least any useful ones. I see lots of change logs, boasting of new and obscure machines being added to MESS's repertoire, and a lot of pointers to MAME documentation, because they're on the same code base or something. Even the archive with MESS in it, has a "mame.txt" but no "mess.txt", even though the "readme.txt" talks about a "mess.txt". There's a FAQ, but my problem isn't in there.

Some Googling reveals someone else who's frustrated about how he can't use MESS nor find a decent GUI to get around in it. In that thread, someone responds that the "help" key is the one that's supposed to get you back to your own machine. And the initial poster says that's great, but modern Macs don't come with a "help" key.

That thread was written in 2006. It's 2008 now, and the default key hasn't changed to a key that still exists.

I wonder if I could fix this in the source, and be a hero to anyone who hasn't totally just given up by this point. Not worth it...

In the background, this whole time, the TV was on to NBC. "Last Comic Standing" was doing its finale, and "America's Got Talent" was taking an hour and a half to tell each individual act whether or not they were eliminated. Which meant a solid three hours of reality show result-vamping. You've seen it. "I'm sorry, but.... you MADE IT TO THE SEMIFINALS!" And close-up on the crying performer as the music swells. I'd have changed the channel but I was too busy leafing through readme's.
unbibium: (Default)
Most Mac software you download is super-easy to install. You download a DMG file, open it, and drag whatever's in it to your Applications folder. Boom, done.

Unless you're downloading an open-source project, like MAME or MESS or GIMP.

Then you have to install X11, and then upgrade X11 beyond the one that comes with Apple, and then download LibSDL, which doesn't tell you what directory to install in. It's actually harder than installing stuff in Windows.

I'm sick of computers.
unbibium: (Default)
Someone on eBay is selling this, which is awesome not just because it's an Atari 130XE, but also because it was used to "roll script" on a cable TV channel somewhere, and has had hardware modifications to that end. I will now geek out for several paragraphs.

I used to love when the TV Guide channel would crash and you'd see an Amiga error message blinking over the commercials on the top half of the screen, while some random satellite channels scrolled up the bottom half of the screen. This was back when an entire half of the screen's real estate was dedicated to program listings, and not just the bottom third. Or what is it by now?

I remember being in upstate New York, back in 1992, and seeing their TV listings channel, and it was clearly powered by an Atari computer. Not only can I recognize that font from a mile away, it took me 2 seconds to find the letter on that page that was wrong. (The "J" should have no hint of a serif, despite the extra-wide ones on the "I".) It was almost as cool as the time I was watching Russian news on C-Span, and the timecode at the top of the screen was in that font. And that was almost as cool as the Pontiac commercial based on the Atari version of Spy Hunter, where all the text, including the fine-print disclaimer, was in that font.

I'd love to see what it does, but I'd certainly not be able to figure out the hardware without having my hardware-savvy friends come over and look at it on my behalf. And he might not get it working at all, and if he did, I might not be able to use it for any purpose at all...

But if it came with the software, it just might be worth it anyway.

got a Mac

Jun. 21st, 2008 05:13 pm
unbibium: (Default)
I just bought an iMac, and I'm carrying it home on the bus.

Why a Mac when PC's are cheaper? Better OS, and I'm tired of building my own and upgrading piece by piece. Games aren't a huge priority, except Spore, which has a Mac version.

Why an iMac instead of a Mac Mini? My big 19-inch CRT is getting a little blurry. Still good for TV shows but not much else.

Why a new computer at all? I wanna code, and do video. And dabbling in Mac programming may be good for my career.

If I'd kept up on all the new hardware standards, I'd do what [livejournal.com profile] jecook is doing and build my own custom PC from scratch, and make it look really cool. But I haven't, so I have to buy something I didn't build, that already looks cool to start with.

PC dead

Apr. 13th, 2008 01:21 pm
unbibium: (Default)
My computer died. It's not detecting my hard drives, in much the same way it's not detecting my DVD burner for the last year or so, in that maybe it'll fix itself for a few hours at a time. But I'm done with this beast, and I'm putting it out to pasture.

Now, what to replace it? Store-bought PC, home-built PC, or Mac?

[livejournal.com profile] jecook talked to me recently about the best deals for components at Newegg, and it sounds like it would be cheaper for me to get a pre-built machine from Dell and add my old hard drives to it. Both options are cheaper than switching to a Mac, unless you factor in the cost of a new monitor to replace this CRT that's getting blurry.

I sometimes wonder if I should just make this many-years-old iBook my primary machine for the next year or so. It's not like I'm doing rocket science when I get home. But maybe that's because my old shitbox wouldn't let me do anything fun without billowing smoke, and a new PC will jumpstart my programming career. Maybe I'll start editing mashup videos, even.

dammit

Jan. 16th, 2008 09:35 am
unbibium: (Default)
So how come when I don't own Apple stock, he announces the iPhone, but when I do own Apple stock, he announces a laptop that's twice as expensive but slower and has no CD-ROM drive, and you can't buy your own battery for it, even if it is really thin.

But if Steve Jobs says that people will pay a $700 premium for a super-thin laptop, maybe they will.
unbibium: (Default)
This demo played in stores in 1982.

unbibium: (Default)
OK, got my desktop computer set back up. Where's my mouse?

I remember throwing away a lot of extra mice in the move. Maybe even a trackball. Too bad.
unbibium: (Default)
The nc utility, a "damn useful little backend utility" begun 950915 or thereabouts, as *Hobbit*'s first real stab at some sockets programming. Something that should have and indeed may have existed ten years ago, but never became a standard Unix utility. IMHO, nc could take its place right next to cat, cp, rm, mv, dd, ls, and all those other cryptic and Unix-like things.
Funny I've spent three years at DeVry, and three years before that dicking around with shell scripts, and never learned of netcat. Much like Forth, it's something I wish I knew about and could explore, back when my mind was still young and plsatic.
unbibium: (future_self)
I've always been a late adopter when it comes to OS's.

That means I get to skip over the version that spreads worms all over the Internet and go straight to the version that works. Windows 95a? Windows 98 first edition? Windows XP pre-SP2? I dodged all those bullets. In fact, I never got around to upgrading to XP.

And this time, I'm dodging the Vista version with all the DRM that makes the system break itself if you look at it wrong. It could be an exaggeration, or maybe not, so I'll let the rest of the suckers settle all that. See you in two service packs.

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