Reviews of “reviews”

Debunking Commodore 64 book reviews

The author is apparently in a somewhat bookish mood and has, despite his very poor knowledge of programming and some surprisingly weak language skills, decided to enlighten his readers with “reviews” a couple of books. To be completely honest, most of the author’s dribblings appear to be based on just a skim read at best and simply aren’t worth the effort of responding to (although declaring an entire book to be a “sick joke” because it didn’t do something the way he personally felt it should is pretty moronic even by his standards) so we’ll skip most of the guff to just point ant laugh at the “best” bits.

According to Commodore this book is supposed to be more or less the Bible of programming the Commodore 64, but I’ve found it doesn’t live up to that description.

The C64 Programmer’s Reference Guide has an introduction which contains the sentence “this REFERENCE GUIDE  is not designed to teach the BASIC programming language or 6502 machine language” (their emphasis) so most of the author’s comments about this book are a failure on his part to actually read or at least comprehend what the book is actually for.

Sprites are also covered, including one shaped like a hot air balloon, as well as another one of a dancing mouse. Unfortunately, after going over these listings in detail, I have no real idea how they work.

And yet other people managed to understand sprites from the exact same text, so we have to assume the fault lies with the reader.

There are a lot of numbers representing memory locations given. These numbers are in decimal, as well as Hexadecimal, as used in Assembly Language/Machine Code, but not accepted in Commodore BASIC V2!

Again, this is a reference guide so the hex numbers are present for more advanced readers who aren’t using BASIC; the point is clearly made in the introduction once more where it notes that “the PROGRAMMER’S REFERENCE GUIDE is designed so that everyone from the beginning BASIC programmer to the professional experienced in 6502 machine language can get information to develop his or her own creative programs” (again, their emphasis).

In short, I wonder what the authors of this book were on when they wrote it?

Since he has missed the purpose of the book, the only person who should be asked about substance abuse is the author.

Next we have his half-formed opinion of Secrets of the Commodore 64:

There are none of the usual Commodore control characters embedded in PRINT statements. Instead of this, the authors have used the PETSCII/ASCII codes for those characters, then put them into FOR…NEXT loops. You can even set the X and Y positions of characters to be printed!

The PETSCII values the author is referring to equate to those same embedded control characters, so the author’s painful lack of understanding is showing again.

If you don’t feel like typing in all that pure Machine Code using a BASIC loader, then you can send off for a cassette priced at £4.95. It’s a pity the program was listed in Assembly Language as well, complete with comments.

Presumably the author means that it’s a pity the program wasn’t listed in assembly language… and giving a commented listing would be useless information for the readers the book was aimed at.

In conclusion, the author claims that his “reviews are written as if they’d been done in 1984” but if anybody had actually tried to submit something this biased, badly researched and poorly written they would have been unceremoniously fired.

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