SINs of the father

Debunking Debunking “Irrelevance from the author”

TMR has basically said that the impressive, technical, German magazine 64’er was totally irrelevant because it was in German and not even available in Britain in 1984-1985.

The author’s blog is supposedly about learning to program the C64 in Britain between those two years[1] so, since 64’er wasn’t available to purchase over the counter nationwide during that time period, it is indeed irrelevant.

I pointed out that I thought the lack of availability of 64’er magazine in Britain was due to “language censorship and lack of distribution”.

And as noted previously, it wasn’t down to language censorship; market forces were to blame and, although there are exceptions, we similarly didn’t see British Atari 8-bit magazines making it to shop shelves the USA or Australian C64 magazines popping up in WH Smiths here as well – there’s no “language censorship” there. Magazine distribution is expensive, it’s far cheaper to just make a local magazine rather than import from another country, especially before the Channel Tunnel made getting goods from mainland Europe to the UK easier.

Of course, this was years before I got a Commodore 64 and I hadn’t actually heard the titles of any C64 magazines published in Germany. I didn’t know there was any point me trying to get hold of them either, so I just pored over the official Commodore books, as well as British Commodore magazines, but it was far worse than trying to do geometry!

The same books and magazines that many others successfully learnt from.

A truly amazing couple of POKEs and a SYS call were published in 64’er issue 08/84 on P105, in a section called “Tips & Tricks”. This was by someone called Michael Keukert, who showed how to position the C64 text cursor VERTICALLY, as well as horizontally, which almost every other computer could do from BASIC without resorting to POKEs, or extracting cursor down control codes from a string.

There were similar tricks in UK magazines, clearly demonstrating that the author simply didn’t look very hard in 1984 or 1985.

I’ve now found out that POKE 1,53 sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t work. If you type POKE 1,53 immediately after starting up in C64 mode, then the screen freezes, and the “READY.” prompt doesn’t reappear, but if you first of all give the roundabout DIRECTORY substitute command LOAD”$”,8 , or load a BASIC program first, then POKE 1,53 doesn’t work!

It’s not supposed to be done from BASIC since the process turns off BASIC when it’s in the process of dealing with a command. Random results shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise in those circumstances, it’s the equivalent of a stage hypnotist persuading someone that they can’t read halfway through a paragraph of text.

The magazine 64’er actually published the 1541 disk drive fast loader Hypra Load, so it had a lot of publicity, but I don’t remember similar listings in any Commodore 64 magazine I read. Of course, I couldn’t have used them because I didn’t own a disk drive.

As noted previously there were fastloaders available as type ins or “peer to peer” between users and user groups, as well as commercial products and handy menu programs that fast loaded a selected program such as No Blocks Boot. The author not having a disk drive means that he won’t have been aware of these programs or how they were distributed so his thoughts on the entire topic can safely be ignored.

A short program I adapted from a 64’er SIN curve program draws a straight line across the screen in BASIC V2. I never ever managed to adapt the Commodore 64 Programmers’ Reference Guide program which drew series of dots as a SIN curve to do anything else except SIN curves, obviously because that program was as clear as mud!

Assuming this is the program which is documented around page 126 or thereabouts in the Programmer’s Reference Guide, the part that the author is struggling with is line 60 which, confusingly, uses a variable called Y to represent the Y position of the pixel it’s about to plot. Whilst this proves to be “clear as mud” to the author, anybody sensible will merely try changing that line to read 60 Y=100 and find the program has drawn a line across their screen.

[1] “Supposedly” because the author is constantly attempting to push his personal version of events as the norm when they’re patently not.


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