Pipe dream projects – part 2

Debunking Microsoft Extended BASIC for C64 (part 2)

When we responded to part 1 of these posts, the author was talking about producing his own extended BASIC for the C64 so our title was “pipe dream projects” since your correspondent felt that the author would fail to get anywhere. The second post in the series completely skips over why the author has got nowhere in the last half a year.

The crappy Commodore BASIC V2 interpreter could be copied from ROM to RAM and modified to look out for these characters, then go to a new routine to deal with them. One method is to rewrite an error vector to point to your new code, but of course I have no real idea how this is done.

If the author has “no real idea” he shouldn’t be attempting to “educate” his readers on the subject based on web-found information and guesswork. We have to pause for a moment dear reader to note that around six months ago the author announced that he was going to work on a C64 BASIC extension, developing “each command as a separate routine, then make them into yet another extended BASIC” which begs questions as to why he apparently still doesn’t understand what he’s talking about six months down the line from starting that project

Other alternative BASICs, such as Simons’ BASIC and Laser BASIC totally replace Commodore BASIC V2, not requiring their commands to be prefixed by any special characters, but Simons’ BASIC keeps the Commodore abbreviations for commands, while Laser BASIC doesn’t. Some extended BASICs for the C64, such as Applesoft BASIC on http://c64warez.com/files/browse/Basic/Extensions , don’t require special characters, but don’t totally replace Commodore BASIC V2, because the Commodore abbreviated commands still work.

So dear reader, according to the author’s “logic” AppleSoft BASIC doesn’t “totally replace Commodore BASIC V2” because the abbreviated commands still work but Simons BASIC which “totally replace[s] Commodore BASIC V2” but also supports abbreviated commands.

I was pleasantly surprised, or even shocked when I recently found and downloaded a copy of something called “GWBASIC VER 1.0” by Mariani G & Sorgato F on the website http://commodore64.wikispaces.com/Programming+Languages . This enables people to program computers even if they’re not good at maths. I demand this right!

This is the problem with the author’s entire “argument” since day one dear reader, the arrogant demanding of “rights” that aren’t his to claim in the first place. The equivalent would be coming first in the egg and spoon race during a school sports day and demanding the right to be classed as an athlete; yes you’ve done something sporty but it takes years of training to reach that level of ability.[1]

Computers are designed to compute (the clue is right there in the name) which Dictionary.com defines as being to “determine by calculation”, so the author shouldn’t be surprised to find that programming involves mathematics even if he personally feels it shouldn’t. He similarly fails to understand that, even with the ability to draw a line on the C64’s bitmapped screen with one of these extended BASICs, he hasn’t magically become a programmer in the process because there’s a lot more required to write an actual, useful program.

If the author wants to program a C64 without needing much in the way of maths, why doesn’t he simply look at the features like string handling that don’t require it rather than trying to head up the particular programming cul-de-sac he’s fixating on?

According to the details listed, it’s been there since September 2009, but I’ve found out it was originally created in 1987!

In other words, it falls outside of the author’s 1984-1985 window so is irrelevant; once more the author is wasting everybody’s time even by going quite a distance off topic.

Further investigation revealed that it was originally released by an Italian company called Systems or Systems something who produced Commodore 64 specialist magazines such as “Commodore Computer Club” which were actually in Italian! This means TMR thinks they’re “totally irrelevant”. Not only that, but I found this out, as well as news of their MS-DOS simulator from http://www.c64-wiki.de/index.php/MS-DOS_Simulator , a page which is written in German, so that makes it even more irrelevant, as far as TMR is concerned!

And yes, they are indeed irrelevant because the author wouldn’t have been able to access this information during his self-imposed, UK-based 1984-1985 window. As noted previously, this irrelevance is nothing to do with your correspondent or indeed the language the information has been presented indespite what the author might claim; it was he who laid down the restriction when stating that he was “trying to limit [his] blog to the period early 1984 to April 1985” which automatically negates anything that wouldn’t have been available to him at that time.[2]

In these cases your correspondent is merely pointing out when the author goes “off topic” because the author apparently isn’t honest enough to do it himself; this blog isn’t bound by those rules of course, so can discuss these topics and indeed others completely outside the author’s defined scope should your correspondent find them interesting.

Now it looks like people reading this can have all the fun of typing in lots of GW BASIC listings, such as for the IBM PC and the short lived IBM PC Jr (which was killed off partly by biased Commodore ads) from books, as well as for these and the Tandy “Coco” from “Compute!” magazine, and even Dragon/Tandy “Coco” BASIC listings from INPUT magazine with slight modifications!

Your correspondent fails to see how typing IBM PC or Tandy CoCo listings is “fun” and wonders how many the author has actually typed for himself to be able to offer credence to this claim. We shall, considering his current track record, assume that he didn’t type any full programs in and is just guessing at least until a disk image of programs which can be verified as the author’s work is produced to prove otherwise dear reader.

The changes you need to make include multiplying or dividing the screen coordinates, as well as replacing the Tandy/Dragon PRINT@[n] with LOCATE [y,x]:PRINT , but I’m not sure what other alterations may be needed at the moment. PMODE n,n and PCLS are commands I never read in MSX BASIC listings, and they don’t work in this implementation of GWBASIC for the C64 either. Obviously, PEEKs and POKEs for Dragon, Tandy, and PCs won’t work with GWBASIC for the C64.

To paraphrase, there are some significant differences and could be even more vast differences there, but the author hasn’t put anywhere near the appropriate research in to be in a position to properly explain what those differences actually are with any clarity.

This is also another demonstration of how incompatibility between various dialects of BASIC can be a hindrance to learning, even in the cases where they have similar commands; it’s all very well if you know there’s a difference and have the knowledge to adapt the listing, but that cannot be assumed with newly-minted BASIC programmers and just blindly entering programs for a different dialect of BASIC will be a frustrating and fruitless experience.

[1] Similarly, your correspondent can read a little German which was picked up in passing by dealing with C64 software and people; this doesn’t give him any right to claim that someone simplify the German language so he can claim to be fluent and he isn’t arrogant enough to expect otherwise.

[2] Your correspondent assumes that the author originally did this to prevent programs released after 1985 from blowing his entire, pathetic “argument” completely out of the water, so it would be hideously hypocritical of him to use those same programs to back up something he was saying, wouldn’t it dear reader?

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