The author fails to understand the autistic spectrum (again)

Debunking Debunking “The author fails to understand the autistic spectrum”

TMR, who I have come to the conclusion is a swot, a maths whiz, and on the autistic spectrum, who also runs the blog http://www.c64crapdebunk.wordpress.com has recently had the cheek to debunk some more of my cutting exposés of the Commodore 64, so here’s my reply to him!

A swot is defined as “a student who studies assiduously, especially to the exclusion of other activities or interests” so, whilst this would be positive and almost aspirational, it doesn’t describe your correspondent who did pretty much the opposite whilst at school and continues to bounce around between different interests to this day. And he really can’t be described a “maths whiz” either, in part because of that constant shifting of interests; he instead picks up concepts in his own time as and when they’re required for specific programming projects but that need doesn’t arise often.

As to if your correspondent is on the autistic spectrum… well that’s something of a grey area generally because the spectrum itself covers enough ground that anybody reading this may well be on it without actually realising (there are, apparently, a significant number of undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome sufferers out there) but the “short” answer is that your correspondent was suspected of having Asperger’s a few years ago and the results from various tests were negative so, whilst that can’t be considered a definitive answer, the chances are pretty low.

We have to assume, dear reader, that the author is using self-referential sarcasm because the level of self-important arrogance required for him to believe that either misunderstanding or deliberately misrepresenting web-found “knowledge“ in the way he does would count as “cutting exposés” would be completely off the scale. The author is right about one thing in that sentence at least, your correspondent does indeed run this blog.

Of course, there was no reason for me to post any publicity artwork for the film “Rain Man”, or to doctor it with a PC graphics editor which converts graphics to C64 formats, so I didn’t. I just decided to choose any graphic at all which represented the film “Rain Man”.

The author included a mocked up NES title screen for a fictional Rain Man game and, since the NES itself falls outside of the author’s 1984-1985 in the UK window (the European release of the NES was 1986), your correspondent merely took it upon himself to provide something appropriate since the author was apparently incapable of doing so.

Autism and its related skills of remembering lists of long numbers, such as phone numbers, or memory locations on the Commodore 64 is at least one explanation of how SOME people could manage to program the C64 in BASIC.

It’s merely a theory at this point, without any proof it holds less water than a sieve.

Of course, there’s no way of knowing how many C64 owners are or were autistic. I never said there was!

And your correspondent didn’t claim that the author had said that either, but there was false logic presented and that was debunked as such.

The Atari computers were supplied with Atari BASIC, which largely supported their hardware, but unfortunately they lacked commands for sprites, normally called “Player Missile Graphics” by Atari.

They could, however, be accessed by POKE and PEEK commands which are to memory mapped registers; the specific locations might vary, but the base address for those registers is 53248 just like the C64 so anything the author has or will say about the C64 in that respect also directly applies to the Atari even if he’s too hypocritical to admit it.

A lot of type in Atari BASIC games, especially in a certain book, actually used a standard sequence of a few POKEs and other commands to redefine some of the characters instead of using Player Missile Graphics. After this, these characters could be used with the truly amazing Atari BASIC commands POSITION X,Y:PRINT , as well as LOCATE X,Y,C to detect them. Some more news about this technique will be posted in this blog in the near future.

This is, of course, a major misdirection from the author since characters printed to the screen have nowhere near the functionality of hardware sprites and it doesn’t fix the problem of them not being supported from BASIC at all. And we have to pause and note that the author has just pointed out another place where POKEs are needed within the Atari 8-bit’s BASIC, saving your correspondent the trouble.

We will, dear reader, look forward to seeing the blog post about the topic to demonstrate more clearly where the differences lie.

I first had the facility of a land line phone which could store numbers in 1990, so only 6 years after my C64 trauma, when I got a BT Venue 24E. My Mum’s phone number was 11 digits when I phoned her from London, but so were some other numbers which were actually in London.

And yet the author apparently struggled to remember a similarly small cluster of mere five digit numbers. Again, this is hypocrisy on his part and actually debunks his own arguments. Since we’re on the subject of telephones and remembering sequences of numbers, here’s a cover of Night Of Nights on a Japanese phone just because your correspondent likes it:

“The number you have dialed has not been recognised.”

As I’ve mentioned previously, a good way to remember numbers is with an ancient Greco/Roman memory system where each number stands for a particular letter or choice of similar letters or sounds. […] To help you remember these letters, you can use the sequence or words tea, Noah, May, ray, law, jaw, key, fee, pea. Unfortunately, a lot of C64 memory locations in decimal start with the numbers 532, which stand for LMN, so this system doesn’t help much with C64 BASIC V2.

So because this one specific method doesn’t work that’s somehow a black mark against the C64 but, hypocritically, not the Atari 8-bit even though the POKEs start with the same three digits. Obviously the problem lies more with the memory system dear reader, it can’t be a particularly “good way to remember numbers” when it can fail in some real world situations.

And we have, of course, already dealt with the issue of remembering registers but the author is willfully ignoring said information despite it’s ubiquitous nature, presumably because removes yet another of his poor excuses.

I think this is also how the site http://www.lemon64.com got its name.

And here’s some more proof of the author doesn’t do his research properly; Lemon 64 and its sister site Lemon Amiga both have the statement “Made in Sweden by Kim Lemon at the bottom of the homepage (your correspondent’s emphasis) so the domain names are obviously unrelated to the aforementioned memory system.

So, to sum up, some people managed to program the Commodore 64 just because they were autistic. This means that people who couldn’t program it can now have a good night’s sleep instead of worrying why they failed!

We have to note dear reader that the author is obviously still losing sleep thirty years after the fact and two years into running his blog. And this “logic” makes very little sense anyway; even if we completely fabricate a figure and assume that 1% of C64 programmers were autistic that still leaves the remaining 99% who learnt without the “aid” of autism to give the author a truly ridiculous number of reasons to lose sleep, including your correspondent.

[1] As noted previously this doesn’t apply in the same way with the Atari 8-bit since it requires more POKEs than the C64 to relocate sprites vertically; there’s no Y register and each sprite instead has 128 or 256 bytes of definition data (depending on the mode selected) with the object being drawn in at the appropriate height. This means that for a sixteen pixel high square object, there are a maximum of thirty two POKEs required to move it vertically compared to just one POKE on the C64.

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