What tinfoil hat? The author’s forgotten his!

Debunking What graphics screen?! I’m a Commodore PET!!

TMR has made a stupid debunk of my last post, ignoring the fact that MSX BASIC is totally superior to Commodore BASIC V2, so I won’t waste my time de debunking it.

From previous experience dear reader we’ll just assume that the author couldn’t come up with a suitable answer to the issues raised and, as he’s done on several occasions, is merely trying to avoid responding entirely; the inference that your correspondent is somehow making a statement about MSX BASIC by not specifically commenting on it is merely a poor attempt to draw his reader’s attention away from the aforementioned misdirection.

I plan to make a few posts which will create a spectacular finale on this blog soon, because my life is in danger! Lots of other people’s lives are in danger as well. It’s all to do with some nasty people trying to make more money. If I could do a bit of White Hat hacking, then that would save my life, but that’s something I never managed to get into, probably because of how the C64 fiasco damaged my confidence, as well as my Dad saying “You’re not plugging any MODEM into my PHONE!!” If I manage to survive, then the next few posts could turn out to be a cliffhanger or lead to some even more spectacular revelations instead of a finale, though.

Or those nice men in white coats might turn up with the special jacket that makes him cuddle himself…

Your correspondent is assuming that the author is rather poorly trying to “drum up trade” here in the misguided belief that he won’t end up coming across like one of those ridiculous people who adamantly insist that Paul McCartney is dead because there are “clues” on the cover of Abbey Road. There have been some insinuations on this blog that the author is a more than few sandwiches short of a picnic in the past but the quoted paragraph does that far better on its own.

As for hacking, the C64 was a reasonably common machine in those circles and some of the “big names” used one with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange being a surprisingly relevant example considering ranting at the start of the post we’re examining[1]. Hacking is something of a “calling” for most of the people doing it, a need to explore outside the boundaries of “the system” (although what that equates to varies somewhat) and something that won’t be stopped merely by an authority figure such as a parent saying “no”. The reason the author can’t hack is, once more, that he hasn’t put in the time or effort required to learn how and this failing can’t be laid at the C64’s door.

Previously I thought I should tell you about an amazing sequence of Commodore 64 POKEs I’ve found, which can return the C64 from the graphics screen to the text screen without clearing it, so that users can read an error message printed as a series of coloured blocks when a graphics program crashes!

It has, apparently, taken three decades since he owned a C64 and three years of his sad little bash blog before the author finally managed to work out that, if one set of POKE commands sets up the video registers, that another set of POKE commands can revert them. Can we just pause for a few moments dear reader to dwell on that because your correspondent is slightly lost for words at this revelation. It demonstrates a level of sheer ignorance that is far worse than previously expected by quite a distance! It isn’t far removed from multiplying five and three to get fifteen but being surprised that dividing by three again gets you back to five.

I recently spoke to a former Spectrum user who said something like he tried to or actually did overcome the Spectrum attribute colour bleed using Z80 Assembly Language. Some people have actually succeeded in doing this, but I’m not sure when they did it.

It’s misleading on the author’s part to say it overcomes the colour clash since the effect is reduced but still very much present, but the technique is often referred to on the Spectrum as “rainbow processing”, with the first example your correspondent being aware of being the colour effect on the title page of 1986 release Uridium. It works by constantly rewriting the colour attribute RAM line by line whilst the screen is being drawn and this trick is quite well documented online with a couple of engines being freely available for coders to use so your correspondent would be surprised that anyone writing about 8-bit programming hadn’t across this previously unless they hadn’t researched the subject beforehand.

I must point out that before even running this program “Your 64” magazine said you must relocate BASIC by typing the following in direct mode…

POKE 642,64:POKE 44,64:POKE 16384,0:NEW

I think this is to lower the top of RAM available to BASIC.

It’s moving the bottom of BASIC RAM upwards so the bitmapped screen can exist below that point at 8192; if the author had tried actually using the C64 Programmer’s Reference Guide for the purpose it was intended to look up what those POKEs do he would have known that but, as we’ve come to expect dear reader, he’s making uneducated guesses rather than doing actual research.

I typed in the listing exactly as it appeared, then it cleared the graphics screen before crashing and printing some coloured blocks. I had no idea that the error was a missing right bracket at the end of line 200. I’m sure this happened to thousands or millions of other hapless victims of Jack Tramiel’s Commodore 64 con, whether it was from typing in this program, or another graphics program.

So there’s an error in the program listing but this is, almost magically and without any logic behind it, the fault of Commodore despite them having absolutely nothing to do with it. The publishers of the listing whose typesetting broke it are to blame and the author’s “argument” is complete and utter nonsense. Simply commenting out the POKEs that change display mode with REM commands or removing them completely before running the program again would have shown what was happening too.

Meanwhile, I think I’ll contact The Guinness Book of Records to tell them it took me about 29 years to find out how to draw a line across the C64 graphics screen AND that it took me about 31 years 6 months to find a way to read the error message in the pixel plotting “Your 64” program above!

The author actually appears to be proud of not working something relatively simple like that out sooner to the point of wanting to broadcasting his failing to the world; we also have to wonder, dear reader, does the Guinness Book Of World Records actually document acts of excessive ignorance?

[1] Further reading on hackers of the 8- and 16-bit era with links to Project Gutenberg where they can be downloaded in various formats: The Hacker Crackdown: Law And Disorder On The Electronic Frontier by Bruce Sterling and Underground: Hacking, Madness And Obsession On The Electronic Frontier by Suelette Dreyfus (with research from Julian “Mendax” Assange).

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One Response to What tinfoil hat? The author’s forgotten his!

  1. Pingback: Julian Assange and The C64 | commodore64crap

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