Guess who’s back, back again

Debunking Where have I been?

Theresa May kept me busy part of the time

That, dear reader, is something that should probably be kept between the author and Theresa May.

This blog isn’t actually about current events, although I do sometimes mention them to make my posts more interesting.

The author has presumably failed to process the sarcasm in your correspondent’s post; anything outside of the author’s stated topic is irrelevant because, as he notes, his “blog isn’t actually about current events”. It was very helpful of him to debunk his own post once more.

  1. I’ve been going to meetings, demos, and a march to try and stop Brexit.

That certainly seemed to go well dear reader, doesn’t it? [1] Let us skip gently over the remaining political discussion and get back to what the author is meant to be discussing but here’s a picture of Spitting Image by Domark because it’s tangentally about politics and actually related to the C64!

Spitting Image (C64)

Now back to the Commodore 64. Of course, not all dialects of BASIC apart from Commodore BASIC V2 supported hexadecimal numbers, but Locomotive BASIC on the Amstrad CPC range, as well as MSX BASIC did support them. Even Sinclair BASIC on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum supported binary numbers, but Commodore BASIC V2 and Atari BASIC only supported decimal.

So to recap dear reader, only the minority of BASIC dialects supported hexadecimal but the author only seems to perceive it as an “issue” worth noting with the C64; this is, obviously, hypocritical of him.

And this is hexadecimal we’re talking about as well,  the author has moaned at length about being “useless at maths” but rather magically that doesn’t extend to counting and carrying out calculations in base 16 it seems! Adding, subtracting or multiplying numbers (which is why the author whine that he “understand which one of these things it’s doing or why, because [he is] useless at maths” for what is essentially a simple equation if you pay enough attention to what it’s doing and actually try to understand) doesn’t get any easier just because the calculations take place in hex.

I remember reading lots of Commodore BASIC V2 listings which assigned variables to the locations of the VIC-II and SID chips, then used two digit offsets for the different registers. In spite of this, the impression I got was that there were a lot more memory locations I needed to learn than all the registers of these chips.

Which is a mistake on the author’s part because that isn’t the case. We’ve noted on countless occasions that he fails to do research and this is merely another example; he had no information whatsoever to back the assumptionthat there were more than merely a handful of locations to worry about but made the false assumption and gave up without looking further.

That assignment of variables with two digit offsets simplifies one of the author’s long-term bugbears, that he couldn’t remember five digit numbers – apparently he was aware of this in the 1980s but for some reason chose and continues to choose to ignore his own knowledge whilst complaining about it now, demonstrably trying to mislead his readers by doing so. And since the offsets are two digit numbers there can only be a hundred possible values, the author must have spectacularly failed to notice this when falsely getting the impression ” that there were a lot more memory locations [he] needed to learn”.

 There was also the weird command sequences working on these registers using the commands AND as well as OR, without any explanation from Commodore about why this was. It was explained in a magazine article I found a few years ago as “bitwise programming”, meaning setting certain bits in the VIC-II and SID chip registers.

It’s worth pausing to note dear readers that some BASIC dialects don’t have bitwise commands despite there being situations where they would have been incredibly useful such as reading the joystick on the Atari 8-bit for example, there’s a bespoke BASIC command but it returns a value where bits are set or clear depending on the state of the joystick so having the ability to AND by individual bits significantly reduces the number of condition tests required. And that’s before we remember that Atari BASIC uses POKE commands like the C64 to handle things such as the hardware sprites where bitwise commands would have been useful to deal with expansion registers, playfield priorities, collisions and so forth.

Of course this lack of functionality is overlooked by the author, either because he doesn’t want to poke holes in BASICs that he’s championing over the C64 or due to ignorance.

Assembly Language makes things much easier, with techniques such as meaningful labels in a pre prepared text file standing for memory locations, as well as those locations in hexadecimal being more memorable, such as $D000 which I posted some time ago could stand for display block, meaning where the VIC-II chip starts.

The author has yet to write any substantially sized program for a 6502-based computer so this is supposition rather than fact. Very few native assemblers have an equivalent of “pre prepared text file standing for memory locations” with some assembling directly to RAM rather than via disk. And the vast majority of assemblers both native and cross don’t require hexadecimal at all so C64 programmers who started with BASIC could carry the knowledge of decimal locations or indeed the concept of two digit offsets from a variable over to their assembler. Setting a label like v or perhaps vic to 53248 works in exactly the same manner as assigning it as $d000 for example.

And again dear reader, we’re talking about base 16 here which most people don’t count in naturally so decimal numbers would be easier to deal with at least for beginners.  There is a reasoanble argument for understanding binary since it helps when manipulating video registers on pretty much every platform we’ve discussed rather than just the C64, but only old hands like your correspondent who learnt assembly language via hand assembling and working in a machine code monitor needed to learn hexadecimal.

As for books about Machine Code/Assembly Language which aren’t dedicated to a particular computer, before you can actually do anything with them on a specific computer, first off all you have to read up on your memory map to find the screen memory, a routine to print text on the screen, etc.

And that is where a reference book comes in… like the Commodore 64 Programmer’s Reference Guide for example! This is, after all, what your correspondent has been saying for quite a while.

I’m now getting close to understanding the process of how other people managed to program the C64. In the near future, I hope to use Assembly Language to program lots of lines being drawn across the screen, then erased and replaced by some other lines, to produce simple animation, as well as to program a three channel polyphonic tune, without being dependent on specific software

The author really isn’t “understanding the process of how other people managed to program the C64” dear reader, there isn’t an actual process because different people have different motivations – not everybody has a childlike fixation with drawing lines for no practical purpose like the author does! Your correspondent learnt by setting himself achievable tasks related to the kind of games or demos he wanted to create and working out how to complete them, all that requires in the long term is a little persistence.

Other ideas of mine include a printed book based on this blog, as well as a graphic novel including my Dad with his “I know best” attitude (IKBA), the offices of “The A-Z of Personal Computers” with staff enjoying presents sent by Commodore in exchange for not mentioning that their BASIC was crap, etc. I may be setting up a crowd funder for these projects. There could even be separate crowd funders. One could be for people who want to see the book or graphic novel published, while the other could be for people who don’t want to see them published, such as the Tramiel family. Revenge is sweet!

Whilst publishing his libellous opinions and blatant lies under a pseudonym on his blog offers some degree of protection, it will be very interesting indeed to see how a print-based endeavour fares on that front since they tend to require real names and often contact details. How any of this equates to “revenge” is highly questionable, the Tramiel family will have legal options open to them to consider well before they think about essentially paying anybody off, assuming the author’s belief that anybody really cares about his writings is more than mere narcissism of course.[2]

And whilst nobody really fact checks the content of low traffic WordPress bash blogs (apart from people like your correspondent who do have better things to do with their lives but are often lacking when it comes to the mental fortitude to prioritise such matters) there’s a lot more scrutiny for published works, especially if they’re crowdfunded. The author is potentially going to draw far more attention to his lack of research, false assumptions and downright lies so how something like, for example, a negative review on Amazon will be dealth with should prove interesting; trying to tell a commenter on your blog that they’re wrong because you say so usually doesn’t go down well on its own, but if the feedback is from a paying customer it’s bad public relations.

Another thing your correspondent feels should receive emphasis is the author complaining about his father; since the entire premise of his blog and presumably the graphic novel would be the author knows best, the idea of berating other people for having pretty much the exact same attitude is just another demonstration of hypocrisy.

Not only that, but some more good news from the German “MagPi” is that the Raspberry Pi computer looks set to outsell the C64 in the near future, so then I’ll no longer have to listen to C64 fanatics crowing that their crappy computer was the largest selling “home computer” or whatever the term is.

No dear reader, the C64’s record is for the “highest-selling single computer model of all time” (the important words highlighted for the author’s benefit since he didn’t bother checking for himself) which means that every unit sold was to the same specification. Even if they’d matched the C64’s worldwide sales figures, 8-bit systems like the Sinclair Spectrum or Atari 8-bit line couldn’t hold that record because there’s a raft of different models; the Spectrum came in 16K, 48K and 128K flavours and the Atari 8-bit had even more models available with the original 400 and 800, the XL series, the XE machines and, because it has an optional keyboard, the XEGS.

The Raspberry Pi is in the same way a range of computers with different specifications rather than just one so the sales as a whole therefore don’t count towards the C64’s record because they’re not for a “single computer model”. Again, the author fails to do any actual research before posting and subsequently tries to mislead his readers…

[1] For the author’s benefit, since he struggles to recognise it, this is sarcasm.

[2] Anybody who keeps a blog is a narcissist to some degree, your correspondent included of course, but it’s one thing to believe that anybody would be interested in reading your thoughts and another to labour under the misunderstanding that a lot of people would pay for the same, especially when you’ve had a large amount of your “arguments” thoroughly debunked.

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One Response to Guess who’s back, back again

  1. Marcius says:

    Hello, I can’t help laughing about your joke of T. May that kept C64 hater busy 😀 Great debunk. I am a C64 fanatic, but that doesn’t prevent me to find the blog by that guy funny. I would just love to give him as a present a Commodore 64 with a super multi ROM with all BASIC dialects ever designed in history built-in. Maybe that will make him happy. Mmm, I don’t think even that would be enough. But, who cares? 😀 Goodbye and keep up your nice debunk!

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