I know it’s late, I couldn’t wait

Debunking Hello again!

Hello again from me! I feel I must explain about what I‘ve been doing in recent months since my last blog entry on here.

During this time, I‘ve been continuing to think about the imminent destruction of Britain by Brexit turning it into an offshore tax haven, the “moat” seperating Britain from the rest of Europe, as well as applying for Irish citizenship and an Irish passport.

We could infer from this dear reader that the author struggles to think about more than one thing at a time since he hasn’t been able to post for several months whilst occupied merely thinking about Brexit and presumably doing some paperwork. Perhaps that’s why he so spectacularly failed to learn programming on the C64 back in the day and has yet to produce anything of significance on any other platform since, there was always something else stealing the majority of his worryingly finite mental resources.

After some time, I managed to get WinVICE running. This was a bit dificult, because there was more than one version installed and it didn‘t even seem to appear on the Start menu. I ended up putting some shortcuts for the C64, as well as the C128, and the Plus/4 on the Desktop and it‘s now working OK.

Because WinVICE doesn’t come as an install package it shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody that there aren’t any start menu shortcuts created whilst extracting the archive, these things don’t appear by magic after all. As for which executable to use – your correspondent is rather charitably assuming that the author wasn’t struggling simply because he had somehow ended up with two copies of WinVICE on his computer – it really isn’t even slightly difficult at all because, as the documentation that the author apparently didn’t read says, “two C64 emulators are provided: `x64′ (fast) and `x64sc’ (accurate)”.

I think that the most important commands, which C64 owners were crying out for, are COLOR N,N,N, to set the text and even graphics screen colours, SCREEN N, to set the display mode as text, multicoloured text (which I didn‘t even know existed when I owned a C64, thanks to Commodore‘s crappy manuals), multicolour graphics, and hires graphics, as well as LINE(x1,y1)-(x2,y2),c.

The author thinks that “C64 owners were crying out for” these specific BASIC commands without offering a shred of evidence to back his claim up. Considering how many C64s were sold it’d need to be a significant number of people complaining to be statistically relevant; if we significantly dial down all the numbers to make the mathematics simpler for the authors benefit to pretend that a mere ten million units were sold with each sale only representing just one user, even if the author could demonstrate that 100, 000 people actually wanted the commands he lists that would equate to just one percent of the total installed user base.

A very significant revelation in “The Advanced Machine Language Book of The Commodore 64” is made on page 140, where it says “If we have added our own tokens for our new commands using the previously described vector §304/$305, a special character is no longer necessary”!! This means that new commands wouldn‘t have to be prefixed by characters such as “!” or “@”.

That’s hardly a “significant revelation” dear reader, since there are BASIC extensions from the 1980s which don’t prefix their commands; this is something which the author should have noticed well before now during his “research” but apparently didn’t.

This will probably involve the use of two POKE commands to set the text cursor row as well as just the column, by using variables. This isn‘t possible using the Commodore 64 PRINT TAB(n) command, which only sets the column. Commodore‘s widely publicised way of dealing with this was to use strings of cursor up or cursor down control characters, in conjunction with the LEFT$, MID$, or even RIGHT$ command.

So despite there being a widely known and simple to implement work-around[1] which doesn’t require POKE commands, the author rather perversely doesn’t want to use it despite his previous whining. That says nothing about the C64 or its BASIC dear reader, but does speak several volumes about the author.

I think it could be an amazing experiment to get some Chimpanzees, babies, or toddlers to sit down with a Commodore 64 next to a computer running a version of Microsoft Extended BASIC, complete with instruction manuals, then see how they got on, but I don‘t think I could set this up. I think the end result would be quite predictable, though.

It would indeed be predictable dear reader but not in the way the author insinuates; his proposal involves groups of primates or humans who lack the required language skills for any dialect of BASIC so, unsurprisingly, the outcome is that none of these subjects are going to start programming on either machine or indeed consulting the provided manuals rather than trying to eat them.

[1] It’s not the only obvious work-around either, there are variations using PRINT commands in a loop to select the row and PRINT TAB to reach a specific column or multiple PRINT TABs working in unison (since they can cover a six character high area) and parts of these techniques can be mixed and matched with parts of the POKE-based solution as well.

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