Monday, 25 April 2011

Read it and weep

So currently reading introductory books on the QL to see if I can get a boost of inspiration or anything obvious I have missed. A couple of things have come to light initially, the first is the amount of repetitive waffle you have to plough through before you get to something tangible to deal with. For example showing you how to plug the QL in and connect it up to a TV when the user book already does that I find it a bit condescending, although I did find the reference to the TV must be able to receive BBC 2 quiet funny.

The second point in another book was a whole load of text around X = X + 10, and although obvious to the programmer what it means, the writer goes on to explain about how it doesn't make mathematical sense, and for the first time I did look at it from both sides. As an engineer I have an understanding of mathematic for formulae and as a programmer an understanding of computer algorithms, so why did I not see this conflict before and just accept the logical sense of it, a formulae X = X + 10 would equate to nonsense. It's interesting to say the least.

Friday, 22 April 2011


It makes me smile seeing some of the the wording used in original QL manuals I have been looking at recently, the first entry into my 'Hall of Infame' in particular some Digital Precision software manuals have phrases such as "I am sure if you send Digital Precision the original disk and a 'fiver', they will be able to replace this". To international readers they must have been scratching their heads as to what on earth that means, to other 'professionals' well I would leave that to to them.

The second entry follows what demonstrates as instructions on what to type in to access files on the microdrive and specifically states "MDV, FLP or whatever ", I cannot help but laugh at this  for two reasons, firstly the writer gives the impression he nearly gives up on writing the instructions and cant be bothered to tell you any more (we've all been there) and the likes of Catherine Tate's character "Am I bovvered?" as the second thought that crosses my mind as 'whatever' can no longer be used in the normal context with a big VV made with your own fair hands.

In my head reading 'whatever' always comes out as 'wot evvverrrrrrrr' being subject to either the comic talents reflecting "life!" from Ms Tate or other such TV programmes that are dished out, subjecting us to the barrage of life on the streets for the common 'man' (woman) especially in London or other similar urban areas.

Monday, 18 April 2011

It's a long way, to tip the 'merry'

Setting out on my trip up north to the Quanta workshop and AGM meeting starts with a playlist of suitable music to listen to/sing along to (yes I am on my own) or shout out to. From Donna Summer to Girls Aloud to Take That, a variety to amuse myself as I am making my way up the M11.

I was listening to the music and perusing the last few days regarding character 181, seemingly a misnomer in the Sinclair QL character set as it doesn't appear to be anywhere else any more. Among the searches on the interweb (as the results from Google list and list and list their titles and brief sentence showing the 'FONT' key words I put in) I fleetingly remember seeing a site reporting the inconclusive information as to what font is agreed upon for road signs in the UK.

So as I drive I am taking particular notice of the blue road signs, until I got to Cambridge where the the sign was telling me to turn off for Cambridge, ah! I thought, Sinclair, Science of Cambridge, birth of the QL etc. Then next sign a mile or so along the road  then says Cambridge, and below it said Sandy, wow a place called Sandy (in my head goes 'ding') wondering if this was where Sandy Computers used to be based and its close proximity to Cambridge (i.e. Sinclair). Yes of course its obvious now, but you don't tend put these things together until it really hits you in the face so to speak.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

2B or NOT 2B

So plowing through manuals for QL Interfaces and Disk systems, I am constantly reminded "So which is it Disc or Disk"? I never have really found properly or if I did, I cannot remember.

Wikipedia (that font of all unchecked knowledge) is just as inconclusive.

So for me as of now I try to use 'Disk' when referring to a Disk Drive stuff and 'Disc' when referring to Floppy Disc stuff.

So the instruction manual should read according to my rules, "You place the floppy disc in to the disk drive and then reset your QL. After pressing F1 or F2 the disc will spin up and the operating system will look on the disc for the file BOOT. Once loaded the QL will act upon the Superbasic instructions and if no longer required the Disk drive will cease spinning the floppy disc.

And there you have it.

Hmmm still not sure :(

Then when the Nerdy Gurdy Man

Slightly off the topic of the QL but somehow related, one of my previous posts triggered a situation and discussion with students discussion jobs roles. In particular the way we now and used to use different spellings for things, Disc and Disk for example but that's another post.

My take on starting a letter or email with 'hello', 'hallo' often had me at a quandary but someone reminded me of another spelling which is 'hullo'. No to me 'Hello' always sounds friendly, 'Hallo' always sounds formal and 'Hullo' just immediately reminds of Mr Beans voice saying the word 'Hullowwww' and sounding very, very nerdy.

I C you baby...

I have started to put some Hi-Res Integrated Circuit images on my QL Image Repository for all to see, they are either directly related to the QL or indirectly related to the QL, such as the Z80, which was used I think on a peripheral but also as the main processor for the ZX series of Sinclair Computers.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Would you like chips with that

Having several different interface boards now with some not working or not working well, I have been scouring the web for some replacement hard to find Integrated Circuits (ICs). What is amazing is the price range for some of these ICs, from a few pence to several hundred pounds.

A bit of help from the forum put me in touch with an American distributor of electronic components and a bit of creative thinking for another IC used in a less popular computer (Dragon) has allowed me to order ICs from both sources on the same day, both took four days to arrive in the post (not parcel delivery) one however was 150 miles away the other a bit more from the US.

I will now see if I can get the boards working with these replacements components and report back sometime, or if all that QL Tinkering has been in vain :(

Such is the life

Saturday, 2 April 2011

I can do it, I can do it, I can really move

Well as promised a few posts ago I said I would stop bleating about some of the experiences of too much info, not the right info, couldn't understand the info and actually do something about it. Now I am not for one minute  saying that all the sites covering the QL are problematic, there is so much information it becomes quite intoxicating and difficult to resist reading and acting on the reading before you have learn't to swim. So here is my simpler introduction if you are new to the QL or returning to the QL website.

Please post any comments here for improvements or other such changes to the site, noting is too simple or too difficult (what am I saying here, I'm not an expert :) )