Tuesday, 31 May 2011

I remember when rock was young

Well here is a turn-up, nearly got my real QL system back to up and running  (alongside my iMac no less) however my laptop with Windows 7 op system, my previously one was XP, I decided to get Q-emulator full version.

So installing Q-Emulator on it I had great fun playing around with its particular set of features, its top one being the ability to latch in a drive directly to a zip file, this is a really good feature. However when re-installing QPCII under Win 7 I then came across this anomaly when trying to type in FLP1_, no underscore!

Pressing all the top keys my keyboard now displays this under QPCII only

1234567890-q  with the right shift key
!"£$%^&*()_Q with the left shift key

instead of

!"£$%^&*()_+ with the right shift key
!"£$%^&*()_+ with the left shift key

similar things happen with other lines and I am unable to get the # @
 at all (no pun intended) so what gives?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

If a picture paints a thousand words

Well if you have never been, a visit to Bletchley Park, home of the code breakers also houses the National Computer Museum and when you walk around you will eventually through up one or two interesting artefacts.

Obviously Sinclair products 

and yes those massive boxes either side of the BBC Model A/B are 2nd 6505 processors ha ha

below is me by a CRAY

but by far is this little interesting thing, after Sinclair and Acorn passed their prime in the eighties, Sinclair being sold to Amstrad, Acorn eventually getting in to RISC/ARM chips, this yellow beauty was the last only one of  two ARM machines produced but never left the Acorn factory, apparently.

Instead of badging everything on the outside like Apple, Microsoft even Sinclair, Acorn put theirs in on the inside on the case??

I did have a chat with one of the guys at the National Computer Museum about a possible future QUANTA project, so something to think about.

A little bit me, a little bit you....too

Further to my plot/draw quandary DJ came to the rescue pointing out that LRESPR the draw code includes the PLOT code, the second thing I learn't from that is, using the command in lower-case before you LRESPR the code, always displays the code in how it is first invoked (i.e. in this case lower-case [no pun intended]) 

Now I knew when in SuperBasic the first instance you define a variable name, function or procedure then that's the form it takes regardless of subsequent entries (until you switch the QL off), but for some reason I thought machine code versions would force their own format, not so it seems, hmmm interesting

And that brings us to

"Pointless none QL observation of the week!" (sung as in TV burp style)

Seeing every PC in the College having a long black keyboard not unlike the QL in front of every monitor just for a split second.... 

picture to follow

Now speaking of TV Burp
There is Australian example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zucQyIdqT68
and good old Harry Hill http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rdrfd81PeeM&feature=related
now I like Harry Hill, but I also like the Australian version, but which is better? there's only...

Monday, 23 May 2011

A little bit of this a little bit of that

I have made some minor changes to the Blog, reduced the number of posts shown on the page, added ADs to make it look a bit more busy and there is a 'Follow by email' option at the bottom of the posts as well as a 'Google search the Blog' option as well. 

Please post if you find this useful or any other comments.

Wow - things are a moving for a change

Just a quick point about the number of hardware things that seem to be in development, in particular stuff from Adrian Ives, Memory Lane Computing. Developments to a Serial ROM driver now in Alpha, really cool.

Well done Adrian!

Getting there, so many hurdles, so much to do

Trying to get a graphical game off the blocks and I keep stumbling over inadequacies of the QL system or old QL software of which there is very little address.

Starting with a stab at DP's Super Hyped Sprite Generator, you would have seen my frustration with the x movement in a previous blog, not resolving that issue yet (not promising) and as of yet not found any other sprite software, I returned to the graphics control on the original QL, Point and Line, I was reminded of my first offering in Quanta - CAD in which the (for me) useless SCALE command would not allow control over the x-axis assuming fixed display ratio, how things change. Anyhoo, I got things working of sorts moving a drawn shape around the screen, a shape that changes shape depending where it is on the screen.

Looking on DJ's site for an alternative I come across plot and draw (well nearly, plot is a bit allusive at the moment - over to you DJ), well this seems more promising, well it may be promising, we'll see. So moving on to the next stumbling block assuming everything previous will get sorted, I now will have a timing problem, i.e. once the program is Turbo'd it will run fast, so how will it stop it from running too fast. With the CAD program I lazily (with hindsight) used for/next loops of incredible magnitude to slow things down on the original QL to a reasonable speed. 25 odd years later when running in an emulator at maximum speed this then becomes an obvious problematic issue. So what method can I use to limit speed on the FTL QL?

The only thing I can think of is to use something similar to TIMER (QuickBasic) which gives you the number of cycles since the machine has switched on. Cycles? what cycles? no idea, fractions of milliseconds or similar, other than you can use this number as a really good randomiser seed, and also for timing regardless of the speed of the host machine. So if I want to move something across the screen at the same speed regardless of host speed how do I do it?

The QL doesn't have anything close so now what? DATE doesn't work, PAUSE is too slow so there must be a peek somewhere. Nope, how silly did I feel when I chance looked at the keyword Pause, realising that it can do milliseconds down to 20 as the smallest. Why didn't I use that before?, why did I think that the Pause command was seconds only?, who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Only the Shadow knows!

Update, hmm forgot that the pause command is affected by key presses so control goes out the window, AH! that's why I didn't use it before, so feeling a little better with myself but still no nearer solving the problem, oh well back to the QL User List to see if someone can help. WTS

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Whenever Whatever

A simple but meaningful point, reading some of the articles in some old QL magazines I came across a reference to OS 9 - a super duper system promised to the masses but did not materialise, so what happened to it?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

I was lost in France

Well I might as well have been, losing a laptop data drive really screws everything you rely on and especially if you don't back up.

Two things I hadn't counted on was favourites in Google Chrome web browser, although that is now sorted, losing all the email messages I had in my in and sent box and all stuff I downloaded off Dilwyn's site which went on the C drive download section...hmm that's three things, OK I can't count.

Anyway replacing the 2.5 drive I was again reminded of something not quite QL but indirectly linked. My first PC had a 20Meg hard drive  but it was actually 21.something, the 1024 being the computing equivalent of a 1000 I think, regardless 21.something was a bonus yeh :)

Nowadays you buy 160Gig drives but their not even that, more like 159.something, even before formatting.

Don't the manufacturers of drives realise the psychological importance of us users/buyers thinking where getting something for nothing, well apparently not.

Today's QL user gets loads of stuff for nothing so we should really appreciate it.

Something Old, Something New

Today I just received my first new bit of hardware for the QL, haven't tested it yet but this is what it looks like.

What is interesting is the colour, clear plastic blue, something borrowed from the original Macs?

like this original iMac, perhaps new hardware products for the QL will all be this colour, blue will be the new black.

There I have said everything now related to this post's title, so with that out the way, more pictures of the SER-USB MK1 can be found here


Wednesday, 4 May 2011


I wonder if anyone else can help, I have DP's Super Sprite Generator version 3.5 and I am currently running it in Qemulator as the RESPR code will not load in QPC2.

So far so good the main program loads and I can Design sprite sections, I can construct Sprites and run them in the demo Superbasic program and also in the test program. The demonstration program also works seemingly OK as well except for the problem stated below.

The problem I have is the X coordinate move which you can increase 1 value + or -, however the sprite does not move until a value of 4 has occurred and the the sprite moves four pixels on the screen in either direction.

The Y value works fine but not the X value.

The documentation states
The sprite position is taken as its bottom leftmost pixel. XD,  XY,  XP   are the displacements of the sprite, each time it is drawn, in the  X,  Y & plane directions. Sprites are drawn each time the SPRITE Keyword is issued for any sprite or automatically via SSGCON.
The  values  are  fractions  of  256,  ie; a value of 1024 will move 4 pixels
         every call (1024/256 = 4).[/quote]

I tried different values 256, 512,1024 2048 but nothing seems to make any difference

the main code use in the test program is as follows:

1 dev$='flp1_'
100 REMark Demo
120 PAPER 0:INK 7:MODE 8
150 SSGINIT 20000,30,166,12,20,220
160 :
170 SSGFILE dev$&"descent_sprite"
210 SSGCON 3
220 :
240 CLS
380  x1=1:y1=68:p1=1:flag=1:xd=1
390  REPeat loop
400  d=CODE(INKEY$(0))
410  SELect ON d
420   =49 TO 57:d=d-48:flag=2^d
430   =192:x1=x1-1
440   =200:x1=x1+1
450   =208:y1=y1+1
460   =216:y1=y1-1
470  END SELect
480 IF SSGEDGE(1)=8 THEN xd=-1:flag=5
490 IF SSGEDGE(1)=4 THEN xd=1:flag=69
500  SPRITE 1,flag,p1,x1,y1,256,256,256
520  END REPeat loop

the last three options on SPRITE are the XD, XY and XP as above, these are the ones I have messed around with to no avail

I have not yet tried this on a QL proper as all my setups are in temp storage at the moment.

the documentation also states

Its main features are:
                   * Sprites can be drawn & changed easily.
                   * Sprite drawing is multitasked.  
                   * Each sprite can have up to 16 different shapes.
                   * Up to 16 different sprites on the screen at a time.
                   * Up to 256 sprites can be available at any one time.
                   * Up to 256 different planes - collisions occur in one plane.
                   * Smooth, flicker-free movement in 3 dimensions.
                   * Full choice of graphic modes & screens.
                   * Easy control through keywords.
Jumping on the X axis by 4 pixels is hardly what I call smooth

Any ideas anyone?