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About to give an Atari 2600 talk


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#26 Andrew Davie OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:42 PM

Don't make the classic mistake of going through the slides very quickly - you'll just leave the audience struggling to understand anything at all. Better to trim it down to the important points and make the rest available online for people who want to know more.


I totally agree with this. I'm studying and have to give the occasional presentation. Not being used to this, there have been some important lessons I have learned.

1) Speak S...L...O...W...L...Y. You tend to race through when nervous, and it makes for a BAD presentation. Pace yourself.

2) Practice the presentation first, and time yourself. Do it properly as if you have an audience. Record yourself, if you like. Your 89 slides will take well over an hour to present properly.

3) Under no circumstances should you READ the slides to the audience. Makes for terrible presentations. Slides give a summary. You do the talking. Use the slides as a reminder of what to say, and don't read them to the audience.

4) Don't show-and-tell. Put the whole slide up at once... don't reveal little bits at a time. It's condescending to your audience to only reveal bits at a time.

5) For a 45 minute talk, you need (say) 30 slides maximum. Seriously. You're going to have to significantly trim some of this stuff. Remember, you need to speak slowly! Over a slide per minute doesn't give you much time to say anything about any particular slide... you need to trim the number of slides way down. Like, half to a third. I know you want to put everything in, but fewer slides will make a better presentation! As I said, practice it.

6) OK, now despite the feeling you have that 50 minutes is OK, I'm sure that at the end you're going to have to say "whoops, I'm out of time" and then start skipping slides and really speaking quickly and going through the rest at pace. That makes for a really awful presentation because you're obviously not presenting well. So what you need to do is KNOW how your time is going. And you do that by knowing where you should be (time-wise) on any particular slide. So, you should know (say) that after 20 minutes you should be at slide (say) 40. If you're at slide 30 you know you need to be a bit quicker for the rest. If you're at slide (say) 50, then you can be a bit more expansive about the rest. In other words, have waypoints where you know where you should be, realtive to elapsed time.

7) Although YOU may be happy talking for an hour in a 45 minute presentation, that's rude. People will have come with the expectation your talk will be the advertised time. Keep to it. This also allows time for questions at the end. There's nothing more frustrating than having a way overtime talk where question time is not allowed because the talk took too long.

Anyway, those are my tips. The waypoint one, and speaking slowly, and trimming the number of slides down are the most important.
Good luck.

Cheers
A

#27 SvOlli OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:15 PM

Another update is online, which now has included all topics from the todo-list.

#28 Andrew Davie OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:56 PM

Edits for latest version:

slide 4, "very good documented" --> "very well documented"

slide 6, being pedantic... "if I've forgotten your name" should more correctly be "if I've omitted your name"... or "if I've forgotten to include your name". Slight difference in meaning.

--
I would like to see the origin of the name 'stella' mentioned.
--

slide 8, I think "well known" should be hyphenated. "well-known"

slide 9, "Atari first" --> "Atari's first" (add the apostrophe s)
-- "based on a processor design" --> "based on a programmable design", or "based around a CPU and pluggable cartridge design"
-- "3 processor designs were available" --> "At least 3 processor..." For example, the Fairchild F8 was available then, too.

slide 10. "off shelf" --> "off-shelf"

slide 12, "constantly revised" is a bit misleading. Cosmetically, maybe. Functionally exactly the same.
-- "Still being" --> "still remains"

slide 13, that defender cartridge wasn't available in 1977 :) Williams released defender in 1980 so that cart doesn't belong on top of a 1977 woody :)

--
You may like to mention, somewhere, the differences between PAL and NTSC in terms of cartridges on one system "sort of" work on the other, because of the different TV output standards. Not in terms of scanlines, I know you mention that. But in terms of how each will look on the other TV standard.
--

A bit disappointing that you don't really show any of the modern homebrews and their capabilities. This is a huge part of the reason 2600 is still around.

--

slide 28, put a comma after adventures. e.g., "adventures, like Zelda". Otherwise the meaning is totally different.
-- "Let's take a look on how" --> "let's take a look at how"

slide 35, you could also mention the Krokodile Kart, as it pre-dated Harmony by many years.

slide 40, "decades, still new" --> "decades, new"
-- technically, AtariAge isn't the only seller. Some are sold privately, some are sold by other websites.

slide 41, "BASIC like" --> "BASIC-like"

slide 62, I don't understand the reason for thee greyscale atari logo. '2600 could not display this!

slide 63, scaling is still wrong for the comparitive clock cycle display. It's > 1/3 of the 160 pixels, so should be (say) 60 colour clocks / 180 cycles. Just saying.

slide 64, "7 bit words" --> "7-bit words"

slide 65, comma after "changed"
-- "you need to program the TIA on what" might be better worded "you need to tell the TIA what"

slide 70/71, what you refer to as "alternating" and "changed" I have always referred to as "asymmetric". In any case, you use two different terms on these slides for the same thing. Asymmetric is better :)

slide 75, point 3... "wind up" --> "start". Also you should indicate that you do your stuff, THEN you start waiting for the timer to get to 0.

slide 76, deceptive. This implies that the lower picture is combat, which it isn't...?



I hope some of these corrections are used :)
Cheers
A

#29 SeaGtGruff OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:23 PM


Exact mapping: xxx0 xxFx 1NNN NNNN

It should be:

Exact mapping: xxx0 xx1x 1NNN NNNN

Nope, this is correct, as the "F" selects the function, either RAM (F=0) or IOT (F=1).

Oh, I see what you mean. Yeah, the F looked too much like hex in the middle of binary, so it threw me off-- whereas I understood the Ns perfectly well. In that case, I'd suggest a few other possibilities. You could use N in place of F, since N indicates a significant bit that could be either 0 or 1, whereas 0 and 1 indicate static bits (chip select values) and x is "don't care because they aren't connected. Or you could use S for "select." Or you could give different versions of the address mapping, since it varies depending on the function selected. What I mean is, the different functions do not use the same number of address lines:

RAM addresses = xxx0 xxSx 1NNN NNNN (where S = 0)
I/O addresses = xxx0 xxSx 1xxx x0NN (where S = 1)
Timer read addresses = xxx0 xxSx 1xxx N1x0 (where S = 1)
Timer write addresses = xxx0 xxSx 1xx1 N1NN (where S = 1)
Interrupt read addresses = xxx0 xxSx 1xxx x1x1 (where S = 1)
Edge-detect write addresses = xxx0 xxSx 1xx0 x1NN (where S = 1)

I'm not suggesting you present it exactly like that, since it would be clearer to simply replace the S with a 0 or 1 as appropriate. But anyway, the mapping is somewhat complex, and results in different "mirror" addresses for the different functions, with some of the mirrors appearing to conflict-- for example:

xxx0 xx1x 1xx1 N1NN = Timer write addresses
xxx0 xx1x 1xxx x1x1 = Interrupt read addresses

$0295 is used to write to TIM8T and disable the timer interrupt, but it's also a mirror for reading TIMINT, with the R/W line determining which is which-- similar to the way the TIA read addresses are mirrored at different TIA write addresses, since the TIA write registers use a different number of address lines than do the TIA read registers.


On slide 84, the NTSC base frequency (according to schematics) should be 3579575 Hz.
[...]

Thanks! I didn't know where to get the exact values, so I took the sound base frequencies from the manual and multiplied them with 114.

The first two audio slides will be done from scratch again, and maybe extended into three, if necessary.

I used to believe that the NTSC frequency was 3579545.45_45 Hz, since that's the NTSC *TV* crystal rate-- but the schematics clearly say it's 3579575 Hz (although I don't know if that value is exact, rounded, or truncated). Apparently the 3579575 Hz crystal rate wasn't that uncommon in computers and other equipment, since it turns up a lot in internet searches.

Likewise, the PAL rate is slightly different than the PAL *TV* crystal rate, but somebody posted a photo of the PAL chip and the rate is clearly printed on it.

#30 SvOlli OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:15 AM

Hello Andrew!

Thanks for being pedantic.

slide 4, "very good documented" --> "very well documented"
slide 6, being pedantic... "if I've forgotten your name" should more correctly be "if I've omitted your name"... or "if I've forgotten to include your name". Slight difference in meaning.
slide 8, I think "well known" should be hyphenated. "well-known"
slide 9, "Atari first" --> "Atari's first" (add the apostrophe s), "based on a processor design" --> "based on a programmable design"
slide 10. "off shelf" --> "off-shelf"
slide 12, "Still being" --> "still remains"
slide 28, put a comma after adventures. e.g., "adventures, like Zelda". Otherwise the meaning is totally different. -- "Let's take a look on how" --> "let's take a look at how"
slide 40, "decades, still new" --> "decades, new"
slide 41, "BASIC like" --> "BASIC-like"
slide 64, "7 bit words" --> "7-bit words" slide 65, comma after "changed" -- "you need to program the TIA on what" might be better worded "you need to tell the TIA what"
slide 75, point 3... "wind up" --> "start". Also you should indicate that you do your stuff, THEN you start waiting for the timer to get to 0.

These are included.

-- I would like to see the origin of the name 'stella' mentioned. --

Included on slide 9.

"3 processor designs were available"

From "Commodore: A Company on the Edge" by Brian Bagnall I know that these 3 designs were the ones that were evaluated. Changed the text to point this out.

slide 12, "constantly revised" is a bit misleading. Cosmetically, maybe. Functionally exactly the same. --

More than 16 different PCBs is a bit more than cosmetically, but I added a note about 100% compatible.

slide 13, that defender cartridge wasn't available in 1977 :) Williams released defender in 1980 so that cart doesn't belong on top of a 1977 woody :)

That's the best image I've got. Sorry. ;)

-- You may like to mention, somewhere, the differences between PAL and NTSC in terms of cartridges on one system "sort of" work on the other, because of the different TV output standards. Not in terms of scanlines, I know you mention that. But in terms of how each will look on the other TV standard.

I want to say this on the slides with the colors.

-- A bit disappointing that you don't really show any of the modern homebrews and their capabilities. This is a huge part of the reason 2600 is still around. --

Yes, I know. I added some slides at the end to motivate the people to go for them themselves.

slide 35, you could also mention the Krokodile Kart, as it pre-dated Harmony by many years.

I want to mention during the talk that there are much more than these two, Supercharger being the first, Harmony the current state of art.

slide 62, I don't understand the reason for thee greyscale atari logo. '2600 could not display this!

This is to explain how a framebuffer works. That's how most other systems work and how it is *not* done on the Atari. The logo is displayed by an assember program from www.6502asm.com

slide 63, scaling is still wrong for the comparitive clock cycle display. It's > 1/3 of the 160 pixels, so should be (say) 60 colour clocks / 180 cycles. Just saying.

The line was calculated in the correct size of a complete line with 228 color clocks, but I changed it again to the CPU cycles of a line. It's more useful anyway.

slide 70/71, what you refer to as "alternating" and "changed" I have always referred to as "asymmetric". In any case, you use two different terms on these slides for the same thing. Asymmetric is better :)

Technically you are right: "asymmetric" is better than "changed", but the later one fits better what I want to say: "the 20 bits can be mirrored, repeated or changed during display ... resulting in an asymmetric playfield".
And Tutankham does not use an asymmetric playfield, by it switches between mirror and repeat in level design, that's why I chose "alternating".

slide 76, deceptive. This implies that the lower picture is combat, which it isn't...?

This is Combat, Game 20.

I hope some of these corrections are used :)

As you've seen, almost all of your corrections are in. Thanks for your support.

Updated version uploaded.

#31 rolenta OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:45 AM

1) You should mention Ed Federmeyer, who wrote the first two homebrew applications for the VCS.
2) I wouldn't say Home Pong flopped. It didn't.
3) I'm not sure what you mean by that it was the first system to get 'Broad distribution'. I belive Home Pong was widely distributed after Sears' exclusive first year.
4) Under arcade ports, how could you not include Breakout, or Space Invaders, the first licensed home game. Remember, it was Space Invaders that made the VCS a gotta have machine.

Edited by rolenta, Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:50 AM.


#32 SvOlli OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:17 AM

1) You should mention Ed Federmeyer, who wrote the first two homebrew applications for the VCS.

Done, Thanks!

2) I wouldn't say Home Pong flopped. It didn't.
3) I'm not sure what you mean by that it was the first system to get 'Broad distribution'. I belive Home Pong was widely distributed after Sears' exclusive first year.

From Atari's point of view it flopped, because it got copied in a short time, and therefore not selling the amount that was expected. And with broad distribution I mean worldwide. I'm from Germany, I can't remember, a genuine "Home Pong" between the generic "Tele-Tennis" clones.

4) Under arcade ports, how could you not include Breakout, or Space Invaders, the first licensed home game. Remember, it was Space Invaders that made the VCS a gotta have machine.

Space on the slides is limited, all titles there came from the top of my mind, almost in one go. Space Invaders was intentionally left out, since gets a mention during the explanation of the sprites. Breakout I forgot, because I never had paddles. Since there's no space left, any suggestions on what they should replace?

#33 rolenta OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:58 AM

I would suggest either Amidar, Kangaroo, or Reactor.

#34 Buck OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:58 AM

Hello Andrew!

Thanks for being pedantic.


Thanks for making me use Google dictionary! :lol:

#35 SvOlli OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:18 PM


Thanks for being pedantic.

Thanks for making me use Google dictionary! :lol:

In fact, "-pedantic" is also a flag for the gcc. From the manpage: "-pedantic: Issue all the warnings demanded by strict ISO C and ISO C++; reject all programs that use forbidden extensions, and some other programs that do not follow ISO C and ISO C++." So that's why I like when someone's being pedantic about my slides. :)

A new version has been uploaded. The "Arcade" section has been updated, by changing the layout a bit a managed to add another name, so after dropping just Reactor, Space Invaders and Breakout could be added. I've dropped two bank-switching slides (carts F0: Dynacom Megaboy and E0: Parker Bros), to save some time, since they have nothing that cannot be explained using the other slides. Also another slide about homebrew game ROMs hacking has been added using screenshots of Nukey Shay work on both Pac Man ROMs as an example.

This should be the last beta version. Everything that does not arrive within the next 24 hours will be ignored. ;-)

Thanks for your support so far,
SvOlli

#36 roberto OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:00 AM

This looks like the kind of talks I'd love to see at GDC someday! Really looking forward to see the video recording, please let us know when it's ready.

Cheers!

#37 potatohead OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:25 AM


Don't make the classic mistake of going through the slides very quickly - you'll just leave the audience struggling to understand anything at all. Better to trim it down to the important points and make the rest available online for people who want to know more.


I totally agree with this. I'm studying and have to give the occasional presentation. Not being used to this, there have been some important lessons I have learned.

1) Speak S...L...O...W...L...Y. You tend to race through when nervous, and it makes for a BAD presentation. Pace yourself.

2) Practice the presentation first, and time yourself. Do it properly as if you have an audience. Record yourself, if you like. Your 89 slides will take well over an hour to present properly.

3) Under no circumstances should you READ the slides to the audience. Makes for terrible presentations. Slides give a summary. You do the talking. Use the slides as a reminder of what to say, and don't read them to the audience.

4) Don't show-and-tell. Put the whole slide up at once... don't reveal little bits at a time. It's condescending to your audience to only reveal bits at a time.

5) For a 45 minute talk, you need (say) 30 slides maximum. Seriously. You're going to have to significantly trim some of this stuff. Remember, you need to speak slowly! Over a slide per minute doesn't give you much time to say anything about any particular slide... you need to trim the number of slides way down. Like, half to a third. I know you want to put everything in, but fewer slides will make a better presentation! As I said, practice it.

6) OK, now despite the feeling you have that 50 minutes is OK, I'm sure that at the end you're going to have to say "whoops, I'm out of time" and then start skipping slides and really speaking quickly and going through the rest at pace. That makes for a really awful presentation because you're obviously not presenting well. So what you need to do is KNOW how your time is going. And you do that by knowing where you should be (time-wise) on any particular slide. So, you should know (say) that after 20 minutes you should be at slide (say) 40. If you're at slide 30 you know you need to be a bit quicker for the rest. If you're at slide (say) 50, then you can be a bit more expansive about the rest. In other words, have waypoints where you know where you should be, realtive to elapsed time.

7) Although YOU may be happy talking for an hour in a 45 minute presentation, that's rude. People will have come with the expectation your talk will be the advertised time. Keep to it. This also allows time for questions at the end. There's nothing more frustrating than having a way overtime talk where question time is not allowed because the talk took too long.

Anyway, those are my tips. The waypoint one, and speaking slowly, and trimming the number of slides down are the most important.
Good luck.

Cheers
A


This is more or less our standard presentation prep sessions captured into one nice chunk. Highly recommended.

#38 SvOlli OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:06 PM

Hello,

I just arrived back home from the congress like half an hour ago, and the recording of talk is already up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvpwf50a48E

Or with better quality: http://mirror.fem-ne...e_talk_h264.mp4

The responses I've gotten on the congress were mostly positive.

I removed the prototype for the development cartridge I'm working on from the slides, because it wouldn't fit in time, and it has the most potential for a follow-up talk.

Anyway, during my time standing up there, it felt like I didn't suck. I haven't seen the recording in total yet, just clicked to some passages I liked best, and still feel quite pleased with the result. Of cause there are some things that could be done better, like I now feel, that I should be talking more to the audience and less to the slides, but I was really worried that I got thrown off stage, before I could complete my talk.

Writing all this, I now want to get to the point:

THANK YOU!

For your support, for your input, for anything!

If you feel, that this talk can work as an introduction to someone who hasn't done anything with the 2600 yet, I feel like my project "giving a talk" has come to an successful end.

Greetings,
SvOlli

P.S.: During the congress we hacked a bit on the 2600 to find out that at least mine will behave indeterministic on the $8B (ANE) opcode. I will not just execute "A = (A | magic) & X & imm". I've prototyped a small program running the test and concentrating all 16 million combinations to some output that will give us at least some indications on how it's behaving. I want to complete and optimize this in the next couple of days, and I really hope that you are as interested in doing some basic research as we were there, as we need to find out if this only occurs on some or on all 6507s.

#39 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:07 AM

Nice talk! Thanks for mentioning Boulder Dash (and me). :)

#40 potatohead OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:50 PM

Just watched it.

Agreed. You did very well, IMHO. What a great group!

#41 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:06 PM

Thanks for mentioning the Stella debugger. Good to see that when you mentioned the entire RAM space can be seen in one block, you got a few laughs from the audience :)

#42 cd-w OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 4, 2012 4:43 PM

I just finished watching your talk. Nice work - you certainly managed to pack in a lot of information without going too quickly.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you can produce now that you have a good grasp of the 2600 hardware!

Since you seem to be a hardware hacker, you may be interested in the Atari CX-3000 graduate (if you haven't heard of it already). The design notes are on that webpage although they are rather difficult to follow. The design basically overdrives the TIA to display text on the screen. It would have been really cool if this was completed!

Chris




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