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Intellivision Programmer's Questionnaire


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Poll: Intellivision Programmer's Questionnaire (15 member(s) have cast votes)

What's your language of choice?

  1. IntyBASIC (10 votes [66.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 66.67%

  2. Assembly Language (5 votes [33.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.33%

If you chose IntyBASIC, is it because...

  1. I love BASIC (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  2. Assembly Language is too hard (4 votes [20.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 20.00%

  3. I am not a programmer, so BASIC seems easier to learn (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  4. I hate Assembly Language (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  5. IntyBASIC offers the features I need (6 votes [30.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 30.00%

  6. The IntyBASIC SDK makes programming games simpler (1 votes [5.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.00%

  7. There isn't a comparable Assembly SDK to make programming more accessible (2 votes [10.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 10.00%

  8. I already knew BASIC, so I'm comfortable with it (2 votes [10.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 10.00%

  9. Not applicable, I chose the other one (5 votes [25.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 25.00%

If you chose Assembly Language, is it because...

  1. I love Assembly, it gives me full power of the machine (5 votes [23.81%])

    Percentage of vote: 23.81%

  2. I hate BASIC (2 votes [9.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.52%

  3. That's what I know, and I can't be bothered to learn anything new (1 votes [4.76%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.76%

  4. IntyBASIC doesn't do everything I want (2 votes [9.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.52%

  5. The IntyBASIC programming model is different from mine (2 votes [9.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.52%

  6. I have my own Assembly Language library already that works for me (2 votes [9.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.52%

  7. I don't like "SDK" and frameworks that try to do stuff for me (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  8. Not applicable, I chose the other one (7 votes [33.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.33%

What "platform" do you ultimately target with your games?

  1. Emulation (ROM) - Any emulator (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  2. Emulation (ROM) - jzIntv (5 votes [33.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.33%

  3. Hardware (PCB) - 16K classic "Mattel" cartridge (2 votes [13.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.33%

  4. Hardware (PCB) - JLP (2 votes [13.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.33%

  5. Hardware (PCB) - Any (4 votes [26.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 26.67%

  6. Hardware (PCB) - Other (1 votes [6.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.67%

  7. Hardware (Flash) - LTO Flash! (1 votes [6.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.67%

If your target platform supports "special features," which ones do you actually use?

  1. On-board non-volatile memory (Flash RAM) for save-states, etc. (5 votes [22.73%])

    Percentage of vote: 22.73%

  2. On-board extended memory (Cartridge RAM) (5 votes [22.73%])

    Percentage of vote: 22.73%

  3. ROM Bank-switching (3 votes [13.64%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.64%

  4. None, I try to keep it "old-school" (9 votes [40.91%])

    Percentage of vote: 40.91%

If you use jzIntv as part of your development environment, which features do you actually use?

  1. Just the emulator to test my game (7 votes [46.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 46.67%

  2. Regular debugger (breakpoints, watches, register view, memory peek/poke, etc.) (3 votes [20.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 20.00%

  3. Source-level debugging (all debugging features, plus source file and symbol mapping) (5 votes [33.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.33%

  4. I don't use jzIntv (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

Which of the following do you consider "standard" in modern Intellivision home-brew development?

  1. 42K memory map (11 votes [21.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 21.57%

  2. Cartridge RAM (for game variables) (10 votes [19.61%])

    Percentage of vote: 19.61%

  3. Flash RAM (for save-states) (7 votes [13.73%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.73%

  4. Bank-switching for extra-large games (9 votes [17.65%])

    Percentage of vote: 17.65%

  5. 60hz game loops (4 votes [7.84%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.84%

  6. Voice synthesis (i.e. Intellivoice on-board) (5 votes [9.80%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.80%

  7. Two PSGs (i.e. ECS on-board) (2 votes [3.92%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.92%

  8. Cartridge acceleration features (3 votes [5.88%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.88%

Which of the following programming libraries/features do you use or would use if they were available in your language of choice?

  1. Pseudo-random number generator (9 votes [15.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.52%

  2. Event-driven hand-controller decoder (without having to poll periodically yourself) (4 votes [6.90%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.90%

  3. Music Player/Tracker (8 votes [13.79%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.79%

  4. Timers for triggering periodic or timed events (5 votes [8.62%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.62%

  5. Autonomous MOB displacement (i.e., set velocities and their positions are updated automatically) (2 votes [3.45%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.45%

  6. Smooth scrolling (5 votes [8.62%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.62%

  7. Text-to-speech (2 votes [3.45%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.45%

  8. Sprite animation (i.e., give an array of picture cards and a frame-rate and MOB is updated automatically) (4 votes [6.90%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.90%

  9. Optimized physics functions (projectile trajectory, convergence, acceleration, friction, gravity, etc.) (3 votes [5.17%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.17%

  10. Optimized trigonometry functions (sine, cosine, tangent, etc.) (1 votes [1.72%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.72%

  11. Event-driven collisions (based on regions or bounding-boxes) (5 votes [8.62%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.62%

  12. An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) (5 votes [8.62%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.62%

  13. Nothing, I just need access to the hardware and I can do everything myself (5 votes [8.62%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.62%

The primary reason you program Intellivision games is...

  1. for fun! fun! fun! (6 votes [40.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 40.00%

  2. for the chicks and the parties (1 votes [6.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.67%

  3. to get rich and famous (3 votes [20.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 20.00%

  4. to help others with their own projects (1 votes [6.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.67%

  5. for the challenge (2 votes [13.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.33%

  6. to keep busy during summer vacation or train commute (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  7. Other (2 votes [13.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.33%

  8. as a side job for spare cash (beer money, pay rent, medical bills, vices, etc.) (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

Are you actively programming for the Intellivision?

  1. Yes (8 votes [53.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 53.33%

  2. No (1 votes [6.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.67%

  3. On and off, when I get the chance (6 votes [40.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 40.00%

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#1 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:41 AM

Hello everyone!
 
I thought I'd put together a short questionnaire for Intellivision programmers.  The purpose is mostly to bring to light what others are doing and how they work.  Although I know that there are a lot more IntyBASIC programmers than Assembly Language ones out there, in the poll I try to gauge the reasons for picking one over the other.
 
The poll is just for fun, so there's no special motivation behind it and the results are not intended to drive anything afterwards.  I do hope it serves to show where the programmers see the community going.
 
I invite all Intellivision programmers -- experts, newbies, dabblers, lurkers, etc.  If you have ever touched Intellivision programming tools at some point, your participation is welcomed.
 
So have at it, and please be honest with your answers.  If anybody has any additional comments regarding the poll questions, or feedback on programming tools and approaches, please feel free to post in the thread
 
     Cheers!
    -dZ.



#2 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:55 AM

A few comments/suggestions about missing options:

If you chose IntyBASIC, is it because...
* I know assembly language on a different platform, but is too lazy to learn another one
* Not applicable, but the forum won't let me submit the form without a choice

If you chose Assembly Language, is it because...
* Not applicable, but the forum won't let me submit the form without a choice

#3 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:29 AM

Fixed! Thanks for that! :)

#4 nanochess OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:02 AM

At last a poll that my little programmer's mind can understand :P

#5 Kiwi ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:50 AM

I don't know how assembly works for the Intellivision and attempted to add a debugger that write the content on to the screen upon stack overflow.  It wrote some of it and then crashes.  I know how to write assembly for Atari 2600 and I studied the Atari 2600 for many years.  I wrote 2 games, one is on this forums, and one tool for sound data to hear what sound Atari 2600 can make with it complicated sound chip.  I don't know how the Intellivision works using assembly and what's needed to keep the game to work.  Z80 assembly is still new to me but have succeeded using the Colecovision call function to load tiles on screen.  IntyBASIC makes it really easy and generate good result.  And the game can run at 60 fps.  If it couldn't then I have to split it to 30 fps, which game don't show slowdown.  Writing Colecovision in C is just as easy as writing in IntyBASIC.  Unlike C, Intybasic don't nag about the semicolon thankfully.  I still want my variable++ to cut down on typing to increase variable by 1 :P. Atari 2600 assembly you can just use, INC variable.  5 cpu cycles ^_^.  Um anyway, I really like IntyBASIC and IntyCOLOR, which both help me with developing games.

 

The primary goal is to make a game. So Intybasic meet those goals.


Edited by Kiwi, Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:54 AM.


#6 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:21 AM

I don't know how assembly works for the Intellivision and attempted to add a debugger that write the content on to the screen upon stack overflow.  It wrote some of it and then crashes.  I know how to write assembly for Atari 2600 and I studied the Atari 2600 for many years.  I wrote 2 games, one is on this forums, and one tool for sound data to hear what sound Atari 2600 can make with it complicated sound chip.  I don't know how the Intellivision works using assembly and what's needed to keep the game to work.  Z80 assembly is still new to me but have succeeded using the Colecovision call function to load tiles on screen.  IntyBASIC makes it really easy and generate good result.  And the game can run at 60 fps.  If it couldn't then I have to split it to 30 fps, which game don't show slowdown.  Writing Colecovision in C is just as easy as writing in IntyBASIC.  Unlike C, Intybasic don't nag about the semicolon thankfully.  I still want my variable++ to cut down on typing to increase variable by 1 :P. Atari 2600 assembly you can just use, INC variable.  5 cpu cycles ^_^.  Um anyway, I really like IntyBASIC and IntyCOLOR, which both help me with developing games.
 
The primary goal is to make a game. So Intybasic meet those goals.


So, just to be sure I understand your position, you don't dislike Assembly, but don't use it because you do not know how it works on the Intellivision. On top of that, you like IntyBASIC because it makes it easy to make games. Is this correct.

That's all cool. :). Make sure to make your choices count on the poll.

One question I want to ask is, if there was an easier or more sophisticated way to make make Intellivision games in Assembly, would you try it? (It could be an IDE, a framework or library, a bunch of tutorial or sample code, a complete SDK or "game development kit" with a bunch of pre-made routine that do the hard work for you, etc.).

In other words, is it the actual Assembly Language that keeps you away, or is it the limited or primitive tools and libraries?

Just curious. :)

dZ.

#7 Kiwi ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:33 AM

I did run into an issue when writing PONG for the Colecovision.  I couldn't get the sounds to work.  I reviewed the source code that been provided with the newcoleco kit.  Didn't know what's going on, this ROM have music, but the source code looks right.  Then I was like, ok I'm going to just learn assembly and try to get sounds working that way.  I was already half way finished PONG that point. I was slightly upset. Evidently, I compiled the example source code and.... no music.  Hmm that's odd?  Eventually found a source code that had working sound.  Turns out the line that provide the pointer address to the sound table was missing from the source code.  So I added the sound table pointer to that source code, and now it plays music.  So no need to force myself to work in z80 assembly no more. 

 

Intybasic is more easier to program in.  If needed, I can look at the epilogue or prologue to see what it is doing under the hood.  I can do that with Colecovision C.  I have modify Pletter and bitbuster source code to work right, when it failed on the real hardware for not waiting for the vdp to be ready to retrieve data.  I could add assembly library if needed.  I did ask to see source code out of curiosity how box collision work in z80 to see the structure of the code and how the register get modified from the opcodes.  I had z80 wikipedia to see what the opcode do.  I also have 6502 opcode wikipedia and vcs.h open while programming atari 2600 games.

All I really need, array, loops, variables, and branches to build my game frame work.  Intybasic provides that.  I wrote my own sound effect function that works.  I have set up Tilestudio colors to port tileset I made to intycolor to intybasic.  MOBs are a bit harder to make and sandwich, but I use paint shop pro to draw the MOBs and then make bitmap statement in intybasic for each color. Right now, I'm learning the music player of IntyBASIC. So that save me the headache of programming music player for Intybasic. 

 

With Atari 2600, I went with assembly.  I read a lot about the hardware, and experimented with the source provided by the lesson post in the Newbie programming section.  8bitworkshop.com provide realtime change when typing in your code.  So that accelerated my learning on assembly. Also learn that both Stella and Jatari emulator behave different.  So it making the ROM version of the game makes it easier to try in Stella since it's closer to the real machine.  So having 8bitworkshop showing you the changes in real time, providing visual aid, really helps a lot. I have compiled source code multiple of times in a hour just to place sprites in specific place.

 

Intybasic does provide a lot of control of the hardware.  It does have a lot of support if people have question.  I do try answer those question. Don't really need to be forced to learn CP1600 assembly to make games for Intybasic.  Intybasic and Colecovision C makes it very easy for me to produce games.  However, I will use assembly if needed like making page flipping games to make game bigger than 42KB, which I will attempt to learn some day. 



#8 artrag OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:16 PM

Adding name space common between the asm integrated in intybasic and the code generated by intybasic could promote a wider use of assembly in current projects.
You could code in intybasic the framework of the game and in assembly time critical code that has to manipulate intybasic data and variables

#9 GroovyBee OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:44 PM

The following options are missing :-
 
What "platform" do you ultimately target with your games?
Hardware (PCB) - Other

Which of the following do you consider "standard" in modern Intellivision home-brew development?
Cartridge acceleration features

#10 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:00 PM

The following options are missing :-
 
What "platform" do you ultimately target with your games?
Hardware (PCB) - Other

Which of the following do you consider "standard" in modern Intellivision home-brew development?
Cartridge acceleration features


That is very true, GroovyBee! I'll add those as soon as I get home in a few minutes.

 

Done!  Thanks again!


Edited by DZ-Jay, Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:26 PM.


#11 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:38 AM

The one thing for which I was hoping from this poll has already started to reveal itself:  programmers consider on-board Cartridge RAM and capacious 42K ROM map as standard features.

 

:thumbsup:



#12 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:37 AM

Hmm... On the question "the primary reason you program Intellivision games is...", I see two votes for "Other."

 

Can anybody suggest any choice I could add to the question?  I thought that fun, challenge, profit, boredom, and to help others would have covered it (although they were presented with a bit of tongue-in-cheek mirth).

 

    -dZ.



#13 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:44 AM

Perhaps there is a correctional institution somewhere where programming Intellivision games is part of the punishment/treatment to make honest citizens out of rogue people? :-D Those "Other" votes might reflect that.



#14 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:06 AM

Perhaps there is a correctional institution somewhere where programming Intellivision games is part of the punishment/treatment to make honest citizens out of rogue people? :-D Those "Other" votes might reflect that.

 

So, what you're saying is that I should add "because I am legally compelled to" as an option.. :lol:



#15 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:09 AM

Heh, yes. Under a contract perhaps, one that doesn't make you rich and famous but just pays off enough to cover your rent.



#16 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:43 AM

Heh, yes. Under a contract perhaps, one that doesn't make you rich and famous but just pays off enough to cover your rent.

 

OK, it's a good point.  I added "rich and famous" as an in-joke for those who do it to make money since it is such a pittance; but I can see how those who actually do it as a side-job to pay some bills would object to that characterization.

 

I added an option for "side job or spare cash."

 

   -dZ.



#17 intvnut OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:15 PM

I feel like some of the radio boxes should have been check-boxes.

 

As for using jzIntv... You might say I have a special relationship with it.

 

On IntyBASIC, I find it's fine for control logic, but quickly becomes too slow when you need to loop over a bunch of items, such as looping over BACKTAB.  That, and its lack of scoping both push me back to assembly.  If I can bang out an assembly loop faster than I can figure out how to get acceptable performance from IntyBASIC, then I'll just write the assembly loop.

 

As for which hardware I target, "anything."  I write code that's specific to LTO Flash, code that targets JLP, code that only runs in the emulator, code that works in the Mattel 16K map, code that loads into ECS RAM through the tape port via WAV file playback...



#18 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:18 AM

I feel like some of the radio boxes should have been check-boxes.

 

As for using jzIntv... You might say I have a special relationship with it.

 

On IntyBASIC, I find it's fine for control logic, but quickly becomes too slow when you need to loop over a bunch of items, such as looping over BACKTAB.  That, and its lack of scoping both push me back to assembly.  If I can bang out an assembly loop faster than I can figure out how to get acceptable performance from IntyBASIC, then I'll just write the assembly loop.

 

As for which hardware I target, "anything."  I write code that's specific to LTO Flash, code that targets JLP, code that only runs in the emulator, code that works in the Mattel 16K map, code that loads into ECS RAM through the tape port via WAV file playback...

 

Thanks for sharing.  The idea of the single choice questions was to gauge the individual preferences, not to pit one option against another.  You may be an outlier due to your extensive experience, versatility, and your deep connection with the tools involved.  Most programmers just pick one platform and stick to it. :)

 

As for the target platform, I guess I could add a choice for "anything"; but the idea was to get an understanding of what's the actual interest in targeting hardware (an expensive and more involved option) vs. just making ROMs to run on the emulator (the more accessible option).

 

Based on your previous experience, I would imagine you on the "PCB (JLP)" camp just because if you were to release a new game, I suppose that would be your primary target.  That's not intended to express any limitation on your capabilities or attitudes, really.

 

All that said, if you feel strongly about any of the questions, I can easily change them to include more options or allow multiple-choice. :)

 

   -dZ.



#19 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:34 AM

So 61% (8 of 13) are using or would want to use a music tracker, but only 15% (2 of 13) would desire support for dual PSGs. We're musically inclined, but most think the built-in sound hardware is enough for our intents.

 

54% (7 of 13) like to have a ready-made PRNG to use, while the other 46% either don't need random numbers or are rolling their own from scratch. I'm not sure if 54% using a PRNG supplied with the programming language/environment is a bigger or smaller number than expected, as not all games or other applications really would rely on random events.



#20 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:35 AM

An interesting thing I see emerging from the poll is the lack of interest on these two features:

  • Event-driven hand-controller decoder (without having to poll periodically yourself)
  • Sprite animation (i.e., give an array of picture cards and a frame-rate and MOB is updated automatically)

It may be that those two choices are discarded in favour of the option:

  • Nothing, I just need access to the hardware and I can do everything myself

However, what I find interesting is that these are two aspects which (at least in my opinion) most games underutilize or areas in which they underperform.  I would imagine that if the functionality to do the hard part came for free via a built-in framework -- i.e., automatic polling and decoding, in the case of former; and automatic GRAM cycling at various frame-rates, in the case of the latter -- that programmers would use them.  I know I would.

 

I'm curious to know what others think. :)



#21 DZ-Jay OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:41 AM

So 61% (8 of 13) are using or would want to use a music tracker, but only 15% (2 of 13) would desire support for dual PSGs. We're musically inclined, but most think the built-in sound hardware is enough for our intents.

 

I don't think that's what it means.  At least the way I phrased the question was, do you think a second PSG is a "standard feature"?  It could be that 60% wish to use a music tracker, but half of them would not count on a second PSG being available (i.e., they don't expect too many people to have or want to use an ECS).

 

54% (7 of 13) like to have a ready-made PRNG to use, while the other 46% either don't need random numbers or are rolling their own from scratch. I'm not sure if 54% using a PRNG supplied with the programming language/environment is a bigger or smaller number than expected, as not all games or other applications really would rely on random events.

 

I suppose it is likely that of the remaining half, some roll their own and some don't need it.

 

Since these percentages translate to about a handful of individuals in this poll, I can see that, say, invnut and GroovyBee, roll their own; and a couple of others do not use it. :)

 

   -dZ.






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