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About cliffh

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    Star Raider

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  1. The Raspberry Pi packages have been released. There is a separate one for the new Pi 4 because of major hardware changes. The first time you run the Pi 4 version you have to go to <Display Settings>, <Video mode settings> and turn on <Hardware acceleration> - otherwise sound and graphics are jerky in full screen mode. Hopefully this will be set by default in future releases, but it has to be done by hand for the time being.
  2. The pinion is definitely an essential component although I can't remember exactly what it does. It is probably not missing from your machine, but detached inside the mechanism. I think it may re-engage on the shaft when you put the wheel back, just tightly enough to transmit the drive, but not enough to hold the wheel in place when the machine is operating the right way up. I recall I could make mine work by pressing lightly on the centre of the rotating brass hub with a fingernail - which is maybe equivalent to the gravity effect you have noticed.
  3. I had the same problem. The wheel should be held in place by a small nylon pinion on the far end of the shaft, see pictures here: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/203693-atari-1010-hong-kong-unit-help-not-belt/
  4. Wonderful! It’s a pleasure to watch the program solving, and very instructive to see the MADS source code. Thank you very much for sharing it. The performance you have managed to get from the 8 bit Atari is amazing. I got interested in Sudoku earlier this year when a friend told me about his solver and described how to encode the rules of the game in a table of indices (identical to your table “CellIntersect”). I wrote my own solver in C using a brute force recursive search, and was surprised how well it worked. It solves most published puzzles in a fraction of a second, but it depends on a modern machine that can search millions of values per second of course - and is not smart enough to be useful on the Atari. My program always searches the entire tree of consistent values, so as the number of clues in the start position is reduced the solution time rises exponentially. If I understand correctly, the situation is slightly different for human players (and I guess for your program too) and the main challenge is posed by the length of the sequences requiring speculative placement of values. I tried running this extreme 17 Clue Puzzle on your program, and it made very light work of it, solving in only 2.4 seconds. In contrast mine took 5 minutes and searched 1.9 billion moves – definitely a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut! Cliff
  5. Thanks JAC! - this system is superb. I just started tinkering around with assembly code again after a lapse of 30 years, and decided to take a look at the WUDSN IDE. I loaded the 32 bit zero installation distribution on my XP machine, and managed to get one of my original VBI routines running very quickly - I just needed to alter the syntax a little to suit MADS. I was astonished how easy it was to get started. I had expected it would take me several evenings to find my way through the development cycle, but in fact it took about one hour - it's all very intuitive and nicely designed. I still have a lot to learn about the IDE, but I'm looking forward to using it to write some new code. I'm sure this will be hundreds of times easier than it was back in the day with those clunky editors, debuggers and tiny screens - they were great fun at the time of course, but I welcome the improvement. Best Regards Cliff
  6. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to Gunnar and everyone at NOMAM for another great competition!
  7. I’ve just had exactly the same experience! The pulley wheel fell out of my machine because the pinion on the far end of the shaft came adrift. I managed to get the parts out. Inspection with a magnifying glass revealed that the pinion had cracked along its length, on a line between two teeth where the plastic is thinnest. I think it’s designed to be a push fit, so is constantly under tension and prone to fail after a lot of years. I couldn’t see any prospect of making a lasting repair, so I have opted for the same solution as you and have replaced the drive mechanism. Actually, I’ve amalgamated parts from a broken machine with a good case and a working one with a badly discoloured case, to make a nice hybrid (Hong Kong case and Japanese works).
  8. Here is my entry for this year’s competition, Apple Max, in the Atari Turbo Basic PUR category: Apple Max.atr Apple Max Manual.pdf Apple Max Code Description.pdf In this game you play the part of a genetic engineer, designing the genome for a new variety of Atarian apple tree. The aim is to create a tree that produces the maximum possible number of apples. Details are in the manual. I made some changes to the scoring system, so this is a slightly different version to the one that appeared in earlier screenshots. Best Regards Cliff
  9. That happened to my game Nimx too, and I guess to all the games that use the default graphics mode, but it was corrected in the final release - so all is well. The final release (NOMAM14_final2.atr) is here: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/221948-basic-ten-liners-contest-2014/?p=2981394
  10. I just finished listening to the interview with Bill Wilkinson. What a special Christmas treat that was - and indeed what a special treat the whole series has been! Thank you Brad, Kevin and Randy for producing these podcasts. I particularly enjoyed hearing Bill's first hand description of Action. Up until 1984 I used Atari Basic and Assembler because they were all I had. I had a lot of fun with them, but at times I found their lack of structure hard going. From 1984 onwards I mostly used Action for its speed and C-like structure - and I thought it was a breath of fresh air. I used it until 1989 when I bought an Acorn Archimedes that I could program in C and my 8-bit era came to an end (temporarily as it turned out). I think that those of us who were captivated by computers in the 1980s will never forget the vibrancy of that era. Neither will we forget Bill and others, whose creative products we enjoyed, and whose books and magazine articles we read so avidly. The experience was life-changing really – totally fun and totally educational! Best Regards Cliff
  11. Firstly, please convey my thanks along with others to Bill for contributing so much to a fun era. I would love to hear about the history of any of the OSS products - particularly Action, which I thought was a real gem. My question is: Who designed Action? - but I think I already found the answer here: Google turned up two names for me: Clinton W Parker and Henry G Baker from the University of Rochester. Perhaps you could put the question to Bill anyway. Did OSS have to modify the design much to turn Micro SPL into Action? Whoever did the work, the end result is a credit to them. I think they made some very good decisions about which features to include and which to leave out to build a practical language for the 8 bit Atari. --- Also: Was Action a commercial success? I hope it was, but the reason I ask is that I was the only member of my computer clubs in the 1980's who had an Action cartridge. I couldn't share my work with my fellow enthusiasts because I didn't have the runtime library and couldn't make distributable programs. I have often wondered if other Action programmers were similarly isolated, and if this great language failed to catch on partly for this reason. I don't recall ever seeing the runtime library advertised for sale here in the UK (but maybe I just didn't buy the right magazines). Apart from one reference to it in the manual, I knew nothing about it until recent discussions on AtariAge. Best Regards Cliff
  12. Thanks for my prize Bunsen. It arrived yesterday. Several people have said that writing the Ten Liners was the most fun they've had programming their Ataris for years, and I feel the same. Ten lines of Turbo Basic allows for a lot of creativity without taking up too much time. I'm amazed at the quality of animation and graphics produced by many of the contestants, also by the ingenious methods used to extend lines of code beyond their normal length. A final word on Nimx (this is not entirely Atari related, but I think it's a nice illustration of how good the Internet archives have become): When I was researching the game I came across Faster Than Thought in archive.org, published in 1953 . The quote about Nimrod being so popular at the Berlin Trade Fair that the visitors ignored the free bar appears in chapter 25 (page 287). This is generally attributed to Alan Turing and he was indeed one of the authors of this chapter, so that seems to tally. I think the book is a fascinating historical document. It describes machines that were 30 years old when the Atari 8-bits were new. Now the 8-bits are 30 years old, but it strikes me that they have aged rather well despite the accelerating pace of development. They contain most of the components of modern computers: keyboard, graphical display, integrated circuits, disc drives etc. I was surprised to find that I could follow the history right back to the US Patent for the Nimatron filed in 1940 , and even Bouton's original solution of the game published in 1901 . Best Regards Cliff
  13. Congratulations to Xuel and pirx on their category wins - and thanks to Bunsen and the folks at NOMAM for running a fun contest. I'm looking forward to seeing the ATR and all 40 games. Best Regards Cliff
  14. Here it is: The display isn't static. It replays the solution in an endless loop until you press break.
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