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Posts posted by potatohead

  1. One kind of work I did was CAD.  Back in the day, I was running wireframe 3D CAD on 386 boxes with 8 to 16Mb of RAM, hard disk, some nice monitor, usually VGA, and sometimes better than 640x480. 


    Had an idea for a program to run inside that CAD system that would help some industry specific people knock out models faster.  Needed my own machine, and the ones I had were not up to the task.  I had an Atari 800XL, Tandy CoCo 3, and a well equipped Apple 2 with 80 column card and an external modem. 


    One day, I scored some Amstrad thing and it had a Hard Card in it!  Was just enough to run the CAD, and I could write my program and so I did!  Was a month or so running pretty big software on a pretty small computer!


    The things I remember:


    Having duplicated files on various floppies to reduce the need for shuffling them around.  Making backups of backups.  Kept my source on a few at a time and would roll them all up into a master each week. 


    That Hard Card filled up fast.  CAD system took most of the drive.


    CGA was the bare minimum, and I was viewing it on a shitty CRT.  That 15Khz signal got burned into my ears. 


    Scored a co-processor chip for the Amstrad and it made a big difference!


    Everything was slow, but kind of exciting at the same time.  Mostly this meant being able to ignore the slow an just focus.  No real task switching.  When I figured out I could boot the CAD, then drop to a shell inside the CAD, it made a huge difference.  Suddenly, I could write, compile test and repeat without the long startup and slowdown cycles.


    Keyboards were great!  Even kind of lousy ones. 


    On my Apple, I would dial up to use USENET in somewhat slow 80 column text.  Moved that to my PC and enjoyed colors!  Spiffy.


    There were not as many features as we have today.  One had to plan out a workflow and then do it.  This often meant launching something, do something, save off the data, close, launch something else, do something else, perhaps use that data, maybe just type it in again, save it off, close.   Wash, rinse, repeat a lot.


    Often, I could think quicker than the computer.  Was always waiting for it.  Today, that is rare, though it does happen.


    At work, on the 386 machines, we would sometimes switch monitor cables to mess with colors.  One guy would go through and adjust them all, and we would switch them back, lolol


    640x480 seemed roomy after dealing with the 200 and 300 line displays from before.  SVGA and friends took those 386 machines up to a 1024x768 pixel display.  In my mind, this was workstation class visuals.  Doing that cost $$$


    Utilities were a bigger fact of life.  File managers, terminal emulators, various little programs I wrote in BASIC to get things done, like format G-code, generate it, perform calculations.  Boot menus were a thing too.  Rather than an OS with some program manager, dock, start menu, people would just boot their machine, get to their boot menu and then select the program or task and do it, then reboot again.  Sometimes one could exit a program and just run the booter again. 


    It was important to know more about the computer.  Adding cards required understanding the machine and configuring to work.


    No sounds but the crappy PC speaker.  Early work computing looked a lot like running an Apple 2.  Sound was considered non essential for working.


    Don't forget to clean that mouse ball!



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  2. The other thing about the FastChip is it really doesn't matter. When you're running the fast chip the CPU is in use on the card, it can see all the other stuff in the computer.


    Anything card to card happens at 1mhz, unless they are wired to one another in some way.

  3. I am not sure whether the Fast Chip RAM works with your slot 0 plan, but you can always turn it off.


    And the speed comes from it running out of it's own RAM.  You get a little boost running over the 1Mhz bus common to all slots.  So that RAM in slot 0 would be like other system RAM, and would run at 1Mhz.


    This is all likely boot choices 

  4. I love the Platinum!  It has turned out to be my favorite with my 800XL and 400 a very close second.  The FujiNet is top of my get list so I can really use them. 


    Great choice!


    I need to get a sound card for mine.  That is next on the list.


    So far, I have:


    CFFA 3K and recommend them highly.  Hope the next runs are less expensive, because I would love to have two of them, but I digress.  I have mine in slot 7, and it's boot menu works great with real drive controller in 6.  


    Super Serial (boot strapping, and the occassional terminal type use)  Slot 2


    Disk controller and a couple drives which I rarely use now.  Slot 6


    FastChip and I recommend this thing too.  It can run from .2 or .3Mhz, up to 16Mhz!  For a lot of things, I run about 2 to 4Mhz.  Real time adjustable.  Also, if you ask nicely, you can get one with a 65816 chip, which ends up the same as dropping a 65802 into the machine. Good for your own programming adventures mostly.  Currently slot 4, and it has RAM expansions built in.


    FWIW, 16Mhz is fast.  100Mhz would be crazy.


    You can get 1024kb RAM expansion included and that works like a RamWorks and one other type for good coverage.


    If you do that, upgrade your CFFA firmware to latest and it will work.  I have had no trouble with anything else.


    Standard 128kb RAM card.


    Joystick.  And I am about to build a nicer one.  I have the Kraft button on stick style and pretty much hate it.  Lol.


    For display, I have a PVM, which is awesome, but a bit overkill.  Lately, I have been using a low hour VCR TV combo I scored for a few bucks and a little amber display.  Just about perfect combo.  Some LCD screens will work.  Ask around.  My Samsung plasma works, but holy buckets!  It is HUGE.


    Play Nox Archaist as soon as you can.


    Then play Lawless Legends demo and hopefully release soon.


    And of course Total Replay as soon as you get a disk emulation capable of hard disks.  That is just great work.  Easy, robust, great game selection.


    Re: GS


    I have one.  It is a great computer.  I just seem to enjoy my //e more.  YMMV, and I would recommend one in a second, given a disk emulation.  Using a floppy can be laborious.




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  5. Floppy by a mile, but I only ever had tape for my CoCo3.  And it was reasonably fast, and did support filenames.  Would just read, until it found the right one.


    I mostly wrote assembly language for the CoCo, and was able to build bigger programs a piece at a time, then load them all, save, etc...


    On Atari, I hated the tape!  Was slow, and iffy.  Got a disk drive ASAP.  Same for Apple 2.


    A good tape system was tolerable.  Better than nothing.


    At my peak with tape, I had made a bunch of custom length ones.  Like a library.  Same program on both sides, super quick rewind after program load.  Just flip it, quick rewind and go.



  6. Apple 2, PC, C128 are all great machines for text adventures.


    If I ran a CP/M machine, I would probably say the same.


    80 column display, good keyboards, enough storage.


    Today, I would prefer to run them on an Apple with acceleration, or a PC with same.


    Nothing against the 128.  I just moved away from those computers.  If I had one, Ibwould totally run it.


    My very favorite is the Apple.  Always was for text adventures and RPG games.  

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  7. I started with tape.  And that experience varied.


    Was slow on the Atari, but worked pretty well!  I used normal bias 15 to 30 minute tapes.  I also made a few custom ones that contained a single program on both sides.  Utility programs mostly.  Made them short so I could just load and go.


    On the Apple it was faster, but a bit more fiddly.  But one could use any tape device.


    My favorite was the Color Computer.  Fast, made effective use of filenames, robust.


    Disks were amazing!  


    The Apple was my favorite.  Fast, robust, and nice long filenames, good amount of storage.  Bzzzt, tuk, tuk, tuk... file types get in the way sometimes.  Can be odd to use from basic.


    Atari was right up there.  I liked the sounds.  Fzzzt.. tadala, talada....   not quite as fast, good amount of storage, shorter file names.  Easy to use from Basic.  The SIO system is cool.


    I only used disks on the Color Computer a few times.  Liked em, but it all seemed kind of clunky.  But really, that was just the simple plug in cart disk controller I used.  


    On the PC, it was disk only, and then hard disks.  By this time, I found the 360K roomy, and after getting a 10Mb hard card for my XT class machine, I thought I had all I would need!  ( for about a month)



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  8. They are two very different, but good experiences!  


    I lost my CFFA 3000 remote!  Gonna have to deal with that, but for passers by, you can use two USB drives.  Copy disk1 and disk2 onto one drive.  Then copy disk3, named disk2 onto the other one.


    When it's time to switch:


    Unplug drive in use


    Move disk1 image to the other drive


    Plug it in


    Carry on.


    Sucks, but it works, lol


    LL hits the disk for more sustained times compared to Nox, but the features in use appear bigger too.  I know that raycaster is a pile of inline code, for example.  


    So far, I'm quite impressed!  These games perform well on a stock Apple 128k machine.  Lots of fun!



  9. Hmm, FastChip will run at speed during sound events, depending on the setting.  Some titles need that. Nox pretty much doesn't.  But, if I ran a Mockingboard, I would imagine that needs 1Mhz too, or it would be crazy.


    Nox start screen sounds hilarious at 5Mhz!  


    I play it at that speed and it is great!  


    I am also not using floppy disks.  Those would have to run at stock speeds.  But an emulator, in my case a CFFA 3000, runs full clock.  The game just flows!


    And it is fun!  I have had a great time with it.


    But, now on a pause too.  Working on some plain Applesoft at higher clocks.  Just BASIC can deliver nicely.  Maybe I will end up with something fun.


    All that said, Nox runs great at 1Mhz!  Great work showing what could have been back in the day.  Sure is fun now.


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