100th post!

Todays post is my 100th post, and I intended on doing something special, like looking at an OS or game that is different or one of my favourites. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to think of anything special to write about, and having been fairly sick over the last week hasn’t help stimulate my brain juices. So here I am strangely awake at midnight trying to write something special for my 100th post.

Firstly, project updates! I’ve been working on a gwbasic game intermittantly since I wrote the original article about gwbasic some time ago. I’ve written a good portion of the game now. I have all the major mechanics coded. I just have to splice it togethor, polish the game a bit and either create some levels or re-do the automatic map generator. I recently downloaded BASCOM which is the compiler for gwbasic programs. I may see if it is possible to generate a native DOS executable!

My new MS-DOS machine has undergone some more tests, and I’ve found I’m going to have to find a way to configure the sound card. Digitised sound seems to work, but FM synthesis doesn’t seem to. I’ll have to find the DOS drivers and mixer program for this card or replace it for something I know works better.

My Sparc station 20 was recently overhauled and in the process I tried a DDS 3 tape drive in it. It worked quite well, but unfortunately I don’t have any DDS 3 tapes to really take advantage of it. I did get a bunch of spare DDS cartridges and am getting a cleaning tape as well in order to service the drives.

I have got FreeBSD 8.1 on my Sunfire R280 machine and have set up workstation style software on it with window maker as the window manager. I’m now looking at the feasability of adding a proper frame buffer card and attaching a USB keyboard and mouse (yes it has ports)  so I can use it properly as a workstation. It’s actually a reasonably powerful machine when you consider it has 2Gb of RAM and two 1.015Ghz UltraSparc III+ processors in it. I’m guessing it was released in the early 2000’s (based on its EOL date) so it would have easily outpaced the contemporary PC’s of the time.

I’ve also finally gotten around to getting the final components I need to get the sunfire V440 machine up and running. I got given a number of server hard drives for the machine earlier this year, but found that the machines required something called the system configuration card. This card is a smart card that basically stores MAC addresses and configuration information for the machine. This meant that you could in theory replace a machine easily by just migrating the hard disks expansion cards and the configuration card. The downside being the machines won’t boot without the cards, with seemingly no response on the serial device.

It turns out these cards are oddly a rare find on ebay, and I had to wait quite some time to be able to order one. It’s coming from overseas so I’m hoping to see it in the next few weeks so I can try and get the machines working.

An annoying bug in the wordpress software you may have noticed affects any screenshots of EGA games. It seems the resizing code doesn’t understand how 4bit indexed colour fits in an image, and ends up converting a 4 bit pixel into an 8 bit one without changing other aspects of the image. So when a browser sees the malformed 4 bit image you get vertical stripes of the original image interspersed with the background colour. I’ve tried a number of different methods of encoding but had the same problem, and strangely it seems intermittant in that no image is affected by it all the time. I checked the original images and they always work fine in everything I’ve opened them in. There doesn’t seem to be a good solution as of yet.

Looking back today over all my old posts, especially the older ones, I’ve realised how much my writing has improved in some areas. I’ve also gotten better at laying out the posts and interspersing them with photos. It’s been a good experience and has motivated me to try games and systems that I wouldn’t have tried if I had not been writing about them. It’s also been interesting reading other peoples work and seeing the different perspectives they bring to some of the same topics.

I realise that there are many others that cover the same material in a more entertaining or interesting way either by video or blog. When I started writing I decided that I wouldn’t worry about what others were doing so much, but to document my genuine experiences with technology and games.

Finally I’d like to thank the people that have been reading and responding to some of my posts. It is sometimes disheartening to see the amount of spam comments I get with so few genuine comments, but it’s been very nice to hear from people when they’ve had similar experience or advice!


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