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=== The Archaic Archives ===

The Archaic Archives
Archive: 1999

This page was updated: June 24, 2020

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January 1999

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite

Happy New Year!

And now the shock that hit me on this January morn -- GEOS is not Y2K compliant.

So what is the big deal, aside from Social Security checks being stopped to people not born yet (who somehow have managed to retire) and the Alaskan Pipeline freezing into a major sludge weenie? Idaho Power is planning to have skeleton crews before the blessed event and then for 10 (maybe it was 24) hours after, 100% of their work force will be on duty. Apparently IP is 100% Y2K compliant. It is just that there are a lot of substations and other players involved in the electric game, of whom they can't vouch for, and they want to be ready. Many of us may perhaps recall a broken branch taking out the entire western grid.

My commodore has a clock, several really. One in the RAMLink, one in the FD and one in the HD. CMD's clocks do not appear to be compliant. That means, for me, that directory searches dealing with dates (at least involved in using the year) will not be in the correct order. The newer files will be first followed by the oldest files. Maybe now is the time to sort archives and make sure that my archive disks get filled to the point where I don't feel I have wasted any space and simply archive on separate disks staring next January (maybe February, if the power is not restored by then).

All my systems and all the programs I really care about are compliant, with the exception of one over on the Atari ST platform. It is a control panel that allows me to enter the time and date when booting up. The control panel, itself is Y2K compliant, it is the auto entry feature that will not allow anything that is not between 89 and 99. I will just have to set he clock after the system is finished booting, use an alternate time entry PRG or break down and buy a clock for my ST. :/

My data bases are Y2K compliant, despite the clock issue, as I enter four digit entrys in all my date fields. In fact, maybe I'll get the jump on the next major problem -- the Y10K or even the Y100K by setting up my fields as:


Who knows, if my data bases on old computers are still being viewed by future computer historians, they may think, "my, what insight he had...."

Well, the biggie for us C= users will be the power. If you have a totally Y2K compliant (or Y100K compliant) machine it will mean little if there is no power to fire it up and do commerce, surfing, or anything else.

Here in the metropolitan Boise area electric is hydro-electric power. And if need be, we can be removed from a power sucking, energy black hole, such as the western grid (that is why we were one of the first to get power back when all this happened -- makes you want to scream less loud (read curse) when you forget to backup when the power goes off! -- Darn straight I just backed this up!)

Well, lets move onto a brighter subject.

I was prompted to recall some wonderful times upon reading of a fellow user's fondest commodore memories in the LOADSTAR Letter. (That oughta get us in the Naniskad ;)

I used to work about 5 minutes from my home, in the top floor of a beautiful old building in downtown Boise. On a few occasions, I'd make myself an espresso and go off to work, on foot, in the wee hours of the morning. I'd fire up my computer and log on to Q-Link. I used to get onto Q-Link long, long ago before that, but those early mornings at the office with a hot espresso and SuperQ playing SID music while I read my email, DLed files, and chatted, were wonderful times for me. There were no distractions, no one was at work, the cleaning crews had been through the night before, the kids were still at home in bed. It was a magical time for me, and one I will always cherish.

Q-Link was dwindling into oblivion; I had tons of stuff to upload that would never get uploaded because of the failed processes. CBM announcements had long gathered dust, RUN was gone and yet I still look back at it as a very precious time.

Probably my worst commodore experience was the day I logged off with SuperQ -- SuperQ didn't validate the disk ID and they were no longer fixing people's hook ups. I demanded, and got a refund. I didn't get to see Q-Link die. I heard it went out with a bang. All possible chat areas were full. I wish I could have seen it.

My next fondest and earliest commodore memories were sitting on my cousin's antique love seat, with my C64 sitting on top of a TV tray, with that long cable Commodore provided to connect the computer to the family TV. I didn't know it then, but I was spoiled by a 29 inch monitor! I guess you need a 29 inch monitor when you are sitting 10 feet away from it. I had no datassette, no disk drive -- the only way I could save my creations was a notebook that I had transcribed the source code into by hand. I would enter these long programs, like the dancing mouse, and hope all the numbers in the poke statements were correct. After quite a few lock ups, I learned to type numbers very accurately.

Probably my fondest memory was when I was at BSU in F suite at Morrison Hall. My friends Larry and Paul and I would crack open an ale and fire up the 64 and play Beyond the Forbidden Forest in the dark. Larry and I were the most hard core when it came to that game. It required only one skill and that was the control of the gray line on the boarder while moving Michael around the screen. Mikey, as we often called him, is the guy you maneuver through the forest, so called by us, because he looked a lot like Michael Jackson and would do a dance every time an evil beast was destroyed. We would not go directly to the cave, we held fast in the forest until it was dark -- that thunder storm was the highlight of it all!

I love my 128D, it has is quite a set up, but my fondest of all computing memories involved my C64. I have run 64 programs on the 128, the 128D, the SX, the 64c the PC, and the PowerMac. But there is something magical about that brown box with keys on top. We have a playroom (part of the garage) where a commodore 64 is setup to do commodore 64 stuff. Mostly games and animations. There is no JiffyDOS, no hard drive. Just a plan C64 with a datassette, a disk drive, and two joysticks. It gets educational and arcaders alike -- and with three kids in the house, things are hoppin'!

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February 1999

Archaic Computer
Brian L. Crosthwaite

Happy Valentine's, a bit late, I'm afraid. I am typing this on a DEL NL25 386SL notebook computer, using Word Perfect 6.0. Not much of an Archaic Machine to many out there, but try to find it listed under RAM in your favourite computer catalogue. It is strange, this machine is faster than the 486 I used to use. It is almost as fast as my A1200 -- almost. Lightning (the PC version now trapped on an old Epson Laptop) is real slow, as on most platforms, but it semi-performs on this machine.

I just happen to be looking for a battery for this NL25 and ran across a listing for the PX-8 batteries! I have not yet verified that the company has them as what I found were merely info sheets. This warrants further investigation.

The CPU (20200620 NOTE: Long defunked) is a new site dedicated to the Computer at large! There is a posting area as well as the ability to add your own (half size) banner to an ad area. Keep in mind, that you will probably get a Java-Script window opened up for every page you visit, just click on the page that is loading again, if it is of no interested to you. Those ads are what keeps them going, so if you find something you are interested in, by all means click on it!

It has been a crazy start to this new year, ok, not so new any more year. I hope to get caught up soon. I have many things sent to me by fellow Vintage Computerists that need to be posted. There has been an answer to a Q regarding PX-8 ROM burnings! So stay tuned as I hope to get that posted next week.

Both the Xone and Apple support are still up in the air. I can't seem to FTP to Xoom, so that is a major problem.

Cool, WP60 just time backedup this file!

(I'm on the iMac now, but since it no longer has 8.2 {upgraded to 8.5}, it is no longer a vintage OS, it is however the original G3 233Mhz iMac.) The Angelfire site is getting a little more attention as I am adding info for PX-8 and other things. These things should be in the news, but, oh well.

Back to the NL25. The NL has a weird floppy that only reads one side and only holds 170K (verses 360K on an SS). So how did I hack the info to here? Well, I was trying out the system when I found that it could only a read DIRs from a couple of disks, but nothing would open, read, or copy from A: I finally figured out that either one head was bad or it was a single sided drive.

I went to the Atari ST and CONTROL PANEL++ and formatted an IBM SS disk. It appeared to work! I successfully installed GW-BASIC and many, many .BAS files to it. But when I went to install the smallest .ZIP version of the C64 emulator (the reason I got the NL in the first place) it would not copy the file correctly. It was about half. Being in retard mode, I thought there must be a file size limit.. wrong, how, why, what the hey....

Anyway, I pulled it out and tried formatting with the ST again and made it the lowest density I could (did I mention DOS 5's FORMAT wouldn't even touch it?). It worked! Of course, I have to copy via the ST, but it works. I have softs on the machine to transfer files via serial to serial to a PC and a cable is on it's way. In the meantime, the format is too small to move the emulator to the NL and C64 requires Hercules.

More as the story develops....

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March 1999

Archaic Computer
Brian Crosthwaite

The following has excerpts from the Archaic Computer Q & A. This month's, TVBUG's version of this column, is interspersed amongst the Q & A and I plan to use much that is here to update and clarify the already posted Q & A.

? ? ? Archaic Computer Q & A ! ! !

Before we get into the nitty gritty, I'd like to thank the many who have helped with the supplying of answers to the Q & A page, including John Maguire, who I met via a letter (or maybe it was a phone call it was so long ago), because I needed help with a new computer I had just purchased called the Epson Geneva PX-8. I needed the CP/M FORMAT command to use the drive and posted a HELP! right here in Bug Bytes that John answered.

Epson PX-8:

Q: I need to know the proper syntax for: SAVE, LOAD, MOUNT and LOGIN.

A: From within BASIC:


dev: ...... device (A: is RAM Disk, H:= cassette, etc) filename .. 8 character alpha/numeric file name option .... A for ASCII file P for protect puts the file into encoded binary format (P permanently keeps file from being listed or edited)

dev and option are optional


dev:  .......     device (A: is RAM Disk, H:=cassette, etc)
filename  ...     8 character alpha/numeric file name
option  .....     R used for chaining files and/or load and RUN

dev and option are optional


REMOVE writes the file names of files that have been saved to tape from RAM to the tape's DIR.

MOUNT will read the DIR on the tape to RAM.

These are to expedite tape usage. When a file is saved, the DIR on tape is not updated until the REMOVE command is executed. MOUNT is not necessary from BASIC, as it is automatic if the REMOVE command has been used before the new tape is put in when LOAD, SAVE or FILES is used.

LOGIN prgno,R

prgno ...... is the program area number (1 to 5) R .......... will run the program

Q: What does "PIP" mean?

A: Peripheral Interchange Program:

From direct mode,

PIP H:=A:filename

will copy a file (filename) from RAM (drive A:) to cassette (drive H:)

The syntax is:

PIP destination dev:[filename]=source dev:filename

Wild cards work also, making it possible to copy more than one file in one use of PIP:

PIP A:=H:*.*

will move all the files from H: to A:

From program mode (loading PIP into memory first), PIP has many, many options and takes up several pages in the manual, which is a bit more complex than I can get into here. However PIP is the same on most all CP/M machines. You might want to check the local library for books on CP/M. (I need to update the links on NC for CPM info as things have moved and may not be of much help.) has a good search engine that may give some good results. Keep in mind you are looking for info on PIP and not the PX-8, since that would limit your search somewhat.

Q: Does the PX-8 computer have built-in BASIC?

A: No, it does not. However, if you have a ROM capsule that has BASIC in it (or cassette) BASIC can be loaded into memory, but it is not built in. If you have the ROM, it will not automatically boot up. It can be loaded by moving the blinking highlight to BASIC on the menu and pressing [RETURN] or load it from direct mode by typing DEV:BASIC, where DEV: is the device where BASIC resides.

Q: What is "ICBA?"

A: Those are the drives selected to appear on the menu screen (the screen you usually see when first powering up the PX-8). I: is the ROM socket on the Modem Pack (you will know if this is installed as the PX-8 will not have foldout legs and will have a place to plug both a handset and a phone line into), C: and B: are the standard ROM sockets on the stock PX-8 and A: is the RAM drive. These are the default drives -- you can, of course, reconfigure the system so the designators are different, i.e. C: can be assigned to RAM, et cetera.

Q: What is "MCT?"

A: MCT is where you setup how your Micro Cassette Tape verifies and saves information. Selecting option 4 from the system menu takes you to the setup menu for that and is relatively self explanatory.

Q: How do you save Wordstar files?

A: ^KS will save (update) Wordstar files from within Portable Wordstar. ^KD close and update, ^KX close, update and exit Portable Wordstar, and ^KQ abandon file (quit without updating). Keep in mind the ASCII save option has a bug, in that it will not save the files as ASCII, but rather as Portable Wordstar files.

Q: I would like to know if I can run a DOS based program with my PX-8?

A: No, the systems are very different.

If you have a compiler and the DOS source code you may be able to compile a downsized version of the program, however many of the labels may need to be changed. It would be a lot of work. The PX-8 can be expanded to almost 128K (it uses part of the expander even if you don't use the RAM Drive) and many PC programs started off needing 128K to run.

There may be a CP/M version of the program in question. At one time, you may have been able to get a version for either, as many programs were available for a wide variety of platforms. It definitely depends on what program you want to run -- Microsoft Word is not going to run under CPM...if you're good enough to port it, you're hired!

Many CP/M PRGs will run on the PX-8 despite the screen size as the display will auto scroll. This is according to the manual and I have not tried any full-screen programs on it, or anything not written specifically for the PX-8.

Q: I would be interested in whether there is still a PX-8 user group, libraries and someone still burning ROMs for them.

A: has the ability to burn & test PX-8 ROMs and has offered to help anyone still using the PX-8.

Anyone have any info on User Groups?

Power Macintosh:

Q: Can the old Quick BASIC for the Mac run on the PowerMac?

A: Unfortunately, it can't. At least, not straight out of the box. The only success I have had at compiling was on a Mac Plus with System 7.4.6. It compiles sometimes on the Classic (same OS), but not on the SE or 6100. I have not tried to compile or run the iMac.

The compiled programs it makes will run under System 7.6 and below, as well as on System 8.5 (when my program locked up the iMac under 8.2, it may have been an extensions conflict). Keep in mind, the iMac is a G3!

I have been setting up a C64 emulator on a DELL NL25. The NL25 is a 386, and for a 25Mhz DOS based machine, it is remarkably fast, at least when it comes to reading the floppy and HD and loading programs.

When I first tried to read the drive, I thought it needed to be cleaned and I cleaned it. It would not read a DS DD disk (720k). I tried a 1.44 -- notta.

I tried FORMAT. I kept getting a Wrong DOS type error and no matter what switch I used, it would not format the disk. The NL has DOS 5.00. Now I don't know if the FORMAT is from an older DOS or what, but it will not run from this machine (as well as FDISK).

Then by fluke I put in a disk and got a directory, but couldn't load anything. Then after cleaning and further testing, I tried a SS DD (360k) disk (formatted with Control Panel+ on my ST) and I transferred all the Gee Whiz (GW-BASIC) files off of my COLT. They worked flawlessly.

Now, lets add the emulator! It only copied half the file. Hmm, file size limitation? Lets try the Hercules requiring emulator. Once again, only about half the file. Back to the ST and Control Panel+. This time I formatted the disk as a SS SD disk (172k). It works perfectly now! One problem. The emulator I want to run, while one of the smallest ones, will not fit (ZIPped even!) on one SS SD floppy. Major bummer, how am I going to get large files to the machine?

I looked on the machine and found it used to be a State owned machine (the state of Missouri) used to do statewide accounting. The person who set up the machine did a fantastic job. Many DOS commands have a batch file that executes them to make using the machine a breeze. There were also a number of documents and memos concerning upgrades and such to the computers they used in the office, including one memo that talked about a program called ZCOPY. And there were two batch files that supported ZCOPY, called ZCOPYSND and ZCOPYREC.

ZCOPY allows you to copy files from one computer to another via a cable such as the Lap-Link. All you have to do is place the files you want copied into a directory called ZCOPY on the root and type "ZCOPYSND" on the sending machine and "ZCOPYREC" on the receiving machine and the computers establish a link and the files get copied over.

I had no cable nor a cable/adapter combination that would work. Enter eBay. I was looking at some listings and one of the items was about to close and no one had bid on it. It was a Lap-Link cable! Well, it was a no brainer -- one week later I had the cable in my hands. The transfer went without a hitch.

Next I entered GEOS on my 128D and configured the system to read my 1541-II, placed Planetarium in and using geoBeap, made a .D64 file. The first one corrupted my RAMLink and was corrupt as well. The next one I tried going to the HD (the actual partition with Little Read Reader on it). I exited GEOS, powered down, turned off RAMLink, activated JiffyDOS (cos, I'm lazy), powered back up and loaded LRR and transferred the file to a DS DD disk (LRR didn't recognize SS SD). Over on the ST I moved the file over to the SS SD disk. I was ready to copy to the NL's HD.

Up to that point, the file transfers had taken a minute or so, but on the NL it is only a second and the entire file was moved onto the HD. This machine is a speed-demon! The program loaded and ran!

This is something I have been hoping to do for sometime -- to have Sky Travel on a notebook computer. I am very close to getting this to happen. I need to get a battery and I will be all set!

I got the NL mega-cheap as the display would breakup and be impossible to read anything on the screen. I managed, at least, a temporary fix and it works perfectly fine. The computer is the size of a text book (what we should really be calling them, as only the computers like the ThinkPad are even close to the size of a real notebook -- although I have had some pretty fat notebooks).

Despite the emulator running rather slow on this machine, with only a greyscale VGA display, (some screens are hard to see, even after adjusting brightness and contrast), Planetarium works well and all screens are visible!

Only one .D64 file will fit on a floppy, but getting them onto the HD is a breeze. The next step for me is to assure I can fix the display problem and get a battery and the Crosthwaite Portable Observatory will be hitting the road soon. I hope to take the kids out to the observation pad before the end of March (weather permitting). More on this as the story develops!

.....end of line.
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April 1999

Archaic Computer
Brian L. Crosthwaite

Well, spring has sprung, spring break has sprung broke, and many projects are getting done. Well, OK, underway. It seems like every time I turn around a new one pops up of equal or greater pressing than the old ones. I did feel good that after removing 5 or 6 items from my projects list, I only added 3 or 4. I'm not sure if that's wishy washy or just uncertain.

Anyway, there have been many updates to the web sites and here is a brief annotated list:

The Archaic Computer Gallery -- Home of The Gallery & Dee El The Gallery showrooms some of the coolest computers from the annals of history. Many of the machines on display are still in use today. The Dee El (read DL) are the Noesis Creationsofts and support files. Noesis Creationsofts are the many programs from the mind of noesis0. The support files are files that just need to be available to everyone. The Dee El is currently under construction. The URL:

No longer: This is merely a Historic Reference. But now:

Noesis Creation -- The Home of Archaic Computer This is where I have set up support pages for both users and computers. Information for the user in the form of articles and a question and answer forum. The machine support is mostly in the form of an adoption agency that helps find orphaned computers and miscellaneous items new homes. The URL:

Or for short:

Nexus, the Bitstream for commodore 8bitters -- This site has the only official listing of dieHard issues. The site is also posting the last 3 issues:

The Legacy Chat Xone -- This site, is unfortunately having some difficulty. The first problem I had was that I found out you can't enter the chat, unless you are a Xoom member, the next thing that popped up was that I can't seem to ftp to the sight, even though they say you can. Now they want the site updated every 30 days -- which I would do, if A) it needed to be updated and B) if I could post my pictures. The URL:



(now defunked: a href="")The CPU (/a) This site is a little different from the others, in that the others are what is often referred to as Vintage Computer Sites (VCS) and The CPU is aimed at computers as a whole. There is a message base, a banner posting area and soon to be a link page that will rival the link pages of NC and TACG with a more modern flair. I might even add some JAVA Crud once the Amiga JAVA starts to jive! (Beware, the JAVA at this site gets a little carried way with banners.) The URL used to be, but there is no modern site to er place it:

TACS (The Antique Computer Store) has had some really nice changes added like pictures and new stock(!).

I only have Web access by a browser equipped iMac, I do not know how commodore-, Atari-, TRS-80- and other- friendly any of these sites are, so if anyone has visited any of these sites with a VT100 or other non-browser technology, please send me some feedback on what it is like. I do try to keep the pages simple as I used to hate visiting places that were filled with [IMAGE] stuff [IMAGE] that [BUTTON] made getting [BUTTON] info a pain. I never saw any HTML formatting aside from buttons and things that appear on a page.

I sometimes go overboard with colors and italics and bold and things in the text body, so I am planning to post a Shareware HTML reader for the commodore from the Net (I'm also writing one on the C128 that I will also do on other platforms as time permits).

I can (no longer) be emailed at:

Well, my program that I will be demoing at the next TV/BUG meeting has been published! It'll load it right off of the LOADSTAR 128 menu! There were some things I had wanted to add to the program, like ability to LOAD and SAVE Koalas, and an ending that reset the computer better (Fender and/or Co. added code to return to LS128 so that was solved). I was planning to make pull down menus, but I didn't have it in me at the time -- I had too many projects. I may write a set of menus that are programmable, so they can be added to anyone's programming endeavours that can be patched to it.


Well, I get letters and postings (on the MRCWBBS also defunked) asking about drive alignment. How to do it and so forth. I tell them what Rex, the local C= tech has been telling our user group all along -- because it's true -- 99% of the time the drive appears to be misaligned, it is due to dirty rails. I have even found that sometimes a simple cleaning of the heads will do the trick.

If your drive sits on your work bench all the time, what has changed? The pile of dust inside has! It is always a good idea to have your equipment cleaned periodically and when it is not in use (any time the power is down) put dust covers on everything -- prevention is always the best cure.

The power here in Idaho has been kind to my computers since I got a Timex sinclair 1000 back in the long ago that is the past. It wasn't until a year or so ago that I ever saw a brown out -- ever. That doesn't mean that there hasn't been any in this area -- I just haven't seen it. My computers are off when I leave for more than a day (standard procedure).

Brown-outs are the nastiest thing that can happen to an electronic system of any kind. Power Supplies are especially vulnerable, but every system is at risk.

What to do? Well, I have most of my computers on what I call Master Switches. But the best defence is to unplug the system from the wall. If you have everything on one strip -- unplug that strip from the wall. Once again prevention is the best cure.

An Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) is a valuable device indeed. These are basically batteries that you plug your computer into. They will usually offer a 30 minute time that you can either brave it out in hopes that the power will came back or you can shut down (recommended). A UPS gives you time to casually shut down your system as you normally would, saving your work along the way. They also offer a steady current flow of clean electricity free from fluctuations and line breaks. That spells brown out protection.

What if your computer is on and you're not at home? After the shut down period, the unit will simply turn the power off -- nice and clean. You can turn your system power switches to off when you return, before turning the power back on, allowing any special startup sequences to take place.

The UPS is not a PC only device. Many have ports to hook up to a PC or Mac that allow communication with the computer and some may even have special cards for auto power down. Don't let this distract or deter you. You may not want to spend the extra money on features that you will never use. Any house hold electronic device can utilize a UPS and so can your faithful commodore.

Be sure to get full spectrum power, as many commodores will not work properly without it.

Brown out repair expenses may well exceed the price of a UPS. Just something to think about.

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May 1999

Archaic Computer

Brian Crosthwaite

Set up.

I was having troubles with using an external drive to boot games. Many programs reset the drive as they load, and if I had softwired them, I'd loose the softwire number and loading would stop. I finally hit upon the following solution.

On this system, the HD is device 10 by default (it is a C128D). After powering up I hit swap on the HD to 8 (this just makes it easier on this setup). Then I type:


This puts the HD into partition one. I then type:


This loads and runs the drive renumbering utility that comes on the Test Demo Disk. I have altered this version to automatically renumber drive 8 to 12, then terminate. I can now power up my 1541 II and boot whatever game forces the reset and there are no problems since the drive's number is 8.

This temporary setup will survive many cartridge resets, as well as GO64 and SYS65357 (used to go from 128 mode to 64 mode). It will also boot CPM just fine with no problems. I have used it to bring online my 1581 as well.

The Shire.

The photo below is actually a fractal rendering of my interpretation of The Shire from which Froto and Bilbo fare.

I needed to put it in the local C= Newsletter, so conversion to geoPaint was necessary. One thing I forgot about, until I went to convert the .IFF to a Paint Image, was the weird way the colors get changed by VGIF64 as well as IPORT (I don't recall how GDS128 handles them) when the .IFF originates from Scenery Animator. Normally, these programs do an excellent job, but for some reason the colors from these renderings wash to black. I have no clue as to why, it's just how the colors are mapped by SA. I used to convert .IFFs to .GIFs via GDS on the PC, the results are the same from Image Studio on the Amiga which is much faster and more convenient.

I usually convert them to a .GIF then a Koala over on the 64. On others that I have converted, I was able to correct the colors, but these all blended into black.

I was reminded of this plight while viewing in VGIF64. So I fired up I Port. The results were the same. I had no time to copy straight IFFs again as this article was due! So I messed with the Equalizer in IPort. On the green line, I lowered the first number, so that most of the black went away. I then lowered the next number to widen the darker green, went back to the first number again and lowered it again to regain some of the light green. I also tweaked the blue and red numbers slightly, but got nothing of any importance to the picture. The end result brought back the trees and grass that had vanished into oblivion before. I then save the image and converted that image as I normally would.

The Shire!

Upon careful exam, you can see some of the infamous color blocks that tend to be characteristic of I Paint projects along the top of the trees. I suppose, had I more time, I could have gone into I Paint and remedied the problem. I might have tried converting directly from IFF as well, had I remembered the black tree/grass/rock problem. VGIF64 is a real nice converter and is recommended in most cases, as color correction is possible after conversion, when needed, in your favourite Koala and/or Doodle (what HIRES .GIFs get saved as), as long as the colors are different or at least different color registers.

Happy conversions! Until next time!

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June 1999

Archaic Computer

Brian Crosthwaite

Lightpen Insanity. And I mean insanity!

The following article, with the exception of this paragraph, was done entirely with the INKWELL lightpen as a pointing device and is a play by play of what I did. For reasons of preserving sanity I have chosen to finish with a mouse.

Well, this is kinda strange. I got my hands on an INKWELL pen and have been using my 2.0, 64 mode, GEOS with it. Everything just works wonderfully. With the exception of geoWrite. Upon opening geoWrite it would crash. So I decided to open a file, purge it's contents and write my article in it's place! Well I can see the text sometimes... wait a minute! No that's not it. I think what is happening, is the pointer jumps to the right of the screen, when I type I see the text appear. While the box is on the left side of the screen, the text appears just fine until I hit space -- then it jumps to the left as far as it can. When I type on the right side of the screen, everything seems fine. The text is also flush with the top of the screen.

One thing I have found that one needs to watch for when using a light pen in GEOS, happens when you select a menu. The pointer stays on the first item on that menu. I have found that moving the pen to the pointer, you can catch it and you can choose the item you wish to select. When choosing fonts the pointer auto-jumps to the top of the submenu, so all I have to do to select the first point size, is choose the desired font from the font menu, then press the pen once more.

I gotta admit, using a lightpen in GEOS is a blast! I don't think the pen in geoWrite, however, is such a good idea. Highlighting a paragraph, or a sentence would involve holding the pen on the screen and scraping it across the glass of the monitor.... Have you recovered yet?

I have to write about it, so I plan to keep this puppy plugged in for a couple of days. Natasha and I played with it in geoPaint -- boy, it made my little drawing program look rock steady! I have tried the spell checker -- no problems there. I removed a text from geoPublish and all went well there. I did notice that in geoPaint, solid black is not recommended, as with any paint or design program the pen normally can't read through such a dark display.

Another annoying aspect is the text scrolling down as I type.

I'm now typing inside geoPublish. The downward motion seems in.... I was going to say inhibited, but it was because I was at the bottom of the page. Now it is behaving like last night, in geoWrite -- disappearing off the left side. The pointer is down and the text is trying to scroll. But unlike geoWrite the editor in geoPublish seems to be allowing me to type. I am using the Commodore font, as I always do when first writing. Now I am going to change fonts -- Palantinto 12 point -- everything works the same. Since my text is pre-poured, I am forced to the left side of the screen where all the vanishing wants to take place. All I have to do is type, rather than just hit space to have it vanish. (geoWrite was doing this this morning as well). Avan Gard 24 point. Same. Text disappears to as I type. Well, I'll try my best.

The scrolling is way out of hand! I'm not sure what changed. I am holding the pen mid-screen, left with my left hand while typing with my right. What a pain!

OK. Jim Collette's Font Changer works great with the pen.

I managed these object graphics with the pen. As usual, the open spline was rather the pain. True to form it was next to impossible to end drawing with it. Only the B in Brian was done with it, all else was line or closed spline. I've switched hands.... Over all, I'd say that the object graphics work well, even in zoom mode. It does take a bit of patients to place -- stay away from the open spline.

The right shift key problem is way bad! If I touch the right shift key the page jumps full left and scrolls up with a vengeance.

It seems that, while most aspects of geoPublish can benefit from the pen (as well as are fun to use this way), the edit mode behaves just like geoWrite and is useless. It would be a good idea to get the typing done with the aid of the mouse all the way to final draft, then finish with the pen as it does add to doing graphics somewhat.

Gateway (A Soapbox).

The Amiga community has been long awaiting the rebirth of the Amiga. You can, today, buy a Gateway company owned Amiga Inc. Amiga 1200. Yippy Skippy.

There are huge piles of 3rd party A4000T computers with maxxed out RAM, Cybergraphics and Picasso boards, 060 50 Mhz accelerators, etc. Amiga Inc. needs to advertise on TV.

I'm sure Amiga Inc is afraid to say, "50 Mhz," when there are systems sold with 300 - 400 Mhz as standard, average, run of the mill systems. Ads would point out that a 25 Mhz Amiga is much faster than a 400 Mhz Pentium.

They need do nothing more than a "Powered by Amiga" campaign. Does Intel make a computer? NO! they don't, but I'll bet you have seen an Intel commercial! One of my neighbours thought Intel was the way to go -- even after I told her to buy an iMac or an Amiga, she bought a Pentium (Micron, support Idaho -- that sort of justification). What would the person coming into the market today think, if they had seen Amiga advertisements?

People -- other than Amigans, who already HAVE an Amiga -- would know of it's existence. Amiga Inc. needs to get the product they all ready have on the market and no other advertising medium better spreads the news than television. A 10 second teaser added to one of the many Gateway ads would spark curiosity and interest among the masses.

Adobe, Symantic, Humongous Entertainment, to name only a few, would get competition back in the Amiga software market if people were saying "I'm gonna get one of those Amigas!" I'd love to have Photoshop for my 2000!

Are you starting to catch my drift?

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July 1999

Archaic Computer

Brian L. Crosthwaite

H A P P Y 4 t h !

OK, I got lazy on the HTML, but I'm editing live -- so please forgive the typos and spelln erers ;)

Octavia just turned 2 today. 2 and a half hours ago, in fact. She is quite comfortable using the computer. She has renamed files and folders on the iMac (something I no longer leave on if I walk away). She blew a Zip disk the other day (thank the heavens for Norton). She knows her way around the keyboard as well. If you try to play the piano in our house, you will have to play a duet, as Octavia will jump up on the bench and play along.

I have one of those chairs where you sort of kneel while you sit. I call it my knee chair. Octavia loves to sit on it, with her knees on the lower part and she leans over the edge to type on the CDTV. It usually rolls and she becomes a bridge from the chair to the computer, unable to let go or she would fall and she knows it, as there is panic in her cry.

Our play room has a PET 4032 setup on a box of Atari stuff. It hasn't been plugged in in quite sometime, but that has not kept Octavia from Hacking the Net.

She is always into-it. No matter what it is, she is there unloading it, putting disks in it, pushing buttons, scaling it. She used to use one computer's keyboard to stand on to reach the commodore 64 that sat on top of a small pile of equipment. Needless to say, computing in this family is not a casual affair.

Have an insanely safe one.



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August 1999

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite

(The following article was started on a GRiDCASE 286, but became corrupt. All original content is gone, and I am writing this in Mid-October).

Well, I am amazed. I had surgery on my lower back (Low as you can get and still call it the Back), and the pain I have been enduring for well over twenty years is gone. In fact, in the hospital my IV got plugged at some undetermined time and I was in no pain.

I was never in any pain from the surgery, but as my body had no reason to twist and bend sideways to avoid my disc's contents from pushing on my nerve, I found out just how many mussels one uses to stand straight. When my muscles get tired, I just sit in the recliner and in about ten minutes, I'm ready to go again. And yes, the hardest part is taking it easy, especially since I feel fine. I had Tylenol 3 and after the first half week or so, I haven't taken any.

Now, being a hacker, one would think I have a working laptop that I could keep near for sanity. Well, both my PX-8's batteries need replacing and I really don't want to have them laying about without a way to quickly get them out of Octavia's grasp. My Epson Equity Lt is far from light, although, Antony has carried it out a couple of time to mess with, but it is really as much the miss-nomber name as it implies -- Laptops aren't. Maybe a standard definition for Laptop should be any computer small enough to put on your lap, but large enough to put your legs to sleep ;)

Last month, in prep for this month's "taking it easy," as the Surgeon put it, I bid on three laptop computers. A Leading Edge 386 (unknown working condition, but looks to be in great shape -- a grab bag, roll at the roulette wheel, if you will), a working GRiDCASE GRiDROM and a Toshiba 8086 (Yes, a 6!).

The GRiD -- no way would I put that puppy on my lap, but the other two would definitely help keep the sanity -- at least the Toshiba as it is working with the power supply.

I was slowly warming up to the idea of getting my email by basically standing on my knees. I couldn't do if for long, but it allowed some communications with friends by means of reading, coming back to it later and writing. I also sent a couple of emails concerning the laptops as none had arrived in any reasonable amount of time.

A negative feedback rating on one of the sellers made me nervous as I had bought two of the computers from them. But they were very helpful and communicative. One of their reps said their normal shipper had gone on vacation and the replacement didn't know how to get tracking numbers, so he was going to get them for me.

Well, finally, a package arrived. It was a GRiDCASE -- a 286 with a bad PS -- not the item I bid on. He said they messed up, keep it their compliments, he'd find and ship the right one.

Finally, in mid to late September, another package arrived -- it was the GRiDROM! waycool! The Toshiba was the XE version, and not what I bid on. I told them as October our moving day was quickly arriving, that I'd happily keep this one if it worked and they could send me the PS.

In Mid-October I got an email from the rep saying that he'd tracked down a PS and would be shipping it shortly if all went well. I have yet to see it, and have heard nothing about it shipping and I never received a replay to two separate email from me telling them the address to send it to, as I had moved.

Back to August. Fortunately, walks are OK, and it is a great sanity saver for me as I can walk until the cows come home and go out again! (Where do they go anyway?)

The day I have been waiting for is September 10th, when the Surgeon says I can get back into things again. Even now, I don't know if, or when I'll get back into Ti Kuon Do. It'll sure be nice to pick up the kids (even if it's to pull Octavia off the keys of the computer!).

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September 1999

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite

The following was written after the move, in early October. It is written from memory and has a mind set that I had back then. It is from the cobwebs of my mind....

Well, I was supposed to loose my address as ACIS was dumping newsgroups and iNet mail on the 1st of this month. I still have access and as my weekly ritual allows, I email my KEPS to that address, since that is where I usually log on with my ST.

The program I use to track satellites originated on the Atari 8-bit platform and was converted over to the ST (I don't have any names or specs at this time as I only have one computer set up). I track Hubble and Mir virtually, as I only watch these orbits from the Studio. In October I hope to get my telescope set up at the new house.

Most of the Studio is in boxes. I planned the big system tear down for the 1st as that was when access to the internet from here was to end. I tore down the Amiga 1200 system first, then packed up all the stuff that was under it (A1k mother boards, keyboards, printers parts, my catalogue case, etc.). From there, I had full access to the recording portion of the Studio. Packing is going slower than I remember. Each component and computer needs to be unhooked from a myriad of cables and cartridges, all carefully dusted off, and properly packed.

I have some shredded plastic, it makes fair packing material, but it makes for a heavy box. This stuff killed our vacuum cleaner.

Next I need to hit the cassettes and printers at the end of the commodore work station..... ....This didn't take too long, but when I went on to do the commodore 128D and the 128DD (the 128DD is a 128D outfitted with audio and video digitizers), the tearing down of these two systems took almost two days! Now there were shelves filled with various softs that were apart of the set up, a VCR, and all the power stuff for that side of the room, so that accounted for much of the time. It was not a solid two days, as there are kids around that require a lot of attention, food and transportation, laundry, house stuff that requires attention and so forth. But still....

Last to go was the ST, CDTV/A1k and A2k work station. The Amiga library! The Tandy 1000, and the TRS-80 Model 100 drives and PSs and all the stuff underneath.

It is all packed! Oops -- next day I find that there is stuff in the corner on the wall. A Halloween ghost, a Klingon Bird of Prey Christmas ornament and some headphones -- slap them in a box.

The garage

Now let's look at the garage. Most people either have a place to park a car, or they have this room in their house that has this ginormous door on it that never gets opened where they store piles and piles of.... Well, you get the idea. We fell into the latter category, when I finally decided I wanted to play with my C64, my plus/4, my VIC20 and my Timex/sinclair. So I set up a playroom!

This playroom has all the commodores mentioned, the T/S1000, an Atari play area, some Commodore COLT PC stuff, and IBM PC, a Xerox 820 II, an Apple IIc -- the list just goes on. I pulled some systems out to sell on eBay and was selling them when all came to a grinding halt as my back stopped me flat in my tracks. So the playroom is sort of a messy storage facility now. There are tons of the usual garage things out there, plus our washroom grew as we got a regular washer and drier, thus pushing the library (also out there) over and making the storage problem a problem.

We also have our pantry, canning goods, tools, and camp gear out there.

One and a half weeks later I am totally exhausted from wadding up papers, so I figured since I need boxes for some of the larger systems -- I'm gonna buy packing peanuts!

One hour to wad up enough paper to fill the spaces is such a waste. I am so glad I bought these, Ghost Turds, as a friend of mine calls them. Plus I can ship things in these boxes I bought. I am finding lots of stuff to eBay. This fits in with my original plan of getting rid of the stuff I no longer play with to make room for what I do.

Another week comes to an end and I should have had all this stuff in the garage packed. I can see I didn't plan well. I put different sized boxes in piles and now I can't pile it up very high, as they may topple or crush the smaller ones that wound up on the bottom. I am running out of stacking room. It is time I packed the living room and used it to store garage stuff.

Boy that was getting kinda stressful. Even though it took an extra half week to get the garage, I managed to get the living room packed as well. That will save time down the road. Only four more days before we move!

Well, the cars are now packed with stuff, all that is left to do is pack the bed cloths and we are outta here. What an intense couple of months. Back Surgery. Recovering, knowing I will be packing soon, while keeping up on the day to day with three kids, adding the extra stuff I could do before the move (cleaning light fixtures, ovens, walls, etc.). Then packing and cleaning. All the dust has really gotten to me. Tomorrow is the big day -- October 1st -- moving day.

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October 1999

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite

The Drudgery of it All.

What a pain! All those boxes, it's like a maze down here. The cat and Octavia (in particular) and Natasha, love to go into the new Studio/Playroom. I guess having a down stairs is a novelty for them. Mia got most of the kitchen unpacked, and we managed to get most of the living room, kids rooms and our room looking like a home. The kids need new toy boxes as the old ones were falling apart, so they still have quite a few boxes. Mia set her office up in the master bedroom and it still has plenty of room in it -- it is huge! But the Studio and Garage are such a mess.

The movers decided to mix up the boxes and place them where ever the heck they saw fit to throw them. Only time, lots of it, and patience will get me there.

The first week, nothing, notta, OK, I vacuumed a spot where the L table goes, or at least part of it, there is a wall of boxes from hell in the way and I have no place to put them. To the store room -- hey, they said this was packed tight -- there's not very much in here, lets put the storage boxes in a pile and bring in more, move the L table into place, put this particle board monster here, drawing table on top -- OK, we're well into the second week here. I really need to get the door table near where it's going to go, and that bookcase needs to go over there, and -- wow that's a huge and heavy box and it is in my way! Squeeze this bookcase though here, move that huge box here, there -- glad I remembered to vacuum first!

Still quite the maze down here. I should be done in about a year!

Halloween went well. We had our yearly Haunted House and had quite a few visitors. All the parents came up to the door (rather than waiting in the street), so the kids got to come in on an adventure of finding the clues to lead to the candy before Dr. Frankenstein made his monster. Of course Dr. F. succeeds, but not before the kids get their treats, as they dash out the secret passage behind the Piano!

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November 1999

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite

The Studio!

Well, it has been a lot of box juggling, but I have managed to get the new and the old Amiga 2000s set up, the CDTV and Amiga 1000, both 128Ds (I finally found my mouse!), the Mega ST and a C64! There are a few boxes here, but it is coming together!

The New Amiga 2000.

The new Amiga 2000 has an Emplant Mac card with OS 7.1 on it, an 030 accelerator, and 16 Megs of RAM (I know -- I'll never need that much ;) This thing is faster than the CDTV and the 1200!

I have the resolution set at 1250 * 700 something (more than the iMac can do) and I love it! I have so much room. Unfortunately, my Amiga 1080 monitor decided it doesn't need to stay on for more than a millisecond. :(

Behind the A2k pile is the recording section of the studio, in a closet with folding doors that I can close to keep little munchkins out. To the left of the A2k pile is an old VCR cart I got at a yardsale that I put my keyboards on and the old RCA top-loader VCR on the bottom (the weight keeps it steady ;)

I have room for the drawing pad for the CDTV and the 8 Meg addon for the A1k. I even have my C= US*8 calculator set up!

The software library is just kinda sorted by computer and nothing else -- just to get it out of the boxes. I have managed to put the magazines in order as I unpacked them.

I still have lots to unpack, and organize. I think if I had thought about it before packing I would have packed all bookcase things first and move them and the bookcases to be packed first and unpacked last, as they seem to be the stuff that is mixed up the most. Maybe I could have made up some numbering systems or sorted alphabetically.

If one of several things hadn't happened, I may have been more organized. Most likely the biggest problem with organization was that I was eBaying a huge pile of stuff and had to stop before I was done as my back was giving me so much trouble. The pile had to be moved and it was in the way of the other things. It would have been nice to have shipped those rather than moved them, but then I can't wait to get back to eBaying once again!

I still get lots of email, but have been slow at getting back to everyone. I have been scanning books for Mia's new bookstore Living I have been using Mia's iMac, which is what I use to get online with. I hope to get online with the Amiga 1200 (I just figured out where I am putting it!) and scanning with the A2k. At least that's the plan. All projects have been on hold, with the recovering, packing, unpacking, holidays, etc. But I have things organized to the point where I can better manage it and should have stuff going again fairly soon. I have been making an effort to get online at The Mousam-River Community WebBBS and say hello and take care of my duties there. Things are kinda loosening up now.

I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your's...

Happy Holidays!

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December 1999

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite

Merry Christmas!

Well, Mia's running an online business at home has kept me from my appointed rounds. I haven't been online much, and when I am it tends to be on a local BBS (Applied Computing Information Service). I definitely miss getting online. I have many things that need tending.


I have been trying to get a scanner hooked up to the Amiga 2000. I finally figured out (not from Commodore's information) what was going on. John mentioned that he thought I need to un-terminate the SCSI so the computer could boot. I got on CUCUG's site and found a couple of info files and with the help of a hardware checking program I was able to determine that this computer has a G-Force030 in it (the board said nothing). I now know where to go from here as far as what I plan to do hardware wise. I found a scanner PRG on AMINET, but have not been able to DL it as I assume the server is down for year end maintenance or last second Y2K stuff. (Anyone have it to email to me?)

Yes, I am writing this late, in fact there are less than 12 hours left in the 1900s. I just wonder what 2000 will bring. All the gearing up seems to be aimed at Jan 1. I am guessing most of the problems will span the first 12 months of the new century, slowly popping up when Y2K Bug becomes a forgotten term.


In the commodore realm I have been writing a new program for the C64. Rather doing research into how I want to do it. I need to put a HIRES MULTICOLOR screen at 40960 -- anybody know the OR numbers off hand? Actually, that is not my dilemma. I will probably compile it. This puppy might be a strange PRG that will run in GEOS or from BASIC. Unfortunately, if I do that, it will only run on the C64 mode only in GEOS. I'm gonna be doing some serious hacking to pull this one off.

I have also been exploring Epic's Programmers' BASIC Toolkit. But I really need a different version of it as to make it work with RAMLinks and other CMD devices, as this one has Vorpal built in and it only loads from 41 or 71 drives. Vorpal is a fast loader that appears to be an integral part of this package. But it appears to have been added to later versions, maybe removed later? I don't know. I am using it from my RAMLink, but my 1541 is on and has a channel open on it. (I have no clue what I did, or weather the open channel is what is keeping me from a crash ;)

Any ideas about hacking Vorpal out of the system would be appreciated. I should do a search on the net, maybe there is info!

I hope everyone has/had a Wonderful Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Century and millennium!



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