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January 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite

Happy New Year!


Well, it seems I am at the Solutions Project all over again. I set up the space for the Annex in the garage. The original Solutions Bench is in that room. All it has setup is the C128. But it is not really setup, it is more just out of the box. Very little is plugged in. I'm a bit bummed as I have yet to fire it up and the fact it has sat all this time unused and uncovered -- the dust covers were not put on -- really adds to this bummification!

I had spent quite some time planning the Annex Project, but it never got finished. I did get use of the space for eBaying as there is a bench to setup machines for cleaning, and testing. Many of the postings were photographed there. But when the new kids came home, life changed.

When the three littles were adopted, my time became Isaiah's time. He requires loads of attention. Ah, but he is 9 years old, surely he could just go off and play for 30 minutes while I pull out some stuff to post, or he could help me -- kids love to help. In reality though, his wiring is so messed up that these things aren't and option.

He came from a bad place. Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD is what happens to kids who are neglected. Neglect is the worst thing that can happen to a child. It turns out all that silly stuff I did/do with my babies -- you know those things like peak-a-boo, playing with cutie toes, etc -- those things are required to form healthy attachment.

Neglect is the worst thing that can happen to a child and neglect can actually happen in utero.

When a baby has a need, he cries. The parent gives her attention. The baby is satisfied. That is the big picture, the details are Need (wet diaper, hunger, etc), Expression (fussing, crying, etc), Attention (coos, new diaper, etc), Need Met, starts over again. This is a cycle that bonds child and parent. When this cycle does not happen regularly, the child does not attach and this is known as RAD. This bond is what actually forms our consciences -- that part of us that knows right from wrong. This is the healthy and natural state of things and anyone who gets a baby can do this and form a bond; Mamas, Daddies, etc.

This Attachment is transferable in healthy relationships. Grandparents or any care giver can form the bond, the child does not have to have a blood line to the person/people they are attaching to. But without this bond the child trusts no one. Because the child's needs are not getting met, the child must meets it's own needs. New babies and little kids and any one who never bonded will not function correctly, and if they never form this Attachment, they will grow up to be sociopaths. They will end up in prison.

RAD kids control and manipulate, they seek out adults to see what they can get from them. They drool and fart on command. They mess themselves. They are all elbows, they pinch, they vomit at will. What they want to do is stay unlovable and unloved. Love is too scary. They loved once and it was not returned and they were hurt. It's just a bad thing all around.

There is hope. RAD is curable. Kids at all ages have hope if there is someone to do the work. My nine year old still cuddles his Daddy with a baabaa. A baby bottle filled with sweet milk (milk and sugar). He looks into his Daddy's eyes and we cuddle. There are many things we do, rocking, etc. He is no longer RAD, but there are old patterns that pop up everyday. He is just learning to express his feelings in appropriate ways.

He still falls back into old patterns -- and yes, this is the hardest, most intense thing I have ever done/do/gone through. It requires gobs of time and energy. It is hard to give and give and give and not have any reciprocity.

So the Annex awaits.

The garage is a nice place to play with computers, but I rarely get out there now. At least, not in that bay. Add the brooding of chickens and the dust content in the air skyrockets. The Annex is walled off with sheets of plastic, but it is hardly a dust free environment.

I fired up geoPaint on the 128D and made a blue print of the Shop. I have been experimenting with various layouts involving the Solutions Bench in place of the computer table. I have it worked out so it will take less space and I have access to the shelves blocked by the present table. The biggest problems to solve now are the printer and things that are on the bottom shelf of the table. It had a shelf for things like paper and stuff.

Part of what I want to accomplish is to get the Xerox 820-II setup. And perhaps of few other machines, not currently accessible. Over all, I want to downsize the NC collection.

I have started filling boxes and taking them to the nearest 2nd hand store. But it has been slowed down by the prep for vacation. I managed to actually get to projects this past year (2015): in May I bought fencing to expand the chicken yard, we put black plastic to eradicate weeds on the front garden, I finally got the fence up in Mid-July, I built a new chicken coop and it took weeks for me to get the time to get the roofing on, but it did get done.

We realized that we didn't have time for a big garden as we spent so much time with the "Littles." So we pulled back on the size, and even then, weeding has not happened.

Apple computers.

It seems selling Apple computers has constipated my eBaying activities. It seems that I had been doing fine eBaying and moving machines out the door until about 10 years ago or so when I came upon the Apples.

True, home schooling filled much of the time, kids being older, you can't pop them in a snuggly anymore, etc. Life just got more complicated, I suppose. I have not really supported Apples. I have an incredible amount of info on the machines. Plus, I seem to still have many machines, mostly the Apple IIe and the Apple IIc families of Apples. I have at least three Apple IIs and an Apple III (I plan to keep the III). I also have an Apply IIc in the studio that is not setup that I'd like to get on the SB.

All in all, it is moving at a snail's pace. But, as the littles get healthier, and things get slightly less intense, I hope to be able to focus on clearing the barn and the garage bay out. The big plan for the bay in a Lego Robotics Lab and an HO train pike! All I need is to apply serious time to bring this into fruition.


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February 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite


Well, Disneyland has been wonderful! But the WiFi at the RV Park just sucks. It appears to be mostly a bandwidth issue. But then it seems to drop signal strength as well.

When you can log into places like Facebook, then after the signal drops you type a three or four word post and it takes forever, you can't help thinking the bandwidth is being wasted.

Remember BBSes?

You would type a paragraph or so, then send it on it's way. At 300 baud, your 7-bit message posted pretty quickly. Now, you were linked directly to the server via your phone line and you were probably one of the limited number of callers online -- usually one.

But when a page on a clear cable connection takes time to show up, then there is serious questions as to why. OK, FB has lots of users, and I mean lots, (and I'm guessing usage) -- as in online at the same time -- is in the upper millions. But I'm also willing to guess they are on many, many servers. It's a big system. My issue today is one of poor WiFi.

There are at least 5 nodes to this park that I can catch a decent signal on, but they are not stable enough to log into. The nodes come and go from being totally visible to simply gone. Not the best signal, but between -71dB and -60dB, which should be totally usable. But then they vanish. Perhaps the strong signal is an illusion from so many trailers, then a car drives by and like dandelion seeds, the signal scatters, reflected off every metallic surface for yards around.

It just seems that I should be able to send a fairly small amount of data quickly and have it appear sooner, rather than later.

Well, time to get the troops up and prepare for another day at the Happiest Place on Earth.


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March 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite


As I write this, it is September, Autumn is still a week off, we are in Anaheim and it has been hot and muggy, but not unbearable. Summer is my favorite time of year. But Halloween is my favorite holiday.

I had experienced a renewal of interest in one of my favorite fantasy movies -- Star Wars. I procured a changing light saber last spring, I believe. It has a couple of modes, but the mode I leave it set at fires up thus: Light saber startup sound, lighting up from the hilt to tip in blue, the sound of thunder (more like the sound of lightning spats), it flashes and turns red and over the saber hum, you hear Darth Vader breathing.

Now, to me there are two separate Star Wars Universes (when I say Universes, I am using the term to speak of the reality in which such a world of events would exist).

The first is the one I like the most, it is the original three movies that set the cannon. Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. And yes, The Empire Strikes Back is the Best Star Wars movies ever made. These movies are in there original forms. You know you are in the original Universe when the first movie made shows its opening sequence with the scrolling text and it says: "STAR WARS," no "Episode IV," no "A New Hope." That's the way it was originally. I recall hearing "A New Hope" and thinking, "What? How'd I miss that?" No, I hadn't missed anything, it was added later.

The second, is the Universe created by the making of Episodes 1, 2, and 3. Where the cannon went out the window and an all new reality was made up. While, for the most part, this is a sucky Universe, I have to admit, there are some really cool things in it. Mostly special effects and supper wild rides.

But, I digress.

Years ago, Mia made me a cowl for a Halloween costume. I used it at Halloween to be Death. It is wool and on cold Halloweens I'd wear it and on warm Halloweens I'd wear something else. She also made me a Hawaiian shirt that was full moons, witches and skeletons dancing. I'd wear that with a hideous half mask that was a huge open mouth with a tongue reaching out. More comical than scary, but weird. Really weird.

This year, if it is to be cold, my plan was to go as Anakin from the new Universe, wearing the cowl and carrying the light saber. But last night at Disneyland I procured another prop -- The Undertakers Hat of The Haunted Mansion genera!

So now, if is warm, I can wear my pinstriped shirt (possibly with my glow in the dark long sleeved skeleton tee) and the hat and go as an undertaker. We shall see...

I remember times in the history of Archaic Computer, that I missed getting articles written and postings would get behind. Now it seems I am getting a head. It is interesting to see the varied speed at which these articles come about. Camping has been the key for wring for me for sometime. For some reason, I don't seem to write in the a.m. at home, at least it is pretty rare.

I think we only went camping twice this year. But, Mia and I have been on parent weekends and that affords me more time and much more peace.

I have come to realize that my cortizol levels are high from dealing with the constant, unrelenting stress of bonding and raising these three kids. They really have had it bad.

It is hard to see it, we know nothing or at the very best inaccurate information and guesses. It is a constant strain. The very first, way over due, parent weekend we went on, Mia and I just sat around and stared out the window. It took us a whole day of that before we could even decide to do fun things.

When you are an adoptive parent, you have to do parent weekends and at least one evening out a week away from the adaptive children. It is self-care, and it benefits you both so you can do this incredibly hard job that you are doing. That benefits the kids as well.

While vacation here in Anaheim has been wonderful, the littles have had their problems. Disneyland brings a sense of chaos that throws them into old patterns and that is bad. They just can't handle it; it becomes too much. Now, we worked out a plan. Antony stayed with the littles when they needed to be at home. The trailer is so familiar to them they do well, where ever we take it -- it's the out in the crowds that pulls them down.

I took a shift and hung out with them, and today, Victoria will take a shift.

They feel safe with family, and we all come back for nap time (the RV park is right next to DL). The oldest has had a couple of half days off and seems able to handle things better. They get into the old habit of "I can take care of myself and don't need anyone."

So this makes for a complicated vacation. The good news is they are reacting rather than freezing. They just suck at telling us their feelings.

Jedi Gone Bad or Undertaker?

So the Bad Jedi thing would be easy, albeit not accurate, but what the hell, Anakin Skywalker's story was better when the facts remained hidden and the cannon was in place. So a solid black cowl will not be much of a change from the present Star Wars mythos. But an Undertaker?

What I need would be a purple, pinstriped suite. Perhaps this will require some thinking. I don't have any ideas yet. I do have a pinstriped shirt. That might be enough. Hey, I'm not conventional in any way, the shirt is shortsleeved. The plan is Undertaker if warmer weather, Sith Lord if cooler.

Now, the Bay.

I really need to pull it together on the ebaying. I want to clear the boxes (as well as machines that need a home other than mine) from the north bay-east garage bay. The Twinnies were into Lego Robotics and did the Lego League thing and have since moved on. It is time to get the room known as the Annex up to multi function. I have a train pike dying to be revived and I'd like the space to get better use.

Right now, the space under the table gets the most use. It is known as the Club House by the Babies (a.k.a. The Twinnies). There is an old steamer trunk full or dress-up of all kinds, and there are a myriad of things that Xaby plays with. The Annex is well used, but not efficiently.


Here is an update on the Halloween decision. I went as an Undertaker. Short sleeved, pinstriped shirt over my black, long sleeved, glow in the dark skeleton shirt with top hat. It was fun. Although this year we had little decoration, as the littles get too excited, so we down play the holidays here, including Christmas. :/


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April 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite


The project to setup the solutions bench was in full swing. I had some delays, but got back on track. Ok, it was a long delay.

We have had a cow that went into Ketosis, then would recover, then slip back in and recover. She was loosing weight and finally the Vet decided surgery was necessary and found she had eaten a rope. Not a string, but a huge rope. :/ She seemed to be recovering well, then this blasted super-cold hit and she kept fluctuation at the low end. We have dried her off and she wears a wool coat (the other cows keep calling her Joesph, not sure what that's about), and she seems to be stable. She needs to get a head though and gain more weight.

Back to the Solution's Bench. I had lowered the top shelf to accommodate the huge-ass 20inch monitor. I originally installed the monitor as a replacement for the iMac's dying screen, but have since swapped in an HP flat screen. I went to place the Mac Plus in it's place, but the shelf above is too low. So now I have a plan to move the top two shelves up. This will require me to move everything off the shelves. They are Gorilla Shelves and I will have to get a hammer involved to move the shelves. More time is needed. Damn.


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May 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite


Bad news.

Sunflower, our sick cow did not make it. The ketosis was only a symptom of a greater problem; we will never know what it was. She seemed happy until the end. We all miss her dearly.

Photography and Time.

A long, long time ago, I used a Herco Imperial camera. It had a flash that took bulbs and must have had a place to put a battery or two in the flash. It was actually a nice camera.

I took some pictures of Disneyland when I was there. I was five.

Sometime later, we went to Hawaii. My Dad was a Geologist. He went to work on the Big Island and we stayed for most of the summer in a house in Volcano National Park, about 100 yards from the huge caldera.

My folks bough my brother, Roy and I, new, insta-matic cameras. I think Roy's was a Kodak. Mine was a Keystone.

Now at 5 years of age, you'd think I'd get pictures of a wall, the ground, etc. And I probably did. But I have two pictures, one taken from the, known back then as, Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. The pictures are pretty good. The color is off as the sun hit the lens at a bad angle (or I opened the camera at some point :/ ), and the framing is funky -- kinda at a tilted angle. But the pictures are clear and crisp.

At age eight or nine or what ever age I was when we went to Hawaii, all my pictures were blurry. I got a bad rep, as a crappy photographer. Later in life -- Jr. High -- I took Photography and got, yet, another camera. I know my folks must have wondered about the logic of a new camera for me as a bad photographer, but I needed at least a semi-adjustable camera for class.

Enter a Hanimex Compact A. It was small, and sleek. It had variable fix focus (you set it by guessing the rage of the distance of a given shot), and you could change the aperture using a similar system of guessing, or the camera would adjust it for you. The A stood for Automatic. The pictures were wonderful. And thus lead my folks into thinking an SLR was not a bad idea for me.

I did figure out what was going on with the insta-matic. In my class the teacher said that you want a camera that has a shutter that is easy to release. Only a few ounces at most. Otherwise, it is hard to keep the camera steady while taking a picture. I went home and put the Keystone to the test. Using a bathroom scale, I slowly applied pressure until the shutter released. The scale read 45Lbs at the time the shutter fired!


I felt vindicated!

Back in those days, you'd shoot a roll, then it was off to the developer's. Of course, it was not always that fast. If you had a camera, as many did back then, it may have been just used for snapshots.

Your camera would sit inert until a family event took place -- birthdays, holidays, kids concerts, picnics, vacations and the like. In that case, the film might stay in the camera for months or even years.

I would take pictures and develop them at school. As my passion for Photography grew, I acquired more equipment. I eventually had everything I needed to develop and print my own pictures at home. I had a bulk loader that enabled me to load my own 35mm snap caps (snap caps are the little 35mm film canister that you can reuse). Back then, film came in (10,) 20 or 36 exposures. Eventually the 24 exposure roll became a standard. Rolling my own, I could squeeze around 40 or so exposures worth of film into my snap cap.

I specialized in black and white, although I did develop Ektachrome (color reversal film -- also called slides -- used for projection). I also printed some of the Ektachrome using Omega's Cybachrome, two chemical print system.

I would shoot several rolls in a day, and hit the lab asap. Sometimes that was in the same day. I did send a fair amount of my Ektachrome to Idaho Camera and Ballou-Latimar for development.

The norm, in the snap shot world would have been, to load your camera and maybe shot a shot that may or may not come out as it was the first on the roll. Then the camera would go to a hall closet, dinning room drawer or some other location for later retrieval for that "Kodak Moment." Then, after a few months of snapping a shot now and then, with a few more at holiday times, the roll would be used up.

The next step was a bit of a burden by today's standards. You had to take the film to a lab to get developed and printed or mounted (in the case of slides). Back in those days we just went places. It seemed convenient enough. I recall many a time when my Dad would be working on the car or the Jeep and he'd need something from Statewide Auto Parts. Often he'd take my brother and myself and we'd zip off to the store and be back in 40 minutes, more or less.

It seems that errands were not so onerous back then. Perhaps it was because we carried keys and wallets on our personage back then. Sure people still do this now. But I don't and I have observed that many others don't either.

So, lets add it up. Back then...

Bing! Gotta run a quick errand. Walk over to car, open door, hop in, fasten seat belt, drive off. Not a lot of cars on the streets, at least here in Boise, traffic was thin or rare. Drive 10 or 15 blocks, arrive at destination, get part off shelf (the store is virtually empty, by the way), return. Get out of car, continue.

Sounds simple enough.

Now... Gotta run a quick errand. Go into house to get wallet and keys, go back out, walk over to car, unlock open door hop in, fasten seat belt, drive off. Wait at end of street for opposing traffic. Now, there are lots of cars and lots of lanes to navigate, drive 20 or 30 blocks, arrive at destination, lock car doors, get part, wait in line at store, return. Get out of car, lock doors, go put keys and wallet away, continue.

Hm, bigger paragraph. A bit contrived I suppose. But I think it is down played. I have small, special needs kids who make simple errands a lot of work. Even with them in the above description, there is a mental cloud that looms in going on a quick errand. Perhaps it's that American "I want it now" thing that makes us impatient. Why would running to get a part be such a burden? It might be my warped perception. Back to the story at hand.

Most drug stores and grocery stores at the time, had a camera bar or at least a place you could drop film off. Hey! That is convenient! Back in those days we must have gone to the store at least once a week. 1 hour photo became a thing. There were even Fotomats and other little drive up photo booths, much like those little espresso shops of today, just big enough to hold a person and a small amount of other things and that's it.

That really was convenient! You could drop off your film, do your shopping and pick up your pictures on your way out.

Then there was the envelope!

Kodak was the first I saw to do this and had been for years. At camera stores as well as other locations, you could buy a prepaid envelope that you could put your film in and drop it off in the mail somewhere and the finished pictures would be delivered to your home. You could be on vacation in another city or country, and as you travel, drop your film in the mail. Your prints arrive home before you do -- the future had arrived!

My photo exploits slowly changed over the years. I still went and took gobs of pictures all at once, but it was farther between events than before, and as time went on, the time between grew larger and larger. I had discovered Seattle Film Works and I really loved the warm, brown tones the Eastman Kodak Movie Film had.

At this time, I was shooting almost exclusively color (the motion picture film) and my bulk loader lay at my parents house, buried in a closet.

When I got married, my picture taking changed. I was doing more "snap shots" than anything else. And much like everyone else, I'd eventually fill a roll of film in a year or three and send it off. Oh, yeah, I really loved that with SFW all I had to do was pay for processing (and it was reasonable) and I'd get a new roll of film, along with my pictures.

When my wife and I started a publishing business, Photography was reignited, and I got to do a fair amount of work for the magazines. The company had a really nice Nikon, but it only had one lens, a 55mm Nikkor. It was still fun.

Times slowly changed, the publishing company became a thing of the past, my family grew and Photography, once again, was at a minimum, i.e. snap shots.

My folks came over one day, might have been my birthday. They brought a new HP 825c printer. It was a USB printer, but that wasn't the present they were actually bringing. HP had packaged it with an HP PhotoSmart 315, digital camera. That was what the present was! The printer was an extra. My folks, being thrifty people who had lived through the depression, bought the cheaper of the two choices. The camera alone, or the camera with the printer.

The printer did get (and still does get) lots of use. Now, I don't recall where we went on vacation, but I shot a 1000 pictures! Now, in my defense, I wasn't just taking snap shots. There was some multiples (much like bracketing) of the same shot in hopes to get the best shot. But there was a number of snaps was well.

I had an opportunity here. Film costs money to continue to use. There is a lag time from shot to print. Digital is almost instant. You take the picture and there it is on your screen. You can DL to computer quickly and print what you decide to.

Look at the digital world we live in. I can be on Facebook, take a snap shot while on line and bammers it's posted for my friends and family to see! Video and even live streaming right from a small pocket sized device, like an iPod or cell phone. Wow.

But where is the Photography?

True, FB and other media are mostly snaps, but there is still art in Photography. I have a friend who often posts some of the amazing stuff he does on Facebook. There are still artists who use film, and there are those who use digital, then there are still other who use both.

My biggest gripe about any of the digital cameras I have played with, with the exception of my Treo, is thus:

I like to take the picture when I am ready to take the picture. The HP camera, would pause a ghastly amount of time before it would actually snap the shutter. It was maddening. I have missed so many moments when everything was perfect, and the camera just sat there, I just sit there with my finger on the pressed down shutter release, the action passes and there is still no shot. It finally trips after the moment is gone. I have taken pictures of the ground, or a wall, or what have you, because I gave up on waiting, the moment was gone -- I had taken my finger off the trigger and then shutter finally fired.

The Cannon is much faster, it still has a slight delay, but it is better. Much better. Then there is exposure.

This is a problem inherent to all digital cameras and slide/negative scanners as well. When the relative light intensity reaches a certain point it washes out to white.

I can take a picture with film of a sun set and there is a full picture. Even the brightest part of the sky, you can see detail. The digital picture under the same circumstances will look close to the same, except the bright part will washout to white with no detail at all. Even my scanner does this and I loose detail on the image that was once there.

Nikon has an attempt to solving this, by the camera taking two images with two separate meter readings/settings. One favoring the darker area and one favoring the brighter area. The camera then overlays the two forming a composite, thus eliminating the wash out effect. While it doesn't always do it fully, I hear it does really well in most cases. Seems like you could digitally dodge and burn the image to further even things out to help finish the shot.

Digital Film.

Actually "Digitizing film" is more accurate. My idea of shooting a roll of B&W, developing it at home then scanning the negatives (when dry) still appeals to me. Even though scanning will present the same problems as shooting digital. But I can do some bracketing and compositing. I haven't tried a true process of this but I could go back to the sunset slides I've scanned already. The biggest problem is the scanner is on the R50p and the really good compositing software is on the Amiga. However, it does sound intriguing.


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June 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite


Nov. 20, 1997 at 8:11am while at COMDEX in Los Vegas, Nevada, I sat on a stool at Python Vmail's booth and sent this video to my friend John T. Maguire. I had saved it in hopes to view it on my Amiga. It would have been either the CDTV or possibly the Commodore Amiga 1200, maybe the (Southern Cross BBS) Amiga 2000. I never got around to it and lost track of the file. I had looked for it on occasion and was reminded of it when reviewing an old article I had written back then that mentions the vMail. But, the computer that received my copy of that vMail is long gone and the file was lost forever.

Or so I thought.

I had emailed John after loosing track of the file, sure that it was lost forever, hoping he might have it tucked away somewhere, but alas, he did not have it. He received that vMail too many machines ago. I had to accept I would never, ever see this video.

Mia had made a .ZIP file of my stuff from, either the PC, or the PowerMac (depending upon when this took place) and burned the .ZIP to a CD. That CD was set aside, unexplored for years....

Today, April 10th 2016, over 18 years later, in an attempt to get iCal to sync up to Outlook (in hopes to get the family calendar on my Palm device running the Franklin Covey softs) I installed iTunes. Well, the sync looks like a no go, but at nap time I was messing with iTunes and was playing stuff it found on the HD of the IBM ThinkPad A21p (Dampier) and this very video popped up -- 18 and a half years later!

That's when I recall unzipping that .ZIP file off the CD a few months ago to see what was on it. Of course, I didn't get very far in exploring it.

I eMailed the the file to myself and DLed it to the Amiga 1200. I double clicked on the file and when the file requester box popped up with the name of the video in it, I typed a "v" and a space before the name and pressed return. I was greeted with a another box listing various resolutions for playback. I chose one and the video played on the Amiga 1200. Waycool. A bit sappy, a little late, but I had always wanted to see it on the Amiga. I really wanted to see it first on the Amiga, but as it was the viewing that revealed it's presence, I'm OK with that.

Back then, the Amiga was the only computer I had that would play such a file. Although, the C128D might have had some conversion/player thingy I might have used.

Well, this is exciting, and I wish I could share this story with John, but the cancer he had fought had finally taken him.

This posting is for you John.





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July 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite


It would seem that I have gotten behind on my writing of AC.

I am usually behind on my postings, but if you peruse the annals of AC, you will see that I have been ahead on my writing. I've probably been ahead for upwards of 10 years.

10 Years.

Wow! I've been at this for over 10 years! I started getting ahead after the move to the Amber House, after getting months behind. After surgery and moving. I may not have stayed ahead, all the time, but I did manage to catch back up when I did fall behind.

Dealing with the farm has slowed me down quite a bit. Much of the more recent years, the slowing has been increased by the addition of new kids. They require a lot of full- on- all- the- time attention.

Last camping trip I slept in late and got little more than a small amount of editing in.

Today, Mia and I are on a Parent Weekend. I am writing this using Xournal under Kubuntu. The "rotate screen" works well on the X41. Albeit I have to open preferences to turn the screen. There is a nice virtual keyboard that pops up at log in. That is really nice.

It is not what I worked so hard to get to working, that simply stopped working after a while, but rather the people who make Kubuntu possible that put this together. I am grateful to them. They solved the rotation problem (the screen used to rotate but mouse didn't -- it was confusing).

Thank You!

Now I need to remove the code I did as it may be what has messed up the hand writing recognition program, CellWriter. CellWriter acts like it has never been used every time I launch it after reboot. Which means it needs to be trained -- not fun.

Now for the real updates!

The Solutions Bench Project has stopped. Last fall Mia needed a power strip. I gave her the one from the SB. I have a replacement, but it has a bad switch. I ordered one, and it would work, but it turns out it is not wide enough to cover the hole it pops through. So, I ordered another one of the correct dimensions. I await it's arrival.

The Annex conversion to LEGO Robotix & HO Lab is also stalled. However with warmer weather I am moving toward outdoor and garage work once again.

The Rebuild.

I seem to be doing a lot of computer repair lately. I recently rebuilt the R50p (Blackbeard), I got the touch pad on the R50 (Teach) reattached, not to mention a couple of refurbishes; a DELL 9100 Inspiron and a MacBook (Locutis and Darth Vader/Bilbo). Bonney, the A22p recently decided to power off a moment after powering up. So after much hummin' and hawwin' I finally made an offer on a replacement motherboard and got it. It's only 800MHz rather than 1GHz, but it's faster than the 300Mhz 570 (Avery) that I setup temporarily in the A22p's place using the A22p's HD.

Just a note.

Unlike Microsoft's Journal PRG, Xournal can not convert my handwriting to text. Even if I import the file, into the MS PRG, the MS PRG will not recognize the writing. Consequently this posting has been re-entered, or transcribed, by me typing it into KWrite. Bummer.


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August 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite


The great news first.

It started with trying to donate a really nice commodore monitor to a local thrift shop and being handed a paper with a list of places that would "take" the monitor. These places turned out to be recyclers and the landfill. Not a place to take a piece of computing heritage to find a new owner.

This brought about the concern of what to do with the monitors and especially equipment that had proprietary monitors, computers that, without the right monitor would be unusable, because they need a special monitor.

Well, Octavia has a friend who is totally geeking on the idea of old computers and thinks it's cool I'm into them. I had her ask if he'd like the Wang Professional Computer and he said, "Yes." So he has it at home all set up and is lovin' it. Happy ending for the old machine and the new owner.

I also gave him a complete set of that old commodore magazine I used to work at, "dieHard, the Flyer for commodore 8bitters." I am going to put together a killer C= system for him, and he can go through all the magazines and learn everything he can from them.

Mean While Back at the Ranch.

The room in the garage that was the short lived Annex, has been transformed into the Lego Robotix and HO Lab. I have some more exercising to do on the room, but it is usable at present. I'd like to seal some holes in the plastic and do a major amount of dusting, but the project completion is close at hand.


I acquired a USB video digitizer a while back -- the device used to capture the commodore SID concert. (BTW there are two posted on my YouTube account. The first one is all edited and nice and direct, however, it has a few places where the play-back glitches. Not sure why, but there you go. The second one is the result of an experiment I thought would be a total failure. I captured video at the highest resolution it could be set at, forcing preview of both the video and the audio while doing so. It plays back flawlessly. Kinda funky. It's a good thing, but I don't know how it happened. I posted it thinking I had edited it, but -- oopsies -- I had not. So the really nice version (albeit a bit washed out on the colors) shows long loading and after playing has 30-40 minutes of the computer's screen unattended, doing nothing.

This recording all happened while Blackbeard (IBM R50p ThinkPad 1.6GHz, 2GIG RAM) was in need of a new mother board. Blackbeard did not seem to record well with this device. BB's USB port was non functional, so a PCMCIA card with two USB posts was used and may have been the culprit. BB has since, had a new motherboard installed. USB on this new board works really, really well.

The digitization happened using Teach (IBM R50 ThinkPad 1.4GHz, 512MEG RAM). It worked so well, that I acquired an HD for Teach and basically cloned BB's drive so that I could easily digitize video. And it worked!


One of the first things I did when getting our Panisonic Omnivision Camcorder, way back in the early 90s, was make zanny films. I was playing around, mostly. Being from a Theatre background I did spoofs such as The Futile Gourmet and the like. I also did some time-lapse videos of sunrises.

The time-lapse capability is a really cool feature. The Omnivision we got takes full size VHS tapes, has 1 lux for low lighting, time and date stamping and a few other things; auto focus with an over-ride, a zoom lens, etc.

The revamp of this model came out with a much fuller telephoto to wide angle that this one has, but this one has adapters to achieve the same angles. I can't zoom from the fullest wide to the fullest tele, but those zooms, while taping, can be a bit annoying anyway. Lets go back to that time-lapse thing.

I though what a kick it would be to time-lapse the setting up of a computer. Or better yet, a few computers. So I started a project that continues even today. I time-lapse not only the setting up of the studio, but any changes made.

Along the way I managed to capture some interesting sights. While some of the footage is cool to watch, after a while it becomes the same thing for the most part. There is an empty bookshelf and you see it magically fill up. I'm there - I'm gone etc.

I set up the camera so that I had a monitor on, showing what the camera saw.

Easter Eggs.

Some really cool things that got captured, kinda just on the side. Antony in a baby basket or in his keeper doing baby/toddler things. I'd stop everything and do some silly thing with him.

When it came to taping in general, with me being the primary camcorder and primary care giver, I couldn't really tape us together, but I could film him when he was on the floor or in his basket. Those videos are, "awe," "cute," -- nice, but not so exciting. So the Studio Tapes didn't do much past the Family Tapes, as far as capturing kids.

When kids get bigger they move around, making much more interesting videos. They see themselves on the monitor setup for these Studio Tapes, and would go over and look at themselves, thus putting them and a bit of their personalities into the video. Over the years, whenever I filmed, they'd pop in and make little cameos. It was, and still is, a kid trap. Set up a camera with a monitor and soon they are back, making faces and saying "Hi," every time the light would start flashing.

Other things in these videos, are historic record of how the machines were setup. I am watching some of these thinking it would be nice to move things around a bit. Maybe get things setup better, or more efficiently. I have also referenced these tapes to see if I could recall packing a certain item in hopes to locate it in the now disorganized mess of storage. If I can pin-point the exact box....

Digitizing these old VHS tapes does take a while. Most are about 2 hours and 10 minutes long, standard for a T-120 VHS tape. I have some T-160 tapes and they take longer. Somewhere, there are T-180 tapes, I don't see any Studio Tapes of that length, however.

I had things setup color-wise and was experimenting with resolution. I found the straight "DVD" recording was best. The image is smaller than a lot of the other options, but I get less artifacts on the video. On the larger MPEG resolution you can see what appear to be scan lines, especially on white objects such as the time and date stamp. I find it really irritating. While the video appears larger on the screen by around 50% when viewed in full screen it does not look as good. The smaller DVD version looks really nice in comparison to these other video containers. I did try the the various containers on other machines to see if it made a difference and it made none; DVD still won out.

So off I went doing DVD res. But then upon finally finishing the recordings I found I had messed my contrast and brightness settings up. Everything was a bit washed out.

Avidemux to the rescue!

This is a nice powerful editor for working on video. It is not always intuitive but sports lots of powerful bells and whistles.

I had been using "MPEG TS," rather than "MPEG PS." It had worked in the past, but on these longer files, it would appear to drop the audio at around 50%. A little research and I found out that "TS" is for multiple streams (Transport Stream) and "PS" is not. "PS" is used as the standard for DVD titles. I had gotten the idea about "TS" from the VIDEO_TS folders and files, thinking it was for DVD. But the TS on a DVD stands for "Title Sets."

So I did a fix of the brightness and contrast by converting the video to MPEG2.mpeg2.enc or MPEG1.mpeg2.enc, writing into the correct container (using AC3 for audio. This went well, but it appeared to only do half the file. An hour or so. Hmm. Upon looking further I found a second file with .MPH for an extension.

I had thought I typed it wrong, but after even further exploring, I found it was actually the first half of the video and the file I played, thinking it was the only file I had. The .MPG file with the same name had the second part of the video and all my changes were there, in both files. It turned out that was backwards; .MPG was the first half and .MPH was the second, but no matter.

To verify all this I am doing a file named TEST.

I have lots of files in the folder and they are on an ultra hires screen that is set back aways so the names are kinda small. Names like 20020203-200904012.MPG make it really hard to find a specific file.

We shall see what results from this test...

Somewhere I found what was happening, in one of the settings somewhere, I opened a dialogue box asking me when to start a new file, thus splitting the final video into multiple files. I set it at 3000, it was at 700 something and thus the two files.

I had trouble doing tests, and it may have been the computer's brain being full, so I powered down for the night and have restarted.

Avidemux is not entirely stable, although on the Linux box it appears to be the most stable. I installed an older version on the MacOS X.5.3 MacBook and the Win XP ThinkPad. The Mac version hasn't worked at all. The XP version seems to do well, but quit out unexpectedly at one point.

It will be nice to have the softs on the video machine (the TP) since that is where the bulk of video stuff needs to be happening. Right now, the MacBook is just an anomaly, however, it does let me put music on the iPod (but not the iPad).

With the softs I can select the parts of the video where tracking was bad and the image rolls in and out, switches to the blue screen (the VCR displays a quaint blue screen when you would otherwise get the ant-race screen with the loud white noise), and the blank parts, like at the end of a recording session.

This blank space occurs from having a long video. You take a 2 hour tape (they tended to be at least 2 hours 10 minutes or more, to ensure that there really is 2 hours of record time), and tell the ULEAD software to capture for 2 hours 15 minutes, to make sure you -- a. get the recording stopped without too much excess blank screen (what are you going to do otherwise, wait at your computer for the tape to end to hit STOP?) and b. make sure you get all the video from the tape.

None of the tapes are the exact same length, but that is the nature of video tape.

You can easily remove these parts of the recording. Be aware that you need to do your cutting at the key frames. You can cut single frames out, but this will produce artifacts and they appear as rather large squares in the color of the area of the image they came from. I have a couple of places where I have artifacts in this video. I had already spent a lot of time on the project before I discovered them, but decided it would not worth the time involved to basically start over on a given segment. So there you go.

All in all I got what I wanted in the end. Since these are single frames (one frame grabbed from each second of footage -- played back at 30 frames a second), the action flashes by pretty fast. You might just have to stare really hard in a semi-hypnotic state to follow what is happening:

Voyageur Studios.

It all started in the late 1960s when my Dad would pull out his Summitone open reel tape recorder. He would record my brother's and my voices and play them back.

I don't think he ever kept any of those recordings. I have not come across any recordings and am fairly certain I never will. The tape found in the recorder itself has a recording of my brother talking about chemistry with a good friend of his. He says he was around 12 to 14 years old then. Kinda cool.

We had a HiFi my Dad had built from a kit (long before I was born), something similar to a Heathkit, but another brand. I started my record collection with a subscription to Disneyland Records and the acquisition of some really amazing Halloween records.

This collection must have been what gave my folks the idea to get me my own record player. It was a portable player that was the size of a standard turn table, but had a small (cheepy) built in amp and a 4 or 5 inch speaker.

We moved to the Churchill House before I was to go to Jr. High. It was then I had found a mail-order, whole sale place that had an all in one stereo. It had a built in amp as well, but external speakers. The fidelity was still not that of the HiFi, but, far exceeded that of the record player. Plus, I could plug in a tape deck. My brother got me a nice Realistic stereo deck that was the shape and size of a tape recorder, only a little beefier. It's fidelity was full human range (20-20000) and could handle CRO2 tapes. It did have auto line level for recording that, as it aged (or maybe it just needed a good cleaning), would cut out by over adjusting the volume level. It would recover and the rest of what was recorded sounded nice, but that opening was rather rude.

We had a Magnus organ that we bought a K-Mart. It had a loud fan that blew air across plastic reeds to make the sounds. My Dad used to play it in our bedroom at night when we were little (before we moved). I wrote many, many pieces of music on it and recorded much on my tape recorder and later on the tape deck. We got a Con Caper that I wrote more on, and recorded as well (after the move). I eventually was given a Casio PCM mini keyboard that has fantastic sounds and drums, that I wrote even more music on.

I was introduced to the KBSU recording studio, by my good friend Walter Fields. He taught me how to make a decent tape loop to make echoes. He also introduced me to the "pre-echo," where you basically play the tape backwards and do an echo that you record then play that recording backwards.

I eventually wound up working at KBSU myself, so I got to have quality time in the studio to do some of my own experimenting.

I started buying used open reel equipment. Most of the stuff I got was mono and had vacuum tubes. But I was able to make a LoFi studio for recording strange and wonderful stuff.

My brother sent our Dad a Timex/Sinclair 1000 for his birthday. He said he wasn't sure how our folks would take to the idea of computers, so it was a ploy to get one in my hands. Soon after, my sister-in-law said, "My God! He's a hacker!"

It was not long before a commodore 64 found me and it's three voice audio infiltrated my audio works.

A strange passion/obsession for old computers seized me and I really got into them.

I have had many setups for the Studio over the years.

The 25 Year History of Voyageur Studios.

I got married and started a family. We bought a house and my wife felt it was time we bought a camcorder. I made many hours of footage as the family camera person. The Panisonic OmniMovie HQ camcorder has many features, one of which is a time-laps setting. It will shoot 1 second of video and audio every 1 minute. This gives you enough picture and sound to get a good idea of what is happening.

On October 30, 1991 I started video taping setting up the studio. I must have been looking for a cool subject to time-laps and thought setting up the studio in it's new location would be fun. And it was. It seemed every time, I even made the littlest changes to where equipment was or adding new stuff, the camcorder was running.

I shot 8 or so tapes over the course of 25 years. By the time I started this "project," the face of the studio had changed immensely. It was no longer just a sound studio that had a couple of computers in it, it turned into a major computer room.

As the studio grew, I actually needed to acquire more machines, because one of the projects that came from this monster of a room was a commodore based magazine. The magazine supported all 8bit commodores and I didn't have access to all the machines I hoped the magazine would support. So new equipment came in. New furniture and workstations were set up in other rooms of the house.

The magazine grew and it moved out of the house and into it's own offices. Seen in this video are the moving into the first set of offices, then the second set of offices. Many moves are seen in the film that follows.

Many of the machines are seen set up, many are seen torn down, many moved around. The babies who flash upon the screen grow up and become big kids and adults. But what is this film?

I made a digital video of all the one second shots in real-time. I then took one frame from every one of those one second shots. One single frame, that's 1/30 of a second of footage. The over 16 hours of footage was reduced to a mere 19 minutes. Or so.

I then removed parts of the film that were black from lights being turned off, nothing happening while the camcorder filmed, places where the tape tracked so poorly it was impossible to see. I removed little comic bits I performed with the camera rolling, I removed tearing down equipment from the move from one house to another when it was slow or made no sense or was just not moving the story along (so to speak).

There are a couple of places where you see artifacts -- big squares that flash momentarily on the screen, and a place where it was a really cool machine being setup but the footage was so bad it flashes and flickers.

I might note at this point that quite often I would get used tapes that were a bit worn, often tapes that had gotten mangled in some way and used them. The mess ups are far and few. I managed to remove all but a couple, like the Historic Setup just mentioned.

The music I composed myself when I was in high school around 1978 or 79 on that Con Caper. I recorded this version many years latter in the Studio, before computers took over, when I lived in a large two bedroom apartment and the studio was the larger of the two bedrooms and had it's own air conditioning. It is a piece called Sting Ray, named after the car in the story this music tells; from the glint of light shinning off it's chrome as it turns on a large turntable on the showroom floor to the driving on the roads in the Hollywood Hills. It is performed by me, in a live session. I retain it's copyrights here.

Well, I think that might explain this film a little. Many of the machines in this film are long gone, the magazine certainly is, and the homes belong to others now, but the memories are mine. Enjoy --


The 25 Year History of Voyageur Studios


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September 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite


Way back when, in a galaxy far, far off in the distance, I was the EIC of a really cool magazine dedicated to all commodore 8bit computers. One day, I received a letter from Eugene R. Heath, followed by a submission of a really great mathpac for the C64 and VIC-20, called String Arith. The Flyer published it. After the many changes of hands. the intellectual rights, once owned by LCII are now within reach. Presented here, are the original two disk submission, plus the two sides of the The Spinner that contain the package that dH presented. With that, here is the letter (no typos are corrected here) Eugene R. Heath sent (link follows):

Letter To dieHard from
Eugene R. Heath
July 5, 1993

Dear sirs,

I have been programming the VIC-20 and the C-64 for about 8 years. I would estimate that I have spent about 5000 hours programming these two computers. When I first got my VIC-20, I spent more time on it than I did on my job in the Aerospace Industry.

Most of the programs I write today are machine language programs. Most of my BASIC progams contain machine language routines stored below BASIC. I sometimes use SYS or Y=USER(X) to call up these routines, but in later years I have been diverting the ERROR Pointer at $300 to enter my routines.

Now I have been working on a program to solve algebraic polonomials of all degrees up to the sixth degree. I have spent about five years on this program. i have several notebooks filled with dozens of versions of the program as it developed during these years. Now a program a never ever done, but I reached the point where I can't find anything left that needs to be done with it except to share it with others or take it to the grave with me. I am now 68 years old.

The program consists of two pieces. The 3.5K ML part is below BASIC and can be tacked on to any BASIC program simply by LOADing the program, RUNning it, and typing NEW then pressing [RETURN]. then you can LOAD any BASIC program above the ML program, POKE44,8, and SAVE the new program to disk or tape. You could keep the ML part on disk all by itself as a seperate program. Then you could have many BASIC parts that you could LOAD after LOADing and RUNning the ML part. Or you can POKE44,8 and SAVE the new program as all one piece (like I do all the time).

So now I have programs that calculate trigonometric and Bessel's functions and solve polonomials of degree up to six. I also calculate the value of PI to 66 decimal places (mostly as a stunt) in one of my programs.

I have a String Arithematic program. A$=B$*C$ and A$=B$/C$ are all legal in the BASIC part of these programs. There is a problem with A$=B${C$ because BASIC accepts it as concatenation. The BASIC editor won't accept a similiar graphics symbol so I ended up using the UP-ARROW for addition. This is the only flaw in what would be a real professional looking program.

But, I did manage to come up with a 1.1 version that I don't know what to do with. This program copies the BASIC ROM to RAM and locks out the concatenation function (under program control). The I use the { sign for string addition. I use the BACK-ARROW for concatenation. But BASIC tinkers with my BACK-ARROW statements unless I put parentheses around the operands. I mean that, we need one set of parentheses around the whole statement to the right of the = sign.

I have mixed feelings about HEXIC 1.1. I had to add 256 bytes to my machine language program. I think that I will probably continue to use the UP-ARROW even if it does normally indicate that we are raising a number to a power. So, I have a HEXIC 1.1 that I don't know what to do with. I will put a copy of it on the disks in case this is the version some people will prefer. This program has a new error message. We have EXPONENT ERROR in the 1.1 version because I had some room left over.

There are also coommands to set the cursor and clear the screen following it (STAB(CO), VTAB(CO)) and Truncating commands to round off the numbers at any degree of precision [A$(9)=T(C$(3),45)). Or simply A=T(A$) if you want to default to the maximum that BASIC itself can handle and convert to standard BASIC math at the same time. I have also mechanized an IF statement for Strings. We will get a NULL STRING ERROR IN nnnn if we run into any null strings. String Arithematic can't handle null strings. nnnn, of course, is the number of the BASIC statement. If we try to divide by 0 (zero), then we use the BASIC DIVISION BY ZERO error message. Since I am using the BASIC ROM for so much of the program, many of the usual BASIC error messages will be seen when encountered.

IF A =< X THEN C$=PQ$(N-1)/XX$ is legal.
A$=1.23456E{1:C$=T(A$,3) makes C$={12.3

B$=123:C$=B$/0 or A$=0:B$=123:C$=B$/A$
will generate the BASIC error

If B$ does not exist, or is B$=, then C$=A$*B$ will generate a NULL STRING error. BASIC will supply the IN nnnn part if needed.

Sometimes we use R$=STR$(R) to go from BASIC variables to String Arithematic. I use BASIC math sometimes to get a quick calculation which I then refine using string arithematic. Using Newton-Raphson to get the square root or the cube root of a number, is an example of this. In three iterations I can get the square root of a number to 68 decimal places. See the BASIC statements at line 580 in HEXIC 1.0 for this. Note that the whole Newton-Raphson loop could be put on a single line of BASIC. I use two shorter lines (583-4). Some of my earlier versions of HEXIC used cube root which is not much different than square root. It was just about as short and as fast.

C$=-A$*B$ is legal (notice the - sign)
C$=A$--B$ is the same as adding A$ to B$

All of the operations of HEXIC 1.0 the Program Run Mode and the Direct Mode (which I usually call the Immediate Mode). All of the commands in the BASIC AID part of HMON 0.4 work in both modes also.

The BASIC part of HEXIC is an achievement also. Many ways to solve polonomials have been tried before I ended up with the methods I use. There were some surprises. For example, I use the general solution ofr the quartic, but had to give up on the general cubic because it was too lengthy and too slow. It turned out that my modified Newton's Method was many times faster and shorter for solving cubics. After hundreds of hours of solving polonomials I found out the hard way which way was best.

y = F(x) y' = dy/dx

There is probably one thing I should say here since I have never explained it elsewhere. When I solve a sixth order polonomial and you see a * on the screen in front of a pentic, then that pentic is the derivative of the hexic polonomial. Most times I take time out to solve this pentic in order to decide how I am going to solve the hexic.

There is a DUMP command to print the screen to the printer if you want a hard copy of the results. If the printer is ON, then it prints. If the printer is OFF, the program keeps running without any hesitation at all. The DUMP routine can tell if the printer is ON or OFF. You can dump anything, any time. Just type DUMP and press [RETURN] or include the DUMP command in your program.

I can find all the roots of a sixth degree polonomial to six decimal places. This includes all the pairs of complex roots (I print out the quadratics too). Of course, the accuracy improves greatly as the degree of the polonomial decreases. I wouldn't need 68 decimal digit arithematic to solve quartics to six decimal places.

The String Arithematic routines handle 70 characters. But since we have a { or a - sign and usually a decimal point, we have 68 digit arithematic. The calculations are all made with 6502 (6510) chip in the decimal mode. There are no round-off errors caused by binary to decimal conversions.

I converted the ARITH and HEXIC 0.9 versions to run on the VIC-20. I had the most trouble on the VIC-20 because of the limited screen size.

I wrote another program which makes up polonomials with known roots. Then I came up with dozens of all conceivable kinds of polonomials to use for my testing. Real roots, no real roots, all combinations of real and complex roots, repeat ed roots, you name it, I tried everythiong I could to stump my polonomial solving program. I spent more time testing than I did programming.

The original motivation for developing the program was to find the poles and zeros in a Laplace Transform. But the string arithematic routines have proven to be useful for many things. I wanted to use the C64 as a computer. When I got caugth in the big Aerospace Industry layoffs we had in California, I lost access to main-frame computers. You just can't solve polonomials using C64 BASIC arithematic.

One day I thought I needed a table of Bessel's Functions. But I saved my money and wrote a Bessel's Function routine in my modified BASIC for the C64. It is more accurate and requires no interpolation. Now there is one less big thick book in my bookcase.

My wife likes to play KENO at Las vegas. So one day I wrote a program to calculate the odds at KENO. This is another thing you can't do with the regular BASIC arithematic. But with my String Arithematic routine installed, it was no problam.

I think I used it to evaluate a sixth order determinant in one program.

I have been all alone these last five years doing something no one else seems to have ever tried to do.

Eugene R. Heath

Eugene R. Heath's String Arith.


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October 2016

The Week Of Halloween -- The Factual History.


Brian Crosthwaite

"One dark and stormy night, a light appears in the top most window of the old house. You decide to investigate and you never return." I still get chills just thinking of that record. "Disney's Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House," was the first Halloween record that I ever owned.

By the time I was nine years old, I had amassed a collection of 5 or 6 Halloween records. They would appear in early October in places like Buttery's or King's Variety Store. My first rubber mask was a floppy, face cover of Boris Karloff as the Mummy. It fit perfect, but I wasn't quite sure what the creature was. I had thought at first that is was Frankenstein. Later, when I was better educated, it was plainly not Frankenstein, but the Mummy.

Halloween was always fun. We had the traditional store bought costumes that consisted of a plastic fabric body cover and a solid face mask head on by an elastic thread, that was the norm for the time. It seamed like this type of costume was the type you saw in stores for many years. They are still around. They used to come in boxes with a window, now they are on a hanger and the masks seem to have morphed into a more flexible material.

We had one such costume that I remember, Caspar. I think I was Caspar more than once, perhaps 4 or even 5 times. I don't recall any other costumes we had, although there certainly must have been some.

Before that fated Halloween, I barely recall what our decorations, if any, were like. It was a year that convoluted into other years, but there were two points in time merging. One was the time of browsing Boy's Life magazine, the other was waiting.

Let me explain.

In the back of BL were these ads, I'd also seen them in comic books. X-Ray glasses, build a hover craft and others. They were fascinating. Seemingly too good to be true type stuff I suppose. For a buck, I could get a 7 foot monster! It was Frankenstein's monster! And after what seemed like years of seeing it, I decided I wanted to get one!

After the check my mom wrote had been sent, there was much speculation and wondering. What on earth was it? A 7 foot tall mannequin? Something you put together, not unlike a model? My dad thought it might be an inflatable. I imagined it standing out in my dark, front yard where passersby might be startled to see such a thing.

My best friend, Tonya, who lived across the street, and I would play an extended version of that ever popular game "hide from cars". We called it a "Night Horror." I had a cap gun that was a replica of a German Luger. We'd hide in the ditch and await our victim. When a car came by and they had to stop, since the ditch was near the stop sign, we'd pop up and fake a murder! Then pop back down into the ditch and await our next victim. What a horrible thing to do to innocent passersby! But after doing it for what felt like a year, but was probably only a week, I look back and realize that most likely no one actually saw us. But it was all great fun.

I don't recall what Tonya's guess as to what this 7 foot thing was going to be, but we both hoped for a mannequin. The blowup version, would definitely be welcome and solve storage problems. I never really though about what I'd do with a 7 foot mannequin when I wasn't playing with it. But then who would at that age.

After some time...

I kinda think this was the summer we went to Hawaii. I don't recall the wait much. Back then you mail ordered stuff and it took the standard 6 to 8 weeks to arrive. That is what all the adds said and no one seemed to think that was too long a time. I recall having a business of our own in the 1990s and we had in our ad that standard 6 to 8 weeks.

When I look at how things used to be, as far as buying from a favorite virtual store, you had a catalogue that had order forms in it. The forms always had a sort of chart for figuring out shipping. Shipping was always based upon how much money your order was. The more you spent buying things the more shipping cost. Sort of makes sense, but what if I bought, say a rock carving bookend set, an item that might weigh in at 25 pounds, but since it only cost $1.50, then $1.99 was the cost of shipping. But if I spent $200 on a flake of gold, I would have to pay $15.99 shipping! It seemed rather strange, but we all kinda bought into this system.

Now a days, you get online, click BuyItNow and bammers it arrives in 2 days! And shipping was free!

Aside from speculating on what the actual item was going to be, the wait time was not something I got to relish. With many mail order things back in the 1970s, I had plenty of time to day dream about my item. But this does not seem to be the case. That is why I suspect that I had gone to Hawaii during this time. In fact, I do recall, coming home and being handed an envelope that I had no idea what was in it. It was, of course, my 7 foot monster with glow in the dark eyes! I just don't recall from where I was coming.

It must have been forgot as the excitement of crossing the pacific played out in my life.

I opened the envelope and found two pieces of plastic folded up inside along with a sheet of paper and a small square of glow in the dark material with two circular cut outs -- the pupils of the eyes!

At first, little kid versions of WTF popped into my head. I read the instructions and followed them. They basically said to lay out the two pieces and tape them together, then pop out the eyes and place them. You could also cut up the remainder of the glow in the dark material for sticking on other things (this was pushing the excitement factor some, because there was hardly anything you could do with such small pieces).

OK, I got a poster of a Frankenstein monster. Hmm. The art work was rather well done. I put it up on the living room wall by the back door. Kinda, cool. Was I fishing? Was this a complete dud and I knew it? Well, the first time I saw this poster in dim light, everything changed! This was mega cool. And yes, I do talk to it. No I mean to this day. You want this thing to like you, cos it could potentially scare the hell out of you! I was very excited to show Tanya.

She knew right away it was a winner! I am not sure exactly how the event came about. But that week, the mummy mask made it's way on to a ball of rolled up tee-shirts, I had a very flexible Frankenstein mask that I placed on an army helmet liner I had. I had a couple of Bestie Co. cats and a skeleton -- none of which glowed in the dark. I Made some grave markers out of old soap boxes and grocery bags and put a black light bulb over by the front door. And on the HiFi that Halloween, was side two of that album, "Disney's Chills and Thrills of the Haunted House!" When the doorbell sounded, I popped on the thunder, lightning and wind track and I opened the door.

I stood back and beckoned the caller in and back then, people came into your house! They were neighbors and we all knew each other back then. I had at least 4, maybe 5 callers! I had Andy and Tony (my neighbors to the west who, I believe I went trick or treating with that year) go threw twice!

That was the beginning. I added more and more to the haunted house every year, getting larger and more sophisticated. I have never not gone trick or treating. Ever. I came close one year in college, when I had been at a party at the dorms. A group of us left the party (it was a short, but nice affair) and walked downtown to one of our houses. We stopped at one house along the way that was occupied by a college student. It was 9pm, kinda late to trick or treat and he was out of candy. So he gave us each a beer.

Between that poster, a show-and-tell of a magic ball trick, a gift of a magic wallet from a friend and the Gibson Girl Ice Cream parlor (a place Arlin, my other best friend, and I frequented after school -- they had a magic shop in the back), that was the beginning of something amazing. I got more into Halloween and Magic. They seemed to go together well. Magic Shops always had the best Halloween props.

A Monster is Born.

Famous Monsters calls it's readers, especially the kids that grew up to enter the industry of film making in their particular genera, "Monster Kids." And yes, I was a Monster Kid. But that poster launched me into a whole new career.

It was on one of those many Halloweens, that I got the most fright from those haunted scenes, for that is what most of them were. Oh sure there were those times that I had confidants who played rolls in a more active haunting. Such as the time I was asked to haunt a room at the Mormon Church behind our house. Or the time we set up a major haunted house at Gary's foster home and had the run of the basement, the house actors and the Mom of the house as our door opener.

But most of the scenes in my haunted houses were a bit more lonely. They all had the back drop of cats screeching and wind howling. But there was always a stillness to them. I suppose the addition of a 25inch florescent black light really set the mood visually.

Probably one of the last great interactive Haunted Houses was the year we moved into the Amber House. We had an upright piano, and I had placed it along the wall leading to the front door with a 2 foot space between it and the wall. When guests arrived, I invited them in and spoke of finding the candy before Dr. Frankenstein completed his monster. We would advance through out the house and see various stages of mad science spread amongst the scenes like Madam Leota our bodyless fortune teller. Finally a goblin witch was standing guard on a cauldron full of goodies. We grabbed them and turned to go to see the Frankenstein Monster was completed and standing behind us!

We darted past the monster and into the secret passage (behind the piano) and through the cemetery (by the front door, not easily visible upon entering, but you could see it on the way out!) to the front of the house (out the front door). That was the last year kids would come into the house.

Society had taken yet a deeper entrenchment of the iMe reality. Where you don't know your neighbors. When I was a kid my folks knew everyone on the block as well as most everyone around the bock. I know only a few people on my street, only those close to where we live. And this is in part due to neighbors who lived in the neighbor hood when I was a kid, who have a block party every summer.

I recall our neighbors back on Amber Street had a really well setup yard display. We were disappointed when there was nothing inside to offer trick or treaters, besides candy and a friendly "Happy Halloween." It was then that I realized the haunted house as we knew it was dead.

When I was a kid, I went into a house that had black lights set up all over and sheets on everything. There was a sheet on a "body" that had rubber monster hands and a mask for a face. The candy was in a bowl on the "body's" stomach. Arlin and I knew it was fake and yet it was really 2cool. We both reached in to grab some candy. There turned out to be a girl in that "body" and she screamed! It scared the crap out of us! It was fantastic!

Scream in the Dark.

Collage Life, something that seemed to vanish before I got into College, had an event (possibly a fund raiser), called "Scream in the Dark." They set up haunted scenes that would fill floors or basements of old buildings, or at least empty spaces. They had a variety visuals and effects over the years. I recall an auto accident scene with a Volkswagen Bug and some bodies laying around. The lines for SITD were long and the girl behind me always held on to me. I knew none these girls, and I was just a geeky kid so I never had a date for one of these events.

I attended other haunted houses similar to the old Scream in the Dark ones. I even had the pleasure of doing professional make up on guests who came to one one year.

But that out door scene seams to be where it's at. Parties are offer a chance, to have that indoor haunted house experience. We always have a small feast, but it is for the intimidate family.

With the new kids, we down-play holidays. Kids who have suffered neglect react to holidays in a bad way. They recall, often subconsciously, things like substance abuse going up as any care they may have been given goes down or away. Years with no presents or food. Scary Halloween fun is not fun for them. So we are limiting our decoration level and time of exposure. You can't get rid of billboards with zombies on them, but we can stick to the old fashioned Bestie decorations that seem exciting and yet tame. In their world attachment is a new thing, as is security, so scary is a raw to the core kind of thing for them.

Trick or treating remains an activity we look forward to yearly as well as the large intake of sugar. We shall have a small feast, a change into costumes and we'll be off to the door to door. There are vast expanses between houses in our neighborhood, and were don't get a lot of kids. So the treater's usually dump tons of candy in everybody's bag. Including mine. ;)

Well, it's that time. Turn off the lights, dim your monitor and read on...

Werewolf at Walnut Grove.


Brian Crosthwaite

The barren land stretches out before me. Twilight is only a few moments away as daylight fades. I need to get to the house before that happens.

Not because of the darkness, the terrain is smooth, rolling land here. It echoes of generations of time passed as a sleepy slumbering land. There is a hidden power. The calm is held in check by this power. This quite area of earth has a silence so cold and hard it can't be broken. A scream will not shatter that hold.

I need, must hurry as this is the night of the full moon. This power that holds the region is unspeakable and unspoken. But I will break the silence in one word: Werewolf.

This land is plagued with an unholiest of unholies. A demon that runs in the night and feeds on the flesh of the weak. This place that lives in peace all other times, but the days of the full moon, the houses are shuttered closed; sealed to the night. The people dare not venture out in the dark. This is Walnut Grove.

So named for the English Walnuts that pepper the rolling knolls of grass. Stone fences are only high enough to keep live stock in, allowing for easy climbing for anyone in a hurry. Barns, however, are locked. No animal, live stock or human is safe when the sun passes below the horizon during this time.

The sun is setting and I am not at my destination. I follow an old trail passing between two walnut trees. Something is behind one tree -- I feel it. The shadows stretch long across the ground as the top of the sun passes to the horizon. I pick up my pace.

That thing behind the trees makes no sound. I am now trotting and a good pace. Before is nothing but open grassy field. Shadows contort the ground, the landscape is uncertain, as the path vanishes down into darkness, then rises back into light. As I go down I jog. As I go up I force my gate to be fast. The dips are darker and darker as I enter them. Twilight is here.

It is now I must run, but I must also not leave the trail. For the terrain here looks very much the same in every direction. If I were to loose track of the trail, I could wonder for hours, despite the full moon rising as a guide. It is best not to loose the path.

Hurrying, I am approaching the old barn that is the remains of an old farm. This area of land has become deserted over the years. As stories pass from generation to generation, the population has grown old and dwindled. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the known.

The house I seek is with 30 minutes from this old relic. I am at a run. Suddenly, I see a shadow cross the path ahead. I must hurry, but the shadow is up there, where I need to pass. I am walking now. Slowly. Has it sensed my presence?

I stop, and force my breath to slow. My heart rate to slow. I scan, looking for the slightest motion or change in shadow. I listen, the silence rings in my ears like the scream of a steam whistle. It is too hard to hear anything through this silence. I have to force my breathing to be slow and quiet. The stillness of the night spreads like a fog as darkness settles over the area.

I bolt, the time to run is at hand. I brush passed something, something reached out for me, I could feel it snag on my sweater. It might have been branches, it is getting darker my eyes take a moment to adjust to the less light moment, by moment. The path must be there, I hear my foot falls upon the grass-less ground. I pick up the pace now. I am breathing hard and loud, and yet the stillness is overwhelming. I can't hear my breath over the silence.

Something reaches out from behind me! It misses me, but I know it is there! I am now running as fast as I can. There is a rise ahead of me where the ground is in full moonlight. I can see well, but the moonlight will be my destruction, I must press on as fast as my strength can carry me. The house is only 25 minutes away. I must pass this knoll and enter into the final darkness. Perhaps the wolf will not have as much power in the darkness.

I have entered the shadow of the valley. Before me, yet 15 minutes away I can see the rise in the moonlight. I think I am not on the trail, but as long as I head toward the moonlit rise before me I should be OK. I take little comfort in the thought that perhaps the darkness must somehow diminished the werewolf in some way. I need to discard that thought as I will be running through a rise bathed in full moonlight. My running has slowed. I must be almost there.

The rise is steeper then I recall. I feel exposed, out here in the light. I hear something!

Like an animal running through the grass. The werewolf! I turn to see it's bloodied fangs, but there is nothing. I force myself to run. I run harder than I have ever run before.

Suddenly I start awake! I am at the house. Seated by the fire. I have no recollection of how I got here. I thought for sure I would never make it. But I have. I appear to have make it with out a scratch. Yet, there is an uneasiness about me. I check and see the house is boarded up. I had made it and locked up. I must have passed out from shear exhaustion.

Later I hear of a most tragic end for the nearest neighbor to this house. A small house off to the south. Someone I met years ago and yet never made more than a rare acquaintance. Apparently, she had gone searching for her dog out on the moors. Perhaps it was only her dog I had heard rushing through the grass, and not the werewolf at all.

They only found enough of her to identify her. It must have been a gruesome mess. I will not think of this now, or ever. It is simply too much.

I fear I must go out again. Although at the moment I can't think why, I can't seem to recall why I went out last night. What was it? It was pressing, then, I know, but I can't recall for the life of me. But I know, somehow, I must go out again tonight. And perhaps the night after. All on the week of the full moon.

The End.

The Week Of Halloween -- The Fictional Story.


Brian Crosthwaite

It was Late October and the sky was sunny as it had been for the past few weeks. Trees were in their finest autumn colors. It was a warm 75 degrees and I had the week off! Our school had to make emergency repairs to it's old and aging coal furnace. In fact, it was being replaced and the school was going to be a mess.

That prompted John and I to visit the school grounds many times that week. The school playground was still open, but we were the only kids hanging out. It was kinda strange looking at the building with one wall completely opened. There was an iron framework setup to support the main floor of the building. It was weird since we knew it was a school week with other kids going to other schools, and yet our school looked like it was half demolished.

That was the more fascinating part, the building opened up for surgery. After seeing it from just about all possible angles from as close as we dared to get to it, there were other things to do.

Leaves were starting to coat the ground everywhere we went and the Simmons' Graveyard was only a couple of blocks away! Halloween was in the air!

The journey from John's house went passed several shops on Loper Street. All the windows had ghosts and ghouls in them. Jeraldy's Bakery had jack-o-lantern cookies in the window accompanied by an amazing smell! The barber shop even had a Frankenstein monster posted in it's window. It must have been 8 feet tall!

Most of the store front decorations were pretty mild, kinda scary but nothing to send you home with a nightmare. But that Barber Shop Frankenstein was absolutely horrific! John and I had to stop and gawk at it every time we passed by. It was simply terrifying!

I am not sure I would have even dared walk passed it if John were not with me. I certainly avoided it the night I had to pickup my sisters prescription from Porter's Drug. It had eyes that looked like they glowed in the dark, and John and I had made a tentative oath to check that out some night. I had thought of it upon leaving the apothecary, but was purposeful to walk on the opposite side of the street that night. I told myself, I'll wait till John was with me.

Yeah, it scared the crap out of me.

We had our usual Halloween decorations up, a witch on the door, a few skeletons on the wall and a garland of red and orange smiling jack-o-lanterns. My dad had set up a blackened, old kettle at the end of our entry and filled it with Snickers and 3 Musketeers. He planned to dress in his cowl costume and lure the neighborhood kids in to give them their "last snack" as he put it. There were black light bulbs in all the hallway light sockets and the HiFi was already near the door to play the howling wind and rain track.

Needless to say anticipation was high.

John's folks put up a few decorations as well, but were planning to put a bowl of candy on the porch and spend the evening with my folks. Meanwhile, John and I would be out filling our bags and visiting other haunted houses!

Now, back to that old Graveyard. There was a house on Larbor Ln that was gigantic and had it's own graveyard! The house itself was gone. All that was left was the foundation. It must have burned down or something before I was born. We explore the old place often and had long discovered back behind some huge overgrown willow trees, gravestones. There were 13. All died in the 1800s. The place was always deserted and John and I had never told anyone of it, keeping it our own secret place.

Looking back it couldn't have been too secret, since the property started on the street between two other houses. The trees and how the houses were situated cut the Simmons' property off from view. And the trees on the property had over grown much of the grounds. You can't see the foundation from the road and the driveway gate is closed. We just wondered in by way of the gate from the sidewalk.

The gate hung off it's hinges and was supported by a chain with a big, old, rusty pad-lock on it.

The place just looked like a field full of trees.

Anyway, we had this plan to go there every day of the week and perhaps the night before Halloween. We also had plans to definitely go there on Halloween night itself. It was close enough to our houses to be included on our grand circle trick or treat expedition.

Before the school was closed for renovation, the teacher had read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" to the class. John was going as the headless horse man and I was going as Ichabod Crane. I was going as an expired Ichabod, kind of a zombie Ichabod. Things were real exciting.

We were at the cemetery talking of our final costume plans when my thoughts of store displays entered my head.

"We have to go to the barbershop at night." I waited John's answer.

After some time, "Yeah, I guess we should go tonight." He wasn't convinced of his idea on timing.

Neither was I. I didn't expect to plan it for so soon. "Tonight?" It slipped out of me before I could even evaluate my feelings on the matter.

"Yeah, the sooner the better."

I wasn't sure if it was trepidation or excitement to pack in as much as possible this week. This was not only a week off from school, it was also the week leading up Halloween. And Halloween was on a Friday that year.

There had been a kind of elation to having all this time off before Halloween, but at the same time something was missing. All the other students during this week would be talking of costumes and plans. The halls and classrooms would be decorated. The Halloween experience was not as full when you didn't have school.

Not that we need the other kids really, we'd still be hanging out together, but the excitement levels had to be carried by us and us alone.

"Tonight it is," I restated my words into a more affirming light. "Should we dress up?"

"That's a good idea. I don't want to do this years costume though, it needs to be something different."

"We could be Mad Scientists!"

"Ya! I have me dad's old lab smock, the one I used the year before last. It probably fits better this year."

We made plans. As any kid will tell you when you visit your creation, you need Vampire Blood and Scar Stuff and maybe even those glow in the dark eyes you wear like monocles! Boy, did we have plans!

Looking in the mirror, "You don't think this is too scary?" When I spoke the words, a casual observer knowing our plans might have thought I was concerned about scaring the monster. But John and I knew., we were concerned that it might seem like a challenge.

It was absurd. To think a poster would look at us and think we were trying to be scarier than it. But if you were our age and you saw that monster, perhaps you'd think differently.

We looked like a couple of reanimated corpses. Our cloths of course were just what we had on. But face, arms and hands had scars and gashes. We looked rather hideous; at least we thought so. It was time.

It was 7:30 and twilight was starting to set in. The barber shop would be closed and there would be hardly anyone around. If there were, we were to play the part of the undead. Perhaps anyone who crossed our path would pass in silence, trying to ignore us as we walked like zombies from the grave.

We arrived at dusk. The lights from the shop across the street reflected full on the windows of the barber shop. You couldn't see anything but a white reflection of the ghost from the other window. No matter we just moved in closer. Pressing our faces against the window, we could see nothing! The monster was gone!

It was a shock that rocked us both. There was this uneasy feeling that we were being watched. The feeling we were being watch by the monster! We both turned to the left, and there in the darkness stood someone, or something. It was big and tall and green just like the poster. It had a large screw planted in it's face! That was all it took! We were gone!

We turned and ran as fast as we could! The only heading we had was a direct trajectory of away from that monster! We ran, scared out of our wits, until we reached the old gate and ran off into the trees at the back of the lot. I think we were aiming to go just to the old foundation of the Simmons house. But we kept going, propelled by sheer terror! Finally out of breath we stopped, I folded over and put my hands on my knees. We were breathing hard. Finally I flat out sat down and leaned back. I sat for a while as did John. We soon regained our breath and with it some semblance of reality.

John looked at me, "No way!"

"Absolutely no way!" was my return.

"What the crap was that!?!"

We sat in the darkness as our eyes slowly got used to the now dark night. Then is finally sunk in -- we were resting against tomb stones in the old Graveyard -- at night! Suddenly something reach out of the darkness at both John and myself. We both stood up and had a moment of choosing. It was a choice we had to make and had to make fast and with no time to talk about it. Which way to run next?

If we continued in our present course we'd be up against a high rot iron fence. We must of both had that thought as we rushed back the way we came. I saw something stoop through the old gate and when it stood up we froze in our tracks. There, before us in the almost pitch black, creepiest place in all of town stood the monster! It reached out it's arms just like the poster had done! And it was coming straight toward us!

Then logic hit me. I have actually read "Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus." This was a fictional character. From a made up story. I mean the likely hood of it being real events, and the actual monster coming to our country, to our town, to our neighborhood, is so remote as to be well beyond coincidence. Who would know our plans and who had access to the inside of the barber shop and...

None of this was voiced, of course, as I, as well as John were still standing there, in the dark creepy situation, shaking like leaves. But I did manage to say, "Dan!"

The monster reached up and pulled it's head off revealing my big brother Dan's evil gotcha grin. We all three broke into laughter.

I have purposely omitted the fact that a week before, my brother had gotten a job restocking the vanities shelves at the barber shop. And the fact that same week he had promised me this would be one of the best Halloweens ever. This was omitted for sake of not giving things away.

However, Dan had been out on the street all the time we were in the graveyard. Who, or what had reached out to us we did not know. Dan swears he was following us and he certainly did not have time to get to the graveyard, grab out at us then make his way back to the gate to make his entrance.

To this day what we thought we saw remains a mystery. We kinda thought it must have been someone who coincidentally was trying to scare themselves amongst the grave that we, ourselves probably scared in our flight that lead to us to the graveyard so suddenly. They might have thought it a golden opportunity to get back at us for scaring them. But who knows, no one ever came forward to take credit.

That night was definitely a highlight of that week. As the frightful night of Halloween came closer, we managed to see many classmates to relay our story to making the week one to remember. The day of Halloween was punctuated by the visit to a "Haunted House" put on by a local college youth group. Capped off by a night of tricks or treats. It was the best week of Halloween activity any kid could hope to scare up. One night John, nor I are likely to ever forget.

The End.

Happy Halloween!

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite

I was in the midst of getting the Spinner images moved off the HD when the 128D stopped. I believe it is the PS. I have gone through 3 PSs on that machine. It has KeyDOS ROM, The Servant, A RAMLink and SuperCPU plugged into it amongst other things. I have not verified what the problem is, but it appears to be powering on with out enough power to continue booting.

This happened right after the C64 died. It appears to have taken it's RAMLink with it. I need to test the C64 since I pulled it and proceeded to spend hours or days getting that blasted RAMLink timing cable hooked on and getting the RL plugged in to the new machine. The old machine might be fine, if it is a RAMLink issue.

Anyway, I did everything without the RL and JiffyDOS. That is, I plugged in the HD into the C64 and used FCOPY (not the FCOPY+) to move images to 1581 floppy via the FD drive. I then read the 1581 disk on the PC with OmniFlop. I cleaned up DIRs with DirMaster, then zipped the files up and got them posted.

The mystery as to what happens to the PDFs is still in the air. I am assuming the server has a file size limit. X10hosting says there is none, but the larger PDFs simply vanish from the server after I put them up. They stay there for a day or two. The last place that hosted them said the same thing, but you could only upload files smaller than 5meg. Which was weird as it was really backwards. I could upload them, they would stay there for a while, then they'd disappear. This is, indeed, an annoyance.

Perhaps I'll try compressing them and re-uploading them. Meanwhile, the disk images of dieHard, the Spinner for commodore 8bitters are zipped up and online for DL and my 128D is waiting patiently for me to have enough time to tear into it. I have a 128 Tower sitting under the workbench, too that awaits attention that has recently popped up on my list. But I'm divided as to which to pursue first. Seems that I haven't the time to decide that either.


Back to top.

November 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite


Slackintosh Woes.

Ever since the new router arrived the WiFi here has been messed up. It has taken too long to resolve issues that have really not been resolved. I made our old router into a hub to hook into via the computers that don't seem to get along with the CenturyLink modem. :/

When I first installed Slackware's Slackintosh flavor of Linux, I did a lot of cli (command line interface) input to get the WiFi setup and working. There was a lot of cutting and pasting into the terminal (a.k.a. the cli), thanks to some crafty Slackintosh user(s), who had the sacred knowledge required to get a Mac's airport card recognized by the system and to implement it's usage. After that it was just a matter of entering the WiFi information in KDE's Command Center. All was well.

I have not had any issues working with the OS, in fact, it was rather fun to use. When the change to CenturyLink came, this machine was hard hit. It also appears that in my attempts to get it back online, I might have undone something. I have no problems connecting, but am not given an IP. Not even from the old router. Crap.

This is going to require some actual research; possibly starting over. I have been tempted by the PowerPC version of Kubuntu. But the Live distro is so slow it took about two days to boot and opening the install took so long that I bailed. Sigh.

Meanwhile, Kubuntu 14.01 or .10 on the MacBook rocks. It seems to work well on the new router.

Access, all in the name of access.

Here in the western US, it is expected that WiFi is free. We have many high tech areas in these parts and it just sorta happened that way. You go to coffee shops, airports, bookstores, hardware stores, restaurants, you name it -- free WiFi. WiFi has become a way of life. To slow the chance of freeloaders, i.e., non-customers, from hitching into free WiFi, businesses will have user names and passwords for guests. Understandable, it keeps someone who might park outside and watch Netflix or something from sucking up the bandwidth.

It is kinda nice to be connected. Not just for social media. I am writing this on the X41 which is at home. Mia and I are in town at a fancy, shmancy hotel celebrating being married for 27 wonderful years. This morning, while she does our business stuff from an iPad remotely, I am on an iPad typing remotely connected to the X41. Of course,


is the interface I'm using. The version for the iPad has been upgraded to a one with a very shitty bug. The file xfer feature simply does not work. It used to, but no more. This feature, when it worked, let you move things to and from your device.

Teamviewer has limited abilities after the xfer. You can view text files, for instance, but can't play .mp3s. Teamviewer will offer options outside itself to handle certain file types.

Enter iFileExplorer (Sorry, bit of a rerun here).

iFileExplorer lets you access your device from a computer via a browser to move files to the device. Upon booting iFileExplorer, it will display your device's IP and and a glowing WiFi icon, indicating it's ready to receive. Meanwhile, on your computer, you open a browser like Firefox and enter your devices IP. From there, you have a nice simple straight forward interface. Click the button to select files, then enter your selection via a file requester box, hit send and off they go.

iFileExplorer can play .mp3s, movies, PDFs, and many other files. It is really nice. I use the pay version that gives you more file type handlers.

Now, I might be doing Homeschool with the boys and need to do an xfer. So rather than leave, I open iFileExplorer (and this works on the old iPod Touch 4 as well). After it boots up and has the green WiFi icon in the upper left, I double click the home button and select Teamviewer. From there, I log into the computer that has the files I need, open the browser, make my file selections, and send them off.

If I go back inside iFileExplorer, at this point, I can see the files it is receiving with a percentage done. Back on the computer, the percent is also displayed in the browser for each file. You can't send folders, but inside iFileExplorer you can quickly select the files you want to put into a folder, cut, make the folder -- if needed, then paste them right where you want them to go. It works better than moving files via Teamviewer, then having to move the files one at a time from Teamviewer to iFileExplorer or any other app.

Since iFileExplorer handles just about anything you can throw at it, it is the app you want them in anyway.

I guess we could thank Teamviewer's bug for this, since it was that bug that lead to this hack.


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December 2016

Archaic Computer


Brian Crosthwaite

Happy Holidays!

Well, a lot of mysteries have been popping up here. First, the C129D stopped booting, then the C64 crapped out. Then the repeat tasks on the Franklin Covey Planner disappeared.

Well, perhaps the first two are not mysteries. I am fairly certain the C128D's PS took a dump. The C64 might be okay, as after getting out another one, I found it was the RAMLink that is having issues, so the C64 will need to be tested.

But the Planner, now that one was weird. I tried many things until I found the actual culprit.

I hot sanc, like I usually do. Hot syncing took the same amount of time, no errors were reported, but the repeat tasks would not appear on the computer. They were fine on the Treo. They just were no longer on the computer.

I tried repairing the data base, I tried purging the data base. Nothing worked. Nothing.

I started to add the missing takes. I found if I went on the Palm, and put numbers in front of the tasks they would sync over. Now, when you add a number to a repeat task on the Palm, it removes the repeat task flag for that task. The repeat tasks are still there, past and future, it just makes the numbered ones a regular task. That was why the numbered repeat tasks were able to get to the computer.

I set about making those tasks repeat tasks, yet after syncing, I was back where I stared -- the repeat tasks were not on the computer. Then I noticed the date.

When you setup a repeat task it gives you a selector to set the date. It read 0011-16-26. The date should have said 2016-11-26. I reset those dates to 2016 and my repeat tasks were coming back. Or at least sticking. This was still not going well. Then I remembered I had changed the way the system (a WIN2k machine) handled the date, so I could get a more accurate display on sorting by date (WIN2k sorts as if using the international date standard no matter what is displayed). So I changed that back.

All my repeat tasks where back!

Now I had a new problem. All the repeat tasks I "fixed" were now double. Been here before. The Palm will let me go a head a day and I can remove them. The Desktop version of the software will not. However, I found a new problem. The DB on the palm was corrupted. It would not display and locked the Treo up.

After a reset, I went into Filez and deleted the FCPDTDB, set the sync to Desktop overrides and sanc once again. This time all was well. What a mess changing the systems date did. It is a bummer that the FC softs reads the date blindly.

Perhaps if I re-installed the softs again after changing how the date is handled on the PC that might rectify the situation. However, there is little time in my life to even think about that task.

Is the problem fixed? No, I still have to hot sync, do my planning, delete the database off the PDA, set up sync to desktop overrides, then hit the sync button. Kind of a hassle. So a re-install appears to be in order.


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