Archive for July 2017

WHERE HAVE I BEEN?   Leave a comment


Debunking “Learning by the book – part 3”


Theresa May kept me busy part of the time


I thought I should post this as some kind of reply to the latest “C64 Crap Debunk” post by TMR on “C64 Crap Debunk” which you can find by clicking on


TMR starts off by wondering where I’ve been since February, in the light of “important events” since then. These were the triggering on March 29, 2017 of Article 50 of The Lisbon Treaty to start the suicidal process of the UK leaving the EU by British Prime Minister Theresa May, AND the snap British General Election of June 8, 2017, a process also started by Theresa May, although the final decision on whether or not to hold it had to be taken by Parliament.


This blog isn’t actually about current events, although I do sometimes mention them to make my posts more interesting. What I’ve been doing in connection with these events is as follows…


1. I’ve been going to meetings, demos, and a march to try and stop Brexit.


2. I was campaigning for one of the smaller parties which wants to stop Brexit by electing candidates, delivering leaflets for the local candidate, attending meetings, and going to the local count representing my party to sample votes which were being counted from certain Constituency Wards, meaning very small local districts. This means counting as many of the votes as possible while they’re being counted by the official counters. The purpose of this is to build a picture of which wards our support is strongest in. Before I started counting, I saw a TV exit poll predicting a hung parliament (i.e. no party getting a majority), so I was relieved that this meant a total isolationist permanent one party dictatorship was less likely. After sampling some votes, I mainly watched the actual results coming in on TV, but took the trouble to watch the local results being declared in the venue, and booed as loudly as possible at a re elected Labour MP who had actively supported the Leave campaign.


Since the election, I’ve been watching and reading lots of news, and trying to predict the date of the next General Election. It seems this will now be in about December or January, meaning about six months after the last election. It will probably be caused by defeats for the Conservative minority government, brought on by rebellions by some of its own MPs, and possibly a vote of no confidence. The result will be about the same as in June 2017, unless a Proportional Representation electoral system is introduced before the election. Some people refer to this as “the popular vote”, where for example if one party gets 30% of the votes, they get about 30% of the seats. More parties need to put up lots of candidates for this to make a big difference now. These parties may include Left Unity (who refused to stand against Labour in June 2017), The Women’s Equality Party (WEP), and The Pirate Party. A real possibility is also the formation of a new party with the main policy of staying in the EU, although I think they’d need some other policies as well.


Now back to the Commodore 64. Of course, not all dialects of BASIC apart from Commodore BASIC V2 supported hexadecimal numbers, but Locomotive BASIC on the Amstrad CPC range, as well as MSX BASIC did support them. Even Sinclair BASIC on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum supported binary numbers, but Commodore BASIC V2 and Atari BASIC only supported decimal.


I remember reading lots of Commodore BASIC V2 listings which assigned variables to the locations of the VIC-II and SID chips, then used two digit offsets for the different registers. In spite of this, the impression I got was that there were a lot more memory locations I needed to learn than all the registers of these chips. There was also the weird command sequences working on these registers using the commands AND as well as OR, without any explanation from Commodore about why this was. It was explained in a magazine article I found a few years ago as “bitwise programming”, meaning setting certain bits in the VIC-II and SID chip registers. Not only that, but it seemed to me that there was NO END to the number of locations to PEEK and POKE. I thought the total number of locations to PEEK and POKE may be as many as 65,535 or perhaps it might be 65,535 minus the number of locations occupied by BASIC, which had 38,911 bytes free, meaning a total of 26,624 locations left. There was no indication anywhere in the Commodore manuals how many memory locations I’d have to use, so faced with the nightmare scenario of having to deal with 65,535 or even 26,624 memory locations, I gave up.


Assembly Language makes things much easier, with techniques such as meaningful labels in a pre prepared text file standing for memory locations, as well as those locations in hexadecimal being more memorable, such as $D000 which I posted some time ago could stand for display block, meaning where the VIC-II chip starts.


As for books about Machine Code/Assembly Language which aren’t dedicated to a particular computer, before you can actually do anything with them on a specific computer, first off all you have to read up on your memory map to find the screen memory, a routine to print text on the screen, etc. Without this information, all you can do is carry out calculations and store them somewhere in the RAM, then examine the contents of those locations to see the results, which isn’t very interesting at all.

The artwork of the slum I grew up in was quite rough. It’s still early days of me using Multipaint, so I hope to do some better graphics in that package soon. Another program I’ve heard about is Swanky Paint, which is supposed to be based on the Amiga’s excellent Deluxe Paint, so I plan to try that.


Multisound Synthesizer might have persuaded me to keep my C64, 


I’m now getting close to understanding the process of how other people managed to program the C64. In the near future, I hope to use Assembly Language to program lots of lines being drawn across the screen, then erased and replaced by some other lines, to produce simple animation, as well as to program a three channel polyphonic tune, without being dependent on specific software such as Synthy, or Multisound Synthesizer (my copy wouldn’t load and VicSoft failed to replace it, just sent a refund) and whatever restrictions they placed on how people could use the music they’d composed. That would be a proof of concept, then I may decide to stop writing this blog.


Other ideas of mine include a printed book based on this blog, as well as a graphic novel including my Dad with his “I know best” attitude (IKBA), the offices of “The A-Z of Personal Computers” with staff enjoying presents sent by Commodore in exchange for not mentioning that their BASIC was crap, etc. I may be setting up a crowd funder for these projects. There could even be separate crowd funders. One could be for people who want to see the book or graphic novel published, while the other could be for people who don’t want to see them published, such as the Tramiel family. Revenge is sweet!


“Linux Welt XXL” magazine, some previously forbidden knowledge from Germany


Some amazing news, is that I’ve recently gained access to some “forbidden knowledge” which the people who run newsagents in the UK don’t want me to know about. This lack of knowledge led a lot of people to vote to leave the EU. The forbidden knowledge is supplied by a service based in Sweden available on . I was very surprised to find about 305 Swedish magazines available, because I didn’t think Sweden with its population of just under ten million (plus another approximately 16.5 million people in other Scandinavian countries able to understand Swedish) could support that many magazines. What this means is that people in the UK now have access to the same current magazines and a few back issues as everyone else using this service anywhere else in the World. Countries covered include Germany, Sweden, and France, but not 100% of all magazines from anywhere seem to be available, based on the UK magazines on offer. It doesn’t include many magazines from France, but I found 586 magazines from Germany!! These include “Linux Welt” and “MagPi”. From “Linux Welt”, I’ve read that virus creators AND malware programmers are now targetting Linux, so it’s time to install some virus protection software and back up all my data. Apart from this, I read an article on the up and coming Linux distro Manjaro Linux which made me decide install it. A really important feature it has is that it’s not based on the Debian or Red Hat varieties of Linux, but on Arch Linux instead. This is important because Linux isn’t supposed to be controlled or dominated by any particular group. Unfortunately, in recent years Ubuntu and Mint, which are both Debian based, have been the most popular distros, as well as lots of other Debian or even Ubuntu based distros (e.g. Elementary OS, Zorin, Lite, Kali, KDE Neon, etc, etc) being released. What makes them Debian based is mainly that they use .deb package files and the apt or Aptitude package installer from the command line. The packages and the knowledge from using apt under one Debian based distro can be used with another. Arch Linux itself uses text based commands to install, which was the usual method at the turn of the Century, although distros such as the Red Hat based Mandrake soon started having graphic installers. Manjaro has a user friendly graphical installer. After that, you just have to learn a few different commands from the ones used in apt and be satisfied with a basic Synaptic like package installer called Octopi, without any equivalent to the Software Centre of Ubuntu or Software Manager of Mint. Not only that, but some more good news from the German “MagPi” is that the Raspberry Pi computer looks set to outsell the C64 in the near future, so then I’ll no longer have to listen to C64 fanatics crowing that their crappy computer was the largest selling “home computer” or whatever the term is. Meanwhile, in the latest (August 2017) issue of Linux Format (UK) there’s an article about how to make a custom distro based on Arch Linux. This may sound daunting, but after having read it, I can assure you it’s easier than trying to program the C64!


So that’s what I’ve been doing. In the near future I hope to get down to the depths of the C64 and explain to you how some people managed to program it! Look forward to that.

Posted July 25, 2017 by C64hater in Uncategorized