BBC releases its computer history archive

I thought it was somewhat worth mentioning that the BBC was releasing their old Computer Literacy Project Archive.  Although they for some reason never released any of their materials to the colonies and or territories, so although I’ve never seen any of this stuff, I’m sure others know far more about it.

I’m kind of surprised they didn’t keep this kind of thing up, although I guess after David Braben made it a priority again, and the Raspberry Pi was born, completing the cycle of the birth of Elite!

So I picked up a couple Super Impulse Tiny Arcade machines

Warm glow of the LCD panel.

What is this, an arcade for ants?

I saw these at a local Toys R Us, and picked a few up.  They were selling for $200 HKD which is about $25 USD.  They are SUPER tiny, and yet very cool to actually play with.  They feature a single game on each cab, and luckily there is no coin slot, just a player 1 button.   As a bonus the marque does light up, which is why I wanted to do a dark/night picture of the machine.

The games have been modified for what I’d assume is an ARM SOC, and game play is somewhat easier.  For anyone looking for the exact arcade expedience, they will be no doubt disappointed as many things like sprite animations are simply lacking in this version.

That said the controls are surprisingly very responsive, and it’s almost a treat to play, except of course that the screen is so incredibly small, the sound is faint, and it’s not hard to have your thumb in the way obscuring things.

It’s a neat novelty item, but it’s no substitute for a nice USB arcade stick & a copy of MAME, or the actual PCB & a JAMMA harness.

Open Quartz

While stumbling around, I found Open Quartz, which is to Quake as FreeDooM is to DooM, or for those who don’t know it is free assets allowing a fully redistributed game.  Although the bundled levels are actually kind of reminiscent of Q3 Arena, one of the great abilities of Quake 1 was inline total game conversions like Team Fortress.  Yes it started as a Quake mod.

So I downloaded the Open Quartz binary pak’s and went to do a quick comparison of the two:

ctf with oq assets
ctf with id assets

I should do an update for QWDOS to allow multiple clients at once for OS’s that’ll support multitasking (Windows) where you can bind the client to different ports to allow more than one to work at a time.  The line is:

NET_Init (PORT_CLIENT);

Although I guess the next best thing is to change the NET_Init code to start with the default port as a base, and if it can’t bind to it, then just increment until you get a winner.

And yes, that is the Quake World for MS-DOS port running on Windows.  I built it with Visual C++ 5.0, although using a newer linker that I pulled from masm32.com, which would work with the newer libs, well all except the ogg vorbis stuff, so I just disabled it, as I just wanted to test, and didn’t care too much about music.

So I guess the next thing to do is bundle it all together into something more convenient to the end user.

Jet Set Radio Future now at 60fps on CXBX Reloaded

JSRF title

The laptop I’m using at the moment is old, Alienware 14 P39G that is 5 years old.  The power is convinced that it can’t run over 700Mhz unless it’s on battery for some reason, then it’ll jump to 2.3Ghz just fine.  Oh well It’s otherwise not bad, just getting old.

Alienware 14 P39G

Also it’s only using the Intel GPU.  I think I need to do a fresh install of the 2018 version of Windows 10 on this thing.

Anyways so CXBX Reloaded can run many xbe’s directly so you don’t need a ROM or dashboard, but it’ll run the dashboard if you have it.  It’s really cool though as JSRF did come to Android but it won’t run on any modern versions of Android.  As far as I know it never came to PC, but being able to run the X Box version is certainly cool.

Sourcecode & nightly binary builds are currently on github:

https://github.com/Cxbx-Reloaded/Cxbx-Reloaded/

I was able to find Jet Set Radio Future (JPN Demo).7z, which I think is a playable demo, although I don’t have any controllers to test it.  But it certainly loads up just fine!

Also here is a very poorly captured video of JSRF on CXBX, You can see the laptop struggle on the main power, then able to run at 60fps on battery power…

2ine updated to have preliminary 16-bit .exe support!

From icculus’s patreon

This is nothing short of amazing.  In the last update, 2ine was running simple 32bit programs on Linux, and providing a portable API set to allow strict OS/2 API based programs to run on Linux.

And now Ryan has turned his focus onto 16bit support for 2ine, which you can read about here:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/2ine-16-bit-exe-19337541

As you can read right now It’s running a simple OpenWatcom 16bit hello world based program.  The 16bit OS/2 and 32bit OS/2 API’s ended up having different calling sizes, among other issues which had complicated the bridge program.  However Ryan’s newer use of scripts to generate the required glue for the API’s at least mean that adding the 16bit/32bit calling conventions & required bridges/glue is at least now automated.

This is super cool, as this will eventually open the door to Watcom C/Fortran, Zortec C, Microsoft Basic/C/Cobol/Fortran and of course many other languages that burst out into the initial OS/2 scene before the eventual weight of the SDK & associated costs doomed OS/2 to failure.

Seriously, for those among us who love OS/2 and have like $5 to spare, send some encouragement to Ryan… 🙂

Quake 1.01 / Shareware

Quake Shareware CD

I saw this pop up while cruising archive.org, and I thought it’d be fun to play with.  The shareware version of Quake on this CD image is version 1.01, which corresponds with the crack dot com leak of the Quake source code.  Searching around revels that the leak was aptly named “Quake101leakedsource.zip”, which wasn’t so hard to track down.

The source code is, naturally, in the process of being ported to Linux, and the makefiles reflect this.  I used my MinGW to DJGPP cross compiler toolchain that is close to era specific.

I had a single issue with the code, d_copy.s the following line was giving me trouble:

movl  $2,%al

changing it to the following however, let my version of GAS happily assemble it.
movb $2,%al

After a while of messing with the Makefile, and adding in the DOS components, it was easy enough to get an executable.  And even better it’ll run with the data/music from the demo disc!

I used Daemon tools to mount the MDS/MDF image, and just pointed DOSBox to the CD drive letter with a simple:

mount d: f:\ -t cdrom

And now when I fired up Quake, it’ll play the music tracks from the CD.

Quake 101 on DOSBox

One thing that caught my interest was that when you exit the game, I get the “couldn’t load endscreen.” message.

Well it turns out that someone was naughty and had modified common.c on January 20th 1997,  and made the following addition:

if (h == -1)
{
Con_Printf ("Playing shareware version.\n");
// if (com_modified)
// Sys_Error ("You must have the registered version to use modified games");
// /*return;*/
}

So yeah, since they had double commented out that return statement, it’ll fall out the logic, and set the game to registered, which is why the endscreen message is missing.  Uncommenting them all will restore the default execution behavior.  Speaking of registered, on the CD there is a file QUAKE.MJ3, which is 25MB, which looks like an encrypted version of the registered game.  I guess it’d be ‘neat’ to have version 1.01, although the Steam version I have is 1.06 and I don’t know how much difference it’d really make.   Although I guess 22 years later it doesn’t matter much.

On the one hand I’m really impressed that it works.  For anyone who is slightly interested I guess, you can find my re-build of the source here:

Quake101-djgpp2.zip

So my old machine’s 16GB memory limit is becoming a problem

MacPro guts

And like a sucker I saw this 2010 MacPro for sale, $300.  It was running OS X 10.13 aka High Sierra, and I though oh cool it’s obviously able to run the latest OS, and even better with 32GB of RAM, and apparently the single processor model can go up to 48 or 64GB of ram giving me that breathing space I need.

So I happily get the machine, put in some new SSDs, and spinning disks, and decide that I’m going to split it up half for OS X, and half for Windows 10.  Sounds easy right?  And for the hell of it, I wanted to install a copy of 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard), since it’s the last version with Rosetta, and I’d love to compare GrandPa’s G5 to this 2010 space Odyssey.  Snow Leopard installs just fine, but the real fun comes from High Sierra and it’s APFS.  I installed & licensed a copy of Windows 10 Pro onto the Mac without issue, installed the bootcamp drivers, and.. well it installs Okay but drivers are a whole different story.

Apparently there is an ongoing war between Apple and ATI regarding bootcamp drivers, so the Apple UEFI cards won’t work with the stock drivers under Windows.  You can go and look for patched ATI drivers over at bootcampdrivers.com, although I had no luck with the Radeon HD 5700 that was in this machine, as it’s GPU never showed up in the Windows 10 device manager.

I still wanted to get accelerated graphics, and I decided to keep the old ATI card in the machine so I wouldn’t’ lose boot graphics from the UEFI ROM, but a card that needs additional drivers is fine, which opens the door to Nvidia.  I wasn’t ready to spend a fortune on a card, and I wanted one that didn’t draw that much power, so the 1030 was a perfect fit being cheap and not requiring additional power hookups.

GeFroce 1030

I just went with the cheapest one I could find retail.

Naturally the NVidia cards work fine in Windows, but of course Apple won’t use any stock plain PC cards.  But thankfully NVidia has ‘internet’ drivers that cover quite a few of their cards, including the 1030-1080’s. I had further issues with the built in audio drivers, which Windows always prefers to load some generic “High Definition Audio Device” driver, but it never makes any noise.  So I bought a cheap external USB Sound Blaster Play! 3 dongal, which works fine.

Old Xeon in MacPro

And then there is the fun with VMWare, I upgraded both VMWare Player to version 14, and Fusion to version 10.  And yeah, the Xeon W3565 is far too old.

No new VMWare for you!

Although my version 10 key of Fusion works on version 8, just as VMWare Player 12 works fine on Windows 10.

And if that wasn’t crazy enough, in the bootcamp boot driver selection, the High Sierra volume cannot be selected.  Even if you install onto a HFS+ volume, upgrade a 10.6.3 volume or whatever you do, High Sierra converts the filesystem into something that bootcamp doesn’t understand, so the only way to boot between the OS’s is to hold down the option key, and select the OS from the ROM, which thankfully after an update understands and boots APFS.

You think it’d be easy to just push an update to the bootcamp boot tool, but apparently it isn’t.

I don’t know why, but for all the money Apple is sitting on, they really don’t feel that together or with it.  I know in the whole ’99-05 time period they were not only fighting for their lives, but the whole OS 9 to OS X transition phase, just felt so much better done.  Ever since 10.4 it feels like things are just subtracted, nothing really useful added.  First Classic support, then PowerPC, then Rosetta.  Going from 10.7 to 10.13 really hasn’t been all that exciting.  Which has been the general state of things, with everyone for the most part just running VMS or Unix.