Saturday, March 30, 2024

How Sinclair Spectrum games handled color.

The Spectrum computer could only display one foreground and background color for every 8x8 pixel square.

Many games would have multicolored backgrounds and a single color, maybe black, foreground.  Then "sprites" would be black and the same color as the background.  It works, but looks hokey showing just how inferior the color capabilities of the Spectrum are.  It makes it look like you are playing a black-and-white game with a color overlay on the screen.

When the computer was released, it competed against computers like the Apple II and the Atari 8-bit.  The C64 would come out 6 months later.


The 2068 had three extra graphics modes if you count frame swapping as one mode.  Nobody used the extra graphics modes, as most games were ports from the Spectrum.  

I wanted to do great things with the extended color mode, which allowed two colors for every 8x1 pixels.

Why is AI so bad at spelling? Because image generators aren’t actually reading text | TechCrunch

Friday, March 15, 2024

The Game of Risk - Numberphile

I wrote a Risk AI for the Sega Genesis in the mid-90s.  My algorithm was brute force trying to look a few moves ahead.  It was computationally intensive and evaluated moves on the chances of success.  This resulted in an aggressive approach that wanted to move a large army attacking countries one at a time.

The lead programmer didn't like my AI and wanted to use his own.  I convinced his manager that my algorithm was winning and he told the lead programmer to use my code.  However, the lead programmer used his own AI instead.

Your Internet is Too Fast

It was costing me around $90 a month for gigabit Internet service.  So I downgraded to 200 Mbit, for about $35 per month, and it is plenty fast for me.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

68000 processor vs. 65C816 processor

The 68000 was by far the easiest assembly language to program. The instruction set is HUGE, compared to the 6502 which has a small instruction set. As I recall, the 68000 allows you to have 8, 16, and 32-bit operations in both moving data and math and has a bunch of internal registers.

For me, programming the 68000 didn't feel much different from writing code in C.

However, the 68000 takes more clock cycles to execute its instructions. If we compare systems like the original Apple McIntosh vs the Apple II GS, or the Sega Genesis vs. the SNES, in both cases you have a roughly 8 Mhz 68000 versus a 2.8 or 3.58 Mhz 65816. The 65816 only has an 8-bit data bus but can execute instructions faster. Also, the original McIntosh used about 37% of its CPU time to drive the display.

The 68000 is superior, but the 65816 is competitive with it. It is like CISC vs. RISC.

Apple deliberately limited the speed of the Apple II GS because they didn't want it to compete with the more expensive McIntosh. The chip can go up to 14 Mhz. Some people stated that the Apple II GS was the computer that Apple should have made instead of the McIntosh. It was cheaper, ran a graphical user interface, and was backward compatible with the Apple II.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Do Hard Drives Vibrate?

I noticed that when I put my hand on my portable 5TB hard drive, it has a slight vibration.  I didn't notice this before, so I was worried about it.

Google's AI tells me the following...

A small amount of vibration is normal for spinning drives. When in use, a hard drive's platter spins at 7,200 RPM, and its actuators and heads move to read and write data. This movement can cause a slight vibration in the X-Y plane. A healthy drive also makes mild, regular sounds of whirring. 
Here are some other things to consider about hard drive vibrations:
  • Rattling noises
    In most cases, rattling noises are normal and are no reason to worry. They are caused by mechanical parts of the HDD and just indicate that the drive is reading, writing or calibrating itself.
  • Shock resistance
    At average HDD shock resistance is 50+ G while operating and 300+ G while non-operating.
  • Driving a desktop hard drive
    Some say that you should not drive or expose a desktop hard drive to vibrations when powered on