For a while I’ve gotten a LOT of questions about why the C64 version, and my upcoming ASM version of Paku Paku tracks scores in BCD – Binary Coded Decimal. The simple fact is that it is WAY faster even with the overhead of the long score additions. Sure, each score takes 8 bytes (I display a fake ‘0’ after since all score values are multiples of ten, 9 digits is overkill) instead of four...
But the simple fact is that whilst yes, adding a value to the score takes eight additions with AAA (ascii adjust for addition), that is still WAY faster than the multiple divides (16 in total) needed to turn a 32 bit integer into ASCII or even just BCD -- and you'd need it in one or the other to output to the screen! You basically NEED unpacked (aka 8 bits per digit) binary coded decimal or something like it to handle display numeric output in a way Joe Sixpack and Susie Sunshine can digest. "normal people" aren't going to be happy if you display your scores in a game in hexadecimal!
For a while I've been laughing at people who thought the old site skin looked like something out of the 1990's, which quite clearly illustrated said folks had never been online in the 1990's... so here's a change for you guys. Since I'm retiring the now eight year old codebase that was sitting under this site, I figured I'd give it a new skin.
Welcome to 1985! ... and sorry, the DeLorean is a bit too stylish AND non-utilitarian for this.
Not entirely retro though, I was planning on going with a period accurate webfont to match, but it compromised legibility a bit too much. Likewise I was going to limit myself to the 16 CGA colours, but that too led to a few contrast issues. As such this is a hybrid. Tahoma font which looks kind of nice (almost like a whole different font) once you give it the line-height and spacing it deserves, legible colour contrasts across the board whilst maintaining the overall "feel" of classic DOS text.
You remember TEXT, right? That thing the Twitter generation TLDR mouth breathers get their panties in a wad over going "wah, wah, I don't wanna have to READ!" like a petulant orange cheeto-fingered commander in half-tweet?
A friend shared an article off NPR's "All Tech Considered" section that really raised the hackles on my hackles. Normally I don't use this area of the site for blogging, but given what total BULLSHIT the subject of said article is -- mated to the fact that MOST places seem to stamp out any dissension or post calling it out for being bull -- I'm decidedly making an exception!
Simply put, we have some joker claiming he's "bringing back" the Model F...
Their site is here: https://www.modelfkeyboards.com/
First off they make a version without the numeric keypad or the function keys -- fine, I guess for fringe whackos who put form over function having the OPTION isn't the end of the world, but seriously, LOOK at the bloody LAYOUT of even the 'proper' version in terms of JUST the core key area (ignore the keypad area):
That's a Model M layout!
Sadly it's been almost a year since I've done anything here. For those of you not aware I'm not in the best of health and been on doctors orders not to work for years... After a stay in the ICU back in February most of my projects have been on hold -- including Paku Paku 2.0 for DOS more on that in a bit -- but I'm slowly recovering. Figured it's been WAY overdue for me to give this site some loving, so here we go.
New Page Theme, again
Not really new, I just swapped the colours back to blue. I was trying for C64 tans with the last one, which looked great on my IPS, but when I saw what it looked like on my media center using a TV (purple instead of tan?!?) I figured it's time for a revamp. Last time people complained the blues were too "bright" even though they were darker than the greens before it (that people complained were too bright) -- Is google too bright in whites and blues? I don't hear people bitching about white backgrounds so... blue and white it is.
Paku Paku 2.0 DOS Coming ... sometime
I've slowly been pecking away at the new codebase. Shortly after the release of version 1.6 I found that on an unexpanded PCJr the game left a lot to be desired, and in general found a lot of new ways of doing things and improvements across all platforms. Originally this was going to be a version 1.7 release, but I figured if I'm gonna do it, let's do it right.
Disqus now working, I think...
Holidays took a bit more of my time than planned, then had some 'issues' with getting disqus' comment counts to work right. Turns out they demand a full URI (which is stupid as HELL) to auto-process links on a page. I ended up using the span targeting with the data- attribute method. Not a fan, but it's just too damned stupid the other way around... so, now we have comments at least on the blog parts of the site. I'll be adding comments to some specific sub-pages as I'll likely start adding more article-like content to the site.
Site Back End additions
I've added a method of creating 'breakpoints' in my articles so I can manually set where the "read the rest of this article" link gets placed. Automating this usually sucks and is a headache, so simply having a 'comment' that says "stop here for the summary" seems a far, far better way of handling it.
When/if I turn this simple "poor man's CMS" into a real content management system, this may be a pretty big feature... though I will still likely require that articles be written in HTML simply because it is the only guaranteed way to have proper control over the output from an accessibility and SEO point of view.
8088/8086 DOS Game Engine Improvements
I've been working for, well... years -- mostly in my spare time -- on "upping my game" when it comes to writing games for DOS. My new approach uses a great deal more assembly language and is built towards building monolithic "single executable as the distribution" games instead of a "directory full of files".
I've made huge strides in terms of faster audio with a more 'modular' way of adding sound devices. I've been working towards adding new devices as well as fixing bugs. Likewise my video support is seeing some optimizations, bugfixes, and a whole new way of storing game data and buffering screen output.