The conventional wisdom is that computer viruses can wipe out your data, but they can’t do physical damage. The exception to that rule was, of course, Commodore, the king of cheap 1980s computers. Commodore’s earliest computer, the PET, had an infamous “poke of death” (POKE 59458,62) that would destroy its video display, but the Commodore 64’s sidekick, the 1541 disk drive, had a couple of little-known vulnerabilities as well. Continue reading Commodore hardware viruses–yes, they were possible
John C. Dvorak wrote an analysis of how Microsoft lost its way with Windows 8 this week.
All in all it sounds reasonable to me. His recollection of DOS and some DOS version 8 confused me at first, but that was what the DOS buried in Windows ME was called. But mentioning it is appropriate, because it shows how DOS faded from center stage to being barely visible in the end, to the point where it was difficult to dig it out, and that it took 15 years for it to happen. He’s completely right, that if Microsoft had pulled the plug on DOS in 1985, Windows would have failed. Continue reading Where Microsoft lost its way
John C Dvorak is raving in PC Magazine about Netgear wireless routers and range extenders and how easy WPS makes it to set them up–and providing some very seriously flawed security advice along the way.
“Note that WPS is crackable by serious hackers using brute-force attack, but any SOHO user not dealing with government secrets should be fine.”
Continue reading No, it doesn’t take a “serious hacker” to crack wi-fi through WPS
I helped a friend of a former coworker with his resume this week. He’s looking to get their first jobs in IT, and found it difficult, even though he was applying for an entry-level helpdesk position.
His resume certainly indicated he was educated and able to hold down a job, but that wasn’t quite enough. Here’s what I had him do to beef up that resume to get past those initial rounds of screening and get interviewed.
Prince of Persia isn’t just a recent movie. It’s based on a video game series, the first of which was first released all the way back in 1989 for the venerable Apple II series of 8-bit computers. That original game, extremely simple by today’s standards, is a classic today.
The author, Jordan Mechner, had given up on looking for the 6502 assembly language source code behind the game until his dad found a box of disks buried in a closet. Among them were several hand-labeled disks claiming to contain the long-lost code. Continue reading The origins of Prince of Persia unearthed
There’s a nasty rumor floating around that in Walter Isaacson’s bestselling biography, Steve Jobs, Jobs alleges that Commodore copied the Apple II when making its first computer, 1977’s PET.
I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know specifically what it says about that. I do know how the PET came to be, and the PET would have happened whether the Apple II ever existed or not.
Continue reading Steve Jobs and the Commodore PET
It occurred to me this morning that writing about what was wrong with my 6502 machine language article from the early 1990s might be useful. Or maybe that was just whatever the dentist was injecting into the roof of my mouth talking, but I’m going with it.
Should I cut myself some slack on account of my age at the time? Sure. But teenage Dave would have welcomed the critique of mid-30s Dave, if either could find Dr. Emmit Brown’s DeLorean.
This article appeared in the final issue of Twin Cities 128/64, published by Parsec, Inc. of Salem, Mass., sometime after April 1994. Parsec never paid for the article, so under the terms of Parsec’s contract, all rights reverted back to me 30 days after Parsec failed to remit payment.
So now I’m re-asserting my rights to the article. You’ll find the editing poor–all my semicolons appear to have been replaced by commas, for instance–and the writing full of cliches. But I would have been 16 or 17 when I wrote it, and I don’t think it’s a bad effort for a 17-year-old. And the article had some pretty clever tricks. I have to admit I’d forgotten 90% of what was in the article, but I recognize my own writing when I see it.
I’d like to thank Mark R. Brown, former managing editor of INFO magazine, for finding the article and bringing it to my attention. And one final word: Although I wrote this with the Commodore 128 in mind, the same tricks apply to any computer or console based on a 6502 or derivative.
I keep reading stuff about Windows and ARM and, well, I think people just aren’t remembering history.
I’m not saying that Windows 8 on ARM will save the world, or even change it substantially. It probably won’t, since Microsoft tends not to get things right the first time. But will I automatically write off the project? No. It could prove useful for something other than what it was originally intended. That happens a lot.
But I’m more interested in clearing up the misinformation than in trying to predict the future.
Continue reading Windows, ARM, emulation, misconceptions and misremembered history