Welcome to a more swifter produced issue of Commodore Free, I had some more spare time so to keep the issue count for the year up! as you may know it’s down for the year, I thought I would release what I had into another issue. It may not be the strongest issue created but still.
Special thanks to everyone who emailed me and asked me to keep going, I have no intentions of giving up, (I am sure some will be moaning) I just needed a break and to regroup my thoughts. Now this has been completed I hope to throw together more issues of various qualities, as is expected in Commodore Free, if it was processional then people would complain I am trying too hard.
More news and a few reviews make up another issue, taking us closer to a magical issue 100, truly unbelievable! Who would have thought after the rather shaky first releases I would still be writing close to 100 issues!
I hope if all goes well to release a final issue for the year then a nice fresh start moving into next year, a number of people have liked the news sections being revamped, and a couple have complained that there is too much news, and suggested an outline would be better than printing verbatim announcements. True and I take the point, however some readers do not have internet access so I like to keep these users involved, I take the point though, and will streamline these announcements. I hope there must be a way for even none internet users to gain access to a computer to read more (if they wanted)
Something exciting is that, Pixel the creator of Pulse a shooter for the Unexpanded vic has been sending me sneak peeks of his work. The game is close to a release and will see various firsts on the Vic 20 the game is truly amazing on any platform, but is a work of art on the vic, more news as I receive it, and of course you can expect a full in-depth review when the game is released.
That’s it for now, I am already working on the next issue
Jeremy has released a decompiler which works with C64, and should work with Atari 2600, Apple II, BBC, and anything with a 6502!
Jeremy says, “It's good enough for around one error in 700 lines of (decompiled) code. So few errors as to make them insignificant!”
With the decompiler anyone can now get a game, run it through the disassembler in the GUI, and then decompile it. The 'Demo' version won't recurse into functions, and only 60 lines of assembly code are allowed per file.
Chris Wilkins has created a new Kickstarter project, to create a book of high quality about the Commodore 64. In the book will be the following articles: The history of the Commodore 64, the games released on a cartridge, and the SID chip.
Released by: Sailor
Testing drives means you have to load the test or a diagnostic software from disk. If the drive being tested is faulty you may not be able to load the test or diagnostic program, the cartridge also has a number of tools for testing. All fit into an 8K cart. He comments, “Some tools are old, others were written from scratch, and a few I rewrote in machine code instead of basic.”
The cartridge is an 8K ROM at $8000-$9FFF
You can also use RESTORE to return to the menu.
You may need to send a “I0:” or turn the drive off/on before running further tests if a previous error has occurred.
Released by: Subchrist Software
CharPad 2 - Latest Changes:-
Schema announced a Wi-Fi___33 cartridge for the Commodore C64 that he has been working on.
He already has a working prototype that communicates at 2400 baud using standard terminal program for communication and all RS - 232 signals are supported.
Released by: Zzarko
The software combines several d64 images of the same physical floppy into one image with less or zero errors. Error detection is based on the errormap part of d64.
Arc64 is a small tool to deal with D64, T64, LNX and ZipCode archives.
It can be used to edit D64 images, run D64 images in the WinVice emulator, run PRG files via CodeNet, convert T64, LNX, PRG, ZipCode, and other formats to D64.
A key feature is the drag & drop support. If you drop a D64 image, it will be opened instead of the currently opened D64 image. If you drop any kind of other file, Arc64 will try to add it to the D64 image. Formats like T64, LNX and P00 will automatically extract into the D64 image as PRGs.
Released by: Avatar
A simple right to left scrolling game. You control a smiley face and have to avoid obstacles coming towards you, collecting hearts for lives.
Released by: Niels Haedecke
Contiki BBS is a tiny, little, text based bulletin board system (BBS) server for the Commodore 64 home computer and a compatible Ethernet cartridge (e.g. TFE, RRnet, 64NIC+). It will also run in a VICE emulator with Ethernet support enabled. The BBS itself can be accessed through a standard telnet connection. Despite a floppy disk drive and the Ethernet cartridge, no further add-on hardware is required (for emulation use VICE with Ethernet support).
Released by: Lft
Spindle is an integrated linking, loading, and crunching solution for C64 trackmos. By hiding the details of the storage model, it allows the demo coder to focus on effects, transitions and flow.
The core of Spindle is a cutting-edge IRQ loader featuring extremely fast scattered loading and decrunching, state of the art serial transfer routines, and GCR decoding on the fly. On top of this, Spindle provides an optional linking framework that automates much of the tedious work traditionally associated with trackmo development.
Released by: DJ Gruby
Using the IDE64 device you are able to Dump the contents of a disk to another device, display disk directories, etc.
Released by: Iceout
Escape-man '87 by Charles Grey. Second version of a game originally made in 1987, improved in 2015. 'vidcade games' was what it was named at the time. Ignore the lame list protect message. I just learned it from a magazine.
You have to guide your man through a random “maze” collecting diamonds and avoiding the strange squares.
Windows for the Commodore 64
Well albeit in a limited format and function
Released by: Geir Straume
With some funky music and super smooth scrolling, your mission is to guide our little, green hero through the maze and collect the four diamonds. You will be awarded 750 pts. for each diamond collected.
Released by: Sauhund
This tutorial shows how to capture memory, save it to disk, and manipulate it. But doesn’t discuss bypassing copy protection. Meant as an entry level tutorial, one can capture single file disk or tape games and save them to disk. Also covers how to train games for infinite lives, etc. Not an advanced tutorial, but an introduction to basics.
Robert Bernardo writes:
"Mike Hill and 3-D PETSCII video at CommVEx v11 2015"
"Leonard Roach's BASIC programs at CommVEx v11 2015"
Filmed at the Beacher's Madhouse inside the MGM Grand Hotel, see the freaky, wild aftermath of CommVEx! Also at the end of the video, see the first ever CommVEx demo, created by Saj. Go to the CommVEx 2015 Nightclub Footage at
Developed by Drew Rodger some years ago, he has now found one of his old diskettes and re-released the title. In the game you need to escape the people. You can use your plasma weapon but you must be careful with the (annoying) bouncing balls.
Wilfred Bos released an update of SID Known.
SID Known is a command line tool which you can use to identify SID tunes from SID and PRG files. This version is compatible with the latest version of HVSC (63).
Servant64 is an Open - Source project to permit a bi-directional connection between a Commodore 64 (Userport) and a Windows PC (USB). The hardware is based on cheap and modular hardware.
High Voltage SID Collection update is available. There are now more than 46,500 SIDs in the collection. This update contains 798 new SIDs, 121 better rips, 412 SID data improved, 67 SID model / clock info’s 27 tunes identified, and 46 tunes moved. You can download the update from the HVSC web page.
The results of the competition SEUCK 2015:
Roberto Ricioppo has made a new game for the Commodore C64 using Sideways scrolling SEUCK.
In the game you have to guide Spix through space and shoot down the aliens who come close. Do not let them get too close otherwise you lose a life.
Jeroen Tel is creating a new album “Tel Me More”.
He is trying to raise money for studio time, CD mastering, printing a limited edition vinyl LP, a poster.
The album contains the following titles: Robocop 3 Cybernoid II The Revenge, Rubicon, Hawkeye, Myth, Turbo Outrun, Supremacy, Stormlord, Battle Valley, Cybernoid, Eliminator, and Iron Lord.
Chris Adams built a robot back in1982 that looked like the dog from Doctor who called his K9. He has started to restore K9 back to its former glory. K9 is controlled by a Commodore VIC20 and a speech synthesizer.
Read more on his blog.
Thomas Lövskog has been working on a number of cartridges for the Commodore VIC - 20. The GCart Junior is a RAM expansion featuring RAM expansion for Block 1, 2, 3 & 5 and RAM 1, 2 & 3. Memory enable, disable and write protect. RAM on IO and IO # 2 # 3. 16 MB Flash with super fast charger and a 3D printed case.
I couldn’t actually see how to order one but there is a contact form on the website.
For the Amiga A500 / A2000 Commodore made a Diagnostic Kit, now a very rare item. It was used only by official Commodore service companies. Patrick dottyflowers.com has the kit. Read more here:
AmiCraft is a Minecraft game for AmigaOS 4.x. Changes in this version are: The Edge of world now works without problems. Added: Many larger worlds, different biomes, boxes, ovens, ladders, iron ore, iron tools, stones, and blocks with gravity (sand and gravel).
This is an English and German Amiga magazine.
In this issue: Foreword, News, Playfield, Tecnoball Z, Minos, Amiiga 10x10, Help my Cat, Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, Bed Games, Jay the Miner, Volfied, Wings Battlefield, Commodore Amiga: a visual Commpendium, The Amiga Workbench Simulation, Pegasos, MorphOS 3.8, WHDLoad, Phase 5 Digital Products, Demoscene, ArtEffect, Programmer using AmigaOS4 (13) and an interview with Paul Gardner - . Stephen (Mega65)
PCB Amiga Explorer is a web-based information system developed by Christian Euler. You can use this system in the repair of Amiga motherboards. At the moment is the lay of the A1200Rev 2B and A4000Rev 2.
Like the Commodore 64 Reloaded (a Remanufactured Commodore 64 motherboard), Individual Computers is developing a Remanufactured Amiga motherboard. Features include: Form factor: A500 housing. Chipset: AGA chips Alice, Lisa and Paula. CPU: A1200-compatible CPU slot. Power supply: 14-19 VDC. Video: RGB 15 kHz / Indivision AGA MK2. Audio: 3.5mm stereo plug. Keyboard: A500 / A1200. ROM: 1 MB flash ROM. Floppy Disk: PC disk drive: IO Subsystem 32 - bit, 14MB / s. Storage: 2 CF - Cards.
Assist is a knowledge base of helpful information for AmigaOS users originally based on the 'Get the most out of your Amiga' PDF guide.
With WHDLoad you can play Amiga diskette-based games direct from your hard drive. New game configurations added: Inspiration Is Gone, Vaginal Massacre, Play Byte Commercial, Rap is Crap, The Audience is Listening, and The 100 Most Remembered C64 Game - Tunes. Custom: Days of Thunder, Vaginal Massacre and Lorna
A new Kickstart project is planning to produce new A1200 computer cases. The housing is made with an injection moulding and should produce a non-yellowing case. The new housings are prepared for a CF slot, HCX display and video.
The AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition SDK is now available for download from Hyperion’s web site. The official press release can be found at http://www.hyperion-entertainment.biz/
The new game "Bubble Shooter DX" is now available. You can download a free trial version to test the game on your system. This addictive classic bubble blast match-three game comes with clean and modern graphics, hundreds of great challenging levels, and some nice special items for better game experience in harder levels.
More information and a trial version:
For more information and to purchase the game go to: www.amistore.net
New version of V.A.M.P. Ready to use the new Hollywood™ plugins, V.A.M.P. is a multiplayer and viewer made with Hollywood™. This new version has this new improvements:
Visit the official site:
The new version is available for AmigaOS3, AmigaOS4, MorphOS, Windows, and applet format to use with the Hollywood Player.
THE TECH INDUSTRY is full of iconic rivalries. Facebook vs. Twitter. Apple vs. Google. Uber vs. Lyft. But in 1985, one of the biggest rivalries was Atari vs. Amiga.
Fuelling the tension between Atari and Amiga was the fact that Atari was being run by none other than Jack Tramiel,
Read compete article.
The Amiga turns 30—“Nobody had ever designed a personal computer this way”
Journalism is prone to hyperbole, but on July 23, 1985 technology genuinely changed forever. At New York's Lincoln Center, as a full orchestra scored the evening and all its employees appeared in tuxedos. Commodore unveiled the work of its newly acquired Amiga subsidiary for the first time. The world finally saw a real Amiga 1000 and all its features.
Read more here
Amiga kit announce a new accelerator for the Amiga 1200
To find out more, visit AmigaKit.com:
UK direct product link
Europe direct product link
USA direct product link
Canada direct product link
Supposedly there are more than 20,000 packages in the mods directory on Aminet.
Why not have a program that could automatically download one module at-a-time, extract it, and play it? This is the purpose of AmiModRadio...
AmiModRadio is composed of essentially four parts:
AmiModRadio is open source. Its source code and binaries are available on SourceForge and BitBucket
Stephen Harvey-Brooks, aka Mequa, passed away on July 3rd due to complications during an operation to change a pacemaker. He was a member of most Amiga related websites and known in this community for the cross-platform AMOS BASIC interpreter, XAMOS.
In this new release you can become a pilot for hire in a point-and-click adventure called Flight of the Amazon Queen or try to escape from future world Beneath a Steel Sky.
Or, if you like to read instead, we've included complete and digitally remastered versions of Directory Opus 5 manuals in PDF format.
MUI4 (Magical User Interface) has been updated to the latest version as well as EvenMore textviewer and IconLib. AISS (Amiga Image Storage System) got 2.500 new images.
Game engines like ScummVM & WHDLoad have been improved, too. Enjoy the summer with AmiKit :-)
AmiKit is a free project, powered by enthusiasm that turns your computer, tablet, or phone into legendary Amiga. It includes more than 350 of the finest applications.
FREE DOWNLOAD: http://amikit.amiga.sk/
David Lowe and his daughter are attempting to fund, for the third time, a very promising album with new versions of Amiga classic soundtracks, including :
Frontier will be played by an actual orchestra !
Please help this Kickstarter reach the 33.000 pounds before it's too late, at this very address:
After a first beta release at the end of 2014 and 6 more months of collaborative work, Rok Krajnc and the Minimig / MiST / FPGA community release a new version of the Amiga AGA core for the MiST FPGA board labelled "1.0".
One may refer to it as minimig-mist-v1.0.
It contains a huge list of fixes which significantly improve the compatibility:
Official site & download : http://somuch.guru/minimig/minimig-mist/
Swedish musician Martin Noriander a.k.a Instant Remedy, well known in the C64/SID scene, has been working on an Amiga remixes album for seven years.
Entitled Insert Disk Two, it features the following tracks:
Total playing time: over 76 minutes!
Dreams "Nightmare" track here: http://www.remix64.com/track/instant-remedy/pinball-dreams-nightmare/ - which won an award.
Medley available on YouTube at the following address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUSIRBJ7mOw
Orders can be placed here: http://www.010101-music.nl/insert-disk-2-order.html. Bundles with Immortal 3, 4, and Paul Agnus Denise are also available at reduced prices.
-- Grand Rapids, Mich. – Public schools in Grand Rapids have an air-conditioning system that is controlled by digital technology from early 1980’s, according to the local Michigan WoodTV. Since it was installed to regulate the school’s air-cooling and heating, the Commodore Amiga personal computer has worked perfectly.
Read more here
Antique Code Show Let’s state one fact clearly from the start: for all its virtues, Shadow of the Beast did not play especially well. Its often half-baked platform action appeared promising at first, but was let down ultimately by having no game-save positions, a frustratingly high difficulty level, and a general lack of fair and progressive gameplay.
Yet Shadow of the Beast still rates as one of the Amiga’s most important titles, principally because it must have sold thousands of Commodore’s dearly loved machines all by itself.
Official Sony Page for Shadow of the Beast remake.
You need to be over 18 to view the link!
Decompiler Technologies was founded in 2003 by Jeremy Smith to capitalise on technology first thought of in 1998.
We focused on decompiling VB5 and VB6 programs, and had a lot of business between 2004 and 2005. Also, a VB5/VB6 program is x86, so we could decompile x86 (DOS/Windows/Linux), too.
In 2011, after a delay in development, we ported the 6502 processor, which means we could now decompile 6502 programs.
In June 2015, after abandoning another project, I re-focused on my decompiler, calling it RevEngE.
The first thing I did was tidy up loads of bugs, add new features, and do things to make the decompiled code better.
The thing I'm most proud of (which has been there since 2005) is the complete elimination of register assignments. You'll see these in other decompilers, e.g.:
d7 = "hello world" d0 = d7 print d0
In RevEngE, this would be:
print "hello world"
At the most basic level.
There are a few special variables so that registers never need to be there:
That covers it!
Then on the 28th August, after 3 days work, I ported the 68000 processor, which means we can decompile Amiga, Atari ST, Macintosh and Sinclair QL programs, not to mention numerous arcade games. (see http://www.decompiler.org/revenge/68k.htm for the 68k sample).
The CPU abstraction means that you have a fixed subset of opcodes that are the same between CPUs.
The basic idea is: All CPU opcodes that fit are already dealt with. For example: 'OP_MOVE' is STA($acc,arg) in 6502, and move eax,ebx in x86.
Any that can't be dealt with are turned into a function with args taken (usually) from registers. For instance, SEI (set inhibit flag) in 6502, and STOSD which takes arguments from basically, edx and ecx. (x86).
The great point about this abstraction? Well, say in a 6502 subroutine, you spot that it's jumping backwards. The solution is found and implemented. Now, the jump backwards is fixed for 6502, 68000, Z-machine AND x86.
The other great point is you can port a new CPU in a week!!
Now, the Google ranking for Decompiler Tech, search query for "6502 decompiler" is there on page 1, and "68000 decompiler" is also on the front page for that query. The problem is I haven't had any emails from this, assuming people searched for those terms and saw my page.
I emailed a guy who does C= Plus4 conversions, and he said he didn't see any need for a 6502 decompiler.
So I'll be blunt as to what I want: I want someone to pay me $150 for a fully enabled copy of the 6502 decompiler, and save themselves over 20 hours of work, thus that $150 pays for itself. Then I'll crack open the champagne.
About saving time: Basically, the decompiler does about 99% of the work, and all the reverse engineer has to do is figure out names for the variables. And if there is a problem (that 1%), it's easy to spot and, looking at the original assembly code, fix it by hand.
$150 is peanuts compared to what other decompilers cost. One costs multiples more and doesn't even output as good code as RevEngE. Just look out for those registers as an example of an ineffective decompiler!
"A question is: Does the decompiler really work? The answer is that it works a lot more times than it fails, and thus could be said to be a 99% probability that it REALLY WORKS, which are pretty good odds."
"Also, are the assumptions about assembly language correct? Well, the assumptions leading to register elimination have held up sufficiently that any problem is due to a bug in the code.
Jeremy Smith, Decompiler Technologies
BSc (Hons) Software Development with AI
Well, having made me a middle age resolution, and sending off the article effort for Issue 90. I got around to reading issue 88 at long last (of Commodore Free magazine). I was getting quite engrossed in several articles. Particularly catching my eye this time were the last three or four very excellent reads.
The eBay Amiga, The Commodore History in particular and also the very excellent article about Programming in BASIC, subtitled "A root canal with no anaesthetic". Made me somewhat grateful to be on Diazepam and Tramadol to try and alleviate the sciatica (You should see the bruise, it's a beauty! -though might be bordering on porn if I tried to send it!) Anyhow my mind wandered to a game about a canal, then I thought "isn't a root canal something to do with the ear?" and my mind went to the stuff I buy from the chemist for my own hard wax issue. I was floating around the room wondering how all this could be put into some kind of game. I wondered whether it would be good for the likes of Xbox, or remain purely a retro thing. I eventually managed to bring my concentration back to the screen and read "How in poodoo did this happen?"
Again wandering off John Lennon style, I wondered was there yet another version of Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code I didn't know about? -This is Most possible!, then would they call it "Poodoo BASIC?", on the other hand. Like I gave my articles the name "Happy Programming" with the intention of making the readers chuckle. (guffaw, laugh, smile -whatever I can get!). What if Mr. L.R. Roach has done something on those lines... "Hmmm." I thought, "I know the editor has spoken of reading the articles in the bath..." but I digress.
I was particularly found about the impressive article that Mr. Roach created, and he knew how to get the c128 to print. I wondered if this was the same thing to do with the emulator I have. (Heart sunk that I have no room for a real Commodore 128). Having said that, I can't even get the printer working with the PC software it's designed for, let alone anything else!
Besides this, the actual struggle I’m having with the VICE c128 Emulator is that I can't get it to save/load programs that I`m typing in. I`m sure it works as a games console, but that isn't my main thing these days. Furthermore, what if I wanted to Save a high score or something? Needless to say, I am hoping for more articles of c128 related things and will be looking out particularly for the name Leonard R. Roach in future articles.
Then I read through Mr NOP's Computing History with Commodore. Oh! The isolation I remembered how every-one I knew either had a Spectrum, Amstrad, one with an MSX. Anything but a Commodore16, even the few Commodore owners I knew all had c64's. How I wish I had a course instead of having to teach myself. It was the BBC micro at school! And I managed to say the wrong thing too:-"You'll be able to do the work at home then!""err, yeh? err, NO, uh, it's a different format!" I tried, there were limited places. So, in my desperate confusion, I must've said the wrong thing! Fast forward to now and reading the article by Mr. NOP. I found myself relating to similar regarding.
10xxx0 REM put this onto disk...
and "COLOUR" instead of colour etc...
Also. Making an 8x8 grid to draw, is something the art lessons should have taught -surely? Perhaps I would not be as inept as an artist had they done this. (Here's hoping some-one will show us on these pages? ...PLEASE!!!!)
Something hit me when the article came to learning PEEKS & POKES. I suddenly realised how it is possible to check for something moving on screen. So, although slow and tricky, there might be some way to make graphics move and detect collisions as though they were Sprites. So, having read the entire article (something I rarely do -when prescribed medicine is making me as high as a kite!) it was time for bed, and dialysis the next day. I wasn't going to be a martyr like the fellow who nearly made himself one for the sake of a semi colon -(Oh, the times I’ve missed something like this; even pre-written programs!)
Computer time eventually comes, and while I've got typically absolutely nowhere with what I was trying to achieve! The following meanderings were produced. Not only that; I've since remembered that buried amongst my shelf of books is a particular effort by Melbourne House. At the time I remember my Dad getting annoyed that the games didn't work, and if they did, we thought they were rubbish. (These days he says everything is too complicated! -with some people you can't win. ...come to think of it. His defence mechanism for not being able to!). At the time it wasn't appreciated that the company had taken The Commodore 16 to the very maximum of the games capabilities possible to create and play in BASIC! So, having come up with the following meanderings, I took another look and providing success from it; then that will be for another issue.. (It was The game Star Trader through, seeing the games book in an online auction, that put all the work (I didn't understand as an 8 year old) into perspective! -so, am not without hope! -well, not completely anyway)
The Programs: (Something and Nothing for every-one!)
This has the potential to be, err, ...something!
It became a first look at POKEs, and dare I say PEEKing, but the latter was abandoned. In the process the program underwent changes that I won't bore you with further than the fact that somewhere along the lines I decided to add the GOSUB/RETURN statements. Having done so I decided the program would've looked better as a loop, or better yet not written at all! But it did pose the question of “What if the statement telling the computer to check for a key press gets lost!” hence the next program
Having brought myself from this side tracking I went MORE LOOPY with a command I happened to come across for the first time whilst scanning through the plus4 manual. (Note. I normally used The c16 manual), So, of course, as nosiness’ would have it, I had to have a look at the "Exit" command in working use.
Continuing the search to learn more about POKE (& PEEK) commands. The Graffitti experiment helped with the POKEs, and I`ve unfortunately forgotten where I came across the fact that on moving a character, you have to delete the old one out first. (This being character, 32 -SPACE- in the POKE department) This was useful nonetheless. So, we have a very simplistic game type experiment. You will come across the POKE N,K (*) which is a demonstration of pseudo "sprite" collision. Finally, I thought I had the PEEK command figured for a moment. Unfortunately, a simple test showed I haven't! You'll see when you come to it. I`m also fully aware that I don't have the first clue in the use of AND statements with these things. The only places I've seen such things don't explain what they're doing. They just expect the reader to be psychic, or good enough that they could write the program themselves without needing the article in the first place ("pff!"). NOTE: The worst spaghetti code I`ve produced in a long time. Were it that I knew how to take it forward I might've cleaned it up. But I don't -so there!
Before I get off, I would like, if I may, to add all about the meanderings while floating around the room. (i.e. The aforementioned prescribed medication induced style of Lennon or Freud or any of the other nut cases that have contributed to shaping life as we know it in the 21st century. At least those related to our scene. (so, I won't mention the one where I discovered a name sake whom is a villain and has, it seems, got himself hated! And how this affects various aspects of life for myself.
Many are, it seems named after the politician whose statue remains in Todmordon, West Yorkshire.
Nor, Having wandered to all sorts of topics. Including the immigration crisis, whether this is related to the Nostradamus prediction of insurgents coming up through Italy to cause destruction to America and the western world etc. And wondering why they aren't being given white tents, with about thirty to a portable toilet and communal showers, fed basic bread and water with these pro immigration charities being forced to cover it, including any basic medical need etc. If they have worse than the basics -tough! They've escaped war and persecution -so they say.
The above should be paradise enough for them, the rest is pure greed!! -Or questioning Italy's policy of helping and so encouraging rather than turning them back. Or how come America has managed to remain silent in all of this when usually she seems to poke her nose into everything going recently. No, I don't want to talk about that unimportant rubbish...
COMMODORE FREE: (we have no comment on immigration or politics leaving such comments to the professionals)
I wish to question, why commodore has a split community.
As far as I can tell VICE is one site, commodore16.com another, Poweb+4 another, the Amiga has lemmings Amiga, and Amigakit etc. There are several more for the c64. too mention but a few. Some sites have come and gone. So, why can't they all merge into one site to share the cost! Each specific computer having her own title, then when you get to that page, more titles for games, books, programming for that machine etc. Surely, that is the only way to keep things going long term. While the commodore club/s should be doing more to keep such people, and things together etc. Sharing the cost of one site would surely be more beneficial than many different sites which have to have different names, in turn this makes them harder to find and so harder to keep going etc.
Not only that, but it would be easier to see what books need to be digitised, and then can be more easily sent to the one site / place and kept altogether. In 20 or so years they are not just abandon-ware but unless reinstated, the copyright runs out. Thus no restrictions on showing such things, though the clubs will be held responsible for making them freeware/public domain. That way future generations may learn the Basics before having to dive into the more complicated modern stuff, whilst in the process learning their History of where it all began etc. as a grounding.
I also wished I knew more about the 6502 Assembly, and so wished I knew where to get my hands on the articles by person that our author/s briefly mention (was it Jim Butterfield? I`ve lost the place now). I also felt it would be extremely useful for some-one who knows what they're talking about in both to go through each BASIC command but to convert/show the equivalent in things like TedMon (MONITOR). All I really know is I got great joy from the articles I started at 28-64, even though I missed a few deadlines for some issues, due to other commitments along the way. I guess I/we are at the mercy of the likes of Mr. NOP, and Mr. Roach, etc. to help us the rest of the way. Well, I've spent enough time wondering what will happen, etc. It's time to go.
So, Once again, I wish You All.
very Happy Programming!!!
Note: If the likes of Melbourne House had done this, all those years ago... well, there'd be no need for the editor of Commodore Free to get a horse whip and force me to do it now! ("Ouch!") So here goes:
10 REMark, Title in this case. Do not underrate the importance of this line. And take note of any (c) copyright notice to avoid the very serious accusation of plagiarism. I haven't claimed this, as I’m not the first idiot to write graffiti. (which is probably spelt wrong, by the way. "So wot -init ma-a-a-te!"
100 clear screen. This time chosen to write the title for the user as it's good form, polite etc.
110 you guessed it
120 testing the up and right arrow keys to make sure they work as required.
Note: That I took one machine to a shop and whatever they did to it, the poor thing hasn't been the same since!!! A lesson to be careful whom you trust!
150 an example of Gosub/Return statements (not the best, but will do)
200 another way to print something using coordinates rather than arrow keys. Careful though, this command has rules of its own.
210 tab was driving me crazy with the old machine, it was working the same as SPC and deleting out characters it passed. It shouldn't!
300-400, I felt so bad about not holding with the illiterate tradition of graffiti that I just had to add to the program.
450 Again the statement causes a pause so that the existing line can be read.
500 & 510 more done to remind me so that I didn't have to keep going back to the reference manual.
520 x1 is the variable, in this case a constant that holds the start, top left of the screen memory. x2 is there as the manual says "remember to set the colour at..." but I’m not yet sure how, and it works well enough without it!
600 x1+59 is where the 15 (letter 'O' is to be printed. x2 is REMarked out as it did nothing! (as far as I could tell)
610 continuing to change the lettering
620 another abandoned experiment with the PEEK command this time.
630 places a space at the required location.
Feel free to experiment with numbers -in the listed range anyway. And please save and send anything in. no prizes though as it's just for fun.
650 check if a key has been pressed since encountering line 1000 (which were GOSUBed above)
This prompted a query as to what if these were placed wrong... (next Prog.) If nothing is pressed, the poor machine has to recheck and give the user another chance to press a key and make the delay long enough for the user to read contents of the screen. Note: Happy Prog'ing caters for all levels of intelligence, there was even a rumour that the prime minister reads these pages!!!
If the equation at 650 proves false, the computer will look to the next line which leads to the ending of the program at line 700.
("Ouch!!! -? No, I mean the program!" -"I know you do!" ed.)
10 as above. Same principle.
50 clear screen
60 let user know something is actually happening.
100-140 add as many of these as you wish for the experiment. And notice the more you add, the more the computer will ignore presses. It will get to the point where you will have to hold the space bar down in order to be at line 200 with the key pressed to stop the program.
210 if it hasn't registered a key pressed, the machine will start looking for it again.
When debugging, look for this in your programs. Example: Star Trader.
("ah! free at last -Ouwcha!" -"not quite!" ed.) "MORE LOOPY" then.
10&20 You'll know off by heart, by now.
100 start loop
150 start counter and add with each pass-through.
200 tell computer when to EXIT the loop going by counter.
250 inform user where the count is at. (No, not Monty Carlo "OUCH!")
300 return to start of loop, the "do" statement.
400 inform user we're outside loop and require a key press to acknowledge to progress.
450 wait for keypress
460 if space bar hit, then exit with error. Note the error. We can change this to end or stop, or by adding lines and sending the program there etc.
470 if space bar not pressed, acknowledge something was pressed by asking again.
10 & 100 you know by now.
150 & 160, read the remark. Although "Avoid" means if it were a proper game, and not just a fundamental lesson in the very beginnings of one.
170 will place K on screen at line 180.
190 must have some colour, or life gets dull. And changing this so you can tell somethings happened when you hit the a-void. Without this line if you replay it the colour will stay the same as the post collision -later...
500 & 510 You've seen these before in an above Prog.
520 & 530 sets the screen parameters. Later the computer will check where the sprite is, and will stop the user going over the border (To protect such things as the title and other placements etc.)
600 initial placement of our sprite.
700 waits for user to move sprite.
710-800 are the keys you can use to move your sprite.
800 if none of the choice keys are pressed the program will start again waiting for one of the user choices.
The keys are:-
0 exit the program, though runs/stop has not been disabled.
The arrow keys as usual, otherwise. Up = w, down = x, left = a, right = d.
You can also move to the corners.
The other directions are:
top left = q, top right = e, bottom left = z, bottom right = c.
The S key and SHIFT+S key have a special function. If this were a proper game, there might be a button for firing at the foe. But as an afterthought I came up with this way of changing the "sprite"/GRAPHIC, letter etc. that the user can move. SPACE has been banned, so no invisibility, as has the avoid character.
The explanation for making these work follows. Note the GOTO statements.
1000 reference point for future use.
1100 & 1110 ah, BOUNDARIES -important in all walks of life, somewhat underrated in some place ...Ed... ("ouch!") ("you were saying.." ed.)
These denote where the player can't go, and can be expanded, altered as required. You can add lines to stop the user going off at the sides should you wish.
1200 move has been allowed. so delete place where sprite was, then put the sprite/graphic in the new place.
1210 let the computer know the new position, and that any future calculation has to be from this new place! (otherwise funny things happen)
1940 & 1950 And here it is, I mentioned above where I thought for a moment that Id got somewhere with the PEEK statement. line1940 proved me wrong! Either will check for collision.
2000 all that dealt with, Go back and wait for the next user response.
3000 onwards & 4000 onwards respectively deals with the S, and SHIFT+S press.
xx00 make sure M is in range
xx10 make sure characters will be 'legal'.
xx20 change shape/type of sprite.
xx90 go back for next user action.
Note 3000 after could have been done without so many lines.
Try changing 3020, just make it 3040.
then make line 4000 into 3020. And 4010 into 3030.
Have line 796 going to 3020.
With this done, you can DELETE4000-
The program should run exactly the same way, only looks neater.
Also, you may notice a slight variance between a couple of similar lines. This has negligible bearing on the program. Finally, if you wish to know the character number, either program it in, or stop the program. Type:
You can always type
John Fielden (not the criminal namesake!)
Created by Petri Häkkinen for the unexpanded VIC 20. You can read more here
Rogue-like games are explained below and tend to be text only (as the author says), so I must thank the author for pointing out these resources. At the time of the review I had never played any of this game genre, so the review of the game is as is, from a new-to-the-game-genre novice. Although I did enlist a few friends to verify my scoring, I have given the game a fair review (in my opinion) and played it intensively over a long period, both on real and emulated hardware.
The game can be played on a real unexpanded VIC20, in VICE emulator, or online using a VIC20 emulator by Matt Dawson. The author says a PAL VIC20 is recommended, because music is not in tune on NTSC systems. I have not tested this.
Manual (and source code):
Play online (VIC-20 emulator by Matt Dawson):
You are Eino, a member of the druids. Your master, the arch druid, has become old and it is time for somebody to replace him. As a young initiate you are sent to dungeon Dex, a mysterious labyrinth, home to vile creatures. You must enter the dungeon alone and defeat three demon lords within. Only then can you achieve enlightenment and ascend to become the next arch druid.
Loading the game, we see just a credit screen.
The music starts to play. It sounds quite random on first listening, but as you listen more you realise there is a tune there. I guess it does actually suit the game, and memory is always a premium item on the VIC. Anyway, pressing any key takes you into the main game.
The graphics are limited. Sounds are the music and some bleeps, HOWEVER the game play is engaging and as you can imagine quite fast paced. You really need to stick at the game as it becomes more and more playable. The various enemies are represented by letters so a RAT is a letter r, a SNAKE is the letter s! One thing I would have liked is some feedback on how much energy you were draining from the enemies, and although you see your health going down I couldn’t assess if it was worth keeping on attacking or should I run away. You can see the items you have collected at the bottom of the screen.
Here I haven’t managed to find anything. You can also see the health remaining,
represented by hearts or part of them if you have been hit.
These icons represent stairs.
As you walk the area starts to appear a little bit like when you view the map on something like Doom. Oh, and these icons seem to be doors that open up when walked into.
So you’re wondering about the gameplay.
Well... The game is all there, and to credit, the author works on an unexpanded machine. The music is acceptable and the game play is very engrossing. One of my friends suggested a multiplayer version where a friend could control the enemies! I personally think the graphics are letting it down, but there are a number of role-type play games where graphics are minimal.
I could moan about the key choice and lack of joystick support or any number of other things missing, however I won’t. I played the game a number of times with my son, and we were both engrossed, with my son shouting things like, “Look out RAT!” It does get quite exciting; the rats are fast and seem to home onto the player. They soon corner you so you can’t move and then kill you off! (as do most of the monsters) I quite like the fact the levels are only partially visible and you start at random locations. Apart from the fermented graphics, I can’t really see what could be added to the game . On first looks you may be put off, but I would suggest you need to play the game to get a better understanding of not only the controls, but the AI in the game. With lots to hunt out and a large area to explore the game could easily be sold as a commercial release.
This a very engrossing and exciting game, and some would say the graphics don’t matter. I can see the point as the more you play, the more your brain fills in its own graphics. They used to call it imagination before CGI took over .
Getting back from the 2015 Las Vegas CommVEx show put me in a humble mood. I realized that the Fat Guy here in Kansas City really shouldn't be jerking on the chains of productivity. I really need to sit down at the Commodore and start cranking out some programs like I said I would. I have high expectations but low initiative. This is a bad combination but it may be related to my mental condition; I'm not sure. What is sure is that there are 10 months left before the next Las Vegas meeting so I'd better hit the keyboard and start working on a few items that need to be tweaked or flat out re-done. However, before I get into the subject further I'd like to "detour into a cul de sac" as Pastor Dan McDonald would say and ask for some assistance from you, the kind reader of my column...
I am looking all over the Internet and other sources for any and all construction sets that were made for the Commodore 64/128. I know it is highly likely that I can find all the Commodore construction sets online and available for easy download. Sadly, I run a "bear bonz" Commodore set up at the Roach Center for BASIC Commodore Studies, so to simply "pull" such an item off the Internet is hard. I'm looking for the physical copy of these construction sets in good working order and I'll be glad to pay any reasonable price. If you have such a program in your collection (documentation included) and no longer have a use for it, then please consider selling it to me. Just send me a note to my website (www.lenardroach.com) with what you have and the price plus shipping. No reasonable offer will be refused. I'll even take duplicates of what I already got just to have backups. I want to thank each and every one of you in advance for your help.
Now to continue. Sitting down at my Commodore keyboard sometimes just isn't enough. I have five projects sitting in my Commodore disk file box that are in need of anything from minor code to complete re-works, and the biggest pain in my fat, flatulent, flabby backside is my very first program I wrote for a magazine -- "Check It Out."
"Check It Out" would seem like a little waste of time to spend so much sweat on when with just a quick click of the mouse and your credit card handy you can pay mostly anything through the power of the Internet. However, I personally have some creditors that actually demand that I pay either by check, money order, or cashier's check; no credit or debit cards. So, I figure since I've got to sit down at a desk and physically write these companies a check, I might as well go whole hog and send everyone a check. "Check It Out" was born out of a need to write about thirty checks a month and at that time I was just beset with the wonderful condition of carpel tunnel syndrome. I wrote most of the code but the heart of the program (the subroutine that makes it all work) was a collaboration of myself and Commodore guru Carl Zuel. Carl's fifteen line subroutine he added makes the whole program worth it's while. I've tweaked and shuffled some of what he's done to "Check It Out" over several revisions of the work but I never destroyed the original function of that subroutine.
The funny thing about "Check It Out" is that it is never the same program for each dot matrix printer that is used with it. In my naïveté at the time I thought that all dot matrix printers that were Commodore and Commodore compatible all followed the same program strings within their microprocessors. I was mistaken and should have seen this when I wrote a subsequent second program that would allow the program to work on the Commodore MPS 803. The final program that was published in RUN magazine was most compatible with the Commodore MPS 802, Commodore's business printer. It took several tries to get the PRINT#3 and empty spaces to make the program print all the information correctly on the front of a check. The program was not designed, but had to be tweaked to work on the several models of Commodore and Commodore compatible printers that were available. I also never realized that some Commodore print commands were unrecognized by some of the compatible printers, the biggest of these commands being the PRINT#6 and the PRINT#10 commands.
After all these years and the long disappearance of my MPS 802 manual, I cannot remember what the PRINT#6 command did within the program, but I do know that it was working only with the MPS 802 and MPS 803 printers; any other printer that tried to access PRINT#6 would cause a "?" to be printed on the check. The PRINT#10 command caused the printer to go through a cold restart without turning the printer off then on. Again, printers that did not recognize the PRINT#10 command printed a "?" like it did on the PRINT#6 command.
Then there was the problem of spacing on the check. While PRINT#3 was a carriage return on the printer, causing the printer to move down to the next line, the empty PRINT commands (" ") moved the printer head from left to right, and, similar to PRINT#6 and PRINT#10, a misplaced space on the front of a check could mean the difference between acceptance or rejection by financial institutions trying to cash the check written using "Check It Out." That's was a big selling feature I pushed with the program was that everything fell into place and all a user of same would have to do is sign and mail the check.
The main controlling subroutine of "Check It Out" can be found in lines 900 to 1100. Here is where the print commands come in to play and the printer prints all the information written into all the inputs found in the first half of the program. Also, at the very beginning (around lines 10 to 200) are some of the blank print strings used in adjusting the horizontal print on the check. These are the simplest factors to adjust by the addition or subtraction of any blank lines that will best make the dot matrix printer behave and locate everything accordingly. When it comes to adjusting the vertical print of the program one must (1) find out if PRINT#6 and PRINT#10 are recognized by the printer being used and (2) add or subtract PRINT#3 statements that best zeroes in on where each print line will start. The best results will occur when a check is inserted into the printer as flush to both the left side and the top of the printer head.
"Check It Out" in its 1992 published form is nothing like what is sitting in my 5.25" file box here in Kansas City. With more miles on the keyboard under my belt I see some errors I've made in coding it. One was the location of my setup text before actual functions begin. In the original code, the stringed text was scattered throughout the program; updates have moved these "crunched" text lines to the beginning of the program. Also, I've inserted a new subroutine at around line 400 that gives the user an option to access any data written and saved using "Check Mate," which I hope to discuss in another article.
So far I've been batting 1.000 when it came to making my personal revisions of "Check It Out" to work on several dot matrix printers I have owned. The last success was getting the program to work was on a Star NX10-C. Now I possess a Star NX1000, which one would figure that being from the same family it would behave the same way....
This son of a bombastic mutant machine of a printer is nothing like its predecessor. I've been working on and off with this printer for about a year and this thing still beats me on trying to get "Check It Out" to work on it. Even some other programs that require a printer are having troubles obeying this printer. I'd hate to admit defeat because of one machine but I've almost run out of options. I've been given a creative mind so I'll pray and ponder over it some more before I order another printer.
I took this wonderful "masterpiece" to show at CommVEx knowing perfectly well it wasn't ready for show or sale. Good thing for me is that I didn't show the program and worked instead with "The Ledger," which I also hope to discuss in another article.
Please learn from my mistakes and make sure your Commodore creation is perfectly ready for show and sale by alpha testing the living terror out of your project beforehand. Try to set up a circle of Commodore-using friends who will be brutally candid with you about your work; such people hurt only to help you become better.
Thanks for reading. I'll chat with you next time.
"How long can you keep shifting?", says the instructions.
Well Shifted is an action puzzle game that requires quick thinking and quick responses. You have to shift columns up and down to make combinations of gems on the centre row. The higher the combination, the more points you will earn.
To play the game you use a joystick left/right or the keys (O,P) to move cursor. Use up/down (Q,A) to shift columns and use fire (or W/I) to rotate centre row.
Loading the game gives the very cool revival studios logo in a banana peeling effect, this works very well and looks super slick on the Pet. Revival studios really nailed the game play, and show that once a game is perfected, it doesn’t matter about the hardware and limitations of the machine, a good game is a good game. So after the slick logo we have a minimal title screen:
Once into the game the screen looks well laid out, and if you have played any other version of SHIFTED on the various platforms its available for, then you will be right at home here as it’s the same game and game play.
The game play is simplistic itself, with a nod towards the various Tetris clones and spinoffs out there. It’s frustrating and very addictive; shift columns to get gems in a row and gain points. It's repetitive but engaging, as was Tetris and its various clones, and really looks well on the Pet. My normal comments about high score tables and better title screen still apply (although I do understand that limited memory has made compromises to these features). If I had hair I would be pulling it out ? The display is rock-solid and tightly programmed but you would expect little else from Revival these days. It seems they are producing high quality games with some super slick packaging and marketing.
When it comes down to the BASICs of life (forgive the pun), you can never get away far from the trusty Commodore computer. Usually, when it comes to learning a truth or two about anything, I have to go over the data about a thousand times before things start to settle into my stubborn frame of mind. I think that might be the problem of some of us in the over fifty generation; we get stuck in our ways and we'll swing from a rope around our necks before we try something new. Heh, you should have seen me switching from cassettes to CDs; I honestly thought that the Japanese were trying to take over America through our media because they were still honked off about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The music industry could kiss my fat, flabby, flatulent bottom before I pull away from my trusty cassettes. Now I have no cassettes and a collection of CDs that are heading for obsolete as digital media begins to wind its way through both the music and movie industry. No doubt about it, this Redneck has to start stepping up to the times.
But somehow, this rule of "upgrade from obsolete" doesn't apply too well when it comes to the fantastic and flexible Commodore line of computers. The 21st century is an amazing time to be a Commodore computer user. With the advancement being made on all the upgrades, both in hardware and software, to computers it seems like companies like Microsoft and Apple create stuff just to pitch the same stuff no more than six months to a year after creation -- but not with Commodore. While PC hardware hits the trash due to "incompatibility" with itself, Commodore latches onto what it already has and welcomes to its genre all the hardware and software upgrades that can be made without so much as a chip finding its way into the local landfill.
I take my "POLICE" hat off to all those who manage to take the Commodore line of products and integrate with the machines so many new ideas -- too many of those ideas to be mentioned in this short of a piece. The men and women of Commodore don't know how much this Redneck admires and appreciates their efforts to keep this 8 bit machine running in leagues with Microsoft, Apple, Linux, and the like. It makes me wonder what in heaven's name they go through to make such devices like the 64DTV, SuperCPU, along with the software to make it work. I know in my personal experience all I do is dream up an idea (usually out of necessity), and then start coding on my trusty Commodore 128. I've seen some coders use special diagrams called "templates" or "paradigms" to help them think through some of their ideas to make sure that before any data goes down into the machine, they know where each routine goes into the entire package. I've tried templates in the past and all they do is get me confused with all the "if A$ equals no then go here" and so on. I just sit down and start writing code, visualizing the entire program in my head but not as a complete program. I see everything in subroutines and write down each subroutine into Commodore BASIC before I go on to the next area. Do any of you remember the old 1979 movie "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" where this vast machine called "Vger" is built around a small Earth probe that was launched back in the 20th century? My programming is like building the "Vger" probe. I start with the small subroutine that is the nucleus or heart of the entire program then build around that to a full blown functioning, menu driven, multi-selective, useful piece of Commodore software. Are there hardships along the way? You bet!
I think I've mentioned this before somewhere, but I was told a long time ago before I started to get serious with anything that I put down on paper, be it an article like this or typing BASIC code on the Commodore, that, if you don't have a skin thick enough to handle the oncoming criticisms (and they *will* come, that's a guarantee) for anything that you write, then don't write anything at all. Keep it to yourself in a personal journal or diary. Words come back to haunt you, especially when those words are emblazoned on the printed page, and, thanks to the Internet, shown on the media as well. Nobody can just be "flippant" anymore without having some group, organization, or individual getting hacked off; and the next thing you are doing is scrambling for cover and the verbal shrapnel flies. I was given advice about what to do with *those* types of people, too -- let them rant, rave, curse, and swear all they want. Don't so much as give them the time of day, if you can avoid doing so. Chances are mostly good that you, as the writer or coder, have stumbled across something that the raver wishes they could have done or said, and since they were too slow on the draw to come up with what was done first, they choose to slam you instead, trying to steal from you any limelight you may have generated. When you answer such a person you are literally giving them that light they so richly desire. So far I've been able to lob my verbal hand grenades far enough from the critical crowd that I rarely get much back flak, but I do get some. Once in a while a reader of my Commodore spiel or a user of one of my programs will catch my rantings and give a scathing review of what I've done. I only respond to said person if I am asked to by the editor of the magazine or software company to which the note was sent, other than that, I leave them alone to rant, avoiding them as much as I can to grant more fuel to the fire. Don't get me wrong, it took me a *long* time to develop this hardness of hide. As a novice writer back in 1995 I got a lot of felgercarb from the editor of the Kansas City Commodore newsletter to which, in response, I would hide in a darkened corner and suck my thumb with tears running down my face, and I wouldn't write a thing for a year or two. After I "toughen" up a bit (ha!) I would write a blurb or two and see who would slap my hand for saying such a thing. If my hand was slapped it was back into the fetal position; if nobody does nothing then I would write more, sticking my word processing "toe" out there waiting for it to get ran over. A baby? Yes, I was, but I learned.
Now here I am, twenty years, countless articles, a few programs, and three books later and I am admiring all those who went through this crud before me. I've heard some horror stories over my time of people in Commodore who have received terrible treatment from Commodore at large. To them I say, "Thanks" for having the voracity and tenacity to stand and keep standing against all those critics over all these years, and yet refusing to be swayed by those who believe that tearing you down is the best way to build themselves up. I've been told by others that, "I don't stir the sewage enough to cause a stink" and that's why I'm left mostly alone. This could be! The Rabbi Paul once said, "As much as it is within you, be at peace with all men." I seek to do that as much as possible, but I know that the time is coming when I will step on the right Commodore toes and things will start flying like it was the Gulf War all over again. It's like my working at all these convenience stores since 1990, I have yet to be held up on my shift, and for this record I am thankful, but my day is coming. I am also thankful for the few toes I've stepped on in the Commodore universe, and for those I have, I've been able to ignore.
With all this sentimental hoopla said and in print, I need to urge future scribes and coders who so dare as to sit down in front of Dad's or Grandpa's Commodore wondering how in blazes you boot this thing, or if you are that Dad or Grandpa with something to say about this "not so archaic" machine or even an idea for a great piece of software or invent a fantastic piece of hardware, to no longer be shy or backwards and get started on your project. I used to think that I could write a book a year to keep up with "the big dogs," but I found out that those "big dogs" have a stenography staff several desks long and a publisher already in line waiting to use the author's name on a product that would surely bring in a profit from just for the name alone. Some writers even get an advance royalty. Me? I just sit quietly in my computer room typing and editing everything I do on one lone sentinel of a Commodore 128 waiting patiently for the next idea to come to mind so I can proceed forward with my silent career. This may not be you, but you will never know until you sit your backside down and join the ranks of the Commodore herd, and be heard.
For those who have blazed my Commodore trail ahead of me I say, "Thanks for the memory," no matter what size...
I am a dog, which goes without saying, but I am the lucky dog that got to go with a bunch of people from Kansas City to the 2015 Commodore Las Vegas show held in, where else, Las Vegas. I guess I should start at the beginning ...
I was asked by Lenard Roach one Sunday to go with him and his friends to the CommVEx. As a dog, it's hard to get my big paws onto a Commodore keyboard, but as a gamer dog I definitely enjoy using the Commodore, especially the 64 version, as a gaming source right along with my Xbox 360 and PS3. I enjoy all the classic games made for the Commodore 64 like "Ghostbusters" and "The Three Stooges" (these are my favorite C64 games) among others. I also learned that this trip was more than just a fun time, but Lenard wanted me to make a video of my visit; so it can be shown at Glad Tidings church to the kids who enjoy my rantings and ravings every week or two in Sunday School class. I told Lenard that would be a great idea (especially since he was going to pick up all my expenses).
We left in a rented black and silver (Jedi colors) 2015 Chrysler Town and Country on Thursday July 16th at nine in the morning. We were suppose to leave a 6 am but the failure on not one, not two, but three alarm clocks to ring made for a late start to the show. Our first stop was to the small town of Keytesville, Missouri where Lenard's long time friend, web designer, photographer, and camera person Tim lived. This was a 2 1/2 hour drive directly into middle north Missouri down two lane highways that only reached a maximum speed of 60 miles per hour. At noon we had Tim and his gear loaded into the van and booked our way back to Kansas City. For some insane reason the on board GPS told us the quickest was to our next stop was back home. We explored other options, like going through Sedalia, but Gabe, our main driver and Lenard's son, were already frustrated with two lane highways and wanted to hit some interstate and some 70 miles per hour for a change.
So, to Kansas City we returned, grabbing Interstate 35 to Olathe, then exiting onto US 169 south. This is a weird way to go, I thought, since our next stop, Tulsa, Oklahoma, was directly down Interstate 35, but Gabe set the GPS to avoid toll roads so here we were going down US 169 towards Tulsa, along with about a dozen or so semi tracker trailers who also wanted to avoid toll roads because, from what was explained to me, it costs about $100 per semi to travel the turnpike. This way expenses could be saved on the drivers.
At three o'clock in the afternoon we made it to stop number two where the son of the late and great Commodore guru, Carl Zuel, lived with his mom and sister. His name? Hunter Tiberius Zuel. Yes, just like in Star Trek. Lenard met with Hunter's mom and sister and made sure all goodbyes were exchanged before departing, at last, for Las Vegas. I thought we were going to see some of those purple mountain majesties like the American national anthem sings about when we passed through Colorado, but since we were so far south in the country, the GPS decided to take us through several US and state highways back to Interstate 35 just outside of Oklahoma City to connect with Interstate 40. Interstate 40 ran parallel to Route 66 that was made so famous in song, story, television, and motion pictures, but Interstate 40 went 70 miles per hour while Route 66 only went 60, and even that was sporadic. Gabe decided to run the way across the desert Southwest as the GPS directed.
After that things were a little hazy for the next eighteen to twenty hours since we basically stayed on Interstate 40 through Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Gabe didn't do all the driving; everybody but Hunter and I took turns at the wheel, stopping multiple times for food, fuel, bathroom, drinks, and to let the Town and Country cool down. Temperatures in the desert reached as high as 105 to 110 degrees so when we did stop to fuel, Gabe would open the hood and check the radiator and oil to make sure they was plenty there. There's not much to talk about during this straight shot down Interstate 40. The van did come across a storm while crossing the Texas panhandle and for a while visibility was almost down to zero. All I did during most of that time was play on Gabe's Xbox 360 which he had hooked up to the monitor provided in the van that came down out of the ceiling. To get sound for the game console the driver and navigator had to surrender listening to the radio and allow the van stereo to be used for video sound. I also slept, ate, and went to the bathroom, but not all at once and not in the van. I have a little better training than that from obedience school.
By Friday afternoon we came across Interstate 15 which runs most of the length of Nevada and parts of Arizona. This highway took us directly into Las Vegas, where a slur of US, state, and interstate highways winded us around and through town until we came to 3500 Paradise Road, where resides the Mardi Gras Hotel and Casino. It was 2:45 in the afternoon Las Vegas time (we gained two hours from the trip by crossing into two time zones) and we just wanted to check in and get some sleep.
Already things were starting to get hairy and I don't mean my doggie fur; the hotel concierge informed us that each room required a $50 deposit before we could enter them. Lenard was furious. He only budgeted the trip for the monies intended for the journey there, food, and the way back; this was an unexpected expense that none of the team was prepared, but God was with us and each person came up with $50 (which had to be on a credit or debit card; no cash) and we clawed our way up to the third floor of the hotel (which looked more like a motel to me) and into our rooms. Hunter and I were excited to be there since it was our first time to see Las Vegas. Right beside our hotel was the Las Vegas Monorail so we got to see it go by every once in a while.
Gabriel and his friend Adrian (who also came on the trip (sorry, I forgot to mention him)) immediately sacked out while Hunter, Tim, Lenard, and I headed over to 1 Main Street to the Plaza Hotel and Casino where the CommVEx was being held with all of Lenard's Commodore equipment he brought for show and tell. Friday was the "Meet and Greet" for all of those who were going to attend the show and also set up day. I got to meet for the first time the event coordinator, Robert Bernardo, and was shown where Lenard was suppose to set up his equipment. Since Hunter never got to see a Commodore computer before, Lenard gave him the opportunity to set up the machine with all its drives and a monitor. Hunter and I were fascinated at how many cables and other little devices it took to make this simple single board computer run. It took Hunter 15 minutes with Lenard coaching to get the unit up and running, booted, and ready for the start of CommVEx 2015 the next day.
Saturday came. We started the show and the event coordinator had several drawings and door prizes to give away. Lenard did not have time to make a copy of his software to put as a giveaway and besides, Lenard said to me that his software was not ready for people to use yet. I was exempt from the drawings because, hey, I'm a dog. No harm, no foul to me; I was there for the games anyway. Most of the stuff talked about and shown at the CommVEx was way over my head, but I did make a few new friends there and that was the fun part. One guy, who's name escapes me at the moment, occupied the table behind Lenard and I. He was selling tons and tons of Commodore games at super reduced prices. I stuck my nose into the piles and piles of software and found games that I have never heard of for the Commodore computer like "1,000 Kung Fu Maniacs" and "Super Space Invaders" I enjoyed talking with the gentleman about different Commodore games and he even let me buy a couple. He was a big draw to the younger crowd, which was about three or four of us. Most of the Commodore users and programmers were well into their 40s, 50s, and early 60s.
One guy was there who's name does not bear repeating since he was such a pickle head to me and Lenard. Tim, Lenard, and I explained to this individual that we were making a video of the show to broadcast on You Tube for the children back home. He didn't even look up at us and gave us an emphatic "NO!" When Tim went around taking pictures of the show to put on Lenard's website, this son of an excrement eating cat started grilling Tim about this like, "Why are you taking pictures?" and "Did you just take a photo of my program?" Tim handled him with decor and demeanor but I wanted to bite him on the ankle and go to the bathroom on his Commodore. It's people like him that gives Commodore a bad name. For crying out sakes Commodore is a computer to enjoy not a thing to get all bent out of shape over. Sheesh! When it came to this person giving his presentation I didn't listen but took a short doggie nap under Lenard's table.
How did Lenard do on his presentation? Let's just say that he wasn't as prepared as he could have been. I've known Lenard to go on for a while about what he has done on the Commodore, but this, the one day out of the year to extol himself about the Commodore, and he blew it, not once but twice. During the whole weekend Lenard had a chance to make good on the Commodore and make some sales and he just let everything go to the wayside. He gave a lousy presentation and told some crummy jokes. It looks like Lenard saves his best humor for the kids back at church. I know this little embarrassment will be broadcasted over the Internet so be wary, viewer. It's not the best of Lenard Roach in Las Vegas so be ready for a disappointment.
The best presentations came from Commodore 128 creator Bil Herd and the son of the late Jack Tramiel, Leonard Tramiel. Bil was hilarious when he told stories of his time at Commodore Business Machines and doing stuff like sleeping at the job and bashing a hole in the wall so he can get into his lab. Leonard spoke about his dad a little and some of the truths and false statements in some of the latest Commodore history books that had just been released. Bil talked with Lenard a little bit and during video time, Bil made a video of me videoing him. He was fun. I hope to meet him again soon.
By Sunday afternoon towards evening the show came to an end. Names and phone numbers were exchanged by several attendees and a group photo of the club officers of the Fresno Commodore User Group was taken, of which Lenard was a part. Bil Herd was a part of the photos too and he and Lenard took a "gangsta" stance for the second shot. Let's face it; some people speak well but write horribly while others write well and speak horribly. Lenard is the latter, but he will have to start honing his speaking skills if he ever wants to go on book tours and share with all his adoring fans (I think he has three; I'm not sure). Well before the end of the show the team (that Lenard calls "The Roach Center For BASIC Commodore Studies") had the Town and Country loaded up with our gear and was waiting at the third level parking deck of the Plaza Hotel to take on the Hunter's Commodore equipment, Lenard's software, and Tim's video collection, which was packed quickly. Down the ramp and a $2.00 parking bill later, we were on the road heading back to Kansas City, where again, the GPS took us through the desert Southwest to go first to Tulsa to drop off Hunter and his new/used Commodore 128 and respective gear. Again, not much to report except that the GPS was a little more accurate this time in getting us on east Interstate 40 to north Interstate 35. A detour off the interstate and onto north US 169 and we were at Hunter's abode, dropping off all of the Commodore 128 equipment and saying "goodbye." Hunter will look into his schedule to see if he will be attending CommVEx 2016.
The good thing about US 169 is that, even though its maximum speed limit was 65 miles per hour, it was a direct shot from Tulsa to Kansas City. Again, the GPS said to cut through our hometown to take Tim back to Keytesville, but we weren't stupid and stopped by the RC4BCS HQ to drop off all of our clothes, gear, and equipment. This left only Tim's suitcase and his video implements. I rode along because I would just be sitting at the center sleeping and being disturbed by Lenard's crazy cats.
Tim treated us to dinner at a small diner in a little city in Missouri whose name I can't remember, but boy talk about food; burgers, ice cream, cake, malts, fries. I have to admit, I put on about a good five pounds just eating there because it was all good. It was here that Tim's wife Anne stopped in and picked Tim up so we wouldn't have to drive all the way to Keytesville. After dinner Gabe, Adrian, Lenard, and I headed back to Kansas City. The adventure came to an end at 10:00 pm on Monday, July 21st. We all dragged ourselves into the house and flopped into our appropriate beds.
I stayed the rest of the week at Lenard's while Gabe and Adrian got the Town and Country ready for return to the rental place later that Tuesday afternoon. Lenard had to report to work at 5:30 am Tuesday at the convenience store while Gabe and Ardian had the day off. Gabriel reported to work Wednesday while Adrian was smart enough to take the whole week off. I slept, played the occasional video game, and tried to get along with the cats.
There's not too much more to say about the trip except if you want to see the video Tim made of me interviewing some of the attendees of CommVEx then go to https://youtu.be/4TY7aZeNjns . It was fun and I hope that this video goes viral soon.
Now to get ready for CommVEx 2016 which will be held on July 30 and 31, 2016 at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Okay, Lenard, make sure you have software and books to sell at this exposition!