Part 3 describes in detail the workings of several processors, including
the 68000, the Texas 9900, the PDP-11(!), Z8000, and the Intel 8086. The last is
of particular interest, as it is very similar to the 8088 used in the Pluto
graphic board. (Any reader who doesn’t wish he or she had a Pluto has already
sold his/her soul and bought one!) This is not a cheap book, and although I like
it so far, I can see that it would not suit every user’s needs. If you don’t
want to know about Pascal, which is used throughout for examples, and think that
16 bit processors are never going to be cheap enough for you, or are happy
running other people’s programs, the book is definitely not for you. (And why
are you reading this?) If what I have said made it sound interesting, then “Look
before you buy”, is my advice. I think you’ll probably buy...
Tuesday’s fabulous excitement.
This consisted, once again, of taking Marvin to the Taunton Computer
Club, much to the astonishment of the rest of the serious members. (I am
beginning to see that that club is much like this one, in that it has a great
proportion of members who prefer to do nothing at all. As an example of this, at
our annual general meeting, I promised to arrange a coach to the Personal
Computer World Show, if enough members wanted to go. Just about everyone who was
there put their hand up as a person who would go to the show. But when it came
to sending in the application form on our club newsletter, it turned out that
the entire membership had: lost their pens! This saved me the bother of arranging
a coach trip, and by the time you read this, I and the rest of the “Serious
Members” will have probably been and seen the show anyway.) In the meantime, I
had a great time, showing the younger members of the club that I was still one
step ahead of even the most brilliant BASIC programmers amongst them. If you
rush through a Pascal program or two, even the most remarkable youthful genius
types can be impressed, so long as they only know BASIC. The trouble is, they
will probably all go out and buy “Pascal from BASIC”, and then I will have to
learn something else in a hurry. In emergencies, I use little snippets of number
theory from Hofstadter’s book to subdue these youthful upstarts. It is for their
own good, of course. If they realised how clever they actually are, they would
become so unbearable that they would have to be beaten up...
Mispnirt of the Year (so far).
I nominate Personal Computer World’s September issue, page 274. The
I.B.S. Ltd advertisement offers readers the opportunity to purchase “6/12 Slut
Mother Boards”. Entries on a pound note, please, and note that any entry
involving “Band rates” will be disqualified instantly, as will anyone who
mentions any of my errors.
How to Win £5000.
See the same issue of Personal Computer World for details of a
competition with a prize of the size mentioned above. The first part of the
competition requires you to find a mystery number, subject to the following
conditions. The number required is the lowest palindromic number (in other
words, it reads the same forwards and backwards) which, if you square it and
subtract a million, gives a result which contains at least one of each of the
digits 0 to 9. Well, that is at least a ten digit result, you are saying, and
that means it is not easy to write a program to solve it. The simple fact is
that few machines can handle numbers of that sort of size easily. Scores of you
may write and tell me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Nascom ROM ‘BASIC can
operate on numbers of that order, unless one or more of the recently available
extension BASICs can do the job.