Scor­pio News


January–March 1988 – Volume 2. Issue 1.

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Doctor Dark’s Diary – Episode 28

I think I will start this by telling you my Open University results from last year. I did T283 – Introductory Electronics and M352 – Computer Based Information Systems, and in spite of my misgivings about the electronics course, I managed to get two distinctions. The misgivings were because the course was quite a tough one, and I thought I might get a grade 3. I have been feeling quite pleased with myself about this, as you may imagine. After all, I was a “dodo” once…

This year I am doing M261 – Mathematics for Computing and M353 — Programming and Programming Languages, so I will be kept off the streets quite well. The languages course involves a lot of use of the Open University mainframe (or it may be their VAX, I have forgotten), and I had hoped to be able to use Marvin. However, this particular course makes more stringent demands of the software used to access the machine, as it requires the ability to make screen dumps. I did consider attempting to modify the software I used during the last year to work on M352, but decided against this. Partly this was programmers’ cowardice, as there was no source code to hand for the program in question, but it was mostly laziness caused by the availability of a new toy to play with, in the form of my Amiga. More of that in a moment.

As well as the lack of the source code, there was another mystery. The OU say nothing changed in their computer links last year, but part way through the course Gemterm refused to log on any more, and I had to switch to UKM7, which is not as nice to use. So this year I will be using the official hardware. I am getting quite worried about the floor loading in my computer room, so will be reducing the asking prices in my “for sale” list to get rid of some of this junk (oops) valuable equipment.

The effects of Amiga ownership

Apart from a pain in the wallet, I feel very good about the new toy. At the moment, all Marvin gets used for is accessing Prestel and bulletin boards, and the preparation of these articles. Things are at the stage where the only reason I don’t try to sell the whole thing is the thought of how much money I would be losing. But the strength of this reason is fading fast in the face of the thought of expanding the Amiga. I now have the full set of technical manuals for it, and will be buying hardware add-ons like memory and a disk drive fairly soon. There is also considerable temptation to get a MODEM. I’m learning 68000 assembler, and I just can’t see myself writing any new stuff on Marvin in Z80 unless it is for money.

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