Doctor Dark’s Diary – Episode 28
I think I will start this by telling you my Open University results from last year. I did
7283 – Introductory Electronics aad 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 1 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.