Doctor Dark’s Diary – Episode 30
What can I say to cheer up the gloom that is all around us? Yet another magazine
that has supported the Nascom and its offspring is going the way of all the others.
I’d like to be able to say cheerful things like “Don’t worry, I’m going to start a new
magazine, monthly, 132 pages, glossy...”, but even if I knew how to go about such a
thing, would my fans (Sid and Doris Bonkers) buy a copy each? I don’t even know
how many readers I had over the years...
I never thought when I wrote my first article all those years ago, pleased to death
about a few undocumented Z80 opcodes I had found, that I would get to the 30th
episode. In case anyone was wondering, I lifted the name Dr Dark from a Captain
Beefheart record called “Lick My Decals Off, Baby”. It seemed like the thing to do
at the time.
My Open University BA degree is now a reality. I started it because I never seemed
to know enough theory to enable me to finish the grandiose programs I tried to write
on my Nascom 1. It has been demanding, and has prevented me from doing as much
programming as I would otherwise have managed, but it was well worth it. I’m
carrying on to get the further two credits that will make it into an Honours degree,
and unless I do something really dumb it will be a First Class Honours degree.
And does this qualification enable me to walk into a new job, do you suppose? Nope.
I have been fairly selective this year, and have only applied for five so far. Not even
an interview, There are several possible reasons for this, but the most likely is that
people think 40 is too old. They want school leavers because they can be more easily
cheated, I dare say. Then again, there can be no doubt that my left wing views will
be recorded on the card files of the unpleasant Economic League. Remember, just
because you are paranoid it doesn’t mean they aren’t persecuting you...
That was a bit of a whinge, I know, and I want to be more positive in this very terminal
item. After all, I am writing this on a machine I built for myself, even if quite a few
boards were ready made. And for an eleven year old home brew, it is mighty
sophisticated, in its own way.
For a start, it is based on a bus system that gave a lot of firms the chance to get
started, and most of them are still around. And it uses several processors in parallel.
Lots of people are only just starting to see the sense in that idea. I have had a Z80
to process with, another to display mono screens, an NEC V20 to display colour
screens and a floating point chip to make things hurry up for ages.