Scor­pio News


May 1989 – Volume 3. Final Issue.

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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.

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