Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Retro Computing: Some Things Just Never Change

Me, in front of my Commodore 128D (1986):

Me, in front of my Commodore 128D (2005):

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Retro Computing: The Best Joystick Of All Times

Uhhh, I was extremely lucky. Chances were minimal, but I found Suzo's "The Arcade" joystick for 8/16-bit homecomputers on eBay Netherlands. Even better, this turned out to be a "Buy it now"-offer - there was no hesitation for me.

The Arcade was by far not as common as the Quickshot II or the Competition Pro, but there is no other design that fits as comfortably in the palm of my hand. All microswitches, of course. I just spent half an hour playing Soccer II on my C64 using another ancient joystick model, and I constantly hit a misplaced fire button, plus my hand started hurting within minutes.

I can't wait to plug in the Arcade again.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Weirdoz.Org Visual Chat Up And Running Again

Just a short note that the folks at got their Visual Chat system up and running again.

I developed Visual Chat about eight years ago - those were the days of JDK1.1, Netscape 4.0 and MSIE 4.0 - so please overlook the client's obvious weaknesses. is now the longest running Visual Chat installation - since 1999 about 300.000 users have signed up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Arno's Software Development Bookshelf

This part of my bookshelf (see below) is all about software development and the software industry. It is slowly starting to outgrow the shelf-space I originally had reserved. I am particularly interested in object oriented design / development (mainly in C++, Java and C#/.NET), application servers, database systems, graphical user interfaces (thin clients and rich clients) and software project management in general. Another fascinating area is the microcomputer revolution, and the history and the legends of silicon valley.

On the other hand, I also try to build up a basic level of knowledge in areas outside my expertise - e.g. I didn't have a a lot of idea about networking in general (one course at university and my little peer-to-peer home LAN just wasn't not enough, and at work networking has always been outside the scope of my tasks). Severals books later I now have something like a global impression of what it is all about (suffice to say that more practical experience is still missing). Same is true for electronics, image editing, game programming, and so on...

Please click on the image in order to zoom in. Some of those books are also listed here, resp. on my Amazon Listmania Lists.

This reminds me that I have to urge some folks to return the following items:

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Popular Electronics / January 1975 Edition

Please don't tell anybody [;-)]- but I am currently bidding for an original Popular Electronics January 1975 Edition on eBay.

Yes, that's the one where MITS announced the Altair 8800, the one issue that Paul Allen happened to notice at a local newsstand on Harvard Square, Cambridge (Allen was working for Honeywell in nearby Boston at that time). He bought it and showed to Bill Gates at his friend's dorm room. "It [the PC revolution] is going to happen", Gates knew. Here was their opportunity to do something with Basic...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

My Computer Museum (Update)

From left to right:
(1) Commodore CBM8032
(2) Apple IIc, Apple II Green Composite Monitor
(3) Sinclair ZX81, B+W TV Set
(4) Sun SparcStation 5, NEC 21" VGA Monitor
(5) Commodore 128D, Commodore 1901 Color Monitor
(6) Commodore Amiga 500, Commodore 1085S Color Monitor
(7) Atari 1040ST, Atari SM124 Monochrome Monitor, Atari SC1224 Color Monitor
(8) Apple Macintosh LC, Apple Monochrome Monitor
(9) Commodore 64, Commodore 1541 Floppy Drive, Commodore 1081 Color Monitor

Latest Purchases:
(1) Apple IIc, Apple II Green Composite Monitor
(2) B+W TV Set for Sinclair ZX81

Currently looking for:
(1) Tape Recorder for Sinclair ZX81

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Retro-Computing: International Soccer On The Commodore 64

So I connected my Commodore 1541 floppy drive to my PC's LPT1 port using a XM1541 cable and invoked a transfer program called Star Commander, just to find out that Windows 2000's pre-emptive multitasking and asynchronous I/O just won't allow for the kind of synchronous control required to read from and write to the old 1541 drive. Star Commander even ships with an additional I/O driver for this scenario, but still it just didn't work. I had to switch back to DOS (now, this is one thing DOS is definitely doing a better job in), and voila - no timeouts any more.

Besides getting more or less every ancient program floating around on the internet onto my C64, I can as well transfer data from my old C64 disks to my PC, and run it in any C64 emulator, e.g. VICE. Also, most of my friends did not really keep their Commodores for the last 18+ years, so I can provide them with images of their old C64 disks for usage within their favorite emulator.

After Friday's Speedball session, I simply had to try Commodore International Soccer. Have a look, and don't tell me this doesn't beat EA Sports FIFA 2005 by far!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Retro-Computing: Speedball On The Atari ST

After plugging in my brand-new (or actually nor-so-brand-new) Atari SC1224 Monitor, there was just one and only one adequate game for re-inaugurating my Atari 1040ST: Speedball (by the Bitmap Brothers).

A highschool-friend of mine and me used to play this for endless hours, and - after years of practicing - we achieved something like mastery.

Today, more than 15 years later (OK, admitted, I also played it once or twice on PaCifiST, another Atari ST emulator on the PC - but hey, this wasn't quite the same), I reached knockout round 8 out of 10 in my first Speedball tournament. Gee, I need to train harder! And I want my old Arcade Joystick back!