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Comment Re:Yes (Score 5, Insightful) 712

Technical pens are for drafting and would be a nightmare for everyday writing.

They are not agile and require a high degree of control to use. They need to be held absolutely perpendicular to the writing surface at all times, and only work when held vertically with the nib pointing down. They don't write well or at all on certain kinds of paper, often damaging the paper. They are easily broken and are difficult and messy to fill, clean, and maintain.

Don't get a technical pen.

Comment GameMaker (Score 3, Interesting) 246

Without hesitation, I'd go with GameMaker along with the book The Game Maker's Apprentice, and followed by The Game Maker's Companion. The first book includes an older version of the GameMaker software which is all that will be needed to complete the exercises. If your child likes the process, move onto the second book which covers more advanced concepts. Those books, along with either GameMaker 8.1 or GameMaker: Studio should your child want to move onto more current versions, will all fit within your $100 budget, and it will only cost you $20 or so to get started.

The books are excellent learning tools and the GameMaker software itself was originally created by co-author and Utrecht University professor Mark Overmars to teach programming. It's a great way to get ones feet wet and very good games can be created with it if one is willing to put in the effort. If you child wants to move on to more popular languages, GameMaker will provide them an excellent foundation for learning them.

Comment Mid-80s Apple II (Score 1) 632

I went to highschool in New York in the mid-80s. We had about 30 Apple IIes in the lab. The school had an introductory course and an advanced course. We programmed in Applesoft BASIC entirely for both classes and assistance from PLE, a memory-resident program editing aid.

Programs we wrote in the advanced class:

  • Parse first names from a list of full names given in inline data statements
  • Read numbers and text from binary files
  • Draw a border around the low-res graphics screen with an animated a pixel moving inside of it
  • Animate a walking man using high-res shape tables
  • Play music notes using a provided machine language sound routine
  • Play a song from a binary file containing notes and durations
  • Perform a binary search of inline data statements
  • Create and query a fixed length database using multiple search terms (ie. cars: model, engine, color, doors)
  • Create and sort multi-column databases using bubble and shell sorts
  • Find integers whose values are sum of the their digits cubed (eg. 153, 370, 371, 407)
  • Write a game to test and score knowledge of state capitols
  • Final project: point-of-sale application with inventory management using a random access, fixed record length database

Comment Re:for artists? (Score 4, Insightful) 713

The whole purpose of copyright is to make sure artists get paid for their labor.

No, that's exactly half its purpose. The other half is to get works into the public domain after a limited period of time, something right-holders are fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent. Copyright law becomes a mockery of itself when that limited period can be extended an unlimited number of times.

Comment Re:Mistake (Score 5, Interesting) 170

Here's the very strange thing about that error. I have a scan of that issue of Byte and it does indeed say 553 there. The article also has a circuit diagram, again showing a 553. If you look at the original Redbook schematics, it also shows a 553 quad timer. There is even advert for 553 quad timers on page 174 of that issue of Byte. I've also seen a post online from someone with a 553 chip in an apparent timer circuit asking about it's identity. All that and no datasheet or cross reference for a 553 quad timer can seem to be found. My best guess is 553 comes from an imprinting error on actual 558 chips.

Comment Re:Mistake (Score 2) 170

Well spotted. I recently learned how the paddle interface worked when reverse-engineering an old Apple II game. Even though I cut my teeth on an Apple II, I never knew how the circuit actually worked. When I saw the 6502 paddle code in the game it made no sense to me until I examined the Apple II's schematics. Then my mind was slightly blown. Just another one of those brilliantly simple hacks that riddle the Apple II's design and make it an almost magical device to me.

Comment Re:Hello? (Score 1) 154

I feel bad for animals in bad shape, like that. But it honestly sounds more like a human-rodent relationship. It comes around for food, but otherwise doesn't care.

Dogs are great though. They actually love the shit out of you. Man's best friend, ftw!

Sadly true. I've had cats all my life, but no matter how great you think you and your cat are together, they will leave you flat for a better meal somewhere else. Cats have no sense of loyalty.

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