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Comment As Luke Skywalker said to Han Solo.... (Score 1) 206

What a piece of junk! And this thing does NOT go 0.5 past lightspeed....

If anyone has taken a look into the Windows Store, it's crap... absolute garbage... Practically nothing of note is there, and the few apps that may be useful are poorly written with limited features. Who is Microsoft trying to fool here?

Of course, I doubt you'd be able to use another browser other than Edge, so you are really limited with this device (that was a big problem with their phones, too). This reminds me of Sun Corporation's obsession with the "NetPC". It's a computer with NO HARD DRIVE!!! Did you hear me? No hard drive! It costs $100 less, and it runs... JAVA!! Ooooh! All it was was an overpriced XServer, and it failed just as badly as Microsoft's dumb idea here. Microsoft needs to start getting smarter. Ideas like that are what put Sun out of business.

Comment The first computer I ever programmed.... (Score 2) 857

...was a TRS-80 Color Computer at a community programming class. I was hooked! Unfortunately, at the time, there was no way I could afford such a thing on my own. I received the David H. Ahl's BASIC Computer Games books as a Christmas gift, and I would pore over the code pretending to run the programs in my head. I guess those books were the first computer I ever owned. To help ease my computer cravings, I could book time at the local public library on their TRS-80 Model III, which was a lousy computer in all respects, but at least I had some access to it. I had to plan things out carefully, since I only had an hour, and that included cassette loading/saving time. Finally, I was able to get a computer that was affordable enough to acquire, since it was dirt cheap--a clearance sale model Timex Sinclair 1000 (the US version of the ZX81). I think I paid $35 for the computer and another $15 for the 16K RAM pack and some game cassettes. Without color or sound or even an on/off switch, it was certainly a piece of junk, but it was *MY* piece of junk which I could use anytime and any way I wished. Unlike in the UK, the US market had a dearth of software, but we did have a lot of books available, so I programmed as much as I could. I still have it, and it still works (I had to repair the voltage regulator a few years ago), and it still has those same horrid RF interference screen patterns that make it unusable on a modern TV. Fortunately, I have a few old B&W CRT TV's laying around...

Later on I was able to snag an Atari 1200XL on clearance and was finally able to move onto "real" computing. That Atari was by far my favorite computer, but that lousy Sinclair still holds a special place in my heart. After all, you never forget your first! :-)

Comment Re:Things I'd fix if I could go back in time... (Score 1) 467

Since you brought up Jay Miner of Atari, could it have killed them to add 4 bits to the Atari 2600 VCS address bus to allow it to address the full 64K instead of 4K on the cartridge? I mean, how much money did they save, really? It would have saved a lot of time and money in the future not to have weird bank switching schemes. I'm sure they never expected their device to be viable for the 15 years that it was, but still... how cheap can you get?

Comment My list? (Score 3, Informative) 467

1. Instant on. Turn on the switch ad the computer's booted. On some machines, you might have to wait for your DOS to load, but it was typically quick. No more waiting minutes (or sometimes hours in the case of Windows XP) to boot up.

2. As noted upthread, BASIC. Yeah, it was a crappy programming language. The microcomputer versions were pretty bad--line numbers, single letter variables, no structured programming constructs, lack of hexadecimal notation for POKEs, and slow speed. Debugging was nearly impossible as the language was prone to spaghetti code and it was hardly self documenting (who is going to waste precious memory on a REM statement?). Regardless, it was very straightforward to use and allowed novices to create something that worked. It forced people to learn how to code, as even the most basic of commands, like "LOAD "*",8,1 was a BASIC statement. If you wanted to do anything with the machine, you had to do something in BASIC. It was good for people to learn.

3. Games. The games were fun and didn't require investing a part of your soul and all of your spare time to play them. I still play some of them in emulation when I have some time to kill. they were unique, and there is nothing like them today.

4. Modems. Yeah, they were slow, but you had to love that handshake/connect sound!! It's amazing how much juice they managed to get out of them near the end. There is something very primal about connecting a computer via phone line. I miss it. I read recently that modems don't really work on VOIP lines, which is what most remaining land lines consist of. That's a big bummer...

5. The Atari Joystick Standard. I have a very hard time playing with a modern game controller with it's millions of buttons. Give me a one (I'll be generous, two) button joystick any day over these modern monstrosities.

6. Babbages. Yes, that came later, but a store devoted to computer gaming? Heaven! I had a friend who was a manager there. They were allowed to take home and "test drive" the software. I was so mad when he quit that job!!!

7. The simplicity and closeness to hardware. You can't manipulate hardware nowadays like you used to. Everything was easy to get to via software. The software itself was simple and straightforward. You don't get that today.

The things I don't miss:

1. Tape loading... who would be crazy to name that as a good thing? That was awful. There's a reason why everyone switched to floppies if they could.

2. Lack of access to information about your computer. The books and magazines were great, but getting the right book or back issues of the right magazine were often difficult to find... There was no access to code libraries or helpful info if you ran into a problem programming or using your machine.

3. Getting software. It could be tough finding retail outlets that sold your stuff, and very few things came at a discount. That was another good reason to learn how to program.

4. Single tasking. We are spoiled nowadays with our ability to run multiple programs at the same time. Back then, on some computers, just loading up a DOS file directory would cause you to lose all your work. Thanks to multitasking, we can emulate our beloved old computers at the same time we can do something else.. so overall, we certainly are better off today than before... but I still miss the old times.

Comment Re:Why the Spectrum? (Score 1) 42

The Famicom was not available outside of Japan, so that is not comparable, and the Commodore 64 remained expensive in the UK due to tariffs. The Spectrum was the lowest priced color machine on the market in the UK by far, and it became very popular as a result. With a huge amount of software titles, It maintained good market share even though there were superior computers available--just like the Atari 2600 maintained market share for years after it was technically outdated here in the United States.

More importantly, for a generation of British youth, the Spectrum was the first computer they ever owned, and it was powerful enough and fun enough to be remembered fondly--which is why the Spectrum retro market is still strong over there.

A note on technical superiority. Yes, there were technically better machines available, but the Sinclair line of computers did way more with less. It's quite amazing that the speccy could do all that it did, considering its base bones innards. Its strength was its flexibility. It was well designed and well engineered (within the extreme cost limits imposed by Sir Clive).

Comment There's more to the story... (Score 4, Informative) 42

Apparently, sometime in the last two years, some of the directors left the company and started suing the remaining board for various things causing some strife and chaos. I have their original product, the original Vega that plugs into the TV console. It works well, and I got it on sale so it wasn't horribly expensive. It got good reviews, and many were excited about this new handheld version coming out--then something happened. Support simply vanished: the user forum disappeared, never to return; emails to the staff were never read or returned; and the promised OS update never arrived. Meanwhile, they were still shipping plenty of the old Vegas, constantly promoting the Vega handheld, and updating their twitter feed. Despite all the problems, they assured everyone that everything was fine.... except the product was getting delayed and delayed and delayed. Something weird is up with them--it's like the company is only half alive.

Comment Re:China will jump on this (Score 1) 159

Yeah, according to Memory Alpha:

Rising from the ashes of the Eugenics Wars of the mid-1990s, the era of World War III was a period of global conflict on Earth that eventually escalated into a nuclear cataclysm and genocidal war over issues including genetic manipulation and Human genome enhancement. World War III itself ultimately lasted from 2026 through 2053, and resulted in the death of some 600 million Humans. By that time, many of the planet's major cities and governments had been destroyed. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"; Star Trek: First Contact; VOY: "In the Flesh")

Creepy...

Comment The big question is... (Score 1) 210

...How many people even know that there are "apps" for these devices? It's not like they are really advertised or promoted. The Echo certainly doesn't tell you about them or ofFer suggestions. Other than a small banner on the Amazon site that can be easily missed, I would imagine few people even know that they can expand the capability of their devices.

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