Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Where’s Trixter?

Posted by Trixter on February 26, 2014


2013 was somewhat challenging for me, but I have great hope and plans for 2014.  It’s only February and I’ve already spent some time at the ICHEG consulting for them on one of their projects — a validation of my electronic game history and preservation work, and a huge confidence booster!  I can’t speak highly enough of them, but I will try to do them justice in a future post.

Where can stalkers find me this year?  I’ll do my best to be at both NVScene 2014 in San Jose, CA the last week of March, and I’ll do my best to be at @party 2014 in Cambridge, MA in June.  Look for the grossly overweight 6’2″ scener wearing a black T-shirt with a huge yellow Hornet target on his back.

Preservation plans this year include writing a DOS-based search-as-you-type interface for a curated collection I am involved in.  Not impressive?  The DOS front-end has to run on any system with a hard drive — let’s see YOU implement a realtime search-as-you-type interface on an 8088 CPU in 512K of RAM with a hard drive that can do about 6 seeks a second.  I already have an idea on how I can pull it off, and if I can, it will be a huge win for enthusiasts and exhibitors with a vested interest in this material.

This year is the 10th anniversary of 8088 Corruption, which hasn’t been lost on me.  Expect a future post covering 8088 Corruption in some more detail with an encoder or two leaked.  Also:  I’m working on the sequel.  What could a sequel possibly be, since the original is a one-trick pony?  Well, how about video in graphics mode, which I originally said was impossible?  I think I can do it, still a on a 5MHz 8088 CPU, still a CGA card, still in color (although the initial demonstration might be in grayscale while I work out the kinks).  Actually, I’m already doing it — in my head.  It’s designed and tested already; I just need to convert what’s in my brain to source code.

Hobbies should always be secondary to things that really matter.  Good things are happening with my family as well:  My sons are improving at school (and in life in general), and life with my wonderful wife continues to improve.

Things are really looking up this year.  It’s about goddamn time, too.

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10 Responses to “Where’s Trixter?”

  1. Marcio T said

    Hi Trixter! I’ve always been a fan of 8088 Corruption, so it was the first thing I turned to when I wanted to find a cool demo for a project I am working on. Behold, 8088 Corruption running inside an emulated PC, inside your web browser (http://marciot.freeshell.org/retroweb). It’s not as fast as a real 5150, but still pretty cool. Oh, I hope you don’t mind me using this without permission — I’m asking for permission now, I guess! :)

    • Trixter said

      I’m flattered, and you can use anything I’ve written at any time for (almost) any reason :) No permission needed.

      Neat project, btw. I can’t seem to get it to work, but I guess that’s a java issue on my end? (tried ie, firefox, chrome).

      • marciot42 said

        I’ve tested this with the latest Firefox, Chrome and Safari and had no problems with it. It requires you to enable JavaScript (not Java) as it’s basically a large AJAX application. What specifically do you mean by does not work? What do you see? Do you at least see a picture of an IBM PC?

        • marciot42 said

          And you probably need a fast PC and a good internet connection (you will transfer about 5MB of data for the disk image). So if you’re surfing the web on a 5150 over dial-up this would not work :) I also know it does not work on Safari on an iPhone, so to narrow it down I recommend testing on an actual Intel based desktop computer.

        • Trixter said

          I see everything, but clicking on the disk folder produces no results. I’ll test again when I’m on larger monitor too (picture is cut off because this monitor is not 1920- wide).

          • marciot42 said

            Double click on the icons. Maybe I should clarify that or switch to single clicks.

            • Trixter said

              That worked. Yes, it’s a web page, so the web browser metaphor of single-click is assumed; if you’re going to change that, you might want to state it up front.

              Very cute seeing it run :-)

              • marciot42 said

                It’s funny, actually. I had a note to double-click the icons until very recently, but I removed it because it was cluttering the page and went against my desire for minimalism. I guess I’m putting it back in! The reason I chose to violate the web metaphor is that originally this page only hosted the Apple Macintosh emulator, and double-clicking is how you open icons on the Mac. I wanted to emulate the Mac look and feel in the disk navigator. The double vs. single click issue pales in comparison to the confusion I’ve seen people experience with the classic Mac’s pull down menus, which require you to *hold down* the mouse button. Interestingly, this web page serves very well to demonstrate how UI conventions have changed over time and across different mediums.

  2. Jumbus Flimpston said

    Is “search-as-you-type” a euphemism for “flash a bunch of stuff up on the screen while the user is still typing his search terms and hasn’t yet submitted his query, even though the user isn’t even looking at what you’re showing him because he’s still focused on what he’s typing”?

    • Trixter said

      Well, I stare at the screen while I type, but yes. The interface in question is appropriate for the collection because it will be very annoying to try to scroll through 6000+ titles, but if you just want to jump to a title with a particular word in it, just start typing the word.

      What makes this challenging on an old platform is that the entire title list doesn’t fit in memory all at once (and even if it did, a boyer-moore search would be unbearably slow on a 5MHz platform). So I have some creative ways to implement this on old hardware, which is part of the challenge.

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