~smnevans: simon evans' tilde.club pageTHURSDAY, 23 OCTOBER 2014
My Own (Not So) Private Commodore 64
My first computer was a Commodore 64. Way before I had my own though, I had access to one at the local public computer lab, aka K-Mart. The nearby library had a few C64 magazines, all of which had plenty of BASIC programs ready to be typed out. Magazines, for some reason, could not be loaned out. I can't clearly remember but I think there was also a rule against them being photocopied. Otherwise why would I, as I clearly remember, have spent hours copying these programs by hand into an exercise book?
After I'd got one down and more or less checked I'd ride my embarrassingly non-BMX bike to K-Mart where I would stand for hours typing away at the display machine. It seems strange now but I don't ever remember anyone ever asking me to move on or stop what I was doing. The majority of the programs I tried out threw up a SYNTAX ERROR caused either by my terrible typing, poor copying or the not infrequent flaws in the magazine text.
Sometimes, though, they would work and when they did it was like hitting a home run. I had no way to save these programs so when I was done I had no choice but to just walk away, leaving them to be wiped when the power for the night.
SATURDAY, 18 OCTOBER 2014
For many people tilde.club is, at least partially, an excersize in nostalgia. For me, it is not. My first ISP allowed only FTP access to a tiny sliver of their server. My first pages were mainly made in a friend's copy of Dreamweaver then transferred using Fetch.
It wasn't until 1999, the first Year of Linux on the Desktop, that I laid eyes on the terminal. I used Linux for a couple of years alongside Mac OS but only as a desktop OS. I knew it was more widely used as a server system but that seemed largely irrelevant at the time. The idea of a machine as a place that would be shared by others who could, to some degree at least, know that you were there and see what you were up to was something that I never considered.
SUNDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2014
No country for old keyboards
For the last fifteen years, every time I've got a new laptop or computer I've done the same thing, pulled off all the keys and rearranged them in the Dvorak layout. I didn't need to do this in order to type but a lot of stuff I do on a computer involves only infrequent keyboard use - web browsing, graphic work and the like, so it was good, necessary really, to have a visual cue.
My previous laptop, however, made me very wary of doing this. The first time I pulled off the keys I saw that Apple had changed the little plastic spring mechanism beneath each key. They were harder to put together and seemed a lot flimsier. Previously I could do a full keyboard swap in under five minutes. That time took me over an hour, an hour of me sweating, sure that I had broken my new computer. And break it I had. It took a while and two more keyboard changes (one when I thought I should try to learn Qwerty, the next when I gave up on that) but the keys became looser and looser until the 'M' and 'V' keys and a couple of others would regularly pop off while I was typing.
When I got my new MacBook (after the destruction by loosely-capped water bottle of my last one) I swore that the keys would stay on, that whatever changes Apple had seen fit to make to the pale slivers of plastic that holds the keycaps in place would forever remain a mystery to me.
It's going okay. Actually typing is fine but I still regularly screw up keyboard commands. Part of the problem is that I don't have a visual image of where the keys are on a Dvorak layout. My fingers know where to go but my eyes have no idea. I'm getting better though. I still sometimes hit Cmd-comma hoping to paste something only to find my window has suddenly disappeared (On the Dvorak layout the 'W' key sits where the comma is on a regular keyboard. The 'V' is where you will find the period) but it is happening less and less often.
WEDNESDAY, 8 OCTOBER 2014
I started reading Kathy Sierra's post about her experience dealing with online trolls on the bus and made my kids wait for dinner while I finished it. The internet of trolls is one I've been lucky enough to have had very little exposure to - I hadn't even heard of weev until a few days ago - so it was quite a harsh reminder of how little the cozy sliver of the internet I frequent reflects the larger online world. Sierra warns potential readers that it is "long and rambling" but I found it to be neither.
I wrote a tweet today thanking Think Up for enabling me to download several thousand tweets for my random fave page. I was interested to see that it was retweeted five times by people with protected accounts so I can't see who they are. As much as I'd like to know, I'm happy that protected tweets work this way.
MONDAY, 6 OCTOBER 2014
This page will show you a random tweet I've faved sometime over the last five years. I'll probably never need to visit another website again.
SUNDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2014
Hadean Lands Ahoy!
It looks like Hadean Lands, Andrew Plotkin’s kickstarted interactive fiction (or text adventure) game is getting closer and closer to release. Plotkin has said that it will be “hard”. I found Year Walk hard enough so I’m not likely to get more than halfway through it without help. Even so, I can’t wait to play it. Some of the images created in my head by his mid-ninties games (A Change In The Weather, So Far, and Spider And Web) are with me to this day.
SATURDAY, 4 OCTOBER 2014
Hi. I’m Simon and this is my tilde.club homepage. I don’t know what I really want to use this for just yet. It looks rather bloggish right now but I already have a blog or two so it might change. When I first started setting it up this morning I put together a page using a slightly customised Skeleton CSS framework but I quickly reconsidered. Slotting in something built by someone else seemed to go against the spirit of the thing somehow. For now at least I’m going with the simplest html and css I can. The only exception is the use of TypeKit for fonts. I am not, after all, some kind of animal.
Just keep pressing
I spent a long time chatting with Amazon support today. The power button on my out of warranty Kindle hasn’t worked for the last month. Whenever I’ve wanted to read I’ve had to plug in the USB cable to start it up. I knew it was a hardware problem but I patiently went through all the troubleshooting steps as directed by the helpdesk guy. Of course, nothing worked.
Eventually I was offered the chance of buying a refurbished one at a discounted price. This is pretty much where I expected the conversation would lead. The discount, sadly, was not as good as I’d hoped for and I left it with me “thinking about it”.
Out of desperation I thought I’d try pressing the button lots and lots of times. I thought the chances of this helping at all were extremely slim but after about forty presses the little green power light came on. I pressed again and it went off. Again and it was on. My stupid idea had worked.
The Dog Cat
Last night we sat down to watch The Bourne Identity. It's one of the few films that has Japanese audio and subtitle options on the Blu-Ray so we could watch it without me having to explain things in Japanese every 15 minutes or so.
Jason was driving the wrong way down a Paris street when we heard howls, growls, and meows from our back yard. My first thought was that something was attacking our cat. I jumped to my feet and rushed to the back door. Halfway there I remembered that it couldn’t be that. She was buried deep in the ground in the shade of the biggest tree in the garden and had been since February.
Both cats fled the scene as I opened the door. The aftermath was impressive. Large clumps of black and white hair lay scattered all over our patio.
As Jason continued to outwit and beat up the world my daughter kept stealing glances out of the window, hoping to see the “dog cat” she thought she had seen. “It was as big as a dog!”
Her glances were in vain. The dog cat, like the hero of our movie, had vanished into the night.