Sent off preliminaries of a lo-fi commission to the client. I shan't push another pixel until I hear back that I'm going the proper direction. My email, coming from my registered domain (which spammers just love to use in the return-address field of their garbage) will probably be delivered directly to the client's junk mail folder. He's been notified through other channels.

Downloaded ATASM and started reading the docs. I'm remembering how much I've forgotten about Atari/6502 programming. Why am I beating that old horse again? Well, the thread about Last Word 3.0 is on the front page of the AtariAge 8-Bit forums again. Normally I wouldn't care much, but I was looking through a book at the library today which gave me swells of nostalgia for composing text on the 8-bit (more on this below) so I thought I'd take another crack at it. Yes, I've tried Last Word in the past and thought it was a novel idea -- an 80-column word processor for the Atari 8-bit -- but it didn't exactly ripen my tomatoes for the sole fact that the text is profoundly hard to read on my Commodore 1702 -- three-pixel-wide glyphs are really pushing things a bit (it would be fine on a monochrome monitor, I have no doubt, but the shadow-mask on the Commodore is a little coarse, and hoses-up fine detail like text).

This caused me to remember a picture I'd seen of a Jef Raskin using a variable-width font on an Apple II which yielded between 70 and 80 characters per line and I thought "well, if Jef Raskin was doing it, it must have been user-friendly". I re-located the picture and took a look at the font ("Two Bit Gothic Proportional Condensed", for the curious). Better, but still a lot of 3-pixel glyphs. So I opened up Paint, set my image size to 320x192, and started clicking together a variable-width font with most of the glyphs being 4-pixels wide. Yeah, radical innovation, I know. What I came up with looks like it'll average around 60-70 characters per line on the Atari's 320-pixel-wide display ...if only there were a text-editor to use it with.

Hence my looking into ATASM. An auto-wrapping variable-width text editor might be relatively easy to implement in BASIC but even TurboBASIC would be way too slow to handle the screen re-drawing (which will have to be done in Gr.8+16 mode -- I'd use up all the Atari's RAM making character-sets which contained every possible combination of the glyphs if I went the same clever Gr.0 route that Last Word does). Anyway, spent some time today thinking on that. We'll see where it goes.

At its creators' request, nominated Goodbye Blue Monday for the WCRCA in the New Comic category, and it got me thinkin', "gosh, Me. You should really get back on that webcomic thing. You're not doing anything better with your time, are you?" To which I replied "if I got back on half the things I should get back on, I'd be doing inverted splits".

Visual metaphor. Work it out.

Couldn't sleep. Started a blog. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the only post ever made to it.

Oh, and back to that swelling of nostalgia: it strikes me as slightly stupid that I should be filled with nostalgia towards computers that I NEVER USED*. The aforementioned book was a volume of photographs of science fiction writers, circa 1982, and a few of them were photographed with/near their computers. By far the most impressive was Jerry Pournelle, who was seated in front of a couple of DEC cabinets (I could have sworn it said DECsystem/25, but I don't think that's a valid model) with what looked like a Televideo terminal perched atop one of them. While that photo gave me a swell of geek lust, it was instead a picture of a female author with whom I was not familiar, sitting in front of her Osborne-1, with its tiny 5-inch screen filled with tales-in-the-making, that gave me the nostalgic fever. And I ask you: what the hell for? I've never used an Osborne. I don't recall ever seeing one in person. For Pete's sake, I've never even used CP/M (well, sorta -- there was that one time that Nick was showing me his dad's KayPro, but that was for ten minutes).  And I get that feeling whenever I see vintage hardware, particularly consumer-level hardware (I don't get nostalgia for mainframes, I just have a running loop of "WOW, neat-O ...WOW, neat-O ..." in my brain). And it's got a weirdly acute edge to it -- I see an old 8-bit in a forty-pound case with a keyboard the size of a wooden tree-swing's seat, with action only a caveman could love and a shitty monochrome display and I feel like -- get this -- I feel like I just want to... type on it. A lot. Pages, reams, volumes; just me and the micro in a small room, its excited phosphors beaming into my eyes and my fingers flying away, clunk-clunk-clunk, as the screen fills with god-knows what manner of gobbledygook. That vision plays back in my mind and I'm thinking "ah, the good ol' days..."

Good ol' days that I never lived. Fucking strange.

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