Week Ending July 3rd, 2005


06/27/05: Did a bit of clandestine printing today...  I downloaded the "Introduction to your Disk System" PDF from www.trs-80.com and printed it out on the laser printer at work.

    I made the mistake of reading the printouts in the lunchroom today.  My boss noticed and asked what I was reading.  His reaction? "Ah, a boat anchor!"... implying that the system was so old it was useless as a computer, but could be used to keep a boat from drifting, hold open a door, etc.  While I don't dispute the fact that a Model 4P could perform any of those tasks admirably, it is far from useless as a computer.

In essence, my boss reaffirmed why I started this project in the first place.  In other words, to prove that any old system can be used efficiently and productively in this day and age.

I made a few disks using David Keil's emulator today, most notably Super Scripsit 1.0.2 and Fastterm II 3.45.  Both ran well, but I'm not entirely sure I like Scripsit...  it's not the most intuitive program.  Maybe I simply need to play with it a bit and RTFM.  Fastterm II, however, I really like!  Well, so far, anyway.  I'm gonna hook it up to my *nix box either tomorrow or Wednesday.

    I'm thinking of ordering a RAM upgrade and printer cable tomorrow.  Not sure yet, but I might...

06/28/05: Well, I went ahead and ordered the RAM upgrade and the required PAL chip.  Figured "Why not?"

    I ended up working late tonight, so apart from ordering the upgrades, nothing else has happened.  Environment Canada has issued a Heavy Rainfall Warning, expecting anywhere from 50-100mm of rainfall tomorrow, and since the Red River is almost three metres above it's normal level, this also means a FLOOD WARNING is in effect as well.

There's more than a slight cause for concern, since I live three blocks from the river, and all my computer equipment is in the basement... and to make matters worse, my area of the city is on an integrated sewer system, which means both the storm drains and sewage pipes are one-in-the-same.  Hope my backup valve holds...

So, suffice it to say, tonight and tomorrow night will be spent moving the lab out of the basement and stored on the main floor...

06/29/05:  ...which we did.  While the rainfall did little more than get my basement floor damp (not wet), I still don't want to chance the sewer backing up.

    Anyhow, I printed out the "Model 4P Portable Reference Guide" at work today and perused it on my lunch hour.  Wow, a lot of the BASIC commands and syntax are like Extended Colour Basic on my beloved Cocos.  This shouldn't be too difficult...  In any case, I can't wait to see what this baby can really do, or perhaps more appropriately, what I can MAKE it do!

As with all my projects, I need to give this system a nickname.  Something fitting...  originally, I was going to call it "Project Nomad", but it probably won't leave the house (it's therefore hardly nomadic) and I already have a Project Nomad, which is still in the planning stage.  Then I thought, "Why not Project Bedouin?", but that's ideally suited for another project I have in mind.

    Ugh, well, I'll think of something.

06/30/05: Well, tomorrow's the official start date of the project.  So far, I have a working word processor (Scripsit), terminal program (Fastterm II), and two different DOS versions (TRS-DOS 6.2.0, and LS_DOS 6.3.1).  All I need now is a spreadsheet, and right now Visicalc is looking pretty good.  So if Fastterm II can communicate with my *nix box, and if Scripsit does a good enough job of saving ASCII files, i should be set.

    I've been having second thoughts about ordering that RAM upgrade.  I mean, I probably don't need it per se, but I suppose it may come in handy down the road.  Hell, a 64K RAMdisk may prove to be useful, especially if I end up calling a certain BBS advertised in comp.sys.tandy...Maybe that should read "When I end up calling...", 'cause I have a feeling I'm gonna be downloading a lot of stuff.  Guess I'd better stock up on diskettes and bone up on TRS-80 archiving programs.

I'm starting to think I'll need a printer, too.  Which means I may have to order that printer cable, too...

    I'm currently at work, planning tonight's projects.  First off, I'm gonna run Fastterm II to see if it'll talk to my *nix box, then I'll try uploading a Scripsit text file, and try reading it on the *nix box.  And finally, I'll give Visicalc a whirl.

07/01/05: Hmmm... can't communicate with my *nix machine... spent an hour fooling with it and still nothing.  Visicalc works well, though, so I'm going to print out the PDF with the manual next week.

    So, I fired up my *nix box on its own, and it is REALLY having some problems.  I forgot that it had crashed several months ago, and wiped out all eight users I had on it (all were me, of course!).  I remember I'd set up new users shortly thereafter, but I forgot to grant them access to certain groups, so I was unable to use Pine or Lynx, or anything else useful, for that matter...

    Ah well, I don't feel like fighting with it today.  Nope, I'm gonna relax and enjoy Canada Day.  Happy 138th, Canada!

07/02/05: Owing to a Family Gathering, there will be no update today.

07/03/05: Well, no 4P today.  I spent much of the day fooling with the *nix box.  I managed to get my two users up and running, and was able, in a roundabout way, to download and decode attachments from Usenet messages and my email.  For one reason or another, the *nix box is REALLY unstable, crashing programs with alarming frequency.  Hell, HotJava, the browser I use, doesn't even run anymore!  This instability stems from my upgrading without recompiling the kernel... let's see, I removed two 50MHz processors and replaced with two 180MHz processors, then upgraded the RAM from 128Mb to 512Mb, and added a second HD and ZIP drive.  Nah, why would there be problems?

    I figured I'd better reinstall the OS.  Originally, I was going to reinstall Solaris 7, then thought "Why not Solaris 8?".  Ultimately though, I opted for Redhat Linux 6.2 For Sparc, simply because Linux has more "Desktop" apps than Solaris out of the box.  Spent much of the day tweaking Redhat, will set up mgetty to allow console logins via ASCII terminal tomorrow, and make sure Pine, Lynx, Kermit, and x/y/zmodem all work.  Otherwise, this is gonna turn into "The Sparc Diaries" fairly soon...

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