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Compiling a New Index for 2600 Programming


vidak
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I'm in the process of learning how to code 2600 games using machine code. I'm finding a lot of the resources difficult to find. There is an enormous wealth of information on these forums but a lot of it isn't indexed or documented.

 

Random Terrain's website is incredible, but I disagree with the way a lot of the content has been organised and presented.

 

So I decided to make a page on my blog indexing as many links and as much information about Atari 2600 programming as possible. I have, for instance, included some special technical information about drawing pictures in machine language 2600 kernels (DoDraw, FlipDraw, SwitchDraw etc) cross referenced against the discussion that originated the techniques in the Stella Mailing List.

 

This is a big project, and the index will grow over time. I was wondering, does anyone have any links which they'd like to include in a centralised index about Atari 2600 programming?

 

I will include batari BASIC documentation, of course. Much of what one needs to know about bB is already on Random Terrain, however.

 

Please find the page here: http://bootlicker.doubledashgames.com/atari-2600-programming/

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Random Terrain's website is incredible, but I disagree with the way a lot of the content has been organised and presented.

What changes would you like? I'm not married to anything, except the crap I had to do to make Google happy by making the pages change for any size display.

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The first thing I'd suggest is that you move the Useful Links at the bottom of the index of your reformatting of SpiceWare's Collect Tutorial into the main programming index. If you never click on the Collect Tutorial and scroll down the bottom of the screen, you'll never see those REALLY REALLY important links!

 

I would also reorganize the batari BASIC commands page. Having everything in one big webpage with just anchors from an index linking everything is too unwieldy.

 

I hope this doesn't offend you, but the batari BASIC page is the best example of what a lot of the programming section of the Random Terrain website is like: kind of a nest of disorganised links. I would centralize the structure of links to make sure absolutely everything gets noticed. Frequently there are links everywhere that can be easily missed. Sometimes even the text of the site is misleading. A key suggestion I would give is directing people's attention to the latest version of batari BASIC, and dropping all references to version 1.0 from 2007.

 

I also do not understand what the DPC kernel is and how it works. There needs to be much more information explaining the latest and greatest features and techniques of batari BASIC (what I assume is v1.1 with the DPC kernel?)

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The first thing I'd suggest is that you move the Useful Links at the bottom of the index of your reformatting of SpiceWare's Collect Tutorial into the main programming index. If you never click on the Collect Tutorial and scroll down the bottom of the screen, you'll never see those REALLY REALLY important links!

Those links are also at the bottom of every page of Atari 2600 Programming for Newbies, and the Robert M Lessons. I figured they'd be more likely to be seen at the bottom of pages that people actually look at. Most people arrive at one of those assembly language pages from a search engine and don't even look at the Atari Memories index page. If I moved the links to the Atari Memories index page, most people would never see the links.

 

 

 

I would also reorganize the batari BASIC commands page. Having everything in one big webpage with just anchors from an index linking everything is too unwieldy.

The bB page has a Table of Contents and an Index.

 

post-13-0-36064100-1500540642.gif

 

If you can figure out a better arrangement of the sections that will please most bB users, feel free to post them. You could make a new thread in the batari Basic forum and post your suggestions, then ask bB users if they would like the new changes.

 

 

 

A key suggestion I would give is directing people's attention to the latest version of batari BASIC, and dropping all references to version 1.0 from 2007.

If you are talking about the first paragraph, that is there to help stomp out misinformation about the creation of bB at Wikipedia and elsewhere. I guess it could be moved somewhere else.

 

 

 

I also do not understand what the DPC kernel is and how it works. There needs to be much more information explaining the latest and greatest features and techniques of batari BASIC (what I assume is v1.1 with the DPC kernel?)

The DPC+ section is listed in the Table of Contents:

 

randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-batari-basic-commands.html#dpc_toc

 

Most of the information in those sections was written by various batari Basic users. If you need more information than what is in those sections, you could make a new thread in the batari Basic forum and ask bB users to provide what you think needs to be on the bB page and I'll add it.

 

 

Thanks.

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One of the really interesting things I've noticed by going through the Stella Mailing List is the different netiquette people had in the mid-nineties!

 

Also I find uuencoding really interesting! It's such an amazing way to compress and transmit files when you have limited bandwidth. Uuencoding is encoding a binary file into a really long text string that you then copy and paste into an email client. We obviously don't have to do this anymore, but I find it really interesting! Wouldn't it be fun to come up with a uuencoder that compressed files really effectively? It might be completely impractical now because we have files in the gigabytes and even terabytes. Imagine the text strings for those files!!

 

Uuencoding originates from UNIX, which is an operating system which is structured around a philosophy that every program should be able to output text strings and accept text strings as input.

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Wrong reason - way back when connections between systems on the internet weren't always 8-bit clean:

 

 

Up to the early 1990s, many programs and data transmission channels assumed that all characters would be represented as numbers between 0 and 127 (7 bits); for example, the ASCII standard used only 7 bits per character, avoiding an 8-bit representation in order to save on data transmission costs.

 

 

so you were only guaranteed that 7 bit data would survive intact when sent across the internet. Binary data that lost 1 bit out of every byte is useless. Uuencoding was created so you could send/receive binary data across 7 bit connections.

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Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think the Stella mailing list was named for the Stella emulator. Stella was the codename for the Atari 2600 itself. So the mailing list took that name, and so did Stella the emulator. But the mailing list didn't choose it because of the emulator; both chose it because it was the codename of the console itself.

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Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think the Stella mailing list was named for the Stella emulator. Stella was the codename for the Atari 2600 itself. So the mailing list took that name, and so did Stella the emulator. But the mailing list didn't choose it because of the emulator; both chose it because it was the codename of the console itself.

 

That post makes me want to ride a bicycle.

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Actually I think I might have it completely incorrect. There was a CD that got circulated around (you had to buy it, I think), before people had CD burners. The CD was circulated I think because the internet was at like 28.8 or like at most 56.6 kilobaud. It was called the Starpath CD, and it had a lot of amazing code examples. I think the Stella Mailing List name had something to do with the Starpath CD, originally.

 

I'm more than happy to change any of the introduction to anything anyone suggests. I'm also happy to release the content of the Commo Dig under the GNU GPL so that anyone can copy it and host it somewhere else.

 

Going through the Mailing List makes me realise how precious it is. We should have multiple mirrors of all the files stored on it, just in case Big List goes down. I think I might even download all of Glenn Saunder's documentary footage and encode it into much smaller files, because they're all on archive.org's site in their raw format.

 

 

BTW: Why did you omit my first Thrust post?

 

I missed your first thrust post! I'll put it in.

 

 

I think you should somehow structure the page, e.g. one folder per year.

 

I agree, it's getting really, really disorganised. Luckily it's all text and it's not hard to load.

 

I think I'm about halfway through now. October 1996 to July 2000 is just under four years, and the list kind of dies in the middle of 2005.

 

I'm hoping that the REAL gems are coming up, because I still haven't seen many commented disassemblies at all.

 

Does anyone have any suggestions about what I have done or what I should do?

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Oh by the way, because by the end of this I would have read the WHOLE Stella Mailing List, I'm going to include an index ordered by subject, and it will include all the links to post on relevant subjects, like disassemblies, code examples, answers to arcane questions.

 

One really cool explanation is the reason why (edit) the PF1 register is ordered backwards. Check out the explanation on the Dig! (Link here.)

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