Low-Level RISC OS

Ok, enough blah blah spirituality, yada yada enlightenment, let’s talk about retrocomputing for a post or two. Let’s call this hobby “Legacy System: the home game”. Today I stumbled upon a copy of RUN Magazine from Oct 1986 that I’d bought as a 9-year-old kid, shortly after I got my Commodore Plus/4 as a Christmas gift. I’ve been thinking lately about my childhood, and how I really caught the programming bug very early, to have asked for my own computer as a 7-year-old. I remember quite vividly (for such an old memory) sitting in the back yard, reading books from the library about computers and looking at very short BASIC programs and thinking about how amazingly cool programs were.

One train of thought that I had was related to how different the world was back then, with all these software companies of every possible size buying ad space in the magazine, and having to either sell through mail order or get their games distributed in stores like Toys “R” Us or Kmart. One reason Commodore had a great deal of difficulty selling the Amiga as a serious computer, particularly in the US (and Canada?) is that they didn’t have a big network of computer stores that could provide after-sale support and service, because they’d sold their 8-bit computers in toy stores and discount retailers.

Here’s a blog post on Why Amiga Failed with more details, including the near-total lack of Amiga product marketing in the USA. But despite all of my angst about the Amiga not succeeding globally the way the community had hoped it would, Commodore still did better internationally than poor Acorn Computers Ltd., who had the inverse problem: they sold extremely well in their home country of Great Britain, but failed completely in the United States.

Since the Amiga also sold much better in GB than in USA, British computer geeks had three viable alternatives to the Windows PC and Macintosh duopoly: the Amiga, Atari ST, and Acorn Archimedes. Since I don’t have any nostalgic memories of the Archimedes and its RISC OS, I got to experience it for the first time just recently, on my Raspberry Pi 3 (the Pi 400 is serving the page you’re reading). It only uses one of the CPU cores, and only in 32-bit mode, but it’s still very fast, even on an older Pi 1 or 2.

I highly recommend watching a how-to video such as the one below, by Dan Wood, if you want to have the most fun and productive RISC OS experience.

Acorn Archimedes RISC OS on Raspberry Pi 400

One of the Next Level Soul podcast episodes I watched discussed, among other topics, free will and the positive and negative polarity of creation vs. control. That really resonated with me because that was exactly the issue I was wrestling with when I was working as a contractor for Meta on their VR tech.

About six months ago, I completely lost interest in what they were trying to do, because I started to realize that real Reality was more fundamental than VR experiences, and that people’s perceptions of the world are being obscured by this cloak of manipulative advertising and unhealthy behavioral modification. Social media is an ego trap, and I felt deeply that Big Tech is trying to control and limit our free wills even more forcefully than TV (which was bad enough).

I always felt blessed as a kid in the sense of knowing that I wanted to be a software engineer from a very young age and was able to accomplish that goal. But now that I have a few years of experience under my belt, I’ve realized that I can only be engaged with a product or company if I feel that they’re helping people to express their own inner creativity, as opposed to trying to control us. More fundamentally, I want to work on healing technologies (including medical devices and diagnostics), but I refuse to work on weapons of any kind.

While I’m looking for my next job, I need to get some income to pay the bills, so I’m going to try adding SMB 2 support to the RISC OS file sharing client, since there’s a rather substantial code bounty to whoever writes that code. I’ll contact the people running the bounty program as soon as I’ve made sufficient progress that I know that I’ll be able to complete it within the time I’ve allotted.


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