Status update 24/02/2020

February 24, 2020 0 Comments

I haven’t written anything for a long time as I’ve been recovering from a nasty illness. I pretty much missed last summer and autumn and have only just started to feel like myself again.

I’m currently working on a top secret project called SLIDE. It’s an application, and its written in C++ with Qt. I don’t know how much more I want to reveal before its finished.

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Where are the books for Windows power users?

August 22, 2019 0 Comments

I had some computer problems recently (Windows Update and network related) which brought home to me how little I really knew about the workings of Microsoft Windows, even though I’ve been a Windows user since 1996! I became frustrated with just spamming the troubleshooter wizards, installing updates, rolling back updates, restarting the machine and hoping for the best. I wanted to know what was going on, and how to really solve problems.

I use Linux at work, making web applications, and when I wanted to learn how it worked I found a couple of great books, “Linux Administration Handbook” and “How Linux Works: What Every Super User Should Know”.


They gave me a great understanding of how Linux was put together, and built a foundation I could use to understand the details from other sources. So after my frustrating weekend with Windows I decided to find the Windows equivalents of these books.
I couldn’t find any.

It seems there are two kinds of books for Windows. Books for total beginners, and expensive volumes for people studying for professional certification. They contain a lot of information but are clearly focused on people working with Windows Server in a corporate environment. They go into great detail about managing the access permissions of hundreds of users, and performing network-wide software installations.

Not much use to a programmer running Windows 10 at home who just wants to know how to really control his computer and confidently deal with any problems that arise.

I’d like to see a book, “Windows for Power Users”, which would give me a detailed description of how Windows works, what its major components and “ruling principles” are.

I’d definitely want a comprehensive discussion of the network stack and Windows Update, how to read and interpret the contents of the Event Viewer, and use the Computer Management tools. I’d like to understand device management and drivers, and I’d like an intro to PowerShell and how to use it to administer and troubleshoot everything previously described.

Maybe all this information is scattered across Microsoft’s website? I certainly can’t find it to my satisfaction, nor can I give the fragments of information I do find the context and big-picture awareness that an expertly written book can provide.

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bb2-mode – Edit Blitz Basic II code in Emacs

May 22, 2017 0 Comments

bb2-mode screenshot

For the past couple of months I’ve been messing about with some retro-programming, working on a little game in Blitz Basic II for the Commodore Amiga (more info coming soon). I just wanted a nice no-stress project to spend a few weeks on before making yet another attempt to change my life through code.

I grew up on Blitz, and it was fun to return to it again after 20 years. On a whim, I decided to write an Emacs major mode for Blitz II so I could edit and read code outside of an Amiga Emulator. It was also a good opportunity to practice my Lisp programming (Emacs plugins are written in Emacs Lisp).

bb2-mode not only provides syntax highlighting and online help for over 2400 Blitz II commands, it can load and save tokenized files. Blitz II saved its source code in a custom file format in order to save disk space. As far as I know, bb2-mode is the only thing outside an Amiga which can load and save these files. So even if the Emacs-using-retro-Blitz-programmer demographic isn’t that large, bb2-mode still has some value.

Anyhow, bb2-mode is on github and is under active development. I’ll have more to say about Blitz II in the future, so stay tuned.

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AtlasMaker now on Github

August 6, 2016 0 Comments

I have uploaded the latest version of AtlasMaker to Github, so it should be easier for you to hack on, report bugs etc. Not much in my Github account at the moment, but I plan to upload some of my experiments soon.

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