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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:52 am 
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I just had an amusing memory. In highschool, there was a "programming class" which I sort of helped mentor because I used that period to do my own self-study with programming. The language everyone was using was QBasic. One kid's program got messed up somehow and wouldn't run anymore. I have a memory of opening up their text file in binary format in EDIT.COM and noticing that there was a lot of binary garbage after the actual text portion of their program; apparently the file got crosslinked. I deleted everything past the obvious end of their QBasic program and then everything was fine.

Who knows what happened to the rest of that data though... :P I can't really say I knew what I was doing, but it fixed the kid's program.

I also recall downloading a qbasic program that could crack the primitive security software my school had at the time, so I could get to the qbasic websites I liked. The password was "BIGBIRD." Then I got kicked out of tech club.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:22 am 
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Not really related to coding, but I remember the sysadmin at our highschool handed all students one floppy each, saying something very close to the value of "This is your diskette. You will only get one. One diskette will be able to store all your homework; OR one low quality picture with contents of a nature against regulations. How you choose to use it is what sort of person you will become."

Each student also had an account of 3mb, but i asked and got more to do qBasic stuff in my spare time.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:50 am 
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Since we're talking about diskettes and school: back when I was in high school, the only way to turn in programming assignments was via floppy disks. I was always bad at meeting deadlines, so more than once I managed to extend a deadline by saving dummy files using believable names for Delphi and VB projects and intentionally making the disks unreadable using magnets and scratching them with a paper clip. That would buy me up to 2 weeks to code the actual assignment, since the teacher would only be able to tell me about the problem on the next class, and I could only bring the new floppy with the actual code on the one after that. Worked every time.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:33 pm 
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When I was...about 12, I took a course on Apple Basic. This was supposed to be the second course, but my dad convinced the teacher that I already knew Basic, and didn't need to take the intro course.

Anyway, our first assignment was to program some moving graphics (animate). But, for some reason the teacher showed us a bunch of final projects as examples. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. So, my first week of programming class I programmed the final project.

The same teacher lent me a book on ASM programming... which I read cover to cover.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:12 am 
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The rolling joke at one of the places I worked was, when an artist needs to fix something, they needed to "push the pixel" and when a programmer needed to fix something they needed to "flip the bit"... so after the artists made fun of me and told me to flip the bit to fix a bug... turned out I actually needed to flip a bit to fix it...

Another programmer had a nice habit of fixing a lot of bugs in the player code by just deleting code.

Once a lead programmer send out an email about how to walk through a map file to find a crash location from a reg dump... it was a nice long email... ofcause the debugger had an option to load an elf and then Ctrl+G to take you to the address in question ;) when I pointed it out he didn't look any of us in the eyes for about 2 days XD

On another project we had a bug that was found once the game was shipped, but it allowed a really nice thing in the editor for the game and the users like it, whilst fixing another graphics bug the graphics programmer accidentally fixed the other bug as a side effect, he then had to send out an email asking if anybody knew how the bug happened so he could break it again.

One time we crashed a DX8 test app so badly, the computer decided we were not worthy and wanted to make sure we never did it again so it corrupted the code files as well XD


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:59 am 
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One time in Qbasic I used varptr/varseg and poke incorrectly and corrupted my source code in the editor.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:26 pm 
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I remember once in QBASIC I wrote SCREEN 1 and then SHELL "MODE CO80" and then various drawing commands to be displayed a a text mode screen, but the drawing commands are writing on video memory as though they are a graphical mode.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:25 pm 
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One time, when working on my multiphase CFD code, I ran into a weird inconsistency in some test results. After some fruitless bug hunting, I commented jokingly to my mom that it seemed almost like there was a demon messing with the tests.

Not long after, I found the problem (which stemmed from my code being insufficiently DRY). I had defined a minimum limit on the Sauter mean diameter, and this limit was being enforced in one spot but not another. The name of the variable used to define the limit was "Dmin".


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:27 pm 
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tokumaru wrote:
Since we're talking about diskettes and school: back when I was in high school, the only way to turn in programming assignments was via floppy disks. I was always bad at meeting deadlines, so more than once I managed to extend a deadline by saving dummy files using believable names for Delphi and VB projects and intentionally making the disks unreadable using magnets and scratching them with a paper clip. That would buy me up to 2 weeks to code the actual assignment, since the teacher would only be able to tell me about the problem on the next class, and I could only bring the new floppy with the actual code on the one after that. Worked every time.


Have you ever pulled a prank on your teacher by changing the background of the overhead computer when the teacher's not around?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:15 am 
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Me and firends always make information booths in one Zoo show some random sites.
Open homepage, scroll down to sponsors page, locate a sponsor page with facebook or some other social media link, choose create account, click on captcha info link, end up on google page, end up on google search, choose advanced search, choose on screen keyboard, get whereever you want via that :D

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:54 am 
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Haha, tmEE, i guess i should thank you and your kiosk hacking brethren - museums staff and the like often find it perplexing how visitors can get around the intended function of the screen, despite having tried "everything". (quicklist: have you tried not using an iPad? you can always find a browser opening link in a feature you can't turn off. have you tried not using a www browser in app disguise? Have you tried not being connected to the internet?). Anyway, making viewing/interactive soft/hardware packages secure from pranks like that is part of the job description when i do work for them. So it's also a small part of what makes me have food on the table.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:24 am 
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(This is going to be long and silly.)

Back in early 90's, when full colour scanners were expensive as hell, My brother and I bought an entry level tiny flatbed scanner, that could scan as large as a 3R photo and supposed to be able to do this in 24-bit true colour.
It was supposed to connect to the PC via a RS-232 serial port and was extremely slow. It could also be connected to a bi-directional parallel port. which supposed would make the transfer much faster.

The problem was, the parallel(printer) ports on most PCs BITD were not bi-directional(to print something you send stuff out from your PC, but to scan something you transfer stuff into your PC which most parallel ports couldn't do), so you needed to purchase another ISA card for an extra port and probably a new cable, too. We bought that scanner because it was cheap, so there was no way we would buy another card just for it.

And then, there was another problem. It's with the software they provided. It only worked on Windows 2.x, but not the then current Windows 3.x. The scanner actually worked as a TWAIN device, so you may just use any graphics programmes that support TWAIN drivers to acquire the scanned images. BUT, for some reasons, that TWAIN drivers only worked when the scanner was connected via a parallel port. When connected through a serial port you're stuck with using that WIN2 software to do the scanning. (It's ironic that, if you buy an expensive model of their scanners, such as a A4 one, it actually no longer provided serial support and instead the parallel port card was bundled with the scanner, since you already paid much and serial port would be too annoyingly slow for transferring a full page of image data over.)

So, we acquired and installed Windows 286, just for this device and installed the software.

YET another problem appeared. The software had full access to all the options of the scanner and you could set them to whatever you liked, and after scanning the images were saved as EPSON's propriety file format (with extension .pyx) and you could then convert them to more popular formats like .bmp and .pcx. So far so good... until you realised that, the conversion was not device independent(like many Windows applications advertised), so if the colour depth of your Windows desktop was at 16 colour the resulting image would be in standard Windows 16 colours (actually it was only 8 colours, as the image was in fact saved as 3bpp RGB). And it's understandable that finding drivers of your video card to work on WIN2 was no easy task, but we eventually managed to configure the desktop to display 256 colours, 16-bit high colour and 24-bit true colour. Unfortunately, under 256 colour mode the software saved the same 16(8) colour images, and when using 16-bit onwards, it just crashed with an "Out of memory" error, so the software never worked in the first place.

(Alright alright. This is the coding part.)

We're stuck with the ugly images for quite some time, but by observing the size of the original .pyx files I was certain that the images were indeed saved in full colour. Thus I started doing test scans (like say scanning a completely red image, and in varying dimensions etc.) and observed the files with a hex editor. I eventually figured out what most of the entries in the file header meant, that the file contained a 3bpp preview image (which was actually what you got when you saved the images as another formats) followed by the raw scanned data, and I figured out the order of the RGB channels too, i.e. I basically reverse engineered the format.

I then told my brother to give me two weeks and I probably could do something with it. Eventually I mucked up in an afternoon a command line converter that took a 24-bit pyx file and converted it into a 24-bit bmp file, using my limited knowledge in c++ and compiled it in Turbo C++. From that day after jumping through numerous hoops, we could enjoy scanned images in full colours!

I found this quite an achievement, until the FUTURE arrived, that nowadays you can get easily connected scanners with much higher quality for cheap, and in many more cases you can just use your smart phone to shoot high resolution digital photos instead of scanning in printed photos (my brother actually assembled a small light box for the scanner to scan films...).


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:39 am 
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Wow, that sounds absolutely awful... though I played around with handheld B&W scanners & colour digitizers at my friend's house in the early '90s, by the time I got a flatbed scanner of my own (in (94/95) most of them were SCSI and gave no bullshit about file formats.

If my scanner were that proprietary at the time, I would have done the same, probably -- made a converter in Pascal/BASIC after reverse-engineering the format.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:41 am 
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Actually I think the scanner worked out of the box if you connected it to an Apple Macintosh, and the Macintosh had a bi-direction parallel port as standard even.

They probably didn't care much about the PC part. No wonder the Macintosh was considered THE de facto platform for serious graphics processing BITD, and not the PC.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:06 pm 
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Mac might have been SCSI? I don't know how early they grew the external SCSI port.



A few years ago I was amused to read that it was possible to run WIndows2/3 on Tandy (PCjr) graphics, so I spent some time playing with dosbox and copies of Windows 2 and 3 to try it out.

It sets up the display to run in 640x200x4c mode, with the 4 colors being black, white, CGA bright blue, and CGA bright red. And draws complex shades using the normal Windows 3 ordered dither, which was odd when the palette is this limited. Apparently I misremembered? The colors are the far-more-reasonable CGA dark blue, CGA bright green, CGA bright red and white.


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