Q68 support thread

The Thor, Aurora, Q40, Q60 & Q68 etc. are discussed here.
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Pr0f
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Re: Q68 support thread

Postby Pr0f » Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:41 am

I took it to mean "Black Box", though I realise the Q68 could also be in a black box - mine is.

But a more expanded meaning - original QL case and using the original video circuitry. This allows for expansions within the case.

Technically Qimi / Minerva / Hermes / QL-SD are all expansions within the machine, and some AT keyboard interfaces fitted internally too - but the 'computer' was still the long black brick.

It does suggest that perhaps we need some new dfinitions? :-)


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Re: Q68 support thread

Postby tofro » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:47 am

Seen from a programmer's view, the main difference between QL-based HW and "other" is the video hardware which needs to be treated differently.

The fact that some software just doesn't fit into the memory (of whatever size) available, or CPU oompf simply isn't enough is very marginal. So, I tend to see even SG and SGC QLs fitting within this class.

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Peter
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Re: Q68 support thread

Postby Peter » Tue Jun 23, 2020 2:18 pm

tofro wrote:Seen from a programmer's view, the main difference between QL-based HW and "other" is the video hardware which needs to be treated differently.

Q40/Q60/Q68 all have the original video modes, so they don't need to be treated differently. Just if you use additional features.

tofro wrote:The fact that some software just doesn't fit into the memory (of whatever size) available, or CPU oompf simply isn't enough is very marginal. So, I tend to see even SG and SGC QLs fitting within this class.

I don't understand what you mean by "very marginal" for a programmer, if his software does not fit.


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Re: Q68 support thread

Postby tofro » Tue Jun 23, 2020 3:11 pm

Peter wrote:
tofro wrote:Seen from a programmer's view, the main difference between QL-based HW and "other" is the video hardware which needs to be treated differently.

Q40/Q60/Q68 all have the original video modes, so they don't need to be treated differently. Just if you use additional features.

But I want to use the additional features like hi-res and hi-colour, so I want to treat them differently. Targetting the BBQL should, of course provide software that also just runs on these machines.

tofro wrote:The fact that some software just doesn't fit into the memory (of whatever size) available, or CPU oompf simply isn't enough is very marginal. So, I tend to see even SG and SGC QLs fitting within this class.

Peter wrote:I don't understand what you mean by "very marginal" for a programmer, if his software does not fit.


I don't write software specifically targetting the unexpanded or lowly-expanded QLs and I don't intend to - I consider this simply too cumbersome and limiting. I have defined QLs with at least a Trump Card or the like as my minimum target. And, realistically, the memory available on a GoldCard on SMSQ/E isn't tremendously more (well, CPU oompf is). The plan of attack when you start designing a program doesn't differ at all whether you target a 640, 896, or GC/SGC QL. Should it turn out that the same piece of software should work on a lesser-spec machine, so fine - someone's been lucky (Like it happened for the Magnetic Scrolls games last year - The games just about fit into a 640k QL (at least some of them, even if that was not originally intended nor did I expect them to, initially), if you run them without graphics. But if I want these games, I can't make them any smaller - It's either this or no game at all) But expanding your QL to the above really is no problem today anymore with all the options available.

On the other hand, when designing a program, you should be having a bit of pre-planning on whether the problem fits the machine.

If you're browsing through Dilwyn's site, you can find lots of machine code games for the unexpanded or low-spec expanded QL, even if what you can do there is quite limited - There's quite a lot of them from the early days of the QL. There's practically none that will take, for example, really full advantage of 640 or even >800k of memory. Those that require this amount of memory, mainly do because of the choice of development system, not because the game is so extensive. These are my personal targets, at least for the moment.

Tobias


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Re: Q68 support thread

Postby bwinkel67 » Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:44 pm

tofro wrote:Seen from a programmer's view, the main difference between QL-based HW and "other" is the video hardware which needs to be treated differently.


That's an interesting perspective I hadn't thought of. However, I still think making the term BBQL just focus on whether the video hardware has changed or not is kind of moot since the video hardware is not modifiable at present in the original hardware. My question would be, what would you do presently to a BBQL (using that meaning) so that you no longer could call it that (without taking it out of the case).

If we just look at the various meanings of the two B's one can see issues with many:

  • Black Box (synonyms: Black Brick)
    • Not very descriptive since, I don't believe, the term QL on its own is used to refer to all hardware (i.e. Q68, Q40/60, etc, they all have their own names).
    • Think of the original Mac in 1984 and someone saying "I have the Beige Mac" and others kind of shrugging and thinking "we all do" is how I see it.
      • Note that slightly after the initial Mac was released I believe it was relabeled the 128K Mac since they came out with the 512K Mac but that designation was very descriptive as it highlighted memory
  • Basic Box (synonyms: Basic Brick, Basic Black)
    • More descriptive of implying unexpanded but there is a better term for it below
  • Bare Bones
    • This meaning definitely articulates unexpanded and is how I have seen it. (Note in my deranged mind I also associate Black Brick with unexpanded :D)
    • To original was unique in various ways and thus to give it a unique label makes a bit sense...it was one of the first personal computers:
      • with a 32 bit Motorola processors: 68008
      • it had both a Motorola and Intel chip inside (during the chip wars of the late 80's and early 90's that Intel won)
      • it had those revolutionary (thought of at the time before all the technical issues) microdrives before 3.5 inch floppies became the norm.
    • The weak part of the machine, specification-wise, was video and sound.

The point is all a bit moot if half the community thinks of it as Black Box (or derivative) and the other half as Bare Bones as it makes the term kind of useless (I doubt we want to start using case for the two meanings: bbQL and BBQL). I certainly feel sufficiently confused enough when describing my ZXSimulator project so I keep saying unexpanded QL instead of BBQL.

This reminds me of the Life Cereal paradox I grew up with. In the US we had this commercial in the 70's where a group of siblings tried to see if the new Life cereal that their parents bought was any good. So they postulated if they fed it to their youngest sibling, Mike, and if he ate it, then it would be good since he was the finickiest eater and indeed, when he tried it he liked it and they all exclaimed "Mikey, he likes it." The reason for the paradox is that if you then asked anyone about the commercial they would summit it up as "Mikey will eat anything" which was just the opposite. I know because that's my name and as a kid I had to endure that summation, even as I tried to explain it meant the opposite (doesn't go well as a conversation between 10 year olds if you can imagine). Just one of those funny things that you can't explain.

If someone can articulate how the term BBQL could still potentially differentiate from the term QL given those two meanings, I'd be interested.


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Re: Q68 support thread

Postby pjw » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:27 pm

I guess this thread is veering way off topic, but since we are where we are, let me just add my penny's worth: The first mention I can find of BBQL was in a post on the QL-Users list by Dave Park, in March 2013. The term was never spelt out, but since then the term has cropped up with increasing regularity. It seems always to have meant slightly different things to different people, but the tendency was to describe a basic QL setup both hardware, and possibly, software wise. I believe some people took the literal meaning to be Basic Black and others Bare Bones with a fuzzy idea of the exact specification. How big is a piece of cake? Need we be more specific?


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Re: Q68 support thread

Postby Derek_Stewart » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:41 pm

BBQL = Big Boys QL....


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Re: Q68 support thread

Postby stevepoole » Tue Jun 23, 2020 11:55 pm

Hi,
Wasn't the 'black box' principal just computer jargon for something where you put your stuff in and it spits out what you want without having to understand the dark arts of machine coding ?
These days we might call them 'black holes' : You put your stuff in and get it all pirated over the internet !

Seriously, though, the QL community is a great asset to us all.

Best Wishes,
Steve.


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Re: Q68 support thread

Postby mk79 » Wed Jun 24, 2020 12:55 pm

I thought one had to be German to care so much about a definition, but I stand corrected :D In reality the term is of course highly context sensitive, like "smurf", so defining it is a bit moot.


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Re: Q68 support thread

Postby Chr$ » Wed Jun 24, 2020 1:09 pm

mk79 wrote:I thought one had to be German to care so much about a definition, but I stand corrected :D


Either German and/or a software developer and/or computer geek.

Wish I hadn't resurrected this thread now ;)


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