Hating on my Q68...

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Dave
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Hating on my Q68...

Postby Dave » Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:04 pm

[This is not a criticism of the Q68 which is, generally, a fine piece of hardware. This is a bitch about QL windowing systems. I know some of the original authors come here and may read my words. Sorry if I offend you. You did great work in the late 80s and early 90s. It just didn't stand up to time very well. It's unfathomable. This is a rewording of a private email I sent to Derek. Derek has done fine work and this isn't a criticism of him either.]

I'd like to tell you a little background so you understand where I am coming from. It'll be five minutes of your time, but it'll help you understand a LOT of returning QLers and also old farts like me. We're a huge part of the QL mindset and we're not catered for.​

​We got a QL before WIMPs were a thing. We learned the QL paradigm of windows as channels. QRAM came along, and we either tried it and hated it, or ignored it.​ In my case I had seen but not used a WIMP system on an Amiga, and QRAM was so clunky it was just unusable. Everything was quicker at the good old prompt. We probably skipped the later QL windows systems, or tried them and found them immediately hostile compared to what we were used to. In my case, RiscOS. Then we get to now. I'm a 20 year Mac user. QLE and the other one - I load them up and poke around and literally hardly any of it makes sense. I read the manual, and just end up repeatedly going "well, that's stupid! That's archaic. Really?" So the choice is 25-30 year old windowing systems that haven't really improved at all or the familiar old blinking cursor in #0. We go there and we're at home and it's familiar.

​I can't quickly function in QLE or "the other one" (my brain can't even commit the name of it to memory it's so uncomfortable)​ as I can't navigate. I can't navigate in part because everything was named before there was a naming convention, so everything just goes to random and unexpected places or does unpredictable things. EG: Oh look, there's an analog clock in the bottom right corner. How do I get rid of it? *pokes around for literally 30 minutes* *googles 'QL/E manual'* Oh well, I guess the clock can stay.

*reboots and chooses SBASIC, stretches and relaxes in familiar territory, ahh bliss, sips virtual martini of a "hello world" BASIC program*

​I have and read the Q68 manual. Nice primer and guide to the Q68-specifics. ​Nice hardware. I have and read the SMSQ/E manual, which is how I knew after refreshing my memory how to change the keyboard. Prior to this I used SMSQ/E in Q-emulator for about 25 minutes one time, saw no quickly discernible improvements over Minerva for my uses and went back to that.

It's a flaw of the QL and its community. That they will suffer through these terrible, terrible desktop systems at all, with minor incremental improvements but never addressing the basic problems. That they will suffer through archaic filing systems that hugely restrict the storing of big amounts of data. It's a crapfest. We can produce the most amazing hardware to run this noise on, but in 2018 people just expect better,. They fire up QL/E and... yeah... no. Unless it's already familiar territory, it just gives a first impression of garbage to the uninitiated.

If there's a manual I have missed despite googling and searching QL Forum..... Also, learning from a manual written by someone intimately familiar with a system is very different and inferior to being shown something by someone sat beside you, which is how most people got their first experience of these new things way back in the day.

I now have a couple of SD cards - one I can keep as a master, and one I can strip all this crap out​ and get it down to a system that works for me. That can become a secondary master and I can daily-use a clone of that.

I don't know how Derek had the patience to do it, but kudos to him. It's a ridiculous system but he somehow found a way to make most of the people happy most of the time. I thank him for his work.

But wow, QL desktops are stuck in the past!

So yes, I'm now officially a grumpy old man.

The Q68 hardware is generally very good. I think the two in one PS/2 port is less than optimal, but it works flawlessly and is cleanly designed. It is an ideal machine for the returning QLer.


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Dave
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Re: Hating on my Q68...

Postby Dave » Tue Apr 10, 2018 5:37 am

Yeah, that was totally a b-side.


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tofro
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Re: Hating on my Q68...

Postby tofro » Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:59 am

Dave wrote:But wow, QL desktops are stuck in the past!


Well, what did you expect? There's 20 years of development in modern Macs and Windows systems. They ought to handle differently than a QL system.

A modern Mac or Windows PC has one (or maybe two) way of doing things. For the same action, a QL has probably 20. Even if I highly value the effort that has gone into distributions like QL/E or Black Phoenix, even QDT, they have one main downside in common: You haven't built them yourselves, to your specific needs and preferences and they might probably not fit your way of working or do the unexpected in the unexpected moment or occupy screen space you don't want occupied. Distributions have taken decisions you should most probably make yourself - After all, it's your system, not theirs. Don't give up the libetry of choice you have - use it. These distributions are, in my opinion, nice demos and prof-of-concepts of what you can do and how, but what you want to do and how, is on you.

I personally never came to grips with them myself, and prefer to work on my own setup that has grown with me for many years. QL (windowing) systems don't make friends easily. But once they do, they're friends for life.

Start with a bare, naked system, add the tools you need (I'd recommend to look into QPAC2, FileInfo and CueShell, indispensable tools to a QL system), define your own hotkeys and windows, put the things where you're comfortable with and easy to remember and don't try to have everything at once. This is how you approach a QDOSMSQ system.

Dave wrote:So yes, I'm now officially a grumpy old man.


It's about 99.5% your very own decision what you are ;)

Tobias


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Re: Hating on my Q68...

Postby Derek_Stewart » Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:17 am

Hi,

I always take criticism in a positive way, even if it is negative.

Personally I do not use QL/E or Black Phoenix, Q-Dock.

I do not like GUI systems like Windows Mac OS X, I can just about bear Linux. My own Q68 / SMSQmualtor / QPC2 / Q-Emualor / Q60 / QL Gold Card / QL QLSD systems, have a minimal GUI system and more biased towards S*Basic programming. I tend use SBASIC multitasking alot, which the closest to SMSQ/E is Minerva.

Software that does not run on SMSQ/E or Minerva has not been written correctly.

But with regards to the Q68, I had assumed that most people know as much or more than me and will read all available documentation, clearly this is an error on my part.

Future Q68 first time boot file s will be some like:

Code: Select all

10 PRINT #0;"Welcome To Q68"


There maybe other BOOT files to run other GUI Systems.

My apologies for making assumptions based on my own knowledge and experience.


Regards,

Derek
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Re: Hating on my Q68...

Postby fatbob_gb » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:09 am

Derek_Stewart wrote:Future Q68 first time boot file s will be some like:

Code: Select all

10 PRINT #0;"Welcome To Q68"



Don't forget to comment it so I can understand it. :D


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vanpeebles
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Re: Hating on my Q68...

Postby vanpeebles » Tue Apr 10, 2018 11:23 am

Haha :lol:


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Dave
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Re: Hating on my Q68...

Postby Dave » Tue Apr 10, 2018 5:43 pm

Derek_Stewart wrote:Future Q68 first time boot file s will be some like:

Code: Select all

10 PRINT #0;"Welcome To Q68"


There maybe other BOOT files to run other GUI Systems.

My apologies for making assumptions based on my own knowledge and experience.


To be clear....

I received a box with a Q68 and dongle in it, plus a blank SD card. (The SD card was likely corrupted by X-rays going through customs.) No manuals.

THE manual is the Q68 manual here: http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/q68/manual.pdf

I read that. To configure my keyboard to a US mapping I referred to my printed copy of the SMSQ/E manual, which was sourced from here: http://www.dilwyn.me.uk/docs/ebooks/smsqe/SMSQE_A4.pdf

That said, there is a more up to date version floating around, but that is the main one linked and the one I printed. The screen modes section doesn't match Q68 at all, so I referred back to the Q68 manual for that.

There is no linked or referenced manual for QL/E or 'the other one.' If it exists, it's not cited in the Q68 manual, nor is it found by an exhaustive google search.

You have a choice of takeaways from my little rant. Considering I'm bemoaning something included as a gratuity on the SD card, but which you neither wrote nor maintain, and which doesn't seem to have a manual.... I don't see how my mini-rant even touches on you. When I sent you my mini-rant email (which the top post was taken from) I wasn't complaining about you. I was complaining to you about something over which you have no control. I was venting. Don't punish everyone else because of my frustrations. I'm used to learning and progressing quickly - I'm just stymied that QL/E is so obtuse that wasn't possible.

QL/E needs a Concepts manual.

Now I have a working Q68 system, my job is to get the wifi dongle tested and some small example code written so people can quickly get started updating and sharing their software over the internet. I was hoping to get going quickly with one of these desktop systems, but having played with them and finding them completely befuddling, I can see that will have to come later.


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Re: Hating on my Q68...

Postby Derek_Stewart » Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:12 pm

Hi Dave,

I do not use distributions like QL/E and Black Phoenix. They are both excellent examples of QL environments. I merely supplied a choice of performated software package.

If the supplied distributions are not required, then delete them and write a personal boot file.

The Q68 manuals were emailed to each Q68 customer in PDF format. The manuals represent the differences in Q68 SMSQ/E and should be read with other versions of SMSQ/E manuals freely available.


Regards,

Derek
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Dave
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Re: Hating on my Q68...

Postby Dave » Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:28 pm

This is beyond amusing. I have the Q68 manual not because it was emailed to me (it was) but because I already had it by download months before.

Instead of deleting the boot file, why don't I just rewrite it to set up the environment the way I want? The only catch being... With no information on how to manipulate the environment and get it to the minimum base then building up from there as someone else suggested, it's non-obvious to a non-initiate. I don't know what the flags/switches are without examining the boot file. I can't examine the boot file because I can't work out how to even do that in QL/E. If I boot to SBASIC it drops me in a possibly virtual directory with no contents.

What is QL/E - is it a desktop system in its own right, or is it a pre-configuration of an existing system? Is there a manual for any part of it? How do you quit a job? How do you get rid of the background image?

It is a catch-22 that you either supply a system with everything exposed and one half of your users will mess it up, or you hide and protect everything and stymie the other half of your users. You can't do both.

Something about not being able to please all of the people all of the time.


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Re: Hating on my Q68...

Postby pjw » Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:40 pm

Dave, I dont envy you, if you are truly starting from scratch. However, you cant expect to learn all you need in a few minutes. Unlike Windows, the QL doesnt have a billion dollar GUI. If I might suggest?

Start up without a boot file, then work your way through the Q68 manual, by typing any commands of interest directly on the command line. Just play! Try the various display modes, and try to access the devices. Once you start seeing a pattern of things you like, enter them as program lines, eg with ED (type ED <ENTER><ENTER>) The line numbers are what differentiates a direct command from a program line. Try SAVEing a few commands (exit ED by <ESC>) and type SAVE ram1_test_bas. LOAD ram1_test_bas (for example) and the RUN it. That could become a rudimentary boot file.. Leave the mouse and all that for later.

Nothing worth knowing is easy to begin with! Keep at it, and you will soon get the hang of it, I assure you. After all, most of us, here and still alive, have been through the pain ;) I, for one, think it was well worth it! And Im sure many of us are happy to chirp up, if you have any questions.

Good luck!


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For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
- H. L. Mencken

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