Re: [stella] DD_0003

Subject: Re: [stella] DD_0003
From: "Roger Williams" <mer02@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2001 22:02:05 -0700
----- Original Message -----
From: braves4515@xxxxxxx
To: stella@xxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2001 8:21 PM
Subject: Re: [stella] DD_0003

>sometimes i wonder if i just did this in BASIC on a 800 unit would it be a
lot easier )
>since ive done basic  i think so . but i want everyone to enjoy my work.

What you need to understand is that you don't come to Stella to learn
assembly language.  That's like buying a unicycle for practice before
you buy a car.  I've been programming in assembly language for almost
20 years, and at work I'm in the middle of a 10,000+ line of code
project which involved hacking an embedded box.  Generating a few
lines of text on the A2600 is one of the hardest things I have ever done
in programming.

Stella isn't a nice girl.  Stella is a bitch.  She seduces you but then
you work your balls off to support her one megahertz 8-bit no-video-RAM
habit.  Sweat comes off your testicles as you try to get 48 horizontal
pixels of unflickering video where you want them on the screen.  In other
environments you deploy MUL instructions and rewrite code to increase
indirection; on Stella you unroll countdown loops because you can't afford
the overhead of the DEC and BNE instructions.

Stella lived so long and spread so far because, in large part, of the
genius of her programmers who took her to heights her designers had
never dreamed of.  Now, in 2001, she's finally dead to most of the
world.  Killed off by gigahertz and gigabytes, the cleverest
manipulations of the TIA cannot compete against seven-digit-
per-second polygon generators.  But just as Windows is a sloppy
piece of dogmeat when compard to CP/M, the purity of the TIA
beckons when one is tired of one's platform crashing out for no
explainable reason.  You will fail a lot programming Stella.
This is her nature.  That is what makes it so sweet when you get
her to do your bidding.

I've been here for only a *very* short time, literally a few
weeks, and I'm addicted.  I absolutely must do something on
this platform that is original and interesting.  (I have some ideas,
hehe)  I even have the convenient excuse that it could be
useful in ways no one seems to have figured; those piles
of "obsolete" game consoles amount to a huge pile of
nearly free embedded controllers.  But of course now that
I'm hooked, I'll never do an app that doesn't at least draw
the screen and display some diagnostics.  Preferably lots
of diagnostics.  I'm big on that even on *cough* normal

Stella is not the nice girl next door.  As a programmer, I don't even
see Stella as the somewhat harried cartoon girl who introduces you
to the programming archive.  Stella isn't mean or snarling, but she
has claws and traps and the mating habits of the black widow
spider.  She's one girl you don't screw around with.  You either
give her what she wants, or she gives you a bunch of vertical
lines and no damn explanation whatsoever.

--Roger Williams

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