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December 2022 Update

December 2022 Update

Dec 31, 2022

2022–12–31 December Update

I almost missed the deadline for my December Buy Me A Coffee update (you can thank my first bout of COVID, which knocked me out for a week). I’m late enough this month that you might read this on the first day of 2023, but trust me, I posted it during December 2022! 😄

Welcome to 2023!

2023 has a special meaning for me. I graduated from high school in 1983, forty years ago! But man, that was a great year for computing. In 1983, I was still using my trusty Commodore VIC-20 to program in BASIC and play games. I was that guy in high school. We had a graduating class of around 70 and I was the only senior interested in the hobby or even considering a college degree in computer science (which never happened). It would not be until 1985 that I would upgrade my Commodore VIC-20 to a Commodore 128, bypassing the Commodore 64. 

I could afford the Commodore 128 because in 1984, I enlisted in the United States Air National Guard and had disposable income when I returned from basic training to return to college. I even had a Master Sergeant in my Air National Guard Unit in Nashville, TN that was a huge C64 fan. He took this Airman First Class and not only showed me how to fix the automatic flight controls system (autopilot) on a C130 airplane, but even took the evenings and lunches to show me more about Commodore computers. He had two Commodore 64s and brought one into the avionics shop while I was on a six months of active duty for training. It was a great time and one I don’t think I’ve ever shared in writing!

Machine Language

If you follow me on Twitter or Mastodon, you likely saw the post below where I declare 2023 to be the year I learn Machine Language (ML) on Commodore Computers. My goal is to tinker in ML on the MEGA65. The Tweet became popular with many comments and suggestions.

What prompted the post was my recent find of the electronic version of the book, Machine Language for Beginners by Richard Mansfield. A seminal favorite in the Commodore, Atari, and Apple community, this book describes how to begin the ML programming journey on the MOS 6502 processor. It’s a fabulous read. One commenter recommended another seminal favorite in the Commodore community; Jim Butterfield’s Machine Language for the Commodore 64, 128 and other Commodore Computers. I located a PDF copy of this book and look forward to a comparison of the two. I wish I could purchase these books in e-book format and support either the authors or their families. Isn’t there a market for these books given the popularity of the retro computing hobby? I know, I know, some of these publishers aren’t around today.

Amazon Kindle Scribe

And how am I reading and annotating these PDFs? With my new Amazon Kindle Scribe! I will not talk about this device today because yesterday I completed the recording of a video that will drop in the next couples of days; once the edit is complete.

This video will show not only how I use the Amazon Kindle Scribe for the hobby but include many tips and tricks that all Kindle Scribe owners will appreciate. I’m having a blast using the device and, as you will learn soon, recommend it for anyone collecting electronic versions of retro books, manuals, or instructions sheets.

ChatGPT

Another Tweet shared my curiosity with the AI tool, ChatGPT. While I was reading about ML, I thought, “wonder if ChatGPT can create an ML program that prints, ‘Hello World!’?” I fired up my browser and typed in:

Write a Commodore computer assembly language program that prints, “Hello World!”

Below is the Tweet that shares the output:

Be sure to check out the comments. Folks who know much more about ML shared good feedback. I even ask the AI to do the same for Assembly and BASIC to compare and you can see those responses in my follow up comments.

Goodbye 2022 but Thank You Supporters!

This past year has been fun and I will bid 2022 a fond farewell. During 2022 I discovered the fun of livestreams with each of you and upgraded my studio with a new equipment such as an ATEM Mini Extreme ISO and two Sony ZV1 cameras. The channel grew from 1500 to 3500 and, while not a huge channel, growth continues at a steady pace. Finally, because of each contributor, member, producer, and executive producer, I’m monthly receiving a small influx of cash that makes the Lovely Accountant happy, since I can use these funds for the channel instead of our dipping into our normal budget. That’s not to say I don’t dip into our regular budget, I do, but I’m blessed to have a day job that allows me to do this.

What’s in store for 2023? Check out my regular “What’s on the Workbench” section below. As for the studio, over the holiday break I continue to work on another area where I can livestream workbench projects. The studio are you see regularly is for the retro computing topics is great for clean work, but not for soldering or assembly. I have another area I’m working on for that content and you will get your first look at this space in my Kindle Scribe video.

In 2023, I want to grow my group of supporters and members. As channel subscriptions rise, I had hoped memberships would grow, but that’s not the case. It takes a certain type of person to support a YouTube channel. One who understands that there is value in the content we create each week. And loyalty is something that is a rarity. Each of you has these traits and I am forever grateful. With more folks like you, I can continue to grow the channel, include more items, and fulfil my dream, retire from the day job and create full time. That’s a heavy lift, but not one that is out of the question. And creating full-time would give me the capacity to do more planning, recording, and experimentation. Is that my goal for 2023? Probably not for next year, but let’s keep working toward it.

Those Executive Producer Gifts

Finally, I want to mention this year’s Executive Producer Christmas gifts. One of my videos this past year was a review of the iFu precision screwdriver set. The folks over at LIFEGOO reached out and asked if I would like to look at their precision screwdriver set. I said yes and reviewed the set in this video. The iFu video was moderately successful but unfortunately the LIFEGOO didn’t catch. I say unfortunately, because the folks at LIFEGOO were kind enough to provide FREE sets for all my Executive Producers.

That’s right, I shipped one of these, along with a holographic retroCombs logo sticker, to each member who joined at the MEGA65 level and maintained their membership for most of 2022. The feedback from my Executive Producers had been great. Each was kind enough to send me a thank you email or message on Discord and a few even shared pictures. Not sure I can top that one for next year, but have ideas and if you want to be on the retroCombs holiday list for next year, upgrade your membership in January. Even if you don’t upgrade, I appreciate any level of support.

What’s on the Workbench?

Here’s what’s on my radar for content. This list is in no particular order of priority or promise:

  • Machine Language on the MEGA65

  • MEGA65 tips/tricks project

  • PiDP-8/I (Jamie and I might have a build party)

  • Two MEGA65 BASIC programs (one almost complete and one to begin)

  • 80 column mode for the C128 (thanks again to Greg for the reminder)

  • Raspberry Pi 400 with Bare Metal Commodore Install (BMC)

  • Raspberry Pi 400 with PiMiga3

  • Freewrite Word Processor

  • Dev Term uConnect

  • TheC64/TheVIC20 filename flags

  • PET upgrades/usage

  • Studio/basement update (possibly, members-only content)

  • Telecommunications on retro-computers

  • Cobi M1A1 Set (considering a livestream build)

  • LEGO Atari 2600 Set

See something you want me to move up on the list? Leave a comment. That’s it for the December update. If there’s something you’d like to see in the January update, post a comment. I hope you find these updates fun. I enjoy exercising my writing and editing skills (I am sure you found errors) and dumping some stream of consciousness, whether or not you read these!

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For the first 60-days, this post was available to retroCombs supporters. If you want access to the most recent posts, become a supporter (buy me a coffee below) or join as a member (for as little as a $1) using the fun Commodore computer inspired membership levels found on the main page (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/retroCombs). Members get access to advertisement free live stream archives, access to the retroCombs Discord (VIC-20 level and above), and other physical and electronic goodies. Product links in any post may be Amazon affiliate links. I am responsible for all errors in the post; however, I’m a one-man band and am my own worst editor. If errors offend thee, go play on your VIC-20. ← See what I did there?

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