Monday, 21 December 2009

High and Dry

It is quiet on the ql-users list lately except for 2 individuals who are keen to see another production run of Q60s. D&D systems have said that a run could be arranged if there were at least 10 interested people.

It's good news that dedicated QL hardware can still be produced. But in some ways it is disappointing that it is exciting to be hearing about a build run of hardware designed at least 10 years ago! Nothing has changed in the Qx0 motherboard since then. Even though the display resolutions make the system obsolete as it becomes harder and harder to acquire CRT monitors, The 1024x512 reolution does not display on any of the so far tested  TFT monitors. What is needed is a 1025x765 display or an 800x600 display. This requires the development of a new chip for the mother board. The problem is that no one knows the board specifications apart from the designers Claus and Peter. Software could be cobbled together from the drivers that exist in SMSQ/E for other QL incarnations but no one else knows the hardware parameters.

They left the QL scene several years ago in dispute over the SMSQ/E licence thereby abandoning their customers and supporters many of whom had spent sizeable chunks of cash on their hardware. It is such a pity as the display is the key weakness of the Q60 in the longterm. Such a pity

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Boot Files

The ql-users forum has recently been discussing boot files again. 25 years on from the launch of the QL one might think that the definitive word has been spoken on the correct construction of a SuperBasic/SBasic boot file. Not so. The enormous flexibility of the basic programming languages on QL systems and the differing characteristics of the existing hardware configurations and emulators means that confusion still reigns because there is no one set standard merely enormous flexibility to have a personally configured boot.

For example with original hardware and the JM rom, one of the commonest roms in use, one has to complete the installation of system extension libraries by resetting Superbasic through the loading of a secondary boot file for the launching of applications as otherwise the applications cannot see the extensions. For JS roms and above this is not essential. But there are still advantages in breaking down the boot into separate entities.