Maxwells’ Silver Doofer: Dead in the Water

Count this as the biggest of big fails for Retrochallenge 01/2016… Maxwells’ Silver Doofer just never really got going.

January was way too busy with

  • massive amounts of commercial overtime,
  • attempting to swim a distance equivalent to a lap of the TT course (for charitable porpoises),
  • sorting out personal tax affairs (jeez, the govt make the process way more complex than necessary, I had to take a vacation to get it done!),
  • disproving a bogus public claim that an RPi-B was 40 times faster than an SS20 model 612 (hint: not when both are using a recent C compiler – a lot of the observed difference was really that between an ancient C compiler and a modern one),
  • getting obsessionally distracted by the idea of building a homebrew 8-bit expandable computer using a CPU that has AFAIK never been used for that before,
  • planning how to transport a set of heavy very bulky goalkeepers’ all-body protectors, leg/chest pads, gloves, kickers and helmet for an overseas hockey away-trip – without breaking the bank or my back, et al, et al.

Let’s just say I had way too much other stuff going on, most of it my fault!

I did get as far as writing a DOS program that could decode the header of any Idris executable file, and extract (with byte-order conversion when needed) the code-section, initialised-data section, and relocation information. However, the key task of splitting the code-section into separate x86 startup-code and compiled-C-object-code pieces never even got started (it would have taken quite a bit of research and experimentation, not to mention the necessary enthusiasm which unfortunately just dribbled away).

I guess this is par for my course: I seem to be able to manage only an average of one proper RC project a year… Perhaps this kind of endeavour should be reserved for a younger generation? You never know, they might even learn something about “The Good Old Days”.


One thought on “Maxwells’ Silver Doofer: Dead in the Water

  1. I’d love to hear about how you dispelled the performance difference between a SS20 and RPi-B, including of course all the gory details :-).

    I’ve gotta get around to getting my old SS20 up and running again, I’ve built a bunch of NetBSD software for it using Qemu to run the build. Just gotta get the machine up and going again and spend the time to install.


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