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back to article BOFH: You think you know a guy...

"He seemed..." the PFY says, gazing out the window sadly. "...So normal." "I know," I respond. "But you never can tell what's going on in someone's head." "But he was such a good bloke!" "I know," I say again. "You think you know someone, then something like this happens..." "Something like what?" the Boss asks, entering …

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Of course there was Elite for the archimedes

Check out Ian Bell's Elite pages, and you can download it for free. 'Regarded by many as the best ever elite ' apparently.

I wouldn't know, as I was never drawn by the Archimedes; then again I still have an OS/2 box at home for running my tape drive so what can I say? (No, it doesn't need babysitting - it's fairly bombproof, and yes my main system is XP. I'm no masochist)

I do wish Elite had been released for the PCW though.

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A cautionary BBC tale

BBC's (and Archimedes, for that matter) were the ultimate hacker tool, "back in the day". They came with a documented, powerful OScall interface, and a built-in assembler.

Back in the mists of time, when I was a lowly undergrad fresher, the Physics 1st-year lab had ~50 of these machines - physics labs loved them for their multitudinous i/o ports, and networking. So, being an undergrad, and seeing the floppy-based viruses that were all-the-rage at the time, I wrote a (harmless, just to see if I could) virus that transmitted itself over the network :)

For the tale, and rather unexpected consequences, see http://blog.gornall.net/files/viralConsequences.html :-)

As for Macs - I'm about as hard-core techie-programmer as they come. As a hobby, I learnt verilog, designed my own CPU and implemented it on an FPGA then wrote a C compiler for it; I've contributed to gcc, linux, PHP, perl and more; I've been coding on unix boxes since the time of JANet (shudder), and set up my first webserver when you still had to register a website with CERN. Having established my credentials, let me say that I love the Mac - ever since OSX, that is, it was POS before that. OSX, however, is the best damn unix workstation I have ever used, and I've used a lot.

Still, given the popular (mis?)conception of Mac-users as being all arty types, I grinned at the above.

Simon [who's been asked more times than he can count, whether he is in fact the BOFH :-]

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Anonymous Coward

Nostalgia

When i was 10 years old, i was a member of a group of active hackers/crackers in the eastern US. we were a half dozen kids, ages 10-12, with a desire to take apart and understand anything related to computers. we tried several different group names but finally settled on calling ourselves 'the elite' after watching an episode of 'Dr. Who' (the episode where Davros invents the daleks)

** YES we were the original group. sadly, like the illuminati, the name became more legendary than our short lived group.

** NO we never spelled it l33t. slip-text or rot-text was not necessary until the government started scanning with carnivore.

** NO we never hacked into any government, military or wallstreet computers. networks barely existed back then, and phreaking didn't become part of the hackers skillset until modems became more widely used.

that being said, i would like to voice my opinion, that the uber-hacker culture would not be what it is today without the apple II and its built in hex editor / disassembler.

prior to the plague rats (mice) infesting the computer labs and the continuing decline in computer literacy that has followed ever since, computer techs understood that the OS was just another program to use for convenience and not a list of limiting choices attached to a few icons.

macs windows and now linux have all made the mistake of trying to service the immediate needs of an illiterate adult work force, and failed to recognize that the children are the future. pc's of the past were like educational toys, legos and erector sets. now we give our children click-and-watch applications that are no better than endless cartoons. when i was 10 years old, i was reverse engineering and programming in assembly code... what is your child doing with their pc ?

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Don't knock the BBC Micro...

When I was working for ECC International (now Imerys) in Cornwall, they still had a BBC B running experiments in the Par Moor Labs. The guys in the Lab said there just wasn't anything else to replace it. That was in 2000. Wouldn't be surprised if it's still kicking round the company now.

My first computer was a ZX81 (it broke), but my love of computers developed when I gained a Dragon 32 (a rather obvious rip off of the Tandy CoCo) in 1988. I was 10 years old and it was given to me because it didn't work. After a spot of soldering and a few replaced components it burst into life with it's 32x16 character green text mode and I duly set about learning everything in the manual. By 1990 I picked up a Tatung Einstein for £30. Again, a spot of soldering required, but the Monitor program was a godsend and my first step into machine code programming began. I wrote my own operating system for it (in machine code) and considered writing a compiler for it but just couldn't be bothered. My mother wouldn't let me get hold of her 25MHz 386 PC until 1992 :o(

To this day I still have 3 Dragon 32s (with Cumana disc drives and Dragon DOS), the Einstein (with a Tatung monitor), an Atari 65XE, a Sinclair QL (with it's much underrated multitasking operating system) and a BBC B again complete with Cumana drives.

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Hehehe

Seems Simon T. really hit a weak spot according to the many reactions. He'd better look for some bulk discount on wheely chairs. :-)

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Anonymous Coward

re : Nostalgia

"... what is your child doing with their pc ?"

fap fap fap ....

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In defense of the Mac...

The dual processor quad core Mac Pros have serious kick to them. They're even powerful enough that Vista isn't sluggish -- though XP or server 2K3 is a better choice.

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As Comic Book Guy would say:

Best. BOFH. Ever.

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Avid Fan

Ah, the old Acorns.

Until around 1999, I used them regularly, and yes, Simon Ward, there was a version of Elite that I've played on the A5000. We almost bought a Phobe before they scrapped the project, but my Dad still runs his RiscPC happily.

I keep meaning to dig out the old A3010 (no hard drive - running off 100Mb Zip discs!)

Draw is the greatest DTP package ever written.

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@ All of you

While you're all busy flaming each other's choice in retro computing, I have an even more shocking confession.

Yes, my friends, pity me... I actually still have my vinyl In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and, what's worse, I still *play* it!

Ah, side two... seventeen minutes of thumping riff, clumsy solos and sententious lyrical bollocks.

"Nurse! The cattle prod!"

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CORNY

Took me about 10 minutes to remember what the HECK an Archimedes is. In fact I've only heard it called that once.

Thats another batch Os2, Mac, Linux and Acorn loving fans alienated. On purpose :)

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Hmm,,,,

Better not mention the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park then, you can find pretty much all of the machines so far mentioned there and <whisper> actually use some of them </whisper>

My first computer was a Video Genie (TRS-80 clone) as my Dad thought the ZX-81 wasn't very good.

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When British computers roamed the Earth...

In its day, the BBC computer was the world's biggest selling PC and the UK was the global centre of PC manufacturing.

Then there was Amstrad which once had 25% of the European PC market share. If it wasn't for Alan Sugar dropping Amstrad for Spurs, you could well have been reading this on an Amstrad PC!

Ahhh, those were the days.... jumpers for goal-posts...

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takes me back

Still got a sharp z80, sinclair ZX80 and zx81 in loft along with a acorn electron (with expansion board for ROMS)

does that make me a real old fart ;o)

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2 years to late

The mac is again the machine of choice for the decerning geek, mind you last time that happened, everyone was waiting for a george orwell prediction. Luckily thats happened in the past 2 years as well. Sparkling Wine (all the champaigns been turned to vinegar by the eu) all round.

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Silver badge

Hmmmm?

"Then there was Amstrad which once had 25% of the European PC market share. If it wasn't for Alan Sugar dropping Amstrad for Spurs, you could well have been reading this on an Amstrad PC!"

Yes, that was a strange move? Too much Pressure, maybe? IT is a QuITe Psychotic, [Single Minded, Multi Dimensional] Field prone to Excessive Compulsive Behaviour.

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Most hysterically funny BOFH episode in ages.

And I was expecting the comments to be filled with rabid fanbois ranting at the besmirching of their beloved iToys. Instead, it's been mainly a nostalgia trip induced by the references to the Archimedes and a mere token effort by the fanbois, one of whom thinks Vista is a version of Linux.

So if we're going to have a nostalgia trip:

At college I learned Pascal programming on an old Apple IIe, taught myself BASIC programming on a Sinclair ZX80 and (later) a ZX81 (only machines I could afford on my budget - would have killed for a Commodore 64 and committed genocide for an Archimedes or better). First "IBM-compatible" was a Sanyo MBC-555 (ok, partially compatible) running PC-DOS and I progressed to IBM-clones.

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frogger

Reading this and remeberin playing Frogger on my brand new 1K ZX80 makes me feel soooo old ............. :(

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Anonymous Coward

Macs

Well, a PowerPC box properly cleansed off MacOS and installed with PPC Linux is actually quite powerful to start with. You install quik or yaboot (depending on which world your Mac is from) with the PPC Linux distro and the few OpenFirmware tweaks, and all of the sudden you're feeling smug for giving apple the one-off and running a superior operating system on an good piece of hardware that is otherwise put to waste with the default OS it shipped with.

Now, if someone would get the onboard video of a Beige G3 to work with linux, and I will do just that.

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Memotech

I spent my early days with a soldering iron in hand fixing broken memory add ons for the ZX81 - then became involved in the Memotech MTX500. We wrote the operating system in 32k (we nearly squeezed it into 16k). And wrote some of the original games from Continental Software for the MTX machines.

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Sinclair Spectrum.

My old Speccy is still cool though, and Skool Daze is still the coolest game ever.

Must be, I'm sure of it, Isn't it ?

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Bronze badge

When he armed himself thus...

I'm sure the PFY knew the risc he was taking.

It's alright, I hadn't taken my coat off.

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A30x0

Gawd. I asked you not to flame me.

I assert that I do own the aforementioned 3000 series Archimedes, but I will admit that I never really used it. I was really a BBC micro enthusiast, using it to teach computer appreciation at a Polytechnic in the early 80's (if you are not a BEEB fan, you would not believe what were able to attach to it). I had the chance to buy this Arc. at a car boot. I did power it up, but it was mostly looked after by my oldest son. He has now abandoned Acorn systems for a Windoze PC (he's been sent to Coventry now), and I just could not face throwing it out.

I did not transition from BBC to Arc myself, because my OS of choice is UNIX (real, genetic UNIX derived from Bell Labs. code, and also by association, Linux), but I always kept a soft spot for Acorn systems. (And yes, I know A440 class systems run/ran RISCiX and that Linux is available, but the hardware used to be expensive)

I also assert that, bloody hell, it's over 20 years ago that some of this happened. I'm significantly the wrong side of 40 now (pushing 50), and much water has passed under the bridge. I was away from home when I posted, and could not 'just pop upstairs' to have a look at it. It is an A3020, for those who were wondering.

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A440

OK, left a bit, up a bit, FLAME.

Yes I said A440. I'm going to be told that the first RISCiX system was actually an R140, aren't I.

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Old kit

First personal computing I came into contact with..... hmmm, Commodore PET 8k with tape drive. Owned by the school, during that O'Level Computer Science class I reckon I did more work on that thing than anyone else, to the point of being locked into a store room with the thing to complete the programming project work. Second intake at our school to study computing..... Outside of the school premises..... DEC PDP-8 (programming classes), Research Machines Z80 based micro (ditto), work experience on the mighty Univac 1110 - now that was a real computer. You think modern UPS can be bulky, the UPS for the 1110 was the size of a decently large office, with loads of lead acid batterys and exposed busbars. Great fun.

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Bronze badge

Also...

The Archimedes version of Elite really was the best one. The AI was the most convincing of any game I have played, right up to now...

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And I started out on in the computing industry...

An OLD BBC computer (showing my age now) and it worked OK - Had to vector all graphics images using the mouse (no tablet and pen in those days!!!).

The unit worked a treat, and for once was a testament to British micro-electronics!!! (probably the ONLY time British equipment was ever revered and respected!!!)

Nowadays, everything has it's own processor (my phone, TV, DVD player, etc - lack of decent intelligence though!!)

To be honest, I find that the older kit (when you come across it) still works OK but lacks a little bit in support and peripherals - However, having worked on some MAC's in my time, I feel that Simon has a point - They are a pain in the proverbial butt, and can cause more problems that they solve!

The worst case is a MAC evangelist!! Living proof of the requirement for involuntary euthanasia if ever there was a need to justify it!!!)

Give me a PC/Server based on Intel/AMD anytime - I KNOW where I am with it!!!

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Biz Macs

With the release of iWork you could say that a mac can be used for business. however until they release iSlackoff I am not interested.

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Anonymous Coward

Old software

The old software was properly designed, small and fast (ZX81 Chess in 1K)

much better than the bloatware that gets peddled these days!

Still an assembler programmer at heart!

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Those were (are?) the days ...

Getting on the ole' nostalgia waggon myself I can remember my first hands on taste of computing, even if I had been a voracious reader of Creative Computing for a few years before then dreaming of getting a IMSAI, Sorcerer or such.

School had a WANG 2200 when they finally statrted a computer class and the teach brought in his PDP-8 for the bit bashers in the class who were interested. Ah 8" floppies and tape drives and the scary punch card reader that whipped you disks if the got too close.

By the end of high school I bought my first Apple IIc and not long after got into the Apple repair in the basement gig .... I still have 2 working Lisas and every flavour of apple except the original and nearly every add on (anyone remember school-bus?) .... yes including the C64 box ... I even had an Apollo for a while till the OS when krrzzzppttt along with a board or two ... *sigh* ... it made a great space heater in the winter ... ^_^

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First computer

My first computer was a TRS-80 (the portable one that looked like a small box with a tiny non-flip screen - the Wikipedia article is no help). My mother used to program little games in BASIC on it. Later on we got an Apple II.

I actually used the same TSR-80 in college for taking notes in classes. Unfortunately, it broke and we must have gotten rid of it.

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xjy

Never, ever, lusted after Windows

Weird - I'm a compulsive luster-after, and have junkshop dust and grime in my genes, so I read a lot of buy-it-cheap and do-it-yourself crap in computer mags while (some of us were lucky) I was compelled to use a Mac for real work. But the only non-Mac stuff I lusted after was really the Acorn/Archimedes and the Next (later on). If I had been a compulsive gamer it would have been Atari, I spose, but I wasn't. And thank Christ I wasn't a compulsive builder, just a compulsive binge-fiddler, or I'd have been dead by now. The only fun columns in the mags after checking out the latest and greatest hardware or some software how-tos were the minority pages at the back.

Strikes me that the failure of MS Clone-Mind was not persuading me its real was what I needed to get. That and the robotic zombie level of (computer) culture in every IT department I've ever been forced to communicate with.

And the tears of joy and gratitude being wept here for the morsels of nostalgic consolation carelessly swept off BOFH's table for the mange K9 crew to fight over - it's like flowers showing up through the Antarctic ice, or a rose through the asphalt. Or an instant of real pleasure spreading through the soul in a wasteland marriage. The melancholy thing is that (like the old IBM) when MS and Clone Computing are extinct, no one will be able to remember living under their rule. People will just shudder a bit, shake themselves, wake up and start smiling and smelling the flowers, and splashing the dew off the grass with their bare feet. After an eternity as Undead sleepers.

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@ Anonymous

When I was 10 years old, I was Jesus. What now?

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Bronze badge

Of course, you know why a PFY might hate Arcs.

Well, first of all, they are an ex-school system, and more than a few former pupils had to cut their teeth on the things. These days, however, they can scream at the crappy school peecees that the various know-nothing governers have foisted on todays' schools.

However, the main reason why a PFY (or a BOFH for that matter) might loathe and despise a RISC OS machine is the fact that they can't sod about with them like they do with a peesea. The damn things are pretty robust too. It's one of the lesser reasons why Acorn couldn't sell anything (if they aren't breaking, then the replacement market is likely to be a bit on the small side). Of course, Acorn's abysmal record on marketing didn't help!

And, for the record, if this is an Archimedes with an owl on it (the BBC IT Literacy owl is what I take this to be a reference to), you are talking about the kind of Acorn that hasn't seen the light of day in over 10 years now (the A3010, as I recall). Even current RISC OS users tend to scorn those old beasts!

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@Anonymous Vulture

"I also have an A3050 (I think, please don't flame me) with green keys, but it does not start Arthur any more. Gets stuck with a *OS prompt. It runs all OS commands, and if I remember, it will start Basic using the whole screen. I never got into RiscOS to know how to fix it. Any ideas?"

"It'd be either an A3010 or A3020, can't remember which one had the green keys."

It was, I recall, the A3010 that had the red keys. Actually, they were the same computer under the hood except that they had different components added during the last bit of manufacture reflecting their different target users. There was also the A4000 which used a similar board to the A3020 but in a case which looked like a half-height A5000. These all got killed off when the RISC PC came out.

I never heard of an A3050, the A3010/3020 being the last to use that series numbering. A305, certainly, especially if you are using Arthur!

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All the way up to 11!

The big question is, is BofH a Kingdom of Loathing player or is he aware of that funky posse, Spinal Tap?

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Does a working

Apple IIe make me anything? :P

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Archimedes archischmedes

Never was interested in Arch. Now NeXTstep, there was an OS.

Whatever happened to that exactly?

;-)

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All the way up to 11

ben edwards: I'm betting that it's a Spinal Tap reference. Simon is old enough to know.

And for the SGI Irix workstation users out there reading the Reg (all 3 of them), open a shell and run:

audiopanel -spinaltap

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@Anthony - OS X is the direct descendent of NeXT Step :)

Part of Steve Jobs return to Apple was Apple's purchase of NeXT.

NeXT Step made many contributions to the core foundation of OS X, which still uses the Mach O kernel.

Really, the BoFH should be clearer on the distinction between the older MacOS and OS X. As several folks of appropriate lineage have already observed, OS X is a true, formidable, and respectable *nix.

(With the completion of its full POSIX support, it is now even officially recognized as a true, fully-Unix OS.)

Wikipedia has a cursory discussion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NEXTSTEP and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OS_X .

For more detail, while not completely up to date, there's an excellent discussion of it by Amit Singh on kernelthread.com at:

http://www.kernelthread.com/mac/osx/history.html , with a broader overview at

http://www.kernelthread.com/mac/oshistory/ .

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Broody Herr!

That's funny, that is. Ling you berr!

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RISCpc

funny how the RISCpc OS way back then looks like ubuntu now........

funny how the x86 card could run win95 & win98 back then

funny you can emulate RISCpc OS on XP now

funny I tried RISCpc emulation just to remind myself back then

funny I will never see those 30 mins again now

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It lives

Instructions given by Steve Medway did not work, unfortunatly. Holding Shift and Delete while turning on the power did! NVRAM must have been well and truly corrupt.

Desktop restored. Now all I need to do is find the application disk, and work out what I want to do with it.

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