Archive for October, 2013

Annoyance Avoidance

That’s the main reason I went into programming in the first place. As a kid, I was a junior gamer. Of course, in those days you had whatever was on the computer or Nintendo and if it hadn’t died on you yet, Atari. Well.. My Atari died. I only had a handful of Nintendo games and I had played those to the end. I was bored. So I started looking towards the computer for games. I don’t know what prompted me, but I stopped by a computer place one day when my parents were doing something else. I can’t remember what they were doing or the name of the computer store, but I can specifically remember where it was. It’s long gone now. It used to be on the north side of 820 where it connects to 121. Across the highway from the mall.

Panasonic Sr. Partner luggable

So I was in there and the guy was showing off computers by loading them with games. There were some cool ones too. I inquired as to the cost so that I could run back and hit my mom up for some money. Turns out that the games he was showing off and letting me play were something called “shareware”. Something about paying for them if you use them, but being able to use them for a limited time without paying. Up to that point, I bought games and stuff sight unseen. If the box looked cool, I was in. Regardless, I didn’t care. If I had to pay later, cool. But did I have to pay now? He assured me that I could copy them for free, but I had to provide or buy a floopy for them. So I hit my mom up for money for a box of 10 five and one quarter inch floppy diskettes. I filled 5 of them with shareware games.

I played thru those like I did the Nintendo games and finally got a little bored with them. Except for one. It had to be run using something called BASICA. Fortunately, Basica was on a floppy that came with my computer. It took me a little time, but I figured out how to get the game working. In the process, I “found” the “instructions”. I didn’t, at first, know how to save what I did, but I realized I could make changes to the game by changing stuff in Basica. At some point around that time, I found a book. It was something like “How to do everything with your computer”. The cover had a picture of a computer with arms scooping ice cream. It was chapter after chapter of programs. And it came with Basica source code!! I loved it.

Microsoft BasicOk.. So… one of the many things I did around this time was a role playing game based on Marvel Comics. It was an old dice game. To say I played the game is a bit of a misnomer.  It had a character creation system and that is what I liked. The characters powers, etc were all based on random dice roles. I recognized that a random number generator, which Basica had, would be a good replacement for the roll of the dice. So I wrote a program that created the correct number of random numbers so that I could quickly generate characters. This worked, of course. But it annoyed me. So I evolved the program to incorporation the rules of the generating system in a simple way. The simplicity annoyed me. This evolved into a full blown character generator that filled in all the possible blanks for a character. And so began my drive to use programming to solve problems. And part of solving problems is making things not annoy me.