DX386: DOS Extender for PC-98×1?

When reading this blog post about running Doom on Neko Project II, I’ve noticed usage of DX386 Dos Extender. This extender has not been listed on my Dos Extenders list. So if anyone has any background info about it please share it with me here.

Apparently this Dos Extender has been written by INFINITY Co. Ltd. and probably has been used/released only in Japan, considering the hardware it is able to run on.  I guess it would only support PC-98×1 compatible computers which used to be popular in Japan but not on other markets.

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RPi boot modes document released

Raspberry Pi has number of boot option and stages. So far you had to search the web and read different documents besides original BCM manual to find all the related info. Now you don’t have to search for it no more as it has been released on GitHub. Please note that mentioned document describes boot process but not all internals needed to write own bootloader.

386 LOADALL usage

Undocumented LOADALL instruction on 286 has been used by a number of different applications. One of functionality was switching between protected and real mode. While not only way to do it, it was the fastest available. LOADALL but in a different form somehow made it’s way to 386 CPUs but for many years its usage in commercial software has been unclear.

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PS4 + NSF: the worst gaming expirence

Welcome in 2016 🙂

So it happened: I’ve got PS4 for Xmas. This was the first mistake. The second mistake was to try to install Electronic Arts Need For Speed. I’ve been playing NFS since first DOS versions. The latest incarnation is probably the first one I will never play, but lets not rush things to much.

The PlayStation 4 by itself is the worst gaming experience since pong from my perspective (and pong was revolutionary). Apparently till December 2015 Sony has been too busy with their decreasing stock price to fix crappy WiFi adapter. I refuse to fix issues in 21st century by connecting things using Ethernet cable. Probably nobody at Sony heard about Internet of Things yet.  What is more interesting the crappy WiFi adapter driver is capable to kill off all other wifi connected devices in a single room. Wow! The funny thing: PS 3 works flawlessly in the same location using exactly the same wifi connections and settings.

So if you finally sacrifice wifi connections of other devices and make PS4 somehow connect to internet wireless you still face next challenges to play a single game. You need to:

  1. Install the game (sometimes takes more than half an hour)
  2. Log into PS network
  3. Download update (can take up to few hours)
  4. Install update (step 3 and 4 can be automatic)
  5. Depending on game log into another account for particular game (NFS case)
  6. Now you can start playing!

That is a very long path just to race with second car (Need for Speed). The step 5 is where I decided to turn off PS 4 and stop trying to play NFS. I can’t believe that Sony could not make an agreement with EA that allows you to use PS network account instead left users a need of additional accounts for different publishers. Guess Single Sign On is right there with IoT from Sony perspective.

Similar steps are also required sometimes on PS3 as well but this time the downloads time and amounts are ridiculous.  Oh, and BTW PS3 WiFi worked flawlessly from the first time I’ve powered on the console.

To summarize: do not buy PS4. If you do: do not buy EA NFS. If you do, make sure you allocate whole day to setup the damn thing to work.

Last but not least I can’t believe that both Sony and EA were able to actually miss the whole point in gaming industry: it is about gaming, not creating more accounts and downloading updates. That being said I’m not surprised Sony is battling with financial problems. I advice executives from both companies to go back a bit in time and take a look at their previous creations.

For now I’m going to play games on C64 or Atari Jaguar taking advantage of instant gaming ability 😉 If you want pretty expensive download machine using Ethernet cable go and buy PS4.

Now back to normal, low-level assembly stuff…

Disassemblers on c64

Due to memory constrains most popular options for disassembling code on Commodore 64 were provided by different cartridges like Action Replay (and many clones), Final Cartridge (different versions) or Trilogic Expert to just name a few. Of course monitors were also available as separate programs loading either into low memory (<= $1000) or high (>=$7000 or >=$C000). The biggest drawback of non-cartridge based monitors was the fact they occupied memory meaning that loading large programs into memory wasn’t possible any longer. What is more important some monitors didn’t even checked program size so the code they load into memory could overwrite monitor code. If that happens systems hangs.
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