A Link To The Past

This week, I found myself doing something that eight-year-old me would have found amazing - hacking a Spectrum game in order to find out where it was keeping its lives and score counter. I like to think that a time-travel meeting would have gone something like this:

Past Ian: This is so cool! You’re from the future! You can tell me what happens! Do we have flying ca—

Present Ian: Look, we don’t have much time. Before I say anything, I want you to promise me something.

Past Ian: Sure!

Present Ian: Send a letter to Hillary Clinton, current First Lady of Arkansas saying: “Please, if you ever think about setting up a private email server, don’t. Just don’t.

Past Ian: I don’t understand.

Present Ian: long sigh You will.

Past Ian: So what happens to me?

Present Ian: Well, I can tell you this much! You live in America and you just spent an evening hacking Deathchase 3D. That’s right, you understand assembler and can hack Spectrum games!

Past Ian: Wow!

Present Ian: And you have a really fast computer and you carry around a phone that can access information all over the world in less than a second.

Past Ian: Amazing!

Present Ian: It also plays music.

Past Ian: How much music can it fit on it? My personal stereo doesn’t like tapes longer than C60s.

Present Ian: Basically all the music in the world that there has ever been, and then some. It distracts from the horrors.

Past Ian: Horrors? What do you mean, horrors? Hey, you’re fading away!

Present Ian: You turned out fairly well! JUST SEND THAT LETTE——

Past Ian: Oh no, he’s…I mean, I’ve gone. I should write that letter. To…Hillary Clifton? Oh well, probably not that important…

And that, dear reader, is why this is all my fault. Apologies.

The Z80 assembler and Spectrum hacking is for a project that will likely come back to these pages much later in the year. Stay tuned!

It’s been a warm, warm weekend in Durham. 22˚C Saturday, 26˚C on Sunday. It’s February, and this is not right. However, it did allow me to spend a Saturday morning walking to the main Durham Library for their last book sale until 2019 or so.

(the lovely concrete building is going to have its exterior ripped apart and replaced with glass. We hates it! We hates it!)

Unfortunately, the sale started at 10:00am and I got there at 10:05am, by which time the professionals had already stripped the shelves somewhat bare. I did almost buy a Pelican book, but it was a historical one, and the historical Pelicans tend to have photographs of artefacts instead of the abstract art design that I love. So I left empty-handed, and perked myself up by eating bibimbap in the midday sun.

Then I got sticker-shock at being asked to pay $557 for a prescription. No, that’s not a mis-print, and yes, I did have a long monologue about the NHS running through my head, but I didn’t think that it was all that fair to subject the pharmacist to it (not her fault, after all - the insurance didn’t cover it). Instead, we agreed between us that I wouldn’t be giving her hundreds of dollars, and she could keep the medicine. Who knew that psoriasis would be so expensive?