As I was ploughing through several TB of disk space looking for one particular photograph - of course it had to be an obscure one without a title just a rough date to go by 2004, I came across old backups of data and just had to have look to see what I still had archived from all those years ago.
I came across some old SOTA files and these emails
Of course the automatic emails were stopped many years ago but it was nice to get them and this is the one from my first activation back in November 2006.
Who else remembers getting these?
And who is sad enough to still have them on their computer?
Yes that’s it, maybe it was switched to save using resources or something as Sota grew.
It is a sad existence we lead. I have 6502 and ARM code i still run on an emulator on windows 7. Some of the stuff you look at and think - why did I keep that.
Code is good, you never know when you need a reference.
You must have had to opt into the system as I don’t ever recall receiving any and I started SOTA in February 2006.
As for you Neil, you are not sad enough. I have a WW2 plane flying program that I sometimes still use… and I have to get the 486DX33 out of the loft to play it as it is unplayable on faster machines. Of course we sometimes get the 1984 vintage Commodore C16 out to play Tutti Fruitti - usually at Christmas. No emulators here… only the real thing!
Ha! I’ve still got my circular slide rule, last used seriously in the 1970’s - but it is still faster to use than the calculators that replaced it! A friend of mine used to use a cylindrical guessing stick and a lot of patience to calculate comet orbit elements and derive ephemerides, I suppose a modern machine will do it in seconds but it is nice to remember that we used to do so much without the assistance of a hatful of semiconductors!
The very first program I wrote was for my TI59 programmable calculator in 1979 which produced the distance between 2 points on the Earth’s surface using the Haversine formula. Back then the WGS84 standard was 5 years away still! I can’t remember what value I used for the Earth’s radius to account for its oblateness but I can have a look in the archives when I get back home. That was in TI59 calculator language, or more accurately the calculator remembered the key presses and simply replayed them. Later I used the same routine in a contest scoring program in 1993 (I think) with the same old value for the Earth’s radius. The same code is used now in the SOTA database to calculate distances for S2S contacts and also to score the Microwave awards. Although it now uses the WGS84 average Earth radius value.
I’ve implemented it in TI59 language, C, & C# over the years.
Ha, there used to be a saying, “What is the difference between an elephant and a Commodore? An elephant can take a full load!”
I still have an Acorn Electron and a BBC B carefully hidden in a cupboard but never use them - have the emulator for that mainly because my nephew likes to program in BBC Basic and Assembly language (only he knows why ) but I sometimes have to help him out. Makes a change from Windows.
As for your WW2 program, I remember seeing a routine for slowing old games down but that was a while ago. Possible to maybe hack the code to change bits but that would just spoil the nostalgia.
At least I didn’t have to listen to the screeching noise while the program loaded like the kids did with their ZX Spectrum. Oh the things we used to put up with… My C16 was loaded up to 64k by the way - the add-on board cost me £50!
There’s an Otis King barrel on eBay for big money.
I have my slide rule somewhere. It was a Christmas present in 1973… just at the time when electronic calculators were becoming affordable. I used it along with trig tables. It feels like we were in the dark ages not 45 years ago!
I remember to this day a maths class where we drew two logarithmic scales on the edge of pieces of paper and slid them together to do simple calculations.
Not so, that was an age of light! We had to understand and do for ourselves so many things that are done for us now by our devices without our understanding. Take the nickname of a slide rule - guessing stick - how many of the younger generation will know that this comes from the fact that any calculation on a slide rule could yield two answers, and we had to approximate the calculation in our heads to determine which was the correct answer! Today we can do our calculations faster and more precise but without understanding the basic principles behind what the machines do. This is actually a step back into the dark ages - Clarke’s Third Law is creeping backwards to bite us, our technology is becoming magic used without comprehension!
Well, I’ll provide a slight counterpoint. I started programming on BBC Micros as a 9 year old. The BBCs were old then, but Apple had yet to bring out their subsidised Mac Classic program, and primary schools in Australia didn’t have huge IT budgets. We persisted with them until 1991. That was a great foundation, even if I tend to agree with Dijkstra on BASIC programming these days.
However, on the slide rule front, despite being under 40 years of age, I can and do use them still. My father made me learn how to use one when he got disgusted at some young whippersnapper using a calculator to resolve a bunch of equations during planning for the RN’s last batch of Jindiviks to be built. Dad consistently managed to obtain the answer more quickly, at which point he decided his son needed such skills.
When I inherited my grandfather’s slide rules (he worked on telemetry for the UK/Aus space program), I decided to demonstrate their function to my kids. They think slide rules are magic. Calculators, not so much. I occasionally still get asked to demonstrate my magical multiplication method to the under-10s.
(Frank Cleggett, ELDO liaison officer, at Mt Eba tracking station, c.1970. No slide rule evident, but some awesome old skool tech is)
Now that mention of Jindiviks brings back memories, Andrew! They used to fly them from Llanbedr airfield and we would watch the colourful old Meteors practice formating on them when we were camping on Shell Island (Mochras.) Its a pity that facility closed, it was great to stand on the causeway and watch various jets come in just over our heads as they did circuits and bumps!
A Jindivik was mounted on display at the entrance to the airfield for many years.
I remember as a 15 year old meeting a bunch of older RAE types from RAE Llanbedr who came to Australia to help with the build of the last 16. They were nice folks, clearly here just for the junket
The whole story of how my Dad ended up planning the last Jindi build was basically the RN had a 30 year option to build another 16, and with about 2 months to go before it ran out, they decided they needed some more. Unfortunately most of the tooling and plans had disappeared by then, and the original engines weren’t available, so they had to re-engineer a lot of it from scratch! Still, 16 delivered on time and on budget and a heap of Jindivik memorabilia around my parents’ house.
There’s also one at Farnborough in the FAST building (worth a visit if you haven’t been). I was stumbling drunk back to my hotel one night after having far too many to drink on a work trip and looked up to see a Jindivik just sitting there in the dark. Freaked me right out
I still use my STD (speed, time, distance rather than a socially unacceptable disease ) ruler for accurate calculations. Generally though the 6 minute rule works fine and is even quicker. The sine rule works fine for mental CPAs too.
If we’re going to do away with semi-conductors all together is anyone going to be close enough to G/TW-002 today for me to activate with flashing light morse or semaphore👀