Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in November, 2004

For your information, this column’s name refers to the apocryphal chinese curse “may you live in interesting times”. The idea is that for people who were extremely conservative, living in so-called interesting times would be terrible. For the curious, here’s a site about the origins of this saying.

But I myself simply love living in these interesting times. For instance, when I started out in this business, I worked with an IBM1401 with the huge amount of 4000 memory positions… and I say huge, because every bit (a ferrite core) was visible to the naked eye! Today, only 34 years later, my laptop has exactly 268435.5 times as much memory, takes up a much smaller space, for about 1/1000 the cost… and besides, it’s just mine. I won’t even mention speed! But of course, I’d like it to be even smaller… and faster… and cheaper… who knows, even an implant? 🙄

A decade after my dinosaur wrangler days, the first microcomputers appeared – my first, in 1977, was an Apple II – together with Byte Magazine, where the latest industy news were published. Soon after, the first Brazilian manufacturers came on the scene, and I promptly went to work for one of them – probably the first outside São Paulo (Brazil’s largest city and industrial hub), a company called Quartzil Informática. The queer name came from the company’s beginnings as a quartz oscillator manufacturer, in Montes Claros (MG), inside an area subsidized by the government.

The company’s first product was the QI-800, an 8-bit computer based on the Zilog Z80A (which still is the world’s best-selling microprocessor), running Digital Research’s CP/M-80 operating system, the standard of that time. It came on the market around the end of 1982, if I recall correctly.

To the right of the screen it had an 8-inch (eight!) Shugart SA800 diskette drive, and in the second cabinet, up to three more drives could be mounted. Every diskette could hold an amazing 243K, and the drive’s spindle motor was powered by 110 VAC! Internally, the system used the IMSAI‘s S-100 Bus, which later became the IEEE-696 Standard. As this bus used expensive 100-pin connectors, they used the kludge of buying two 44-pin connectors and cutting out, from the boards, the 12 central pins (which happily were not vitally important). The boards were large but specialized; one held the CPU, another one the video controller, another one the RAM, and so forth… there were 6 or 7 boards altogether.

The remaining specs were not impressive. The QI-800 had 64K of RAM and an 8K EPROM. There were dozens of other companies building almost exactly the same equipment. One advantage would have been the recently-launched hard drive (or Winchester, as they were called at the time); a Brazilian factory was beginning to assemble 5 and 10 MB (yes, megabytes!) hard drives, but so far as I remember, none was ever sold with this system. The price was astronomical, something like US$4,000.

Sales of the QI-800 were not very satisfactory, and they decided to develop a splashy and revolutionary (but at the same time economical and flexible) system. This new system, the QI-900, will be discussed in the next installment; it was the first Brazilian computer with movable windows, menus, preemptive multitasking, and operating system in EPROM.

(clique aqui para ler este artigo em português)

jason wrote:

Just discovered your new-and-improved split view. VERY COOL!

Thanks for sharing it with the community.

Thanks, feedback so far has been very positive.

jason wrote:

I was wondering if might have some pointers on modifying the framework to incorporate rearranging the subviews via drag-and-drop. This is cool feature of Eclipse and seems to a natural enhancement to your objects.

How much effort do you think this would take?

Very interesting suggestion, I hadn’t thought of that – I’m not a Eclipse user.

The user interface would need some place where you can “grab” a subview to drag it over; the rearrangement itself shouldn’t be difficult. Offhand I can’t think of an unobtrusive way to do that, however. If the subviews had title bars – like the columns in NSTableViews – it might be possible. Hm…

enhancing RBSplitView

No comments

Posted by jason:
Just discovered your new-and-improved split view. VERY COOL!

Thanks for sharing it with the community.

I was wondering if might have some pointers on modifying the framework to incorporate rearranging the subviews via drag-and-drop. This is cool feature of Eclipse and seems to a natural enhancement to your objects.

How much effort do you think this would take?

thanks,

– jason

My RBSplitView seems now to be working well – I killed all known bugs in the implementation itself, and nearly all in the Interface Builder palette. There’s a sample application and documentation, and some developers seem to be interested in using it in production code. So, unless a serious bug is discovered in the next few days, I’ll call this version 1.0 and make a separate “Source Code” page here.

Thanks to Steve Gehrman of CocoaTech for helping with debugging and offering many suggestions. I also looked at dozens of code examples of IBPalettes and NSSplitView subclasses and learned a little from every one, although I didn’t copy any actual code.

Now at last – hopefully – we’ll return to our regular programming… icon_wink.gif

Posted by Renate:
Must run in the family – took the same test, same results icon_lol.gif

Seems to be months since I pointed at a test, so here’s one.

My result is obvious:

HASH(0x8b3192c)
You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every
book ever published. You are a fountain of
endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and
never fail to impress at a party.

What people love: You can answer almost any
question people ask, and have thus been
nicknamed Jeeves.

What people hate: You constantly correct their
grammar and insult their paperbacks.

What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Rainer Brockerhoff wrote:

…but seems to working quite well.

Hah. That was somewhat premature… I tried to put some new features into my RBSplitView, and found several bugs in the process. The main addition – an option to force subviews to always have a dimension multiple of some integer – failed after several days of beating all available neurons against it. It’s just too complex and I have urgent things to do elsewhere.

So, if you’re interested, you can download it from the above link, and please let me know if you find something wrong – or even if it works spectacularly well. Meanwhile, I plan to resume work on XRay, using the new view, of course, early next week.

Fast update: autosaving subview states is now working in the RBSplitView, and I fixed a couple of bugs. It proved harder to do than I supposed, but seems to working quite well.

Photos licensed by Creative Commons license. Unless otherwise noted, content © 2002-2017 by Rainer Brockerhoff. Iravan child theme by Rainer Brockerhoff, based on Arjuna-X, a WordPress Theme by SRS Solutions. jQuery UI based on Aristo.