worlds of classic objects [was Re: DEDICATED HOBBYIST ALERT: IBM AS/400 9406-F2 for cheap sale in Germany]

Tomasz Rola rtomek at
Thu Jan 7 00:19:47 CST 2021

On Wed, Jan 06, 2021 at 02:01:17PM +0100, Patrik Schindler via cctalk wrote:
> Hello Tomasz,
> allow me to send ahead, that it’s a pleasure to have a conversation
> going on with you.

And it is a pleasure to have a conversation with you, too. Perhaps
because this place is full of goodwilling strangers.

> Am 06.01.2021 um 03:35 schrieb Tomasz Rola via cctalk
> <cctalk at>
> > I think I am truly lousy hobbist.
> Don't worry too much. I have a lot of games in my Steam Library
> „just in case“, and because there once was a huge discount in
> price. A lot of them, I never installed so far.
> Doing something from begin to end requires patience and ongoing
> motivation. And a certain curiosity level. There are times when I
> cannot come up with enough of that, and then I feel like what you
> describe.

Man, I do have both patience and motivation (at least when I am not
asleep). Otherwise, how could I play a game over and over for more
than twenty years? Well, of course when I make a break and do not play
it for a year, I forget details and it makes sense to start again. And
those emotions. It is a bit like going to the bar where locals
demanded to beat me, but I ran away so there was no conclusion, then
after a year I come again...

(In case this not quite obvious, I am making jokes of myself. I need
more practice, because I am rather lousy satorist...)

> > Even tried to heroically (i.e. without reading manuals) install
> > one of the turnkeys.
> This could succeed if you have your favorite one-to-many chat
> solutions on line and are joined to a group of patient experts. :-)

Nah. It would not be heroic if I started calling for help.

> > to have a look into the DEC world
> This is still on my list, waiting to be serviced. From my
> experience, this will happen when I feel bored with the other
> stuff. 

Myself, I now feel the inexplicable pull towards the world of
CP/M. Really, I have to play with it and be done with it. But, yes, if
time permits.

> > There is, or was, a very interesting effort to create a modern
> upgrade to S360, called S380 (and there are, or were, upgraded
> versions of OS and MVS).
> I’m aware. The upgrade involved mostly raising the tight virtual
> address of 16 MBytes space per region. The driving force was the
> will to be able to compile GCC. There was a lot of discussion behind
> the scenes, why on earth something like what is mainly a text parser
> needs anything more than being in the C89/C90 standard, etc.
> Some other people are appalled against this Franken-MVS, because
> it’s not the true thing. 

I kind of understand their attitude. And I think I will always admire
it when someone can resuscitate the original and make it shine. And I
can learn plenty of interesting things by reading about old ways.

But, I think that just as I was looking at classic computers,
something in the back of my head was asking, if this object could be
used by me in some practical way. And usually there is plenty of uses
for a new object like this, but they no longer make them new. So for
practical uses, the only resonable choice seems to be making
franken-objects, connecting new parts with old soft, yes, this means
emulation but also extension.

Otherwise, the originals will fade away - sooner or later they will -
and there would be no trace of whatever valuable lessons the past had.

> > they regularly hang dogs on IBM for wiping whole sections of old
> documentation off the redbooks site. Whatever one finds there, be
> thankful and download. 
> Yap, I do regularly. Need to provide a proper index, though.

For such things I use org-mode, a kind of modular extension in
Emacs-the-editor. Actually, it is a code in elisp and Emacs just
interprets it and shows specially formatted text as tree-like
structure, which can be treated as knowledge base, or notes, a book
one is writing, a blog which is then converted and exported to the
server (I never saw it, but some claim they do this) or whatever one
wants - one can also make use of pim/diary/todos, insert and run code
snippets in huge number of languages, and make small spreadsheets
inside the org-file. I find it very handy. Not perfect but more than
"good enough". Of course the tree-like structure can be edited inside
Emacs. This is just a text file, so it can also be processed by
standard unix tools, or whatever other tools or scripts one prefers
for text processing.

There are/were some movies on y-t, I watched them first to have an
idea of what to expect from it.

The world of Emacs was so cool that I actually spent some time and
learnt enough to use for my various purposes. It took few years of
lazy learning, but right now I am on the level of writing my own
functions which serve as shortcuts (doing something "my way"), or, for
example, allow me to write text in Polish even when I do not have
proper kb mappings (transform, say, "za/.z/'o//l/'c g/,e/'sl/,a
ja/'z/'n" into unicoded "zażółć gęślą jaźń"). This is a kind of
"classic" which greatly appeals to me. Emacs was first written fourty
or so years ago, and when I read elisp files from install dir I quite
often stumble upon code written in the 1980-ties or 1990-ties. But the
thing is alive and kicking.

If one had to learn only one thing of all the old things still
available to us, then I think Emacs should be the choice.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at             **

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