Mainframes and other stuff
Recycle center in NC is willing to save out "stuff" for people.
No, no one can go in the back and scrounge.
No, he does not want a lot of emails from people.
Yes, he gets big blue and orange and beige 6 foot tall OLD mainframes in all
the time. They squash them at the moment.
Yes, he will package small orders, and will properly palletize larger
Local pick up will be available after the new year.
So, if u can send me a picture with description and some part numbers, along
with what you want to pay, I will consolidate things and make arrangements.
Please don't ask for specific boards from DEC; they don't want to go into
that much detail.
QBUS will mean nothing to him.
Big orange cabinet that says xxxxx is much more likely to get saved.
They are moving to new warehouse 1st of the month, so all this will start
happening after the 1st of the year.
1613 Water Street
Kerrville, TX 78028
sales at elecplus.com
AOL IM elcpls
About six months ago I struck a deal with a place down in California for
four Documation M1000's that I've been able to tell so far they all work but
I really don't have space for more than one. I've been trying to sell them
at a loss for months now over on the Vintage Computer Forums and Nekochan
(if you got here you'll find pictures) but no bites. I swear there were
people out there that were looking. Where did you folks go? Might anyone
here be interested? I absolutely refuse to put them on the curb.
Previously: Manual for Documation TM200 punched card reader
Restoration of the mechanics of my TM200 punch card reader progresses.
There's a writeup here: http://everist.org/NobLog/20180922_data_in_holes.htm#tm200
Currently I'm machining a mold to cast new pinch rollers - and there's the rub (ok kill me.)
The old rubber rollers were decayed to gunk, so there's no chance of measuring their original dimensions.
>From the mechanics, if they were just touching the steel capstan rollers they'd have been 27.1 mm Dia.
The mechanics has no adjustment or spring tension on the pinch roller positions. Their shafts are in fixed
position, so all the spring is in the rubber of the rollers.
Someone who recalls seeing one of these working, says the rubber rollers turned while the capstans turned,
so they must have been actually pressing on them.
But how much squish?
Experimenting with a similar diameter silicone roller (from a photocopier) it semes like 0.2mm of 'squish'
without a card, seems to give a good grip on a card. The cards are 0.1mm thick.
That gives a resting roller diameter of 27.5 mm.
Obviously too much 'squish' is undesirable since the roller would get permanently deformed when left idle in one position.
The 2-part silicone I'll be using for first try at casting rollers has a cured Shore A durometer rating of 60.
I'm hoping someone might have some knowledge of how much punch card reader pinch rollers should press against capstans.
Does 0.2mm squish seem right, or am I way off?
I can try multiple iterations, boring the mold out a little more to make the rollers bigger.
But it would be nice to get it right first time.
I don't yet have a TM200 manual, but the M200 manuals seem to cover pretty much identical mechanics. They give
no dimensions for the rubber rollers, no mention of the contact pressure, or even diagnosing if the rollers are worn.
There are significant differences in the electronics between the M200 and the TM200. I'm really going to need a manual
with schematics once I get to debugging and interfacing the electronics.
Bitsavers only has M200 manuals, and Al Kossow doesn't seem to have had any luck with
> I'm pretty sure I just saw a paper copy of the TM200 manual
> which is different from the M200. I'll have to dig around to
> try to find it again.
If anyone can suggest a source. I'd like to buy a paper copy. Which I'll scan and post at bitsavers etc.
Once in a while people ask about GCC. It has long had pdp11 support, but it hasn't received much attention. Recently I've done some cleanup on it, and some more is in the pipeline.
One notable new feature is that it can now produce proper DEC Macro-11 syntax output. It has long had a -mdec-asm switch, but that used to produce GNU output. Now it produces DEC output (and -mgnu-asm is how you get output for "gas".)
The optimizer is better, and a bunch of compiler failures are fixed. Undoubtedly there are more bugs to be worked on.
Oh yes, for grins I told GCC to build not just a C compiler but a C++ and Fortran compiler as well. That seems to work (but I get an error building the libstdc++ library). I now have C++ translations of the RSTS standard header files common.mac and kernel.mac, and the DECnet definitions in netdef.sml. :-)
If anyone wants to give this a try, the best way is to get the current code via Subversion (see gcc.gnu.org for details). Alternatively, get a weekly snapshot; the DEC support is in the current latest, though some optimizer work will appear in the next one.
A quick update.
Thanks to those who sent pics of intact rollers.
Derived from those the correct pinch roller diameter is 27.20 mm.
Notes here: http://everist.org/NobLog/20180922_data_in_holes.htm#rub
It seems there's a few people who need new M200 rollers.
Once/if I perfect a successful method of making replacements I'll
offer them for postage and a few dollars. But I'm in Australia.
Or, there's this guy in the USA: http://www.terrysrubberrollers.com/
Now the correct OD is known he's an alternative, with real rubber.
(Maybe my end result will be rubber too. That remains to be seen.)
I still haven't found a service manual for the TM200 (with schematics.)
Since RS6K systems have been mentioned recently, I thought I should ask
for advice.? I have a Powerserver 320H with 32MB of RAM, an 8-port async
EIA-232 adapter, a SCSI adapter and a 400MB HD.?? No framebuffer or
keyboard; no LAN card.? Because of the last issue, I haven't tried to do
much with it.? I tried getting it to talk on the serial console (Serial
1 connector in the back), following all the advice I found on the net:?
The pinout of the MODU serial connector, the null modem cable with full
handshake (also driving the DCD line in the 320H).? I turn it on in
service mode, and it spits a lot of LED codes, finds the HD, spins it up
and it apparently loads something (I suppose AIX) from it.? But nothing
is? ever sent out on the serial 1 port, or any other serial port.? I
believe that during the POST it fails to initialize the serial 1 and 2
ports, because the 320H's DTR and RTS lines are never asserted (the
ports in the async RS232 card do assert these on power up, but they are
equally silent). I made sure that the CTS, DSR and DCD inputs of the
320H are being driven by the external terminal.
I made a video of the LED codes during POST and found some problems;
here are the codes and their meaning:
120 BIST starting a CRC check on the 8752 EPROM.
122 BIST started a CRC check on the first 32K bytes of the OCS EPROM.
124 BIST started a CRC check on the OCS area of NVRAM.
130 BIST presence test started.
101 BIST started following reset.
153 BIST started ACLST test code.
154 BIST started AST test code.
100 BIST completed successfully; control was passed to IPL ROS.
211 IPL ROM CRC comparison error (irrecoverable). !!!!!!!
214 Power status register failed (irrecoverable).?????????? !!!!!!!
218 RAM POST is looking for good memory.
219 RAM POST bit map is being generated.
290 IOCC POST error (irrecoverable).???????????????????????? !!!!!!!
291 Standard I/O POST running.
252 Attempting a Service mode IPL from 7012 DBA disk-attached
???????? devices specified in IPL ROM Default Device List.
253 Attempting a Service mode IPL from SCSI-attached devices
???????? specified in the IPL ROM Default Device List.
299 IPL ROM passed control to the loaded program code.
814 NVRAM being identified or configured.
538 The configuration manager is going to invoke a configuration
813 Battery for time-of-day, NVRAM, and so on being identified or
???????? configured, or system I/O control logic being identified or
538 The configuration manager is going to invoke a configuration
520 Bus configuration running.
538 The configuration manager is going to invoke a configuration
869 SCSI adapter being identified or configured.
538 The configuration manager is going to invoke a configuration
954 400MB SCSI disk drive being identified or configured.
538 The configuration manager is going to invoke a configuration
539 The configuration method has terminated, and control has
???????? returned to the configuration manager.
551 IPL varyon is running.
553 IPL phase 1 is complete.
The code 290 above is particularly worrysome, I think.? The NVRAM
battery reads 2.85 volts even after all these years. I reseated all of
the chips that are on bases, all of the cards, and connectors; there was
no change.? Any ideas on how to proceed?
Firstly, my goal: to run MazeWar on something other than a NeXT.
I thought this would be fairly straightforward, starting with getting SunOS
4.1.3 booting with QEMU. Turns out, I've not had much luck. I get different
error messages depending on what machine type I'm emulating. I can start
booting from the .iso running this command:
$ qemu-system-sparc -bios ss5.bin -M SS-5 -m 64M -drive
and get a near immediate panic:
machine type 0x80 in NVRAM
panic: No known machine types configured in!
Data Access Exception
Okay, how about trying the default BIOS and SS-20? It definitely gets
further, but no dice...
Size: 843776+2315672+64016 bytes
SuperSPARC/SuperCache: PAC ENABLED
SunOS Release 4.1.3 (MUNIX) #3: Mon Jul 27 16:47:33 PDT 1992
Copyright (c) 1983-1992, Sun Microsystems, Inc.
cpu = SUNW,SPARCstation-20
mod0 = TI,TMS390Z55 (mid = 8)
mem = 49020K (0x2fdf000)
avail mem = 44707840
Ethernet address = 52:54:0:12:34:56
espdma0 at SBus slot f 0x400000
esp0 at SBus slot f 0x800000 pri 4 (onboard)
sd2: non-CCS device found at target 2 lun 0 on esp0
sd2 at esp0 target 2 lun 0
sd2: <QEMU 0 blocks>
sd2: Vendor 'QEMU', product 'QEMU', (unknown capacity)
sd3: non-CCS device found at target 0 lun 0 on esp0
sd3 at esp0 target 0 lun 0
sd3: corrupt label - wrong magic number
sd3: Vendor 'QEMU', product 'QEMU', (unknown capacity)
ledma0 at SBus slot f 0x400010
le0 at SBus slot f 0xc00000 pri 6 (onboard)
zs0 at obio 0x100000 pri 12 (onboard)
zs1 at obio 0x0 pri 12 (onboard)
SUNW,fdtwo0 at obio 0x700000 pri 11 (onboard)
BAD TRAP: cpu=0 type=29 rp=f00daba4 addr=0 mmu_fsr=0 rw=0
MMU sfsr=0: No Error
regs at f00daba4:
psr=40400cc7 pc=f00a0968 npc=f00a096c
y: 20000 g1: f00c1e78 g2: 40900ce6 g3: fb005ff0
g4: 2c g5: f00db000 g6: 0 g7: 30000000
o0: 1 o1: 8 o2: f00dac00 o3: f0076e50
o4: 0 o5: 0 sp: f00dabf0 ra: f1000000
(unknown): bad trap = 41
rp=0xf00daba4, pc=0xf00a0968, sp=0xf00dabf0, psr=0x40400cc7, context=0x0
g1-g7: f00c1e78, 40900ce6, fb005ff0, 2c, f00db000, 0, 30000000
Begin traceback... sp = f00dabf0
Called from f00c1eb8, fp=f00dac58, args=ff009000 f00dacbc 0 f0314a70 1000
Called from f00a7d34, fp=f00dacc0, args=ff009000 0 ff009000 fb002098
Called from f00a7708, fp=f00dad20, args=1080000 d f0102d50 f0102db3 0 2
Called from f00a74e0, fp=f00dad80, args=f0305bd4 f0102d50 fb001000 fb001050
Called from f00a5028, fp=f00dade0, args=f00fc000 fefe0014 0 0 f0102d50
Called from f00ac084, fp=f00dae40, args=72 1000 1 1 86 800000
Called from f0015f7c, fp=f00daef8, args=800000 100000 fb000000 2fdd 2000 2
Called from f000539c, fp=f00daf58, args=f00dafb4 f00076c0 10801522 821020ff
Called from 403f0c, fp=0, args=4000 3ffd60 1 235598 4000 0
Then I thought, why not use The Machine Emulator to emulate a Sun 3 and
play with something even older? I can't get that to build using clang under
OS X 10.9. I've changed a few lines of source already to get it further
along in the compilation process, but now I'm stuck:
In file included from module.c:48:0:
module.c: In function 'tme_module_init':
module.c:93:3: error: 'lt_preloaded_symbols' undeclared (first use in this
function); did you mean 'lt_dlloader_remove'?
Okay, now I'm tired of trying to emulate it (actually, I still would like
to play with QEMU or TME...), so I pulled a SS-20 off the shelf and threw a
SCSI2SD card in it. I didn't have a means of burning a CD, so I used the
SCSI2SD to also emulate a CDROM drive at device 6, and unplugged the
existing CDROM drive. I can boot off of it just fine, and I get now even
further along the process of installation, and am able to format the hard
drive. Right when I think things are going well, I get this:
esp0: Target 6.0 reverting to async. mode
sr0: SCSI transport failed: reason 'data_ovr': giving up
m partition number 3
fastread: can't read label on /dev/rsr0:I/O error
ERROR while loading miniroot disk: /dev/rsd0b
At 09:49 PM 26/11/2018 -0700, Grant wrote:
>On 11/26/18 7:21 AM, Guy Dunphy wrote:
>> Oh yes, tell me about the html 'there is no such thing
>> as hard formatting and you can't have any even when
>> you want it' concept. Thank you Tim Berners Lee.
>I've not delved too deeply into the lack of hard formatting in HTML.
It was a core of the underlying philosophy, that html would NOT allow
any kind of fixed formatting. The reasoning was that it could be displayed
on any kind of system, so had to be free-format and quite abstract.
Which is great, until you actually want to represent a real printed page,
or book. Like Postscript can. Thus html was doomed to be inadequate for
capture of printed works. That was a disaster. There wasn't any real reason
it could not be both. Just an academic's insistense on enforcing his ideology.
Then of course, over time html has morphed to include SOME forms of absolute
layout, because there was a real demand for that. But the result is a hodge-podge.
>I've also always considered HTML to be what you want displayed, with
>minimal information about how you want it displayed. IMHO CSS helps
>significantly with the latter part.
Yes, it should be capable of that. But not enforce 'only that way'.
By 'html' I mean the kludge of html-css-js. The three-cat herd. (Ignoring all the _other_ web cats.)
Now it's way too late to fix it properly with patches.
>> Except that 'non-breaking space' is mostly about inhibiting line wrap at
>> that word gap.
>I wouldn't have thought "mostly" or "inhibiting line wrap". I view the
>non-breaking space as a way to glue two parts of text together and treat
>them as one unit, particularly for display and partially for selection.
>Granted, much of the breaking is done when the text can not continue (in
>it's natural direction), frequently needing to start anew on the next line.
And that's why in html that character is written " "
You just rephrased my 1.2 lines as 5 lines.
>> But anyway, there's little point trying to psychoanalyze the writers of
>> that software. Probably involved pointy-headed bosses.
>I like to understand why things have been done the way they were.
>Hopefully I can learn from the reasons.
We already established that they thought it a good idea to insert fancy 'no-break'
coding if the user typed two spaces. They thought they were adding a useful feature.
I meant there's no point trying to determine why they were so deluded, and failed to
recognise that maybe some users (Ed) would want to just type two spaces.
>> Of course not. It was for American English only. This is one of the
>> major points of failure in the history of information processing.
>Looking backwards, (I think) I can understand why you say that. But
>based on my (possibly limited) understanding of the time, I think that
>ASCII was one of the primordial building blocks that was necessary.
YES! I'm not arguing ASCII was _bad_. It was a great advance. There was
no way they could have included the experience of 50 more years if comp-sci.
And now 'we' (the world) are stuck with it for legacy compatibility reasons.
Any extensions have to be retro-compatible.
>> Containing extended Unicode character sets via UTF-8, doesn't make it a
>> non-hard-formatted medium. In ASCII a space is a space, and multi-spaces
>> DON'T collapse. White space collapse is a feature of html, and whether
>> an email is html or not is determined by the sending utility.
>Having read the rest of your email and now replying, I feel that we may
>be talking about two different things. One being ASCII's standard
>definition of how to represent different letters / glyphs in a
>consistent binary pattern.
That's what you are talking about.
> The other being how information is stored in an (un)structured sequence
> of ASCII characters.
What I'm talking about is not that. It's about how to create a coding scheme
that serves ALL the needs we are now aware of. (Just one of which is for old
ASCII files to still make sense.) This involves both re-definition of some
of the ASCII control codes, AND defining sequential structure standards.
For eg UTF-8 is a sequential structure. So are all the html and css codings,
all programming languages, etc. There's a continuum of encoding...structure...syntax.
The ASCII standard didn't really consider that continuum.
[snip] ACK - ACK.
>> Human development of computing science (including information coding
>> schemes) has been effectively a 'first time effort', since we kept on
>> developing new stuff built on top of earlier work. We almost never went
>> back to the roots and rebuilt everything, applying insights gained from
>> the many mistakes made.
>With few notable (partial) exceptions, I largely agree.
Which exceptions would those be? (That weren't built on top of ASCII!)
>> This is a scan from the 'Recommended USA Standard Code for Information
>> Interchange (USASCII) X3.4 - 1967' The Hex A-F on rows 10-15, added
>> here. Hexadecimal notation was not commonly in use in the 1960s. Fig. ___
>> The original ASCII definition table.
>> ASCII's limitations were so severe that even the text (ie ASCII) program
>> code source files used by programmers to develop literally everything
>> else in computing science, had major shortcomings and inconveniences.
>I don't think I'm willing to accept that at face value.
I assume you're thinking that ASCII serves just fine for program source code?
This is a bandwagon/normalcy bias effect. "Everyone does it that way and always has,
so it must be good."
Sigh. Well, I can't go into that without revealing more than I wish to atm.
>> A few specific examples of ASCII's flaws:
>> ?? Missing concept of control vs data channel separation. And so we
>> needed the "< >" syntax of html, etc.
>I don't buy that, at all.
>ASCII has control codes to that I think could be (but isn't) used for
>some of this. Start of Text (STX) & End of Text (ETX), or Shift Out
>(SO) & Shift In (SI), or Device Control 1 - 4 (DC1 - DC4), or File /
>Group / Record / Unit Separators (FS / GS / RS / US) all come to mind.
You're making my point for me. Of course there are many ways to interpret
existing codes to achieve this effect. Some use control codes, others
overload functionality on printable characters. eg html with < and >.
My point is the base coding scheme doesn't allocate a SPECIFIC mechanism
for doing this. The result is a briar-patch of competing ad-hoc methods.
Hence the 'babel' I'm referring to, in every matter where ASCII didn't
define needed functionality.
>Either you're going to need two parallel byte streams, one for data and
>another for control (I'm ignoring timing between them), -or- you're
>going to need a way to indicate the need to switch between byte
>(sub)streams in the overall byte (super)streams. Much of what I've seen
>is the latter.
By definition, in a single baseband data stream it's ALWAYS the case that
time-interleaving is the only way to achieve command/data separation.
>It just happens that different languages have decided to use different
>(sequences of) characters / bytes to do this. HTML (possibly all XML)
>use "<" and ">". ASP uses "<%" and "%>". PHP uses "<?(php)" and ">?".
>Apache HTTPD SSI uses "<!--#" and "-->". I can't readily think of
>others, but I know there are a plethora. These are all signals to
>indicate the switch between data and control stream.
Exactly. Because ASCII does not provide a specific coding. It didn't
occur to those drtafting the standard. Same as with all the other...
>> ?? Inability to embed meta-data about the text in standard programatically
>> accessible form.
>I'll agree that there's no distinction of data, meta, or otherwise, in a
>string of ASCII bytes. But I don't expect there to be.
And so every different devel project that needed it, added some kludge on top.
This is what I'm saying: ASCII has no facility for this, but we need a basic
coding scheme that does (and is still ASCII-compatible.)
>Is there any distinction in the Roman alphabet (or any other alphabet in
>this thread) to differentiate the sequence of bytes that makes up the
>quote verses the metadata that is the name of the person that said the
>quote? Or what about the date that it was originally said?
Doesn't matter. The English alphabet (or any other human language) naturally
do not have protocols to concisely represent data types. That's no reason to
not build such things into the character coding scheme used in computational
machinery. In a way we can read.
Like, for instance written decimal numbers, sci-notation, units, etc.
The written form is much more compact than the spoken forms.
>This is about the time that I really started to feel that you were
>talking about a file format (for lack of a better description) than how
>the bytes were actually encoded, ASCII or EBCDIC or otherwise.
The project consists of several parts. One is to define an extension of ASCII
(with a different name, that I'm not going to mention for fear of pre-emptive
copyright bullshit.) Other parts relate to other areas in comp-sci, in the same
manner of 'see what happens if one starts from scratch.'
It's a fun hobby project. That text I quoted is a small part of one chapter of the docs.
Atm the whole thing is undergoing _another_ major refactoring, due to seeing a better way
to do some parts of it.
>> ?? Absense of anything related to text adornments, ie italics, underline
>> and bold. The most basic essentials of expressive text, completely
>Again, alphabets don't have italics or underline or bold or other. They
>have to depend on people reading them, and inferring the metadata, and
>using tonal inflection to convey that metadata.
And yet written texts do have adornments (which can be of different forms
in different languages.) So, you're saying a text encoding scheme should not have
any way to represent such things? Why not?
The ASCII printable character set does not have adornments, BECAUSE it is purely a
representation of the alphabet and other symbols. That's one of its failings, since
all 'extras' have to be implemented by ad-hoc improvisations.
>> ?? Absense of any provision for creative typography. No awareness of
>> fonts, type sizes, kerning, etc.
>I don't believe that's anywhere close to ASCII's responsibility.
I'm pretty sure you've missed the whole point. The ASCII definition 'avoided responsibility'
thus making itself inadequate. Html, postscript, and other typographic conventions layer
that stuff on top, messily and often in proprietary ways.
>> ?? Lack of logical 'new line', 'new paragraph' and 'new page' codes.
>I personally have issues with the concept of what a line is, or when to
>start a new one. (Aside: I'm a HUGE fan of format=flowed text.)
Then you never tried to represent a series of printed pages in html.
Can be sort-of done but is a pain.
ASCII doesn't understand 'lines' either. It understands physical head printers.
Hence 'carriage return' and 'line feed'. Resulting in the CR/CR-LF/LF wars for
text files where a 'new line' was needed.
Even in format-flowed text there is a typographic need for 'new line'.
It means 'no matter where the current line ends, drop down one line and start
at the left.'
Like I'm typing here.
A paragraph otoh is like that, but with extra vertical space separating from above.
Because ASCII does not have these _absolutely_fundamental_ codes, is why html
has to have <br> and <p>. Not to get into the whole </p> argument.
Note that including facility for real newline and paragraph symbols in the basic
coding scheme, doesn't _force_ the text to be hard formatted. That's a display mode
>We do have conventions for indicating a new paragraph, specifically two
Sigh. Like two spaces in succession being interpretted to do something special?
You know in type layout there are typically special things that happen for
paragraphs but not for newlines? You don't see any problem with overloading
a pair of codes of one type, to mean something else?
>Is there an opportunity to streamline that? Probably.
Factors to consider:
- Ergonomics of typing. It _should_ be possible to directly type reasonably typographically
formatted text, with minimal keystrokes. One can type html, but it's far from optimal.
There are many other conventions. None arising from ASCII, because it lacks _everything_ necessary.
- Efficiency of the file/stream encoding. Allowing for infinitely extensible character sets,
embedded specifications of glyph appearances (fonts), layout, and dynamic elements.
- Efficiaency and complexity of code to deal with constructing, processing and displaying texts.
>I also have unresolved issues of what a page is. (Think reactive web
>pages that gracefully adjust themselves as you dynamically resize the
Sure. Now you think of trying to construct a digital representation of a
printed work with historical significance. So it NUST NOT dynamically reformat.
Otoh it might be a total simulation of a physical object/book, page turn physics and all.
>> ?? Inadequate support of basic formatting elements such as tabular
>> columns, text blocks, etc.
>ASCII has a very well defined tab character. Both for horizontal and
>vertical. (Though I can't remember ever seeing vertical tab being used.)
Ha ha... consider how does the Tab function work in typewriters? What does
pressing a Tab key actually do?
ASCII has a Tab code, yes. It does NOT have other things required for actual use
of tabular columns. So, the Tab functionality is completely broken in ASCII.
That was actually a really bad error on their part. They didn't need foresight,
they just goofed. Typewriters had working Tabs function since 1897.
>I think there is some use for File / Group / Record / Unit Separators
>(FS / GS / RS / US) for some of these uses, particularly for columns and
Not the same thing.
>> ?? Even the extremely fundamental and essential concept of 'tab
>> columns' is impropperly implemented in ASCII, hence almost completely
>Why do you say it's improperly implemented?
Specifically, ASCII does not provide any explicit means to set and clear an array of
tabular positions (whether absolute or proportional.)
Hence html has to implement tables, grid systems, etc. But it SHOULD be possible to
type columnar text (with tabs) exactly and as ergonomically as one would on a typwriter.
>It sounds as if you are commenting about what programs do when
>confronting a tab, not the actual binary pattern that represents the tab
Why would I be talking of the binary code of the tab character?
>What would you like to see done differently?
Sigh. You'll have to wait.
>> ?? No concept of general extensible-typed functional blocks within text,
>> with the necessary opening and closing delimiters.
>Now I think you're asking too much of a character encoding scheme.
ASCII is not solely a 'character encoding scheme', since it also has the control codes.
But those implement far less functionality than we need.
>I do think that you can ask that of file formats.
Now tell me why you think the fundamental coding standard, should not be the same as
used in file formats. You're used to those being different things (since ASCII is missing so much),
but it doesn't have to be so.
>> ?? Missing symmetry of quote characters. (A consequence of the absense
>> of typed functional blocks.)
>I think that ASCII accurately represents what the general American
>populous was taught in elementary school. Specifically that there is
>functionally a single quote and a double quote. Sure, there are opening
>and closing quotes, both single and double, but that is effectively
>styling and doesn't change the semantic meaning of the text.
There you go again, assuming 'styling' has no place in the base coding scheme.
>> ?? No provision for code commenting. Hence the gaggle of comment
>> delimiting styles in every coding language since. (Another consequence
>> of the absense of typed functional blocks.)
>How is that the responsibility of the standard used to encode characters
>in a binary pattern?
You keep assuming that a basic coding scheme should contain nothing but the
common printable characters. Despite ASCII already containing more than that.
Also tell me why there should not be a printable character specifically meaning
"Start of comment" (and variants, line or block comments, terminators, etc.)
You are just used to doing it a traditional way, and not wondering if there
might be better ways.
>That REALLY sounds like it's the responsibility of the thing that uses
>the underlying standard characters.
You think that, because all your life you've been typing /* comment */ or whatever.
In truth, the ASCII committee just forgot.
>> ?? No awareness of programatic operations such as Inclusion, Variable
>> substitution, Macros, Indirection, Introspection, Linking, Selection, etc.
>I see zero way that is the binary encoding format's responsibility.
>I see every way that is the responsibility of the higher layer that is
>using the underlying binary encoding.
>> ?? No facility for embedding of multi-byte character and binary code
>I can see how ASCII doesn't (can't?) encode multi-byte characters. Some
>can argue that ASCII can't even encode a full 8 bit byte character.
a) ASCII is 7 bits.
This is getting a bit pointless.
>But from the standpoint of storing / sending / retrieving (multiples of
>8-bit) bytes, how is this ASCII's problem?
>IMHO this really jumps the shark (as if we hadn't already) from an
>encoding scheme to a file format.
>> ?? Missing an informational equivalent to the pure 'zero' symbol of
>> number systems. A specific "There is no information here" symbol. (The
>> NUL symbol has other meanings.) This lack has very profound implications.
>You're going to need to work to convince me of that.
You're going to need to wait a few years, till you see the end product.
That bit of text I quoted is a very, very brief points list. Detailed discussion
of all this stuff is elsewhere, and I _can't_ post it now, since that would
seriously damage the project's practical potential. (Economic reasons.)
>Mathematics has zero, 0, for a really long time. (Yes, there was a time
>before we had 0.) But there is no numerical difference between 0 and 00
>and 0000. So, why do we need the latter two?
Column multiplier significance. That's a different thing from the nature of '0'
as a symbol. At present there is no symbol meaning 'this is not information.'
Nevermind, it's difficult to grasp without a discussion of the implications for
very large mass storage device structure. And I'm not going there now.
>> ?? No facility to embed multiple data object types within text streams.
>How is this ASCII's problem?
It wasn't then, but the lack of it is our problem now.
>How do you represent other data object types if you aren't using ASCII?
>Sure, there's raw binary, but that just means that you're using your own
>encoding scheme which is even less of a common / well known standard
UTF-8 is multi-byte binary, of a specific type. Just ONE type. No extensibility.
>We have all sorts of ways to encode other data objects in ASCII and then
>include it in streams of bytes.
??? Are you deliberately being obtuse? The point is to attempt to formulate
a new standard that allows all this, in one well defined, extensible way that
permits all future potential cases. We do know how to do this now.
>Again, encoding verses file format.
>> ?? No facility to correlate coded text elements to associated visual
>> typographical elements within digital images, AV files, and other
>> representational constructs. This has crippled efforts to digitize the
>> cultural heritage of humankind.
>Now I think you're lamenting the lack of computer friendly bytes
>representing the text that is in the picture of a sign. Functionally
>what the ALT attribute of HTML's <IMG> tag is.
No. People who do scan captures of documents will understand that. They face the
choice: keep the document as page images (can't text search), or OCR'd text
(losing the page's visual soul.) But it should be possible to do BOTH, in
one file structure - if there was a defined way to link elements in the symbolic
text to words and characters in the images.
You'll say 'this is file format territory.' True at the moment, but only because
the basic coding scheme lacks any such capability.
>IMHO this is so far beyond a standard meant to make sure that people
>represent A the same way on multiple computers.
You realise ASCII doesn't do that?
>> ?? Non-configurable geometry of text flow, when representing the text
>> in 2D planes. (Or 3D space for that matter.)
>What is a page ^W 2D plane? ;-)
Something got lost there. "^W' ??
Surely you understand that point. English: left to right, secondary flow: downwards.
Many other cultural variants exist.
>I don't think oral text has the geometry of text flow or a page either.
>Again, IMHO, not ASCII's fault, or even it's wheelhouse.
Huh? This is pretty random.
It's a common response syndrome when someone discusses deviating from the common paradigm.
If I'm being silly enough to try discussing this in fragmentary form, I expect a lot of it.
>> ?? Many of the 32 'control codes' (characters 0x00 to 0x1F) were allocated
>> to hardware-specific uses that have since become obsolete and fallen
>> into disuse. Leaving those codes as a wasted resource.
>I sometimes lament that they control codes aren't used more.
>> ?? ASCII defined only a 7-bit (128 codes) space, rather than the full
>> 8-bit (256 codes) space available with byte sized architectures. This
>> left the 'upper' 128 code page open to multiple chaotic, conflicting
>> usage interpretations. For example the IBM PC code page symbol sets
>> (multiple languages and graphics symbols, in pre-Unicode days) and the
>> UTF-8 character bit-size extensions.
>I wonder what character sets looked like for other computers with
>different word lengths. How many more, or fewer, characters were encoded?
There are many old codings.
>Did it really make a difference?
Not after ASCII became a standard - unless you were using a language that needed more
or different characters. ie most of the world's population.
>Would it make any real difference if words were 32-bits long?
Hah. In fact, the ability to represent unlimited-length numeric objects,
is one of the essentials of an adequate coding scheme. ASCII doesn't.
The whole 'x-bits long words' is one of the hangups of computing architectures too.
But that's another story.
>What if we moved to dictionary words represented by encoding schemes
>instead of individual characters?
You're describing Chinese language programming. Though you didn't realise.
And yes... :) A capable encoding scheme, and computing architecture built
on it, would allow such a thing.
>Or maybe we should move to encoding concepts instead of words. That way
>we might have some loose translation of the words for mother / father /
>son / daughter between languages. Maybe. I'm sure there would still be
>issues. Gender and tense not withstanding.
Point? Not practical.
The coding scheme has to be compatible with the existing cultural schemes
and existing literature. (All of them.)
>> ?? Inability to create files which encapsulate the entirety of the visual
>> appearance of the physical object or text which the file represents,
>> without dependence on any external information. Even plain ASCII text
>> files depend on the external definition of the character glyphs that the
>> character codes represent. This can be a problem if files are intended
>> to serve as long term historical records, potentially for geological
>> timescales. This problem became much worse with the advent of the vast
>> Unicode glyph set, and typset formats such as PDF.
>Now even more than ever, it sounds like you're talking about a file
>format and not ASCII as a scheme meant to consistently encode characters.
Hmmm... well this is what happens when I post a short snippet from a larger text.
Short because I have to carefully read anything I cut-n-past post to be sure I didn't
include stuff I don't want to expose yet. Anyway, here's a bit more, that may
make things clearer.
What began as my general interest in the evolution of information encoding schemes, gained focus as more and more instances of early mistakes became apparent. Eventually it spawned a deliberate project to evaluate 'starting over.' What would be the result of trying?
* Revisit the development history of computing science, identifying points at which, in hindsight, major conceptual shortcomings became cemented into foundations upon which today's practices rest.
* Evaluate how those conceptual pitfalls could have been avoided, given understandings arrived at later in computing science.
* Integrate all those improvements holistically, creating a virtual 'alternate timeline' of computing evolution, as if Computing Science had evolved with prescience of future conceptual advances and practical needs. Aiming to arrive at an information processing and computing architecture, that is what we'd already have now if we knew what we were doing from the start.
The resulting computing environment's major components are the ****** coding scheme, the ***** operating system and hardware platform, the ***** scripting language, and the ***** file system.
>> The PDF 'archival' format (in which all referenced fonts must be defined
>> in the file) is a step in the right direction ??? except that format
>> standard is still proprietary and not available for free.
>Don't get me started on PDF. IMHO PDF is where information goes to die.
Hey, we totally agree on something! I *HATE* PDF, and the Adobe DRM-flyblown horse it rode in on.
When I scan tech documents, for lack of anything more acceptable I structure the
page images in html and wrap as a RAR-book.
Unfortunately few know of this method.
>Once data is in a PDF, the only reliable way to get the data back out to
>be consumed by something else is through something like human eyes.
>(Sure it may be possible to deconstruct the PDF, but it's fraught with
>so many problems.)
There *was* at one point a freeware utility for deconstructing PDF files and analysing their structure.
I forget the name just now. It apparently was Borged by the forces of evil, and no longer can be found.
Anyone have a copy?
Photoshop is able to extract original images from PDFs, but it's a nightmare process.
>> Sorry to be a tease.
>Teas is not how I'd describe it. I feel like it was more of a bait
>(talking about shortcomings with ASCII's) and switch (talking about
>shortcomings with file formats).
No, they are not intrinsically different things. It just seems that way from the viewpoint of convention
because ASCII lacks so many structural features that file (and stream) formats have to implement on their own.
(And so everyone does them differently.)
>That being said, I do think you made some extremely salient points about
Ha, wait till (eventually - if ever) you see the real thing.
I'm having lots of fun with it. Result is like 'alien tech.'
>> Soon I'd like to have a discussion about the functional evolution of
>> the various ASCII control codes, and how they are used (or disused) now.
>> But am a bit too busy atm to give it adequate attention.
>I think that would be an interesting discussion.
Soon. Few weeks. Got to get some stuff out of the way first. I have way too many projects.