Black and Sexy.


17 March, 1998

My Net Yaroze arrived today! Typically, it came just after I sent my second annoying, nagging "Where is it, then?"-type letter to the NY team in London (sorry, Kerry!) I spent most of the morning waiting for a knock on the door, but I gave up hope at about 11 and nipped over the road to get some stuff from Tesco. Anyway, on my way back I noticed an Amtrak van parked just 50 yards up the road from me, outside the local Domino’s Pizza (handy area I live in, eh?) Well, at this moment things got very silly. You know how sometimes everything happens to you all at once, and you get this spastic brain-lock because you can’t process all the information immediately? Well, first I bumped into a classmate from Psychology and we got talking right outside my front door, just chatting about the upcoming exam and our group project. Anyway, after a few minutes, this bloke in a navy blue jumper (looking amazingly like an Amtrak delivery person might, I actually think) walks out the front door of my building. We psychologists scoot out of his way, and he goes off in a Domino’s-esque direction. Amazingly, I fail to put two and two together until I notice out the corner of my eye that he is fiddling with keys to get into the Amtrak van. Leaving my bewildered psych buddy behind, I excuse myself and bomb upstairs to the flat. I open the front door to find a "Sorry - We Called…" notice on the floor. Aaaargh! Cognitive senses now racing, I drop the shopping, leg it downstairs and up the street to the Amtrak van, slowly pulling away. At this point I am vaguely aware of somebody calling my name. Anyway, I run up to the van and hammer away on the window, probably giving the driver a heart attack and looking (not a little) like a bit of a prat.

You can guess how it turned out, right? It’s a package from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe - cool in itself, but what’s inside is sooo much sweeter. Turning to carry my Yaroze booty back to the flat, I bump into my bemused flatmate Ross who I ran past at speed, not just ignoring him but completely failing to register his existence at all (despite his shouting my name)! Well, I might have a Psychology class exam in two days but I figure there’s no harm in setting up the machine and trying to run a few demos before lunch. Ha-ha, how wrong one can be!

The Yaroze kit comes in two boxes, one containing the Net Yaroze itself (and packaged much like a regular Playstation), the second contains all the software and documentation, kept in a natty storage case. Nice one, Sony! The PC CD is a fairly dull silver job, but the Yaroze boot disc is a luminous snot-green which I can’t decide if I like or not. But what sort of sad gimp actually cares about the colour of their CDs? With my flatmates drooling enviously (or at least, I like to think so) in the background, I go about unplugging my 14" Trinitron and setting it up next to the Yaroze, speakers and, erm, PC monitor already on my desk. Hmmm, crowded. Anyway, all goes well until I try to connect the Yaroze to my PC’s serial port. Erp! My mouse is guzzling the required port, and so I have to trot all the way down to Tandy to get myself an adaptor for the larger serial port still free on my PC.

Upon my return, it is not exactly plain sailing. Despite following Sony’s start-up documentation to the letter, I cannot get SIOCONS (the interface between the Yaroze and PC) to recognise the serial port it is plugged into as a valid COM port. Thus begins a 3 hour nightmare of configuration, modification and generally ballsy attitude towards the wellbeing of my system registry. At certain points I can get the damn thing to work:

1) No mouse plugged in, and the Yaroze taking its rightful place at COM 2

2) No modem installed. COM port nightmares ahoy!

3) Bizzarely, multiple COM ports start springing up all over the place. None of these work,  actually, but it’s all bit bizarre so I thought I’d mention it.

Finally, I solve it. And it had nothing to do with the way Windows was set up, my 3DFX card guzzling up IRQ space or my dodgy, cheapo network card either. Nope, the problem was staring me in the face (or lurking cowardishly in my BIOS) all along, where it read:

SERIAL PORT 2: DISABLED

Sadly, clicking on ENABLED solved all my problems faster than it takes for Bill Gates’ PC to boot. I had been tearing my hair out over nothing, more or less - another big "Doh!" on the slippery slopes of Yaroze coding. A few desperate pleas to James "Mr Frosty" R, whom I suspected (correctly) would be checking his university e-mail at some point in the afternoon, resulted in Jimbo turning up on my doorstep only minutes after I finally got SIOCONS to work in harmony with the rest of my overworked P133. Typical. For your entertainment, here’s the desperate e-mail I sent him begging for assistance:

Hiya (again),

Hey it arrived! Yay. A bit of a bugger to set up, and it isn't really
working right. I have run games on it (Snowball Fight - woo hoo!) but I
can ONLY get the fucker to accept a signal thru the serial port that my
mouse is normally connected to. I bought an adapor for the 9-pin
to -many pins serial thing so I could use the other serial port, but it
doesn't register. To get it to work I either have to shut down to DOS
and swap the mouse for the Yaroze cable, or boot into Windows with the
Yaroze cable in and no mouse. Grrrr! Fuuuck! Nyaaaa! I'm trying
everything, but if you get this (ie are at the PCs) could you pop round
to see if you could help? Just quickly!

Is this like what happened to you? Please email a reply too - I'll meet
you in the ATL4 labs if you want and I'll check my email every half hour
till 6pm. I'm that desperate. Oh, and I'll try calling too. Hmmm.

Ta,

Nick

PS It may not be working 100%, but it is beautiful. Mmmm.
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ICQ #: 9464742
"Spandex - it's a privilege, NOT a right!"

Hmmm. Pathetic, really, isn’t it? Not as pathetic as the sight my girlfriend had later on when she popped round that evening, with James and myself facing my laden desk, pelting snowballs at each other’s cutesy penguins in a distinctly enjoyable fashion (Snowball Fight: download it NOW by clicking on the button below). Heaven!

mrf_link.gif (2382 bytes)

I feel dutibound to mention that I have also been progressing slowly through C for Dummies I over the last week, and finished it yesterday. Just to give you an idea of the concepts I now understand, I covered chapters on variables, math, loops, custom functions, calling and sending to and from functions, keyboard input, and the basics of strings and arrays as well as a fair bit of other stuff. Nothing to do with pointers yet, which everyone seems to acknowledge as the hardest part of C to get to grips with. Great! Volume II seems to spend about 50% of its time dealing with that, so hopefully I should be OK. Anyway, not bad for less than 3 weeks work! And I can genuinely say that I understand 100% of what I’ve done so far, which is more than I can with most textbooks (I did say ‘understand’, now, not ‘remember’).


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