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The ROOL forum, and why I'm walking away

Yesterday, Colis Ferris posted a message on the forum that read:
Over on 'Ricks' site some interesting notes on RO ARM Assembly Programming :-)
I suspect it was referring to Sunday's entry where I debug and pull apart a badly written program and use it as an exercise in why writing stuff in assembler is just kind of naff these days.

druck followed it up with the obvious comment:

The most interesting one being DON'T!

Whilst there are literally (and figuratively!) mountains of evidence of why writing an operating system, or large applications, in assembler is a dumb idea these days, of course The Troll, who wasn't even a part of the conversation, had to pop up with, well, a troll:

Why are you anti RISC OS and anti ARM?

From there, numerous wise voices, those with actual real-world experience, pointed out the problems of writing things in assembler as opposed to a high level language, and how it isn't "anti RISC OS" (whatever that's supposed to mean) to want to write things in a high level language such as C.
You know, a language that is maintainable, a language that can cater for changes in the processor behaviour (as ARM is wont to do from time to time) by simply getting an updated compiler and rebuilding the code, and a language the power of which is amply demonstrated by the fact that Linux (mostly written in C) will start up on just about any processor that is capable of running an operating system. Here, I have Linux running on MIPS (IP cam, router), ARM (PVR, possibly the printer), and a brief foray with x86 (the PC).
With very very few exceptions (mostly graphical demos that need the speed of hand optimised NEON code), there's just no justification for using assembler for an application in 2021, other than "because I can".

Enter the Troll a little bit later to entirely miss what everybody was saying, and to repeat:

Use whatever language you wish for applications, just do not be ANTI ARM AND RISC OS in the process.
And then list the positive features of RISC OS and the ARM, including:
Written mostly in ARM Assembly language.

Now, I could have sworn, as the era of 32 bit application processors comes to an end (there's nothing AArch32 can do that can't be done better with AArch64; with the exception of Android on really low power (1GB RAM) devices, the majority have already transitioned to 64 bit), that there's just this itty bitty issue with the future of RISC OS, and that being that the 64 bit ARM looks and feels and operates entirely differently to the 32 bit ARM. Pretty much exactly none of the existing code will work. Because it's all in assembler. It cannot simply be recompiled. And the API is tied heavily to the behaviour of 32 bit ARM.
In essence, if RISC OS is to make it to the 64 bit realm, there are only two choices. Either write an emulator and run RISC OS in it, or rewrite the OS from the ground up, obviously with a different API.

But, alas, Troll finishes that post - in a topic that none of this was even directed at him, with:

So as I say, if you appose assembly:
Why do you appose ARM and RISC OS?

Some more idiotic drivel was posted, and in a different thread where he's talking about what hobbyists did with PCs, after pointing out, and I quote:

If you know of a single geek/hobbyist computer user that used windows before 2000 I would be surprised.

And then followed this up with:

Many new x86 computers were sold with Windows pre-installed, though that meant a wipe of the drive and install of a DOS OS.

I had finally had enough, so I replied "You complete twat." and then made a reminder of exactly how awful things were in the MS-DOS era (drivers for video cards, drivers for printers, and every major application needed its own driver and they all had quirks or limitations or compatibility spaghetti).

Was it rude? Yes, it was. I've tried to be nice to Troll. I've tried to be helpful. I've tried conversing, and logic, but he seems adept at simply ignoring stuff that proves his many innate fallacies (like how not believing in assembler in 2021 has anything whatsoever to do with hating RISC OS). I had enough, and was impolite.

Finally, the forum oversight stepped in to say that such a thing was unacceptable. Fair enough, I was rude, I got told off. I can accept that. I edited the post to remove the rude phrase. I stand by my words, but understand that posting it to a public forum may reflect badly on the community.

But what has upset me, and not anger but just crushing disappointment, is that the oversight message was a long one. It was about tolerance and acceptance, blah blah. These are all good and useful things to aspire to, but, guys, there is a problem here. Troll posts huge amounts of drivel about long-gone computer systems, practices that are like three decades out of date, endless updates of vapourware, and frequently twists things out of proportion just to engage in a rant.
I don't care whether or not he likes to write in assembler as that's his choice and not mine. I just have the opinion, that I am entitled to since he's so big on foisting his opinions on us with the same line, that people just shouldn't use assembler in 2021 - we have decades of experience of why it's a bad idea. And yet, people are not able to express such an opinion without being jumped on, without being accused of hating the platform that they like, and numerous dumb posts about how he is entitled to write in assembler because assembler is good, and how dare people tell him he can't write stuff in assembler. For the love of God...

And, worst of all, my telling off message appears to encourage Troll with a statement like:

Some of what David's saying seems on the mark to me
Fair enough, if one posts page after page after page after page of every thought that enters their head, once in a while they'll get something right (it's like a small scale version of the Infinite Monkeys). Getting the odd thing right doesn't justify all the wrong stuff. After all, a certain crazed dictator (the Austrian, the Frenchie, the Spaniard...take your pick) had the odd good idea but on the whole was...Not Good.

And, obviously, Troll took this apparent validation to heart and posted yet more rubbish, including numerous posts, yet again, about how assembler is alright, with one post containing the line "ASSEMBLY IS OK" (in capitals) six freaking times.


Now, don't get me wrong here. I am not upset about being told off here. I deleted my last few posts for the sake of forum decorum. I really would like the forum to be an open and friendly place where people using RISC OS can get help for the problems that they might have. I have worked at being a useful and helpful member. Okay, I've been a very verbose one, but I do try to be helpful. Because I have personal experience of how unhelpful it is to seek help for a system you don't really understand, and receive condescending remarks and putdowns about my hardware and/or what I'm doing rather than anything resembling help.
And, for the record, I'm pleased to see Julie and Charlotte are still around. The better gender is seriously under-represented in tech circles because, well, you do the maths. It's wrong, it's bordering on abusive, and we really need to try as a whole to be a lot more accomodating to females.
Anyway, that's a discussion for another day. Back to today...

I am disappointed that a person that talks endlessly about rubbish and has made exactly zero real contributions in half a decade or so (not to mention posting tiny bits of rather horrid code) appears to be encouraged, while the person that got fed up enough to call him a twat (and actually, I was being polite ☺) gets made out to be the bad guy.

Forum oversight, read the damn room, please. Troll is annoying people. My comment might have been the most direct, but then I lack tact and don't do subtle. I'm not the only one fed up with a lot of crap that belongs on an obscure nothing blog someplace... just like the crap I write on this obscure nothing blog.

I've tried all manner of approaches. And yet the tide of rancid effluent flows. I don't want this to come across as some sort of personal vendetta, and I'm not chuffed about being The Bad Guy.
But, if the people running the forum would rather that than somebody to say what needs said. Fair enough. It's their choice, it's their forum.

It's also my choice to say enough is enough and just walk away.

I'll read the forum from time to time, and I'll reply if there is something aimed specifically at me. If I have any announcements to make, I'll make them on the forum (I've ditched Usenet). But the general day to day chit-chat and participation? Nope.
Maybe next year, if we aren't drowning in posts about "good coding" on a homebrew i8080 or whatever the hell it turns out to be (most likely a bunch of random posts and no code or hardware).

Maybe next year.

But for now, I bid you adieu. The Troll is your problem now.


Footnote 1: druck suggested some realistic and useful ideas for improving the forum, one of which was:

No trying to force everyone to accept your outdated views on programming

Troll fired right back with:

Will you please take your own advice?

Are you surprised I have given up on this stupidity?


Footnote 2: Some have suggested that a person should talk to others the way they expect to be spoken to themselves. Uhh... big mistake. Maybe it's because I'm very likely "on the spectrum" as they say, but if I am being a twat, don't hestitate to call me on it. In pretty much those exact words. All I ask of you is to follow it up with a list of proper solid reasons of why you think I'm a twat. Don't pad it out, don't mention what you perceive to be my good points followed by "but", because all of that is superfluous bull that obscures the message you are trying to deliver.
Keep it simple and direct: Rick, you are acting like a complete tosspot because <reason one>, <reason two>, and <reason three>.
Nothing more, nothing less. If I disagree, I will say so. But, I might think about it, feel you're justified (that's why I accept what Andrew H said), and agree with you.
So, um, yeah. I was talking to Troll in the manner that I would expect others to talk to me.....if I was a dumb troll annoying the hell out of everybody.


Whatever, NMFP any more.


<drops mic>



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Stuart Swales, 2nd November 2021, 20:36
Yup. Oftentimes I spout forth complete bollocks and am happy to be corrected because that is how we get better. I prefer physical violence not be be inflicted, such as when I broke a debug macro...
Steve Drain, 2nd November 2021, 21:07
I am with you. I have had enough.  
I will be watching here, and in Aldershot and Newsgroups, but tonight I am killing my links to the ROOL site.
Rick, 2nd November 2021, 21:16
Stuart, that's exactly it, and why I don't mind if somebody points out of I'm "being a twat". I may well be unaware of something they don't like, or just, you know, being a twat. ;) I'm not perfect! 
As for the breaking a macro, did you or did you not have the pink dinosaur in your possession at the time? 
Rick, 2nd November 2021, 21:16
Steve, it's a shame it's come to this...
Jeff Doggett, 2nd November 2021, 22:05
I gave up reading the trolls posts some time ago. It's just utter drivel. I just scroll past them. Never feed the trolls.
Gavin Wraith, 2nd November 2021, 23:27
Like Jeff, I just scroll past. Maybe the ROOL site does not have the means to block the troll? Troll is perhaps an oversimplification. We need a new word. Perhaps we will end up with the RISC OS community using Rick's Aldershot and giving up on the ROOL site? There are worthy folk investing good money in RISC OS. What do they think of this farrago?
J.G.Harston, 3rd November 2021, 02:14
"If you know of a single geek/hobbyist computer user that used windows before 2000 I would be surprised." 
My mouth literally dropped open at that part. I was writing (updates for) a stock market trading system running on Windows in 1992-1993. Written in C specifically so it could be targetted at both RISC OS and Windows. 
It's like I used to come across people who would vigourously assert "you can't use a BBC with a TV set" - first asserted to me after having used a BBC on a TV set for many years. If you can't use a Beeb with a TV, WTH is there a TV socket on the back???? etc.
Rob, 3rd November 2021, 15:36
And people who refuse to accept I was busy using email and publishing things online in the 1980s! Heck, my first (and, in fact, every) girlfriend I met online, her about 1985. Probably before most of these idiots were even born!! Windows wasn't even a gleam in Bill Gate's eye!
Steve Drain, 3rd November 2021, 15:45
No one believes I was doing online banking in 1985.
J.G.Harston, 3rd November 2021, 19:30
I was surveyed once and asked "When did you first use email?" 
"Ah, 1995." 
No, nineteen *EIGHTY* five. 
(I have a copy of the second email I ever sent. I seem to have lost the first one.)
Rick, 3rd November 2021, 20:09
So what was it - Janet? Prestel? 
I did email circa... um... 1992? It was using Fidonet. A latecomer, sure, but you know how much modems cost back then! 
I once described my first computer's memory in terms of "if you had an MP3 of any Taylor Swift song, the entire memory capacity is about enough to store a single 'uh'". 
To think that we used to do word processing on a 32K machine. Modern programs probably lose more than that due to structure padding. ;) 
Rick, 3rd November 2021, 20:12
And the first time I used a computer network? 1985. 
[boarding school, a room of Beebs and Econet] 
I was asked that ages ago in Woking library as part of some survey. Person wrote down '95 and asked which version of Windows I was using. I said '85' and it was the BBC MOS. They crossed out the info and went to talk to somebody else. Clearly I wasn't a profile fit! 
David Pilling, 5th November 2021, 23:13
Sorry to hear about the events... big loss for the ROOL forum. Most important is the first email I ever wrote. I reckon 1979, which was user to user on the SRC 'Electric' system - multiple IBM 360/195 machines. I used JANET before they changed the email address order, so t'other way around to how it is today. domain@user. Who remembers the day the order changed. Well me, obviously. 
And yes, someone sold books on Prestel/Micronet in the early 80s.
J.G.Harston, 6th November 2021, 18:08
Hehe, I remember my first "proper" email address as ;) 
First time I used a computer network? 1983, a room full of Beebs and Econet. Helped to install the network. 
First email - BeebMail in that room full of Beebs and Econet, I managed to preserve some early emails: 
We used an SJ MDFS file server, and for a while we gateway'd through a service they provided to do inter-site email. Hmmm... digs... ah! Interspan. Sometime in 1987 (according to my SJUG newsletter), but that was when I left school and lost access to computers and networks for some years. 
Rick, 6th November 2021, 19:20
Well, if Econet counts, then a friend and I put together a messaging system for the Beebs. 
Since we wrote software, we could add in redirections. My username was "Nyarla" (because there's no way Nyarlathotep would fit a FileStore filename!), and his was "Hucknall". I remember that because the number of times he played that Simply Red tape, jeez... 
[more then a few people thought Nyarla was a nickname of one of the female teachers...] 
Rick, 6th November 2021, 19:21
Forgot to include a date. I remember being annoyed that I couldn't work on the program when school was cancelled, because there was no electricity, so that would have been the storm of 1987.
J.G.Harston, 6th November 2021, 20:23
And natuarally, of course, I wrote an "instant messaging" system, as it would be called today: 
And natually, a multi-user network game: 
And, probably my first Beeb project, a multi-page linked distributed information system: 
Waddayamean, those sorts of things never existed before the 2000s? Gerroffa my lawn! :)

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