Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Robison Crusoe

The book Robison Crusoe is a little over 400 years old. I read it as a teenager.

It is one of the most widely published books.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Can't Focus? It's Not Your Fault, You're Being Tricked. This is How.

I have a problem with YouTube addiction, which I am trying to manage.  My problem is that YouTube has a great deal of content that I find interesting.  I suppose that any form of entertainment is an escape from reality.

It's not you. Phones are designed to be addicting...  

The following uses very crude language, but he is not wrong:

I'm not sure if this is helpful...

Saturday, April 24, 2021

#15 puzzle

I used to be fond of the #15 puzzle, and even Bobby Fischer was fond of it. The 19nth century puzzle maker Sam Lloyd claimed that he invented it, but it was actually invented by a 19nth century postmaster named Noyes Chapman.

It seems to me that the puzzle is a precursor to the Rubicks' Cube. Both involve sliding pieces in a limited way. It is possible to take apart and reassemble both in a way that can't be solved.


Sunday, April 18, 2021


I went to a new optometrist in Columbus, who recommends that I have a cataract in my good eye removed.  I'm supposed to make an appointment at South Emmerson in Indianapolis to be evaluated.  I have had a cataract in my good eye for at least ten years.  Since I only have one good eye, Doctors in Salt Lake City recommended that I do nothing until this condition got worse.   According to the Optometrist, I have progressed from stage 1 to roughly stage 2.5.  I am only seeing about 20/40, whereas in the past I was correctable to 20/30, which is about as good as my heavily nearsighted eyes can get.  It appeared to me while driving, especially at night, that my vision was a little off.

I don't know yet when the operation will be, but I am holding off on some other plans I had until I find out.  I am told that this operation might correct my much of nearsightedness.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Remember warming up the TV before watching it?

For those who don't remember, on powering up really old televisions the image would start as a dot in the middle of the screen, and then expand. It might only take a couple of seconds to a few seconds to reach full size. The reason for this is that old televisions used vacuum tubes instead of transistors, and these needed warming up. I remember going to a repair shop that had dozens of different types of tubes for replacement parts.

Sometime in the mid-1970s, manufacturers began to advertise televisions that were "Instant On". Since many of these TV's still used vacuum tubes, I noticed that these TV's kept some of the vacuum tubes powered up even when the TV was "off". I could tell because most vacuum tubes glowed. Many old televisions had heat vents toward the back and an orange glow would emanate from these vents. It would light up the wall behind my television.  The TV also put out a great deal of heat.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

My long distant past keeps catching up with me

My long distant past keeps catching up with me, especially on Facebook.
Leroy Watson
You're not friends on Facebook
New Facebook Account

1:12 PM

Leroy sent Today at 1:12 PM

Are you the one that wrote the BASIC compiler from JRC Software? If you are I just wanted to say I really liked that program and learned a lot from it.
Seen by Leroy

2:40 PM

You sent Today at 2:40 PM

Yes. That was me. I wasn't terribly happy with that program because I thought that I could make it better but I didn't have the time. I am trying to explore the 2068 computer again because I am retired and I have the time. I have an idea for a video game that I want to write. I worked for videogame companies in Utah from 1993 to 2000.
You can now message and call each other and see info like Active Status and when you've read messages.


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Amish Facts: These Amazing Facts Will Teach You More About Their Culture

According to this article, the Amish population in the United States has increased rather dramatically to about 300,000.  I find this number surprising because it means that roughly one in a thousand people in the United States is of the Amish faith.  

There is or was a community of Amish people living somewhere between Scottsburg and Salem, Indiana.  I was born in Salem.  When I lived in Scottsburg back in the 1980s, I saw some of them in a buggy while driving to Salem, even though I didn't take that trip very often.  I would on rare occasion see a few of them in Scottsburg, and I met and talked with an Amish young man in the mid-1980s.   My impression of him was not very favorable.  He seemed to me to be remarkably ignorant, but I assume that his faith does not encourage knowledge beyond what he needs for life in his community.  Because of this, I feel like his faith is repressive, although he no doubt chooses that lifestyle.

Friday, April 9, 2021

How Crash Bandicoot Hacked The Original Playstation | War Stories | Ars Technica

I find this interesting as a former videogame programmer.  When the game came out, some programmers thought of it is as not true 3D, although actually, it is.

Thursday, April 1, 2021


It took me 3.5 days to drive to Salt Lake City in 1993.  I would stop at restaurants that were familiar to me, especially, Denny's, because I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to get.  So I used to really like them and associated them with a good dining experience, but I went to one in Fort Union, Utah around 2014 and I was disappointed.  I had fried chicken tenders and french fries, but this seemed to be the typical type of thing on their menu.  Plus the booths were small and crowded together.  

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

TV Resolution

A couple of months ago I decided to temporarily swap my 4K 55" smart TV with my Step-Dad and Mom's 40" dumb 1080P TV that I had purchased for them as a Christmas gift.  They need a bigger screen more than I do.  I watch most stuff on my computer anyway.

Comet TV is one of the few broadcast stations that I can get.  It broadcasts re-runs of Sci-Fi TV shows and mostly terrible Sci-Fi movies.  I occasionally watch shows on it.

Unfortunately, Comet TV broadcasts only in 480i, which is also the same resolution as videotape and CRT televisions.  On my 4K TV, it looks absolutely terrible.  Surprisingly, on the 1080P TV that I am now using, it doesn't look so bad.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Unlucky last night

I was unlucky last night because I either hit something on I65 that destroyed my tire or I had a blowout. While driving southbound on I65, I heard a loud bang. I didn't see any debris on the road that would have caused this. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road. There was a policeman in the median right where I pulled off, apparently trying to catch speeders driving northbound. I thought that he might volunteer assistance, but I'm not sure that he even noticed me. I was going to call my Geico Roadside Assistance anyway.
I got out of the car and looked at my tires, and none appeared flat. So I thought that maybe the car is still drivable and that I could make it to the Edinburg exit three miles down the road, but after driving another half mile it was obvious that something was wrong with the car.
However, I had a problem with my Geico Roadside Assistance. After calling people for 25 minutes and keeping me on hold, they couldn't find anyone on their network to help me. So they told me to call 911. I called 911, which gave me a number of a wrecker service in Edinburgh, but they couldn't help. They gave me a number of a wrecker service in Columbus who also couldn't help, so the Columbus service gave me the number of Graham Wrecker Service in Franklin which came and helped me by changing the tire. I got home safe after a 90-minute delay.
Fortunately, I have a road hazard warranty on all my tires. The last time I had to wait days for the replacement tire, but I have an appointment for 3PM tomorrow for a replacement tire and an oil change.
What lessons can I learn from this? I felt pretty vulnerable stranded at night on the side of the Interstate with hundreds of cars and trucks going by at deadly speed. It was very frustrating that my Roadside Assistance service couldn't help me. (I'm going to call them back to complain and likely get a reimbursement for my expenses.) It might be wise to know a few wrecker services in your area and have them programmed into your phone. I am also going to investigate whether it is worthwhile to get a different Roadside Assistance service.


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Johnny Nash - I Can See Clearly Now

First day of spring! I celebrated with a lengthy bike ride. I am optimistic for the future. I can see clearly now the rain is gone ...

Friday, March 12, 2021

The #1 Factor For Achieving Success (Online)

I really like this video.  Although the speaker is talking about online success, I think that his advice applies to any type of success.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Re: Koreans Try American BBQ For the FIRST TIME! Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork & Brisket

Speaking of which, I went to a BBQ place in Salt Lake City that had breaded french fries.  I have never seen breaded french fries anywhere else, but they were delicious.

On Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 10:14 PM John Coffey wrote:
I find this amusing.  I've tried some different kinds of Asian foods, although I don't remember if Korean was one of them, although I think so.  I tried Vietnamese, but I wasn't thrilled with it.  I sometimes would eat at a couple of different Japanese restaurants, one of which had a lot of fried tempura, which tastes great.

As far as I am concerned, the best food I ever had was at a Persian restaurant in Salt Lake City.  The restaurant was in the back of a Persian grocery store.  I also really like beef brisket.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

there will Never Ever be another Simpsons episode like Homer's Enemy

I had seen at least part of the episode "Homer's Enemy", but never gave it much thought.

I only on rare occasion watch the Simpsons, but I enjoy it, and I especially enjoyed the early years.  I had never seen the show until I had a chance in the 1990s to work a little on a Simpsons videogame, so I took an interest in it.  

There is an almost universal consensus that starting with Season 9 Episode 2, "The Principal and the Pauper", with an absurd storyline about Principal Skinner being an imposter, the show went into decline.  

I am amazed that the show has lasted 32 seasons.  In one of the episodes celebrating something like the 500th episode, there is some text in the end credits that says, "Think of all the things you could have accomplished if you hadn't watched this show."

Monday, March 1, 2021

Happier times, maybe

Our family used to go to this place, and I loved it.  I remember the food being pretty good.  Sometime between 1974 and 1977, while I was in Jr. High School, there was a tornado that hit Columbus, Indiana.  I remember it well.  It tore the roof off of the King's Table building while people were inside dining.  The restaurant reopened (I think) but eventually went out of business.  That location is now a gas station.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Letter to a national Timex Sinclair Computer User Group.


My name is John Coffey.  I was a Timex-Sinclair enthusiast in the 1980s.  I wrote some utilities and things that I sold. Around the beginning of 1986, I finished and self-published a videogame called Diamond Mike.  I no longer have a copy of this game, although if one were to turn up someplace, I would love to get a copy.

Also in 1986, I ported the Diamond Mike game to the Atari ST, with slightly better graphics, and I do have copies of this, although I don't own either computer anymore.

In 1993, I went to Utah to work for a videogame developer.  I would eventually end up working for a company that made satellite communication systems.  I retired from this company and returned to Indiana.

I am currently trying to learn software development on iOS and Android.

Just as many people are still enthusiasts for the 8-bit era, including writing new games for the Atari 2600 or the Nintendo Entertainment System, I feel that the potential of the 2068 was never fully realized, and I have ideas for 1 or 2 games that I want to develop for it.  This is not for profit.  I only want to do it because I love the 2068 computer.

To do this I would need to get an emulator, learn to use it, and maybe find an assembler that I can use.  Back in the 1980s, I wrote my own assembler, and a compiler, but I don't have any of these anymore.

This project would not do me much good if there were no 2068 enthusiasts around anymore.  I want to write something that I can share with other people.  

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Friday, February 26, 2021

First COVID-19 vaccination

A couple of hours ago I got my first COVID-19 vaccination. It was the Pfizer vaccine, which is the one I wanted since I was able to make an appointment for my next vaccine just three weeks from now.

I didn't even feel the shot. This was no worse than a flu shot. However, my arm immediately started feeling sore. It still feels a little sore, but not very much. Afterward, I had to wait in an observation area for 15 minutes which was no problem.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

ATARI ST Diamond Mike v2 0 By John Coffey & JRC Software

This video shows the gameplay of Diamond Mike on the Atari ST.  In 1986, I ported the game from the 2068 computer to the Atari ST computer.  The graphics are a little better on the Atari ST.

Some of the later levels not shown here are more visually interesting and more complicated.  It is not clear if the person showing the game fully understands how to play the game.  It appears as if he doesn't.

The demo appears to be running on an Atari ST emulator.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

An American Original - Timex/Sinclair

In the early days of computing and videogames, magazines devoted to specific systems were very popular.  By 1986, the Sinclair and Timex-Sinclair lines of computers were a dying brand, but they had a very devoted set of followers, of which I was one.  The primary feature of the Timex-Sinclair 2068 computer was its relatively low price of $200.  Compare that to the Commodore-64 introduced in 1983 at $595, which is around $1600 in today's dollars.  Other brands of computers were higher.  Most of these were way too cost-prohibitive for me, so I went with the cheapest model, but I happened to very much like the brand.

I did an internet search for a videogame I wrote in 1985/1986 called, "Diamond Mike".  I found a magazine that I had completely forgotten about where I had a quarter-page ad on page 34 for the game, along with another quarter page of products that I was selling, most of which I don't remember selling.  I think that I had entered into some kind of partnership with another company to sell their products.  The wording of the ad looks somewhat unprofessional like it was written by me, which it was, but this was typical of these relatively obscure magazines of the time.  I think that I had the advertisement typeset by a professional printer because in those days we didn't have modern computers to help us do that.  The game was in color, but the magazine was black and white, so the advertisement is Black and White.

The magazine did a "review" of the game on page 4.  Essentially they were scratching my back for buying advertising.  The wording of the "review" isn't that different from my advertisement, and they also said a few nice words.

The graphics capabilities of the 2068 computer were not as quite good as the more expensive brands, and since I did my own artwork and I am by no means an artist, the graphics of the game are pretty basic.  This was typical for many computer games of the time.  What I could do well is write efficient code in "machine language", which is the internal language of the CPU chip.   An honest review of my game would have said that it was an imitation of another game called "Boulder Dash", but when "Boulder Dash" was ported to the 2068 computer months later, its code ran too slow.  They didn't do a good job on the port.  They should have gotten me to write the game.

This kind of work eventually led me to get a job in the videogame industry.

Thursday, February 18, 2021


Yesterday I had to dig my car out, with some help from the neighbors, to go get some groceries. I had to dig out the tires twice to get the car back into the garage. I tried a couple of times to shovel the driveway, but it kept snowing so I gave up. I might try again tomorrow, but I have kind of resigned myself to staying home. It is supposed to all melt on Sunday and Monday, although we might get some more snow Sunday night.


Saturday, January 2, 2021

Water Moccasin Attack

As if there aren't enough things trying to kill me, I would have to worry about fishing.

As a child, I went fishing several times with relatives on my mother's side.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

How Microsoft Flight Simulator Recreated Our Entire Planet

No need to watch the whole thing.  I think that this program is awesome.  I will shortly have a game membership with Microsoft where I will be able to run this simulator on my computer.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

AMC theater chain

Before the Dark Times, I had an A-List membership at AMC theaters where I could see up to 3 movies per week for $20 per month. Not a bad deal, but I typically saw only about 1 movie each week.

AMC suspended this program back in March when their theaters were forced to close, but they reopened their theaters in the summer at which time they informed me that I had till December 1st to reactivate my membership. They have a weird rule that if you quit the program then you have to wait 6 months to get back in, so I don't necessarily want to quit, but at the same time I don't want to go back to movie theaters until a vaccine is widely available.

Fortunately, they just extended the deadline to March 1st.  I am hoping that things will be much better by then.

For the last eight months, there were rumors that AMC is on the verge of bankruptcy. I imagine that this applies to many businesses. AMC is owned by Wanda Group, which is a Chinese company located in Beijing.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Tuesday, November 24, 2020 Fire HD 10 Tablet (10.1" 1080p full HD display, 32 GB)

Last year I was watching the rave reviews for this $150 Amazon tablet. When they had it on sale for $100 during Black Friday week, I figured that was a great deal, but I also figured that I didn't really need another tablet. This year it is only $80 for the Black Friday sale, so I decided that for that price I could use it to test Android apps that I want to write.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Challenger Disaster: STS-51-L Helicopter Camera

I recently watched a 4 episode documentary on Netflix about the Challenger disaster.  This event happened at an important time in my life shortly after the death of my father in 1986.  The documentary demonstrates that people knew there was a problem and made poor decisions because they considered the risk to be minor.

I just happened to come across a video on youtube that shows the disaster from a slightly different perspective than what I have seen before.

Saturday, October 24, 2020


I'm not one much for travel. I used to love to go places when I was younger, but less so now that I am older. However, when this pandemic is over, or reasonably under control, which could be as much as nine months from now, it might be interesting to take a vacation. I have no idea where, but a change of scenery would be nice. There is quite a bit of the country that I haven't been to yet.  

Best wishes,

John Coffey