Saturday, February 3, 2018

OS-9 - The forgotten operating system

When it comes to operating systems, people usually only recall very few. If they know what an operating system is anyway. Usually it boils down to Windows, older folks might remember its roots, MS-DOS. Some might mention Linux or even UNIX. Some might heard Android is running on their smartphone or tablet. Then there is the Apple (MacOS) party. I want to talk here about OS-9, and do not refer to a version of the Apple OS by a similar name (MAC OS 9).

OS-9 was released in 1979 by Microware. It can run on Motorola 6809, Motorola 680x0 CPUs, ColdFire, SuperH, ARM/XScale, MIPS, PowerPC, Intel x86 processors. And since it is one of the first a multi-user and multitasking operating system I am intrigued. This was long before the Amiga, let alone multitasking capable Windows 95 or Linux.

While OS-9 was general-purpose computing and embedded systems, the Motorola M6809 CPU was built in the popular TRS-80 Color Computer (Coco) and similar Dragon 32/64, although not shipped with, had a potential broad user base among non business users. OS-9 was later ported for use with M68000 systems.

It is considered a "UNIX-like OS", although it is not a clone of UNIX. OS-9 is still supported by Microwave (as of 2018 when this article is written), and can run on x68 and ARM processors. But the dominance of MS-DOS and later Windows is probably the reason it never had the commercial success it deserves in my opinion.

In this video I show the (emulated) Coco running OS-9.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Star Trek Discovery - Is it Canon?

I love Star Trek. Following it since its first franchise later known as The Original Series (TOS) with Kirk, Spock and Co. in the 60s. Although I have been too young to really understand the idea behind Gene Roddenberry mind.

After that and a few Star Trek movies The Next Generation (TNG), the second franchise, started to air 1987. First I didn't liked it. Picard wasn't Kirk and I expected the old crew when there is something called Star Trek on the screen. It took a few episodes to also like TNG.

1993 the next franchise (Deep Space Nine) DS9 came along, with the first African American captain. I like the first few episodes but soon it became so dull I stopped watching it. Suppose the producers also noticed that and when the 3rd season kicked off they introduced the Dominion and put a lot of action in, which hooked me again.

In 1995 Voyager (VOY) was aired with the first female captain. I fell in love - with the series - right from the beginning. Probably still my favorite part of the franchise.

After the Enterprise (ENT) franchise came out, which played even before Kirk & Co. Loved it from the beginning although I couldn't really agree to make huge story arcs like the one with the Xindi.

It took more than a decade until in 2017 Star Trek Discovery (DIS) launched. Set between what happened between ENT and TOS it seems to play in an alternate reality and is not really Canon. The Federation is in war with the Klingons. They themselves have huge heads, looking much different than any Klingon dipicted in any other franchise. And hold long and boring monologues, trying to bore the others to death I suppose. There is lots of fighting, blood and gore effects all over the place. It was also the first time in the franchise as far as I recall the f-word was said. And the another first showing female breasts, albeit from a Klingon being all over a human.

In my opinion both (f-word and showing breasts) were not necessary for the plot. Call me prudent here, but I do not approve this in Star Trek. Same reason I wouldn't like it in Doctor Who. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind nudity. But please not in long running series starting before the 70s.

But may be Discovery isn't meant to be Canon. Like the Star Trek movies J. J. Abrams, which I think killed the spirit of Star Trek already. Then DIS might be forgiven. But it's not Star Trek for me...

Monday, January 29, 2018

What to buy - iPhone or Android?

What should you buy, an iPhone or iPad, or an Android phone?

In my opinion that is about the same question whether to buy a Cadillac or a Chevrolet, like a Cruze for example. Both will get you to the grocery store, bring your kids to school and can be used to go on holiday. But a Chevrolet of course is cheaper than a Cadillac. As is it usually the case with an Android being cheaper than an iPhone. What's the point then to buy an iPhone then?

Although both might have the same functions like surfing the web, send text and chat, use Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media platforms, play games or hundred other things, an iPhone is made by Apple, and only by Apple - to be precise, the iOS operating system running on them. While Android is more like an umbrella term describing an operating system running on these phones which can be manufactured and hundreds of manufacturers around the world, with the Samsung brand being the most successful at the time of this writing (2018). This competition of many manufacturers might also explain they they are generally cheaper than their Apple counterparts.

So what to purchase? In my opinion, taking that under the hood both Apple and Android devices have very similar functions, the only reason of buying an Apple product is prestige. Buyers might have a good feeling of having an Apple logo on their phones and show it to others. Similar to people driving a Cadillac instead of a Chevrolet.

Of course I might be wrong. Please comment!