What’s been occupying my time lately is little software project, that got set aside some time ago and with the change of seasons I’ve taken up the challenge of finishing it. As last year’s hunting season approached my good buddy Eric decided he wanted to get himself a shooting chrony, these units are pretty much the de facto standard for low-budget chronographs, there robust, reliable, for the most part value priced.
On the other hand the basic design is pretty much unchanged since the late 70s when the first one I encountered was purchased. Although the physics of measuring projectile velocity hasn’t changed very much since then the user interface is a tad dated and in my opinion a bit of a kludge by modern standards.
So, Eric and I dreamed a little dream. how about we hook it up to a laptop and write some custom software that will display all the information it produces in a coherent modern fashion. this is how my most recent journey into basic began.
I first got my hands on a computer of my own at the tender age of 12, that would’ve been in 1985. At That time of course the computer in question was a Commodore 64 which came equipped the Commodore basic 2.0 interpreter. With practice and much manual reading I became adept at making it do what I wanted , occasionally even something useful! but as the Commodore became obsolete I found it difficult to roll my skills forward. like the rest of the world I transitioned to PCs and chairman Bill did not encourage mere mortals like myself to undertake the writing of software. I’ve amused myself QBasic over the years but there’s really little chance of impressing your friends that. But the chrony project which was originally to be written in QBasic, spawned a new bout of research into the possibilities and revealed the existence of Visual Basic 2010 with the express edition now published for the benefit of mere mortals free of charge! wow , almost like the 80s.
the idea was to stay with some flavor of basic and leverage my knowledge of Commodore basic which I seem to still have full command of, burned as it were into my teenage mind. However, modern Visual Basic (as those who use it know) is a whole different animal. I suspect if I taken on C+ I would’ve been no less prepared, not to imply that I was prepared. In the old days I did what is now called unstructured programming, back then it was just the only way to do it. but there’s no room for unstructured programming now, I’m tempted to say one is made a slave to structure a program is no longer a list of instructions as I learned in the old days but has been reduced to a collection of events with a chunk of code belonging to each event. All these chunks of code give the impression that they’re not tangibly related each other and much of the time they’re not aware of each other or able to communicate with each other, which is somewhat unsettling to that 12-year-old that used to know what he was doing.
Ultimately this journey will lead me to a place where I can create cooler stuff than I could have otherwise but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m not in Kansas anymore.