Judging the Retrochallenge competition is not an easy job. We've tried various solutions such as entrants voting, a judging panel, organiser's deciding, but none of these have really make it any easier. This time round we've developed extremely angular shoulders and asked John W. Linville, our esteemed 2012 Winter Warmup winner to take the responsibility.
Of course the downside of this, and sometimes if you've done a good Retrochallenge entry yourself it's a hard pill to swallow, is that you know you have to do the old FSB shuffle (Family Steps Back). So I wanted to take a minute to pay a special homage to our previous winner and his latest Retrochallenge Entry.
John knows a thing or two about the CoCo (and forgive my ignorance but for some reason it still slips my mind you're talking about a TRS-80). John's Winter Warmup entry last time round was an excellent example of how to communicate complex computer concepts and techniques to an intelligent audience without any domain knowledge. Anyone who has studied for a Ph.D. or written a peer-reviewed paper will recognise this as one of the core concepts behind successful communication – treat your audience as intelligent but assume they know nothing about the subject matter. Having read his blog this time round I can say with complete confidence that he's managed to walk the fine line between introducing the subject matter in a concise but understandable manner and moving on to more complex topics without losing the reader.
As an example, I now know through John's description the purpose of different colour spaces. A clear understanding of the purpose served by colour spaces has evaded me for more than 20 years. So thanks John! I also now understand how by careful use of code synchronised with the raster scan you can make a video chip seem to do two things at once. With so many of the early home computers the use of such novel but complex techniques provided a basis for extending the life of hardware. Certainly a comparison between his initially rendered image and the final image having interlaced two complementary video modes shows what is possible by pushing the boundaries of what you have available.
I look forward to having a browse through the source code for this entry. Hat's off to John!