COMPUTER PROGRAMS BY ALEXANDER BARON

I bought my first personal computer at an auction in November 1990, for what today seems an astronomical price. Prior to this, WordStar was about the only program I had ever used, and as well as shortly going on-line with CIX - a precursor to today’s Internet - I resolved to increase my computer literacy. Though years later I would take, and pass, the first level of the City & Guilds, my main ambition was to learn to program; I started with GW-BASIC and graduated to QuickBASIC 4.5, both of which brought me some very limited success, but my struggles with Assembly Language, C, and much later Java, came to nothing. I tried my hand at other languages too, but at the end of the day the only one I really needed was some very basic HTML. For acquiring this I have to thank my good friend Troy Southgate - and when I say friend I mean friend in need. It was Troy who inspired me to set up my first website, this one, construction of which began in late 1999; it opened on Geocities April 8, 2000, and the rest is history, or should that be current affairs?

Returning to programming proper, I haven’t done any for years, and as with composing or even reading music, I have long since lost whatever little ability I once had. The five programs below, all written in BASIC and archived as ZIP files, represent the best I have to offer the world in this department, for what it is worth. Although I have tested them all, they might not all work on every IBM-compatible machine.

Each of these files unpacks to its own directory (folder to you); once unpacked the programs are started by double clicking the appropriate batch file (ie with a .BAT) extension.

Like their author, these programs are far from perfect; they may contain one or two superfluous files, and undoubtedly a textual error or two. Sometime after publishing Windows 3.1 And The End Of War I treble checked the quotes, and found a minor error re a quote from the autobiography of Barry Goldwater. I decided against tampering with the text or code of any of these programs so any and all (hopefully extremely minor) errors will stand.

In alphabetical order:

AskDOS is a tutorial for DOS 3.3; does anyone remember DOS? By the time I’d finished debugging it, DOS was in version 5. I placed a free ad in one of the computer magazines and distributed a few copies; the young daughter of a friend also used it for a bit. I can’t remember exactly when it was unleased onto the world but it was probably sometime between late 1992 and July 1993; Micro$oft released version 6 of the operating system in August 1993, and AskDOS was definitely available before that. Double click on ASKDOS.BAT to run the program.

Libertarian Verse was an original idea; this was published in September 1992 simultaneously with a pamphlet of the same name; a scan of the second printing is included here. The pamphlet and disk contain the following poems in order: Anarchist Poem, A Paradox, Nanny Knows Best, Revolution, Stand Up For Porn and The Hunter And The Bear. Although I sold hardly any, I received a few compliments as I recall, including I think from Chris Tame. Double click on GO.BAT to run the program.

Limericks On-Line was another original idea; published September 1, 1992, it contains all the limericks included in the 1989 collection A Book Of Limericks plus thirty-eight others: twenty-eight by me and nine by Mark Taha. I also included the source code of the program as a precursor to “The On-Line Poets’ Non-Programmers Templates” (see below) together with some explanatory blurb about some of the limericks. Double click on RHYME.BAT to run the program.

Poems In QuickBASIC 4.5 was yet another original idea. The poem Back To BASICs is one of two to appear under the heading Computer Poems; I didn’t write this - my poems have a tendency to scan! Although I can’t remember who actually did write it, I have a feeling I found it on CIX; at one time there was a poetry thread of sorts in some CIX forum or other - I believe they were known as conferences - and I was on the receiving end of some friendly banter on account of my then tendency to burst into rhyme. The other offering under Computer Poems is a sonnet called Ode To WordStar, which most definitely was written by me. The disk was published June 1, 1992. Double click on GO.BAT to run the program.

The On-Line Poets’ Non-Programmers Templates was a program that soon became obsolete due to the widespread adaptation of HTML, but I had at last one satisfied customer! I was extremely flattered to receive a letter of praise from London-based author Nadeem Azam, especially as (unlike me) he has done some serious programming. Below - with the magazine’s own punctuation! - is a large format scan of the Writers’ News article to which he alludes. Below that are the two photographs of Yours Truly I sent out with the press release; they were taken on my camera by my neighbour who died in 2004. In my personal bibliography is a note that in early 1993 I released version 2; I probably still have a copy of the disk somewhere but the Templates included here appear to be version 1. Double click on GO.BAT to run the program.

Windows 3.1 And The End Of War: I think I gave George Weiss a copy, I certainly sent him a few copies of the pamphlet. He, or someone, told me they’d seen a review of the latter in a computer magazine at the time, doubtless an unfavourable one! Double click on GO.BAT to start. Click here for a scan of the pamphlet.

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