I mentioned the other day that people back in the 80’s used their 8 bit machines to do many of the same tasks we do today. In retrospect that seems like a dumb statement, I mean sure they could sort of do these things, but realistically, it is much easier to do them today with modern machines. What got me to thinking about this was a forum post were someone was talking about possibly surfing the web using a C64. I started thinking about it and came to the conclusion that yes it could probably be done, but it is hardly practical and probably not worthwhile, the resolution just is not there. I think realistically, sticking with telnet BBS’s is probably the best bet.
So low and behold, a user on the Lemon64 forums came up with the idea of building his own markup language, client browser and server software. At this point his client only runs on the C128, but he has a port for the C64 forthcoming. His markup language only has 9 tags for building pages, but really for an 8bit system I think that is sufficient. The big issue at this point is you cannot link between sites as of yet, but as he said, he has only been working on this for about a week. Loaded the browser software in WinVice and had no trouble connecting to his demo site. However, when I tried to setup his server software, I could not for the life of me get it so my client render the page. It turned out the problem was with carriage returns and line feeds. He developed his software under Windows, which really only uses carriage returns, well Linux requires both a carriage returns and a line feed. This is a pretty well known issue in general and it was easy to fix, Linux has a tool that fixes the broken Windows text files. Once that was done my client rendered the default page just fine. I have since been trying to design my own page, but so far I have had a lot of problems with formatting and if I change the default page even a little, it seems to screw things up.
So, from a purely technical stand point this is typical alpha software, it barely works but there is a lot of hope for the future. I like the theory of this idea, but I am not sure the reality is going to be terribly useful. One of the responses on this in the Lemon64 forum was they hoped eventually he could check his email, read and post to Lemon64 and browse CSDb. I think this is unrealistic, the problem is, we already have ways of doing those things that don’t require me to wait 3 minutes for my browser to startup and I am not really interested in returning to the days of slow motion page rendering. On top of that, content is king, if people do not step up and create servers with interesting content, this will die pretty quickly. I signed up for some BBS’s and over a couple of weeks signed in to them everyday, I posted to the boards and generally tried to contribute, what I found was often, I was the last person to log in and the only new stuff being posted was by me. These BBS’s are ghost towns where most users log in twice year. I see this going the same direction if someone does not come up with an interesting idea.