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Cellphones Classic Games (Games) Emulation (Games) Apple

Apple Pulls C64 Emulator From the App Store 580

Posted by kdawson
from the brief-shining-moment dept.
Rob Hearn sends in a piece up at PocketGamer.co.uk on why Apple suddenly pulled Manomio's C64 emulator soon after finally approving it. (El Reg has coverage too.) "It was a glorious few moments for retro gamers when Manomio's C64 emulator was finally approved by Apple and released to the eager, nostalgic iPhone public. Then, calamity! It was gone again. Apparently some wily users figured out how to access the Commodore 64 BASIC system that was originally packaged with the emulator — something that Apple wasn't too happy with, given the nature of the interpreter's code. By setting the keyboard to 'always on,' launching a game and restarting BASIC, players got into the 'empty shell' of their C64 emulator."
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Apple Pulls C64 Emulator From the App Store

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  • Re:And then what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Cowar (1608865) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @01:28PM (#29353669)
    it probably duplicates core functionality in the loosest sense of the term. I.E. turns it into a "computer" that people can then "use" to "get stuff done". Then BAM! duplicate functionality.
  • Re:And then what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by babyrat (314371) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @01:32PM (#29353745)

    I believe at least one of the problems is that with access to the basic interpreter could be used to start illegally obtained games.

  • Re:And then what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @01:38PM (#29353891) Journal

    No, they banned it because they prohibit any language interpreters. What anyone wants to do with those interpreters is beside the point.

    -jcr

  • Re:And then what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by stasike (1063564) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @01:43PM (#29353957)


    10 PRINT "What is your name?"
    20 INPUT A$
    30 PRINT "Hello " A$

    You see? You can use it to write programs.
    Very dangerous! They can *not* let that happen.

  • Re:And then what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @01:44PM (#29353973)
    That was Sears. Radio Shack was where you programmed the TRS-80 in the endless penis loop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @01:47PM (#29354023)

    Oh... so posting as AC (by ticking the "Post Anonymously" box) removes moderations, but without the warning you get if you don't tick the box? ("If you continue to post this comment, all moderations done to this discussion will be undone!")

  • Re:And then what? (Score:4, Informative)

    by fyrie (604735) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @01:48PM (#29354039)
    GEOS runs on most C64 emus so I'd have to guess yes. However, you can only execute the disk images that are available in the appstore. LAME.
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @01:59PM (#29354205) Homepage Journal

    I assume you speak of the successor to my n810? ... you'll not be making any calls from it.

    I assume you can't follow a link. The N900 is indeed a phone, quad band to boot.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:00PM (#29354209) Journal
    The N810 wasn't, the N900 is [nokia.com].
  • Re:And then what? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:00PM (#29354225)

    Well, if you want to see what a C64 is capable of, come to
    the Vintage Computer Festival this weekend:

    http://www.vintage.org/2009/east/

    There will be several C64s on exhibit, available for hands on
    experimentation.

  • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:01PM (#29354251)

    I assume you speak of the successor to my n810? I do enjoy having a full Linux system on my PDA, runs the apps I want etc. HOWEVER! Its is NOT a phone.

    FYI, the N900 is a smartphone (an upcoming smartphone, mind you). It is designed much like the N800/N810, and runs Maemo (and can be used as an Internet tablet), but it is also a full-featured cell-phone. More information: official site [nokia.com], Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], Slashdot story [slashdot.org] and follow-up [slashdot.org].

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:10PM (#29354363) Homepage Journal

    the new model has a phone app shoe-horned in

    An app? Just software, no hardware? As for claiming it was shoe-horned in, how do you know - were you part of the design team?

    However I was speaking of the existing platform

    No you weren't, you used the future tense.

  • Re:Ready to worship (Score:3, Informative)

    by AlXtreme (223728) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:11PM (#29354375) Homepage Journal

    Is there any chance of having the base install for the n900 be completely FOSS?

    Sure, see maemo [maemo.org]. I doubt you'll have complete to access the phone-part of the n900 though, the telcoms being rather cautions on what they allow on their networks.

    The n810 is a nice little open pda, but as it isn't a phone I don't use it that much. If the n900 is at least half-decent, it will replace my nokia for sure. Bubye S60!

  • by rysiek (1328591) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:16PM (#29354441) Homepage
    two words for you: "root access".

    on Android you have to bend over backwards to gain it (unless there is a fsckup with text message editor, heh); on maemo its:
    $ sudo gainroot
    #

    Android is almost as closed as iPhone...
  • Re:And then what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ArieKremen (733795) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:19PM (#29354479)
    The commands PEEK and POKE come to mind...
  • Re:And then what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:22PM (#29354517) Homepage

    Actually, you can only run a specific set os C64 games/apps, supported by the emulator developers.

  • Re:And then what? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:24PM (#29354561)
    But you can interpret a linux scheduler [slashdot.org] with it!
  • Re:And then what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Darth Snowshoe (1434515) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:26PM (#29354577)

    Seriously? What? What can you do from a C64 shell on an iPhone?

    "peek" and "poke"

  • by Knara (9377) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:26PM (#29354583)

    The best thing about later re-releases of the infocom games (I specifically remember Planetfall and HHGTTG) was that it had an integrated hint system with 3 progressively detailed levels (i.e. "hint" number one would be "maybe you need something sticky", "hint" number two would be "gee that stick of gum looks good", and "hint" number 3 would be "pick up gum, open gum, chew gum, use gum on broken lever").

    Pretty sure you had to use the Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic ("Electric Thumb") to get on the Vogon ship.

  • by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:36PM (#29354737) Homepage

    Particularly one whose games all depend upon an interpreted language

    C64 games typically were not written in BASIC, as the performance of BASIC sucked. Only the cheesiest type-it-in-yourself games were implemented this way.

    Most games were written in 6510 assembly, which was a very simple label-abstraction above 6510 machine language. Basically, the "assembling" process just changed the commands, like 'JSR' (jump to subroutine) to their binary equivalents (in this case, 00010000), and made sure that all two-byte numbers were big-endian. So JSR $FFD2, the command to print a byte to the screen became (in decimal) 032 210 255.

    Some assemblers were a little more advanced, with macros and the like so you could label a subroutine and it would substitute the appropriate register address, but I never believed in those. I edited my code directly to the bits, damn it!

  • Re:Just Silliness (Score:4, Informative)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:38PM (#29354763)

    That doesn't make sense. Code that can break out of an emulator sandbox would be exploiting a security vulnerability.

    Yes, it would.

    You could apply the same argument to say that Apple shouldn't allow email on the iPhone, because that could exploit some vulnerability and install malware.

    No, because an e-mail client on the iPhone is not designed to run arbitrary code. For arbitrary code to run using an e-mail client there has to be a vulnerability in the e-mail client which Apple failed to find when the approved the app (not that they look hard) and a second vulnerability in the sandbox which can be exploited using the first vulnerability.

    With applications designed to run arbitrary code they just need a vulnerability in the sandbox and they have the full range of a programming language to use, not just what can fit in the first exploit. In addition, if there is an e-mail client that breaks out of the sandbox, Apple can revoke the key and all the iPhones stop being vulnerable to the malware with just that client being affected. With a run-time that executes other code they have to revoke the run-time's key, disabling every program that relies upon it which, if they allowed such things, could be a significant portion of the applications.

    An emulator is just a program that takes some user input and does something with it... there's nothing special there and any program which 'takes some user input and does something with it' is equally problematic.

    I thought I was clear in my first post why it is problematic. If not, hopefully my clarification above has solidified the explanation. Applications that execute arbitrary code break Apple's reactive security model granularity and are a lot easier to use for creating malware.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:01PM (#29355089)

    Which smartphones sold in the United States aren't locked down?

    You mean what smartphones can you run arbitrary, unapproved software like emulators? Most of them. Blackberry, Linux, and Windows Mobile based phones almost all do that. There are, in fact, very few smartphones that don't, like the iPhone and a few new Android phones. One of the reasons the iPhone is so popular, however, is that it is restricted and that results in a better signal to noise ratio when trying to buy applications to run on it. The average person doesn't care if they can run a C64 emulator and those that do mostly only care about one that gets them to the classic games, not the Basic interpreter.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:23PM (#29355357)

    Android is restricted to programming Java and Python, and Lua, and Beanshell, and Perl. [google.com]

    There, fixed that for you. And that's just for starters. You can run Debian right alongside Android and you can cross compile C programs if you really want to. I have a Nokia 770 running OS2007HE and Android is light years ahead. I'm sure the N900 is great and I'm definitely interested in it but, you shouldn't short change Android so quickly.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:08PM (#29356119)

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1360395&cid=29345727 [slashdot.org]

    Way to go guys, you're so smart and quick that you're idiots.

    Interestingly enough, they sold an extra copy of it yesterday to me because, predicting this would happen, I wanted to get a copy before they took it down.

    I wouldn't have bought it otherwise, while its cool from a geek perspective, playing C64 games on a touch screen sucks a predictable amount of ass.

  • Re:And then what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by WiFiBro (784621) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:13PM (#29356203)

    At least add

    6 FOR I=1 TO 15
    7 POKE 53281,I
    8 FOR J=1 TO 15
    9 POKE 53280,J
    12 NEXT J
    13 PAUSE 1
    15 NEXT I

    and change 20 to GOTO 6

  • Re:Apple Hates Geeks (Score:4, Informative)

    by foqn1bo (519064) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:20PM (#29356329)
    They charge a fee if you want to send builds to a device, or publish in their store, but the SDK itself, and its associated dev tools, are free as in beer.
  • by MoxFulder (159829) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:27PM (#29356413) Homepage

    Everyone on Slashdot seems to think the developer intentionally left an obvious, easy backdoor into the BASIC interpreter just to spite Apple.

    But here's what I'm wondering: is it actually possible to remove BASIC from the C64's ROM, and still be sure that games will run?

    If I recall correctly, the in-ROM BASIC interpreter provided a bunch of useful routines that you could access from machine code, and a lot of games and apps would call into these routines, or copy them elsewhere in memory, sometimes in ways that would seem horrifically non-portable and non-obvious today. It might be that it's just not really possible to excise the BASIC interpreter and still run a decent number of games.

    I haven't done much C64 in many years though. Can anyone fill us in on the technical feasibility of completely removing the BASIC interpreter?

  • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:13PM (#29357271)

    Being small costs a lot. Netbooks are cheap because they use relatively cheap components, usually underpowered and ordered in bulk to keep costs low. And they're still large enough that they can use some commodity components; hard drives, memory, adapters, etc., can all be borrowed from larger laptops. The problem is that miniaturization costs more as you get smaller and smaller. Once you drop below the netbook size range, into the sub-7" screens, it's hard to fit everything into the package without:

    • Overheating/Running out of power too quickly (both are linked to hardware with poor performance per watt)
    • Being massively underpowered
    • Being expensive
    • Sacrificing versatility

    One way or another, you'll have to compromise on the design; a general purpose phone that performs well without overheating will require expensive components. The phone can be much cheaper if it's less versatile and/or underpowered (which is how regular cell phones are kept in the $100 range). Similarly, a short battery life can keep costs down. Few phones compromise on this, but a lot of laptops and older MP3 players keep costs down this way. They require more frequent charging, allowing the use of either cheaper, more wasteful CPUs and storage or smaller/cheaper batteries.

  • Re:And then what? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:59PM (#29358919)

    You're thinking of Malbolge. BrainFuck is just designed to be really simple. If you want to get really simple, there are some 2/3 instruction variants (not sure which ones), and even those aren't that difficult to program for.

  • by RedK (112790) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @07:37PM (#29359385)
    You do understand Nokia is the biggest player in the industry right ? They already outsell the iPhone : http://www.theiphoneblog.com/images/stories/2009/08/121423-gartner_smartphone_2q09.png [theiphoneblog.com]
  • Re:Apple Hates Geeks (Score:3, Informative)

    by SETIGuy (33768) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @07:39PM (#29359403) Homepage
    "You can have this free beer as long as you don't drink it."

    That doesn't count as "free as in beer" in my book.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @09:28PM (#29360449)

    two words for you: "root access".

    on Android you have to bend over backwards to gain it

    Cough [whirlpool.net.au] You were saying.

    Android is almost as closed as iPhone...

    Because Google vets Android Marketplace applications, actively tries to stifle hackers, readily bans or rejects applications on a whim (duplicates functionality), charges US$99 a year for the dev kit, has a killswitch and under no circumstances will open source the actual OS code.

    No...
    Wait...

    They dont.

    When installing applications:
    on the iphone I have to ask Apple's permission.
    on an Android phone it has to ask my permission.

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