Category Archives: computers

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

A bit of recent tidying up has turned up some dusty old PC magazines, so I thought it might be a bit of fun to look back at The World of 1989 *wobbly screen flashback effect*

In the UK in 1988 the consumer PC market was ruled by Amstrad, Alan Sugar’s IBM-compatibles being far cheaper than their rivals; almost every company advertising in Issue 28 of PC Plus from January 1989 (likely published a month or two before) were only offering Amstrads. In a sign of things to come, though, one company, Watford Electronics, were offering their own PCs; the recently introduced Amstrad PC2000 range wouldn’t have the same success as their initial offerings as a host of other companies started assembling their own systems and competing on price, but at the start of 1989 it was Amstrad all the way. Including 13% VAT, £440 would get you a basic PC1512 (8Mhz 8086 processor, 512Kb memory, mono CGA screen, single 360k 5.25″ disk drive), while a top-of-the-range PC1640 (same 8Mhz processor but 640k memory, colour EGA screen and 20Mb hard drive) would set you back £1320. 80286 and 80386 processors and VGA screens were just starting to filter through to consumers, an Amstrad PC2286 (12Mhz 80286, 1Mb memory, 14″ high-resolution VGA screen) wouldn’t give much change from £2000, but you did get Windows 2.1 with that.

If you wanted to upgrade your PC, £200 would get you a 20Mb hard drive, or for £250 a “hard card”, combining the hard drive and a controller card; £50 would secure an extra 128Kb RAM for your Amstrad 1512. Amstrads came with mice, which was a good thing with a Microsoft mouse costing £105. Printers were mostly dot matrix (£130 for a 9 pin Citizen 120D, £1000 for a 24 pin, colour, 136 column Epson LQ2550) unless you wanted to spend as much as an uber-PC on a laser (£1500 minimum), though Hewlett Packard were bringing inkjets to the world with the £600 Deskjet.

The cover story of PC Plus was “Now We’re Talking! Full test of Amstrad’s new price-bustng network kit” Yes, for a mere £459 you got three network cards and the requisite cables and software to connect up a file server and two workstations. Elsewhere “comms” were something of a black art of V21, V22, V22bis and Hayes compatibility, scarcely a hint of bulletin boards or electronic mail around the place, though fax cards offered the opportunity to turn your PC into a low-price (£300-500!) alternative to a dedicated fax machine (£1000+).

Enough of all that, though, what about the good stuff? Well, in games news “Players of The Bard’s Tale will be pleased to hear of The Bard’s Tale II: The Destiny Knight, due in December at £24.95.” Also out in December, Electronic Arts’ Zany Golf would offer nine “wild and imaginative holes that cannot be recreated in real life”. I remember a bouncing hamburger in that… Reviewed were Grand Prix Circuit, giving you a chance to drive a Ferrari, Williams or McLaren on eight circuits; Airborne Ranger from Microprose, the first proper PC game I bought, possibly on the strength of the review; the classic arcade conversion of Double Dragon, smoothly done and with a two player mode, and Jet Bike PC, a budget offering from Code Masters at £15 compared to £25 for the other games with only CGA graphics, but well received for compulsive gameplay. Finally The Three Stooges was praised for superb graphics and sound, but the five arcade mini-game snippets were deemed too simplistic, easy and repetitive, especially for the £30 price tag. A quick scan of the adverts doesn’t really turn up any classic games listed, flight sims and adventures to the fore; PC gaming was still very much in its early days, playing second fiddle to the Amiga and Atarti ST.

Palm lives… again!

From buying a Handspring Visor almost ten years ago until recently replacing a Tapwave Zodiac with a Nokia N810, I’d been a devotee of Palm OS-powered handheld devices. Unfortunately Palm seemed to go a bit bonkers in 2002, dividing up into software (PalmSource) and hardware (palmOne) companies; shades of Psion, though, unlike Symbian, PalmSource developed a new operating system that nobody (including palmOne) ended up using. palmOne eventually realised that, as stupid company names go, “palmOne” was rivalled only by whatever drivel contestants on The Apprentice come up with after several bottles of gin and half an hour’s shouting, and re-de-branded back to Palm, Inc. after a couple of years, but had lost momentum by then and seemed destined to fade away as Just Another Smartphone Company with their Treo line running either the increasingly dated Palm OS or *gasp* Windows Mobile. A Palm device running Microsoft software, was the blood we shed in the Palm OS vs PocketPC wars for nothing? (I say “wars”, it was more inter-newsgroup flamewars than actual military action, so the amount of blood spilled was pretty limited. Maybe the odd blister after some especially furious typing, and that’s serum rather than proper blood anyway, but I digress.) In hindsight the Palm Foleo could’ve been a herald of the netbook revolution, but whether it was the wrong product, the wrong time, the wrong company, the wrong price or the wrong trousers (Grommet, and they’ve gone wrong!) it never made it to launch, and just looked like another nail in the coffin.

Turns out Palm isn’t dead, though, they were just resting. You turn your back for five minutes, it nuzzles up to the bars, bends them apart, and VOOM! The Palm Pre (proving the Stupid Name Department haven’t all left), running Palm webOS.

The hardware of the Pre looks fairly nice if unspectacular, 480×320 screen, sliding keyboard, camera, the usual gubbins, it’s the webOS that catches the eye. It uses a “card” metaphor that sounds really rather interesting, an example from the ars technica piece being: “Instead of having multiple communications apps on the phone, any of which you can use to carry on a conversation via multiple services, you just open up a single chat card with that user. That chat card hosts a continuous stream of conversation that combines SMS messages and IM in a single, seamless interface and chat experience.” No sense in getting too excited just yet, though, the initial release will be a US EVDO model, fingers crossed it makes it to the UK before too long.

With the Pre (and maybe more webOS devices), the promise of more Android devices to join the G1 and of course the iPhone, I’m really hoping mobile providers in the UK might start to acknowledge that handheld-‘net-connected-computer-things aren’t (just) bloody phones and start offering plans where data isn’t an afterthought. O2’s “Web & Wi-Fi Bolt On” on Pay & Go, f’rexample, more options like that would be most appreciated.

Tasks, reviews and updates, oh my.

A variety of witterings for your delectation and cogitation today, so let’s begin with a little DIY activity. For today’s activity you will need: one PC; one DVI to HDMI cable with bandwidth enough for 1080p signal transfers; one Xbox; one HDMI to HDMI cable; one ‘modest’ of size TV capable of true 1920×1080 1080p resolution with one to one pixel scanning, I can recommend the one that I have recently purchased, the Toshiba Regza 32XV555DB; and a nice cup of tea.

Connect the PC to one of the TV’s HDMI inputs using the DVI to HDMI cable. Select said HDMI input on the TV and, if your TV is like the one I have, pick the mode which gives a one-to-one pixel scan, thus bypassing overscan and all those other funky post-processing features that TVs tend to apply to video signals to make them look delicious and lustrous, but which make a PC signal look like an 8-bit render of Picasso’s Three Musicians. For me this was enabled by selecting either of the Game or PC modes of operation on the appropriate input. Next, ensure that the sharpness level is suitably low, this option may make the lines of Bruce Campbell’s chin look as though it could cut through sheet steel when you’re viewing him in Army of Darkness, but when you are trying to read a PC display all it will do is make any text look blurred and ugly. I have set my sharpness level to zero (in fact the PC mode automagically sets this for you, I discovered the problem because I was originally using the Game mode which is meant for consoles and thus keeps the sharpness level set high), but it may be worth playing with the level to see if you can improve text rendering with modest levels of sharpness set; however, it’s not worth worrying too much as the output is quite splendid regardless. Bear in mind that the idea of this is mainly with respect to the PC being used as a gaming machine, it’s not an ideal solution for hours of lengthy text processing, say, because a TV is never going to be as good as an equivalent sized monitor. Essentially though, I wanted a general purpose screen that I could play PC games and console games on and which was suitably large in size. Getting a similar size of screen as a monitor, such as the 30″ Apple Cinema Display, would have meant a lot more cost, more faff with trying to get both the console and the PC easily connected, and when using the PC, running the screen at a native resolution that is insanely high such that my lowly gaming rig would struggle to run many of today’s games at any decent sort of frame rate. So far my idea has worked wonderfully for what I wanted: the PC output looks great, it’s not perfect, but understand when I say this that I’m trying to address those hardcore PC aficionados who would scoff at running a 1920×1080 resolution on a display of 32″. In actuality, and practically speaking, it looks marvellous, with the couple of games that I’ve played so far, World of Goo and World of Warcraft (still waiting for the crossover World of Goocraft), looking fantastic. One further word of advice: in games such as World of Warcraft you should make use of the UI scaling to increase the size of the overall UI display first before trying to tweak individual fonts to be of a size that is more legible. I spent an age tweaking the fonts on all my various UI elements before realising that the stats on my character pane were still quite small and hard to make out and that there was no option to increase those fonts. Inspiration struck shortly thereafter, like a Verigan’s Fist to the back of the head, and I adjusted the UI scale. And then spent ages reducing all the fonts back to how they were originally. The result: splendid World of Warcraft views in 32-inch-o-vision which, when you’re sitting at the screen as though it were a PC monitor, is really quite impressive.

You may drink your cup of tea now, or save it for later. I shall drink mine now.

Ahhhh, lovely.

Finally, connect the Xbox up to the PC; I think this is fairly straightforward and needs no further elucidation. Select the one-to-one mapping mode; the 32XV555DB, for example, has a Game mode which does this and also selects various preset picture levels determined to give a shiny default gaming experience. The Xbox is also a new addition to my hardware stable, and for the few moments that I’ve managed to play Fable 2 – after faffing around trying to set up an Xbox live account, and then purchasing some Microsoft points, and then trying not to spend all those points on a hundred thousand various icon packs for my gamer tag – I’ve been mightily impressed with this high definition console gaming that all the cool kids have been raving about for years.

Here endeth today’s activity.

In other news I’m on to chapter four of World of Goo. It really is a most delightful game, well worth your investment if you enjoy puzzle games of any sort. It’s beautifully presented, funny, charming, clever and unassuming. Don’t be fooled by the modest exterior, underneath the surface lies a very thoughtful game in both story and structure. There’s a demo to be found on the 2D Boy website, and a brilliant review, as always, on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It’s available from 2D Boy themselves, on Steam and also on Penny Arcade’s Greenhouse. Support your indie game developers!

Speaking of indie games, I witnessed another fantastic one whilst bumbling around with various other gaming ne’er-do-wells at the Limited Van EuroHemlock Expo-dition event earlier in the week. It is called Plain Sight and is an excellent little multiplayer combat game where players control Lode-Runner-like characters around a 3D Super-Mario-Galaxy-like world and attempt to ‘boost’ into one another to kill the opposing player and gain themselves a point. Self-destructing your own character at any point claims any points you have accumulated, and if you manage to take out other players in the resulting explosion you earn yourself a multiplier to those points for each person so killed; however, if you are killed before you claim your points then those points are lost to you. Thus the game has a clever risk-vs-reward sub-element of play alongside the more overarching frantic but generic deathmatch game. It’s well worth checking out, and despite what blathering reporting you might hear from me on a certain podcast about War Twat being the game of the show for its curious naming convention, I was actually in agreement with Elf that Plain Sight was easily the game that we got the most visceral pleasure from out of all the games at the show. For me the Farcry 2 tournament had nothing on the comparatively tiny Plain Sight frag-fest that was going on right next door. Be sure to keep an eye on the game, it should be coming out sometime in February according to one of the developers whom, in a comedy moment of confused conversation, we initially mistook for someone asking us how to play the game, when in actuality he was trying to tell us how it worked, because unsurprisingly we hadn’t gleaned the whole story from randomly flailing about for a few minutes. Sorry sir! Anyhoo, I give this game the Melmoth Seal of Magnificence, which despite having just made up, you should take as the highest order of gaming recommendation known to man.

In World of Warcraft the eximious Elf is hopefully going to join me for some Old World dungeon duoing; we’re planning on taking a look into Blackrock Spire, and then perhaps trying out some of the early Outlands dungeons to see how far we can push ourselves now that we have our new and improved, pimped out and pumped up, Wrath of the Lich King characters. We’re still trying to get m’colleague to join us, but he is valiantly resisting the temptation of the Dark Side of the MMO force at the moment, instead sticking it out with Warhammer Online despite another wave of bloggers leaving, or considering leaving if things don’t improve soon.

And at some point I should probably try to find time to play a little bit more of Fable 2, apparently it’s Quite Good.

The Long Dark Upgrade of the Soul

Why is it that 11.30pm so often seems like the best time to start some intricate fiddling around with computers?

Somewhat earlier in the evening, I’d been putting the finishing touches to my upgrade plans. This PC is getting a bit long in the tooth, and though it had been handling most games pretty well, Age of Conan was giving it a somewhat vigorous thrashing. I was a bit disappointed about that, as other PCs with seemingly broadly similar specs were doing much better, but figured it was pretty much time for an upgrade anyway, so set off poking around the different options for a new machine and finding out through the power of Google that every possible component/manufacturer/vendor was both “excellent, had no problems, would highly recommend” and also “appalling, dreadful, am taking them to court for fraud, stay well away”. Having finally sorted a likely-looking system in the past couple of days, I thought I’d see if anybody would be interested in the current PC to offset the cost a bit, so set about collecting the specifications (I can remember my first three PCs were an 8Mhz 8086, 16Mhz 80386SX and 33Mhz 486DLC, but everything after that blurs rather… I was fairly sure this one began with “A”… AMD? Athlon? Ardennes? Artichoke?) System Information helpfully informed me it’s an Athlon 64X2 Dual Core Processor 4200+. Splendid.

Dual core? Dual core… That set me thinking… One of the things I’d happened across while investigating upgrades was screenshots of Task Manager for a quad-core processor, showing processor utilisation graphs for all four cores. My Task Manager ought to have two graphs, then? But no, just the one… Curious. More delving and searching, and it was showing up as “Uniprocessor” in device manager. Grabbing and running various drivers and dual core optimisers and Windows updates wasn’t having any effect, and many forum threads suggested making sure you had the latest BIOS for your motherboard. I’d replaced the processor a year ago, when the magic smoke escaped from the previous one, and I’m sure I’d checked compatibility and versions and all that malarkey, but just to make sure I fired up CPU-Z, checked on the manufacturers website for the catchily titled GA-K8N Ultra-9, and… I was running version F3 of the BIOS, and the processor was supported by F4 and above. Oops! I guess it works (well, it has been working for the last year), but presumably falls back to single core mode or something, with the second core kicking its heels and getting a bit bored. Only one thing for it, then, a BIOS flash. What could possibly go wrong?

Yes, this was around 11.30pm. Downloaded the latest BIOS, checked the manual about how to perform an update. While speccing up a new system, I hadn’t been including a floppy drive. I don’t think I’ve used the floppy drive on this PC… ever. Totally pointless. Except, of course, when it comes to BIOS updates! Thank god for floppy drives. Delving in the back of a cupboard, I found a 3.5″ disk, blew the dust off it, copied the firmware over, and got ready for the update. Take deep breath, drop into the updating utility on boot up, read from the disk, install, all ready, reboot, and…


There’s nothing more chilling than the sound of a PC speaker. On an 8086, it’s cheery blips and burbles were all the music we had (and we were grateful!), but these days it’s a portent of POST-y doom, a signifier of forthcoming Long Dark Update of the Soul as you struggle to get everything working again, which, as with so many things, xkcd captures perfectly:

The trouble with starting stuff late at night is that by the time the midnight doom chimes of the POST beeps ring out, you’re not exactly in an optimal troubleshooting state, but at least it was Friday. Also, thank god, the motherboard’s got some kind of dual-BIOS fallback-failsafe thing, so at least the PC started booting again (from cold, any warm reset went back to the Beeps of Death). More fiddling, checking the files on the floppy are OK, attempting to revert to the backup BIOS, trying a slightly older BIOS, trying the newest beta BIOS… It would still only boot (if at all) with the old F3 BIOS. Eventually I made a bootdisk (thank you (a) floppy drives and (b) and their Driver Free Disk For BIOS Flashing), stuck a flashing utility on it, and used that instead of the BIOS self-update-type thing. And, fingers crossed, touch wood, rabbit foot grasped, horseshoe attached to PC case, it seems to have done the trick, the BIOS is now on version F8, and the Evil Hell Beeps are gone. Better still, there’s a second graph in task manager, I now have two cores!

First thing’s first, obviously, fire up Age of Conan, crank up the detail settings, and in the words of the great Mark Kermode: “Blimey Charlie!” It’s a different game! There are mountains, and water, and stuff! It looks amazing, combat is so much smoother, FPS holds up at a decent rate. To think I could’ve done that a year ago… Upgrade postponed, and I might even be tempted back into Age of Conan a bit sooner than I’d thought!

Reviewlet: Nokia N810

I’ve had a few PalmOS PDAs, starting with a Handspring Visor (Handspring no longer exist, having been absorbed into Palm as part of the “hey, let’s split our hardware and software divisions and rebrand as palmOne… no, wait a minute, that’s a stupid name, let’s go back to Palm” exercise), then a Sony Clie (Sony have since stopped making PalmOS PDAs, though I believe they’ve achieved minor success in some other fields of consumer electronics) and finally a Tapwave Zodiac (a brilliant device that unfortunately pitched itself as a mobile entertainment system with a strong gaming element around the time the PSP came out, Tapwave going bankrupt less than a year after the Zodiac launched in the UK). Much as I love the Zodiac, and PalmOS in general, they’re getting rather long in the tooth and haven’t been updated much recently, so I started looking around for a handheld device that would do all the PDA-y stuff of a PalmOS device but with added WiFi and internet-y goodness.

This turned out to be a bit difficult. PDAs are all but dead, barring some last ditch resistance from a few aged Palm Tungstens and new HP iPAQs, but having committed to blind veneration of Palm back in the heydey of PalmOS vs PocketPC/Windows CE/Windows Mobile/whatever they’re calling it this week, I can never consider a Windows Mobile device on religious grounds. Smartphones are everywhere, but I prefer to have a small easily pocketable phone in addition to a larger pocketable-in-a-slightly-bigger-pocket device with a nice big screen and better input methods than going “7, 7, 7, 7, NO I MEANT R FOR CHRIST’S SAKE” (and in a perfect world the two talk to each other via bluetooth, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves). Then there’s… other stuff. Ultra Mobile PCs, Tablets, media players that happen to have a touch screen and WiFi, GPS units that happen to have a touch screen and WiFi. In the end I got the shortlist down to a Nokia N810 Internet Tablet or an iPod Touch, neither of which were quite perfect, but with the Touch being fairly limited in its initial form (though I’m waiting to see how Apple’s App Store turns out with keen interest) I went for the N810.

The N810 has a large 800×480 touch screen, a slide-down hardware keyboard, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, camera, coffee percolator and extending three speed chain driven rotavator (OK, not the last two. But the rest of the list is pretty impressive.) The screen is definitely one of its strongest features, being vibrant and with a high enough resolution to render most web pages as you’d see them on a regular PC. The keyboard is perfectly functional for something squeezed into such a small space, though you wouldn’t want to write a book with it; I was fairly adept with Grafitti (Palm’s character recognition input system), the keyboard is quicker and easier. WiFi connectivity is fine, easy to set up, and Bluetooth is handy for connecting to phones when outside WiFi coverage. On the not-quite-so-great side, the GPS takes a long time to lock on to satellites, though I don’t really use it much anyway, and the camera is a fairly standard VGA job on the face of the device, only really useful as a webcam (not that I’d want to inflict that on anyone). It has 2Gb of internal memory, a bit taken up with maps for the GPS software, and a single MiniSD card slot.

The standard software is a mixed bag. The Mozilla-based MicroB web browser has handled all the web pages I’ve chucked at it, even the full version of Google Reader, though it does slow down a lot for script-heavy stuff. It’s a bit clunky to use, especially when compared to Apple’s multi-touch navigation, but then the N810 supports Flash and RealMedia for services like the BBC’s Listen Again or YouTube/Google Video etc etc, and the 800×480 screen means zooming isn’t often needed. Skype is included, and works very well for chatting while wandering around the house, and there’s the usual set of notepad, sketch pad, calculator, world clock, couple of games etc. The original e-mail client is very rudimentary (but has just been overhauled), and the base unit is almost totally lacking in PIM functionality, barring a very online-centric contacts application (you can store phone numbers, but not addresses).

So it’s generally a nice device, albeit with a few frustrating rough edges. The lack of PIM functionality can be partially remedied by installing GPE, though getting that to talk to anything else is quite hard work; Erminig will sync GPE with Google Calendar, but I gave up trying to import contacts. A few other apps like FBReader for e-books and AisleRiot Solitaire round out the N810, particularly for when WiFi isn’t available. Installation is mostly straightforward when apps are published via, either browse to the web page and tap “Install” or use the application manager software, but things can get a bit more involved if you need to go further afield; before some kind soul packaged AisleRiot properly, it involved a lot of fiddling around with libraries, “red pill” mode and other hassles.

This past week there’s been a significant upgrade of the N810 operating system that I installed last night, in a fairly painless process (especially with this handy walkthrough) that’s greatly improved the e-mail client, and if it works as advertised also means that’s the last time I’ll have had to flash the device to upgrade it. While reinstalling applications after the upgrade, I remembered an e-mail about an updated version of the Garnet VM Palm emulation software; I’d downloaded an earlier beta when it was first available, but never spent much time with it, not least because it ran in Palm’s 320×480 resolution in the middle of the 800×480 screen. The new version now has full screen support and by all accounts an improved HotSync function, so I fired up the old Zodiac HotSync manager on the PC, enabled network synchronisation on it, tapped the PC’s IP into Garnet VM, hit HotSync, ate wallah, as the French seldom say. I hadn’t entirely been expecting it to work, and it hit a slight snag as I’d left Garnet VM set up with its default 16Mb of space and HotSync was merrily trying to restore 50Mb worth of stuff that had been on the Zodiac, but a swift bit of tinkering later, and Garnet VM is doing a very creditable impersonation of PalmOS with all the applications I had installed before. I haven’t tested it rigorously, but unless it explodes violently it looks like it really might be a best-of-both-worlds situation.

The only slight worry is that, if my past history of handheld devices is anything to go by, Nokia are due to totally withdraw from the Internet Tablet market any moment. Oh well, time to see how much the 3G iPhone will be on Pay & Go…

Ultimate Boot CD rides again

So far the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows has saved three PCs. I created one a couple of years back, when a PSU died and slightly mangled a hard drive in the process; with utilities on the UBCD I fixed the boot record and reverted Windows to a previous system restore point when it wouldn’t load (after recovering the system restore points from files chkdsk had recovered). Last year a friend had an almost identical problem, and once again the UBCD got us back to a previous system restore point. Yesterday another friend’s PC was showing the dreaded Blue Screen of Death on bootup; it’s a Dell, with a some built in diagnostic tools on another partition, but all the tests ran absolutely fine. Booting from a Windows CD and dropping into the recovery console, it couldn’t find the hard drive at all, so it wasn’t possible to run chkdsk or fixmbr. UBCD to the rescue! A DOS NTFS utility on it found the NTFS partition, chkdsk’ed it, fixed some errors, and all is well again (hopefully…)

The UBCD also has CD/DVD burning utilities to save data, just in case you can’t get a hard drive booting again, anti-virus/malware tools in case they were the cause of your problems, and a whole bunch o’ other stuff. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but just in case, it’s a damn handy thing to have around.

Debugging with fish

Someone needed a report tweaking at work; no problem, except it was something someone else (long since gone) had originally written. Still, it’s a fairly simple report, tra la la, open the source code, this makes sense, there’s even a comment or two, tinker tinker, add an extra bit here, and then… Y’know when you’re on a rollercoaster, and you’re thinking “hey, this isn’t so bad”, and then you realise the car hasn’t actually started moving at all, and then it does and you’re PLUNGED OVER THE PRECIPICE OF TERROR? In the source code equivalent, all the comments suddenly vanish, and there are do loops inside for loops inside while loops and there are 38 variables being assigned and reassigned that were probably logical enough when only three were needed so they start as x, y and z, except then the original coder realised they needed more so you get w, v, u working back through a (except missing out l, possibly for a hugely significant reason but more likely they got distracted in the middle of working backwards through the alphabet), and then they ran out of single letters so you get random abbreviations that might or might not relate to what’s being stored in the variable in question…

Time for Advanced Debugging Technique 1, then: output random gibberish all over the place. Being a speaker of Commonwealth Hackish, “fish” is my preferred metasyntactic variable and random output of choice. Course, when just using “fish” it gets difficult to tell whether “fishfishfish” is the same fish looped three times or three different fish, so complex debugging requires many different types of fish. At the height of debugging, the report looks something like:

HakeBreamMackrelTotal Number of WidgetsHaddock

TunnyJanuary: SturgeonSturgeonSturgeon37
TunnyFebruary: SturgeonSturgeonSturgeonSturgeonSturgeon22

With sufficient fish, I eventually work out what’s going on, and make the requisite changes. The difficult bit of Advanced Debugging Technique 1 is then removing all the fish references from the code, as people are inexplicably confused by the appearance of random sturgeon in their reports. I’m fairly sure I caught most of them, but if someone makes a particular set of selections after 9pm on a Wednesday in a month with more than six letters, I might be getting a support call inquiring about a large quantity of hake…