Wednesday, December 5, 2018

OS/2 Warp on old Thinkpad

A short while back, a friend gave me an old IBM Thinkpad T23, so my first thought was "IBM Laptop should get an IBM OS" so I set to work getting OS/2 Warp installed on it. First issue is that the Warp CDs are not bootable, and the IBM does not have a built-in floppy. No problem, I thought, as he also gave me a USB 3.5" floppy drive. But I also discovered that the optical drive is broken on the laptop, so I went looking for an alternate method of installing the OS. I found this thread about installing from a folder on the hard drive. So, I install MS-DOS 6.22 and copy the os2image folder from the CD to c:\temp and modify the config.sys on disk1 as instructed. I boot from the Install disk, swap in disk1 when requested, then disk2, then... Error... Kinda non-descript, as it says something about a problem with either the hard drive or the floppy drive. My best guess is that the BIOS support for the USB floppy only goes so far, then fails when OS/2 gets to a certain point of the install. I recall seeing something, somewhere, about adding USB drivers to the OS/2 floppies, so I will try to track that down and see if that works. Barring that, my only other option is probably to place the HDD into another old laptop that has a working floppy and optical drive, do an install using generic drivers, then swap the drive into the Thinkpad and update the drivers to match the actual hardware. Stay tuned for progress...

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Orville

I recently watched the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, and, while enjoyable, it seems like the producers changed things just for the sake of pissing off long time Trek fans. I am currently watching The Orville, and, while it is a hilariously cheesy spoof of Star Trek, it still manages to be more like Star Trek than Discovery is.

Sunday, July 1, 2018


I have been tinkering with WWIV under Linux again. Still a work in progress, but the BBS is available at again. Telnet is port 2002. Lots of things need done yet, as I haven't spent more than a few minutes at a time on it, but more will be coming soon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sabre Computers

Back in the day, I worked at a local Computer Renaissance, and one of the first things I did was to refurbish a Sabre computer, which, I gathered, was some sort of re-branded, or foreign distributed, AST Advantage. I'm not sure where my boss sourced these machines, but they were fairly bare by the time we received them. I added a hard drive and multimedia kit, possibly upgraded the RAM and/or CPU, installed an OS, and we sold a ton of them. The first one I refurbished, I wound up buying, as it was a rock-solid machine. We sourced two different models, a 486SX-25, and a 486DX-33, and they had different RAM and CPU sockets in them, if I recall correctly. The 486DX is the one I wound up with, and it was easier to upgrade the CPU (I eventually installed an Intel Overdrive 83 in it, and it kicked ass) and had 4 72-pin SIMM slots. I think the 486SX model may have had 2 72-pin and 4 30-pin slots, but my memory is a bit fuzzy there. The DX had a 1-meg (upgradable to 2 megs) ATI Mach 32 on board, and I *think* the SX had the same. It had IDE, floppy, 2 serial ports, and one parallel port on board as well, and had 4 ISA slots via a riser card.

I recently went looking for information on Sabre Computers but I come up blank. I obviously found a pic of an AST Advantage, which looked identical aside from the name plate. Anyone out there have any links about Sabre, or pics of one?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Hacking "My own Leaptop"

My daughter has had a "My Own Leaptop" (affiliate link) for some time, and the sound recently quit working on it, so I think it might be time to do a little hardware hacking ;) First, I'll check to see if I can fix the sound, but, if not, I'm looking at dropping in a Raspberry Pi. I'm not sure if the LCD will be usable at all, but it's pretty a pretty low-res black and white LCD without any backlight anyhow. This has been my plan all along, but I was going to wait for her to outgrow it first. One of the challenges will likely be the keyboard. It's not a standard keyboard, and there's not enough room to stuff a standard (even a mini) in the Leaptop unless I take a dremmel to it. I'm hoping to be able to wire the existing keyboard into a Teensy and make it appear as a standard hid device to the Pi. A bigger challenge is going to be finding a kid-friendly, keyboard-driven interface that will run with a limited keyboard. I'd also like to use the four-position switch that's underneath the screen, but I suspect it will be easy enough to wire this to some gpio pins and occasionally check the position of the switch. At any rate, if I'm unable to repair the sound, I'll be doing this sooner rather than later, and I'll post the progress as I go.

Friday, May 18, 2018

OS/2 Warp

I was surfing around the net the other day and ran across an article about running Windows for Workgroups 3.11 on "contemporary" hardware, and I thought, "Hmmm... Why not? And why not also run OS/2 Warp 4.0 on contemporary hardware while you're at it?" So, sometime in the near future, I dig out my Warp 4.0 CD and install it on something a bit more modern, if not exactly current. Wonder if it will run on an Atom-based netbook? Or should I go with a Pentium 4 or something similar?

Friday, May 4, 2018

Stop A Murder

I'm not sure how many of the people I've played ARGs who might be reading this, but Stop a Murder - Complete Cases¹ is very much like an ARG in book form, so it can be played by individuals on their own time. It reads as a series of email back and forth between the author and an unknown person, who claims to be a murderer. There are five books in the series, How, Where, Why, Who, and When¹. Each book contains a dozen puzzles, ranging in difficulty, which will answer each of the above questions. There's a companion website where you enter your answers and which contains additional content.

My wife and I have started solving these, and have completed How and part of Where so far. We have the dead tree version, and the copy we have contains some errors which have impacted our ability to solve a couple of the puzzles. I don't know if these errors are limited to print issues in the printed Complete Cases version, or if they are editing errors that exist in the Kindle edition of the individual books as well. Luckily, the "email" include spoiler alerts to assist in solving the puzzles, and the companion website contains additional hints if needed, so we were able still able to get past these errors. For instance, one of the puzzles contains a formula, which ends with x(3). This reads as "x times 3," but it was SUPPOSED to read "x to the 3rd power," or "x cubed." The result is, of course, drastically different if you multiple by three instead of raise to the third power.

All that said, this has been a quite enjoyable experience thus far, and introduces my wife to some ARG-like themes, so it's worth checking out even if you're not an ARG player. And if you're a Kindle Unlimited¹ subscriber, they're available free as part of your membership, so what do you have to lose?

¹ affiliate links

Friday, April 27, 2018


After struggling for days, we a finally one step closer to becoming a Windows-free household! My wife got fed up with Windows 10 taking forever to boot and asked if she needed a new notebook to fix it, when in reality that is just the nature of the beast. So she agreed to let me install Linux on it. Being her first real foray into Linux, I set about installing the same distro I'm currently using, which is Linux Mint. I figure that using the same distro will allow me to provide better assistance if she needs it, as I've become somewhat accustomed to it. So I disable Fastboot in Windows, shrink Windows the partition, set the BIOS to boot from my USB drive, and discover there's no way to disable Secure Boot on her Acer laptop. No big deal, I think, as the installer for Linux will give me an option if it sees Secure Boot is still enabled. Install goes fine, so I remove the USB drive during reboot, and it goes straight into Windows 10. And I try everything I can think of to resolve the issue. And I continue trying everything I can find online for the next couple of days. Until today, I discover the perfect storm of settings to resolve everything. First, you HAVE to set a supervisor password in the BIOS to enable additional UEFI settings. Then, during the Linux install, you have to install grub to the EFI partition. Then, you have to add the new file that grub installs to the EFI partition to the boot options in the BIOS. Finally, you have to change your boot order in the BIOS to make sure your new Linux boot comes before the Windows Bootloader. What a pain! But I am currently copying the documents from my wife's Windows 10 install over to her Linux install. I'm leaving the option to dual boot for now, in case she needs to go into Windows for something, but I suspect that after awhile, we'll be able to remove the Windows partition completely :)

Monday, April 23, 2018

Ready Player One (Movie)

Last week, I read Ready Player One. Over the weekend I finally saw the movie, and here are some non-spoiler notes I have on it. There are scenes in the movie that aren't in the book, and there are some in the book that aren't in the movie. Some of the action happens differently than in the book, or to a different character, or for different reasons, but, for the most part, these do not detract from the movie. I think a couple of the scenes from the book that are missing from the movie could have greatly enhanced it, and I'd really love to see an extended cut, but, overall, I really enjoyed the movie.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Ready Player One

I just finished reading Ready Player One (affiliate link) on the advise of a friend of mine. I became aware of it when the movie trailers started playing, but never really gave it much thought, but as someone who was a teenager in the 80s himself, oh my! This book was such a nostalgia trip! Can't recommend it enough.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

New (Old) Design

As much as I loved the darkEQ theme that I had converted from phpBB to Wordpress, I kinda like my old-school blogger layout even better. I could probably fairly easily convert darkEQ again, but what does everyone else think? Should I still with the current theme, or convert darkEQ?

Friday, April 13, 2018

Blogger's come a long way

The reason I moved back from to self-hosted Wordpress the last time was because of the lack of https support for custom domains on I've recently discovered that they've added this support, so I thought I'd see about importing my Wordpress blog back in. It wasn't exactly an easy task, but it's been (mostly) successful. I'm sure there are broken images and links from the migration, but hopefully it doesn't take too much effort to fix ;)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Star Trek: Discovery

I've been watching the Star Trek: Discovery recently, and, as someone who's watched every episode of every incarnation of Star Trek, re-watching all previous entries within the past couple of years, I can say without a doubt that it's quite enjoyable. It's not without it's issues though, but, as the saying goes, the worst Trek is better than most other shows ;)

Even to a casual fan, it's obvious that canon is cannon fodder for this particular entry. I've not just talking about how difficult it is to tell which timeline/universe this series takes place in, I'm taking about obvious quirks like using holodecks and replicators before they existed in any previous universe/timeline. Also, while I have no problem with the new appearance they gave the Klingons, I feel like they did it just to mess with die-hard fans.

Speaking of timelines/universes, I lost track of things pretty much when DS9 started going to that well a bit too often. And this series has already started down that road. I hope they don't stray from whatever their main timeline/universe is too often, even if it's one that's not previously established, because it gets tedious, repetitive, and, dare I say, boring. And nothing is worse that boring Trek, because that leads to series cancellation. And, again, the worst Trek is better than most other shows.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Path to Nowhere

Here's a demo a friend of mine did. Wish I had a quarter of the talent...

Friday, March 16, 2018

Nerd Block

My wife and I were both fans of Nerd Block up until they went out of business. My wife frequently purchased their horror blocks, and after picking up a ton of SciFi blocks, I finally purchased a year's subscription. A few months in, Nerd Block went bankrupt. Now, they have new owners and put out a release via email and their Facebook page, but they neglected to address both the individual blocks that people paid for, and the longer-term subscriptions that were paid for. So I emailed them, as I'm sure many others did as well, as I received what appears to be a boilerplate reply which addresses those still owed merchandise from the old Nerd Block:

Hey Rod,

We want to begin by thanking you for sharing your experiences with us. We’ve read each and every comment and gathered much-needed feedback. This is helping us better understand how we can move forward.

We want to reiterate that we are a brand new Company under completely new ownership so we are learning about your previous experiences with Nerd Block from this feedback.

Some of you raised concerns as subscribers who did not receive blocks you had either purchased or subscribed to. We do understand how you were let down by the bankruptcy of the old Nerd block. We can’t change the past. We are unable to ship any blocks you may have purchased previously as these blocks simply do not exist. We are however developing other ways of making this as right as we can. The new Nerd Block team is working hard to earn your trust and will offer other solutions and products that transform your experience with Nerd Block to a positive one.

Today we would like to confirm that, as suggested by you, we are working on a plan to provide a credit against future purchase to those who never received their blocks. That credit will likely be able to be used to purchase any future Nerd Block products. A longer announcement of other exciting products and product partners will be going out later this month. We have a few logistical details to work through and will be updating you all about the process soon.

There were, of course, additional questions that were posed to us, so we’d like to address a number of them here:

Q) Will I be able to access my old Nerd Block account or will I need to re-register?

A) When Nerd Block re-launches you will be able to access your existing account using your current username and password – or if you wish, reset your password.

Q) When will you start shipping new Blocks and/or products?

A) We will be revealing plans for new Blocks, exclusive products, and content plans within the coming weeks.

Q) Will you be creating a new Horror Block?

A) We are talking with our partners about this very topic and hope to have some news to share within the coming weeks.

Q) What do you mean when you talk about “content” alongside products and Blocks?

A) One of the exciting things about collaborating with our new partners is that we gain access to their archives. Interviews with directors or artists, unseen artwork, designs and plans are just some of the exclusive content that Nerd Block customers will have access to.

Q) Am I still subscribed to any Blocks?

A) You are no longer subscribed to any Blocks and you will not be charged.

Q) Am I still being charged for any subscriptions?

A) No, you are not and will not be billed for any old subscriptions.

Q) What about my credit card information?

A) The new owners of Nerd Block do not have any of your credit cards details. As mentioned previously the old company did not hold your credit card information or give out your credit card information. Any new products or services purchased will require the user to make a completely new transaction, re-entering all purchasing, billing and shipping information.

Q) You mentioned that the new Nerd Block is now an American Company. Does this mean that you are not shipping to Canada / the UK / Internationally?

A) We will ship internationally, in accordance with any international shipping laws. Being an American company does not mean that we are only shipping to the US.

As the new owners of Nerd Block, we ask that you continue to share your experiences and to provide us with as many suggestions as possible so that we can make the re-launch of Nerd Block something that everyone can be proud of. We have some very exciting programs and partnerships to announce shortly so please stay tuned.


Team Nerd Block

Now, they mention making things right by potentially providing credit towards new merchandise, which is all fine and dandy. But I will NOT throw good money after bad if that credit requires additional purchase or anything additional out of my pocket. The only way they new Nerd Block will get a dime from me is AFTER they have earned my trust by making things right. I completely understand that this is completely new ownership, but you don't buy a company which pissed its reputation away and not expect everyone to remember what happened the last time they gave a company called "Nerd Block" their hard-earned money.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Linux on Notebook

I have been a bit hesitant to install Linux on my work notebook, but I finally bit the bullet and installed Linux Mint along side the Windows 8.1 install, and have managed to get Citrix Receiver running under Chromium. I was initially getting an error about a missing file (but it worked in Firefox), and a bit of Googling led me to these instructions which worked like a charm. I've got gigs worth of files on my Windows partition, but now I can start moving them over and eventually get rid of Windows completely :)

A note about distro choice: I'm not a huge fan of Ubuntu since the switch to Unity, but Linux Mint is known to work with Secure Boot and UEFI. So I chose the MATE desktop, as it's more-or-less a continuation of the old Gnome 2 desktop.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


My site gets minimal views. Since adding the crossposring to social media sites, I get a few more visits when I post from people occasionally clicking through. And by minimal, I'm talking 1 or 2 visits a day, average. Yesterday, with no posts in over a week, I got 40 visits. One old post, in particular, got 15 views. What the hell is going on? I wonder if Google Anylitics has fixed their referrer spam issue, so would it be helpful to try to see where the traffic is suddenly from? This also happened a few months back. Strange...

Friday, February 9, 2018

That lasted a long time...

Like the title says,that lasted a long time, didn't it? And by "that," I mean keeping to a posting schedule ;) That's OK, though, as part of the issue is just being busier at work. It took me a moment to adjust. Also, I need to get some other projects underway, and as I do, I'll have more content to post as well :)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Spending less time on Facebook

I'm continuing with my first goal of 2018 of posting more ofen by adding a quick note about spending less time on Facebook. This one is easy, as we spent last weekend moving again, so I haven't had much time for Facebook to begin with ;) But I do find that when I do have time, I'm not aimlessly wandering. The time I spend on Facebook is spent checking in on specific groups that I'm in and not just mindlessly scrolling.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Post more often

Last Friday, I posted my goals for 2018, and the first goal was to post more often. Since this is a casual, personal blog, I've never really stuck to any posting schedule that I've set, so I'm a little hesitant to set a specific schedule, but I'm thinking I can hit once a week, at least most weeks. Some weeks I may hit more, and occasionally I may miss that meager goal completely, but if I hit more often than not, then my first goal of 2018 will be met.

As for schedule, I'm thinking about scheduling posts to go live sometime Friday morning. This gives me all week to work on the post, so hopefully things will seem a bit more polished than in the past as well :)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Goals for 2018

Happy New Years! It seems like this might be a good time to share some of my goals for 2018, both for the blog, and personally.

  1. Post more often

  2. Move blog hosting to a server I have more control over

  3. Develop another web property that I own

  4. Spend less time on Facebook

  5. Read more

  6. Write more

  7. Lose some weight

  8. Drink less soda

  9. Move the last of my laptops to Linux

  10. Bring back up my BBS

  11. Settle in to the house we moved into

  12. Finish some of my retro-computing project

I'll be posting more about each one of these, and possibly adding to the list, in the coming days and weeks, thus fulfilling the first item on the list ;) What are your goals for 2018?