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 of 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

BBS

I have been tinkering with WWIV under Linux again. Still a work in progress, but the BBS is available at bbs.nitemarecafe.com 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

Success!

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 book 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 :)