Roy was right, GTR PSU’s are terrible.

My GTR Power Com PS530 Plus ‘Chinesium‘ PSU blew up.

Roy called it!

Well, Roy called it. It’s a shame I don’t have footage as I didn’t really expect anything to happen, but I let the system run for a few days nothing much to report, I had mostly left it to idle, until the kids came in, and it became a YouTube, music machine. Again nothing much to report, I loaded some program to report CPU temperatures, and it was hovering under 30c. Not to bad.

With the kids gone, I thought I’d run FurMark to see how the GPU cooler is scaling as I suspect I should disassemble the video card, clean it up some, add new paste at least. So basically at 600×400 it was scaling about 1c ever second, just going vertical until it was in the 80c range. I’m not sure of the exact temp, but it was at least 80c and then the PSU shorted, shot electricity out the back, and let out some magical blue smoke. I yanked the power cable, and pulled the PSU, which was still hot to the touch.

Yikes!

Now granted the TDP of the E5-2620 v2 is 80 watts, and what I suspect is the killer, the graphics card, an ASUS Radeon R9 290x can consume up to 300 watts. I don’t know how much 4 sticks of RAM, and a M.2 drive will hit, but considering the PSU says 550 on the box, 530 on the sticker, I suspect going anywhere near 450 is really pushing it to the limits.

I pulled the card, and cleaned it up, and put in an ANTEC 650 PSU, and was amazed that the system powered up just fine. I even reran FurMark until it hit 75c, and killed it, and let it drop back to it’s idle temperature of 35c.

So yeah, the GRT PSU killed itself under load. I though that disclaimer in FurMark was a bit crazy, but no really it really can kill hardware! And I got lucky the only thing that died was the PSU, the machine is still happily running.

Because I hate myself

Yes. It’s my last haul for the month.

I feel lucky to find a copy of Takeshi no Chousenjou in the box. I only know of it from Jon Tron. I actually do have a Famicom in the office, so I guess I can play it.. Although I’m not so much looking forward to holding up my phone with Google translate like a monkey daring to touch the monolith.

Yes it’s Takeshi no Chousenjou.

I’m pretty sure I won’t finish it, but this game immediately intrigued me. Then I forgot. This morning I awoke in a bit of a maker’s mark and contact c haze and remembered this game…. Then I remembered I’m in Japan.

I’m in Narita now. Having dinner, my flight back to Hong Kong is tomorrow. Can’t wait.

Oh I also picked up a GTX 980! So expect more exciting Chinesium updates tomorrow. I think on Tuesday I’ll get more water pumps and change my dual Xeon huananzhi board to water cooled..

There is other stuff afoot, some more painful returning to Return to Zork, and if my FM Towns actually works, some pharlap fun. Although I’ll probably do that even if I need to rely on emulation.

Did you know that although the FM TOWNS may have shipped with the pharlap 386 do’s extender with its MS-DOS, but it never had a DooM port!?

Oh and disks to the Coherent port to the Commodore 900 turned up. Binary only. But I guess this is exciting for Z8000 fans.

I did look quickly at lemmings, and yes it has WING and Win32s. Awesome!

What is with the price of retro Japanese software?

So I was lucky enough to get to Beep before it close, and I picked out a couple of FM Towns titles (and a junker!), and I thought ‘Return to Zork’ would be a good title, something to compare the MacOS & MS-DOS versions against.

Although slightly faded, it does come in this nice box, which reminds me of the NEOGEO… which is probably an apt comparison.

The artwork has faded, although the CD-ROM inside was still sealed, never before opened. I picked this up for an eye watering ¥3,480 but flipping the box over revealed the launch price of an astonishing ¥12,800! I’m not sure what the exchange rate from 1994 was, but even at a generous 100:1 JPY to USD that’s half the price of the old multimedia kits which included the drive, sound card and so many came bundled with Return to Zork.

Another random title I grabbed was even more insane!

¥ 14,800 for Silent Möbius: Case: Titanic!

I need to get a RGB monitor & keyboard to see if this thing even works, meanwhile I fought with UNZ to get it running, and the mouse tracking is totally broken unless you change the DPI scaling, credit to this post in the UNZ ‘BBS’.

One thing is sure, the voice acting in the Japanese version is so terrible.

As people complain about ‘AAA’ games, and paying $60, just look at this! $134 USD for some cartoon boat game thing.. Although I’ve never heard of Silent Möbius or played it, I just saw it was available for the x68000 and PC-98. So I guess it’s one of those Lowest Common Denominator games.

One interesting thing about the FM TOWNS is that they have that ROM DOS with CD-ROM drivers, and their apparently blanket licensing for PharLap 386. Although while I was wasting time looking at cartoon rabbits, someone else scooped but the 386 BASIC kit. Darn.

But in the Return to Zork world, the ‘made.exe’ is in fact a Pharlap 386 EXP, meaning that it runs in 386 protected mode, so you don’t have to struggle with emm386, himem.sys and trying to get a ludercus 580-600kb of conventional memory. Seriously it was such a chore to get this running the manual has a big section on setting up a boot disk. It’s a shame they didn’t license a DOS extender for the US PC platform, although I can see why they chose that route on the FM Towns (and I believe PC98), as there is a RTZ9821 directory there which includes an EXP. Shame it was never relased state side as a patch, as it would have been a GREAT user change. Well that or a Win32 executable.

Building with the finest Chinesium

budget build with the power on

Im going to detail it later, so all of this will change, but I was back in my favorite “junk” mall and a few places are selling new kit!

So I thought I’d do one of the Xeon boards up with what I thought looked good, but new. However they don’t offer remanufactured GPUs so the Radion 200 something is a used card I picked up for $350 Hong Kong dollars.

1920×1080 @ 88FPS! Very auspicious!

While I’m not the biggest fan or all that knowledgeable about ATI/AMD GPU’s this Radeon R9 200 (something) seems to perform okay. At the least it ran FurMark for a minute without catching fire.

Going with this idea, that means the PSU, case, motherboard and all in one liquid cooler are brand new.

I think the overall cost should be below 200$ USD but I need to go through my receipts and check. Although it is a cheap build for sure. More than enough punch for excel, and enough graphical punch for some gaming.

While not the cheapest case, the aigo Mini case was the least terrible looking one I could find. And at $160 HKD, that puts it in at around $20 USD. Nice

For cooling I found the Alseye H120 cooler for a cool $280 HKD or about $35 USD.

While I’ve used multiple AIO’s before this one really didn’t feel all that different from the rest. And it was the cheapest one I could find.

Contents were pretty much what I’d expect. The cooler block, radiator, and some adapters and whatnot to connect it to the CPU. What is nice about this one is that it includes mounting hardware and explicit ability to mount to the socket 2011. I’m pretty sure that this AIO is technically cheaper than the fan kit I have on my dual processor board.

I picked the 550 watt ‘POWER COM’ GTR power supply, since they bothered with a box. There was a 650 that just came plastic wrapped for cheaper, although I think I should have gone that route.

PSU Wired in with an adapter to drive the video card, and although only half of the secondary CPU connector has a plug in it, the board still powers up to POST.

While the machine does power up, I really have to wonder about the overall power budget. But this is a cheap machine so…. I’m more so happy it powered on.

And amazingly the machine not only powers up, but after a few minutes inside the BIOS the CPU is running at a cool 21c. Nice!

So from what I can recall:

  • Motherboard / CPU / RAM 450RMB
  • Case $160 HKD
  • PSU $150 HKD
  • GPU $350 HKD
  • AIO $290 HKD

So this puts me at a mere 187 USD. I could have gone cheaper with a discount air cooler, and a very simple 2D graphics card. But I was thinking of going with the ‘best of the worst’ type thing, so that means going with the water cooling, and the best looking graphics card I could find on the cheap. As you may have noticed storage is missing as I had expected some M.2 drives to have arrived by now. But for sub $200 prices this little box packs quite a good little punch.

Atermiter x79 Mini-ATX Xeon bundle

I needed to get some new PC’s for some temp workers, and I didn’t want to spend all that much. At the same time they need to work with fine Chinese programs like WeChat and TaoBao, which means they have to load up on all this spyware that bogs down damned near everything.

The old Celeron J3455 just wasn’t handling the load, and then I saw this cheap bundle, the Atermiter x79 Mini-ATX motherboard E5-2620 v2 Combo:

The kit includes the board, processor, and 16GB of matched DDR3 ECC RAM. And I was able to get the kits for 450 RMB ($65 USD) as I was ordering more than one. I don’t know if this kind of negotiations are available to anyone outside of China. Although I don’t know if doing this would be some kind of service to resell? It’s crazy enough that I already employ someone to help buy stuff, maybe I should turn it into a business.

Anyway, scoring the Celeron J3455 vs the Xeon E5-2620v2 shows that the Xeon is 2x as fast per core, and with 6 cores / 12 hyper-threaded vs 4 cores on the Xeon. So this should be great.

Atermiter Mainboard, Born for Gaming

The board showed up the next day, granted it’s because it’s from the province adjacent to Hong Kong, Guangdong so it didn’t have that far to go.

Box contents

Contents were pretty bare, the memory nice foam packed, a SATA cable, and a heat sink adapter to sit on top of the LGA 2011 socket to let you use other more common heat sinks. I went ahead and used a LGA1151 3 wire fan kit I had lying around.

Mini-ATX Xeon 2011

The board is TINY. It really is Mini-ATX. I don’t have any spare M.2 storage on hand, so that’ll have to be for another day, instead I just have a disk & SSD from the old Celeron, which booted up just fine in this board. Naturally bring your own CR-2032 as they are so scared of shipping lithium ion batteries for some reason. Xeon’s don’t have iGPU’s so you will need a graphics card. And I just used a super cheap NVIDIA Quadro FX 580. Not an awesome card, but you can see what you are doing, so it’s more than enough for back office work.

E5-2620 v2, 6 cores, 12 threads, 16GB of RAM for $65 USD!

So yeah. Another China Xeon special. I know it’s not that exciting, I should fire up the other one and see if I can get XP x64 on there. I have a GTX 970, it’d be a killer HL2 machine!

Bill Gates on the future of Xenix

I bet most would never imagine an article like this. And yes, it’s really Bill Gates on the cover. And yes the lead story is about Xenix. Really.

And can you imagine what magazine would have such a glowing photo shoot of Gates? I almost wonder if anyone can imagine which one it would be?

The main point of course is binary compatibility between x86 distros, and killer apps. Of course not quite in that terminology but it’s there. Even in 1985 the hints of the far superior 80386 was being actively talked up, and the promise of a Xenix for the 386 as well.

And the magazine?

Yeah it’s Unix World. Volume 1, issue 5.

A bunch of early issues found their way onto archive.org, and it’s great stuff going over the old ads for SUN, HP, and all the old vendors, the articles wondering what will the future of BSD be, and Bill Gates on Xenix.

I know this will be a great score for all my Xenix fans!

Just made a drunk purchase… Not too mad

NovaGo!!

I’ve been a hidden long time fan of non x86 NT, I’ve owned Alphas and PowerPC (still sadly no MIPS), and when it came to the arm platform, ive since picked up the Surface RT and the Surface 2 RT. YouTube works fine on both, although the 2 is far faster and overall nicer user experience. I use the 1st Gen as a winamp player as it’s easier to jailbreak and cross compile to and mess with. But locked down Windows 8.0 for arm is insanely limited.

Enter Windows 10 and another botched shot at Windows on ARM for the general consumer. These ship with a S limited version of windows, which apparently can be easily unlocked to full 10 pro. I chose the Asus as it’s a laptop, and has more ram than the HP. Both however should be enough for casual day to day usage of office and edge chromium. I’ll have to see how it goes for either cross or native compiling.

Although the arm in these machines is 64bit, is there 32bit user land at all? Is it still possible to maintain a 32bit userland of gcc 1/2 and binutils for legacy compiles? How terrible is x86 qemu on arm emulation? DOSBox native? I guess SDL should be a simple rebuild like NT MIPS?

I’m also curious about WineVDM and MS-DOS player.

Oh well, I’m just waiting for a flight in the airport, going slowly insane.

But looking forward to a non x86 usable machine. I even have an unlimited chip for Hong Kong. It’ll be interesting if it can keep up for me, and if I’ve finally hit Ted Smith FORTRAN Maximum usage. Although this has no floppy drives.

Linus Tech Tips looks at the Jingsha

Luckily for them, they had far better luck than I did. I’m using the same processor, the E5-2667 v2, which I had paid 1080RMB each (155 USD) for, although I did get the board for 650RMB (93 USD). So I have a better buyer, but I had no luck with the board.

The processors and RAM work fine in the older Huananzhi, so at least I know those work.

And since rebuilding the machine, I’ve had 10 days of uptime now in this configuration, so it defiantly works in the non Jingsha board.

And yeah for the heck of it, here it is running Cinebench R15 with a score of 2521, and using all cores, all threads. But as a limitation of Xeons of the time is no real turbo, as when it’s running it’ll go to 3.6Ghz, but it’ll happily idle once completed in the 1.x range.

WindEmu

AKA 16 shades of gray by Ninji. I was given a link to this fine project by ‘w‘ and I thought that emulation was a great way to get 2020 off to a start. And wow what a project.

I have to say I’m pretty amazed how they took an essentially dead platform, and very quickly was able to take an unknown ROM, and parse it enough to glue it to a CPU emulator and get it booting. And in 3 days!

Even better, is the emscripten version, where you can boot it from your browser! no really!

https://wuffs.org/WindEmu/index.html

Back in the 90’s I saw the crash of the much lofted Newton, and I remember seeing devices like this, and the reprise of geoworks, but they all seemed like such cut down toys. For me, the first killer one, was the Windows CE devices that had PcAnywhere. As now I could actually have a ‘palm top’ with a modem, and dialup into work, and remote control the server infrastructure. I didn’t need a laptop, just a tiny bag, for a machine that I could drive with 2 AA batteries. Although I think Windows CE will go down as the biggest mistake Microsoft had, as it left them complacent in the smart phone space, and their massive market domination was utterly destroyed by iOS & Android. And who thinks Microsoft is relevant today, or a threatening monopoly like they were in the 90’s?

The Psion is an interesting ‘forward’ thinking machine, in that it’s ARM powered, has a Compact Flash slot, RS-232, and infared!.. A perfect mobile machine for the late 90’s. Although combining this with a cellphone would prove too much for far too many of these upstarts, it really was Apple’s brilliant move with the Motorola E398/ROKR that by partnering with a handset manufacturer they could learn all the ropes of bringing a handset to market and then bring along the massive disruption in the industry that is the iPhone.

But before the iPhone, tiny embedded OS’s on tiny RISC processors was the general path save for the few x86/Geos devices. While it was ‘neat’ it really was a dark age of portable machines. So close, yet so far away.

WindEmu is pretty amazing, at the least totally check it out in your browser!

And check out Ninji’s blog as well!

Happy 2020!

Or 1992, for those of us living in an offset in the past.

Somehow this year, I’ve managed to do 119 posts, 1 more than last year. Although a far cry from 2011’s 254 posts. I still have things to write about, it’s just a hard time either making them interesting or trying to see them through to some kind of conclusion other than ‘here is a thing’. type thing. thing.

I’m in Sapporo for the new years, and as this was such a last minute plan, I eneded up just grabbing two bottles of this ‘Niagara’ wine… Proudly made in Hokkadio It’s not the worse champaigne Ive ever had, but it’s too… “grapeie” for my likes. But that is what you get for walking in at 1030pm into a 7-11.

I should make a post or video thing about traveling. I run into so many people that always say they are so ‘envious’ of my travels, and how do I plan and cope… And the truth is that I don’t plan, I just show up, I don’t take all that much with me, as we live in the future now, Amazon is a thing, just as everywhere you can order stuff off the internet or buy mass produced goods anywhere. The only real important things are an Android phone for google translate, and data SIMs for wherever you are going. Places like Japan will have them in the airport, and it’s just best to buy them there.

I know that buying things in the airport is usually the worst, or most expensive option, but in many nations like Japan, where non residents are barred from having a phone number or buying any kind of phone or service, your only real option is the airport, although some of the big chain tourist / tax free chain stores (Sofmap/BIC Camera) are starting to carry travel SIMs, although they are more expensive than the offerings in the airport.

Also don’t panic, relax. If you need ‘things’ check out the exciting world of thrift stores. Go use a coin laundromat. Use google translate to read a local news paper, or gossip rag. Why live in a tower of absolute luxury when you can experience a few seconds amongst the people?

And select some cloud service, and setup your phone and camera to backup to the cloud, just embrace it. If you have your stuff lost/stolen you’ll be devastated to have lost everything, instead of only since your last checkpoint. Rent servers out in the internet. If I lose my phone or laptop, all my data and access is ‘out there’ so I just buy a new machine, remote wipe the old, and move on with my life. Heck I don’t even need to travel with such things, and I can just buy discount/burner cheap models on arriving letting me later gift the machines to other people, and or kids. Not to mention like my rescued i7 makes for an interesting tale at least.

For those with boring office jobs, encourage people to use collaboration tools like Sococo and open people’s eyes to that there “is no here” anymore. And that the sad reality of being constantly connected, and constantly available also means you don’t need to be in the office, everywhere you can get internet is your office.

It’s a small world afterall.