Storage past meets storage future…

Tapes, tapes tapes, lots of tapes...

While talking to a friend we were mentioning how the lifespan of tapes really sucks, how you could have some tapes that easily surpassed their lifespan of seven years, while some couldn’t last seven weeks. At some point in the business we’ve all seen it, some poor guy runs the local server backup to tape every night, they have a disaster, they call everyone they know for the tape backup program & OS as they’ve never tried to do a recovery before, and then you find out that the backups are all bogus because they forgot to format the tape, or some other nonsense and all the tapes are blank… They’ve never actually read the output of the backup program to know that they’ve backed up nothing.

At least we were able to send out the disks for repair and got back the vast majority of the data, but having the false assumption that they had good backups is the worst.

In the picture the idea is that the single DAT tape can hold the capacity of all the other tapes, but tapes are not only picky creatures, they can easily break giving you gaps in your data…

IMHO the only ‘workable’ backup is to hard disk, and those should be mirrored… Don’t use USB or ‘consumer’ grade stuff, those disks wont last five years let alone 30… And keep getting new disks and copying stuff up.  Sigh.

As easy as it is to watch everyone get locked out of new ‘cloud’ based software, it is just as easy  to get locked out of old stuff.  Make ISO images of your CD’s just in case.  Keep text files of your license information, email it to yourself!  It is far too easy to get locked out.  And as vendors move on, all they’ll sell you is new stuff that very well won’t work with your old data.


Why history needs software piracy

A friend set me this great link from PCworld.  Its a great read, as it outlays the major problem with an electronic culture.  It is all too easily destroyed with our ever shifting media, machines, and laws.

The problem is that as the years go by, the only copies of things that will be left, will be the pirated copies, as they have already removed the copy protection and allowed the original artifact to be transfer ed to newer and more usable media.  And anything from floppy disks, EEPROM cartridges, paper tape, CD-RW’s all will not last forever.  And even media that should have a 100 year life span, tends not to because of the availability of working drives, much like LaserDisc, CD-ROM and even our precious hard disks with the ever evolving interfaces, much like the end of MFM, RLL, ESDI etc.

Now I know what you are about to say, but CD-ROM’s still are around, sure but how many machines like the Sega-CD are still functioning?  And those early drives are known to have MANY mechanical faults, let alone other issues that come about from constant wear/tear.  Oh sure emulation is great, but how do you get the media into the emulator? No doubt for the majority a pirate was involved (MAME anyone?).

And it goes beyond computer games, and other computer oriented things of the time, but into things like music, & movies as tapes will start to die out with an approximate 30 year lifespan with magnetic media.  That would mean that the original 1977 release of Star Wars could be lost forever because of not only Lucas Art’s work to remove the original work from the market, but also the inability to watch/transfer it because of brittle film (media decay) and the lack of a good 35mm projector (old hardware scarcity)..

There is little doubt in my mind, that 100+ years from now the only collection of late 20th century media will come from someone who wound up hoarding pirated copies en masse.

In the day of the $50 1TB disk drive, you’d think it’d be trivial to make a copy of everything but as always the lawyers do their best to make it impossible… I wonder how many of them are into antiques, and could appreciate a world that when the manufacturer failed, all copies, all variations, and all records of it were obliterated…..

As convenient as the ‘cloud’ phenomena is, just like the rise & fall of the mainframe, it’ll come back to people wanting a real working version at home that some nebulous corporation or government cannot take away from them.

Are you 32x’ing?

Without a doubt the 32x was one of the biggest disappointments by SEGA.  Designed in a late night fit of rage in Las Vegas, the 32x was to be the middle step from the Genesis to the 32bit Saturn.  The Saturn got rushed, and what happened is that in America the 32x had less than a six month lifespan.  Not to mention the model 1’s had bus issues with the 32x if the user didn’t have a Sega-CD.

And of course the 32x required ANOTHER power adapter, supplied two SH2 RISC processors much like the Saturn, but included a measly 256kb of RAM, required you to pipe the Genesis video into the 32x where it did its own video genlock (that can’t be cheap right?), and did nothing to the cartridge sizes, so you were still capped at 4MB!

If that wasn’t enough there even was an infomercial.

Yes that is right, an infomercial!!!  I dare you to watch it, in all of it’s 1990’s glory. I made it 90 seconds.  Ugh the horror.  I wonder if this was done by the Windows/386 people.

OS/2 on a Dell Dimension 4100 rant

Ok so I was going to do something involving OS/2 and MS-DOS on this p3 I scored recently.  Now of course trying to boot my OS/2 2.0 diskettes just leave me with a black screen of nothingness so a straight install is out.

So I get this crazy idea to backup an OS/2 VM with OS/2 backup, booted off a floppy, and just copy/restore it, right? simple?


So I figure I can make a bootable CD with an OS/2 2.1 boot diskette I found, rawrite that to physical media, and do a restore of a backup.  Well I find out most of my disks are bad, and the OS/2 2.1 boot diskette… freaks with either clock01 or country.sys errors..  ARGH!

So, I go ahead and figure, what the hell, maybe I can backup the OS/2 install from a VM with MS-DOS backup, and restore it on the real pc right? Well testing in a VM reveals massive EA corruption (Extended Attributes..).

Pushing further, I figure I can modify the config.sys to set my shell from pmwin to cmd.exe, and then xcopy c:\os2 into say c:\xxx, then alter the config.sys to point to c:\xxx finally letting me boot OS/2 cmd from the hard disk, and not in the OS/2 directory I could *FINALLY* restore an OS/2 backup and almost get a working system, but for some reason & cmd.exe were omitted from the backup…

So now I’ve fixed that issue, the desktop won’t let me do a shutdown (the option is just GONE!) but CAD works fine.  And now I’m dualbooting from MS-DOS to OS/2.  I’d originally hoped to boot from HPFS but that is out now.  Just be happy it’s booting right?


PCE can now run PC/IX and Xenix!

That’s right! from the homepage you can find screenshots, and download links, and ready to run systems too!

Xenix on the XT!

Pretty snazzy as the major hurdle with these old UNIX’en is that they talk directly to the old XT disk controllers, not using the BIOS.. The AT & beyond we got lucky as even in 2012 PC’s still emulate the old WD-1003 controller…

Not that I could imagine *WHY* you would want to run the 8088 version of Xenix (or the 286 version too for that matter) but rest assured you now can.

Video of Fortran Dungeon…

I forget how I got linked back to this, but I figured in the new year vogue, I’d make a video to show how … convaluted it is to build dungeon via f2c.

As you can see, first I have to compile f2c as a Windows QuickWin exe as the MS-DOS version just runs out of memory without some kind of DOS Extender, and Windows 3.0 makes a suitable extender..

Next, I had to make a ‘list’ program that then exectued f2c against the Fortran converting them to C.  Then finally I just compile the libf2c components, then statically add in the Dungeon source that was just converted.  There is some ‘out of range’ case statement, not sure why, but it works… as you can see.

It builds/runs in 286 enhanced mode and beyond..  Obviously the more memory the better.

This was on Qemu 0.15.0 with MS-DOS 4.01 & Windows 3.0

The coming war on general computation from 28C3

I found this on boingboing..

Talk about bad news all around… It’s a talk about SOPA, and how the movie/music industry wants to transform the open internet into something like what it is in more censored nations, by Cory Doctorow.

TL;DW is that SOPA is only the beginning, other industries will soon be attacking general purpose machines, expect things to get much more insane…

Spam is getting out of controll, a preemptive appology

If I don’t reply to your comments, and your comment never gets ‘approved’ then it probably got tagged as spam. I’d normally get 20-30 a day, but the last month its been a steady 200-300++ spams, and I simply cannot get through them all so I’ve been periodically purging the whole thing.  From what I can tell the blog software & filters is doing a good job, so I can only assume that is fine…

But I do know in the past that there have been legitimate posts lost in there, and now there really is no hope.  For example right now the stats read:

1073 Visits  2644 Pageviews with 8% of those being SPAM.

which is pretty cool to think there has been ~987 unique people to hit my blog in the last 24 hours!

I hope to take all the spam as a sign that I’m growing.  I know last year was a ‘good year’ for updates.. Although I haven’t made any resolutions for the new year.. I do hope to keep up the posts!.. Even if finding new & exciting things seems to be hard as I’ve covered so much so there probably will be quite a bit of revisiting but such is life.

Although I will get out one goal through the year, and that is to program this sega genesis I bought.  Not just the emulator but I have high hopes to somehow program this beast!!!  From what Ive done research wise my ‘attack’ vector will be the CD-ROM as it is trivial to burn a CD, while making a ROM cartridge will require a programmer.. Maybe if I get too crazy I may buy one but for now I’m content to collect a few more model-1 CD drives and get them at least working to the point they can boot up some CD’s (I’ve got two now!)..

Oh well that is my minimal goals.  If I were more motivated I’d tear into google’s NACL and port some games, or some emulators…

But who knows the year is still young.

Happy 2012!

Ok, I'm lost the stats don't match... 😐