Boeing 777-300 vs Apple charger

So here I am, flying at 27,000 feet over Japan on the way to the United States of America for work, and I log on to the Panasonic in flight WiFi and thought I could charge my phone and catch up on emails.

Buy guess what? The most popular single oem charger sold in 220v regions doesn’t fit the power socket. Sigh. This is the kind of crap why I have to travel with a bag of cables, adapters and batteries.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to be able to do this kind of crap on a plane, but.. damn as always it’s the last mile where tech always falls down.
Just like RIM couldn’t grasp that the biggest market for phones with keyboards was teenage girls, you need to test your damn stuff on popular uses, edge cases are just that.

AOL Instant messaging to end service.

From tumblr!

And they killed it from Tumblr.

AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed. As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017. We are more excited than ever to continue building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products for users around the world.

Kind of insane to pay way too much money for something, to just turn around and kill it.

All I know is that whatever they think they are going to do, it’ll never have the reach and recognition as AIM.  Maybe there is reverse engineered servers, like Escargot for MSN.

Messing around with Vistapro 4.0

So I uh.. found this copy of Vistapro 4.0  And I though it would be fun to kick out an animation.  At 320×100 this took a whole 8 minutes to render on my laptop.

I though that was cool, but I was mistaken in thinking it was multi-threaded while it rendered. I have access to a machine with 16 processor cores, so I setup a rendering machine, and found out very quickly it was only using one core.  I think their final product Vistapro renderer may have used multiple cores although the company that sold it went bankrupt quite some time ago.  Anyways I rendered this animation at 1080p and it took about two hours.

For a while this kind of ‘virtual reality’ and desktop rendering of places was quite popular.  Although Vistapro originated on the Amiga, but without a numerical coprocessor and fast processor this may have taken weeks or months on a stock 68000.  I haven’t tried, and I’m in no hurry to find out.

I didn’t insert any music or audio, so it’s just 48 seconds of the camera going around.

Great rename in progress

I’m sure this will end well…

UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = replace(option_value, ‘https://virtuallyfun.com/’, ‘https://virtuallyfun.com/’) WHERE option_name = ‘home’ OR option_name = ‘siteurl’;
UPDATE wp_posts SET guid = replace(guid, ‘https://virtuallyfun.com/’,’https://virtuallyfun.com/’);
UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = replace(post_content, ‘https://virtuallyfun.com/’, ‘https://virtuallyfun.com/’);
UPDATE wp_postmeta SET meta_value = replace(meta_value,’https://virtuallyfun.com/’,’https://virtuallyfun.com/’);
UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = replace(option_value, ‘https://virtuallyfun.com/’, ‘https://virtuallyfun.com/’) WHERE option_name = ‘home’ OR option_name = ‘siteurl’;
UPDATE wp_posts SET guid = replace(guid, ‘https://virtuallyfun.com/’,’https://virtuallyfun.com/’);
UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = replace(post_content, ‘https://virtuallyfun.com/’, ‘https://virtuallyfun.com/’);
UPDATE wp_postmeta SET meta_value = replace(meta_value,’https://virtuallyfun.com/’,’https://virtuallyfun.com/’);

Since I had purchased virtuallyfun.com quite a while ago, and I had planned on doing this years ago, for some reason today felt like a good day.  I have had mappings in Apache to catch & rename links from a while back, but in reverse.  I have no plans on dumping superglobalmegacorp.com, but you have to admit it is quite long to type in, and the ‘non standard’ name for the blog no doubt wasn’t helping things.  I guess that makes 2017 the year of conformity.

As always, if you can read this, then it’s working.  Old links will continue to function so really nothing going on, same site, same crap, just flipped the aliases.

Finished rebuilding my MS-DOS machine

I managed to score a TEKRAM P6B40-A4X 3 slot ISA mother-board last week, along with a CT-4500 ISA SoundBlaster AWE64 Value Edition at Capital Computer Centre, a second hand computer hardware market in Hong Kong.  I had also scored a cheap Windows 98 machine which I had hoped to use it’s case and peripherals as the basis for this ISA machine.  However that didn’t work out as the floppy drive was not only stuck in the case, but didn’t work.  And it’s CD-ROM drive didn’t work either.  I got the machine for $100 HKD so I really couldn’t complain too much, the memory, disk and P4 board were fine.  So I had to look for a case that had not only external 5 1/4″ bay, which isn’t too hard today, but it’s getting harder and harder as many systems don’t have any optical drives.  The hardest part was finding a case that had an expose 3 1/2″ bay.  After a lot of searching there was only ONE I could find, the DEEPCOOL DUKASE V3.

It was inexpensive enough, costing around $279 HKD, and thankfully had a PC-Speaker, and a bunch of screws.  Gutting out the Windows 98 machine, tossing it’s case, and I put everything in the deep cool case.

The case, installed

Naturally it didn’t work the first time.  I had to download the PDF manual, and do the jumpers over again.  After powering it up, I got the long beep followed by three short beeps.  Turns out my AGP Voodoo 3 wasn’t seated properly, so I re-seat the card and I’m able to DooM from my MS-DOS rig, but now it’s in a case, and not all in the open.

External media, so 1980’s!

The hinge is magnetic, and not too obvious at first.  But it does the job, and hides the ancient removable disks.

my horrible cabling

One thing of note, for a board this old, it required the old 40 pin IDE cables.  I found mine in a junk bin for $10 HKD each.  Not bad, but I literally only saw two.  I had a much easier time finding a NIB PS/2 Mouse & Keyboard.

close-up of the sound card

Like all terrible RGB builds, this case has a plastic window so you can gawk at the cards.  I don’t know who does this, but I guess it’s a thing.

I installed Windows 95, from floppies, and then downloaded the AWE Value drivers from vogons, and a Voodoo 3 driver from driverguide of all places… If you need it, beware of their ads that either want to install some spyware crap, or their insane games to get to the actual driver.  But I did get it to work.

40 pin IDE ribbon vs an 80 pin IDE ribbon cable.

The CPU is a Pentium III running at 450Mhz with 512MB of RAM.  It’s the at the edge of what Windows 95 can support without any modifications.  I may later on want a better sound card, I know I need to find the MIDI cable to hook up my Roland or Yamaha MIDI synthesizers up.  If you want to get into the retro PC thing with physical hardware (Don’t get me wrong, PCem is freaking amazing!), the longer you wait the harder it’s going to be to find things like 40 pin IDE cables.  Let alone ISA motherboards that are not hundreds of dollars.

I had originally 80 pin IDE cables out of the Windows 98 machine, however I never pulled them off to notice that the 80 pin standard are keyed.  This means that one of the pins are blocked off so you cannot put the ribbon in backwards.  This means that if I wanted to no clip pins off the motherboard, I would need to find original 40 pin IDE cables.  I got lucky again, another visit to Capital Computer Center, and I was in business.

Fashion over form aka the lofree keyboard

So as part of the fun for being on the road at the moment, my “disposable” cheap laptop took a dive just after the NS32032 article.  I’m in a town that has a remarkable manufacturing base, however there is nowhere to get anything even slightly computer related.

But no problem you say, we live in the future, and the future is internet delivery.  While there is no Amazon delivery in China, I went ahead and ordered a bluetooth keyboard and mouse on TaoBao for my existing Windows 10 tablet making it into a quick desktop.  I’ve already used Microsoft ARC mice before, but the bluetooth model is great.  Snap to configure, and it’s a real pleasure to use.  The head is more pressure sensitive, like something Apple would have made, making scrolling a breeze.

But that isn’t what we are here for…

So, having to buy a keyboard sight un-seen, I knew I would have to probably go past the super cheap discount stuff that is labeled bluetooth, but probably isn’t, and look at the higher end stuff.  And that is when this thing caught my eye:

Keyboard

The keyboard set me back 599 RMB, which isn’t too bad, and I have to say I had high hopes for this keyboard.  Yuantong Express thought it was OK to just leave it in the building next to where I’m staying, and didn’t bother to notify me, as it should be somehow obvious.  Although they were fast to deliver, not knowing for 2 days that they had delivered kind of sucked.

Looking at the box, I couldn’t tell if it was some artistic minimalist design, or if this was aiming for something higher end.

Opening the box, and taking out the Styrofoam cover reveals the keyboard in one of those soft plastic bags with a quick start guide, and an accessories box.

tThis is the enclosed USB charging cable.  The keyboard itself boasts of a 4000 mAh battery.  I would hope it would last a long time, however I do enjoy the back-lighting so I’m sure that greatly reduces the longevity.

The keyboard itself feels really solidly constructed.  It doesn’t suffer from being made out of weak or inferior plastic.  The keys feel nice to the touch, kind of reminding me of the older Italian keyboards with their nice rounded and indented keys that fit nice on your fingertips.   The backlight makes looking at it, and looking for keys pretty easy to spot.. which brings me to the bad spot.

Being a reduced form-factor keyboard, this isn’t built as something you can just pick up and touch-type with ease.  While I do know how to touch type, the big gotchas are the right shit being incredibly small, and the number row is literally one off.  I find myself drifting to the up arrow half of the time I want to shift, and always a number off.  It can be a bit irritating, but the keyboard looks so nice it’s almost forgivable.

I would worry about shoving this thing into a bag, and traveling with it, as the keys sit high, and I’d hate to break it.

When I started to write this, I went to look it iup, and it turns out it was actually on indiegogo.com.  Interestingly enough that means I paid $90 for this keyboard, that is currently $125+shipping.  Although me being in China means I win out in shipping.

In all it’s not the worst keyboard I’ve used, and will end up taking a little getting used to.  But when compared to something like the Microsoft Surface Pro type cover, this is about a billion times better.

As a bonus they threw in a simple tablet stand.  I’d overlooked the need for one, so having it included with the keyboard was a nice bonus.

For anyone who cares, this is where I bought it.

RETROTECHTACULAR: ASCII ART IN THE 19TH CENTURY

I saw this post on hack a day, and oddly enough my old Fortran Snoopy calendar was on there.

And as  a bonus in the comments was a talk on RTTY porn.  Obviously NFSW….  But kind of interesting & funny regarding the preservation of old things.  If the thought of ascii art port from the 1960s, along with some nude pictures from the 1920’s scare you, obviously don’t click.

To me what is crazy is that I can download an entire GIF CD faster today than I could download an image back when this stuff was new and exciting.  But I did have a 2400 baud modem.

Sometimes the 80’s never end.

Here is one of the dockets, along with this one that includes images of the complaint.

The age old battle of owning right to SDF Macros redistribution outside of Japan.  It’s a shame that this is dragging on, as Battletech has been seemingly crushed every moment in it’s life, from originally going by Battledroids and having to be renamed care of Lucas co, then buying art assets it turns out that had been sold prior to New harmony gold.

Rumor is that it’s over the robotech movie stuck in development hell.  Which is a double shame as I don’t see it having mass appeal, and the latest Harebrained Schemes game was moving along quite well.

It’s bizzare in a world where making things with Japanese assets is less money than doing realestate and it’s more profitable to go to litigation rather than licensing them.

I wonder if it’s even possible to discuss BattleTech: The Crescent Hawk’s Inception, using the included drawings, and media in this litigious age.