Web Rendering Proxy – Full Page Scrolling

(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

Due to a popular demand I have added an option of generating full page height screenshot and allowing client browser to do the scrolling.

This makes the browsing experience much smoother, you have resources for it. Beware, a full page screenshot can be several MB in size encoded as gif/png and much more as a decoded raw bitmap on the client. I managed to crash Mosaic and OmniWeb a few times. Fortunately typical Wikipedia page is under 1 MB so for most part is should be fine. To activate just put 0 in page Height.

I have drafted a pre-release on github for testing. Please let me know any feedback. I’m also thinking whether enable this by default, or not.

It’s crazy how old computer hardware holds no value

But at the same time there is great value in old computer hardware.

In my opinion around 2006-2007 we basically hit peak computing. The biggest restrictions I see on older machines is memory sizes, and disk speeds. And for the most part these can be taken care of with ease, although many chipsets and formfactors of the time seem to have these incredibly tiny 8Gb/16Gb/32Gb limitations that just really are annoying in the distant future of 2019 when you may want to run a few things at once.

So I bought this i7 machine, and I ended up taking it apart as the liquid cooling pump that was in there was dying. I guess that is why they got rid of the machine as it was working fine. So great, I could get a cheap fan thing for $10 or another all-in-one liquid cooler for $50. So annoying but whatever.

So while I’m out I see this former holy grail of GPU’s a Nvidia GTX 980 for ¥12,000. Now granted the machine I picked up has a GTX 970, a nice touch as I wasn’t expecting anything, but I can always use another DVI capable card back at home, so I’m probably taking that along with the i5 back to my HK office.

Now the real killer is that the card is a ASUS GTX, and looking around online it’s the STRIX-GTX980-DC2OC-4GD5 model.

I look around and find it on Amazon, and if the ad thing is to be believed the new price on this thing was ¥70,900! Looking around on that part number also shows kakaku.com with a list price of ¥73,480!

So granted the card is 5 years old now, but wow what a drop in price! It’s one more stop away from the junk piles that the other 9xx’s currently are (I’ve seen boxes of Zotac 750’s and up).

Naturally of course, like the i7, this card also had issues the moment I put it into my PC. The screen was flashing with garbage, and it’d eventually lead to a system freeze after a few minutes. What a pain, bad memory I suppose. And like the PC, I took the card apart, cleaned up the old thermal compound, and added some new generic stuff, put it together, and left it running The Outer Worlds at ultra high settings just fine. Who knows, maybe it’ll break later on, I don’t know, but I now have a ‘high end 5 year old’ gaming system for about the same or slightly more than a PS4. And I could be wrong but i’d like to think an i7/980 would crush a PS4. Although I could be wrong.

Naturally running cinebench 14, basically shows that the 970 & the 980 perform so close to each-other it makes no real difference. Although the fan setup on the 980 is far more aggressive, and it runs much more quieter. So that’s a nice bonus.

And if userbenchmark.com can be trusted, the performance difference from the 980 to the 1080, isn’t all that bad. It’s unreal that now even with 2nd generation RTX 2080’s out there, the 1080 is still an expensive GPU.

So, sometimes it may be worth looking at the junk piles. Although at the same time if you have nothing, the new/lowend stuff like the 1030’s/1050’s really aren’t so bad either. But for some reason I always seem to like yesterdays powerhouse.

Playing Blu-Ray discs with VLC

So while I was out yesterday, I came across some outdoor fire sale on Blu-Ray discs. Normally they are expensive, at an outstanding ¥2,381 which is just crazy. But for some reason they were only ¥1,000 each. Since I have no entertainment out in Japan, I fell into the nostalgia trap, and picked up a bunch of old favorites.

All I needed was a Blu-Ray drive, which I picked up for ¥2,700 and finally needed some software to play it. While VLC does a great job with DVD’s that doesn’t mean anything, does it?

Well starting with version 3, the framework for Blu-Ray playback is in place! But you’ll need some additional files in place, which after a lot of hunting I found on vlc-bluray.whoknowsmy.name. There you can find both the keys database and AACS dynamic library.

The keys database is copied to the C:\ProgramData\aacs\ directory, and the DLL just is placed into the program directory.

And surprisingly it works well! Granted I’m using an i7-4790k, which I picked up as junk for around ¥20,000. Although I was initially excited as it had 16GB of RAM, a m.2 slot (I got a 512GB new drive for ¥5,900), it’s a nice box compared to the old i5 thing. And rocking a GTX 970, it was nearly top of the line for 7 years ago, but we pretty much hit peak computing, so this thing is fine. I thought it was a bargain as it also includes a liquid cooler, but it appears the main circulator is seizing or something as it is kind of noisy.

What was kind of interesting was that there was so many Blade Runner Blu-Ray discs to be had. I picked up a few, and one I’d never seen before the Archival version. Although maybe it’s a Japanese only release? I’m not sure, but to be honest I never really look at physical releases as it’s yet another thing to eventually lose. Despite having lost everything, I still have my iTunes library.

The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long…

Maybe I was just a strange kid, maybe it’s just an artifact of growing up in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), where Citytv would put the film on immediately after Auld Lang Syne would finish. A great way to start the new year. (Incidentally in a weird way many stores in Japan will play Auld Lang Syne when they are closing)

2019 seemed such a long far off date, and yet here we are.

Since I’m tagged as a game site, back in the late 90’s there was even a Blade Runner game! You can find it over on archive.org, patched and ‘fixed’ for modern systems (I had to run the bladexp on my Fujitsu machine running Windows 10), although considering the PII 233 I had back then, and this thing clocking in at 2.9Ghz the game play is very pokey. At the time it was an amazing game, with so much CGI, interwoven animations, and all the voice acting. Set in scenes reminisce of the film, it starts down a very familiar path, then goes off the rails during the predictable plot twist, but opens up enough paths to lead to a few moral choices and thusly different outcomes.

I dare say in 1997 that it really was ground breaking technology to give the look, feel and aesthetic of Blade Runner, and they even got the rights to use hints of the Vangelis score here & there, leaning on the old and trying to go in a new direction.

But compared to modern pacing it may be awfully slow, totally on rails, and one of those point & click, and find the hidden thing in the scene, along with click the person 100x to get different answers. While not as dire as ‘I have no mouth,and I must scream’ where you are hoping for the least worst ending, Blade Runner does have that optimistic style ending that was pushed onto the film’s original ambiguous ending where Deckard holds the unicorn and hears Gaf’s message implying that even if Rachel isn’t retired, that she doesn’t have very long to live. Just as he very well might not have long to live.

The game is almost maditory for real fanatics of scifi fans of the 1980’s, but odds are if you are, you’d have played this game back when it released.

As for the kids of today… I imagine that Blade Runner would be pretty much like 2001. Slow, confusing and messy. As Harrison Ford put it, it’s a detective who doesn’t detect. Just as both films feature legendary Directors who establish amazing worlds, and atmospheres they deliberately remove the humanity from the humans, and entrust it to the machines, the real torch barres of the future. Sometimes I wonder if Riddly Scott grasped the human angle of the final confrontation, and why there was so many misfirings with Prometheus and Covenant…. But that disappointment is for another time.

One thing that really established the aesthetic of Cyberpunk was Sir Run Run Shaw’s involvement in producing the film, as the Hong Kong Ladie’s Market, Shum Shai Po, and Mong Kong give that impression for the November 2019 that isn’t quite reality. Just as that ancient novel Neuromancer, established forever the vibe of Chiba having the sky that felt like a TV set to a dead channel (I’m currently across the bay in Tokyo, and it’s a nice blue.. How future prophetic), where that feeling of old tube televisions displaying the noise of the electromagnetic storm of the stars & the solar wind, would give us the old gray snow. Now forever replaced with the clear blue skies.

Despite the Orwellian nature of the wonderful internet, the brave new world feeling of the ‘licensed’ clinics of Shenzhen in many ways the future is brighter today, than it would have been in the 1980’s version of today.

VMware 12.5.9 on Windows 10 build 1903 / version 18362

So while I’m in Japan, I bought this tiny and borderline useless Fujitsu Esprimo B532, powered by an i5, and not very much else. I upped it to 8GB of RAM, and put in a SSD and upgraded to Windows 10 to make it slightly tolerable.

i5-3470T

The i5-3470T is ancient! And so old that newer versions of VMware and Hyper-V won’t run on it. The old solution was simply to use an older version of VMware. In my case the highest version that’ll run is 12.5.9, however when trying to launch it I got this fun message:

VMware Workstation Pro can’t run on Windows!

Well wasn’t that a big bust.

I guess there is something hidden somewhere, but I just renamed the executable, and set it to Windows 8.0 compatibility mode, and wow it works!

Windows NT 3.1 October 1991 pre-release

And there we go! Now the latest version of NT can run the first public pre-release of Windows NT. YAY.

On the road to the Outer Worlds, aka thanks for the ‘soft’ regions

I fired up Fallout 76, after all the $100 subscription nonsense to poke around, and yeah it’s still boring and empty. So It’s the 25th in Asia so I figured this was a great time to catch the launch and play the latest Obsidian opus, The Outer Worlds. Since I’m still in Hong Kong it’s restricted to the PS4 only? I mean sure, I have one, but I want to play it on the PC. Well at least I can select another region, say USA, and boom I can now choose between Game Stop (Are they still around, I thought they went bust?), Epic (LOL) or Microsoft’s game store (I thought they gave up after Games for Windows Live?). Anyways I’ll take the Microsoft one, shame it’s not on steam, I guess it’s one of those Epic things.

So clicking on the Windows Store, it’ll instantly let me choose where I want to be (Wasn’t that an old slogan, where do you want to go today?), and thankfully I can just choose. They have 香港 (Hong Kong) & 澳门 (Macau), 繁體中文 (Traditional Chinese) or American English!

So nice of them to let me just choose! I go for the English as few things recognize the 2nd official language of Hong Kong (English), but I don’t care about censorship, mainland sensibilities, or anything to that effect. Great. Now time to pay, let me get out my credit card and…

Denied! Turns out they finally fixed the ‘feature’ that you could put in any random valid American address, and use any international credit card, and it’d just work! So you now need a valid mailing address. Or option 2, the more fun one is to buy a gift card on some shady place like E-bay, and try to get a gift card that’ll just email you the code after the auction, and hope that they are legit, as it’s all too easy money for them.

$100 USD card for about $65 USD! What could go wrong? Everything!

I went for some card that was closer to par value, and bought it expecting basically nothing, instead within 5 minutes of the auction ending as I’m paying they are sending me an email begging me to pay… Great so probably money wasted. I don’t hear anything back for the next hour, and just give it up as a bad choice, but at least it’s not a lot of money.

I wake up the next day, and behold I get the code, and much to my amazement, it activates! A few hours later and it’s installed!

I see Microsoft has some game pass thing, which sounds interesting but I need a ‘guarantor’ or something as a funding backup, my credit and out of country paypal /credit card is no good. Ugh what a PITA.

I’ve played the game for a few minutes, and my first impression is that the colour palette is just so wide, and the worlds feel so lush, it makes Fallout 76’s brown worlds just fell so lifeless unlike the vibrancy from the Outer Worlds. NPC’s are back, and what a difference that makes. Simply looking up and seeing the red rings of the first planet is just amazing, granted Fallout is doomed to being on earth, but it just doesn’t feel anywhere as magical. That said, TOW definitely feels more Jules Verne / 1860’s steam punk to Fallout’s 1950’s nuclear family, nuclear fallout.

I’d give it a recommendation in the brief few minutes I’ve played, it’s worth the hoops to jump through.

December 14th, the end of Yahoo! groups

Oddly enough these things have been going on since 2001, and have been curated gardens instead of the mess that is usenet (which is still operational!), or private mailing lists.

The 2 that Im on are the Hercules 390 group which moved to group.io. While other groups like H390-music (MUSIC/SP the Canadian mainframe OS with internet hooks) that sadly died along with it’s author, is probably going to be purged from the internet.

Along with other things like pdos, or even the board game Supremacy.

I don’t know what the answer is, other than to always have downloadable mailing list archives, and never trust a single place. So much stuff is deleted to save trivial amounts of space, and neither corporations nor government institutions can be trusted to maintain anything.

Thankfully there is archive.org, but who backs them up?

Finally got a case for my Xeon, the Cougar Gemini S

Well actually I’ve had it over a month now, I picked it up before all the talks of shutting down the internet started, along with capital flight controls and other fun things (consequences of socialism/communism. yay!), and I didn’t have any time to look, but the rear foot was crushed into the case, making it not only have a massive wobble but it wouldn’t let me mount a power supply. I tried hitting with a hammer, which only made it angry, so I used a crowbar to attempt to straighten it out. It doesn’t wobble anymore but I was unable to bash the bottom enough to get the PSU to lay straight.

I know it doesn’t look it’s best but it’s the only way I could get the thing to mount. Also I liked having the power/reset & activity leds on my desk, so I left the test harness cable bundle and just wrapped it through the case.

Somehow in the move, I managed to lose the IO shield as well. How annoying. Even more annoying is the way I seemed to have laid out the fans, as the case felt nice and toasty this morning.. It’s defiantly needing some revisiting, along with more fans, or maybe some tiny liquid cooling setup to deal with dual processors.

I pulled the window off the case, and you can pretty much tell right away when it was removed in the graph. Maybe not overheating but it certainly was a lot hotter than I liked.

I could happily live without any of the RGB crap, and I’m kind of disappointed there is no drive bays in this thing. It’s not an incredible case, but it was affordable. it’s a big MEH from me, although if it wasn’t damanged I’d probably like it better.

Amazon shows this with only one seller, so I guess it’s already obsolete/junk.

And obviously if I want to close this thing up again, that means I have to do something about the cooling. Hours of fun. … 😐

Games! Games! Games!


Come on Sal, never miss a game!

Yeah! Over the MS-DOS collection over at archive.org is well over 2,500! Isn’t that great?!?

Well let’s take a peek at a few favorites…

Sadly DataEast’s greatest hit RoboCop doesn’t work correctly on the site, however if you were to do something evil like open up the inspector, and manually download the asset yourself it’ll load fine in actual DosBox. It’s a great side scroller, even 30 years later. Yes, 1989 was a long long time ago.

Buck Rogers – Matrix Cubed was a great fun SSI Action/RPG of the day, more of a maze crawler unlike Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday being more older style top down. And speaking of, for any SSI/Buck Rogers fans out there I hope you have checked out I am not a Monster: Complete Edition, which rides the fun line of homage & parody.

And speaking of SSI, Curse of the Azure Bonds and it’s ilk are available as well! I’m not sure how a board game company with a vast library (and IP rights licensed) could possibly fail so hard. Maybe the games were too difficult? Maybe they were too involved? I guess I’m guilty of it too, as I’m the uncleansed masses that preferred Fallout 3 to 1&2. Just as Diablo took off as it removed the clock, and turned it into action.

Project-X was a favorite shoot-em-up on the Amiga, although it being PAL was surprisingly significantly harder to play on my NTSC Amiga, with not being able to see all the screen, running faster, and the insane blinking of some timing with the sprites. I didn’t know there was a PC version, but yeah it looks pretty much like the Amiga version. And it was one of the larger issues that a 386 PC with VGA & a SoundBlaster really not only was as good as an Amiga, but was just plain better as PC hardware kept on improving while Commodore trapped in their downward spiral just didn’t innovate.

Rise of the Triad – The Hunt Begins, this was a soso shooter, but where it really shone was it’s multiplayer maps and combat. It was a awesome time waster on the LAN. I never tried it dialup, or even in modern times, but many fond memories of this game. And it didn’t need insane requirements, unlike say Quake. And it was surprisingly more fast paced than DooM. I wonder sometimes if they had released the source code to ROTT (2002) much sooner than ID released DooM (1997), or around the same time if it’d have achieved more retro popularity? Or was it more of as LAN game, and my experience with it kind of lacking in single player the prevalent feeling?

MechWarrior was at first this incredible 3D game where you could pilot a battle mech in the 31st century! How awesome! It changed the world from the table top rules of BattleTech – The Crescent Hawk’s Inception into something action based. Amazingly the genre for some reason never seems to get the massive appeal I always felt it should have. Although Mark Kern is trying to do something with Mechs & Kaiju over at Em-8er.

3D games like NASCAR Racing arriving in 1994 were really pushing the boundaries of what you could realistically do in MS-DOS with 3D. And of course Quake basically drew the boundary of MS-DOS into Windows with the primary reason being better and uniform 3D drivers. You need a STRONG MS-DOS machine for this, so for me at least DosBox in javascript on a 2006 Mac Pro just wasn’t really up to the task.

Turbo Out Run, a SEGA classic game. The graphics are … well caught in a world between 1987 and 1990. I guess they either didn’t want to push the PC too hard, or accidentally release a superior game on a non SEGA platform? It could have looked better. It should have sounded better. It’s ‘fine’ but I kind of call shenanigans. Golden Axe is way better.

So this is by no means an exhaustive list, I left out a LOT, as 2,500 is way too much to give any reasonable review without it turning into a book, but I scanned the first hundred or so and picked out what caught my eye.