The slap heard around the world

Even when Im trying to live under my rock, I still am somehow flooded with news that there was a slap fight.

Totally not kayfabe. Borrowed from

No not this Will Smith Chris Rock thing, I’m talking of course about Clive Sinclair slapping Chris Curry at the Baron of Beef pub in Cambridge.

What’s the beef about?

Where’s the beef?

Clive vs Curry

As the legend goes, Curry worked under Clive, but he ran into Herman Hauser who had encouraged Curry to go his own way and make that computer of his dreams. Incised about this Clive was able to put together and rush out the Z80 before Acorn had anything ready to ship


And more importantly it was CHEAP. You’d have thought that the zx80 would have found a larger world wide market but Commodore and Apple reigned supreme in North America.

Later that year Acorn would ship the Acorn Atom priced around £129 in kit, and £179 assembled it was a lot more expensive but granted it did have a lot more ‘computer’ in there.

In the following year Sinclair had released the ZX81, which although a larger price point also included a lot more, larger ram/rom better display and of course this was ready to ignite the coming war.

As the legend goes a TV show of all things, ‘The Might Micro, (2/3/4/5/6)’ had ignited such a storm in parliament that the Department of Industry & the BBC decided that they were going to produce programming to go along with a selected microcomputer. And that machine was the Newbury NewBrain… until it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be the machine of choice, and the selection was pushed back from the fall of 81 to the spring of 82. With the BBC being forced to open up selection to other UK computer manufacturers, both worked hard for a machine, however Curry swooped in with his new ‘BBC Micro’ (that had started working the day of the inspection) and won the contract.

1982 of course would give us the ZX Spectrum as Sinclair’s answer to what the people needed.

Oddly enough things in the long term didn’t work out for ether of them, as they both made so many missteps that they ended up ultimately shelving both of the units, with Acorn barely surviving, although their ARM processor does live on, mostly because it ended up free of any hardware platform to go along with it.

The plus isn’t plussed

There was no ZX 83 model, instead there was of course the QL for 1984. And taking on the design of the QL the Sinclair + was launched. And despite the name, it was just a 48k with a reset button and nicer keyboard. Very NON plussed. The only upgrade to the ZX would have to come from spain in the form of the 128.

The QL was 100% incompatible with the ZX. Apparently doing something like the SEGA Megadrive, by including both a 68000 and z80 was just too out of the question. Instead it was so focused on price it made the machine not serious enough for the serious business market Clive had craved so much. No socket for a 68881, and the drives being so incredibly tiny, IBM had quickly followed up the PC with the XT which allowed for a hard disk, while the QL with a single slot in no way could fit a then 5 1/4″ full heigh disk.

Although many fault the QL for having relied on the 68008 processor remember even IBM was using the 8088, with the same 8bit constraints, it’s not that it was impossible, it’s that the sleek stylized deck of the QL was just far too ahead of itself, it’d be fine for today, just look at the Pi400! I’d prefer to have one with SD cards up front but I guess I need to learn how to 3d print and make my own.

Another fault of the QL was not having the space on the motherboard to go to the full 1MB of addressable RAM like the PC, and loading the OS from disk. Having the OS in ROM was such an 8bit holdover when loading it from tape would have been useless but the PC way of loading the OS from disk was the way to go, also it far easier facilitated updating. I know the ST & Amiga also went with OS in ROM thinking it saved money but in the long term all the wedge’s of the era just limited themselves.

The real slap: in the market

The real SLAP heard around the UK

The real slap that was heard was the stagnation of both machines, and the decline of the UK computer makers. Acorn had apparently manufactured a tonne of Electron’s for Christmas but the order wasn’t actually put through because of some ‘pull back of a video game crash’ in Europe. I guess it’s the continuation of the video game crash in the USA, but as you can see the stockpile of machines to be blown out was just incredible.

And it was in 1984 that apparently Acorn had run an ad showing that Sinclair computers had a high defect rate, something that has always plagued Sinclair’s quest for low cost machines, Something that had been hand waved as a 1 year replacement policy with many teenagers abusing the machines, that led to the confrontation in the Baron of Beef along with the whooping Sinclair had unleashed on Curry. Although much of this has passed into more legend than fact, even Ruth Bramley didn’t recall anything about the event.

It’s an amazing flash in the pan, that has so many games, and so much early computer culture that was partitioned to a tiny island and for the most part in the rest of the world totally unknown. I hope to get a real Spectrum 128 one day, it sounds like a fascinating machine. Although they made a million? of them, they are quite expensive in any market place. I wonder sometimes if there is demand for a super cheap almost ‘disposable’ 8bit computer. Obviously it’d have be under £20.

Since all this UK micro computer stuff never really left the island it’s all new to me. And maybe many people outside of the UK, or surprisingly the iron curtain where zx spectrums were abundant.

footnote: I know people will say that there was some attempt at selling Sinclair Micros out of Texas with one OEM, but honestly I’ve never hear or seen of any such thing, it’s only recently as a curiosity on youtube. And they were incompatible anyways so whatever.

Also holy crap so an actor slapped another actor in a show where they backslap each other. Who cares?! Bring back Beavis and Butthead, and prime time boxing! People obviously have a thirst for this, why did the WWF’s kayfabe fade? the paywalls?

Silent Partner – Space Walk

aka the 20’s version of Opus number 1. Wait, what?

While feeling generally like crap the last few days and half sleeping letting YouTube play random crap it’d eventually come across a ‘live premier’ and they all of course have the same music.

At first in a haze I thought it was looping videos, but no it was 2 completely different people however the intro music was the same. So in the middle of the night the quest had started to track down the tune.

And in no time I managed to find what most everyone else found. It’s from ‘Silent Partner‘ who made a bunch of free to use music. And in the compilations on soundcloud is the Space Walk.

Silent Partner’s Space Walk

And of course you know them from ‘Spring in My Step‘ among many many others.

Although they do have an official channel now, with a short BIO in their about:

In 2013, YouTube reached out to producer Bryce Goggin, asking if he was interested in creating music for their new Audio Library which aimed to give billions of video creators access to free, safe to use music. His answer was simple – “Yes”. Goggin, who’s worked with the likes of Phish, Sean Lennon, Space Hog, and Pavement, recruited a close circle of session musicians to help take on the mighty endeavor. The team worked out of his studio in Brooklyn NY, creating a diverse collection of over 1k songs that would go on to be used in hundreds of millions of videos.

And from the official song:

Since June 2018, every YouTube premiere is preceded by a colorful countdown that features vibrant, abstract animations and a clock ticking its way down to zero. Every countdown also includes the same song playing front and center, a two-minute instrumental track that stirs up anticipation with its nostalgic electronic synths, drum machine percussion, and orchestral string plucks. This song, “Space Walk” by Silent Partner is often referred to as the “unofficial YouTube national anthem”.

Commenters on YouTube re-uploads of the song agree, as they’ve shared a variety of feelings about the track. One person noted, “People in 2030/2040 will be like: This is soooo nostalgic!! Only real ones remember this.” Somebody else wrote, “This is honestly such a fitting song for YouTube Premiere countdowns, it just perfectly goes with your imagination running wild about what you’re about to see.” Another user painted a picture of the end of YouTube with “Space Walk” as the soundtrack: “I feel like this is something that would play in the final minutes of youtube before the site shuts down. Just this music and a few minutes to remember everything that has happened on this site over the decades before it all goes away.”

“Space Walk” has been heard billions of times (literally). Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You,” the most popular all-time song on Spotify, has nearly 3 billion spins, and it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that the YouTube premiere song — across every YouTube premiere ever, music video or otherwise — has been heard more times than that.

And there you go. The site Uproxx has a great article on the hunt for the origin of the song. Like so many I’m just here after the fact, wondering what is the deal with the song.

If IVR’s, hold music and answering machines were still a touchstone, I’m sure Space Walk would be up there. But instead now it’s just intro lead music.

Space Walk mp3

And since it is royalty free here is the MP3 for anyone who really wants it that bad.

Setting the time machine for June 20th 2011

John Titor hunting Orange wine, and IBM 5100’s

No, not that time machine, this one is a rehash of the old local Wikipeida mirror.

So sadly I didn’t keep the source files as I thought they were evergreen, and yeah turns out they are NOT. But thankfully there is a 2011 set on listed as enwiki-20110620-item-1-of-2 and enwiki-20110620-item-2-of-2. Sadly there isn’t any torrents of these files, and it seems as of today the internet archive torrent servers are dead so a direct download is needed.

Getting started

You are going to need a LOT of disk space. It’s about 10GB for the downloaded compressed data, and with the pages blown out to a database it’s ~60GB. Yes it’s massive. Also enough space for a Debian 7 VM, or a lot of your time trying to decode ancient perl. Yes it really is a write only language. I didn’t bother trying to figure out why it doesn’t work instead I used netcat and a Debian 7 VM.

Thanks to trn he suggested aria2c which did a great job of downloading stuff, although one URL at a time, but that’s fine.

aria2c -x 16 -s 16 -j 16 <<URL>>

I downloaded the following files:

  • enwiki-20110620-all-titles-in-ns0.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-category.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-categorylinks.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-externallinks.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-flaggedpages.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-flaggedrevs.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-image.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-imagelinks.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-interwiki.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-iwlinks.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-langlinks.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-oldimage.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-page.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-pagelinks.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-pages-articles.xml.bz2
  • enwiki-20110620-pages-logging.xml.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-page_props.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-page_restrictions.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-protected_titles.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-redirect.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-site_stats.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-templatelinks.sql.gz
  • enwiki-20110620-user_groups.sql.gz

although the bulk of what you want as a single file is enwiki-20110620-pages-articles.xml.bz2, which is 7.5 GB, downloading the rest of the files is another 10GB rouding this out to 17.5GB of files to download. Yikes!

MySQL on WSLv2

I’m using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS on Windows 11, so adding MySQL is done via the MariaDB version with a simple apt-get install:

apt-get install mariadb-server mariadb-common mariadb-client mariadb-common

Installing MySQL is kind of easy although it will need to be setup to assign the pid file to the right place and set so it can write to it:

mkdir -p /var/run/mysqld
chown mysql:mysql /var/run/mysqld

Otherwise you’ll get this:

[ERROR] mysqld: Can't create/write to file '/var/run/mysqld/' (Errcode: 2 "No such file or directory")

Additionally you’ll need to tell it to bind to instead of as we’ll want this on the network. I’m on an isolated LAN so it’s fine by me, but of course your millage may vary. For me a simple diff of the config directory is this:

diff -ruN etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf
--- etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf      2021-11-21 08:22:31.000000000 +0800
+++ /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf     2022-03-11 10:01:45.369272200 +0800
@@ -27,7 +27,7 @@

 # Instead of skip-networking the default is now to listen only on
 # localhost which is more compatible and is not less secure.
-bind-address            =
+bind-address            =

 # * Fine Tuning
@@ -43,6 +43,11 @@
 #max_connections        = 100
 #table_cache            = 64

+key_buffer_size = 1G
+max_allowed_packet = 1G
+query_cache_limit = 18M
+query_cache_size = 128M
 # * Logging and Replication

As far as I know MySQL doesn’t run on WSLv1. So people with that restriction are kind of SOL. At the same time for me, Debian 7 doesn’t run on Hyper-V so I had to run VMware Player. And well if you can’t run Hyper-V/WSLv2 then you can run it all on Debian 7 which is probably eaiser. Although you’ll probably hit some performance issues in the import that either my machine is fast enough I don’t care or the newer stuff is pre-configured for machines larger than an ISA/PCI gen1 Pentium 60.

I run mysqld manually in a window as I am only doing this adhoc not as a service. Although on a Windows 10 machine to reproduce and test this, mysqld wont run interactively, instead I had to do the ‘service mysql start’ to get it running. So I guess you’ll have to find out the hard way.

Next, be sure to create the database and a user to so this will work:

create database wikidb;
create user 'wikiuser'@'%' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
show grants for 'wikiuser'@'%';

Something like this works well. Yes the password is password but it’s all internal so who cares. If you don’t like it, change it as needed.

With the database & user created you’ll want to make sure that you can connect from the Debian 7 machine with something like this:

mysql -h -uwikiuser -ppassword wikidb

As I don’t think PHP 7 or whatever is modern will run the ancient MediaWiki version 1.15.5 (which I’m using).

This is my setup as I’m writing this so bear with me.

Prepping Apache

Since I have that Debian 7 VM, I used that for setting up MediaWiki. Looking at my apt-cache I believe I loaded the following modules:

  • mysql-client
  • mysql-common
  • apache2
  • apache2.2-bin
  • apache2.2-common
  • apache2-mpm-prefork
  • apache2-mpm-worker
  • apache2-utils
  • libapache2-mod-php5
  • php5-cli
  • php5-common
  • php5-mysql
  • lua5.1
  • liblua5.1

On the Apache side I have the following extension enabled:

alias authz_default authz_user deflate mime reqtimeout
auth_basic authz_groupfile autoindex dir negotiation setenvif
authn_file authz_host cgi env php5 status

Which I think is pretty generic.

I used mediawiki-1.15.5 as the basis mostly because I had started with an incomplete 2010 dump, but after finding this 2011 dump I probably should have gone with 1.16.5 or 1.17.5.. Oh well. When connecting from Debian 7 to my ‘modern’ MariaDB there is one table that needs to be updated, otherwise it’ll fail. A simple diff that needs to be applied (that was with the least amount of effort spent by me!) is this:

--- maintenance/tables.sql      2009-03-20 19:20:39.000000000 +0800
+++ /var/www/maintenance/tables.sql     2022-03-07 14:21:25.580318700 +0800
@@ -1099,7 +1099,7 @@

 CREATE TABLE /*_*/trackbacks (
-  tb_page int REFERENCES /*_*/page(page_id) ON DELETE CASCADE,
+  tb_page int,
   tb_title varchar(255) NOT NULL,
   tb_url blob NOT NULL,
   tb_ex text,

All being well and patched you can do the install! I just do a super basic install, nothing exciting. In my setup the MySQL server is on I don’t think I changed much of anything?

And with that done if all goes well you’ll get the install completed!

If you get anything else, drop the database (the permission grants stay, because MySQL doesn’t actually drop thing associated with databases.. :shrug:.

Next in the extensions folder I grabbed Scribunto-REL1_35-04b897f.tar.gz, which is still on the extensions site. This required Lua 5.1 and the following to be appended to the LocalSetings.php

$wgScribuntoEngineConf['luastandalone']['luaPath'] = '/usr/bin/lua5.1';

$wgScribuntoUseGeSHi = true;
$wgScribuntoUseCodeEditor = true;

Keep in mind the original extensions I used are not, and appear to not have been archived, so yeah.

Doing the pages.xml import

You can find the version 0.5 media wiki import script on Obviously check the first 5-10 lines of the decompressed bz2 file to see what version you have if you are deviating and look around IA to time travel to see if there is a matching one. I have no idea about modern ones as this is hard enough trying to reproduce an old experiment.

First you need to make some files to setup the pre-post conditions of the insert. It’s about 11,124,050 pages, give or take.


SET autocommit=0;
SET unique_checks=0;
SET foreign_key_checks=0;


SET autocommit=1;
SET unique_checks=1;
SET foreign_key_checks=1;

Running the actual import

I’m assuming that is the Debian 7 machine, is the Windows 11 machine.

On the machine with the data:

netcat 9909 < enwiki-latest-pages-articles.xml.bz2

On the machine that can run the mwimport script:

netcat -l -p 9909 | bzip2 -dc | ./ | netcat 9906

And finally on the MySQL machine:

(cat pre.sql; netcat -l -p 9906 ; cat post.sql) | mysql -f --default-character-set=utf8 wikidb

Since I’m using WSLv2 the Windows firewall may screw stuff up so add a rule with netsh (as Administrator CMD prompt)

netsh interface portproxy add v4tov4 listenaddress= listenport=3306 connectaddress= connectport=3306
netsh interface portproxy add v4tov4 listenaddress= listenport=9906 connectaddress= connectport=9906

On my setup it takes about 2.5 hours to load the database, which will be about 51GB.

11340000 pages (1231.805/s),  11340000 revisions (1231.805/s) in 9206 seconds

The savvy among you may notice the -f flag to the mysql parser. And yes that is because there *will* be errors during the process.

I’m not sure what how or what to do about it, but without the -f (force) flag the process will stop around the 2 million row mark. Doing it forced allows the process to continue.

With that done I get the following tallies…

MariaDB [(none)]> SELECT table_name, table_rows FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.TABLES    WHERE TABLE_SCHEMA = 'wikidb' and
table_rows > 0;
| table_name    | table_rows |
| interwiki     |         85 |
| objectcache   |         10 |
| page          |   10839464 |
| revision      |   11357659 |
| text          |   14491759 |
| user_groups   |          2 |
9 rows in set (0.002 sec)

If all of this worked (amazing!) then search for something like 1001 and be greeted with:

1001: a non odyssey

MySQL disappointments

So with this in place, having some 51GB laying around just seemed lame. Using WSLv2 I setup a compressed folder on NTFS and moved the data directory into there and it gets it down to a somewhat more manageable 20GB. Since the data doesn’t change I had a better idea, SquashFS. Well it compresses down to 12GB, HOWEVER for the life of me I can’t find anything concrete on using a read only backing store to MySQL. Even general mediawiki stuff seems to want to write to all the tables, I guess it’s index searching?! Insane! And it appears MySQL can only use single file storage units per table? Yeah this isn’t MSSQL with stuff like a database from CD-ROM with the log on a floppy. I tried doing a union overlay filesytem but it makes a 100% copy of a file that changes. That’s not good. I guess using qemu-img for a compressed qcow2 with a writable diff file could hide the read only compressed backing store, but I’ve already lost interest.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there should be a way to write logs/updates/scratch to a RW place, and keep the majority of the data read-only (and highly compressed).

Why doesn’t stuff format correctly

There seems to be a lot of formatting nonsense going on, I probably should step up to mediawiki 1.17. And I’ll add in loading the other SQL tables since they are straight up inserts. Also the extensions I know I loaded don’t seem to exist in any form anymore, and the images I snapshotted of the install are all long gone. It’ll require more diving around.

Я человек, а кто ты? / I am human, who are you?

I saw this update from sinc LAIR. I had never noticed but he’s Ukrainian. Sometimes that crazy internet of all things lets people connect. I only know he makes cool stuff.

Whenever these kinds of wars break out on bordering nations, it’s always those places where the lines arbitrary split between families, friends and communities. When politicians have their disagreements, it’s brothers and sister that are at war and pay the price.

Hopefully cooler heads can prevail, and we can get back to life.

2,000 monthly downloads!

Well this is a bit ambiguous. As Im waking up to check emails I get this notice:

Congratulations! Ancient UNIX/BSD emulation on Windows has just been recognized with the following awards by SourceForge:

Community Choice
SourceForge Favorite

These honors are awarded only to select projects that have reached significant milestones in terms of downloads and user engagement from the SourceForge community.

This is a big achievement, as your project has qualified for these awards out of over 500,000 open source projects on SourceForge. SourceForge sees nearly 30 million users per month looking for, and developing, open source software. These award badges will now appear on your project page, and the award assets can be found in your project admin section.

-sourceforge email

So yeah, and here we are:

Nothing like standing on the backs of giants!

Naturally ready to run favorites include:

And of course for the DIY enthusiasts:

Honorable mention goes to the 4.3BSD UWISC enthusiast that downloaded Apache, AberMUD, and lynx!.