How not to store optical media

Or how I finally broke down and bought that MkLinux book after all these decades. When I did own a PowerPC Mac as my daily driver it was an iMac back in 1999 and I ran OS X Server. I later bought a G4 to only find out that OS X didn’t support the G4. Linux had issues too and I ended up running OpenBSD on the G4. Which was fun, although for the ‘work at home’ bit, I ended up needing Windows NT 4.0, so I ran that in OS 8 on SoftPC. Yay.

I didn’t have any luck with Linux on Power as MkLinux wanted the beige hardware, and by the time I felt like digging in again to Linux, OS X had finally been ported to the G4 Sawtooth’s so it really didn’t matter.

What secrets lie inside?

I’d seen this book in a store but it was pretty expensive, and geared to such a tiny market. Although Mach does compile on the i386, why they didn’t include it was well to push Mach/Linux as a platform well that’s beyond me. Then again looking at the stunning success of Darwin on i386/x86_64 I guess the reality is, why bother.

I ordered this on Ebay, for the usual $5 plus $10 to ship, and it just showed up today! What mysteries lie on the CD-ROMs? I know others have posted stuff, but I wanted to hold them in my hands myself.

Uh-oh

I didn’t know if the CD-ROM’s were included, and I first thought I got lucky: not only were they included, neither had been opened up before! These CD’s had been packed way like this for the last 22.5 years! Now for the bad part.

Ink transfer

See that stupid leaflet in the back? Yeah well it turns out that it was a really stupid idea. No doubt this thing sat in the bottom of a stack for decades where the ink had been pressed for so long against the disk that it has transferred to the surface.

HOW ANNOYING.

Gag me with a spoon…

So yes, they actually advertise the book, namely the one that I had bought with some crap ink leaflet in the CD-ROM pouch and it’s transferred to the disc.

Sigh.

I tried rubbing alcohol but that had no effect. I tried rubbing with a credit card, and it got a little off, but I fear I’m just going to damage the surface more.

I can only imagine what other CD-ROM’s out there that haven’t been archived are sitting under hundreds or thousands of pounds of book weight having nonsense imprinted onto them.

At least the second CD-ROM doesn’t suffer this defect and I’ll be uploading it later.

No book review yet, I’m just sitting here with this impacted CD.

I’m not dead

It’s just been really busy with this move, unpacking and the usual losing things, finding things and breaking things.

In the middle of it all, I found something online, that I want to at least do some proper article thing about… As it’s been really exciting, and goes back to the first month I started this blog.

Outside of NeXTSTEP, the other i386 commercial version of Mach 2.5 surfaced, the Mt Xinu version!

Even better, a few years ago, I had stumbled onto the source code for 2.5 buried on the 4th disc of the CSRG set, and with a LOT of luck and persistence I can confirm that the sources are complete enough to build.

loading vmunix.sys
rearranging symbols
text	data	bss	dec	hex
389088	45564	101364	536016	82dd0
ln vmunix.sys vmunix; ln vmunix vmunix.I386x.STD+WS-afs-nfs

However, as luck always has it, start.s in the i386 code does something weird at the 3GB mark causing a triple fault on any kind of modern emulation/virtualization setup.

    / Fix up the 1st, 3 giga and last entries in the page directory
    mov     $EXT(kpde), %ebx
    and     $MASK, %ebx

    mov     $EXT(kpte), %eax
    and     $0xffff000, %eax
    or      $0x1, %eax

    mov     %eax, (%ebx)
    mov     %eax, 3072(%ebx)        / 3 giga -- C0000000

    mov     $EXT(kpde), %edx
    and     $MASK, %edx

Not all that sure why, but at least on Bochs, I can see the triple fault.

00036527018d[CPU0  ] page walk for address 0x0000000000101122
00036527018d[CPU0  ] page walk for address 0x00000000e0000011
00036527018d[CPU0  ] PDE: entry not present
00036527018d[CPU0  ] page fault for address 00000000e0000011 @ 0000000000101124
00036527018d[CPU0  ] exception(0x0e): error_code=0002
00036527018d[CPU0  ] interrupt(): vector = 0e, TYPE = 3, EXT = 1
00036527018d[CPU0  ] page walk for address 0x00000000c0161370
00036527018d[CPU0  ] PDE: entry not present
00036527018d[CPU0  ] page fault for address 00000000c0161370 @ 0000000000101122
00036527018d[CPU0  ] exception(0x0e): error_code=0000
00036527018d[CPU0  ] exception(0x08): error_code=0000
00036527018d[CPU0  ] interrupt(): vector = 08, TYPE = 3, EXT = 1
00036527018d[CPU0  ] page walk for address 0x00000000c0161340
00036527018d[CPU0  ] PDE: entry not present
00036527018d[CPU0  ] page fault for address 00000000c0161340 @ 0000000000101122
00036527018d[CPU0  ] exception(0x0e): error_code=0000
00036527018i[CPU0  ] CPU is in protected mode (active)
00036527018i[CPU0  ] CS.mode = 32 bit
00036527018i[CPU0  ] SS.mode = 32 bit
00036527018i[CPU0  ] EFER   = 0x00000000
00036527018i[CPU0  ] | EAX=e0000011  EBX=0015f000  ECX=00161dc1  EDX=0015f000
00036527018i[CPU0  ] | ESP=0000efbc  EBP=0000efbc  ESI=00193fb8  EDI=00009d84
00036527018i[CPU0  ] | IOPL=0 id vip vif ac vm RF nt of df if tf SF zf af PF cf
00036527018i[CPU0  ] | SEG sltr(index|ti|rpl)     base    limit G D
00036527018i[CPU0  ] |  CS:0028( 0005| 0|  0) 00000000 ffffffff 1 1
00036527018i[CPU0  ] |  DS:0020( 0004| 0|  0) 00000000 ffffffff 1 1
00036527018i[CPU0  ] |  SS:0010( 0002| 0|  0) 00001000 0000ffff 0 1
00036527018i[CPU0  ] |  ES:0020( 0004| 0|  0) 00000000 ffffffff 1 1
00036527018i[CPU0  ] |  FS:0000( 0005| 0|  0) 00000000 0000ffff 0 0
00036527018i[CPU0  ] |  GS:0000( 0005| 0|  0) 00000000 0000ffff 0 0
00036527018i[CPU0  ] | EIP=00101122 (00101122)
00036527018i[CPU0  ] | CR0=0xe0000011 CR2=0xc0161340
00036527018i[CPU0  ] | CR3=0x00000000 CR4=0x00000000
00036527018i[CPU0  ] 0x0000000000101122>> add byte ptr ds:[eax], al : 0000
00036527018d[SIM   ] searching for component 'cpu' in list 'bochs'
00036527018d[SIM   ] searching for component 'reset_on_triple_fault' in list 'cpu'
00036527018e[CPU0  ] exception(): 3rd (14) exception with no resolution, shutdown status is 00h, resetting

Mach 3.0 doesn’t do this, so I’ll have to dig far deeper into start.s which is kind of really beyond me.

Building a boot disk … is involved. ūüėź

rm -rf /usr/src/mach25-i386/obj
mkdir /usr/src/mach25-i386/obj
cd /usr/src/mach25-i386/standi386at/boot
make fdboot
/home/user/mkfs /dev/rfloppy 2880 18 2 4096 512 32 1
dd if=/usr/src/mach25-i386/obj/standi386at/boot/boot.fd of=/dev/rfd0d
/home/user/fsck -y /dev/rfloppy
cd /usr/src/mach25-i386/
make
mount /dev/floppy /mnt
cp /usr/src/mach25-i386/obj/STD+WS-afs-nfs/vmunix /mnt
sync
umount /mnt
/home/user/fsck -y /dev/rfloppy

So, I’m not all that dead. For anyone super impatient, you can download my VMDK here, which runs on Qemu & VMware, it includes a serial terminal on COM1 so you can use a real terminal, and if you are like me, uuencode/uudecode files in & out of the system. As always read the 404 page for the current username/password.

Go fly a kite!

Hello Kitty!

Sometimes it’s just worth taking a day off and getting out.

While out, I found this kite lying by the garbage in a bag. Fully assembled, and with a fresh spool. It seemed like a sad loss of a kite. It was a cloudy day, but nice high winds. So I took it out to fly.

This picture is where it just got to the point where it was high enough to get enough lift to fly on it’s own. The winds were so good, that I was able to unspool the kite, and get it high enough that you barely could see it.

Much like retro-computing there can always be senseless fun in other people’s garbage.

Just picked up a sealed copy of Captain Blood!

31 years old!

It’s from Italy, and apparently was originally boxed for the Amiga, and then re-purposed for the Commodore 64. Compared to American ‘big box’ releases of the era, it’s a tiny box. A few of my SIM games are behind, it along with some DVD cases I picked up in China.

29,900 Lira?

I guess the price makes sense if the final exchange rate of the Lira was
1,276:1 USD
back in the winter of 1988, making this copy $23 USD. Although I’m pretty sure when I bought mine I had to pay some $40 CAD. Yay.

I don’t think Captain blood really made it to tape, so it’s really not all that surprising then that this disk version has sat in it’s box for so long. Every time I’d seen anything Commodore in Italy or even the EU it was always tape. Such a shame too, as that means no Infocom.

Normally I wouldn’t even bother with something like this, as I have images for every release there was, but this is a sealed copy. Apparently there is a poster inside of many of the European releases. Although I’m unsure if this one does. It’s been sealed for some 31 years so far. Although it’d make a great poster to frame.

I’ve been trying to clean up the Mega ST I have, but it appears to be dead. Nothing seems to be on the video out, and it’s not lighting up or spinning the disk. I guess this means I’ll need some kind of logic probe. Well after I find my volt meter to see if I’m getting the correct voltage. The Atari doesn’t seem so complicated so I guess an ATX power supply can be rigged to output the 5/12v.

After tracking down the library source, I’ve focused my GCC stuff on version 1.30 as it’s the same base version that was used in the x68000 port, and didn’t suffer from any struct packing that I remember. And of course the never ending stress of day jobs.

French national Internet Referral Unit tries to shutdown archive.org

Count on un-elected technocrats trying to ruin awesome resources with their kanagroo court style operations in their little backwater nonsensical nations.

Good grief.

I should step up my uploads. I did add my NetWare 3.12 disk sets, Citrix Multiuser 2.0 and NeXTSTEP 3.3 CISC stuff.

BUILDING A 10BASE5 ‚ÄúTHICK ETHERNET‚ÄĚ NETWORK

Vampires!

Totally not my photo, or article, but this is making the rounds ‘BUILDING A 10BASE5 ‚ÄúTHICK ETHERNET‚ÄĚ NETWORK‘, over on Matt’s Tech Pages.

I didn’t get into networking professionally until 1996. It was at a certain bank that is full of Americans in a hurry. Anyways, as part of the line of interrogation from some outside consultant he pulls out a vampire and does the old man rant of ‘I bet this kid doesn’t even know what this is!’ bit.

Except I did.

Although to be honest, I’d never seen one in person, but I’d read about them in some ancient book about Unix Networking that went over in great details how to put down the cable, how to pay attention to the black bands in the cable, as they are the only place you should be tapping, how to use the tapping kit, and how to secure the vampire to the cable, along with the appropriate AUI cable to the host (PC).

So yeah, I did get the job. The old guy was genuinely shocked.

But time marches on.

Now I’m the old man.

OSnews hacked.

Well this sucks. OSnews has been around for a long long time, and like other long in the tooth sites (slashdot sourceforge etc) things tend to stagnate, and then eventually get exploited.

To be perfectly honest, when contemplating what needed to be done to properly move the site to a new platform, I considered just throwing in the towel and going offline permanently. Revenues from advertising don’t cover expenses, and though this could probably be rectified by exploring more creative sponsorship approaches, I don’t have the time.

I can totally relate to this kind of thing. Once you’ve been doing something for over 10 years, and like me, doing it kinda poorly there becomes a demotivational wall. One thing that keeps me going however is the user comments. Granted any time there is a popular blip I can easily get 30k+ visitors in a day, but absolutely zero engagement. It’s the long term stuff however that actually gets the engagement, along with so many thanks for either spelling things out, or pointing people in the right direction for their projects or work.

The one thing that I think has artificially killed OSnews is that they had limited comments to articles for 2-3 days which I can tell you with some articles garnering over 100k hits is that the torrential storm of interest, and eventual comments and engagement comes later. Sometimes YEARS after the fact (The Opus #1 cisco hold music has garnered a TONNE of hits, follow up articles and a stereo re-release!. All of which started well over a year from publishing).

One thing I lament is that the auto-moderator ends up killing legit comments from time to time, but the amount of SPAM I get is unreal. I have over 1,000 from the start of this year to give an example of the volume. It’s a shame. As much as I’d like to be more like reddit or something more cultivated, I’d need humans working 24x7x365 in shifts to guard and watch the site, and I know I don’t have the funding for that, nor is anyone insane enough to do it for free, so enter the bots.

So yeah… Old sites end up drifting in and out of popularity as the years go by, especially if they don’t magically explode in popularity. News at 11 so they say.

Oh and update your passwords, if you haven’t done so already.

Fallout 76 on trajectory to be free to play by Christmas?

$34.99 on Amazon

Well I’ve been able to put a few hours into the game, and I can already say that finding people is super scarce, and when you do basically they are too busy doing quests and stuff at such a higher level they basically avoid someone like me at level 5.  With no NPC’s or real ‘vibe’ to the world other than isolation and loneliness people then tend to be, well isolated.

I never really played WoW that much, I found it was drowning in too many people that you couldn’t get 5 minutes alone without people bugging you.  And oddly enough the absolute isolation is unreal.

Looking that we are going to start the second week of retail release now, and the game is discounted from $60 to $35 at the moment doesn’t bode well at all.  The reviews came in over the weekend, and it was universally panned as an ‘avoid’ which means death for something that relies on the multiplayer part.

Really?

And then people are pointing out that not only does 76 re-use all the assets from Fallout 4 (which really doesn’t bug me that much) but that Fallout really is a twist on Oblivion

I found this tidbit on ‘It’s a Gundam

Although I did try to do this with NV onto Oblivion and really had no luck, but re-purposing engines to do different things isn’t all that un heard of.  There is that DooM mod where you can mow the lawn, or even add in the QuakeWorld multiplayer after all.

One thing is for sure, Fallout 76 is in major trouble.  I’ve read all too many times that after 40-60 hours that there is basically nothing left to do, and people that are enjoying it are leaving as they are ‘done’ which again does not bode well for an online game.

If Bethesda isn’t in crisis mode trying to make ’76 more WoW like, then they will have burnt through a lot of community good will, as they slide into Oblivion.  While so many people are decrying the engine, I think the real faults lie in the lack of engagement, which then lets people stare at the assets and then the whole dated look of Fallout 4 really becomes apparent.

Looking back, Fallout 3 was a break out game, and I thought it was an excellent transformation of the isometric world to an engaging 3d game.  The story was… well, not the best, I accidentally stumbled onto ‘dad’ pretty quickly and ended it far too early which initially made it feel cheap and boring, not until I saw the strategy guide, and was amazed that there was so much in there, so I set about exploring and finding more enjoyment in the environment, lore and interactions.

New Vegas had so much in common, both development team wise, and atmosphere from the original Fallout it was an incredible follow up to Fallout 3, however too many people were too critical of the tech & timeline that they had been given and focused on defects that were frankly out of Obsidian’s hands.  It’s a shame that the best one had the worst reviews, and destroyed the people making it.

Fallout 4 returned to the 3 story, expect it was the parent seeking their child, and the twist that their child was now elderly really wasn’t all that surprising at all.  Cutting down NPC interaction was a major problem, as it felt so much on rails.  There was nothing to really do to step outside of yes/no trees with groups, you couldn’t ‘sort of side’ with someone, or disagree.. And then there was the minutemen and their constant nagging that was the worst.  Even cheating and putting 100 turrets into a settlement did nothing to save it, I saw the super mutants fall from the sky in the middle and proceed to attack.  What good is perimeter defenses when your opponents are apparently airborne?

I was so bored by Fallout 4, I can’t even remember if I finished the story.  It really wasn’t all that engaging.

And now we enter ’76 which again I knew was going to be strange with no NPC’s which meant no connection with the world at all.  But as I’d mentioned that the number of people playing this online is going to sharply crash that if you wanted to experience this aspect you better be quick.  And after more game play, I can safely say it doesn’t matter.

It’s now $35, and this won’t save it.  I expect more $5 discounts per week, if not steeper, then before the holidays some kind of rebalance to encourage micro transactions, and ’76 becoming a Freemium game, with it eventually being shuttered some time mid ’19 unless something amazing happens content wise between here & there.

They never should have launched @ $60 that’s for sure, and looking at the assets this really ought to have been a DLC / addon for Fallout 4 for perhaps $10-20 and I doubt itd have had anywhere near the massive backlash.

The real shame is that once the servers go dark that this will be the end.  I don’t think Bethesda ‘gets’ that the ability to self host is why Minecraft/Quake etc were so incredibly popular in their heyday.  And more importantly why that they will be continued to be played for years (decades) to come.

Fallout 76

Downloading…

I’m torn on this one.  Unless you have been living in a cave, you’d have heard that the launch of Fallout 76 has been…. well a spectacular disaster.

Launching at a full AAA price of $60 to what is apparently an empty world didn’t help things at all.

That said, I’ve liked Fallout for a long while, and yes I really did like the Bethesda treatment for Fallout 3.  And then we got New Vegas which was nothing short of amazing.  Sadly Obsidian, the team behind New Vegas that comprised many of the original Fallout team were punished in reviews with faults based on the aging gamebryo engine that Bethesda loves so much.  Which is sad as their bonus payment & future were tied to the metacritic score, which Bethesda tied a rock around their neck.

Fallout 4 was disappointing as it removed so much of the RPG elements, making the game boring, as it just lacked depth.  Which really is an unfortunate direction.  And the overall story/twist was so utterly predictable it was disappointing that you as the player were not expected to ‘get it’ right away.

And now here we are, Fallout 76, where they decided to remove all the NPC’s all together.  Which leads me to the following problem.

Fallout 76 is going to crash and burn, and as soon as the ‘next big thing’ launches nobody is going to play it.  So this is basically my only opportunity to play it with other people online.  The full price was certainly too much, and with the incredibly poor reception its had over the last week, it is already reduced in price by 33%.

Fallout 76 on the Bethesda store

Obviously this doesn’t bode well for the future of the game, but out of morbid curiosity I’m going to give it a try.

I’m pretty sure it’s going to be full of disappointment and failure.  I wouldn’t recommend anyone to really try it.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in another week the price was further reduced to $30 USD, with some time before Christmas for a further reduction to $20.  But by then will there be anyone left to play the game with?

The size of the game is overwhelming, I’m currently living in a small village in Hong Kong (yes it’s not all big city) the only internet options were 6MB DSL, or a 4G cellphone connection.  The 4G is much faster, however the WiFi bridge adapter I have is only 802.11a compatible so that is why I’m getting such a poor download speed.  It’s been downloading all night, and I’m too impatient to not at least write down my thoughts at the moment.

I should probably just break down, get a capture card, some tripods and lights and just make crappy YouTube videos.¬† I’ve been looking at numbers and I’m almost thinking that videos get further reach.¬† Not that I care too much, otherwise Id have done it ages ago, although it’s probably just me being lazy as video work is a lot of work, while quickly banging this out on a keyboard only takes a few minutes.¬† And I’ll have to get graphics, license music and use something to make snazy effects and stuff. Ugh sounds suspiciously like a lot of hard work.

After about 12 hours to download my junky machine would just launch Fallout 76 to a blank screen and then exit with no error code, or hint of a message.  Apparently going onto the forums it turns out that the ancient video card with 512MB of graphics RAM is just not enough, and Fallout 76 requires 2GB of video memory.  Unlike prior versions of Fallout, there is no pre-game tuning, instead you are thrown into the game with whatever settings are pre-defined.

I for one am not too amused with the black screen, and sudden close with not even a hint to the user. But the whole thing is apparently a rush job, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

I copied the downloaded game to a better machine via USB drive, and for most of the day I had this fun error:

NoRegionPing

The “No Region Ping” which either means that there are no servers up, or perhaps a firewall issue.¬† I later found out that¬†UPnP was disabled on the Huawei E5785 which may have also been the source of issues (although turning it on, and immediately rebooting didn’t change a thing so I don’t know for certain).

After a bit of fighting and I finally got the game to launch using my ‘pro’ laptop that has a GPU.

I have to say that the engine does look a lot better than the Fallout 4 one, especially going outside into the forest.¬† Maybe it’s the vibrant colours, a nice change from the bleak/dreary games of old.

The texture pop is quite noticeable, it feels like borderlands type flat shading style until it pops the correct texture.¬† I’m playing from SSD which I had thought would help alleviate such issues, but seeing it made no difference, I just moved it to the disk instead.

Combat is atrocious.¬† Stepping outside of the vault you encounter these small robots, the “liberator MK 0” that are almost impossible to hit.¬† When combat isn’t happening I can swing my fists of rage around like no tomorrow.¬† Once I encounter the robots I’m lucky to get a single swing for every 50+ mouse clicks.¬† The enemies move so fast that running away isn’t an option either.¬† I had better luck on herding one group of robots to fight another group of ticks, once I had tried to venture out a little further.

And speaking of opponents it seems that they just spawn on top of you.  I made it to some lighthouse to have 3 feral ghouls spawn in front of me, mauling me in seconds.  Not that clicking the mouse button to attack frantically would have done anything.

The game world does feel incredibly vast, and also seemingly incredibly lonely as well.¬† After going through the online menu there was only 3 other people on the server I’m on.¬† It’s probably all ready far too late to run into users, as I think the downfall of Fallout 76 is pretty much complete.

So yeah after an hour playing the game feels incredibly lonely and isolated.¬† But I have to admit, that after a nuclear war I’d imagine things would be lonely and isolated.¬† I think the part where Bethesda has really made a critical error is that the NPC’s that they put so much love into the past gave people an emotional attachment to the game, and that the prior fallouts, and all the endless elder scrolls are teeming with life.¬† And ’76 instead presents a vast wasteland.¬† Maybe it’s just too true to the source material.