Confessions of a paranoid DEC Engineer: Robert Supnik talks about the great Dungeon heist!

What an incredible adventure!

Apparently this was all recorded in 2017, and just now released.

It’s very long, but I would still highly recommend watching the full thing.

Bob goes into detail about the rise of the integrated circuit versions of the PDP-11 & VAX processors, the challenges of how Digital was spiraling out of control, and how he was the one that not only championed the Alpha, but had to make the difficult decisions that if the Alpha succeeded that many people were now out of a job, and many directions had to be closed off.

He goes into great detail how the Alpha was basically out maneuvered politically and how the PC business had not only dragged them down by management not embracing the Alpha but how trying to pull a quick one on Intel led to their demise.

Also of interest was his time in research witnessing the untapped possibilities of AltaVista, and how Compaq had bogged it down, and ceded the market to the upstart Google, the inability to launch a portable MP3 player (Although to be fair the iPod wasn’t first to market by a long shot, it was the best user experience by far).

What was also interesting was his last job, working at Unisys and getting them out of the legacy mainframe hardware business and into emulation on x86, along with the lesson that if you can run your engine in primary CPU cache it’s insanely fast (in GCC land -Os is better than -O9).

The most significant part towards the end of course is where he ‘rewinds’ his story to go into his interest in simulations, and of course how he started SIMH when he had some idle time in the early 90’s. SIMH of course has done an incredible amount of work to preserve computing history of many early computers. He also touches on working with the Warren’s TUHS to get Unix v0 up and running on a simulated PDP-7 and what would have been a challenge in the day using an obscure Burroughs disk & controller modified from the PDP-9.

Yes it’s 6 hours long! But really it’s great!

New Year! New Machine!

24 cores!

New format for stuff too!

I picked up an ‘interesting Chinese motherboard, a dual LGA2011 board, some DD3 ECC memory, and 2 of the cheapest ‘widest’ chips I could find, the 6 core E5-2620 v2. The board cost me $200 US, the memory was $90 and the CPU’s were $40. Although the board is E-ATX, and that means I’ll need to get a new case as it won’t fit anything I have lying around.

I think I finally got the hang of Vegas. It’s taken far too long to get here, but I was hoping to have received the board much quicker as it shipped from 30km from here, but they did their best to NOT ship to Hong Kong.

I know it’s far too long, and far too maranding. Oh well it’s late and I’m just babbling like crazy.

Stanford uploads 111 lectures by Donald Knuth.

This is pretty cool! I didn’t know they were recording stuff back in 1980!

Stanford has a nice playlist here.

Naturally it’s full of TeX & Mathematical writing, along with trees and other ‘fun’ CS stuff.

While we are overall drowning in cat videos, and other uh ‘multimedia’ content, it’s still amazing the wealth of information that is available to the world (well the part of the world that can view YouTube).

I have no idea what the licensing is, but it’d be such a shame if it was hosted on additional platforms to make them available to the larger world.

Test video of Fallout 76 on a 2006 MacPro

So, I thought my mic was working but yeah it’s not. I’ve shot a bunch a footage, and did some capture stuff too. Turns out the audio I though I had working isn’t. I should have started with a 10 second short to get things ironed out.

I’m using old crap I’ve had lying around in this case, software wise, I’m using liteCam Game: 100 FPS Game Capture, which I guess is ‘okay’ for video capture. It runs on my 2006 MacPro so that’s great, but the video compressor it likes to use, the RSUPPORT MPEG4 Codec isn’t understood by the video editor I’m using, VEGAS Pro 15 Edit Steam Edition.

So FFMPEG to the rescue!

ffmpeg.exe -i 20190107-122714.avi -t 00:05:00.0 test2MP4_.mp4

This gets me a 5 minute clip trans-coded from one MPEG-4 to another, but at least Vegas can read it now.

I used the great program myTube to clip audio from another video, and convert only the audio stream into something Vegas could deal with:

ffmpeg.exe -i DASH-Yakety Sax- Music.dasha” -vn -c:a copy Yakety Sax-Music.mp4

Editing was a fun time flailing around figuring out how to cut tracks, fade in/out add in other layers, and that’s when I noticed that my MIC wasn’t capturing anything. And I didn’t want to try to literally phone it in, so it’s a test video.

24 minutes to render a 5 minute video!

I was kind of crazy, and used the 2006 MacPro to make the video file. I should have known with the ‘blazing’ speed of 0.407x doing the trans-coding that this was going to be SLOW. Obviously dual Xeon 5130‘s @2Ghz isn’t really ideal for video editing today.

Clearly I need a bigger boat.

But just like running Fallout 76 on a 13 year old computer, it still runs. SLOWLY.

I wanted to some crappy branding/art things, but as I made a new channel I’m too much of a n00b apparently to set custom thumbnails. So I need to fluff it out or something I guess.

So here we go!

Consider it more of a process test, I need to get some lighting, and figure out what is up with my audio, maybe hit SSP and get an old audio board or something. Let me know how terrible it looks/sounds… I’m still working on transitions and stuff. I got Vegas on sale for a tiny fraction of the price, I guess it’s high time to use it.

Quake 2 for MS-DOS full playthrough

Playthrough by TheSlipGateUser

I was just alerted to this playthrough of Quake 2 for MS-DOS by TheSlipGateUser which showcases the game play under DOSBox.

Honestly I’m terrible at Quake, QuakeWorld and Quake 2, but it’s great to see someone who knows that they are doing, and more so that under emulation the game is holding up.

I know the MS-DOS port isn’t exactly the most popular in the world, although I suspect if it had been a thing in 1997 there would have been an audience with people that didn’t want to have Windows in the background as a distraction.

That said, any new people will of course want to check out the excellent (if I do say so myself!) series “Porting Quake II to MS-DOS“.

Origin of the Windows XP ‘Bliss’ wallpaper

Charles O’Rear’s Bliss

You’ve probably seen this iconic image everywhere at one point.  This is Charles O’Rear’s picture simply titled ‘bliss’ that was bought by Microsoft in 2000 and used as the default wallpaper for Windows XP.

Interview with Charles

I found this interview of him recently and thought it was interesting enough for a quick post.

20 years of iMacs

Wow the time sure flies!


(Video in MPEG-1/Audio MPEG-2 care of JSMpeg).

I know it's terrible quality but finding video from these old Apple events seems to have been recorded on VHS, and then re-recorded using the 'best' video capture technology for under $100 of the era leading to some really poor quality.  Such is the internet I guess.

I didn't buy a first generation but I did have a 2nd generation 333Mhz green iMac to run OS X Server 1.0 ... Who wasn't excited for the prospects of the next millenium?

BBSs and early Internet access in the 1990ies

This talk explains how individuals were able to communicate globally in the 1990ies using self-organized networks of BBSsin networks like FIDO and Z-Netz, before individual access to the Internet was possible. It also covers the efforts of non-profit organizations to provide individual access to Internet Mail+News via UUCP and later via IP during that period.

This talk covers how individuals could participate in local, regional and global message-based data communications in the 1990ies. It covers the technologies used to access such networks, both on the infrastructure (BBS) side, as well as on the user/client side.

At the same time, the talk is a bit of a personal journey from

  • accessing dial-up BBSs using accoustinc coupler and modem
  • becoming CoSysop of a BBS and learning about how to operatie BBSs
  • being a Node/Point in message based communications networks like Z-Netz and FIDO
  • using UUCP to participate in Internet mail/news (Usenet)
  • working in the technical team of Kommunikationsnetz Franken e.V. to set up a community-based ISP with modem and ISDN dial-up banks, satellite based Usenet feeds, analog leased lines ISDN-SPV.
  • helping getting Germany’s alleged first Internet Cafe (we then called it an Online Bistro) connected

I never was able to know anyone close enough to do fun stuff like back to back DSL modems, or even in this day & age run fiber optics, do ATM or anything fun like that.  As they say telecoms always break down at the last mile, or in my case the first mile.