So I was offered a MacPro 6.1 aka the trashcan.

And well it’s a Mac. I did the Windows Key + R to boot into recovery mode and install some old version of OS X over the internet. Nice.

I updated to Catalina and kind of forgot about the break with the ‘awesome world of home 32bit computing’ as it’s all 64bit now.

Needless to say none of my favourite stuff runs.

I’ve been maintaining a subscription to Crossover for a while, as I really like to support the future of Wine. I know a while back they too had the 64bit freakout, but they apparently found some shim to keep on running Win32 apps. And sure enough I loaded up my old Fortran Power Station bottle and it actually run!

Fortran on OS X!

Sadly SQL Server 4.21 seems to lock up, but it has been doing that under Wine when I last gave up on OS X a few years back. I tried some Win16 games (SimCity) and it bombed out. Looks like there is no support for Win16 apps. Pitty.

Steam is 64bit now, however none of Valve’s hits that have 64bit versions for Windows have made the 64bit leap for OS X. I have a feeling it’ll never happen as OS X users are so few and far between they are literally outnumbered by Linux users.

I did fire-up Subnautica, and of course the PC with the RTX 2070 blows this thing away. Although it’s hardly a fare competition. But who wants to play fare?

It’s far too early to really tell, and who knows I might just wipe this thing and install Windows. In my opinion OS X 10.6 was the greatest release ever bridging the divide from PowerPC to x86, just as 10.2.7 on the G5 was the greatest PowerPC version to bridge that 68000 divide. I still have that G5, but now my 2006 machine is dead. I’ve seen them in the used stores for around $100 USD. Although I don’t know if I can be bothered as they are incredibly heavy. And I’m pretty sure 10.6 will run on VMWare thanks to hackintosh efforts.

Also I should add as a personal note, my 2006 MacPro 1,1 died. I let someone else use it, and she broke it in one day. I’ve had it for years, several moves in the USA, then to Canada, then to Hong Kong. It died with only one day on the job. Sad.

So Fallout 76 came to steam

So yeah if you linked your account to your steam account it’ll transfer it over. I guess to their credit it links your saves and all that.

I loaded it, against my better judgement. And 55GB later they have finally updated it to have NPC’s! But it’s still online, and despite having a commercial internet connection with synchronous up/down it’s still super laggy, and suffers from the damage from after the fact artifacts on launch.

Seriously my internet connection isn’t that crap. No doubt I’m playing on servers on the other side of the planet, but of course you still cannot select what server to join.

Even with an i7 9th gen and a RTX-2070 the game still chops and texture pops.


Dealing with air gapped Windows 10.

Well it’s not really airgapped, but more so many policies, and selective firewalling to make Windows 10 useless.

I was given a ‘new machine’ in some deep data centre, but it’s pretty barren. No Microsoft Office (LOL USE GOOGLE stuff? NO ODBC?!!! WTF!!!!?), and worse, no Linux Subsystem, no ‘Windows Store’ and no Microsoft.Net

Well to add .NET it turns out that, it’s on the installation media. Which I was oddly able to download, using the ‘Windows Media Creation Tool‘, and have the installation tool create an ISO. Then simply mount the ISO as my ‘D’ drive and run:

Dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFX3 /All /Source:D:\sources\sxs /LimitAccess

And of course .Net 1.1 can also be shoved into there for good measure. Wasn’t that fun?

As for the store, you need to first turn it on in the registry:


Then run the following powershell:

Get-AppXPackage WindowsStore -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}

Now you can get those … exciting apps.

If you can’t get the store running (it also can fail for various services not running like Storage Service), you can download the Linux Userland directly, after enabling the Linux Subsystem.

Ugh, nothing like having to uncrippled something deliberately crippled to waste your time.

Pi1541 adventure!

Enter the Pi1541! What makes this different from the SD2IEC is that this emulates both the 6502 processor of the 1541 drive, it also emulates the two 6522 chips as well giving far stronger emulation. Is this enough to satisfy CP/M? Or is my issue something deeper?

Cleaned up a little

So in my continuing adventure of stuff arriving for my Commodore 64 project, I took the opportunity to pull the keyboard apart and clean it. I didn’t do any weird retrobrite thing, as I don’t care that this looks 30+ years old. And I haven’t swapped out any further caps just yet, although I did also get a big box of random caps ranging from 0.1 to 220uF, so I can probably do all the small stuff on the board when I feel like it next.

It took a bit extra effort to get this far.

The IEC cables had finally arrived, and that means I could connect up the Pi1541 hat I bought and get this project going.

Although it’s the latest ‘rev 4’ board, it doesn’t support the Pi4 (does anything support the Pi4? What an evolutionary dead end!), auction did include the LCD display, but no software, and no serial cable. The cooler looking one I wanted was all assembled in Poland and they are unable to ship.


Anyways, turns out the software is written by one Stephen White, who doesn’t get any cut of the board sales, but in turn I guess they aren’t bundling the software either… I’d have imagined it’d be some kind of 1+1 thing, but it’s not to be. I guess it’s also why so many people keep on thinking you can buy a PiZero for $5 or so, when they are much closer to $25.

Anways, getting the initial part of the board working was just a matter of reading Steve’s site, and following which files to be download, and where to be placed onto a FAT32 formatted SD card. This is one of those ‘bare metal’ type projects, so this also doesn’t run Linux.

Unfortunately for me the Pi1541 didn’t do ANYTHING on powering on, that is until I connected the HDMI cable. And yeah what a let down. And even worse when trying to load anything it’d just hang. So frustraiting!

But thanks to this post by jerrykurtz over on lemon64, I was able to put together this fragment to get it working (for me!)

deviceID = 8
splitIECLines = 1
scrollHighlightRate = 0.07
ChargenFont = chargen
OnResetChangeToStartingFolder = 1
GraphIEC = 1
SoundOnGPIO = 1
SoundOnGPIODuration = 1000
SoundOnGPIOFreq = 1200
LCDName = ssd1306_128x64
LcdLogoName = 1541classic
i2cBusMaster = 1
IgnoreReset = 1

Now this of course works for my v4 hat, and the way I like it. Also keep in mind that if the C64 isn’t detected it will appear to hang after loading the chargen ROM. It took a while to figure that out, until I just turned on the c64 to see what would happen. I also hate having it change disks when I power cycle, so IgnoreReset was a great feature, well for me anyways.

I fired up CP/M, and yeah it’s doing the same thing. So it turns out that it’s not the SD2IEC adapter that I have. I’m kind of mixed about this, on the one hand that’s great as the SD2IEC’s are significantly cheaper and easier to come by, at the same time I had hoped a little that the bigger investment of the Pi1541 would make the difference. At least it’ll be the difference for stuff like Ghosts’N’Goblins Arcade.

CP/M Planetfall

One interesting thing is that SOFT80 is now faster, getting somewhere between 1-3cps. It’s still totally unplayable, but I guess that’s progress?

Still waiting for the dead test cart to see if it tells me anything useful.

Waiting for the deadtest

So since CP/M is acting all wrong, there is clearly something up with the C64. I hadn’t opened it yet, and I almost regret doing so as despite it ‘working’ it was a MESS!

After separating the case halves, and unplugging the top LED, I saw that capacitor C66 had exploded. There was some faint hint of staining from the top, but I didn’t expect it to be something like this.

The board was disgusting, like the cap had something spilt onto it? Then it ruptured? or did it rupture? it still powered on and ‘worked’ despite this gunk.

Isopropyl is in short supply still, so I did something probably dumb, I took a 50% baiju a brush and gave it a quick rinse.

Cleaned up board

with all the fuzz removed it’s a 250469 REV.B… which I understand is a pretty late model. It’s one of the short boards, which not a lot of chips, which I’d hope means fewer things to fault, although at the same time, some of these chips are going to be impossible to source.

Also, I should add that I found various C64 schematics online, and none had a 470uF cap for C66. Maybe I’m going crazy? I found an E-bay auction for replacement caps, and yep, they also have a 470uF in there. Am I crazy?

TONEREX 50v 470uF(M)

Now I was hoping that being in Hong Kong, that means I could actually find some retail shop actually selling capacitors. So I went around the audiophile places and scored this higher voltage cap for a whopping $5 USD! The store owner was insistent that this was for ‘high end audio gear’ and not my toy 80’s computer. That this thing was somehow some magical ‘audio only’ capacitor. Has anyone heard such a thing? Is this like audiophile grade SATA cables?!

Massive cap installed!

So I replaced the cap, and NOTHING. The power led turns green and that’s about it. I had to dig up a simple volt meter and yeah power is going places. I gave up and went home for the night. Turned it on this morning expecting a POP or further disappointment, and it fired up.

A bit of digging around I found HeadAlign v1.1, which I transferred to the SD2IEC, and much to my amazement the stupid tape drive started working, although it was a full screw turn out of alignment, and it looked normal (no picture). I rewinded the tape, and loaded up Hans Kloss, and it worked!

Sadly CP/M still is printing far too many things to the screen. I guess I need to replace more caps, and keep on waiting for that dead test cart to get a bit of a further hint. Although my soldering skills are terrible.

Big plans going nowhere

Ever since I found that ‘cheap’ Commodore 64 online I’ve been wanting to try something. The machine came with a tape drive, so I ordered some ‘cheap’ reproduction tape game, to see if it worked.

1530 mech

While it almost works, it sees the program on the tape, the thing stalls out. Granted it being dated to 1991 probably means the belts are beyond usable. I am having a friend proxy some belts for me as nobody will ship them to Hong Kong (pandemic didn’t have any real effect there).

While this machine is a newer ‘C’ model, I’ve had seen this auction pop on and off on Ebay from time to time advertising a refactored and improved CP/M cart advertising that it works on all models. I’ve read somewhere that post 128 that they finally had figured it out, far too late to matter. But maybe with this new cartridge things could work?

I managed to get a SD2IEC board delivered from Germany, which uses external USB power, so it won’t tax the C64 PSU (I should look, is there an ATX to C64 PSU?). I can load some silly games and stuff seemingly okay. I haven’t bothered with GEOS, as I used it far too much when I had to, and it’s just far too slow to even dream of being usable. Anyways with the SD2IEC it came with ZERO instructions but I did find the page with the needed firmware, and the ‘FB64.PRG’ program to have it browse the SD card and mound D64 images as needed.

I have to admit, ever since I did that article about “Running CP/M on the Commodore 64” I’ve been dying to try this on real hardware. With all the excitement in the room, I mounted the CP/M disk, and held my breath as the *’s went across the screen….


And, well something isn’t right. I tried a bunch of images I could find online, and they all do the same thing. They print far too many characters on the screen from time to time. Clearly it’s some timing/IRQ issue. Something to do with the VIC chip.

Despite the screen being corrupt, it is running, and it does let you run commands, it’s just the output is being doubled (or 10x!) up.

So I tried the soft80 program which will setup an 80 column CP/M experience. It didn’t matter what version I used, the old one from the 80’s or the patched up one from Luis Antoniosi, they all do the same thing, which is run at a blistering 1cps.

I thought it’d be fun to stream this old beast playing the CP/M version of planetfall, but at 1cps I just can’t do it. Which is just a shame. I haven’t tried a regular C64 Infocom game, as the 40 cols was always crazy, but I guess it’s the fallback.

I know these things are so rare, but I had high hopes for this thing.

So close, and yet so far away.

Edilbert Kirk’s Z-Machine for CBM computers

I never heard of this one before, but it’s legit!… As long as you have expanded your RAM, Edilbert’s Z-Machine opens up the world of Infocom to a whole host of machines:

  • C64
  • C128
  • CBM 4032
  • CBM 8032
  • CBM 8096 / CBM 8296
  • VC-20 (32K / 40K)
  • +4
Sweet looking 8296 from xAD / nIGHTFALL‘s post on

I’ve never seen the more advanced ‘European Business’ PET’s before, I’ve only dealt with the incredibly limited PET 2001-8C Chiclet keyboard models that were so insanely limited. It wasn’t until much later I saw the dual disk drives (4040’s??) that could have helped those machines so much more, but that was that. I’d been asked as a kid to make an electronic card file on an 8kb machine with a single tape drive. Sadly 8 year old me didn’t know about loading and saving sequential records on tape. Or maybe luckily as I can only imagine how insanely slow this would have been, and or tedious to not only save and update, but find things.

Anyways I thought I’d fire up some mythical 8296 beast with 128Kb of RAM. Attaching the disk image, and firing up “LOADER”, you can watch it load up as much as possible into memory:

And once it’s loaded up, the Z-Machine is active!

Now granted I don’t have a PET to test with, but using VICE, I can happily say that for an 8bit machine, this is incredibly fast. Maybe it’s the disk subsystem interface, as the VIC-20/C64 have an absolutely dreadful interface, but yeah wow playing HHGTTG on a non C64!

You can find downloads over at “PET FOOD“.

Anyways this is pretty neat, and all new to me. Just like the Tandy CoCo 6809 interpreter source being found was as well.

Internet archive to fully open up during “Covid19/SARS 2/武汉肺炎”

To address our unprecedented global and immediate need for access to reading and research materials, as of today, March 24, 2020, the Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in our lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later. 

During the waitlist suspension, users will be able to borrow books from the National Emergency Library without joining a waitlist, ensuring that students will have access to assigned readings and library materials that the Internet Archive has digitized for the remainder of the US academic calendar, and that people who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis, keeping themselves and others safe.  

This library brings together all the books from Phillips Academy Andover and Marygrove College, and much of Trent University’s collections, along with over a million other books donated from other libraries to readers worldwide that are locked out of their libraries.

This is a response to the scores of inquiries from educators about the capacity of our lending system and the scale needed to meet classroom demands because of the closures. Working with librarians in Boston area, led by Tom Blake of Boston Public Library, who gathered course reserves and reading lists from college and school libraries, we determined which of those books the Internet Archive had already digitized.  Through that work we quickly realized that our lending library wasn’t going to scale to meet the needs of a global community of displaced learners. To make a real difference for the nation and the world, we would have to take a bigger step.

“The library system, because of our national emergency, is coming to aid those that are forced to learn at home, ” said Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “This was our dream for the original Internet coming to life: the Library at everyone’s fingertips.”

Public support for this emergency measure has come from over 100 individuals, libraries and universities across the world, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  “Ubiquitous access to open digital content has long been an important goal for MIT and MIT Libraries. Learning and research depend on it,” said Chris Bourg, Director of MIT Libraries. “In a global pandemic, robust digital lending options are key to a library’s ability to care for staff and the community, by allowing all of us to work remotely and maintain the recommended social distancing.”

We understand that we’re not going to be able to meet everyone’s needs; our collection, at 1.4 million modern books, is a fraction of the size of a large metropolitan library system or a great academic library. The books that we’ve digitized have been acquired with a focus on materials published during the 20th century, the vast majority of which do not have a commercially available ebook.  This means that while readers and students are able to access latest best sellers and popular titles through services like OverDrive and Hoopla, they don’t have access to the books that only exist in paper, sitting inaccessible on their library shelves. That’s where our collection fits in—we offer digital access to books, many of which are otherwise unavailable to the public while our schools and libraries are closed. In addition to the National Emergency Library, the Internet Archive also offers free public access to 2.5 million fully downloadable public domain books, which do not require waitlists to view.

We recognize that authors and publishers are going to be impacted by this global pandemic as well. We encourage all readers who are in a position to buy books to do so, ideally while also supporting your local bookstore. If they don’t have the book you need, then Amazon or Better World Books may have copies in print or digital formats. We hope that authors will support our effort to ensure temporary access to their work in this time of crisis. We are empowering authors to explicitly opt in and donate books to the National Emergency Library if we don’t have a copy. We are also making it easy for authors to contact us to take a book out of the library. Learn more in our FAQ.

A final note on calling this a “National Emergency” Library.  We lend to the world, including these books. We chose that language deliberately because we are pegging the suspension of the waitlists to the duration of the US national emergency.  Users all over the world have equal access to the books now available, regardless of their location.

How you can help:

  1. Read books, recommend books, and teach using books from the National Emergency Library
  2. Sponsor a book to be digitized and preserved
  3. Endorse this effort institutionally or individually
  4. Share news about the National Emergency Library with your social media followers using #NationalEmergencyLibrary
  5. Donate to the Internet Archive

If you have additional questions, please check out our FAQ or contact Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries

Amongst all the DooM and gloom, DooM 64 was released for PC!

I guess I missed all the excitement of the new DooM whatever, but Bethesda decided to dig up that N64 ‘DooM 3’ aka DooM 64. It’s a unique game unlike all the other console ports that were straight ports of the original DooM, although some like the 32x (Mars) or Jaguar versions that had a bunch of details removed from the levels to either spare the limited processors, and/or save precious cartridge space.

At $39 HKD, it’s $4 USD, so it’s a bit ‘pricy’ for something that is a 23 year old game, but at least I guess it’s out in the wild in a legal format. No idea if it made it to as that whole thing collapsed quicker than Fallout 76 became a meme riddled disappointment.

Anyways I know I’m late to the party, but it’s all new to me.

Bare Metal Vice

From the site:

BMC64 is a bare metal fork of VICE’s C64 emulator optimized for the Raspberry Pi. It has 50hz/60hz smooth scrolling, low video/audio latency and a number of other features that make it perfect for building your own C64 replica machine.

I had to pick up some bits and bobs as there is some circuits I wanted to try to build, and oddly enough the electronic store I went to had some Pi’s! I bought 2 zero’s and 2 three’s! They aren’t cheap, sadly but I honestly doubt any zero’s actually ever sold for  £5, and these cost me $168! Each! (just under £20!).

Anyways since I had nothing to do with these things, I already ordered a 1541 hat for the Commodore 64c, so I’ll need a 3 for that, but I was looking around and ran into the bmc64!

You do have to drop in your BIOS files manually, which is the only tedious bit, then dump over your taps’ and d64’s. My 3 boots up in a few seconds straight to the BASIC screen, like it’s 1983!

I was expecting it to be a lot of work, and it really was a SNAP. Not that I have any shortage of machines, or tiny machines to run VICE, but this running on metal is honestly kind of exciting.

I’d have loaded it on the zero, but it uses some mini HDMI port, and all I have is regular HDMI cables. I also picked up some heat sinks for the CPU’s as no doubt, no idle loops means it’ll get toasty.

It’s something I’d encourage people to check out, if anything to see how versatile a bare metal program can be for the pi’s.. Although apparently they screwed up the 4, it’s too different from the 0/2/3 for some reason.