solarbird: (ART-gonzo)

Remember that iNTEL64 nonsense I came up with? The Cartridge Computing System, from an alternate-history where cartridges never stopped being a thing? And of course I built one, partly because I like physical artefacts from alternate universes, but mostly to solve an actual problem.

Anyway, the primary 'cartridge port' has been a separate external unit (because it's really just an eSATA external drive harness), and that meant a separate power switch and separate power cable and separate data cable and all that.

So I decided external cartridge ports were stupid and made an internal unit. Fits in any 5.25" drive bay. It also takes both modern (2.5" SSD) and older, larger cartridges (3.5" hard drives.) Anything SATA, really.

The hardest part was modifying the antique (and weird) Compaq case to look like it had a faceplate made for the iNTEL64 CCS standard. But once I had everything else, I just... had to. ^_^

solarbird: (tracer)


Okay, just to catch everybody up...

Introducing two cartridges for the intel64 Cartridge Computing System. These are actually real and actually work. I had a problem to solve with a multiboot system and after a lot of other things did not work, I realised just using multiple physical SSD drives and an external eSata docking station that doesn't cost me any drive speed in actual use would solve it, in possibly the dumbest way possible.

And that's when I realised I had basically reinvented cartridges. Just, you know, dramatically better ones.

The rest, well... it kind of just happened. Because it had to.

Branding is a mix of Commodore 8-bit era fonts (because they had cartridges), Atari 8-bit fonts (particularly 2600 and 5200, also cartridges), Sega Genesis graphics layout (they did that L-of-colour thing), and an old lower-case i for iNTEL. It's 64 because this is x64 code, obviously, and the big rainbow logo comes from both Apple and Commodore of the cartridge era, with the middle bar in the old Atari logo changed into an i, for, of course, iNTEL.

(I have no idea why the orange came out red in that one photo. Same lighting, same series of shots, same everything. Phone camera is just off on its own, I guess.)

It is so stupid, and yet, it actually solves an actual work problem, and I am so pleased with myself about it. (⌒▽⌒)

solarbird: (Default)

intel64 cartridge 1022 - series 1, cartridge 02, variation 2 (overwatch on windows 10)

solarbird: (banzai institute)


intel64 cartridge 1012 - series 1, cartridge 01, variation 2 (ubuntu with ardour)

the important thing to remember here is that I am actually solving an actual problem with this. well... okay, not with the labels. but by setting up my system this way. I AM SOLVING AN ACTUAL PROBLEM GODDAMMIT.

solarbird: (tracer)
Remember that silly idea that actually solved a problem?

Well, if we're going to live in a world where cartridge-based computing systems are still important, there will obviously be branding, now won't there? I was having a hard time with it until I realised I just wasn't 80s-ing it up enough.

I have solved that problem.

(For those keeping track: That's Commodore standard typeset in the black and white, a variation on the old Intel i for the start of intel, the Atari 2600/5200 font in the NTEL part of intel, and, of course, this AU's version of the intel logo, featuring that lower-case I again, in an Apple- and Commodore/Amiga-like version of the old Atari logo. Because that's just the kind of thing I do.)
solarbird: (banzai institute)

Introducing the new Intel 64 cartridge-based PC system! Done with work for the day?

Why then, just swap cartridges...

Hit power, and you're ready to game!

(ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ ♥

(Basically, I gave up trying to get my old Win8.1 partition to take security updates, realised I had a clone of the current drive that I could play with safely, and started experimenting.

I tried to get it to upgrade to Windows 10, but that was also broken, somehow; tried to install Windows 10 as a replacement OS; that was also also kind of broken and fucked up the boot structure.

Then I realised I could just install Windows 10 on that disk, and boot flexibly using BIOS options for boot order, but turns Windows kinda hates having two separate physical bootable devices and was having no part of that nonsense.

I was going to give up, but then realised I could mount the drive externally in an eSata harness and not lose any speed, meaning I could just swap drives to swap systems if I really wanted to do this. And that was so stupid I decided I had to do this, so I did.

Now every time I turn it on, I hear SEEEEEEGAAAAAAA in my head. And I've decided that's... not really a downside. So now I have an Intel 64. Apparently. O(≧∇≦)O )

solarbird: (molly-computer-all-lit-up)
Anybody have an old Win98 USB mass storage device driver? I've set up an real Win98 box on the machine that used to be - it's a P166 from 1996 and accordingly hilarious. I have USB running on it, but not drivers for USB disk drives, and I want that working, in no small part because the non-lulz non-vintage-games part of this project is having a (the?) last working 5.25" floppy drive for PC-DOS/MS-DOS diskettes.

(I like having the ability to read all antique media. Need anything off a Commodore PET floppy? In theory, I can do that for you, as long as it's double-density or less, and yes, they had a 1mb PET floppy at one point.)

The machine is named Blue, drive D is named Purple, and it's registered to Amélie Lacroix and the password is oneshotonekill because of course it had to be. Also, the desktop starts out with weapons and such but turns into widowtracer art because we all know what's really going on here.

It's also much quieter now, particularly for a machine from 1996, as I've replaced all the fans and improved the venting. Two of the fans were outright dead - the CPU and GPU fans, so that's terrifying. (I think the CPU fan may have worked occasionally, but don't hold me to it. Also I had already improved the venting some, even with the old fans - I just improved it more now.)

A couple of power supply capacitors should be replaced too, they're bulging a bit, and I had to order them - VetCo had none of the right caps in stock. Ah well, I tried.
solarbird: (Lecturing)
This is a presentation at GDC 2017 about virtual worlds and augmented reality and it is entirely worth your 55 minutes whether you are in game design or arguably even more if you are not.
solarbird: (korra-fruck-out)

Apparently, sometime in the 1980s, TEAC – a legitimate, major, respected maker of audio gear – thought it would be a great idea to combine reel-to-reel loading technology with audiocassette frames.

Yes, it’s a compact audiocassette where you load the reels individually. And you can swap them out! I AM NOT EVEN MAKING THIS UP LOOK AT IT THIS IS LUDICROUS:

The selling point was presumably size of the little mini-reels vs. size of an entire cassette frame. But… honestly, how did this ever make it to market? Particularly given what a pain in the ass it is to actually load into a cassette frame and use. Watch the video, it’s pretty much hilarious.

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solarbird: (music)

A while ago, I saw Tony Fabris of Vixy & Tony using a ridiculously large Windows tablet to display his lyrics and sheet music. He’d also whipped together some software to organise it and such. It was awesome.

The trick was he’d got the tablet relatively cheap, because it was huge, but also the first release of Windows 8 on tablet, and there was something weird about it I think? I forget. It already didn’t exist anymore, but he had one.

Anyway, I’ve been watching for a similar opportunity ever since, because I kind of realised there was an arbitrage opportunity floating around right about… well, let’s go to the napkin:

See, past a point, as tablets get larger, they become less useful as tablets. Above 11″ or so, they rapidly become both unacceptably awkward and heavy, particularly at widescreen ratios. Oh, sure, you can get a keyboard, use it as a really awkward laptop, and a lot of companies are making laptop “convertibles” now as people try to figure out that format. But even done well, that’s basically a laptop that can make do as a shitty tablet, all at laptop prices.

Now, on the other hand, if you want something to sit in front of you on a music rack and display your chords or whatever, you want that extra, impractical-for-carrying-around size. And you don’t mind a little more weight, because it’s a lot lighter than a bunch of three-ring binders.

And LCD screens in those sizes and ratios are everywhere now from OEMs, because laptops. So everybody keeps trying to make tablets at those larger sizes because IT CAN’T MISS AM I RIGHT? Except every time it’s the same plan, it’s the same plan, and everybody ends up on fire and dumping these things.

So the trick is to find something in that little red bar, at the end of the too-heavy, too-big-for-normal-people 13-14″ downslope-of-heaviness while still in the awesome-for-sheetmusic range of musician happiness, all at the right oh-shit-this-was-a-bad-idea-get-rid-of-these-things price range.

There’ve been a few qualifying tablets floating around pretty much constantly since I saw Tony’s, all from one or another GeneroMaker, but they’ve all been too junky for one reason or another. Bad screens, bad battery life, double-digit DOA rates, whatever.

Until possibly now. Meet The Latest Iteration Of This Mistake, at $150 on Amazon right now.

3rd Generation iPod for scale because I left my sonic upstairs

The photo here isn’t great, but I don’t want to move the tablet because it’s doing the first-time charge. But trust me: it’s huge. It’s slightly over three times the size of Anna’s Kindle. It’s got a good screen, it’s heavier than some laptops but it’s thin, it’s got 5-7 (claimed) hours of battery life, decent viewing angles, and it’s running Jelly Bean so can talk to the usual app stores. It’s got USB and expansion and all that. The onboard sound is terrible and it’s not super fast, but that’s not what I need it for.

And almost all the positive reviews are from musicians using it for exactly this.

There will probably be more of these, but this is the first one I’ve seen since that old Windows tablet of Tony’s that meets all the requirements for such appropriately little dough. I’ve had it for all of a few hours, so this isn’t a review, but it is your notice: the arbitrage opportunity you may have been waiting for is now here.

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solarbird: (molly-computer-all-lit-up)

I’ve been doing a bunch of work to make my formerly-terrible phone view for my blog into something that’s better on a phone.

What do you think, sirs? Additions include navigation to other parts of the site (finally), a mobile contact form that works, easier access to the mobile music page, throwing mobile users of video over to my youtube page, things like that.

And two questions:

1. As a phone user, do you want to see this view instead of the desktop view? I think at this point (since it’s not just locked into the pale-blue-on-pale-blue madness which was Carrington Mobile and also lets you visit the rest of the site) it’s kind of reasonable so suggest that.

2. If you’re a tablet user, do you still get the desktop site? I want that. Tablets can handle desktop view. Phones, though – yeah, not as much.

Anyway, what do you think?

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solarbird: From moongazeponies on deviantart (pony-pinkie-hax)

Check this out: listening to dead satellites. Or at least semi-dead satellites. These are satellites with dead batteries but with transmitters which turn on whenever the solar panels are in the right direction anyway. Some of the noises they make are weird and interesting.

I particularly like Transit 5B-5, launched 1964, for military navigation purposes. But recordings of many different satellites can be found at the link. Echos of the cold war – fitting, don’t you think, for the days surrounding the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall?

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solarbird: (molly-computer-all-lit-up)

I may have spent my Sunday off – my first day off in like three weeks – debugging UNIVAC Star Trek game code that was ported to TRS-80 Level II BASIC some decades ago. That may be a thing that happened.

(Well, I found some bugs. No, I did. One crashing! That doesn’t happen anymore. Also, now if you enter your name wrong, instead of hanging, it names you Captain Dunsel. It seemed appropriate.)

Here, have a copy of the audiocassette. Or a printout, if you’d prefer that. 16K required.

Did you know Level II BASIC’s built-in programme editor was based heavily on TECO? I feel a bit like Scarf Doctor stumbling across Shemp Doctor’s TARDIS console room and tin whistle. Or maybe it’s kind of like I spent Sunday afternoon flossing out my brain. For SCIENCE! Or something.

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solarbird: (music)

Okay, so people who have been out of the loop, Livejournal has gone through another purchase/”merger.” I know, I know, “Livejournal? Really? That’s still alive?” And you have a very good point.

But honestly this new ownership is the most responsive I’ve seen since Brad sold the place. They’ve been asking users what they want, they’ve put back in subject lines in comments, they’ve made all sorts of changes that people actually seem to want made.

Including, in response specifically to me, long-overdue resumption of support for Bandcamp embeds. That used to work, and stopped working, about three years ago? Whenever Bandcamp went to iframes for their players. Previous ownership didn’t answer questions about it. Current support just said ‘Okay!’ and “bandcamp embedding should work now!”


Which is the entire point of this post. Let’s see if this works, shall we?

eta: oh my gods it works. This hasn’t worked in three years. SEE HOW WE STOMP FOR… Livejournal?

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solarbird: From moongazeponies on deviantart (pony-pinkie-hax)

“I repaired the light bulb.”

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solarbird: (korra-excited)

The other set of LED tape lights arrived. Initially they had less impact when tested; the window behind the baffles in the left on this photo don’t go as high as the baffle, so the top lights were a bit hidden. So I tapped in a bit of wood to raise it.

Here are four configurations I’ve already found I like quite a bit and am actually using at their appropriate times of day – the idea is that if I don’t have BRIGHT DAYLIGHT LIGHTS on at 2pm, I won’t look up and go “oh look it’s 3:30 and I have to be up at… eight!”

Click to enlarge in a separate tab.


Sunset and Evening

(It really does feel like daylight in there.)


The pictures are colour-manipulated a little to try to get at least in the neighbourhood of the correct colours; this was as close as I can get. The white areas around really the colours you see near them, not white. The orange is more orangy, the green is more greeny, the snozzberries taste like snozzberries.

Exactly like snozzberries.

But yeah, $35 in LEDs – including the controllers and remotes. That doesn’t include power supplies; I had one already and paid $10 for a second one that can handle the full input requirements of the longer strand, so I do things now like put that one on cycle and leave the other one steady if I want. Just because I CAN.

Mood/time-lighting LEDs are awesome. :D

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solarbird: (molly-thats-not-good-green)

So. I have a Windows XP partition on my digital audio workstation. It exists to run two things: imgcopy and lightscribe. The machine spends 98% of its time in Ubuntu – but XP support is ending, and 0% is about to be the right amount of time.

However, received wisdom (and every other time I’ve done this) says you have to install Windows first, in a dual-boot configuration, then install clean Linux. A fresh install of Linux is unacceptable, because of reasons. Good reasons, not bullshit/ph33r reasons. Don’t argue with me about that; if you want to, you are wrong.

Now, if I have to, I can just yank the network drivers, not even turn on the external network card YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT EXTERNAL NETWORK CARD AGAIN REASONS and keep running XP, but wow, do I not want to do that. I’d like to turn this into a gaming machine as well – it has l33t specs in many ways, and with graphics card upgrades, could be a tiny goddess.

So. First: is there a way to keep my Linux partitions and still end up with a dual-boot machine? I know I can’t upgrade WinXP in place, but I have enough room in the current XP partitions for Windows 8.1, if the spec sheet isn’t lying. I don’t mind wiping the XP partitions, If there’s a way to accomplish this, that would be awesome; how, specifically, do I do it, and if you’re proposing a method, have you done it?

Keep in mind that given that the supposed XP-and-Vista binary to check your machine for Windows 8 compatibility failed to run because it doesn’t support XP, my confidence in my former employer is not high right now.

Second: Failing that, and I think we can assume failure there, are there reasons of which I’m unaware which would make it insane to install Windows 8 to a USB drive and just boot off that when I need to run Windows? Preferably a flash drive? Obviously I’m not an Enterprise Customer ™ so I don’t have Windows To Go, so only have Windows 8.1 Pro, but does it really matter since I’d be only using it on one computer ever?

Or, again, is that crazytalk? I don’t have USB 3.0, so this might be crazytalk, and honestly, I’d prefer a regular non-USB-drive install. But as a workaround, this would be fine. I’d have a Windows partition on the drive and use that for swap and My Documents and and and.

If neither of these are options, but you have another option that does not involve reinstalling Linux, I’m all ears. Maybe some sort of VM solution, I could see that. Please, tell me. Because right now I’m looking at lol winxp 4eva, or, more accurately, winxp until it decides it really wants to register again and can’t because it has no network, and tells me to DIAF.

I’d rather avoid that outcome. Because reasons.


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solarbird: (asumanga-yay)

So for the longest time, the comments count on the blog page have been totally wrong. A post could have 30 or 40 notes (comments, likes, etc) of various kinds and show up as zero or one comment in both archives and latest-post (“Blog”) views. The correct number would never appear.

For example, the two pictures I posted of George today showed up as zero notes combined; the real number was 14, mostly likes. But if you went to the post view or went directly to the individual post, you’d see everything.

There are reasons for this, having to do with custom comment types and echoing posts around and stuff. I’ve tried to fix it before, to hilarious failure sound effects, but now? I FINALLY HAVE IT YEEEEEEEEEEEEES :D

It still doesn’t count linked comments, which means comments on places like Livejournal and Dreamwidth aren’t included, but those are only linked-to comments anyway, so that’s fair.

Damn, this place has felt inappropriately lonely from the Blog view for a long, long time. Talk about discouraging new people from interacting!

Oh, hey, also – I have a mobile theme (Carrington) that kicks in on small devices. Mobile users, are you okay with that thing? It’s incredibly hard to customise so I haven’t. I could turn it off entirely, and you’d get the desktop view on your phone, but that’s… not super-optimal either. Any thoughts? (She asked on a Friday afternoon, when nobody reads anything… XD )

(I will say this for Carrington: it has counted comments correctly the whole time. So there, WordPress! XD )

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solarbird: (molly-oooooh)

Didn’t get as much done in studio yesterday as I wanted (it was also Cleaning Day) but made some good progress nonetheless. Here, the last week and a half has included too much annoyance: have a toy. (Clicking will take you to another site.)

If you have a browser that supports it (Safari on the iPad does), this is a fun and silly webpage-based synth. It calls itself a theremin, but it’s not, and is very little like one. But it totally is a cool little faux FM analogue synth with which you can make crazy noises of awesome. Go play. :D

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solarbird: (shego-rule?-you?)

It’s not my personal style, so I haven’t visited it myself – The Underminer and I have… non-compliementary work ethe – but if you’re in the market for a well-appointed lair in the high desert, you could do far worse. Have a couple of sample pictures; the rest are at the link.

Hardened exterior and high vantage point

Interior design follows traditional mole-machine thematics

ht jwz

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April 2019

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