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Legacy Forums Taken Down

This is something no one should care about. I have removed the legacy Wolfeboro Online forums from my site. It all still exists but I've stopped publishing it.

The reason for this is that my most "popular" content is the most vile racist trolling shit from assholes in that forum and I don't want to serve it anymore. It's not content I want associated with me, so I'm not going to keep hosting it anymore.

Carry on.

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What Do I Win, Internet?


Rod Serling

I don't honestly know if this says more about me winning the Internet, or me losing at sanity. You be the judge. I was pretty much just playing Geoguessr, saw that restaurant, noticed the name and remembered exactly the place from the TV show from 15 years ago or whenever. And that they were in Wales so it was pretty likely. Also I play an unseemly amount of Geoguessr. Probably as much as any non-bot user.

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And The Phone Company Taketh Away


And just like that, the balance is restored as I was just informed by The Internet that my phone is no longer supported. Did the phone mention it? Not a chance. Did Verizon? Nah. If I manually go and update it goes out and checks, says it was successful and that I'm up to date with the last Security Update on August 5. As I read it service stopped on August 19.

Why is nothing alerting that fact at all.

And Natalie just replace her battery a couple of months ago. Like she didn't get the battery replaced, she replaced the battery. She's going to be really disappointed that the correct solution really was to just toss it on the pile of perfectly good hardware that gets instabricked by capitalists.

Before I replace my phone I'm going to try and install KDE OS on it or something and try and keep it going.

Fixed Tags:
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Daily Driving Haiku


I've been testing Haiku OS pretty regularly as they'd release a new beta, but I hadn't ever really given it a fair shake. I saw it simply as a way to make old computers run somewhat modern software and load a wikipedia page or something. But with the release of Beta 4 I decided to give it a real chance and installed on an i7 laptop with 16GB of memory. Pretty much the same as my main Linux laptop.

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Mister Multisystem, Finally


I am not writing this as a "getting started" or beginners guide, though it might evolve to serve that for some people. It's just notes I'm taking for things I need to look up. I'm not going to do any in-depth technical review or anything, go watch a youtube video for that. My perspective is from a career as a sysadmin and Linux user. Your mileage will certainly vary.

I strongly encourage you to skip my un-edited drivel and just scroll to more listy looking part.

This past weekend we resolved to kicking off, tidying up and playing with the MiSTer Multsystem. The actual "Problem" with getting this project going was that everything was way too easy to get, which has been our luck every time we need any Raspberry Pi's and stuff. We anticipated about a 3-4 month minimum lead time to land all the parts, figure out how it all goes together and how to get software to it. Everything turned up within a week. We got the DE-10 direct from the Terasic and they shipped pretty much immediately. Same story with the MultiSystem pack. I've been extremely interested watching this project as Neil has announced updates and features. The box was well packed and safe even after a real kicking by the various shipping companies.

I think it sat on the Project shelf for a month before we even had time around the holidays to put it together and try it out. It was super easy to assemble. Note: I spent 3 or 4 years in a local computer store in the '90s, and a 25-mumble-year career in IT so your mileage may vary. Actually that's not fair. Natalie did pretty much all the assembly work with me just kind of putting the case together. I'm still paranoid that I over-tightened screws or something since I've never really worked much with 3d printed anything. The case is very nice, well laid out and, while tight, everything is easy to route and very well documented.

Goals vs Reality

The Plan: This guy should sit prominently in The Room, quite probably wood-grained and hooked up to the main TV. There it would host all the console games for all the consoles neither of us ever had, and so have no muscle memory or nostalgia for. You know, For Kids.

The Reality: I was familiar from well-afar of the Mister project for some time. I know why the ST is there, and given all our other projects, this does have the capacity of seriously amusing me. But I wasn't sure about the MiSTer's interface, it looked like it might be a lot less friendly than something like EmulationStation. And that's a thing I go into below.

The other day I temporarily yet elegantly installed the MiSTer in the arcade cabinet and gave it a quick smoke test to make sure it still did things. I took a few minutes to figure out what using the external drive that I just happened to have hanging around was about and the effect it had on the virtual filesystem browser stuff.

1 week later and we spent a couple of hours today playing a bit, loading more games and software, then playing a bit more. Natalie wanted to start getting things documented for the Manual to the Living Room we are slowly beginning to put together. As we went through computer platforms from Atari 8-bit, ST, Amiga Natalie was taking notes on how to load software on each and get back to the main menu and whatever but really aside from necessary differences in how the keyboards are mapped, everything's just the same. We've been playing with an X-Box 360 controller because it's the only controller we own and it just worked. The arcade controls are going to take a bit of effort but the sticks and the trackball work, I just need to map buttons, and from what I can see that's not very hard.

The Big, Ugly Truth

The reason I really liked the standard linux machine plus a slick launcher is because it looks nice on the arcade cabinet and people could navigate it pretty easy. You know what? There are no "people" and this thing is way more convenient to use than the Pi + RetroPie. No trying to keep the button layout relatively synced between a bunch of different MAME emulators. Make that "A bunch of different versions of a bunch of different emulators". Nothing was ever consistent beyond the necessary controls. But it does look cool.

Enter the MiSTer. Since we're not emulating, there's not really anything much to tweak. Everything can pretty much be set up globally aside from a few platform specific changes. Even with arcade cores the UI is so consistent and easy to deal with that I won't exactly be pining for RetroArch any time soon. I need to figure out how to set a default set of controls though so I don't have to set the controls up for every single arcade cabinet forever. I know there's a menu item for that I just haven't pulled the trigger on possibly screwing things up yet.

It's also extremely easy to keep updated with all the latest cores using the "update_all" script. I'm using the "RetroDriven" fork, though I'm not sure what materially differs from the main line version. It's just the one I saw first. That tool was a revelation since you can just have it go out and populate any missing arcade ROMs, as well as adding cores that haven't made it to the main-line MiSTer distribution yet.

Sound can be /amazingly/ better than MAME. I'm not familiar enough with any console game to know what it should sound like vs an emulator. But I played a couple of games to test out Donkey Kong and it took me 3 games to get past just how much better it sounded on exactly the same hardware. I think it's like emulating a Moog synth vs copying it electrically at the circuit level. It'll at least get you a lot closer to "actual hardware" than MAME possibly can. (Important Note: The 4th game of DK I got within 700 points of my personal best 62,500 score on the board, and it's not like I'm constantly playing that game, it's pretty rare for me to do that well that quickly. [I think it's really more like 85k but that was before we had the board so I can't remember])


While it's true that there are some arcade games that aren't yet "there" on the MiSTer, which work fine on a Pi-3, the fact is that while a given arcade core might not be ready for showtime just yet, like OutRun. And obviously there are systems that are simply too complex for the DE10-nano to copy. There are options, and they're imperfect, but still fun. The Sega 32x core works just fine I guess for games like Virtua Racing, and the Saturn core seems to be coming along fast. However for me a lot of the real value of this system is going to come in running the computers of my youth. Since I always had computers, I never really had consoles aside from the 2600 so I've been playing with the Atari 8-bit and ST cores (and the Amiga, because, you know, let's be real...). I'm even going to set up some hard drive images and profiles for color vs high-res mono.

This will get us through in emulation until the Next Big Kickstarter shows up at my door and I can use the ST to all of its ability with my SpecreGCR cartridge, etc...

I think we're into the MiSTer Multisystem for somewhere in the region of $400-$450. That's kind of steep, however what you get is every game released for every console up to about the PS1 / Sega 32x and maybe Saturn-ish. Plus all the 8-bit and 16-bit computers of the '70s through the early '90s, and their entire libraries. Plus a couple hundred arcade games. All easily managed in a simple to use and easy to understand interface.

Definitely 100% worth a look, especially given what people will spend for those "throwback" mini-consoles with a fixed set of titles baked into some potted-blob SoC.

I'm going to move a lot of the above into sorted bullets. I'm throwing some stuff around and will organize it as I go.

  • The "Minimig" Amiga emulator seems to run /way/ too fast, and I can't see any setting to slow it down, all indications are that it should be running a 7.whatever Mhz 68000. But the ST one works great. I saw someone saying the music was too fast, but indicated the game play was accurate. I disagree, the whole thing feels too fast to use for games I have muscle memory for (Tower Toppler).

  • As noted above in detail, the sound is fantastic, it's not even close.

  • Video Weirdness. I'm positive this is down to some scaling setting. I'm trying to get screenshots but my Mac keyboard doesn't have either a printscreen key or an F13 key, so balls. To use DK as an example since it does show up prominently what I'm seeing is variable "width" of identical single-pixel vertical lines or dots. So for instance the ladders in DK. One side of the ladder might be narrower than the other. Usually I see "normal" and "skinny" ladders, but I think I saw a "fat" one or two. Similarly in Ms. PacMan, some dots render as skinny. Aspect ratios seem correct otherwise so that's why I'm thinking it's some setting somewhere maybe. I don't even care it's a trade-off I'm willing to make for all the other benefits for gameplay and manageability.

    Yep, that was it: There are video processing options and you can choose from a list of profiles to match what you're doing

  • I do wish I could figure out how to directly edit core configs from the command line. Everything I've found seems to either be an empty file or binary that I can't modify. I'm sure there's something I can do. I'd love to figure out how to set generalized defaults for all cores, and then the user can define anything custom. So one key layout that will generally work across the board and then per-core settings can override that. Those per-core files could be shared as well. An editable "SNES Core - MS XBOX 360 Controller.cfg" or whatever.

  • I'm struggling to correctly make a folder for favorites using symlinks with absolute paths
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    Tech Henge


    Shriekback - Nemesis

    As noted previously we basically just bought our way into a retro-computer collection with the addition of an Atari ST and two further 8-bit systems. This created problems for us, but we decided to solve them with craftsmanship and as a result Natalie built an impressive henge.

    Previously my office had a bookshelf that Natalie built while I was out of town for work. It worked great for 10 years or so but the shelves were only 10" deep, and while I was able to cram an impressive amount of stuff on there, it had to change. So we designed one 24" deep with a work surface a couple of inches deeper than that, and then a 20" hutch for the top section. This will allow us to have several layers of display items with storage behind them.
    Because as is my motto: "If It's Not Display, It's In The Way"

    So we've spent the last week setting everything up and trying to consolidate all the new stuff into bins, test what's working and what needs repair, and cabling up all the systems and network hardware. We put two 12u racks in the bottom, one is full of network hardware, NAS, and webservers and the other has several Atari 8-bit peripherals that are hooked up and then storage for in-progress projects like the Kaypro II. We designed it with the three cubbies to accommodate our printer and scanner, but decided that they were better used with books and stuff, so as a bonus we swapped out the top on a metal cabinet we already had and it really fits in well.

    You can already see there's room for 4 computers/keyboards and mice "comfortably", and we could probably have 6 going if we really wanted to add anything more. We'll be spending some time to come trying to find the most effective way to fill this thing, but I think it's off to a good start, and we can nearly eat on our dining room table again, so that's a bonus! I think all we have left to do is unfortunately send the Elvis tapestry on a permanent vacation and replace him with 3 or 4 bookshelves to hold all the software and documentation we got with this haul.

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    What Have I Done: Atari Edition


    The Ramones - Somebody Put Something in my Drink

    Yesterday we went out and collected what was left of the Atari collection we bought, so today we set up pretty much everything in one place. This is why we need to build furniture:

    This collection comes to us from a man I was in an Atari computer club with back in the '80s, when I was an Overly-Enthusiastic 'Tween pirate. So while I don't have my personal childhood 8-bit and ST computers anymore, this is actually stuff I remember. I specifically remember the ICD enclosure with the Apple sticker stuck on it for example. The ST actually was lovingly packed in a suitcase with custom foam for the machine, Spectre GCR and external floppy. However when we got it home the foam utterly disintegrated all over our dining room, so that's all being replaced just in case we ever take it anywhere again, but I can definitely remember that case being lugged into meetups back in the day as well.

    There are also lots of things I've never seen in person before, like the Atari-branded tablet, light pen or the Indus GT drive. Apparently you can retire quite comfortably off the sale of an Indus GT, at least according to eBay weirdos. I don't know, I just remember they looked real cool in magazine ads.

    It should be noted that all those boxes of disks, and the other boxes of stuff not pictured, contain nearly all fully licensed commercial software and manuals. That's why I haven't posted any shots of ST demos and cracked game intros and stuff. There aren't any :-) Everything is legal and has manuals, which is great. One of the big issues I had when I was a kid is that yeah, I had tons of games, but no idea how half of them worked, not a problem for Jumpman, but big problem for SCRAMM or Silent Service or MULE, at least I never knew how to play them. While this definitely wasn't a "Gamers" computer, it's really going to be interesting to stick Natalie in front of Calamus or PageStream and show her the state of the art for 1988 design software. Spectrum 512 has already left us both stumped. I've got some re-learning to do for sure.

    Natalie was super excited playing with the drawing tablet and I guess I might have to get a CRT just so we can try the light pen out too. We're also looking forward to projects with the AtariLab temperature and light modules, which just have a really interesting history.

    My loose plan is to get a GoTek so as not to have to deal with physical disks as much, and a SCSI to SD that can live in that ICD enclosure (along with probably 15 Raspberry Pis!) so that everything is gainfully employed once its new home is ready. To use the Spectre GCR I'll need high resolution mode, which should be achievable with a VGA converter. Color requires a monitor to support a 15Khz refresh rate (or use of an expensive scan doubler), but monochrome should work just fine. I'm waiting eagerly for to start selling their "ultimate" retro computing monitors to actually solve that problem once and for all.

    Once we get the new storage built we'll have much more room to get in and start opening stuff up on the bench and start some repairs.


    On the 8-bit side, inventory-wise, we've got:
    XE Game System
    XEGS Light Gun
    1010 Tape Drive
    1050 Disk Drive
    Indus GT Disk Drive
    CX80 Trackball
    CX77 Touch Tablet
    CX75 Light Pen
    AtariLab Light Module
    AtariLab Temperature Module

    Of that, the XEGS seems to be totally fine, while the 130XE tests bad on a bunch of its RAM, so that will be a project. I don't know whether I'll just replace the 64x1 DIPs that are in there now or go for some over-the-top modern upgrade that might be easier to source. It's also likely got a bad keyboard membrane, but I have a spare to replace that on hand.

    On the ST side:
    Atari 1040 ST
    SC1224 Color monitor
    SF-314 Floppy Drive
    ICD FA-ST 2x SCSI disk enclosure
    Spectre GCR Mac Emulator
    There's also an internal PC emulator mod that I've not tested yet
    Gravis analog joystick

    The external floppy at the very least has a bad power switch, and doesn't seem to do anything. There are a total of 4 SCSI drives spread between two enclosures, but none of them spun up immediately either, so some work to do there. The Atari mouse doesn't work (yet!), so we got a DE9 to USB adapter so we can use modern mice. However that Gravis stick will work as a mouse, and was crucial to getting the machine up and tested.

    There's one broken key slider stem that can be seen in the picture, we have the key and got a whole bag of replacement sliders so that's handled.

    The external mouse & joystick switch box kind of resolves the problem of those ports being buried under the machine.

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    Fall Project Time


    REM - The Wrong Child

    I recently started bringing in a truly special collection of Atari hardware. I was expecting to pick up an ST and some software, and when we arrived found not only that that ST had loads of peripherals and neat stuff to test out, but lots of 8-bit hardware and an XE Game System as well. I actually had to do this in trips just to make sure I had somewhere rational to store all of it while we inventory it and do any repairs and cleanup needed before we start trying to see what other more serious collectors might want to take in. But honestly how could I pass this up an XEGS for this room?

    We really only need to make a stand for the 2600 that will let you see and use both systems. All the power and A/V stuff routes to that shelf so we can just fire them up in place and start playing.

    But what this really spawned is a project to start building furniture in the office. Natalie has this habit of doing projects while I'm out of town on business as a surprise for when I get back, so in 2015, before the full house renovation, while I was on a trip to a datacenter for a week Natalie built this bookshelf. At the same time she uncovered the awesome tile floor in the office which had been hidden under the crappiest industrial carpeting for all these years.

    However we're reached a tipping point with that thing. The shelves are 12" deep which is great for a bookshelf but not so great for cramming a bunch of computer equipment into. You can see it's way too narrow to comfortably fit that scanner for instance.

    The goal is to build something deeper which can comfortably store an ST, Mac Classic, and some other small home computers as well as just bulk storage of Crap in My Office. At the moment all my network hardware, switches, firewalls and storage are buried under my main desk. Tidy and out of the way, but a hassle to get to if I need to plug new stuff in or actually work on anything. I don't want to be 70 years old crawling around on the floor to add a network drop, so we're going to get that stuff out of there. We also need just "Bulk Computer Storage" for larger systems like a Mac Pro, KayPro II. My desk and repair bench has been getting a little crowded lately, so I'm hoping a good amount of that stuff can move as well. Some of the details of what we're doing are going to be a surprise, but it'll be cool, I swear. I've told Natalie my only real goal is to have somewhere to put my laptop bag. All this stacking shit is making me itchy :-)

    The ST is currently taking up exactly the surface area of a small storage cabinet, which is a little cramped for purposes of troubleshooting to say the least, though a couple of toys have trickled in since I got it, like an Atari 9-pin to USB adapter for a modern mouse and a supply of replacement key switch sliders/stems.

    We'll be building more ST projects to share Real Soon Now, promise. Once we get our bearings from all the work office moves and re-shuffling these shelves. My word is as good as a Tremiel promising us all Falcons By Christmas!

    So I wanted to save a quick "Before" of that space before we start tearing into the project:

    That Panasonic boombox works and sounds AWESOME, but barely even picks up the FM transmitter from 10 feet away because the boombox's day-job is to hide multiple WiFi routers, a network switch and a 10 port power strip, so there's like 8 WiFi antennas right up against the tuner, not ideal. Be nice to clear that up.

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    Linux Needs To Be Ashamed


    I'm a 25 year Linux user, 22 as my primary desktop. I like pain, and that's OK. But do I consider myself any kind of "expert"? No.

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    Mac Classic Pt. 3 - Works as Intended


    Success. Today we (Mainly Natalie), recapped the high voltage board and after a couple of long waits starts, it boots straight up off the 40MB hard drive into System 7.01!

    Of course, there's nothing on this machine. It's got Word, Hypercard, and that's about it. No Mac Paint! No Oregon Trail! So the next step on this adventure is obviously going to be to figure out how to get some software onto the machine.


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