A few miscellaneous ramblings of a BMW-loving, Amiga-nostalgic, Mac-using PHP developer from Australia

Introducing: my Toshiba Libretto 100CT

Back in high school, our campus library had a few magazine subscriptions and newspapers available for students to peruse. This part of the library was one of my favourites, I used to go in every 3-4 weeks and check out what new magazine editions were available for the upcoming month. The magazines I enjoyed most reading were the computer magazines and of course the motoring ones – I believe Wheels was the only one our school subscribed to, but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

I recall one of the computer magazines that I was reading in around 1997 or so, had an article about a new Toshiba laptop. I can’t recall the magazine title, as there were a few at school; some of them were Aussie mags like Australian Personal Computer, while we would’ve (could’ve?) had some international titles like PC Mag or PC World. Anyway, I can’t remember which magazine it was, but one day I was flicking through and saw a news snippet with an announcement of this peculiar looking laptop, complete with picture. All the aspect ratios of all the componentry of this laptop were to my eyes, incorrect. Why are the sizes of the keys on the keyboard all wrong? The screen dimensions look ill-fitting to the size of the laptop lid. Why is there a mouse pointer on the screen and not on the arm rest / top deck? And there didn’t seem to be any floppy drives, something that was very common with laptops back in those days.
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Holden: the end of an era

Just a heads up that this post contains my memories as seen through rose-tinted nostalgic glasses.

Back in the late 80s, Australia was a country of 16 million people that had its own car manufacturing industry, with The General fighting against Big Blue to produce amazing vehicles for both families and rev-heads alike. Cars were selling like hotcakes. Cars were racing in the Australian Touring Car Championship. Long stints in the Bathurst 1000. Brockie winning almost every time, in his Holden Commodore. And my love for the automobile flourished in these formative years of mine. The humble Commodore was just a piece of that.

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Podcasts I’m listening to (2016-17 edition)

I thought I’d write a soft blog post to bring in the new year. Lots of things have been happening offline for me in 2016, hence the lack of posts lately – sorry about that!

Anyone who knows me IRL would know that I love listening to podcasts. I listen to them as I drive to the train station every day, on my way to work on the train, during working hours in my headphones as I am coding away, and on my way back home too via train and car again. During the weekends I stream podcasts to my Bose speaker system so I can listen while I do chores around the home. If I could, I’d love to listen podcasts in the shower (but I haven’t found a good Bluetooth shower speaker yet) or while I ride my bicycle if I decide to cycle commute my way to work (but I figure listening to headphones while riding is a big safety hazard).

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My Kickstart.

On this day in 1985, a computer was released at a theatre in New York City that caused ripples in the computer industry at the time. A computer that gave its user so much productivity power, so much graphics and sound capabilities, and all at the click of a mouse button. At the launch presentation, a stilted Andy Warhol, clearly out of his element, was bucket filling a screen grab of Debbie Harry on screen using DPaint, taken from a video camera pointed at the sultry singer a moment before. The computer he was using was called the Commodore Amiga. 

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Introducing: my Commodore Amiga CD32

Yep, another retro computing acquisition has landed across these pages. And of course it’s a Commodore-related one! 

I recently acquired a Commodore Amiga CD32, which is the first and last bona-fide game console the company made before its demise. It’s a curious machine, a mix of old and new, and came out at a very volatile time in the home game console market. Even though it is technically considered a 5th generation console, it does have 4th-generation characteristics in its hardware and software. I haven’t had the machine for long, but I am already in love with it.

First though, a little history. Commodore in its last throes, before the XOR patent that lead to its demise, rattled its last remaining engineers in Pennsylvania to come up with a console machine. This wasn’t much of a stretch given the excellent audio and graphics capabilities of the AGA chipset, but time was running out to get the thing out the door and on sale. The fifth generation of video game consoles was a very busy time, with every man and his dog throwing his hat into the ring and bringing out a (usually) CD-based 32-bit product. Hell, even Apple released one (called the Pippin). Some companies, like the big three at the time — Sony, Nintendo and Sega — continued their success in the video console market, whereas most other companies that were venturing out into the unknown (from their prospective) were not so successful. Commodore, unfortunately, was in the latter camp. Adam Koralik’s excellent 5th generation console recap video sums up quite nicely how things were for these companies back then (strong language warning in case you are reading this at work). Also Dan Wood’s video on the CD32 is an interesting watch if you have a half hour to spare.

I guess one good thing that happened within the timeframe of the 5th generation console era was that Atari released its last ever console — hurrah! (I kid, I kid).

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Introducing: my Commodore C64C

So it has been a little while since I have posted anything on my blog, huh? The latter half of 2014 was an absolute whirlwind with work and things didn’t really die down until mid-December. Now I am on summer vacation, which is almost over, and it’s a horribly gloomy and humid day outside. What better than to stay inside and muck about with retro hardware?

I never got into the Commodore 64 scene when I was younger, because I was fortunate enough to have access to the (clearly superior) Commodore Amiga. Having access to an Apple IIe in my early high school years did however show me the quaintness and simple joy of using 8-bit machines, and I always had a curiosity of the Commodore 64. So when a Commodore C64C appeared on my eBay saved searches with a starting bid of AUD$89, I knew I had to at least put in a bid.

EDIT: Thanks to Paul Rickards for pointing out that the images in this post were showing upside down for iOS Safari readers of my blog. I have stripped all EXIF data from my JPEGs, which has now rectified this issue.

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Introducing: my Commodore Amiga 1200

I realised earlier in the week that I hadn’t posted any Amiga content on my blog. I am admittedly a rabid Commodore fanboy from back in the day, and the apple of my eye (no pun intended) has always been the Amiga computer. 

The Amiga basically represents my childhood. My dad bought an Amiga 1000 back in 1987 and the first game that I ever played on it was Marble Madness. Amigas back then didn’t come with computer monitors, and the Commodore 1084S was still pretty expensive back in those days, so we had to make do with a borrowed monochrome Mitsubishi monitor, that was green on black.

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Replacing the SCSI hard drive with SD card on my SE/30

So it’s a rainy Saturday evening while I write this, and figured that I should document my recent activities I had with my old SE/30 (plus I haven’t updated this blog in quite some time).

A few weeks ago I ordered a SCSI2SD card. The card is really an adapter that has a SCSI 50-pin male header and 12V molex connector on one end, and a micro USB and micro SD card slot on the other, with some circuitry and ICs in the middle somewhere. It’s a nifty little adapter that can step in the boots of a spinning SCSI hard drive of imminent rust, and replace all that no-doubt-more-unreliable-now hardware with the durability of flash memory storage. So I bought one for shits and giggles, and had a go at replacing the Quantum 80MB (yep, megabytes) hard drive in my SE/30 with a micro SD card and this adapter.

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Changing your OS X short name under Mountain Lion (aka I bought a new iMac and I broked it)

I recently bought a new iMac, and after waiting 4 weeks for it to arrive (and after cancelling my initial order because I forgot to do the educational discount, and then re-ordering the machine), I finally got it. It’s a 27″ iMac with a 3.2GHz i5 CPU, 8GB RAM and a 1TB drive with Fusion (so it’s really 1.128GB). It runs screamingly fast, and absolutely canes over my old 2007 model Mac Mini 2GHz with 2GB RAM.

Anyway, the other day I had the pleasure of migrating all of my data from the Mac mini to the shiny new iMac. All went swimmingly well, except for the carrying over of my user account to the new machine. The iMac requested I create a new account in the middle of the installation / set up process, before asking the Migration Assistant questions, so I created a ‘George’ account assuming that MA will overwrite this with the account I’m bringing over from my Mac mini. Which kind of happened – my Unix user (what you see when you do an ‘ls -lha’ in the 3rd column of a Terminal output) was ‘george’ but my home folder name became ‘george\ 1’ after Migration Assistant completed.

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