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

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Introducing: the WIFI232 serial to wifi adapter

Ever wanted to connect your computer to another computer over RS232 serial? You do? And you want to do it reliably, without a mess of cables – that admittedly, are not made in the same high level of quality of yesteryear? The WIFI232 from Paul Rickards might be what you need.

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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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Review: Apple EarPods

Please note: I am not a writer, journalist or a master of the English language. This is also my first review of a product, ever. So I do apologise if my spelling or grammar offends you.

Recently I had experienced some pretty bad luck with headphones. I usually sport a pair of Klipsch S4i in-ear headphones on my commute to work, and am also often found programming with them on, piping my own eclectic and weird musical tastes aurally into my brain. The trusty Klipsch though played its last tune earlier this week, with the left channel spluttering into nothingness during my walk from the train station to my workplace. I did have a pair of original Apple iPhone 4, but as we all know from the past 11 years of history, the sound quality and comfort are quite low. I also started running again, and the headphones I used for that activity had gone to voice coil heaven many moons ago. These cheap TDK over-ear clip-on headphones weren’t designed for jogging at all, what with their heavy cans and flimsy ear foam. Read more

Retro Apple //e

This weekend, the opportunity to receive an old Apple //e had passed my way and I took it eagerly with both hands. The guy who had it before me (one of my dad’s work mates) didn’t know much about it, but was about to throw it away or sell it, so I made sure I snapped it up real quick. As we got it home, I had a good look around it and it seems to be an Apple //e Platinum with monitor and disk drive. Unfortunately, the other end of the cable for the disk drive has been cut, so I can’t use any floppies until I either get a new cable and do a transplant, or get a new drive overall.
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