Had this arrive the other day, it’s a “SFX Plus” ADB JoyPad from 1997…
I have plans for it, beyond just trying it out with some games. Watch this space!
Had this arrive the other day, it’s a “SFX Plus” ADB JoyPad from 1997…
I have plans for it, beyond just trying it out with some games. Watch this space!
Today I bought an IKEA Vindstyrka, which is a $59 AUD air sensor that works with Home Assistant through a Zigbee connection. It exposes the temperature, humidity, and PM 2.5 count, but not by default the TVOC measurement. Someone has gotten that to work via a Python add-on script, apparently.
It is powered via a USB-C port on the back, and being mains-powered acts as a Zigbee repeater, which is handy. It comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable, but no mains power adapter.
Overall this unit feels fairly well-built, however (annoyingly!) there’s a tiny fan inside, so won’t be replacing the Eve Room on my bedside table.
At a glance, at least 2 of the 10 or so reviews on the IKEA website mention Home Assistant - I dare say this stuff still isn’t really for normal people…
Currently listening: Pressure Drop / Tipper - “Creative Trip Hop”
I tried out the Zulu SCSI in initiator mode on a 40MB Connor SCSI HD from a Macintosh Classic.
After it was done (much faster than I expected, took less than a minute) it had created a file on the MicroSD called “HD00_imaged.hda”.
I was then able to drag that hard drive image into Basilisk II, it mounted and I could browse the entire contents… very nifty!
Also handy was the fact I only needed to power the hard drive, as the Zulu SCSI got its power through the SCSI bus. Currently listening: “Peverelist Old School Jungle Mixtape Volume 2”
Watched yesterday this recent video “Dumping the contents of SCSI devices using BlueSCSI V2 (Initiator Mode)” that was posted on “Adrian’s Digital Basement” second channel. Essentially some SCSI emulator devices can be used in a mode where they act as the host and allow you to image SCSI devices, copying the entire contents of, for example, an old hard drive on to the micro SD card. Very cool feature I was not previously aware of!
I have a Blue SCSI, but it is an older hardware revision that doesn’t support this special mode, but I also have RP2040-based ZuluSCSI, which does support “Initiator Mode”.
I made sure to initialise the micro SD card in ExFAT format, as FAT32 only supports single files ≤ 4GB (well, 4GB less one byte), and I’ve flashed the latest firmware as well.
I will be helping someone out with a bunch of 80s-era Macs at my Store soon, should make imaging multiple ancient SCSI hard drives much easier!
Currently listening: English Teacher - “The World’s Biggest Paving Slab”.
I decided to test and compare a few different mass storage options in one of my favourite systems this weekend, the classic 1998 Beige G3 :)
I compared using MacBench 5.0 with the following:
• Seagate Momentus 160GB 2.5-inch IDE Hard Drive running at 5400 RPM (which I was already using)
• Transcend CompactFlash Industrial CF170 32GB (onto which I installed Mac OS 9.2.1 from CD)
• Zulu SCSI (I copied in the “Open Retro SCSI” image of Mac OS 9)
Here’s what I got, notice the big difference in the “Disk” section:
I admit my testing protocol might have been a little more rigorous - I tested each only once, and given I’ve been using the 160GB HD for a while I’m sure there is a speed penalty due to the typical cruft that accumulates in any system, but interesting results nevertheless. I think the Zulu SCSI would have performed better if I looked into tweaking the settings - I seem to recall it defaults to slower, more compatible options.
I will stick with the Seagate HD for now, but I may eventually switch over to the Industrial CF card…
Currently listening: Xnot - “Atmospheric breaks 2 🌊”
About four years ago, just before the COVID era began, I had become very frustrated with some issues I was experiencing with my smart home devices, primarily the dreaded “no response“ message in Apple’s Home app.
I had in my house at the time what I thought was a fairly decent set-up in terms of home networking, with desktop machines wired and a combination of an AirPort Time Capsule and two AirPort Extremes with a wired backbone running our Wi-Fi network. After a fair bit of internet research, and a false start of trying a Linksys Velop mesh system, I finally settled on the Ubiquiti UniFi range.
There is nothing like the geeky joy of falling down a technological rabbit hole, learning a bunch of new stuff, and then the result being a completely overkill solution! I put in 5 Access Points, a 24 port switch, and a controller/router that is more intended to run a small to medium business :) I also changed over our security cameras, so a single management set-up is a bonus.
All of this did indeed resolve the initial problem with Wi-Fi devices, and I have continued to refine my smart home set up. It is not completely perfect, and one niggling problem recently has been a single Zigbee temperature/humidity sensor that inconsistently stops responding, yet another of the same type that is located much further away does not! I have another of the same type on order to see if it is the specific unit that is the issue.
I have also more recently swapped out some of my Wi-Fi devices for Thread versions, and overall I am finding Thread to be fairly reliable and self-healing, as promised.
Eventually, I will switch over my smoke alarms and some door locks to smart versions, but I will have to be really satisfied with reliability due to how vital proper functionality is with both.
Lastly, another project I have just started the journey on is figuring out a way of pumping water from a rain tank into the garden, and also having that controllable/measurable via Home Assistant, which I run partially integrated with Apple Home as a testing ground for experimental projects…
Currently listening: FIREWALKER - “low poly racing mix”
40 years old, but plenty of vitality still. 4 different chip architectures, but a common thread of technology with a smile.
Here is the inside story of the “Think Different” campaign. A later chapter of the Macintosh story, but very important as it was the beginning of an incredible second-act for a company and platform many had written off.
Compare the original Mac 128K with the Vision Pro, and imagine what the next 40 years will bring…
Currently listening: Bob Dylan - “The Times They Are A-Changin’” - of course!
One other thing I wanted to fix with the old Sony Vaio laptop was figure out a solution for the missing hard drive bracket…
It’s the sort of random part one might eventually spot an original of on eBay as the bracket (Sony Part Number 4-674-033-01) does seem to be used in quite a few different Vaio laptop models, but most likely pay far too much for.
So, I fired up PrusaSlicer to design and then print my first project - all it is a happy little cuboid to keep the IDE SSD from sliding out of place, but you gotta start somewhere! :)
Currently listening: Zorrovian - “✨Cosmic Curation✨ (Ambient, Jungle, Jazzy, 90s DNB mix)”
The transparent telephone is all done, fairly easy kit to put together barring some steps - for example, I had to use a small file to scratch some surfaces to allow me to tin solder on, I guess after a couple of decades there was a layer of corrosion… Also, fitting the case over everything took a bit of care and adjustment.
Two observations after testing it with my Telephone Line Simulator; the ringtone produced by the piezo speaker is shrill and piercing (thank goodness there’s a “ringer” switch to turn it off!), and secondly; when it rings it also flashes these four cute neon tubes on the back! It’s funny how far LEDs have come, these days there would be little reason to use anything else…
Happy to have a transparent telephone in my collection, and certainly the “IKEA effect” applies to it!
Currently listening: FIREWALKER - “Strip Club Penguin DnB Mix”
Following on from my recent post about the OWC IDE SSD I found contained a bridge internally to a low profile “micro connector” SATA, I ordered and received a used Toshiba “THNSNC064GAMJ” 64GB SSD. After removing the metal casing, the internal PCB plugged into that SATA connector and fit inside the OWC casing, and I was able to format and mount the drive! I have since installed Windows XP successfully with the drive inside the old Sony VAIO laptop, and it is running well :)
Currently listening: LTJ Bukem - “Unknown Set (1995)”
I had always wanted to add a transparent telephone to my collection at some point, so when I spotted this NOS (“new old stock”) kit recently on eBay with the bonus being I get to build-it-myself, I happily bought it.
Second step is having the time to put it together! I should get a chance sometime over these holidays…
There was an extensive manual with the kit that covers assembly, testing, and theory which I scanned and uploaded to the Internet Archive.
Currently listening: Mouly - “Studio Set (1995)”
I was installing Windows XP on a Sony Vaio PCG-FR825P (a real chunky boi!) and I kept running into issues - turned out the OWC Mercury Legacy Pro SSD I was installing it onto was failing :(
I swapped it out with a 80GB 2.5-inch old-school mechanical IDE hard drive to get the machine running, and I next turned my attention to the SSD itself… Since I had nothing to lose, I thought I’d take a look inside, and after removing four small Phillips-head screws, it turned out to have a bit of a secret! Inside was a tiny bridge from IDE to a very low-profile version of SATA called Micro connector, and so the SSD itself is presumably replaceable…
I have ordered a couple of things and will try swapping out the SATA SSD portion, hopefully the replacement will mean I can still make use of this case/bridge, the IDE bridge it uses has been quite reliable and compatible with vintage machines.
Currently listening: Jellati - “underwater JUNGLE DNB 🌊🦑 a jungle drum and bass mix”
I never really had a need for something like it back when Bento was around, but a little while ago I was looking for a simple database App that works between Mac and iOS/iPadOS, and Collections really has turned out to fit the bill for me.
It is easy to use, perfect for the rather limited needs I have, and allows me to keep track of a number of things, such as my DVD/Blu-Ray’s - it is easy to forget if you already own a film beyond a certain point! I’m planning on using it for a few more things in future as well, including a tracker for what electrical circuits are for what outlets, etc, in my house.
Highly recommend the App, and hopefully the developer will keep working on/supporting it for quite a while…
Currently listening: 츠미 tsumi - “132 bpm”
Very happy to say I have finally seen Kraftwerk live!
Interesting Blog post about a new Mac ransomware variant doing the rounds…
A little different in flavour to my usual posts I know, but I have been engaged in a battle of wits over the last few months with a possum - possibly multiple possums - in the roof space of my house, and I would like to now announce I am fairly certain I have finally won!
We noticed earlier in the year odd scratching noises coming from inside the walls, and I set out to figure out what manner of beastie was causing them. I was in the roof space not too long after, looked over and in the light of my headlamp, could see some beady eyes and a little fuzzy face staring back at me.
Thus began a mental battle between man and possum…
I looked over our tiled roof trying to figure out how it was gaining entry, and noticed a patch of loose tin next to the chimney. I nailed that up late at night after the possum had exited, thought I had won, but a night or two later, same noises in our walls.
I set up a spare security camera in the roof space, set to alert me on motion, and over some weeks, narrowed down the area it seemed to be passing on its way in and out. Turned out the possum was climbing out via the unused chimney. I confirmed this one night as I was outside at just the right time and saw as it emerged. I took the nails off that had been closing up the patch of tin and repositioned the camera to give me a good view of the reopened entry/exit way, had someone cap the chimney off, and later that night waited until the possum went to leave. It went up the chimney, came down, made a bunch of complaining noises, then shortly thereafter I received a motion notification on my phone and watched as it left via the tin patch.
I then hammered back down the tin patch, and it has been over a week with no signs of motion or wall noises - I declare victory!
I will have to be vigilant as I am sure the possums want a rematch…
Currently listening: at my walls, for any scratching.
No post this weekend, our NBN connection at home decided to flake it Friday evening, technician coming out Monday afternoon…
Benefit has been that I’ve been getting plenty of other things in my “To Do” list sorted :)
So many of the iMac 27-inch Mid 2011 units suffer from a failed GPU, and this Kickstarter project seeks to give a second life to the wonderful display within. I was a backer and received my one a little while ago, and last weekend I got around to fitting it.
It is a relatively straight-forward install if you’re used to working inside these machines - I fitted many an SSD upgrade to these back in the day. What’s great is the Juicy Crumb team have made the effort to allow use of as many of the original features as possible - the speakers, iSight webcam, etc!
An impressive bit of kit indeed :)
Currently listening: Atmospheric Jungle DnB Songs To Take You Back In Time
I have some older machines that I want to use with an HDMI KVM, without having to swap around audio cables as well. One is an HP t5730 Thin Client I have previously mentioned, which is a great compact system for running Windows XP, and another is a Mac mini G4, which is great for early Mac OS X apps, as well Mac OS 9 apps through the Classic Environment.
More recent machines with built-in HDMI output both the video and audio through the one connector, and the KVM then works very well in switching between sources, so I figured the best way would be to use an adapter that converts the old machines video-out to HDMI and then additionally embeds the audio-out into that.
The first I tried was the “StarTech DVI to HDMI Video Adapter with USB Power and Audio”, but there were a couple of downsides that I ran into. The first is that the output resolution becomes 1920x1080 - not sure if that’s enforced by firmware or is a technical limitation. The second annoyance is that, due to the audio running through USB, it does mean there has to be driver support for that. I couldn’t get that working under Windows XP (there may be a way if there’s a USB audio driver that allows it). Mac OS X v10.4 does support the USB audio output natively, it comes up under “System Preferences:Sound:Output” as “C-Media USB Headphone Set”.
The next option I found was a little box called the “HDMI 2.0 Audio Embedder 4K 60Hz HDMI Toslink+Analog Audio to HDMI Inserter HDR”, which didn’t seem to have specific brand-name associated with it, other than one of those seemingly randomly nonsense names.
What’s great about this one is it supports 1920x1200 perfectly, and as it is just taking a regular 3.5mm line-in, it is completely transparent to the machine, no drivers required.
One last tidbit, when this Audio Embedder has no HDMI input, it outputs some colour bars (pictured below) evocative of the SMPTE colour bars. Actually kind of handy just to know that it is hooked up correctly.
Currently listening: The Beatles - “Now And Then”
I was playing around with my oldest Mac mini today (a “Mac mini (Late 2005)” revision), and one odd thing I noticed is the specifications sticker on the base lists the CPU as being a 1.42GHz G4, but it is actually a 1.5GHz G4 - turns out Apple did a stealth upgrade in the last few months before switching these over to Intel.
I wiped the copy of Mac OS X v10.5 that it was running, as I had found the correct “Mac mini Mac OS 9 Install Disc” for this machine and so wanted to install Mac OS X v10.4, as it was the last version to support running older Mac OS 9 applications through a feature called the “Classic Environment”. It is thankfully a rare application that doesn’t run in this mode - and with this machine having 1GB of RAM and a 64MB graphics card, most run quite well indeed! The Mac mini certainly takes up less desk space, uses less power, and produces less fan noise than any of the Power Mac G4 range, as much as those have a special place in my heart.
I should use this as my daily driver - things like YouTube not working would be a productivity enhancer! I can still search the web using Frogfind :)
Currently listening: “Zsauce, Jungle Here (Ambient, Jazzy, Jungle, 90s DNB Mix)”
The classic expression really fits what was just doing - I temporarily needed a display for a Raspberry Pi I was setting up and it was quicker and easier to use my Genki ShadowCast HDMI USB-C capture dongle with a mini HDMI to HDMI adapter and to fire up “QuickTime Player” on my Mac than hook up a “real” display.
Bonus is, I could have recorded it as well if I’d wanted to! Only downside is, it is not pixel perfect…
Currently listening: Jungle Fatigue Vol 3 (2023)
I purchased a big spool of Ubiquiti CAT6 Ethernet cable for home a while back, with the intention of replacing some older cable runs as well as putting in some additional runs. Eventually I’ll swap out the current Gigabit networking equipment with 10G, but that’s a couple of years or so away…
Yesterday’s task was replacing a run under the house that goes to my wife’s office, and adding another so our printer has a wired link. Whilst I was at it, I also changed the mount for the wireless access point, as it was mounted vertically, so now it has a proper wall mount and sits horizontally.
The most difficult part of the process was getting the two cables through the brick wall and into the recess inside my garage where the equipment rack sits - there is a gap between where a rat’s nest of cables live, and even with using the previous CAT5 to pull through the two CAT6, it took some wrangling to have them where they needed to be. Eventually I got there, crimped all of the connectors, ran continuity tests, and finally was able to clean up and put things as they should be…
There are a few more runs to upgrade, as some runs have joiners halfway along - two lessons I have certainly learnt with all this is firstly, to make sure you things plan out and then have additional runs, and secondly, that I would not want to do this professionally! :)
Currently listening: “Captain Sensible - Wot?”
Here’s the ADB peripherals set-up I generally use these days in “The Vault” (AKA my man-cave): an “Apple Desktop Bus Keyboard” model: A9M0330, and a “Kensington Orbit Trackball for ADB” model: 64220.
Great combo as they are highly space-efficient, and aside from the somewhat cursed nature of the arrow key layout, I like the look and feel of the keyboard…
ADB is the connection for keyboards, mice, joysticks, etc used by the Apple IIgs and Macintosh between the mid 80s and late 90s. More info here…
Currently listening: low poly snow mix - (Atmospheric DnB, Jungle Mix)
I have been playing around - sorry, “making legitimate technical notes of”, I mean - the capabilities of my new iPhone 15 Pro over the last week, specifically with regards to the switch to USB-C.
Amongst the things I have tried is the YubiKey with USB-C and NFC (the “YubiKey 5C NFC”) and it worked as expected, in fact I’d personally say it is easier to use via USB-C, I always found the positioning with NFC to be a bit finicky, even after removing my iPhone from a case.
I tried a Satechi dock (the “Aluminum Type-C Mobile Pro Hub” I believe) intended for the iPad Pro which has USB-C / USB-A / HDMI / Audio out, and I was able pass-through charge via USB-C, use a keyboard via USB-A, output to a monitor via HDMI, and connect wired headphones via the Audio out. Everything worked!
Then I tried a Belkin USB-C to Ethernet (Model: F2CU040), which worked, and an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter so I could connect an Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet, but the iPhone came up with the following error when I connected the Thunderbolt adapter:
Currently listening: atmospheric drum and bass mix - (Ambient, Jungle, DNB, VGM)
Looks like I won’t be installing the latest iOS version straight away, there’s a first time for everything!
On the plus side: