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Archaic Computer

Archaic Computer

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This page was updated: October 7, 2018

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January 2018

Archaic Computer

by

Brian Crosthwaite

Happy New Year!

STARDATE:2017.12.27:

Back to the subject at hand.

Ok, so with billions, er hundreds of hires pictures and I mean hires -- 6000*4000 pixels, large ass mothers, time kinda becomes a matter. We recently took a once- in- a- lifetime family vacation. We took 18 days and went to Washington DC, and Colonial Williamsburg. Antony drove he, his little brothers and I to Salt Lake where we spent part of the night in a motel, then caught a train to Chicago, New York and finally DC. I had the small Canon, the iPad, iPod, and iPhone -- all of which take pictures. The Nikon traveled with the rest of the family. The girls went with Mia in the Big Van and that is where the Nikon D3400 DSLR rode.

There were five folders in the end, with around 1000 pictures in each. A few lowres pics, but mostly those huge 6kx4k buggers. After combing through them and deleting some duds, fixing some crooked, or underexposed, or distorted ones, sometimes saving a copy, sometime overwriting the original, they all fit on a 32Gig USB stick with 44Megs free. Zowie.

The first step is to open Dolpin, sort by date -- newest first, then open the folder and click on the first picture. This opens Gwenview. I can browse the images in order and decide several things from there. Hitting [f] shows the actual size, zooming in, larger than my window. I can then tell if an image really is in focus or if it is a soft focus or simply a blur. You'd be surprised at how sharp a picture this size can look when squeezed into a window less than a 1000 pixels wide.

One of the features of a modern OS, at least with KDE on Linux, is that you can customize your tool bar. For this project I realized I wanted things a bit different from default.

Click 
on it to see it!

Click 
on it to see it!

Click 
on it to see it!

In Gwenview I arranged the tools in a way that the ones I need the most access to in a way they are all together, to the left on the top line (since the bottom line disappears to be accessed via an arrow menu).

In GIMP, I opened preferences and went into the toolbox and added THRESHOLD, LEVELS, CONTRAST/BRIGHTNESS. I also changed their order and changed the width of the toolbox to make things go easier.

Once the PRGs are setup, I simply open the folder I am working from in Dolpin. Remember, I have Dolpin setup to sort by date, most recent first. This will let me click later on the first file in the list and Gwenview will open up on the most recent picture, placing me close to when I left off in the last session. When starting, of course I simply opened the first file in the series so that I can move through them chronologically from start to finish. Since there are so many pictures, it is nice to come back and basically, click on the last modified picture to get Gwenview to display the last picture I edited. Even if I've gone through several other photos, this is a quick way to get back to where I left off. Gwenview lets me browse pictures one at a time, in order of file name.

If I need to rotate a picture 90 degrees or any increment there of, I can simply use Gwenview. Cropping is also easier and faster with Gwenview. But if I need to change anything else, like rotation by 3.2 degrees, or brightness, or perspective, I can go to the "Open In" menu and open the image in GIMP.

I started the process of going through these pictures in Mid November and finished them a few weeks ago in late January. I deleted and altered many pictures, some I save alternate edits by adding "b" to the filename, but still in the end wound up with about the same number of pictures. Somewhere in the 5000 images range. They fill a 32Gig stick.

I plan to place select images in a slideshow. It should be quite interesting in the end.

...END OF LINE.

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February 2018

Archaic Computer

by

Brian Crosthwaite

STARDATE:2018.02.12:

Search and Destroy.

I have been customizing several Kubuntu installs, including this one (de Berry). Placing PRGs on the GRUB boot page, custom login pictures etc. Now, you know I love Kubuntu. But the the default boot screen was not necessarily to my liking. The splash screen for KDE5 that comes with Kubuntu 16.04 is hidious.

The background is kinda interesting, but mostly dorky looking. I tried the usual channels, inside system preference, etc. There seemed to be no easy way to change it. I selected a new background picture, but it would't display it. So I finally started diggin around to find the offending image.

Some images are stored in .vgsz files or some variation of this container. But after some searching, I found mostly nuts and bolts to build parts of apps, and so forth. I then remembered that the system supported only specifically formed .jpgs, but favored the.png image format. After all, all the other custom pix I used are .png in flavor -- and I did nothing more than simply save the images as .png files and the system handled them with no problems.

Knowing this, I searched for .png files. Hmm, this one is called background.png. I opened it in Gwenview, and yes!, it was that eye sore that I was ready to exterminate!

OK, so it is never a good idea to just delete stuff the system uses. So I simply renamed it by adding HIDE to the file name, in case I needed to backtrack. I opened Dolpin via the terminal as superuser:

sudo Dolpin

This opened up a root controlled window. I clicked my way into the folder (I most likely cut the location from the Dolpin search I had done earlier then pasted it into the superuser location) renamed the offending file then dumped my pretty picture in, having already named it background.png.

Upon reboot, I saw the my picture slide into place, followed by KDE's cool translucent progress bar frame. Nice.

All's well that ends well.

And now, for something completely different:

...END OF LINE.

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March 2018

Archaic Computer

by

Brian Crosthwaite

STARDATE:2018.02.14:

Hypothesis:

The C64 and C128D have not failed. Their RAMLinks have.

Basis:

After the C64 stopped booting it sat a while before I got around to replacing it. After setting up the system refused to boot with the RAMLink plugged in. It was about this time, when the C128D stopped booting.

I think I would prefer the C128D problem be the PS, since I can affect repairs myself. If, how ever it is the RAMLink, then I have a problem.

RAMLink pulled

C128D powered up. I am bummed. No conclusive testing has been done yet, but I managed to pull the RAMLink out of the SuperCPU and the system powered up. However, when I first did it, nothing happened. So I powered down then powered up again. The system came right up. The RL has that damn timing cable -- or does it? On the C64 it has it, and I think it did on the 128, but not sure about when plugged into the SuperCPU.

The big test will have to be planned since the system is stuffed into a corner and the back is not easily accessed. This was not an oversight, but a space issue.

I'd really like to rearrange the room. Unfortunately, it seems to be rather difficult to come up with a better layout.

There are some major disadvantages to the present layout. Like, if that PDA falls behind the stereo. It would most likely sit there for years before I got around to pulling it out. Or worse, what happens if Isotope (our kitty) got stuck back there?

Nightmare image going, ok, back to here... The last major studio design was at the Amber House. The Amigas were back to back. There were lots more book cases. The Atari, Mac Plus, C65, plus/4, VIC-20 and C65 were all long one wall. The 2 C128Ds were long another wall. The Gameframe was in a closet, as was the stereo. There simply was more space. Both scanners were setup. Those suckers are huge.

To this day, the Amiga 500 and it's rather large plotter are still boxed. It would be nice to thin the extra out. Boxes have been staged for sorting, but time has buried them under more things to do and that need to be done. If I had taken more time to pack, and make sure that when went into the boxes all went together logically, perhaps the tossing out would go faster. I tore the most important equipment down last and by that time I was just, "get it packed," and was just throwing stuff in boxes to get it out.

That was a bad idea. Sure, it got it moved, but what a mess.

In retrospect what I should have done was pack only the things I really wanted setup and running first. Then Leave the rest for latter removal, like load the utility trailer up and haul it to the secondhand store.

Enough!

I have re-installed VICE on deBerry and have also gotten VICE on Darth Vader (also a Linux Box).

Micro wave PRG

Early morning microwaving goes a bit like this: I punch in, [2][2][START] and the microwave counts down to 02 and I open it. Reason: I need to microwave my espresso to finish cooking it, as cheapy espresso makers don't cook the coffee enough. No biggie, I just microwave on high for 20 seconds. I do 22 seconds and stop at 2 so that there is less beeping, and therefore less noise.

Now I am standing there waiting for the count down to reach 2 so I don't miss it. While doing so I started counting 10, and , 9, and, 8, and, 7... it's the musician in me. Then my brain is doing the math. "so you take the even numbers only (ignore the odd -- they are rests) divide them in half, and subtract 1 from the number and it give you a nice logical count down from 10 to 0."

So next, schizo voice that kicks in is the programmer, "...and the code looks like this:

LOAD "MICROWAVETIMER",8
SEARCHING FOR MICROWAVETIMER
LOADING
READY.
LIST

1 REM A$="MICROWAVETIMER":SAVEA$,8:VERIFYA$,8
5 PRINT"[CLR]","[ORNG]MICROWAVE COUNT DOWN![CRSR DN][CRSR DN][CRSR DN][CRSR DN]"
8 PRINT"[BLK]MICRO DISP:","COUNT:"
10 FOR I=22 TO 0 STEP -1
12 TH$=RIGHT$(TI$,2)
14 IF TH$=RIGHT$(TI$,2) THEN 14
20 IF INT(I/2)*2=I THEN MD$=STR$(I):C$=STR$(I/2-1)
30 IF LEN(MD$)=2 THEN MD$=" "+MD$
34 IF LEN(C$)=2 THEN C$=" "+C$
40 IF INT(I/2)*2=I THEN PRINT MD$,,C$
50 IF I=2 THEN PRINT"[L BLU]":END
60 NEXT I

READY."

So running it looks like this:

          MICROWAVE COUNT DOWN!




MICRO DISP:         COUNT:
 22                  10
 20                   9
 18                   8
 16                   7
 14                   6
 12                   5
 10                   4
  8                   3
  6                   2
  4                   1
  2                   0


READY.

File this in the annals of the diary of a programmer gone mad.

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April 2018

Archaic Computer

by

Brian Crosthwaite

STARDATE:2018.03.03:

The new dilemma.

I went to put the CMD HD back on the C128D after having removed it to access files to upload awhile back. I can barely get the cables to reach to plug in. The space that holds 5 drives is so tight, it was a miracle that I got the HD out in the first place. It is time to take a hard look at the present configuration.

The grey table housed the Amiga 1000, CDTV and both Amiga 2000s before the last move. The C128D was on the big door table and had lots of room to access drives from the side and above. This was radially different and much better.

I have a Yamaha keyboard hooked up to an Atari Mega STe on the door along with an Atari 800, Arari 400 and both Amiga 2000s. It is kind of a squash was well. But it was all done to get things setup and to fit.

Setting it up to close to the way it was isn't really an option; the Yamaha is a full size keyboard. The biggest dilemma in the project is where to put the equipment when I pull it out (for rearranging to get the drive cables less tight). There really isn't much space to put anything without reeking havoc. Once I start the process of tearing down, ideally, it should be done fairly quickly to get everything back up and running in a day or less. But this is a major rearrange and I have only a small window of opportunity.

The Best bet is to stage everything in such away that, as monitors get moved, they can sit in an out of the wayish place for a week or two, since the only time I can devote to the project is Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning. And I can't really commit this time, since there are things that just have to get elsewhere sometimes.

I have looked online to see different configurations of other peoples setups in hopes for ideas and inspiration. I did see some good ones. The biggest thing is access. Either from the side or the top. Neither of which do I have here at preset. The solution I wish I could put in place is access to the back of the machine where I could walk in to get a straight on, full access to the backs of all the drives, cartridges, computers, etc.

This is where it remains -- unresolved.

...END OF LINE.

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May 2018

Archaic Computer

by

Brian Crosthwaite

STARDATE:2018.05.05:

Happy Belated Mother's Day!

...and Happy Star Wars Day! You know, May the 4th. Be with. You.

Recently, the Amiga 1000 had a DF0: transplant. During that operation, I took some pictures of the inside top of the computer. The group of people's who brought the Amiga about signatures appear in the top of the case.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Creator's Signatures.

Each are actually two shots sliced in half with slices swapped. I had hoped to get one image that was easier to see all the signatures, but well, you can see (especially if you click on the image).

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Creator's Signatures.

The plan is to re-stack or rearrange the C128D (Zoul), to make access to drives and cables easier. I have no concrete plans as of yet as to how things are to lay. I have setup the camcorder to timelaps it as I usually do, but I haven't really committed to the job.

Part of this procrastination is time, of course, but I really don't want to add the downtime the R50p will have to endure. So I have not started it.

Many times a project like this will start with a concrete plan and other times I fly by the seat of my pants. This one feels like it really needs a plan and I'm not coming up with one. Perhaps, if I change my attitude and just start in tearing things down....

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch...

The Amiga 1000 has not booted since the move. That move was along time ago. And it is high time I got going on the 1000. This is a bit different, since tearing the 1000 down will not cause must in the way of a crap pile. -- so I did it.

Not sure if the system has a different problem than a faulty drive, but DF0: only booted a reconfigure disk used to easily run PAL games (it has other stuff on it, but it really is about setting up the 1000 for loading certain softs). I also managed to get the HD boot floppy to boot once.

Normal boot (as I recall it): Turn on HD, turn on CPU wait for WB prompt. Insert boot floppy. System accesses boot floppy then boots off the HD. This is what I recall and may not be entirely accurate. It was not happening. The one time the boot floppy did work I had the HD control board (the whole box) unplugged and the system asked me to insert HD0: !

So drive extraction proceeded.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

I found I needed to swap mount brackets for the two drives I was swapping (I took the drive out of the external box and placed it in the internal). But the machine screw holes did not line up on the drives. All the rest of the holes lined up perfectly. The ground bolting from joy.mouse ports was lost as well as the one screw at the back of the drive mount. However, everything passed the test for continuity and appears to be grounded (let's hope so).

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

Upon testing the newly installed drive, I found the boot pattern to have changed. This really does not make sense:

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

My Memory: put in Workbench disk, it boots then swaps over to the HD and finishes booting off that drive.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

The New (Apparent) Reality: You put in the floppy and then it resets and then asks for the Workbench again then boots from HD. Now at the prompt I swapped to a known HD boot floppy.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

So now that all is back in place, the entire system works. Including the drive removed from the A1000 and placed in the external enclosure. Huh.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

A1k Drive Transplant
The Amiga 1000 Drive Transplant 2018.

Here are some photos taken during the operation, and those fabulous signatures once again.

...END OF LINE.

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June 2018

Archaic Computer

by

Brian Crosthwaite

STARDATE:2018.04.11:

Victoria and I were fortunate to squeeze in the 2018 Boise Roadster Show into our lives. It was tight, but we manage to spend an hour or so at the show.

The 2018 Boise Roadster Show!

TTFN!

noesis0

...END OF LINE.

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July 2018

Archaic Computer

by

Brian Crosthwaite

STARDATE:2018.06.04:

Noesis Creation Dot Org has gone through some major fixings. I went to link my Amiga DL page to an Amiga Facebook group and found some messed up links. Somewhere along the line 99% of the links that were hard links aimed to the now long gone GeoCities.

Upon inspecting the site, lines and dots were not displayed. (There were supposed to be graphics that were lines and dots separating and bulletting.) Things in general were messed up.

Many of the pictures were digitized via video camcorder or VHS tape. When many of those were saved 20 years ago, the aspect ratio was messed up, making the pictures look short and squat. I had adjust a couple, but they were too tall afterword. So, I got into ImageStudio and made a script that reduced the x dimension by 80% and ran the wide/swat pictures through it and corrected the ratio. Now it many not be perfect, but it looks a lot better.

I fixed the too tall ones and adjusted the color levels on some making them easier to see and not so dark.

Links were all made soft links, so if the site moves it will be an easy migration.

All in all things went well. I noticed one Franklin picture got messed up, so I went to the oldest archive I could find, and found that the file has been corrupt for a long, long time. I just never saw it because most browsers simply fill in the missing data. Probably by displaying information found next to the missing pixels.

The image, ACE1000P.GIF is a progressive GIF. That means is you could watch it load, say you had a low bandwidth iNet connection and an old machine, every 5th (not sure how many) line of the picture would show up first, then the next five (once again not sure of the exact number here) and so on until the image was completely loaded. Slowly "beaming the image in" on the screen. It looks cool, but most technology today is really to fast to see it.

The image has part of the information missing on the bottom 1/6th of the picture. It appears as every other line in the image missing.

Here is the image and you may or may not see any damage. There are highlights in the bottom part of the picture that are actually artifacts, but they look similar to a color reduced picture -- which this definitely is:

Old
The Photo in Question.

What to Do?

The first thing I attempted was loading in Personal Paint, grabbing color from the case and using the paint fill to fill in the empty space. This looked good on much of it, but strange on the parts where the color was really different. I zoomed in to see if I could edit it by hand, but decided that would take more time than it was worth; the photo really isn't that good.

In fact, most of the pictures on my sites are not so great resolution wise and many are just bad visually. This is due in part, by the compatibility with GIF64. I made the early pictures GIF files that you could DL and display on a commodore 64. Coupled with this, the crappy pictures are a result of using a VidiAmigaRT to digitize. Not that process per se, but I would setup my shot, and film 3 minutes of video to capture the image from. While the camcorder used was nice, the tapes were old recycle tapes from Cougar Mountain Software (When Mia worked there they's hand our tired old VHS tapes and Floppys).

Enter ImageFX.

The solution I hit upon, may not be the best one, but this is what I did:

Load the image into ImageFX. Resize by 1 pixel. It needs to be an even number of rows (y-axes). Open the hook option and after the file selector opens up, click on sys. Select "deinterlace." This will remove every other line along the y-axes. I got lucky, the missing parts fell into this range. Next resize the image back to it's original dimensions (I left it at the even number I changed it to). And here are the results (the new picture is the second one):

Old New
The Photo in Question.
The FIXED Photo.

The old photo is a better photo, however the new one does not have the flaw and thus should look about the same on any browser.

Now What?

Well, not sure when we all went WideBand iNet. And I'm not sure it need play a roll in the deciding to revamp the old site. I would like to re-take the pictures of many of these old machines. The setups of many have changed over the years, and sadly many are no longer setup, and some systems are now gone.

I have access to a rather nice Nikon 3400 DSLR camera. And I really love using it as seen on many of the pix and sideshows added as of late. I don't envision a massive onslaught of setting up machines and shots and spending a couple of intensive weeks getting it done. Perhaps, I could on my Tuesday pm and Wednesday am time plan on doing a machine. Maybe start with those setup,move on to those readily available, then finally as sorting time allows, those machines stored away.

Some of the machines, such as the Wang, are gone. So crappy pic like those will endure. Perhaps this was step one. I re-aspect ratioed many pictures, and altered some pictures that were dark. I managed to finally get a picture of the Timex/Sinclair 1000. I didn't really setup for a good picture, but it is still sitting on my workbench -- perhaps I'll start there should a photo re-shoot take place.

...END OF LINE.

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August 2018

Archaic Computer

by

Brian Crosthwaite

STARDATE:2018.07.16:

The return of the Amiga.

I have been messing around with Amiga computers lately. Particularly the Amiga 1200 (Mythreal). My interest was rekindled after I joined a couple of groups on FACEBOOK. One is an Amiga group. People from around the world. They post favorite games, games they are playing, hardware mods, hardware they are building. It would seem a very tech savvy group.

Needless to say, I felt drawn in. It was what inspired me to solve the boot mystery on the Amiga 1000 (BTW, it must have been a loos cable -- something I should have checked as soon as the lid was popped). I have been digging into more mysteries, like getting more than 4 gig access on a CF card.

I also have delved into the world of mp3 players. I have updated mpega.library. Xaby pointed out that despite the hi-fidelity and massive volume, the sound was scratchy. Now, playing MODs the sound was perfect. The scratchies are not completely gone, but they are a lot less noticeable.

The system has a Sony stereo with Bose speakers to play any sounds the machine might produce. I have HAL's voice from 2001, A Space Odyssey saying, "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that," where there is something the computer can't do. It is loads of fun playing with the 1200.

Hurry and Stop!

So a while back I had to pull the HD off the C128D (Zoule) in order to hook it up to the C64 (Noesis Leopard VII -- maybe, not sure which one it is really). When I went to put the drive back the cables were not able to reach the drive, at least, not easily. I have move things without disconnecting cables to make room for the R50p (Blackbeard). I decided to unplug everything and set it back up again in a more manageable state of access.

I also need to unplug all the SCSI stuff from Mythreal and get everything setup so I can access all the devices in the chain.

I have yet to do either.

Zoule, stands a chance of looking different once all is said and done, as far as the layout goes. I sent the camcorder up to timelaps the project. It is already to go. I just haven't done it. There seems to be a block in me preventing me from moving forward.

The stress of dealing with RAD and fetal alcoholism takes me way down and self care needs to be a priority. About three months or so back we had several major things happening all on top of each other. Now, one at a time they's be stressful, but manageable, but there were so many and the parenting of a RAD child already drains me. So I need to up the self-care even more.

So what does that entail?

The bottom line? Fun. I have to do things that are fun. It also means time away from the source. I can't just take the kid causing the trauma and expect that I can have fun that is healing. Sure, it helps him, but I need to be off the clock.

I make a plan. When boys go to Antony's, I have something I enjoy to fill me back up. I have been reading, biking, and messing around with these old machines.

So why the delay, when it is something that helps? Well, I think it has partly to do with focus. I really need to dive in and do the task and keep at it and make sure all the details are met. And it has to do partly with stress. Those details that require focus, can be kinda stressful. I certainly don't want to mess anything up. There might be more, I'm not sure.

A friend wants to give his son a commodore 64. A complete set up. Looking back I have been stressed about doing this for someone else, but they didn't need it after all. That was over a year ago. This time round I have equipment pulled and on the test bench. So I have actually started this project. Kind of a bummer as he needs it sooner than he thought and I put it off thinking I had several months, because initially, I did.

So my plan for tomorrow, is to head to Awakenings with Antony to play a game, get that system pulled out, cleaned off, and configured, and have a Java Chip from Human Bean with 4 extra shots and finally go with Mia to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival to see Mamma Mia.

...END OF LINE.

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September, 2018

Ami VGA Madness!!!

Click 
on it to see it!
Look at that memory!

Archaic Computer

by

Brian Crosthwaite

STARDATE: 2018.29.08:

A lot has been happening here at Voyageur Studios. I have been drooling over postings on eBay for memory that sellers say will work with the Phase 5 Blizzard 1260. Prices are around $40, which for that particular RAM is in-phuquing-sane. These sellers think they have you by the tenders, but don't give in and buy the sticks.

I picked a seller whose sticks were a couple of bucks cheaper than the others. They happened to be the makers of RAM and have been around for a long time, people like them, so I dropped 38 some odd dollars and waited. The stick finally arrived and it was time to pop it in. Hm, it didn't fit. It looks to be 100% spec, but the chips are on both sides.

After some research, I found the accellerator card take up to 64Megs. The manual also mentions 128Megs, but it only said it once. I came to the conclusion that either it was a typo, or that the specs had changed and they missed changing that particular instance of "128." Instructions were adamant about chips only on one side though.

I contacted the seller, they said, "no prob, send it back."

I did a lot more research and found the RAM I actually could use. The $40 postings are all for 70ns chips. I though a moment, "Hey, the instructions say 70ns or faster!" I found plenty of 60ns RAM at a fraction of the cost!

In the course of my research, I also figured out what RAM fits in the Blizzard SCSI/MKIV supports 128Megs. I tried that first stick of RAM in the SCSI and the chips were too big! They actually bump up against the sides of the contacts. Just crappola all around.

I found one stick of 64Meg for $6 (that first seller). And I found a $128Meg for $9. Considerably less than that one stick that was simply too big.

It was another week or so before the RAM finally arrived. Everything slipped easily in place and the machine was back up and running in no time!

Click 
on it to see it!
No, really, look at that memory!

BTW, this article is being typed in via Wordworth 4SE on that Amiga 1200, that is being written about.

Not to change the subject, but let's change the subject.

GBS8220 and GBS8200

So I have acquired some VGA flat screen monitors. I have a plus/4 and a C64 setup in the shop to a nice swivel base HP. A ThinkPad server is also connected to it. It has a really cool box to convert composite to VGA. It's a really nice fancy one I acquired used. It auto switches or can be manually switched from composite to VGA. I don't recall if there is an onscreen menu for anything. It is older and it does have controls on the outside of the box itself.

I have found a newer one that does basically the same thing. It has more features but costs less. They fall into the $15-$20 range. But be careful, when buying, they also make a box that looks identical and costs less. It converts VGA to composite. Both devices only do one or the other. Both also have VGA in and VGA outs.

Since the Amiga 1200's as well as the Amiga 1000's composite outs are color, this device works well. Not fantastic. If you scroll up you can see the composite display of the Amiga 1000 on an HP flatscreen.

This is how all this VGA stuff came about. I was only working on the A1000 and need to hook up to a display during the job. The HP is my shop's all-purpose display. It has an A/B box on it and Strider (an IBM 700z ThinkPad used for looking stuff up either on PDF or online) is usually plugged into one of the lines in.

I decided to try other monitors on the A1000 after it got setup back in the studio. I moved over to playing with the A1200 using one of those small devices. The display was so novel, I used it for quite a few days. Totally a kick in the pants.

So, how was the display? Well, not so great. But not too terribly horrible that it wasn't enjoyable. ;)

I started looking into other possibilities. The Amiga 2000HD has a scan doubler. It seemed to me there might be something that could handle these older display outs to a more modern monitor. I happened across a PC Board device that could handle CGA/EGA/YUV/RGBs and a couple of others and converts the signals to VGA. Hm, I wonder if that would work on the Amiga.

Well. I started to look by typing, "amiga to vga" and one of the first in the list was a video from Retro Man Cave on the very same subject, it was on the very same board I was looking at on eBay.

Wow. There was a lot of great info, not only in his video (and follow-up video), but with further links to more information. I had lots of information on the very thing that I had only an inkling idea of.

After much research, it grew into a full blown project.

Retro Man Cave used a GBS8220 board which is fitted with two VGA outs. (They only display the same output.) So I opted to use this board for my experiments. The one I got came with the board, power and RGB cables to basically make your own power and video cables. Plus, it had the instruction sheet.

I had a PS from a dead webcam that fit the bill to a tee. That was an easy conversion, just cut the end off, strip the wires, then crimp the wires together matching the color (I did test the wire to make sure everything met color specs and my poles were correct). Next was the video cable.

Retro Man Cave soldered the wires directly to a 23 pin female plug to go directly into the Amiga. I opted to take a male 9pin D-Sub (which out matches the video in on the back of an Amiga monitor) with screw connections. The screw connections make it easy to change if I made a mistake mapping out the wires.

I got it all hooked up, powered on and ... notta. The unit didn't power up. I trouble shot the PS connection, checked grounds, etc. Everything was correct. I contacted the seller and asked if I could just swap the boards (they back their stuff and would exchange or refund), since I had already made the cable and power cable.

They said that was the only one they had and just refunded the money. Darn.

Found another board, and got it. (BTW, there are lots of these on eBay and there are lots of versions.) This time it was the GBS8200. Basically the same board, but one VGA output.

Now these boards have an LED on them. On the first board I tested, the LED didn't light up. Well, ok then, the board didn't work anyway, so that makes sense. The second board has the LED, but despite the fact the board appears operational, the LED does not light. :/

Some of the videos on YouTube said that these boards are hit and miss. These cards are sold at arcade dealers to convert older games to a newer display. So some of the videos were by people who work with big arcade games and the like and some of the videos were from hobbiests, like myself, who did experimentation for the sake of knowledge, and for the sake of experimentation. These boards get used on Amigas, Atari STs and other old computers.

Would I recommend the board? Not as an end-all-be-all video solution. As far as the Amiga goes, retargetable graphics cards or a flicker fixer (turns the sync from 15 to 30 MHz) are the best options. But if you are not afraid to solder, and experiment, then I say, go for it. This project has been a blast -- and it's not over. I still have things to do here.

Upon making the cable I already knew the voltage from the Amiga exceeded the board's. I knew to place a 680 Ohn resister on the grey sync line. This was thanks to Retro Man Cave and some others. Some of these boards are supposed to handle either 5V or 12V (intelligent circuitry?), but one person found that his board that claimed this, got too hot as it ran and caused problems. Some said the amps required were about .3A and that a .5A PS would suffice. The manufactured says 2A and that's what I used.

With all the information that is seamingly conflicting, one has to conclude there are different boards with different specs out there. The boards are dated (that usually means the date it was made) and have a number preceded by a V, this should be the board revision. One guy was claiming he had a fake board and that making a fake board was easy. It was based on miss information. He said the V was the ROM version and the Date was when the ROM was updated. He later found out that the problem he had was not with the ROMs as he had found a solution to his problem and the board now worked fine.

There is a lot of info out there if you want to persue this project. A search on YouTube is a great place to start for good info. Retro Man Cave was a good start for me. He was concerned about the leads on the bottom touching copper tape he applied to shield his board (valid concern), it does turn out that all those leads on the bottom are grounds and one person doing shielding for his board for use with an Atari ST, not only stated this, but he soldered the tape to those grounds. I also verified this by testing the leads and yes, they are grounds.

If I get a chance I might put some links here, but eBay and YouTube are your best bet.

...END OF LINE.

Back to top.


20 Minutes.

by

Brian Crosthwaite

Where to start? I cannot say if the following happened the way I am accounting it here. Nor can I say explicitly that it did happen. But what madness would conjure such a tail to torture the mind. I can only say there is a memory, and it needs to be told.

Shell and I were in the Shills, in South East Amstad. It was a vacation we had been anticipating for some time. Our professional lives keep us extremely busy, and while they are our passions, they carry an fair amount of stress.

We hiked in, no phones, no computers. Our navigator was analogue; an good old fashioned compass. Even there, we opted not to have GPS. We wouldn't have had a way to tell time, if it weren't for my Grand Fathers watch, a Timex that looks like it did take a lickin', but was a live and tickin'.

We set our tent up in a nice niche surrounded by trees and small brush. Despite it being early autumn, and leaves turning, it was really quite warm; highs in the upper 70s and lows in the mid 50s. All in all perfect camping weather for that time and place.

It was that first night I had heard a strange sound coming from the north of camp. We had a fire and were enjoying the sunset. I heard a sound, that at first I thought was a human, a man, calling out. A name, I thought. I turned to Shell and said something along the lines of not being alone. She asked me what I was talking about, I told her what I had head and she said she had heard nothing.

It was strange, I had definitely heard a sound and I am most assured that it was human. But since Shell had heard it I passed it off as if it really didn't happen. after all, it was a quick moment and there was clearly nothing after.

When we were getting the fire out, and readying for bed, I heard it again. Having forgotten about it, my memory was reignited. The sound was loader and clearer. And yet I really couldn't make out what it said. Perhaps it was not in English?

Things went as one would expect. We had breakfast in the not to cold morning and decided we really like that spot and would stay another night. after all, it's not the destination, but the journey. Another grand sunset; it really was a very pristine spot.

We had gone a couple of day hikes, as it were. There was no indicator of any other hikers in the area. We had actually covered a wide parameter that surrounded our camp. And there really was no sign of annoying having been in the area for quite a while.

I mentioned the sounds I had heard the night before, and Shell became strangely agitated. I asked if she were concerned about someone being out there, other than us, but her response was more what I expected and not alarmed, so I left it at that.

That night watching the sun paint the sky while cozing around the campfire, were undecided about leaving the area. We finally decided to move on in the morning. We were only a days hike out and there was more to see.

As we were climbing into the tent I heard the sound once again. I grabbed Shell by the arm and asked, that surely she had heard that. She replayed that she had heard nothing. It was hard to tell in the light of the lantern, but she seemed to have a look of concern. Not that there was something out there, but for me.

The next camp was every bit as spectacular as our first and we deiced we would defiantly hike every morning for a few more days and see haw for in we can get. There are hot springs and a spectacular glacier, that we'de have to hike into with out came gear that we'd like to see.

Every night I heard the voice. I didn't ask Shell if she heard it at the second and third camps as I didn't want to alarm her. She never mentioned it.

The forth camp was even more pristine than the last and the fall colors were in full regalia. There were breath taking falls that we could see and hear from our camp; water from the glacier. And despite the slowing down of the flow, were still beautiful and serene. That evening at the fire I heard the voice. Loud and clear. Surly Shell must have heard it, how could she not. When I asked she was angry, saying I was tiring to frighten her.

I heard it again and I looked out to where I heard it, expecting to see the person who own the voice standing right there within the light of the fire. There was no one there. It came again! I wanted to shout out that I knew they were there. But Shell still behaved as if she hadn't heard anything. Indeed, she hadn't. She asked what was wrong.

I wasn't sure I was going mad or what. I wasn't sure I should alarm her. We were too far out to simply run away, had some one been stalking us. I covered my panic and replied that I was just tired and the stress of the previous weeks were taking their toll. We retired.

I awake with a start! I listened intently. But there was nothing there no wind in the trees. And no sounds of falling water. Just dead silence.

Could it be that the run off from the melt was completely drained? I reached over to Shell and spoke, "Listen."

There was no replay. I felt around in the darkness and realized she wasn't there. I called out for her. At first, just a general calling to find her, then more pressing as she didn't answer.

I moved to open the tent. The side of the tent had a layer of ice on it. I had to work hard to unzip the flap as there was ice all through the zipper. It didn't feel cold outside of the tent. In fact, it felt really warm. I finally got the tent opened and stepped out into the darkness. I could see nothing.

I went back to get the flashlight. There seemed to be movement in the tent! I felt a fool for having missed in locating Shell. I forgot the ice and silence and crawled back in speaking as I did so, for clearly she was a wake, there was so much movement. But when I got inside the tent with the flashlight on, Shell was nowhere to be found -- the tent was empty.

I re-emerged from the tent armed with a very powerful flashlight. I felt that the darkness could hold no secrets from me with this in my hand. Upon scanning the forest, the darkness seemed to reach out of the shadows. It was so dark. The light from the flashlight couldn't penetrate the thick of it. Areas I knew to be clearings -- areas that held no possible shadows, the light simply could not penetrate. It was surreal, like a dream where things just don't seem to work like they are supposed to.

I gave up my search for Shell to do an experiment. I knew there was a large boulder in direct alignment of the trees by the shore and the tent. I scanned the area by the tent side I knew was the side I had first noticed this. I then paced out toward the boulder, all the while trying to penetrate the strange darkness with the bright light of the flashlight.

The area directly around me was brilliantly light, almost as if daylight, and yet the area just a few feet out from me was pitch black. I walked farther than I knew the boulder to be, I didn't find it. This rock was several yards wide. It was hard to miss. The ground surrounding it is rock as well. Alas, it simply was not to be found.

I called out for Shell. If silence could drop off to even more silence, that is what happened. There was no longer an ambience of being in a forest anymore. It was what one would imagine being encased in cement must sound like. And then it came. The voice!

It was cutting the silence like a chainsaw hitting a knot. It startled me so badly, I felt a pain in my chest. I called out more frantically for Shell. I thought I heard her voice off to my left. I turned and started quickly walking. The voice of the man was calling out. I could almost understand the words.

But I had to find Shell. I heard her voice, this time to my right. Then my left. Then from behind. Turning each time, I pursued this course until common sense kicked in. I stopped. I listened. I called. Again I heard what sounded like it might be Shell's voice. I say might. I was became uncertain. I could only hear parts of it. Like a painting of a familiar object with only splashes of color here and there and the rest of the canvas in blank, colorless, emptiness.

I listened. The man's voice called out again. It was so clear and now so familiar. I felt that I recognized what he said, and yet I did not comprehend.

Then, the darkness seemed to close in. It was then that I realized, that I was lost.

I had zigzagged and turn around so many times that I was not able to gain my bearings and find camp. I certainly could not see it with the flashlight. I called for Shell. Again, there was an answer, and like before, just out of hearing's reach to be discernible and yet so close. I had to make a decision.

Do I stay put and keep calling? If it was indeed Shell, wouldn't it seem logical that she would find me. Is that why I hadn't found her, as she was in pursuit of me? Or, do I press on looking? Perhaps I should listen and wait to see if anything happens, rather than instigate the next step. Was this a game someone was playing? If so, do they have Shell?

The worst part of this whole affair, was not knowing where Shell was or what happened to her. Was she ok? Was she safe? Had she slipped out in the night to go to answer the call to nature? And why are things so different? The water falls? The boulder? The ice on the tent? Why is the moon not shining? The moon was waxing over the past few nights to full.

Shouldn't it be a full moon? It must be overcast. I could smell no smoke, so it must have been overcast. No moon, no stars. Thoughts of just staying put until morning came to me. That's what you do when you're lost. You stay put until day and someone finds you.

Why, if Shell had gone to relieve herself, did she not answer me? My departure from the tent wasn't too hasty was it? Should I have just stayed there? My thoughts were full of doubts and indecisions. The logical thing to do was stay put until day, at least then, I could get my bearings. I couldn't be that lost, but if I try to find my way back, I might really get lost.

My flashlight was of no help. I scanned the horizon, if there should be one; the dark was so close. I aimed my light to the sky -- it might as well be the horizon as it appeared no different.

As I lowered my light, I there, before me, was a face! But it was only the fragment of an instant. A moment that never started. It seemed to be gone before the light could reach it. But it was not there. Was it my imagination? I couldn't be sure. There was almost a familiarity to what I thought I saw or started to see.

At first I had that feeling you feel when someone you know pops into sight. That moment that transcends time and place, where the two friends meet. That comfort didn't last, as the reality of my situation pressed in.

It was then I heard the voice once more. It was male. Human. Close. Behind me! I turned, aiming the flashlight, sweeping all possible places that they could be standing. It was close enough for the currier of the voice to have touched me!

As creepy as the voice had been, it had remained a voice; the thought of being touched caused, me great panic. I pulled myself together. Was I going mad -- what was happening here? I had to make sense of it. I have been hearing this voice all week. Night after night it had been getting loader.

Loader? Closer! It was getting closer. Perhaps the currier of this voice was the darkness. No, that made no sense. But then, I've used flashlights in the dark before and my recollection is, that they light up the darkness and you can see. What's happened in those oppressive woods, was the light pushed on by the darkness? I aimed the light at my feet. Yes, a nice bright light.

It was then, I suddenly turned the light off. To conserve battery? Or to not let it see me? I cannot fully say, but surely my reassuring side was thinking about the batteries.

I stood in the darkness. I was not sure of the, 'staying here,' idea, when I could distinctly hear a sound that sounded like someone -- or some thing walking through the brush.

A deer perhaps? I listened for the falls and the creek. I was hoping the looming thick blackness was lifting as another living being wandered into my presents. I whispered, "Shell?"

Again, and in the opposite direction from the crackling branch sounds came what sounded like Shell's voice. I could not discern the words. They were spoken imploringly, calling out to me, pulling on me.

If I followed, however, I feel I would be forever lost. Something rooted me to the spot. I began to talk in a load enough voice, that if it were indeed Shell, she could easily tell it was me, and follow my voice. For it was her turn.

I spoke of the trees and the splendor of the waterfalls, of the warm Autumn air. Anything, anything that was positive and recent. I didn't mention the voice or the darkness. I must have stood there speaking out loud for twenty or thirty minutes. I kept hearing her voice, from different places -- in front of me, to my right, to my left, behind me.

Each time, clear enough to hear was her voice, and yet, no real words came. The creator of the sounds was my study. I didn't speak non-sense, but nothing that required my attention. My true focus was on the voice coming from the dark.

Yes, the voice. For at this point, I was sure it wasn't her. There was an imploring, calling quality. A beckoning. Designed for the sole purpose of drawing me to it. I suddenly stopped talking.

I waited. There, in the dark. I had decided I was no longer the prey. I would be the hunter. I turn the light on, aiming it at my watch. Only for an instance, long enough for the dial of my watch to be seen and comprehended. It was 5:30. If time was unaltered on this dread night, the sun would rise in an hour and a half.

I could do an hour and a half.

***

It was dry and warm. Not what you'd expect in the morning in the mountains. The dark felt tight. Suffocating. It must have been thirty minutes. It might have been ten. When one is waiting, time stands still. Minutes stretched into hours and hours turn into incomprehensible lengths of time. I didn't look at my watch. I wanted to remain in the dark. It would be my cloak.

Waiting.

It came again. The sound of something moving through the woods. This time from my left. It was far off at first. It was coming closer. Closer. Then I heard it. That same voice that has plagued me for nights. This time it was unmistakably clear, "Micheal!"

My heart raced with a great pain at having heard my name! A panic came over me. A moment of indecision flowed over me. Run? Stay? Call out?

Instead, I froze. Rooted to the spot. Looking back, I am still uncertain of what would have been the prudent act. Running, I might have become hopelessly lost, staying I could confront this thing. Running might have freed me.

The moving sounds were very, very close, as if it were my own shuffling in the dry leaves. Then it stopped. A moment of silence. Relief waved through my entire body. I was then seized by a terror so great, I thought my heart to explode.

A hand gripped my shoulder! From above, as if reaching down from some considerable height. In an instance I reached up to grab the arm. It was stone cold to the touch.

My thoughts filled with possible out comes. A stalemate, in which I held this arm until the son broke in. Others more gruesome and more along the lines of fact. For part of what must of been rotted flesh slipped off the arm into my hand. The smell of rotten flesh filled my nostrils.

What in Heaven's name was this thing? It's hand held a crushing grip on my shoulder. The pain became excruciating. I felt a swooning sensation ripple through me, along with the fear of my bones being crushed by this grip of death!

Then I remembered. The flashlight! Would it help? Could it cut the oppressive dark that was so suffocating? I passed it to the arm whose shoulder was not in a vice and took aim. I turned it on!

In an instance, the light washed over what appeared to be a tall figure of something that was once human. A corpse so rotted, bones showed through much of the decayed flesh! As the light reached it's full flood, as time seemed at a standstill -- at this moment, the thing that held me fast, was simply gone.

I whorled around, sweeping a circle with the light in search of this horror. But it was simply gone! The smell too, was no more. The moistness of the night air had returned. I then realized that the dark -- the oppressive seal that had capped the night -- was no more. I could see the moon!

Moonlight spread across the forest and I was able to see the night. I could hear the night. The falls were off to my right. The peak I knew from the day too, was visible. I knew precisely where I was. Soon I heard something -- no someone - walking through the forest. It was Shell!

"Are you done? You've been out here for 20 minutes."

I only replayed yes, but gave her an embrace you give someone you haven't seen in a long time. We returned to the tent and along the way, I glanced at my watch. It had, indeed been gone only 20 minutes, as the time was now 12:20.

The End.

October 2018

Archaic Computer

by

Brian Crosthwaite

STARDATE:2018.09.01:

Project Birthday.

Ok, I didn't really name this project. But the gathering of equipment for my friend is coming along. I have managed to dig out a C64, a PS, A 1541 with all cables, a really nice working monitor and a cable, Joystick (a TAC2 no less!), a 300 baud commodore modem, a datassette, books, and softs. I have tested all hardware sans the modem.

I have found several brand new software packages that are unopened! I also got a reprieve on the deadline. And that helps as I'm thinking he needs Newsroom, so a printer is on order.

This project has been a blast. I have even involved my special needs son. He has helped here and there and he loves it!

I had two 1541 drives in boxes, one is labeled "BAD." I opened those up and discovered they were both good. They were both hardware modded to be drive nine. So, I put a drop of solder on the traces of one and added the drive to the system. The other drive turned out to be a VIC1541!

I have a drive that is a wolf in sheep's clothing. I had gotten a 1541 drives a while back with no case, and was later given an empty VIC1541 case. It's a drive with a history. Now, I have (and actually have had for sometime) an actual VIC1541 drive.

UPDATE:

The package was delivered to the friend and now awaits the giving to his son.

This project has drawn me back into the world of commodore a bit more. I have been doing Amiga stuff and a lot more C64 stuff since it came up. A bit of hunting, a bit of testing, and a bit of soldering to boot!

Now what?

There haven't been any Cascade Productions in a long while. I haven't done any Nexea in quite a while. I was working on a set. The idea was to do it all on Frodo (commodore 64 emulator) on my palm device, but it hasn't been finished. It would have been my last PRG for LOADSTAR, had it been completed on schedule. But LOADSTAR faded away and has been gone for quite a while now.

Part of the problem was the code needs to fill my peripheral vision when I work on it. I don't know why, but it seems to fill my senses more and intuition can take over. One the small screen it seemed like I could only reason things out, and yet I was missing something. Kinda strange.

It's not working on emulation that is the problem, I compiled PARTY PICTURE III on an IBM Vista running VICE; I even added a few writing on that machine pictures. It was the homeschool machine that had been moved into my son's room. I would work on it during off hours when no one was on it and kids were otherwise occupied.

I have had in inkling to program twinkling around in the far reaches of my mind and once in a while it flashes out. I used to trim my finger nails in prep for a coding session. Coffee was in order. All I need it time. Awe, time.

We are up in Cascade. It seems camping is far and few these days. A bit random. I should have planned better, but life butts up so close to the getting ready, I'm not sure if I got everything we needed. Bacon? Check. Toilet Paper? Check. Coffee? Check. Ok, we're good to go!

I had the thought of starting a coding project; one of those things that pops into your head in a flash and fleeting things. I hadn't put it together that I could do it camping. I did plan my morning with a quad espresso and writing. It is that time of year when the Ghost Mystery slips into to the computer through the keys. But there are no definite plans.

I am too tired. The week the kids were gone was great. It did start with a night before where I didn't sleep well. not like me, who falls asleep when my head hits the pillow. Went to lunch with Mia, Twinnies and Antony. That did mess with my nap. The next day Octavia did deliveries and I missed nap helping load up. Nap is important -- how did I ever survive things like grade through high school?

But that was sleepy tired. The other tired is emotionally tired. The R.A.D. kids drain you. And the week gaming and not having and little kids around in the mornings, defiantly helped. A week of self-care! It would have been nice to have had enough sleep earlier in the week.

I think that week, along with the Birthday Project, has giving me a lot of energies I have tapped into in a long while. (I do know I need to get the disk boxes put away before the energy drains way again. It will, and I don't want to trip over the boxes when lack of time and motivation sets in.

But what to program in? C= BASIC would be good. I have a working commodore 64C setup at the commodore station. I also have VICE on this Linux box. I also have JAVA here. Perhaps I could mess around with some JAVA SCRIPTing, something I semi-recently got into. We'll see. We'll see.

...END OF LINE.

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