Anything and everything.
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Not that I need another computer, but there’s just something about getting a new bit of hardware to play with. After being impressed with the performance of the QNAP-TS251+ with its Celeron J1900 CPU, I’ve been itching to get a mini system with a low watt processor. There’s a lot of options out there, from dirt cheap ARM SBCs to pricey high-end i7 Intel NUC systems. Some of the hardware I’d been looking at includes the Udoox86 Ultra, UP Squared, Raspberry Pi 3, ODROID-XU4, and a myriad of lower-end Intel NUC and Zotac ZBOX systems. I’ve been hemming and hawing over picking up any one of these devices for months now.
A few weeks back, GearBest had a sale on the ACEPC AK1 that I just couldn’t resist. The ACEPC AK1 is a mini-PC similar to (some might even say cloned from) the HP Elite Slice. Slightly smaller than a stack of five CD jewel cases, its hardware specifications are:
- Intel Celeron J3455 with integrated Intel HD Graphics 500
- 4GB DDR3L RAM
- 32GB eMMC storage
- Intel AC3165 Dual Band WiFi (supports 2.4GHz & 5GHz) and BlueTooth v4.0
- Ethernet RJ45 10/100/1000M
- 2xUSB 2.0
- 2xUSB 3.0
- 2xUSB Type-C (one internal)
For a while now I’ve been tempted to try to put together a retro-gaming PC (I’ve also been kicking my own ass for getting rid of so much great – and perfectly functional – hardware that I’m now interested in buying again, such as my AWE64 Gold, or 3dfx Voodoo 3… damn damn damn). Playing with MS/FreeDOS in a VM, and with DOSbox, is fun, but it doesn’t compare with having the real thing chugging away next to your desk.
While refreshing my memory of the good old days and brushing up on the state of emulation with regards to 16-bit realmode OSs, I came across the OS/2 Museum, which has an absolute ton of fascinating, if useless (to any but the nerdiest of computer nerds) information.
As an aside, the author of OS/2 Museum is one Michal Necasek, a name that tickles at the back of my memory. I know the name, but I’m not certain where from. I think he was fairly active on the Watcom USENET groups right around the time they were preparing to open source it, but I could be mistaken. I’ve been meaning to ask, but time has a way of getting away from me.
Anyway, links lead to reading, which leads to more links, and more reading, until I found myself on a fairly plain page on this web site. It’s about the DESQview multitasking software for DOS, and a few other bits of software written by QuarterDeck, including QEMM. And lo’, long forgotten by myself, there is my tiny contribution to the page, as I am the selfsame Andrew who contributed QEMM 97.
That must have been well over a decade ago, as I don’t remember frequenting comp.os.msdos.desqview much (if at all) after finally making the switch from MS-DOS/Windows 98 to Windows XP back around 2002/2003. I’m really surprised that page is still up, as a lot of the links I came across that supposedly contained The Good Stuff (neat old programs, that is) more often lead to a 404.
Life’s funny sometimes. I went looking for a bit of information on the feasibility of scratching a particularly pointless itch, and find myself “virtually” bumping into a familiar name and a familiar place, both almost forgotten.
Oh, and if you’re interested in old hardware, old operating systems, or just looking for something interesting to read, definitely check out OS/2 museum.
One last thing. While poking around, I found out Vernon D. Buerg passed away in December of ’09. Like a lot of PC geeks who grew up in the 90’s (and 80’s, I suppose), “Vern”‘s LIST program was a mandatory part of my toolbox for years and years. Needless to say, I was quite saddened when I found out, and worse that he passed 6 years ago and I never saw anything about it. I’m surprised it never made it to Slashdot (at least a quick Google didn’t turn up any hits). I’m also more than a little disappointed.
A while back I picked up my first NAS, a QNAP TS-251+. I’ve been wanting to set up some sort of network storage for years now, but never really had the means (read: money) to do so. I had considered repurposing an old computer to run something like FreeNAS, but ’round here they’re usually handed down to family members as I upgrade to newer hardware. The other problem, of course, is that desktop-class hardware is overkill for such a job.
The TS-251+ is a slight upgrade over it’s predecessor, featuring a quad-core 2.0 GHz Intel Celeron processor capable of bursting up to 2.42GHz (the older TS-251 features a dual-core part clocked at 2.41GHz that can burst up to 2.58GHz), 2GB of RAM, and supporting up to two drives. I upgraded the RAM to 8GB with a pair of Corsair Vengeance 4GB sticks, which is the maximum amount of memory the unit supports.
For storage, I bought a pair of 3TB Western Digital ‘Red’ NAS drives, configured to run in RAID 1 (mirroring). As I’m primarily using the NAS as a backup solution, redundancy is particularly important. While it would have been nice to load it up with the biggest drives it can handle, the 3TB drives were at the sweet spot between price and capacity. I also have a 3TB Western Digital MyBook that, once I get everything organized, I’m planning to wipe and use to backup the NAS, just in case.
On the software side, the NAS runs a 64-bit Linux… sorry, GNU/Linux, underneath QNAP’s interface. While it’s set up a little differently from what I’m used to (Slackware, primarily), it’s familiar enough that I’m not too lost. There’s a decent selection of server software available, including Apache, ProFTPd, and SSH.
One annoyance, however, is that only the admin account can be used to connect via SSH. There’s no easy way around it as, from what I’ve read, this behaviour is hard-coded into the server binary. Digging through old forum posts and the QNAP wiki did yield some ways to bypass the restrictions of the SSH server, but no sooner would I look deeper into what was suggested before I’d come across information that would render the suggestions moot. Turns out there’s been a handful of methods of getting 3rd party software onto QNAP’s devices (Optware?), but the ones I looked into had been deprecated in favour of something called Entware-ng. I haven’t really had time to look into it further, but it seems like it should be possible to install a SSH daemon that’s not restricted.
Other than slowly starting to migrate my media collection to the NAS, I haven’t done a whole lot else with it yet. All my music and a handful of videos are on it, and play fine over Samba, although occasionally my computer loses connection with the NAS. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I suspect it’s my router; I’ve got a shitty Bell Connection Hub that’s a combo modem/router. The routery part of it is not that impressive. Unfortunately, when I tried putting it into bridged mode to run my own router, I ended up getting lower throughput than running everything through the CH. Why, I don’t know. The modem has Gb ethernet ports, as does my ASUS router, so there’s no reason the speeds should be lower.
But I digress. The NAS supports a bunch of neat features I’ve yet to experiment with like on-the-fly media transcoding and virtualization. I did set up a wiki with DokuWiki to make it a little easier to share some stuff. I went with DokuWiki because it supports flat files for content storage. Although the NAS includes an SQL server (MariaDB), flat files are ideal for my needs.
My family’s not all that used to things like SMB shares and network drives and all that, but a web page is something they can understand. It’ll be tedious, creating pages for the stuff they want, but I’m sure there’s some bit of software out there that can make the process easier. If not, it’ll be a great excuse to brush up on my shell scripting, or maybe learn Python, to hack together some sort of a tool that can be autorun from a cron job to automate pulling data out of info files to generate content accessible through DokuWiki.
First, though, I’ve gotta finish dumping several gigs of content onto it.
I wish I had something more informational to post, rather than just rambling on about some piece of hardware I bought, but I don’t. I need to find something interesting to say, instead of leaving this blog to languish.
I know of no critic of evolution—perhaps save the late William F. Buckley, Jr.—who is at once so eloquent and so ignorant as David Berlinski. The man has spent years attacking evolutionary biology and defending intelligent design (ID), and is, to my knowledge, the only living creationist who is not religious. (He claims to be an agnostic, though I have trouble believing that.) He’s also a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, a position reserved for only the Highest Poo-Bahs of Ignorance.
Yesterday, at the Discovery Institute’s News and Views site, Berlinski wrote “Majestic Ascent: Berlinski on Darwin on Trial,” a post apparently designed to fête the twentieth anniversary of Phillip Johnson’s execrable Darwin on Trial: the book that launched the ID movement. Johnson’s book is full of inaccuracies and lies (I use the word deliberately, because no honest scholar could make the claims that he did). And…
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How did I get here tonight?
What am I doing here?
How did I reach this state?
How did I lost my sight?
I’m lost… I’m freaking
And everybody knows… everyone’s watching.
Strapping Young Lad, “Detox”.
I recently found this waiting in my Hotmail inbox:
This is an automated notification regarding the recent change(s)
made to your World of Warcraft account. When you receive this message when your World Of Warcraft Account means that there are serious security risks.
However,if you did NOT make changes to your password,we recommend you click here Login verify your password.
If you are unable to successfully verify your password .
using the automated system, please contact Billing & Account Services at 1-800-59-BLIZZARD (1-800-592-5499) Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm Pacific Time or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Account security is solely the responsibility of the account holder.
We encourage you to keep the following security tips in mind when playing a Blizzard game on any computer:
– Use up-to-date firewall, antivirus, and anti-spyware software to scan your system regularly for viruses, Trojans, and key-loggers.
– Keep your operating system and other software up-to-date and be careful when downloading new software.
– Be wary of “spoof” and scam websites and e-mails that pose as Blizzard Entertainment and request account or personal information. As a reminder, Blizzard Entertainment representatives will *never* ask you for your password.
– Use separate, unique passwords for your email, Battle.net account, and any other online accounts.
– Change your passwords regularly and keep Battle.net account information updated using the Account Management page at http://www.battle.net/account
For additional security tips and information, please visit the following site:
– Account Security: http://www.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?articleId=30472
If you are looking for an added layer of security, we currently offer the Blizzard Authenticator, an optional device that can help prevent unauthorized account access. For more information about how the Authenticator works or how to add one to an account, please visit the Blizzard Authenticator FAQ at http://www.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?articleId=30492.
Regards, World of Warcraft Support Team
I’ve got to give the dirty bastards some credit, it looks mostly believable but for a few problems. Most of the links do lead to Blizzard’s site, and the e-mail even cautions one to use up-to-date security and system software. They even provided me with Blizz’s phone number! It must be legit! Oh wait… that first paragraph looks a bit suspicious, even if the rest appears to be proper Blizzard boilerplate copypasta.
Unfortunately, while I do have a WoW account, the e-mail address they’ve sent this to is not the one Blizzard has on file for me. All of the links in the mail superficially look valid, except for the very first one (“click here”), which actually leads to http://www.worldofwariraft-account.com/.
With however many millions of players WoW is up to now (last count I remember was around 13 million worldwide), surely more than a few are going to receive this e-mail. Hopefully the recipients will not be the typical MMO players I’ve run in to over the years (y’know, the ones who cannot figure out how to unpack an archive or make a folder for them thar fancy addons, or the ones that never quite manage to configure Ventrilo so that the rest of us only hear what they’re saying, and not their game sounds mixed with whatever shitty music they’re listening to).
On the other hand… if they’re dumb enough to fall for this, they probably deserve what they get, no matter how much I hate hearing/reading them whine about how their account was “hacked”, somehow.
A new release candidate of my favourite compiler (a decade ago) is now available – OpenWatcom 1.9 RC 3.
I’ve been playing with the Watcom compiler since 1995’sh (v10.5) or so when a friend hooked me up with the 32-bit DOS parts of the C compiler. I bought v11.0 in 1997 for $500.00 CDN, a hefty price-tag for a hobby coder. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed when Sybase announced they had EOL’d the Watcom compilers. Disappointment then turned to joy when I found out that Sybase was going to open the source code, which then turned to apathy during the interminable wait for the code. Windows XP finally killed most of my interest in OpenWatcom, which had depended on my clinging to Windows 98SE and its virtual DOS machine.
I don’t follow the OpenWatcom newsgroup any more, but I still check every now and then for new releases. For DOS code, there’s no better environment available, although some might argue in favour of DJGPP, a port of the GNU Compiler Collection to DOS (well, 32-bit protected mode extended DOS).
OpenWatcom still targets a ton of output formats, such as DOS, OS/2, Win16/32, and various other nowadays less-common targets. I don’t believe that Win64 is supported yet. The Fortran compiler’s available, too, but who uses Fortran any more?
First post on a blog. So fresh, so clean and unsullied. The desire to spill forth words that few, if any, will ever read fills me with an optimistic energy.
So, what does one say when one has nothing to say? I know! Link to a YouTube video!
Lately I’ve been listening to Hevy Devy a lot (lately means several years in this case). Addicted! is the best album, from start to finish, that I’ve bought in years. Yeah, you read that right, bought. Suck it, RIAA!
Anyway, Devin’s a genius. I’ve loved his voice since I first heard him on Steve Vai’s “Sex & Religion”, back in ’93, and then again in ’99 on a disc that I got with a metal magazine which included All Hail the New Flesh from No Sleep ’til Bedtime. Sadly, by the time I’d “discovered” Strapping for real, they were in their death throes.
Now I’m eagerly awaiting Z2 and Deconstruction and hoping I’ll get the opportunity to see Devin live sometime.