A little retro PC work and upgrades

Last summer, I used my big box of PC bits’n’bobs to build myself a few retro gaming PCs, each genre with hot hardware for its time. I wasn’t restricting myself to being time-specific with the hardware available during the time at all, I just wanted to build myself some machines that ran the software of a particular type very well.

The DOS/Win3.11 machine is a Dell desktop with a P3-600 and 64Mb of ram, a tiny ancient 2.1Gb harddisk, a Matrox G400MAx graphics card, and an Audician32 soundcard with a great wavetable board on it from (). There’s a lovely floppy emulator that uses a  USB drive with floppy disk images on it, selectable on the fly. This pc plays the old Dos games brilliantly, with great sound output and nice sharp visuals. This is for games like DukeNukem3d, Descent, Tombraider, and others from the 1990-1996 era. I haven’t done much work into the slowing down of the cpu for the likes of Wing Commander, that’s for future work. I should also do an SD-card HDD replacement, makes it a bit easier to transfer files over, and I can have multiple profiles of software as well

The Win98 machine is a self-build Tualatin 1.13 on TUSL-2 motherboard, 512Mb ram, 16gb sd card harddisk, Nvidia GeForce4 Ti4200 graphics, and a SoundBlaster Audigy sound card. This system absolutely rocks early Windows games from 1995 through e.g. 2000. The Ti4200 really does outclass the Voodoo cards at Glide gaming with the nGlide wrappers, and I can enable things like AA in most games without penalty to framerates.

The Windows XP gamer is a little Dell SFF GX620, P4 640 (3.2Ghz, 1C/2T), 2 gb ram, Nvidia Quadro 600 graphics and a Sounblaster X-fi Extreme soundcard, and a 160gb harddisk.

I also have on hand another Dell SFF box saved from scrapping, an Optiplex 960 with an E8400 core2duo and some 4gb ram, using the onboard graphics and sound.

For the XP machine, I’ve sourced a very cheap P4-D 3.4 that should just drop in, giving me a bump in speed and bringing the system to 2C/4T which should make a bit of a difference in things. Unfortunately, it has appeared that the motherboard in this little box has suffered from the bad capacitors that has plagued the hardware industry.. It fails to boot with a lot of coloured snow on the VGA output during the POST process. So, I have a handful of caps en route from eBay to fix this one.

I have also sourced a nice LGA771 Xeon X5450 to put into the LGA775 Dell motherboard. This will require a little sticker that swaps two pins, and a shaving of the physical cocket. Unfortunately the Dell bios makes a check for the Xeon dual-cpu capability and fails to post with this CPU. Looks like I will have to just build myself another box to utilise the cpu :) In the interim, I’m putting the 960 into play as the XP gaming machine.

“Of” is not a verb.

Note to internet people that speak English – the word “of” is not a verb. Phrases such as “should of”, “could of”, and “must of” are all simply incorrect..

Those errors are understandable from kids or those with English as a second or third language, but it’s inexcusable from mainstream websites or media outlets.

Please proofread your writings more thoroughly.

Old School games

Something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, was to get the ability to play all of the older games I wanted to from my Wii and my PS2, as well as the Amiga.
For kicks this evening, I set up a few new emulators of old machines and I have been playing the classic PS2 games, fun Wii games , and I’ve got all of the classic Amiga games working on the original hardware and the fantastic Amigakit emulator as well.
Nostalgia overloads :)

Happy 21st Birthday to Quake

Quake turned 21 years old today.

This brought me back to playing the game in the evenings in UL, after coming home from co-op. It was certainly a lot of fun playing against people on the east coast of the US as an LPB..

I have actually played this game through to completion a few times, and I have purchased it at least twice.

And, because some of my classmates in college were all players on the international tournament scene, there were more than a few stories from this game! Plus, I ended up getting an early user ID on boards.ie before that site became the behemoth it did.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to play with an Oculus Rift, and it makes the game hugely immersive and absolutely fantastic to play, and I would highly recommend to try this if you can.

ID software, many thanks for the experiences from this game.

Systemd stupidity – or why Poettering is an idiot

Yes I work as a Unix admin, and I’m getting so sick of “systemd”, that complete ball of crap that Poettering has foisted upon the Linux community. His poor quality of work has singlehandedly caused the most problems I’ve had to face in my day-to-day work in the past year, through his shoddy code, his abysmal system design and his complete lack of knowledge on how to do things the Linux way.

Things that systemd breaks, in no particular order, and I’ll update this as I see them:

  • The use of binary log files breaks the simplicity of administration with text files.
  • systemd returns silent or incorrect return status from script starts. Nothing quite like a return status of “success” when the script actually failed.
  • Attempting to deprecate /etc/fstab by using its own mounting system, breaking a known-working system
  • Because systemd is so large and broken, it no longer has a small target area for any attacks on PID1. This is a major security issue.
  • systemd breaks the philosophy of “do one job, and do it well”, as it subscribes the to the known-broken monolithic philosophy as seen in Microsoft products, as it attempts to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.
  • Poettering is also a poor responder to either bug reports or any warranted criticism of his project. There are many real bugs marked as wont-fix on the systemd bug tracker, and his comments on bugs are unprofessional and suggest that he has some issues to deal with, that should have no place in someone that manages a core server project.

I’ve seen systemd machines fail to reboot because systemd silently crashes on shutdown, with no console errors and no errors logged. That’s been fun to troubleshoot.

In short, systemd is utterly crap and is breaking Linux. There’s no surprise that there’s a groundswell of Linux admins that are working to remove systemd from their Linux distribution of choice. I choose to use Devuan, which is Debian that has been repaired by the removal of systemd.

See here for a great analysis of the situation.

It’s a First

The award I’ve earned for my postgraduate studies has been released.

I’m the proud holder of a First Class Honours, Graduate Diploma (Electronic and Computer Engineering) in Information and Network Security, awarded 2017.

Finally! :)

Postgraduate studies completed and sorted out, finally!

I’ve gotten confirmation today, that I am to be awarded First Graduate Diploma in Information and Network Security. This will be awarded at the University of Limerick Winter Conferring, in January 2017.

That’s a win for me, and the First level it is to be awarded at reflects well under the circumstances of the studies. At the time, I was working a full 40 hour week evenings and weekends, as well as full-time college work Monday to Friday. Working a 9-day week was not easy.

So, I’ll have a decent piece of paper to show for the work done and effort expended over the past while, a proper postgraduate qualification in Engineering, that is career relevant. Let’s see where that takes me!

M.T.Cranium’s Winter Outlook 2016-2017

From his boards post in the weather forum here: http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=101273387&postcount=4231

“Winter 2016-17 Outlook: I am expecting a rather different outcome from last winter, and something a little similar to 2010-2011 which started out very cold and snowy, then turned much milder. This winter, I am predicting rather cold weather to start, from late November through much of December, and the opportunity for some significant snowfalls. It probably won’t be as intense as the cold or snow of late 2010, let’s say on the order of two degrees below average and 5-15 cm snowfalls possible in the period (recall that Dec 2010 produced some 30-40 cm falls in Leinster). As usual, this snowfall would be more likely in the eastern half of the country and in some parts of the northwest. Then I expect a much milder pattern to develop in January peaking towards the end of the month with very mild weather. February and March look fairly average in my research output. This winter outlook will be updated whenever I have new insights, no update means I am holding to this outlook.”

Citroen Jumpy Multispace, a little review..

On the recent kayak club Alps training and development trip, we rented a 9-seater Citroen Jumpy Multispace. I drove this tank of vehicle for some 3200 km across France, Italy and Slovenia.
My impressions overall? I’d cry every day if this was my main mode of transport. It is really not a good vehicle.

Things that were not good with it:

    The gearstick was extremely loose and felt more worn than the gearsticks in my previous Landrover 109, and this made selection of gears a best-guess at best all of the time.
    The window switches are in a really awkward place for use.
    The drink holder prevents access to the pocket underneath it.
    Nowhere to store sunglasses.
    The flat floor means that anything in the boot that can fit under a seat will end up under your brake pedal eventually.
    Driver’s seat is not comfortable, and difficult to find a less-uncomfortable seating position. I’m 1.78m tall so not freakishly sized..
    All pockets in and on the dashboard that are reachable by the driver, will empty their contents onto the floor under any acceleration or facing up a hill.
    Gaining access to the rear seats is not easy, only one side of the 2nd row tilts independently and it’s not possible to tilt the full row from one side only.
    Returning the seat back on the 2nd row farthest from the tilting seat, from forward to upright, requires reaching across that seat back to reach a tiny lever, that then requires a second hand to lift the seat back to upright.
    The 12v sockets time out for providing power after some 2 min, if the engine is not started. Very annoying when trying to charge things.
    The powered folding mirrors feel really flimsy.
    The secondary wide-angle mirrors under the exterior rear view mirrors are not adjustable in any way.
    The driver’s door closing handle is in an unexpected place, and makes it difficult to easily close the door.
    The rear passenger doors feel like they are always about to fall off.

Things that were good?

    It started.
    It stopped.
    Cruise worked.
    Aircon worked, with settings down to 14 degrees. That’s cold to drive in.
    It used less fuel than expected.
    It seated 8 people without discomfort. The 9th was in the 1/2 seat between driver and front seat passenger.
    With three rows of seating, there was a hatchback’s bootspace behind the 3rd row.

Would I buy one? God no, and I’d recommend anyone that was thinking of one to go elsewhere before admitting all sorts of defeat in buying one of these.

Way to go Tesco Mobile – cut off your paying customers..

See here: http://www.boards.ie/ttfthread/2057590673

Pretty much if you’re on Tesco Mobile as a PAYG customer, they can and will randomly cut customers off until they provide a scan of a PASSPORT. Absolutely dismal policy.

They didn’t require that level of documentation to set up the account and start taking the cash.

To see then that they’ll actually completely stop service without any warning? Preposterous!