Scribbler's Laid A Big Juicy Log

Curing insomnia since November 2000
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This blog has been following the ups and downs of my life since November 4th 2000. Amazingly, it's still going.


Archive for the ‘Computers’


People of ZX Spectrum land!

I’ve been going through some old tapes, and found the following (rather knackered) recording. I have no recollection which game it’s from, but if you do, I’d appreciate it if you let me know!

[UPDATE 10/2/2014]
Poot, 28 comments and 160+ downloads of the file and still no further forward! I’ll keep searching. Thanks all for the help so far though!

My first few days with the QPAD MK-80

… and this, I promise, will be my last post on the matter. It’s been several days since I brought home my latest toy, the afore-mentioned mechanical keyboard, and I have to say I’m really liking it. It’s supposed to be a gaming keyboard, but that’s not really the reason I bought it. I just wanted something that actually felt decent when I typed.

Admittedly, this isn’t the first mechanical keyboard I’ve used or owned. Back in the late 90s, I was given an old PC that came with some bits and bobs, including possiblt the oldest keyboard known to man. I swear, I was expecting bits of typewriter to be stuck to it. It was so old, that the F keys were down the left hand side of the keyboard. It was so old that I can’t find a picture of it. Photography probably wasn’t invented back thenIt was also switch controlled, but unfortunately, some of the keys were knackered. It was OK to type on, but a few of the keys were unresponsive, and I eventually gave up on it. It kept me in supplies of small springs for ages. Years after, I was still standing on them with bare feet. Nasty.

Anyway, I digress, and I go back to my review. I’ve settled on typing with it really rather quickly. For those of you who couldn’t be bothered or have “forgotten” to watch the video, it’s got Cherry MX Blue switches. There are many different type of switches out there, but you’ll need to find these out for yourself. I doubt I’ll have the money to invest in other keyboards in the coming years, so unless some kind companies want to send me “samples” of their keyboards, then this’ll be the only review you’ll be getting!

So, functionality. Well, it’s not exactly feature rich as far as some gaming keyboards go. Pass-through connectors for 2xUSB, audio and microphone jack. The USB ports are handy, I can never have enough of those near the front of my PC, so two more is an added bonus. The pass-through connectors… meh, I can live without those for now. My PC case has mic / headphone jacks on the front, so I don’t really need those at the moment. I’ll probably end up getting a new computer in a couple of months, so maybe there’ll be a use for them then. Seeing as this is a gaming keyboard, however, there are absolutely no other gaming features. The blue LEDs, however, have four levels of brightness. When I first discovered the LEDs were blue, I was just that little tad disappointed. Some of you may remember that my streetlighting interest came about partly because I could see a blue halo around mercury streetlights. About 25 years later, I actually worked out that was because my eyes actually saw blue light as slightly out of focus. Thankfully, the light levels range from just comfortable, so it looks like the writing on the keycaps is blue, to an intense sheen of blueness, that wouldn’t be out of place on a hospital toilet ceiling to stop the smack rats going in and shooting up.

The blue LEDs are also included in the design of the status lights. Ironically, this is a gaming keyboard, and if you switch them all on, they look like the highest score I’ve made, in pretty much every game I own…

BLue LEDs on my keyboard

BLue LEDs on my keyboard

… and also the mount of actual readers who have managed to sift through this pile of absolute blithering crap. Ahem.

Actual feel of the keyboard is really nice. I’ve been asked if it’s improved my typing. Probably, but then I’ll get to the FAQs in a sec. The feel is that rubberised plastic, on the outer of the board, and on the wrist rest (which yes, I did manage to get fixed to the keyboard!) Best way to describe it is like those sightly up-market “Smooth grip” Bic biros. Although it doesn’t feel too bad, there’s a disadvantage, and that’s every bit of grease on your fingers shows up like some kind of shiny skidmark, and every bit of dead skin that you shed goes into the grooves, meaning that’s only been here for 3 days and it already looks rather unpleasant.

It's a mucky keyboard!

It’s a mucky keyboard!

Of course, shedding skin is a human way of life, and I’d much prefer it if I’d shed moob fat, but due to the matt black nature of the keyboard, and the fact it has a little groove running around the edge of it, I wouldn’t be too surprised if, in a couple of months time, that little groove will look like a re-enactment of the Battle of The Somme, but with extra blood, sweat, shit piss and Iron Brew… OK, I jest, but that brings me to another possible downside, there are no drain holes!. I’ve always got a glass of “water” next to me when I’m at my computer, and many times there’s been a bit of a close shave, or there’s been actual spillage. The last few cheap keyboard I’ve had, have had drain holes in the bottom, should the worst happen, but this doesn’t appear to have theme. Maybe it’s because of the hundred or so switches, LEDs and other tomfoolery crammed inside here, but I have a feeling it’ll be only one small mistake with a beverage and Pratfall Percy sat here, and it’ll all be over. Quite literally. Of course, now that I actually don’t drink as much, there’s much less chance of that happening.

Right, sod it, I’m nearly up to 1000 words. I’ve been asked two questions about the keyboard. It’s nearly 1 in the morning, and I’ve got to be up for work. So, I promise, I’ll break my promise and conclude tmorrow, or whenever I can be bothered. Bet you can’t bloody wait.

So, your Sandisk Sansa MP3 player is quiet…

Cor, two posts in two days. I’m really spoiling you. Well, actually, this is mainly just information for others who have experienced the same problem as me, or are thinking of getting one of these. This is the one I have, it’s listed as the “Sandisk Sansa Clip Zip”, and it looks a little like this…

My MP3 player

Well, in fact it looks a lot like this, because that’s actually it. Now, I bought it a couple of weeks ago, and have suffered with the device having very, very little volume. I happened to be in may favourite chatroom, when Marko (who has posted a few comments on here too) mentioned, in passing that he had one.

[20:18:42] [Marko] I remember showing my mum and dad my little sansa clip mp3 player
[20:19:19] [Scribbler] Haha, I’ve just got one of those sansa clips
[20:21:38] [Scribbler] I need something to make it louder
[20:21:44] [Marko] louder?!
[20:21:52] [Marko] did you set the region to “world”
[20:22:10] [Marko] if you have it set to europe, it’ll be quiet
[20:22:15] [Marko] due to EU regulations

Well, I rushed downstairs as fast as my milky-white legs could carry me. I remember it asking me the region, but thought that was just for the radio, which I’ll probably never use anyway. I negotiated the menu and couldn’t find an option for that. However, I did a factory reset on it (Settings > System Settings > Restore), and got the option for “Europe” and “Rest of World”.

Naturally, I selected RoW, and found out I could then crack the volume up until ELEVEN. Problem solved, and I shall have a happy bus journey listening to “Crap From the Past” until my ears bleed.

EDIT: 14/7/2013 Yeah, I’m trying to sort out the issues with the photo. Turns out Flickr didn’t like me marking all of my stuff private, and even though this image is now public, it’s still not showing up. I presume it’ll fix itself. As a sidenote, I installed Rockbox onto the device, and it’s made it a million times more functional, to the point I can even play Doom on the bus, if I fancy squinting over a 1-inch display.

EDIT: 21/7/2013 Duh. Took me a week to work out that, if I’m marking a photo as no longer public, it’s going to change its filename. Image restored, and sometime, I don’t know why I bother.

Hard drive woes, 2012, part 3

I’m returning back to the ‘old’ subject of my Lacie “Network Space 2″ drive, which committed suicide a few months back, thanks to a couple of email questions. You may have followed the previous posts where I mention getting the data off the drive. this was, in all, a 90% success, but even running Linux, I ran into a similar problem as pointed out in the email. Some of the files couldn’t be accessed. I knew it was one I could easily overcome, but putting the time, and the little bit of effort in to do it, was a bit of a bore, so I left it.

That is, until my health problems re-arose. Well, not quite. I just had to go to the hospital so they could stick things all over my chest, and take yet more of my blood. Are they panning that shit for gold, or something? They might find amber nectar in there, but certainly no gold.

I digress. I decided to fire the drive up again, and rescue the last data on there. The problem was, that although I moved the majority of the data off the drive, I couldn’t access certain files, as they were owned by “root”, basically, the superuser of any Linux system. If you boot from a live Linux CD as I suggested in the past, you’re only a standard user. You’ll need to access the files owned by this root user.

Since my last update, I managed to find my 4Gb USB stick, so I changed my plans from using a live CD, to using a similar live CD, but mounted on a USB stick. To do this, you download the ISO you require as normal, download and run a program called Unetbootin, and allow it to work its magic. This allows you to have a USB stick with a bootable version of your favourite non-standard operating system. This was, as you can imagine, a lot quicker, smoother and quieter than having the DVD drive access something every time I move the mouse. This time, I ditched Ubuntu, and used the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint. It’s just that little more user-friendly. A couple more useful utilities , and because it’s on the USB drive, I can happily use stuff like Firefox without the whole system freezing while it uses the DVD drive.

Of course, you’ll run into the same problem you had with the original Ubuntu. You’re still a standard user. This is how you log-in as root…

Open “terminal”
Type…

sudo passwd root

It’ll then prompt you to enter a new password. Twice. It’s thorough like that.

Click on the “Start” button equivalent (forget what it’s called) and click “Leave”

There’ll be an option in there for a new session. Select that, and enter the user “root” and your new root password. Hurrah, you’ll now have a GUI with root access, and should be able to move those stubborn files as you would normally. I assume these instructions will work good with many, if not all Linux distros.

Thanks to the root access, I was able to have a poke around the drive’s “hidden” sections, and examine the “messages” file to see if I can decipher exactly what went wrong with it. Basically, I can’t.

Sep 18 02:04:44 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  180.820000] ata1.00: status: { Busy }
Sep 18 02:04:44 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  180.820000] ata1: hard resetting link
Sep 18 02:04:44 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.330000] ata1: SATA link up 1.5 Gbps (SStatus 113 SControl F310)
Sep 18 02:04:44 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.390000] ata1.00: configured for UDMA/33
Sep 18 02:04:44 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.390000] ata1: EH complete
Sep 18 02:04:44 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.410000] ata1: exception Emask 0x10 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x180000 action 0x6 frozen
Sep 18 02:04:44 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.410000] ata1: edma_err_cause=00000020 pp_flags=00000001, SError=00180000
Sep 18 02:04:44 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.410000] ata1: SError: { 10B8B Dispar }
Sep 18 02:04:44 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.410000] ata1: hard resetting link
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.920000] ata1: SATA link up 1.5 Gbps (SStatus 113 SControl F310)
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.980000] ata1.00: configured for UDMA/33
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.980000] ata1: EH complete
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.990000] ata1.00: exception Emask 0x0 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x180000 action 0x6 frozen
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.990000] ata1.00: edma_err_cause=00000020 pp_flags=00000001, SError=00180000
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.990000] ata1: SError: { 10B8B Dispar }
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.990000] ata1.00: cmd c8/00:20:e0:f2:38/00:00:00:00:00/e0 tag 0 dma 16384 in
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.990000]          res d0/00:20:e0:f2:38/00:03:00:00:00/e0 Emask 0x12 (ATA bus error)
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.990000] ata1.00: status: { Busy }
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  181.990000] ata1: hard resetting link
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  182.500000] ata1: SATA link up 1.5 Gbps (SStatus 113 SControl F310)
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  182.560000] ata1.00: configured for UDMA/33
Sep 18 02:04:45 NetworkSpace2 kernel: [  182.560000] ata1: EH complete
Sep 18 02:e.vendor

After the e.vendor in that above logfile, which really shouldn’t be there, is a load of corrupt looking garbage, and I’m sure those “ATA bus error”, means that there’s something wrong with the drive, or the system can’t read from it. I remember those before the HDD died in my old firewall / server machine many years ago.

I’m not sure if that info above will help anyone else out, but drop me an email if it doesn’t, I’ll see what I can do.

UPDATE 4TH NOVEMBER 2012

In what is honestly going to be my final word on the subject, I thought I’d have one last little play with the dreaded Lacie Network Space 2, and my own personal findings. I powered it on again today, for one last “hurrah”. It, once again did either of the slow flashing, or rhythmic red/blue flashing. For funsies, I threw in a generic 500Gb drive, which it won’t have been expecting. The method behind my madness was that it may have had a failsafe copy of its operating system in ROM, and if it detects the “new” HDD, it might kick into some factory restore mode and initialize the drive. This wouldn’t appear to be the case, as I instantly got the flashing red/blue light, as soon as the drive began to boot. A factory reset didn’t help either.
Therefore, I consider the drive now to be scrapped.

I’ll keep the drive out of it, naturally. 2Tb could certainly come in useful (On Dec 8th 2012, I did indeed do this, via a cheap SATA caddy from C World). I don’t believe there’s a physical fault with the drive, but I do think there was some sort of root file system corruption. A decent NAS drive would be able to at least do something failsafe-y, perhaps a backup / disagnostic copy of the OS kept in flash ROM to allow some type of automatic restore / file system rebuild… the cost of flash memory these days is ridiculously low. It can’t be too difficult / much more expensive to do?

So, it’s all over. It was a short, bittersweet relationship. It had its uses. It turned out to be very limited, slow, and ultimately risked 2 terabytes of my precious porn torrentz photos of fluffy kittens and whalesong. As a plus-side (I can think of two), the drive was easy to open, and the OS was Linux based, so the data was easily rescued.

It’s not the end of my NAS drive experience though. I enjoyed it while it lasted, and I’m feeling the need to spend some money on something bigger and better…

Amiganuts…

Cor, (almost) three posts in three days. I must be spoiling you! OK, so the last two weren’t of particular interest to anyone other than those that has a failed NAS drive, but they still count.

I’m happy to report that this one won’t be of interest to anyone either. Sorry about that.

I’ve spent the last few hours on this dreary Sunday morning, by listening to music. Nothing special there, I admit. This is, however, Amiga music. I’ve spent the last few hours going through some of my old favourite Amiga MODs. Now, for those of you who don’t know what a MOD is, or think it’s something you put on an in-game weapon, it’s short for music module, and it was an extremely popular way of making music via computer, using something called a tracker. My writer’s block is creeping up on me already, and I currently can’t describe what a tracker is (except for a delicious cereal bar), but if you ever played a game on an Amiga, Atari ST, and certainly some of the consoles, you can bet it was composed on a tracker. I’ll let Wikipedia tell you if you want to know any more.

I must admit, I’m not much of a musician. I couldn’t carry a note in a bucket, yet still, I spent most of my last school years playing about with OctaMED, ProTracker and various others, knocking out daft little tunes. This was before the days of the internet, and certainly before mass storage was available, therefore, most of my MODs were only heard by a few people. I’d often give Amiga formatted disks to friends with them on, and then think no more of them. Surely, I’d *always* have a copy, and will *always* be able to listen to them. No. Pretty much all of my Amiga data disks have been destroyed. I have a couple of game disks hanging around, but almost any work I’d done on the Amiga is long gone.

A few weeks ago, I discovered I’d actually lost all contact with Wayne, the old school friend who I mentioned a few times on here a few years ago. My only contact with him was through email, and even then, I’d not heard from him for a couple of years. Thanks to the Virgin/NTL email fuckup, I dropped him an email to see if he’d been affected. Turns out he had, and his email address is no longer valid. I know I’d sent him a LOAD of my stuff back in the day. Gutted, I turned to Facebook, to see if any of my other school mates may have had a copy. It drew a blank

Sadly, yet amazingly, the only one I can think of that survives, is one of the very first I ever did, and one of the ones I’m most ashamed of. I never gave it a proper name, but it is heavily based on “mod.fairlight” – if you were lucky enough to get the Amiga Format version of OctaMED on the coverdisk, you’ll recognise this as the demo track that came with it. Before the internet, I had to bastardize what little music I had, in order to learn the program. I was lucky enough to have borrowed a sampler from the afore-mentioned Wayne, which allowed me to record samples and fit them to the music. For this particular MOD, the vocal samples were mainly from a radio talk show, hosted by a person with the initials “TD”, and this is all it was ever known to me…. td.mod

Computers have moved on, I have went through dozens of hard drives, yet still, this td.mod, like a bad penny just simply won’t go away. Chris came round, and I played it to him again after at least 16 years of not hearing it. He couldn’t believe I still had it. It created an instant ear-worm, to the point he was quoting “Salted-salted-salted peanuts?” to me, some 7 days later.

It is, with the least bit of pleasure, I bring you, one of the most painful things to hit human ears.. here it is… TD.MOD!

And that wasn’t even my original point of the post. It would appear my brain got sidetracked about the fact that everything I have ever done is complete shite…

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