Category Archives: Computers

A trip down memory lane – the Commodore 64

The first computer we had when I was growing up was a Commodore 64. We had it in the late 80s/early 90s – when it was old but not yet retro cool. It was my introduction to computing and I have fond memories. We had a tape drive, joysticks and the paddle/wheel controllers. Some of our favourite games were Wizard of Wor, Lemans (top down car racing game with the paddles), The Last Ninja and Impossible Mission. A few years later it was relegated to storage as a Window 95 486 PC and a Macintosh IIci took it’s place (we didn’t miss the tape drive and it’s propensity to find errors 30+ minutes into loading a game).

Fast forward a few decades and, thanks to John, I am now the proud owner of a Commodore 64C. John also hooked me up with a modernised power supply, joystick, S-video cable and a 1MB (!) cartridge full of programs. I’m using an S-video to VGA adapter to drive an old 17 inch LCD. Graphics isn’t perfect – I’ll be trying another old LCD soon.

Commodore 64C goodness

Loading up the 1MB cartridge and there is Wizard of Wor!

An instant hit with my youngest two!

There is currently a battle going on to see who can get the highest score…

Apple Newton MessagePad (OMP) Repairs

In an effort to scale back my collection, I have been going through my Apple Newtons. I have 4 OMPs (Original MessagePads) – two are dead completely and two are exhibiting the glitches expected from bad capacitors.

The OMP stash (battery leakage occurred prior to me acquiring them)

After watching the following excellent YouTube video I decided to tackle the recapping myself.

Stay tuned for progress updates!

Pebble Development in 2020

After a fair amount of trial and error I now have the Pebble SDK working on my Mac (macOS 10.15.4 Catalina). I was working from the guide here. I can now create, build and deploy programs and watch faces to my Pebble watch.

Firstly I had problems with the virtualenv command:

cd ~/pebble-dev/pebble-sdk-4.3-mac
virtualenv --no-site-packages .env
source .env/bin/activate
CFLAGS="" pip install -r requirements.txt
deactivate

It turns out the –no-site-packages flag is not required and should be omitted (see here for details).

I then had issues with no SDK being installed (and the scripts trying in vain to locate the SDK on the Internet). After trying:

pebble new-project testing

I was greeted with:

No SDK installed; installing the latest one...

Consulting Google yielded:

The key part of the reddit post is path to the SDK. I used the following to successfully install the SDK:

pebble sdk install https://github.com/aveao/PebbleArchive/raw/master/SDKCores/sdk-core-4.3.tar.bz2

The last fix was disabling the analytics tracking by creating a NO_TRACKING file in the SDK directory.

iPad Keyboards

After using the Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard with my 6th Generation iPad for a while (as mentioned in my previous post), I spotted a second-hand Brydge keyboard online for $50. This was a great deal, worked well and cemented my love of Brydge keyboards.

Fast forward a few months and Brydge have the Brydge 9.7 on sale for $99, another great deal I quickly snapped up. This seems to be a later version (Model BRY1012) to the second-hand one I was using (Model BRY1001A) – it has extra keys on the trip right hand corner (Battery/Bluetooth/Power) which are a great addition to an already fantastic design.

I even typed this blog post up using it 🙂

TempMonHTTP

For a while I’ve been tinkering around with a simple project – an Arduino-based temperature (and humidity) monitor that outputs a webpage on my home LAN. The Arduino I used was the Freetronics EtherTen, a quality product.

Screenshot of the TempMonHTTP webpage. Yes, it gets hot in my walk in robe where the home LAN switch is…

Check out the code at https://github.com/gjhmac/TempMonHTTP.

Ahead of their time…

One of my tasks as an undergraduate in the engineering firm I was working at was to look after the website. Back then knowing a little HTML and how to use FTP wasn’t as common as it is now.

The web hosting company we used provided quite detailed logs for all of our virtual visitors. By looking at the IP addresses in the logs it was possible to speculate (the key word here being speculate) which company the visitor worked at.

Our sales and marketing guy caught wind of these logs and suggested we send emails to the companies we suspected had had one of their employees visit our site asking if we could be of any assistance or if they required any further information.

I explained that a) we didn’t 100% know that they had visited and b) this raised all sorts of privacy issues. Plus to me this sort of practice was creepy and not how the Internet was supposed to work.

How naive was I?