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The truly worst Apple Product ever!

If you Googling for it it seems everybody (and his/her dog) has at least posted one top-10 listing of the worst Apple product ever (and ever-ever).

Same-Same

All those pages seem to “inspire” themselves from each other. So it’s essentially always the same suspects:

  • Apple III
  • Macintosh TV
  • Quicktake Camera
  • The Newton PDA
  • The Pippin Games-console
  • The Performa x200 family
  • The 20th Aniversary Mac
  • The first USB Mouse (aka Hockey Puck) as well as the Mighty Mouse
  • The G4 Cube and
  • the flimsy iPod Shuffle.

I’m ignoring those lists of people who learned about Apple as a company more or less with the launch of the iPhone. Pfffft, kids, come back in 20 years, will you?  😛

So before I tell you the truly worst Apple product ever (ever-ever-ever!) let me give you my two or three cents to that list…

Reality Check

First of all: All those products had a certain degree of design-language and an eye for details – I dare saying passion to them.

Even the Apple III was -at its time- a design statement (look at other computers of 1980: Commodore PET, TRS-80, ZX81 ot the KAYPROs). It was meant to be a better Apple II and yes, it had technical flaws, but if something made it “worse”, it was its price-tag.
I’d call the design of the 20th Anniversary Mac or the Hockey Puck  bold – maybe too bold for its time. And both, as well as the G4 Cube and the Newton (110 and up) were designs by Jony Ive – the much hyped designer who also did the iPhone, iMac and nearly everything since, well,  the iMac.
Some of them were more or less pioneers of their kind like the Newton being the first usable PDA and the Quicktake one of the first digital cameras (Put both put into one device, add 10 years: iPhone!)

So let’s recap:

They all might be commercial flops but they had a raison d’etre, followed a certain design concept and most important, you can feel a certain level of passion behind it. Maybe they were too expensive, released too early or just way ahead of its time – but in my humble opinion they were not the worst Apple products ever.
And do I have to add that mostly every product on that list is a highly sought-after collectors item now?

The truly worst Apple product ever

So finally, this is it. This Apple product is very unknown – probably rightly so. It ignores all the points I was recapping above:

  • No reason d’etre
  • No design philosophy or concept
  • And absolutely no passion at all!

Its only intention was to save costs… yeah, that can be reason for being, but in this case “it’s worse”.

Please let me introduce you to “M9103” also known as the “Apple Basic Color Monitor“.

It’s a product from the beginning of an era in which Apple was close to bankruptcy. Struggling against the much cheaper x86 PC the Macintosh product family got confusing and they tried to somehow compete with PC prices spitting out one low-cost system after another.
The rightfully hated Performa x200 (the #1 “road apple”) and PowerMac 4400 were the pinnacle of all cost-reduced products Apple released… and the M9103 is where it all started.

To protect you from severe shock I slowly move backwards, beginning with the label on its back, proving it’s a genuine Apple product:

Let’s take some distance to see it’s backside in full – still, there could be hope if they would have kept the more or less rectangular shape… but bottom of the case is not looking promising.

At the front you’ll spot the proof of absolute zero passion. The Apple logo somewhat slapped into the space which the OEM left there:

Yes, it’s a bog-standard,  VGA monitor, lowly specs and ugly as hell.

The photos don’t do it justice – it’s even uglier in real-life.

They even did not change the cable to the (back then) Apple 15-pin standard video port but just stuck an adapter to it:

No wonder it was so short-lived (February 10 to October 21, 1993)

Just to show that Apple was definitely to do better. The first monitors sat more or less flush on the computer cases. Even those with a swivel-base showed the typical design language, an embossed/color Apple logo etc.

My PC builds

In Jan 2020 was planning to build a new PC, after using its predecessor for 8 years, now that I’m done, I thought “hey, how PC builds have I done this already?” – Well let’s count while having a stroll through history lane:
[Yes, I’m a ‘real man’ thus I never owned an off-the-shelf PeeCee]

1988 – The entry

My first x86 computer, built from parts I got in exchange for working at a local computer shop – Even I was totally happy with my Atari ST, I was intrigued by the many ways of hard- and software hacking possible… and of course by its quirkiness, i.e x86, strange offset/segmented memory access etc.
It was much worse than my Atari in every aspect except having a hard-drive which would have cost me as much as the complete XT System:

  • CPU: NEC V20, 8MHz (overclocked to 10MHz after some weeks)
  • Mainboard: No-Name 8088, fully populated with 640KB and 5 ISA slots
  • Video: No-Name Hercules compatible (to an amber 12″ screen)
  • Media: Seagate ST-225, glorious 20MB, MFM controller and a 360KB 5.25″ Floppy drive

It was fun hacking my way through Turbo-C/ASM, TSRs and such but even overclocked it was a sloth…

1990- Affordable 32bit! And an option of UNIX…

About quitting my job at the computer store I traded my XT for a bare 80386 system on my way out. Bare because I had no money left for a case… and also because having a ‘proper SCSI’ solution was more important to me after seeing Interactive UNIX running at a friends system and I planned to have that too, some fine day… so this “PC” was running lying naked on my desk. It consisted of

  • CPU: AMD 80386, 33MHz
  • Mainboard: No-Name 386, populated with 4MB and five 16-bit ISA slots
  • Video: No-Name Trident 8900, 512K (IIRC)
  • Media: A 5.25″, full-hight 170MB SCSI monster (I think it was Micropolis and already considered vintage – but cheap!) attached to a fancy (and very much loved) Adaptec 1542b – and a 1.4MB 3.5″ floppy of course.

It turned out that there was no way to get a proper UNIX for cheap – and it wasn’t planned to pursue this path any further…
(During these days in my view still Apple and Acorn were the things to come – it shows how wrong you can be)

1992 – Linux happened

Early 1992 I got wind of this Finnish guy and his ‘tuned MINIX’ – digging into the news further I was on fire, got myself a ~40 Floppy Distro (A Slackware clone from ‘Linux Support Team Erlangen’) and immediately understood, that a 386 and 4MB isn’t much if you want X11, too.

So I swapped my x86 again and got myself a 80486/33 which I originally bought as office workhorse for my first own company (which did not work out so well). Having doubled the RAM this also brought a speedy ET4000 with a whopping 1MB video-RAM making X11 possible.

  • CPU: Intel 80486, 33MHz
  • Mainboard: No-Name 486, populated with 8MB and five 16-bit ISA slots
  • Video: ET4000, 1MB
  • Media: Replaced the lame AT-BUS by my SCSI rig from above.

1994 – Going serious

Finally I was in UNIX heaven… and using a UNIX system (Linux in this case) you never have a sufficiently fast system. It became clear that my 33MHz 486 hit its limits and even my dear AHA1542B felt slow looking at this brand new PCI-Bus everybody was going crazy about. So I skipped EISA and looked for the best solution.
Attending the release show [German] of the brand new Intel Pentium at Cebit ’93 it became clear that I’ll ignore that an go for an Am5x86 and the best board you can get: The ASUS PCI/I-486SP3G

  • CPU: AMD 5×86, 133MHz
  • Mainboard: Asus 468SP3G with 16MB, four 16-bit ISA and 3 PCI slots
  • Video:ET4000  (replaced in 1995 by an S3 Trio64, 2MB)
  • Media: Onboard NCR53c810 SCSI driving a 3.5″ 200MB HD and 2x CD-ROM

1996 – Bad Ass mode

Compiling kernels and stuff like that squeezed the last inch of performance out of my trusty 5×86 (now running at 160MHz) it had to be something faster again… Having some cash at hand I decided to go “32bit and no way  back” and opted for the cool & huge Pentium PRO @ 200MHz which I got for a very good price (used, from an integrator evaluation site) before I even had a board for it.
After some research it had to be the bad-ass Tyan S1662D mainboard, featuring a 2nd socket to go dual CPU – how crazy it that!? A year later, that socket got populated and besides my Linux power-house (make -j2!) this box also rendered Cinema-4D movies like a maniac (I even was beta-tester for Maxxon).

  • CPU: 2x Intel Pentium Pro/200
  • Mainboard: Tyan S1662D with 32MB, tree 16-bit ISA and 5 PCI slots. Stuffed to 256MB later.
  • Video: S3 ViRGE/VX 2MB, replaced by later by a very much loved Nvidia Riva 128/4MB
  • Media: Symbios Logic 53C875 PCI SCSI controller driving a 3.5″ 500MB HD and 2x CD-ROM

1999 – Last x86 update for a long time

Finishing my studies I mainly used my beloved PowerMac 6100 for creative work, while my ‘Pro’ was Linux and render-box only.
I started a day-job in IT earning real money and had the chance of hosting my server – so the PPro became my first physical server hosting this very page (and others). So I need to get into PC builds gain – even I can’t remember a real reason for this 😉
Intels Pentium-II easily outperformed my two PPros already and AMD did not convince me with their product line, so it became an PII @ 333MHz and an Asus P2B-F board which ran solid as a rock… but when my iMac G4 with OS X moved in, I got the perfect UNIX/BSD system I ever wanted and this little PCs fate was clear… it replaced the PPro Webserver. The PC-at-home time ended…

  • CPU: Intel Pentium II 333MHz
  • Mainboard: Asus P2B-F with 512MB, tree 16-bit ISA and 5 PCI slots
  • Video: AGP Riva TNT
  • Media: ATA became cheaper and faster than affordable SCSI. So this was the end of an era.

The Orphan

In 2012 I inherited my work PC when they closed office and I was pink slipped. Well, if it’s free… and a nice system it was: The Intel i7 2600K is still considered a decent CPU and was an animal back then. The Gigabyte z68x-ud3 mainboard neither is a bad choice (if you don’t need the beta UEFI BIOS) and this box made a strong gaming box with some casual VM and Hackintosh experiments… but beyond that, Macs-only it was from 2000 up to now.

  • CPU: Intel i7 2600K
  • Mainboard: Gigabyte z68x-ud3 with 16GB, still two classic PCI slots and some PCIe.
  • Video: Some AMD 6950 I think…
  • Media: SATA SSD and HD

One box to rule them all

Because my MacPro 3,1 (early2008) finally reached its limits – even rigged and modded to run Mojave (Incl. Metal graphics) just fine. Compared to its size and power consumption the performance doesn’t justify running it for longer. The i7 PC sitting next to it started to annoy me with its beta UEFI BIOS and it clearly started showing its age.
So this brought me to the decision to modernize while consolidating. Still owning a legal licence of MacOS (and some more Macs in the household) I will build a single machine, hosting MacOS and Windoze 10 using all the latest shebang – and going back to where my x86 heart is (if there’s something like that ;-)): AMD.
AMD is back. Big time. The Zen architecture really brought them back into the race and they caught Intel cold.
This means my one-an-only (recent, not vintage ;)) system will something along these lines:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3600
  • Mainboard: Asrock b450 pro4 with 16GB, no classic PCI slots and about 4 PCIe with different lanes.
  • Video: AMD R9 280…
  • Media: M.2 SSD and still some HD for the archives.

Conclusion… for now.

Phew, this all came a long way. 31 years of building x86 PCs… and how things changed (as they did with my SPARC comparison):

Let’s compare the first and last CPU of the above list

Spec NEC V20 Ryzen 3600 factor
Max stock MHz 8 4200 33600
External Bus-width 8 64 8
Max addressable RAM in MB 1 32000 32000
Pins 40 1331 33.2
Manufacturing process 1200nm (less than half of Intels 8088) 7nm 171.42
Transistors 63.000 (double of an i8088) 9.900.000.000 (sum of chiplets and IOD) 157142.8
Cache 0 35.3 MB (all levels)
(more Cache than a 286 could even address)
Opcodes 154 About 1013 (incl. everything from MMX, SSEx to SGX/VMX/SMX) 6.5

That’s quite impressive, isn’t it? I’m still blown away by the number of instructions… ~1013! Holy Bat-Opcode! IIRC the 6502/10 had 56… and still isn’t considered pure RISC.

Atari, my love.

This blog post is due to the fact I was just reanimating my Atari 2080ST, which triggered lots of memories I urgently needed to write down… so here we go:
Yes, the 1st proper (i.e. not soldered) computer I owned was a C64… I loved it, really. I loved it for 3 years… and seriously dreamt about getting an C128D – until I’ve read the fist reports about that Atari 260ST.

I was hooked just by the specs on paper. For me it looked like a Macintosh but with a realistic chance to own one some fine day.
Actually there was a day in the beginning of 1985 when I sat with Heinrich-Hermann Huth, (one of the founders of later Application System Heidelberg, ASH for short) discussing what’s the best upcoming computer. He was 100% Commodore 128… until I started my Atari ST anthem.
Around June or July, he invited me to his parents house to “show me something exciting”. There it was, one of the first STs in Germany, serial number 6, directly picked-up at Frankfurt airport. TOS came on an awesome 3.5″ floppy, the included Basic was slow as hell and the the Digital Research SDK left me puzzled. C? Compiler? Linker?
It became clear that I have to learn a lot to be worthy for such a serious system.
Looking back I wonder if ASH would ever been founded without my evangelism 😉

So in early 1986 it was my turn: My Confirmation. This is a big deal over here and the most “profitable” observance. While the standard wish of kids in these days were big stereos, mine was clear.
Thanks to perfect timing, the 520ST just became 520ST+ and now had a whopping megabyte… it was heaven.

The glory of the 80s… bad jumpers and paper 3D-glasses.The right half shows the C64 moved into a far corner before it was sold to buy a 2nd floppy for my ST.

Just about that time, Application Systems Heidelberg was founded… in the child’s room of Heinrich-Herrmann, who somehow managed to get the exclusive distribution rights of Megamax C for Germany.
This proved to be a lucky pick, because the ST was taking the German market by storm and there was no good SDK available. So magazine ads were needed and I was the only one who had a design talent. This was my first design made with my brand new 520+:

The company logo was cut out and glued onto the b/w print which came out of a 9-needle-printer.

Mind the small pencil in the lower left corner. In German, that’s a “Stift”, which is also slang for “apprentice” – which was me 😆
There’s even an article about this ad in the german ST-Computer magazine over here (pg. 7/8).  Quote:

Doch selbst der Software­Gigant aus Heidelberg fing klein an: Auf einer Viertelseite bewarb die Firma in der Ausgabe 07­08/1986 das Megamax C­ Entwicklungssystem, gestaltet wurde die Anzeige mit der Systemschrift und den Füllmustern des STs.

Which translates into “Even the software giant from Heidelberg started out small: In issue 07-08/1986 the company advertised the Megamax-C SDK  on a quarter-page, designed using system fonts and the fill-patterns of the ST“.
Yeah, that’s all true. And “The Stift” was payed for this and other ads by being allowed to keep the glorious Citizen MSP-20 9-needle printer.

In the following years I spend my time mostly in 3 places: In school because I had to, at home in front of my Atari ST or in the ASH office because it was just so cool. During these days I did many thing for them:

  • Packed so many, many, many Megamax, Signum! and STAD boxes, labeled 100s of floppy-disks (was payed in M&M currency)
  • Some levels for Oxyd, Bolo and Esprit.
  • Some Signum! Fonts (forgot which ones, but they were in the 1st 251-Fonts book)
  • Phoenix Ornitho Database (containing samples of each bird singing)
  • The cartoon on the last page of their in-house magazine. Was quite a fancy oversized, glossy thing.
  • Probably 10 other things I forgot…

Icons and Infobox for Script v1

…and Scarabus.

Boy – this was definitely one of the top-5 times of my life. Thanks for this H3, Volker, Ojo (always in my heart), Karen (my heart ;)), Oili, Thomas and all the other great guys’n’gals from back then! Love y’all!

Fight obsolescence!

There’s the saying that “The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot” and looking at my workhorse desktop computers, i.e. those I use for surfing the web, writing stuff and every other creative task, this is very true in my case.

Namely there’s a PC I’ve assembled back in 2011 and an ‘early 2008’ MacPro (= 3,1). And for both I’ve decided to use them to the bitter end… just to fight against the planned obsolescence which comes with ‘innovation’.

The dark side of the force

I assembled the PC back in 2011 while working at my ex-company from which I bought it a year later. I have to congratulate myself how wisely I picked the parts for it… even 8 years later, that box is still pretty capable: The Intel i7 2600k (still benchmarked to recent cpus) was very good choice and its 16GB were insane back then and are still appropriate today.
Looking good in a MacPro-a-like case, strongly steaming along on Windows 10 and Linux, it just had its first moment showing its age: An Nvidia GTX 680 could not be detected, no matter what. Even taking the brave step flashing the last UEFI BIOS could not help.

Cheese-Grinder on wheels… and a floppy.

The even darker side…

A new graphics card? Why that? Are you a gamer, Axel?
Well, as we all know, MacOS is free… but it’s tied to hardware which isn’t. And to make you upgrade your old hardware (read: make $$$), Apple has pretty short ‘support tail’. 
So that GTX 680 was meant for my beloved MacPro. A MacPro from 2008 and officially not supported since OS X 10.11.x (aka El Captain). This means no Sierra or any other recent desert-codenamed OS. Well, not if you’re not patching it 😉
While this was relatively easy with Sierra and High Sierra, Mojave is a different thing, requiring a Metal compatible GPU… which my 8800GT was not. Actually it was already slowing down the whole thing (e.g. no WebGL) and so it was about time to replace it.

The real thing – still one of the best cases ever made.

Here’s an important hint, just in case you haven’t read it elsewhere:
If you plan to upgrade to Mojave, do not use an AMD card! This is because the required AMD drivers use SSE4.2 instructions, the early 2008 MacPro Xeon CPUs do not have. So Nvidia it is… and the GTX 680 is the best choice in my humble opinion:

  • Fast – I mean really, really, really fast (~10x compared to the 8800GT)
  • Cuda – speeding up many creative applications
  • Cheap (~60€/$70)
  • Flashable (i.e. you’ll get an Apple boot-screen)

So I got myself a used ‘680 and thought “Hey, just plug it into the good ol’ PC, boot DOS, flash the beast and off it goes into the mighty Mac”… how wrong I was!

Try’n’error darkness

Plugged into my PC did not even output a signal to the display. Nothing but black… is it broken?
Plugged into the MacPro instantly tripped its safety breaker when powered on… can it really be broken?
Then I read that my PCs ‘legacy BIOS’ could be the reason why – so after 8 years I finally had a reason to enter UEFI-land. No difference. It’s probably because of the Z68 chipset which is just too old.

Back (in)to the MacPro. Maybe the power provided by the two motherboard PCIe connectors is too low? (The power-supply itself provides a whopping 900 Watts!)
So I connected the GTX’ two PCIe power-cables to an external power-supply and… ‘tadaaa’ the Mac greeted me with his boot chime, no boot-screen (yet) and finally the desktop. Woohoo! At least the card is fine.

And there was light!

So I had to ‘mod’ the Pro… there’s this so-called ‘Pixlas Mod‘ which is just a simple power-line bypass, directly splicing into the wires after leaving the power-supply. Having done that I was able to run my GTX in parallel with the 8800GT, using a DOS boot-CD (USB isn’t an option) I could flash the GTX and after a final card swapping my Mac Pro is ready for Mojave! Yay, another one or two more years for my workhorse…

And the moral of this post/rant/story?

Don’t give up your old hardware too quickly – put some love and a bit of money into it and fight the marketing-obsolescence!

 

SPARC – time flies

Recently a good friend of mine gave me a super-duper, crazy-as-hell Oracle SPARC M7 CPU for my CPU collection forcing me into another stroll down the memory lane… and I couldn’t refrain from taking a special “family photo”

SPARC M7 next to SPARC 1 - 29 years appart

Yes, the couple sitting next to the huge M7 is a SPARC (1) from a SPARCstation 1 @ 20MHz, – the CPU was manufactured 1989 by LSI (S1A0007), the FPU came from Weitek (3170).
BTW: I personally pulled both back in 1992, when I worked in my 2nd company selling SPARC clones.

If I counted correctly, the there are 26 model-generations and about 29 years are between them (just SUN/Oracle models). Ignoring all the M7 hyper-modern stuff like in-silicon-SQL accelerators etc. numbers are still breathtaking:
The SPARC M7 -still one of the fastest CPUs around (as of 2016)- has  10.000 times more transistors, a 206 times higher clocking, 31 more “cores”. It’s 64MB L3 cache(!) is the same amount, a SPARCstation could address as a maximum system RAM.
Sadly there’s no way to compare their actual computing power, as benchmarks which where ran on the SPARC 1 aren’t applicable on the M7 and vice versa. Or do you have Dhry/Whetstones for an M7?

Anyhow: It’s just so amazing to be able to witness this crazy development in just 2/3rds of an average-life-time. Don’t you think so, too?

My new MacBook Pro from… Redmond!

F*ck me! I would never-neverever thought that this might happen… but last week was the time I switched to the dark side  😯

Say hello to my new “MacBook Pro”:

Whaaaat? Yeah, I know… but wait a sec before you pull your light-saber.

My Macs are both officially obsolete since macOS Sierra was released. A mighty 2008 Mac Pro as well as my 2010 MacBook Pro. Boy, believe me – did I anxiously wait for the presentation of the new MacBook Pro! That was in 2015… and ’16.. and then the big moment came. And went. I was, mhh, not impressed.
Many Mac users of the “first hour” complained about, well, everything. I have to say, I am a Macintosh user since 1984 – I moaned about the loading times of System 6 on a 128k Mac, I jubilated about the 1MB and SCSI in the “Plus”,  drooled over the IIfx, even admired  the doomed AV’s, ran A/UX, owned the first PowerMac etc.etc.etc… but this time, they just lost me.   😕

Missing ports aside (and I really need USB-A) the main reason for loosing me was the price they slapped onto the 15″ Pro… 2699€ – holy bat-wallet! That’s nearly $2900US$… $400 more than in the US. I was speechless. Angry. Flabbergasted.

So, after squinting into the Surface Book corner for some months already, I gave it a closer look (I quit using Windoze seriously when VIsta popped up) and had to admit that it helped Microsoft having been pushed into 2nd row. They at least got some things right and there’s always a VM with Linux at hand.
So I did it. Found an i5/8GB/256GB for a whopping 1000€ less and must admit: I like it a lot up to now. A speedy, stylish, well designed laptop, a big tablet and it natively runs all the FPGA IDEs, my logic analyser tool from china and Cygwin gives me an instant bash and GNU.

Never thought it would happen…. let’s see how it works out in the long run.

P.S: Apple Mail, I do miss you, though.

Did you drop your Macbook Pro dream, too? Think different? Post a comment!

Updates for Apple OSes… but not what you think.

Yeah, iOS got an Update a couple of days ago… and so will Mac OS,  MacOS X, OS X, macOS in 4 days, making your 2010 Apple device obsolete (perfectly fitting in my last rant blog post). Boring… not the Apple OSes we’re looking for.

No, what I’m talking about is ProDOS just got updated to version 2.4! Yes, THAT ProDOS from  1983 running on Apple IIe computers.
Thanks to internet goddess, you can even play around with it in your browser.

prodos_2_4

But not enough: After 22 years, 2 months, 2 days and 2 hours GS/OS got an update to V 6.0.2, too. That’s the System 6 look-alike OS running on the 8/16 bit Apple IIgs machine. By the way, one of my favorite Apples (also used in some of my projects).

welcometo602

That’s the spirit guys!

Sometime it just works…

Those are rare moments but sometime it happens:
My brother-in-law gave me a very simple schematic drawing (a ppt file 🙄 ) asking if i could “turn that into reality”. It should be a Arduino shield to measure vibrations created by passing trains (in German that’s a “Zug Erschütterungs Detektor”).

Well, out went trusty Eagle CAD and some interpretation fun began. Some components were described as “resistor 1-10k” others had unknown dimensions like “pushbutton bought at eBay”.
After sending some photographs back and forth I was pretty clear that everything makes sense… and after some optimizing  the shield had plenty of space left. So in went a nice breadboard section with the option of placing a RTC there as well.

Then the DirtyPCB drill started again – and after 2.5 weeks the PCBs arrived and bro’-in-law happily started to assemble the “ZED 1.0”.
What should I say? It just worked. Immediately…  wow. That should happen more often, or like Hannibal says “I love it when a plan comes together”  😉

ZED1_0

Obsolete through progress

Well, we all know that especially software isn’t created for eternity. Sometimes even not for years. But sometimes dying software also means the end for your not-so-old device…

For me this became truth in 2013 when my trusty Chumby alarm clock became a very simple clock after the company ran out of money – thanks to its open design, the community was able to revive it (a bit).

But sometimes you just end up with a brick – or at least with just 25% of the functionality you had before:

  • In this recent letter from Revolv, they announce the end of their connected home solutions due to the change of ownership (first Nest, then Google)
  • Philips TVs (when sold to Gibson) stopped their SmartTV support for many TV products since 2010
  • Samsung and other TV manufacturers do not support/update the Skype app anymore, rendering a built-in camera to a NSA-only device
  • Some more key-words your devices might have been built for using them:
    last.fm, podcasts, Second Life, MySpace or even Altavista (All things you might have thought they last for 10+ years)
  • … not mentioning web browsers which are useless because of missing support for CSS, JS, HTML4+ etc.

So even before planned obsolescence of your hardware strikes, you might loose functionality by a decaying piece of software.

Do you own a piece of hardware with software-orphans in it, too?

Loosing my instincts

Damn, am I angry about myself of what!?

I spent nearly a week fiddling around with my new “DOS/Windoze retro workhorse” (a newer version of the Compaq Deskpro 2000). Setting up/moving DOS was a piece of cake and so I went on to install NT 4.0 which is the most recent (sic!) version of Windows supported by INMOS tools as well as it’s the favorite weapon of choice of Michael of transputer.net, so it’s wise to have it handy if you like to play around with his latest creations.

I stopped counting how many times I installed NT in different versions, languages and service packs. It constantly crashed, BSODs mostly hinting towards filesystem errors. So I swapped the drive – 3 times. Each time formatting, creating partitions for DOS etc…
Just today, in total desperation I tried Win XP and finally I got an error message which rang a very silent bell in the back of my head: “PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA” – this steered me away from possibly faulty drives and filesystems… towards RAM.

Blindly following my rule not to leave any socket empty, I stuffed that little machine to the brim. Replacing the ‘bad apple’ fixed it all. NT4SP6 is running like a charm – happy dance. Fine.
What really nags me about that is that I would have suspected RAM issues much earlier some years ago – it was a reflex, an instinct back then. MemTest86 was a trustworthy companion all days.

Are you loosing nerd-instincts too while piling new knowledge on old skills?