Blown away by the delights of saving to 5 ¼ inch floppy disks (sometimes to both sides)
I remember being staggered at how fast they were to load things having got used to loading from tape.
We need a proper grey beard icon -->
Monday has arrived once more, and with it a Model B Who, Me? as Acorn's finest takes centre stage. Our tale comes from "Drew" and is a blast from the UK of the 1980s, replete with Margaret Thatcher, Youth Training Schemes (YTS) and Acorn's (then) finest: the BBC Micro Model B. Young Drew was a tad sniffy when it came to the …
He's not talking about it being slow...
The VMUs (Visual memory units (aka memory cards)) are pretty much mini gameboys - they have a screen, D-PAD, A, B, start buttons and though not used much could be used to play games.
This meant they needed their own battery, which was a cell battery, like you might find in a clock.
When the battery has run down, starting up the Dreamcast provides power to the memory card and it beeps loudly as it turns on.
As almost no-one played any of the very few little games, no-one bothered replacing the batteries. So all Dreamcasts make a loud beep when turning on.
Especially mine, which has three of them :-P
I did care to replace the batteries .. once. Then just used generic memory cards. I even have an original Dreamcast memory card with the plastic warper still on, so it is in mint condition save the fact the battery most likely needs replacement.
The Dreamcast memory cards were too expensive, is one of the reasons the console didn't go well.
£40 iirc, which was also the same price as the controllers - I remember saving up for a long time to be able to afford one, so remember the price well.
That would be £70 now...
Wow. I didn't realise inflation had had that much of an effect.
Unlike the PS/PS2 memory cards though, I never managed to fill one. I have multiple due to getting them later on with additional controllers.
I literally had a stack of PS memory cards. They may have been cheaper individually, but they probably added up to be equivalent, and more annoying.
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Try running some games that are not Y2K proof on dosbox, like old versions of Math Blaster, is kind of hilarious.
The two I really want to work, Classic Tetris and a weird French game "popcorn", which my daughter LOVED, don't run right. popcorn was tied too closely to the processor clock, so runs blindingly fast no matter what I try, and Tetris doesn't think it has a speaker so you don't get that lovely 8-bit Russian folk song accompaniment.
Maybe something has changed, so I should try them again.
Ahhh..."popcorn" was written in assembler. That explains a lot. But apparently there's a recent rewrite.
I remember those things being quite durable. They sonetimes lasted more without damage than hard disks!
Ah the good bad days of using a 286 computer. MS DOS 2.0 Orange was the new black (Actually orange was the only color you had on your PC screen) and playing the grandfather of snake (the mobile game and no, there was no plane!)
>> Blown away by the delights of saving to 5 ¼ inch floppy disks (sometimes to both sides)
That just reminded me of cutting a write protect hole in the edge of a single-sided disk which made it a double-sided one. Of course there was always the understanding that you were taking a risk as "the manufacturer's didn't QC the 'unused' side on single-sided disks", or "they used double-sided disks where one side had failed QC". I'm not sure how true that actually was though, I don't remember ever having a problem with any of the B-sides.
I did that once in Computer Science at school. My scissor work was below par, however and when I tried to extract the floppy, it got caught on the write protect switch - leading to a proper telling off from the poor teacher who had to get his screwdriver out to take the drive apart. Happy days!
Blown away by the delights of saving to 5 ¼ inch floppy disks (sometimes to both sides)
So help me out here, have trouble recalling (who said something about beards?)
Was it just the 3.5" disks that you could use on both sides when you drilled an extra hole in it, or did that also work for the 5¼? I think I do remember going at 5¼ with a hole puncher, but not sure whether that was constructive or just youthful vandalism...
Blank 5.25" had a cut out ready in hem (regardless of the 'size') and a pack of little silver tabs to cover he whole when you wanted to write protect it.
The 3.5" had a sliding plastic clip which covered a hole or not (as I recollect covered meant you could write it, removing the plastic slider was supposed to make it permanently read only), again I dont recollect this read only hole having anything at all to do with capacity switching
Blank 5.25" had a cut out ready in hem (regardless of the 'size') and a pack of little silver tabs to cover he whole when you wanted to write protect it.
"Disk notcher"s were a device you used on the 51/4 to cut a hole in the side of the smaller value disks so they'd act as a larger one. The original single-sided disks had this hole so they'd not work in the drive upside-down but it was believed the 'platter' had the same surface on both sides, so 'notching' it and turning it upside down meant both sides could be used.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floppy_disk#8-inch_and_%E2%80%8B5_1%E2%81%844-inch_disks - note the text "Punch devices were sold to convert read-only disks to writable ones and enable writing on the unused side of single sided disks"
And a spewboob vid I haven't watched :
I was fortunate enough to have played on 'proper' computers before net send came along. Running decayscreen or similar on other workstations meant that by the time net send arrived we were all under orders not to do that shit. So we didnt much - mainly because death could ensue.
Some drives supported loading the tray as well, so you could just run an "uneject" in a constant loop.
Open tray, put CD... zzzwwkdk damn
Open tray, put CD... zzzwwkdk dammit!
opentrayputcdin... zzzzww DAMN YOU! wwkdk
Open tray. ... zzzwwkdk
Open tray ... zzzwwkdk
ps auxw | grep eject
Whilst at Uni, someone discovered Net Send and started sending messages to random machine names (as each of the rooms had a naming theme, it wasn't difficulty, IIRC the room I was in had each machine names as an Element). Anyway, he sent some dumb message to the machine I was on. I politely replied, asking him to kindly refrain from messaging people in general, and my elf in particular. He decided to refuse, and started repeatedly sending my computer messages. After ignoring another request to refrain, I knocked together a quick loop script which sent him 20k messages. Each of which required clicking through, and would steal focus.
He didn't net send again. I guess you could say he got the message(s).
I also suffered some sort of that.
CS lab where everyone knew root password of all machines -it was the same- with people discovering the joys of ssh + kill -9.
Some people opted to change root passwords, which was against policy, a rather stupid one by the way. I put 4096 ASCII BEL on /etc/banner
"Macs would load the bell sound file from the floppy disk, every single time, no caching."
Umm. The original Macs only had 128K RAM but would happily go "bong" on startup before anything had loaded from disk. The system beep sound was a sound resource kept on disc. From what I understand of the early Macintosh System Software memory management techniques, they could have kept sound resources in RAM for repeat use. If in practice this did not happen, I'd guess it was due to the woefully small amount of RAM fitted.
I suspect I've still got two floppy disc powered Macs, neither used for a very long time: a 4MB Mac Plus and a Mac 512Ke (1/2 MB).
They both played their system beeps - a sound resource which is loaded from disc - without delay most of the time.
The write command and wall were abused horrendously in our labs as a student. Some of us sensibly set mesg to n, but even so, some of the abusers didn't get tire of this. cat core|write idiot was a suitable warning, as well as cat /dev/urandom | write idiot would tend to lock their session.
At the uni where I work, we had to disable Net send. it always was a pain (every year a new group of students would discover Net Send, send messages to all and sundry. Most messages were fairly harmless, ranging from "Hello" to mild insults. Then one student started picking on random female students and sending them sexual messages. We dealt with him harshly , and blocked Net send from then on.
On the original Dartmouth time sharing system we implemented a "DIAL" command that allowed TTY to TTY communications. We discovered than no useful work could be done because someone would always "DIAL" you when you were typing in a program intercepting all typing until you pressed "ESC" (or "ALT-MODE"). So we disabled the command - it was a neat piece of code though.
I did once use the command from the master TTY to talk with coeds etc. before a big Dartmouth game (about 1965). Someone asked, "What will be the score of the game?" I quickly typed in some score which turned out to be correct. After the game there was a heated argument in the TTY user room with some claiming the computer could predict the score of football games in advance.
Were in a classroom for a monthly meeting, lights turned down for a PowerPoint presentation. Saw a friend falling asleep, did a net send saying "Wake Up" as a joke.
Every PC in the room dinged, everyone snapped awake and looked around guiltily.
Oh God, I'd sent it to everyone in the room! Then panic: I'd sent it to everyone in the company!
Thank God there were only classrooms on the router, and ours was the only one in use.
I happened to go to a school and a college that were in the pilot for the Computers for Schools project in the early 80's. This meant that I had access to a computer room with a dozen BBCs at a time when most schools only had a single machine.
In fact, I was the programming part of (one of) the teams my school put forward for the launch event by the Conservatives of the Computers for Schools project. We went to the local college (along with other local schools) and set up our demos so that Maggie T could come down and view them all. That evening I found out that a picture of me demonstrating our lift, controlled by a BBC Micro, to the Iron Lady was used by the local newspaper when they ran an article about the visit.
I later went to the same college, and became 'intimate' with their collection of BBC Micros. Ours were running ENet rather than EcoNet, which meant that they had a central (BBC Micro) server for the admin rather than allowing the 'admin' software to be run from any of the machines.
We developed a password grabber, cracked the file storage system on the MASSIVE 20MB hard drive, and finished by obtaining a complete list of all user passwords!
Ah, the joys of youth!
> I later went to the same college, and became 'intimate' with their collection of BBC Micros. Ours were running ENet rather than EcoNet, [...]
One of my schools had (IIRC) one or two EcoNet machine in various places, and I noticed one of my friends making a point of leaping onto the computer after the admin. It turned out he'd been disassembling the residual traces of system commands and had built up a library of rather interesting code routines :)
Damn, I went to an ITeC too, all the way down in Cornwall.
We did our initial training on Sanyo MBC 555s, running MS-DOS 2.1.
There were a handful of IBM XTs (with fantastic Cherry keyboards)
I still remember when we got our first 286, with the turbo button! IIRC it ran at 12Mhz!
We also got used to using Wordstar, with the trainers telling us that if we could learn to use that, we could use anything.
Thing is, after having used it for a while, I got used to it and preferred it to anything else.
Anyway, we had a great time, learning ms-dos inside and out, programming in PASCAL, and it set me up for a life in IT. Thanks for the memory.
re wordstar - before mice came along istr many apps had very powerful command line interfaces that were, due to the programs being written either by or very closely with the users, would be incredibly ergonomic and usable one you got into them. And as for Cherry - I could do with a DEV VT100 which IIRC were ergonomic too and in combination with the sensible programming of keys and keystrokes resulted in workflows that could only be repeated today if you were to look like someone off that bloody christmas jumper add.
Ahhh, wordstar... this reminded me of the Dosfish. (I don't know who the original author was, but thanks to whoever wrote it...)
Long ago, in the days when all disks flopped in the breeze and the
writing of words was on a star, the Blue Giant dug for the people the
Pea Sea. But he needed a creature who could sail the waters, and would
need for support but few rams.
So the Gateskeeper, who was said to be both micro and soft, fashioned a
Dosfish, who was small and spry, and could swim the narrow sixteen-bit
channel. But the Dosfish was not bright, and could be taught but few
tricks. His alphabet had no A's, B's, or Q's, but a mere 640 K's, and
the size of his file cabinet was limited by his own fat.
At first the people loved the Dosfish, for he was the only one who
could swim the Pea Sea. But the people soon grew tired of commanding
his line, and complained that he could neither be dragged or dropped.
"Forsooth," they cried, "the Dosfish can do only one job at a time, and
of names he knows only eight and three." And many of them left the Pea
Sea for good, and went off in search of the Magic Apple.
Although many went, far more stayed, because admittance to the Pea Sea
was cheap. So the Gateskeeper studied the Magic Apple, and rested awile
in the Parc of the Xer Ox. And he made a Window that could ride on the
Dosfish, and do its thinking for it. But the Window was slow, and it
would break when the Dosfish got confused. So most people contented
themselves with the Dosfish.
Now it came to pass that the Blue Giant came upon the Gateskeeper, and
spoke thus: "Come, let us make of ourselves something greater than the
Dosfish." The Blue Giant seemed like a humbug, so they called the new
creature Oz II.
Now Oz II was smarter than the Dosfish, as most things are. It could
drag and drop, and could keep files without becoming fat. But the
people cared for it not. So the Blue Giant and the Gateskeeper promised
another Oz II, to be called Oz II Too, that could swim fast in the new,
32-bit wide Pea Sea.
Then lo, a strange miracle occurred. Although the Window that rode on
the Dosfish was slow, it was pretty, and the third window was the
prettiest of all. And the people began to like the third window, and to
use it. So the Gateskeeper turned to the Blue Giant and said "Fie on
thee, for I need thee not. Keep thy Oz II Too, and I shall make of my
Window an Entity that will not need the Dosfish, and will swim in the
32-bit Pea Sea."
Years passed, and the workshops of the Gateskeeper and the Blue Giant
were many times overrun by insects. And the people went on using their
Dosfish with a Window; even though the Dosfish would from time to time
become confused and die, it could always be revived with three fingers.
Then there came a day when the Blue Giant let forth his Oz II Too onto
the world. The Oz II Too was indeed mighty, and awesome, and required a
great ram, and the world was changed not a whit. For the people said "It
is indeed great, but we see little application for it." And they were
doubtful, because the Blue Giant had met with the Magic Apple, and
together they were fashioning a Taligent, and the Taligent was made of
objects, and was most pink.
Now the Gateskeeper had grown ambitious, and as he had been ambitious
before he grew, he was now more ambitious still. So he protected his
Window Entity with great security, and made its net work both in serving
and with peers. And the Entity would swim, not in the Pea Sea, but also
in the Oceans of Great Risk. "Yea," the Gateskeeper declared, "though my
Entity will require a greater ram than Oz II Too, it will be more
powerful than a world of Eunuchs.
And so the gateskeeper prepared to unleash his Entity to the world, in
all but two cities. For he promised that a greater Window, a greater
Entity, and even a greater Dosfish would appear one day in Chicago and
Cairo, and it too would be built of objects.
Now the Eunuchs who lived in the Oceans of Great Risk, and who scorned
the Pea Sea, began to look upon their world with fear. For the Pea Sea
had grown and great ships were sailing in it, the Entity was about to
invade their Ocenas, and it was rumored that files would be named in
letters greater than eight. And the Eunuchs looked upon the Pea Sea, and
many of them thought to emigrate.
Within the Oceans of Great Risk were many Sun Worshippers, and they had
wanted to excel, and make their words perfect, and do their jobs as easy
as one-two-three. And what's more, many of them no longer wanted to pay
for the Risk. So the Sun Lord went to the Pea Sea, and got himself
And taking the next step was he of the NextStep, who had given up
building his boxes of black. And he proclaimed loudly that he could
help anyone make wondrous soft wares, then admitted meekly that only
those who know him could use those wares, and he was made of objects,
and required the biggest ram of all.
And the people looked out upon the Pea Sea, and they were sore amazed.
And sore confused. And sore sore. And that is why, to this day, Ozes,
Entities, and Eunuchs battle on the shores of the Pea Sea, but the
people still travel on the simple Dosfish.
Read more: http://www.joketribe.com/96/January/DosFish.html#ixzz66HNm8Nml
Have an upvote for the Sanyo reference - that was our first computer, the 550 IIRC, circa Jan 1986
Came with MSDOS1.25, shortly upgraded to 2.11
School started a "proper" Computer course in 6th form that year, and one of the machines the "exit to DOS" menu option wasn't password protected.... "hey I recognise this" - my teacher just shook his head muttering something about "damn, he knows more than I do and it's only Week 1"
I cut my teeth at the Fylde Coast ITeC. YTS placements on £27 per week didn't seem too bad back then, especially when compared to the alternatives...ie going to sea or going to war!
30 years later and I'm still stuck in the IT game, and thankfully earning more than £27 per week!
Memorable old stuff....
ICL Series 39 Level 45 Mainframe
ICL M30's (8086 CPU's, running at 8MHz!)
Brings back memories of when I was on placement with the Road Research Labs in Berkshire in the mid 1980's. One of my colleagues was developing mapping software on a graphics terminal. When the terminal received text that was prefixed with something like !# it took it to be a command to draw a line or whatever on screen. I had fun sending my "friend" random text messages comprised of such graphics commands or the occasional clear screen.
We had a school network of Beebs running over EcoNet. Basically each machine on the network had a number to identify it.
Being nerds we decided to RTFM to see what it was possible to do over said network. We quickly discovered the *REMOTE command - this allowed you to specify the machine you wanted to control. So just work out which machine your mate was on and then *REMOTE him...usually followed by the "NEW" command (for those that don't remember Beeb BASIC, this would clear the program you were working on...)
So you quickly learned to save often to the 5 1/4 floppy on the "server".
And then we discovered the *PROT command - this would protect you from *REMOTE. However, in someone's infinite wisdom there was also a *UNPROT command that you could run to remotely unprotect another machine. Thus began an arms war of who could type *PROT followed by *UNPROT on their mate's machine, followed quickly by *REMOTE and NEW.
And *then* we discovered that the "F" keys were programmable with macros. Now we could program a single key to carry out our attacks! The poor old teacher was some maths guy who knew less than some of us in the class, so he probably had no idea why we were furiously hammering away and glaring at each other across the room!
Incidentally - the "ESC" key on a Beeb could also be programmed with a macro. And pressing the "ESC" key generated an error code. So it used to be fun on a Saturday to go into the local WH Smiths branch, program something that flashed "hello" or similar whilst beeping. Then set up the ESC key with a macro that included "ON ERROR RUN". So hitting escape would just restart the program. Then you would just type "RUN" and skedaddle.
On the plus side, this sort of thing that my annoying 12 year old self did was a good precursor for a career in ICT!
* represeented an OS or sideways ROM command, not just Econet.
Basically, when the CLI parser saw a line starting with a *, it offered it to each sideways ROM in the system in the order of priority (I think it went from 15 down to 0), and if none of the sideways ROMs claimed the command, the OS checked against itself, and then looked at the currently active filesystem to see whether there was a command that matched in the current directory.
Econet was implemented as just another sideways ROM, and also provided a filesystem type.
Acorn did a really excellent job of designing the BBC Micro operating system, something it started in the System 2 and Atom days, and continued on into Arthur and RiscOS on the Archimedes and RiscPC.
The only real problem with the BBC and Econet is that it was completely impossible to secure the network.
There was the concept of a privileged workstation that had higher capabilities than the rest of the network. It was identified as having a station number of 0 (the station number was set either by soldering links on a location on the keyboard or fitting an 8 switch DIL switch in the same location (we used to call them DIP switches, can't remember why). This was read into a memory location when the BEEB was turned on, but unfortunately, the BEEB having no protected hardware, allowed the station number to be overwritten by whoever was on the system. This gave anybody the capability of becoming station 0.
There was a similar byte that could be overwritten with the current user ID, which identified you to the network, allowing you to masquerade as anybody on the network!
So Econet was good in principal, but unfortunately not so good in practice.
A good description of os commands. But the station number was set by removable links inside a Model B, or in the battery - backed CMOS RAM on the later systems. (The links or switches on the model B keyboard set things like default screen mode, FDC speed, auto boot, etc.) A copy of SetStn in an insecure location was fun if you were using Masters..
I'm confused by the reference in the article to an Apple as fileserver, though. That's not a solution I've ever heard of before.
Hmm. have to go back to my documentation. I don't remember setting links on the system board itself, I'm pretty certain it was on the keyboard for the model B, but you may be right about it not being the normal switch block, but links on the other side of the keyboard. I'm pretty certain you could put another 8 switch block, allowing you to set addresses from 1 to 254. 0 and 255 were special, and the documentation talked about having a special router node, numbered as 255 IIRC, probably a system 3 or 4, allowing multiple Econets to be linked together.
I only set up one network with about two dozen stations, back in the early '80s. My network was mostly model B's with a couple of Master 128s added at a later time, and I believe one of the first Econet Level 3 fileservers (with a very early version of ANFS) sold, with a 10MB hard disk, and another model B acting as a print server. The fileserver was so new, there was no printed documentation on it!
I'd take my BEEB apart if I had it with me, but I'm away from home at the moment.
Bugger. I really ought to either read my posts more carefully before submitting it, or not read them after the editing time has expired.
It was an early version of ADFS that we had, which allowed the support of hierarchical directory structures on a hard disk, not ANFS. It may have also had ANFS, but I think I first saw that on a Master128.
Unfortunately, memory is fading on this time in my life!
" was identified as having a station number of 0"
Wasn't station zero a broadcast address, not a valid station?
Older versions of NETFS had the idea that certain stations (something like 230 to 254?) were always to be considered privileged, so *PROT would not work against them. Thankfully Acorn saw sense and fixed that, but that was of little comfort on a network with older NETFS and a bunch of students that tweaked the links in certain stations to make them nicely powerful.
Don't get me started on the FileStore. It was dead easy to get SYST privs on that. Just take out the floppies, insert one of your own, open the flap, start it up, and then go into maintenance mode and format a disc with you as SYST...
"There was the concept of a privileged workstation that had higher capabilities than the rest of the network. It was identified as having a station number of [s]0[/s] [b]greater than 239[/b]"
Only on early Econet systems (pre 3.36 from memory). It was very quickly removed.
"(the station number was set either by soldering links on a location on the keyboard or fitting an 8 switch DIL switch in the same location ... This was read into a memory location when the BEEB was turned on"
Nope, the low level networking code read the link hardware explictly. The code goes along the lines of:
"we used to call them DIP switches, can't remember why"
That was "dual in-line package". We still call them that, so far as I know ... I can't remember ever hearing them called DIL. But then I can't remember anybody talking about them at all, outside of us old fogies.
>So it used to be fun on a Saturday to go into the local WH Smiths branch, program something that flashed "hello" or similar whilst beeping.
In a similar fashion, I used to go into John Menzies computer department in the 80s and, through a combination of Print LOAD "" and a particular PEEK or POKE that made the screen borders flash yellow and blue like the loading routine, would dupe a gaggle of other kids into standing for 10 minutes waiting in front of the screen for the latest and greatest release to finish loading.
I was fortunate enough to have a modem on my Spectrum with a subscription to Prestel, both of which [modem and subscription] I won in a Blue Peter competition. This was round about the time that Robert Schifreen hacked Prince Philip's Prestel account.
Had a friend who won a weekly instant competition hosted on Prestel. He noted the page number that he'd been congratulated on, went back to that same page every week and voila - another win! Went on 'winning' for weeks until presumably someone noticed as it stopped working.
The only one of his prizes I remember was the 12" of Cameo's "Word Up", which gives you some idea of the quality of his winnings in general.
That brings back memories of the Tandy TRS80 series. Their Model 3 optionally included an EPROM blower. Their ROM was pretty dumb, and it was possible to persuade the EPROM blower to address the RAM. The machine would smoke a bit, emit a loud beep and die - permanently!
A three line basic programme typed in to one of these machines in the local Tandy on a Saturday afternoon would delay for several minutes, giving time to move away, then the machine would die horribly.....
AC, since Radio Shack probably still bear a grudge!
Disk Hex Editor. I'll have the military lasers too, thanks.
I had a 286 with 1mb ram, the 12MHz turbo button, and "IBM" text display and a hercules card. Sadly, the system would only run either in 512/512 or 640/0 configurations and if you didn't have 640 base memory, the memory managers didn't seem to want to look for himem.
Dungeons of Moria ruined my A-level results...
I played it on the Spectrum, and Commander King was a serious Space Bastard.
Most of my cargo was drugs, firearms or slafes. and anyone stupid enough to shoot first got added to the manifest as "Slaves 1t" if they ejected and I had space in the cargo hold. I even used the undocumented key to abort hyperjump and pick fights with the Thargoids in their own back yard (Witch Space) because 50Cr a bug-head and a reduced criminal status usually came in jolly handy.
I also hit a weird bug (and not a Thargoid either) with one of the special missions - the one with the ECM Jammer. Normally, this is one hop to the system next door, the jammer kicks in and you loose off all four of your missiles at the hijacked station to destroy it. I had to make a 50LY journey, scooping fuel as I went and having to fight guns-only because I needed all four missiles for the station. That's no fun when most stars are patrolled by some nutter with with a bad dose of sunstroke telling you you can't have any of "his" fuel.
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Lenslok on the Spectrum version of Elite. My God, it was an exercise in frustration for me to get that game loaded. Lenslok didn't work properly on the family's big TV, so I used to have to drag through my B&W portable just to get past the copy protection then switch over to the big screen. It was worth it though, I had waited a long time for Elite on the Speccy having looked on enviously at the posher kids with their BBCs. To my eternal shame, I played it for about a month before the Christmas when I was actually given it - my folks were never very successful at hiding the presents.
Lenslok on the Spectrum version of Elite. My God, it was an exercise in frustration for me to get that game loaded.
It shows just how far ahead Sir Clive and Spectrum peeps were. A very early version of a USB (or even parallel port) hardware dongle required to be able to use the program/service. Not only that, they even came with the standard level of modern un-reliability and nuisance factor out of the box!
I can't recall if the name was 'elite' or not, some form of jet-fighter game that I kept around even though I could never get it to work on my 21" screen. I still recall being shunted back to a 14" when that TV died and the sudden discovery that my light pen and my lenslock all worked.
(--> Frikken eedjit - had 2 working machines, one with the Saga 1 Emporer keyboard, working microdrive (if they could be called that!) and interface1, various joystick interfaces (at least one with a slot for game cartridges), printer interfaces, a couple of home-built things I can't recall what they did, at least one ADC or DAC (maybe one of each?) And dozens upon dozens of barely used in original packaging cassettes (copied them, copied the copies, and used the copies of the copies to make new copies).. All packed away when I got much better hardware and some years later during a clean out all found a new home at the local tip. )
And here's the original assembler: https://github.com/fesh0r/newkind
Various old/remade/ported versions here.
And the original programmer has heaps of stuff about/for it here, including source code, manual, and even a Text Adventure version:
"Elite" was originally written in 1984 by myself (Ian Bell) and David Braben for the BBC Microcomputer. It has since been converted to many platforms. The best conversions were for the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Acorn Archimedes.
Many moons ago we expanded from working purely on Windows and started using AIX. The setup was a big RS6000 box running everything, with developers accessing it using XWindows from their WinNT boxen.
The trick with XWindows was that you set something for your session on the AIX box to tell it where to display to...IIRC it was a case of setting a specific environment variable to your IP address.
Of course this soon got abused....it was far to easy to Telnet onto the box, set the XWindows output to a victim's PC and then doing something like running the command loads of times to fill their screen with graphical clocks.
This could be prevented with the correct use of xhost to close down access to the X server, and if you had a shared filesystem could also be controlled quite easily using Magic Cookies.
And of course, if you are really careful, you use X protocol tunneling in ssh, although there are ways of subvirting even this.
I still use that feature of X Windows, probably its BEST feature, to run X11 programs on headless (and even the SAME) computers.
If you do export DISPLAY=localhost:0.0 and enable TCP and 'xhost +localhost', you can THEN su to whatever user you want, and run X11 applications under a different user context.
SO I can be logged in as 2 or 3 or more users on the same X11 desktop, much more easily than "run as": under windows.
And then there's development on an something like an RPi. Use 'pluma' to edit your code directly on the RPi, and *NOT* have to struggle with a tiny touch screen or separate HDMI-capable display? I do that a LOT, especially with 'headless' RPis.
But I think that this is most useful for web browsers. If you configure Firefox (for a particular user) to automatically purge ALL history, cookies, data, etc. every time you close it, you NOW have a stealthy browser that has NO history that could even POSSIBLY be abused by ANYONE.
And you can run that browser in the security context of a user that doesn't matter. "Oh, that downloaded thingy just wiped out my home directory. Oh, well, so what. *yawn* [rebuild] no problem now"
So yeah, the SINGLE BEST FEATURE of X11 is its inherent remote client/server configuration.
(and Wayland cannot do that, nya nya-nya nya-nyaaaa nyaaaaa)
20 years ago i was doing stuff with windows boxen. 15 years ago I decided that it was DEFINITELY worth doing a lateral to POSIX systems like FreeBSD and Linux, as it appeared that Windows was just simply going the WRONG direction in 2003 (and I know I was right).
Guess what I stuck with? yep!
30 years ago I was doing stuff with PCs, combining a process involving Lotus 123, Harvard graphics, Word Perfect, and a bunch of '.bat' files, minicomputer report scripts, downloading, and overall "process automation" to generate a multi-page weekly report on Monday AM that reflected the most up to date data and presented it in a manager friendly way. TOok about 2-3 hours to print so I started it at 6AM, showed up around 8 AM, made sure the paper didn't jam [or Id hav to re-run it], got it all copied and stapled by 9 AM, had it all delivered by 10 AM, and then said "Wow, my week is done. Now what do I do? I think I'll work on THIS today..." [and they let me - that report took a week to generate before I started, had less stuff in it, didn't look as nice, and was 4 days old data-wise when it was finally completed]
NOTE: because I don't like doing data entry or futzing around with presentation on paper, I came up with a way for the computer to DO ALL THAT WORK FOR ME because I'm LAZY and I _HATE_ _DRUDGERY_. Worked out pretty nicely for all parties involved.
NOTE: because I don't like doing data entry or futzing around with presentation on paper, I came up with a way for the computer to DO ALL THAT WORK FOR ME because I'm LAZY and I _HATE_ _DRUDGERY_. Worked out pretty nicely for all parties involved.
Yup, I have much the same motivation which has led me to learning and doing all sorts of interesting things over the years :)
Much more fun to work out how to automate a process than to just knuckle down and do it.
(Of course, you have to be sure the time you spend automating the task looks good to management - if they realise it'll take you 50 hours to do and save you 5 minutes per year..... :) )
ISTR it was as recently as the mid-90s that "xhost +" ceased to be a default, or that "cat fart.wav >> remote:/dev/audio" required privileges.
Surely playing sillybuggers around the network is a rite-of-passage for students, bored hacks, and the like.
Even today you can have a bit of fun. For example, type an RTL language (and charset) into IRC and spread confusion!
?זה יעבוד כאן
کیا یہ یہاں کام کرے گا؟
OK, no it won't work here.
You could grab people's mouse remotely ... and move it just out of window focus as they typed.
Or you could have the cleaners be offended as they walk into the Uni machine room (JCMB anyone?) at 8am to a chorus os Sun 3/50s all playing the When Harry Met Sally orgasm scene through their speakers.
Or xgrab the screen and paste it as the background and confuse the hell out of people.
Or have techy traders grab their mate's screen, read their email and tell the rest of the trade floor their deepest secrets..
Or capture a vocal trader's notorious swearing and be bribed to play it one his machine at the top of every hour. Every day. For a month.
Or even con the traders into thinking that they're running on a windows box using fvwm95.
Uh? It's if you didn't save frequently that you had to rely on 'old' and the dreaded and unrecoverable 'Bad program' error that sometimes bit.
If you saved frequently then a reload from disk would do you fine.
You needed to be in mode 7 to use all the teletext like operations; but in the graphics modes (0, 1, 2, 4, 5) you could send vdu commands to plot lines and so forth. How we laughed until we got punched.
In the days when your 'terminal' was a telytype machine, hence no on-screen corrections, you had to be creative when accepting input.
I remember well when I had forgotten how to exit from a certain utility. I tried Exit, Quit, Bye etc all to no avail. Finally in desparation I typed F*** Off - bingo it worked!
The savvy author of said utility only looked at the last 3 characters in input thus ignoring typos in the middle.
I remember we had a whole computer lab full of BBC model B computers, all with a wonderful 14" Cub cube monitor, a couple had Ceefax adapters for downloading software. They were linked up to two printers, an Epson FX-80 and a golf ball printer that I think was an Alphacom.
The first time we got into trouble was for racing the two printers, the Epson was fastest, but the golf ball was by far the most dramatic, sounding somewhat like a .50 cal machine gun at the back of the room.
The next jape was when we found you could completely remap the keyboard, then store that map on an EPROM and load it onto a different machine, the teacher's machine for instance.
We got a lot of lines for that one, and we got even more lines for getting the printers to do the first lot of lines for us...
I used to enjoy livening up computing class at school by picking a random ID of one of our networked BBC Micros and using:
and sitting back to watch the fireworks as a confused lass mate explained yet again to the irate teacher that the computer "had done it by itself".
Not so much the victim than the unlucky detective who had to trawl event logs and compile the evidence.
Early Noughties I was helping out second line doing desktop support for a large financial organisation, using my server skills to remotely fix issues users had logged for XP without having to actually get out my seat and visit them. Since I had admin rights I could remote load Event Logs on Windows and was checking one such log when I came across a "net send" entry that even in those days was unacceptable.
The log file included the source machine, so I was able to load that log too, and started to find conversations between about 10 tech savvy people, some banal ("Coffee?"), some a bit disparaging of managers ("X is a dick!"), some totally homophobic, sectarian and racist.
Showed my boss who set me the task of compiling the entire history. After two days I had about three months of history and we called a stop. Details were passed to the Executive first to pass on to HR. I don't think anyone actually got fired, but I do know some final warning letters were issued.
And the moral of the story is - beware of having fun with the simple tools, even they can leave an audit trail.
Because we could send the output of xview to other screens in the lab.
It was 1996 or 1997 and people didn't have internet in the dorms, so they couldn't enjoy pictures of pretty ladies they downloaded from the internet from the comfort of their own room, mostly. So they did it in the lab.
That usually didn't go unnoticed, but most didn't care.
A friend hat the idea to make a banner, a collage of a stop-sign and other icons found on the internet with the words "Stop. Internet-Police. You've been caught watching porn" - or something like that (I cannot remember exactly).
When we spotted somebody enjoying a set of naughty pics, we sent him the banner via xview.
They'd usually straighten-up (having been thrown out of their porn-trance abruptly and without warning), close all browser windows, log out and leave the lab immediately.
there use to be 'flash bombs' like that - self-spawning copies all screaming "HEY - THIS GUY IS LOOKING AT GAY PORN!" or something equally embarrassing. Funny when you see it on your home machine. VERY embarrassing when it happens at work or in a school's computer lab...
"Ever been the victim of a witty network message mid-workshop? Or maybe you sent a few yourself?"
This is close to the end of 2019 and we still have stupid forums, some of them about IT that timeout after 15 mins.
This is why I'm usually writing posts in notepad/textedit before they expire.
I'm still baffled some forums admins are configuring their forums for only some 10 chars posts, and anything longer would timeout ...
"Are you sure the timeout is caused by the forums and not a setting specific to your Internet connection?"
Yes. Happens on only some forums, others being fine. And I always post from the same laptop ...
It is infuriating when your page long post goes timeout when you press submit !
Multiple laptops and PC's, multiple OS's (Win7/10, OSX and Ubuntu) with multiple different Internet connections, firewalls and security software and I've never seen the time out you mention.
Does it happen on devices other than your laptop? My first guess would be an anti-virus/anti-malware/privacy application removing session cookies.
(I've left this post sitting for 40 minutes adding one word every minute with no timeout issues)
... to keep the network-aware version of talk out of 4.2BSD, to the point of getting kicked out of a couple so-called "steering committee" meetings. I failed, alas. So I simply nuked it on every machine that I had root on (which in those days was a lot of 'em ...). Made a few folks mad, but surprisingly few ... and that went away after a couple weeks.
I have always hated the incessant, interrupting awfulness of instant messaging. To this day I refuse to use SMS and the like.
Talk ceased to be intrusive as soon as it could be confined to a window, which could then be attended to at my convenience. So about 30 years ago. But maybe that relies on the talker not being the boss-from-hell - I never had a talk-happy boss.
As for SMS, where's the problem? So long as you turn off any silly noises that notify you of them at moments not of your choosing.
As for SMS, where's the problem? So long as you turn off any silly noises that notify you of them at moments not of your choosing.
For someone with Jake's purported computer skills and history, you'd think he'd've learned by now how to silence SMS alerts on something as basic as a phone! :)
I do silence them. I have no idea if anybody has even bothered contacting me that way in years. Couldn't care too much less, either. Totally fucking useless technology ... I have several telephones, call me if you need to chat. If you prefer text, you know my email address.
Everybody who needs to get ahold of me knows how ... and many of those people are also shunning SMS and the like these days.
Totally fucking useless technology
Wow, defensive much? :)
Given the millions of people using it at any hour around the world, I guess we've found some use.
Interesting you complain about how 'intrusive' SMS messages are, yet say people should call you.. With a text you can generally ignore it till later whereas with a call you need to respond pretty much straight away (I only explain as it seems you're rather unfamiliar with the technology :) )
Errm.. On after a BREAK or CTRL-BREAK on a BBC Micro, one could simply type "OLD" to "recover" one's program regardless of whether one had saved it or not.
Unless some smartass had trapped a vector (&0287 springs to mind, BICBW) to an erase routine.
It was far more fun to drop an ISR that incremented a long countdown, and once that had timed out, sent CTL-G occasionally, and dumped a random character into the input buffer, output buffer, then to trap &0287 to the setup for the ISR. On a disk based machine one could hide the code in the cassette buffer. >;)
Given that pretty much everyone (misguidedly) considered a CTRL-Break equivalent to a power cycle, this could be particularly fun.
Best computer ever!
Yup! I worked for most of the F1 teams in the early 90's and they thought it was such a privilege to work for them that I earned £6000/year. I built the first in car telemetry, test day timing systems, on-car monitoring hardware, etc. - in the days when one person was allowed to do the whole job.
It's given me some anecdotes, but I had to leave to get a properly paying job when I got married!
'Until the fateful day Drew discovered "an ASCII code that disabled output to the terminal."'
Ah, good old VDU 21. You could also use that to hide part or all of a BASIC program. What you did is use the ? operator (the equivalent of POKE on other systems) to insert that character into the BASIC program in a part that was ignored by the BASIC interpreter, such as the text after a REM command.
When the LIST command was typed to show the program listing, it would only output up to the where the ASCII 21 was inserted. You could re-enable output later on in the listing with the ASCII 6 character.
For example entering the following listing:
10 REM Hello Earth
20 PRINT "This is hidden code!"
30 REM Goodbye World!
PAGE is a system variable which holds the start of BASIC workspace. Typing this would cause the LIST command to output:
10 REM Hello World!
I just tried this on a BBC emulator :)
I was one of the sneaky spoilsports that wrote a listing program in assembler that would do a normal list with all those codes as numbers in square brackets.
Incidentally, did you know that using the SPOOL command with a text file on disk, you could assemble 16k sideways ROM images on an ordinary BEEB
In the 80s (yikes), I was in a lab with some networked HP machines connected to assorted measuring equipment over HP-IB. But I digress. The network "printer" was a repurposed Teletype Model 43, placed right beside the single lab telephone (a GP0 700 series). I wrote HP BASIC program to stream BEL characters to the printer and make it ring like a telephone. Amazing how many people I could get to stand up and walk over to the phone to answer it. What fun.
GItec was a weird experience for me to start with as the "campus" was my former infants school but the shock of students being shown the computer room for the first time was universal. In the days when most schools computer clubs had three maybe four machines and a waiting list of years to even get near one seeing twenty BBC-b's with all the toys was mind blowing. I wonder where all those PFY's are now. I know Errol runs his own electronics business, JHR does upgrades for Aston Martin's, Proff disappeared inside the MOD and I got myself a little server farm.
Ahh the beeb.. great memories.
We had dozens of them at the secondary school i went to, one day we made a fake boot screen that looked identical to the normal one you got when you switched on a bbc micro and it went to basic.
This one of ours though logged all the text so people were putting in there *i am .... login and password. Our program logged you in as normal but secretly stored the login info in a file on another network account.
We got practically the whole school with this over time, including the admin account who was a computing teacher. Once he figured out this was going on he did a ctrl-break before logging in.
I guess the evolution of net write was sending X11 output to someone else's workstation.
Anyone remember xroach that would hide cockroaches under windows that would scatter and go under other display windows ?
XROACH 1 "Release 4" "X Version 11"
xroach - cockroaches hide under your windows
B xroach [-option .,..]
Xroach displays disgusting cockroaches on your root window. These
creapy crawlies scamper around until they find a window to hide
under. Whenever you move or iconify a window, the exposed beetles
again scamper for cover.
My first job was in the data center of a building company, who had a PDP-11 clone, running RSX-11. The data center team consisted of a number of data input operators, and a couple of IT guys that handled system administration, running the accounting and inventory suites, and sometimes writing some small custom programs for the data input people. Having too much time on my hands, I went and studied PDP-11 assembly and the OS system calls. I thus discovered that, when the ABO (ABORT) command is issued for a program, the OS calls a particular entry point into the program - and, using assembly, one could hook into the system call and return a code that rejected the abort.
The evil plan was thus hatched; I wrote a small program that wrapped the "Dungeon" game; when the wrapper was run, it started the real game, but remained resident. Every few minutes, the program would write a line to the console ("Hello, this is the teaser") and would beep. When the operator tried to abort the teaser, it would reply with an angry message and refuse to quit. I was still a nice guy then, so I added a solution: if the operator ran ABO three times, the teaser would exit (after complaining bitterly about feeling unloved).
I gave the tape with the Dungeon game and my wrapper to a friend in a sister company; he ran the wrapper, and ended up beeped every few minutes. He didn't discover the 3 times ABORT trick; instead he turned off the console and went to play the game on a different one. Other folks in the team (his team was bigger then ours) saw him playing Dungeon, and tried it too, with the same result - my friend told me the afternoon ended up with all consoles beeping randomly ("it was like birds singing", he said), and they finally rebooted the computer to get rid of all the teaser instances.
My school computer room was fitted out with Tandy TRS-80 Model 1s. The network consisted of individual links from the cassette ports to a Model 3, with a giant rotary switch box to select the one it would talk to. You shouted to the teacher your wanted to save, he'd select your machine, and you CSAVE'd... No high speed network here, it took ages!
Back in the day, I took a university 6502 assembly language class that used tiny AIM65 computers (tiny keyboard, oneline display, 2.5" wide printer roll). It used a cassette tape for storing your projects. The cassette player had a speaker, so I'd put music on one side and save my data on the other side of the cassette.
Back in the 1980s I took a day release course at the local tech college. It was supposed to teach "C" but the notes all appeared to have been cobbled together during a lunchtime pub session and the network in use was dire. We were forbidden to shut down the editor (think early version of EdLin) in any way other than the "official" way which involved half a dozen key strokes; any other shutdown would lock up the network. Fortunately I discovered another course at a nearby tech college where the instructors knew their stuff, produced decent handouts and the network was (relatively) stable.
AT Uni we ran a couple of old IBM 360's but they didn't run TSO or CICS, they ran the Michigan Terminal System MTS. This was an OS designed for connecting a whole load of dumb terminals to a central processor and act as a timeshare system.
That's all well and good, but they gave us access to the OS source code. Computer Students, beer at 17p a Pint, time on our hands, and source code: What could go wrong?
What went wrong was when we found an undocumented command that allowed us to send messages to the central operators console, an IBM 3270 connected directly to the processor. So, a bit of experimentation with IBM control characters, and we sent the commands to clear the Ops console and write four words to it: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING.
Who knew that the operators were unionised, and in a dispute with the University? They just got up and walked out.
And we got our knuckles severely wrapped for that jape!
When it comes to Y2K, I remember being asked if my Rugby MSF clock code was Y2K compliant. Given that MSF slow code doesn't transmit century digits, I said yes, but if it happened to be running in 2100 and wasn't receiving MSF at the time, it would wrongly tick over to 29th Feb and that they could call me nearer the date if it was a problem to them.
I was on one of those YTS iTeC courses as well. Drew wasn't in the Southall branch, was he?!
Anyway, the coolest thing I managed to do (this was back in 1987/88) - having already proficient skills on the BBC Micro since I had purchased one when it came out - was to write a FOR...NEXT loop that would scan memory pages (of a certain range) and print out any ASCII characters found there that were in the alphabet character set range, filtering everything else out.
This was not a program. This was a loop written on the command line, raw, there and then, each command delimited by " : " or " ; ", I can't remember now - preceded only by a *FX200,3 command at the prompt, which wiped all memory at the press of the BREAK button, so no one could see the code I had written, if they tried stopping the loop.
ESCAPE then OLD then LIST? Nope! Remember - it's not a program - it was just written on the command line. BBC BASIC was that frikkin good! I did sometimes hide it in a Red Function key, though, cos I could not be bothered to type the whole loop, whenever I wanted to hack a student or lecturer. And it meant, I could go back to it again, after lunchtime and keep trying. ;-)
Now, why would I be printing pages and pages of memory? Well, because the Econet module stored your log-in password for your account in plain text, somewhere in those particular regions (according to some Econet User Guide I had picked up at one of those computer shows, down at Ally-Pally!)
And if there were no lecturers around, I could quickly write that loop and *NOTIFY it (I think that was the command to send messages) to the machines in the Econet network and have other students run it and watch the screens, looking for any silly/unusual words that might come up that don't belong in those regions of memory. Once found - such as a lecturer's password who had just logged off of that machine - I could log back in again as them and give my account Master privileges (I think it was called), create new Master accounts for myself and tuck them for a rainy day, delete students accounts that had fallen out of favour with my mates, love poems to any girls we fancied, as a log-in greeting etc. Result = king of the jungle!
When the lecturers found out that I was too clever for their establishment, they shipped me off to IBM, for the practical experience part of my YTS course!
"When the lecturers found out"
I got promoted to managing the network because the competent CS teacher was replaced by an IT teacher who was so useless he spent half a lesson trying to explain what a database was, unaware that we'd all written one the term before.
As part of my expected bollocking for hacking the network, it became clear that the main reason that I did so was so the thing would keep on working (because Chuckie Egg) because the IT teacher did NOT have a clue and managed to often screw up user accounts, lose data, lose discs, and my personal favourite - end a lesson by flipping the switch on the fusebox on the wall above the door. Yup, he just forcibly power cycled everything between lessons. Granted, it reset the stations, but the server wasn't too happy. Especially if it was in the process of saving something to disc.
I only thank God that back then harddiscs were so expensive that we never had one...
For every Tim B-Lee, Billy Gates or Mr. Jobs, there are 20,000 tech geniuses that miss out because they are zero on the fiscal IQ scale, and just out for a lark. Back in the late 80's, I and two friends had an idea for a business venture involving a data base of all our state's insurance agents that people could access..........and now there is Esurance. So close to the right idea, but without a clue about the approaching internet, we could only sigh and get real jobs.
, there are 20,000 tech geniuses that miss out because they are zero on the fiscal IQ scale, and just out for a lark.
Yup. If I had a buck for every brilliant idea I've had that someone else has been able to get to market because I was too slow/lazy/unmotivated/forgetful, well I guess I'd have an extra 10 bucks.
But there's been a few that I was too early on (the infrastructure etc wasn't up to it), too under-resourced (didn't have money for necessary kit/domain names etc), or got stuck on some engineering/coding issue that someone else solved. Or those ideas that got buried by life, only remembered when I see someone else had a very similar idea and managed to succeed.
We had a Cyber mainframe at uni, and the process for signing up to it was to use your student number, date of birth and full name to authenticate. Of course the CS dept employee (an introverted grumpy bastard - very BOFH) left the data file readable in his home directory briefly so we scored a copy quick smart and had unlimited accounts, (cpu quotas, disk space etc) for years.
The dodgiest part was one day I decided to print it out to have a hard copy, just in case. At the time we had huge fast drum printers and an Operators room where you went to collect your print jobs. That day the employee in question was staffing the print out desk and I watched with dreaded fascination as he went down the stack of printouts (1/2 meter tall usually), flicking back the cover sheet with our student numbers and fanning down to the next one to seperate out each job. My all-students-in-the-uni print job was about 20cm high, and to this day I don't know how he didn't ken to the fact that it was that particular file from his home directory I'd just printed. It was a phenomenal waste of paper which you'd at least glance at the contents to see why someone had 800 pages of output.
Getting away with that in that fashion has always been one of the funniest memories from that institution, and it leveraged a lot of shenanigans for years on end. The students had the keys to the kingdom and we damn well used them.
and to this day I don't know how he didn't ken to the fact that it was that particular file from his home directory I'd just printed.
TBH, the job probably blinded him to the contents of the pages after a relatively short while.
I discovered that as a SysOp with a BBS. Sure, I could sit and watch users on any node I wished but.. It got boring quickly and I'd only do it when I actually wanted to chat to that person (watching for them to finish a game or message etc).
I was on a co-op work term in uni, when I found out that X programs could as easily write on another display as one's own.
A fellow co-op student was parked in the server room of this Canada gov ministry's computer room, so I'd routinely send the nastiest pics to his HP workstation display. Usually strongly unattractive people, sans clothes. Especially due to the lack of privacy, he learned to keep a large window open that he could immediately bring to the front on his screen, then calmly deal with the offender once he was sure nobody was looking.
.....was my Model B finest hour. I had a B maxed out with all the add-ons (Z80, CPM, EEPROMs, speech synthesizer etc) and they all came together in one magnificent solution - A Darts Scoring Program That Spoke Your Shot-outs. I could only use it for home matches as it was too bulky (with an Epson FX-80 printer) to take to away fixtures, but what fun it was although I must admit all my older colleagues didn't quite share my enthusiasm. Still it was the foundation for a stellar career in IT consultancy...... ;-)
Oh the BBC-B. What a treat it was! I started off on a ZX81 (being a fan of all things Sinclair) and learnt BASIC on it. Despite its slow speed, I even wrote some simple games, including a somewhat tardy version of Space Invaders which was stripped down to just one invader and a gun that had to be fired in advance of what you might expect... Anyway, BEEB fever got hold of me and WOW what a machine! It went like the clappers and once I'd bought the floppy drive (hey, 100k on one disc!) I was in Micro Heaven. Sunday Mornings watching 'Making the Most of The Micro', what memories. Still got it and I fire it up every now and then to prove it still works. Bee-Beeep!
When I was at uni in the mid 90s we had a very closely guarded suite of Sun workstations... I remember something about being able to rotate the mouse mats and the cursor would travel at an additional 30 degrees to the direction of travel of the rather snazzy laser mice. Now I'm wondering if I dreamt that.
I started off in the good days of 1986 at the local ITeC too, we were taught how to use SuperWriter as well as WordStar. The fun came when we all got called in to see who was going to own up to hex editing the SuperWriter disk to SuperW**nker. It only came to light when they ran an evening class!
Fond memories of the BBC though, we spent a lot of time back then ripping off eproms for our BBC's at home ;-)
"During my time," he told The Register, "the going rate was £25 per week."
Thats around £70 per week in todays money. If you got the chance of an decent placement in that era as a 16 year old with say a computer servicing/builds company you were being given a great lift up and may have been the beginning of a career that led to bigger things. In more recent years it would more likely have led to an intensive 5 minute course on shelf stacking and then helping multimillionaire owners of highly profitable businesses to increase their piles through the tax payer covering his wage bills.
Back in the 80's worked on a multi terminal system onboard a US submarine. This system would post status messages at the bottom of the screen. Most of these messages were ignored, but I was bored one evening shift and posted a message to a fellow operators screen about the failing of the AN/UYK-44 Computer and that the entire unit needed replacing (which was absurd since the computer was modular and parts would be replaced not the entire unit).
Not seeing a response from the other operator I shrugged it off and went to bed.
Six or so hours latter i'm being shaken awake by the supervisor asking if I had sent the message. Seem the other operator did see the message and had been tearing thru manuals looking for the proper part number all night long so that we could order the entire computer and have it delivered to our next port.
Was a good laugh, but the other operator never mentioned it. And I certainly never brought it up
I was and YTS ITeC trainee in the 80's.
Those were the days - listening to various mixes of Frankie Goes To Hollywoods Two Tribes.
I managed to do both software and hardware curriculum's in my year there.
I too played around with BBC B's and even built an interface to connect a Beeb to a Commode PET.
We have memories of popping capacitors into prototype stations and blowing them up with the pleasant smell of burnt shredded wheat.
Setting of the CO2 fire extinguishers with the lights off just to see the static discharge.
Last two weeks our entire year group was invited to Ullswater for an outward bound adventure. Note, when sitting on a raft in the middle of the lake, don't let one of your daft mates start to undo the ropes holding the things together.
However, on a positive note, a few years later, I was working for the local NHS and invited some of the current ITeC trainees to come for works experience and ended up making them permanent employees
Who, Me? It's Monday, and this week's column contains another reminder to check that those backups really have worked in an unfortunately synchronized episode of Who, Me?
Our tale comes from a reader we'll call "John" (because that is not his name) and takes place in the glory days of Windows NT 4 and Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5.
John had earned his stripes in the technical support department of a mail-order parts company (remember those halcyon days prior to ecommerce?) and was promoted to into the giddy level of "the IT team."
Who, Me? Monday is here, and with it a warning that steadfast determination to ignore instructions might not be such a silly thing after all. Welcome to Who, Me?
Today's story comes from a reader Regomized as "Sam" and takes us back to his first proper IT job following his departure from the education system.
Sam found himself on the mainframe operations team for a telecommunications company. The work was, initially, pretty manual stuff. The telco wasn't silly, and had its new recruits start by performing offline duties, such as gathering tapes and job tickets for batch runs, handling payslips, "basically anything involving a bit of leg work," he told us.
Who, Me? The UK has bins, the US prefers trashcans, and computers like their
/bin. How do you think today's episode of Who, Me? is going to go?
Our story takes us back to the early 1990s when our reader, Regomized as "Jeremy," was a young PhD student in a biology lab.
"Our supervisor was very fond of technology, and of looking good in the department," he told us, "and one year he found himself with some spare money from a grant."
Who, Me? We've covered backups before in the annals of this column, but a bit of helpfulness that turned into a bonfire of the binaries? Start your Monday with a lesson in not taking the initiative.
Our story comes from "Harry" (not his name) who was working for a major medical products company back in the days when Windows XP was the hot new thing and software was, frankly, a bit simpler.
We've also turned the Regomizer on a new hire assigned to Harry. We'll call him "James" since we imagine he'd rather his true identity never be made public considering what happened...
Who, Me? Welcome back to Who, Me?, where this week a reader tells us how they used brute force and whiskey to solve a pyrotechnic problem.
Our story comes from a fellow Regomized as "Rick" and concerns a launch campaign using sounding rockets from a European test site.
Sounding rockets can't make it to orbit, but can carry scientific payloads to perform experiments during their sub-orbital lob. Some have an apogee above 500 miles (804km), while others go considerably lower.
Who, Me? A reminder of the devastation a simple DROP can do and that backups truly are a DBA's best friend in this morning's "there but for the grace of..." Who, Me?
"Stephen" is the author of today's confession and was faced with what should have been a simple case of applying an update to an Estimating and Invoicing system.
The system ran on a PostgreSQL-database and was, in his words, "Software that I don't touch save when there's an issue, needs rebooting, etc."
Who, Me? Be careful what humorous messages you leave in your app, for you never know who might see them. Welcome to Who, Me?
Our story today is a return for a reader Regomized as "Philip," who does not have the highest opinion of the sales profession.
"We had three developers," he recalled. "One was responsible for UI, another for the database, and a third for image display and capture."
Who, Me? "The early bird trashes the business" is a saying that we've just made up, but could easily apply to the Register reader behind a currency calamity in today's episode of Who, Me?
Our hero, Regomized as "Mike", was working as a "data entry operative" for a tourism company in 1992. The company ran bus tours to the then brand-new EuroDisney, parent company of Disneyland Paris (now the most visited theme park in Europe), which had opened earlier that year.
Mike was an eager beaver, his youthful naivete having convinced him that if he worked extra hard, came in extra early, and kept the in-tray clear, then his efforts would be both noticed and rewarded with promotion and a bump in pay.
Who, Me? Welcome to an edition of Who, Me? where some configuration confusion left an entire nation cast adrift.
Today's story is set in the early 2000s and comes from a reader Regomized as "Mikael" who was gainfully employed at a European ISP. The company had customers in multiple countries and Mikael's team was responsible for the international backbone.
"Us senior network engineers were widely regarded as consummate professionals," he told us, before adding, "at least amongst ourselves."
Who, Me? A tale of discounts and process improvement via the magic of Excel, Access and a fair bit of electronic duct tape we imagine. Welcome to Who, Me?
"James" is the Regomized reader of record today, and continues the theme of running the risk of doing a job just that little bit too well with an ancedote from the end of the last century involving his first job out of university, at a certain telecommunications giant.
The job involved a process of calculating the discount received by big customers (the ones with multiple branches). "For the life of me I can't remember what the main DB was called," he told us, "but it was the old style green writing on a black screen that took forever to download the necessary data."
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