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  #1  
Old January 5, 2014, 01:12:00 PM
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Default Seiji's Tech Ramblings - Tech Rambling #1 - Mac OS 9.2.2 on a Thumb Drive


This is an entirely new thread where I will share my IT experiences with all of Victory Road. Any questions or comments are welcome.


Let's start off with the status of my first-generation Apple iBook.

On my way back from church the other night, curiosity had gotten the better of me about possibly booting my iBook from a USB thumb drive, in the event that its internal hard drive fails. I did a bit of Googling about starting up from an external USB drive, and everywhere I turned, people said it was impossible to boot the iBook from USB, and they also said to use a FireWire drive instead. So I decided to see for myself if I could indeed boot from USB.

After backing up whatever was on the hard drive to the thumb drive I had formatted for use in Mac OS 9, I decided to try copying the OS 9 System Folder over to the thumb drive, hoping that I could boot from it. I selected the thumb drive as the computer's default startup disk, restarted the machine...

...And the operating system loaded completely within 3 minutes.

With the computer's solitary USB 1.1 port, it's not the fastest medium to boot from, but it works fine as a cheap alternative to buying a replacement hard drive for an aging Macintosh. Now, to figure out how to boot my ThinkPad from my CompactFlash card...

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:37:49 PM.
  #2  
Old February 19, 2014, 01:23:16 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #2 - Encounter with a Commodore 64C

So I stopped by the consignment shop today just to have a look around, and I spotted, out of the corner of my eye, this curious-looking box. I asked the owner if I could have a look at what was in the box, and he obliged. Here, there was a Commodore 64C computer in the box, complete with a modem, an office suite cartridge, and the usual cables that you'd expect from a computer package like that. Unfortunately, with only $2 in my pocket, I could not buy it; the shop owner wanted $70 for it. A heart-breaking moment, but I'm sure there will be another opportunity for me to buy a Commodore 64, when both the funding and physical space avail.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:38:20 PM.
  #3  
Old April 20, 2014, 03:46:50 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #3 - Casio PT-10

So I was at my sister's and brother-in-law's house up north, and my three-year-old niece invited me into her room to play with some musical instruments, as that is "the thing to do" when my niece and I are together. From the corner of my eye, I spotted a curious-looking keyboard in her toy box, and I asked her if I could see it. You know how three-year-olds are, getting all excited when you inquire about something in their toy box... Long story short, the keyboard turned out to be a Casio PT-10 from the early 1980's, and my brother-in-law used to play it when he was growing up.

The Casio PT-10 is a four-preset monophonic keyboard with a handful of very primitive-sounding rhythms, and it's considered to be a sized up version of Casio's VL-1 keyboard without the calculator function. Keyboards similar to the PT-10 can be heard on Trio's song "Da Da Da," among other songs.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:38:57 PM.
  #4  
Old April 24, 2014, 02:22:28 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #4 - Encounter with a Yamaha RX5 drum machine

Time for another music-related rambling.

So I had already checked out at the pawn shop today with a copy of Marble Madness in my hands, and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something huge by Yamaha. I asked the shop owner if I could have a look at it, and it turns out that it's a Yamaha RX5 drum machine, from the year of my birth: 1986. Of course, after checking it out, I just had to ask him how much he wanted for it, and like the Commodore 64C I encountered earlier this year, he wanted $70-$75 for it, and I decided to let the drum machine go for the time being. I still don't have the space (financial and physical) for gargantuan drum machines like the RX5, but that doesn't bother me, since I have the next best thing to a real RX5: an extensive RX5 drum sample library in .WAV format. One of these days, I'd like to get my hands on the real deal, when both money and storage space are more than sufficient. Perhaps by then, I'll also have a nice synthesizer or MIDI keyboard with weighted keys, pitch bend and modulation wheels, and tons of buttons, sliders, and knobs.

This marks the first time ever in my life where I had played with a hardware drum machine, and it was quite a pleasurable experience, at that. December 2012 was the first time I have ever played a Fender Rhodes electric piano, and in September 2013, I've played a Hammond B3 tone-wheel organ with a Leslie rotary speaker.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:39:37 PM.
  #5  
Old May 10, 2014, 09:39:05 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #5 - Nintendo WiFi Connection: The End is Near

An article from Nintendo.com posted on February 26, 2014:
As of May 20, 2014, certain online functionality offered through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection will no longer be accessible. The discontinued services include online play, matchmaking and leaderboards for many Wii, Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi games. For a comprehensive list of games and services that are affected, please check:
http://support.nintendo.com/servicesupdate.

Users can still play the games in offline mode, which continues to offer a rich game-play experience.

Online play for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games will be unaffected (aside from the Wii mode on Wii U and Nintendo DS games on Nintendo 3DS family systems). Other online functionality, such as access to the Wii Shop Channel, the Nintendo DSi Shop and video-on-demand services, are also not affected at this time.

We at Nintendo sincerely thank our fans for their continued support of our company’s legacy systems. Your enthusiasm for games made for these systems speaks to their longevity, and the passion of Nintendo fans.

List of affected Nintendo software titles

Note: Game functionality that does not require an Internet connection will remain unchanged.

Nintendo DS
100 Classic Books
Animal Crossing: Wild World
Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
Clubhouse Games
Custom Robo Arena
Diddy Kong Racing DS
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
Fossil Fighters: Champions
Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Mario Kart DS
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem
Metroid Prime Hunters
Personal Trainer: Walking
Picross 3D
Picross DS
Planet Puzzle League
Pokémon Black Version
Pokémon Black Version 2
Pokémon Diamond Version
Pokémon HeartGold Version
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time
Pokémon Pearl Version
Pokémon Platinum Version
Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs
Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia
Pokémon SoulSilver Version
Pokémon White Version
Pokémon White Version 2
Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Professor Layton and the Last Specter
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Star Fox Command
Style Savvy
Tenchu: Dark Secret
Tetris DS
WarioWare DIY

Nintendo DSiWare
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!
Metal Torrent
Number Battle

Wii
Animal Crossing: City Life
Battalion Wars 2
Endless Ocean
Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep
Excitebots: Trick Racing
Fortune Street
Mario Kart Wii
Mario Sports Mix
Mario Strikers Charged
Pokémon Battle Revolution
Samurai Warriors 3
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
Super Smash Brothers Brawl
Wii Music*

WiiWare
Dr. Mario Online RX
Excitebike: World Rally
LONPOS
Maboshi's Arcade
My Pokémon Ranch
ThruSpace
WarioWare DIY

Other
Wii Speak**
Wii Speak Channel**

(*) Services that require Internet communication ended on June 28, 2013.
(**) As Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is required to use this title, it is no longer functional"


Quite honestly, this shutdown meant nothing to me - a Nintendo DS Lite gamer - as my wireless router uses WPA Personal, an encryption method that my DS Lite doesn't support. Plus, I've given up playing online before I started going to college over 6 years ago.



Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:44:34 PM.
  #6  
Old May 27, 2014, 08:05:40 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #6 - Native Instruments iMaschine (iOS)

Oh dear, is it time for another music production rambling? o.o

On my iPhone app store, I found a beat-making/sampling app called iMaschine by Native Instruments, the same company who made my favorite synthesizers Pro-53 and FM8. Personally, I don't think I could have spent $4.99 on a better iOS groove machine. I'm finding that it's super easy to pick up, but extremely difficult to put down.

Native Instruments offers expansions as in-app purchases, but I think that's a little bit pointless, given the fact that you can both import your own samples through iTunes AND chop music that's already on your iPhone or iPad. Speaking of importing my own samples, I found a small shortcoming with iMaschine: file extensions must be in lower case (e.g. ".wav" rather than ".WAV") for the sounds to play properly. It's not Native Instruments' fault, but rather my own. Teaches me for being lazy about renaming my samples after they've been on my ThinkPad... XD

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:45:16 PM.
  #7  
Old June 5, 2014, 03:02:24 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #7 - Wireless connectivity problems ...solved.

Since I upgraded to Windows 8.1 in December and numerous driver updates, I've been dealing with a relatively unstable wireless network adapter, which would drop my connection every five minutes. At first, I blamed it on my Apple AirPort Extreme wireless router, but then I saw that it happened on other networks as well. I ruled out malware being the cause, because every scan I've run using both Malwarebytes and Avast has tested negative for infection - results I've gotten back since the day I bought my computer.

Then, it dawned on me: the dropouts never occurred before I upgraded the wireless drivers, and after I installed 8.1. I also read that the N band for wireless networks was rather unstable on my particular adapter, which is the Intel Centrino Wireless-N 135. After rolling back the driver, disabling 802.11n mode, and being on Second Life...

...I stayed connected for 3 uninterrupted hours.

So, if you have any issues connecting with your Intel wireless adapter, try rolling back the driver and/or disabling 802.11n mode before buying a new adapter or sending your computer to the manufacturer. It goes to show that there are some computer issues that you actually can solve on your own.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:46:13 PM.
  #8  
Old June 23, 2014, 02:10:51 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #8 - Of Wireless Mice and ThinkPads

I was just recently looking through some of my boxes computer parts and peripherals, and when I came across an old USB wireless mouse I got as a college intern, curiosity got the better of me. I was thinking, "I wonder if I can use this with my ThinkPad via PS/2..."

So I look a little further in and I found an adapter that allows one to use specific USB mice where only PS/2 is available. I installed batteries into the mouse itself, connected the adapter to the wireless mouse's receiver, and then the other end of the adapter into the mouse port of the ThinkPad. Just when I thought it wouldn't work, I moved the mouse and the ThinkPad's cursor responded accordingly, and the left and right buttons on the mouse responded as expected. However, I presently cannot middle click or use the scroll wheel, so I have to figure out how to enable scrolling and middle-clicking in Windows 98. But it's an interesting discovery, nonetheless.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:46:38 PM.
  #9  
Old July 6, 2014, 08:33:01 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #9 - ThinkPad Scrolling Issues Solved

I recently got to thinking about how to get scrolling to work on my ThinkPad, and I thought, "There's gotta be an old version of Logitech MouseWare somewhere." So, I went to a Macintosh abandonware archive called "Macintosh Garden," and I stumbled across a post for the Mac version of MouseWare. I click the link to the post and found not only MouseWare in a .ZIP file, but the universal install disc (Windows and Mac) in .ISO format as well. I downloaded and burned the .ISO, installed MouseWare on the ThinkPad, plugged my wired PS/2-USB mouse in, and succeeded in getting the scroll wheel to work. I didn't even have to monkey with the BIOS settings. However, when I tried the wireless mouse, Windows just froze at startup, and I wonder if it's because the receiver draws too much current from the computer. Back when it was alive, my MacBook would complain about the receiver drawing too much current.

In any case, I'm very pleased that the Logitech MouseWare suite brought the scroll wheel to life in Windows 98.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:47:08 PM.
  #10  
Old July 10, 2014, 12:36:21 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #10 - "New" LED readout Calculator from 1975

So I was shopping at Goodwill, and for $4.99 I found a retro calculator from what appears to be the year 1975, but it's not any ordinary pocket calculator... It's an LED-based calculator by Novus, a division of National Semiconductor that specializes in calculators and other business electronics. Now a part of my electronics collection, the Novus Model 850 LED calculator predates my vacuum-fluorescent Rockwell 64RD scientific calculator from 1976.

Pulling the calculator out of its original packaging, I noticed that there were no signs of damage, but when I opened the battery compartment, the 9 Volt battery snap was corroded, and the snap's vinyl covering was split up the sides, so I devised another plan for testing: I pulled a couple of alligator test leads out of my toolbox to connect the 9V battery to the exposed soldered terminals, hit the power switch, and it lit up like a string of holiday lights. The keys, albeit very clicky, worked flawlessly. For each of the eight digits, all seven segments displayed properly (i.e. no dim segments whatsoever). The Novus calculator was a very good thrift store find, if I do say so myself.

For pictures and detailed technical information on the Novus 850, have a look at this site if you care to do so:
https://web.archive.org/web/20071029...n/novus850.htm

Had to use the Wayback Machine to retrieve information on the calculator, as the original website seems to be dead.

UPDATE: Just got the battery snap replaced, so now the calculator is crunching numbers like a bawss.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:47:33 PM. Reason: Fixing a broken link
  #11  
Old July 11, 2014, 08:06:41 AM
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Exclamation *New rule for my Ramblings thread*

Questions and comments are welcome, so if you have something you'd like to say, I'd love to hear from you.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:47:58 PM.
  #12  
Old July 18, 2014, 09:34:13 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #11 - $5 Garage Sale Find

Earlier today, I stopped at a garage sale that was up the block, and I found this late 1990's flatbed scanner for $5 US:

http://support.visioneer.com/products/7600/

The one I bought is not the USB version, but rather the parallel port version, and so I thought I'd buy it and try it with my ThinkPad. After installing the drivers, connecting the printer cable, and running a test scan, the scanner tested out perfectly, although the outside case is a bit filthy. The scanner glass, however, was clean as a whistle. I will address cleaning the case later, because I'm too lazy right now. XD

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:48:21 PM.
  #13  
Old July 18, 2014, 11:32:32 AM
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Ooh, we have one similar to that, but it has been used so much that everything comes up blurry.
  #14  
Old July 18, 2014, 12:54:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Cat333Pokémon View Post
Ooh, we have one similar to that, but it has been used so much that everything comes up blurry.
I seriously need to find time to clean my beast up... XD
  #15  
Old July 20, 2014, 10:50:19 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #12 - HP Photosmart C6280 vs Visioneer OneTouch 7600

Since the last rambling, I've found time to clean the old Visioneer OneTouch 7600 scanner I found the other day at a garage sale. Using a fragment of a document I printed for my vocational advisor, I decided to do a quality comparison between it and my main printer/scanner/copier, both scans being at 600 dpi and in color. Here are the results:

Visioneer OneTouch 7600
Click image for larger version

Name:	7600.png
Views:	146
Size:	54.3 KB
ID:	6231

HP Photosmart C6280
Click image for larger version

Name:	c6280.png
Views:	152
Size:	67.1 KB
ID:	6232

Although the Photosmart has higher quality and is used primarily for serious business, I personally prefer the softness of the 7600. It takes longer to scan using the 7600, but it's certainly worth waiting for.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:48:56 PM.
  #16  
Old August 12, 2014, 07:50:32 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #13 - Android USB On-The-Go "Frankenstein" Cable

Rather appropriate for the 13th post.

Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_20140812_230330276.jpg
Views:	169
Size:	57.0 KB
ID:	6326

I was rummaging through my parts box earlier this week, and I came across a three-way USB charging cable whose iPhone charging plug had malfunctioned, leaving a mini USB and micro USB plug as the only working connectors. Incidentally, this cable also can be used for data, not just charging. Thinking what to do with the cable, I discovered these things called USB On-The-Go cables, which allow the use of thumb drives, keyboards, mice, gamepads, and even MIDI adapters with any Android phone or tablet equipped with a micro USB socket. I thought, "Wouldn't it be neat if I could make one of these?"

Well, I did just that. With help from Make Magazine's website, I found a tutorial on how to make a USB-OTG cable out of the aforementioned multi-charger cable, and a spare USB extension cable I also had lying around in my parts box, so I could use my MIDI adapter and Logitech game pad with my Moto G. After cutting and stripping the male ends on both cables, I spliced the matching wire colors together, which was step one. Step two was a little more involved: on the Micro USB plug, I had to solder pins 4 and 5 to put the Android in "host mode," or in other words, to allow the phone to accept input devices. If I didn't bridge the two connections, of course nothing would work. Many inches of electrical tape later, the cable was complete. Worth the afternoon I spent on hacking it? Most definitely.

Now, for a list of devices I've tested with the homebrew cable.

Known working devices:
- Generic USB MIDI adapter
- Logitech devices (keyboard, optical mice, trackball, Dual Action game pad)
- SanDisk Cruzer Edge flash drive
- NOX USB Audio Dongle
- Adesso Keyboard/Trackpad combo
- Kodak 50-in-1 memory card reader

Devices that either failed to mount or didn't work:
- Seagate FreeAgent Desk hard drive, 1.5 TB
- Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex hard drive, 1 TB
- GearHead (Big Lots) SD card reader
- Super NES controller adapter
- PS2 controller adapter

Even though they had their own power supplies, the hard drives didn't mount possibly because the Moto G can handle up to 32 GB of storage, which I think shouldn't really matter. The controller adapters didn't work probably because they draw more current than the phone can handle. The SD reader probably drew too much current as well.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:36:40 PM.
  #17  
Old August 13, 2014, 11:02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seiji J. Konokama View Post
Even though they had their own power supplies, the hard drives didn't mount possibly because the Moto G can handle up to 32 GB of storage, which I think shouldn't really matter.
Are the drives formatted in NTFS, exFAT, or HFS?
  #18  
Old August 14, 2014, 10:03:29 AM
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Are the drives formatted in NTFS, exFAT, or HFS?
I know one is HFS+, but I'm sure the hard drive I tested is NTFS. I remember not being able to use more than 64 GB when I initially tried formatting it as FAT32.

To be honest, I really am not worried at the moment about being able to mount hard drives via USB-OTG; curiosity had gotten the better of me in regard to what would work and what wouldn't work with the Moto G. Perhaps I'll revisit the concept when I clear all the Mac files off of the HFS+ drive and format it as FAT32 with my Dad's computer.
  #19  
Old August 14, 2014, 11:02:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seiji J. Konokama View Post
I know one is HFS+, but I'm sure the hard drive I tested is NTFS. I remember not being able to use more than 64 GB when I initially tried formatting it as FAT32.

To be honest, I really am not worried at the moment about being able to mount hard drives via USB-OTG; curiosity had gotten the better of me in regard to what would work and what wouldn't work with the Moto G. Perhaps I'll revisit the concept when I clear all the Mac files off of the HFS+ drive and format it as FAT32 with my Dad's computer.
You could also take a look at third-party tools that do the formatting for you. (The 32GB FAT32 limit is an arbitrary restriction placed due to potential inefficiencies of FAT32 when dealing with larger volumes. The theoretical maximum for official FAT32 is 2 TB.)

Last edited by Twiggy; August 14, 2014 at 11:03:22 AM.
  #20  
Old August 14, 2014, 11:12:08 AM
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...The theoretical maximum for official FAT32 is 2 TB.
Oddly enough, the hard drive I was testing has 1.5 terabytes. o.o
  #21  
Old August 14, 2014, 11:20:50 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #14 - Audio Zone closed, Seiji's Awesome Synth and Drum Machine Zone co

Due to lack of interest and the tedious chore of updating the listings, I've decided to close my Audio Zone. It was a fun ride while it lasted.

On a good note, however, I'm considering opening a new thread, which focuses on the freeware software synthesizers, sampled drum kits, and drum machines that I frequently use in remixes for my Fur Affinity account. This new thread will be a media-rich thread, in that I will post audio clips in MP3 format to demonstrate the capabilities of the synth in question. I will also show you guys some of the audio techniques I've learned and, like in my Tech Ramblings thread, questions and comments will be welcomed.

TEASER: The first VST plugin I will feature, is a software emulation of the Oberheim OB-X analog synthesizer.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:36:13 PM.
  #22  
Old December 31, 2014, 04:39:42 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #15 - DIY cable for any RF-based computer or game console

Gotta get this in before the year ends...

I was a little too lazy in trying to find a suitable composite video cable to test my recently-acquired Duck Hunt NES cartridge (because I usually output video via analog composite rather than via RF), so I decided to try a little experiment. I took a spare RCA male cable, linked the ground and signal lines accordingly to the RF input on my 16-year-old analog TV, tuned the TV to channel 3, powered up the NES...

The TV lit up with the usual Duck Hunt title screen and the music came pouring out of the TV's internal speakers.

I then tried the improvised RF cable with my Sega Genesis and Super NES...

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past showed up just fine on the Super NES, and Lightening Force did likewise on the Sega Genesis.

So there you have it. A simple, crude solution, but it works in a pinch. And I thought this trick only worked with ZX Spectrum computers, Pong consoles, and everything else that used non-standard RF signals.


Now, I'm gonna pull a Peter Falk and say "Just one more thing."

In my Awesome Synths and Drum Machines thread, expect to see a review about my newest acquisition in software drum machines sometime in early 2015. Till then, have a wonderful New Year.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:35:52 PM.
  #23  
Old January 11, 2015, 10:15:49 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #16 - Possible future Intel iMac acquisition

So I was talking with my brother-in-law who owns a photography studio in Cleveland, and we had gotten to talking about how he's been granted an upgrade. It was then that he offered to let me have his old computer once all of his photos and data had been transferred from the old system to the new. The computer he no longer needs is a mid-2010 model iMac, and I thought that it would make a great replacement for not only my old MacBook, but the RCA TV in my bedroom, which I don't really use too much anymore. There's no sense in keeping *two* RCA television sets when I only use the older of the two (my older RCA TV in the living room, made in 1996, is a console-style television complete with real wood paneling, stereo audio out, and a convenient glass cabinet to store videocassettes and other audiovisual components). Knowing that another opportunity like this may never arise again, I accepted the offer with little hesitation, and I hope my brother-in-law's IT technician will be finished preparing the iMac by either spring or summer.

I've been meaning to get a new Intel Mac anyhow; I really miss using Mac OS X on a daily basis, but of course, I can't afford a new Mac at the moment. When/if I do get the iMac, it will more than likely be used as a media center, gaming computer, and secondary music production system. The fact that I have a PS2-to-USB adapter AND a wireless PS2 controller is the icing on the cake for the "gaming computer" part. And though the iMac uses a lot more wattage than the TV which it's replacing (about 250 watts for the iMac, compared to 65 watts for the TV), I will not miss the TV's annoying high-pitched squeal at power-up, nor will I miss the bulk of the set itself (it literally takes up half of the top of my dresser!).

Lesson learned from acquiring the iBook G3 and ThinkPad 385ED: If a friend of yours offers you a free computer - even if it takes a bit of work to make it functional again - NEVER decline the offer.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:35:28 PM.
  #24  
Old January 19, 2015, 02:17:11 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #17 - Intel iMac: ETA 1 week

It looks like I only have 7 days left to completely unplug my TV, haul it to the car and have it donated to Goodwill, and I'll tell you why:

My sister just stopped by with her daughter, and she says that he husband's IT specialist expects to have the iMac ready next week. But it's not just me who's getting a newer machine: my sister went on to explain that she was granted an upgrade from her existing computer. She is upgrading from a MacBook Air to a MacBook Pro. Knowing that she wouldn't need it, my sister offered to give her MacBook Air to my mother once, again, all of the data was migrated to the new machine. My mother - because she really doesn't care for the smaller screen on her own MacBook Air - accepted my sister's offer and plans to use her smaller Air as a spare computer, in case something goes wrong with the larger MacBook.

If I'm lucky enough to be able to use an infrared Apple Remote with the iMac, I'll see to it that my Logitech Harmony remote is set up for use with Apple devices. If it doesn't support infrared remotes, I can always fall back on an iOS alternative called "Rowmote," which allows an iOS user to control their Mac or AppleTV using Wi-Fi. I have had Rowmote since my Core 2 Duo MacBook days.

The year 2015 is off to an awesome start here in Akron Ohio!

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:34:52 PM.
  #25  
Old November 28, 2015, 05:26:56 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #18 - Solving Logitech Harmony Remote Issues

Recently, I was over at my sister's and brother-in-law's house in Columbus to celebrate my second-oldest niece's birthday. When I came down the steps after helping my brother-in-law haul some things to his upstairs office, I saw from the corner of my eye what looked like a Logitech Harmony 600 smart remote. I asked him if he needed it, and he said he didn't and that I could have it, since he has a newer Harmony remote with more features. He explained to me the issues he was having with the Harmony 600: when the remote would fall from the end table or sustain a lot of impact, the remote would restart itself.

I got home from their house later that night, and carefully opened up the remote, and immediately I saw the cause for the restarting: there was a nice white chunk of battery corrosion on the positive terminal of the remote and on the inside of the remote's shell. Fortunately, the corrosion was only enough to make a small mess, and was very easy to clean up; neither the positive terminal nor the circuit board sustained damage from the battery leakage.

Now comes the fun part: deciding which devices to program into the remote.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:34:26 PM.
  #26  
Old February 1, 2016, 09:30:11 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #19 - Of Joysticks and Floppy Disks

It's been a good 6 weeks since I got my Logitech WingMan Extreme Digital 3D joystick, and I finally got around to checking it out. You know how it is: you willingly get yourself wrapped up in the kind of work you enjoy, leaving you with little time for everything else that you want to do.

As a part of my "device initiation" process, I decided to do a complete teardown of the Logitech joystick, so that I could more effectively clean each piece that my hands come into contact, not knowing the history of the device and who owned it before me. Once the cleaning was completed, I proceeded to reassemble the joystick, attach the Game Port adapter for USB systems, and test it with my computers; as actual hardware, the Mac and the Lenovo had no problems detecting the stick, and thus I was able to use it right away for games like Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and even the Marathon Aleph One project. I also managed to get the stick to work on a virtual machine; in fact, it plays real nice on A-10 Cuba and F/A-18 Hornet. Worth the $10 I spent? Most definitely.

On another note, I just finished running a filesystem check on the floppy disks I got 2 weeks ago, and none of them have any read/write errors whatsoever... awesome!

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:34:02 PM.
  #27  
Old May 19, 2016, 08:31:43 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #20 - Rewiring a 40+ Year Old Desk Phone

About 11 years ago, I had acquired an Automatic Electric model 80E desk phone, circa 1975, from my late grandfather, complete with a four-prong telephone interface and a custom-made touch-tone keypad that was built right into the telephone itself by my late uncle. I originally converted it so I could use it with my RJ-11 landline network, but then I got the dumb idea of converting the handset into a cell phone compatible receiver. After trying that idea out and not liking it, I went back to having a regular handset for the actual phone. Trial and error turned out to be fruitless, so I disconnected the ringer, the handset, and the RJ-11 cable, and completely abandoned the idea of getting the phone to work while resorting to using the speaker as a lo-fi microphone. This abandonment lasted until just recently when I found and unearthed the phone from one of my storage bins.

Believe it or not, I actually found the proper wiring diagrams for the 80E just this past week, so I downloaded them and followed them to a T, refastening the spade connectors that I had incorrectly wired back in 2006 and disconnected in my self-defeat. An hour later, I plugged the phone into the house's telephone network and attempted to dial my cell phone... success. I proceeded to call the house from my cell phone, and wouldn't you know it? The ringer actually rang, albeit in a slightly muffled fashion due to my hasty wire cramming in order to get the phone reassembled. Rerouting the ringer wires will be the next thing on my list, but hey. I'm glad the phone works once again.

Automatic Electric was the largest of the manufacturing units of the Automatic Electric Group. It was a telephone equipment supplier for independent telephone companies in North America, and also had a world-wide presence. With its line of automatic telephone exchanges it was also a long-term supplier of switching equipment to the Bell System, starting in 1919. Automatic Electric moved on to become General Telephone and Electric (GTE), a company that was later succeeded by Verizon. My late uncle had worked for GTE up into the mid-1990s, when he retired and took up repairing wristwatches, clocks, and other non-electronic timepieces.

EDIT: Just got around to rerouting the wires that got in the way of the ringer's striker, and readjusted the two bells so that the striker makes better contact when the phone rings, resulting in a much louder, clearer ring. I am very pleased with the outcome of the project as a whole.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:33:25 PM.
  #28  
Old May 31, 2016, 02:35:02 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #21 - Maintaining a 29-Year-Old Electric Typewriter

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A Panasonic T325 Electronic Typewriter. Made in 1987.

A couple weeks ago on the way home from one of my clients, I stopped at the antiques shop that I've been frequenting since January. I saw this Panasonic T325 typewriter sitting on top of a display case with two unopened dual-packs of carbon-based ribbons sitting next to it. As I went to take a closer look at it, the shop owner told me that I could have it, because to him it didn't work; he said that it would type very faintly, and that after about 5 carriage returns, the carriage mechanism locked up completely.

15 minutes passed as I hauled the typewriter back to my car and drove home, where I wiped the typewriter down with some Clorox disinfectant wipes and proceeded to remove the cover. By looking at the markings on the inside of the case, I noticed that the date of manufacture was June 13, 1987... holy cow! That's exactly 6 months after I was born.

And you would not believe how many dead gnats found their way to the back of the unit... it was so nasty.

After taking it outside and giving the insides a good blast of compressed air, I brought it back in and started cleaning every mechanical part under the cover, spraying some white lithium grease on the carriage rail, and working the grease in by disengaging the carriage motor and manually but gently moving the carriage from side to side, thinking that was the cause of the jamming. But before I reconnected all of the ribbon cables and reassembled the unit, I decided to pay a visit to the typewriter's logic board and power supply. Every capacitor tested normal according to my multimeter, and the CR2032 backup battery - as old as it is - still reads 3.3 volts. I shorted the battery just briefly to erase any settings that the previous owner had set, like left and right margins, tab stops, and even the spell check list. That's right: the typewriter has a built-in spell check system, or "Accu-Spell" as Panasonic put it.

After reassembly, I powered the typewriter up for the first time that it was in my possession, and everything looked good so far. I put it through 5 lines of spaces... no jams. I put it through 10 more lines... no jams there, either. I put it through 10 lines of random characters... still no jams.
The typewriter was working like it had just left Panasonic's manufacturing facility in Japan on June 13, 1987.

Another piece of 1980s office equipment revived.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:32:54 PM. Reason: Realized Matsushita had changed their name to Panasonic in 2012
  #29  
Old June 27, 2016, 08:15:32 AM
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Post Tech Rambling #22 - Goodbye General Electric, Hello Sony

I'm sure many of you remember the GE boombox that I scored for free at the local antiques shop, having been warned by the shop owner that it didn't work. I recently decided to strip the old 8-track player down to a few parts that I wanted to hang onto, after having a sort of Pyrrhic victory in trying to get to work at all.

During one of my more recent thrift shop adventures, I found a slightly-used Logitech joystick for $3, an older Gran Prix Walkman for $0.50, and a Sony AM/FM/Cassette boom box for $6, the latter of which became the successor of the GE boom box that I got for free. In store, I plugged in the boombox for basic testing of the AM tuner, FM tuner, and cassette functions, all of which passed without fail. At home, I went through about four cotton swabs to clean the internals of the cassette compartment: one for the playback and recording heads, and three for the capstan and pinch roller. You would not believe how much oxidized filth was on that capstan. I mean, it was so disgusting that, when I was finished cleaning the capstan alone, the tip of the swab was completely black. The pinch roller was just as filthy, if not filthier. Nevertheless, it's clean and suitable for general cassette playback. I could not be happier with the $6 Sony boombox from 1987.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 3, 2016 at 06:32:26 PM.
  #30  
Old August 3, 2016, 06:31:58 PM
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Post Tech Rambling #23 - Aluminum Apple PowerBook G4 Acquired

In May, I was talking with my brother-in-law (the one who gave me his Mid-2010 27" Apple Intel iMac free of charge) about how I had bought the previously-featured Apple QuickTake 150 for $10, and he mentioned that he had a computer that might work with the 20-year-old digital camera. 3 months later, I came to a final consensus during a very opportune time where I agreed that I'd be staying a couple nights at his house before heading up with him, my sister, and my oldest niece to Michigan to see my brother. I was called into the kitchen to help put some groceries away, and that's when I saw it: the aluminum Apple PowerBook G4 that he hadn't used since 2013, with its 65-watt power supply sitting on top, neatly wrapped.

Upon further inspection, I found that it had a connection similar to the "GeoPort" serial connection that the QuickTake uses for data transmission, but that connector was actually an S-video output, not an 8-pin serial connector. While this means that I will reassign my QuickTake's status to "collector's item," it also means that I can use my iMac or Lenovo laptop as an external monitor of sorts, as my Elgato Video Capture device accepts S-video as a video input. Likewise, I will be able to chop one of my S-video cables and convert it into an adapter that I can use with NTSC-U composite video inputs, like my VCR or my 20-year-old RCA audiovisual TV in the living room - the same TV I have been using for my video game systems.

After a nice 4 hours of charging the battery from a completely dead state to 100%, I decided to turn on the computer to see if it would still boot, and it did. It still had all of my brother-in-law's old files, which I will back up to an external hard disk when I return from Michigan, and then I'll put a fresh copy of Mac OS X 10.4 (aka "Tiger") on it, so that I can use Mac OS 9 in the "Classic" environment. It's too bad that I can't boot Mac OS 9 directly on the G4, but that's one of the reasons I will still keep my iBook G3, the other reason being that the iBook will eventually also be a platform on which my nieces can play some classic edutainment games from the 68k and early PowerPC days of the Macintosh. Plus, the iBook looks a little bit like a kid's toy.

In a future post, I will tell you guys all about the features of the PowerBook G4, so stay tuned.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 4, 2016 at 09:48:41 AM.
  #31  
Old August 3, 2016, 11:03:32 PM
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I really do love reading these posts about how you find ways to make things work, especially with obsolete video equipment.
  #32  
Old August 4, 2016, 10:08:37 AM
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Your gratitude is very much appreciated, Cat.
  #33  
Old August 8, 2016, 07:12:03 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #24 - Goodbye YPT-220, Hello YPG-235

After learning over the weekend that she had ordered a new digital piano for the new condo, my brother's girlfriend had given me her old keyboard, a Yamaha YPG-235 portable grand piano, which normally sells for about $510 US. It's probably the most awesome upgrade I've gotten, and I really love it. Only thing left to do is find a place in my crowded music studio to set it up.

The Yamaha YPT-220 was an awesome keyboard when I purchased it in 2009. It had true stereo sound - a sound that's far richer than the dual mono sound of my first MIDI keyboard, a Casio CTK-496 - plus a modified XG sound set called "XGLite," 61 keys, and most importantly to my studio, MIDI in and out. Once I have recorded the three onboard demo songs, I will gather the accessories that came with the keyboard and prepare it for donation to a local charity. Gone are the days where I will be limited to fixed key velocities, gone are the days where the only way I can utilize pitch bends is with my smartphone, and gone are the days where I cannot see the keyboard's screen due to lack of a backlight.

I believe that this is a bittersweet change: although I will miss the days of playing my second-ever MIDI keyboard, the new portable grand piano will provide me with as many years as the older keyboard, maybe even more.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 8, 2016 at 07:13:07 AM.
  #34  
Old August 8, 2016, 10:55:27 AM
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Default Tech Rambling #25 - Apple PowerBook G4 (Aluminum) - Specifications

Woo! 25 tech ramblings.

As I have promised in Tech Rambling #23, here is the complete tech specs of the PowerBook G4 that I have acquired this past week.
Information source: http://www.everymac.com/systems/appl...4_1.67_15.html

Technical Specifications:

Introduction Date: January 31, 2005
Discontinued Date: October 19, 2005
Processors: 1
Processor Speed: 1.67 GHz
Processor Type: PowerPC 7447a (G4)
Processor Upgrade: Soldered
FPU: Integrated
System Bus Speed: 167 MHz
Cache Bus Speed: 1.67 GHz (Built-in)
ROM/Firmware Type: Open Firmware
ROM/Firmware Size: 1 MB
L1 Cache: 64k
L2/L3 Cache: 512k (on chip)
RAM Type: PC2700 DDR SDRAM
Min. RAM Speed: 333 MHz
Standard RAM: 512 MB
Maximum RAM: 2 GB
Motherboard RAM: None
RAM Slots: 2
Video Card: Mobility Radeon 9700
VRAM Type: DDR SDRAM
Standard VRAM: 64 MB
Maximum VRAM: 128 MB*
Built-in Display: 15.0" Widescreen
Native Support: 1280x854
2nd Display Support: Dual/Mirroring
2nd Max. Resolution: 2048x1536**
Standard Hard Drive: 80 GB (5400 RPM)
Int. HD Interface: Ultra ATA/100
Standard Optical: 8X "SuperDrive"
Standard Disk: None
Standard Modem: 56k v.92
Standard Ethernet: 10/100/1000Base-T
Standard AirPort: 802.11b/g (Standard)
Standard Bluetooth: 2.0+EDR
USB Ports: 2 (2.0)
Firewire Ports: 1 (400), 1 (800)
Expansion Slots: Type I/II PC Card
Expansion Bays: None
Incl. Keyboard: Full-size
Incl. Input: Trackpad
Case Type: Notebook
Form Factor: PowerBook G4 15"
Apple Order No: M9677LL/A
Apple Subfamily: 15-Inch 1.67/1.5
Apple Model No: A1106 (EMC 2029)
Model ID: PowerBook5,6
Battery Type: 50 W h LiIon
Battery Life: 4.5 Hours
Pre-Installed MacOS: 10.3.7
Maximum MacOS: 10.5.8
MacOS 9 Support: Classic Mode Only***
Windows Support: Emulation Only
Dimensions: 1.1 x 13.7 x 9.5
Avg. Weight: 5.6 lbs (2.5 kg)
Original Price (US): US$2299
Est. Current Retail: US$250-US$350

* A 128 MB dual-link DVI upgrade option was available at the time of purchase. The video cannot be upgraded after purchase.

**The maximum resolution supported on an external display is 2048x1536 at millions of colors with the default configuration.

*** This model is capable of using Mac OS 9 applications within the Mac OS X "Classic" environment provided with Mac OS X 10.4.11 "Tiger" and lower ("Classic" is not supported starting with Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard"). It cannot boot into Mac OS 9.
  #35  
Old August 26, 2016, 08:51:58 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #26 - Apple PowerBook G4 (Aluminum) - Down for Maintenance

Recently, I had gotten a PowerBook G4 from my brother-in-law with an original intent to communicate with my 20-year-old QuickTake digital camera, but the PowerBook quickly became an integral part of my video-editing workflow, despite not having the appropriate communications ports to interface with the old digital camera. So far, I've gotten it to dual boot between Mac OS X 10.4.11 and 10.5.8, as well as adding Mac OS 9.2.2 support to the former OS.

And this is where I've hit a roadblock: On August 20th, I disassembled the computer according to a guide on iFixit, so that I could give it a thorough cleaning, but then I got to a point where I would normally have to clean the old thermal grease off of the CPU and GPU and apply a fresh layer before remounting the logic board, and at that time, I had no such thermal grease.

Four days later, a thermal grease kit by Arctic Silver was on order, which included solvent for removing old grease, purifying the CPU and heatsink, and of course, the thermal grease itself. I went with Arctic Silver because of the high praise my Second Life friends have given it, and also by recommendation of my IT friends in town.

Until the kit arrives (at this time, the kit has arrived in my town and its delivery is pending), the PowerBook G4 will be out of commission, since I don't wish to risk damaging the CPU or the GPU. Also when the kit arrives, I plan to completely strip the computer down to its bottom case, so that I can more effectively clean the system, and thus restore proper ventilation. On the bright side, however, the PowerBook's downtime does not hinder my ability to carry on my everyday computing tasks. I also plan to replace the thermal grease that's currently on my Lenovo's Intel Core i5, since the Lenovo has gotten heavy use since the day I bought it three years ago in September.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; August 26, 2016 at 08:52:38 PM.
  #36  
Old August 29, 2016, 09:20:38 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #27 - Laptops Repaired

A better part of Monday afternoon was spent completely disassembling my PowerBook G4, cleaning it out (it was a very easy job with very minimal to no dust to contend with), and prepared for the newly-arrived thermal paste. The old paste came off so easy, it was like scraping frost off of a windshield. Nevertheless, the PowerBook has a completely new layer of thermal paste, and I'm ready to test the PowerPC version of Sonic Charge's "Cyclone" software sampler, which is an emulator of Yamaha's TX16W sampler from 1987-1988, complete with the Typhoon 2000 replacement operating system. I've only just begun scratching the surface with the Windows-compatible version on my Lenovo.

As of Tuesday, the Lenovo also had its thermal paste replaced. During testing, I've noticed a significant improvement in performance, especially on Second Life, than before I put the fresh layer on the CPU.

It's great to have both gigahertz-range laptops back up and running full steam.

Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; September 3, 2016 at 07:46:22 AM. Reason: Update on Lenovo
  #37  
Old September 19, 2016, 02:45:56 PM
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Default Tech Rambling #28 - Magnavox Camcorder Show 'n' Tell

If you've been paying attention to the Recent Purchases thread this past week, then you'll know that I bought a Magnavox full-size VHS camcorder, manufactured in November 1988, for $10 at Goodwill, and included with the camcorder are a wired remote, mono AV out adapter, and two dead sealed lead-acid batteries, but no way to charge them, power the camcorder, or feed audio and video via RF. In that same post, I said I'd upload pictures of said camcorder, so here they are.

I apologize in advance for any portrait-oriented photos displayed in landscape mode. ^^;

The box to the left of the camcorder in the first picture, is the semi-permanent power supply I've rigged so that it feeds 12 volts DC directly to the battery terminals. I will eventually devise a battery-based power supply to make the camcorder portable again, but for now the DC power supply works pretty nicely. I've also noticed that the camcorder requires a standard LR54 1.5-volt battery for date and time, so I'm borrowing the battery from one of my calculators in the interim to keep the time circuits alive, at least until I can purchase a few fresh ones.

If you've ever worked with S-VHS camcorders made between 1986 and 1990, then you'll probably recognize that "infamous" 14-pin multiconnector in pictures 3 and 4 where it says "Adaptor - See Manual". I've seen the same connector on a Panasonic S-VHS camcorder from 1990 that happens to owned by the church I go to on Saturday evenings. (They use the Panasonic camcorder to feed video of the sanctuary to the downstairs Parish Hall, where the elderly remotely view masses)
In any case, it is through that connector that I can only output analog video and audio on my Magnavox camcorder, which is great for interfacing with my conventional VCR.
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Last edited by Seiji J. Konokama; September 19, 2016 at 03:02:41 PM.
  #38  
Old September 20, 2016, 01:26:17 PM
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As I kid, I always wanted one of those. Nice find!
 
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