i have never seen a hard drive head crash this pristine

Seriously, this is like the canonical hard drive head crash. This should be some sort of textbook photo or classroom example piece. It’s goddamn beautiful in an elegant-termination way.

If the canon Widowmaker from Overwatch made a hard drive crash, this is what it would look like. Pow.

I’m just glad this was not a studio hard drive. It was one of the old laptops, and had failed a couple of years ago – did I mention that I am dead serious about cleaning out acres of old junk going into the new year? Well, I am.

But… damn. This is almost worth keeping.

more STUFF

I have NEC Multisync (original, 1987) and Multisync II (1988) CRT monitors that both need to have their power supply boards rebuilt. The CRT in one is very good, the CRT in the other is good but has some mild burn-in. I forget which is which and can’t test because they don’t power on now.

Anybody know some old-school CRT hax0rs looking for projects? The CRTs being good is what makes them worthwhile.

(Yes, I am still crawling through the Old Tech Closet. But the end is in sight. Cheer me up by checking out the 2016 singles, all still on hit-the-tip-jar pricing. ^_^ )

so much old amiga stuff

All this old computer stuff I keep talking about is going up on eBay in various forms. Those auctions will be over here, and all the starting bids are way low, because the whole point is to clear all this out. I’ll be adding more items hopefully daily.

But! That Amiga 500 I’ve been talking about… that’s a bit tricky. It’s better as a unit than it would be as pieces, but the weird wooden case is a problem, and there is no case anywhere else that could be used and keep the system intact. I could take it apart and sell the pieces, and that would probably get me the most money, but frankly, I’d much rather keep it together.

You can probably see where this is going.

I have a highly-customised Amiga 500 with ECS chipset, FlickerFicker/deinterlacer/scandoubler card, 3.5 megs of memory, 14.3Mhz processor (double-speed) with cache, a two-slot Zorro II card cage, SCSI/memory expansion card, third-party high-quality power supply… and a completely goofy wooden tower case made out of lumber, because there is no mass-market case in the world that would hold all this. The hard drive may have just died, but the rest is still fine.

Does anyone out there know any collectors or retrocomputing enthusiasts who might be interested in this monster as one big piece? Seriously, you will not find many Amiga 500s with detached keyboards and Zorro II slots.

Shipping it isn’t a question. Just… no. And you don’t have to take the case, but you won’t find one that will deal with this configuration – you’ll have to build something.

So if you know any Amiga enthusiasts, have them talk to me. I’m not asking eBay parts price, but particularly things like the scandoubler actually do draw some money, so I’m hoping for a couple of hundred dollars. A lot less than you’d pay to assemble it, but well above zero.

Most of the other pieces, I’ll be eBaying. But this… I’d rather find somebody who can take it all in one piece. Thanks.

straight out of the hobbit, if smaug was a computer

As per yesterday’s post, I’ve been doing a lot of new year’s cleanup/clean-out, and that includes old computer gear. And that lead to a series of events with my old AmigaUUCP Usenet site, lorbit.UUCP, as hosted on the very-heavily-modified homemade-tower-case Amiga 500, smaug.

These series of events loosely follow the arc of the machine’s namesake, Smaug, the dragon, in The Hobbit.

snow day at the lair

Sorry for no blog posts – it’s end of the year cleanup, and archiving, and I just found another old hard drive of dubious origin, so old the ichor of elder days has dried to dust, so I am of course trying to image it, because where else are you going to get ichor powder in this market?

Something has to drive the eldritch wheels of creation, after all.

data preservation, mostly: virtualising an old amiga 4000

I’ve spent the last couple of days working on getting my old Amiga working (I finally have a functional keyboard again!) and then virtualised under a modern emulator/VM, and WOW SO BORING but I wanted to document it somewhere.

Yes, yes, the student has become the master, etc.

Plus it’s kind of hilarious to see these old network configuration files again. lol murkworks.seattle.wa.us what even. Does that system still exist anymore? I honestly don’t know.

Hoo, where to start? Okay, first, I’m running FS-UAE, which emulates Amiga hardware. FS-UAE is good because it’s open source, multiplatform, and all versions use the same disk image files, which are really basic raw drive images that you could literally write back out to a physical drive with dd and use in a real machine.

You need Kickstart ROMs, of course. There tools out there to image your own old ROMs if your Amiga is working, but if not, Amiga Forever is the best place to get those, because they’ll see you every ROM ever for like US$30, and a bunch of (again, legal!) OS versions on floppy disk images.

You’ll need to have a Windows PC to run Amiga Forever on once, because the download is an .msi file, and you’ll need to unpack that mess. Or, if you don’t mind waiting, you can buy the “deluxe” edition for $10 more, and they’ll mail you a DVD, eliminating the PC requirement.

If you go with the download, then once you have it/install the .MSI file, it’ll let you make a DVD-R ISO which you can burn. That’ll produce the same DVD as the deluxe edition would give you, only as DVD-R instead of DVD but whatever. If you’re using a USB drive, you can just have Amiga Forever write out all the files to a standard directory structure there, as well. FS-UAE will work with either to import the ROMs.

In my case, I was able to get my old hard drives viewable under Linux. (That’s because A4000 used IDE instead of SCSI rives, and EIDE cages talk to them.) That meant I could make .img files just using the linux dd command. If you want to virtualise your old machine pretty much intact, you’ll want to image the whole drive to a file – not the partitions individually.

If you have a SCSI controller and can hook your old Amiga drive(s) to it, you can do the same trick there.

Dara Korra’ti You can also mount your old hard drive partitions under linux, though they will be read-only. This still will let you copy things off, and on any modern file system, FS-UAE will let you use a directory as root of a virtualised Amiga hard drive. I’m doing this as drive … four now on my newly virtualised Amiga. That gives me unlimited access to the host machine’s drive space, which is cool, and both my OS X host and my Windows 2000 VM can read/write that directory so all three OSes can share files freely now, which is definitely handy.

Sometimes people apparently have problems mounting the Amiga partitions individually; here is a helpful page on that. The most important part of it really is that fdisk doesn’t recognise Amiga partition tables and that can confuse things, but parted does, and even if you have to get super-squirrley (I did not) then you can make it work with data you can extract via parted.

The reason I’ve been concentrating on OS X is because the Linux version of FS-UAE wants PulseAudio, which I do not want on my DAW, which is my main linux machine. But since I’m using standard dd-created disk images, I can migrate later if I have an appropriate Linux machine for this task.

If you do not have an existing Amiga hard drive, FS-UAE will happily let you create a virtual one and install whatever Workbench versions you want to it.

Anyway, once I had the virtualised machine booting at all to my old system (albeit as an Amiga 4000 with 68020 processor, how the hell that was supposed to work I can’t tell you but it did), I then booted to an Amiga Workbench 3.1 install floppy image instead of the hard drive, and installed 3.1 as an upgrade on my old (now virtualised) drives. After that, everything behaved a lot more normally and I enabled PPC-acceleration-board emulation – which was another advantage of Amiga Forever, since the extra ROM needed was also in the Amiga Forever image.

(Though I did have to rename it. But it asked for the file by name, so it wasn’t hard to figure that out.)

Anyway, that should get you started. There are lots of app floppy images floating around you can use for things too. Lots of legal ones, even. FS-UAE and Amiga Forever will both point you at those and will even include some of them.

Oh, if you have old Amiga floppies and a working/workable Amiga and floppy drive to read them, you’ll want TransADF, which lets you create ADF files out of Amiga floppy disks:


It runs on the Amiga side of things and creates .adf files that fs-uae will use. It’s not really for copy-protected stuff tho’. As far as I can tell, it is about the easiest way to get files off Amiga floppies and onto a machine while preserving all their attributes and such.

Finally, if somehow you have a working Amiga but it doesn’t have LHA, this will help:


I have used a spell to rip this walkthrough from Amiga’s decaying floppy disks, and
sealed it in one of the servers floating in the Furthest Ring. The gods may
disperse the signal throughout the cosmos as they wish. Perhaps it will be of use
to past or future species who like us have been ensnared by crazy-ass antique operating systems.

I see another drive has filed. Pardon my egress. You’re on your own now.

oh look, the feet… ran. and computer case feet should not do that.

This is what’s left of the rubber feet of my 1994 Commodore Amiga 4000/040.

Yep. That’s a viscous tar-like residue that ran along the bottom of the case and into the gap between the bottom case and the cover. It’s very sticky and resistant to detergent, but, fortunately, not to citrus-based sticky tape removers. Isn’t it gross? I mean, seriously, doesn’t this look like some sort of OOZE OF SATAN special effect?

Oddly, the stickytape used to hold the rubber feet on was intact! And, as far as I can tell, fine. This actually saved me a lot of cleanup, because the cores of the old feet were pretty solid? The further I removed down, the more like rubber it became. The thickest material had an actual rubber-like consistency.

Fortunately, all the rubber that ran could be cleaned up pretty easily with an old spudger and a lot of orange oil. But goddamn.

I’ve repaired tube equipment from the second world war and this is the most bizarre materials degradation I’ve ever encountered.

goin’ to the movies

We’re going to the movies tonight, so here’s a question that was fun on Nick Mamatas’s account: name three movies you love that “everybody” just hates. Or loathes or whatever.

My three: Brain Candy (tho’ that’s at least partly “nobody saw it” I think); it’s a bit of a stretch to say “love,” but I do at least legitimately like The Magic Christian; and Speed Racer. Absofuckinglutely Speed Racer.

and some days things don’t work

I wanted to post about the cool second-generation crystal microphone today BUT NO IT’S ALL STUPID AND NOISY AND I DON’T KNOW WHY but it sounds like either a really bad cold solder joint (please be that) or a bad transistor (@&*$&!!! special orders please don’t be that) and I don’t know which.

It’s too bad because I came up with a nice little jury-rig jig (say that five times fast) and so the backplate of the housing came out really well and I was looking forward to showing that off. Fingers crossed this is some sort of Surprise It’s Easy! fix – that would indeed be a surprise, to be honest about it, but a pleasant one.

In the meantime, enjoy this video of Overwatch players in custom game mode making some genuinely gorgeous Genji Beams. These are effects created by lining up opposing teams of Genji players opposite each other, in continuous-shot-deflection mode, and hitting them with various weapons. The shots bounce back and forth between the teams, and you get some really neat graphics interactions. It’s pretty cool and occasionally hilarious. Enjoy:

cyberrrrrrrr mondaaaaaaaay

It’s Cyber Monday, apparently, which means LET’S PUT EVERYTHING ON SALE. I’m doing my part – I’ve put out four singles this year, so I’m putting all of them on pay-what-you-like.

It’s funny, but the most recent one – We’re Not Friends (The Future Has a Place) – has really changed on me since the election. Particularly with Mr. Pence involved, it’s stopped being a celebration, and has turned into a declaration of defiance.

Fortunately, I’m real good at defiance.

Here’s the 2016 tracks. I think they’re real good. Pay what you like – and thanks.

Return top

The Music