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    This week I have two C64s coming for use in a project. We’re building an alternate reality game set in the Blade Runner universe for 44CON. Attendees can register as blade runners, build their own portable Voight-Kampff machines, and by connecting attendee badges and interviewing other attendees determine whether or not the attendee is a replicant.

    Their devices give the blade runners a code they can enter into C64-based Citizen Database terminals to determine whether or not the person interviewed is a human or a replicant. We’ll have a mix of Nexus 6s (who’ll know they’re replicants), and Nexus 7s (who won’t).

    It is distinctly possible some replicants will also register as blade runner units.

    We’ve got some lovely people in California working on the badge and PVK units. I’m working on the C64 terminal code, so lots of 6510 assembly for me this week.

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      Epic. Too bad I am on the other side of the planet.

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        That is incredibly cool!

        I sometimes wish I’d bought a C64 rathan than an Atari as my initial 8 bit computer back in 1980.

        But then if I had I’d never have fallen in love with Atari LOGO and would have never had the experience of having my mind blown and experiencing the fireworks someone likes me who loves high levels of abstraction can get from a really finely crafted programming environment :)

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          My 8-bit experience is almost all Z80 and 8086 (which is almost the same) aside from microcontrollers. 6502/10 is a weird beast for me. I’m finding C64 asm architecture incredibly obtuse thanks to the custom chips and kernal functions, but it’s all part of the fun.

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            Yeah there’s certainly a lot of quirky in the C64 and Atari 8 bit lines! It’s one of the reason I still have a soft spot for them :)

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        After a long week doing stuff at BSides London, 44CONnect and two days of training, I’m going to sleep properly.

        I’m also hoping to catch up on some house stuff, do some Amiga tinkering and learn about text manipulation on the C64 for an ARG I’m working on.

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          Interesting. I had the chance to sit down with the safepass.me guys and go through their approach, which is equally about optimal coverage rather than mindlessly comparing against the db itself (safepass assert coverage higher than HIBP due to the way their algorithm works).

          It’s good to see innovation in this space. With rotating passwords finally being accepted as a suboptimal idea, it’s even more important that passwords chosen are good enough to withstand password cracking.

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            I like how the bottom of the post has a link to ESR’s (now defunct) Google Plus profile.

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              What irony, lol

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              Nice work. My only concern is that one centralized actor is being swapped out for two here (netlify and MS/Github in this case).

              Not for me, but anything that gets people out of Medium is a good thing in my book.

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                I’ve just finished writing feedback emails for every 44CON submission this year, so I’m having a quieter day today.

                This week I’m working on getting ready for our training next week, which is in the same week as BSides London. It’s going to be a hectic week. We’re also preparing speaker announcements for next week at BSides London.

                Finally, I’m spending a few hours getting to grips with Pagestream on the Amiga. I’ve been batting the idea of some sort of an annual 44CON zine for a while but I’m unsure of the format yet. If I can do something reasonable on an Amiga and fill it with things from the period as well as research, then I might give it a go.

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                  While most of the recommendations are sensible alternatives, the inclusion in this list of systems with a clear network effect – Mastodon in place of Twitter, PeerTube in place of YouTube – detracts from its effectiveness. The alternatives are software alternatives but the software is an incredibly tiny part of the value of the system.

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                    I’m not sure they’re all entirely sensible alternatives. In particular, Mastodon is pretty full on to deploy and manage for most use cases. Perhaps the piece could’ve been improved with some backup alternatives.

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                    I’ve contacted them about dropping Amiga support, offering to try and get something up and running for them. It’ll mean the 4000 gets put to good use, and once I have a stable build setup I can try to recreate it using the 68k AROS kickstart and runtime in UAE so they can have an automated checkout->build->submit process.

                    Hopefully they’ll get back to me. Anyone want to take on any of the other OSes?

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                      This is SO COOL!

                      Just curious, you cite using it for writing and other ‘creative tasks’ in the article, but other than writing what are you using it for?

                      I have a deep abiding love for DeluxePaint :) I could play with multicycle brushes like, forever :)

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                        Ok, I have a ton of stuff lined up for this, but phase 1 is backing up all of my still-working disks with old code, music, art and writing and possibly finishing stuff off. I’ve learned a lot about those things in the last couple of decades, so remixing some of the content and putting it out there in the modern world is high on my agenda.

                        I’m still building out the box. I have coming down the pipeline for hardware:

                        • A 16-bit soundcard
                        • A combo Graphics card, Ethernet card, Coprocessor and Memory expansion
                        • A 68060/50 to replace the 040
                        • A Compact Flash card to replace the hard drive as heat will start to become an issue once the 060 is in.

                        All of the older stuff I’m buying needs to be recapped, so I’m going to look into doing that myself. The Amiga doesn’t do APM or ACPI, so I’m going to build my own device to monitor temperatures and shut the Amiga down if it gets too hot.

                        I’m going to use it for:

                        • 3D Modelling and Fractal animation generation
                        • Pixel art and photo editing (once the memory expansion is in)
                        • Setting up a modtunes radio station that records modtune mixes and releases them.
                        • Writing an intro/demo for next year’s 44CON
                        • Writing short form fiction with Final Writer
                        • Managing my finances with Turbo Calc
                        • Possibly doing an online zine with Pagestream
                        • Trying to edit a podcast once I have the 16-bit soundcard, network card and extended drive set up
                        • Remixing old mod tunes I wrote, and writing new ones
                        • Adding Amiga hunk binary support to Radare

                        One of the 3d world generation tools I want to use, Vista Pro has problems opening up on my RTG workbench, so I’m using that as an excuse to learn a disassembler/debugger called ReSource. I know how to fix the binary, but I want to understand why the fix works.

                        Basically I’ve spent nearly 20 years away from the Amiga, in which time I’ve developed (relatively) god-like reverse engineering and hardware hacking powers compared to my teenage self, so I want to put them to good use and have a go at all of the things. Hopefully it’ll give me something fun to do for the next 20 years.

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                          I remember Vista Pro!!! I could never figure out how to use it fully but it was amazing for its time.

                          Remember Director? The 2D animation DSL? I used that a lot and did a Media internship project in it for college.

                          Thinking about this stuff makes me realize how much of the software that made the Amiga great really was way ahead of its time and still has things to teach us today. There are many lessons that breakthrough software can teach us.

                          You should totally document this project to the nines as you go!

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                            Remember Director?

                            Sadly, no. I never used it. I used Scala, but not Director.

                            Having said that, if you’re interested, there’s an ADF for use in WinUAE, along with the manual in case you’re feeling rusty.

                            I’ve made a note to check it out and spend some time with it though. Might be a while before I get to it.

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                              The main thing I took away from reading about the Amiga was that it (IIRC) used a mix of software and hardware offloading. Our smartphones are doing that now. You could say its legacy lives on in that way. Just too ahead of its time.

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                                That’s one piece of it, but it’s far far more than that. AmigaOS had pre-emptive multitasking way before any other non UNIX desktop OS did, and it had a message passing ‘exec’ (Most would call it a micro-kernel these days).

                                And yes it had an awesome graphics coprocessor (Coppper) and a bit blit transfer coprocessor (Blitter) which all had rich support in the API (Intiution).

                                The whole thing was written with a sense of humor and had an … elegance? To it that’s hard to describe in the here and now.

                                It also had a full user / application scripting enviornment, ARexx, so you could have scripts that ADRESSed running applications and sent them commands that they exported.

                                So you could have a script that had your Telecom program download a ZOO file full of images, tell your unarchiver to unarchive them, and then tell DeluxePaint to load and transform them, saving them back out, and then have your mail program mail them to you.

                                The other thing to know about Amiga is that a TON of incredibly ground breaking software was originally developed on that platform. Lightwave 3D started out there for example.

                                Also - the games were amazeballs for their time. So yeah, if you were into computing at that time and didn’t have access to super high end workstations, it was basically magic :)

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                                  Thanks for the details! I’m slowly trying to piece the picture together one article and conversation at a time. You’re the first to tell me about the scripting stuff. It definitely sounds better than my DOS with graphic shell experience. ;) I think modern audiences could get an appreciation for it today if it was presented comparatively to a system, apps, and games of that time. Not a rigged demo by zealots: someone highlighting realistic use of good apps on both platforms in a way that shows Amiga’s advantage as a side effect.

                                  I heard about Lightwave. Closer to home was that the Preview Channel ran on Amiga. Means I used Amiga without knowing it for a decent chunk of my life.

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                                    Kinda not surprised. They’re tucked away in some surprising places. There was one that was still running a school’s HVAC in a closet for YEARS:

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                                      Amazing. Reminds me of this advertisement about an AS/400 doing something similar. People used to lose VMS servers, esp pizza boxes, too. This kind of thing probably happens way more than we hear about it. The ones that ran for years seem to be on specific OS’s and hardware that aren’t mainstream, though. I still think high-reliability deployments that don’t need raw speed should consider leveraging such technologies where possible.

                                      I also speculate that the physics of modern, process nodes that breaks chips means using oldest ones available will always have advantages. The used Amiga you bought on eBay might outlast your brand-new, high-reliability chip from 28nm fab. There’s you a business justification for loading up on them for critical services. :)

                              2. 2

                                I used to love Vista as a teen and had totally forgotten about it until this comment :) Deluxe Paint IV, too.

                                How’s emulation lately? I guess ROMs are difficult to find. Presumably the hardware can be emulated at native speed though?

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                                  You can purchase the full ROM set as well as super easy to use software at http://www.amigaforever.com - emulation is startlingly good on quite a number of platforms.

                                  I’ve been playing with getting UAE running on my Clockwork Pi - handheld Shadow of the Beast!!! :)

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                            Instead of having a bulky A4000 for tasks you outlined in the commect, couldn’t you just get a little cute A600 with Vampire 600 V2 accelerator (68080 CPU on gate-array, which is a 68060 with fixed bugs and added pipelines, also RTG graphics card beating any MNT product (or any ZorroIII card, but I’m not trying to advocate it over Mediator PCI + Radeon / Vodoo))?

                            Soundcard can be added on „clock port” and these are cheaper (and newer, as clockport got developers’ attention pretty recently).

                            Of course A4000 is great looking „desktop” machine and I really appreciate it, but currently the only case I would find for it, except some VERY SERIOUS stuff like plugging PowerPC, Mediators, TV cards and so on is to have VideoToaster in it, or other „DraCo-style” setup with few TV/encoding/processing cards, Scala and other video editing software.

                            Not to mention you can just simply plug cheap RTL8319/3C589/Prism2 network card into PCMCIA port in A600, add Roadshow to S:Startup-Sequence and release yourself from the need of any other x86 machine, also releasing your CPU a lot from TCP/IP processing from raw serial port

                            1. 2

                              I have a bunch of other Amigas, I think I have an A600 in the loft, and my A1200, possibly with 2 A500s is somewhere in my conservatory. Of course, I can do things even faster still with a Raspberry Pi, or with WinUAE on my i7 beast.

                              This isn’t about performance though, it’s about youth and love. The A4000 was my dream machine as a kid. It’s not something really for me to own, it’s something for me to take care of, to look after until it’s next owner, probably a museum.

                              I do miss having a clock port on the A4000 - I was hoping to build an i2c interface that I could use with some temperature sensors to do some kind of power management. That’s a project for down the line though.

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                              The only insanity is the price tag.

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                                I hear that, I’m coming on what must be around $5000 in US money spent so far on the kit and upgrades. Worth every penny though.

                                Although, compared to the retail pricing, I’m doing pretty well for the horsepower.

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                                My weekend project is setting up PPP between my Amiga and a Raspberry Pi so I can connect to my local network via serial, then writing it up.

                                I’m also going through my old floppy disks from when I was a teenager and trying to recover my old files from it for archival.

                                I might get distracted with a bit of Stunt Car Racer while I’m at it.

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                                  This week I’m mostly working on the 44CON Training and 44CONnect sessions in June. I’m also looking at setting up an Adwords campaign. It’s been a while since I’ve done adwords.

                                  I picked up and installed my Amiga 4000 just this weekend, so on a personal note task number 1 this week is reverse engineering and modifying the Vista Pro 3 binary to work with my Picasso II RTG graphics card. Pics are up here, with more being added as I go.

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                                    We finally launched gambe.ro, the italian equivalent of lobste.rs. This week I(we) have to work on the first batch of feedbacks and maybe work on a dark theme that can be contributed back to lobste.rs

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                                      As italian, congratulations! Can you send me an invite? :)

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                                        You can request it directly on the website.

                                      2. 1

                                        I guess there’s no .te for Aragos.te. Looks great though!

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                                          Yep, indeed. We briefly considered spaghettialloscogl.io but we went for gambe.ro

                                      1. 2

                                        Road trip across England to pick up an Amiga 4000 and bring it home. I bought it last week, it’s going to be lovingly cared for and used mostly for productivity and creative work.

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                                          Anyone know if the Pi Zero Cluster boards were ever made available to the larger world?


                                          Seems like a lot of talk and promise, and then nothing.

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                                            I’ve had success with this.

                                            I use it to calculate Pi on Pi-day, and do some messing around with MPI.

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                                              What you linked to looks like an unofficial project to me. The guy who made it runs a company that does stuff with SBCs; it might even just be an internal thing that they use for whatever reason.

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                                                yeah that is what I was afraid it was.

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                                              I’m assuming he means AMD64, not the old Titanium x64 ;)

                                              Although OP is no doubt happy with their rube goldberg setup, all of the arguments against an AMD64 box fall apart in light of modern intel-based SBCs like the lattepandas. As /u/whjms pointed out, NUC power consumption can be pretty low too. My i5 NUC is whisper quiet and low power.

                                              The key problem with ARM SBCs isn’t CPU grunt, but RAM. That’s getting better with things like Jetson TX2 but they’re crazy expensive for normal use.

                                              Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good post on how to set up a decent ARM cluster though.

                                              1. 3

                                                When you start talking about price vs performance and power utilization for a single box, you’re going to do a lot better with something like a NUC, or an el-cheapo ATX motherboard and case, some Chinese x86-64 box, or even a 5-year-old laptop with its lid closed.

                                                But when you specifically want a cluster for whatever those reasons might be (redundancy, scalability, science), ARM starts to make more sense since the SBCs for ARM are small, cheap, and power-efficient. Between 2-8 GB of RAM and 4 CPU cores per cluster node is pretty usable for a lot of applications.

                                                There are small-ish x86 SBCs but they usually don’t compete with ARM in terms of price and power efficiency. The closest one I’ve seen so far is the recently-released Atomic Pi for $35. The price point is right, but it takes about twice as much power as a similar ARM SBC, from what I can tell. (There is also some speculation that all of these Atomic Pi units came from a manufacturing run ordered by a major car company which then cancelled the product. Which means that once these were bought at auction for a song and once sold out, there probably won’t be any more.)

                                                1. 2

                                                  I assume you mean Itanium not Titanium.

                                                  ARM SBC still use many times less power, costs many times less than NUC, take up less physical space and generate less heat. It just depends on what your use case requires. Intel NUC are an absolutely wonderful option as well, but so is an SBC cluster, depending on what you’re doing with it.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    I assume you mean Itanium not Titanium.

                                                    Yup, thanks for the correction or I’d spend the rest of my life calling it Titanium. I haven’t seen one in a very long time…

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                                                      we used to call it the Itanic.

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                                                    The key problem with ARM SBCs isn’t CPU grunt, but RAM

                                                    ROCK64 and ROCKPro64 come with up to 4GB of DDR4. I don’t think they’re dual channel though :(

                                                    1. 1

                                                      The board in the original post (Odroid N2) also has 4GB DDR4. Some SBCs even have regular dual-channel DDR4 (laptop) RAM slots (Odroid H2).

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                                                    As a programmer, you spend a lot of time editing and navigating code.

                                                    As an Emacs user, I spent most of my time configuring Emacs

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                                                      As long as you did it in Emacs, and not vim this is ok.

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                                                      From their pricing page:

                                                      Poste.io FREE For personal use only FREE

                                                      No thanks, I’ll stick with mailu.

                                                      1. 4

                                                        According to https://mailu.io/1.6/setup.html

                                                        Also, the idea behind Mailu is based on the work by folks from Poste.io. If free software is not the reason you chose Mailu or if you are seeking long-term professional support, you should probably turn to them instead.

                                                        But yes, that was a turn off for me too.

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                                                          Interesting, I didn’t notice that before. Thanks for pointing it out.

                                                        2. 2

                                                          Have you had a good experience with mailu? In particular, how’s the upgrade experience across major versions?

                                                          1. 2

                                                            I’ve found it really good. I’ve blatted and rebuilt boxes several times and done a ton of upgrades from god knows how long ago. The only issues I’ve had have been with running other things on the same box behind the same server, but my setup was originally from a pre-1.0 version.

                                                            If I was starting from scratch I’d probably go with mailcow, but I’m not and it works, so I’m sticking with it.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              I keep their docker-compose template around so I can diff it against my version, and redo my changes to their new template, and that works pretty well. not seamless, but reasonable, at least for a simple config (my personal server).

                                                              For the other host where I integrated mailman3 into mailu (mail.coreboot.org), things are more complicated, but that’s unavoidable with this architecture (loosely coupled components and their config files managed by an overlay project)

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                                                              Also no source available as far as I can see, only a Bitbucket page with an issue tracker. Rather hard to see what exactly is being set up like this :-/

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                                                              On Saturday I’m making space in my lab for an Amiga 4000 I’m picking up next weekend. On Sunday I’m heading out to the New Forest with my partner to go walking the bluebell trails. We’re staying overnight, and coming back on monday.