C=128 Journey

On it's way

Here it goes

About 12 months ago I listened to The C= episode of the Rubenerd podcast wherein he tried to convince himself (poorly!) not to buy a Commodore 128.

I got in touch on twitter and asked if he wanted my old C=128 because although for nostalgia reasons I had held onto both my families old 64 and 128s, having both sitting in a closet doing nothing seemed stupid.

Rubenerd was glad to take it off my hands, and I'm glad it's going to someone who clearly loves retro computers in a way I will never emulate ageddit?

My memories of this thing are playing Wizball to the wee hours with my mum, her elation when she finally clocked it, playing Subsunk and Cosmonaut and River Raid and Curse of Sherwood and so many other games my young hands couldn't master.

I was never much of a gamer, and I never did put in the hours to finish all those games I loved, but it did make me love computers and the potential behind them. I also wish I could say I'd programmed much on either machine, but copying out code from a book didn't teach me much at the time, but it did help me see what someone could do with the right mindset and training, and planted a seed for programming that took another 25 years to finally grow.

The 64 and 128 have reached a level of nostalgia in my mind that they possibly don't deserve, but they're the only couple of things from my childhood that I really remember clearly. That and the Chubbles that were clearly more gimmick than substance. Oh, and the Rubick's Magic I got one Christmas and couldn't put down.

Today I finally got off my ass and posted it to Rubenerd. Shipping was surprisingly cheap because he didn't need the vintage printer or the after-market disk drive I have for it.

I won't mention the contents, and save that for a surprise for him, beyond the following:

  • A slighlty rattly Commodore 128
  • A power supply that no longer works, but that Rubenerd assures me he can fix or replace

I would love if Rubenerd could post an unboxing when he gets it. I left a couple of things in there that I hope he doesn't mind receiving and having to store somewhere. And I'd love it if he could post it to The Fleet when he gets it working, with a suitably cute name. Enjoy it, learn new things on it, and share!

Asides   [ + ]

a. geddit?

Comment Bots

I've been thinking more about yesterday's post on comment systems.

I started posting to my Reddit profile, then realised why stop there - I've been mucking around so much with chat apps that I've got profiles everywhere, and I thought I could try and make them useful. My two communication preferences right now are Discord (because it's like Slack but more relaxed), and Telegram (because it's exactly like Facebook Messenger but better. Both offer simple ways to set up and harness the power of bots and make using them simple, and with a couple of WordPress plugins the process is even simpler than it should be.

My robot by Aaron Williamson, on Flickr

The two plugins I'm giving a crack are WP Discord and WP Telegram.

Both made setting up their respective bots a breeze (although the instructions for WP Discord skip one vital step), so theoretically when I hit publish on this post I should see a message pop up in both my new Geekorium Discord Server and my Geekorium Telegram Channel. Feel free to join in either channel and say hello, and if you wish, get notified of new posts when they happen - it's like RSS, but with future technology. I won't ever spam you - if you don't want to see posts, leave the channel or turn off notifications for those channels in their respective apps.

You might also notice a Discord widget down below above the comment box. Join in there if you want and chat directly.

I've often tested out new stuff round here in the past, and my post history is littered with the detritus of tried and failed experiments. I can't say for certain how long these will last, or if I might find something better. My goal in trying this out was to see if they were viable alternatives to vanilla comments, and if they might make it more appealing for people to give feedback or connect with me. If they're still around in a week it will be because I'm finding them valuable, or people are actually using them.

See you in chat! 🚀

Update: the widget below above the comments lasted about 5 minutes before I realised it only shows who's on the server, not the chat that's going on. I'll need to find a place to prominently display the Discord and Telegram icons to encourage people to click through, but a massive widget is not going to do it.

Software death

Over on Rubenerd aone of the last remaining bloggers, Ruben is upset about the death of his favourite feed reader, the Digg Reader.

First of all, who knew Digg still had products that people wanted to use. Second, I'm sort of in the same boat myself. Having just killed my Facebook account, while simultaneously soul searching about what I really want from social media, I've thought that maybe I can go back to consuming RSS feeds like I used to.

Only, I've logged into my self-hosted instance of Fever and fired up the beautifully made Press only to discover that Fever was shuttered and Press hasn't been updated since 2014. Which isn't a huge deal for now, as both still work (although Press can't be found without a direct link), and they both work as well as they did two or three years ago when I stopped using them. The problem is - if I start using them again, relying on them like I used to rely on Google Reader (or as Rubenerd relied on Digg Reader) what will happen when they finally actually die like they inevitably will?

Ruben added a pretty exhaustive list of self hosted software including feed readers, which I will certainly go through and take a look at, but teasing out the right replacement is going to be a pain considering I need to ensure:

  • The software works well and is pretty (I can't pretend I can use functional ugly software).
  • There's an equally well made Android client so I can read on the bus.
  • I can install it on my rudimentary cPanel hosting that may or may not allow Ruby/Python etc, but will handle PHP like a champ.

And finally, breaking out of my dot-points into a fully fledged paragraph - I'm not certain a plain feed reader is going to cut it for me any more. When I said I'd been thinking about what I want from social media, I realised that Facebook was not doing it for me because it was full of the opinions of my friends and family, and not a lot more. People might have been posting stuff, but the Facebook algorithm was letting me down, and only showing me page after page of stuff I just wasn't interested in bno offence everyone!.

On the flip side, I use Reddit a lot, and the thing that has me wasting hours of my life there is that it surfaces the quality stuff that thousands, or tens of thousands of people have upvoted from thousands of different communities all in one place. So I can flip from reading a joke, to watching a Russian dashcam, to poring over an article about some new scientific discovery all from a single app. It means I'm not reading the same type of stuff over and over cok, yes I'm not counting reposted content here, but a massive and diverse range of opinion and types of content from all over the world. And I just don't think there are any other sites quite like it.

Again, there's nothing that means I need to replace Reddit today either, just like I don't need to ditch the feed reader that's still working, but I also didn't have to ditch Facebook when I did. But I truly believe as responsible modern citizens we need to make better choices about where our software takes us, and the technology we use to get there. Part of that is to stop using stuff that frustrates us, when the only reason we keep doing it is because everyone else is.

So I'm looking for the next Reddit, the next Facebook and the next feed reader all in one. Something that can keep me in touch with people I know and love, but also give me more of what other people I don't know find funny or sad or inspiring. If something like this already exists, please let me know. If not, I'll be waiting over here using technology that just hasn't figured out its days are numbered.

Asides   [ + ]

a. one of the last remaining bloggers
b. no offence everyone!
c. ok, yes I'm not counting reposted content here

Make Tiny Tiny RSS Look and Behave Like Google Reader

Since Google announced they were closing Google Reader down in June, people have been scrambling to find something to use in it's place. I'm not sure what the rush is, but I was caught up in it too. My replacement of choice is Tiny Tiny RSS because it's self hosted, meaning I don't have to rely on any third party for such an important task any more.

This article is not about how to set up TTRSS. That's been covered by the official Wiki and Forums. This article is about how to make TTRSS behave somewhat more like Google Reader, so you can jump right back in to reading feeds and not have to learn something new.

Continue reading →

Creating an eBook for iPad and Kindle in InDesign

This tutorial is for people with a grounding in InDesign already. You should know the basics of creating a new document, adding Paragraph Styles and manipulating text. I'll be covering the "gotchas" I found creating an eBook from InDesign. Creating an eBook in InDesign will give you the option to export as EPUB, PDF and HTML all from the same source, with minimal changes. What follows is my preferred flow.

Regular readers might want to tune out now. Go read an old Rex Havoc or something.

Before you start you'll need Calibre. Calibre is a "swiss army knife" for eBooks. It converts to and from all sorts of formats. To keep the code as pure as possible though, I only use it for the final conversion from EPUB (eBook format) to MOBI (Kindle format), which is not currently possible straight from InDesign.

Continue reading →

Let me get this straight

Why can't we all just get along?"

Google has decided to throw its weight behind WebM, the new more "open" video format that competes with Apple's H.264.

In a post a month or so ago, Google announced that future versions of Chrome will drop support of H.264 in favour of WebM.

Of course, Microsoft wont play ball and build WebM into IE9 (their upcoming latest browser), prompting Google to create an Internet Explorer 9 compatible plugin to enable WebM playback in that browser.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has seemingly put their muscle behind H.264, announcing their Extension for Chrome that enables H.264 playback in that browser.

So Microsoft is making extensions for Chrome to enable a feature Google left out, and Google is making plugins for IE that Microsoft left out... Why aren't they both just working on their own damn browsers?

Thanks to Google Operating System for the story.

My Small Issue With the Windows Live Sync Beta

Had a strange problem using the new Microsoft Windows Live Sync Beta. It's working fine on one of my computers, but on the other one, it drops a letter when I set up a folder to sync.

See what I mean?

For example, if I want to sync a folder like D:\My Videos, the program accepts the folder I want as D:\y Videos and then creates this new folder for syncing. Or it might sync D:\Archives as D:\rchives. On my other computer - no issues.

Investigating a bit, I discovered it doesn't happen on my other drives (C:, F:). My D drive is different, in that I've moved the location of my My Documents folder to D. In a quick test, I discovered that moving it again to a subfolder of D removes the issue. It's not a permanent solution however, as a) I like having my documents folder in the root of my secondary drive, and b) I would have to move 220Gb of data to an external drive and back again as you can't move the location to a subfolder of the current location.

So I've sent feedback to Microsoft using the inbuilt "report a problem" menu in the beta. I did it in two parts though, so this post is my way of putting it all in one place, and on the off chance that someone is having a similar issue, they might get some comfort knowing that it's not their fault (well it is, but only ever so slightly).

Creative Commons: What, Why and How.

Creative Commons Configurator
Adds a Creative Commons license to your blog pages and feeds. Also, provides some Template Tags for use in your theme templates.George Notaras

I've used this plugin here and elsewhere to add a Creative Commons licence to the items I publish. Publishing something as Creative Commons means you still retain full copyright to the material, but gives others permission to use portions (or all) of your work on their own sites as long as they meet your guidelines. The choices can be a combination of the following:

  • Attribution - the person who uses your content must link back to you.
  • Non-commercial - the work they do must not be used for commercial gain.
  • Share Alike - the work they make must also be put under a Creative Commons licence with the same terms.

The nature of the web is to share and republish things you find interesting and useful and to add your own take on it. By making my writing CC licensed, people can share what I write without fear of copyright claims (as long as they agree to my terms). I in turn other people's CC licensed photos in a lot of my posts. CC helps to make the web richer and more useful by opening up things that might otherwise be locked away on their own sites.

If you don't plan to sell your work or make money off it, or feel like contributing to your community in some way consider putting your work under a Creative Commons licence.


Bozo, the Clown Communications Minister

"This is probably the single greatest breach in the history of privacy."

Steven Conroy on Google's (accidental) collection of unsecured (and essentially public) wifi data from people who don't know how to set a simple password on their wireless Internet connections.

I once caught a clue THIS BIG! Then I let it go.
By kjd.

Really, he needs to stop talking if he ever wants anyone to take him seriously in a technological capacity ever again. Can't he just have a 13 year old check his speeches before he gives them so they sound at least vaguely knowledgable?


Quick plugin plug asee what I did there?

A bunch of favicons
//www.flickr.com/photos/dantaylor/ / CC BY 2.0

Favicons are those little icons that websites display in the address bar (or in the open tab in Chrome). They're usually about 16 pixels square (which is tiny) but it adds a bit of professionalism to your site, and lets people figure out which site is yours if they have dozens of tabs open. You can get plugins for photoshop that will let you save files as ".ico" files so you can create a favicon.ico file. Then you can upload your file to your website and link to it and... well it's easy, but kind of annoying to get right.

Enter Shockingly Simple Favicon:

Shockingly Simple Favicon
A simple way to put a favicon on your site.matias s

Install and activate and follow the instructions on the configuration page. The page includes better information than I've provided here, and a whole bunch of ideas for creating your own favicon.

Go to it!

Asides   [ + ]

a. see what I did there?