Here is my seventh installment of the best things I’ve found, learned, read, etc. over the past year. These things are listed in no particular order, and may not necessarily be new. As time goes on, certain categories that show up in one year may disappear in another, or a new one might pop up. This is all fairly normal as I explore new things and abandon old ones.
Favorite Blog Posts Read
I end up reading a lot of articles over the course of the year, and cannot possibly remember all of them. Here is a selection of the ones that I can recall:
- Cemetery of Soviet computers (2019) - A fascinating account of finding dozens of vintage soviet computers rotting away in an old building.
- Booting from a Vinyl Record (2020) - Exactly what it says, this explores an experiment where a vinyl record is used to load FreeDOS on an IBM computer.
- Dial up server (2019) - A how-to guide to create a dial-up server using a modern operating system.
Articles I wrote for Famicoman.com
I wrote a handful of articles this year for my own site. I definitely did not write as many as I wish I could have, and I definitely have a backlog of stuff that needs to be written up. I often say that a lot of my writing is sort of like notes for myself that I clean up and publish so that other people don’t have to do the hours/days/months of research and troubleshooting I end up doing. Hopefully some of it is useful.
- Running the RC2014 with a Soviet/GDR Z80 Clone - After I got my RC2014 working, I really wanted to use some interesting vintage chips with it. I had already ordered a Soviet Z80 clone a while back, so I went through getting the RC2014 to work with it. I’m still having some trouble getting it to use vintage EPROMS, but that is a topic for another day!
- Running a Dedicated Quake III Arena Server for Dreamcast - I had played around with the DreamPi in 2020 and was able to do some online gaming with my Dreamcast, playing Quake III Arena. But, why not go a step further? I ended up running my own dedicated server to play on.
- Printing to an ESC/POS Receipt Printer from Linux - I was a bit enamored by seeing some receipt printer art on Twitter a while back and the thought of creating interesting things like small zines using a printer like this seemed like a fun idea. I didn’t end up going that far, but I did find out how to interface it with a Linux machine and use it as an IRC ticker to print out chat from a channel in real time.
- Using a Cybiko as a Serial Terminal - Another weird little piece of technology, I had a few Cybikos that I wanted to mess with after learning that can be used for somewhat long-range messaging to one-another without any existing infrastructure. After seeing this was pretty much limited to a few feet via an LGR video, I saw what it took to use one as a serial terminal these days.
Articles I’ve Written for Other Publications
Nothing published this year, but you should see some next year. In the meantime, check out The Pinouts Book by NODE.
Number of Books Read
No books were read this year, we will have to change that.
Still Need to Read
Not to mention a bunch more.
Favorite Music Discovered
I had previously used this section for new artists I had come across, but this past year I feel like I mainly focused on listening to albums by artists where I had only known a few of their songs or other albums previously. Some that come to mind are Electric Warrior by T. Rex, Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One by The Kinks, and Insomniac by Green Day.
Favorite Television Shows
Strangely, two Amazon originals this year.
- The Grand Tour (2016) - A repeat this year, I very much like watching the guys go on long journeys where they make fun of one another.
- Taskmaster (2015) - A hilarious show where celebrities (usually comedians) compete in a series of challenges. I have a great time watching how everyone has a different approach to each challenge.
This year there aren’t too many changes. Of note, I can no longer listen to Reply All because of some drama within the show
Favorite YouTube Subscriptions
I’ve been watching a lot more YouTube this year, even more than last year (which I didn’t think was possible). I tend to focus on informative channels these days, and the following are some of my favorites.
- Vinsauce: The Full Sauce - Third year for this one, I really just love watching Vinny play weird, bad, or otherwise strange games for hours.
- Techmoan - Another repeat. I don’t think anyone comes close to being able to showcase obsolete technology as well as Techmoan does, and I am still surprised that he is able to find new things to show off.
- Technology Connections - Second year for this one. I really appreciate learning about mundane devices that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought about and the engineering that goes (or doesn’t go) into them.
- moose2 - I don’t watch main brutalmoose videos, but I really like these relaxed long-plays of various ’90s computer games.
- Cathode Ray Dude - Fantastic channel showing off old technology and how it works. Videos are expertly researched and produced, especially considering it is all done by one person. A lot of the content is focused on video production hardware, but this is not a hard rule and I end up learning a lot about strange computer devices as well.
- themaritimegirl - Flo shows a ton of enthusiasm as she walks through old technology, showing what she has learned about it and documenting what she tries next!
Programming Languages Used for Work/Personal
Life Events of 2021
- Got a new job.
- Bought a house.
Life Changing Technologies Discovered
- WebTV - Many people probably know about the defunct WebTV device, but did you know that some dedicated hackers are bringing it back? Well they are, and they did. There is a WebTV server replacement being developed with new features added all the time!
- MoCA Adapters - For years I discounted MoCA as a substandard way to push data through a network, but now that I’m in a house with no obvious way to run new cables from the basement to the attic, MoCA has saved the day and allowed me to get full gigabit speed through old coax. Magic!
- Bosch Bulldog - I used this SDS drill to drill a hole through a brick in about 10 seconds when I was installing a doorbell. Truly an amazing tool that I want more excuses to use.
- Agile Modulators - I knew of RF modulators before, but agile modulators (I use ones by Blonder Tongue) allow you to choose what television channel you want to output on. Not only are these fun for creating a cable network, but they can also be leveraged for Amateur Television to legally create a low-power television station.
- TTY Modems - I’ve had a TTY/TDD device that allows the deaf to receive and make phone calls for a while now, and it basically requires each person on either end of the call to have one to send text messages back and forth. I recently learned that modems were made that worked on this standard meaning someone with a standard TTY/TDD device could call a computer hooked up to one of these modems and access the computer. Imagine a text adventure or BBS that could be accessed this way!
- EdgeRouter X - I may have actually set this up near the end of 2020, I can’t remember, but more often than not I am glad that I have my EdgeRouter set up to manage routing between my VLANs and otherwise keep my home network sane. The X model is an inexpensive device, but it is perfect for my purposes!
Went to the virtual CampGND this year and have a lot of fun meeting some online friends over video. I’ll likely never make it in-person so I feel lucky to have been present this year. Hope to go to the next Pumpcon, Radical Networks, and see what other cool stuff there is. Unfortunately I missed the Computer Mouse Conference but hope there will be a next one!
Completed in 2020
- Created a dial-up ISP (Currently down).
- Worked on building my own small cable TV network.
Plans for 2021
- Write for NODE.
- Move Anarchivism off of MediaWiki. Have you moved a MediaWiki installation to Jekyll/Hugo? Let me know.
- Better maintain my personal wiki.
- Probably decommission a bunch of old public servers/services I maintain.
- Do more stuff with packet radio, play with POCSAG.
- Restore a vintage payphone.
- Restore a vintage Ms. Pac-Man cocktail cabinet.
- Finish building a blue box.
See you in 2022!