Carlos Fenollosa

Carlos Fenollosa

Engineer, developer, entrepreneur

Carlos Fenollosa — Blog

Thoughts on science and tips for researchers who use computers

Links for 2019-10-06: Retro Nostalgia

October 06, 2019 — Carlos Fenollosa

The topic for this week is nostalgia. As usual, the on-topic links appear first, then the classic medley, and finally some follow-up.

DOS compatible Macintosh from 1995

Apple's MS-DOS Compatible 486 Macintosh from 1995! (10 min, via)

Famous retro youtuber LGR does a short tour of this retro Macintosh that contains a card with a 486 and can run DOS.

Demo with sound in 64 bytes

into war 64b (1 min, via) is a 3D animation, or demo, with sound, in only 64 bytes of DOS assembler.

This Reddit thread does a code analysis, and reveals the many tricks the demo uses.

Are RTSs dead?

What Happened to the Real Time Strategy Genre (2 min, via) is a good analysis of why there are no good RTS games.

Having played Starcraft 2, I must admit that I liked Starcraft better. Even War3, as enjoyable as it is, lacked playability in comparison with the original Starcraft.

Nowadays I don't play many games, so I don't mind installing SC from time to time and playing some campaigns. Who needs modern RTSs when we already reached perfection in 1998? ;-)

Four column ASCII

Four Column ASCII (2017, 5 min) explains why Ctrl-H is backspace, Ctrl-[ is Escape, and other control codes.

Curious and enlightening. Every UNIX user should learn this, and it's not really common knowledge.

SNES enhancement chips

SNES enhancement chips (2 min, via) is a tweetstorm detailing different chips that SNES cartridges used to provide extra features to the base console.

In the HN discussion, user jordigh links to a great series of posts detailing how the Super Game Boy works, which is maybe even more interesting and in depth than the original tweetstorm!

How X11 works

Explanations (RH, needs JS, via) is a series of amazingly well-done and well-explained, in-website demos on how X11 works.

Yes, the demos embed an X11 server inside your browser and allow you to understand how the protocol works!

If you're even vaguely interested in how your computer is rendering the content you're reading right now, check out this link.

Dev backlash to macOS 10.15

Sorry macOS users, but Apple has gone too far for some of us devs (1 min, via, HN discussion), and Thoughts on Cocoa (1 min, via) are just two of the increasing number of articles against 10.15 breaking backwards compatibility.

Catalina is going to drop 32-bit support and many old, unmaintained applications are going to stop working.

I personally use a few of them, and it's making me strongly consider not upgrading to 10.15.

The computer on the Voyager

"Uptime 15,364 days - The Computers of Voyager" by Aaron Cummings (40 min, via)

The Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes, both launched in 1977, each had a primary objective to explore Jupiter and Saturn. This goal was achieved by 1981. Yet Voyager, NASA's longest running mission, has continued to this day. Both Voyager probes are still operating, and returning scientific data from outside our solar system.

This talk explores the computing systems of Voyager - the systems which enable remote control of the spacecraft, and provide for the recording and return of data to Earth. These systems have proved to be both adaptable, durable, and resilient in support of a scientific undertaking now in it's fifth decade.

What can we learn from the engineering of Voyager's computing systems? Why have they survived for so long in the harsh environment of space? What is involved in patching a system from a billion miles away? And what does the future hold?

I love these feats of engineering.

Windows 10 pushes you to create a Microsoft account

MS has removed the "use offline account" option when installing (1 min, via)

It seems that the title is misleading. Reddit user Froggypwns explains (emphasis mine)

They have not removed it, it just is not visible by default if you are connected to the internet. Either run the setup without being connected to the internet, or type in a fake phone number a few times and it will give you the prompt to create a local account.

Other Reddit users provide workarounds around this, but the main point is that the Windows user experience is worse than ever.

The real work that executives do

What do executives do, anyway? (10 min, via) is an excellent, let me say it again, excellent read on how executives should behave in order to get the best possible outcomes.

Let me give you a sneak peek:

What executives need to do is come up with organizational values that indirectly result in the strategy they want.


Why will employees embrace whatever weird organizational values you set? Because in every decision meeting, you enforce your values. And you fire the people who don't line up. Recursively, that means executives lower down the tree will do the same, because that itself is one of the values you enforce.

Really, if you are in an executive position, go ahead and read it.

Wrap-up on TVs tracking you

Three recent papers uncover the extent of tracking on TVs (Tweetstorm, 5 min, via) mentions the two studies linked here previously, Tracking you with TV ads and IoT products expose personal information, and links to another one in the same line.

If you are interested in learning more, Arvind Narayanan's tweetstorm is thorough and to the point, explaining the main conclusions of each paper. His conclusions:

There are steps we can take. Stay away from vendors whose business model is targeted ads. Every device is a potential tracker; do your research before buying. Install tools that give you control, such as Pi-hole, even if imperfect. Install a monitoring tool on your home network.


These individual steps are not enough: we need collective action. Researchers must keep doing our part; we look forward to teaming up with journalists, civil society organizations, and the public, so that we can choose our future, not sleepwalk into it one channel at a time.

As usual, the HN discussion provides interesting viewpoints too.

Tags: roundup

Comments? Tweet