If you’ve been delaying upgrading your network, keep delaying

If you’ve been procrastinating about deploying 450-megabit (802.11n) wi-fi to your house, I have a reason for you to procrastinate a while longer: Gigabit wireless (802.11ac).

It’s only about twice as fast as its predecessor, which pales next to the 8x improvement 802.11n provided over 802.11g, but if you’re wanting to stream HD media through your house, you’ll notice the difference.
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Pack down 8-bit programs with Exomizer

Exomizer is a compression program for Commodore and other 8-bit computers. The compressed program still runs, but it takes up less space on disk. Decompressing takes some time, but usually less time than reading more data off a 1541 disk. And unlike native compression tools which sometimes take all night to run, Exomizer runs on modern PCs, so it runs extremely quickly.

The space savings isn’t as much of a consideration now as it was in 1986, but being able to cram as many programs as possible on a single disk image makes access more convenient.

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How to have two hard drives when you only have a single 3.5″ bay

Sometimes you need to put two internal hard drives in a system, but only have a single 3.5″ bay available. This is common in small computers, like HP Slimline and whatever Dell’s equivalent is.

There are two ways to do it. Both have tradeoffs.

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How not to do business

I contracted out some work recently. It involved a large sum of money, at least to me. It amounted to about a three weeks’ worth of take-home pay. He wanted the money for the materials up front. I didn’t really want to do that, but other people had told me he was completely honest, so I did it.

He had trouble getting the necessary permits and other paperwork. I had trouble keeping his story straight. I gave him some time to sort it out. After about a month–which might have been too long–he concluded he wasn’t going to be able to do the work, and told me he’d give me a refund.

Then he quit answering his phone.

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What’s wrong with my 6502 machine language article?

It occurred to me this morning that writing about what was wrong with my 6502 machine language article from the early 1990s might be useful. Or maybe that was just whatever the dentist was injecting into the roof of my mouth talking, but I’m going with it.

Should I cut myself some slack on account of my age at the time? Sure. But teenage Dave would have welcomed the critique of mid-30s Dave, if either could find Dr. Emmit Brown’s DeLorean.

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Run DD-WRT on an old PC

DD-WRT is an extremely popular firmware upgrade for wireless routers, and for good reason. It’s extremely powerful, and allows you to use a cheap wireless router to perform the function of costlier hardware.

A commercial wireless router takes up a lot less space and consumes a lot less power than a PC, but sometimes you might find yourself needing a router for a short period of time. You could go spend $50 on a router, but if you have an obsolete PC and a pile of NICs laying around, why not just press that pile of junk into duty to get the job done and save 50 bucks?

That’s what DD-WRT x86 lets you do.
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Writing Tight 6502 Series Machine Code

This article appeared in the final issue of Twin Cities 128/64, published by Parsec, Inc. of Salem, Mass., sometime after April 1994. Parsec never paid for the article, so under the terms of Parsec’s contract, all rights reverted back to me 30 days after Parsec failed to remit payment.

So now I’m re-asserting my rights to the article. You’ll find the editing poor–all my semicolons appear to have been replaced by commas, for instance–and the writing full of cliches. But I would have been 16 or 17 when I wrote it, and I don’t think it’s a bad effort for a 17-year-old. And the article had some pretty clever tricks. I have to admit I’d forgotten 90% of what was in the article, but I recognize my own writing when I see it.

I’d like to thank Mark R. Brown, former managing editor of INFO magazine, for finding the article and bringing it to my attention. And one final word: Although I wrote this with the Commodore 128 in mind, the same tricks apply to any computer or console based on a 6502 or derivative.

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Windows, ARM, emulation, misconceptions and misremembered history

I keep reading stuff about Windows and ARM and, well, I think people just aren’t remembering history.

I’m not saying that Windows 8 on ARM will save the world, or even change it substantially. It probably won’t, since Microsoft tends not to get things right the first time. But will I automatically write off the project? No. It could prove useful for something other than what it was originally intended. That happens a lot.

But I’m more interested in clearing up the misinformation than in trying to predict the future.
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