Solve the NSIS error

nsis_errorI was trying to install some software last week and I got an NSIS error like the one to the right. The message certainly suggests corrupt downloads, but corrupt downloads are relatively rare, and when they happen, redownloading it ought to clear that up. Getting two of these failures in a row with different programs is really a freak occurrence, so I started looking for another problem.

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Origin of CP/M’s PIP command

CP/M was, as you probably know, the first popular microcomputer operating system. It was good but imperfect, and its cryptic command for copying files, PIP, is often cited as an example. Copy makes sense. Even the Unix equivalent, cp, makes sense–it’s copy without the vowels. But what does PIP mean? What’s the origin of CP/M’s PIP command?

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Cost comparison of Realtrax vs Fastrack

Someone asked me recently for a cost comparison of MTH Realtrax vs. Lionel Fastrack. Both are similar O gauge track systems with plastic roadbed. MTH’s system has been on the market a few years longer, but Lionel’s is more popular, in spite of being more expensive.

Let’s figure out just how much more expensive it is.

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Share a Windows 10 printer by UNC

Windows 10 uses homegroups, but if you have systems that don’t understand homegroups and want to share a Windows 10 printer by UNC (the old school way to share a network printer), it’s not obvious how to go about doing it.

I couldn’t find a way from the GUI, but it’s still possible to share the printer from a command line.

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Compress system files doesn’t show up in Disk Cleanup

One of the new features of Windows 10 is better file compression, which was intended to help Windows fit better in low-resource devices like tablets. But it’s helpful on computers with SSDs too. But for whatever reason that option doesn’t show up on mine.

But you can still compress your system files even if the Disk Cleanup utility (which you can also launch from the Free up disk space by deleting unnecessary files control panel) doesn’t show the Compress system files option.

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Lionel CW-80 vs vintage transformers

Someone asked me recently about the Lionel CW-80 and how it compares vs older transformers. That’s a fair question, and one that tends to stir up a lot of emotions on train forums. So I’ll try to present the pros and cons in a fair manner.

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Get more transformer outputs by using a grounding bus bar

Train transformers have one pair of screws for each output, which is generally enough for a simple layout, but once you have more than one accessory or building with lights in it, you’ll find it’s difficult to attach all of the wires to the transformer posts.

You can get more on the cheap by repurposing ground bus bars, intended for circuit breaker panels, available at hardware stores and home improvement stores. Read more

Move Debian to new hardware without messing up networking

One advantage that Linux has over Windows is that you generally can pick up a machine and move it to new hardware. The trickiest part is getting the network card(s) working.

Maybe I’m the only dummy who had a hard time with this. Well, except for one guy who posted a question somewhere, got no answer, then came back and said something rude to the people who didn’t answer and said he switched to FreeBSD. That was entertaining, but not helpful.

Just in case everyone else is afraid to speak up, here’s how I got the network cards working after I imaged the disks from a failing Debian server to newer hardware.

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