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By Roy Mathur, on 2020-12-16, at 00:00:01--00:25:32 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

The State of the Pod

Recording problems! Where in Hell is that hiss coming from? Oh well, I'll repair in post or I'll never start.

RIP John le Carre

RIP John le Carre (David John Moore Cornwell) 19 October 193 to 12 December 2020.

I was introduced to his work via Alec Guinness's George Smiley, and then read most of the classic novels.

RIP Barbara Windsor

RIP Barbara Windsor (Barbara Ann Deeks) 6 August 1937 to 10 December 2020.

My generation mostly remembers her from the Carry On films.

Small Axe: Alex Wheatle

We've already talked about this. Summary: it's good, but what I left out was the two Star Wars references in the movie which geeks will love and perhaps groan at too.

The Sister

This effective schlocky Neil Cross (Luther and Hard Sun) horror thriller on ITV is entertaining, but confusingly shot as if it were a more sophisticated drama.

Embrace the schlock.

The Visitor, Doctor Zhivago, Anna Karenina

I bought this odd combination for Dad's birthday because Lee Child's Reacher novels last about a day.

The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings

It was also Mum's birthday recently and I bought her these books from World of Books.

I was disappointed by their condition, whose online descriptions were essentially meaningless. (I.e. The Hobbit was not in good condition, neither was TLOTR new). After complaining, a second copy of TLOTR was sent---again not new---at which point I gave up.

Lamy Z50 Extra Fine Fountain Pen Nib in Black Stainless Steel

I also bought her a new nib because she needs to write smaller in her Chameleon FiloFax Personal than her lovely wet broad nib can manage.

The black nib is also ascetically pleasing in her Limited Edition Matte Violet Lamy Safari, as is the smelly, but beautiful, Diamine Sapphire ink (blurple).

Google Pulling the Rug... Again

First Google Photos, now Mail.

I've said this so often it hurts, but if you play in someone else's playground, they can shut you out any time they want.

Retro Computing with an AMD 386DX 40 MHz PC

I bought an AMD 386DX 40 MHz tower PC, made up of spare parts, for about GBP 90 on eBay.

I decided to test it, then remove the CMOS battery, and store it until I have time to muck about with it next year.

Man, what a pain.

It wouldn't boot.

Turned out the 3D printed CF card fascia took one of those cheap upside down CF to IDE boards (c. GBP 3). A compact flash card fits just nicely in those exactly the wrong way around. Of course, there was no way of knowing this without disassembling, which I did.

But it still wouldn't boot. Four BIOS beeps later and Googling: aha! I re-seated the RAM, Molex, level 2 cache---everything on the damn board---and it booted.

Great. Now I had to slip out the battery, but it was soldered in! I almost wrecked the board desoldering in place, so I disassembled everything in the case---a case so tightly packed that the plastic front was cracking at the seams---and finally desoldered Satan's battery.

I then had to try and figure out how everything went together again, because my phone camera is crap with macro details. And... no boot. More faffing. Did I short the damn thing? No! The Molex was loose again. Finally it booted and I reassembled.

Diagnosis? I need a new case, stand-offs, graphics card, I/O card (this one's bashed to bits), 4:3 monitor, proper AT keyboard (I only have a foil and foam PS/2 and I'm not repairing that), and an old serial mouse on its way from eBay.

Was it worth it? Yes, because the motherboard is a known type with diagrams and jumper settings available. That's great, otherwise it is impossible to work with if you don't know what all those jumpers and headers do. It also came with 8 MB RAM and a maths co-processor, an OK Yamaha OPL sound card, a 3.5 inch FDD, and a 5.25 FDD drive. In parts alone, it was worth it, but there is still some more work more to do, but I?ll save that for next year.