Maes's Doomworld Forums Blog

Maes's Doomworld Forums Blog

"I just wanna surf and read my e-mail" [please move to Blogs] October 11, 2015, 7:13 am
I often get asked by people who seek to upgrade their PC that they need a PC "just for browsing and e-mail". Now, if this was 1996 or even 2000, that would indeed be a trivial requirement. Browsing? Sure, it's all just pure HTML, browsed one page at a time. E-mail? Sure, it's just a dumb e-mail client.

But today? "Browsing" can mean anything from Flash-laden site, Javascript VMs running in the background of even the most trivial sites, complex MPEG4 video decoding plugins, browsers using DirectX and OpenGL etc. E-mail? That practically means using web-based e-mail "clients" nowadays (who, outside of professionals, still uses a traditional POP/IMAP e-mail client program?). And RAM, oh THE RAM that even a trivial game of Farmville can suck up! You could fit 10 concurrent ZDaemon sessions in there.

My point is, that browsing has evolved into a deceivingly requirements-heavy endeavour, and a "PC that's good for general-purpose Internet browsing" needs actually to be quite beefy, unless you're an atavist that still uses lynx and w3m, and PINE for e-mail. Thoughts?

Tales From the Recycling Bin: Pentium 4 September 15, 2012, 6:00 pm
So I was like, t3h p4wn 4nd t3h h4x, shopping for some NEW and ENHANCED electronic repair gear (irons, desoldering pump, meter) so that I could keep repairing my OLD and OUTDATED stuff. In the big hardware store that sold the shit, there is also a big "recycle your old shit here" bin, where people usually leave broken down appliances. I, on the contrary, often REMOVE stuff from this bin, e.g. boomboxes, computers, drives, monitors, etc.

So, this time, what was thrown out was an old Pentium 4 machine. Since it was potentially much better than the Pentium 3 crap I snatched in the past, I took it home by removing it from the bin in front of hundreds of people, with all the nonchalance and aplomb of Doombuy as a battle butler (BTW, I forgot to mention the way he picks up stuff nonchalantly, most of the time).

The motherboard is a VIA EPIA - P4X266 PE11-SA, really early Pentium 4 stuff. Not so old as to retain ISA slots for compatibility (seen that elsewhere, though), but old enough not to have integrated LAN, USB2.0 or SATA, which is a bit of a letdown. Well, typical 2002 vintage.


  • Pentium 4 1.90 GHz (100 MHz FSB)
  • RAM: 256 MB PC2100 DDR (upgraded to 1.5 GB). Mobo only supports PC2100 (DDR 266) speed, but will work with faster DIMMs too.
  • Video card: 4x AGP Riva TNT 32 (I could upgrade it to a Geforce 4 or Ti4200 or even nVidia 5200).
  • Hard disk: WD400 (40 GB), surprisingly with no S.M.A.R.T. errors.
  • 250 W PSU, also has old-style AT power connectors. Hadn't seen that in a while. It functions but it'd better be replaced, especially if I start adding crap.

The annoying thing with such old mobos is that you have to add a SATA controller and a USB 2.0 card, if you really want to have something usable, but once I add those, I can have something much more useful than a Pentium III. The mobo is OK and functions, but has a couple of blown caps (luckily, away from the CPU area), which I can recap.

Doom tapes June 27, 2012, 6:35 am
I brought two of my hobbies, tapes and DooM together: I made two cassettes from the albums The Dark Side of Phobos and Doom II: Delta-Q-Delta.

The Dark Side of Phobos comes in two "disks" but both actually clock at about 92:15, so I used a single TDK Super CDing (Type II, Super Avilyn technology), while I used a humble Sony EF 60 for Delta-Q-Delta which is only 57 minutes or so.

Both recorded on an Aiwa AD-F330 deck with Dolby B NR.
1 Comment

Hey linux fanboys.... June 1, 2012, 6:02 am
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is a piece of shit.

I "upgraded" from 11-something, and after the "upgrade" it had no USB drivers (so mouse == dead) and no network drivers (so you were pretty much rectally sodomized). It also fucked up the GUI and left the consoles unusable but that might have had something to do with me not using Unity.

Installing from disk didn't help either: same issues. No USB drivers, no network card drivers. Fuck that fucking shit.

Edit: kernel version 3.0.24 is fucked up. Version 3.0.23 still has funcitonal USB & Ethernet drivers, but both have no functional ATI display drivers. So, still, fuck that fucking shit.

Poor man's vinyl rips January 31, 2012, 3:44 pm
So, I recently found some pretty good vintage techno records in mint conditions and ridiculously low prices, but had no way to play them, and was really not willing to ruin them with some nasty old turntable from the thrift store or burn good money on some newfangled "USB turntable" or worse yet, get the whole turntable-preamp combo shit.

So, I borrowed a normal turntable from one of my neighbors, and simply connected it to my Dell Inspiron 1720 laptop's.... mic/line in port and set it up as mic in. Using the mic-in allowed me to get usable signal levels without using a preamp, recorded the signal as it came from the turntable and applied the RIAA equalization curve in software with Audacity. It helps that my laptop happens to have a stereo mic in, though, because of the sharing with the line-in connector.

The results? Pretty damn good, after I compensated for the mic-in's noise. Much better than what I heard from vinyl rips made with certain USB turntables.

Ghetto HiFi system January 15, 2012, 9:06 am
An image is worth a thousand words.

Top: some generic DVD/DivX/MP3 player currently playing a MP3 CD.

Middle: Aiwa AD-F330 cassette deck, currently recording from the MP3 player.

Bottom: some no-brand (well... "Linwood" FX-800) tuner-amp with cassette deck, line in and surprisingly good sound (cassette deck records like shit though).

Speakers: rescued Yamaha computer speakers from the trash. Built-in shitty IC amp is bust, however the speakers themselves are good 5W 4Ohm affairs, so I wired them to passive and using them with the tuner-amp. Any questions?

FUN FACT: 10 minutes after posting this, I had to repeat this procedure on the DVD player -_- (it's a different device though).

Maes: now more oldschool than ever before December 15, 2011, 5:52 pm
Even some of the oldest DW members will have a tough time beating THIS amount of oldschool:


I got this old lady from a thrift store, where she was in good -though not perfect- conditions, along with a couple of old reels containing 60s pop music. After some SERIOUS cleaning, re-greasing and replacing the main drive belt and the worn-out mains cable (yikes!) she worked like a charm -all electronics and main motor appear in order.

Rubber parts are a bit worn out more due to time than due to use. I was also able to find online service manuals (in German, ach!) and videos of some old farts that knew their shit better than me, and was able to get it to work again without damaging anything :-)

The only problem seems to be that tracks 1-2 of the tape sound too muffled (you can play tracks 1-2, 3-4 or all 4 togeter) , and upon closer inspection it appears that some of the yellow loctite stuff they used back then has got on the heads, or simply the head is so badly oxidized that no amount of scraping will remove the yellow stain -_-

Tracks 3-4 sound loud and clear, but all reels I have (well, 2 of them for now) are recorder track 1-2 first, so using tracks 3-4 plays them in reverse. Ouch.

It's a vacuum tube device in case you wonder, hence the "magic eye" indicator on the front. It also gets pleasantly warm during use -50W idle consumption, take that Greenpeace!-

I was worried whether the tubes were bust, but so far they seem to hold their own well, and they are common types anyway, so probably I will be able to replace them if needed. It's amazingly how solidly these things were built, mechanically and electrically speaking, so much that a youngster (well, relatively) like me, some 47 years later (it's a 1965 model) can service it and use it. It's also very well furnished with inputs (Radio/Phono/Mic in, loudspeaker out, line out, all in German DIN connectors), and the magic eye indicator shows recording level.

All in all, it was an interesting restoration mini-project :-) My next step is trying to record stuff on it. I'm curious to see how modern stuff (techno, heavy metal and, why not, video game music) would sound :-p

My "new" desktop PC. May 16, 2011, 3:08 am
After my Athlon 939 mobo died (a combination of latent bad caps and probably some dead transistor), I had ordered a new Athlon II X640 beast, but alas, shipment was stalled for nearly a month and I had other shit to do, so I cancelled the nearly Eur. 500 order (the PC was meant for use in my hometown, which is not everyday as of now).

Frustrated, I picked up the "best" components I could find amongst my recovered junk PCs. After some tinkering, here's my new desktop "beast":

  • Pentium III @ 1000 MHz
  • Jama M7693V motherboard. In case you're not familiar with it, it's one of the least well designed and most unsupported VIA KT133-based mobos ever made :-p
  • 640 MB of PC-133 SDRAM (probably worth a fortune on eBay).
  • SATA 500 GB HD (ha! You didn't expect that!) hooked to...
  • ...some noname Fasttrak 378-based SATA RAID controller. Had to slipstream special drivers into an XP installation to get it to work.
  • Some nVidia FX 5200-based graphics card with 128 MB of RAM. It's an AGP 4x card forced to work at AGP 2x because of the extra crappiness of this mobo -_-. This results in some interesting behavior: stuff that relies on just using a lot of onboard memory/rendering bling works fine, stuff that requires too much geometry pushing from the CPU to the graphics card is a real dog.
  • 3Com TX 10/100 Ethernet adapter, for extra awesome or something.

It's not actually a bad gaming system: it plays Doom 3, Battlefield 1942, World of Goo, GZDoom, etc. its only sore point is that some MPEg4 videos don't seem to play smoothly, and flash-based players are nearly unusable inside a browser, because they require so much more raw CPU horsepower. But in any case...hey, it was almost free, and it has a vast new hard disk to play with ;-)

Online businesses: grasping at staws? March 20, 2011, 1:42 pm
I'm usually not one to take personal interest in others' personal endeavours, but in the case of friend of mine that is dead-set on having her "online business", due to my professional background, I can't just turn a blind eye.

Don't get me wrong, if someone has a good idea for a viable business or enterprise of any kind, and personally possesses (or can acquire) the know-how to put it to fruition, that's fine with me.

However, there are exceptions to that.

Take for example a friend of mine, who has lived a significant amount of time in the USA for studies, and became enthralled with the American Dream, sort of, or at least with the "do businesses everywhere" and "do business at all cost" mentality, at least the way she perceived it. For this reason, she wants to start her own "online business".

As for her actual finances, let's say that she can get by without working, and so she can dedicate herself to starting an online business. Please understand that I can't be more detail-specific for anonymization reasons.

Now, as I said before, having business spirit and initiative is all right and well, however IMHO she's going about it in the wrong way.

I think the best way to describe the problem is that she's stuck with
these guys as a hosting service. For those familiar with the name, you know what comes with it.

For those that don't know, let's say that it's a cult-like, MLM-like, walled garden type of host that puports to be "not just a host, but a business", and she bought into it completely.

IMHO that's $300 a year down the drain, for a hosting service that lock its users into a rigid, early-90s restrictive and primitive CMS, a "walled garden" marketing model aimed at milking its own members, a cult-like, almost evangelical zeal-like indoctrination only rivaled by Apple, and an insistence on meta-marketing cheap tricks that are utterly outdated, like keyword-based SEO, googlebombing, affiliate marketing etc. etc. It seems to be back in the 90s at the "good" times of the first dot-com bubble all over again!

It's nearly impossible to talk her out of following their cult-like "marketing advice", and the problem is that she has bought so much into it, that she focuses more on keyword-based SEO, affiliate marketing bulk e-mail etc. than actually promoting herself and her works, and she won't take any criticism directed at that "infallible" (for true believers) business model, which bases much of its presence
on shills, affiliates and googlebombing its own reviews.

Only that it just doesn't seem to fly. In one year of buying their crap, she has ended up with an ugly 90s website full of google ads, cheap keyword tricks aimed at "getting more traffic" at whatever cost, etc. and she seldom dedicates any time at actually promoting her line of work. IMHO using that as her main website actually hurts her efforts, since it looks just like a cybersquatter's (and that host I'm talking about actually encourages this sort of "business") but I honestly can't believe this can fly.

Anybody has had similar experiences? How could I talk her out of it? (Not that I haven't tried, but it's like talking to a religious zealot).

They say you can judge a man from his heroes... February 16, 2011, 4:05 am here are mine:

Al Bundy
Bobby Fischer
Charles Bukowski
Charles Bronson
Clint Eastwood
Elias Petropoulos
Jeremy Clarkson
My Dad
Steven Seagal
Vittorio Gassmann

So that next time you know who you're dealing with.