MavEtJu's Distorted View of the World - My Computers

Nintendo Wii hardware problems
Laptop is broken...
Pentium4 3.2 GHz - 2005
Pentium 1 GHz - 2001
Pentium 333 MHz - 1999
Pentium2 200MHz - 1999
Pentium 100 MHz - 1996
AT: AMD 386 40 MHz - 1992
AT: AMD 286 16 MHz - 1990
Philips :YES
Philips MSX
Philips P2000T - 1981
Philips Videopac

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Nintendo Wii hardware problems

Posted on 2009-10-07 12:30:00
Tags: Happiness, My Computers, Electronics

Last weekend Hanorah managed to break the Nintendo Wii: Forcing a second DVD into the chassis kind of ruined it for everybody. On its own this isn't a big issue, but considering that this month everybody in the family got addicted to Super Mario Galaxy, the tensions in the house rose faster than a couple of neighbouring countries with old wounds and money to spend on armies.

As usual, fixing this thingie seemed impossible. This guide on how to disassemble your Nintendo Wii talked about a tri-wing screwdriver (which I didn't have (but found in a shop in Bankstown)) and a normal small screwdriver.

Thanks to the above mentioned guide, I knew which screws to unscrew. Three minutes later I had found the problem (some metal bars of the disk lifting mechanics were bended) and rectified the problem. The disk spinned again!

I had removed a total of 20 screws, in six different shapes and sizes. In the good engineering tradition I managed to put the Nintendo Wii back in into its original shape leaving seven screws on my desk which didn't properly fit in any of the holes currently still unoccupied. And this metal cover also didn't make it back into the box... Nintendo, please reduce the amount of different screws because this is just bad design.

Anyway, I'm off to collect Star Bits and Stars and Grand Stars, because Bowser still has Princes Peach in his captivity!


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Laptop is broken...

Posted on 2009-07-19 12:00:00, modified on 2009-07-27 20:00:00
Tags: My Computers

The category should be "unhappiness" to be honest... My Sony Vaio laptop is broken... Don't know what is wrong with it, but it doesn't power up the screen. The LED for the harddisk flashes for a second, but that is all...

Tonight I'm going to get a screwdriver and void some warrantee... Wish me luck!

Update: After putting back in 20 odd screws, the screen is working again!


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Pentium4 3.2 GHz - 2005

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:09, modified on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

Two gigabyte of memory, first computer with a DVD player / burner and dual core CPU and 120 Gb of diskspace. FreeBSD again. It was also the first computer with a LCD monitor instead of a CRT monitor, thus giving me more space on my desk.


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Pentium 1 GHz - 2001

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:08, modified on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

FreeBSD again. Nothing excited, except to notice that it was the first computer to have one gigabyte of memory.


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Pentium 333 MHz - 1999

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:07, modified on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

With my move to the Philips / Origin DNS team, I had to get a computer to run BSDi's BSD/OS on it and to get a feel for it. It didn't last long, it was just BSD and worked the same as FreeBSD for what my role in the team was. So it got to be used for other people when they visited me.


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Pentium2 200MHz - 1999

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:06, modified on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

This Dell computer was obtained cheaply via the PC-Prive project at Philips / Origin, thus called my prive-del (Literal translation: private-lady-of-the-street). It ran FreeBSD only. I never got the Windows refund because according to the rules and regulations of the PC-Prive project you weren't allowed to modify anything on the system. That also included the painting on the box and the extra harddisk I put into it :-) i


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Pentium 100 MHz - 1996

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:05, modified on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

A new computer with a CD-ROM drive! It ran OS/2 WARP 4 for about a year and then it got replaced by something called FreeBSD 2.2.1. All the power I had with OS/2 and it was modular! I didn't understand yet how it all fit together (That kernel compiling isn't really something I do understand), but it allowed me to read my mail and news, play online in a MUD and develop my own programs.


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AT: AMD 386 40 MHz - 1992

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:04, modified on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

This was only a motherboard change, but for the first time I made a real hardware change to my own computer.

The 386 allowed me to run Quarterdeck DESQview, a text mode multitasking program under MS-DOS. This was brilliant, it allowed me to edit my programs in one instance, compile them in a second instance and run them in the third instance. Because the instances ran in the so protected mode, any bad programming my side was immediately punished with an aborted program.

This was also the era of MOD files, the audio format which contains a track part and a samples part. By using a simple D/A convertor on the parallel port of the computer, you can connect the computer to your stereo and play all kind of music. By having two parallel ports on your computer and have two D/A convertors you could have stereo sound! The price of these D/A convertors? 15 resistors, one DB25 male, one tulip plug and one DB25 case: DFL 7.50. Much cheaper than a soundcard, and much more rewarding.

Despite that the operating system was MS-DOS, the command interpreter was replaced with 4DOS, a much more powerful commandline tool which made it much easier to run scripts and do interactive things with the user.

Later the operating system was replaced with OS/2 2.0, which gave me the first feel what a real operating system was and what it could do: pre-emptive multitasking, unlimited memory, an object oriented desktop and a filesystem with long filenames. Further a stream of strange tools became available, varying from a C compiler called DJGPP to an UUCP mail and news retrieval system called UUCP/extended. With the release of OS/2 WARP a lot more communication became possible, including TCP/IP based communication. And for the first time I saw include files with the text "Copyright by the Regents of the University of California." How much did I not know about what that meant.

Programming under OS/2 was a little bit difficult, but thanks to the book OS/2 Presentation Manager Programming by Charles Petzold and the EDM/2 (Electronic Developer Magazine) and the free DJGPP compiler I created a set of nice tools, mostly originated from other X11 applications like Spider and Xlock.


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AT: AMD 286 16 MHz - 1990

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:03, modified on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

This was my first own computer and had a VGA monitor, one 3.5" and 5.25" floppy drive and a very big 40 Mb harddisk. It ran MS-DOS 3.3 and thanks to Cshow (an image viewer), TurboPascal 4.0 and hundreds of games downloadable from Simtel20 and Garbo.uwasa.fi never a dull moment.

Later on the 40 Mb harddisk was replaced with a 100 Mb harddisk which I had to buy in Amsterdam on a sunday evening. A very strange thing now I think about it.

From the local computerclub I bought a memory extension board so that the computer had 3 Mb of memory instead of 1 Mb, and found out that RAM disks didn't survive reboots but also that disk-intensive games were loaded much faster now that they were on it.


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Philips :YES

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:02, modified on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

After the P2000T and the MSX it was clear that the IBM compatible and MS-DOS compatible market was the way to go. And Philips went that way, but took the wrong turns: Instead of the Intel 8086/8088 it used the Intel 80186 (which ran at 8MHz) and instead of using the standard 5.25" floppies they used two 3.5" floppies and instead of making it hardware compatible (i.e. put the video address at the same place as in the IBM computer) they made it software compatible (the interrupt to print a character was used to put it on the right place in the video memory) and instead of MS-DOS they used PC-DOS and DOS Plus. But for the rest it was compatible with regarding to executables and the CLI of the operating system.

The :YES taught me that while BASIC is fun if you don't know anything else, Pascal is much more fun and thanks to Borland we had Turbo Pascal 3 which could generate blazing fast .COM files. My fractals have never been calculated that fast (in monochrome...)

Monochrome isn't that bad if you can choose between high resolution monochrome or low resolution four colour colour :-)

One of the games I played on this computer was an early version of Hack or NetHack, a game which I never lost my love for. (Still haven't made it past the castle yet... One day I will, one day I will)

Thanks to the hackers at the Philips Thuis Computer club we ended up with an extension board for the :YES which mapped the video memory to the right location and did other kinds of magic and we were able to run all the right software on it: Turbo Pascal 4 (which generated .EXE files which were not limited to the 64Kb data model of the .COM files but allowed to use all of the memory), WordPerfect, Leisure Suit Larry and the rest of the Sierra games.

The :YES had a SCSI interface and I once tried to hook up a SCSI harddisk on to it, but I never managed to get it working.


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Philips MSX

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:01, modified on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

We never really owned an MSX, it was lent to my father for a short period and during that time it was abused by me discovering the digital world of computers.

The MSX was the first (and as far as I know only) attempt to make a home computer which was compatible between multiple vendors. A Z80 chip, a sound chip, a graphics chip and a two extension ports, of which one was used for a 3.5" floppy drive. Yes, 3.5". Totally incompatible with the P2000T which used the digital recording cassettes, totally incompatible with the 5.25" floppies everybody else used. But it was fast and big.

The graphical capabilties with the lots of colours brought me to the wonderful world of Fractals. Yes, more code to copy from books, while translating the that-basic-dialect-in-that-book into MSX Basic. I still have the book!


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Philips P2000T - 1981

Posted on 2008-03-01 09:00:00
Tags: Memories, My Computers

The Philips P2000T was the first computer in my life. Despite having used the Philips VideoPac just to play games, that was all which was done with it. The P2000T was a real Philips computer: Philips used the little data cassette in their voice dictation products, the same graphics video chips as used in their TVs for the teletext services and the ROM module was coming from the VideoPac. The P2000T had 8 kilobyte of memory in it which could be extended to 16 kilobyte: I had to do the dishes for a full week as a payment for getting this done.

The P2000T learned me a lot:

Programming in BASIC, starting with typing over lines of code from example books and later on making my own text based programs. For a project at geography classes at high school I created my own "how to assign land for farming while making sure you don't end up with mineral exhauston" program.

Modems and BBSs: With a huge external modem (not an optocoupler but a real modem) I was able to dial out to Videotex based BBSs with the speed of 1200/75 bps (while other modems these days were 300 bps).

Communication via the radio: During these days the dutch radio had a program called Hobbyscoop, which was broadcasted twice a week for half an hour (once on the FM band, once on the AM band). They had at the end of the program always a five minute segment with of data broadcast in their own Esperanto BASIC version called BASICODE: The real program starts at line 1000 and the BASIC dialect specific things like clearing the screen, putting the cursor somewhere on the screen, waiting for a key etc are done in machine specific BASIC in the lines 1 till 999. So the program would clear the screen (gosub 100), set the cursor to the middle of the screen (gosub 110) and prints "Welkom" (this is normal BASIC) and waits for a key (gosub 120).

To get this data you needed to tape the data broadcast, put the tape on the cassette player next to your computer which was in this case connected to the parallel port of the P2000T, run the Basicode program and play the recording. There you got the newsletter with a lot of information for radio amateurs, satelite trajectory, interesting things in the world of computer hobbyism etc. The casette player next to the computer was also connected to a disco style light-organ and modified not to mute when the plug towards the light-organ was plugged in. As the result everybody had to enjoy and endure the circular-saw sounds when I was downloading the newsletter.

Extending the computer with Uniface: The hobby computer explosion in the early 1980s attracted a group of people which were real hackers and wanted to use it to do the right thing: As described in the previous paragraph, incompatibilities in the BASIC language were overcome on software level with BASICODE and on hardware level they developed the UNIFACE standard: a connector between a specific extension port on the computers and a standardized port on the hardware modules. That way hardware created (the famous Knight-Rider LED strip, the automatic door opener, the railroad-track hardware) would never be obsoleted because all you had to do is build an interface and rewrite the software. Unfortunately I never got further than doing the Knight-Rider LED strip...


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Philips Videopac

Posted on 2003-11-25 10:08:26, modified on 2006-01-09 16:29:21
Tags: Memories, My Computers

The first computer I ever used was the Philips Videopac G7000. My father brought it home from work now and then and I wasted afternoons playing on it.

It was a game console, but not one like you know today. Instead of true colour 3D imaging, this thing had pixels the size of your thumb. Instead of a gyroscopic multifunction gamecontroller, it had an analogue joystick with one button...

Philips-VideoPAC-G7000.jpg

As you can see on this picture, the images weren't perfect and the story line was either "Shoot me or I'll shoot you" or a thinking game. The keyboard was a 'push-through' plastic plate which would have given everybody RSI.

Unfortunatly I don't remember much of it, I was too young to understand what the impact of this machine was. All I saw where enemy ships on the screen which I had to bomb with my torpedos while they tried to bomb me with their depth charges.

Philips-VideoPAC-seabattle.gif

Some links to other sites:

Philips Videopac and Philips Videopac G7000 page.
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