error: btn: invalid btn_btree.bt_key_count

I recognised the symptoms:

  1. Excessive disk trashing.
  2. General slow down.
  3. Backblaze and Time Machine causing the rainbow spinner.

My filesystem needed first aid. I think I can trace this back to the latest macOS update. I swear that half the updates cause filesystem corruption of some sort, but it also feels like I’m running First Aid at least once a month anyway!

Unfortunately for me, the error this time was:

error: btn: invalid btn_btree.bt_key_count

Apparently Diskutil can’t fix that error. The only thing you can do is erase the drive, reinstall MacOS and then restore your data. I was dreading it.

I have a Time Machine backup but I decided to make another backup of my home directory, while logged into another account. Lucky I did as an IO error showed up in Library/Caches/ – thankfully I think in an Apple app I don’t use.

I expected the business of restoring everything to be awful, but in the end the MacOS installer fired up Migration Assistant which let me restore my last Time Machine backup.

With that done it was time to install Brew again. The first package to go back in was coreutils but “brew reinstall” has a bug where it won’t accept parameters. I should have used “install” but “reinstall” with  “–with-default-names” doesn’t work. Also coreutils and related packages are “keg-only” now so no symlinks to /usr/local/bin are made. You have to run “brew link” to link all the commands. It was a simple job then to rename each file, removing the “g” prefix.

I’ll find more things as I go that aren’t configured I’m sure, but thankfully restoring from Time Machine made the job much easier!

The Antarctic Whale Hunters

Photo: A whale on the flensing plan at Grytviken, South Georgia, 1914-17 (Photo by Frank Hurley/Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge/Getty Images)

One of my favourite podcasts is Witness by the BBC World Service. In each episode they talk to people who were there at moments in history. There are some amazing stories in their archive. Each episode is an easy to digest twelve to fourteen minutes long.

In the latest episode Gibbie Fraser talks about his time on a whale catcher in the Antarctic in the 1950s and 60s.

Other episodes that stand out for me:

There are 2348 episodes in their archive, so something for all tastes.

Mind The Gap

Have you ever wondered who the voice behind “MIND THE GAP” is? Wonder no more. Phil Sayer was the voice actor who recorded this phrase and many other phrases used on the London Underground and other places in the UK.

While listening to a recent episode of Everything is Alive I heard an interview with Elinor Hamilton. She is a voice actor who can be heard in many train and underground stations in the UK. She told of the comfort she got hearing her late husband Phil announce arrivals and departures as she got off trains, but also her grief at finding out that a particular station had stopped using his voice.

It’s a lovely interview, and if you’ve ever taken public transport in London or possibly other cities in the UK I think you’ll like it too.

Is Elon Musk giving away Bitcoin?

No, of course not. Whenever the title of a post asks a questions, “no” is nearly always the answer. Saved you a click here if you read the preview on your favourite social media platform.

This morning I heard on the latest Smashing Security podcast that a verified Twitter account had made around US$10,000 by pretending to be Elon Musk. It was a promoted tweet so many people saw it. Not bad for a few hours work.

The scammers are back. I saw this promoted tweet a few minutes ago.

Someone at @Monsterjobs lost control of their account. As of this post there’s only been one transaction but I’ve reported the tweet. Someone needs to protect these poor Bitcoin miners!


Gamebase64 – instant C64 collection

If you had a Commodore 64 in your youth, or you’re simply curious about the games produced for the system then Gamebase64 is for you.

Gamebase64 is an effort to catalogue every single Commodore 64 game, along with associated media like music, tape or disk covers, adverts and magazine reviews

It’s huge! The latest version is V15 and was released in 2016 holding 25,700 games. The games themselves don’t take up too much data but the artwork, music, and associated material really take up a lot of room. The whole collection is available as 3 ISO files and an artwork zip file. You can find download links to all of those in this thread, but if you don’t want to download them you can browse the collection here (or here) too. You’ll need to download the GameBase frontend to view everything as well as the V15 database files. I use Vice to emulate the Commodore 64.

GameBase itself is a database frontend for Windows that supports multiple databases. Many systems from the Commodore Vic20 to the Amiga or the Speccy and Amstrad CPC range are covered. You can find links to them on the GameBase website as well as many other databases.

I mainly use a Mac so I use Gamebase64 Browser. It’s a very slick frontend but if you search around you’ll find frontends written in a variety of languages for various modern platforms.

Installation was as simple as copying everything out of the ISO files into a directory, installing GameBase64 Browser in the usual way and when first run, pointing it at the directory where I had copied everything else.

Single disk and tape games work perfectly fine but I’ve had trouble with multi-disk games. To play Retrograde I had to manually unzip both disks into a temporary directory and load them in Vice outside of GameBase64 Browser. Not difficult at all but worth remembering when your favourite game asks you to insert disk 2. 🙂

If you’re at all interested in retro computers then GameBase is definitely worth checking out!

Retrograde

Ah Retrograde, a Commodore 64 game released by Thalamus in 1989. The Rowland Brothers, of Creatures, Creatures 2 and Mayhem in Monsterland fame created this game and it shows. Presentation is top notch. Some would say that this is a repetitive shoot ’em up but I love it. Nice mix of flying around shooting aliens and then a bit of a break with the underground bits. I love the graphics and the sound is a delight.

The gameplay is very simplistic, especially underground but the flying weapons are super! Just make sure you have an autofire on your controller. My thumb was sore from two levels when I remember Vice can do the hard work for me. I’m also glad Vice can save a snapshot of the computer state to save my progress as this game takes some time to complete.

Here’s a video someone else made of it:

The Glorious Twelfth

Tim and Naomi of the Irish Passport Podcast visited Northern Ireland in July to experience the marching season in all it’s “glory” for their latest episode.

It’s a great episode, showing the stark contrast between the neighbourly and friendly people they met during the day on the 11th, and the hate fuelled crowd who descended on the area that night for the bonfire.

You’ll find lots of images of the bonfires that night on Google Images but this Dailymail article (yes, yes, I know) has lots of images and reporting.

I visited Northern Ireland in the summer and really enjoyed myself there. The people we met were friendly and welcoming but it was well past the marching season. Hopefully I’ll write a post about that sometime.