Retro Reading in 2019

Reading about retro computers in 2019!

You can be nostalgic about something for a lot longer than that thing was current. So it is with the Commodore 64, the Speccy and early computers in general.

I had a rubber keyed Spectrum 48K for a couple of years followed by a C64 that I used every day for another 4 years or so and here we are in 2019 and I’m reading about those ancient computers. I’m not the only one. There are vibrant communities around both computers and it’s great to see!

Somehow I can’t see myself feeling the same way about Windows 3.1, but I have to admit I have maybe not so fond memories of tuning autoexec.bat to get a few KB more memory in the DOS days…

What are the books I’m reading and where can I get them?

  1. The latest issue of FREEZE64 fanzine.
  2. Crash Annual 2019.
  3. The story of the Commodore 64 in pixels_.

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!