A few weeks ago, Szczezuja asked the GeminiSpace community: How you were using the Internet in 1991-1995 and 1995-2005?

This may be a bit longer than asked for, and I thought about breaking it into smaller pieces, but I decided it would be more appropriate for a Gemini post to be one single unit.

1991-1995: Discovery

By 1990 my family had moved on from Atari’s home computer line to what was then known as an “IBM Compatible” PC. I missed out on the BBS era, except for one time we had to download a software patch. My first taste of being online came through walled gardens during my last year of high school:

Prodigy, which I seem to remember having a GUI frame around a mostly text interface (except for banner ads in the frame). I think it even ran under DOS. I remember looking at some message boards about theater, but that’s about it.

AOL, which at the time was much friendlier to use, ran on Windows, and had its own system of message boards, email, etc. But again I don’t remember much about what I did with it until later on.

September

Then I got to college and discovered “Mosaic” at the computer labs. This web thing was really cool! There was a database of movies that I could search, I could find all kinds of sites on this collection of categorized links called Yahoo!, and people were posting things like fan pages collecting all of the Animaniacs cultural references!

Egad! Keeper’s Cartoon Files is still online!

There was a campus-wide Unix network that you could connect to through a dial-up terminal app, or the WYSE terminals scattered around campus. Windows and/or Mac computer labs at major departments. The engineering, computer science, etc. labs also had bullpens full of graphical UNIX terminals (I think they were the classic Sparc “pizza boxes” running SunOS and later Solaris), which was how I first encountered Mosaic and Netscape.

Back at my dorm, though, I had to dial up to a terminal. I could use text-based applications like Lynx for web browsing, or PINE for email. Sometimes I’d check my email (a string of auto-generated letters and numbers based on my major at a fourth-level domain based on the department that handled student email) at a text-based terminal in one of the computer labs or scattered around campus.

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  1. Put Folding@Home on my desktop.
  2. It’s using too much power.
  3. Can I put it on my Raspberry Pi 3B?
  4. The software is 64-bit. The OS on there right now is 32-bit.
  5. Specs show the 3B has a 64-bit processor.
  6. /proc/cpuinfo shows it has a 32-bit processor.
  7. Specs show it should have BCM2837
  8. /proc/cpuinfo shows it has BCM2835
  9. Magnifying glass shows BCM2837 stamped on the chip.

A close-up view of a circuit board with Raspberry Pi 3 written on it and a Broadcom chip partially hidden by plastic spacers.

WTF?

It turns out all Raspberry Pi CPUs appear as 2835 in the kernel?!?!?

I decided to put BOINC on an old phone instead. I don’t feel like installing a new OS on the Pi. *sigh*

At first I thought this was related to Windows losing drives on wake. It started happening around the same time, it also involved waking up from sleep, and the CD/DVD drive was disappearing in Windows along with the vanishing hard drive.

But while moving the cables fixed that problem, it didn’t fix this one.

It was only mildly annoying, especially compared to regularly losing access to a large chunk of local storage, so I figured I’d come back to it later.

Other people are seeing this too and it’s a recent bug in the Linux kernel. At least with Fedora’s rapid kernel updates I probably won’t have to wait too long between when the patch lands and when it hits my desktop. It’s been years since I compiled my own kernel, and I don’t feel like starting that up again now!

I finally got around to trying out No Man’s Sky a few weeks ago. I started on a super-hot planet, where you need to find shelter and/or resources to recharge your suit’s hazard protection system to keep cool. Got killed a few times trying to figure out what I was doing. And after about 20 minutes, my computer spontaneously shut itself down.

I waited a few minutes to let it cool down, then tried again. Managed to figure out a bit more of what I needed to do in the game, and then the same thing happened.

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On Monday, the home laptop mysteriously started lagging on heavily-modded Minecraft worlds that it had been just fine with the day before. Katie tried all kinds of troubleshooting over the next few days: using different launchers, trying local and server-based games, disabling mods, reinstalling Sophos, rebooting the system repeatedly. Nothing helped.

Until she checked the system update panel. Sure, it had a notification dot, but it always has one because it wants us to update to Big Sur, and we’re not quite ready to upgrade the system from Catalina. So it wasn’t obvious that it hadn’t actually installed Monday’s macOS update despite multiple reboots and a checkbox to automatically install updates.

Not that you’d expect a missing update to be the cause of the problem, since the lag only just started happening. But still, worth a shot. Especially since it started around the time the update was released.

(Incidentally, 2.3 GB? It’s only been a few weeks since the previous update. Did Apple just give up on deltas a while back and start shipping the entire OS every time there‚Äôs a bug fix?)

She had to manually tell it to install, and then force-shutdown the machine, because it wouldn’t restart on its own. Then the update installed.

And the Minecraft lag mysteriously disappeared.

Which means one of two things happened. Either:

  • Just knowing that the update existed caused something to chew up or block resources.
  • The OS silently started to install the update and got stuck, leaving the system in a broken state without telling anyone.

Neither of those is what I’d call encouraging.