2.20.2019

Video Review: the Parker Duofold mechanical pencil!

Hi everyone,
Here's another vintage mechanical pencil review: the Parker Duofold, patented in 1916!





2.11.2019

Windows goes out with a #!...Part 2

Hi everyone!
If you've been with me for a while, you might remember my post from July 2012 when I proudly announced I had installed CrunchBang Linux 10 on my 2004 IBM ThinkPad X31.
That computer had a 1.something GHz Pentium M with 512MB of RAM and an almost-dead <80GB IDE hard drive...but it was my gateway into the wonderful world of Linux.

Fast-forwarding to 2019, I've got a small Chromebook running GalliumOS (a Chromebook-optimized distro built from Xubuntu), and have been enjoying using it for everything from web browsing to video editing (though it's pretty slow for that task). However, the limited <16GB onboard storage and somewhat substandard performance make it unsuitable for a "desktop replacement" PC. So my thoughts turned to my other PC, a 2012 Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet that I got a few years ago.

I got this computer (with an i5 and 4GB of RAM) from Newegg to use as a "light note-taking PC" (which I never ended up using it for). The Windows 7 Pro it had made it very useful for running legacy applications, and I didn't want to totally wipe it to make way for Linux.

(The impetus for this whole move was Microsoft ending support for Win7 next year, and I'm not about to install Windows 10 on anything I own.)

So, I just got a cheap SSD to eliminate all risk of damaging the Windows 7 installation with a dual-boot, and installed Linux on that.

And of course, I chose the community-driven successor to CrunchBang, BunsenLabs Linux. It looks almost identical, using Openbox as a window manager. With an SSD, it just flies. Very enjoyable to use! And now that I have more of an understanding of the underlying principles of Linux, I can navigate around and edit config files much better than I ever could in high school.


A screenshot of that old blog post on that PC's successor:


It's great to be back.

New Video: The Sharp PC-5741, a 1990 DOS Laptop

Hi everyone,

I've had this computer in my collection for a while, and finally made a video showcasing it.

Ever wondered how to access the Internet (via a terminal emulator and a Raspberry Pi) with an old DOS laptop? Or what a picture taken on a '97 Sony Mavica MVC-FD7 looks like on a grayscale display?

Even if you didn't, you might find this look at "just another DOS laptop" enjoyable. I certainly had fun making the video.

If the above didn't work, the link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LN5NhVM6g2M

(Side note: This was edited on a bottom-of-the-line Celeron-based Chromebook (the Asus C202SA), which I installed Linux on (GalliumOS, based on Xubuntu), in Kdenlive. The program may have crashed a few times, and it may have taken about 2 1/2 hours to render a 15 minute video (with a couple unfortunate glitches), but it's certainly way more than this humble Chromebook would have been able to hope for if it had its stock ChromeOS installed.)\



10.13.2018

Kodak DC25 Digital Camera from 1996!

Hi everyone!
Just picked up a bunch of retro tech stuff, so it's back to the '90s for a little while here on coolstuff4819.
First up, a camera that I've seen very little written about (past its release date), so I'll introduce it here.
The Kodak DC25

Released in 1996, the Kodak DC25 was the first consumer digital camera to support CompactFlash cards for image storage. At this time, many cameras only used internal flash storage (like the Apple QuickTake series). Of course, CompactFlash cards were not cheap, with one writer linked here noting that he paid $150 for a 10 MB card in 1998 (about $230 in 2018). However, this eliminated the need to rely on an extra cable and special driver software for your PC to get the files off of the camera, provided you had a way to read the CompactFlash card. (Since USB was not common yet, the easiest way would have been to use a PCMCIA to CF adapter, with a laptop computer.)

This was not the end of the story, however, as the camera records images in a proprietary .k25 raw file format, which then need to be processed into standard .jpg files. A utility was included with the camera in the box, but that program did not allow for batch processing of images, and was extremely slow. Fortunately, Rick Kaseguma at the previous link wrote a fast, compact file converter for Windows 95 (which runs on my ThinkPad X220 tablet running Windows 7). This, combined with a simple USB card reader, is all I need to get the pictures off the camera.

DC25convert:


Though 1GB cards hit the market six years after this camera was released (Q1 2002), the one I've got seems to work fine with the DC25. However, given that the "fine" images are only 137KB each, and that Windows reports 976MB free on the card, the theoretical maximum would be 7124 images. Either way, this shows that even super-high capacity CF cards are supported. I'll bet that the maximum number of standard images is actually 10,501.
Status screen with a totally blank 1GB card
Actually taking the picture is as simple as can be. Put the batteries in (2x CR123A lithium), turn on the camera, aim using the viewfinder (the screen is exclusively for reviewing photos), and press down the shutter button. Flash can be turned on or off, but that, along with a resolution selection (standard vs. fine) is the only control accessible to the user.
Reviewing a picture
Since the camera has a fixed-focus lens, there is no "halfway down" shutter button position - just point and shoot.

Through the viewfinder

Buttons on top. Note
The screen, viewfinder, and buttons for picture reviewing
Information and screen brightness control wheel

And what pictures they are! With a resolution of just 493x373 pixels, and a fixed-focus lens, this camera's output can hardly be considered "hi-fi," even for the time. But the do have a certain charm; they remind me of the stills from my parents' Handycam when I was a kid, and that makes this camera a valuable addition to my collection. Here are some of the shots that I've taken with the Kodak DC25!


5.07.2018

Ghost Signs

KC Crossroads

KC Crossroads

KC Crossroads

KC Crossroads
Tower East District
Tower East District


4.30.2018

Koss PortaPro Typewritten Review

I figured I'd do a quick review of one of the best electronic devices I own, the Koss PortaPro portable headphones. They've been with me through tough times in college, and I still enjoy using them. Here it is!



side view - note the firmness selector



the temple pads allow for even distribution of clamping force across the sides of the head

Folded up - the clip/hook design is not very "locked in place" and springs open readily. Case recommended.

Gold 3.5mm plug.

This is how they look - very '80s, but they work! They also conveniently bypass the glasses "support beams" and so do not press them against my head.

4.26.2018

1967 Underwood Touch-Master 5!

Hi everyone,

I thought I would flesh out this review a bit more, but realized with all that's going on (major changes happening lately) I would never have the motivation to really do this typewriter full justice with a thorough cleaning and review, so here is what I had typed up, and some pictures from my phone, on and of this new typewriter!
(Typewriter repair manual mentioned in post: http://typewriterdatabase.com/1968-Ames_Standard_SVC.underwood-repair.manual)
This is the spring-assembly I needed to re-seat.