Scam phonecalls

This happened a few years ago, when I had more free time in the day & an Scamming screenshotsunfiltered TalkTalk landlane that rang daily with scam calls from Microsoft or TalkTalk.
The phone rang and the person on the other end (We’ll call him John, he probably called himself Elvis or something) claimed they were from TalkTalk, John even knew my customer number. He told me he’d been monitoring my connection and my PC has been reporting errors that were caused by my faulty router. John said he’d like to replace my router, fix my PC & refund me £200 for the inconvenience. He was keen to show me the errors in my operating system so guided me to the event viewer to show me the issues I had. Continue reading “Scam phonecalls”

IBM Model M 122 key “Battleship”

I’ve had an IBM Model M 122 key teminal keyboard in my spares cupboard for ModelMKeyboardover a decade, unfortunately due to the fact it was originally connected to a minicomputer it has an RJ45 connector & A different keyboard protocol so changing the plug & connecting it to a PC will result in Windows not understanding a word the keyboard is saying. Continue reading “IBM Model M 122 key “Battleship””

Fixing a faulty Xbox360 USB receiver

We’ve recently moved home and as always happens we had a few casualties, we had a broken plate, our Logitech USB desktop microphone (which I always thought looked like a triffid) finally broke in transit. It was the third time it moved with me & every time I unpacked it the stalk had snapped, previously it could be repaired with a bit of superglue but not this time.

The third item was an Xbox360 USB receiver, when plugged in the green LED on top didn’t illuminate which was a shame as it worked before I boxed it up.

Continue reading “Fixing a faulty Xbox360 USB receiver”

The only winning move is not to play

Shall we play a game? Back when I owned an Amiga A500 in the late 80’s I always had a soft spot for the game Nuclear War by New World Computing. It was a pretty simple single player only strategy game with a sense of humour.
When I discovered Defcon by Introversion Software I spent quite a few hours nuking cities around the world, on 17th November 2020 ICBM was launched. It’s similar to Defcon but it has more depth with a research & development tree that allows you to take different paths in each game. Flush the bombers! Continue reading “The only winning move is not to play”

Firewall history and a homemade VPN

Ever since I’ve had a home Windows server I’ve run a firewall. At the beginning it was Microsoft ISA 2006. I liked this as it integrated nicely into Active directory, but the problem was Microsoft never replaced it & its EOL was in 2015. I switched to IPCop which worked fine, but when that software was also abandoned I searched for a replacement. I narrowed the choice down to either pfSense or OPNsense. I chose OPNsense simply because its graphs were prettier. I took advantage of its Dynamic DNS service to update my external IP using www.dynu.com without additional software, which was nice.

Another service is the Wireguard VPN which I installed to allow me to access my internal network remotely so I can boot computers, access files & control remote desktop PCs. Here’s how I did it. Continue reading “Firewall history and a homemade VPN”

Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House?

Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House? is a 24 page paperback book written by Tom O’Connor (Not THE Tom O’connor, he didn’t write any books as far as I know, although he did host a game show called Password in 1963 but that didn’t have anything to do with computer security) to promote Windows Home Server in 2007.

Information Radiator: Backups

Linux logon

One thing I missed with on-site Exchange was the ease that the data could be backed up,
I previously used a powershell script that extracted users data from the Exchange database every night into a .pst file. This file was then put into a folder that was backed up along with the users other data. Continue reading “Information Radiator: Backups”

Information Radiator: Calendar

Adding calendar functionality to the information radiator involves pointing the plugin at an .ical file that lives on a website; unfortunately when I logged onto my calendar using WebDav, I didn’t find a single .ical file with all my events in there, I found over a thousand tiny .ical files, each with a single event. What I needed to do was combine all the tiny .ical files into one chunky .ical file, then point the calendar at the chunky .ical file. Here we go. Continue reading “Information Radiator: Calendar”

Creating an Information Radiator

The title comes from something I read when I was researching this topic & it’s my favourite new name for our smart digital photoframe.

Quite a while ago we bought a Raspberry Pi model 3B and used it to run Retro Pi. We put it in a megapi case, and connected a varity of wired & wireless controllers to it. That was a good project, but to be honest I had more fun configuring the front end than I did actually playing the games.
For quite a while I’d been on the lookout for a digital photoframe that was reasonably large & would connect to our server so it could source it’s pictures from there, but I didn’t find anything I liked. Continue reading “Creating an Information Radiator”

New hardware

I recently bought a new motherboard/CPU/RAM for my main PC, the original motherboard had gone faulty, but as is usually the case, changing the motherboard requires a new CPU & RAM as the old memory isn’t compatable with the new board & the same with the CPU. My previous hardware consisted of a I3 4130 CPU an ASRock Z87 pro3 motherboard & 8GB of RAM all bought in 2013.

I’ve always bought Intel but this time after a little research I settled on AMD this time as at the moment you seem to get more bang-per-buck with them. I ended up with a Gigabyte X570 board, 16GB RAM & a Ryzen 3200G CPU.
I reused everything else in the PC, even though I could really use a new case, my GTX680 is far too big for it & the case needed to be “operated on” to allow it to fit.

When building I’d recommend attaching a speaker to the motherboard to assist in troubleshooting. If you haven’t got one, you can buy them for pennies on ebay.

After a new install of Windows 10, the OS was showing the full 16GB, but reporting that 8GB was system reserved. I tracked this down to a BIOS setting. The XMP high frequency support was set to off, I changed that to profile 2 & on reboot the full 16GB was available to Windows.

I also had an issue running a VM of Windows 98 in VMWare workstation which ran without problem on the old board/CPU. This was fixed by booting the VM in safe mode and disabling 32 bit protected mode disk drivers.

BBC computer literacy project 1980-1989

Mac, Chris & a BBC micro. Downloaded @9600 baud.

If like me, you’re older than the MOS technology 6502 or the Zilog Z80 you may remember watching the BBC series “The computer programme” or it’s follow up “Making the most of the micro” when they were first shown in 1982 & 1983. Watching Mac & Chris Serle exploring early 80’s home computers (Although mostly the Acorn BBC) facinated me as I saw the possibilities of these machines. Continue reading “BBC computer literacy project 1980-1989”

No sound? (It’s mute-iny)

We often play games on Steam using remote play. Our media PC is reasonably specced, but if it’s streamed off my main PC, there’s a central location for game installs & my PC is at the end of the day, the better machine. We use both an Xbox 360 controller & an Xbox one controller when we’re sat on the sofa. Continue reading “No sound? (It’s mute-iny)”

Migrating from Exchange on the cheap. Part 1.

For years I’ve used Exchange to manage emails, calendars & tasks. I managed this locally on my own server & used powershell scripts to backup my emails.

I recently decided to move all of my eggs out of one basket. I didn’t really want to pay more for this service than I’m already paying, but I also didn’t want to lose any functionality. My email provider uses Open-Xchange for the above tasks so I wondered if I could migrate to that without any deal-breaking issues. Continue reading “Migrating from Exchange on the cheap. Part 1.”

Currently completed: Super Mario RPG (SNES mini)

So we’ve completed Super Mario RPG. It took us a few months & I’d place it here in my list of best Mario RPG games:

  1. Paper Mario: The thousand year door (GameCube)
  2. Paper Mario (N64)
  3. Super Paper Mario (Wii)
  4. Super Mario RPG (SNES)
  5. Paper Mario: Colo(u)r splash (Wii U)

It’s interesting that Super Paper Mario is above Super Mario RPG as the SNES game is closer to the gameplay of the games in positions 1 & 2. I think there are a few reasons for this. First of all, we found the platforming in the N64 game a bit awkward due to the digital controls & isometric view. Continue reading “Currently completed: Super Mario RPG (SNES mini)”

Currently playing: Super Mario RPG (SNES mini)

We’ve completed the following Mario RPG games:

  • Paper Mario (N64)
  • Paper Mario: The thousand year door (GameCube)
  • Super Paper Mario (Wii)
  • Paper Mario: Colo(u)r splash (Wii U)

We wanted to complete Super Mario RPG on the SNES too, but it  wasn’t released in the UK. That changed on 29th September 2017 when Nintendo released the SNES mini. The Mini came with 21 games including the previously unreleased anywhere Starfox 2 & more importantly to us, Super Mario RPG.

Continue reading “Currently playing: Super Mario RPG (SNES mini)”

Retr0bright

Some of our N64 cartridges had discoloured around the edges. This happens because the cartridges were made of ABS plastic, which is combustable. To prevent your gamecollection burning down your house, fire retardant chemicals including Bromine were added to the mix.

When Bromine is exposed to UV light it oxideses, which causes discolouration to the cartridges. It was irritating to have a few cartridges with discoloured edges, but we recently purchased Mario Party 3 which was severely affected. We decided to look at a solution to the problem, that solution was possibly Retr0bright.

Continue reading “Retr0bright”