Computers, Cell Phones, & Other Electronic Gadgets

Made a video of my 1988 computer chessboard playing my new one.

While recording I didn’t realize how long it was, and that the camcorder wasn’t dealing with the LEDs very well. But I put in the time so uploaded it anyway.

Set the old board to think for 15 seconds, and the new one is set to normal level zero, basically zero think time.

It’s pretty much over for the old board after about 8 minutes, but the video goes on and on because the old board doesn’t have a way to resign like new chess computers can.

Both these boards set to these levels will beat me most of the time, I have to drop the level of both down a few notches from their start up defaults to beat them.

So have fun watching chess pieces move around 2 boards for 45 minutes!


The pieces don’t move themselves? What a ripoff!! :laughing:

Not quite a gadget, but I needed to share. When paying a medical bill, I was instructed to install an app called Papaya which claims it will allow you to pay any bill if you take a photo of it. Pretty nifty.

(Not trying to spam, it might turn out this app sucks.)

I go hiking (that’ll have to be a thread here!) and I have a handy pedometer app on my Android phone. It is good to keep track of the steps you walk in a day.

I’ve managed 10-12 miles on foot for hikes; one day, I want to hike 20 miles in a day!


Feeling left out of the AI revolution? Now you don’t have to!

I’m still waiting for a version of the board game Guess Who where the game pieces actually talk.


I’m waiting for Sea Monkeys that look like little mer-royalty.

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Well, yesterday was about the worst experience. So, I bought a 512 GB Sandisk SD Card…yadda yadda…was going to use the good old linux utility “dd” (disk define/disk delete/whatever it stands for) to clone the old SD card contents from the phone.

It was intended to give ample storage for large audio files.

Letting my lowest-end Samsung phone format it was a YUGE mistake…somehow it borked the whole disk…

And for some reason I didn’t have exFAT as a filesystem on my main Linux box, and booting into Windows 10 didn’t do a damn thing.

Eh…I don’t know what I did, but the disk ended up unrecoverable, even using some KaliLinux tools to just vaporize the thing…

Meh. Finally got exFAT up and running on my regular Ubuntu 20.04.6…and had to deal with my attempts to store the contents of the old 32GB SD card, which apparently, in storing it as a file, gobbled up many GBs of storage in my root partition on the box…which involved, really just nuking a bunch of .cache files…

No. Never ever trust a phone to format a card. Because when it stalls because of screen timeouts or whatever, it’s a major PITA.

But on the good news, exFAT works fine with the Samsung, so at least it’s an adequate filesystem for any reasonably modern purpose.

And another thing, WTH did I use as the filesystem on this 250GB flash drive? Huh…didn’t like storing +4GB size files…weird…I couldn’t have been that stupid…but…one never knows.

And, yes, with dd, I did learn a good trick: add “conv=notrunc,noerror” for fun. I don’t think “notrunc” is that useful, but “noerror” is a good one.

Since an older spinning HDD is starting to “click,” that will be handy when trying to grab some stuff off it (pretty sure there’s no content there I don’t have duplicated elsewhere, but I don’t have a RAID setup, and just manually use sync/rsync from time to time…I think this drive was used as an experimental multi-boot drive for various linux distros and VMs and some ancient backups).

/* edit, what’s odd is that my kernel is 5.15.0-76-generic and there was still no exFAT under /proc/filesystems … TBH, I don’t know what I’ve done to my current basic daily “driver” box, but something bad, no doubt. Let’s just say I’m very familiar with (initramfs). */

Try running a CHKDSK in Windows Command Prompt.
Do a CHKDSK D: (or enter whatever the drive letter is)
CHKDSK D: /f /x /r
then hit Enter and it should correct the errors and the MicroSD card will be usable again.
I 've had to do this multiple times with my GoPro Micro SD cards and it’s recovered the files and fixed the errors every time :+1:


Indeed. Windows was not having any of it.

I can’t remember what I did to fix it…I think I overwrote the whole thing from /dev/zero…then finally got exFAT working on the Xubuntu and just did mkfs.exfat on it.

To my surprise, Windows was no help! I begrudgingly booted into it as the nuclear option, but she was not having any of it.

Eh, lessons learned!

/* although I didn’t use the flags ‘/x’ and ‘/r’: there’s no manpage for CHKDSK! That probably would have done it, but I was running short of patience. */

Oh, it gets better.

This one is easy to fix, but I just now realized my problems using a VM to connect via VPN to my work Windows environment are related to me screwing around with qemu-kvm and other virtual machines to do an end-run due to my having befouled my Windows partition…quite a while ago.

Yes, the symptoms are no network access once logged in with credentials and a hardware MFA key within the proprietary virtual machine.

I’m starting to think I shouldn’t be trusted to be screwing around with my own little daily driver computer…I should sandbox myself or something.

Every single thing is due to my own fiddling around with stuff willy-nilly.

Of course it’s not serious, just a home machine with all data backed up, yadda whatever, but it is humbling when I have to fix things I broke myself.

Could be worse — Twitter DDoS’ed itself the other day thanks to another of Elon’s inspired ideas to make more money by driving people away.

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Well, the summer temps, coupled with the quality of the electrical grid has forced us to buy a solar emergency backup generator. We went with an Ecoflow, it has high ratings; and we’ll be able to run a window A/C, fridge, and wi-fi ! When we don’t need it for emergencies, I plan on charging our EV with it…totally solar!


A boss at work…kind of a younger kid, I guess, turned me onto a note-taking desktop application called Obsidian. He was describing it a bit while we were chatting and I immediately blurted out “an ontology!”

Not too deep into now, but I might start using it a bit for things I’ve otherwise been tempted to use a NoSQL database, like AWS’s “Dynamo” for at home/personal use.

Wicked cool, man!

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26 Megabytes for $5 Grand?? :flushed:
To Morrow is Too Much :zipper_mouth_face:


I’ll have you know I paid $1795 for a 40MB drive back in the day, and they still didn’t have automatic head parking at that point. Moore’s Law has been just as applicable to storage.

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The first smartphone was actually invented back in 1993-1994. This is the IBM Simon Personal Communicator. It was a personal digital assistant that could also make phone calls and had other applications such as a calendar, world clock, faxes, emails, paging and so on. It cost US$899 with a two-year contract or $1099 without a contract.

It didn’t last long. About 50,000 units were sold and it was discontinued by Feb. 1995 after it was introduced in mid-August 1994.

I guess the world just wasn’t ready for a smartphone then.


I remember when the car phones were coming out back in the 80s and the rich folks were driving their hoity-toity luxury convertibles talking on them like they were trying to impress people on the roads…
I remember the shock-jock I listened to back in 1991 in Charleston, SC while I was in the Navy was having secretaries call in on Secretary’s Day and a few were calling in from their bosses car phones going to pick up breakfast, dry cleaning, going to the car wash, etc. and they were pissed off because of the menial things they had to do for their bosses so they would run up their car phone bill out of spite :rofl:


It’s outrageous now, but at the time (infancy of desktop hard drives) this wasn’t an unusual price. I remember using Morrow drives (and computers), I think they were fine. I’ve used (and disassembled!) many hard drives, and these old ones were built like tanks, it was beautiful. Their capacity has nothing on drives today, and they were power gobblers, but given that pretty much everything today is engineered right to the edge of failure on purpose, you could probably put one of these drives in a barrel over Niagra Falls and still read your data afterward. :laughing:


Assuming you remembered to park the heads first, that is, otherwise they were far more prone to damage the platters due to a head crash. Today’s drives are considerably most robust in some ways (e.g., DLC on the platters) than the drives of yesteryear.