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Topics - Macallan

Browsers & Technology / Specs vs. Reality
As noted elsewhere, there's plenty of hardware where specifications on the box don't agree with actual hardware capabilities. Apple is a serial offender here - many Power Macs for example, can take much more memory than Apple says they do. In this case it's understandable, assuming they only want to guarantee what they could test, but designed the hardware to take whatever the standard allows ( example - the iBook G4 has a single SO-DIMM slot, supposedly takes up to 512MB DDR modules. I stuck a 1GB one into mine, just works. )
Slightly more sneaky ( but still Apple ) - the PowerBook 3400 has two PCMCIA slots which are keyed for 16bit cards. The hardware behind it is a CardBus bridge though, and if you can get the card into the slot ( many newer CardBus cards, if you can still find them, don't bother with the keying ) and actually set up the CardBus part ( which the firmware won't, but for example NetBSD will ) then these cards will work. Very useful for adding USB ports to something that old.
A more egregious example - Gdium. The overpriced MIPS-based netbook that hardly anybody wanted to buy. Comes with 512MB RAM, supposedly not user upgradeable. In reality it's a bog standard 512MB DDR2 SO-DIMM, I stuck a 2GB one into mine and guess what, it works. The memory controller is part of the CPU, so the netbook design should have zero influence on what memory modules work.
I'm sure there's plenty more.
DnD Central / Invasions East and West

The brilliant plan in case of a Soviet invasion? Retreat all to Italy, hold the ground there, and wait for American reinforcements.

Wait a minute, you guys ( well, mostly the british and american troops in western .de but still ) were supposed to invade Any Day Now for most of my childhood, not the other way around!
( no, I don't think there was much of a difference in propaganda full-of-shitness on either side of the border )
Browsers & Technology / BeOS, Haiku etc.
Back in the day I downloaded the BeOS 5 Personal Edition, found a way to install it on a harddisk partition ( there are still people who claim this can't be done - even though the image comes with the partitioning tool and the installer ), later even bought the Pro Edition ( mostly to get the book and the PowerPC version ). There was also a ( rather weird ) version of Opera for it.
Either way, the company went titsup ages ago, there have been successor products ( like Zeta ), leaked betas ( Dano ) and a bunch of projects to recreate either the BeOS desktop or the whole thing from scratch.
So, a few days ago I got the latest iso from Haiku - the one successor projects ( of the recreate the whole think kind, which explains the long development time ) that is still around - and installed it on an old PC.
The good news:

  • it boots, it knows how to deal with the graphics card ( a Radeon R3xx in this case ) and the network card ( 3Com EtherLink XL )

  • it comes with a webkit-based browser instead of the even back then outdated NetPositive. A Mozilla port has been around since the old R5 days.

  • it looks and feels very much like BeOS R5 with a bunch of improvements ( new BSD-ish network code, things like a PDF reader are included, etc. )

  • boots in a matter of seconds, even from CD, just like the original

  • no crashes, trips to kernel debugging land etc.

  • the UNIXy base system is more POSIX compliant, so porting non-GUI software should be a lot easier. Things like openssh are included.

  • the boot manager found my NetBSD partition, automatically included it in the menu, and had no trouble booting it either ( take that, Microsoft )

  • it knows how to deal with a real time clock running on UTC so it won't step over other UNIXy OSes that might be installed

The bad news:

  • not much hardware support as far as I can tell, still feels quite fast though. No surprise for an Alpha release. Now that the kernel and filesystem parts are working properly they'll probably start to tackle that.

  • doesn't come with a driver for the audio card I happened to have in that PC ( some Ensoniq PCI thing ) - there are patched drivers for the original BeOS which might work though

  • no hardware OpenGL, but R5 didn't have that either ( R4.5 had it on some chipsets ) - no big deal for me

Don't get me wrong though - hardware support has been modernized a lot since R5. It comes with a bunch of SATA drivers ( didn't exist back then ), USB2, lots more network hardware ( including some wifi chips ), half of which didn't exist when R5 came around, IPv6 is supported too ( was around but not widely used at the time. AIX had it since the mid-1990s for example. )