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Rare Retro-Computing Find

Atari Heavy Sixer running System V.

Illustation for April 1: Atari 2600 running System V in PDP/11 mode
Click for a larger image*).

Now this is some rare piece of equipment: An Atari 2600 “Heavy Sixer” running UNIX System V. The venerable VCS is attached to a box branded “pdp11/2600” and runs System V from a DEC cartridge. TTY is looped through the Spectravideo CompuMate keyboard add-on. Must investigate…

Illustation for April 1: Atari 2600 running System V, screen
A rare sight: System V on a color TV set.

However, the system is a bit finicky and runs about once a year.

*) Original image source, Atari 2600 & Spectravideo CompuMate: Avon Fox,
PS: Check the post date. ;-)

Great, A Boat is Stuck!

Finally, something to agree upon.

Illustation: A big boat stuck in the suez canal

So a boat is stuck in the Suez Canal. Why should this be great? Now, finally something to agree upon: it’s a boat, even a big boat, it’s stuck, and it’s in a canal, yes, in a big canal, in the Suez Canal…

See, how easy this may be?

Read more about why this is great here:

“I Like That The Boat Is Stuck” (

Check here, if there is still something to agree upon:

Big Sur System Update — Cargo Cult in Progress

A few notes on the system update process in Apple’s Big Sur (macOS 11)

Apple system update screen
The joys of Apple’s system update process.

Over several years — that is, the last decade — we have seen the principal mindset directing the user facing aspects of application and system design shifting from the concept of usability towards UX (user experience). As we’re almost there, it may be worth confronting these two apparently synonymous concepts of design guidelines and directions, here on the example of Apple’s Big Sur system update process.

Continue reading…

A Modernist Christmas

Festive architecture & optimism

Lobby of building 2 at General Dynamics Astronautics, San Diego, CA, Dec. 24, 1958
Lobby of building 2 at General Dynamics Astronautics, San Diego, CA, Dec. 24, 1958.
(SDASM Archives / Convair/General Dynamics Astronautics Atlas Negative Collection)

Season’s Greetings

Better late than never, an old-school e-card…

A festive display hack for the PDP-1 (2020)
A festive display hack for the PDP-1. Click for the live program.

A bit of PDP-1 assembler code running in in-browser emulation:

Lehman Bros., Liquidity, Austerity, COVID-19, and the Inevitable Rise of John Maynard Keynes

Veering off of our usual topics for a bit of political economy.

Thresholds — Hum…

Since everything is a bit out of the ordinary recently, here’s a somewhat different post, diverging from our usual path. Yes it’s about the current “Corona” situation, but also about a somewhat broader perspective. Since my educational background is in such things like philosophy, sociology and even a couple of semesters of political science, I can’t help including this perspective. On the other hand, I’m clearly not a medic nor do I have any relations to that honorable profession. So I’m entirely without expertice in this field and relying on what is to be learned from public appearances of epidemiologist who speak on the matter. (In other words, anything regarding the current situation and its epidemiological perspectives is just hearsay and lacking any further foundations. Any inferences and/or conclusions drawn from this kind of awareness are not any better than the foundations on which they are built.)

Trigger Warning
I’m sorry to say, this will not be another pep talk on the subject. If you feel apprehensive about this or do not feel like in the right mood for this, better skip this post.

Continue reading…

Calm Panic in the Face of Influenza

Learning from history: How to keep calm while panicking and carry on with face masks

Wear a mask or go to jail — California, 1918.
(Raymond Coyne, 1918-11-03)

Influenza and influencers, and a friendly customer information from 1918. Apparently, it’s not the first time, we’re facing an epidemic. Some prefer doing so while wearing a face mask, others may prefer desinfectants. Arguably, masks make the better photographs.

Photo by Raymond Coyne, 1918-11-03 (Mill Valley Public Library, Lucretia Little History Room).
Source: California Revealed.


“Today, you are an Astronaut. You are floating in inner space 100 miles above the surface of Earth. You peer through your window and this is what you see. You are people watching. These are fleeting moments. These videos come from YouTube. They were uploaded in the last week and have titles like DSC 1234 and IMG 4321. They have almost zero previous views. They are unnamed, unedited, and unseen (by anyone but you).”, 2019 (screenshot).

This is a great little project! — Don’t fail to experience this inner journey through these ghostly voids of abandoned footage! Ephemeral at its best! Chapeau!


Via HN,

Binary Grain — The Hare in the Mandelbrot Set

Images from the outer limits of numeric precision.

Take any numeric renderer which allows you to zoom in repeatedly. For instance a Mandelbrot set renderer, because, Mandelbrot sets are always fun. For instance this one (by your’s truely). As you keep zooming in and zooming in, after a while, eventually, the rendered image will suddenly show pixelation. And as you are zooming in again, the pixels will increas in size. However, this is not a fault of the visualization layer, it’s just that you hit the mathemitcal barrier of numeric precision. The grain in binary computers…

Binary grain to du numeric precision

Continue reading…

Anatomy of a Wordpress Backdoor

Reverse engineering the command and control structure of a Wordpress attack.

Software archeology usually relates to dated programs, like the bit we did on a 1960s graphics demo for the PDP-1. However, the same skill set also applies to reverse engineering more recent bits and bytes. In this case it’s about a Wordpress attack and its command & control structure. Recently, I discovered a new variation of the command & control structure…

Anatomy of a Wordpress hack

Continue reading…

Design & Engineering

Engineering design according to the Report of the Feilden Committee on Engineering Design, delivered to the government of Harold Macmillan in 1963:

G.B.R. Feilden, Engineering Design, Report of the Royal Commission, 1963: Engineering design is the use of scientific principles, technical information and imagination in the definition of a structure, machine or system to perform specified functions with the maximum economy and efficiency.

Now redo it in cross-stitch. ;-)

Portraits and Selfies

Portraits have always been a means of self-celebration and display, both of figure and social status, but also a means of reading – not only of physiognomy, but also of the essence of a person. By the democratization of photography and increasing accessibility of technological tools the portrait in its current form of the selfie hasn’t only become ultimately linked to narcissism, but has also become a means of linking over social networks and accumulating symbolic wealth on the respective status page, the new symbolic home.

Dito von Tease, 2018
Image: Dito von Tease, 2018.

Dito von Tease, a Bologna (Italy) based digital artist, has ingeniously mixed the two forms, the traditional portrait and the selfie, “showing subjects [of traditional art] in authentic and modern selfie poses. An iconoclastic project that blends together two apparently heterogeneous aesthetics, creating an ironic and surprising result.”


Snowflake: The Original Virtual Christmas Ornament

Snowflake for the PDP-1

It may be just the right season to remind of one of the first computer animations, “Snowflake” written in the 1960s for the DEC PDP-1. Despite various research efforts, the author of this amazing little program remains still unknown, which is quite a bity, since s/he deserves to be rembered along with the program.

Click the image for an emulation and/or have a look at some images of the real thing as hosted at the DigiBarn museum’s website.

Not xkcd: Failing the Nerd-Test

Not xkcd: Failing the Nerd-Test