Peter's z80.eu site blog
Strange C64 cartridge "Story Machine" from Spinnaker Software ............ errorneous software selled from beginning? 
Saturday, December 29, 2012, 01:48 PM
Posted by Administrator
I am always looking to complete my cartridge collection for my C64.
Now I've obtained a cartridge named "Story Machine". Regardless of the poor presentation and functionality, I thought it should work as designed, at least you should save your work to disk and load it later again.
This is the cartridge:


And this is the strange result of 4 minutes work with it:


Up to this point, I was not really impressed, but I thought, it's a rare cartridge, so who cares. Then I saved the created "story" to disk and I tried to load it again.
This happens then:


What's that sh*t ?

Tested on VICE 2.22 also, with JiffyDOS Kernal and JiffyDOS C1541 ROM. Does it work better without JiffyDOS ?

Added later: No, it's not related with JiffyDOS. It's related with the cartridge software itself. It's just poor software quality, faulty, the developers never assured all works. See, this happens also:


All errors will appear only, if you save your work and later try to reload it.
If you do not save the story, but don't power off, you will be able to replay it.

Added later:
Strange PCB layout and used ROM chip for this cartridge:


You can grab the cartridge file >here<.
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Apple I auction ended with fantastic price... selled for ~half a million EURO 
Monday, December 10, 2012, 09:00 AM
Posted by Administrator
Almost unbelievable, what some are willed to pay.
An Apple I was auctioned for a price others would buy a house instead.
Original Apple I are very rare, also because only about two hundred devices were selled in 1976. A similarity to the later Apple II is easy to recognize, but only in terms of electronic design/circuits.


But only a few knows a very good replica is offered:
>> Briel Computers Replica 1 <<
You will got the (original) feeling for a fraction of the costs ;-)

Not really easy to explain - original, old MOS Technology KIM-1's are much cheaper, but have almost the same historical meaning.
P.S.: You can get a replica of a KIM-1 at brielcomputers.com too (named Micro-KIM) ...

Added later:
There was a second Apple I replica made, look here for more infos.
Thanks for the comment !

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Forgot these ugly limits for BIOS, DOS, FAT16 ... had to re-install a Siemens PCD-4ND 
Saturday, November 24, 2012, 11:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Yes, I am getting old. I forgot these days with ugly limits for harddisk access.
Not only logical limits (like FAT16 vs FAT32), also hardware limits.
I have selled my Compaq Portable II last week, which was my floppy disk format conversion station (e.g. with such programs like Uniform, or 22Disk ...).
Now I took my PCD-4ND notebook, a very beautiful Intel 486 based old computer, which had a 500MB harddisk - way too small:

So I decided to exchange this 500MB IBM HDD with a newer Fujitsu 6.4GB HDD.
Guess what happened... I noticed a strange error message from my Windows 95 Setup, something like "harddisk size parameters are wrong, no LBA support".
I was a bit surprised because that Siemens PCD-4ND already had LBA support integrated in its Phoenix BIOS 1.03 from 1997.
But this LBA support was not really working, a Western Digital Tool "DSKCHK" reported EXT INT13h Support is *NOT* supported by this most current available BIOS.
I tried Paragon Disk Manager 5.5, and tried to "fix" this wrong MBR / disk partition table.
It showed now 2GB free, but it still was not fixed for the Windows 95 Setup.

Without success I remembered there was a time special drivers were offered from Seagate or Maxtor (= Seagate Disk Manager or Maxblast).
It was a bit difficult to find an appropriate version of these tools, but after I formatted and installed
Disk Manager 9, it worked surprisingly without errors.

Think about how easy it is, to install new hardware and operating systems nowadays...

P.S.: http://web.inter.nl.net/hcc/J.Steunebrink/bioslim.htm shows a lot of helpful information, but the embedded links are mostly NOT working anymore. I will try to create a similar webpage for my main site, but with current, working links. Be patient.

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A replacement for rare and bad supported Catweasel Controller ? DiscFerret to the rescue ... 
Friday, November 23, 2012, 07:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Sometimes a few guys seems to be very innovative.
Because GCR coded (e.g. Apple II floppy diskettes) floppies can't be read from "normal" floppy disk controllers, a special device for reading even exotic floppy disk tracks is needed.
A Catweasel controller is such a hardware, but it's meanwhile old and no longer supported.

Now they developed a new promising piece of hardware : DiscFerret



At the moment, there is only slow progress towards a mass production, but you can get prototype boards. You should remember the URL and visit it again.

See http://www.discferret.com/wiki/DiscFerret for more infos.
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OT again: Fooled Antivirus - Part 2 
Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 10:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
To get a clue what I mean, download an older patch program (aka crack program) as an example for blind or at least dumb Antivirus software.

Attention: You have to deactivate your Antivirus Software to unpack it (password for unpacking: novirus). After unpacking, upload both files to virustotal.com and see what happens. You need not to execute the exe files. After uploading it, you can reactivate your Antivirus Software (an alert for one of these two files will pop up).

patch_winver_unpacked.exe should give no negative results
patch_winver_upx.exe should give you a lot of negative results

But these files are virtually identical, except that patch_winver_upx.exe is packed with a modified, early UPX version.
You will be still able to unpack the second one manually, just take PE Explorer and you will have the possibility to save it uncompressed (it's done by a plugin of PE Explorer automatically).
Why is "Heaventools Software" able to do this with ease, but any Antivirus vendor is NOT able to unpack it "on the fly" ? Even if they argue that each unpack process will take additional time, it's a lot better than giving false alarms. At least, a user should have the possibility to switch "unpacking of known exepackers" on or off.

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