PC

I’m writing this entry using my recently acquired brand new IBM Model M keyboard made in Scotland in 1997. I forgot how awesome these things were/are.

Not to mention the nostalgia factor. I remember those days writing essays in Professional Write (PW) on my Tek 8088 PC or even playing some games like Space Commanders, Alleycat, Chess, Digger, Centipede, etc.

The only key I’m missing is the windows key, I know Ctrl+Esc pulls the start menu which is something but other than that I’m missing some combos like Win+R. Using Sharpkeys I just remapped the right Alt key to the right Windows key. It is asking me to logout, so I’ll do it and let you know how it went.

Update: It worked! Pressing the right Alt behaves as if I’m pressing the Windows Key, shortcuts and everything.

Until the next entry.

 

First some background.

Recently, a friend of mine switched ISPs. His previous one was slow and had no intentions of improving their infrastructure. What really made him pull the plug on them was the fraudulent charges on his invoice and their poor (non existent) customer service.

His current ISP (which I won’t reveal), provides him with a much cleaner and faster (though not symmetric) connection. You know, a real broadband connection.

While no mechanism is invulnerable or impenetrable, I try to implement at least some basic security measures on a home network. As soon as the installers leave, I begin tinkering with things.

Connecting devices (PCs, tablets, cellphones, you name it) directly to the ISP’s gear is a big no no, so the first thing I do is disable the WiFi on the ISP router and only hookup a router (which I own and can setup to my liking). That way a barrier is created between the ISP and the internal network. Double NAT is not an issue since ISPs these days are going the Carrier Grade NAT route anyways.

One of the settings I always customize on my routers is the DNS servers. In my experience I can obtain better performance and reliability while using custom DNS servers. Also, it doesn’t matter if the ISP DNS servers go down and the ISP doesn’t get to log any DNS activity.

After setting things up, I visit some websites like IPLeak for example to make sure things are working the way they’re supposed to. Well, to my surprise (or shuld I say to my horror) I see the ISP DNS servers and not the ones I specified. I rechecked settings, tried different DNS servers, same result, there is a dns leak.

What this means is, the ISP is actively intercepting DNS requests and redirecting them to their own DNS servers. DNS can be a powerful tool (weapon) for an ISP to keep logs of your activities, block websites (or substitute them).

The best way to protect your activities from the prying eyes of your ISP is to subscribe to a good VPN service and setting it up on the router, that way, every device on the local network will connect to the internet via the VPN tunnel.

IBM Netvista

 

Or somewhat newer hardware. Socket 478 CPUs are the newest I attempted to run it, with 1 GB of ram or less. Careful with the page file size, games like Fifa 98 don’t work if the page file is set at 1 GB or above. As per storage, so far a 500 GB IDE drive formated as FAT32 (off course) has been working fine.

Main reason as to why you would do want to do this is if you will only be running Windows (yes, there are scenarios) and the storage is limited. In this case I had to do it on a 256 GB Mac.

It is challenging but doable. The current Macbook Pro 13″ only comes with two USB type C ports.

You’ll need a USB-C to USB adapter

Download windows support software inside Mac OS

Disable secure boot

Boot from usb stick

Load the Apple SSD driver

I forgot I was working on this article. I forgot the rest but this should help anyone interested get started.

Basically, because it “just works”. If you’re an individual or small business operation using Windows 7 just stick to it until the very end.

As to how do I know it is rock solid, it is because I’m lucky enough to work for a company that has VL agreement that includes it. Members of the corporate IT dept didn’t know about it till I mentioned it. Then they checked with the MS partner then sure enough it’s covered. It’ll be used on new hardware (Kaby Lake based) from now on.

I’ve been testing it since last year, very stable, every single piece of company software I’ve thrown at it works. ¬†You can make it as “barebones” (like in the factory floor) or as feature rich as you want (eg an Office CAD workstation).

You can also install utilities like O&O Shutup 10 and Spy Anti-Beacon if you want to feel a little bit more secure about telemetry.

This is a comment I saw at the Spiceworks forums that further expands on the topic:

“To address why obtaining Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Branch isn’t easy, it is because Microsoft has decided that they were not making enough money with the old Windows 7 design. And LTSB is effectively what Windows 7 used to be. Like windows 7, it does not get new features every couple months, but is just a rock solid dependable operating system without unnecessary bells and whistles.

LTSB is an excellent choice if you are a health care device manufacturer and you need a modern Windows platform that is licensed to operate a patient ultrasound scanner.

The new Windows 10 consumer/education/small-biz model is to probe and analyze customers and use that for marketing purposes, to promote Microsoft’s products, and to make buying and installing software in Windows 10 easier for the “iphone App” generation. Cortana vacuums up everything you say to it to build a personality and interest profile of you, and Edge records every search, and Windows 10 itself monitors keystrokes to track everything you do. All for the marketers to more accurately sell to you.

It is a complete joke for Windows 10 “Education edition” to include Candy Crush and XBox on the start menu. It’s almost as if Microsoft sees schools not as a place to learn, but as a place to market their App Store sales to kids.

And the 18 month feature release cycle allows Microsoft to completely rewrite how the OS works to throw all your careful restrictive initial planning to disable XBox and Candy Crush out the window. 1511 nags at you when you choose Google Chrome as your default browser over Edge, where earlier Windows 10 didn’t do that, all to help Microsoft try to regain market dominance.

Windows 10 LTSB disables all that. It only does the same few specific things it did when it was shipped, and it only gets security updates. It doesn’t generate as much marketing and data mining revenue on the backside for Microsoft, and because of that, they want to make obtaining it as difficult and restricted as possible, because LTSB robs them of that.

So, it is sold only to deep-pocketed customers who are already spending thousands to tens of thousands up front on volume licensing and the double-licensing for volume licenses that Microsoft requires. (The system must come with an OEM/retail Windows license/key that is not used, and volume licensing is purchased separate on top of that cost.)”

Let’s see, it must have been in 2002. I began doing repairs around late 97, in 01 I replaced the AT case and PSU for an ATX case/PSU (as the Mobo allowed either kind). Then in 2002 I ordered a Mobo with integrated CPU (ECS K7SEM), that’s when I pretty much made it my own. I gave it to my sis when she got married, then years after I visited them and saw it there just collecting dust and asked for it back. It is my Win98 rig, besides gaming I also use it for scanning docs and pics with my trusty Canon N640pEx.

The first PC I assembled (mid 03) buying everything had a huge (like 5 bays I think) white ATX case, it had a Biostar M7VKQ mobo with an a Athlon XP 2100 CPU, 256MB PC133 ram, a KWorld capture card (which I still have in storage) a Sound Blaster Live 5.1 Mp3 (which I’m using on the K7SEM) and a Sis based 32MB PCI video card. I I was totally free, no longer I had to share the “house PC”. The HDD was a 40gb one, which at the time it was plentiful for my gaming, development and video capture / editing / DVD riping. Sadly, less than a year after, my father died and I had to sell it to help with the ensuing financial difficulties (I was an entry level IT tech at the time).

Some background first: It was with DOS that I began using computers, a Tek 8088 was my first PC, then we moved onto a Tandy 1000 TL2 then onto an HP Vectra VL2 486/66. On the Vectra is where I began using Windows.

With this project I pretend to recreate some of those experiences. I had some old components laying around, others, like the case and the 5.25″-3.5″ bracket adapter I bought new and this is what I came up with.

“The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a PC, why not do it with some style?”

These are the specs:

Mobo: WS440BX Gateway Tabor 3
CPU: Pentium II Klamath 233 @ 133 Mhz
Ram: 64MB PC133
HDD: WD AC14300 4.3 GB
CD: GCR8481B
Video: Nvidia TNT 16MB AGP 2x
LAN: 3Com 3C905-TX
Sound: Soundblaster Pro 2 CT1600

Everything was coming along nicely, until, I realized the PSU placement was far from ideal:

Ouch. Never had this problem in my career. A quick search on the internets showed the problem is more common than I thought, even with modern hardware. I was able to find a local vendor who was selling an ATX 24 pin to ATX 20 pin converter, it even had the white cable for some reason (not that I’m complaining). Just a little help and I was back in business:

I was going to use an IDE to CF adapter, but then remembered part of the experience back in the day was that HDD noise, so I went for the oldest specimen I had.

The FDISK operations went fine, I removed the existing partition then created 2 partitions.

It was when I tried to format drive C: that it made that “clank clank” noise of death and format gave an error. Fearing the worst, still, I rebooted and this time tried to format drive D: which worked fine. I tried again to format drive C: and this time it went through. So I went ahead and proceeded with DOS installation, so far so good.

With DOS 6.22 up and running I went ahead and installed Win 3.11

Riva TNT Drivers installed. 1024×768 and 256 colors to keep that retro feel.

Sound card drivers, no problemo

The Sound Blaster Pro 2 CT1600 is an awesome card, (not pictured) I was playing some Gabriel Knight, simply outstanding.

Some of the games from my 8088 games also work fine

I’m pending to get the network card working.