Rob's Ramblings

Sunday 29 July 2012

Nothing to report

It's been a busy few weeks. Kids broken up from school, house to tidy, and another week coming up where I have to completely box up and remove everything in the attic in order that the floor can be sorted out. I've already moved out a lot of stuff in there, but there's a heck of a pile remaining - mostly the stuff which wasn't already in conveniently sized stackable storage crates!  I've also had no end of other things to sort out that has been taking up an inordinate amount of time, plus all the trivial stuff that doesn't take long but seems to keep building up.  So lots of late nights and early mornings and which only makes me tired and slows me down further.

Throw in the odd random day out and this means, of course, that I've done virtually nothing on the retrochallenge entry - I keep promising myself a day on it, reworking the BBS side anyway, but it's not happened yet.  Maybe today ... there are still a couple of days of July left!  And then it can all go into boxes too...   On the plus side, when all the work is done, I'll be able to unbox it and set everything up much neater - but that won't be for another month or so at the very least, so outside the time limit.

Watch this space ...

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Sunday 8 July 2012

Hicups and Hostings

Ok.  Part of my retrochalllenge entry was to get the viewdata website sorted out - it's been in the process of being Wikified for over a year now!  Some of the work involved in that relates to simply translating the article markup from one markup language to another, but it also means I need to re-write all my custom plugins too.  And to do that, I need to finish the re-write of the viewdataviewer code... and holding me back on all of this was a webhost that made everything behave as if I was walking through molasses whenever I tried to change anything..   It used to be pretty good, but as with all shared webhosts, seems to have become oversubscribed and slowed to a crawl as a result.  Add in a good stir of never-updates, some virus infections, and I should have waved them goodbye a long time ago!

Anyway, I've taken the plunge and shifted my hosting... I'm now renting a VPS which means I'm effectively in control of my own server (albeit merely a tiny part of someone else's system) but I can keep everything up to date, and I don't have to worry about somebody else letting a virus in.  It's very nippy, compared to the previous host anyway, so I'm satisfied.  Maybe I'll not see visitors getting fed up waiting for the next page, now .. (how they would have coped at V23 speeds I do not know ...)

As of yet, there's no new content (although I've got a little titbit waiting to be released - thanks Ant) but that's because it's taken about a week to get everything shifted over - there's 17 websites to deal with! Most are placeholders or simple html-only things, but there are a few complicated ones.  But everything seems to work.. phew.... now to concentrate on more interesting things...

The other part of the challenge is re-working the hardware running the BBS.  This, I might not manage.  Rather than tidying up the mess in the photo, it's got worse!  I had to move everything on the left over in order for a surveyor to examine the floor joists - back in 2008 we got a builder in to put in a "proper floor" and better access, so we could actually use the space, among other things.   Unfortunately, he turned into one of those cowboys you see on the TV, and did a job that nto even the worst DIY nut would be proud of.  There's a lot more to tell, which I'll no doubt blog about eventually, but there's a chance we might finally get some of it sorted soon.  This, unfortunately, will mean packing everything up from up there while it's done, making it impossible to do the BBS side of things.

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Sunday 1 July 2012

Retrochallenge: Starting position..

The Attic

Well here we are.  My starting position at getting the viewdata BBS sorted out..

Top shelf - misc DIY stuff, but there's a spare electron shoved in there.
Middle shelf - two VoIP adapters & firewall, elderly modem rack, two terminal servers running off old PC power supplies since theirs died, and a NAS box and external USB drives that is nothing to do with this!
Bottom shelf - ancient mono monitor, three BBC Micros, two magic modems, quad-video switch.
On the floor: various spare beebs and ARM machines....

On the right, another two beebs, a Tandata viewdata adapter sat in a touchscreen for a CUB, atop a portable TV, and lots of more stuff!

At present, in use: one VoIP box adapter, the magic modems, and two beebs.

Out of shot is an Acorn A5000 which runs the econet fileserver and a RISC PC, sharing an old 14" monitor.

Previously, I did have two beebs on modems and two beebs connected to one of the terminal servers accepting calls from the internet, allowing four users but only two by each method.  The aim is to use the modem rack and terminal servers to answer the phones, with as many beebs as I can get working connected to other ports on the terminal servers. This will disassociate the link between access method and bbc micro, and allow more people to use the system.  Should they want to.  

At the moment I'm lucky to find even one person visiting ....

Anyway, I'm hoping I'll be able to tidy this lot up as well as getting it working again!  As you can see, it'll need it!

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