Author Archives: R. Bassett Jr. (Tatwi)

About R. Bassett Jr. (Tatwi)

Hobby programmer. I enjoy using GNU software, such as GIMP 2.8, Geany, PhaserJS, Tiled, QB64, and Blender, to create content in C++, LUA, JavaScript, PHP, BASH, QBasic, and Python. Linux user since 1998! I've spent countless hours working on SWGEmu server/client modding. In 2013 I created Rescue Girlies, a Mario-like game for GNU/Linux based on the source code for Supertux. In 2015 I made a heavily modified single player server for SWGEmu called Legend of Hondo. I've done a bunch of volunteer programming for the Tarkin SWGEmu server. As of mid 2020, I've mostly playing No Man's Sky and retro-programming in QBasic with my hobby time. :)

No Man’s Sky No Longer Needs Mods to Be Great

Truth be told, I have played way too much No Man’s Sky since I purchased it in March 2019. I started off playing it on Steam, because I thought the multiplayer aspect would be important to me. Turned out that it wasn’t, so bought the GOG version and washed my hands of Steam (Steam, never been a fan). Then at one point during the version 1.77 era,I realized the game was super easy, so I went about modding it to be more challenging. It was a bit of an obsession…

Anyway, I have since been playing the current versions of the game and I have to say that honestly, the game no longer needs mods. Hello Games has simply added so much fun content and adjusted so many systems that, while even easier in Normal Mode and still as easy as ever in Survival Mode, the game is quite enjoyable just as it is.

With this in mind, I decided to pair down my several game saves to just two:

1. My GOG Normal Mode save. This is where I have made it to “GOG Civilized Space“, made a few cool bases, and made some friends.

2. My previously offline-only GOG version 1.77 Survival Mode save.

I have over 115 hours of play time in each of these modes and thus, they are my most developed, meaningful characters. Having played about 5 other characters at times, I can safely say that each one is so similar to the other that it makes my brain go squirrely trying to keep them separated! Pairing down to just one character per game mode, and playing both of those characters in the same version of the game, is good for my old-man brain!

I am happy to report that copying the GOG 1.77 offline save files into the profiles directory of my GOG online profiles folder worked without issues. When playing offline your character is always called “Traveler”, so some of previous discoveries are listed as Traveler rather than Tatwi, but that’s OK. New discoveries are being attributed to Tatwi and some of the older ones are too, so that’s great!

So now Survival Mode players on all platforms, from PS4 to PC, can visit the castle I built in my previously offline-only game save! Pretty cool, eh?

I prefer to play in Survival Mode and I still have plenty of character development to poke away at, in no small part because it needs to catch up on unlocking new features since version 1.77. The biggest difference between default NMS and my modded version of 1.77 is that space combat is super easy in the default version. Ah well, I’m happy to take the good with the bad there, because it’s means I can just hop in and play without first making my mods work with new updates to the game. Is that lazy? Maybe, but I prefer to think of it as the default game being so awesome that I no longer feel compelled to change it. 🙂

See you out there in Euclid, a galaxy not so far away!


Rambling Tangent:

I will say that you have to be careful moving save files around, because the file names (save4.hg, etc) aren’t as important to the game as the information inside the files. I discovered that if you want to put two versions of “save3.hg” into the same folder, it’s not enough to rename one of them “save4.hg”. You’ll have to first open one of the save files using the NMS Save Editor and export it to a different save slot number. Then it will likely show up on your drive as “save5.hg” or something, which you can copy over and the game will show it occupying the save game slot you chose when exporting. Before I did the export step, I just renamed the second save3.hg to save4.hg and didn’t show up in the game.

Keeping different profile folders for different versions of the GOG game requires keeping two versions of the Default folder and renaming the one you want to use to Default before running the game. The save files are located in,

C:\Users\YOUR_USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Hello Games\NMS\Default

If you also use the Steam version of the game, it’s save folder is named st_###…, where ###… is string of numbers likely related to your Steam ID.

I found when using the NMS Save Editor that it only looked into the GOG Default folder, but perhaps that’s the way I setup it up at some point. So to move my offline save to a different slot I renamed Default_177 to Default, then opened the Save File Editor, exported my save to another save slot, then I copied the new save file into the Default folder that I use for the current version of the game.

The Many Ways to Run QBasic in 2020

It has been a few months now since I started playing with Microsoft QBasic again. A surprising amount of that time was spent determining the best way to actually use it in these modern times. There are so many ways it can be used!

Over the past few years I have become more aware of the energy use (and cost) of my computers. This introspection has lead me to a happy place where I can get a whole desktop computing experience while only using 27 Watts of electricity (at the outlet, not including my desk lamp). That’s extremely impressive when you consider what I am getting for those 27W:

– 24″ 1080p desktop monitor.
– Full sized back-lit mechanical keyboard, a wireless mouse, and a USB SNES style gamepad.
– Desktop speakers.
– Quad core Intel CPU that performs about the same as a 95W desktop CPU from 2008.
– A full, no compromises, Linux or Windows environment.
– An uninterruptible power supply.

In practice it’s identical to using my desktop, yet it consumes 115 to 300 Watts less power! Heck, it’s even 55W more efficient than using my Pentium 233MMX based Deskpro with an SVGA LCD. That’s a whole lot of energy efficient computing and I love it!

Oh yeah… the computer is a laptop, so I can unplug it and go use it on the porch for 8 hours or more. I tell ya, it’s an impressive setup!

So that’s my personal bias when it comes to running QBasic in 2020. I am sure the ideal setup for feeling all nostalgic and junk would be to use a real 386 or 486 computer, but to each his own.

Anyway, the following is a fairly comprehensive rundown of the various ways one can use QBasic in 2020. If you’re interested, I have some benchmark data in my QBasic repo on GitHub.


DOSBox

Honestly, this is the best way to do it. There is only one downside, which I have read about yet not personally experienced: the floating point math of the emulator can sometimes cause integer math to fail in QBasic. 1 + 1 will always equal 2, but complex algorithms might produce incorrect results. That negative possibility aside, I feel DOSBox is the best option, because the setup of DOSBox is dead simple, as is its daily use, and the performance is also excellent.

Pros:
– Easy to setup and use in both Linux and Windows.
– Performs great on low-end/low-power x86 and ARM based computers.
– Can use real floppy drives.
– Can emulate 386SX 25MHz to Pentium 200MHz without getting weird.
– Able to feel very retro, depending on one’s hardware setup.
– Integrates well with Git and other host OS file management tools.
– You have the benefit of being able to quickly fire up a normal web browser, play background music, watch a video in another window, etc.

Cons:
– Gets a little weird when the cycles are set too high (screen flickering, input doesn’t always register, and other strangeness).
– Integer math might, maybe, sometimes, possibly produce incorrect results.
– Not particularly retro feeling, depending on one’s hardware setup.
– The DOSBox developers only support its use for games, so they really couldn’t give a shit if QBasic works properly. But it does! 🙂


DOSBox-X

This is basically a more complicated version of DOSBox that is focused on more accurately emulating certain CPU types. I saw absolutely no advantage to using this for QBasic over plain DOSBox. Also, I had to compile it from source, which is obviously more involved than installing normal DOSBox.


FreeDOS / MSDOS

There are three main ways to run a full version of DOS: on an old PC, on a modern PC, and in a virtual machine like VirtualBox (or DOSBox). For the purpose of using QBasic, FreeDOS provides an identical experience to using Microsoft DOS, except that FreeDOS is easier to find and install.

Modern Hardware Installation:
It’s fast as hell, but good luck getting sound and a whole lot of other things to work on your hardware. I really wanted to love this setup, but it was just a pain the ass to use (on my laptop, which would only boot from a USB connected SATA SSD). My laptop would beep using the PC speaker, which is all the sound the QBasic 1.1 IDE natively supports, but USB sticks wouldn’t work, wifi wouldn’t work, and there’s no Git for FreeDOS. Really, I’d have to use Linux to share/manage my QBasic files anyway, so why not save myself the multi-boot jamboree and just use DOSBox.

Retro Hardware Installation:
Also fast using FreeDOS, Windows 98 DOS, or DOS 6.22 on my Compaq Deskpro. Again, USB didn’t work in any of them, forcing me to boot to Windows 98 to transfer files between machines, because none of my other machines have floppy or zip drives. It’s perfectly fine to use FreeDOS on old hardware, so go ahead and use it if you don’t own a copy of Microsoft DOS. If you’re content to keep all of your QBasic stuff confined to a single machine, a real 486SX25 based desktop with a VGA monitor would be ideal for the QBasic 1.1 IDE. Kick it up to a Pentium OverDrive 83MHz or a Pentium 75MHz if you’re looking to compile graphically intense games made for Screen Mode 13 using QuickBasic 4.5 or QBX7.

VirtualBox Installation:
Yeah, don’t. It’s slower than running FreeDOS natively on the same hardware, sound and USB still won’t work, and the VirtualBox guest additions won’t work. Unless you’re using a VHD file as your fake hard drive (which the Windows volume manager can mount), managing your files is a pain in the ass. In fact, it’s still a PIA even when using a VHD, at least compared to using DOSBox on the same hardware/OS. Having tried this with both FreeDOS and MSDOS 6.22, I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to do this. None.

DOSBox Installation:

A full version of DOS is completely unnecessary for running QBasic in DOSBox. You can add a directory to your DOS path (I use C:\EXE) and copy your favorite DOS tools to it if you’d like, but really DOSBox and your host OS already have everything you’ll need to manage your files.

Pros:
– Works great on real retro hardware. It’s DOS and… it’s free!
– On real hardware, retro and modern, it’s faster than anything else.

Cons:
– Installation is more involved than DOSBox.
– Too fast on any real hardware newer than a Pentium 75.
– Too slow in VirtualBox.
– It’s an obtuse way do use QBasic on modern hardware if you plan on sharing your programs in the modern world, unless you’re well versed in and enjoy using networked programs in FreeDOS.


PCem

As the name implies, PCem is a personal computer hardware emulator. It strives to put a real old computer inside a handy window on your modern computer. Not in a fancy way with skeuomorphic graphical representations of devices, just a normal Windows or Linux window with drop down menus. On one hand it’s retro-cool when booting a real old BIOS, while on the other hand it’s as bland as using VirtualBox.

Pros:
– Objectively, for the purpose of running QBasic, there aren’t any.
– Can match the speed of real retro hardware.
– QBasic works fine with a simple MSDOS 6.22 boot disk image, assuming you can figure out how to get QBasic onto said disk image.

Cons:
– Setup requires advanced knowledge of both old PC hardware and current ways to find, install, and use unlicensed BIOS ROMs, disk images, etc.
– Requires a beefy computer to emulate anything faster than a 486DX66.
– Uses way more host CPU cycles than anything else; it’s seriously wasteful for the end result. To match my real Pentium 233MMX system at 85W, my desktop had to use 187W. That don’t make sense!
– File management is a huge pain in the ass, having to manipulate floppy or CD disk images with obscure software in Windows and complex commands in Linux. I humbly refer to this file management system as, “convoluted as fuck”.


That covers the over-all ways one can use QBasic in 2020, the most flexible and sensible being DOSBox. Now I’ll list some pros and cons of using DOSBox in the three main hardware setup you’re likely to consider.

Desktop PC Pros:
– Greatest variety of hardware, including essentially any dual core CPU based system.
– Compatible with old PCI sound and video cards. Some Intel Pentium Dual-Core (Core2) socket 775 and AMD Athlon 64 X2 socket 939 motherboards even had ISA slots.
– Most likely to create the nostalgia of using a late 1980s, early 1990s PC. You can, for instance, easily cram an ATX motherboard into a modified AT case and use it with 5.25″ floppy disks if you’d like.
– Endless ways one can configure various versions Windows or Linux to their liking.
– Paired with a 4:3 ratio, 15″ – 17″ CRT monitor and a decent keyboard, the full screen experience looks and feels identical to the old days.
– Used 4:3 SVGA LCDs are often next to free. While they clearly do not have the same presence on the desk as a CRT, some LCDs are fairly retro looking themselves.
– With x86 desktops your limits are really just time, money, and imagination.

Desktop PC Cons:
– You’ll likely need a system from 2005-2010 if you’d like to use a floppy drive.
– A poor use of electricity.
– Battery backup / uninterruptible power supplies are large, somewhat expensive, and the batteries wear out after only a couple of years.
– Obviously not portable.

Laptop PC Pros:
– Obviously portable!
– Even a first generation Chromebook, ARM or x86 based, that has been converted to a full Linux machine can run DOSBox well enough for QBasic. My fully personalized Devuan 3 setup on my Lenovo 100e “Winbook” only uses 11GB of hard drive space. A basic Linux desktop can use as little as 4GB of space and require only 1GB RAM.
– There’s plenty of variety; You can pick a laptop specifically to use for QBasic, in which case a 4:3 screen would be ideal, or you can pick a laptop that’s suits all your other needs and just happens to also run QBasic in DOSBox.

Laptop PC Cons:
– Lower resolution 4:3 screens and SVGA outputs aren’t very common anymore, yet they are ideal for using QBasic in full screen.
– Wires, wires everywhere! Desktop and tower PCs neatly tuck their wires out of one’s way, where as laptops tend to have ports and wires sticking out all over the place when using them as a desktop replacement. I suppose a Thunderbolt dock would help here…
– Not very retro feeling, outside of using an older Lenovo/IBM Thinkpad if your version of retro swings that way.

Single Board Computer Pros:

– Energy efficient and available in ARM and x86 versions.
– GPIO pins are cool!
– Small enough to fit into any case or form factor one desires. Want to pretend you’re using QBasic on a Commodore 64? Buy a C64 with a working keyboard and a Keyrah device to convert that keyboard to USB and have at’r champ! Same goes for almost any other retro computer chassis.
– Easily repurposed for other projects.

Single Board Computer Cons:
– People say they’re cheap, but they’re not. At least here in Canada anyway. $48 for a 2GB Pi 4B, $15 for the power supply, another $25 for the SD card and cables, and then you have to factor in the cost of a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. When one adds it all up, it costs almost as much as Chromebook or “Winbook” class laptop, devices which of course come with a whole host of their own benefits. As a desktop computer, none of the SBCs make any financial sense.
– More complicated than, “Open laptop, install DOSBox, run DOSBox, win!”.


Well that about wraps it up. I hope this information has been helpful to anyone who’s feeling the itch to putter with QBasic again. I should mention that while I have been referring to using the Microsoft QBasic 1.1 IDE in this article, you will be happy to know that QuickBasic 4.5, QBX7, and GWBasic also work well in DOSBox. Personally I am emulating the 386SX era of computers, so I run DOSBox at only 5000 cyles, but it’s more than happy to kick it up to Pentium 200MHz performance levels if you need the extra umph.

As far as downloading and installing QBasic, the best resource I have found is qbasic.net. They host images of all the software. DOSBox is available from the DOSBox website or the package manager of your Linux distribution.

Here’s a Retro Desktop Chassis I’d Like to Make

Having recently modified my desk to accommodate my old Compaq Deskpro 4000, I uncovered some unfortunate consequences of the steady march of time. Always something, isn’t it!

1. My nice 15″ Acer CRT no longer works properly, with its screen dramatically pinched on the left and right sides. That’s a bummer, because it looks so nice with the size and shape of the desktop case below. Conversely, neither my 17″ Dell CRT nor my 15″ Dell LCD look appropriate on top of the Deskpro case. I like the LCD better for its size, display quality, and power usage, so that’s what I am using.

2. Both of my Compact Flash cards (1GB, 256MB) have ceased to function with the IDE to CF adapter, so I must use the very loud 10GB IBM hard drive. The issue may be with the adapter itself, I dunno.

3. The Deskpro is my only computer that can use floppy and zip disks and that’s a pain. It does have two USB ports on the rear, which I use in Windows 98 to transfer files to/from the machine, but it’s not so convenient and it’s a bit boring. I like using real disks! FYI: Windows 10 likes to crash if I use either of my PCI ATA controller cards in my main desktop, one being a Promise ATA133 and the other being a VIA based card. Of course they work fine in Linux… Always something!

4. Honestly, there’s little I wish to actually use the Deskpro for…

This got me to thinking about my old desktop PC from 2008, which has been in service as the livingroom/TV/kids desktop since 2013. Its Asus P5K-VM motherboard has a floppy controller and an IDE controller (for the internal Iomega zip drive), while also having handy modern stuff like SATA ports, Ethernet, and a Core 2 Quad CPU. It’s actually an ideal system to setup an emulation themed Linux box, both in terms of hardware I already have kicking around and in being able to easily enjoy the tactile and audible sensations of old disks… I’d probably use Mint 17.3, as it’s still my favorite Linux distro and it’s just so simple to install, configure, and manage…

Anyway, I could simply stick the floppy, zip, and DVD drives in its current boring black Micro ATX tower and use it, and that’s probably what I will end up do doing eventually, but I thought it would be fun to see if I could make a chassis in Blender 2.79b and GIMP 2.8 that’s more retro, while also matching my 15″ Dell LCD. This is what I came up with!

I like shorter desktop cases, ones like the IBM PS/2 and the Lenovo Thinkcenter M52. I also like the big red power switch and the LED panel on my old AT server tower. Finally, for black computers of yore, I like the industrial flair of the Commodore Plus/4. So those were my inspiration when I was putting this (shabby) render together.

Will I make it? Maybe someday, if I can figure out what to make it out of for as close to free as possible. Alas, it’s fun to dream! In the mean time I will continue to use my Lenovo 100e laptop (in Devuan Linux and Windows 10) and my aging AMD FX-8320 desktop, as they suit my needs and the kids are still using the livingroom PC anyway. 🙂

Transformers Fun with Devuan

I’ve been using Devuan Linux Version 3 (Beowulf) on my Lenovo Ideapad 100e laptop for a couple of weeks now and I really enjoy it. My only complaint is that, like all other Linux distributions, they’ve dropped support for GIMP 2.8 and are thus using the woefully flawed and utterly unusable garbage that is GIMP 2.10. That complaint aside, I was able to setup my Xfce desktop experience identically to how I’ve had it in Devuan 2 (ASCII), Linux Mint 17, and Debian Wheezy in the past.

Devuan 3, it works good!

That said, didn’t much care for the theme of the SLiM login manager, so I downloaded and modified the Bridge theme by Aditya Shakya. Being a somewhat nerdy, perhaps semi-nerdly, late model Gen Xer, I went with a Gen 1 Autobots theme, stoking the fires of my mid life nostalgia just a bit more. Here it is,

My Slim login manager theme

The modifications to the theme file itself were minimal, I simply changed the login font from normal blue to bold black and moved the input text fields to the right 23px. Lines 33, 28, and 30 respectively. The rest of the “modding” only involved replacing the two images with my own.

I found the background image using Google image search (appears to be created by OOO19415) and resized it for my screen (1366×768).

I made the login panel image using GIMP 2.8 (in Windows 10, damn it, because there’s no way I am accepting change for the sake of change AND absolute garbage performance/functionality in the image editing software I have been using for over a decade!). Here is the finished product…

My Slim login manager panel

The login panel contains two photos of real Transformers items, the top wording from a picture of an Optimus Prime box, and the Autobot button is picture of a real pin. Both images were from Ebay sales, again found using Google image search. The middle red portion with the username/password, the background, and the silver/black/blue button I made from scratch.

What? No. No nerds here, I swear!

Well, that’s it for this one. Just thought I would share for no good reason at all. 🙂

My Devuan 3 desktop

Microsoft QBasic 1.1 Online Reference Material

I enjoy Microsoft QBasic Version 1.1 for its inherent limitations and its delightful end user experience. It’s a system that achieves its goals in a comprehensive, compact, and efficient manner. It also runs well using DOSBox on my laptop, which is much more convenient for me than keeping my Pentium 233MMX based, DOS 6.22 system setup in my limited desk area. It’s too bad that I don’t have room for the old Compaq Deskpro 4000, because I do get a kick out of using the old beast… Nostalgia can be beautiful thing!

That said, nostalgia can also be a right pain the arse and such is the case when attempting to locate excellent documentation about using Microsoft QBasic 1.1. Not the various other iterations of Microsoft BASIC that were similar, not the countless modern remakes of QBasic that feel absolutely nothing like the original, certainly not the poorly written and painful to read shenanigans of nerds the world over, just… Microsoft QBasic 1.1 damn it!

There are many guides and books for beginners that all scratch the surface of what one can do with QBasic, but they are all essentially more verbose versions of the help references that are built into the QBasic IDE itself. That’s helpful for beginners who will benefit from a greater understanding of the fundamentals, but it certainly does little for people who want to use the advanced features and functionality of QBasic. If only there were a “Programmers Reference Guide for QBasic”, like the one I have for the Commodore 64, that covers absolutely everything there is to know.

The following links are the best resources about using real, actual, Microsoft QBasic Version 1.1 that I could find on the Internet…

Gary Beene’s Information Center
– Explains the differences between QBasic and the original QuickBasic.
– Has tutorials about lesser discussed, yet important topics.

QBASIC Programming for Kids
– Written by Ted Felix.
– Excellent guide to various topics, especially his sprite tutorial.

Load Sprite From File
– Written by Balau.
– Shows how to load sprite data from a file, as well as the general info one needs to reach that point.

Pete’s QBasic Site
– Lots of information about many topics, but you have to sift through things that aren’t applicable to QBasic 1.1.

QBasic.net
– Useful downloads and information about running QBasic on modern hardware.
– Provides full copies of QBasic 1.1, Quick Basic 4.5 and Quick Basic 7.

QBasic
– Wikibooks.org
– OK general purpose manual, but the latter, more detailed, portions are specific to QB64 rather than QBasic…

Progamming in QBasic
– Technoloy University
– Complex math and other useful examples.

Compaq Deskpro 4000
My DOS 6.22 / Windows 98SE computer.

Microcomputers of the Modern Age

In the mid to late 1970s many companies around the world, such as Apple, Commodore, Atari, Sinclair, and Acorn, began producing computers for use in homes by the general public. Some of the most popular examples would be the Commodore64, the BBC Micro, and the ZX Spectrum. Almost all of these devices presented the user with a text interface that allowed the user to control the machine with a set of simple DOS-like commands as well as some form of the BASIC programming language. Collectively these devices are what is most often meant when people refer to “Microcomputers”.

Here in the year 2020 however, one could soundly argue that our smartphones are the microcomputers of our time, given their diminutive size and their computing prowess. However, in my mind there are two major problems with smartphones being considered in this way,

  1. The human interface devices are all wrong – a touch screen is a whole other paradigm than the “keyboard with a monitor/tv at a desk/couch” setup.
  2. Cost. Except for the cheapest and most limited options, smartphones are considerably more expensive than the microcomputers of yore.

To me, this Lenovo Ideapad 100e (Gen1) that I am typing on and similar laptops with 11.6″ screens, are what I consider to be the microcomputers of the modern age, because their properties are very much in the spirit of those old home computers. They’re small self contained units that are affordable and extremely capable for their price point and design. In fact, be they in either their Chromebook or Windows 10 formats, these 11.6″ laptop computers are a way better value than any of the original microcomputers, even after the heavy discounts those machines saw by the mid 1980s. And all the while, these modern machines are capable of much more in terms of productivity, entertainment, and connectivity.

Consider the following table detailing the important components that are included with the purchase,

Model Name Keyboard Pointer Screen Sound Storage Operating System Price
Ideapad 100e Yes Trackpad Yes Speakers 128GB Inteneral, MicroSD & USB Windows 10 Pro $270 CAD
Commodore64 Yes No No No None Included MS BASIC 2.0 $350-$150 USD
BBC Micro Yes No No No None Included BBC BASIC $235 GPB
ZX Spectrum Yes No No No None Included Sinclair BASIC $125 GPB
Tandy 1000EX PC Yes No No Speaker 5.25″ Floppy Drive MS DOS 2.1 $1000 USD
Amiga 500 Yes Mouse No Speaker 3.5″ Floppy Drive AmigaOS 1.2 $600 USD

Not even considering currency conversions or inflation, it’s immediately obvious that the 100e is the best deal given that it comes with all of the components one needs to use the device while also being very inexpensive. Even the Tandy 1000EX and Amiga 500, which were some of the most affordable and capable computers of the late 1980s, can’t even come close to the value of the Lenovo 100e, because they are far more expensive while also lacking several important components, such as…

  • A screen!
  • Internal data storage.
  • A battery (that lasts for 10+ hours).
  • A modem or network interface device.

The same is true for all of the affordable 11.6″ style Chromebooks and Windows 10 computers, though I would argue that the Windows 10 devices are a better deal, because they can do everything that a Chromebook can do while also allowing the user to easily run any x86 based software.

Tangent: Having used an x86 based Chromebook for a few years, I can confidently say that’s way more of a pain in the ass to use Linux on it than it is to use Linux, FreeDOS, or Windows on my similarly spec’d 100e that came with Win10Pro. Truthfully, my HP Chromebook 14 was $100 more expensive than my Lenovo 100e, despite the Chromebook having half the RAM, half the amount CPUs, 8 times less storage, and no Windows license. I suppose the HP 14 did have a 14″ screen, but our 11.6″ HP Chromebook is similarly inferior to the Lenovo 100e (it has 4GB RAM rather 2GB like the 14″ Chromebook). If you want to install a full Linux ditribution, run Windows software, or use software emulators or virtual machines, buy a Windows computers rather than a Chromebook. At least that way you can easily use whatever you’d like, including a legit copy of Windows, without having to do anything weird to the machine, such as installing a third party BIOS or opening the chassis to remove a “restraining bolt“. That said, Chromebooks running only ChromeOS are excellent computers just as they are, especially for students and folks who do most of their computing in a web browser anyway.

Given that it’s possible to run pretty much all the old software from the original microcomputers (and DOS/Windows 3.1/95/98 and game consoles!) by way emulators, one can sit down at one these 11.6″ style laptops and feel like they’re using an old computer from times gone by. And my personal favorite part is that we’re able to do so with the seamless integration of battery backup – its awesome to use a computer all day without having to plug it in and it’s even more awesome that the computer is completely silent while doing so!

Having sung those praises, I will happily admit there are also some downsides to the laptop form factor when it comes to the nostalgia of ergonomics and visual appeal. For instance, despite the chassis of my Lenovo 100e sporting the same black plastic of a ZX Spetrum or Commodore Plus/4 microcomputer, its design language is positively boring by comparison. I mean, that’s OK, because I actually really like this chassis (though I do prefer the Gen2 design, but I couldn’t find a Windows version available in Canada…), but it’s definitely obvious that the older computers had way more style. And of course, poking away at this “chiclet” keyboard is not the same as squishing a Specy’s rubber keys or placking an IBM’s bucking springs, nor does staring at this 16:9 ratio LCD screen bring about the nostalgic musings that can only be delivered by photons fired into one’s eyes from the phosphoric end of a cathode ray tube. However, it is possible to turn this modern machine into a retro inspired “micro” by attaching a custom mechanical keyboard (a new Unicomp Model M) and using a powered HDMI to SVGA adapter (with 3.5mm headphone jack) to connect one’s preferred CRT monitor. Heck, a crazy person might even hook up an old TV with a composite adapter while using a VIC20 + Keyrah as keyboard for the full effect of 1980s computing. Anyway, what I am truly saying here is that you have plenty of options to mitigate the downsides of the machine, while still benefiting from all the positives it has to offer.

What I find totally crazy though is that these small, inexpensive Chromebooks and Windows laptops are “low-end computers” that many people probably feel are junk. Yet with the exception of playing modern 3D games and using photo or video editing software for large projects, that assertion couldn’t be farther from the truth. The plain truth of the matter is that my 11.6″ screened, battery powered, portable machine with its 6W CPU and total lack of moving parts, has better computing performance than my desktop PC from 2008 with its 95W CPU, 450W power supply, and its assload of noisy fans. It was also five times cheaper. And really, for day to day tasks, such as browsing the web, watching videos, and doing office type work, this level of computing performance is perfectly acceptable – I am never annoyed by the performance of my Chromebooks nor this 100e running Win10 Pro.

So here is my microcomputer of the modern age,

I think it’s pretty damned cool! Can it play Crysis? No, but it can play Star Wars Galaxies and thousands of other games! Personally, I am enjoying puttering with QBasic and playing Stardew Valley anywhere I happen to feel like flopping my arse down. 🙂

Assholes with Money: Humanity’s Greatest Adversary

Money is one of a number of currencies that are exchanged between people to facilitate equitable trade. Currency is influence – those who have something desirable by others will have the attention of others. That’s fine, trade sure is a lot better than anarchy.

Where the problems arise with money are,

1. It gives an overwhelming advantage to sociopaths, because they don’t care who (or what) they hurt or what rules they break when obtaining money.

2. Once a sociopath has amassed enough money, he now has the resources to have a negative impact on the lives of an enormous amount of people.

A poor asshole is easily ignored, as he lacks the resources to have a large sphere of influence. Therefore, with the exception of terrorist attacks, a poor asshole’s effect on humanity is negligible at best.

A wealthy asshole, on the other hand, has an incredible amount of resources and thus is able to push his every whim on large swaths of humanity. This has to stop; Having a lot of money doesn’t give you the right to fuck with other people’s lives.

Given that first problem with money I listed (that liars, thieves, murders and so on can amass dis-proportionally more of it than normal folks), it’s abundantly clear that humanity needs more checks and balances for positions of influence. The overwhelming majority of humanity, the common citizen, needs more tools than violence and overwhelming numbers to facilitate equitable influence over their own lives. Sadly, horrific violence has historically been humanity’s most effective tool, but its success has been questionable and fleeting, despite the great suffering and sacrifice required every time that tool is taken out of the shed. We can do better.


“Although Canada’s population is often described as a “mosaic”and it espouses official policies of bilingualism and multiculturalism, as well as being a highly-ranked country for gender equality (e.g. it is ranked 19thin the WEF’s32014Global Gender Gap Report), the composition of the Parliament of Canada (members of parliament (MP) and senators) does not mirror its demographics or espoused values.”

– Kai L. Chan, PhD

In his paper from 2014, Dr. Chan explains that even here Canada, where we have strong anti-corruption clauses in our electoral laws, our government, particularly the Senate, is still largely comprised of wealthy people who neither represent the demographics nor the economic reality of the majority of Canadians. I’m certainly not saying that all of our members of parliament are assholes and/or sociopaths, nor am I saying that it is impossible for a an average citizen to become a member of notable influence. I am simply pointing out that even in the ideal situation of a country of free people, where the balance of power is managed by legislation that was created to best treat the average citizen, the system is still heavily weighted to favor assholes with money.

Now take a moment to imagine all of the unaccountable instances where assholes with money run roughshod over the world, through their manipulation of economies/communities/nations and their anti-social, often straight up tyrannical, campaigns against humanity. From bored rich people who buy perfectly acceptable companies to gut them for their own profit and amusement (at the expense of the employees, the customers, and their communities), to the dictators who commit atrocities, our beautiful world has been under the constant subjugation of these broken individuals since the dawn of time. In one form or another, the worst of us have dragged and clawed humanity towards the putrid end which those poor souls see as reality. But we, the ever optimistic normal folk whose hard work and determination has literally built the world around us, know that there’s a better world and a better end for all of us beyond the limited vision of the awful, wealthy few. It’s in our history, it’s in our religions, it is the luminous truth shining from within the very fabric of our beings…

We are free, each of us a part of the universe trying to understand itself, no more and no less than any other. We are free and by the very nature of our existence, we are all equal.

We need to find a way for money, for all forms of currency, to facilitate the trade of goods and services, not the weilding of influence and power.

Why Don’t Dishwashers Flush Like Toilets?

Now this is something that has bothered me for DECADES! Anyone who has ever owned a dishwasher knows that they either baby the thing by pre-rinsing their dishes or their dishes will come out with hard gross all stuck to their silverware and inside their glasses/cups/mugs. Worst of all, this post-cleaning yuck often occurs even when one is careful to clean their dishes before putting them into… the dishwasher!

Why?

Well, it’s because dishwashers are built to circulate a pool of water over the food and then evacuate that pool several times through a filter and a small hose. While this approach may appear on the surface to be energy and water efficient, this conclusion was apparently not based on rigorous testing of alternative methods.

Here is a scientific depiction of how a toilet flushes,

Basically, a large volume of water is put into the bowl which causes the existing volume of water to be pushed over the hump in the pipe and down to the sewer, leaving a clean pool of water in the bowl. Total rocket magic, I know.

Imagine if the first cycle of your dishwasher sprayed the hell out of the dishes with super hot water, filling the bowl below the dishes with whatever crud you happened to leave on the dishes, and then flushing it all away in one giant gulp. After doing this, the dishes would already be so clean that they would likely only need a few minutes of rinsing with a small amount of detergent and some warm water. Add on one more quick rinse with clean water to remove the detergent, and you’re done, in ten minutes or less. That’s a whole hell of a lot less water, time, and energy than our “high efficiency” dishwasher, which takes roughly two hours to complete its (often required) heavy cycle. Not to mention that the filters and tubing of the dishwasher wouldn’t need to be cleaned as frequently (twice a week here!), because the detergent and rinse water would be completely clean, thanks to the “big flush” in the first cycle.

Literally every piece of this plumbing technology already exists, so there’s no reason not to make dishwashers in this way.

Software Bloat Betrays the Raspberry Pi Zero W

I purchased a Raspberry Pi Zero W several months ago with the intention that it would replace the DOS/Windows functionality of my old Pentium 233MMX computer with equivalent Linux based software, while using waaaay less electricity! I also thought it would be a good idea to use the $14 CAD Pi Zero W for programming my Arduino UNO rather than any of my other much more expensive computers, because short circuits happen man!

The use case for my old machine is very limited, given that it exists only to satisfy my nostalgia for the first PC I bought myself. Of course back then I used that machine for all my computing needs, where as now I have a modern desktop and a smart phone to handle my “real computing”. So here is what I have been using my Deskpro for:

DOS: Word Perfect 5.1, Impulse Tracker, QBasic
Windows: Rebirth, Audacity, WinAmp, Wordpad, Notepad, MS Paint

It runs all of those things very well, to a point – it does not like to multi task (WinAmp playback will “skip” when computer is busy) and it very much prefers to run at 800×600 in Windows rather than at 1024×768, due to the low-end graphics card. But honestly, it is a totally usable computer that is excellent for hobbyist audio and game production. The only downsides are its physical size, the amount of electricity it consumes, and it’s cumbersome connectivity to the outside world (which in practical terms is its single rear USB port, as I don’t have any other computers that can read Iomega Zip disks or 3.5″ floppy disks).

Let’s compare the specifications of the Raspberry Pi Zero to my Compaq Deskpro 4000 desktop…

Compaq Deskpro 4000
– Intel Pentium 233MHz CPU with MMX
– 96MB of 66MHz SDRAM
– S3 Virge GX 4MB SVGA graphics
– SoundBlaster 16 audio
– Windows 98 SE / DOS 6.22 / FreeDOS 2.0

Raspberry Pi Zero W
– ARM6 BCM2835 1,000MHz CPU
– 512MB DDR2 SDRAM
– VideoCore IV 64MB HDMI graphics
– Some audio codec for sound…
– Rasbian Lite (Debian 10 ARM)

Architecture differences aside, it’s pretty obvious that the ARM6 CPU performs much faster than the older Intel CPU that is clocked 4 times slower. If it could run the same software, this ARM CPU would be roughly equivalent to an Intel Pentium III 600MHz, which is impressive given that the surface area of the whole Pi Zero “motherboard” is smaller than that of just the P3 CPU!

I’ve been using GNU/Linux since 1998 and I have installed and configured countless flavors of both Linux and Windows in that time, so it’s not like I had crazy expectations when going into this project; I knew that my desired functionality was available via native GNU/Linux software and all of those functions worked well on much lesser hardware, so what could go wrong!

Well, after testing every light weight system for XWindows and huge amount of software, the following is what would run acceptably…

DOS Program => BASH Program
—————————————————-
Imulse Tracker => MilkyTracker
Edit.com => Nano
Borland C => GCC
QBasic => BaCon

Windows Program => Xorg Program
—————————————————-
Windows => WindowMaker (JUST WM!)
Windows Explorer => Xfe
Audacity => Audacity
MS Paint => MT Paint
Winamp => Audacious
Netscape => Dillo
DOS Prompt => Xterm
Notepad => Leafpad
Wordpad => Nothing – even Abiword sucked!

I was really sad that IceWM, JWM, and Fluxbox all had problems of some kind, be it IceWM’s memory leak that brought the system to its knees after a few minutes or just being CPU heavy in the way that LXDE’s Lxpanel program is. Likewise Schism Tracker, which is based on the actual source code of Impulse Tracker, was completely unusable. Thankfully MilkyTracker worked great, provided it was run from a TTY and the XWindows session was not running in the background. The full GNUStep suite of software ran like a dog with three broken legs (as did LXDE, Xfce, and Mate), but its WindowMaker window manager ran quite nicely.

The performance of Abiword and Gnumeric (spreadsheet) was thoroughly disappointing, because they are the best light weight Word/Excel replacements for GNU/Linux, yet they were both slow enough to be completely obnoxious to use. Even going from an empty document to one with a few lines or cells was laggy and annoying. The same can be said for Geany, Mousepad, and literally every other graphical text editor in the Debian repo. Of course, Nano was fine and while I don’t use Vi, Emacs, or the text editor in Midnight Commander, I assume they would perform perfectly fine when run from a TTY (and probably fine when run in a terminal emulator).

On the upside, plain old Xterm ran so much better than any other terminal emulator, which was great as it’s also able to be customized to look similar to the fancier programs. Using WindowMaker as a little weird, as its UI paradigm was unfamiliar to me, but it was hands down the fastest windowing system to load, move, resize, refresh, and close programs. And bless its heart, Xfe was quick and feature rich file explorer that was a pleasure to use, though even the Windows 98 SE version of Windows Explorer is faster and more polished. Yes, LXDE’s PCManFM does work on the Pi Zero W, but it’s slow in that, “man this fucking sucks!” kind of way which is just not acceptable for everyday use.

Compiling small C programs in DOS and GNU/Linux felt the same, which is important when using BaCon (BASIC to C converter) rather than QBasic, because ultimately it compiles C code. GCC is a little slow in general, but it wasn’t any slower than compiling C programs in DOS 6.22 or FreeDOS 2.0 on the old machine. I would imagine that compiling a very large project would favor the Pentium 233MMX due to the optimization of the Borland compiler and the speed of the IDE Compact Flash storage, but it would really depend on the project. I was just farting around with Ncurses games on the Pi similar demo games on the PC.

QEMU and DOSBox both ran Impulse Tracker like crap and I didn’t even bother trying to run Rebirth with Wine, because there’s no just way that wouldn’t have been a shit-show.

On the whole, using the Raspberry Pi Zero W as a replacement for my old Win98 PC sucked, a lot. So much so that it’s really not even worth doing.

Why?

Because GNU/Linux is bloated as all hell and the Pi requires so much “magic kruft” just to boot that it’s not really possible to slim the system down much further than what the Raspberry Pi Foundation has already done in Rasbian Lite. The Linux kernel is bloated. Most GNU software is bloated. Binary blob drivers that do weird shit (like use the GPU to run boot code!) that requires the system to be configured in a specific manner… It all culminates into a poorly performing system that is overly complicated and underwhelming to use.

It’s just not a nice experience, especially when compared to the simplicity of the PC BIOS and installing/using either DOS or Windows on a PC. Heck, even Slackware 7 is more usable on my old PC than the very best setup of GNU/Linux on the Pi Zero and using XWindows in Slackware 7 is right bloody awful compared to Windows 95, let alone Win98 SE!

The sad thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s entirely possible to make a simple, FAST, and useful desktop operating system for single core ARM6 CPUs with 512MB of RAM and a basic graphics adapter with OpenGL ES support. RISC OS Open would be a good example, were it not for the lack of hardware support that prevents it from working properly and the lack software that accomplishes the required tasks; At least the software that does work in RISC OS works very well and the OS itself boots instantly! And so it bloody well should! If the Pi Zero W wifi, bluetooth, gpio, and audio (it’s too quiet) were fully functional in RISC OS Open that would absolutely make for a perfect, fast desktop OS on the wee little computer.

The Raspberry Pi Zero hardware is no slouch, but the software they give you for it fucking sucks.

Sadly, the Pi Foundation doesn’t care. I’ve seen forum posts by their engineers that say the Pi Zero isn’t meant to be a desktop and it’s not much of a conspiracy theory to say that they do this to sell you a more expensive Pi. You know, a Pi that is fast enough to cover up a lot of the problems inherent to modern GNU/Linux software. Why would the Pi Foundation write excellent software for their cheapest product when they can slap together free stuff made by volunteers and call it day? Who needs to take pride in their work when there’s free labor to exploit! Cynical? God damned right, but I’m also not wrong.

The Pi Foundation could easily put together a GNU/Linux based OS image that instantly boots the Pi Zero to a form of BBC BASIC which is capable of using all the Pi’s GPIO, camera, and other functions, and comes with a usable desktop that runs a WYSIWYG text editor and the Dillo browser for Wikipedia and forum access. They just don’t and that’s a crying shame.

Alrighty, I suppose this concludes my grumpy ramblings about the couple of months I spent dicking around with my Raspberry Pi Zero W. I could say a lot more, delving into great detail about various aspects of the experience, but I don’t feel like it. Sorry. It’s just not worth my time and really, it’s not worth your time either. Maybe between now and the end of life of the Raspberry Pi Zero w in 2026 we will see a renewed effort by the Pi Foundation on the software front, allowing we mere mortals to get more out of the machines, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Until then, my interest in the Pi Zero will remain as something I can accidentally blow up when programming my $8 micro controller without breaking the bank.


I know this may seem like a pretty damning assessment of GNU/Linux itself and to be honest, it is. GNU/Linux peaked for me with Linux Mint 17.3 – everything after that is just worse in one way or another, be it regressive bugs, “change for the sake of change”, or outright unusable garbage in some instances. On the flip side, Windows 10 has improved tremendously, even to the point where I really don’t have any problems with it beyond it being ugly. That’s saying a lot, considering that I hated it a few years ago. As such, I basically use Windows 10 for everything other than audio recording, for which I still use Mint 17.3, because it “just works”. I have no desire to partake in the flavor of the month chasing, convoluted “that sounds cool, let’s do it” funk that has become of so many GNU/Linux distributions and the Linux kernel itself. I mean, you know it’s bad when it ends up being a better experience when using older GNU software in the latest version of Windows than it is when using the latest GNU software in the most up to date Linux distributions… I’m done, I no longer care; what I already have works just fine for me!

As for what I am going to do about using my old PC for nostalgia, I’m just not going to “do it” at all. The system took up way too much space at my desk and frankly I can just fire up a virtual machine from Windows when feel like using the old software.

My Journey to the Center of Euclid

I have reached the center of the galaxy in No Man’s Sky for the first time. From the game play mechanics perspective, the only reason to do so is if you want to jump through the center of the galaxy so you can magically pop out on the outer rim of a different galaxy. However, I don’t actually want to do that, because I would rather stick around in the starting galaxy and take part in the GOG multiplayer community (which happens to be near the center of the galaxy).

Being somewhat of a nerd, I decided to keep a travel log. Near the half way point I realized it would take two thirds of nine-ever if I kept stopping to smell the roses and to write down the addresses of the systems I passed though, which is why the log got a lot more boring near the end. Ah well, I am there, I did it, yay me!

Here are a few images, one at the core, one on my way to GOG Civilized Space, and one of me standing on the destination planet!

Now all I have to do is poke my imagination until it comes up with something fun to build. Hmmm… I guess I could also poke my nose over the neighbor’s fence and see what they’re up to too, now that I have neighbors. 🙂


Captain’s Log

2019.10.09

– Started in The Moon system, 719,485 LY due east of the core.

– Traversed two black holes and decided I had best start a log in case I get destroyed at some point!

Beokayas System:
– Beokayas Prime (113C013F25B7) is a delightful world with beautiful weather, brownish-purple grass, blue-green water, and blues skies. No Sentinel activity to speak of either.

Musash-Yunn System:
– Found merchant on space station selling S-Class 24 Slot Rifle. Also had S-Class Upgrades for Scanner, Mining Beam, Blaze Javelin, Geo Cannon, and Pulse Spitter.
– Interesting empty planet Yisiternd V (4070040e76d0).

– Accidentally overloaded Geology Cannon on new rifle. My capital ship crew located my remains in a cave once occupied by some large mollusk type creatures. Thankfully my essence had earlier been transferred to a Korvax Convergence Cube and my crew felt compelled to source a carapace for me. I am now an honorary Korvax! The geology cannon was removed from my multi-tool, replaced by a blaze javelin it would seem… (I actually did kill myself with the Geo-cannon, while base building (twice!) in an earlier save file and decided it just wasn’t for me! lol…).

– My new exo-suit excels at communication, but is less robust in hazardous environments. Thankfully it has some measure of protection from radiation. (I removed all my weather protection items and downgraded to C-Class radiation protection, because it was just so easy nothing felt dangerous).

Eorgiy System:
– Landed Trade Outpost on moon Avok (3079040e76cc).
– Recruited Korvax Mining frigate. Decided it was a good time to build a fleet of quality vessels that need a chance to prove themselves (C-Class with as nice stats as possible).
– Took black hole, ended up in Edithos System (102c034f44a9).

Yubara VIII System:
– Landed on a strange planet, Hinnel Minor (11b8034f04a5). The scanner picked up as a “harsh blue globe”. Atmospheric turbulence caused light to absorbed such that all the world looked black and white, with dull red highlights on infrared sources. Excellent source of Activated Indium and Storm Crystals, despite the dreary weather.

Hapaye XIII System:
– Landed Trade Outpost on planet Ulompt Gamma (1079034ec4a1).
– Traversed black hole, ended up in Quanna System (10240294dfe0) on the other side of the galaxy! Considerably closer to the center, none the less.

Renushny System:
– Recruited Gek Science, Supply, and Merchant vessels.

Puolin V System:
– Last stop on a stretch of Kovakrun systems before using the portal to do some work back at New Vertiform City. I had been hoping trade our enormous bucket of rusty bolts for a smaller, newer S-Class frigate; I’d rather have less storage and nicer design as my home in space!

2019.10.10

– Took portal from Fallen Earth to Gogus Proxima in the [GOG-87] – Omning Lidkorjah system. Visited several bases created by other travelers. Found the entry for this system in my discoveries log was out of order, ran diagnostic, but logging tool reports all OK.

– Portaled back to Puolin V system and set waypoint to [GOG-87] – Omning Lidkorjah system.

Prunnum System:
– Made a deal to take command of a very nice (Star Destroyer style) white A-Class, 32 Slot capital ship. It was much larger than the S-Class style I was hoping to find, but after considering the scrap value of our old ship (C-Class, 28 Slot) and the fact that I bailed out this ship’s hapless gunners by taking out some equally hapless pirates, the 83M Unit transaction was too good of a deal to pass up. Most likely will keep this capital ship a very long time.

– Recruited Supply vessel The Kunecer War-Spear

– Bit of a bleak system, but I decided to explore a little anyway. Was curious about how there may be ancient bones on the airless moon _, discovered upon excavation they were the remains of the ancestors of the biological horrors that currently lay their eggs on the surface. Need to tune the scanner to ignore them – gross!

– Landed on moon that supports minimal amount of life. Strange that such a large body orbits inside the ring of dust. I wonder if further study would show the rings consist largely of the casting and dander of the large worms who I suspect burrow deeply here… Found many crashed freighters; Again, is it the rings? Dust storms chipping paint. Time to move on from Caklephi Beta and this system as a whole.

2019.10.11

– Entered black hole in Lolberg-Tianu system, ended up in Oevush system. 662,662 from the core!

Amkvabase System:
– Recruited Vy’keen C-Class combat vessel “The Dance of Air”. Comes equipped with tremendous cannons. Vy’keen rock!

Nanino System:
– Recruited Korvax combat vessel The Shield of the Abyss. Nifty red/blue paint job. Hope they don’t scuff it up too often… Also picked up the science vessel MV-3 Michig

Iquang System:
– 648,285 LY from the core, west side of galaxy. Jumped into black hole. Ended up in Daemonas system at 642,472 LY from the core on the east side of the galaxy.

Rumamaga-Enc System:
– 638,179 LY from core. Took black hole, ended up in Nukiha system on the NW side of the galaxy 631,531 LY from the core.

Eiyodate System:
– 607,485 LY from the core, encountered a large fleet of Vy’keen support ships. Recruited The Omen of the Horizon support ship.

Rivoik VII System:
– Single planet in this system is a beautiful tropical oasis, with blue skies, blue water, and deep reddish grass. Excellent place to get eaten by hungry and aggressive wildlife!
– 599,010 LY from core. Took black hole, ended up in Gakish-Oili III 593,593 LY from the core.

Gusuki-One System:
– 589,640 LY from the core. Took black hole, ended up in Geding-Nabru XVII system 582,951 from the core.

Shkennec System:
– Recruited GeK Mining (CS-3 Mitoi) and Combat (DSV-4 Atter) frigates. Had second thoughts about building an all Vy’keen combat force, just in case tempers run hot at some point.

Pajular-Enya II System:
– 570,707 LY from the core and I made an exception my reciting rule. Hired a B-Class Vy’keen mining vessel, as it had two +6 Industrial bonuses and uses only 8 tons of fuel per LY.
– Some nifty looking fighters and shuttles in this system.

Etsenn-Rumid System:
– 558,005 LY due west of core. Took black hole, ended up in Utioae-Ulph system 552,172 LY NE of the core.

– Landed on what looked like a nice planet to set up camp, Wesandov III, but it wasn’t long before I was swarmed by football sized crabs that would happily devour me, suit and all. I slept in my ship, thankfully they couldn’t eat that too.

2019.10.12

Etsenn-Rumid System:
– Woke up refreshed. So many strange dreams since moving to this Korvax body… How many lives have I lived before? Have I? Do I? I don’t know… It’s a beautiful day!

– Waited for the fleet to catch up. Thankfully not problems traversing black holes. Dispatched two wings on missions.

– Non-Korvax entities aboard capital ship grew tired of eating rations since the cabin fire and subsequent ban of personal cooking equipment. Called upon Farmer stationed at New Vertiform City to setup and maintain a mess hall on capital ship. He was very eager to accept this new adventure! Armorer agreed to watch over plants in the city when off duty; I knew he liked flowers.

Baksanog XVII System:
– Landed on Ranc VIII (218e02b95310), as the scanner had some kind of malfunction, listing the planet planet as [REDACTED]. Worth investigating further. Found a dark, rainy world that is nice if you don’t mind the rain and you can find shelter during the occasionally deadly storm. Mined 1700 units of Dioxite (safely from a cut out that I made in the hill) while looking for some Activated Indium.
– Unable to locate any Activated Indium, but may return to Ranc VIII someday.

– Visisted Polo and Nada on the Anomoly. Got waypoint to black hole in Kodias III system 550,467 LY from the core. Warped there, traversed black hole, ended up in Lasdals-Olonq system 544,382 LY from the core. Not worth the repairs to hyperdrive upgrades, as that was only 2 jumps (with each jump only using 2% of my warp fuel).

Hidden Jem System:
– In my quest to find a heavily combat equipped science vessel, I found a Vy’keen system called Hidden Jem, due north of the galactic core. Not sure if that is a translation error, though I did find a mineral deep in a cave, on the one giant planet in this system, that a local indicated was called simply “Jem”. The planet, called Jewel of Nal (118001ab504c), appears to be an idyllic refuge for scientific minded Vy’keen. Lush blue grass and green skies, it truly is a hidden gem!

Vidius-Tish System:
– (212101ab804d) Found a dealer who sells all red versions of the Radiant Pillar in various qualities. Also sells a nice symmetric gull wing hauler in red. Wealthy system, so lots of nice models available.
– Station merchant had a slick looking S-Class Rifle (16 Slots).

Eakeni System:
– At 535,128 LY from the core, hired final science vessel for the fleet. Top notch Vy’keen explorers (+6 Exploration bonus). Was hoping to find a crew with more combat experience, but this crew and their ship are the best explorers in our fleet, so no complaints!

2019.10.14

– Unable to relocate the Eakeni System. Restarted journey to the core at Vidius-Tish System 541,597 from the core

– Aebashim System puts me at 500,265 LY from the core. Stopped in the next system for tea, because it wasn’t at war and we all know that war and tea don’t mix.

Lolsboro System:
– You’d think that was name chosen by another traveler, but nope, it was generated by Atlas itself!

– System is 495,955 LY N from the core. Took blackhole (107902b2a049) and ended up in Inskyvi III system (1065004c4f9d) 489,814 LY S of the core. No damage taken!

– Next black hole jump, had to repair though.

– Doing a series of black hole jumps without documentation, but the gist is: Jump approx 2,000 LY to next black hole on scanner, take black hole, repair, repeat. Stopped in Gameaumon XVIII system 458,020 LY from the core to buy some wiring looms. Seems the combination of warp jumps and being stretched in black holes takes its toll on wiring. I feel fine though! Also purchased 2,173 units of Residual Goop, because “Goop + Poop = Gold” and that makes me happy.

Ugyuang System:
– Having now reached the Ugyuang system 343,945 LY from the core, I have to say that the two times I did a black hole jump and didn’t need to make repairs were both flukes! I’d look into buying better equipment if I didn’t already have the best Nanites can buy.

– Landed at space station to rest for the night. Almost at the halfway point from where I started!

2019.10.15

Netiluy-lonq system:
– Did some more jumping today. Caught a signal for some salvageable scrap on Nisiylvan (105dfc2ee05f), a frozen planet in the Netiluy-lonq system. Located a component in perfect condition worth about 2.4MU. Not bad for wanting to stretch my legs! That said, traveling to the core goes a lot faster than thought it would when I just jump without taking a break.

Fokadamal System:
– 251,399 LY SW of the core. Nothing of interest to note.

Dagbokbe System:
– Less than 200K LY to go! Bought some Phosphorus here for a decent price.

Ifrosv System:
– 117,642 LY W of the core. Ran out of cobalt mirrors to repair the launch system recharger. Will check station for supplies, if none found, will leave broken.

Anooga System:
– 98,408 LY from the core, finally broke the 100K LY mark!

Arinqi II System:
– 44,287 LY from the core. The first system on my trip that was discovered by another traveler! Discovered by gjennings two years ago. I stopped here to use the black hole.

Hooey-Avr System:
– Two black holes later at 28,335 LY, and I am in a system discovered by Root Boy Slim only eight months ago. Looks like he was also just passing though. I decided to land on the purple planet of Urmipp to catch a breather. Aggressive sentinels abound, so I stayed on top of a high pillar of stone to avoid them, but one of the buggers found me anyway when I scanning the birds flying below.

Laftalli System:
– Reached 3,497 LY SE from the core, checked map and there aren’t ANY stars beyond 400 LY from here toward the core! Crazy! Had a good laugh out loud when I found a system on the edge of the core named. “I spent 60 euros on this”. Of course, I had to go there too.

I spent 60 euros on this System:
– Discovered by AxeWorld three years ago. He also discovered the planet, “Prepare for disappointment”.

– Defeated 4 pirates with my default pulse cannon, again. Sigh…

– Doesn’t seem to be anything of interest here. Visited Polo on the Anomaly to request coordinates for an Atlas Interface. Maybe that will help… Did some reading, figured out I need to reach a gateway system, which can be found using the Galactic Core bookmark on the galactic map.

Niquntain XVIII System:
– 3,000 LY from the core, I could now jump into the center if I wanted! How’s that for crazy, eh? I don’t actually want to travel there though, as that would send me off to another galaxy. Instead I wish to end this journey by beginning another in the [GoG-87] – Omning Lidkorjah system where other travelers have settled!