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Relearning MSX #3 – User environments

Posted by in Hardware, How-to, MSX, Retro, Technology | December 18, 2014

This time I’m going to explain what you’ll see when you first power an MSX computer on.

Unless otherwise stated, all the computer photos in this post come from the Home Computer Museum. All of the screenshots are taken in the openMSX emulator. If you don’t know what an emulator is, don’t worry. In another post I’ll explain what an emulator does and how to set it up.

Example 1: Toshiba HX-10

The Toshiba HX-10 was a first generation MSX computer. It’s a Japanese model, but it was available worldwide with different keyboard configurations.

Toshiba HX-10

Toshiba HX-10

After turning on the power switch there’s a splash screen consisting on white text on a blue background. This screen is the same for most first generation MSX models, at least the ones sold in Japan and Europe.

Toshiba HX-10 startup

Toshiba HX-10 startup

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Relearning MSX #2 – What’s this “MSX” thing?

Posted by in How-to, MSX, Retro | December 13, 2014

This post is an description of what MSX computers are, some common characteristics they share, and what are the differences between them. You can skip this post if you have used an MSX before. 

The MSX standard

MSX wasn’t the name of a computer or a manufacturer, but a specification (or a platform, if you prefer). This means that to be certified as MSX, a computer had to have a certain processor, video chip, peripherals, and embedded operating system. This ensured that software or peripherals developed for any MSX computer would work with any other MSX. There were hundreds of different MSX computers released between 1983 and 1993 by many manufacturers worldwide, some of the most important being Sony, Panasonic, Sanyo, Mitsubishi and Philips (Europe).

Sony HB-101, a first-generation model (MSX Magazine, January 1985)

Sony HB-101, a first-generation model (MSX Magazine, Japan, January 1985)

Panasonic FS-A1GT, the last MSX computer produced (MSX Magazine, November 1991)

Panasonic FS-A1GT, the last MSX computer produced (MSX Magazine, Japan, November 1991)

MSX computers were most popular in Japan, but they were also successful in Europe, Brazil, South Korea, Russia and some Middle East countries. I won’t go deeper into MSX’s history because this The Register article already does an excellent work at explaining what happened during and after its commercial years, though maybe written from the UK’s point of view, where MSX wasn’t as popular as the Sinclair Spectrum.

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Computer ads from the 80s are hilarious

Posted by in Fun, Japan, MSX, Non-important, Retro, Stupidity | December 13, 2014

“Imagine how much more fun we would be having if we plugged it in!”

MSX Magazine (Japan), November 1984 issue

MSX Magazine (Japan), November 1984 issue

Relearning MSX #1 – Introduction

Posted by in Fun, Hardware, How-to, MSX, Retro, Technology | December 11, 2014

When I was around nine or ten years old, my uncle Jose brought me my first computer: a Sanyo MPC-200, an MSX. I loved these computers, and even now I still have an old Sony MSX2 computer that I use from time to time.

A Spanish Sanyo MPC-200 computer, just like the one I had as a child.

A Spanish Sanyo MPC-200 computer, just like the one I had as a child.

Getting my first MSX computer was probably the most important event in my life, even though I still didn’t know at the time. That’s how I got involved with computers, defining my career. I started studying Japanese at around age fifteen in order to be able to read MSX Magazine, which I bought through an importer that brought it from Japan. That’s how I ended up moving to Tokyo now almost thirteen years ago.

Japanese MSX Magazine from November 1990.

Japanese MSX Magazine from November 1990.

Recently I’ve been playing around with an MSX emulator on my Mac, partly for fun, partly for nostalgia. During this time I’ve realized two things:

  • 8-bit computers were fun to program and work with
  • I’ve forgotten how to do so many things after all these years

I thought that having spent so many years using MSX computers, if it’s such a pain in the ass for me to set up a working environment under an emulator, it must be a much, much worse experience for someone who didn’t have the chance to use MSX computers back when they were popular. Without manuals or a friend explaining what to do, all you’ll see will be a blue screen with some white text in it, and you’ll get bored and go back to burn your remaining brain cells watching YouTube videos.

I’m going to try and help with that. I’m starting this series of posts so other people can start having fun with MSX computers (emulated or real) even without previous experience with them. This is also going to be a way for me to relearn as much as I can, and learn about new applications that I didn’t have the chance to try back in the day. And let’s be honest: I’m doing this also for fun.

During these posts I’ll write mostly about the subjects I’m interested, mainly development on the MSX using ASCII’s MSX-C package and from time to time directly in Z80 assembler. If you have no idea of what I’m talking about then don’t worry: I’ll explain what you need to know. I may explain a couple things about the MSX-BASIC programming language too, but I won’t go deep into it because I’m not very interested in it, even though I did most of my coding in it during my teenage years. MSX-BASIC is much more powerful than BASIC for other computers out there, but I think that it’s still not suitable for serious programs, even though it works fine as a simple programming language for learning.

Welcome back to the 80s.

Hakone again

Posted by in Japan, Personal | December 06, 2014

IMG_0505.JPG

We’re spending the weekend in Hakone with the family. Last time I came here was probably April last year, if I remember correctly. It suddenly started snowing a lot on the way to the hotel, and now it is sunny again.

It’s going to be an interesting weekend.

Spaceship lands in the middle of Shibuya

Posted by in Architecture, Japan, Photography | November 30, 2014
Spaceship lands in the middle of Shibuya

Well, not really. It’s just the Humax Pabillion building.

 

 

IMG_0376.JPG

IMG_0374.JPG

The ioscareteam phishing email

Posted by in Apple, Computer Security, Crime, Internet, Privacy | September 19, 2014

I just got this very official-looking mail in my main address:

ioscareteam_email

 

It reads like this:

Dear javi@lavandeira.net, (19 – September – 2014)

This message is to therefore warn you that your iCloud and Apple Account (javi@lavandeira.net) has been temporarily locked until we can validate your Apple Account details. This protective measure to secure your iCloud Account from unapproved usage. We apologise for any inconvenience you’ve been caused.

You will be unable to use iTunes or iCloud sync/backup or the iTunes/App Store & App Store until you verify your Apple Account ownership, we urge you to finish verification as soon as you can. Failure to validate your details within a 48 hours can cause termination of your Apple/iCloud ID to safeguard our system.

How to verify my Apple ID and restore access?
Just proceed to the link underneath to prove ownership of your Apple ID. Log-in in using your Appe/iCloud ID and password, then read the instructions.

> Certify My Apple Account

While using Apple devices and services, you’ll still sign in with your main email address as your Apple ID.

If you have questions and need help, visit the Apple Account Care site.

Thanks again,
Apple Account Maintenance Team

Case Support ID: #Y10FHK10419-EU10

It sounds very scary and serious. Should I click the link and log in with my Apple ID and password?

No.

This is just another phishing attempt. You are likely to receive a similar email. Do not, under any circumstances, click on the link and enter your details. I repeat: it’s just another phishing attempt.

Looking a bit closer we can see that the message’s reply-to header points to an address in the ioscareteam.co.uk domain. This domain doesn’t belong to Apple:

ioscareteam_replyto

 

The link in the body of the message also points to the same domain. Just place the mouse pointer over the link (without clicking) and wait a couple seconds:

ioscareteam_mouseover

They ask for your ‘Appe’ ID :-D

Clicking the link would take you to a very convincing fake Apple site that copies Apple’s real site. Looks like they even copied the country/language selection code.

However, this fake site will send your login details to the idiots who are trying to scam you:

ioscareteam_fakesite

 

Summary: if you get an email like the one I got, ignore it.

I’m sorry Blizzard, but our relationship is over

Posted by in Gadgets, Games, Hardware, Rants, Virtual Reality | September 12, 2014

Blizzard:

Thanks for the invitation to the public beta of Warlords of Draenor. When I saw the invitation email in my iPhone I initially thought it was just another phishing attempt to get my Battle.net ID and password. However, this time I didn’t see any suspicious links in the content, so I went ahead and logged in to my account and confirmed that yes, there it was:

draenor_battlenet

Without thinking much about it I installed the client and downloaded the content, then gave it a try for a few minutes. Yes, it looks fantastic. However, this time I’m not staying. Azeroth won’t be seeing me again anytime soon.

draenor

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Oculus Rift Development Kit 2: Review and initial impressions

Posted by in Gadgets, Hardware, Technology, Virtual Reality | July 31, 2014
Oculus Rift Development Kit 2: Review and initial impressions

I received my Oculus Rift DK2 yesterday morning. I ordered it on March 19th, within hours from the announcement. Here are my first impressions.

oculus_rift_dk2_1

Click to read the whole review.

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Yes, I can sense the presence of ghosts

Posted by in Personal, Rants, Religion, Science | July 22, 2014
Yes, I can sense the presence of ghosts

Let me tell you a little secret about myself: I can sense the ghosts of dead people, and I’m not using a metaphor here. I really mean ghosts, or souls, or spirits of other dead people. Call them whatever you want. I can feel them, and they used to scare the shit out of me.

This started when I was a kid. The apartment where my parents raised me had a badly-lit corridor with the living room on one end, my parents’ bedroom on the other, and my own bedroom and a bathroom in between. Often, on my way back from the bathroom, I would have a slight feeling that someone was behind me, just standing there looking at my back. I would turn, and each and every time I was unable to see anyone or anything. However, I felt, I knew there was somebody there, some presence staring at me. I would hurry up, run back to my room, and close the door behind me.

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