Category Archives: Hardware

A rarely seen MSX computer

Posted by in Fun,Hardware,MSX,Retro,Technology | May 27, 2015

This is an interesting find. Let me give you some background first:

In order to get your driver’s license in Spain you need to pass a test called psicotécnico. This test is designed to ensure that your hand-eye coordination and response times are normal. When I took the test many years ago, it consisted on a computer attached to a couple of foot switches and a couple of handles. On the screen there were a couple of bars that you could move horizontally independently from each other using the handles. The screen kept scrolling down simulating a couple of roads, and your mission was to keep both bars inside the road at all times.

The Spanish government ordered these systems exclusively from a company called ASDE (and they still do).

What’s interesting is that the computer they used was an MSX2. When I took the test they had a Philips NMS8245, but it seems that they also used computers from Sony. Everybody who got a driver’s license in Spain in the 80-90s had to go and play with this MSX.

Today somebody on Facebook found this: there’s one of these units for sale, complete with the controllers and software (a cartridge screwed into the top slot):




Nowadays these machines aren’t in use anymore. They’ve been replaced with a newer system, but it seems that the controllers are basically still the same:


The new Driver-Test set. Probably running on a custom-built PC.

Here’s a video of a test in progress. The MSX version was exactly the same:

Seeing this machine brought back some nice memories. :-)

Update: a friend on Facebook reports that these MSX are still in use in some examination centers.

Japanese books for retro computer fans

Posted by in Hardware,Japan,MSX,Retro,Technology | May 25, 2015

During a conversation on Facebook earlier today I mentioned a couple of books by Japanese author Hiroyuki Maeda, and I promised to post more information later. These books are for retro computer fans, even those who can’t understand Japanese. Mr. Maeda has published several books about retro computers and game consoles, but in this post I’ll talk about two of them:

  • 懐かしのホビーパソコンガイドブック (The Nostalgic Hobby PC Guidebook, ISBN 978-4-7755-2339-1)
  • 海外のゲーム&パソコンガイドブック (The Oversea’s Game & PC Guidebook, ISBN 978-4-7755-2419-0)

Left: The Oversea’s Game & PC Guidebook. Right: The Nostalgic Hobby PC Guidebook.

These books contain lots of information about hundreds of computer systems and consoles from the late 70s to the early 90s. Keep reading for a taste of what’s inside

Read more ›

Restoration and whitening of a Panasonic FS-A1ST

Posted by in Hardware,How-to,MSX,Technology | May 8, 2015

I posted about this on my Facebook account a few days ago and several people asked for more photos and a followup, so here it is.

My Facebook post from May 3rd.

My Facebook post from May 3rd.


Some time ago I bougth a Panasonic FS-A1ST computer on Yahoo! Auctions. The description said that the unit was “as is” and that it wasn’t guaranteed to work properly. The photos were a bit dark, but there wasn’t any obvious physical damage. The price wasn’t high, so I bid on it and I won.

The package arrived a few days later. I couldn’t wait to open the box and try it (I had been without an MSX turbo R for quite a while), but my happiness vanished quickly: the computer came in a terrible shape. It was very dusty, and both the case and keyboard had yellowed a lot, not to mention the tobacco smell.


The computer as it arrived. Because of the bad light it doesn’t look as bad in the photo as it did in real life.

Read more ›


Posted by in Fun,Gadgets,Hardware,Japan,MSX,Retro,Technology | January 15, 2015

Today I had to go to Akihabara for work and something caught my attention in an electronics shop not far from the station:


What’s is this sorcery!!?? MSX cartridges? Sound boards??

In the background there was playing one of Salamander‘s themes, with perfect timing and perfect instruments. Initially I thought this was a custom-built MSX computers, but it wasn’t.

Keep reading for the details.

Read more ›

Relearning MSX #3 – User environments

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

This article has moved to MSX Center.

Click here to visit the new URL.

Relearning MSX #1 – Introduction

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

This article has moved to MSX Center.

Click here to visit the new URL.

I’m sorry Blizzard, but our relationship is over

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


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 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:


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.


Read more ›

Oculus Rift Development Kit 2: Review and initial impressions

Posted by in Gadgets,Hardware,Technology,Virtual Reality | July 31, 2014

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


Click to read the whole review.

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Ben & Jerry’s awesome event in Tokyo Midtown, now with Oculus Rift!

Posted by in Fun,Hardware,Technology,Virtual Reality,Work | March 15, 2014

If you live in Tokyo get your ass off the couch and head for Tokyo Midtown now and get some delicious free ice-cream.

Ben & Jerry’s is celebrating an event in the basement of the Tokyo Midtown Galleria. Here you can enjoy free ice-cream, have your photo printed in a tub of the delicious thing, sit and relax while you eat under a (fake) tree…

Ben & Jerry at Midtown

…and also become a happy cow in a virtual reality experience using the Oculus Rift:

Ben & Jerry's Oculus Rift

So where and when is this happening? Here you go:

Tokyo Midtown Galleria B1F
Saturday, March 15th 11am-8pm
Sunday, March 16th 11am-7pm

The even was put together by our company, Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo. Keep reading for the fun details.

Read more ›

Western Digital buys Hitachi Global Storage… three months ago

Posted by in Fun,Gadgets,Hardware,Technology | June 19, 2012

Remember this post from a few days ago? I was talking about how Hitachi is spamming its customers (me being one of them), and I ended the post with “Buy a Western Digital instead”.

Well, after that blog post a very polite representative from Hitachi actually replied via email asking about the hard drive’s serial number and part number. I wrote back to him just a few minutes ago, and I got an automated error message from their mail server:

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has been acquired by Western Digital.  Our new name is HGST.  When sending email messages to HGST, please adjust your email address to use the “” domain.

Emphasis mine. Initially I thought it was some kind of joke from their mail server admin(s), but it’s actually true. Here’s the press release from Western Digital. The press release is actually from March, so I was three months late with my buy a Western Digital comment.

What will happen now? Will they stop spamming non-US customers regarding US-only campaigns? Or will it get worse?