Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Maybe it’s some of the recent solar storms (the sunspots were not spectacularly high) but I heard both Guyana and the Cayman Islands on 17m the other day–the first time I’ve seen any significant life on that band in several years.
  • I have yet to find an Android ebook reader app that will open and render an MS .lit file, of which I have several. No surprise: Having blown an early and promising start in ebook reader software, MS has recently announced that it is withdrawing the app. Reader is actually a nice piece of work, and the first ebook reader program I used regularly. DRMed .lit books are now just noise, and the rest of them will have to be translated by something like Calibre. DRM, especially when it’s abandoned, trains people to locate cracks and become pirates. Way to go, guys.
  • SanDisk just announced a thumb drive about the size of its own USB connector cap. 4, 8, or 16GB. I’ve now broken two thumb drives by leaving them plugged into the rear edge of a laptop and then tipping the laptop back. If that’s a common problem, this is definitely the solution.
  • What do you do with the Moon once you rope it down? (Watering it would be interesting, though Mars needs it more.)
  • This guy thinks like I do. Just ask Carol. (Thanks to Michael Covington for the link.)
  • I recently found a PDF describing the first computer I ever programmed for money. It was a…1 MHz…8080. It cost a boggling number of 1979 dollars, so Xerox ended up using most of the initial production run in-house. The 3200 cast a long shadow: I got so used to sitting in front of it that when I built a computer table later that year for my S100 CP/M system, I made it just high enough that the keyboard was precisely as far off the floor as the 3200’s, a height that I use in computer tables to this day.
  • How long did it take you to figure out what this really was? (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • Russian President Medvedev has taken a liking to ReactOS, a long-running and mostly ignored attempt to create a driver-compatible, win32-friendly (via WINE) open source Windows clone. He’s suggesting that the Russian government fund it. Now if Medvedev can convince Putin, we could have quite a project on our hands.
  • I’d never thought much about how you recycle a dead refrigerator. Now I know.
  • Begorrah! Zombies are not a new problem. (Thanks to Frank Glover for the link.)
  • And if that machine gun in your hollow leg won’t slow them down, send them into sugar crash.


  1. Jack says:

    So, what did a 3200 cost in 1979 dollars?


    1. Unless my memory fails, $18,000. I think most of them were sold in Europe. I know that Rank Xerox had them in both London and Paris. There were other models, of which the 3200 was the top of the line. I see mention online of a desktop model in 1981 that had a hard drive, but I never saw that in the US. By the time I left Xerox at the end of 1984, the machines were being junked, and a friend of mine in the company got one for a hundred bucks. Xerox also sold off the Z80-based 820 to employees. It was a CP/M-80 machine introduced after the IBM PC. Needless to say, it died the death. Xerox was good at that sort of thing.

  2. Gary Kato says:

    Xerox and its Black Thumb for computers: Shugart, Diablo, Century Data, Versatec. I was at Versatec when Xerox decided we could use more Xerox management. One of the secretaries was at her desk eating lunch and working at the same time. Xerox manager comes by and says with condescension, “At Xerox, we eat in the Cafeteria”.

  3. Jack says:

    As a point of reference, a brand new 1979 Corvette ran about $10K for the stripped down version.

    For $18K you could load it up quite nicely.

    And it probably would be worth about $15K today on the resale market if it had the most desirable engine options.

    Or, $18K would purchase a decent house in many places in the US.

    I had a Kaypro CP/M portable with metal case before purchasing the first COMPAQ “luggable” IBM compatible. Better than my TRS-80 Mod 1 or Mod III, but clearly an evolutionary dead end once DOS gained traction.

  4. Rich Rostrom says:

    The problem with that miniature city is that it doesn’t look quite authentic. Several of the streetscapes seemed like… the older parts of current-day places, during a vintage car rally. I suspect there is a fair amount of minor detail which is out of period.

    The very first image looked wrong, too – like a model, or a Disney theme-park set. (The complete absence of texture on the sides of the house.) The second image is creepy too – the flawless floor and counter edge.

    Later images tend to fail if one looks at the pavements, which are flawless.

    But overall it shows enormous gifts by the creator.

    The low angle shots are especially convincing.

  5. Tony says:

    Not that long really. Having been in and around model railroads for a LONG time I recognized some of the signs of modeling. My first guess was going to be O scale or even G scale.

    The second picture gave it away, at least for me. Picture number four was too clean for a garage.

    But they are all nicely done and show great work by a knowledgeable modeler of fantastic skill. If you want to see some great work, look for John Allen and the Gorre & Daphetid. Here are a couple of links:

    There is a story about John Allen. A friend had hand built a steam locomotive and asked John his opinion. John took the engine and photographed it. Returned it and the photograph and told his friend wherever you can tell it is a model and not the real thing it needs to be fixed.

    This friend was crushed. He thought he had done a great job on the engine. But he went back and re-worked it and won 1st place in a competition, which is why he had sought the opinion in the first place.

  6. Eric Rogers says:

    I really like ReactOS. I plan to use it instead of Windows in the future.

  7. Bob Halloran says:


    Try FBReader for .lit files; I’m pretty sure it can handle them. Converting them to some other format, though, is probably the best option.

  8. Aki says:

    “SanDisk just announced a thumb drive about the size of its own USB connector cap. 4, 8, or 16GB.”

    “The flip flop above is a little bit larger than a tube of lipstick, but it only stores 1 bit. “

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