First Boot and Disassembly

My Com­paq Portable arrived suc­cess­ful­ly in one piece just after I pub­lished my intro­duc­tion to this project last month, and I found it to be in even bet­ter shape than I expect­ed. How­ev­er, I’m afraid my exam­ple did not escape The Key­board Prob­lem — 100% key­board fail­ure thanks to decom­pos­ing foam used in pre-1984 machines. After the near-spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ence of its first boot-up, I was only able to acti­vate a sin­gle key when prompt­ed by DOS (2.12, I’m assum­ing) to enter the cur­rent date — the num­ber 5. This is by far the most com­mon ail­ment among Portable buys, and it was far from unex­pect­ed. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, my com­plete lack of per­son­al work­space at the moment will like­ly prove to be the most stub­born obsta­cle to restor­ing func­tion to the key­board for longer than I’d like, but I’ve been able to main­tain sound patience. (Also, nobody seems to know what a “punch” is? Maybe I’m mis­at­tribut­ing the term.)

Both the sheer vol­ume of obscure doc­u­men­ta­tion on the replace­ment of the foam and met­al con­tacts and the dif­fer­ences between each restorer’s approach is quite aston­ish­ing — one claimed to find suc­cess using only mate­ri­als from a dol­lar store, which isn’t often said of com­put­er repair projects in 2018. Hack­a­day’s cov­er­age of the repair is care­ful­ly con­sid­ered and com­pre­hen­sive, and there’s more than enough dili­gent ref­er­ences avail­able to ren­der any detailed records of my own attempts a waste of time. My first chance to peek inside came while I was sur­round­ed by new Port­land friends in their com­mu­ni­ty house, who were all amus­ing­ly bewil­dered by my deci­sion to buy such an object. I broad­cast a boot-up on Periscope, as well as a longer attempt to elec­tro­cute myself and repli­cate a forum poster’s claimed typ­ing using only his fin­gers to con­duct the nec­es­sary cur­rent across the con­tacts. I sup­pose the bull­shit is obvi­ous, but I was more than will­ing to sac­ri­fice my life, as you’ll no doubt observe.

The key­board itself was ridicu­lous­ly well-fas­tened and overde­signed, and the first sight of the Portable’s inter­nal archi­tec­ture revealed by our removal of the main cov­er pan­el was a gen­uine­ly gasp-induc­ing expe­ri­ence. I’m cer­tain­ly not a well-expe­ri­enced and/or pro­fes­sion­al hard­ware per­son, but I’m com­pelled to note that I have nev­er seen elec­tron­ic hard­ware built this well — even in agri­cul­tur­al imple­ment appli­ca­tions, much less con­sumer-tar­get­ed prod­ucts. I com­plete­ly under­stand why retro elec­tron­ic nerds love these so much and I can only hope to soon chan­nel a suf­fi­cient imi­ta­tion of their dis­ci­pline to get the key­board func­tion­ing ful­ly.

The rot­ting foam is actu­al­ly quite dis­gust­ing.
Though the ABS main rear pan­el has obvi­ous­ly been removed before, the beau­ty of the Portable’s inter­nal machin­ing had me gasp­ing.

To Watch “Beloved Le Mans 24 Hour Endurance Race,” Whiny Bitch Turns to JavaOS

The 2018 24 Hours of LeMans is an hour away from its halfway mark and it looks like I will fail once again in my year­ly attempt to artic­u­late why it’s such an intense, one-of-a-kind expe­ri­ence, but I’ve includ­ed my progress in this go so far just below.

For 5 con­sec­u­tive Junes, I’ve made a point to stay up one whole week­end in order to fol­low “The Super­bowl of Motor­sport” — a few quaint men hurl­ing them­selves around a dou­ble-dig­it, flap­per-era French rib­bon in machines built specif­i­cal­ly to tor­ture them­selves with record-break­ing effi­cien­cy — to “wit­ness the pin­na­cle of engi­neer­ing, dri­ving, and ath­let­ic excel­lence.” In 2016, I even both­ered a young Extra­tone with this entire­ly off-beat event, which Tim, Kaleb and I unsuc­cess­ful­ly attempt­ed to stream on YouTube. Every year, I spend some of the day try­ing to artic­u­late why exact­ly this one race is so mag­i­cal. At 6 this morn­ing, this year’s 86th annu­al Cir­cuit des 24 Heures du Mans began with a green flag wav­ing more than 5100 miles away. Imme­di­ate­ly after­wards, Andre Lot­ter­er was too late to brake, crash­ing into Ben Han­ley and com­i­cal­ly releas­ing the entire nose of his LMP car. The release of a year’s worth of antic­i­pa­tion and prepa­ra­tion often makes the first few hours of the race feel like a mad dash.

You can­not spend one sec­ond look­ing back,” com­ment­ed a Radi­oLe­Mans host after just half a minute had passed. (I still can’t keep up with their names even after all these years, but they are step one of LeMans watch­ing.) By 6:11, the his­toric and infa­mous­ly-dan­ger­ous Cir­cuit de la Sarthe was declared wet. Since 2015, I’ve cheered on a par­tic­u­lar Brazil­ian veg­an called Fer­nan­do Rees through two tours with Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing – my favorite team – and one with Corvette, last year, but nei­ther he nor his team are present this time.

Com­mit­ted­ly keep­ing up with a motor­sport event designed more for man­u­fac­tur­ers and stark tra­di­tion than its fans – the luck­i­est of whom nap in track­side tents amid the rain and com­bus­tive son­ic hell on the oth­er side of the plan­et – which has served as the pin­na­cle emo­tion­al, phys­i­cal, and tech­ni­cal tri­al (yes, in that order) through­out the entire his­to­ry of auto rac­ing does not sound like a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence, but emo­tion­al­ly, I’ve become deeply inter­twined with LeMans and formed a rela­tion­ship with it like no oth­er has approached or even approx­i­mat­ed with any oth­er sport­ing event. I wish I knew enough about the his­to­ry and tech­ni­cal­i­ties of endurance motor­sport to write about it pro­fes­sion­al­ly because the sto­ries it gen­er­ates are always engag­ing, no mat­ter what. Jack­ie Chan and Patrick Dempsey are LeMans’ most rec­og­niz­able patrons to the gen­er­al pub­lic.

My beloved Le Mans 24 Hour Endurance Race has start­ed. I can not close my eyes until Toyota’s vic­to­ry moment. Shar­ing impres­sion of LM to all over the world#LeMans24

— ぽめぽめ51 (@51chanman1) June 16, 2018


It’s long since been rea­son­able for me to pre­tend I’m able to com­plete­ly sep­a­rate auto­mo­tive top­ics from Extra­tone, so I final­ly gave in and cre­at­ed a Honk chan­nel in our Dis­cord. Please feel free to stop by and/or invite your friends with the link

Spectre Open

The break­ingtrend­ing news about my dear­est lit­tle Libel is prob­a­bly quite bad. It turns out, my charg­er cable trip­ping inci­dent a few weeks ago was a tru­ly-destruc­tive one. I not only destroyed the X360’s DC port but the port’s brack­et as well. Would you believe me if I told you I actu­al­ly found cof­fee stains on the bot­tom of its cool­ing fan? I expe­dit­ed a new port and strug­gled to install it today — though I orig­i­nal­ly got its charg­ing indi­ca­tion LED to light up pos­i­tive­ly, the fid­dling that was required, fol­low­ing appears to have dam­aged either the new part or the machine, itself — I can no longer elic­it any response from it what­so­ev­er. I have a feel­ing some sol­der­ing would do the trick, but every day with­out a com­put­er of my own to use presents a prob­lem if I’m to accom­plish any Extra­tone-relat­ed work at all.

Please give me a break: the last time I had to dis­as­sem­ble a com­put­er to this extent, Dual-Core CPUs were just becom­ing afford­able. The prop­er avenue for the cable is also less than an after­thought, yad­da yad­da, etc. etc. (“The Open Web” refers only to my right to com­plain to absolute­ly no one but The Good Gourd.)

Spectre DC Port

Google Ana­lyt­ics is act­ing a fool (it turns out, all I need­ed to do to get us back up in search results for “Extra­tone” was com­plete­ly break my account,) but I’ll be damned if authen­ti­cat­ing The Extranet with Bing wasn’t the quick­est web-admin­is­tra­tive task I’ve ever done. Less than 60 sec­onds to ver­i­fy and approve com­pre­hen­sive sitemaps — no fuck­ing lie. Despite our huge down­time at the begin­ning of the year, both it and Duck­Duck­Go were quick to rec­og­nize us as the top rel­e­vant result for “Extra­tone,” leav­ing only Google to Square The Fuck Up. Grant­ed, you’re appar­ent­ly more like­ly to be sent our way if you’re look­ing for “opg,” “om6,” “u3u,” or “ruu.” If that’s how you’ve end­ed up here, wel­come and con­grat­u­la­tions! This is, indeed, the place you’ve sought.


Editor’s Note: Please dis­re­gard the JavaOS data — that’s all me.

Logitech G203


Is it everything or nothing?

This is by far the most expen­sive mouse I have ever bought at $24.99. It is also per­haps the loud­est piece of com­put­er equip­ment — periph­er­al or oth­er­wise — that I have ever encoun­tered in my entire life with the lit­er­al vol­ume of its click­ing noise, light­ing effects, and the quan­ti­ty of accom­pa­ny­ing bloat­ware. Then again, it is also my first piece of gam­ing gear — a moniker to which I am tech­ni­cal­ly new. A world in which a $50 periph­er­al is con­sid­ered “thor­ough­ly afford­able” is not mine any­more (it nev­er was, but only because of my lim­it­ed ado­les­cent income,) but that’s okay. Per­haps this pur­chase will prove to be the gate­way to my very own Sick Build. Regard­less, my adult life is still full of plen­ti­ful click­ing, and a high-qual­i­ty, “vari­able res­o­lu­tion” mouse should have some sort of place when doing my tax­es, repeat­ed­ly apply­ing for health insur­ance, read­ing dai­ly news for hours, and accu­rate­ly lik­ing Joke Tweets. And — for the sake of a more thor­ough gamer per­spec­tive — I down­loaded all 10GB of Eve Online and clicked around in space for an evening, just in case.

After fif­teen min­utes spent look­ing for the end of the G203’s 6.6-foot USB cable, I plugged it in to my Spec­tre and made the mis­take of man­u­al­ly seek­ing out its Win­dows dri­vers. I thought the 115mb instal­la­tion file was com­i­cal­ly exces­sive for a mouse, but after inad­ver­tent­ly join­ing The G Team, enhanc­ing my new Gam­ing Gear, and appeas­ing the prompt’s request for a reboot, the com­plex­i­ty of the soft­ware more than jus­ti­fied its foot­print, if not its exis­tence.

Nat­u­ral­ly, I was thrilled to opt-in to let my new mouse speak to its moth­er­ship, hop­ing that it would even­tu­al­ly men­tion my hands, which are by far my most flat­ter­ing fea­ture (also, it would be nice if it told them how awk­ward it is to use its soft­ware as long as it remains exempt from UI scal­ing.) Then, the one hun­dred and sev­enth edi­tion of my mouse’s update tool sug­gest­ed that I down­load high­er per­for­mance! (Appar­ent­ly “DPI” means “Dots Per Inch,” and I’m sure 8000 of them is an upgrade from my old roller­ball!)

By default, the huge­ly bright LEDs on the G203 cycle smooth­ly through the col­or­band, which is desir­able to some­one on Earth, I’m sure, but I do not know of them. Come to think of it — out of all of the many Gamers I’ve known and con­versed with about every top­ic imag­in­able, I’m almost pos­i­tive that their own mice — or com­put­er mice as a whole, real­ly — have nev­er come up. Even for these, life is too short to search Con­sumer Reports for com­put­er mouse reviews, but per­haps all of us are in error. I only pur­chased the G203 because all of the majesty of Columbia’s Best Buy (appar­ent­ly the hold­er of the “Worst Best Buy Store in the World” title not so long ago) was sold out of all mice with­in what I then con­sid­ered to be a rea­son­able price range, and it was the one of the remain­ing “expen­sive” but still doable options with the high­est reviews upon a briskly skimmed Google search. Now, I think I can see why. There is a cer­tain qual­i­ty in the way it feels that I’ve clear­ly been miss­ing out on amidst my as-yet-life­long habit of using the cheap­est, knock­off-brand periph­er­als.

First: that ser­rat­ed scroll wheel! Wow! Incre­ment­ed scrolling was the shit, wasn’t it? Can you actu­al­ly read while you two-fin­ger ges­ture scroll? I’m pret­ty sure I can’t, regard­less of how seam­less the expe­ri­ence may or may not be. I can nei­ther imag­ine nor hope this sort of engage­ment — with the web, any­way — will be viable for much longer, but it is a nice option. To be force­ful, notice that options being sort of a theme, here: out of a lack of cheap­er options, I spent a bit more on this, very option-sat­u­rat­ed mouse, and now I can’t move my laptop’s point­er from over six feet away — should I wish — albeit with the oblig­a­tory anx­i­ety over the destruc­tive poten­tial such a teth­er includes, left exposed to the whims of whirling pets or limbs. Of course, you are no doubt won­der­ing why a wired mouse? Isn’t that your whole orig­i­nal lim­i­ta­tion?

Like the smart-mind­ed PC gam­ing enthu­si­ast, I find the poten­tial advan­tages of blue­tooth periph­er­als to be over­shad­owed by their dis­ad­van­tages in a big way. Not so much the inevitable delay of wire­less­ness as was com­mon­ly lament­ed upon by the com­pet­i­tive elite first-per­son-shoot­ers, but the lit­tle slice of bur­den stacked on top of the pile of bat­tery-oper­at­ed devices I already own. Even sans-Tes­la, quartz or smart watch, portable gam­ing con­sole (or, con­sole of any kind with wire­less con­trollers,) tablet, wire­less head­phones, portable speak­ers, eread­er, smart glass­es, and smart jack­et, the pow­er cells in my lap­top, iPhone, and flash­light gen­er­ate plen­ty of charge anx­i­ety enough, and I’d like to hold out for as long as is rea­son­ably fea­si­ble before mul­ti­ply­ing my exist­ing duress. How­ev­er, as per my own obser­va­tions (though not mea­sur­able num­bers,) the G203 seems to be increas­ing the drain on my Spectre’s bat­ter­ies, whether by its huge, always-run­ning soft­ware pres­ence, its phys­i­cal USB draw, or both. Quan­ti­fy­ing the sub­se­quent has­sle of charg­ing my lap­top more often so that it could be mea­sured against that of charg­ing an equiv­a­lent blue­tooth mouse is nei­ther straight­for­ward nor inter­est­ing, but it’s not as if I’ll be using this machine off the charg­er for very much longer after over a year of extreme­ly heavy use.

As long as tools have exist­ed — cer­tain­ly as long as they’ve been sold — they have been divid­ed pri­mar­i­ly into two cat­e­gories: prod­ucts for ama­teurs, and prod­ucts for pro­fes­sion­als. I come from a time when “pro­fes­sion­al gamer” was an oxy­moron (unless you count stuff like snook­er, I guess,) yet now I’m using such a cus­tomiz­able mouse that its hotkeys can be mapped to hotkey map­ping and its sen­si­tiv­i­ty (the dots per inch spec) can be switched “on the fly.” How I’m going to make full use of these func­tion­al­i­ties with­in my word proces­sor has yet to be deter­mined, but when/if it is, it will be com­plete­ly imple­mentable in absolute­ly no time at all. The Log­itech G203 is nei­ther ama­teur nor pro — it is a “prodi­gy,” which from my per­spec­tive has to be an inher­ent­ly nos­tal­gic angle. Top­i­cal­ly, more than any­thing at this moment, I would like to bring the core char­ac­ters of Halt and Catch Fire to life just to show them this mouse, its soft­ware, and all that they are con­stant­ly beg­ging to do togeth­er — like “con­trol­ling [my] Dis­cord client,” what­ev­er the hell that could pos­si­bly mean.

The Log­itech G203 is offi­cial­ly “gamer gear,” but it’s impor­tant to clar­i­fy the term’s mean­ing in both hard­ware and soft­ware for an adult in 2018. And yet, at least it remains over­whelm­ing­ly clear that we will all even­tu­al­ly die.The Log­itech G203 is offi­cial­ly “gamer gear,” but it’s impor­tant to clar­i­fy the term’s mean­ing in both hard­ware and soft­ware for an adult in 2018. And yet, at least it remains over­whelm­ing­ly clear that we will all even­tu­al­ly die.The thing that got us to the thing did so a long time ago — it’s full of nazis and captcha-trained, Pres­i­den­cy-mak­ing Russ­ian robots, now, and my new com­put­er mouse is tak­ing the ini­tia­tive and han­dling all of my cor­re­spon­dence for me. Every­thing is pos­si­ble, but the end is nigh. The same prac­tices we once used in our youth to bide our time and hide from the truths of our finite exis­tence have grown to encom­pass them as well and left no suf­fi­cient dis­trac­tion with which to replace or reverse them — even obnox­ious­ly loud click­ing and bright spec­trum-cross­ing light shows. Now, we must pro­ceed whole­heart­ed­ly under the weight of the knowl­edge that we will soon reach the ulti­mate final­i­ty of the infi­nite rest, our USB mice in hand.