My 1990s MOD tracker music collection

Back in the days well before MP3 music, We’d download and play Amiga MOD tracker music from BBS systems. MODs contained small instrument samples and instructions on how to play them together.

For some reason, all these years I’ve kept my old collection of MOD music and I’ve realised many of these early computer music files may no longer be found on the Internet, so I’ve published them here:

Modern PCs can play these files with VLC. – On Windows you may need to download the file and open it in VLC manually as the Film & TV app will try and open them by default.

My favourite songs are Life is Like a Dance and UnreaL ][

Pop_Crn is a song I converted from a MIDI file.

Why Christianity?

Imagine I offered you a choice of four gifts:

* The original Mona Lisa
* The keys to a brand-new Lamborghini
* A million dollars in cash
* A parachute

You can pick only one. Which would you choose? Before you decide, here’s some information that will help you to make the wisest choice: You have to jump 10,000 feet out of an aeroplane.

Does that help you to connect the dots? It should, because you need the parachute. It’s the only one of the four gifts that will help with your dilemma. The others may have some value, but they are useless when it comes to facing the law of gravity in a 10,000-foot fall. The knowledge that you will have to jump should produce a healthy fear in you and that kind of fear is good because it can save your life. Remember that..:

The national broadband network in Beechboro

The construction of the National Broadband Network in Beechboro, WA is included in the larger Bassendean area build.

It has been changed from a Fibre to the Premises network that was supposed to have started work in July 2013 and be finished by July 2015 to a slower Fibre to the Node network (re)using the existing Telstra copper network.

Here is a photo gallery of the nbn Fibre to the Node build in Beechboro.

And here is a photo gallery of some of the above-ground Telstra network that nbn have used to provide broadband in Beechboro.


If the multi-technology mix NBN was a building program…

One day NBNCo paid ~$11bn for blocks of land with which to build. The blocks may have existing buildings on them or they might be completely vacant. For many blocks (the number and location are strictly commercially sensitive – NBNCo didn’t ask, and the seller didn’t feel obliged to tell), they don’t know what’s on the block of land: it could be prime real estate or it could be a swamp.

They don’t even know if there is in fact land at the place that they were told and to solve these problems NBNCo have agreed to pay extra to the seller to survey the land that they bought.

Every 18 months or so, NBNCo then place a big sign at a random number of blocks in random places saying “Sometime soon we’ll build a building here!”. Occasionally on some blocks, for no describable reason, the sign is pulled down. This is the best information we get from the NBNCo public website and maps.

Continue reading “If the multi-technology mix NBN was a building program…”

Hello, how can we not help you?

I’d like to relate my experience trying to upgrade from a Bigpond Turbo modem to one of the new 4G ones. I have to vent my frustration, it really was so bad.

I call 13 7663 and say to the robot woman, “new modem” and confirm I’m calling from the phone connected to the account. I spend a lot of time on hold (oh well. Speaker phones are awesome…) and the rep answers. “Welcome to Telstra, this is John.” “Hi, I’d like to upgrade my modem…” He says, “Hello? Welcome to Telstra, this is John.” More silence. Then he hangs up.

Grr. Must be a bad line. I ring back, spend more time on hold. Rep answers, same thing. Can’t hear me. Odd. Because I was bored and had time to kill, I rang again. SAME thing. Wha?!?!

I ring once more and this time I say “Sales” and say “No” to the “is this the phone you’re calling about” question. Rep answers, and hey, he can hear me this time. (I guess they don’t like taking calls about new modems from existing customers) “I’d like to upgrade to 4G.” “Ok”. Confirms my DOB etc… “Yes, the 4G wireless modem.” “No, not the wireless hub” “Yes, I know it’s wireless. I have a wireless account already.” (Under my breath – you have that information on your screen. #%@!! Sigh.)

Everything goes smoothly until he confirms the delivery address. “I’d like it delivered to my work, here’s the address”. “Oh… umm.”, he says. “That address isn’t linked to any of your accounts” “I know that, I just want the new modem delivered there.” “Sorry, I can’t do that”. AND HE HANGS UP ON ME. I know he hung up and the call didn’t drop out because the robot woman came back on and asks me to rate the call. Sure I rated the call. The score wasn’t high. :-/

Exasperated, I call again. I get to the stage, “I want to upgrade to 4G.” “You’ll have to pay a $17 cancellation fee”. “Why? It’s out of contract”. “That’s what the computer says. I can’t help you.”. At this stage I gave up. I said “ok, thanks” and hung up.

I’ve been a Telstra customer for years. Heck, I’ve worked for Telstra. Never in my life have I suffered such appallingly horrid customer service. How hard should it be for an existing customer to call and say, “hey, your stuff is so good I want to give you my money for another 24 months?!”.

With Bigpond, very.

Exim on Debian and frustrating authentication errors

You’ve set up a brand new Debian machine and installed the Exim MTA. Because this server is Internet-facing, you switched on the options to allow TLS with authentication so your users can securely relay mail from their phones and laptops. Your users also have local accounts on the server.

Frustratingly, when users try and send relay mail it fails and the /var/log/exim4/mainlog is filled with messages like this:

2011-03-22 18:12:57 TLS error on connection from [] (gnutls_handshake): A TLS packet with unexpected length was received.
2011-03-22 18:12:58 login_server authenticator failed for (testPC) []: 535 Incorrect authentication data (set_id=testuser)

The Exim configuration was copied from another working installation so the log file, especially with the odd TLS error, points perhaps to some sort of library or version problem. Updating exim, gnutls libraries and anything else you think of to try and solve it are fruitless.

The solution is surprisingly simple and in this case the error messages are totally misleading. Authentication is failing because the Debian-exim user that Debian uses for Exim doesn’t have access to read /etc/shadow – and therefore authenticate local users. All you needed to do is add the Debian-exim user to the shadow group.

adduser Debian-exim shadow


Nokia: Let’s do the time warp again

One of these three is not like the others

All three of these phones are in Perth, Western Australia, are on the Telstra network and are set to automatically update their time from the network. The brand-new Nokia E52 in the middle is an hour ahead. How do you fix it?
Continue reading “Nokia: Let’s do the time warp again”

Old… but not broken

I’ve just rebuilt one of my home servers. The old one had one of these Arnet Multiport ISA serial cards in it for my packet radio modems. Full-length ISA, full-sized UART chips, shared IRQ serial ports, DIP switches… In other words, all the things that make me glad personal computing moved on past the 1990s.

This card was originally installed in a Pick-based Library automation system in 1993.. Now this is the amazing thing – this card has been operating continuously for 17 years. Realising that made me sit and think. How much technology we use today will be still operable two decades from now? Any of it?