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Hi, I'm Iljitsch van Beijnum. These are tech/gadget related posts.

Mac Mini 2018/2020 review

Two weeks ago, I ordered a Mac Mini, my first desktop computer in 20 years. This is sort of a review of the Mac Mini, but I reserve the right to digress.

Read the article - posted 2020-04-28

Archiving data: storage prices in 2013 and 2020

Back in 2013, I wrote a blog post about archiving. In it, I compared the costs per terabyte (and the weight per terabyte) of several ways to store data for archival purposes. When I read Beyond Time Machine: 5 Archiving over at The Eclectic Light Company blog, I realized that it’s time revisit this topic.

Full article / permalink - posted 2020-04-19

The one perfect programming language

There's an episode of the TV show Friends where Chrissie Hynde has a guest role. Phoebe feels threatened by her guitar playing, and asks her "how many chords do you know?" "All of them."

Wouldn't it be cool if you could give the same answer when someone asks "how many programming languages do you know?"

But maybe that's a bit ambitious. So if you have to choose, which program language or programming languages do you learn?

Full article / permalink - posted 2020-04-01

The beautiful simplicity of the serial port

Today, I got a new USB-to-serial adapter. When trying to figure out how to connect a DEC VT420 terminal to a Mac, I learned that as of version 10.9, MacOS has a built-in driver for the FTDI USB-to-serial chip. So I ordered a "USB-console cable" from Amazon. This is a cable that looks a lot like a Cisco console cable but with a USB connector at one end. As the name suggests, you can connect it directly to the console port of a Cisco router. And with the right RJ-45-to-DB-25 / DB-9 adapters, you can connect it to anything with a serial port.

Read the article - posted 2020-02-02

Logging in on my Mac using a VT420 terminal

At my first job back in 1992 I had three things on my desk: a big phone, a 486SX PC running Windows 3.0 and a DEC VT320 terminal. Even back then those were pretty outdated, but we still used them for our helpdesk ticket system and our in-company email. (By the way, I recommend that everyone in tech starts as a helpdesker.) Five years later, I started a company with four others, and the first business we did was collect a bunch of VT420 terminals, which we then sold for ƒ 25,- a piece. I kept one for myself.

So the Digital VT100 terminal family holds a special place in the retro tech corner of my heart. Over the years, I tried to connect the terminal to my Mac using a USB-to-serial converter a few times, but never got anywhere. Today, I tried again, and finally got everything to work.

Read the article - posted 2020-01-25

Bluesky: Twitter wants a federated Twitter

Twitter's Jack Dorsey, in (of course) a Twitter thread:

Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard.

This is interesting on several levels. I'll mostly talk about the protocol design part of this, but before I do that: when has a business that's pretty much in a monopolist position ever voluntarily given up that position? They must really be feeling the pushback against "content and conversation that sparks controversy and outrage", and see this as a way out.

Full article / permalink - posted 2019-12-17

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