Letters from Somnolescent

 

Tag: technology

General posts and rants about technology, usually hardware.


February 19, 2024

Join the Somnolescent IRC!

bulb

#somnolescent on Rizon in MegaIRC

Long, long ago, in a timeline that seems completely absurd now, Somnolescent was merely an IRC room on Foonetic hosting four lonely people who didn’t like each other much. That was 2014. I still have the logs. (Please don’t ask to see them.)

Over time, lurkers and friends outside the group have asked us where they can chat with us, and the choice has either been to say “sorry, we don’t have a place you can chat with us”, or to start up a Discord we’ll wind up hating and shuttering in a few months. The answer always lay in IRC, of course, given that’s where Somnol started–but it never occurred to us. Except for that time in 2020 when it occurred to us.

Now that we’ve gotten the fuzzies for it again, we’ve once again established an official IRC room (on Rizon, given that Foonetic is sadly defunct). Join #somnolescent at irc.rizon.net, 6697 for secure connections and 6667 for insecure connections (among other ports). If that’s gibberish to you, you can click this Kiwi IRC link to join the server in your browser, no setup required. Hope to see you there!

Tags: technology,

February 6, 2024

SomnolCCSO and Reviving an Old, Dead Database Lookup Protocol

mariteaux

CCSO lookup in NCSA Mosaic

On a whim about two weeks ago, I decided to finally start redoing the Somnolescent Gopher server. Gopher is such a throwback, nostalgic thing for me–it was one of the first things we got set up for Somnol right when we first got hosting all the way back in December 2018. Alas, the Gopher had not been touched since 2021, outdated and rather embarrassing for me, so I ripped it all out and got it reassembled. Still working on it, but I think it’s coming out absolutely killer. You can visit it at gopher://gopher.somnolescent.net if you have a capable client, or you can use this HTTP proxy link if you’re just looking at it in your browser.

While Gopher is highly neat, among the culty hipster retro tech geeks, it’s a known quantity. There’s new Gopher clients every year, and Gemini clients oftentimes double as Gopher clients thanks to the similarities of their protocols. Not so with the true subject of today’s post. Today’s topic has no modern server software support (before us, anyway), and accessing it is even tougher, practically requiring Windows 3.1 or a *nix box with Docker and the whole setup around that. I’ve spent the last week doing a deep, deep dive into a protocol so obscure, there’s less than ten servers for it still in existence. And we’re one of them now.

Say hello to SomnolCCSO, my friends. I’ll tell you how we made it happen and how you can try it out for yourself.


February 2, 2024

Promptly Forgotten

dotcomboom

“Hi! Welcome to this quick demonstration of My Game Builder, a new tool to allow you to build games for yourself and for your friends, online, using just a web browser. The tool is free to use, and free to share with your friends.”


September 11, 2023

Fully licensed campus printer

dotcomboom

Getting your printer set up for wireless printing is relatively simple on a home network. Most printers can connect to your Wi-Fi network and make themselves discoverable, and we’ve seen units be all in one, neat little packages for about a decade. It’ll be ad-hoc (Wi-Fi Direct or Bluetooth) or infrastructure, usually, and current operating systems are pretty good about finding them. Save for the occasional clogged spooler problems on Windows—I just reinstall the printer when this happens—it isn’t too bad.

But what if you’re trying to print from your printer as just one of thousands of users on a campus network?

Tags: technology,

September 24, 2022

Protecting and Surviving Against the AI Art Menace

mariteaux

AI-generated buildings

It’s a controversial topic. AI-generated art, “this does not exist” sites, and the possibility that robots with the ability to “draw” will make artists obsolete, or at least, ruin the market for gigging artists who need that attention to live and pay bills.

Thankfully, I see it more optimistically than most. It is a menace, and you should take action if it affects you–but don’t let it discourage you. If you’re browsing around DeviantART or suchlike, here’s how to spot it and how to combat it.

Since I’m mostly involved in character design and character art, that’s what I’ll be focusing on. Apply to your medium of landscapes or photography or suchlike as applicable.

Tags: art, technology,

September 7, 2022

Cammy Revisits the PhotoCam

mariteaux

A recreation of my old artsy photo of the PhotoCam...using a PhotoCam as the camera

Longtime blog readers will remember a post I did in July 2019 called “Cammy vs. the PhotoCam”. It was a cute little lark into trying to score some retro tech on eBay and failing miserably. I didn’t have a job or a lot of money to spend on impractical hobby stuff back then, and the entire thing left a sour enough taste in my mouth that I didn’t bother looking for a working unit.

We’re in September 2022 now, I have a job now, and I figured it was time to go hunting again. I got a lot more than I bargained for. On offer today: storytelling! Burning hot batteries! A showdown between three similarly-spec’ed cameras! But first, we start with…


August 15, 2022

Revisiting the Official MP3.com Guide to MP3s

mariteaux

The front and back covers of the MP3.com Official Guide to MP3s

I don’t think it’s a stretch to call myself an MP3.com historian at this point. From my initial essay two-and-a-half years ago, to digging deep into how the service worked, to previewing some of the music that MP3.com were promoting their service with, I’m part of that small group who have been trying to keep the memory of one of the most forward-thinking dot-com startups alive after it was all but forgotten post-closure in 2004.

I was effectively honor-bound to pick up the last copy of The Official MP3.com Guide to MP3s from Amazon after all that work, and I was not disappointed for my $6.29! We’ve got late 90s MP3 hype, forgotten MP3 and MP3.com competitors, and even some screenshots of the backend of MP3.com, far away from where any web spider could’ve gone. It’s a trip.

Tags: music, technology,

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