Monday, 12 March 2018

Newsgroups: I Made a Difference

In 2013, I had the idea of making a newsgroup search engine. All I had to do was download all newsgroup postings and index them.

Well I wrote some Python code which did multiple threads, and got a Giganews Diamond account which allowed a lot of threads and unlimited downloads.

After a month I had most newsgroups - excepting binaries - and it came to 800GB.

Trying to index THAT lot was impossible.

So in mid-2016, I just heaved the 800GB's onto a 1TB 2.5" USB hard drive and sent it to the Internet Archive.

I thought they hadn't done anything with the drive.

After a few weeks of confusion, a friend of mine - connected to the IA - got all it sorted out. They had uploaded all my data here

(2003 - 2013 because 2013 is when I last indexed them).

There was a mystery of the missing drive. Basically, they mislaid my original drive, so said they couldn't send it back to me in the post. My friend got that sorted out too and a new drive is on its way.

Anyway, it's all there, independent of Google Groups.

To download a newsgroup, get the domain (below, gna-comp is comp.*)

And unzip it. You'll be able to load it into your email client or newsgroup reader.

Hoping to index 2013-2018, but I have until 2023 to do so (it goes back only 10 years).

My 1981-1991 newsgroup search engine is at:

Finally, the technology behind my newsgroup search engine is called MailXplorer, and it's here:

I'm looking for some customers who want to search old hard drives for missing emails.

That's all! Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

A Trip To Majikkon 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing the Huddersfield Literary Festival brochure my Mum gave me. I saw a Manga/Anime ‘Convention’ or ‘Con’. £10 in, but maybe worth it. I took a chance on it and on the 8th, I awoke.

It started at 11AM so I decided to get there about 1PM.

I got off the bus, went to Sainsbury’s, and got 4 pints of milk for £1.

Then I went to the University, to where I thought the old Sports Hall was. I walked all the way round and it was just scaffolding.

Having doubts about the whole thing, I meandered along and met a guy with a bike. I asked him where the Con might be, and he said he’d seen some costumed people yonder. I followed his line of sight and nodded, and trudged therewise to find it.

5 minutes later, I found the entrance to the Con and went in. I bought myself a ticket. But at the Cloakroom entrance, I asked how much money to stash my bag and milk. She said £3, so I put the milk in my Ikea rucksack/bag. But the milk sprung a leak. A trail of milk followed me as I asked the woman what to do. She pointed to a nearby flip-top bin, and I put the milk in it. A kindly young lady went after the milk trail with a cloth and cleaned it all up with no blame attached. How kind!

Went round the corner looking for the main hall. I found a door and it appeared to open some 15 feet above the ground. Strange! But I went on and eventually reached stairs down, and showed my ID wristband to the guy at the door.

I was getting worried! What if it turned out to be a sham, just a bunch of tables selling stuff!

Luckily I checked my agenda sheet and it told me at the main stage in the centre front of the ‘new’ sports hall, there were ‘things’ on.

First I trudged around all the stalls. I found stalls selling T-shirts, buttons, manga books (MANGA means books, ANIME means cartoons). But no anime. Oh well. I did, however, meet the guy who runs the Role Playing club. He was pleased to see me, and said I can pop round in as early as May to join in some temporary/short RPG games. He said his stall was 10% off, but I didn’t want to buy anything as I didn’t have £20 to spare. Since I lost my wallet, I was taking care of my expenses.

Okay, so after the stalls was the main stage. The Maids Of England. Some oriental-looking woman and one white. Okay. It was okay but I wasn’t bowled over.

Then the Hoshi Dolls! 2 girls who were doing some crazy dance moves to some J (Japanese) Pop. This was my kind of thing! I just loved the way they performed their moves effortlessly.

Dubb That Anime was next. For about an hour from 2PM to 3PM, 4 pairs of people each (pair) were assigned a short (30 second) clip from an anime (cartoon). They watched it, then discussed their angle and what theme and what words to use in dubbing the clip, and then watched it again, speaking their ad lib into a microphone. (We could see the anime from a medium-sized projector screen which was setup at the front).

The best ones were guys who apparently had done well the previous year. Their angle is best described as ‘Bro’s for Life’ with 2 large guys bopping fists in the anime. It was crass, but hilarious.

This went on for an hour, though I missed the first 15 minutes.

Next I popped upstairs to see the ‘Games room’. This was a circle around a partition, and was just a setup of classic consoles and screens – LCD or CRT TV, depending on the console.

It looked fun, but I didn’t play. I just watched the intro/demo and looked at people playing the games. I don’t play computer games as I’m not too great at them.

Went back downstairs for the Liam Morgan 30-minute set on a Japanese guitar (Tsugaru Shamisen) which was quite dull.

After this was the 15-minute ‘Do You Even Pose’ which consisted of showing stills from manga and anime on the projector, and a group of about 12 people would copy the pose the best they could. It was totally hilarious!

Soon after sometime, I bought a book about cyber crime for £3.50 which seemed fun.

Finally, 4PM. I was thinking of heading off at 4.30PM due to that being 3 hours at the con. And to think I didn’t think I’d last 15 minutes!

At 4PM was the ‘Cosplay Masquerade’. Cosplay – Costume Play and was just people dressing as their fave anime/manga character.

They trooped up one by one, did some posing, then strode down the centre aisle and sat down.

At 4.45PM, I left, but the feeling of joy lingered afterwards for a while. All those people, all those attractive girls, and the craziness – even people dressed up as Star Wars Stormtroopers.

I look forward to my next ‘Con’. It might be Manchester in July, but most likely, it’ll be next year’s Majikkon.

One footnote is that apart from the RPG guy, I saw nobody I knew. Not Jason or Paul – who I told it was happening - from next door to my Mum’s. What is it with people?

Friday, 21 June 2013

Info: Cable for Seagate Freeagent Desktop hard drive

It's called a: USB 2.0 Male A to B Mini 5 Pin Cable Lead (XC03)

Get it here

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Staying Online During Power Cuts (ADSL)

When there's a power cut, typically your laptop can keep running on batteries, but your internet router may well have no power, being plugged into the mains. Well, the BT Voyager 105 ADSL modem doesn't require any power other than over USB, so if you want to keep online during a power cut, keep a Voyager 105 handy. Basically, one end plugs in your ADSL socket (which probably means unplugging the inactive router), and then a USB cable goes from the 105 to the laptop. Do this, and you can send emergency tweets or whatever it is you do during a power cut.

Friday, 8 March 2013

School Punishment

I was bad at school once and got detention. We had to write out 1000 lines of something like "I wll not be bad again". I took the easy way out: I popped in the computer room and printed out the line "I will not be bad again" 1000 times on a dot matrix printer attached to a BBC Master. They didn't let me get away with it, but it was fun anyway.

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Golden Age of Nokia

When I was on holiday in Thailand, in 2002, a Korean guy on the same jungle trip as me, dropped his 2002-era Nokia phone in a stream. I thought it was toast, but he took it to pieces (case, circuit board, battery screen I think), and in a few hours it had dried and worked perfectly!

I don't know if modern smartphones have the same build quality, but this is clearly a good user experience.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Homebrew Timed Taping

In about 1991, I bought a dictaphone from Argos. Before that, I bought a 'clock radio' which is a clock combined with a radio, so you could set a timer and wake up to Radio 2.

I had a bit of an inventive spirit. I was visiting a relative at about 6PM and going home about 10PM. But Dragnet was on Radio 2 at about 8PM.

My solution, though slightly heavy-handed, was to take apart the clock radio.

Now, I noticed that the radio had a power wire, so when the clock hit a certain time, the power went to it and it played out of the speaker.

So, given all that, there was only one thing I needed to do...

Well, I hit the record button on the dictaphone, then I connected the radio's power wires to that dictaphone, and connected the speaker output to the dictaphone's line input.

The idea was simple: The clock part of the machine would trigger the dictaphone to come on, and tape all that came out of the radio's speaker output. When done, it would cut off the power and the dictaphone would cease recording!

It worked! I could now record Dragnet while being away from the dictaphone.