Tuesday, August 20, 2019

FPR16 delays

FPR16 was supposed to reach you in beta sometime tomorrow but I found a reproducible crash in the optimized build, probably due to one of my vain attempts to fix JavaScript bugs. I'm still investigating exactly which change(s) were responsible. We should still make the deadline (September 3) to be concurrent with the 60.9/68.1 ESRs, but there will not be much of a beta testing period and I don't anticipate it being available until probably at least Friday or Saturday. More later.

While you're waiting, read about today's big OpenPOWER announcement. Isn't it about time for a modern PowerPC under your desk?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Chrome murders FTP like Jeffrey Epstein

What is it with these people? Why can't things that are working be allowed to still go on working? (Blah blah insecure blah blah unused blah blah maintenance blah blah web everything.)

This leaves an interesting situation where Google has, in its very own search index, HTML pages served by FTP its own browser won't be able to view:

At the top of the search results, even!

Obviously those FTP HTML pages load just fine in mainline Firefox, at least as of this writing, and of course TenFourFox. (UPDATE: This won't work in Firefox either after Fx70, though FTP in general will still be accessible. Note that it references Chrome's announcements; as usual, these kinds of distributed firing squads tend to be self-reinforcing.)

Is it a little ridiculous to serve pages that way? Okay, I'll buy that. But it works fine and wasn't bothering anyone, and they must have some relevance to be accessible because Google even indexed them.

Why is everything old suddenly so bad?

Sunday, August 11, 2019

And now for something completely different: Making HTML 4.0 great again, and relevant Mac sightings at Vintage Computer Festival West 2019

UPDATE: Additional pictures are up at Talospace.

Vintage Computer Festival West 2019 has come and gone, and I'll be posting many of the pictures on Talospace hopefully tonight or tomorrow. However, since this blog's audience is both Mozilla-related (as syndicated on Planet Mozilla) and PowerPC-related, I've chosen to talk a little bit about old browsers for old machines (since, if you use TenFourFox, you're using a relatively recent browser on an old machine) since that was part of my exhibit this year as well as some of the Apple-related exhibits that were present.

This exhibit I christened "RISCy Business," a collection of various classic RISC-based portables and laptops. The machines I had running for festival attendees were a Tadpole-RDI UltraBook IIi (UltraSPARC IIi) running Solaris 10, an IBM ThinkPad 860 (166MHz PowerPC 603e, essentially a PowerBook 1400 in a better chassis) running AIX 4.1, an SAIC Galaxy 1100 (HP PA-7100LC) running NeXTSTEP 3.3, and an RDI PrecisionBook C160L (HP PA-7300LC) running HP/UX 11.00. I also brought my Sun Ultra-3 (Tadpole Viper with a 1.2GHz UltraSPARC IIIi), though because of its prodigious heat issues I didn't run it at the show. None of these machines retailed for less than ten grand, if they were sold commercially at all (the Galaxy wasn't).

Here they are, for posterity:

The UltraBook played a Solaris port of Quake II (software-rendered) and Firefox 2, the ThinkPad ran AIX's Ultimedia Video Monitor application (using the machine's built-in video capture hardware and an off-the-shelf composite NTSC camera) and Netscape Navigator 4.7, the Galaxy ran the standard NeXTSTEP suite along with some essential apps like OmniWeb 2.7b3 and Doom, and the PrecisionBook ran the HP/UX ports of the Frodo Commodore 64 emulator and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 SP1. (Yes, IE for Unix used to be a thing.)

Now, of course, period-correct computers demand a period-correct website viewable on the browsers of the day, which is the site being displayed on screen and served to the machines from a "back office" Raspberry Pi 3. However, devising a late 1990s site means a certain, shall we say, specific aesthetic and careful analysis of vital browser capabilities for maximum impact. In these enlightened times no one seems to remember any of this stuff and what HTML 4.01 features worked where, so here is a handy table for your next old workstation browser demonstration (using a <table>, of course):

frames animated GIF <marquee> <blink>
Mozilla Suite 1.7
Firefox 2
Netscape Navigator 4.7
Internet Explorer for UNIX 5.0 SP1
Firefox 52
OmniWeb 2.7b3

Basically I ended up looting oocities and my old files for every obnoxious animated GIF and background I could find. This yielded a website that was surely authentic for the era these machines inhabited, and demonstrated exceptionally good taste.

By popular request, the website the machines are displaying is now live on Floodgap (after a couple minor editorial changes). I think the exhibit was pretty well received:

Probably the star of the show and more or less on topic for this blog was the huge group of Apple I machines (many, if not most, still in working order). They were under Plexiglas, and given that there was seven-figures'-worth of fruity artifacts all in one place, a security guard impassively watched the gawkers.

The Apple I owners' club is there to remind you that you, of course, don't own an Apple I.

A working Xerox 8010, better known as the Xerox Star and one of the innovators of the modern GUI paradigm (plus things like, you know, Ethernet), was on display along with an emulator. Steve Jobs saw one at PARC and we all know how that ended.

One of the systems there, part of the multi-platform Quake deathmatch network exhibit, was a Sun Ultra workstation running an honest-to-goodness installation of the Macintosh Application Environment emulation layer. Just for yuks, it was simultaneously running Windows on its SunPCI x86 side-card as well:

The Quake exhibitors also had a Daystar Millenium in a lovely jet-black case, essentially a Daystar Genesis MP+. These were some of the few multiprocessor Power Macs (and clones at that) before Apple's own dual G4 systems emerged. This system ran four 200MHz PowerPC 604e CPUs, though of course only application software designed for multiprocessing could take advantage of them.

A pair of Pippins were present at the exhibit next to the Quake guys', Apple's infamous attempt to turn the Power Mac into a home console platform and fresh off being cracked:

A carpal Apple Newtons (an eMate and several Message Pads) also stowed up so you card find art if the headwatering recognition was as dab as they said it wan.

There were also a couple Apple II systems hanging around (part of a larger exhibit on 6502-based home computers, hence the Atari 130XE next to it).

I'll be putting up the rest of the photos on Talospace, including a couple other notable historical artifacts and the IBM 604e systems the Quake exhibit had brought along, but as always it was a great time and my exhibit was not judged to be a fire hazard. You should go next year.

The moral of this story is the next time you need to make a 1990s web page that you can actually view on a 1990s browser, not that phony CSS and JavaScript crap facsimile they made up for Captain Marvel, now you know what will actually show a blinking scrolling marquee in a frame when you ask for one. Maybe I should stick an <isindex>-powered guestbook in there too.

(For some additional pictures, see our entry at Talospace.)

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Vintage Computer Festival West 2019 opens in one hour

The machines are getting up and running. If you're a nerd, or you aspire to be one, and you're in the Bay Area for the next day or two come by the Vintage Computer Festival West at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA (across from the Google Panopticon and that weird sail structure they're building). Not a great deal of Mac stuff this year, but there is some Power and PowerPC, including a Daystar Millennium (in a nice black case) accompanied by a couple bits of POWER hardware, including my very favourite 43P, and of course my exhibit, which in addition to a NeXTSTEP SAIC Galaxy 1100 and a couple SPARCs features a PowerPC ThinkPad 860 with its multimedia software operational. Plus come by and see a full exhibit of Apple Newtons, a couple Pippins (finally cracked!), lots of homebrew systems and even a fully functional Xerox Star! There's also lots of cool gear to buy in the consignment area if you don't have enough crap in the house. We're here today and tomorrow. See you then!