Retrochallenge 2009
      Summer Challenge
      Mark Wickens

                              Hardware Trials and Tribulations

      I looked for a suitable quote in Latin to sum up todays activities. It didn't
      take me long to find this one:

                      Bis interimitur qui suis armis perit - He is
                      doubly destroyed who perishes by his own arms.

      So, no programming - the idea from the start was to 'terminal-enable' downstairs
      so I could use a proper terminal which would make using ALLIN1 much easier
      because I can use the proper keyboard and not have to resort to help all the
      time. I can get by, but I feel like if I had the real thing here I'd explore the
      possibilities a bit more.

      Anyway, to cut a long story short, a DECserver 90M I won on eBay arrived but it
      doesn't work. It would have been the ideal solution - it has 10baseT so it would
      have been a CAT5 into the back of the router. It also has flash RAM so it
      wouldn't require setting up on the NetBSD box to download it's sofware. I also
      won a DECserver 90TL and a DECserver 90L+ so all is not lost, but it means I
      have to setup another router downstairs which has a thin-wire ethernet port
      (10base2) and run some thin wire ethernet cable between the two. Not the end of
      the world, except that I am one terminator short. Thin wire is 'daisychained'
      between all the boxes attached on that 'segment', it attaches via a t-piece to
      each box and must be terminated at either end with a 50 ohm terminator.

      When I got my first thin-wire router for the VAX it seemed strange because it
      only requires one connector for the entire network (the daisychaining means it
      is one node on a long wire connecting all boxes). I remember when I was working
      for a software house around 1992 that, to start with, the entire building (all
      three floors) was on one ethernet segment. This meant that if someone kicked
      their box and knocked a connector the entire network went down. My boss (the VAX
      porting team leader) was the resident network expert and used to joke that the
      days he wore a suit a failure was guaranteed. The 'expert' part involved
      grubbing around people's feet in the dust piles expelled from the back of
      machines. Later on they got a switch that managed three segments, one for each
      floor. I believe it was a very expensive piece of kit.

      Anyway, I have one terminator, so I'm one short. No possibility to pinch one
      from anywhere either. So, that's that for this weekend and I'm away next week,
      so I might actually get it setup for the last week of the challenge.

      So what with that, my youngest daughter smashing her fish tank, and my self
      inflicted hangover, I've written today off for anything resembling programming.