All Entries (Page 1)

The frontmost part of my tongue it littered with forgotten thoughts and blog entry ideas.

I wanted to post about three things today after work, when I'm back with my computer. I will likely remember one or two of those things when I'm back at work and can't take a break to write a blog entry.


Looking for a 286 operating system

I got myself I 286. I small tower PC made from collected parts from here and there, a clock display and turbo button, but a motherboard that doesn't seem to have a turbo mode. An MFM hard drive, Mitsumi CD-ROM drive, two floppy drive, a VGA card, IO card, a damaged case. It looks like I could have built it from parts I found here and there. I reckon that's how it was built. It's the first working 286 that I had since I so stupidly through out my IBM PS/2 Model 30. Well, it wasn't that stupid at the time. It was a conscious decision. But anyway. The only other time I had a 286 board was when somebody gifted me their old PC because it was both worthless and broken. The CMOS battery had leaked and I didn't know enough about electronics to make it work, had nobody to ask and internet wasn't really a thing back then.

I had been looking for a specific model before: A Peacock 286 desktop. But Not only didn't I find one for sale so far, I'm pretty sure it would cost more than I'd be willing to pay for a vintage PC just so I could own the same PC model that was the first computer I ever used (for homw work in first grade). The first computer I had contact with was an Olympia People. I didn't even look for one of these because it would be a serious collector's piece and be respectively priced.

So I got just any working 286 PC; just to fill the gap in what I therefore should now start to call a collection of vintage hardware. It just happened to be one with a working MFM hard disk. As if I didn't already have enough unfinished and unstarted projects now I even payed money to buy me another one. Because now I have to do something with this machine, obviously. I bought it weeks ago and it's getting bored.

I thought about what OS I might want it to run. MS DOS would be the obvious choice. Too obvious for my choice. CP/M after that. But that's too similar. I want something different. But I don't even know what other systems exist that run on a 286. Linux should be out. (Although I haven't yet looked if somebody has made some part of the kernal work on a 286. I doubt it though. No extended mode, no multitasking.) IBM AIX wasn't available for the 286 models either. Are there other Unix clobes or versions that run on a 286? Of course there are. I just don't know them. Prologue comes to mind. And Xenix. What others are there? Which one should I try? I could test MikeOS on it.


PIN Changer

I had to change the default PINs of over 200 SIM cards once. And such a situation could arise again. So I've built a PIN changer in which I just have to insert the card, wait a few seconds and it's done.

The Card Slots

SIM cards in their natural form factor aren't as fiddly to handle as they are in the form factors most people know, which is Mini SIM, Micro SIM and Nano SIM. Classical SIM cards are the same size as other smart cards. I found a card slot with an end switch on eBay. I like it when I find industry grade parts for cheap on eBay as part of some remaining stock. Additionally I've used a slide-in mini SIM slot and another, separate end switch from my parts collection in case I to change the PINs of smaller cards.

The Baseband Processor

Other parts that I've used is an Arduino Nano sized Arduino Nano nearly-clone and an A6 modem module. There are many similar modem modules designed around different but similar ICs. Many of them are cheap and widely used for DIY IoT projects. So example code for the Arduino and other help can be easily found on the web. I don't know why I went with a module with an A6. But it works fine and there are an Arduino library for it as well as cheap modem modules with it available.

(tba:voltage supply)

The Controller

Yes, Arduino may be kind of the noob go-to board and could look up how to use microcontrollers on their own finally and even if I don't want to I could finally start to use ESP32s like everybody else. But I know Arduinos and by now I'm familiar with it and it works, so, whatever. Arduino Nano is kind of my go-to form factor now because they have integraded USB, are Uno compatible and small. Unless I need more or something very specific I use Arduino Nano almost-clones with USB-C port.

The Code

The code is a real mess. It had been a long time since I had written any even halfway serious C. It may have been the first time, actually. The sketch surely is very easily improved by somebody who knows what they are doing. I intended to improve it myself. But the project is currently abandoned and The code is doing what it should in a way I initially had in mind as the goal. But I'll leave the mess of the comments in for the case that somebody wants to make out what I was thinking.

// Funktionen umschreiben: Beim Empfangen wird erwartet: 1. der AT-Command zurück, 2. eine Antwort, 3. OK oder ein ERROR.
//                         Daher sollte abgefragt werden, bis entweder OK oder ERROR kam oder 20/50/9001(?) Abfragen lang weder OK noch ERROR an kam.
//                         Die Antwort in Variable speichern? Naja, String zurückgeben halt.
//                         Antworten, die mit "^" anfangen brauchen nicht gehandlet zu werden, da keine Kommandos, die mit AT^ beginnen gesendet werden.


SoftwareSerial A6MODULE(6,7);
int intled = 13; // Internal LED
int successled = 8; // Green LED
int failled = 9; // Red LED
int wrongpinled = 10; // Orange LED

boolean debug=true;

//String commands[5] = { "AT", "AT+CPINC2", "AT+CPIN?", "AT+CLCK=\"SC\",2", "AT+CPIN=\"3010\"" };
//int command = 0;

const byte maxmsglength = 32;
char received[maxmsglength];
boolean newData = false;
String response = "";

int i=0;

To check/do:
1  AT: OK?
2  is PUK required - abort
3  are less than 3 PIN attempts left? - abort AT^CPINC=?
4  is PIN disabled
       5  enable it: 0000
6  is PIN enabled
       7  unlock
8  is card unlocked
       9  change PIN: 1996
              was PIN wrong - report and leave it

void setup() {
  pinMode(intled, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(successled, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(failled, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(wrongpinled, OUTPUT);
  // All LEDs turn on at the beginning and stay on during the wait period at the beginning, then turn off before communication with the A6 module starts.
  digitalWrite(intled, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(successled, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(failled, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(wrongpinled, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(intled, LOW);
  digitalWrite(successled, LOW);
  digitalWrite(failled, LOW);
  digitalWrite(wrongpinled, LOW);
  digitalWrite(intled, LOW);

void loop() {
  if(getfroma6("OK")) {
//    sendtoa6("AT+CPIN?");
//    if(getfroma6("+CPIN:SIM PUK")) { fail; }         // If the required password is PUK, abort.
//    sendtoa6("AT+CPIN?");
//    if(getfroma6("+CPIN:SIM PIN2")) { fail; }        // If the required password is PIN2, abort.
//    sendtoa6("AT+CPIN?");
//    if(getfroma6("+CPIN:SIM PUK2")) { fail; }        // If the required password is PUK2, abort.

    getfroma6("+CPIN:SIM PIN");                      // The last non-empty response will be stored in the global response variable. Problem with this: If the A6 module sends an unsolicitated message before the response to the CPIN command, nothing gets done and the card needs to be re-inserted again.
    if(strcmp(response, "OK") == 0) {                // If already no PIN is required

//      sendtoa6("AT+CLCK=\"SC\",2"); // Ist PIN-Abfrage eingeschaltet? Oder ist es "SC"?
//      if(getfroma6(???)) { PIN-Abfrage einschalten mit 0000; }

      d("I don't know how to enable the PIN.");

    if(response = "+CPIN:SIM PIN") {                 // If the required password is PIN, continue.
      if(getfroma6("^CPINC: 3")) {                   // If not exactly 3 attempts are left, abort. (should be larger than or equal to 3, shouldn't it?)
        sendtoa6("AT+CPIN=\"0000\"");                // Freischalten mit 0000
        if(!getfroma6("OK")) { fail; }               // If that was not the right password, abort.
        sendtoa6("AT+CPWD=\"SC\",\"0000\",\"1996\"");// PIN ändern
        if(getfroma6("OK")) { Serial.println("Looking good."); }

//      sendtoa6("AT+CMGD=0,4"); // Should delete all SMS
//      if(getfroma6(???)) { ; }
        d("I don't know how to delete SMS.");

        if(getfroma6("+CPIN:READY")) {

          digitalWrite(successled, HIGH);
      } else {                                         // If not exactly 3 times left

void fail() {
  digitalWrite(failled, HIGH);               // Turn red fail LED on and ...
  d("Something failed! Ending programme.");
  while(1);                                  // ... don't do anything anymore.

void wrongpin() {
  digitalWrite(wrongpinled, HIGH);           // Turn yellow LED on and ...
  d("Wrong PIN! Ending programme.");
  while(1);                                  // ... don't do anything anymore.

//boolean getfroma6(char str[32], char str1[32], char str1[32], char str1[32], char str1[32], char str1[32]) { // Returns true if the passed (expected) message was received, false if anything else was received.
boolean getfroma6(char str[32]) { // Returns true if the passed (expected) message was received, false if anything else was received.
  boolean asexpected = false;
    for (i = 1; i < 9; ++i) {
//    d("d1 "+response);

    if(received[0] == '\0') {                            // If the received message is empty
    } else {
      response = received;
    if(strstr(received, "ERROR") != NULL) {              // If the received message contains "ERROR"
      d("Received an error: "+response);
    if(received[0] == '+') {                             // If the received message starts with a "+" sign
      d("Reseived response: "+response);
    } else {
      if(strstr(received, "OK") != NULL) {               // If the received message is "OK"
        d("Received OK.");
        asexpected = true;                               // Also treat OK like the expected message. No unexpected OK should ever be sent from the A6 module. So this is fine. No, it is, really.
//        if(asexpected) { return true; }
      } else {
        if(strncmp(received,"AT",2) == 0) {              // If the received message starts with "AT"
          d("Received AT: "+response);
        } else {                                         // For any other received message
          d("Received: "+response);
    newData = false;
    if(strstr(received, str) != NULL) {
      d("Received expected message: "+response);
      asexpected = true;
  if(asexpected) { return true; }
  return false;

//void handleresponse() {
//  response = received;
//  if(received[0] == '+') {
//    d("               Response: "+response);
//  } else {
//    if(strstr(received, "OK") != NULL) {
//      d("               It's okay.");
//    } else {
//      if(strncmp(received,"AT",2) == 0) {
//        d("               I've sent: "+response);
//      }
//    }
//  }
//  newData = false;

void receivelinefroma6() {
  static byte counter = 0;
  char rc;
  received[0] = '\0';

  while (A6MODULE.available() > 0 && newData == false) {
    rc = A6MODULE.read();

    if (rc != '\n') {
      received[counter] = rc;
      if (counter >= maxmsglength) {
          counter = maxmsglength - 1;
    else {
      received[counter] = '\0'; // terminate the string
      counter = 0;
      newData = true;

void sendtoa6(String command) {
//  Serial.println(command);
  d("Sent: "+command);

void d(String line) {
  if (debug == true) { Serial.println(line); }



I took a picture of an orange flower.


sturm, kein blatt bleibt
gluecklich, wer das gestern
rechtzeitig in den keller brachte

SBWG 0.10.7

So many ideas, so little time. So many todos, no little time. So little time, so much rest of my life. But the todo list has actually started to become a little shorter for the first time in a long time. As with the previous entries about my progress with SBWG, I'm not going to address or list everything that I've improved or added. But I feel like it's time for another update.

File attachments pretty much work as intended now. Text files still can't be file attachments to entries, because text files are entries. But I think that will stay as it is for now because I don't need to attach text files to entries and if I would, I could gzip, bzip or 7z them. I mainly wanted file attachments for entry images and podcast support. Both works as well as I need it to. But some things could still be improved in the future.

Referencing tags are improved, their notes look better and there is now a way to mark an entry as an update of an other entry, giving both entries a note that tells the reader about the newer/older version. And since this works now, I dropped the idea to introduce any form of content revisioning. An entry revision system would be over the top for a feature that I hardly use. This could still be implemented just with hooks.

SBWG was relying on a feature of ImageMagick's mogrify that turned out to be a bug and was fixed. So I had to switch to convert with worse tolerance/support for broken image files. That's annoying, but I'm over it now. I mean, I wasn't complaining. Those tools are amazing and I'm so glad that they are free.

There were a number of other bugs that I've fixed. Some of them old and overlooked. But most of them were introduced not long ago. Well, I guess that's what happens if you don't do proper tests every time. SBWG is starting to become a feature-rich tool and every new feature that gets implemented could cause trouble with other features or combinations of features. In early versions of SBWG I didn't always test everything I changed. I now do, and I now also try to think of some related things the change could have effected unintentionally and test those basically. But proper tests of all sorts of scenarios every time I publish a new version? That would be professional but not worth the effort in this case. If I'm not using a feature, it doesn't matter much if I break it. I think I'll probably do more extensive tests every now and then.

Entries can now have comment links. If there is an email address available for an author, all their entries get an email link below them to allow readers to reply to them. For a public blog it might be best to use throwaway addresses that can quickly be replaced if they start to receive spam. I'd have some ideas to improve the email composed by this comment feature. But they would have to become HTML emails. So I forgot about them again.

New tag types, expanded README file, improved navigation by adding parent links and things like this, improved CSS a bit here and there, very small improvements to the code style. I didn't make any relevant improvements or corrections in terms of code quality. I think this is where SBWG could improve most. It's not a professional thing, so I declare myself fine with the way it is (which isn't that bad compared to some other software, I think) but I could learn a lot there.

Command line options can now be grouped to make typing commands easier. Long options (starting with --) didn't change (I may make those things POSIX-like, too, some other time) but short options (starting with a -) now don't need to be separated and all have their own dash. So sbwg -v -p -e blub can now be shortened to sbwg -vpe blub. And if you want to run the command again but with added verbosity, you can add the second -v wherever you want.

There is now a waiting animation that starts to play if there is no update on stdout for three seconds. Both the animation frames and the time delay can be changed. The animation is only enabled if SBWG runs with any verbosity. Then it is enabled by default. It will be disabled by default in future versions though, I think, because it's such an unnecessary messing around with terminal output. It does work pretty well though. I thought it may be harder to make it work as smoothly as it does now (which isn't 100% perfect, but pretty good).

The new default style set 'elth' is a working hybrid with different styles for small phone screens and larger screens of phablets, tablets and laptops. It's composed of several CSS files, which should make it easier to create a custom style now, since just the basics (without any colors and fancy embolishment and without any tag-specific stuff) can be copied for a template, or just the mobile style can be copied and used to create a new mobile style. Style sets can now also include files whose name don't end in '.css'. That means they can contain any file type. So JS or background images or whatever will be copied as part of the style set and placed in the 'styles/' directory of the generated web site.

More things are now cached that may be used more than once in one run of SBWG. Permament caches (option -C/--cache) can now be enabled for only parts of the web site. I still need to decide how permanent caches should be managed. The way I had/have it in mind does not seem very intuitive. It is to me because I know how it's built. But... well, maybe it's enough that I think that it makes sense. Maybe I should just start using it and if it works well, write it down in the README file.

Added new hooks, gave the helper scripts makeovers, made how HTML footers are made logical, sorted much of the remaining todos. Overall: progress.

So, I've published SBWG version 0.10.7 now. I wish I'll find the time to create and publish new versions more frequently again in the near future. But I doubt I will.


So, since it seems that almost everybody seems to agree that Russian gas is bad, I decided to help by destroying as much of it as possible. All my windows are opened all day and my gas heating is turned up all the way.


I think it would be cool if we could adopt "Go die in a ditch!" as a casual goodbye. Kind of like "Break a leg!" in the theatre world but more openly made up with the intention of saying the opposite of what is meant. You know, like "Godieinaditch :)"