Fixing the “Not a heap block” error with networking with PCPro

I was trying to get the PC compatibility card (a Gemini II) in my Risc PC (StrongARM, running RISC OS 3.70) onto the network. However, when starting the emulated PC, I would get a “Not a heap block” error, and the emulated PC wouldn’t have its emulated network card.

It turns out this is because the program it invokes to find the most appropriate interface (this is called ScanDCI4) doesn’t actually work. This causes the script to fail, and not actually load the emulated NE2000 support module. To fix this, we’ll need to patch the script that starts the PC card networking support.

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Installing Photoshop CS2 on Windows 11

I was trying to install Photoshop CS2 on an ARM Windows 11 VM (this may affect x86 Windows 11 too), but was blocked by an error that went something like “Error 1926: Could not set file security for file C:\Windows\, Error 0”.

This is because the Windows installation directory has immutable permissions on Windows 11, but the Photoshop installer tried to reset file permissions on it anyways. (It’s quite possible other software might also be suffering from this too.) To fix it, we need to modify the MSI.

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Restoring images without the futility of Disk Utility

I was trying to put a Mac OS X 10.6 image onto a USB stick to install on another system. To do this, I attempted to do it from a Mac running 13.6 and failed with a message like this when restoring the image to the partition:

Could not validate source - Invalid argument
The operation couldn't be completed. (OSStatus error 22.)

It turns out that Disk Utility is pretty broken at this. What you’re better off doing is using asr. This utility is what Disk Utility does under the covers anyways.

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Fixing files marked as stuck as partially transferred in Finder

Very rough note, but if I don’t write it down, no one else will find it. A friend was dealing with an issue where she interrupted a file transfer of many files and directories to an SMB share on macOS and transferred it via other means. However, macOS thought the files were still in a partially transferred state to be resumed. There was no obvious way to tell Finder that it was OK.

It seems that clearing a file’s extended attributes can clear this out. A quick way to remove all extended attributes from everything in the current directory:

shopt -s globstar
xattr -c **

Be careful with this – you might have files that do need the extended attributes. In this case, it wasn’t needed. Read on for the theory on why this might work and the specific attribute that might be a problem.

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A years-late first-impressions review of the Dell XPS 13 9300

Recently, I picked up a Dell XPS 13 9300 – while a few years old, I picked it up for quite a bit market value ($500 CAD – when equivalent-ish models range from $600 to $900 on the used market). While I don’t plan to use it as my daily driver, I did have a need for a newer Intel machine – I didn’t have anything after Haswell; just my Ryzen desktop and M1 MacBook Air. However, I decided to give a shot, and overall was pleased by what I saw, albeit with some caveats. Here’s what I think…

XPS 13 indoors, playing music via a Bluetooth headset
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What systems and applications do I (cb) use?

This is a stream of consciousness (so don’t expect my usual polish) based off of some friends’ musings on the tools they use. I’m doing this to explain some of the tools I use, in the hopes of conveying my feelings on them. I doubt (and sometimes probably hope I won’t) I’ll convince you on the merits or if you should use any of these tools, but you’ll at least know why I care. As I write this, I consider the tools I use to be fairly pedestrian, but perhaps this document might have sentimental or historic interest later. Consider it like – and I also use a Mac!

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Loose ideas for operating systems

This post has been copy-edited by doppler. Thanks!

Most research nerds either start writing Unix hagiographies or start stapling a 99-point thesis at the doors of Murray Hill. This is the latter kind of post; I’ll try to cover ideas for systems that could be meaningfully different from current systems. I’ve done a lot of research on existing concepts and existing systems, particularly those that could have been the future. Existing systems can be extrapolated into something new.

A lot of the ideas have been percolating in my head for a while now and are rough ideas for what could be. Perhaps I’ll iterate on them further, or realize there’s a reason no one was doing these before. The main idea is a place to start off, and it iterates from there. Treat it like a buffet of ideas; caveat emptor for people who don’t like musing.

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Why ThinkPads are overrated and misunderstood

Before I begin, I’ll make a note that I actually do like and use ThinkPads. However, I hate how technologists (well, the ThinkPad enthusiast community, often seen on, /g/, or /r/thinkpad) have constantly misunderstood them, be it celebrating workarounds for clumsy flaws, or are completely ignorant of their history. Nowadays, I’ve switched to a MacBook Air (since I want a compact laptop that was lightweight and got good battery life… and I am a sucker for an actually good RISC CPU), but I often buy ThinkPads as a “known quantity” for whatever age of machine I need. That is, I know exactly what I’m getting into, and they’re widely compatible with whatever you throw at them. However, I often recommend other lines of machine, be it something radically different like a MacBook or Surface, or something that’s actually more like what a ThinkPad enthusiast’s platonic ideal of a ThinkPad is, like a Latitude or Let’s Note. This post sums up my opinions why.

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