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Ask HN: What's the best tool you used to use that doesn't exist anymore?
331 points by mod50ack on May 14, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 868 comments
It's sad that a lot of things have been orphaned and obsoleted or were web-based and no longer work... What's something that you used to use that isn't around these days?

Jasc Paint Shop Pro. This tool had the useful half of Illustrator's features and the useful half of Photoshop's, it was blazing fast, and it combined them in a single program so you could mix vector and raster layers. This made it absolutely perfect for web-targeted graphics work. It was the first software I legally bought because it was so good and still affordable (a fraction of the price of Adobe's stuff - something like $200 if i recall correctly).

Corel bought it and turned it into a bloated mess of a photo management tool. IMO they should've just killed Draw and rebranded Paint Shop Pro as the new Draw, it was that much better.

I still use Paint Shop Pro 6.0 every single day. It runs flawlessly in Windows 7 if you set compatability mode on the EXE to "Windows 2000".

Version 6 was the last good version before Corel muddled up the interface and made it bloated. I can still do some things in 2 clicks that my coworker needs 5-15 clicks to get done in Photoshop. It surprises me to know some things are still so "complicated" in photoshop, just by how many clicks/steps are needed. I'm sure PSP 6 is borderline abandonware at this point, released 16 years ago in 2000! I upped the full version here (15mb): http://www.filedropper.com/psp6

Thanks! I just tried it and it works fantastically on my Win10 :-)

was there a mac version?

Can I ask a question: is there a way to run a Windows container on Mac just to run such programs?

Rather than a full Windows VM on whatever?

Wine! For older programs it works especially well. I've had a legal copy of Photoshop 7.0 for Windows since middle school and I have been running it without any problems since then.


Sadly no.

It sounds to me like you're describing Affinity Designer - you might want to check it out if you haven't already. It's relatively very cheap and one of the few pieces of software that I use daily that I am very happy paying the list price for!

I vaguely remember having Jasc installed as a kid and it was indeed great!

Affinity Designer is really great for vector graphics, and exporting to raster. Super fast. Super easy to learn.

Their developers are very active. They have a beta available to owners. I've encountered a few minor bugs in their App Store version, downloaded the beta, and noticed it was fixed.

link (also in the Mac app store)


I think Paint.Net is probably the closest current tool to PSP.

Second this! I loved PSP and used it daily. When I lost the binary I hunted around for a replacement for ages and finally settled on Paint.NET. It's not as good but works well enough.

I still have a working copy of PSP 7.04 on my Windows 10 machine and it's still my goto tool for tweaking images.

My wife also has PSP 7 on her Windows 10 machine, and now after reading this thread, I'm going to install it on mine too. It really is quite useful.

That’s awesome. I’m not a fan of Windows, but it’s really cool that it still can run fifteen years old software.

I had a very similar love for Macromedia Fireworks.

Somehow Fireworks is still clinging to life and largely unchanged from the Macromedia days I think. I still find it ridiculously useful for web and mockups.


i maintain that love, and continue installing mx2004 on things

I still use it on Ubuntu, with Wine. It runs almost flawlessly and it's so much better than all the image editing tools out there (most are crap, Gimp is too bloated).

I still use it; version 7. It's not great but it gets the job done, and I can make perfect good "programmer art".

I remember using it for hand-editing mpeg files. (Using probably Animation Shop Pro), but it was a really wonderful tool.

What's your opinion on Krita?

Isn't Krita more for drawing?

It has come a long way. It's pretty much a jack of all trades... master of drawing.

What a blast from the past. I loved PSP!

As others said, I'm using PSP 7.04; I think it's the last non-corel-bloated version. Loads fast and gets the job done.

I still much preferred Photoshop, but PSP was a pretty great alternative. I agree that Draw didn't really compare, but WordPerfect is pretty great.

Ulead Photoimpact was very good like this too.

Eventually Corel bought it and now they sold it off again to some other company.

Used this in the 90's as my go-to image editor. PSP could open any image format you threw at it.

Google Reader. There are no replacements that a) update fast enough, and b) allow search for free. I know, I tried all of them.

Firefox had an amazing plugin called "Ubiquity", which was basically like command line for your browser and you could write custom scripts for it. It was seriously better than anything that exists today. They stopped developing it for some reason. Tab Groups is another feature that's now abandoned, despite being superior to everything else that exists.

Forte Agent (free version) - great text Usenet reader, now abandonware.

> Firefox had an amazing plugin called "Ubiquity", which was basically like command line for your browser and you could write custom scripts for it.

oh man, i was a core developer for ubiquity (i wasn't the best core developer out there, but i was trying to help)[0]. it was an amazing tool, great devs working on it, mozilla was helping... but all of sudden, everybody just stopped.

i really wish it would come back. it was one of the best developing experiences i had in my life.

[0] https://github.com/mozilla/ubiquity/commits?author=fernandot...

Ubiquity was amazing.

It was sort of like a launcher in a browser combined with IFTTT. You could use it to chain together APIs and reduce them to natural language commands.

You could highlight "abogado," translate it, get a map to the nearest one, shorten the url to that map, and email that shortened url to a friend all with one nearly natural language command.

I'm not that great at coding, but even I was able to write a few scripts (verbs?) for it. The simple scripting language for interacting with APIs was one of the most well crafted things about that project.

Ubiquity was ppioneered by Aza Raskin (son of Jess Rasking, designer the original Mac interface). I always had the feeling that uqiquity never was a Mozilla project per say, it was more his personal project that he happened to do inside Mozilla. Perhaps he left or got promoted and the project stopped. I am only guessing.

The Mac interface has little to do with Ubiquity.


This is Aza demoing the beta version, and to me it seems to build more on Archy than anything WIMP.


Apologies, I wasn't trying to imply a connection between the Mac interface and Ubiquity, just wanted to put Aza's love for UX in context by mentioning his father's work. I also didn't know about Archy.

Ubiquity was really awesome. May be I should build an electron app and resurrect it.

> Tab Groups

Still works, I use it on a daily basis. It's just an addon now. It will probably continue to work for a few years, they've been wanting to get rid of it since 2013 (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=836758) and it's still there.

But I'd be glad to hear of any alternatives!

I've seen this plugin but I don't understand the use case. Group of tabs = a browser window.

Am I missing out on a productivity boost?

You could easily name tab groups, and view previews of tabs within a group on one screen. It was also fairly trivial to move tabs between groups, when compared to the "joys" of dragging tabs between windows.

Anything to do with browsers could be boiled down to "replaced by using windows" - but there are some definite benefits to sticking within one window.

The tabs don't load into memory unless you switch to that tab group. Also it's much easier to work with one window. You know how before tabs were invented, you had to open each website in a new window. It was a pain in the ass. Tab groups is just the next step. They are like meta-tabs.

II have a tab group for each topic/task I'm working on. I have about 10 groups/80 tabs total, so if I open them all at once it takes a while. With tab groups non active tabs are not loaded right away, so when I'm working I e.g. don't need to open all the tabs where I'm planning a vacation open. I used to use lots of different sessions before discovering tab groups, but it was slower and I lost track of sessions often. Tab Group makes life just a bit easier.

I have a difficulty with separate windows: They all look the same. I'd use a tabgroup for the doc (MDN, StackOverflow), another for the website I'm building (2-3 tabs because you enter data in the first page, view it in the second), and another group for live websites (gmail & co). Total a dozen tabs, well organized in hierarchical manner.

Personally I agree, especially with Mac's CMD+` to cycle through them.

But I guess it adds another level for grouping things that are in the same window but slightly different, or maybe some people are just prejudiced against multiple browser windows..

The only thing I can think of that isn't just down to "how you use it" would be grouping tabs in the same cookie session, but not persistent - i.e. an incognito window with a bunch of tabs you want to organise, but share cookies. That being important seems like a stretch though.

Well, on Mac CMD+` doesn't cycle through full screen windows.

I tend to open a lot of tabs, so it was convenient to have an easy way to group them by topic or environment without closing up my windows manager with multiple FF windows.

If you think about it, tabs themselves are just an effort to avoid multiple browser windows.

Have you tried theoldreader.com? Not sure if search is free since I'm on their paid account, but the feeds definitely update more reliably than other readers I tried, especially with private one-subscriber feeds.

Never used search before, but it seems to work on a free account.

theoldreader is maybe not as fast as Google Reader but it replaced it for me perfectly. Love the third party integration (greader for Android) and its handling.

Have you tried Digg's RSS reader? I've been using it a bit lately, and like it well enough.


Digg reader randomly losses state and shows me days of stuff as unread again. I also frequently have to use "mark all read" to clear out the bolded feed name, even if there are no items shown. I've also seen it stop updating a feed for days and then suddenly showing a half dozen items.

I use Digg reader because it seems better than most alternatives, but it's not as reliable and consistent as Google Reader.

I don't think Digg Reader does search. Digg is good though, it's what I use.

Have you tried Bazqux as well? I've been extremely pleased with it and even signed up for a lifetime account.


I second that, I signed up for a year and will likely sign up for lifetime at the end of it.

I'm a huge fan of Inoreader. It is almost an exact clone, but with some extra features like subscribing to a Twitter feed, and filtering feeds.

Another huge fan here. I started paying for Inoreader out of appreciation, not to access any paid features.

Feedly is about the closest I've got to Reader, after trying Digg and a few others.

Yeah, when Google announced they'll be shutting down Reader, Feedly was amongst the first to offer an automated migration. I use and love Feedly since then...

+1 for Google reader. Never found anything like it.

I am very happy with Feedbin but I know what you mean – and Feedbin of course cannot be free. I am nevertheless glad that alternatives sprang up, the first weeks after the end of Google Reader were difficult.

I use Newsblur now, and it is really good.

Yeah, Newsblur rocks. I also find it a great watching a single committed developer (Samuel Clay[0]), build a small business with an Open Source code-base [1].

[0] http://www.newsblur.com/about

[1] https://github.com/samuelclay/NewsBlur

+1 for newsblur, I switched there from Google Reader. I read feeds a LOT less now, but, mostly for lack of time, not because I dislike newsblur.

Not free, but Inoreader is very, very good: http://www.inoreader.com

I never did the Google Reader thing, so I'm not sure how they compare though.

Give AOL Reader a try (I know) http://reader.aol.com/

AOL Reader was what I settled on as well after Google Reader shutdown. I was never a power user so AOL Reader feels like a perfect replacement for Google Reader's feature set. It can be a bit flaky at times with managing read state, though that seems to be a UI issue that resets itself fairly quickly.

Sadly you cannot register to AOL from outside the states, they require a us phone number.

Twilio or Google Voice?

How was Google Reader different than other feed readers such as the one built into Thunderbird? I didn't use it so I can't compare, but Thunderbird works well for me here.

Side note: I also use it to subscribe to YouTube channels without a Google account.

I could access Google Reader from any device with a web browser.

Thunderbird requires that I have an application installed on the device.

Thunderbird also cannot magically backfill a new subscription. Google Reader could, because pretty much guaranteed, someone else was subscribed already so Google had the history.

Thunderbird can't, but Feedly can

I used Feedly for a while and found it to be flaky, in pretty much the same ways as Digg reader.

Which ways? (I haven't tried Digg Reader.)

I feel like Feedly is okay. Free native apps and sync is nice. I wish it didn't auto mark read after 30 days though. I tend to do my rss processing in huge batches and miss stuff because of that.

I haven't used it in a while, but my recollection is that it would regularly "forget" that I'd already read items, and days of stuff would show as new again. And other times it would show feeds as unread even though it didn't have any items shown unread.

I also recall not liking the interface but cannot recall now exactly what it was. Feedly is the one that provides a chrome extension instead of just a website, right?

The weird thing is their web version / chrome app never has the state problems for me. But the mobile version on iOS screw s up regularly. I'll reach the end of my feed with the "all done" screen and upon refresh all the stuff I just read pops back as unread. Really annoying.

The way they implemented social worked well for me. It was like a mini-HN with my friends.

Ubiquity reminds me of quicksilver.


I've actually been happier with Inoreader than Google Reader.

My biggest problem with inoreader is there are feeds I subscribe to that it either doesn't recognize as feeds or won't update them for some reason. That makes it an instant fail for me. Which is a shame; I love the interface.

Weird. I've never experienced that. Might be worth contacting their support.

+1 for ubiquity. Most useful productivity tool for web browsering ever.

After removing tab groups I see literally zero reasons why anyone should use firefox. It's slower, more buggy copy of Opera and Chromium ;/

For me, a) pentadactyl is better than Vimium, b) FF seems faster (I know, subjective), and c) Mozilla is much less likely to have been centrally logging something about me without my explicit permission.

I'm using both Firefox and Opera on mg laptop and they don't feel any different regarding speed or crashes.

I use it for the history search in the address bar, it seems to remember far more history than Chrome which is really useful when I'm looking for that StackOverflow thread I read the other day.

My was one issue with Chrome: it didn't have the magic history search in the URL bar that Firefox.

UNTIL I discovered that if you disable "Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLs" option for the Omnibar it works PERFECTLY, just like Firefox. Type in any part of the URL or title of the page and bingo.

YES! Thank you!

Chrome only remembers history between now and 90 days ago.


As noted in the description, this extension resolves that permanently, although I'm still not quite sure how it impacts history sync or URL bar search.

I also think (totally unsure) that you might need to open the extension occasionally for it to save the history.

It's awesome though.

I use it instead of Chrome because it doesn't burn through my laptop battery by spawning threads that then consume all of my CPU.

I can't argue with your point of view. 'zero reasons' reminds me that language laughs with logic.

Free time. I used to use it to sleep, read books, listen to music, watch movies, play video games, do laundry, exercise, talk to my family, and cook my own food. I can do some of those things on the commute to and from work with apps, but it's not the same as when I had free time. I think google or facebook bought it and quietly obsoleted it in 2006. I'm still looking for a replacement. Someone suggested Activity Blocks or HabitRPG, but they don't work the same.

Someone else suggested Timely and Toggl, but you have to buy a subscription to really get the most out of them. One of the best things about free time was that it was free for the full version.

Time is never free, even when it's free :) There's opportunity costs.

What is it/what does it do? (One of those names where a Google search doesn't exactly get you what you want)

Just to be clear: we all know this is humor and he literally means free time, right?

It was genuinely useful, though. I used to use it to compile my kernel. I couldn't run Gentoo without it.

Haha I completely missed that. Saw the time tracking apps follow up comment and didn't think twice.

Don't worry, I was uncertain about it too!

Pretty easy to get it back. Cancel your home internet, mobile phone, and maybe even cable TV. You'll be back to the 1990s when you had hours of spare time.

Also, get rid of the house (and mortgage), get a divorce and send those pesky kids to an orphanage. And perhaps a way to magic away 25+ years, if you are serious about 1990. (But yeah, mobile internet is a free time black hole)

A few things:

Everything not being 4:3 screens. I found it better for programming than everything being cinematic screens.

Back when monitor manufacturers were racing to make better / higher resolution monitors, instead of just leaving it at 1080p / 4k / whatever the current standard good enough for movies is.

The GMail interface before it started auto-converting the textarea to HTML when edited externally.

Console gaming when it Just Worked. Nowadays when I pop in a game it's update this and update that, long loading times etc.

E-Mail before we lost the "text should be text and not goddamn HTML" war.

> E-Mail before we lost the "text should be text and not goddamn HTML" war.

Keep fighting the good fight. I still use Mutt and haven't gotten around to finding a way to handle Office365 meeting invites and such. I'm also the only one in the company that connects to Slack via an IRC client (irssi).

Programmers ought to get together and create CLI versions of clients of popular protocols (Exchange, for one).

I manage my email in emacs, though it's delivered to the Exchange server at work. I deliver it to a local maildir with fetchmail, and use notmuch to index it. Searching is better and faster than GMail IMO.

There's actually a surprising number of CLI implementations of popular protocols out there. I recently started using Hangups (https://github.com/tdryer/hangups) for Hangouts. And there's one for Play Music too although I can't recall its name at the moment.

Only thing I'm really, really missing now is a CLI for KeePass, but I'm considering writing one myself in Go, since I've been looking for something to do for practice in Go anyway.

Check out Davmail (http://davmail.sourceforge.net/). I use this with offlineimap to run mutt with an Exchange installation; apart from calendar invitations, it works quite well.

Davmail can get you most of the way there for Exchange. Definitely a product I would buy if it were commercialized.

> E-Mail before we lost the "text should be text and not goddamn HTML" war.

I am still fighting, and the war is not over.

You're pretty much the equivalent of the Japanese soldier who got stranded in the Philippines and kept fighting WWII until the 1970s.

HTML mail won. If you work in an office they will use either Exchange or Google Apps; Exchange's default configuration is a fuck you to text-based mail clients.

<p class="MsoNormal"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p><font size=2 face="Arial"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Arial">Hope you like <i></i><i>all</i> your email looking like this, because the only response you&#8217;ll get from your sysadmin should you decide to complain is a snippy remark along the lines of &#8220;try using an email client from this century&#8221;. Don&#8217;t worry, with enough practice you won&#8217;t even see the code &#8212; just blonde, brunette, redhead&#8320; <font size=2 face="Wingdings"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Wingdings">J</span></font></span></font></p>

The war is over, friend. Come on home.

Perhaps, but why give up if you're not missing any benefit? I still pretty much can rely on something not being readable as plain text also not being worth my time.

Failure to read emails from your boss or coworkers, irrespective of whether they've been turned into HTML hash, might get you disciplined or fired. So there's not no benefit.

That goes the same for websites that aren't readable in text-based or non-javascript browsers.

You can just pipe your email through something that removes HTML.

Outlook seems to just ignore line breaks by default. But, there is probably a mime type to get around that.

HTML ignores line breaks. If you're using plain text, the format=flowed header is what ignores line breaks. Not all clients support it.

It's not just Outlook.

Exchange adds this mush to emails which were sent in plain text.

> The war is over, friend. Come on home.

Actually, remote Philippines are still fighting. Try sending your patches in HTML to some FOSS project's mailing list :)

I've even been at a place where Exchange/Outlook were used for that.

> You're pretty much the equivalent of the Japanese soldier who got stranded in the Philippines and kept fighting WWII until the 1970s.

Never hear about this—thanks for the entertaining research. For those interested, it might be this guy:


Thanks for the laugh, that was well done.

I read my email in emacs, and use w3m to format the HTML from Exchange and Gmail users. Works really well. Does a good job with tables too.

I want to try using new emacs web browser (eww) instead but haven't had the time.

So am I... at some point for colleagues that were telling me that my mail looked bad because text (and they weren't using fixed width font), I was sending them text converted to html by a script, so it is contained in a <pre></pre> :->

Haha, imposing your plain text will on the HTMLers. I love it.

The main problem In the business world is Outlook. For some reason they decided to ignore line breaks in plain text by default, which makes plain text a broken mess

That reason probably is good. Some mail clients wrap at 78 chars. Result is that the text doesn't flow. Larger window and text doesn't fill, smaller and you get staggered lines. For most Outlook users, it makes sense to convert this into something more readable.

I think there is an option to change its behaviour.

The main problem In the business world is Outlook. For some reason they decided to ignore line breaks in plain text by default, which makes plain text a broken mess

There's an option in Outlook to turn that "feature" off, but of course, nobody does.

It's a horrible, terrible default feature of Outlook.

It's also their problem. They send me HTML and I have to deal with that. I send them plain text, so they can do likewise.

A lot of mail clients actually send both HTML and text (as they should), so if you configure your mail client to prefer text, almost all incoming mail will be presented to you as text. Now configure it to only send out plain text, and you are no longer part of the problem. :)

4:3 screens: yes, but on laptops. Given an equally wide laptop 4:3 gives much more space to work on. I wonder if there would be space for large touchpads but the Thinkpad/stick fans won't care. My personal sweetspot on laptops was 16:10.

For standalone monitors, nobody was making screens as wide (in cm) as the ones we have now, at a reasonable price. You could have two 4:3 monitors side by side which is 8:3 or 16:6, worse than 16:9 for the same width.

I add: 15" laptops without numberpads (Macs don't count, I don't like OSX and their keyboards and the buttonless touchpad)

My sweet spot for laptops is 4:3 @ 14in, but 16:10 @ 15.6in is a reasonable choice as well.

16:9 on the other hand has no place in anything but very large desktop monitors (say 27in and above). Whenever I have to use someone's 13in notebook - inevitably 16:9, even expensive ones - it makes me want to scream. It's like peering through a mailbox slot.

One of the great things about Mac laptops... The default 16:10 everywhere (with the exception of the mba11").

This is one of my two biggest pet peeves when it comes to e-mail.

Top posting is the other.

> E-Mail before we lost the "text should be text and not goddamn HTML" war.

I have mostly succumbed to top-posting, but I do generally try to trim the quoted message history to only the one I'm responding to. That way in a long thread I don't end up sending a ten-page message that only include one sentence of new content.

"Everything not being 4:3 screens. I found it better for programming than everything being cinematic screens."

It may interest you to know that there is a new, modern, 1:1 screen for sale from a reputable company, today - the EIZO FlexScan EV2730QFX:


Please, please buy one (or three) of these, as I did, and place your dollar votes for screen innovation like this.

But wide-screen laptops are just the right size for side-by-side 80x25 emacs windows.

Thank you for the suggestion. If I ever have that kind of money for a display I will get one.

>Everything not being 4:3 screens. I found it better for programming than everything being cinematic screens.

This! I concentrate much better on old laptop with 4:3 screen. I have one single window open, no browser, not documentation, no chat windows, no email. The laptop wouldn't even handle all programs at the same time, 512MB of RAM.

I've found that I actually really like using rotated 9:16 portrait mode monitors for writing code in a dual or triple monitor setup. It's very helpful to be able to see 80+ lines at a time.

But 1080x1920 is stupidly narrow. On 1440x1920 (4:3) you could place two windows side by side without much effort. It barely becomes possible at 1200 (16:10), though not with the font size I'd be long-term comfortable with.

I still use a Dell FP2007 20" 1600x1200 monitor [1] as a second monitor. I remember making sure the serial numbers matched the IPS version too. I've been using it full time for 8 years and it still runs flawlessly.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Dell-Ultrasharp-1600x1200-Monitor-Heig...

6 months ago I bought 6 of these off ebay for ~$300 and a cheap 3x2 monitor stand. It's a pretty awesome, if tenuous, setup.

> Console gaming when it Just Worked. Nowadays when I pop in a game it's update this and update that, long loading times etc.

This might be about to change with Nintendo's upcoming NX system rumoured to use ROM cartridges rather than optical media. The cart-based 3DS has loading times comparable to the Mega Drive or SNES (negligible). And the cartridge distribution model is great for this with sub-par internet connections.

There were still be patches and online services involved. You can also bet that they won't eschew online purchases and digital downloads. I know I won't buy it if I have to go back to physical media.

Oh absolutely, and that's the way it is with the 3DS. But keep in mind that Nintendo home consoles have always been the favoured split-screen multiplayer - they're the consoles you play when your friends come round (and they work equally well for solo gamers). Consequently, forced online patches aren't really as obvious as they are on Xbox or Playstation.

On the 3DS, the only forced patches that affect me are OS patches that I'm required to install in order to access the eShop.

The mixed physical/digital distribution model for the 3DS is my favourite of all models right now. You can buy a cartridge, requiring no installation or online activation (which you can readily loan or sell later on), or you can download games from the eShop which, once activated, doesn't require any online call home. Ever. You can transfer games between consoles (e.g. during an upgrade) by going online and initiating a license transfer.

It's a great balance.

My one gripe is region locking. I hope that goes away (and rumours indicate it might). I waited a year for Fire Emblem Fates to come over from Japan and then it hits the US months before we get it in Europe..

If I remember correctly, a major limiting factor of cartridges is the time it takes to get them manufactured. If I remember right only one company was allowed to make those official cartridges, and you had to reserve a specific timeslot 8 months or more in advance, that you couldn't slip that date, in order to get your cartridges made.

I can't remember if I read this or if I was told this by veterans of the game industry (I used to work with some guys that have been in the industry for a long time). I think I was told this, but there's probably articles that mention this out there somewhere.

Anyway, they said it was a nightmare for scheduling, and sometimes you'd have a game finished but have to sit on it for months because that's the earliest you could get a slot reserved.

I think this is still an issue with the 3DS (I think they were complaining about it for DS at the time, why they didn't really want to work on another DS game).

Not sure if publishers would be as keen on this nowadays, especially compared to the speed and immediacy of the mobile world. Might make them stay with Microsoft and Sony, yet again.

> Consequently, forced online patches aren't really as obvious as they are on Xbox or Playstation.

Actually, one of the first Wii U firmware updates bricked a sizable number of consoles that had to be replaced by Nintendo (sizable meaning there were forum threads discussing the issue). My original console went through that process. Haven't had any such issues with the other two consoles this gen, luckily (and yet).

Given the price pr gig of flash chips these days, they can put the base game on ROM and put in a solid space for saves, patches and DLCs alongside.

Care to elaborate on what point you were addressing here? I'm not sure what you were responding to.

I strongly suspect the NX will be based on a game streaming service like OnLive. If you look at most of the rumours with that in mind, they make more sense.

I very much doubt it. They'd be cutting off massive markets where internet connectivity isn't consistently good (most of the world). Sure, Nintendo are struggling to find their place in the home console market right now but they're more conservative when it comes to changing the distribution/sales model.

> "They'd be cutting off massive markets where internet connectivity isn't consistently good (most of the world)."

With all due respect, countries without decent Internet infrastructure are unlikely to be places where there are plenty of people with the spare cash to blow on a console.

Furthermore, Nintendo has said that the NX is not designed to be a replacement for the Wii U, meaning that Nintendo may still plan to sell the Wii U, and therefore would have a product to sell in emerging markets (in addition to their handheld devices).


"Following a Nintendo investor briefing, officially translated here, president Satoru Iwata says that although the NX will be "a dedicated video game platform with a brand new concept," he does not "intend it to become a simple "replacement" for Nintendo 3DS or Wii U.""

Carrying on, consider the following points from the GFK Research Group leak:


"Connect with other Nintendo players around the world via the Nintendo Network"

"Gameplay flows between Nintendo NX console and Nintendo NX handheld device"

"Supports 4K/60fps video streaming"

"Gameplay graphics at 900p/60fps"

> "Sure, Nintendo are struggling to find their place in the home console market right now but they're more conservative when it comes to changing the distribution/sales model."

Nintendo have been slow to develop their online offerings, but they're increasingly working in that direction. Nintendo is also keen to get into the mobile gaming market, which a game-streaming platform would help with:


Furthermore, even if such a move to a streaming, subscription-based service would be innovative for Nintendo, the sort of 'Netflix for gaming' approach is nothing new in the market. Aside from OnLive as mentioned before, Sony are already doing it with PlayStation Now. Nintendo can learn from earlier attempts in the market, they don't have to go in blind.


Lastly, if you believe some of the rumoured specs (which I personally think are mostly driven by wishful thinking), the NX is meant to be 3x more powerful than the PS4. That sort of power only makes sense if it's a streaming platform.

"the NX is meant to be 3x more powerful than the PS4. That sort of power only makes sense if it's a streaming platform."

You're confusing me. One minute you seem to be discussing streaming from the console, the next streaming to the console. They may coincidentally use the same English word but technically they have nothing to do with each other.

Streaming from the console may require a bit of extra oomph, but if you're designing it into the console from scratch you can add some custom hardware for it and it shouldn't increase general-purpose computing requirements. Streaming to the console by no stretch of the imagination requires anything to be 3x more powerful than the PS4; if you added 4K output to its graphics card, a XBox 360 would be plenty powerful enough to stream even 4K to the console. Sending video streams to the hardware decoder does not take a lot of power. Either way you don't need a lot more power for "streaming" either in or out.

As for specs, it will be coming out 3 years after the PS4 came out. The PS4/XBone generation is generally considered a bit underpowered compared to what PCs could already do at the time. CPUs haven't been advancing much but GPUs have still be clockin' along in the past 3 years. Being merely 3x more powerful than a PS4 is still Nintendo being conservative and not focusing on producing a graphics powerhouse, as has been their style for the Wii line, not some sort of impossible dream.

> "You're confusing me."

I imagine the NX device to be a low cost set top box style affair. The 3x power I'm referring to is the total processing power of the NX platform, with the vast majority of that processing power living in the cloud. Does that help clear up the confusion?

Yes, thanks.

I'd consider it a suicidal move on their part, but that's far from proof that won't be how it works.

> With all due respect, countries without decent Internet infrastructure are unlikely to be places where there are plenty of people with the spare cash to blow on a console.

I think you underestimate the woeful state of broadband in many developed nations.

Here in the UK, many non-rural areas struggle to get more than 8Mbps down, 1Mbps up. With more devices in the home putting demands on connections and many ISPs capping usage (or offering unlimited but heavily throttled connections), downloading or streaming games isn't always viable.

In my own case, I recently moved house and went from an 80Mbps FTTC connection (the fastest available in my city) to 6Mbps. It doesn't take much more than someone at home streaming Netflix while another browses the internet or downloads a 25GB game on the Xbox to make streaming games completely unworkable.

I know the situation is very similar in Australia, New Zealand, areas in Spain..

We often see this skewed perception from American companies that everyone in a first-world country has consistent and fast connectivity. A lot of US products and concepts just die here for that reason. The original Xbox One concept of being download-only would have been a complete failure here.

It's not just poor people (who "are unlikely to be places where there are plenty of people with the spare cash to blow on a console") who struggle for good connectivity.

>_"Here in the UK, many non-rural areas struggle to get more than 8Mbps down, 1Mbps up."

I live in the UK too, so I know that's baloney. The penentration of BT Infinity and Virgin Broadband in urban areas is pretty high, and average speeds exceed 8mpbs.

    > Nintendo has said that the NX is not designed
    > to be a replacement for the Wii U, meaning that
    > Nintendo may still plan to sell the Wii U
Generally these sort of comments can also just mean "please don't stop buying our current stuff just because a replacement is around the corner".

We'll see when it's released, I wouldn't be surprised if it's a complete replacement for their existing consoles.

The annoyingness of cinematic screens is increased futher if your favourite TV shows are from the 80s and 90s, and your favourite movies from the 30s, 40s and 50s.

Get a monitor like a Dell u2715 and turn it sideways. Basically a double tall square resolution monitor.

I miss 4:3 screens for coding on laptops and all-in-ones. But on anything where the screen can be rotated, I love them.

> E-Mail before we lost the "text should be text and not goddamn HTML" war.

It didn't work. To this day, if you begin a plain text email message with the word "From", you'll confuse mail programs because there wasn't a proper encoding of the body of the message separate from the headers.

> To this day, if you begin a plain text email message with the word "From", you'll confuse mail programs […]

RFC 5322:

> […] The body is simply a sequence of > characters that follows the header section and is separated from the > header section by an empty line (i.e., a line with nothing preceding > the CRLF).

What brain dead mail program interprets anything after the first empty line as a header?

Various MUAs have failed this over the years. RFC 5322 is dated 2008. Plenty of users moved to HTML payloads inside MIME attachments because of the mangling that would happen otherwise. Many MUAs would prepend a > before the word From at the beginning of a line so that it wouldn't cause problems for recipients.

Some that I used that I remember such problems with include the MUA inside Netscape Navigator and mutt.

Heh, i recall when Apple started shipping everything with 16:9. You could tell when a web dev was using Mac, as invariably the site layout would produce a scroll bar at the bottom of the screen on 4:3 screens.

Actually, Apple has only used 16:10 screens for their laptops (11" Air is an exception) while almost everyone else uses 16:9. The iPad has a 4:3 screen while so many other Android tablets have used 16:9 (thankfully there are more choices now).

16:9, 16:10, potato, potato. Point was that said web devs could not be assed to consider that there was a world outside of Apple.

My xbox 360 has never been connected to the internet

And I'm a top poster!

The xBase family of languages/development environments. They are still around - Harbour (open-source multi-platform Clipper implementation) and Ashton-Tate dBase which changed many hands and is now dBase LLC.

They were one of the fastest environments to build business software in till the early 90s. Then Client/Server and Windows happened. Visual Basic and Delphi occupied the niche with support for SQL based databases. xBase tried playing catch-up but by the time they caught up clunkily to GUI programming, the effort was wasted and the Web came around.

This is how xBase was loved:

    This isn't a question or a bug or a complaint. This is just to say
    that using your prg files from Foxapp, modifying the startup,
    creating a database, compiling and debugging I created an
    beautiful working application in 45 minutes today, including the
    time it took for the client to explain what they wanted in the
    database. The client was duly impressed, and I marvelled at just
    how much 2.0 had made programming fun and had increased my
    potential income. I am now taking on programming jobs that would
    have been painful in the past, and find that I can afford to do
    some pro bono work knowing that with Foxpro 2.0 and my
    distribution package I can whip up a quick database for the church
    or the school or anybody who just can't afford custom programming.

    I've been hacking PCs since I bought an Apple at Homebrew Computer
    Club in Palo Alto from a couple of kids who were building them in
    a garage. (In those days they were talking about marketing them as
    a multilevel, like Amway). I've played with a lot of software,
    ranging from user-hostile to stuff that curls up on your lap and
    talks dirty in your ear.

    But Foxpro 2.0 is something special. What you folks have created
    is an elegant solution. When you finaly go public, may you all
    cash out as rich as Bill Gates.

    Please thank all the Fox folks for me.


    -- "Letter from a FoxPro admirer". FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software, Kerry Nietz.

Fox Pro was so muchas better than anything we have on the web to work with a database.

True for any software that allows you to focus on requirements as opposed to having to find innovative hacks to get ideas implemented.

I've heard the love for foxpro before. I thought microsoft bought it and killed it?

Look at this concept of dynamic forms in FoxPro with full databinding capabilities:


Always felt FoxPro's concept was light years ahead of XAML's ito clarity of implementation.

Where has this been all my life?

If Microsoft killed it, it was a slow death. Microsoft bought it in '92 and released the last version in 2005.

FoxTales sounds like an interesting book; thanks!


Windows XP and its search feature- Win7 above does not have it.

Yahoo Geocities- simply miss it. and also Yahoo in general. My current yahoo mail is chock a block with spam mails. plus their ads.

Xerox Ventura desktop publishing software- that was cool when book publishing was required.

Motorola T90/91 basic mobile phone. superb and handiest phone used. Current Moto is smart but not unbeatable.

Most importantly old BSNL (India) Landline tariffs- you could talk for hours and still the billing would come per call-wise. Simple unbeatable !!

Non- Microsoft Keyboards- here they are out of market. THe MS keyboards go out of tune/get stuck over time.

Softwares that would never needed to update- These days it is a harassment to see every software on my PC requiring to update. Now its gone to mobile phones. God knows what is it that they do in updates.

Tap water- 2 decades ago we would drink water straight from the tap or just plain filtered. Its impossible now. The water is too contaminated and needs added filtration devices at home/work. or bottled water.

Paper bags at the grocery shop. They've vanished giving place to cheap plastic bags. And many products are now using plastic wrappings that would come with paper ones.

A more silent neighbourhood- these days its high intensity horn blaring.

What's wrong with your tap water? Don't they have the same safety standards to meet?

UK tap water is great (Well, outside of Greater London where it's basically limestone slurry). I've never bought bottled or filtered aside from the brief time I was in London.

At least two brands of UK bottled water were bottling northern tap water and selling it. Business idea I wish I had thought of!

Indeed its India, Calcutta I'm talking about. True 20 years back (1996 and before.. vaguely) that's when we were children the Ganges water was clean. It is too polluted now to drink it straight away. And nobody really drinks it taking it straight from the tap. There were times when NGOs offered large earthen pots of cool water free on the streets. In my home we have a non-electric Ceramic water filter. But the current norm is electric RO +UV filters.

Arsenic is present in ground water in south Calcutta and is a health problem. Municipal water is arsenic free. It is treated with Chlorine.

Much/All of this pollution is self created by polluting the rivers. Individually, industrially and socially.

I believe that using bottled water should be an exception and availability of tap/filtered water at public places should be a norm. But bottled water has become a necessity and a fad today.

I do admire the places mentioned where you enjoy pure water still. I know that in New York the water comes from upstate reservoirs. I also think many places water fountain is available at public places/streets for drinking. If you know the cities you've seen this let me know I'll make a note of it.

We were boiling water before drinking and using filters in India in the 80s. The decline started a long time ago.

Tap water in the UK is heavily chlorinated. If you go to a country which doesn't chlorinate tap water it's like night and day.

(I live in Zurich. The water company here say that comparing Zurich tap water with bottled mineral water is unfair --- their tap water is considerably better.)

Not sure if it's down to how hard the water is in each area, but here (NW England), a fairly soft water area, you never notice the chlorination. You notice the chlorine quite a bit in London, along with the free limestone in every glass.

Tap water in the UK varies greatly around the country. The water in Edinburgh seems pretty good, some other parts of the country taste surprisingly different.

If I'm not mistaken he's talking about India. It's common advice (for travellers at least) to only drink bottled water in India.

He mentions 2 decades ago it being fine, so I presume not India. The advice to only drink bottled in India was common 20 years ago too.

India, Calcutta. But now all over India hardly one will be drinking tap water straight away. Some filter process is always done at point of drinking.

These days its so sad to find every shop ordering a container of filtered drinking water. Earlier it was available through taps. Now no one trusts tap water.

Are your fellow citizens not pissed about this? Is there similar environmental movements as in the US 60 years ago? (And don't be too discouraged; Silent Spring was published in the early 60s and Love Canal occurred in the late 70s I think. The Cuyahoga River caught on fire multiple times, the last spurring the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.)

It still is, We don't drink tap water in Bangalore either. Very very rare to see folks drinking water straight out of the tap - the water supply isn't potable.

Most urban households have some kind of filtration system in place. The water supply infra is quite bad, with frequent contamination due to leakage.

If it's India they have a problem of arsenic contamination of groundwater, plus bacterial contamination of surface water.

Dutch tap water is great too. Joy to drink.

> What's wrong with your tap water? Don't they have the same safety standards to meet?

Tap water quality varies from place to place. For example, in SV (at least Sunnyvale, Santa Clara) it stinks so badly that I barely care whether it meets safety standards or not. OTOH, in my home city it's pretty fine and at some other place I lived it was halfway between.

I miss the search feature in Windows XP too. But Agent Ransack is a very good replacement and it even integrates with the file explorer. Try it!

Yes! Agent Ransack has become an indispensable tool in my daily work. With SSD and Agent Ransack i can do searches over ludicrous number of gigabytes within a heartbeat and usually find whatever it was. Yes, there are gnu tools for windows but from usability point of view Agent Ransack is way better (if we presume the tragick default cmd.exe as the command line, at least)

Wow it has Regexp. Let's see how it goes. Looks good. Thanks.

Tap water varies greatly even over a small area. New York City, for example, is extremely proud of the quality of its water, which comes from reservoirs upstate. I noticed it was good before I ever found out that it's something they like to boast about.

In DC, however, the chlorine is over the top, especially at times when they're flushing the lines.

I find that most places are somewhere in between these two extremes, even just outside the cities, where different municipalities have their own reservoirs and sources.

As for paper bags, why not just use a reusable bag. In many places in the US, plastic bags are taxed (5¢ or so), with the funds going to clean up rivers. It's led to a major change in behavior.

True in states near the Himalayas like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh the water is drinkable and pure. Down below at the plains it gets contaminated.

Organized shops charge here an extra for the plastic bag. Majority of grocery shops hand out ultra thin plastic bags which will choke the rivers and environment. But important thing is public attitude. The attitude now is to collect as many of these bags as one can. So there you go. If the municipal corporation enforces a separate charge or ban, things will shape up. I do use a reusable bag. I've stopped using plastic bags.

Per-call billing sounds crazy - there should never have been a time in circuit switched or packet switched networks when that would have correctly captured costs.

I don't know about the OP's situation, but at one time most phone calls were completed by a human operator looking up circuit numbers and physically connecting the two customers using a patch cord.

I suspect that under that model, the operator's time was the dominant cost involved in placing the call.

IIRC, the pricing model was something like this:

1) The customer paid a fixed monthly charge for having phone service at all. This covered the capital costs of the wiring to the customer's premises. 2) On top of that, the customer paid a per-call fee. This covered the cost of having a woman (usually) ask what number you wanted, locate the proper jack, and physically plug your circuit in to the circuit of the person you wanted to reach.

It's probably no coincidence that the local service operator was one of the first parts of the phone system to be automated away (nor is it surprising that phone companies continued the per-call charge long after its justification went away :-)).

> BSNL Tariffs

They have the unlimited thing now right, where you can make calls at night and they're free?

> Tap water

Are you talking about India or the US?

> Are you talking about India or another country?

Fixed that for you.

I believe there are several other options besides the US.

true India.

> Tap water ...

> Paper bags at the grocery shop ...

> A more silent neighbourhood ...

Just out of curiosity, what area or country do you live in?

I presume India, since he mentioned BSNL.

I don't do any updates on mobile unless I have a reason (apps usually degrade over time)... but I do do my Ubuntu updates.

> "just plain filtered" ... "needs added filtration"..


Read this again with the voice as Nick Offerman

The Telephone with Dial Tone and associated Busy Signal. A busy signal meant nobody could contact me; Also, by either not answering the phone or by simply taking the receiver off the hook I controlled interruptions. And, nobody became concerned if they did not hear from me in an hour, 1/2 day, day or even week. And I had no concern if I did not hear from others either in that timeframe.

So the "tool" to maintain privacy was very controllable by me and nobody would think otherwise.

Any Norton product dBase III

Maybe it's just me but I feel that it was also much easier to get to actually speak to someone on the phone back then. We usually knew when we could reach someone and call during those timeframes. If we didn't get a reply we knew they were out and call the next day. Nowadays it's much more rare to get an answer when calling a mobile phone. Either the person has left it in the next room or it's out of battery, it's in silent mode and the person doesn't hear it, etc. So people usually tend to resort to text messages, which is a highly ineffective way to communicate in many situations.

Also old telephones never took the initiative to call someone from their owner's pocket ;)

I recall being reprimanded by my grandmother for attempting to call a friend after 8pm.

"You never call anyone after 8pm, they are on private time"

I know for me I stopped answering the phone altogether about a year or two before the do not call list went into effect. About literally 1/10th of the calls I receive to this day are legit calls I want to take.

I simply turn off my phone, though Airplane mode works too. In my experience, if you do it regularly people get used to it and stop fretting.

I don't get how modern phones not having a busy signal forces you to let people contact you. If I really want to disconnect, I just turn stuff off. The only remaining difference is voicemail, but that's easily ignored. As for the concern, that's not the tool's fault, either, just how we use it. People get worried if you don't call back in a day because they've become accustomed to you doing so. I've got friends who I will miss a call from and not call back for a few days, and it's just fine. Not the phone's fault at all. The tool is still controllable by you - so long as there's a power switch, its in your control.

>The tool is still controllable by you - so long as there's a power switch, its in your control.

The point is that the culture has changed.

The telephone was a shared device, and as a child it was not mine. In college, it was shared with 4 other people (and still not mine). Then once married, it was shared with my spouse.

But now there is no more 'shared voice device.' It is not pratical to not own a phone. But all cell phones are not sharable. Hence, by default, either I carry a phone and the contact person knows explicitly I am ignoring them or I answer it. But when the only game in town was a simple telephone, a busy signal or no answer just meant nobody is available. Nothing else. But now, with my phone, I can no longer say I am not available, imo.

The introduction of voice mail at work is what killed the efficiency of telephone communication. It became very easy to let a call go to voice mail, and then claim you never got the message, or your voice mail wasn't working, etc. It was much harder when when a secretary took your calls and kept a log of messages.

Voice mail and then email (esp. auto-responding "I'm out of the office") became great work-avoidance enablers, whereas before the telephone was a great productivity enhancer.

Nokia N9.

The "more linuxy" Nokia Android competitor that was released late and dead on arrival (in terms of ecosystem), but was still years ahead of Android in many ways and fundamentally better in others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3rgAV1a2kg http://www.theverge.com/2011/10/22/2506376/nokia-n9-review

And seeded the crap fest that is making its way through the larger Linux ecosystem right now.

I had a N800, and i loved it. But come the N900 Nokia had done too many "pivots" too fast, fatally fragmenting the community the 770 to N810 lineage had built up. And once Elop came in and torched the platform, things were sinking fast.

I paid attention at the time, but has since repressed most of it. While torching the platform made me bitter about the tech industry, it was also that very few people even cared. It even gave the iPhone a match [0]. The industrial design was great, had sleek UI and clever UX. And that's not even the more technical features. Yet people mostly went on about how great Android was.

When Ubuntu then went on to argue over desktop icons (or whatever) while there was a huge hole left by the mac pro, I pretty much gave up on user facing Linux (in the broader sense). Switched all my desktop os and development to windows and haven't looked back since.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP-SSg_zZ1M

I still use my Nokia E6 despite its huge software flaws. Small form factor, hardware keyboard, nice specs : it was bound to be good. Alas, Nokia fucked up the software part and the Nokia Belle update made things even worse. And I can see no alternative on the market today. Phones OS's should be free as well :)

Woz's 6502 disassembler built into the Apple ][ monitor ROM.


This early Apple ][ ad actually mentions it:


Check out pretty APPLE COMPUTER CO logo designed by Ronald Wayne, on this APPLE-I OPERATION MANUAL:


I think I'll print that out and stick it on the back of my MacBook Pro!

Newton --- "A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought --- Alone."


The Psion Series 3 handhelds: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psion_Series_3

A (tiny, but) usable, physical keyboard on a device that lasted _ages_, fit into a suit pocket and was eminently practical. The age of the PDA is long gone (heck, I'm typing this on an iPad mini), but we still haven't caught up with some of its best bits.

I found the next version up, or rather a clone of it: the Ericsson MC218, a rebranded Psion Series 5 (the MC218 came with a little IrDA adapter for compatible Ericsson phones).

Of all places I stumbled on it at an op-shop - in ~2012, I think it was. The box looked a bit sad but the unit itself was literally new.

...and I can tell you that if you've ever read stories about how fragile they were I can confirm all of them. The entire LCD hinge assembly broke on mine after only a few months, and I had to thread wire into and around the (~1mm no. 2 plastic >.<) chassis to recreate the pivot points for the LCD to close right. Thankfully it looks completely unscathed, the battery compartment's just a bit funky.

The hardware was, in short, terrible, but the OS was amazing.

I'm convinced Symbian EPOC was built by a bunch of unbelievably optimistic, unfazeable software developers or something - C++ hadn't even been standardized yet (wow much 1998) so the EPOC SDK is a mix of scary, disastrous and hilarious... but the OS and UI design were still, in spite of this, absolutely awesome.

My favorite feature was the fact that the UI had real windows, with titlebars. And dragging the titlebars would drag the entire window - not an outline, the whole window. It was amazing. ("Look!! I have a desktop in my pocket!!")

And then there was the programming language that came built in. I mean, they crammed a fully-functional physical keyboard into the thing, so I mean, duh, you add a programming language to it cuz that's what you do when you have a real keyboard.

OPL was equal parts confusing and awesome, but, because it was so BASIC-like I started hundreds of tiny projects that I never finished. There are some pretty amazing little applications out there written in OPL, but most things were done in C++.

Probably the coolest thing I did with OPL was discover that the system was fast enough to handle full-screen haptic scrolling - my stylus was starting to get old and scratch the LCD, and using my finger would have felt weird, so I never finished it - but it was pretty awesome to know that this bytecode-interpreted language was fast enough to handle SurfaceFlinger-esque full-screen content scrolling on a 640x240 LCD.

What did your 36MHz ARM7TDMI-based gadgets do?

I have a netbook. Sorry, a netBook. You, know, the one that coined the word 'netbook'. It's great! It has the trademark bizarre Psion hinging mechanism which gives it a full-size keyboard and a massive screen, it's got an eight hour battery, the OS is on a CF card (and so is trivially replaceable), and it has state-of-the art IrDA connectivity...

Yeah, that's the problem. Lovely hardware, completely useless in the modern world. It does have a PCMCIA type 1 slot in which you can attach a sufficiently old wifi card but finding such a card that supports WPA is practically impossible, and finding an EPOC driver for it even more so.

I did run Linux on it for a while, but Linux of a 32MB 190MHz ARM is not a happy experience.

(EPOC, while being a terrifying but hilarious disaster on the inside, manages to get an astonishing amount done in very little space. Even the 640x480 screen looks big. UI-wise it's a really nice bit of design.)

I saw someone using a 5mx on a train a month ago. It was still fully functional and he was perfectly happy with his 96MB CompactFlash card.

I never owned a 5, much to my regret. I switched from a 3a to a PalmPilot (which by itself deserves another entry in this list), but often wished I'd stuck with Psion.

That's amazing.

Oh heck, you remind me of my psion 5. It was brilliant, and the tiny keyboard was good enough to touch type on. Battery life in weeks. Someone bung a modern screen on that form-factor please.

> "Someone bung a modern screen on that form-factor please."

You may be interested in following this project:


Ooh, that's one to bookmark and watch, thanks. Fairly sure I still have my 5 kicking around in a junk drawer! :)

The Psion 5 keyboard was perfect for that size.

I have similarly been looking for a modern Sharp Zaurus replacement. But the Pyra (and the Pandora before it) does not make a good PDA.

For one thing the dimensions: it is a real brick and I don't understand why that is in 2016. All the flip-top Sharp Zaurii SL-Cxxxx were at least 5mm slimmer, and they were made a good ten years ago.

Then there is the keyboard, which is pushed all the way to the bottom edge, which makes it difficult type when handheld. It is clearly optimized for gaming, with prominent space given over to joystick controls. It lacks a bottom row containing a spacebar, which makes for awkward typing.

Ports and battery?

To put this into context. The Sharp Zaurus SL-C3000 was released in Japan in 2004. It was a Linux computer with a 3.7" touch display, 4GB hard drive, USB port, SD and CF card slots, 3.5mm jack, infra-red port, built-in speaker that fit in a case with dimensions 124x87x25mm.

Even though the Pyra has a 5" display, its dimensions are no less bulkier at 140x84x29mm. I would have expected a lot more progress given the hardware advances made in the last 10+ years.

Heck you could put something like the Intel Compute Stick or the Zotac ZBOX PI220 in a case, add an LCD and battery, and end up with something more compact and powerful than the Pyra.

Looking into it some more, it is indeed mostly the battery.

It is 3x the capacity of the C3000, and runs the full width of the Pyra.

Never mind that they also made use of the thickness to fit 4 shoulder buttons for gaming (or other things), and two full size USB-A ports (one of them claimed to support ESATA as well via an adapter).

There is no doubt the Pyra is much more capable than early 2000's palmtops. It has built-in wifi, bluetooth, HDMI output, sensors, etc.

Nevertheless, I am sure we can all agree that its design does not make efficient use of internal space. There is a lot of room for improvement to make the device more compact. Yet this does not seem to be a priority for the creators or many of the end users.

For comparison take a modern device that is comparable in dimensions like the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact at 127x65x8.9 mm. Sony fit an LCD and 2700mAh battery in just 9mm of thickness.

As for the large battery, it seems gratuitously huge. Do we really need 6000mAh in such a device? This is like 2.5x a typical phone with a comparable processor.

This is a great device for some use cases. But it is not practical as a PDA.

I just discovered more official Pyra dimensions, which show the device 3mm thicker than what I originally cited. According to the technical specifications [1] the dimensions of the Pyra are 139x87x32mm.

[1] https://pyra-handheld.com/boards/pages/pyratech/

The Pyra looks like a shoebox - isn't there anything with a nicer form factor?

Not yet a shipping product?

Preceded by the OpenPandora but at this point it's probably better to wait for the Pyra.

The way i see it, the vanishing of the physcial keyboard marks the shift of mobile tech from production to entertainment. This because using all the face of the device for screen allows for better video and photo viewing.

Just tried the "EPOC emulator" which simulates a Psion 5mx. It must have been such a nice device. Many people still speak about the 5mx keyboard. The form factor looked awesome.

I'm gonna echo on Winamp. Now a Linux user, I really miss a real good mp3 player.

Winamp was light, aesthetic and very good on its design. One feature I still miss is the global hotkeys, you could map Ctrl+Shift+Z to go back one song, on any window you were (hence the 'global'). I used to map the Z-X-C-V-B (the default bindings for Previous/Play/Pause/Stop/Next) to the CTRL+Shift+$key binding, and I felt like a wizard. Then there was a search function, with J, that you could also remap to a global hotkey.

Winamp was so good we should have paid for it to prevent a sale to AOL.

I'd recommend taking the full unix dive and ditch your GUI centred apps for MPD. You can any of dozens of GUI clients to interact with the daemon (http://mpd.wikia.com/wiki/Clients).

Keyboard shortcuts can be done via your DE, by shelling out to 'mpc play', and such.

My concern for music is less playing it (that's easy), but more about organizing it, for which MusicBrainz Picard wins.

On the same note, Foobar2000. I haven't found a suitable replacement in Linux land.

Deadbeef? It has global hotkeys. It's pretty simple. Not so different from early versions of winamp, really (but better at actually playing music w/o gaps, supporting replay gain and such). I use it ever since I was tired of organizing music collection locally on whatever PC I use (I often attach an external HDD instead, so mpd and Clementine are of no use to me lately).

But I always thought winamp was somewhat a hype, honestly. It might have been great in 1997, but when almost 10 years later, when plenty good music players for Windows were around (AIMP and LightAlloy come to mind) and everybody still "loved" Winamp — it seemed a bit odd to me. It was nothing special anymore at the time of Windows XP and later.

But now all that winamp nostalgy?.. I mean, seriously, pretty much any music player — of which we have hundreds now, from as simple as it gets to all these media library organizers — can all that winamp could.

Audacious has optional WinAmp-style GUI (with skins being WinAmp 2.x compatible AFAIK) and supports global hotkeys, including a "search and jump to file" popup.

Deluxe Paint: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deluxe_Paint

ArtGem was a nice spiritual successor but sadly it's gone too: http://www.rlvision.com/artgem_about.asp

GrafX2 is an open-source paint program inspired by Deluxe Paint:


It's harder than it should be to find the latest code, I don't know what the main developer is playing at, would seemingly rather comment on clone repositories than fix the project homepage:


I've found http://www.aseprite.org/ to be a reasonable alternative to DPaint. The UI is quite different, but on the other hand it has lots of more "modern" features, like layers. Source code available under GPLv2, but you can also buy binaries.

Evilpixie (http://evilpixie.scumways.com/) is supposed to be a sort of modern update of Deluxe Paint. It's a one-man free project, so it probably doesn't have a lot of ultra-modern features, but it might suit you.

I've no direct experience, but I've heard it said that "pro motion" is a successor of sorts to Deluxe Paint: http://www.cosmigo.com/promotion/index.php


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