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Jeroen W. Pluimers on .NET, C#, Delphi, databases, and personal interests

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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

“This does not compute”: Mac SE/30 repair

Posted by jpluimers on 2021/09/21

A while ago, This does not compute had a few nice videos on a Mac SE/30 and it’s repair, including the recap process of replacing the electrolytic capacitors (or condensators in some other languages), and cleaning the board (some wash it with hot water and soap, others with isopropyl-alcohol, often called rubbing alcohol).

Note the simasimac can have many causes: bad capacitors in main board are the most common, but it can also be bad memory.

White lithium grease can make the floppy work again (see also [WayBack] Lithium soap – Wikipedia and [WayBack] Grease (lubricant) – Wikipedia).

He also added some links to which I added some quotes and WayBack links:


Desolder can be tricky, especially for surface mount. This helps:

  • Add some fresh 60/40 solder to the joints with a solder gun (as modern solder is lead free, whereas past solder contained lead)
  • Carefully heat up the component and surrounding area with a heat-gun

Choosing capacitors:

Soldering: always add some fresh solder on the pads before soldering surface mount (SMD) capacitors.


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Posted in 68k, Apple, Classic Macintosh, Development, Hardware Development, History, Macintosh SE/30, Power User, Soldering | Leave a Comment »

Unix and NTFS file systems, hardlinks, inodes, files, directories, dot directories, bugs and implementation details

Posted by jpluimers on 2021/09/21

Lots of interesting tidbits on unix and NTFS file systems.

If you want to blow up your tooling, try creating a recursive hardlink…, which is likely one of the reasons that nx file systems do not support them.

Covered and related topics:

The tweets (especially follow the train of thought in the various subtrees: a great way to learn new things!):

It is important to understand that the concept File IDs and inode/vnode has far reaching consequences, for instance from [WayBack] inode – Wikipedia

  • Files can have multiple names. If multiple names hard link to the same inode then the names are equivalent; i.e., the first to be created has no special status. This is unlike symbolic links, which depend on the original name, not the inode (number).
  • An inode may have no links. An unlinked file is removed from disk, and its resources are freed for reallocation but deletion must wait until all processes that have opened it finish accessing it. This includes executable files which are implicitly held open by the processes executing them.
  • It is typically not possible to map from an open file to the filename that was used to open it. The operating system immediately converts the filename to an inode number then discards the filename. This means that the getcwd() and getwd() library functions search the parent directory to find a file with an inode matching the working directory, then search that directory’s parent, and so on until reaching the root directorySVR4 and Linux systems maintain extra information to make this possible.
  • Historically, it was possible to hard link directories. This made the directory structure into an arbitrary directed graph contrary to a directed acyclic graph. It was even possible for a directory to be its own parent. Modern systems generally prohibit this confusing state, except that the parent of root is still defined as root. The most notable exception to this prohibition is found in Mac OS X (versions 10.5 and higher) which allows hard links of directories to be created by the superuser.[10]
  • A file’s inode number stays the same when it is moved to another directory on the same device, or when the disk is defragmented which may change its physical location. This also implies that completely conforming inode behavior is impossible to implement with many non-Unix file systems, such as FAT and its descendants, which don’t have a way of storing this invariance when both a file’s directory entry and its data are moved around.
  • Installation of new libraries is simple with inode file systems. A running process can access a library file while another process replaces that file, creating a new inode, and an all-new mapping will exist for the new file so that subsequent attempts to access the library get the new version. This facility eliminates the need to reboot to replace currently mapped libraries.
  • It is possible for a device to run out of inodes. When this happens, new files cannot be created on the device, even though there may be free space available. This is most common for use cases like mail servers which contain many small files. File systems (such as JFS or XFS) escape this limitation with extents or dynamic inode allocation, which can “grow” the file system or increase the number of inodes.

A very cool read in the midst of the tweet tree was this reference to former Google Plus by [WayBack] Rob Pike – Wikipedia (of Golang, Unix team and Plan 9 fame).

WayBack: A lesson in shortcuts.Long ago, as the design of the Unix file system was being worked out, the entries . and .. appeared, to make navigation easier. … – Rob Pike – Google+

A lesson in shortcuts.

Long ago, as the design of the Unix file system was being worked out, the entries . and .. appeared, to make navigation easier. I’m not sure but I believe .. went in during the Version 2 rewrite, when the file system became hierarchical (it had a very different structure early on).  When one typed ls, however, these files appeared, so either Ken or Dennis added a simple test to the program. It was in assembler then, but the code in question was equivalent to something like this:
if (name[0] == ‘.’) continue;
This statement was a little shorter than what it should have been, which is
if (strcmp(name, “.”) == 0 || strcmp(name, “..”) == 0) continue;
but hey, it was easy.

Two things resulted.

First, a bad precedent was set. A lot of other lazy programmers introduced bugs by making the same simplification. Actual files beginning with periods are often skipped when they should be counted.

Second, and much worse, the idea of a “hidden” or “dot” file was created. As a consequence, more lazy programmers started dropping files into everyone’s home directory. I don’t have all that much stuff installed on the machine I’m using to type this, but my home directory has about a hundred dot files and I don’t even know what most of them are or whether they’re still needed. Every file name evaluation that goes through my home directory is slowed down by this accumulated sludge.

I’m pretty sure the concept of a hidden file was an unintended consequence. It was certainly a mistake.

How many bugs and wasted CPU cycles and instances of human frustration (not to mention bad design) have resulted from that one small shortcut about  40 years ago?

Keep that in mind next time you want to cut a corner in your code.

(For those who object that dot files serve a purpose, I don’t dispute that but counter that it’s the files that serve the purpose, not the convention for their names. They could just as easily be in $HOME/cfg or $HOME/lib, which is what we did in Plan 9, which had no dot files. Lessons can be learned.)


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Posted in *nix, Development, File-Systems, History, NTFS, Power User, Software Development, Windows, Windows Development | Leave a Comment »

Favourite Shortcut Key? (Soundcheck Question) – Computerphile – YouTube

Posted by jpluimers on 2021/08/20

Still a cool video. Many shortcuts for various operating systems and machines, including BBC B, Linux, Windows, and MacOS.


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Posted in *nix, 6502, Apple, BBC Micro B, History, Linux, Mac OS X / OS X / MacOS, Power User, Windows | Leave a Comment »

A storage history thread by @Foone: from USB Floppy drive back to Shugart via UFI/ATAPI/SCSI and everything in between

Posted by jpluimers on 2021/08/19

Quite some interesting bits in [WayBack] Thread by @Foone: “So if you want to use a USB floppy drive, you use a USB protocol called the UFI: Uniform Floppy Interface. What’s UFI? A way to embed ATAPI […]”

Via [WayBack] Kristian Köhntopp on Twitter: “PC Hard drive and floppy disk interfaces, and the people and companies that made them.”


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Posted in Development, Hardware Development, History, Power User | Leave a Comment »

Delphi: some notes on HModule while tracking down an access violation in TRegGroups.UnregisterModuleClasses

Posted by jpluimers on 2021/06/08

Too bad the whole mechanism involving TRegGroups.UnregisterModuleClasses is not documented anywhere

It is the underlying storage to support TClassFinder, which was introduced in Delphi 6, documented on-line in Delphi 2007, documented slightly in Delphi 2009, and since Delphi 2010 only one line of documentation was added (including the unchanged “instatiated”):

  • Delphi 2007: [WayBack] TClassFinder Class

    This is class Classes.TClassFinder.

  • Delphi 2009:[WayBack] TClassFinder Class

    The TClassFinder allows the list of registered persistent classes to be retrieved. Objects instatiated from persistent classes are those that can be stored (serialised) beyond the operation of the current application.

  • Delphi 2010:[WayBack] Classes.TClassFinder – RAD Studio VCL Reference

    TClassFinder allows registered persistent classes to be retrieved.

    The TClassFinder allows the list of registered persistent classes to be retrieved. Objects instatiated from persistent classes are those that can be stored (serialised) beyond the operation of the current application.

Back to TRegGroups.UnregisterModuleClasses: it takes a HMODULE parameter and ultimately gets called through the (since Delphi 2007) on-line documented [WayBack] Classes.UnRegisterModuleClasses Function

procedure UnRegisterModuleClasses(Module: HMODULE);

Call UnRegisterModuleClasses to unregister all object classes that were registered by the module with the handle specified by the Module parameter. When a class is unregistered, it can’t be loaded or saved by the component streaming system.

After unregistering a class, its name can be reused to register another object class.

To get more context about the access violation, I used both the stack trace and a debugging watch for GetModuleName(Module) (using the [WayBack] SysUtils.GetModuleName Function).

In order to see which classes were registered by what module, I set a breakpoint at in TRegGroup.AddClass (which can be called through various code paths):

procedure TRegGroup.AddClass(AClass: TPersistentClass);


That gave me the class, but I also needed the HModule for a class, so I did a windows get module of currently executing code – Google Search, giving me these links, all C/C++ related:

Here you already see some confusion: there is HINSTANCE and HMODULE. That’s a historic thing, as described by Raymond Chen in [WayBack] What is the difference between HINSTANCE and HMODULE? | The Old New Thing:

They mean the same thing today, but at one time they were quite different.
It all comes from 16-bit Windows.
In those days, a “module” represented a file on disk that had been loaded into memory, and the module “handle” was a handle to a data structure that described the parts of the file, where they come from, and where they had been loaded into memory (if at all). On the other hand an “instance” represented a “set of variables”.
One analogy that might (or might not) make sense is that a “module” is like the code for a C++ class – it describes how to construct an object, it implements the methods, it describes how the objects of the class behave. On the other hand, an “instance” is like a C++ object that belongs to that class – it describes the state of a particular instance of that object.
In C# terms, a “module” is like a “type” and an instance is like an “object”. (Except that modules don’t have things like “static members”, but it was a weak analogy anyway.)


Searching for delphi “__ImageBase” – Google Search then got me [WayBack] c++ – Get DLL path at runtime – Stack Overflow with a nice Delphi related answer by [WayBack] Ian Boyd:

For Delphi users:

SysUtils.GetModuleName(hInstance);              //Works; hInstance is a special global variable
SysUtils.GetModuleName(0);                      //Fails; returns the name of the host exe process
SysUtils.GetModuleName(GetModuleFilename(nil)); //Fails; returns the name of the host exe process

In case your Delphi doesn’t have SysUtils.GetModuleName, it is declared as:


This reassured my use of [WayBack] SysUtils.GetModuleName code was OK:

function GetModuleName(Module: HMODULE): string; 
  ModName: array[0..MAX_PATH] of Char; 
  SetString(Result, ModName, GetModuleFileName(Module, ModName, Length(ModName))); 

HInstance in Delphi

The example from Ian Boyd also brought back memories from long ago about the [WayBack] HInstance Variable – Delphi in a Nutshell [Book]:

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Posted in Conference Topics, Conferences, Delphi, Development, Event, History, Software Development | Leave a Comment »

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