Happy 20th Birthday Junknet.Net!

Warning: LONG POST!

I actually started writing this a couple days ago, trying to put some thought into how I would approach the reality that I’ve owned this domain for -literally- the last 20 years. Up until this year I’ve always had some minor amount of content on the site, mostly arcade-related stuff, and it’s been through many iterations of design (or lack thereof). I finally realized the design of the site was holding me back; trying to deal with themes, getting the colors right, getting the look down, etc all held me back from simply just USING the site or trying to find a solid direction for it. After some hosting issues that led to it being taken down for a while in 2018, combined with ditching Facebook, I decided to take the opportunity to start from scratch, go with the stock “blogging” theme, and this time, forego the “look” for now, and just start using the site.

That first line…owning something for 20 years…wow. For a kid that grew up in the 80s and 90s, I’m pretty sure neither myself nor anyone else I knew ever thought we wouldn’t be a kid at some point. We grew up in the age of video games and arcades, malls, Nintendo, Kiddie City, Toys R Us, the Simpsons, Saturday morning cartoons, riding our bikes until our parents yelled for us (no cell phones needed!), summers at the Wildwood beaches and winters sledding in the park. While there were definitely things going on, and we didn’t have a lot of money, life was good as a kid then, it seemed to last forever and we didn’t want it to end!

Fast forward to having my first job at a local computer repair shop (which also had a side business as an ISP), I had my first “real” web page, which usually came as a freebie site included with your internet account. If you didn’t have one, you may have also used sites like Geocities to host your own as well. Since there wasn’t a lot of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors yet, or at least any good ones, most people coded their pages manually, which in some cases resulted in some “really interesting” pages (aka really interesting train wrecks lol). Mine was no exception!

Here’s the header from my old web site, as of October 3rd, 1999:

I didn’t have a lot of money then, but figured I would make what was likely my first investment into my career, by buying an internet domain, and learning how the process worked. Learning how to register it, learning how to set up DNS, learning how to code a web site and bring it online. Back then we didn’t have many choices for registrars, and if I’m not mistaken, you had your choice of: Network Solutions. That was it. With a deal in place to host the site through a friend, I plopped down some cash and purchased junknet.net. The name was always a joke…before the internet I wanted to run a BBS (it never came to fruition), and always figured since it was running on “junk” hardware, I would call it JunkNet to reflect it’s…humble stature. Sadly the BBS never officially made it public as I never had the money to get my own phone line, but it was only natural to continue the idea that I’d probably be running my own web site on junk computers anyway, so I just stuck with it.

Junknet.Net – Circa 2001 Junknet Web Design Group – HAH! (One possible career avenue anyway)

I tried hard to make my site look professional. I probably used CorelDraw back then to create the graphics, and immediately themed the site to my interests, which still remain valid to this day. Sadly, I couldn’t come up with content. I was too busy doing other things, living life and switching jobs to take the time to sit down and actually code more pages up with some actual content. It wasn’t like today where I can do this from my phone during my lunch break; I generally telnetted directly into the web server and edited the site using Pico (no Vi for me). Graphics were a pain to deal with then!

My one source of content came from a car show I found on happenstance; I’ve always been into Turbo Buicks since I got my Buick Regal, and driving through the Phoenixville, PA area one day, I came across a sign for a Turbo Buick car show. Since work happened to have a digital camera I used a lot on weekends, I was able to attend the show and take what seemed like a bazillion photos. The pics were popular and got mentioned in “The Source – Turbo Buick Newsletter” amongst other sites. I attended the show 2 more years and took even more pictures until it finally died out. From what I understand, the original folks creating the Newsletter had health issues and eventually stopped hosting the show.

The site had minor updates and variations after that; I added a page to host my friend’s artwork in 2003, I put up various posts, then in 2006, I redesigned the site with a new “dark” look many would consider “goth” at the time. I really wasn’t goth, but looking back I think I wanted to be…maybe…ish. Whatever.

Unfortunately, yet again life got in the way and the site sat like this for a while. Around 2008, I started messing with and collecting arcade games, and I wanted to finally use the site to show off what I was doing with the games, so I redid the site again into my first content management system: Joomla. To give it a look, I used the Firenzie Theme from Rockettheme.

Joomla was finally providing me a way to quickly update the site, it looked good (albeit boring) and I finally started using it a lot more often by posting updates about fixing and restoring my various arcade games. It worked, but alas, over time the page wasn’t updated, the Joomla CMS needed constant updates and attention, and I gave up on the idea of updating it, but let it remain online for what little useful content there was. That iteration finally died in 2018 when a billing issue took the site down (it was my fault), and rather than restore the outdated Joomla install, I figured I’d try something different.

I’ll be honest, at one point the name JunkNet didn’t appeal to me anymore. While I have a reputation for always having some “junk” laying around, I wanted to lose that connotation and go with something new. I bought up some different domains, but I never found anything that had the same “fun” factor as JunkNet, so I decided to keep it, only this time having it represent the “junk” in my head, since I have so many hobbies, interests, and useless knowledge, there’s definitely plenty of junk to go around lol.

Outside of the site, its amazing how much change would happen over 20 years. Thankfully I’m still around, while many of my former classmates, teachers, and relatives have unfortunately passed on. I went from a 100 pound scrawny nerd, to a not-so 100 pound not-so-scrawny nerd LOL, but trying to keep things in check. I’m not so clean shaven anymore, and my hair is actually longer than 1/4″ (ok its down to my neck). Computers changed from 486s, to Cyrix 5×86’s, to Pentiums, to Pentium IIs, then Pentium IIIs, and now you can get a laptop only fractions of an inch thick. My electronics know-how went from rudimentary, to being able to troubleshoot digital electronics at the component-level. Relationships, cars, hobbies, friends, social media, and everything else just seems like a blur now. Days, months, and years FLY by faster than ever. Many places I enjoyed visiting over the years are gone or changed, some held on longer than others. Personal web sites are truly a lost art to behemoths like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and countless other social media networks all vying for our livelihood, yet many still remain online even if frozen in time.

Anyway, now that you wish you had that 10 minutes back, I’ll wrap this up by shouting out another “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” to my first domain, Junknet.Net, and hope it’s still online for another 20 years, and hoping I keep it going this time, as well as that the internet remains a neutral, open community for the world to enjoy.

PS – Big thanks to archive.org and their “wayback machine” for capturing and keeping snapshots of various web sites, including both of mine over the past 20 years. I also want to give a shout-out to Net-Thing Inc. (now SeoPhilly.com), Paul S., Russell J., and several others over the years that have graciously hosted Junknet.net for me and helped me get started in all of this.

Motorcycle Time!

The past few days, the weather in the Philly area has been awesome, several 70+ degree days out of the blue, so I figured it was time to wake up the fleet, starting with the bike, but uhh, the bike was not starting. The battery was shot and no amount of charging was bringing it back. Finally digging into it, I realized the battery was 5+ years old, so I guess I got my money’s worth out of it.

I knew there was “some” trick to doing the battery on a V-Rod, and it took me a few minutes to remember what it was: the rubber band. Getting to the battery isn’t too hard, although it does take removing the entire airbox and velocity stacks. Once you get down to the motor you can see all 1130cc’s of love…

The interesting thing about Harley’s red-headed-stepchild the V-Rod is that it sorta breaks all the rules when it comes to Harleys, or motorcycles in general. Most bikes have the gas tank between you and the handlebars, and most bikes put the battery under the seat. On a V-rod the battery is actually tucked sideways underneath the handlebars, and where the gas tank should be is actually the airbox/air cleaner, which leads to the throttle bodies on top of the motor (see above). The gas tank? Under the seat!

The problem with the battery area is that they use a simple rubber band (aka bungee cord) to hold the battery down. This isn’t so much a problem when its all there, but it makes life really interesting trying to replace the battery. The band is pretty heavy duty and hooks to the bottom plate on either side of the battery via a couple rectangle loops. Did I mention the slot is JUST big enough for the battery and the band? I mean nearly-zero-gap-on-either-side big enough.

Getting the battery out isn’t too bad at all. What I generally do is get a large pair of needle nose pliers, and pull the band to one side to unload the loop, then just use a screwdriver or my fingers to pop it off. Easy peasy.

Getting the new battery in however, is HELL if you try to put the band on after the battery is inserted. It’s practically impossible – there’s little to no room to get any tools in there, even the needle nose won’t reach the loops very well.

That said, the trick I learned from a few posts on 1130cc.com is once the old battery is removed, hook the band over the two ears/brackets that the airbox cover fits into. The band is pretty tough to get around them but its possible. Once you do, try to move the loops at the ends of the band out a little bit; if they’re both fully hooked onto the plate, you’ll find it’s impossible to slide the new battery in. Once you manage to get the battery in, make sure your wires are out of the way, and carefully unhook the band off the ears and slowly let it back down onto the battery. Once you do, life is good and you can finish hooking up your connections.

(Caution – hook positive on first, and be VERY careful about not shorting the battery with your tools! I once slipped and shorted the practically dead battery on my previous bike, and the wrench instantly burned a line across my hand. Lesson learned!)


All said and done it’s literally a 20 minute job if you have all the tools handy.

Once I got the new battery in, the bike started right up. Since I haven’t ridden it since fall of last year due to some travel, I went through it, made sure nothing was loose, checked the air pressure in the tires as well as the oil. I’ll likely give it an oil change relatively soon. Took it out for a blast down Kelly Drive to burn off what little gas was left from last year, then topped it off with a fresh tank of 93 octane on the way home. It was 75+ degrees today here in the first week of April, so absolutely BEAUTIFUL riding weather! Be safe and have fun!!!

Why Do We Hate Color?

Did some mall walking tonight, and took notice of the recent renovations at the mall. What are they doing? Taking bleak architecture, and making it bleaker really. Replacing green railings with clear glass, and marble based pillars with columns of white. With white walls. And white floors.

Case in point, here’s dinner, and no I didn’t specifically choose these…

Looking around the mall I realize how devoid it is of color, of soul, of architecture. True no mall really has any worthwhile “architecture”, and I’m sure some designer that makes a lot more than I do would argue that the geometric designs on the ceilings, the funky windows, these giant light fixtures that I never even noticed, are indeed award-winning “architecture”, but I never notice most of it because they’re all painted white!

Is it because white is supposed to look modern? If so it is because “old” things have color and contrast, so white is modern and sleek? Or is it because the bland, sterility of the environment makes the products look better?

Again, here’s dinner:

The white everything does take a boring sandwich and make it really pop! This must be a good thing, I must like this out of the depressing void I’ve walked through to get here! /s

I’d even say it makes the stores look better, but even then a majority, if they use color at all, use such muted shades I wonder why they bother.

There are some exceptions though, notice how this place stands out:

and yet it also almost drives home just how sterile and bland everything else looks.

“But Jeff…you’re a friggin hypocrite! Look at your web site, its no different. Boring fonts, bland design, and no color!” Yes, because it’s literally the stock WordPress template (for now). Thankfully it had a dark mode to bring contrast, and this time around I try to add more pics to give it some substance, but I digress, it’s “easy”, and perhaps patching white paint is easier than matching color in a public place.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe its my ADD screaming for stimulation, and maybe I should invest in a paint company when all the depressed millennials realize they’ve been living in a black and white world in an HDTV era. Could a color revolution be coming?

It’s not just shopping malls, modern design everywhere call for white and little to contrast. Modern UIs are blank white screens that are a guess game for input. Oh that question mark…yeah thats a 20 character search box, but it’s not a box because theres no more box, that was soo 1990. Microsoft Office? Your choice of white, gray, or grayer. Literally. Number of colors modern monitors can reproduce: 16.7 million, or was that an old number?

Ironically, all the optical stores I walked by will gladly sell you some blue filtering glasses..color must be really bad!

If you’re a designer, I get it that trends are trends, but please don’t forgo soul and functionality for form. Don’t be afraid to use some color, some contrast, and keep the box in “search box” lol.

The FloppyEMU – Apple Floppy Drive Emulator

Floppy emu in a clear translucent case with 20 pin Apple floppy ribbon cable.

In true Jeff fashion, I finally got around to building my Floppy Emu emulator, only a year or two or three after actually buying it, which emulates many various Apple and Mac floppy drives as well as even some hard drives.

Web Site: http://www.bigmessowires.com/floppy-emu/

I’ll admit, I’m NOT an Apple nut. I’ve had some experience with them over the years, including picking up various Macs, usually via dumpster dives and curb finds over the years, but they never appealed to me like the IBM compatibles did.

That said, I do have a Apple IIe I got from Craigslist a few years ago, and gave it some love. I had to replace a broken key and switch on the keyboard, and oddly enough, you can actually do so as each individual cherry switch is soldered on. Once I got it working, I had to learn how to use it as that generation Apple is foreign to me. One challenge was that I had zero floppy disks for it, despite having the actual drives, so no way to actually boot it to anything. After some research, I found a VERY neat program called ADTPro that actually bootstraps the Apple via the serial port. It does this in two steps; the first step literally does a dump of assembly language into the built in monitor, runs the code which is really the ADTPro “client”…which then uses the same serial port to request disk images from the server software running on a Windows or OSX computer on the other side of the serial cable. I was thoroughly impressed with this and it worked awesome. I used it to boot up the Apple, then transfer a few disks images to new floppies so I could not only boot it, but do other important things, like playing Oregon Trail. All….night.

Back to the Floppy Emu, rather than needing serial cables and a laptop or desktop to run the ADTpro server program, this little device simply emulates either an Apple floppy drive, or depending on the model of computer, even an Apple hard disk (the ones that connected via the Floppy plug, such as the HD20).

Sadly, my Apple needs a little more love as the monitor seems to blow the fuse often. It likely needs to be capped, so look forward to an article on that some time in the future. Anyhow, I bought the Floppy Emu a couple years ago in hopes that I’d just likely leave it inside the IIe and use it more often, but as always it fell by the wayside and sat unassembled in a drawer. Due to me recently cleaning out my office and finding it again, I finally assembled it as I’ve now decided to try to compile all my various vintage computer tools and gadgets into one big toolkit, so it’ll be used not only for my IIe, but any future Macs or other fruit-based computers that happen to hunt me down.

Lastly, if you’re looking for something similar for IBM compatible computers, there are several out there, including the HxC2001 and the Gotek. I do have a Gotek hiding in a drawer somewhere as well (they’re actually fairly cheap), but I may also buy an HxC as well to round out my floppy emulation gadgets. HxC also makes updated firmware for Goteks to add compatibility and features to them, which you can get for $10.

If your a Commodore nut, you likely already know about the ZoomFloppy, and if not, now you do.

There’s even emulators forSCSI drives, and while there’s only a couple projects in the works for IDE drives, you can find cheap compactflash to IDE adapters or use a modern sata solid-state drive with an ide/pata adapter.

Stay tuned for future articles or videos on actually using the Floppy Emu as well as other floppy drive emulators. For ADTPro, you can find a video of that in action right on their web site or on Youtube.

Making changes to DFS Namespaces in Windows Server

One thing I always seem to dread and battle is making changes to DFS Namespaces and shares. In addition, I also seem to struggle with the simple concept of reboot or even restarting a service, but that’s a topic for another day. (Or is it?)

In this case I was doing some minor file server cleanup at the end of a day, and moving data around. Part of this process was to delete a couple DFS namespaces and re-create them pointing to the new locations.

I ran into issues deleting the namespaces where the DFS console reports that the share must be manually removed. I believe this may have been caused by the shares/files being open by existing users (in this case its just templates and small files that aren’t mission critical.) Even though it reports this, I do see the DFS namespace gone from Active Directory (confirmed via ADSIEdit), the registry entries gone from the DFS key in the registry, yet on the server, when I try to delete the share from the folder I’m trying to move, it errors with “The share must be removed from Distributed File System before it can be deleted”.

Naturally I go down the path of doing some googling, and looking at blog posts talking about how to verify your DFS target was removed from active directory, from the file server registry, etc. This is all good practice anyway as it does verify things are cleaned up after a dirty removal of a namespace, but in my situation, the error still happened and I couldn’t un-share the old folder.

Simple answer: Reboot. In my case, after going down the AD and registry rabbit holes, I was able to restart the server service and let it restart any dependency services, and in doing so, it let me remove the share, re-share the new location, and create a new DFS namespace. I’d be willing to bet simply rebooting the server itself would have worked as well, but as we all know that’s not always an option when the workaholics are still plugging away at 7pm and I’m literally moving 15 files.

So definitely not a bad idea to check registry entries and AD objects when making DFS namespace changes, but start with a simple reboot, and get to go home 30 minutes sooner 🙂

Already Missing Radio Shack

Yes, Radio Shack may still be around in some minor form and via web site, most of the stores, including all the ones in the PA area, are gone. Walking around the mall a couple days ago, I was reminded of what was once my favorite store, likely the only store I would really “shop” at in the mall….Radio Shack!

While in recent times, Radio Shack struggled to keep up with my massive need for all things technology, I did still frequent the store just to see what they had that was new, and especially what was on clearance. While they were all around, the one I remember and likely visited the most was the store at the Plymouth Meeting Mall, in Plymouth Meeting PA. Every now and than I would manage to find a connector, a weird battery, or some other oddball item that I could use.

Radio Shack – Plymouth Meeting Mall, Plymouth Meeting, PA Feb 2015

That said, I remember fondly growing up where I was cutting my teeth playing with TVs, VCRs, boomboxes, and other stuff, where most of the time I needed batteries, or usually some “RCA to (some other plug) adapter”. We’d always mess around with the computers, and make sure we got our free battery from the free battery club! (While the club is long gone, Rat shack’s web site has t-shirts themed on it!)

The distinctly fond memories I have though, going back to the late 80s and early 90s, would be checking out the computers in the back of the store, and playing a game called Thexder on a TRS-80. I also remember the robotic arm called the Armatron they had at the counter that I’d play with while waiting in line. The one with the constantly-grinding gears that felt like it was going to break at any moment.

Lastly, I also remember the newer computers, one of which my parents finally bought me the family for Christmas, and the look of horror in my dads face when I told him we needed a “VGA” monitor, and when we went back, the $400 price tag that monitor had (after dumping over $2k into the actual computer). It was a Tandy 2500 SX 386, and I still have it!

Soon after I got the 386, a friend of mine also got a new computer, a Tandy Sensation 486, complete with the new MULTIMEDIA speaker sound system! Oooh!
(Yes, still jealous!)

I’ve had lengthy discussions with friends over what Radio Shack could have done to save themselves, and honestly from what I heard, they sorta knew. In reality though, having quick access to nearly any kind of component within a couple days certainly put a hurting on them, and I think its ironic that they really died off at a time when the Maker movement was really starting to take off. I realize more and more that malls have become mostly havens for clothing and jewelry, with Sears gone (the “other” store I’d shop), its somewhat difficult to actually buy hard goods at a mall anymore, especially anything having to do with “repair”.

Oh well…I’m just glad that with the writing on the wall, I learned to take the initiative to take a pic of the store before it closed up. The pic above was taken by me in February 2015. I have a couple other pics and videos of the Plymouth Meeting mall dating back to the mid 90s, so stay tuned for more nostalgia posts!

If you’re a nostalgia nut like I am, there’s tons of Radio Shack media out on the internets, including commercials, catalogs, other blog posts, and more. One example I found was this web site that has tons of Radio Shack catalogs. Cool!

IMAP Protocol in Office 365 bypasses MFA

Recently saw this article mention IMAP attacks against Office365 mailboxes due to IMAP bypassing MFA rules:

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/multi-factor-auth-bypassed-in-office-365-and-g-suite-imap-attacks/

My suggestion is to bulk disable IMAP and POP of your organization doesn’t use them. You can use Powershell to disable these protocols en-bulk in seconds, however if your firm is larger, make sure those protocols aren’t in use first by various systems, especially IMAP.

You may also want to look at Activesync and OWA as well, not every mailbox likely needs those as well, especially system mailboxes.

Gets all IMAP enabled mailboxes
get-casmailbox | ? imapenabled -eq $true

Gets all IMAP enabled mailboxes and disables it

get-casmailbox | ? imapenabled -eq $true | set-casmailbox -imapenabled $false

Gets all POP enabled mailboxes

get-casmailbox | ? popenabled -eq $true

Gets all POP enabled mailboxes and disables it

get-casmailbox | ? popenabled -eq $true | set-casmailbox -popenabled $false

Edit: Heres another article about how to set defaults for the protocols. Remember to disable OWAforDevices if you don’t allow the Outlook IOS/Android app.

https://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/152329-setting-the-default-email-protocols-in-office-365

You can disable OWAforDevices for existing users using the same set-casmailbox cmdlet:

get-casmailbox | ? owafordevicesenabled -eq $true | set-casmailbox -OWAforDevicesEnabled $false

The Academy of Natural Sciences

Hard to believe I’ve passed this place a million times driving up the Ben Franklin Parkway, yet this weekend marked the first time I’ve been there since a grade school field trip in likely 6th or 7th grade. Pretty cool to see the dioramas and all the detail they put into them. Worth a visit if you’re in Philly!

Franklin Institute Map from 1934

Recently came across this on Ebay and had to have it. Franklin Institute map and exhibit list from 1934 (going by the included Planetarium card with a 1934 schedule).

The crazy part of this map is the description of the basement, which has always been off limits as far as I remember. I would LOVE to see whats still down there!

From boxes of photos to boxes of disks…

This is actually based on a post I did on another blog eons ago. In doing a lot of cleaning lately, I’ve been coming across random, usually unmarked CDs and DVDs from my old computers and desks. Apparently I used to lose my sharpie often as many of them are literally unmarked, but I can tell there’s data on them.

I actually get excited when I find these, because there’s a small chance its an old backup of some photos or files from yesteryear.

This makes me often think what happens to all this digital media we collect over our lives. I’ve been on a push to re-organize everything and make sure its archived in multiple copies and media, but I’m sure a lot of other people have their life history on a single drive that’s merely a ticking time bomb.

Back in the day when people took photos with traditional cameras, there was a cost involved not only buying film but also developing it, so people often were very picky about what pictures they took, and took time to frame and align it to try to get the best shot in the first or only try. Now, with digital photos, its practically free or very low cost to take as many pictures or videos as you want, so many pics are often just garbage shots, with little regard to quality or setup. This also means the quantity of actual pics being stored is substantially higher than when people took traditional photos or even the old film videos.

I know very often I find tons of vintage and personal pics in junk shops, likely due to the lack of next of kin, or perhaps someone just not wanting or caring to go through them or store them anymore. What will happen to the vast hoards of digital photos, videos, and other media we’ve taken in our lifetime? Should we make sure we store them where others can find them? Are there pictures of importance, like important events, places, people, etc that may not be specific to a person or family? Should they be encrypted or protected somehow, less they end up on a 3.99 Hallmark card some day?

I recommend putting some thought into what you do with your pics, media, files, and other digital ephemera, and perhaps archiving them on multiple copies of long-term storage that could be passed down to further generations. Make sure that storage is both air-gapped (not online where a virus or malware can delete it), as well as environmentally sound and not stored in a musty basement or hot attic. Label things very clearly with dates and names if you can, and something I’ve started to do, is even putting plain note.txt files in photo folders with information about the subject of the pics. Talk to your kids or loved ones about what you have, where it is and how it should be handled once you’re gone. I feel the next generation may be the ones to skip this step, only to find that our era of media is gone forever with the trash. They’ll learn and use their digital media differently than we do, and will likely have a lot more of it!

Lastly….while taking pics can be an interesting way to save memories for later in life, remember to live in the moment and put the camera down sometimes. Watching thousands of screens take the same video at a concert, the same pics at an event, and so on makes me wonder how many will regret living out these events through a screen the size of an index card.