Recently in Geekdom Category

Supply chain shortages

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This one gives me the willies - from Redit/r/PrepperIntel

Polymer shortage affecting O-ring and seal availability from Parker Hannifin
Parker Hannifin sent an email out to their supply base, informing us that their raw material supplier has restricted them to 20-50% allocation for a minimum 6 month duration. The email gives the customer base a choice to accept a choice of no new orders for the duration, or a force majeure contract termination. This affects most low temperature O-rings and seals. In our case, we have a bunch of sole-sourced part numbers that we're going to have to scramble to get alternatives for(if they even exist).

Parker Hannifin is the MacDaddy of O-rings - here is a listing which describes O-rings, their use and the various global manufacturers, PH is at the top with nobody else coming close.

Top O-Ring Suppliers in the USA
Although O-rings are small, simple, and low-cost products, they are an absolute necessity throughout a multitude of industries, including automotive, aerospace, marine, oil and gas, healthcare, food and water, pharmaceutical, and chemical, to name a few. O-rings are pressure-resistant gaskets or seals used to prevent the leaks of fluids or gasses.

O-rings are a consumable with a fixed lifespan.  They are used everywhere and if there is a shortage, a lot of things are going to not work very well after a while.  Also, if you take something apart for other service, it is customary to replace all O-rings when reassembling.  The slightest nick and there is a leak.  Good preventive medicine to do when you have it apart anyway.

This is going to really suck...

Been there, got the tee-shirt - from Dilbert:


Louis Rossman runs a technology business in AOCs district.
He has some good words regarding minimum wage and the value of employees:

Like it says on the box:  Old Book Illustrations
One sample (a steam powered forging hammer):


In the North? Look up tonight

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Something is coming in - good chance for an Aurora Borealis display tonight.

Planetary K-Index is high right now:


Anyone above the 45th Parallel should have a good view if it is clear tonight.

Liberal logic and the BSOD

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Great idea - from the office of Ron DeSantis:

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Nearly $10 Million to Support Chip and Semiconductor Manufacturing
Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced nearly $10 million has been awarded through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to Osceola County and Valencia College to support semiconductor and other advanced technology manufacturing in Osceola County. Included in this award is $6 million to assist with developing infrastructure connecting the county’s emerging NeoCity technology district with the county’s workforce, and $3.7 million to Valencia College to develop a new program that will train students in utilizing robotics technology for semiconductor manufacturing. These two awards will combine to create manufacturing jobs while developing a talent pipeline that supports industry growth.

“Expanding domestic manufacturing capability is important for Florida and our nation,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “The strategic investments we are making today will help bring microchip and semiconductor manufacturing back to our state at a time when the supply chains are more fragile than ever. Certainly, we cannot allow this important industry to become captive by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Good news.  China currently sources most of the worlds "basic" chips.  There is one company in Taiwan that makes the really high-end stuff as well as operating as a foundry for many fabless chip houses.  China wants Taiwan and they really really want that company.

The $6 Million is for the infrastructure - developing the property, assuring a good source of pure water and transportation and reliable power.  The $3.7 Million is to ensure a good supply of workers who will be familiar with the equipment and processes.  A very good start.

The much-feared Y2K problem was sort of a nothingburger.
I was working for MSFT then and spent the night in the test lab.  Nothing happened.
Last evening however?  From Bleeping Computer:

Microsoft Exchange year 2022 bug in FIP-FS breaks email delivery
Microsoft Exchange on-premise servers cannot deliver email starting on January 1st, 2022, due to a "Year 2022" bug in the FIP-FS anti-malware scanning engine.

Starting with Exchange Server 2013, Microsoft enabled the FIP-FS anti-spam and anti-malware scanning engine by default to protect users from malicious email.

Microsoft Exchange Y2K22 bug
According to numerous reports from Microsoft Exchange admins worldwide, a bug in the FIP-FS engine is blocking email delivery with on-premise servers starting at midnight on January 1st, 2022.

Security researcher and Exchange admin Joseph Roosen said that this is caused by Microsoft using a signed int32 variable to store the value of a date, which has a maximum value of 2,147,483,647.

However, dates in 2022 have a minimum value of 2,201,010,001 or larger, which is greater than the maximum value that can be stored in the signed int32 variable, causing the scanning engine to fail and not release mail for delivery.

Whoops.  Legacy code base that was expanded on without doing a proper review.  They can run Exchange but not scan for malware.  Sudden "unexpected" increase in Malware in 3... 2... 1...


Happy Public Domain Day

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01/01/2022 - from Duke University's Center for the Study of the Public Domain:

January 1, 2022, is Public Domain Day: Works from 1926 are open to all, as is a cornucopia of recorded music: an estimated 400,000 sound recordings from before 1923!
On January 1, 2022, copyrighted works from 1926 will enter the US public domain, where they will be free for all to copy, share, and build upon. The line-up this year is stunning. It includes books such as A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, Felix Salten’s Bambi, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Langston Hughes’ The Weary Blues, and Dorothy Parker’s Enough Rope. There are scores of silent films—including titles featuring Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and Greta Garbo, famous Broadway songs, and well-known jazz standards. But that’s not all. In 2022 we get a bonus: an estimated 400,000 sound recordings from before 1923 will be entering the public domain too!

In 2022, the public domain will welcome a lot of “firsts”: the first Winnie-the-Pooh book from A. A. Milne, the first published novels from Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner, the first books of poems from Langston Hughes and Dorothy Parker. What’s more, for the first time ever, thanks to a 2018 law called the Music Modernization Act, a special category of works—sound recordings—will finally begin to join other works in the public domain. On January 1 2022, the gates will open for all of the recordings that have been waiting in the wings. Decades of recordings made from the advent of sound recording technology through the end of 1922—estimated at some 400,000 works—will be open for legal reuse.

Why celebrate the public domain? When works go into the public domain, they can legally be shared, without permission or fee. That is something Winnie-the-Pooh would appreciate. Community theaters can screen the films. Youth orchestras can perform the music publicly, without paying licensing fees. Online repositories such as the Internet ArchiveHathiTrust, and Google Books can make works fully available online. This helps enable access to cultural materials that might otherwise be lost to history. 1926 was a long time ago. The vast majority of works from 1926 are out of circulation. When they enter the public domain in 2022, anyone can rescue them from obscurity and make them available, where we can all discover, enjoy, and breathe new life into them.

A lot more at the site including links to source materials. Come on now - get mixing. Fire up those samplers... 

An excellent post mortem on the collapse and a wonderful web design showing the story from an engineers perspective. Really well done.

From The Miami Herald: House of Cards

From Techxodus Wiki:

Social Media and Online Communities
A List of Alternatives for Social Media and Online Community Platforms

There are three main categories for social media alternatives:

    • Centralized - Structured in a way that gives one authority complete control of every aspect over a platform. Big Tech social media companies tend to be shaped this way. The downside to this structure is if the people that run the company happen to be corrupt, you are forced to tolerate their crappy policies.
    • Decentralized - Distributed software service hosted by different groups and individuals rather than being stored at data centers and facilities controlled by one corporation. The software is free and open source which enables anyone to host an instance of that service. Offers an ad-free, algorithm-free, private and transparent experience. You can not only communicate with people within the instance but the entire network. Only exception being instances that are blocked by the admin.
    • Front-End Mirror - A community-hosted (typically also includes an option to self-host) proxy to a big tech site that lets you connect to and browse a big tech site without being subject to tracking or malicious javascript.

Pretty comprehensive.  Some link rot, some really interesting sites.

Lifesaver -

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For working on electronic and computer components - a three-minute introduction:

Main website here: (this is a 300+ page free download)

A little bit more:

Brilliantly done and an invaluable resource.  They are selling tee shirts - buy one of them.
This work deserves our support.

Now this is cute

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Much better than anything Disney did in this universe:

Wonderful news - Webb Telescope

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Looks like a flawless launch.  From the London Daily Mail:

'Go Webb, go!': Scientists cheer as Nasa's $10billion James Webb Space Telescope module detaches from rocket and begins one million mile journey into space in bid to break the secrets of Universe's first moments 13.5bn years ago

    • NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has lifted off from European Space Agency's base in French Guiana
    • The $10 billion telescope had already faced months of delays because of the country's rainy season
    • Launch date was set for Christmas Day at 7:20AM ET (12:20 GMT) at European Space Agency's Spaceport
    • Detachment of telescope from the main rocket module minutes after lift-off described as 'the most complex sequence of deployments ever attempted in a single space mission'
    • The space observatory will be in a solar orbit, a million miles away, to give widest ever spectrum view
    • Means that, unlike predecessor Hubble Space Telescope which is 340 miles from the Earth, it can't be serviced if something goes wrong with the observatory

NASA's revolutionary James Webb Space Telescope has begun its one million mile voyage into solar orbit after successful lift off following decades of planning and delays.

Jubilant scientists and engineers shouted 'Go Webb, go!' as the telescope module detached from its rocket and floated off into space far above the earth's surface.

It is hoped that the observatory, a replacement for the 30-year-old Hubble telescope, will by travelling so far out be able to peer back in time 13.5bn years – to a point within a mere 100m years of the big bang.

A successful Christmas Day take off for the $10 billion telescope had been dubbed a 'Christmas miracle' after the project suffered a series of delays in the South American country's rainy season.

But at 7.20am ET (12.20PM GMT) the world's most powerful space telescope, equipped with an Ariane 5 rocket, took off from the European Spaceport facility in French Guiana in magnificent form before blasting skywards over the Atlantic Ocean.

Looks like I got my Christmas present... Was hoping for a sucessful launch.  The Ariane 5 does have a really good track record.

The James Webb launch

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Live streamed from NASA - tomorrow at 12:20UTC - 10:20AM PDT

More here: Webb Launch

I keep having a very odd feeling about this...  Have for the last year.

A lot of 21's today

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From Power Line:


Log4J hack

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Two good post-mortems on the Log4J vulnerability.
From Bruce Schneier (and read the comments)

On the Log4j Vulnerability
It’s serious:

The range of impacts is so broad because of the nature of the vulnerability itself. Developers use logging frameworks to keep track of what happens in a given application. To exploit Log4Shell, an attacker only needs to get the system to log a strategically crafted string of code. From there they can load arbitrary code on the targeted server and install malware or launch other attacks. Notably, hackers can introduce the snippet in seemingly benign ways, like by sending the string in an email or setting it as an account username.

Threat advisory from Cisco. Cloudflare found it in the wild before it was disclosed. CISA is very    concerned, saying that hundreds of millions of devices are likely affected.

And from Lawrence Person's BattleSwarm Blog:

Log4J and Internet Castles Made of Sand
If you work outside of a tech company, chances are you’ve spent this week primarily concerned with getting ready for Christmas. If you work inside a tech company, there’s a significant chance your company spent much of this week patching a critical vulnerability in an open source Java logging library called Log4J.

Here’s a non-technical explanation of the problem:

It’s a vulnerability that was discovered in a piece of free, open source software called log4j. This software is used by thousands of websites and applications, to perform mundane functions most people don’t think about, such as logging information for use by that website’s developers, for debugging and other purposes.

Every web application needs functionality like this, and as a result, the use of log4j is ubiquitous worldwide. Unfortunately, it turns out log4j has a previously undiscovered security vulnerability where data sent to it through that website — if it contains a special sequence of characters — results in log4j automatically fetching additional software from an external website and running it. If a cyberattacker exploits this, they can make the server that is running log4j run any software they want — including software that can completely take over that server. This is known as a Remote Code Execution (RCE) attack.

To use a technical phrase, this is Really Bad.

Much more at the site.

So many people use open source software but so few pay anything to the contributors or even bother to look at the source code.  An extra pair of eyes would probably have caught this before it was a problem.

Heh - from Pixy Misa:

The BMJ - British Medical Journal - published an expose of dubious experimental controls at a company contracted by Pfizer to assist in testing their Bat Flu vaccine.

Facebook, as is its wont, "fact checked" this.

The BMJ - which has been published since 1840 and is one of the world's leading medical journals gave them both barrels, reloaded, and is standing at the ready with one eyebrow raised.  (BMJ)

Go to the link and read - a brief but though eviscerating of Facebook's "fact checking" and a statement of the truth.

Remember that Facebook went so far as to admit in public that it's fact checking is only (in their terms) constitutes protected opinion

It is the old Section 230 that Facebook hides behind.  If they are a news site, they are legally liable for what they publish. If they are an opinion site, they are in the clear.  Therefore, Facebook's fact checkers can not publish the truth.

Have to do this for next year - brilliant

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My new wreath:


I need one of these stickers - Android

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Have a hard time with iOS and really like Android.  'nix from way back so Android (and MS-DOS) fit my way of thinking a lot better than anything from Apple.

Sums it up perfectly:


Recycling old technology - Spot

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Love it:


With a base model selling for about $75K, I seriously doubt that this is a junked unit but the idea is a lot of fun.

Go here and enjoy:

A palindrome day today

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Today is 12022021

If you do just the single digit for date representation, you get nine consecutive days:

    • December 1, 2021 (12-1-21)
    • December 2, 2021 (12-2-21)
    • December 3, 2021 (12-3-21)
    • December 4, 2021 (12-4-21)
    • December 5, 2021 (12-5-21)
    • December 6, 2021 (12-6-21)
    • December 7, 2021 (12-7-21)
    • December 8, 2021 (12-8-21)
    • December 9, 2021 (12-9-21)

More here: What are Palindrome Days?


Quite the crash - from Seattle station KIRO:

Car mangled under semi-truck in crash on I-5 over Skagit River
All lanes of I-5 were blocked over Skagit River late Tuesday morning after a semi-truck struck a car from behind.

According to Washington State Patrol Trooper Rocky Oliphant, the car was folded in half and the semi-truck came to rest on top of the car.

The accident was initially reported as a serious injury collision, but Oliphant later tweeted that the driver of the car sustained only minor injuries.

“There’s really not a word to describe this collision,” said Oliphant. “In my 14 year career, I have never seen anything like it.”


It would be interesting to learn the make and model - some good engineering there.  Hope the designers get to hear about this.

UPDATE:  It was a 2015 Nissan Altima

Awww - 20th anniversary of Monsters Inc.

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From Pixar:

Coulda made a million bucks...  Saw this on the Tube a few nights ago and was in Harbor Freight today so picked up two of them. Talk about a brilliant idea.  Perfect for my drill press and got another one for my big 1/2" drill.  Always hard socking the chuck down tight enough on that one.


That is going to be an expensive fix...

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Ho. Li. Crap...  From the Seattle, WA FOX News affiliate:

Washington scientist admits faking steel-test results for Navy submarines
A metallurgist in Washington state pleaded guilty to fraud Monday after she spent decades faking the results of strength tests on steel that was being used to make U.S. Navy submarines.

Elaine Marie Thomas, 67, of Auburn, Washington, was the director of metallurgy at a foundry in Tacoma that supplied steel castings used by Navy contractors Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding to make submarine hulls.

From 1985 through 2017, Thomas falsified the results of strength and toughness tests for at least 240 productions of steel — about half the steel the foundry produced for the Navy, according to her plea agreement, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. The tests were intended to show that the steel would not fail in a collision or in certain "wartime scenarios," the Justice Department said.

And this:

She suggested that in some cases she changed the tests to passing grades because she thought it was "stupid" that the Navy required the tests to be conducted at negative-100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The current operating theory of why the Titanic sank is that the metal in its rivets became brittle at cold temperatures. They were fine in the shipyard - passed every test with flying colors but they would snap with a clean break when chilled: here, here, here and here.  Testing at —100° is a perfect way to accentuate any potential issues with the batch of steel.

I do blacksmithing and have studied a lot about metal heat treating.  It is not a trivial subject. Fascinating but not trivial.  For example, here is a chart that an engineer would use to determine the proper heat treatment of a specific steel alloy:


You are looking at Temperature and Time.  The elements of the graph indicate the relative concentrations of Martensite, AusteniteFerrite and Cementite in the crystaline structure. I am simplifying things greatly.  There are also options for cryogenic treatment.  And this is for just one alloy with a specific chemical composition.  Change anything and you have to develop an entirely new chart and an entirely new heat treatment protocol.  Also note that some transitions have to happen over a few seconds at a specific temperature.  Other transitions require several hours or maybe a week at a specific temperature.  You do not simply heat it red hot and plunge it into a bucket of water or oil. At least, not for a submarine hull...

What she did is unconscionable.

Like we really need to be told...

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Tip of the hat to Borepatch for the link to this website:

Global Village Construction Set
The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts. We’re developing open source industrial machines that can be made at a fraction of commercial costs, and sharing our designs online for free.

The GVCS in itself consists of many other Construction Sets – as we build not individual machines, but construction sets of machines. As an example, the Fabrication Construction Set component can be used to build any of the other machines. Our goal is lifetime design, and low maintenance so only a few hours of maintenance per year are required to keep any machine alive.

We have built the first machine in 2007 – the Compressed Earth Brick Press. Since then, we have been moving forward steadily, improving the performance and production efficiencies of our machines. We have achieved a landmark One Day production time of the Compressed Earth Brick Press in 2012, and we intend to bring down the production time down to 1 day for each of the other machines. In 2013, we used our tractor, brick press, and soil pulverizer to build a comfortable home – the Microhouse. We continue to dogfood our tools in agriculture, construction, and fabrication – as we build our facility up to a world-class research center for open source, libre technology and decentralized production. In 2014, we will be moving to a replicable workshop model of production – integrating immersion education and production – where we intend to scale by distributing our open enterprise models far and wide. Our goal is to demonstrate how these machines contribute to creating a world beyond artificial material scarcity – by creating an open documentation, development, and production platform – towards the open source economy.

The index of the machines is here.  Interesting ideas - straight out of Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia

Latest from you know who:

Hmmmm... Not a bad setup

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I like it - this is from a 1969 fair in Hanover, Germany by way of Jamie Zawinski:


Split keyboard was actually invented by an American: Louis Crandall, Syracuse, NY  -  1886

Happy Birthday - Windows XP

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I was working at MSFT when Windows 2000 shipped.  XP came out about a year later.  My biggest gripe was that they moved a lot of stuff around.  Get used to one set of operations and XP changed the way you worked. That being said, XP was Windows Done Right.  Big fan. Simple, speedy, none of the fscking bloat you have in Win10 (even more expected in Win11).  You were not "nudged" to join the BORG.  You booted it up, did your work and that was that.

Seems like I am not the only one who loved it.
Twenty years old today - from Bleeping Computer:

It's Windows XP's 20th birthday and way too many still use it
Today is the 20th anniversary of Windows XP, and although the operating system reached the end of support in 2014, way too many people continue to use the insecure version of Windows.

Windows XP was released on October 25, 2001, and is considered one of the most loved versions of Windows due to its ease of use, fast performance, and stability.

Today, after Microsoft has released Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11, a small but respectable number of people are still using the old operating system.

This continued usage is a testament to its success but also raises concerns regarding ts lack of security.

More at the site including this bit:

How many systems are still running Windows XP?
According to StatCounter, the percentage of Windows users using the XP version of the OS in September 2021 is 0.59%, a significant number when you consider how many Windows systems are deployed worldwide.

I wish MSFT would just open source it like they did with MS-DOS and Windows NT.  Let people develop a FOSS version of XP. I have a couple copies that I use on machines that never see the internet.  Hard to get drivers for modern hardware but for simple stuff, it does the job.

Honey - I'm home...

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From Daily Timewaster


I love art deco industrial artwork - what can I say... Such an optimism for the future.



Go Harbor Freight

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A bit of a PR announcement from their president but they are doing a really great thing - much needed.
From an email:

$1 Million to Support Skilled Trades in U.S. Public High Schools
Over the past year, we’ve seen widespread agreement on the need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and recognition of the shortage of skilled trade workers needed to do the rebuilding.

Skilled trades teachers in public high schools will play a key role in developing the skilled workforce needed to fill the gap. When students learn the trades in high school, they gain a head start on the road to good-paying jobs and fulfilling careers.

Today, I’m happy to announce that the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence is awarding more than $1 million to 18 outstanding public high school skilled trades teachers and their programs. The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence is our way of honoring these remarkable teachers. We hope it will spark increased support for these critical programs.

This short video explains why this work is so important and celebrates the amazing high school skilled trades teachers dedicated to meeting the challenge.

Please join me in congratulating our winners and please remember to thank the teachers in your community for the work they do in our schools every day.


Eric Smidt

Very cool - this foundation has actually been running since 2014 so been around for a while. 73,903 students have benefited from this program.

An interesting bug set to happen - from ZD Net:
(used to be the Ziff / Davis Publishing Company)

Thanks to a nasty GPSD bug, real-life time travel trouble arrives this weekend

"Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?"

Actually, if you use computers for pretty much anything, you do. Oh, you may not know it if you're not a system or network administrator, but security, identification, networks, everything that makes the internet go depends on accurate time-keeping. Some systems rely on Global Positioning Systems (GPS) appliances and the GPSD daemon to tell the exact time, and a nasty bug's been uncovered in GPSD that's going to pop up on October 24, 2021. If left unpatched, it's going to switch your time to some time in March 2002, and your system will crash with a resounding kaboom. Here's how it works.

More at the site. The problem?

Recently it was discovered that a bug in the time rollback (aka "GPS Week Rollover") sanity checking code scheduled for November 2038 will instead trigger this Sunday, and cause 1,024 to be subtracted from the October 24, 2021 week number. In other words, a lot of computers are in for a quick, sharp visit to March 2002.

This will be ugly. Or, as Stephen Williams, who uncovered the bug put it, "I have a feeling that there will be some 'interesting moments' in the early morning when a bunch of the world's stratum 1 NTP servers using GPSD take the long strange trip back to 2002."

And this is just the little brother.  The big 'event' is scheduled to happen on January 19th, 2038 and it's a doozey.

A good question... Apple?

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From Jamie Zawinski:

What does Apple know and when did they know it


A good question.  A couple trenchant comments too.

A blast from the past - QBasic

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Some people have taken QBasic and run with it.  It now compiles to an executable, can be linked to other code (C, C++ notably) and runs on Windows, Linux and Mac.  Fully QB4.5 compliant with a couple nifty features added in.

Also, it is open source.  Very cool.

Check out

From the 80s to eternity
How BASIC made its way into the 21st century
The BASIC language has been the gateway into programming for countless people. Popular as a beginner programming language in the 80’s and evolving into a powerful professional tool in 90’s, BASIC (and its successor QBasic), helped many people develop a love for programming. These languages provided the foundational learning platform for most of today’s professional developers.

The QB64 project has evolved over the last decade to bring the magic and educational potential of BASIC from its 20th century roots into the modern era. The QB64 project is already in use in both educational and professional contexts and has an active and helpful user community.

Unlike traditional BASIC and QBasic code, QB64 gets compiled automatically into machine code – allowing exceptional performance, easy distribution, and the ability to link with external C and C++ programming libraries. Compatible with most QBasic 4.5 code, QB64 adds a number of extensions, such as OpenGL and other modern features, providing the perfect blend of classic and modern program development.

QB64 is available for all recent Windows, Linux, and macOS versions.

Scott really gets it today - Dilbert


January 2022

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