Revolution During Disintegration: Lessons from a Short History of Yugoslav Computing (HOPE 2022)

This is a recording of the talk I gave at A New HOPE conference on 7/24/2022 in NYC. I have posted it here until the official recording is available at https://www.youtube.com/user/Channel2600. The socialist Yugoslav state was in many ways an aberration of the polarized Cold War period. Socialist, but not Soviet-aligned; friendly, but not exactly allied with Western Europe and the U.S.; its unusual position produced unique developments in computing.

Remembering Josip Gobac, my grandfather

Note: this is the English translation of the obituary I wrote for my grandfather in Croatian in October 2021. You can read the original here. On October 14th Josip Gobac, the Director of Television Zagreb from 1978 – 1986, passed away from COVID-19. He was not only a successful journalist, a talented painter, an unstoppable hiker and a big nature lover, Jo┼ża Gobac was also my grandfather. He died at

Building a Galaksija, Part III: Audio cassettes, magazine listings and radio waves

Note: this is the third and final part of three articles about my experience building a 1980s Yugoslav 8-bit computer called the Galaksija. This part is mostly focused on software creation, distribution and preservation. You can find Part I, focused on the tech, here, and Part II, focused on the history of the Galaksija, here. It is largely based on my sprawling Twitter thread about the Galaksija. The first computer I

Unlocking an SPA-2102 ATA in 2021

Note: this post was originally published as a Twitter thread. Recently I watched Cathode Ray Dude‘s videos on faxing from Windows and dialing up at home, and I was inspired to experiment with modems and faxing myself. He has a great article on configuring an ATA (analog telephone adapter) to place calls between phones/faxes/modems without a need for a telephone network. I went ahead and got myself an Linksys SPA-2102

Building a Galaksija, Part II: The Origin Story

Note: this is Part II of three articles about my experience building a 1980s Yugoslav 8-bit computer called Galaksija. This part is mostly focused on the history and the cultural impact of this machine. You can check out Part I for the story about the tech. Part III will focus on the software, community and Galaksija’s legacy. This article is largely based on my sprawling Twitter thread about Galaksija.  In

Building a Galaksija, Part I: The Tech

Note: this is the first part of three articles about my experience building a 1980s Yugoslav 8-bit computer called Galaksija. This part is mostly focused on the technical aspects of building this computer. Part II will focus on the history and the cultural impact of this machine. A BCS version of this article was published on RetroInfo. It is largely based on my sprawling Twitter thread about Galaksija. At the

Encountering WD SMR mess in real life with TrueNAS/FreeNAS

Note: FreeNAS recently rebranded as TrueNAS. Since I still haven’t upgraded my system I’ll be referring to it as FreeNAS in this post. Earlier this year, I tangentially followed the story on Western Digital shipping SMR (shingled magnetic recording) drives labelled as “Red” NAS drives. While these drives do provide satisfactory performance for non NAS use, they are significantly slower for most NAS’s, and virtually unusable for ZFS, used in

Exploring old computer tech from Yugoslavia

A couple of weeks ago I came across this amazing thread and the recently published @jacobinmag article about Galaksija, Yugoslavia’s DIY computer from the 80s. I was vaguely aware of its history, but it has largely been forgotten in the Balkans. I’ve been on a bit of an old hardware binge lately, so I attempted to source a Galaksija or another locally built computer while I’m in Croatia. No luck so far on the second hand market as it seems like these are increasingly rare. Ditto for the magazine that made them popular.

How I traveled internationally during the pandemic and ended up making a COVID testing website

In late July we traveled from NYC to Croatia to see my family. Upon arrival, we quarantined for two weeks and decided to get tested. Unfortunately, I spent hours trying to confirm simple info about locations and whether I can bike to a drive-in testing center. Thankfully, we tested negative, but I was concerned about the difficulty of finding basic info, especially with the large number of tourists in Croatia.