The "init commit" Project (TicP)

(second time publishing this, sorry for the repeat - the other version of this blog post on tmo.name is lost to time and (tag-less) cyber space, haha)

I've continued to have a writing bug (an urge to write) as of late, and I am A-OK with that. But, I do not want to flood out the R.w.a feed. And I also couldn't access Midnight.pub nor Smol.pub today, either (as I assume they are both on the same server, and m15o must be having some sort of issue with them (or they could be down for standard maintenance(sp?)). So, I went ahead and A) deleted an older blog that I had set to Private on W.a (called “diarist”), because it had a single blog post, and I didn't ever see updating it (initially, in late-2017, when I first discovered W.a, I had a Free account with W.a and I titled that blog “diarist”. In fact, I had to log in to that old account (which I actually remembered the PW for), and change that blog's title to something else, to steal back (from myself) the diarist name and put it on a blog on my current/main W.a account). But, I do not need/want the name any longer, so I deleted it. But also, B) I fired up a NEW blog on my main W.a account that I am calling (sub)TMO, and the point and purpose of this bloggo, is to be able to A) update it via Firefox browser on mobile because Ghost software does not respond well to mobile browser (oddly), and B) to have it as a “constant” and “immediate” source for me to write “publicly” on-the-fly, even though I will set the blog to “Unlisted” from the R.w.a feed. In fact, I created a homescreen shortcut for it on my phone, so I can just update it quickly from wherever. And also, it will be a mobile-first/mobile-only blog, I decided. I won't update it from a laptop. Though, in the first post there, I mentioned how I wanted a home desktop setup where I continually had the WriteFreely Terminal/CLI writing app for Linux launched on the machine 24/7, and to keep the machine plugged in via Ethernet, and to just sit down and hammer text any time of the day or night, and not even utilize this hypothetical home desktop for much else beyond writing some stuff here and there. The “Terminal”/“CLI” element of the WriteFreely app is nothing more than a super-minimal text editor (no CLI functions), but it seems quite CLI-like in nature.

More went into the thoughts around this home setup rig than what I mentioned before, too – I had once considered getting an old (and obviously used) Vectrex gaming console from 1982 (just before my birthyear – pictured below (credit: Wikipedia)):

...and then, I would take it upon myself to do a little hackery-hoo, and see how I could (perhaps) rig a Raspberry Pi 4 to the monitor, itself, and bypass the gaming portion of the machine, and sort of use the MONITOR as a sort of “dual boot monitor” (meaning I could “flip a switch”, in a way, and go from oldschool gaming console to home Linux setup at the drop of a hat). Then, I would download the WriteFreely (Linux) writing app for Raspberry Pi OS (formerly called Raspbian OS), and just sort of stretch and fit the editor to fit the dimensions of the Vectrex monitor, and have it always on, always ready for the writing. The RPi (all (full-sized) models) DO have an Ethernet port on them, so no problem there. And of course RPi is 100% compatible with the latest versions of Bluetooth, so I could opt for a standard Bluetooth keyboard/mouse (not that the mouse would be super useful for this usecase). But, I would obviously have to go the fun route with the keyboard, and assemble some sort of mechanical keyboard for this (hypothetical) home rig.

Why all this funny business? Why not just get a regular damn monitor?

I fell in love with the Vectrex the second I saw it. It looks SO cool! Enormous bezels, retro through and through! Plus the vertical display! Rarely seen anywhere.

But, that's where the trouble starts. The display, itself. It's hard to describe the elements of HOW the display works, but it is not a regular CRT monitor, but uses a type of monitor technology called a Vector monitor. It uses basically a proprietary (or at least fairly rare (certainly these days, anyway)) technology where the pixels don't use a grid pattern, but instead “draw” the lines on the screen in real-time, sorta. By all means, use the links above to read more about the Vectrex and the monitor technology if/when you choose (links go to Wikipedia). The chances (of me getting lucky) and being able to rig a modern day RPi 4 to this machine is not very likely. In fact, rigging any CRT monitor to something that is limited to: 4 USB-A ports, 1 HDMI port, 1 USB-C port, and that is all, is probably not going to happen (don't get me wrong, SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE has a type of homemade adaptor to pull something like that off, but I am better off getting a different (microcomputer) board altogether for this project). Thing is, a lot of other (retro-themed) boards (micro or not) that DO have VGA connections, etc., tend to be geared towards either A) retro-style games, B) retro style computing + computer languages (such as learning BASIC), and C) are not capable of handling any desktop Linux distro, as they are also fairly low-powered in regards to their chipset (think 16mb RAM, etc.). So, I would need to find a board (again, micro or not) that is both “powered” enough to handle a modern (and preferrably recent) version of Linux, and also has a VGA connection with it (I think VGA is what I am looking for, anyway – it may be another connection type altogether for a CRT monitor?), AND have it run a distro of Linux that is compatible with the WriteFreely “Terminal/CLI” writing app (which may or may not be a problem, as I am assuming it (the writing app) works with a lot of different distros).

Then, the question of will this Vector monitor “DRAW” the damn desktop enviro onto it's screen if I should be able to get it CONNECTED properly? (Mind you, just because a connection is there, doesn't mean everything will be 100% compatible – 40 years of technological changes can alter what works with what, afterall ;)).

So, it's a thing worth exploring. And after hammering out 1,200 words about this (possible) project, I may as well explore it further. So I will do so soon, and I would like to get it rigged up. Another thing worth mentioning is that I would need home WiFi to get the most “bang for my buck” in terms of it being an always-on/always-ready writing machine. I currently tether everything to my phone at the moment, but AT&T WiFi is happening. Eventually.

Thanks for reading :)

EDIT – I decided to outline this project further (a couple of hours after finishing this blog post), and am calling it init commit, as it is my first (substantial) hardware project that I have taken on. Things will come together slowly, over time, but I am pursuing this! Fun times!

Follow-ups coming as things move along :)

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