Whenever you need to know something, you just look it up on the Internet, right? Using the search engine of your choice, you type in a couple keywords, hit enter, and you’re set. Any datasheet, any protocol specification, any obscure runtime error, any time. Heck, you can most often find some sample code implementing whatever it is you’re looking for. In a minute or so.
It is so truly easy to find everything technical that I take it entirely for granted. In fact, I had entirely forgotten that we live in a hacker’s utopia until a couple nights ago, when it happened again: I wanted to find something that isn’t on the Internet. Now, to be fair, it’s probably out there and I just need to dig a little deeper, but the shock of not instantly finding the answer to a random esoteric question reminded me how lucky we actually are 99.99% of the time when we do find the answer straight away.
So great job, global hive-mind of über-nerds! This was one of the founding dreams of the Internet, that all information would be available to everyone anywhere, and it’s essentially working. Never mind that we can stream movies or have telcos with people on the other side of the globe – when I want a Python library for decoding Kansas City Standard audio data, it’s at my fingertips. Detailed SCSI specifications? Check.
But what was my search, you ask? Kristina and I were talking about Teddy Ruxpin, and I thought that the specification for the servo track on the tape would certainly have been reverse engineered and well documented. And I’m still sure it is – I was just shocked that I couldn’t instantly find it. The last time this happened to me, it was the datasheet for the chips that make up a Speak & Spell, and it turned out that I just needed to dig a lot harder. So I haven’t given up hope yet.
And deep down, I’m a little bit happy that I found a hole in the Internet. It gives Kristina and me an excuse to reverse engineer the format ourselves. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. But for the rest of those times, when I really want the answer to a niche tech question, thanks everyone!
106 thoughts on “Not On The Internet”
The real heroes are those that spend countless hours making obscure data books and text books available online as PDFs. The vilains are those that put them behind some BS paywall or subscription service.
As pirates would say, information wants to be free.
Actually, Stewart Brand said it. And the article continued with “information wants to be costly”, or words to the effect.
He’s talking about the cost of distribution, not the value of the creation.
There used to be cheap distribution, pocket size paperbacks. Really cheap, so endless things got published. I have a Penguin Guideto Radio Astronomy, hardly a common interest. A guide to model rocketry. The Pentagon Papers rushed into print in a cheap paperback.
Now, pocket is only for novels, and those are now so thick they won’t fit in many pockets.
Endless Dummies Guides, but not 95 centcover price, and it can be argued, too.much filler.
I use DuckDuckGo as step 1, followed by Google if needed. But I’ve noticed that some “obscure” documents are often no longer as easily located as they used to be in the past. I’m not sure if it’s changes to algorithms, storage requirements from indexing everything, or perhaps the origin sites restricting indexing.
I hope this trend does not continue much further, as it would fundamentally change a key utility aspect of the internet.
The internet changes all the time, since hosting costs money and obscure old websites simply vanish over time.
That, plus bloody Pinterest spamming the search engines full of stolen images lifted out of context.
Ahh Pin(dis)interest, the bain of google image searches!
I’m sure there must be people that actively use it, else they simply rely on revenue from image searchers that did not want to end up on pinterest.
Would be good if one of the search engines that has the ‘site:’ search term also provided an inverse equivalent like notsite:pinterest (.com)
Bruh that’s been a thing for over 10 years. Just put “-pintrest” in your search.
When you use DDG, you can’t really exclude stuff – it just puts less emphasis on those results. This is a problem because the same thing may be copied 20 times over on Pinterest and so the original source is still waaaay down there.
You can exclude a specific domain names, but Pinterest gets around that by having domains in every friggin country in every possible mutation so you have to exclude com, org, net, co.uk, it, jp…
Oh, and it’s not just Pinterest. There’s now tons of websites that scour research papers, take the pictures and then spam them onto search engines just the same so when you’re trying to do a quick image search for a piece of statistics you always land on these “research snippet” sites that won’t give you a link to the actual paper and instead direct you to a paywall.
SO many times in so many ways do I miss the downfall of Boolean search operators. Sometimes I do want to search for “x AND y OR z NOT q”…
Best you can do to suggest that’s what you want now is doing it like…
“x” y z -q
-site:example.tld e.g; “spam -site:amazon.com”
There is that, but when you block pinterest.com the same thing pops out from pinterest.jp or from a domain name registered in Vanuatu. They have a million domains.
you can add `-site:pinterest.*` to your search, it will work for every domain like .com, .jp, org, .net
There’s this: https://archivebox.io/ which I haven’t explored, but keep meaning to. A personal internet archive would be reassuring.
I should try that too. I have been wget -r or plain firefox -> save page as’ing sites that I know I will want to visit in 10 years.
Firefox is suppose to have Pocket for saving pages.
search queery -pinterest
it is disgusting how often i use that switch
One place I’ve found incredibly helpful for old information is archive.org. It’s a treasure trove of actually useful information.
Every time I get a chip in-house I take the trouble to download the datasheet and save it on my computer, and every time I buy a board I take the trouble to download the datasheet and pinout .jpg from wherever I purchase it.
It’s much *much* more convenient to go to the “boards” directory, dive down into the “AdafruitIMU” directory, and see the jpg showing the bus pinout and another one showing the various connections labelled. No internet searching required.
I recently gave a colleague an LED driver chip mounted on a breakout, and he couldn’t find the datasheet anywhere except in Chinese. Local copy to the rescue.
I’ve also got a directory for tool and big household things I own, such as my refrigerator, stove, truck, and such with the PDF owner’s manual, and maintenance manual if I can find it. Same with tools such as my laser cutter, my computer motherboards, and my lathe.
I’ve just recently started saving copies of all the books, videos, audio books, and online articles that I think are high quality. If it’s interesting enough that I might want to refer to it later, it goes into the directory, and this includes web pages (using “print edit”), published papers, audio podcasts, and images.
If SciHub ever gets taken out, or if a company moves or reorganizes their web site (so links don’t work), or bit rot happens, I’ve always got backups of everything that I’ve read.
Saving all the documentation takes time, but there’s also a considerable amount of time saved from not searching for things online. Sometimes company different datasheets are better (Texas Instruments versus Signetics), and I don’t have to repeat the process of discovering this, sometimes it’s difficult to tell exactly which model of encabulator I have, and I don’t have to redo the process of figuring this out, and so on.
I figure that in the long run this has saved about the same amount of time that it took, so it’s a wash overall.
But in that one case where you can’t remember the pinout, and the board is no longer available, and you don’t want to spend the time researching new ones, choosing a new one, and waiting for ti to arrive… if you just want to get on with your proof-of-concept project…
In these situations, having local documentation saves a lot of time.
I definitely download manuals as I get equipment. You never know if it will be online later.
I have a fairly big library of electronic and radio books, started about 1971. If I see one of them digitized online, I grab it. Not as good as paper boojs, but a backup.
I do exactly the same thing, with manuals and such, but also software. Lots of old installers simply go missing. If the latest certain of something is buggy and I need to downgrade. . Easy. If Logitech no longer supplies the drivers to my touchpad.. easy. I only end up using maybe 5% of the stuff, but when I do need it, I would have been screwed otherwise
I miss the days when there was an FTP sure for everything that you could easily browser and find old versions, etc.
+1 for taking copies of pin outs and datasheets. Nine time out of ten, the issue isn’t finding the info, but finding it amongst all the other similar pin outs for slightly variant devices. I’m looking at you, ESP boards.
I wonder why “datasheet only in Chinese” is a frequent complaint. The terminology is limited enough that using Google translate of pictures works quite well. I know Chinese though and am thinking of putting some Chinese datasheet terminology on my website. I’ll share it on hackaday when I do.
I also do the other way around.
Before I buy, I make sure I’ve read the manual. No manuals on-line? Too bad, I’ll find something else to buy.
Often the manuals contain all the details you need to know to understand how the device works, what technology it uses, or the limitations bit has. Something you might never find out based on the marketing pitch.
(Although lately a lot of manuals tend to be bad quality, unfortunately.)
That’s simply because DDG is utter hot garbage. You cannot use it for keywords even if you “force” it with quotes. It never returns relevant results for the last 3 or so years now
That’s because it’s just being with a coat of paint
Still beats “Let’s block you with full-page consent forms and extortion to giving up your privacy every time you clear your cookies”… you know who.
I’m still surprised at shear numbers of people who still use single search engine instead of Meta-search like searx.
C’mon people: https://searx.space/ http://searxspbitokayvkhzhsnljde7rqmn7rvoga6e4waeub3h7ug3nghoad.onion/
>Whenever you need to know something, you just look it up on the Internet, right?
If you enjoy not finding things, you’ll surely enjoy companies like TI that delete documentation and hunt people with their army of lawyers that dare to hold on to the corresponding pdf files.
Try this GitHub
GUI authoring tool for Teddy Ruxpin tapes
See? That’s excatly what I’m glad I didn’t find. :)
Seriously, thanks. I’ll look at that once I’m done playing around.
Wanna see how someone else did it?
Okay so for the speak’n’spell you’re probably going to have to go to bitsavers.org and download the Texas Instruments data book of the relevant or following year.
And there was a not very useful article in Byte, maybe 1980?
A lot of the magazines that have been digitized don’t show up in regular search engines. Which I suspect is why everyone points to videos than articles current to the past.
Internet growth was not linear. So for a “long time” I could come home with a piece of electronics, and find something about it. But after some point,and I can’t place it, that stopped. I’m still not sure if content disappeared, or it was drowned put by more recent, and trivial, content.
The search engines don’t help. Google used to have something for searching blogs and it made it easy to see what people were saying. They dropped the search of usenet, so any results appear.mixed inwith everything else
Some magazines sell their archives, assuming they’re still in business.
Speaking of magazine archives, if you haven’t explored worldradiohistory.com you are in for a treat. Their onsite search of those works fairly well too.
I’ve noticed this, too, re data sheets and manuals and old mags. Seemed like back in the 20-ohs essentially anything I looked for was available somewhere, usually direct links to PDFs, often on FTP servers. But lately more often than not there’s only an “add to cart”, or some chain of links that all say Download but only lead to some in-browser viewer. Reminiscent of the early days when one day you could find phone book white pages and then the next those were all gone replaced by “people finder” sites.
Remember when intel delivered their web site on CDs?
Yah I think I’ve seen that one, it might have gone in one of the Best of Byte or best of Circuit Cellar books too.
There was a on off on off on off thing happening with tech data as well, first it was available on 1800 bulletin boards, then it wasn’t, then it was on FTP and gopher servers, findable with archie, then it wasn’t, then there was like a 7 year lag before pre-web tech stuff started getting webified, then various sites up and down every five years and various artificial stupidity upgrades to search engines.
One glaring annoyance with how google and others are working at the moment, is that you’re looking for advanced specifications of something and put the specification you are searching for, it could be static pressure for fans maybe, and google goes, “oh you’re searching for specs, I’ll search for all occurences of “specifications” with your keyword and totally ignore what you asked for” so it shoves a bunch of crap basic specs in your face, mostly just volts and amps which the damn things always have printed on them, and a page with actual static pressure may be 5 pages into the results if you’ve got the stamina.
False synonyms is another pet peeve. Where a word has numerous meanings and the synonym isn’t the synonym for the sense you are looking for and google gives you that anyway EVEN IF YOU PUT QUOTES AROUND IT WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO FORCE THAT KEYWORD INCLUSION.
Have you noticed that ebay and amazon assume everyone using their search is a semi-literate moron?
You get 40,000 results every time, even though none of them are what you actually searched for.
Uncommon acronym searches are doomed, almost always trys to correct you to a word. For instance just trying to search ACR and it keeps highlighting “act” even as a partial, like in contract etc. which is particularly stupid since acr is part of words like acrymonious and acronym and others, but no, I couldn’t be searching for that.
Yes and also how dare you not want something that’s highly popular that has greater than 10% similarity to your search phrase, you must be wrong.
Those sites are in the business of selling you something, and if you can limit your results to the point where you correctly deduce they don’t sell what you’re looking for, you definitely won’t buy something.
If they return you bad results when they can’t find what you actually wanted, some percentage of the time they will still make a sale.
The unfortunate reality is that hardly anybody is willing to pay for a search function that works properly. It only pays to implement strategically broken search engines.
i notice its getting harder to find useful information on the internet. you will get tons of social media posts, websites trying to sell you stuff, or find the results are behind a paywall, etc. woe to anyone trying to do political research on today’s internet.
It’s probably still out there, but buried under all the current fluffy crap that dominates. Remember how web crawlers worked? Type in your search string and go away for a while? Page 11,000 of a google search probably has the answer but you need a search of the search results to know.
I really miss the dig down option, search inside these results.
The comments on this post are starting to make give a second thought to the “Dead Internet” theory.
I’m not sure if the various search engines are trying to monetize your search or just dropping obscure search items due to infrequent access.
I’ve decided in this world of plenty that there’s simply a lot of material that’ll never be on the internet, for several reasons including the cost of putting it there in an accurate form.
In 1997 I bought an Apple PowerMac 4400, the most unloved PowerMac in the world! But I thought it was great. Recently I wondered how much it cost in GBP (£) just to see how much computer prices had changed between then and now, but I couldn’t find the information anywhere. I could find the cost in $, but since I didn’t know Apple’s US to UK exchange rate (usually $1=£1), I couldn’t work out an accurate figure.
Eventually, I wondered if the information was in an actual Macintosh Magazine I’d bought at the time, so when I next visited my dad, I hunted round the attic for it. And I found the actual MacUser (UK) magazine in November 1996 which had directly lead me to buying that computer (and a Sony Trinitron monitor) at the quaint town of Alfreton in Derbyshire!
So, I put it in my blog. Now everyone who bought a PowerMac 4400 at the time can find out how much they paid :-) !
It is wonderful. As people have pointed out, the internet is a dynamic place and things do vanish (and new things appear). Just last week, I ran across references to what looked like a wonderful series of Zynq/FPGA articles that are now gone.
And again this week something that there were links to, but the site has now dropped that project.
Let me say this. Please, please, put your work on Github. It is tragic when some project is hosted on a personal website that someday the person decides to abandon. Say what you will about Github, it works fine and seems to persist.
I learned long ago to make my own copies of truly valuable documents. I haven’t gone so far as to make my own mirror copies of websites though. But I have my “projects” directory with countless project subdirectories, each of which has my own stash of PDF files, schematics, and whatever is useful.
This goes beyond documentation you know. When you find a nice single board computer and learn how to work with it, you are well served to order several (a dozen if they are cheap), because it is only a matter of time before they aren’t being made anymore. You could argue that you should just “move on” yourself, and there certainly is a tipping point where that is true.
However, for many projects “any” microcontroller of a given class well do and it is more important to use something you are up the curve with and can get things done with quickly than to use the latest hottest thing.
Yeah thanks folks it is amazing.
In my mind the primary thing that does not lie on the ‘internet’: ‘trade secrets’. In the form of human knowledge or otherwise these are ‘air gapped’.
Further, of late, it has become increasingly apparent to me how many search engines are fundamentally or otherwise derived from Google search. Bing, for example, has been scraping the results from there for years.
Thus, in the end, if you ‘control search’, you ‘control the internet’.
Unfortunately I am only a novice on this budding topic at this point, but one recent ‘ah ha’ I’ve had, if there were a much less environmentally ‘expensive’ way to handle/manage it (crunching primes costs $).
And then still, one has to go back to the concept of ‘how to perform’ the search (outside of my pay-grade– a ‘map / ‘NoSQL’ type algorithm ?
But instead of using metadata, each website could establish there own bitcoin type key, and thus with the common ledger, each site would receive equal representation.
And of could I only mean ‘bit coin’ in terms of the algorithm, *not* the currency.
IMHO I think this could be a really cool potential open source project.
I mean you could also establish a P2P (torrent) type search engine in the same way, but without the concept of the ‘general ledger’, it belies the possibility of unequal representation–
Whereas right now, Google sort of ‘tweaks the algorithm’ a bit, and then the SEO geeks fight back.
Also a big question is how sites would thus be weighted in the search, plus the problem the whole database would be ‘massive’ compared to Bitcoin holdings.
So I think the tech isn’t quite ‘there’ yet, but at least strikes me as potentially interesting. Appreciate any thoughts from those ‘more in the know’.
Do you really want equal representation for any site ?
If you find a useful site that might or might not vanish before you need it, you can always get the wayback machine to copy it for posterity.
Indeed. I regularly submit sites to the Wayback Machine, often they’ve already been crawled but not always. Not only technical but politicians websites should be captured as well as information can change on those very subtly.
My contribution to the obscure, from over 20 years ago – https://www.zianet.com/jgray/dat/index.html
This guy knows the answer, and here is a backup sonwe can read it:
When I see an cool webpage that I think is more prone than average to being deleted, I always try to save the page to the archive, so I know that even if it’s lost, the archive will still have it at least.
I would almost guarantee that it’s a simple beep track. There’s also a good chance that they did some wizardry so that a motor running one direction moves one thing, and running the other way moves something else. I built a new brain for one of those animatronic parrot toys and it was a single motor for the eyes/mouth depending which way the motor ran.
There are classes of info that aren’t on the internet. Industrial machines–almost nothing about design, engineering, or manuals. For example, rope braiding machines–you can find individual projects, but very little on the design of machines used in industry. Factory processes in general. Details of chemical processes.
Electronic components and modules are a rare exception, because manufacturers need to provide engineering info to a large number of customers to get uptake of their components in products.
I can find scientific papers on subjects, but when a method or process moves into commercial use, the knowledge goes into a black box. Patents occasionally have a sliver of info, but they are written to convey as little info as possible. Old (1950’s) machines often came a comprehensive manual, often with a schematic, enough detail to repair/rebuild. This is almost never available for new equipment.
http://vintagemachinery.org/ can be your friend. Also a great place to publish manuals you find/acquire.
There are some things that are just not on the internet yet… A few years ago I bought a 1943 Smith Drum extension bed lathe (it’s the smallest lathe I could find that can have over 24″ of throw) for $500. Took a couple of years to track down a manual for it, which was in a veterans museum in Wisconsin, and not available to for loan or checkout. I was able to find a researcher at the museum willing to scan them for me (for a cost), now it’s on vintagemachinery,org for all the folks that are lucky enough to own such a lathe.
You mean swing?
Ack, yeah, swing.
To kind of support what you’re saying there was a problem in medical settings I remember vividly. Baking soda had become unavailable, and so the intravenous solutions, or other saline solution dependant treatments, were impossible to do. This happened because NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO MAKE MEDICAL QUALITY BAKING SODA and not even at an industrial scale, but for the compounding pharmacies often located in hospitals.
One of these pharmacies tried finding a method for making their own since it was something that they believed to be too simple to have no documentation for it’s production ever submitted for scholarly publication.
They found a single archived, and experimental, method. It was a trial performed by several healthcare professionals during a similar shortage during one of the great wars. The published results were not even indicative of having necessarily succeeded in production of a pure enough compound useful for intravenous or other healthcare uses.
There were, at the time I was looking into it, 2 sources of medical grade baking soda. I found no reliable method of it’s production for personal use just in case I wanted it. Baking soda isn’t something that’s a niche product, rarely used or otherwise in a class that it’s means of production should not be common knowledge. Or at least have more than the one article about producing the stuff. And it should absolutely not be a determining factor in the treatment of someone because one of the two suppliers of the stuff refuses to increase production as there was no evidence of being rewarded with greater profit. If one person died because they couldn’t get friggin baking soda there should have been a national outrage, and while I’m not sure if anyone did die I’m also made uncomfortable that so few people ever knew it was a problem unless they were at the hospital and told about it.
The way nearly all companies always try to get away with giving the least information about their product design “to avoid counterfeits” is a bad mindset in the long term if we want the preservation of knowledge.
Closed source design is a bane for industrial progress : That’s why one of the reasons China industry does well is their lax rules about patents and IP in practice.
Not building a factory over there deals with that problem. And oddly enough they’ll start developing strong IP when they start developing something worth protecting.
Still rife with DMCA abuse
The real ones pirate using the archive (please don’t do it it’s like using Tor to torrent)
If we don’t start rebelling soon it won’t before long before there are no answers on the internet full stop. Every useful piece of information will be censored on grouns of “misinformation”, specifically the government will define anything that lets you get better capabilities out of a device than the manufacturer intended to be “misinformation”. Information about installing linux “misinformation”, information about taking your IoT kit under your control “misinformation”, … Don’t let it happen, tell your respective government(s) you wont tolerate censorship and don;t want any online “safety” bills or equivalent, and be prepared for the fight back if they push ahead anyway.
Need some tinfoil???
Don’t buy brand name though, they put the tracking microdots in the brand name stuff. ;-)
Sometimes you take a random exit off the internet superhighway and end up in a tranquil “internet route 66” island of sites that maybe still have a functioning webring or are an interest group that links back to each other, and you get a treasure trove of info that google can’t or won’t pull up, even when you try pasting sentences off these pages into it.
You can meander your way there by clicking through people’s link pages sometimes, and get into an alternate universe almost. Particularly seems to happen with electronics, old computers, ham radio, amateur astronomy, anywhere you’ve got a load of over 40s that are rich with info, and just wanna hammer that out onto pages or less popular blog platforms and they DGAF about SEO because it’s gonna change in a couple of years anyway, when scammers game the latest filters.
Google refuses to show results older than 10 years, not very useful
Thank you for posting this. It made me feel less alone and that I’d found someone else of my tribe.
On the other hand, all the family history beyond my grandfather (actually it mostly includes him) that I know comes from the internet. Some of it is in books, but I find that because of the internet. Thesises about a family member. It’s there, and not buried deep under other hits.
I could find my great grandmother’s obituary ( “a pioneering woman” who said she coukd speak Cree) from 1930, stuff about my grandfather going to Europe in WWI, the notice after my parents got married, my father’s thesis.
But his birth certificate is locked up, not enough time has passed.
I would think the servo control was just an audio peak detector( with tuned RC to decay at a good rate) controlling a pwm or something like that.
Looks like there were extra holes atop the cassette, it would use a (PWM or PPM?) signal if the tape hole was there. On a regular cassete it would fall back to a peak detect mode
You must be using a different internet than I am.
Somewhere between 10-25% of the things I search for don’t get results.
Search Engines are literally getting worse and worse at providing results as they trend toward “Simple question. Simple answer.” results.
I shouldn’t need to put every single search term in ” just to force it to return results that include it. If I took the time to type in 14 words in a search, I don’t want 30 pages of results that only contain 3-4 of those words because some 13 year old stuck them in a #tag.
Synonyms? Yeah, I’ll tell you if I care about those. Hint: I don’t.
Source Code? Assume I want it.
() ? Yeah I need those back. It’s nice that you still bother to let me use AND and OR, but no one needs to actually search for JUST “bicycle” OR “balloon”. If I can’t group terms to make an actual logic statement then your terms are worthless.
Thanks for prioritizing results for
why my cat brown?
Subaru starter motor part numbers 2004 OR 2005 OR 2006
[Any source code here]
Maybe desktop metasearch engines like Copernic Agent will make a comeback?
BTW I use RockAuto more for part number lookup and determining interchanges than actually buying stuff.
No kidding, me2
Yeah. Why does Amazon’s search engine suck so bad?
I will put in what I’m searching for, and the item is VERY seldom the first return, instead the first returns are not even close. If I use quotation marks and plus sign, they are ignored.
Their recommendation engine sucks worse.
When I was young, and dirt was new, there used to be these things called books
People used to read them and store information in their heads, in the form of integrated understanding
This century people seemed to be totally dependent on the intenet
Ask them a question they pull out their phones and google it
Despite the fact we know that the internet is unreliable at best, we also know it is deliberately being manipulated
(no it is not paranoia if people really are out to get you, or at least your money)
I cannot quote a book in an online discussion, people demand a link, if they do not get it they accuse you of lying
99% of everything, math science and engineering that I know I read in a book
When I bought a car I bought the workshop manual, not a thing anymore, now 2 years after you buy something, “support” is discontinued including the online literature
Software companies support drivers for a couple of years and discontinue them
My scanner is dead, not because there is anything wrong with it but because windows 11 no longer allows it to be connected
My last version of windows did not come with install discs it came with a download key
Windows no longer provides help files offline, then they reorganised all the dropdown menus to obscure, to move things from where to were to force you to use online help, so they can check that you have a valid product
My agrument is that included in the “right to repair” should be the manuals and software available for sale in a form that you can keep and reuse that allows repairs to be made
Search engines are not designed to find useful things, they are designed to make billions in Ad revenue.
We have a Bingo!
Hold your cards…
First prize is a free trip round the sun, see you this time + 6 hours next year.
The same thing has happened with forums moving to facebook. In the early 200s you could post a question to a forum, e.g” what colour wire goes to the fuel pump on my model of car”, then someone in the community would probably know the answer and respond. Then if someone else wanted to know the same thing, the answer would probably be there. Then the forums all migrated to facebook, and now any discussion more than a week old is impossible to find.
Libraries… you don’t have to make like Gandalf, digging through dusty scrolls and tomes for info about the one ring. They have subscriptions to online databases that have tons of paywalled information, that you are now inside the walls of. Join your local library and get access through their web portal.
Looks like it might be PPM8 or 9?
PPM is what your old RC plane and car radios were using, interesting.
Even 20 years ago, you had to ask, and someone like me would go to the bookshelf and extract some information.
Microfiche and film. Oh those were the days.
Ironically, libraries were among the first institutions that used to adopt computer technology. Terminals for the visitors, a huge database with an index about the stored media, another database that held names of the books available/unavailable and the users that did lend them, library cards with a bar code..
A few months back I asked myself “How the hell did I find out obscure tech stuff before I got internet, and it wasn’t in the local library or in their (less connected then) electronic databases (acessible by terminal, usually gave you a call card for a book somwhere else that would take a month to come in if requested.)”
What I remembered was real life social networking… this was only good for things that could be summed up easily in a coherent sentence or two… if you were gonna go on talking for a couple of minutes the first stage would fail because your contact would have his eyes glaze over. What you did was cast around people you know, talk more about what you were up to, and at the faintest sign of interest, pounce, oh, do you know someone who is into that? Hey could you ask them something for me? It worked, but also slowly, like a week or two until they next ran into so-and-so or had them on the phone. Deepest it could usually get was 3 levels, you know someone who knows someone who knows someone. That’s why you had to try to make it terse and to the point, the Chinese whispers problem.
I wonder how much this is a lost skill now, individually and among all of us.
Actually, I tried recently a couple of times “putting out the feelers” for a couple of topics, but it short circuited at source, within a minute or two someone was shoving a phone in my face with a reddit post. Yah, I coulda done that thanks.
As frustrating as it is to not find what you’re looking for on the internet, as long as it’s not poor form of google-fu, I do take some pride/solice in the fact that I may be asking a question or seeking information that no one else has. Not trying to say I’m a genius by any means, but for the simple fact that my query isn’t (readily) available, it must mean I’m thinking further and deeper than the collective – again it’s only very rarely at times. If I had the time I’d author the info myself for a collective approach and hopefully it’d end up posted here and elsewhere. Just something to keep in mind.
Not on the Internet?
How about the data sheets to Motorola transistors sold exclusively to customers?
Must have been a time ago. I remember when they came in big blue books.
And then there’s some other ‘feature’ of physical information carriers, like books, slides, diskettes and optical media.. They don’t change. There’s no way of manipulating them remotely. They’re a momentary snapshot of their time. With all the good and bad that comes with it.
Unfortunate there no hero or villain in reality, but the people who care or don’t, until it’s too late.
Most information which was on internet from 90s to early 10s already gone some under paywall or under heave censorship.
Something from 80s(early bbs/usenet/fidonet) even more obscure now.
Regardless information which not well transient to digital era, it’s already gone or we will lose it very soon.
Archivists still can make a small but notable dent in this situation but still we will lose some of information and only question is: How much of it?
Hm… Almost sure I post it as reply to the first comment.
My bad?… Probably…
I currently have a similar issue. Back in the mid-80’s, Hasbro came out with the Yakity Yaks (Bingo Bear and Monkgomery Monkey) which were stuffed animals who’s mouth could be puppeted and had electronics which would say semi-random phrases when the button in the mouth was pressed. I have been trying to find the datasheets for the chips inside of them, even going so far as to email TI’s support email with no results.
If anyone has any idea where to find the datasheets, the chips are CM62057N2L, CM62056N2L, E7CL04N2L, TMS5110ANL, and M8624.
For me, the one time I remember most about barely getting some information had to do with a specific cable pinout. I had acquired the Sega Genesis version of the Miracle Piano software and wanted to know how to hook it up. Only the NES/SNES and PC serial pinouts were commonly known. Basically the PC version sent MIDI over RS-232, and the NES/SNES clocked out MIDI by bit-banging the already serialized controller port. These used different pins of the DB-25 port of the keyboard unit.
I found a link to the Sega pinout information, but the site had recently disappeared, and it was in an image that had not yet been spidered by archive.org. I asked the person who had posted the link on a forum if he still had it. He had already deleted the file he downloaded, BUT he had printed it out, so he scanned it and posted the scan. I made up a text version of it and posted it on Usenet to make sure it wouldn’t get lost. (It turns out that the Genesis version did indeed use the similar bit-banging method as NES/SNES, but knowing which controller port pins to use was the hard part.)
One of my currently most wanted is instructions to a Bytek S15-F EPROM programmer. If anyone has it, I’d be happy to see that. The code supports a lot of device types, but only the instruction manual tells you which is which. Get in touch with the bitsavers.org people, I’m sure they would help you get it scanned.
Google does have serious issues with its user interface. It is less intuitive than Microsoft products, which is a serious problem, as Microsoft iz intuative the way Inglish iz fenetick (and for some bizarre reason, Chrome’s spell check can not figure out fenetick is a misspelling). Unlike most code hacks who come up with user interfaces, I do not enjoy Easter egg hunts for functionality. I will know artificial intelligence has surpassed human intellect when searches can either find what I am looking for or at least tell me definitively it can not be found, not give me lowest common denominator hits that share three out of 20 numbers of a part code or find every web site where both the part number and the word datasheet are found, but are nine paragraphs away from each other. I also ran into the situation of the link to the datasheet is completely useless; I get shown the closest thing to the part number that happens to be a digital part that shares nothing in common to the analog part data I was actually after.
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