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Buffalo E7 Kagayaki PC Mouse

On the way back from Shimoda to Tokyo, I happened upon a delight in the shopping magazines found in the a seat-pocket on the Odoriko. I'd actually already scoured Osaka and Tokyo for this delight, but all shop assistants (Yodobashi, Bic Camera, etc...) had never even seen the product.

Little did I expect to find it in, what we declare in Australia, as home-shopping dodgy magazines. But, there it was... and a friend in Japan managed to order it for me then and there on the train! It then arrived only a few days after I returned to Oz.

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Under those delicious 'older gentleman' dark chocolate KitKats is a Buffalo USB Mouse. It's a standard form-factor with fantastic markings. Buffalo have taken the time and painted them in line with the E7 shinkansen.

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Further than this, they've even put a serious amount of effort into the packaging.

The artwork on the outside of the box is a lightly water-coloured scene of the Shinkansen bolting somewhere north.

I love it that they've made the box out of plastic. The mouse is centrally on display, with all appendages neatly concealed in the base of the packaging.

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Opening it felt like unfolding origami. The intricate design perfectly fit the coiled cable and documentation.

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Once out, I found it to be smoother than I had expected. It has a very glossy finish and is slippery to the touch. Fortunately, the sides are covered in a rubber panel, which provides a nice level of grip.

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The best part about this mouse is that the scroll wheel is legit. The wheel is clicky and can be pressed without rotating. I've used newer mouses in the past that had very light-touch wheels that even had momentum if you spun them too quickly. This wheel has the exact friction point I've been looking for.

25Oct/150

Power Mac 7200: PCI USB Cards

USB has been around for a long time, it seems. Longer than I'd originally thought. For fun I wanted to try and get this relic of a PowerPC into the less-than-stone ages and, well, plug things in without having to reboot. USB would provide this and I had a few devices to try out.

There's information on what OS' support USB here at lowendmac. My mileage varied... but I actually think it was because of faulty/old hardware rather than software incompatibilities.

Belkin F5U220

20151025 111909The card shows up in System Profiler but there is no power on the USB bus. I plugged a $10 HP Mouse in and the LED/Laser didn't glow. It seems this card is only good for Beige G3s or higher? Or could this card just be faulty?

OS 9.2.2 had installed and loaded the USB extensions... so it seemed that it wanted to do something with the card, but failed.

Adaptec Duo Connect PCI Card AUA-3020

20151025 111955This card comes with 2 FireWire and 3 USB 2.0 Ports. I plugged it into the PCI slot and booted up. I had already installed OS 9.2.2 with the previous USB card in, so the USB extensions were all there. Plugging in the same HP Mouse saw the light glow underneath. It worked!

Right-click just acts as normal click, so it effectively becomes a one-button mouse. I'm sure you could install something like USB Overdrive to make the buttons and scroll wheels more functional.

Opti FireLink BG-3800-00 UH-275

20151025 112011This is another PCI USB 2.0 Expansion card. Most USB tutorials for these older-style PowerMacs mentioned this chipset, usually recommending it. I found one on Ebay for under USD$10.

It worked perfectly on installation. No configuration necessary. The mouse lit up and was functional straight away.

OS9.2.2 and USB Keyboards/Mice

20151025 111849The USB cards will apply power to the bus very early in the boot process, but the devices wont actually work until the last icon on the desktop is loaded. It's still recommended to use your ADB equipment (or at least keep it for emergency purposes.)

Both the HP USB Mouse and Apple Keyboard (from a future iMac) worked perfectly fine.

LITE-ON DVD Drive

20151025 150659I plugged in my portable eSAU108 DVD/CD Writer. On the Adaptec Duo, I only got a flashing red light on the unit. It seems that the card does not output enough power for the device to function correctly. On the UH-275 USB Card, the drive worked perfectly.

Further research indicates that the drive has a smart USB power detection feature. The LED will flash red if it needs to suck power from two ports. So it seems the Adaptec correctly limits the power, whereas the UH-275 can push out more milliamps.

USB Overdrive

Downloadable from here, I assumed this would give me left-click and scroll-wheel mapping... instead it just stopped the HP Mouse from working at all. I gave up on it pretty quickly.

Does the USB get passed through to the DOS Card?

No. Even worse... if you have a 2-button mouse on the USB, the second button does absolutely nothing on the Windows side. It makes perfect sense but can be really confusing when you still have to command-click to get a context menu.

24Oct/150

Shimoda, Izu Peninsula – August 2015

I'd never been to Japan in summer and therefore never been to the beaches. This area just west of Tokyo is stunning. The only issue at this time was a typhoon off the coast, preventing us from swimming. Fortunately we did get to get our feet wet.

JR East runs the line from Tokyo through to Izu, half way down the peninsula. From Izu, the Izukyu Corporation runs the Izukyu Railway which takes you right down to Shimoda. Fortunately, the JR (Super View) Odoriko services run on the private lines and will take you to the very end.

Odoriko Service

These are great trains, fast and efficient... clean too. If you happen to get a Super View, then the scenery is fantastic. They book out in summer though, so be quick. When booking you'll be able to choose the mountain side or ocean side. The ocean side seems popular, but the mountain side is fantstic also!

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The beer on tap was a nice touch!

Shimoda Station

Once at the station, it's the end of the line and most passengers disappear off to seaside resorts for well-deserved getaways. I hung around for a little to soak in the view.

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The corner before the approach to the station provides a nice view of an evening. As per usual, the Japanese scenery is lush and green. An easy choice to model a railway on!

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I even happened to find an exact model of my car! This is the first functional instance I've seen in Japan. Not bad for ~30 years old.

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Back at the station, the yard had a few interesting things to see. There was an inspection vehicle resting on tracks perpendicular to the actual line. Do they use a crane to get it on?

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Not the best lighting, but most days were spent out at the beach! Still, the yard was quite picturesque with nice sized EMUs waiting for their next gig.

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Marine Odoriko

On the last day, the plan was to ride this home. It's the Odoriko service run by the N'EX consist. Has a special headmark and all. Turns out that I got Hyperdia wrong and we turned up to find the old-school 185 series (not complaining!) to take us back... so much charm. Fortuantely, on the day before I managed to see the Marine Odoriko shunting for its next service.

The photos are of poor quality... I'd not had my camera on me. But you can just make out the 'anchor' headmark on the front.

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And that was a wrap. Great location for a beach holiday!

16Oct/150

Century Southern Hotel, Shinjuku – August 2015

It was to be one night in Tokyo, whilst in transit from Hakone to Izu Peninsula. What's the quickest path? Probably a change at Odawara or Atami? Suuureee... but there's also an express train to Shinjuku from Hakone and an Express to Shimoda from Shinjuku. So, why not do it in luxury?

Hotels in Shinjuku aren't cheap... so you might as well make it count. Turns out that Odakyu has a hand in this hotel and this hotel has some stunning rooms! Check out the view from the Panorama room I stayed in!

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Trains, trains and more trains... Yamanote, Express lines, Chuo line and even Odakyu!