Running Stable Diffusion Image Generation on AMD GPU & Windows

AI image generation has been making a lot of buzz lately. It’s an exciting space due to the systems like DALL·E and Midjourney becoming available for people outside the AI world to play with. However, the one I find compelling, from a tech nerd viewpoint, is Stable Diffusion because it is open source and can run on local hardware. So, of course, I have to try it out and see how it worked. 

Getting Stable Diffusion running on my hardware is more complicated than at first glance. Out of the box, the project is designed to run on the PyTorch machine learning framework. That’s a problem for me because PyTorch only supports hardware acceleration on Windows using NVIDIA’s CUDA API. And I have an AMD GPU. Linux has a better chance of success because PyTorch supports AMD’s ROCm API, but that’s a project for another day. There is another option.

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Playing Star Trek Starfleet Academy in 2022

Recently I went on a kick of playing older games in my library. One of my favorite space sims was Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. Released in 1997 by Interplay Entertainment, Starfleet Academy put me in the uniform of a cadet working through many diplomatic and combat scenarios in a simulator. Imagine the opening scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn where Saavik and crew attempted to rescue the Kobayashi Maru. Between simulator missions, FMV video sequences were used as choose-your-own-adventure interludes where I got to interact and help my crew mates, work with Chekov and Kirk, and even uncover a conspiracy at the Academy. Learning about the story’s different branches took at least two playthroughs. There was even an option to reprogram the Kobayashi Maru scenario and win.

Playing Starfleet Academy in 2022 from the original CDs isn’t easy. The game was written for Direct3D 3.0, a graphics API that doesn’t work on Windows 7, 8, 10, or 11. A software renderer version of the game is included on the disc, but it limits the resolution to 640×480 in exclusive fullscreen mode. And don’t forget, the game initially shipped on five discs due to the amount of FMV included. Most computers no longer come with disc drives or options to install them.

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Plex+Docker+Synology=❤

This post is either a cool idea or ridiculous. Having received a Synology DS220+ NAS over the winter, I decided to dive in to see how much stuff I could run on the system. Previously I used an old Ubuntu PC as a storage/print server, Plex server, and other various things. The system filled my needs as a home server for several years, but eventually, I ran out of storage space and needed to decide on the next stage of my home sever life.

All of this got me thinking about Docker. It’s not a technology I got to use a work, but software containerization is something I felt I’ll need to be familiar with going forward. With that decided, I dove into learning Docker and rolling out Plex on the Synology.

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The ConsoleMods Wiki

This blog post is a bit different. Rather than my usual how-to or info sharing, I will point you to the ConsoleMods.org wiki. This site is the brainchild of Bob from RetroRGB.com and Derf to be a source for all things game console-related.

What does all of this have to do with this post? Since the launch of the wiki, I’ve been working on migrating one page from Bob’s website: Nintendo 64’s blur. It was easy to take the original content and clean it up for the wiki. But I wanted more. Now was the time to add more information about how the console added blur to the output and minimize the effect. Specifically, I added info about how the N64’s Reality Co-Processor’s VI_STATUS register controls the system’s filters and anti-aliasing; added information from the ASSEMblerGames.org forums archive about how to manipulate the register; and migrated the GameShark code list from Bob’s Google Sheet and forum into a sortable table. Overall, the page grew from 5KB to 61KB. There’s always room for improvement, but I’m happy with this 1.0 refresh.

If you want to help or contribute to the ConsoleMods.org wiki, please join in on the fun. There’s a lot of information from RetroRGB.com that needs to be cleaned up. Many consoles have little to no information and need some love.

Have fun,
Tony

CrossPoint DXP Fan Replacement

In the perpetual quest to upgrade/change my AV basement setup, I purchased a used Extron DXP 8×8 HDMI matrix switch. After receiving the unit and performing a factory reset, I was happy to see it worked perfectly in my setup, except for one thing. Unlike the CrossPoint Ultra I used for analog devices, the DXP had a cooling fan. The fan wasn’t loud but was noticeable when was nothing playing. The location of the switch was next to my couch which made the issue more pronounced.

The DXP uses a standard size fan: 60x25mm, 12V, 3-pin. That made an upgrade easier. I decided Noctua’s NF-A6x25 FLX would be a suitable replacement.

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Apple PowerMacs are “Screwy”

If you’ve ever worked on a G4 or G5 PowerMac, you may have run into the issue of finding replacement screws. Despite looking like standard PC case screws, commonly called #6-32, the screws used by Apple were metric. Being metric wasn’t in itself a bad thing. Your local home improvement store may have carried what you need in their “special hardware” section. But, no, Apple went further and used M3.5 size screws in most of their systems. You didn’t know there was a metric screw size between M3 & M4? Neither did I.

After measuring and a lot of Internet searching, I came up with a list of the most common screws used in my PowerMag G4 Quicksilver system. I have to thank an old discussion thread at Apple’s website for helping figure out what size these screws are.

  1. M3.5x5mm, pan head
    1. CPU
  2. M3.5x5mm, flat pan head
    1. Hard Drive mounting bracket
  3. M3.5x6mm, pan head
    1. Motherboard
    1. CD-ROM cage
    1. PSU cage
    1. PCI brackets
  4. M3.5x8mm, flat pan head
    1. Rear fan
    1. PSU cable grommet
  5. M3x5mm, pan head
    1. Modem
  6. M3.5x8mm, socket head
    1. PSU

Have fun,
Tony

Resolve Port 1900 Conflict between Plex and Synology

I recently played around with a new Synology NAS and got the crazy idea to run Plex on the system, but from a Docker container (there may be a post about that soon). The setup process should have been simple. Most of the environment settings and port publishing were configured automatically. I just had to add a volume mapping to my media share. Except the Plex container would not start.

Docker can't start Plex.
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The Compaq Support Software CD for Compaq Portable Products

While looking through spindles of software, I rediscovered an old CD called the Compaq Support Software CD for Compaq Portable Products. This disc was a fantastic CD to have in the 1990-2000s when my Internet connection was a 28K dial-up service. It contained drivers, utilities, firmware, and more for Compaq’s 90s laptops in an easy-to-use web browser interface. Several members of my family and I had LTE 5000 series laptops and used the CD to reload drivers and software after OS installs.

The Support Software CD is not as important as back in the 90s. But people in the retro PC community are always searching for computer restore or driver CDs. In addition, some hardware isn’t usable without the software contained on those discs. To do my part, I have created an ISO image of the CD and uploaded it to Archive.org. My hope is it will be preserved long after I’ve forgotten about the Compaq LTE laptops and associated CDs.

Have fun,
Tony

https://archive.org/details/compaq-support-software-cd-for-compaq-portable-products-v-98.07

Turn YouTube into a Podcast Feed

While watching some YouTube videos, I got the idea, “I wish I could listen to these as a podcast while driving.” Digital Foundry’s Direct Weekly was a perfect example of this until recently (they have a podcast version now). Another good example was Hardware Unboxed’s monthly Supporter Q&As. Of course, someone already had the same idea and wrote a program called Podsync to take YouTube channels or playlists and create RSS feeds for use with your preferred podcast player. What’s even better is the setup of Podsync is simple to set up and run on your own server or cloud provider.

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Microsoft Endpoint Manager: A LouMug Presentation

This past November, I got the opportunity to present at the Louisville Microsoft Users Group. The topic this time was Microsoft Endpoint Manager, where I discussed the components of Endpoint Manager and how we are using the platform at work. The interaction from the audience was fantastic, with several people asking great questions and giving comments. A recording of the talk has been uploaded to YouTube for anyone who wants to watch. The slide deck is also available below, with embedded links to several resources.

Have fun,
Tony