Category: Computing

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Computing, Technology

90’s CGI memories

I’ve been undertaking a project recently to convert old VHS/VHS-C/Digital video tapes to a digital format to store on my home network Synology. It’s nice to have a backup and it’s also nice to be able to pull up any home video just within a few clicks.

Well, I happened to stumble across a video from 1990 titled “The Mind’s Eye.” It’s a collection of late 80’s CGI animation that obviously pales in comparison to the stuff in theaters today, but it certainly showed “what was possible” with technology, even in those early stages of computer animation.

Imagine my surprise (not really) when I discovered that the entire video is available on YouTube. So that’s one less video tape I have to convert…

Among the nuggets in the video is Stanley & Stella in: Breaking the Ice. It was the first computer animated short that I can remember emotionally connecting with. Give it a watch.

If you don’t want to sit through the entire Mind’s Eye video, you can find Stanley and Stella right here. Enjoy!


Windows 10 Office Preview Apps – App Can’t Open?


So, I’ve been running the Windows 10 Preview for a few weeks now, and it’s pretty stable. For some reason, the laptop I’m using it on seems to run hot all the time. The fan runs constantly even with no apps open. Maybe there’s some kind of “cooling driver” I need to install. Who knows?

Anyway, shortly after I installed Windows 10, I found the free Office App previews available from the Windows Store. I really liked being able to tie my OneDrive documents right into the apps. Things were running really smoothly.



Suddenly the Office Preview Apps wouldn’t open anymore. This had been going on for a few weeks now, and just this morning I happened to stumble across this tweet from Gabriel Aul:

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Computing, Internet, Video Games

Relive your childhood through your browser

I’ve seen this trend toward classic computing really take off lately. My favorite is probably the Amiga Forever emulator by Cloanto. I like that one because I actually converted several Amiga disks over to *.adf format before disposing of the old Amiga machine.

But now there’s a way to enjoy some “new” classic games straight through your browser. The Internet Archive has recently added several games from the 80’s and 90’s. Just click on the large green power button, and you are on your way!

You should thank me for successfully wasting your otherwise productive day!

Video Source:


The OneDrive Troubleshooter…

I’ve recently become a big fan of Microsoft’s OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) service.  Apparently, the renaming conincides with Microsoft’s new “One” rebranding.  You know… XBox One and all… Well, anyway, I do like the service, and thanks to bing I have about 109gb of storage “in the cloud” that integrates well with the OS.

Or I should say Did integrate well with the OS… After my most recent computer purchase I noticed a small problem…

So for a little while now I’ve had an issue with Microsoft’s OneDrive that prevented me from regularly accessing most of my files from within Windows 8.1.  The error message itself was not very helpful:

Error: 0x800040A41: No description available

That is, of course, one of the least helpful errors of all… A little bit of searching revealed a little-known tool called the OneDrive Troubleshooter. This tool provided that step-by-step guide that I needed to get my files available within Windows 8.1 again.

Click Next to continue the troubleshooter.

The troubleshooter will ask if it’s okay to send information to Microsoft. Your call.  That doesn’t bother me any, so let’s move on…

You’ll then have the capability to Reset OneDrive which is what I chose that led to resolving my problem.

There’s not much to it, but after running the OneDrive troubleshooter my OneDrive documents are once again available to me straight from my desktop!

This link provided the help that I needed.

College Hunt — Full Sail University

So, we just returned from a trip to central Florida over Christmas break that included a trip to Full Sail University in Winter Park. Allison will be off to college in no time at all, and with her artistic talents we’re looking for a media-rich school for her to attend. Full Sail certainly delivers on all counts.

This video provides a quick tour of the campus. Many of these places we visited during our tour.

Our tour guide, Jim, was very knowledgeable and full of information about the course offerings. There were a few grade school children along for this tour and Jim handled them all amicably. I had felt a little odd about taking Allison as she is just a freshman in high school, but after seeing the younger kids there on the tour, those worries quickly disappeared.

This would have been a top choice school of my own had I known about it in the early 1990s. I was interested at that time in attending Virginia Tech, as they were using Commodore-Amiga computers. I would have leaned toward television and movie post production, I think. I ended up staying local, and getting a well-rounded education here in West Virginia.

The education from Full Sail is very specific to digital media arts, and upon completion, 72% of students wind up working in their field of study. That’s a real-world education. I was impressed by Full Sail’s list of graduates who went on to work for film studios, audio engineering companies, gaming studios, musicians, etc. There are a few awards (Grammy, Emmy) on site that backs up the quality work their grads are capable of.

As I said, Allison still has a couple of years to get things sorted out, but hopefully we can keep Full Sail at the top of a short list.

Pics are below.

Computing, Technology

Thoughts on Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

This is how I found out about Steve Jobs’ death this evening, on my iPhone:

Breaking News
Breaking News: Apple says Steve Jobs has died.

President Obama himself just released a statement that, among other things, said:

And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.

I’m glad I had enough presence of mind to snap that screenshot on the left. There’s just a bit of irony in that snap shot.

I don’t really know why I feel the need to type out a little blog post on Steve Jobs’ passing. I don’t consider myself the typical Apple “fanboy.” I do enjoy using my iPhone and an iPad, but I work on Windows servers and workstations. I am Microsoft Certified. I am playing with the developer preview of Windows 8. I’ve always been a “Microsoftie.” But… hold on… that’s not 100% true.

Back in the 80’s, before I became a full-fledged “Microsoftie,” I was an Amiga fanatic.

Those computing days in the 80’s were like the wild west of the tech days. To rip off a line from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, in those days, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri, were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. At the time there were several different big names in the personal computer field, most of them big names who were famous for hardware development. IBM, Commodore, Apple, Tandy, and others, all mainly focused on hardware. No one really saw the benefit of software until Microsoft came along. What they sold was abstract. “An Operating System? License an Operating System? Why on earth would you want to do that? It’s just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s! The money’s in hardware!” Well, we see where that ended up. The one statement I would like to say about 80’s computing is this: We, as Americans, really like to romanticize when it comes to our history. Contrary to what Disney World and CNN will tell you it wasn’t “the solution comes in 1977 in of all places a garage in California.”  There was an awful lot of battling that went on in the 1980’s to gain control of the personal computer market, and Steve Jobs was only one of many major players.

My second computer was a Commodore 128 personal computer and when the time came for the next computer, it was clear where the market was headed. Bigger, faster, stronger… I had gone from a PC with 16K of memory to one with 128K of memory and it was only going up from there. The hardware life cycle had begun. I specifically remember picking apart a couple of editions of COMPUTE! magazines trying to decide what my computer was going to be. It had come down to a choice between an Apple IIGS and a Commodore-Amiga 2000. As I’ve previously mentioned, I ended up going the Amiga route. I was a big fan of Amiga computers from the beginning. It was intuitive. I’ve spoken about it before on my blog, so I won’t get into all of that again, but my point of saying all of that is to say this: Brand loyalty amongst technology enthusiasts is fervent. It’s almost religious, in a sense. I’ve often heard Apple fanatics referred to as a “cult” and I can see how that word applies. I always wanted to see the Amiga computer succeed because I knew how good the technology was. And I was truly getting sick of hearing about IBM and the clones and compatibles finally being able to do, in the 90’s, what the Amiga was doing in the 80’s. I guess you could say I could “Think Different,” I just did it differently.

Anyway, the Apple IIGS was the closest I got to buying an actual Apple product for the next 20 years. I had firmly sided in the Amiga camp in the late 80’s, and for most of the 2000’s was trying to avoid Apple products by fiddling with Windows-based music players. (By the way, does anyone remember “Plays For Sure?” Yeah, that didn’t work out. Probably because it very rarely “played at all.”) On December 15, 2008 I bought my first ever Apple product, an iPhone 3G. Even then I was leaning towards a Windows mobile phone because I wanted it to be Microsoft. I wanted Exchange syncing in particular. Once I learned the iPhone could do it, I relented.

I have been quite pleased with the way Apple products “just work.” I probably should have taken the hint from Douglas Adams back in 1989 when he wrote Frank the Vandal. Any computer guru who wants to know how regular people feel about computers should read that short story. My final thought is simply this: Steve Jobs and Apple struck gold with the iPod, the iPhone, and recently, the iPad. When the iPhone 4S ships in just a few days, it will be a success. The new features like Siri are great for sure, but keeping things simple and intuitive have been the keys to Apple’s success all along. Steve had a knack for figuring out exactly what people wanted before they even knew they wanted it. And it just worked.

I can’t tell you anything at all about another man’s soul. And I don’t want to think too hard “religiously” about this, but I truly hope that somehow, somewhere, Steve Jobs is having a great chat with Douglas Adams right now, and I’d love to hear that conversation!

I would also recommend this video that’s been quoted often this evening on television news. I’ve heard it several times before, but it has a new meaning for me tonight. This past weekend I received a quote which said “Focusing on the tiniest details, finding magic in even the smallest inspirations, embracing the briefest moments-that’s where passion is.” — from The Power of Small by Linda Thaier. I think Apple has dominated in finding magic in small inspirations, and as they continue on their quest to “Think Different” I wish them the best.

Computing, Humor

31 Jokes for Nerds!

That’s right. 31 jokes for nerds. Count ’em. They’re all there… I think he should have made it an even 42. But that in and of itself would have immediately made it 43, and well…

My favorite one has to be: “There are two types of people in the world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data …”