Tag: classic computing

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Computing, Technology

Back in my day…

There was a time when the computing universe was fun. Men were real men. Women were real women. And small, furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small, furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.

Just thinking about the early days of the cyber frontier… they were simpler times. Personal computers of the early 1980s were rarely connected one with another. Most likely, your computer sat lonely, by itself. Not serving any functions, except maybe exclusively running any program you’s care to run through it. A word processor, maybe. Spreadsheets? Sure! Games? Yep. Nothing multiplayer, unless your friend happened to be sitting next to you, joystick in hand.

Hacking meant trying to figure out how to get a clean “backup copy” of the latest game with Fast Hack’em. If you had a modem, you might try to dial into some local BBS, which, more often than not, was run out of someone’s home via a second telephone line.

Even video game systems were simple. Atari 2600 “joysticks” consisted of one “stick” and one button, called “fire.” No bumpers, triggers, d-pads, x, o, triangle, square, select, start, etc.

And we had patience. Yie Ar Kung-Fu would take over 20 minutes to load before presenting you with this awesome intro screen and music: (Plenty of time to get some snacks and a cool soft drink prior to a gaming session.)

Now, if YouTube video commercials are over ~10 seconds, I basically decide it’s probably not worth that wait.

Then the lawyers appeared. And whitepapers. And phrases like “life-cycle management,” “total cost of ownership,” and “best practices.” And the fun went away. It was no longer the wild west.

This is Toby. He is here to put an end to the fun.

Today, the fun continues to be sucked out of computing in slightly more disturbing ways. Modern society has dictated requirements like the EU’s GDPR legislation. Websites now require you to verify that you are not a robot (…what?…) and that you agree to accept “cookies” from almost every website. And the amount of data Facebook has on you (yes, just you) could fill encyclopedias…

To see “how far we’ve come” (for better or for worse) check out the trailer for Do You Trust This Computer below. The movie is a couple of years old, so some of the discussion around some far-fetched ideas is just that much closer to becoming reality.

So, I have some questions.

Where is the fun now?

I don’t even mean that in a snarky way. Literally. Where is the fun now? Cause I want to go there.

Was it worth it?

Should we have navigated this technological minefield for the last 40 years in order to end up having people die while texting and driving? Or even getting killed while looking at their phones and crossing the street? I’m not blaming the tech itself. More our reliance on it. When the space junk apocalypse occurs in a few years due to the thousands of satellites that are being released to circle the earth, and all GPS is lost, will we be able to get around?

Was it worth the privacy cost?

I don’t know.

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!

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!


Ahhh… Commodore 64 Memories…

Oh, this brings back memories.

I was JasonM13 on Q*Link back in the day. I’m trying to remember… I think Q*Link was $9.95 per month for access and 6 cents per minute for “plus” time access. Certain features (like chatting for example) were considered “plus” time features.

All of this at an exciting 300bps! WooHoo! I enjoyed Q*Link but didn’t get to be online that much back in the 80’s because there were no local access numbers. Telenet and Tymenet were the only services that provided dial-up access to Q*Link, and the closest number was in Morgantown, which was long distance.

But still, fun times!

Look below! More Q*Link!

…and another promotional video from 1986:


Amiga Forever 2009

Yes, another Amiga-related entry.  i can’t help it… it’s in my blood or something.

I just installed the Amiga Forever 2009 software fresh on my laptop.  It looks like AmigaSYS integrates with the GUI directly and I have a large download (I assume of the latest version of AmigaSYS) that just finished…  Let’s see how this goes.

Yes, after the download, the installation and integration of AmigaSYS was very smooth.  Especially compared with the previous versions of AmigaSYS.  You don’t even have to know where to store the files, it just does it all for you.  Nice!

I’ve got a whole “hard drive” ready to import into my own Amiga 2000HD emulation environment.  Hopefully that will go smooth.

But I’m very glad to see that development is going to continue on AmigaSYS.  I’ve been impressed at what can still be accomplished in the Amiga environment in 2009.


It’s about time…

It only took 22 years, but I’m done:


I have finally beaten the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Infocom game.  Of course, as is always the case with an Infocom game, I needed a little help.

This was the first game I got with my Commodore 128 back in the mid-80’s.  I got another version for the Amiga, and finished that one with my Amiga emulator just the other day.

And to think, for all these years, that there actually was a “causal relationship” between the toothbrush and the tree collapse! Boy, did they pull the wool over my eyes!

Hey, you can play an updated, 20th Anniversary edition of the game at BBC 4’s website!