Archive for October, 2006

The Horror of Spam: A Halloween Poem

Monday, October 30th, 2006

The Spam Raven[ Editor's Note: Eric Lambert recently sent me this creepy computer-related poem which he wrote a few years ago. While not exclusively "vintage" in nature, I thought you guys might enjoy it in the spirit of Halloween. ]


The Spam
by Eric Lambert
With apologies to E.A. Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious inbox of forgotten mail,
While I nodded, nearly sleeping, suddenly there came a beeping,
As of new mail, quietly creeping, creeping straight across my LAN.
" 'Tis some friendly greeting," I hoped, "creeping straight across my LAN;
Only this, and not more spam."

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
With each separate link light blinking as the somber night began
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books a way to block, to block, I say, the flow of spam,
And let the rare and useful message enter through the flow of spam
Creeping straight across my LAN.

And the strident blinking beeping of this email message creeping
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt by man;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
" ''Tis some valid email creeping, seeking solace on my LAN,
Some late message creeping, seeking solace softly on my LAN.
This it is, and not more spam."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"So," said I, "let's just see what missive comes across my LAN";
But the fact is, I was sleeping, and so softly it came creeping
Into my inbox, that I didn't notice how the words of subject ran,
I did not see, I tell you true, that the subject words were not of man;
Random words, they were — of spam.

Long into the message peering, long I sat there, wondering, fearing
Doubting, dreaming dreams that never should be dreamt by man:
"Grow it longer! Grow it straighter! Don't be afraid! Don't be a hater!";
And the only words there spoken were the tortured 'Not more spam!'
This I whispered, and in echo murmured back 'Yes, it's spam,
Creeping straight across my LAN.'

Back into the aether turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I mailed the spammer, saying 'Send me no more spam.'
"Surely," said I, "surely, this will keep my email inbox clear.
Let me see, then, what this mail is, creeping now onto my LAN.
Let my heart be still and see, just what's this new mail on my LAN?
What the freak!? It's just more spam."

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an old condenser
Run by demons whose packets thudded on the network floor.
"Filth," I cried, "may God have mercy on your soul for this!"
"But I will not!" I yelled. "And I will curse the name of all who spam!
And I will not rest until my inbox has been cleared of all this spam!"
I swore as I watched my LAN.

And the spam-mail, never ceasing, still is creeping, slowly creeping
To my email box, on my server, on my LAN;
And their words have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming.
And the link lights slowly blinking shine their light upon my floor;
And my inbox from out that shadow that comes creeping on my network
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Retro Scan of the Week: Think You're Frustrated with Computers?

Monday, October 30th, 2006
Frustrated Computer User
Just in time for Halloween comes this special ultra-morbid computer software ad from 1983. I'll have to admit that I've felt this way about computers myself more than a few times — especially back in the Windows 98 days. Luckily I didn't go this far, or else I wouldn't be here today writing for you.

I'm just glad this isn't an ad for a computer version of Hangman.

If you use this image on your site, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

VC&G's Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas: Video Game Edition

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Last Minute Video Game Costume IdeasWith Halloween only three days away, it's getting quite late in the game to figure out what you're going to dress up as this year. Here to the rescue, as always, is VC&G with the second of two parts on last-minute Halloween costume ideas. The first part dealt with vintage computer-related costumes. This second part deals exclusively with video game-related costumes. So if you're desperate for some ideas, feel free to take a look what we've cooked up for you below. And by all means, share any of your own ideas with us as well.

Special thanks to Matt of Video Game Obsession for providing the Urban Champion and 3-D World Runner scans used below.

[ Continue reading VC&G's Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas: Video Game Edition » ]

Name Those Pixels Contest

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Name Those Pixels ContestMatt Groves, a regular reader of VC&G, is hosting a vintage gaming contest with an innovative concept called "Name Those Pixels." He's selected an excerpt from a NES game's graphics in the form of a square block of pixels (pictured to the right). Your job is to guess which game the pixels came from. The winner of the contest will be selected randomly from all the correct entries and will receive a copy of Dr. Mario for the NES as a prize. If all goes well, he could be hosting more contests like this on VC&G in the future. To enter the contest, visit his site and send him an email. Good luck!

VC&G's Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas: Computer Edition

Friday, October 27th, 2006

Last Minute Computer Costume IdeasWith Halloween only four days away, it's getting quite late in the game to figure out what you're going to dress up as this year. Here to the rescue, as always, is VC&G with the first of two parts on last-minute Halloween costume ideas. This first part deals with vintage computer-related costumes. The second part will deal exclusively with video game-related costumes and will be published soon. So if you're desperate for some ideas, feel free to take a look what we've cooked up for you below. And by all means, share any of your own ideas with us as well.

By the way, if you like these, here's even more costume ideas:
2010 Video Game Edition
2009 Video Game Edition
2008 Video Game Edition
2007 Video Game Edition
2006 Video Game Edition

[ Continue reading VC&G's Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas: Computer Edition » ]

What Was the First Computer Game You Ever Played?

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Eric's First Computer GamesAbout a month ago, RedWolf posted a column about the first computer he ever used, and it started me thinking about my specialty: computer games. What was the first computer game, of any sort, that I played? I've spent some time thinking about it and sorting through the memories, and while I haven't quite arrived at a definite answer, the list can be narrowed down to a handful of titles. They may not be the absolute earliest games I ever touched, but these are the ones that drew me into the whole sordid world of being a computer geek.

Oregon TrailI could take the easy way out, and claim that The Oregon Trail was it and end the discussion there. The Trail was introduced to my whole generation during the early years of elementary school, while we sat in a library full of Apple ]['s and had a teacher drone on about how to insert a floppy into the drive and close the door. Every school I attended seemed to love having students play it during the "pioneer" section of Social Studies class, but it honestly didn't make a great impression on me. It seemed boring, repetitious, and almost impossible to win. And while I, like all normal kids, enjoyed leaving my path westward littered with dead animals and broken limbs, it wasn't a title I sought out on my own for entertainment. It was too much a part of school work to ever be much of a game.

[ Continue reading What Was the First Computer Game You Ever Played? » ]

Retro Scan of the Week: Some Like it Hex

Monday, October 23rd, 2006
Hex Magazine Program Listing
If you think computer magazines are dry these days, try this. I recently picked up a Compute Gazette from 1988 and there were dozens of pages of hex data listings just like this. Enthralled, I spent hours reading the incredible tale of a robot and his journey to Alpha Epsilon 7.

But seriously, what we have here is part of one of them old-fashioned program listings. They were extremely common in computer magazines back in the day. The magazines published the code (usually BASIC) for select programs they bought the rights to (from typically amateur programmers) and readers typed them into their computers themselves if they were interested. It's one of those things that inspires computer old timers to pull out their grandpa hats and start lecturin' youth about how easy they have it these days:

You know what, sonny?! I was typin' in programs before you were even a twinkle in yer mammy's eye. Back in my day, we didn't get software on disks or any of that nonsense. We bought it on paper and had to type it all in ourselves. Twenty million lines of code! After typing fifteen hours nonstop, our fingers would be bleeding so bad that we'd have to use our toes. After that the family would work in shifts around the clock until we finally had a running version of a dumb word processor. Without spell check. It had three-hundred bugs in it and barely ran, but by golly, we liked it!

If you use this image on your site, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

Retro Scan of the Week: Super Breakout's Rainbow-Smashing Astronaut

Monday, October 16th, 2006
Super Breakout Manual Cover
If you've ever wondered what really went on inside the game Super Breakout, then wonder no further. The explanation that Atari contrived is so dramatic and exciting that I'm not even going to make anything up this time. I'll just read directly from the instruction manual for the Atari 2600 version of the game…

[ Continue reading Retro Scan of the Week: Super Breakout's Rainbow-Smashing Astronaut » ]

Inside a Hamfest: An Annotated Slideshow, Part III

Friday, October 13th, 2006

RedWolf's 2006 Hamfest AdventureIn Part I of "Inside a Hamfest: An Annotated Slideshow," I gave you an introduction to hamfests. In Part II, I told you about guys who try to sell utterly useless crap for too much money, but I also found some choice non-crap to purchase for very little money. We also met a Simpsons-like supernerd with a passion for redheads (himself) and video games. Below, in the concluding part of the series, we pick up exactly where we left off in Part II.

[ Continue reading Inside a Hamfest: An Annotated Slideshow, Part III » ]

Messiah Announces "NEX Wireless Arcade Stick"

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Image DescFor someone who was highly disappointed with the Generation NEX, I'll have to admit that Messiah's latest product looks pretty cool. But then again, the NEX looked awesome when it was announced, and you know how that turned out.

The product is the "NEX Wireless Arcade Stick," a supposedly arcade-quality wireless arcade stick for Messiah's NEX system. And that right there is the catch, and it's a major one: it's "exclusively" compatible with the NEX system, which is likely a horrible business move on the part of Messiah. Why would they limit a great stick design (which looks…absolutely nothing like a NES Advantage, by the way) to such a cheap NES-on-a-chip famiclone machine when they could probably triple their sales if they included a wireless receiver that worked with a standard NES? This stick is essentially what the Advantage should have been back in 1987, and NES freaks would love to get their hands on it for their own NES. But sorry, folks, you're out of luck. That's Messiah for ya — just shy of the target, as always. Gotta love 'em.

So why on earth am I telling you about it?

[ Continue reading Messiah Announces "NEX Wireless Arcade Stick" » ]