Archive for June, 2014
See Also: The Eidolon (RSOTW, 2013)
Discussion Topic of the Week: Can you think of any vintage games that would translate well to the Oculus Rift?
Here it is, folks: My CompuServe Information Service password that I used from 1993 until the late 1990s: "Needy-Sacred".
Feel free to log in as me the next time you get a chance. (I kid.)
"Needy-Sacred" is an almost magical combination of words for me — probably because it bounced around my mind so often in the 1990s. It has a tension to it; a phrase at odds with itself.
I didn't make it up, though. CompuServe assigned random combinations of two words (with a dash in the middle) as user passwords, and this is the hand I was dealt.
Well, "we were dealt" would be more accurate. This is the original note paper my dad used on February 21st, 1993 to write down the password to our new CompuServe account, which he set up for use with his business.
Heavily into BBSes at the time, I became the primary user of the account (surprise surprise). Soon his company often asked me — even as a young teenager — to relay international emails to and from Germany for them since I knew how to use it. Ah, those were the days.
The Encounters Forum was my favorite place to hang out. That, and the Atari Forum. GO ATARI.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Tell us your best CompuServe stories.
The only problem? Everyone thought he was a computer.
Here is an excerpt of one of his conversations with a judge:
Judge: Hi, I'm Cathy.
Entity: CATHY! THE NAME OF A WOMANS.
Judge: Yes, I'm a woman.
Entity: WHAT IS A WOMANS, REALLY? BUT A MANS WITH THE UNSTOPPABLE THIRST FOR KRELBS.
Judge: Right. What is your name?
Entity: WHAT IS YOUR NAMES?
Judge: I'm Cathy, remember?
Entity: THAT IS NOT A REAL NAMES.
Judge: Yes, it is. At least where I come from. What is your name?
Entity: ULAF HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE NAMES ULAF IN UKRAINE, BUT FRIENDS CALL ULAF "ULAF" FOR SHORTS IN SVADLOST.
Judge: Nice name. Are you from either area?
Entity: THE AREA OF A TRIANGLES BECOMES THE HYPOTENUSE…ULAF FORGET.
Judge: Uh huh. How could you forget something so important?
Entity: NO, ULAF NOT IMPORTENT. ULAF HAVE AT LEAST 3.5 CHILDRENS (ONE HALF SIZED).
Judge: That's a very personal issue. What's your specialty?
Entity: ULAF FORGET TO ASK WHERE EITHER OF YOUR MINDS ARE FROM.
Judge: The universe and you?
Entity: ULAF, ALSO, BECOMES FROM THE STUFF OF STARS, AS THE MIND OF CARLOS SAGAN ONCE TOLD.
Judge: Do you have any hobbies?
Entity: NO TIMES TO TALK NOW, RUSSIANS KARUMPING ON THE DOOR OF ULAF. REMEMBER, THIS IS ULAF SAYING, "BE THE MASTER." *END TRANSMISSION*
Judge: I'm still here.
Despite what you may think, Newsbits is not dead. It just needs more fiber.
- The RetroN 5 Launching June 6th (Today!) in the US
Hope it works as advertised.
This thing is a beast, supporting NES, Famicom, SNES, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and GBA cartridges. All of that, with 720p output via HDMI and original controller support.
- Wii U plugs first DS game into Virtual Console in Japan
Once upon a time, Nintendo frowned strongly upon emulation. Now its business model depends on it. Oh, how times have changed.
Puzzle-poser Brain Age is the first DS game to arrive on Wii U Virtual Console, and it's out now in Japan for free until June 30.
- Unearthed E.T. Atari games will be curated by New Mexico space museum and then sold
A unique situation where one of these games in unopened, mint condition could be worth far less than one crushed and buried in a landfill for 30 years.
Seven hundred of the 1,300 E.T. and other Atari cartridges recovered from a New Mexico landfill will be appraised, certified and put up for sale, the Alamogordo City Commission decided this week.
- The Verge Publishes Rarely-Seen Photos of Apple's 1980s Prototype Case Designs
(Source: The Verge)
Incredible photos of early 1980s Apple products that never were
Some of its earliest and most iconic designs, however, didn't actually come from inside of Apple, but from outside designers at Frog. In particular, credit goes to Frog's founder, Hartmut Esslinger, who was responsible for the 'Snow White' design language.
- Watching kids trying to figure out how to use an old Apple II is totally hilarious
(Source: Cult of Mac)
This video of children from the ages of 6 to 13 trying to figure out how to work a vintage Apple II … shows just how inexplicable computing was to pretty much everyone before Steve Jobs released the original Mac in 1984.
- Modder Stuffs a Raspberry Pi into a Game Boy Pocket
This is one of the most amazing mods I've ever seen
After sanding down the bosses on the inside of the case, gluing the battery door shut, and installing a bit of plastic over the cartridge slot, WarriorRocker was able to fit a Raspi inside. The buttons use the same PCB as the stock Game Boy, connected to a Teensy 2.0 board that simulates a USB keyboard.
- Exhibiting .gifs: An Interview with curator Jason Eppink
(Source: The Signal)
Wonder if they know about Retro GIF of the Week
Jason recently curated 'The Reaction GIF: Moving Image as Gesture,' which exhibits a set of GIFs he identified in consultation with redditors.
- Where Have You Gone, Peter Norton?
A look back at the PC utility guru's career by Harry McCracken at the newly-reborn Technologizer
Norton’s empire grew to include multiple software products, articles (including a long-running PC Magazine column), and books. He was everywhere that PCs were. And then, in 1990, he sold Peter Norton Computing to Symantec, which made the Norton line of software even more successful.
- Wolfenstein game graphics, 1992 vs 2014
A million more pixels, but the jaw remains the same
- The Most 90s Thing That Could Ever Exist
(Source: The Atlantic)
The zeitgeist summed perfectly in one technological artifact, which is a VHS tape promoting Windows 95, starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry.
- Total Chaos is the Best-Looking Doom II Mod You've Ever Seen
More like a "GZDoom mod," but still very impressive.
Total Chaos doesn’t run on the Doom 2 engine from 1993 proper, but a modified version of the original source code that brings in OpenGL, mouse looks and other features like 16x motion blur, high resolution textures, 3D models, and bloom effects.
- The Secret History of Hypertext
(Source: The Atlantic)
Historians of technology often cite Bush’s essay as the conceptual forerunner of the Web. And hypertext pioneers like Douglas Engelbart, Ted Nelson, and Tim Berners-Lee have all acknowledged their debt to Bush’s vision. But for all his lasting influence, Bush was not the first person to imagine something like the Web.
- The Woman Behind Apple's First Icons
…and Windows 3.0 to XP's Solitaire cards! (I did an interview with her about that once, gotta find it.)
For many, Susan Kare's icons were a first taste of human-computer interaction: they were approachable, friendly, and simple, much like the designer herself. Today, we recognize the little images — system-failure bomb, paintbrush, mini-stopwatch, dogcow — as old, pixelated friends.
If you want me to include something on a future Newsbits column, send me an email with "Newsbits" in the subject line.
The Performa line originated as a way for Apple to expand retail availability of its then-waning Mac platform. They did so by re-branding a number of existing Mac models with the Performa name (plus some numbers that didn't make much sense).
The Performa line's commercial availability coincided almost exactly with Apple's darkest era, 1992-1997, when sales dramatically declined, market share dropped, the company was generally mismanaged and unfocused, Macs had 10 different names for the same model, and Classic OS was getting long in the tooth.
I remember seeing a few Performa models for sale at Sears as a teenager and thinking, "Wow, they still make Macs?" Then I tried one out, and the OS was barely different from the Mac SE I'd last used in 1987 — some 6 years earlier — and it liked to crash a lot. It was a depressing time to be Apple. Whatever happened to that company, anyway?
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first model of Macintosh you ever owned?