[ Newsbits ] June 6, 2014

June 6th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

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Vintage computing and retrogaming news small enough to eat.

Despite what you may think, Newsbits is not dead. It just needs more fiber.

Recent News

  • The RetroN 5 Launching June 6th (Today!) in the US
    (Source: Destructoid)

    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
    (Source: Polygon)

    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
    (Source: Hackaday)

    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.

Cool Links

  • Where Have You Gone, Peter Norton?
    (Source: Technologizer)

    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
    (Source: Twitter)

    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
    (Source: PCGamer)

    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
    (Source: Priceonomics)

    …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.

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Internet Archive's Historical Software Collection is the Best Thing That Has Ever Happened to Software Preservation

November 26th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Internet Archive Historical Software Collection

Three cheers for Jason Scott and his push to create a JavaScript-based port of the MESS emulator platform. The result, the Internet Archive's Historical Software Collection, is nothing short of brilliant.

The collection puts dozens of vintage computer games and applications at your fingertips by allowing you to run them, emulated, from a browser window. It's a huge step forward for preserving the heritage of our software culture. Here, ease-of-access is key.

I've been horribly remiss by not mentioning this earlier — but better late than never for something this important.

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Virtual Console Makes Nintendo Look Incompetent

January 29th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Wii U Virual Console

In light of the news that Virtual Console games on the Wii U won't be able to use save files from the Wii's Virtual Console, I would like to point something out.

Just today, I found a NES save file for The Legend of Zelda dated May 28th, 1998 (created by legendary NES emulator Nesticle) and continued that saved game in Nestopia in the year 2013.

I did it to spite Nintendo, because this is ridiculous.

That emulator save file originated on a PC I owned 15 years ago, and it resided on a long-since-decommissioned hard drive. Now it's saved to a SSD in a computer a bajillion times more powerful, with a different emulator, and it still works.

[ Continue reading Virtual Console Makes Nintendo Look Incompetent » ]

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A Long, Strange Trip Comes to an End

February 12th, 2007 by Benj Edwards

Benj Finishes EarthboundJust a few hours ago, I completed an epic journey that I began over ten years before.

I finally finished the game EarthBound for the Super Nintendo.

I know, I know. Usually, completing a game is no big deal, and most people probably finish EarthBound in the span of a week. But in this particular case, the accomplishment meant something much more to me. I began playing the game in 1996 when I first acquired my copy of EarthBound used from a local Blockbuster store (a video rental chain in the US). I have slowly played through the same saved game a little bit at a time, usually about once every year. There might have been a period or two over the last decade where I didn't play it for a few years straight, which would partially explain why it has taken so long. Picking up the game again every year was always a challenge because I'd have to spend hours just reacquainting myself with what was going on in the game's storyline at the point of my last save, and I'd also have to figure out what to do next. Sometimes, I'd get too overwhelmed and just give up figuring it out…and promptly put off the task until the next time I picked up the cart.

Benj Finishes EarthboundWell, just this month, I felt my yearly EarthBound cravings coming on again (they usually hit sometime during the first two months of the year), so I pulled out the 'ole SNES and fired it up. This time would be different, though: I dedicated myself to finally seeing the game through — all the way to the bitter end! 2007, I figure, is a good enough year to finish a game that came out in 1995. I'm usually a traditionalist about these things, but my original SNES wasn't feeling quite right on my fancy new TV, so I figured I'd put a little modern technology on my side to aid me in my quest.

I've recently been playing a number of SNES games on an old iMac that I have more or less turned into a dedicated SNES emulator machine. I thought it would be nice, for a change of pace, to play EarthBound on there. Using my Super WildCard DX2, I transferred my EarthBound cart's SRAM data to a file (which contains all the game's save information) and Benj Finishes Earthboundloaded it up on my emulator. I played through the rest of the same game I started in 1996 on the emulator with an authentic SNES pad (via a Super SmartJoy USB adapter, which I've been meaning to review for a year or so now). I'm not going to lie to you; save states are the Emulator God's gift to gaming, and without them, I probably would have completed a few bosses as usual and put off finishing the game until next year. The save states made playing through the game an absolute joy over the past few days, removing all sorts of time-wasting save-related hassles and just generally smoothing out the experience. Screw the purists — it was incredible fun, not a logistical pain in the neck, like playing a game should be.

Now that the journey is over, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. In one way, I'm ecstatically happy to have finally accomplished something by playing my way through such a masterful game, and in another way, I'm heartbroken that it's over, as EarthBound is probably one of my favorites of all time. But if it's one of my favorite games ever, why did it take me ten years to complete?

Maybe I'm just weird like that. Or maybe I didn't want it to end.

Benj Finishes Earthbound

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