* Posts by oblivion

13 posts • joined 11 Feb 2009

Running the Gauntlet: Atari's classic ... now and then

oblivion
Pint

"That was a heroic effort!"

Gauntlet's technology was a big deal in 1985. My nerdy friends and I had never seen the likes of it and spent hundreds of dollars plodding through the levels. At one point a friend had a small arcade in his shop with a leased Gauntlet and a couple of other games. One night after hours we picked the locks on it--not to steal the money, but being the geeks we were, we wanted to have a look at the silicon to see how much hardware was crammed into the cabinet to provide this level of gameplay. As I recall, we might have adjusted the skill level a bit to give ourselves a better chance. It was easy when coin-ops of the 80s usually came with technical manuals and operator instructions lying at the bottom of the cabinet. :)

Gauntlet IV on Sega Genesis was a pretty good clone, and "Dark Legacy" on PS2 was enjoyable. But I still like firing up MAME/MESS and taking a run through Gauntlet I and II when the mood hits me.

InMage now InMicrosoft: Redmond slurps disaster recovery hardware biz

oblivion
Meh

It's only fitting

Every day working with Microsoft software is an exercise in disaster recovery.

Say goodbye to the noughties: Yesterday’s hi-fi biz is BUSTED, bro

oblivion
Meh

Why bother?

Like most people who are not just starting out, I have accumulated components over the last decade or two. If I was furnishing a new "media room", I might bite and get a Sonos or similar. But I have 4 really good sounding speakers that I've had for years, and just upgraded my receiver a couple of years ago with an Onkyo unit that looks "traditional", but offers streaming audio from a multitude of services, DLNA (over my home network, not Bluetooth), HDMI source switching, USB, and optical inputs. It does what I want, sounds decent, and doesn't tie up bandwidth on my WIFI to interface with its other components or add yet another set of signals to the already cluttered local airwaves. My only complaint is that I have to use Ethernet to connect it, but this isn't a big deal to me. (the manufacturer's proprietary WIFI adapter is crap) I don't mind a few wires around. I hook up equipment with cables and they're "paired" and not likely to require troubleshooting very often, if at all.

While I appreciate Bluetooth and other modern technologies (and I should, as I work in the tech sector), when I see someone vainly struggling to get their phone, etc. to pair with some other piece of kit that is incommunicado, I'm reminded of old movies where someone is frantically trying to hand crank a stalled Model T to life. For all the progress we've made with computing and networking, I still sometimes feel that we're where the auto industry was about 50 years ago in sophistication and reliability. Sorry for the rant, but the nice thing about "traditional" audio kit is it "just works".

In space no one can hear you scream, but Voyager 1 can hear A ROAR

oblivion

Doesn't Voyager use a tape drive?

..for data storage? That the electronics and everything else can survive this long is remarkable, but a tape drive from 1977 that's still working is simply amazing!

Titan's salty waters scupper the chances for alien life

oblivion
Alien

Definition of alien life

...Is that it is alien and should not be judged as being possible by what we know of life on Earth. Saying that life can't exist in there just because it's salty is like the famously wrong quotes like: "Man will never fly", "I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers", and of course "640K ought to be enough for anyone".

Tell us about your first time ... on the internet

oblivion
Pint

1987? I think?

A friend had a modem for his CoCo2 and also a briefcase-sized standalone terminal with one of those modems that was two rubber cups that you could put your phone handset in. His father used it when traveling to connect to the mainframe at his company, I think. We used to connect to various BBSes, which at the time was expensive and unreliable, but a world of fun.

As far as actual internet, it must have been mid 90s. Windows 95 had recently come out and I bought my first IBM compatible PC. A screaming fast AMD 586 processor at 133MHz, 16MB of EDO RAM, an 850MB hard drive, and an 14.4K internal modem. It was a good budget system for someone that couldn't afford a Pentium. I tried all the various dial-up services that it came bundled with--AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve, etc. and ended up becoming an AOL subscriber. At the time, AOL was cool and offered the best internal content as well as being an ISP. Back when chat rooms were nifty. Part of the motivation to finally buy a "PC" was that a girl I was into had gotten one and now I could chat with her "online." I stuck with dialup until about 2001 as I recall, finally taking the plunge and getting a cable modem. Those were the days of Napster and I remember setting up a dozen or more downloads on dialup and letting them run all night, only to be chagrined when I discovered my dialup connection had dropped about 5 minutes after I went to bed. I was as far as you could get from the telco's CO and my connection speed left a lot to be desired as well.

Interestingly, I still had to use a modem to dial into and administrate various UNIX and Linux systems for one of my first IT jobs after I had forsaken dial-up for broadband. When I took the plunge and dropped my land line completely and went to VOIP phone service, I used to plug my modem into the VOIP-based phone service. And it actually worked better and got better connection speeds on VOIP than with my old AT&T land line.

Occupy Google: Protesters attack ad giant as I/O gets underway

oblivion
Thumb Down

All large companies are evil (mostly anyway)

Google is no better or worse than many. But IMHO since they practically OWN a large portion of the Internet (or at least as much as it can be owned by providing services and collecting information), they really should be trying harder not only to "not be evil", but to be a more positive force. In the end their indifference, whether real or just perceived, will bite them in the ass, as it can and does with all of us when we can make a difference and choose to be ambivalent.

Google really should distance themselves from Halprin though. He seems to embody all the negative stereotypes that people associate with scuzzy lawyers. Firing him would be a nice gesture towards making us all believe that Google really strives to not be evil.

It's just a shame that Karma is so slow acting..

EXPOSED: Massive mobile malware network used by cops globally

oblivion
Alert

Another reason to root your phone

Not only will it give you more access and awareness of running processes, but you can block IPs by adding them to the hosts file on the device and redirecting them. Now let's have the IPs of those command and control servers. Also another reason to run Cyanogen.

oblivion
Thumb Down

Prosecute the cops

If a device is found to contain this malware and no court order or warrant exists, then the police should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible for unauthorized access and illegal wiretapping, just as any malicious hacker would be.

Ohio man cuffed again for shagging inflatable pool raft

oblivion
Joke

At least is wasn't a blue raft..

..because that would just be gay.

Where do you stand on multi-function network appliances?

oblivion
Joke

Where do I stand on them?

I try to distribute my weight towards the edges since there's usually a lot of hollow space in the middle.

Tech talk bloke compares girlfriend to irritating Java tool – did he deserve flames?

oblivion
Alert

Geez...

Would this be as offensive if he would have made it less gender-specific? Some people, regardless of gender, completely fit that cliche. And it must have struck a chord with some of the people that are protesting so vehemently that they are offended by this. People usually don't get that up in arms about anything unless there's a kernel of truth to it. Most of us that have had any kind of a life in the past have dated the mythical person to which he's referring or know someone that has.

You did what? The trials of supporting remote users

oblivion
Joke

misc restaurant support stories...

I used to support POS systems and telecom for a major restaurant chain---I personally supported around 70 restaurants---I drove all over hell and back and was on call till 1am most nights...

My favorite: One of the units complained that the main computer would no longer communicate with any of the POS terminals. Upon opening up the case, I found a family of mice had been living inside and had peed and defecated on the motherboard until finally this nastiness ate through a trace on the circuit board going to the PCI riser card in the machine. YUCK! The machine had perhaps a half pound of mouse shit in it! The machine was still happily running though--those old NCR servers were tough.

I remember spending about 8 hours rebuilding one of these in a far away unit, so tired I was almost seeing double. I finally had it running and it was propped on a chair with the cover off as I tested it. I'd just powered it off to put it back together when a random employee wandered by and spilled perhaps a gallon of soapy water all over the innards. I was too frazzled to do anything but laugh. The tone of my laughter scared them a little I think...

Also made a frenzied dash to a unit to discover the system wouldn't power up because they'd plugged the UPS into itself. A perpetual motion machine? Not quite.

Had a lightning strike at a strip mall that one was located in... I parked next to the rest of the contractor's vans, as every store in the mall had something fried. The CPU, modem, credit card terminal, phone system, and electronic safe all were DOA. Was able to get all running but the safe :)

Favorite quote: Employee looking at the display of a credit card terminal "Why does it say it's dilating?" (mental image of the machine in stirrups, ready to give birth)

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