Cape Cod: Kite Flying

At the end of July, the whole family spent 4 days on Cape Cod. I managed to squeeze in a bit of kite flying with one of our daughters. She’s flying her Uncle Christopher’s shark kite, and I’m flying a brand new parafoil 5. You might not be able to tell, but she got it out to the end of the line :-)

Kite Flying

And yes, I have a scratched lens on my iPhone.

Boxer & Pro Pinball: Big Race

I’ve been getting some older games working again courtesy of Boxer. Boxer allows modern Macs to run games from the DOS era with a minimum of fuss. I happen to have a few programs left over from that era since some mac games included the DOS versions, and some I just bought for my (infrequent) DOS systems.

Mostly, I’ve moved over some adventure games from Legend Entertainment and Infocom, and the Pro Pinball series from Cunning Development. Timeshock and the Web both worked flawlessly, but Pro Pinball: Big Race USA needed a little tweaking. Specifically, the DOSBOX configuration needed to have the abstract volume name set and the amount of memory had to be raised. Here’s what the DOSBox Preferences.conf file looks like:


[cpu]
core=dynamic

[dosbox]
memsize=31

[autoexec]
ABSTRACT Pro_Pinball_3

Best product of CES 2011

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is over. Sadly it was not the latest and greatest technological innovation that caught my eye amongst all of the product announcements. It was an April Fool’s Joke. Specifically, it was yet another joke product from the minds of the screaming monkeys at thinkgeek.com. Every year for April Fool’s day they come up with a series of fake products to advertise and sell on their site, and inevitably they rook a few hundred people into trying to order them. Past fake products included: caffeinated meatloaf, USB Desktop Tanning Center, Wireless Extension Cords, and the ZapCam – YouTube Tazer. You can experience the joy/frustration of thinkgeek’s April Fool’s page directly be clicking here.

But the irony is that several of their joke products have gone on to become actual products sold through their site, and rather successfully at that. Here’s at least a few:

Well, the latest product to make the jump from joke to sale aisle has just been announced at CES, the iCade (iPad arcade Cabinet). The iCade is a Bluetooth enabled arcade joystick with buttons, as well as iPad stand. It’s being built by ION Audio in conjunction with Thinkgeek, and they are working with Atari (and possibly unnamed others) to bring classic arcade games to the platform. So far, Atari has shown Asteroids as already working and ready for use with the device. The iCade is expected to ship for $99 ($50 less than the fake version), and will be available in two styles, the April Fool’s version available exclusively from Thinkgeek (pictured above) and a more generic one sold through various retailers (shown below).

And yes, I’m looking forward to owning one of these.


Erector/Meccano sets

With the youngest munchkin showing a distinct interest in tools and building things we picked up a couple of erector sets at the store this weekend. We picked up a set for the kid, and since I had never had Erector sets before one for me as well.

I won’t know about smaller set until after Christmas, but my set is really complicated. It makes Lego looked like it was designed for toddlers. It’s actually more than I’m mentally prepared to take on at the moment. I’m not sure where they found an 8-year-old to attempt it, but I want that kid working on my car in a couple of years.

Reading List

I just finished American Gods (for 1 Book, 1 Twitter #1b1t). Pretty good, better than my previous read; which was The Dream of Perpetual Motion. That book started out well enough, but I think the author either didn’t have a satisfactory ending planned, or needed serious editorial input. It followed the typical not ready feel of good beginning, slow middle, flip and disappointing ending. Pretty much it blew off any investment the reader had in the characters.

In the queue at the moment, The City and the City (in progress), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

RobotWar

This 10 top list of computer games includes an honorable mention for RobotWar. I actually discovered RobotWar when my friend Steve Green created a version for X11. While we had a great time coding robots I think the most interesting things was figuring out how Silas Warner managed to program it on an Apple ][. For a good bit Steve struggled with performance issues on hardware several times more powerful than those early Apple systems.

My experience with RobotWar probably indirectly led to my changing majors to computer science, and it certainly affected my perception of the need to efficient coding to this day.

Vintage Star Wars Posters

I ran across these while looking around Zazzle last night, and frankly I just had to order one.  Modified from vintage WPA travel posters of the 30′s, these Star Wars posters just hit too many pressure points for me not to love them.  I ordered the Hoth version, but really both are great.  I’m not sure why they never got around to the Coursant version they planned.  More importantly where’s the obvious Endor variant made in conjunction with the creators of  this poster.