Archive for the ‘nostalgia’ Category

Gaming nostalgia and a possible time sinkhole…

August 13, 2007

Back in the day, I used to enjoy me the odd pc-based videogame. I was heavy into the racing sim games which varied from the high quality (Indy500 from Papyrus, Geoff Crammond’s GP1,GP2 and GP3) to the very low (Bill Elliot’s Nascar Challenge, and the old Road&Track Grand Prix Unlimited game – eeewww, what’s that smell??).

But my pc-gaming experience extended past the racing sim genre to include a few other favourites. Two of which I’ve recently re-experienced using a neat utility called DosBox. DosBox is an open-source DOS emulator. Indeed, I have been using DosBox at work for some time, since it’s the only way I can get a favourite old DOS-based design program running within XP. From their website:

DOSBox is a DOS-emulator that uses the SDL-library which makes DOSBox very easy to port to different platforms. DOSBox has already been ported to many different platforms, such as Windows, BeOS, Linux, MacOS X…

DOSBox also emulates CPU:286/386 realmode/protected mode, Directory FileSystem/XMS/EMS, Tandy/Hercules/CGA/EGA/VGA/VESA graphics, a SoundBlaster/Gravis Ultra Sound card for excellent sound compatibility with older games…

So locating the files for two of my absolute all-time favourites, 4D Sports Boxing and Out of this World (which was called ‘Another World’ in the UK), I immediately fired up DosBox, mounted the C:\ drive to a specified folder on my system and it ran them both flawlessly, sound included – just like they ran on my old 386 and P75 machines.

Out of this World is still a marvel of interesting gameplay. The theatrical intro, ultra cool background music and polygon based graphics made this one a cult hit then. It’s still a great challenge to play. Think of it as Prince of Persia but much more elegant and involving. I remember spending countless hours trying to figure out solutions to the problems I faced in the game, without the benefit of Google or it’s associated cheat and hint code environment.

So indeed, if you’ve got a hankerin’ for that pc game from long ago, check out DosBox and let the retro roll!!

And if arcade gaming was also your thing (think Zaxxon, Galaga, Q-bert, Omega Race and Joust) then you could always check out the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator or Mame for short. You can find the mame site here, or if you’re a linux user, check your repos, you might be a quick ‘sudo apt-get install xmame-common’ away from retro gaming nirvana like I was. 😉

Caution: This post holds the potential for a massive time sinkhole. You have been warned!! 🙂

Were you a gamer in years past? Share some of your faves in the comments.

Check out The GUIdebook

August 1, 2007


If you’re interested in screenshots, icons and splash screens of various GUI’s over the years from GeoWorks, Amiga Workbench, CDE, NextStep, BeOS, OS/2, Windows, Mac and others, check out GUIdebook.org. While the front page notes a last update of Oct/06, I still found plenty of good images, and info on the development of various GUI systems.

The navigation on the site tells me that they were planning (or maybe are still planning) to provide a very wide breadth of information on GUI’s and OS’s from timelines to graphics and news. There are a quite a few areas to explore, but naturally some areas are thin on information as you might expect. A nice find anyway though.

One GUI I couldn’t find on the site was the old OpenWindows desktop (a piece of which is shown above). I used this desktop during graduate school for my thesis which dumped me into the deep end of C programming, make files and gcc. Nevertheless the OpenWindows desktop (and unix in general) seemed like a revelation to me at the time (just previous to the launch of Win95). Very high resolution – for that time – and a desktop capable of really multitasking made me frown when I went back to my apartment where I was running Windows 3.11 at 800×600 and bombing around the Compuserve forums using OzWin.. 😉

iPhone’s style was originally based on something else…

July 17, 2007


… the Zenith Space Command remote control from the 70’s! Plink!

Wonderfully chunky, rounded-rectangle device. Friends of the family had one and I was jealous. We were still using one of those rectangular brown plastic boxes with the 20 buttons along the top (kuh-chunk!) with the wire running to the tv.

Little did I know at the time, but the Space Command remote didn’t even require batteries. It worked on sound frequencies, something akin to a tuning fork. To me it was very cool. Almost like something from Space: 1999.

I wax nostalgic.. Sorry.