Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for May, 2008

Collecting and Programming

Posted by Trixter on May 25, 2008

Just a quick note that Slashdot posted a main-page post about software collecting, one of my oldest hobbies.  I personally weighed in, of course.

For those not following MONOTONE, I released another alpha yesterday with Adlib support and more effects.  Still not finished, but it’s starting to become usable and interesting now :)

Posted in Programming, Software Piracy, Vintage Computing | 3 Comments »

Punish Floppy Disks For Fun And Profit

Posted by Trixter on May 11, 2008

The question of which DOS-era floppy backup program was “best” has always bothered me over the years, so today I spent the better part of an afternoon satisfying my curiosity. (By “floppy backup program”, I mean programs that intelligently used high-speed DMA to format and write backup data while the computer was doing other things in the background, like reading from the hard disk and compressing the data.)

Results are here, for the curious:


If I missed an obvious one that runs on XT-class hardware, let me know.

Posted in Vintage Computing | 6 Comments »

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before

Posted by Trixter on May 4, 2008

So there’s a pattern to my cycle:

  • View things that should make me feel awesome but instead make me feel depressed
  • Stay depressed for a while
  • Start to feel moody and angry and obstinate
  • Accomplish something that snaps me out of it

I can thank Jason Scott, this blog, and the comments of a few kind people to help me see this. Whether or not it is a cyclical bipolar disorder or something else is a discussion for another day.

So what happened this time? Let’s break things down:

View things that should make me feel awesome but instead make me feel depressed: Unfortunately, this was the result of stumbling across more of Jake “virt” Kaufman’s work. I am in awe of people who are so passionate about a certain thing (in his case, obviously music) that they can, by sheer force of will, become a prodigy in that field through research, experimentation, and sheer practice. I previously felt this way about Mark Brown (maruku barunu) and Peter Habja (Skaven); if you haven’t examined maruku’s techmaru.mod in Protracker as it plays, or listened to Skaven’s Network .s3m, you owe it to yourself to check them out. And keep in mind they had no formal musical training.

Stay depressed for a while: Yes, well… you saw the post prior to this one.

Start to feel moody and angry and obstinate: When I do this I find myself just sitting and doing nothing, listening to music like this:

  • Throw It Away by Juke Kartel
  • A Girl Like You by The Smithereens
  • Celebrity Skin by Hole
  • Human by Carpark North
  • Cigarette Dangles by The Pursuit Of Happiness
  • Dance Floor Anthem by Good Charlotte
  • Move Along by The All-American Rejects
  • Plowed by Sponge

I can’t tell if this is my “coming out of it phase” or “falling deeper into it” phase.  I think the deciding factor is whether or not I’m singing along to it (“coming out of it” phase).

Accomplish something that snaps me out of it: In my case, I had a lot of help with this step, mainly help from my loving wife, some very kind comments and email from my friends, and then a later love letter from Jason.

Oh, what did I accomplish? MONOTONE now has Adlib support.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

It must be my time of the month again

Posted by Trixter on May 1, 2008

About once a month I look at everything I’ve accomplished, and compare that with everything that I want to accomplish, which inevitably leads to what I can never accomplish, and I get depressed. The frequency of this is relatively stable; what has changed over the years is the amplitude. It is taking me longer and longer to snap back to someone who is simultaneously cheerful and productive. Trying hard not to overstress the metaphor here, but I fear someday I will disappear into a feedback loop and the resulting shockwaves will shake me into a completely different person, one who doesn’t give two shits about all of this and will disappear into a completely useless hobby, like collecting pencils.

Oh, sorry — MORE useless than my existing hobbies.

What I cling to, what I defend to others who don’t understand dorking with old computers and demos and software and oldwarez and gaming, is that my existing hobbies are about creation and creativity. For example, I program old computers, but I am programming them to do things they have never done in their timeframe, and I release the source so that maybe one other person will gain an extra synapse from viewing it.

Three days after returning from Block Party 2008, I got video of the competitions and awards spread across three DVDs. I offered to edit them into separate files and upload them to archive.org. It has taken me nearly a month to do this in my various pockets of free time, not all of them spent wisely. During this time, I witnessed entire events blow by, such as Jason Scott knocking another one out of the park at ROFLCon. Or, more troubling, my looking at ROFLCon and simply not getting it.

The more I work at all this, the more I’m convinced that it wasn’t OOP that stumped me for three months, but rather the fact that I am really just not that good at what I would like to believe I’m good at.

I look around me and I see remnants of at least five different things I’d like to accomplish someday — soundcard museum, writing a real 8088/CGA demo, software collecting, selling excess hardware on ebay, making another MindCandy DVD — and the entire time I know that none of them will probably ever get done.

I need to release some ballast or I’m going to sink. I just don’t know what to let go of.

I’ll bet none of this is making sense to you.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »