Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for the ‘Home Ownership’ Category

Journey’s End

Posted by Trixter on April 21, 2013

I was part of the first wave of people tackling the gigantic task of preserving personal computing gaming history in the early 1990s.  (I suppose pirating software in the 1980s counts too, but scanning materials and interviewing people began, for me, in the 1990s.)  Without connecting to others or knowing what was out there, I started to hoard software and hardware where financially possible and appropriate.  I collected software I considered hidden gems, that should be given their due in some public forum before being forgotten.  I grabbed many Tandy 1000s and other early PCs to ensure various works could be run and studied.  I was an original member of the abandonware movement.  I wrote articles on how to get old software running on modern machines, and contributed to software that did the same.  I co-founded the world’s largest gaming database so that information about these works could be consumed and researched by millions.

I did this all before Y2K.  When you’re the only guy shouting in a crowd, you tend to look the lunatic, and that’s pretty much how most of my friends and family saw me.

Look around the preservation landscape today and much of what I was working towards for years has come to pass.  There are many vintage hardware and software museums, both physical and virtual, including some dedicated to gaming.  There are some wonderful emulators that get closer and closer to the real thing each year.  There are even some curated collections online.  (There are many more curated collections offline, orders of magnitude larger than what is online, but in a decade or so I believe these will move online as well.)  Most importantly, there are established communities that support these efforts.  All in all, I’m pretty happy with how things have turned out.

Looking around all of my possessions inside my home, I see the fallout of what I was trying to accomplish many years ago.  I see no less than five PCjrs, three identical Tandy 1000s, three identical IBM PC 5150s, and multiples of Macs, Apples, C64s, and Amigas.  I see crates and bookshelves and closets filled with hardware and software.  I see clutter where there should be a nice desk for displaying a computer in a respectful way, or an easy chair for reading or watching TV.  It’s too much.  It’s time to let most of it go, and focus like a laser on the things that are the most important.  I will be disseminating most of my collection, both software and hardware, in the following year.

What I will continue to do, however, is archive and preserve software, as there is still a ton of IBM PC software from the 1980s that has not yet been released into the wild.  I am also committed to creating the “sound card museum” project I keep threatening to do.  To those ends, I will retain a few systems that will allow me to achieve both of those goals.

So, I’ll still keep buying and collecting vintage software — the difference is, I won’t retain the software after preserving it.  Consider me a vintage personal computing clearing house.

Posted in Family, Gaming, Home Ownership, Lifehacks, MobyGames, Software Piracy, Vintage Computing | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

No Tubes!

Posted by Trixter on February 4, 2008

My internet service provider, who will remain nameless until I decide whether or not I’m pissed off, killed my internet connection at home Thursday night and can’t send somebody out to the house to fix it until Wednesday.  Since my internet connection is treated as a utility in my house, such as heat or electricity, I’m starting to go through withdrawal symptoms.

This might sound like a lame excuse to not answer email, but it’s the honest truth.

At least I have more free time every night.  I finally fixed my keyboard handler, for example, and did more design work on MONOTONE.

Posted in Home Ownership | Leave a Comment »

Computing Myth #2: Broadband only works with a new computer

Posted by Trixter on February 2, 2006

While this isn’t technically true, I can definitely see how this myth was formed. My father ran on a 486/66 with a modem from 1995-2001. In 2001 he got cable modem broadband, but his 486/66 was so slow that it couldn’t process complex web pages much quicker than it already was, so he saw no actual speed benefit. So he went back to the modem, at which point I almost lost it (“How can you want to go slower?!”)

Later he upgraded to a Pentium 3 @ 450MHz, and could finally perceive the modem as a bottleneck.

Ironically, two years later, I did the same type of thing (downgrade powerful hardware): Through a telephone conversation mix-up, I agreed to reserve and purchase a Yamaha snowblower — and when I got there, I had reserved the wrong one. What I thought was going to be a $600 18- or 24-inch blower was actually a $1300 36-inch semi-industrial model. I was coerced into buying it because renigging on the reservation meant I would be charged $50 because these things were in demand in the middle of winter. So I bought it to avoid the fee, took it home, opened the box, took one look at it and knew I could never use it for my tiny driveway without being embarrased (it wouldn’t even fit in my garage with both cars), and proceeded to box it up and return it. On that day, a snowstorm began. As I’m returning this monster snowblower, I get a goofy look from the kid helping me; when I inquire, he says, “I’ve just never seen anyone return a snowblower in the middle of a snow storm!”.

Posted in Family, Home Ownership, Technology | 5 Comments »

Raw Sewage!

Posted by Trixter on January 5, 2006

(As opposed to cooked sewage?)

Some of the most wonderful lessons you learn in life come from owning a home. And by “wonderful” I mean “craptastic”. A week ago I went to get some laundry out of the basement and noticed a terrible smell, and noticed that, slowly but visibly, raw sewage was seeping out of the drain in my floor. I knew it was sewage because of the smell, but moreso because of the chunks that came with it. What chunks? Use your imagination.

So I tell Melissa to stop running all water and hope for it to die down and seep back into the drain. It does, so I chalk it up to the heavy rainfall and melting snow we recently had. Then Melissa empties the bathwater from two floors up, and all hell breaks loose: The sewage is actively running out of the drain and spreading toward the clothes, the walls, the doorway… I couldn’t do anything, and it hit the carpet on the other side of the wall and was wicked all throughout the carpet.

The plumbers who rooted (routed?) the sewer main told me that the problem was caused by tree root balls. Evidently, in older neighboorhoods, tree roots can be attracted to cracks in the pipes and actually grow into the sewer main (how this doesn’t compromise the pipes, I’ll never know). So that’s what happened. The best part was that house insurance didn’t cover it, because the cause of the damage was external to the home. So, out of pocket right after the holiday spending, three digits for the plumbers and four digits for the cleanup crew. Cleanup crew? Yes, raw sewage in the home is a biohazard that shouldn’t be cleaned up by mere homeowning mortals because sewage can cause Cholera and other wonderful diseases.

And by “wonderful” I mean “craptastic”.

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