krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
As I was working towards hooking my family's TRS-80 Model 100 portable up to external files for the first time in two decades, I happened on a mailing list dedicated to that computer. After I'd proved to my satisfaction I could accomplish the hookup, I kept tabs on the list. Now, I've run across an interesting link offered to it, an in-browser emulator for the portable.

As with an in-browser emulator for the older TRS-80s I stumbled on not that long ago, there's a certain appeal to seeing just what can be accomplished without fussing with a standalone program (in several cases, I've managed to get esoteric Windows emulators running via WINE, including the standard emulator for the Model 100 itself). As soon as that's been taken in, though, I do come straight back to contemplating how, since you're not using a different keyboard than whatever you have on your regular system or "running for hours and hours on AA cells," things can narrow to how where other old computers have big archives of software to fiddle around with, the Model 100's more limited list of programs can keep it seeming a "portable text editor that linked up with systems with larger screens." If a part of studying old computers is to learn about systems small enough to be easily grasped, sometimes the Model 100 starts to feel smaller than some, and in an ambiguous mixture of ways.
krpalmer: (Default)
Without the prompting of my family I might well wind up content at the end of a year to have used up my vacation taking lots of long weekends, but when they started asking me what I was planning to do this year I did get to thinking. With foreign exchange rates what they were the thought of going somewhere inside the country seemed compelling. I'd been east not that long ago, so going west came to mind. Almost as soon as I started thinking about British Columbia, where I'd got off the cruise ship and on an airplane at the end of my cruise across the Pacific five years ago and spent a few more days there two decades ago, though, the idea of travelling that much further and heading north as well began to fire my imagination. I've read Pierre Berton's Klondike more than a few times; even if travel isn't anywhere near as challenging in the Yukon today as it was for the gold rushers at the close of the nineteenth century, it still seemed interesting to go.

With that vague thought of "going" and "seeing what I'd find" expressed, my brother decided he'd go as well and got to work researching details. Before too long we had an RV rented for a road trip that would take us on the "circle route" through the territory with a short leg over the border to Alaska. From the sights (and services) of Whitehorse to the edge of Kluane National Park to the austere, winding heights of the Top of the World Highway to the sudden sight of Dawson's City deliberate quaintness, and from there to jog north to Tombstone Territorial Park (which a cousin in Vancouver told us about) and back south again made for a full week of travel.

Among all the things I packed, I did once more overestimate how much I needed to bring just to keep myself diverted. Out of the books stuffed into my carry-on bag and the videos I loaded on my iPad (which did pick up cellular signals on the outskirts of the major settlements), I only looked at a few of them, concentrating instead on real-world sights and perhaps winding up thinking there was something worth considering to that juxtaposition. As well, though, while travelling in an RV was a lot more comfortable than the tenting that had me "camped out" by the time I was out of Scouts and quicker than setting up and taking down a trailer, it was a noisy ride in the passenger seat and demanding as a driver, especially as the road got bumpier in the permafrost zone. It all made for a great change of pace in any case. The thought of going back, even if at a different time of year to perhaps try and see the aurora, is certainly there.
Pictures are ahead )
krpalmer: (anime)
The second Legend of the Galactic Heroes novel has now been translated. At the back of this volume, there's the promise of at least one more instalment to be released, although I still don't know if the gloomy anticipations of other fans that "of course these books won't sell well enough to be fully released" will be realised. In any case, this volume gets a fair way into the story as I've experienced it in its anime adaptation, if still seeming to be a self-contained instalment in the story by itself. Both galactic factions turn to deal with internal dissent, which might only seem to feed into the air of reinforced genius of a still-rising star if not, perhaps, for a very significant loss at the close of the book.

I don't know if the translation has improved to any extent from the first volume, although I did seem able to cruise through it where I've found myself slogging through some of Yen Press's translated "light novels"; whether it's just a matter of this particular subject matter appealing more to me is a reasonable question. I did get to thinking again about the visual reality provided by the anime adaption. In the first volume, the uniforms of the opposing fleets are described well enough that I could envision what was ultimately drawn in my mind; however, there didn't seem anything said about the civilians in the corrupt democracy on one side (comments about the war eating away at its general vitality seem something I don't remember from the anime) dressing in late-twentieth-century fashion or the civilians in the aristocratic empire on the other side wearing late-eighteenth-century European fashions. There are also descriptions of the ultimate space fortress Iserlohn that seem different from the "liquid metal" surface it got in the anime as if to distinguish it from the most familiar visions of spherical space fortresses. However, the novel did get to setting up the "space-ax" combat that's long provided a more striking alternative to just zapping opponents. I can wonder how much more will provoke reflections back to the anime, but I've kept finding interest in what we've managed to get.
krpalmer: (Default)
Rarely one to pass up a book sale, I stopped in at one at the library in my home town. Racks and tables of small paperbacks had been set up outside, but as I mulled over some of the old science fiction novels there (and in the end didn't get many of them, although some of them I already had in other editions), a biography of King Edward VII of England caught my eye. When I went inside and saw a second biography of him on the crowded tables there, that made my mind up to get both of them. I knew the general story of the turn-of-the-twentieth century king (including his long wait through the nineteenth century to become king), but thought a bit more detail and some different perspectives would be interesting.
One things leads to another, and then another )
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
I've been keeping my "other" online presence running, although I haven't had to say much about it here to keep up the pretence of regular updates. Part of keeping my Tumblr topped up is to use its queue, although this does sort of detach me from what hypothetical other eyes might see. However, when I happened to see the "recently updated" section on the front page of Wikipedia had something to say about the "Dog Star Adventure," I realised I had just managed to say a bit about that very same adventure. The synchronicity reminds me I could get around to playing it.
krpalmer: (mst3k)
I took a look at the latest "weekend discussion" topic on Satellite News near the start of the weekend, then decided on an offhand impulse to take another look at the site today. News the titles for the next official DVD set have been announced was an electric shock, but even more than that there was more news further down the page I hadn't seen. It turns out the new Mystery Science Theater series is going to be streamed on Netflix, which is somehow more impressive to me than "an American cable channel," even if that hypothetical channel would have happened to be one I'd heard of before. I suppose this still doesn't answer the question of whether the new series will yield to the same impulse that drove a wedge into my enjoyment of the final years of "the MSTing community" and keeps me away from Rifftrax and the Cinematic Titanic archive, namely whether familiar fan targets will be brought up just to be put down in passing... but on the other hand, the "mads" of the "Sci-Fi Channel years" are going to make a guest appearance on the new series.

As for the upcoming collection, it sounds like another interesting one. Things will open with "The Human Duplicators," late in the fourth season and a sort of merger between 1960s science fiction and James Bond ripoffs, then release the last episode of the short seventh season to go on an official DVD with "Escape 2000," bringing us to a sort of Italian and rather 1980s-dystopian "Bronx." From there it's on to the eighth season and "Horror of Party Beach," another fusion of genre with atomic-spawned monsters invading a black-and-white mid-state Atlantic seaboard beach, and the set will close out with "Invasion of the Neptune Men," traditionally one of the more "difficult" movies of the series what with the slog of its final battle but nevertheless filling in the ranks of the "dubbed and daffy Japanese movies."
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
As "Peanuts Begins" kept working its way through the early years of the comic strip, I did get to wondering when one particular strip would turn up. On reading the very first volume of "The Complete Peanuts," I was amused by one strip from 1952 (the "cute period" of the strip, perhaps) where Charlie Brown was out in the rain in a trench coat and fedora; I wound up scanning a panel in to use as one of my valuable few Livejournal icons. The black-and-white image did somehow stand out, though, and when the colourized strips rolled around to this instalment at last today I decided to make an upgrade (of sorts, of course, what with those who'll extol "the artist's original vision"...) In the end, though, the change in icons not going automatically backwards did leave me thinking my old Livejournal might yet still commemorate the way things were.
krpalmer: (Default)
It's one small sign of how long I've managed to keep posting things to this journal, and a small illustration of how history keys together too, that I've managed to get from the fortieth anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon to the fortieth anniversary of Viking 1 landing on Mars. The two are linked on the calendar even if by accident; Viking 1 had been meant to land on the American Bicentennial, but its intended landing site had wound up looking too rough to the improved cameras of its orbiter. When it did make it to the surface, though, it pretty much set expectations; I was surprised and somehow invigorated when Mars Pathfinder had seen more prominent hills on the horizon two decades later, and surprised again whenever another rover doesn't find the sand at its landing site as littered with rocks as the Vikings did. At the same time, though, I did spend at least a bit of today remembering the Soviet probes that had reached the surface before the Vikings, even if the longest-lived of them only sent back a few seconds' worth of an indecipherable picture before it gave out in the dust storm it had managed to touch down in.
krpalmer: (Default)
I was in the grocery store stocking up for the week ahead when, right next to the cardboard display bin of Vanilla Coke and Cherry Coke ("back for a limited time," I understood) I spotted a second bin with somehow just as familiar bottles in it. The signage made a big deal of "Crystal Pepsi" being back (again, for a limited time), but what raced through my mind was impressions that particular brand may well be remembered, but in an amused way as "not a success." It seems almost too easy these days to sigh and shake your head about commercial brands and intellectual properties being brushed up and brought back from the niches promotion dug them into before to save on the apparent greater risk of coming up with anything new, but it may yet be there's more than a few actual reasons for that, too.
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
While "new" stuff for old computers stands out for not showing up every day, I can at least keep finding things I hadn't known about before as I turn back to fields left fallow. Not that long ago, for some reason I can't quite recall I started looking a bit more into that ur-laptop, the TRS-80 Model 100. My family has one of those computers, and it's certainly a lot easier to get going than any machine that requires a cathode-ray tube monitor to be carted around and plugged in, but the problem was that short of setting up the Color Computer we'd used in the 1980s or the now-antique Macintosh I'd tried out in the 1990s to link up over serial, I didn't seem to have any way to get the programs I did know about onto it save for the meticulous tedium of typing them in, much less any good way of getting anything off it before its batteries died in storage again. I'd known there were people who called it the "Model T" and could still put it to use as a text editor; I'd also known a gadget had been made up for it, as for quite a few other old computers, to simulate its old mass-storage portable disk drive but store that data on a camera card, thus allowing data interchange with modern networked computers with relative ease. The gadget had seemed a bit too expensive for whatever use or brief amusement I could imagine getting out of it myself, though, and after a while it seemed to sell out.
Discovering another option )
krpalmer: (Default)
After some first looks at small worlds last year, it makes for a change to get back to a large world. I had started to pick up on the Juno probe's final approach to Jupiter after a nearly five-year journey from the covers of astronomy magazines, but something about the news pieces in the last days before arrival had me worried about close-in debris or just something else "going wrong," perhaps not with quite the same intensity as with New Horizons but still with concern. The crucial moments would happen at night; I checked first thing in the morning, and was pleased to see things had worked out during that first and apparently most hazardous close approach. Now, it's a matter of remembering to follow up and see just when the public outreach pictures start appearing; I remember hearing the onboard camera isn't expected to last very long in Jupiter's radiation.
krpalmer: (anime)
Three months ago, I suppose I was thinking not just of the latest season of anime series starting up to be officially streamed, but also how in the past few seasons I'd had trouble watching new series that way. Any possibility of making more of an effort to join the crowd this time, though, might have gone by the wayside when I got sick just a few days into April; recovering I didn't seem to have the motivation or opportunity to at least take in lots of first episodes the way so many seem to. While a few series had sounded more interesting than others, exclusive licensing deals and the sudden promise of English subtitles on the expensive Macross Delta Blu-Rays leaving me with the feeling that to watch the show "fansubbed" would somehow obligate me to shell out for importing it (an obligation, I fear to admit, that seems much more broken when it comes to series being sold for premium prices over here, even if those seemingly steep costs are less than in Japan) chewed away at them. With all of that I did pick up a few shows and stick with them a bit longer than with some others from seasons just past, but further developments just a little later on took their own peculiar tolls until I was once more hardly following any discussion threads.

Despite that accumulation of small misfortunes, though, I didn't lack for anime to watch and grow interested in as I watched it. While a good number of series I was watching were older ones, the newer series I did watch seemed to fit in. While I did think at times how I wasn't watching quite as much anime even that way as I had been at the start of the year, I was also aware I'd added an additional competition to assorted long-running hobby projects by putting a fair bit of time into the Love Live School Idol Festival mobile game, which does have a definite connection to anime.
Efforts made: Gundam Unicorn re: 0096, Kiznaiver, and Space Patrol Luluco )
Finishing up: Lupin the 3rd Part 4 and Mazinger Edition Z: The Impact )
On the weekends: Creamy Mami, Gyrozetter, and Sally the Witch )
From days gone by at last: Turn A Gundam and Giant Gorg )
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
The "next volume preview" at the back of what I'd supposed the penultimate volume of The Complete Peanuts surprised me a bit by putting Sally on the cover of the collection to come. Some years ago I had seen a seemingly official anticipation on all the cover characters that had said the series would end with Charlie Brown, as it had begun and as it had included a Charlie Brown from each decade, and so far as I can remember the list had seemed accurate up to that point. Some months after that, though, I saw an explanation of sorts in that plans now included a twenty-sixth volume featuring "comics and stories," things Charles M. Schulz had drawn outside of the regular strips. This, of course, would mean an even number of volumes in the series and the opportunity to put the actual final days of the strip in one more consistent-sized boxed set. In the piece I saw the explanation in, though, there was also the comment the introduction to the last regular volume would be by President Obama, and that was in a strange way reassuring. I did wonder all over again about what I'd heard of Schulz's personal politics for all that he'd seemed to have kept them out of the strip (in a collection of interviews with him I once bought, a wide-ranging late interview included him remembering how depressed he'd been when Dewey hadn't defeated Truman after all and criticising Bill Clinton's policies, even if Clinton has provided a back-cover quote for the last several volumes, and in an earlier interview he had been contacted by people associated with Adlai Stevenson's 1956 campaign, supposing anyone writing such an "intellectual" strip would surely support that candidate; Schulz had to turn them down and explain he was an "Eisenhower Republican"), but I could suppose that no matter how careful Obama would be in his comments (his introduction wound up just one page long, and that included the usual page-wide graphic at the top) he wouldn't cluck and sigh that Schulz could have enjoyed his retirement and maintained the respect of those whose opinion counted (just like the commentator's) by having quit long before. Now, I just had to see what my own opinion would be.
'Dear Harry Potter, I am your biggest fan.' )
krpalmer: (Default)
After seeing The Martian at the movies last year, I did contemplate reading the novel it had been adapted from. Whenever I saw it at the bookstore, though, I never quite got around to buying a copy. It took seeing it at the library before I resolved to sign it out.

I have to mention the bad news first, though, that there's a moment in the book where a minor character throws in the gratuitous comment that he only wants "Star Wars original trilogy" memorabilia in exchange for a feat of programming. That events have already cast an ever so slightly different light on that didn't help much, and it gets harder every time I see something like that to respect that other people may have been less willing to enforce positivity than I was and am, and easier to just suspect a lazy bundle of reactions to pop culture taking over; somehow, it even casts a shadow over the story-long joke that Mark Watney is stranded with nothing but 1970s TV shows and disco music to occupy himself in between having to stay alive.

However, the book didn't get around to editorializing how it was only possible to send people to Mars by rejecting the official plans from around the time it was being written, which might have been the larger part of what had kept me leery about reading it even after the movie hadn't concluded with genius private inventors rescuing incompetent government employees. As well, I'd already known the novel contained a number of crises to be overcome later on in the story that the movie hadn't included. At one point, Watney accidentally burns out the replacement radio he had re-established contact with Earth with; I got to remembering that part of the movie and wondering if it still ought to be interpreted that way. A somewhat later scene where he's driving his rover into a dust storm everyone but him knows about did set up an interesting and somehow different challenge. In all, though, it does have me remembering the movie is now available for streaming on Netflix and wondering if I'll be able to find or make the time to watch it again.
krpalmer: (anime)
I've thought of a few reasons why I might have stayed interested in anime for so many years compared to at least some other people. Of late, though, I've started to wonder if I stay interested in it where I don't tend to watch or read "live-action" and "domestic" properties others take a "fannish" interest in because that interest is tied up with a certain few attitudes and judgments that grate on me. That, in turn, did make me wonder if it's for my personal best that anime keeps seeming to fly under that high-powered radar...

Today, though, I happened to see the latest in the endless stream of "licensed Monopoly versions" just happens to be an Attack on Titan game, and that did amuse me even as I once more remembered the days "properties" got original board games made up for them and peered at the image attached to try and answer that all-important question as to what the least and most expensive game properties are (the game is putting the anime's characters on them). The apparent demonstration "crossover appeal" has lasted for at least a while is interesting. However, I did begin searching on a vague whim to see there's been a "Pokemon Monopoly" already; it may be a bit much to try and make this particular instant a "we have arrived" moment.
krpalmer: (anime)
When I joined my university's anime club, more than a few years ago now, members in the know were talking up a series called Legend of the Galactic Heroes. By the time I graduated, the club had started showing the series "fansubbed," and I did find its austere military-political space opera set to classical music interesting. In the years that followed I learned more about the series, but the sense did also build the time when it might have been licensed for an official release over here had passed; even its invocation as a way of showing just how refined your tastes were, or how much better anime had been once upon a time, seemed to fade away.

Then, all of a sudden it was announced the series had been licensed at last; what was more, another announcement declared the first of the novels the anime had been adapted from were to be translated. The conditional nature of "first" did lead to some dark suspicions that would be all we'd get, but as we keep waiting for the anime to show up the very first novel has been released. I did take longer than some to get around to reading it, but I have now read it.
Thinking back, looking ahead )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
Back when I commented on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Rebel Set," I mentioned how I'd heard of a recent follow-up to that episode's short, "Johnny at the Fair," without being able to see it. With that said, I more or less put it out of my mind. Just a few days ago, though, when taking a look at the "Satellite News" site I saw a short notice the video "Charlie at the Fair" had been found on YouTube, and took it in at last.

It turned out the little boy who played "Johnny" grew up to become a Canadian artist of some note; Charles Pachter suggested this hadn't just been a coincidence for him through two weeks of filming at "The Ex" imprinting a sense of "Canada being amazing" on him. (So far as that perhaps having been a little unusual for people his exact age, all the flags flying in the period short are Union Jacks; things hadn't even worked up to the "Red Ensign" yet.) As with some of the extra features on the official Mystery Science Theater DVDs, the short just happening to wind up being included in the MST3K canon isn't mentioned; however, the show never aired on cable up here so I was willing to let that go. One person commenting on the short in the video did bring up the "Chemical Wonderland" MST3K had some fun with. The bits of the short excerpted in the video, though, caught my attention for having different music (the music in the "MST3K version" seemed to be stock material; it can be heard in some of the other shorts the show featured...) and a different narrator (Lorne Greene, still a few years away from moving south to become a television patriarch). Hearing the short had originally been a National Film Board of Canada production had me wondering if it might be available for streaming on their own site; when it didn't turn up there I turned to YouTube, and it turned out it was there alongside the MST3K version, which did have rather more views.

While I've admitted to not quite having the courage to tackle many movies from the MST3K canon "raw," I was willing to make an exception; I soon had the impression that whoever had made up the short that had wound up an "ephemeral film" had been supplied with footage from the National Film Board and had cut it together in a slightly different way, even managing to include a few moments from the cutting room floor. The anonymous narration might been a little less serious and involved than Lorne Greene's, but perhaps that just added to the potential for Mystery Science Theater.
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Without much fuss, I managed to drift out of the habit of regularly posting links to Tumblr posts I've made here to "keep up for when I need to do that"; however, that doesn't mean I haven't given up all thoughts of that quick source of content. So far as posting computer magazine covers goes, I've worked well into 1978 by now; the initial announcements of 1977's "preassembled" microcomputers have given way to actual user reports. I also happened to think a particular feature in Creative Computing could stand on its own; by the time I'd thought that, though, I had to put three "Computer Myths Explained" together.
krpalmer: (anime)
During the season of Lent, I decided I'd been spending an awful lot of my lunch breaks playing a particular game on my iPad (the number-matching game Threes), and resolved to give it up for at least a while. I might hewed to the letter of that pledge while still missing its spirit, however. Having just finished watching the anime series Love Live, I thought I could try out the mobile game in the franchise; once I'd done that, I realised just how effectively it could pull someone in.
An illustration of that )
krpalmer: (mst3k)
The back of the latest official Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD collection is already anticipating the new series. Until then, and however it turns out (I'm still concerned "using cheesy movies as an excuse to put down familiar targets" will be all too easy for the new creators to fall into), I can keep revisiting episodes I've seen before. I can be conscious that these days I use the time in between the collections for other things, but the whole deal with not necessarily going back to the same "favourites" all the time has something to it too. I'm also conscious, though, that as much I'd like to keep finding new things in existing works, the possibility of "wearing them out" also exists.

I started off with "Teenage Caveman" and its accompanying shorts, one rather more infamous than the other. The movie itself was hokily entertaining (even if I did have a sense of just how many possible digressions drag out its rather brief running time), and there was a little documentary about it too. "Being From Another Planet" dragged me up to the 1980s (and the tag-end of the "ancient astronaut" craze, even if this was at least different from the conspiracy narratives that swallowed all the imaginative potential of "flying saucers" and congealed into something fixed as the decade wore on). There have been times I fear this episode drags by for me, but this time I was at least taking particular notice of an early-1980s home computer playing a role in the movie. Along with a brief interview with the film's composer, there's a considerable extra feature in the original "Time Walker" movie (in widescreen, no less) Film Ventures International slapped its cheap credits sequences and new name on, but there I do have to face a certain reluctance to take on most of the MST3K films "raw," such that these biggest of all possible extras sort of deflate down to nothing.

In wondering about "Being From Another Planet" dragging for me, I can get to wondering about how others might be ready to downplay "12 to the Moon," at least once its short is past, where I had sort of played it up getting to the end of commenting on all of MST3K's episodes. I did seem to have a pretty good time with it still, though, and the little documentary about the movie made a point or two about some of the good work its crew had done before (even as it didn't mention the moments Mystery Science Theater was quicker to point out...) "Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell," in any case, seems a general favourite, and there was plenty to enjoy in its medieval-yet-1980s antics. The extra for this episode was an interview with Thom Christopher, who played the villain as distinctively as anything else in the movie. He seemed pretty content with suggesting everyone had known just how "cheesy" things were turning out but were enjoying themselves anyway.

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