krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Something about reading news about text adventures and interactive fiction every day but seldom getting around to playing any of those games I read about can get to me just a bit. On one trip to the Interactive Fiction Database, though, a new review on the front page managed to pique my interest and point me onward. For all the games I haven't played, I do still seem to have picked up enough knowledge of "familiar adventure genres" that a game promising to poke fun at "the psychological landscape of an incapacitated protagonist" evoked amused expectations. I downloaded Ryan Veeder's "Nautilisia" into my iPad's interactive fiction interpreter and started into it.
The adventurous push )
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
I got an email today reminding me it's been a year since I signed up on Tumblr. At the time, I'd been feeling just a bit fatigued at putting together a new post here every week "just to keep my streak running." After a few "crosspost" posts listing the old computer magazine covers I was putting up in order, though, the ideas for here did seem to start coming with a bit more ease, and I let the two streams flow in parallel (although I usually try to cross-promote posts here over there, just in case). Sometimes it's easier to just look at where my queue of covers is, but in any case I am beginning to round out 1981's computer magazines; I'm a bit conscious of plans to add more titles around 1983 or so, though, a while yet before the ebullient "8-bit boom" went bust.
krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
A piece on Anime News Network described the president of a Japanese television network speculating about artificial intelligence taking over the production of anime. I have to admit one of my first reactions was that this felt so much one of those "one of these days" cyber-utopian visions that there did seem an edge of "trying to provoke a strong reaction just for the sake of attracting attention" to the posting of the article itself. Anime fandom, at least that part of it I can follow, does seem to have a strong undercurrent of disdain for what computer animation has worked its way into the industry. An AI-produced work might look like it was drawn by human hands (assuming tastes don't change at last by then, even if only by the fandom itself turning over), but I can still imagine other people looking ahead with specific aesthetic concerns for the future, given how ready some seem to make accusations about "stuff produced by formula." Beyond that, there's the whole deal with and issue of "sharing the profits of production out to as few people as possible"; the piece made a point of mentioning the familiar worries about how little money gets to the actual people with the pencils.

I can manage to think beyond even all of that, though, and there seems at least the possibility what might begin as "expert systems in the hands of the existing producers" might yet wind up "available to everyone." There, I could remember an online anime magazine from years ago (even if not which one it was to try and delve into the Internet Archive) that had looked ahead with apparent enthusiasm to the moment when people will just have to tell computers what they want to get entertainment tailored to them. The thought of everyone becoming more-or-less inarticulate moguls with endlessly patient creative staffs at their disposal can seem to hold the solution to some very familiar fan woes; the only cost would seem to be collective experiences dissolving into a certain kind of solipsism.
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: 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: 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: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
I spent this weekend working on replacing the tiles on my kitchen floor, which threw off my schedule for keeping up a minimal presence on this journal by mentioning just what computer magazine covers I've been posting elsewhere online. However, in the posts I've piled up I managed to include a good bit of introductory coverage of the TRS-80...

Kilobaud, September 1977
BYTE, September 1977
Creative Computing, September-October 1977
Kilobaud, October 1977
BYTE, October 1977
Personal Computing, November-December 1977
ROM, November 1977
Kilobaud, November 1977
BYTE, November 1977
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
As I work my way into computer magazine covers from the second half of 1977 (and the Commodore PET's moment in the spotlight), I've got around to posting some of the covers I do have for a magazine that isn't online yet. After Creative Computing, Softalk, and Macworld, ROM ("Computer Applications for Living") does seem to have become the old computer magazine I'm most curious about, even if the fact it'll soon be gone from the narrative means its issues haven't been scanned yet.

ROM, July 1977
Kilobaud, July 1977
BYTE, July 1977
Creative Computing, July-August 1977
ROM, August 1977
BYTE, August 1977
Personal Computing, September-October 1977
krpalmer: (apple)
Along with pushing that much further into the computer magazine covers of 1977 (within which initial coverage of the Apple II began to pick up), I happened to repost a possibly relevant (to another topic of personal interest, anyway) sequence of images.

Kilobaud, May 1977
BYTE, May 1977
Creative Computing, May-June 1977 (properly coloured cover)
Kilobaud, June 1977
BYTE, June 1977
Personal Computing, July-August 1977
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
I seem to have worked out a pattern for alternating between monthly and bimonthly computer magazine covers from 1977, although I suppose it'll change as other titles enter the fray. I also happened to repost a thoroughly classical arrangement...

Personal Computing, March-April 1977
Kilobaud, March 1977
BYTE, March 1977
Creative Computing, March-April 1977
Kilobaud, April 1977
BYTE, April 1977
Personal Computing, May-June 1977
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Just as I was getting under way with computer magazine covers of 1977, I managed to get sick, which threw off my schedule for a while. I seem to be on the mend now, and have at least managed to get past a surely iconic cover image and a few thoroughly austere covers from a different magazine now added to the mix.

Personal Computing, January-February 1977
Kilobaud, January 1977
BYTE, January 1977
Creative Computing, January-February 1977
Kilobaud, February 1977
BYTE, February 1977
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Since the last time I made up a post here of the pictures I've been posting off-site, I managed to get to the end of 1976. From that point on, there'll be more computer magazines to post covers of, which does mean things will slow down by comparison...

The Best of Creative Computing (back cover)
BYTE, August 1976
BYTE, September 1976
Creative Computing, September-October 1976
BYTE, October 1976
BYTE, November 1976
Creative Computing, November-December 1976
BYTE, December 1976
krpalmer: Charlie Brown and Patty in the rain; Charlie Brown wears a fedora and trench coat (charlie brown)
I spent this week working through the 1976 summer break of Creative Computing (or at least I'd like to gather that computer magazine took a two-issue break in the middle of that year, the better to not have to hunt down two rare early issues). Along the way, I did manage to mark the continued development of microcomputers and indulged myself by including a page other than a cover (which, for BYTE, had reached past simply coloured drawings to the point of the Robert Tinney paintings long associated with it).

BYTE, May 1976
Artist and Computer
BYTE, June 1976
Popular Electronics, July 1976
BYTE, July 1976
Good Grief!
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
This week, I pushed into the computer magazine covers of 1976. In starting that year, I covered the mysterious circumstances of BYTE changing publishers and stumbled onto the sudden, relative certainty the four issues of Creative Computing I knew of from that year were indeed all of the issues it printed, which would amount to my having seen every issue of that magazine... I couldn't quite resist marking "Pi Day," but I also pondered just what "dieselpunk" means.

BYTE, January 1976
Creative Computing, January-February 1976
BYTE, February 1976
BYTE, March 1976
Creative Computing, March-April 1976
BYTE, April 1976
krpalmer: (Default)
There have been times in the years I've kept this journal going that finding one more thing to have an opinion on and then articulating those thoughts has felt a bit like pushing that mythical boulder uphill. Then, in the past month or so, putting posts together "every so often" somehow got that much more draining. I suppose I could have just admitted this, told myself I'd kept this journal going "long enough" after starting to post to it all of a sudden, and looked ahead to if I could still set down my "quarterly reviews" of anime watched. Instead, I got to thinking that much harder about a fallback plan I'd been toying with for a while.

Things have seemed "lively" on Tumblr for a good while more than that, but I suppose I've had the suspicion to go along with that that it seems "easy" to keep something going there because that service lends itself so well to recycling pictures other people have already posted. Even with that stern thought, though, it did sort of creep up on me that while there are many archives of scanned computer magazines in chronological order, the covers of multiple magazines would be something somewhat different... Too, the thought that it doesn't seem easy to have a "conversation" about something on Tumblr wound up juxtaposed against how there haven't been many comments posted here for a while anyway.

It did turn out the prefix I use here had already been claimed (and looking it up there was more than a little disconcerting), but adding one more initial worked, and I got under way. In any case, there are still ideas I have for long-format posts here, so I can at least hope things aren't about to close down even to regular summaries of crossposts. I also have an idea or two of things to try with pictures beyond "computer magazine covers," too.
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
The difficulties I had uploading pictures to my Photobucket account cleared up one day, and I stored the images I'd thought about building an experimental post around, but by that point I might have been thinking of "saving them for later." A post on another subject has been going pretty slowly, though, so the time to use the pictures seems now. So as to not to place a big footprint on the friends lists of others, I'm putting the pictures behind a cut.
Ideal and reality )
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
When I saw an all-ages introduction to programming in Python in the bookstore, I bought it. The awareness the line-number BASIC guides of my own youth have stuck with me where the C I took in high school hasn't might have given me a push there. As I got started on that attempt to look down a long road, though, I noticed the book's second chapter was on a "turtle graphics" module built into the language. That at once had me thinking back to the educational language Logo. Remembering a simple implementation of it for the Radio Shack Color Computer, I went back to some archives of Color Computer manuals and documents, and as I poked into them I happened to look in a directory of scanned magazines. When I saw an "80 Micro" subdirectory, some irrepressible whim made me look in there, and all of a sudden instead of confirming an unexciting familiarity I had reached the tag-end culmination of a minor quest.
Into the 80s )
krpalmer: (europa)
In the past few days, the little group of "prequel appreciators" I count myself among has been very taken up reacting to new reports that the story ideas for continuing the Star Wars movies George Lucas submitted when he sold the franchise hadn't been used. With all of this reaction it does sort of seem some had managed to discount or deny the earlier reports of this happening some months back, but I do have to agree it's dispiriting. After all the casual comments from certain other people that "George Lucas ought to accept his limitations and just be the idea guy," that he's not allowed to be even that, for the apparent sake of loudmouths being primed to react positively to the assembly line of new product about to start rolling just because it'll be very careful to avoid the sort of broad comedy relief that triggered them off in the first place, doesn't make the slightly redesigned stormtroopers and slightly redesigned Star Destroyers and slightly modified Millennium Falcon filling store shelves look much more interesting to me.

Right as that was happening, though, I happened to finish reading the last issue of Creative Computing magazine from 1977 (I'd managed to buy a copy in an online auction before a scanned version of that magazine got added to the Internet Archive), and it just so happened the book review column started with the reviewer bringing up Star Wars. He did lead off "with faint praise," saying "The visual effects are stunning and superbly done, the plot won't confuse you," and invoked 1977's own form of "fan cred" by mentioning "I kept expecting the minions of Boskone and a Gray Lensman or two to pop up at any moment," but then started talking about how the movie "falls kinda flat when you think about it afterward." This seemed to have everything to do with the "world-building," including asking "How can the Millenium [sic] Falcon take off from a planetary surface?" Writing for a computer magazine, he devoted particular space to asking why, with C-3P0's technology available (R2-D2 didn't seem to have the same impact on him), all the spaceships depended on manual controls, and wound up hoping "they listen to some competent technical advice for the sequels."

This extended criticism on objections nobody else ever seems to have thought of may not be quite the same as the work Mike Klimo has done in searching out old movie reviews from more obvious sources, but it does get me thinking that perhaps some people weren't as ready to intuitively accept whatever "Star Wars is (but the 'prequels' weren't)" as some other people have convinced themselves these days. I am as conscious as ever of having been conscious in concentrating on particular things and themes to say "I find enjoyment in the saga." I can also wonder what those ideas George Lucas had were, and if they would have taken an effort all over again to take in and fit into a story previously considered complete, just as a different sort of effort to whoop it up at the new product may not be entirely unconscious for some. It is one more thing to think about, anyway.
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Today I read through the last of the PDFs of Softalk magazine. They had been pretty interesting, a bit different from the other computer magazines of the early 1980s anyway with their "here's what famous and/or interesting people are doing with their Apple computers" human-interest articles (even if there were occasional letters complaining those pages could have been used for the usual articles about what to do with their computers themselves) mixed in with the regular columns on more technical topics. I wound up a bit readier to understand why the sudden disappearance of the magazine (and its associated titles) had seemed like "the end of the golden age" to those who'd been reading it.

In an unrelated development, I also went back to the Internet Archive's collection of Creative Computing magazines, and was surprised to see some new titles in that archive, even if they'd been there for a few months already. The first three years of that magazine hadn't been available there (although the volumes that had reprinted most of the articles from them can be found elsewhere), but now some of the earliest magazines were available, including the very first, now more than forty years old and a few months older than the cover story of Popular Electronics that introduced the Altair 8800, back when the slim, printed-on-newsprint issue was meant for educators using minicomputers in high school or thereabouts classrooms. I might yet do better moving on to something a bit more different for now, but what I saw was interesting to see anyway.

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