Archive for September, 2011

Get your apple-pickin' hands…

September 8th, 2011 11:30 AM
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Mike Maginnis and I were driving through Ohio recently when we pulled off the highway in Berlin Heights. Courtesy some online preparation, I knew of a nearby apple orchard I wanted to stop at. Apples are not only my favorite computers, but also my favorite fruit — a consequence of sharing Johnny Appleseed's hometown, I suppose. I hadn't yet gone picking in this nascent fall season and was eager to get my hands on some Paula Reds.

While I was focused on the fruit, Mike had a different kind of apple in mind. Remembering that we were transporting from Colorado to Massachusetts a childhood computer of one of my college friends, he suggested I pull it out of the trunk and pose for a photo.

Apple presents apple

The Apple II and its namesake, reunited at last!

Apple presents apple. Imagine if we could pick these off trees so easily!

What other creative or unusual backdrops or setups would you like to see your favorite retrocomputer pictured in?

Travelling soundtrack

September 5th, 2011 1:27 PM
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While at the CIO100 last month, I attended a keynote speech by Tom Peck, CIO of Levi Strauss. One of the videos he presented was a subtle advertisement for his company's products, and also a really neat work of filmography:

I immediately appreciated the video for the clever effects and also the sense of adventure and wanderlust such artistry inspires in me (see: Where The Hell Is Matt?). But when I got home and watched the video again on my own, I noticed a nearly subliminal aspect that appealed specifically to the retrocomputing enthusiast in me: the soundtrack. The video is set to the song "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Recognize it? No reason you shouldn't, right?

I realized it's the same song used in the Oregon Trailer that debuted last August — another video about traversing this great land!

Oregon Trailer

I think this connection is a neat example of the personal influence of the Apple II on one's perceptions and reactions. "Home" (a BASIC reference?) can be found on their MySpace page or in iTunes on their album Up From Below.

The evolution of Evolution

September 1st, 2011 2:17 PM
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Head over to sites like Apple II Scans or Nibble and you'll find a wealth of historical computer magazines. Within their pages are numerous reviews of hardware, software, and accessories. Witnessing how the pioneers of the personal computer industry experienced these products upon their release is fascinating — but it's also fun to take off the rose-colored glasses and see them for what they really are.

The site Weird Video Games is dedicated to reviewing the games of that era. Their philosophy:

At some point in history, games stopped being made by a handful of people in a basement and started being made by big companies … I theorize that there was a point in which two friends could get stoned in their basement, fire up their computer, and program whatever messed up thoughts passed into the remaining portion of their mind. They could make it into a video game and it would end up on store shelves, a feat which just isn't as possible today.

Most of the games pictured and depicted here came out before 1996 and are often the results of strange cultural differences (particularly from Japan), and/or what I think may have been some extremely potent illegal substances.

Recently, the site's attention was turned to an Apple II game with which I was previously unfamiliar. A game that seems a cross between Spore (PC) and E.V.O. (Super NES), Evolution appears to be a game worthy of fascination and ridicule.

As Martin Haye commented to me: "It was interesting and made me grimace at how badly the graphics were done. Apparently they never heard of using two hi-res buffers. Ah well."

The last few seconds of the video are gratuitous and offensive, and I offer no endorsement or support of that portion of the video. I hope it doesn't prevent viewers from appreciating the majority of the review of this strange and unknown title.

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