Somehow I think I accidentally stumbled into an episode of “Sliders” yesterday. (It happens sometime if you are a Cross-Platform Slider) Its look like I ended up in a parallel universe that looked like a lovechild between TRON and A society inspired by George Orwell’s ‘1984’. In this warped dimension of Space Time a new gaming console was launched that cost quite a bit of money for people to purchase. The games on this console could be bought in the shops and did cost quite a bit of money. So far I was not surprised (aside from the fact the console had the size of a BabyG grand piano). The amazing part that after purchase of both the console AND the games .. the consumer was completely controlled by “Big Brother”. This overseeing entity tied the purchased game to a certain console and a certain user. Borrowing games to friends .. not allowed, Playing your own game on a different console ? Not allowed. Having a friend come over and play on YOUR console under HIS account ? Not allowed. Sell your game second hand ? Not allowed… and so on. What ? ? It looked more like a giant rental scheme to me that tied the users hands behind their backs while giving ‘big brother’ free access to their wallets.
Bah Humbug ! If you do have some cash to spend why not take a trip down nostalgia lane. Not only will we take you back to a time where Laura Crofts boobies were still square .. its also a time where both the games and the console belonged to you. Take a look at ThinkGeeks a380’s “Pocket Emulator”. It ties the availability of lots of classic “ROMS” (complete images of old classic games) to an easy to use (and to carry) game console. Imagine having an entire arcade in your pocket AND a slew of game consoles from your childhood to boot.
Thinkgeek Quotes ” The Pocket Retro Game Emulator looks a bit like the GameBoy Micro but that’s where the similarities end. Load on NES, SNES, GBA, Sega Genesis, or Neo Geo roms and play your old favorites in the palm of your hand. With 4GB of built-in storage and (a micro SD slot for expansion) you can bring every single game from the best classic consoles with you. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. You can also play movie files, audio files, FM radio. You can view images or read ebooks. You can even do Hi-Fi voice recording.”
Games are to be found all around the internet and since the licences on most of them have long expired , most of them are classified as “abandonware” , you don’t have to resort to piracy.
So before you sell your soul to the xbox-overlord .. Try the a380 from Thinkgeek.
You have heard me tout praise about the wonderful todo application Wünderlist before. This nice looking todo application helps you keep track of items to procrastinate, while they are easily cataloged in lists and available on your various mobile devices. Sure : Wunderlist comes with an IOS app, a Chrome extension and a web interface. However lately the Android version of Wunderlist seriously got on my nerves. A known bug (even with the current version) makes the application start “flashing” on and off, if you accidentally rotate the screen when the app is open. Since I was not in the mood to have a stroboscopic todo list.. it was time to jump ship.
The requirements were simple : A free application, with clients on the 2 biggest mobile platforms, a free synchronization option, to-do lists, browser extensions for Chrome or Firefox and a good old web interface : Slider friendly.
Remember the Milk came close, but you can only sync your items once every 24 hours when you use the free account. Hopping from device to device every 3 minutes does not make that a good thing. So ANY.DO is the great alternative. Its free, has a very VERY good looking IOS and Android application and a killer chrome extension that lets you add pages to your todo list, but also manage your entire todo environment just from the corner of your address bar.
So .. if you want to cross-platform slide your way out of procrastination, we highly recommend you give any.do a try.
Links : any.do.
What is YOUR favorite todo app ? Tell us in the comments section.
Remember those old spy movies ? Where the secret agent / spy would walk around with a small camera to quickly snap shots of some ultra secret documents in a momentarily abandoned office ? Remember the suspense as you sat on the edge of your seat yelling “Hurry up” in front of your television ? Lets face it : Those spies were geekin out hard : In essence they were the first to master the tedious art of scanning documents.
Somewhere along the way we lost our minds because in the late 90″s we had massive flatbed scanners to do the exact same thing. For those of you who still have a scanner : You know its the most idiotic waste of office / desk space that you have ever owned. Scanners are a kind of high tech coaster for whatever crap you stack on top of them. Why ? because you seldom need them and when you do .. Well after an excavation operation to actually find the scanner under that pile of comics, you then have to make sure the document is the right side up, find a free usb port on your pc and you end up cursing and wasting time.
So why not be Mr Spy all over again ? With the 24 megapixel camera on your smartphone its quite easy to snap up a good picture of a document. Now all you need to do is get those secret plans into your administration system. Enter the new Google Drive app on android that comes with a bunch of new features making it easier to digitize that document. It not only saves the snapshot into your Google Drive, but also preforms OCR right in the cloud. Letting you edit copy and paste the text. Compared to scsi cables, flatbed scanners, OCR applications under Windows .. this is quite a nifty tool.
So start using your smartphone (with the new Google Drive app )as your digital wireless scanner and snap up those documents straight away. Feel the urge to print them too ? Take a look at the long forgotten Google Cloud Print and turn those documents in your Google Drive back to ground up pieces of tree.
Ever wondered which Usb flash drive you own is the fastest ? For copying your My Little Pony picture collection back and forth, speed might not be the biggest issue, but what if you want to do more. For example : Run a complete operating system from that USB stick ? As we mentioned in the last podcast episode it’s possible to run a complete (Linux) operating system from your stick. And since you are using your little portable friend as a hard drive ..Speed is essential.
So benchmark your own Usb drive with the USBFlashSpeed.com site to help you buy the hyperspeed on a stick .. from your keychain.
Links : UsbFlashspeed.com
(Thanx Listener Lloyd for the tip)
At the age of 17 I owned my first real personal computer. A 8086 XT Pc. It had a whopping 20 MB hard disk and a “color” screen. Monochrome “amber”, the referred to as the only color the screen could display. Booting took minutes, installing software took tweaking and knowledge, and all in all it was new, exciting and fun. And it was beige, of course. Back then … everything was beige.
One day, rumors started drifting my way : Other students told me about BBS’ s, mysterious computer systems hiding behind a telephone number. Managed by ‘SysOp’s’, another kind of super computer human who ‘controlled the system’. Most of them were underground and mysterious, some of them were a professional service. Some of them might have been pirates on a ship in the middle of the Caribian .. or maybe not.
I was intrigued. Intrigue turned to marvel, marvel to desire. A Modem had to be bought, installed and put to dear use. And so a journey began. With a modem installed the previous day, a terminal client on a floppy and a telephone number scribbled on a piece of paper I came home and sat down on my throne. Somewhat nervous I started the application and configured a new ‘Remote Host’. The telephone number of “De Digitale Stad” (The Digital City) in Amsterdam was entered and squeaking and whining a connection was made. “De Digitale stad” was connected to “The Internet” and therefor I became empowered with “The E-Mail” (Exclamation Mark to be inserted while reading this.) To actually use e-mail I had to use mutt, a text based email client. And after probing and prodding, I composed the first e-mail in my life.
After pondering and correcting, contemplating I came up with the body : “Test” (Poetry, pure and simple !). Lovely, but to whom should I sent it ? The only email address I knew was my own. Well,it was just as good as any ! (I was an interesting person to talk to..so why not ? ) The brand new address was carefully typed in the correct field and the “ctrl <s>” was pressed. ZOOMM … my first digital message began it’s way into cyberspace. (Pause a second … or two ) And there it arrived back to me ! Well that was quick! Marvelous new technology ! I yet had to learn that the message probably never even left the server, but the excitement of it all, the possibilities at my finger tips! I could e-mail with someone across the ocean! At no extra cost. Huzzah !
Since I didn’t really knew anybody across the pond and my curiosity wasn’t utterly fulfilled with the services on “De Digitale Stad”. And so I searched for some other BBS’s and found them. Lists with telephone numbers were exchanged again during school hours, with notes on how good and worthwhile they were. Connecting through a telephone line at 2400 baud gets you about 240 characters per second if I recall, and that was exactly what you got: Characters. In full color, where available.
And boy , those menu’s were filled with options: downloading .JPG’s, downloading .mod’s (the Camemans MP3), and chatting with other user(s). The plural of “User” only applied if the sysop had more than one landline. This was however rarely the case on any of the BBS’s I visited.
And of course there was the magical ability for ‘uploading’. Uploading to get credits, credits to allow downloading. What I downloaded I uploaded somewhere else to gain even more credits! Meanwhile, through the messaging boards I got to know people, learned about computers, learned how to set up a BBS myself and after a while people called into my system. Dropping files, typing messages, submitting stories, manuals, hacks and books. We were “surfing” at the cutting edge of technology!
But in a world which is always connected, offering enough bandwidth to stream HD movies and connect to thousands of online friends those systems were sure to fade away. Or were they?
Well, if you would start a telnet session to towel.blinkenlights.nl you will see an ascii version of starwars. Telnet to miku.acm.uiuc.edu and you will see Nyancat which is all nice, but telnet to xanadubbs.ca (open a shell and just type : “telnet xanadubbs.ca”) and you will end up in a secluded world, a singularity in CyberSpace, a BBS. Not searchable, but menu driven and ancient to the touch, it will be a journey back in time.
At quadrilion times the speed “we had back in the day..”. And rest asured : there are many more like it. No longer through a modem, no longer at a bitrate a professional typist could defeat with one hand, but the “feel” is as authentic as it ever was.
Hosting a BBS yourself ought to be do-able, just have a look at lunduke’s post here. Hmmm, I just might start one myself and when I do, I’ll scribble the address on a note here.
If you want to get a feel of how it really was, go to the Internet Archive here and watch the documentary. Make sure to keep an acoustic 300 baud modem in mind when the gazillion of bytes you need so much to be transformed in a HD movie take a bit longer to arrive at your enormous hard disk, than you would like. You live in a future we couldn’t foresee back then. Enjoy it.