Feed your Christmas geekiness over at 8bitchristmas.com, where they have a collection of 12 Christmas Classics all done in the style of retro-videogame music, hence the 8-bit in the title. You can stream the entire collection from their site, donate any amount to download the tracks or even (how retro) purchase a CD of your very own.
Archive for the 'FiT Fun' Category
Let’s get back to some BASICs. Commodore BASIC to be exact. This week I stumbled onto the iDevice (iPhone, iPad) app called “Hand Basic.” This is currently a free C64 BASIC emulator, complete with ability to save programs. You can even move them in and out of iTunes to backup and share them. If you make any good ones, post a link to the files in the comments to this post so others can download and drop them onto their app to try out. I am not sure sid audio is supported in the Hand Basic app. Otherwise it’s awesome.
There is another app that has been around for iDevices for a while called “Commodore 64.” It is $4.99 USD and comes with some installed games. It is not as friendly to actual coding though it does have a built in BASIC emulator now. The emulator does not let you save, load or share program files.
What if you do not have an iPad or iPhone? You can try out more C64 emulator projects.
- c64 – The VICE Emulator – Multi Platform – Free
- C64 Forever – Windows – Free and $14.95 Versions
- cbmbasic – BASIC as Scripting Project – Multi Platform – Free
- CCS64 - Windows – Free
Where can you learn more about the BASIC programming?
- C64 Programmer’s Reference Guide – PDF
- C64 Programmer’s Reference Guide – TXT
- Commodore 64 Quick Reference – PDF
Where can you learn more about the C64 and other resources?
- Commodore Free Magazine
- C64 Walkabout Podcast – it seems on hiatus. It sounds stellar, write the hosts to show support.
Keep in mind there is a huge C64 enthusiast world out there, just google it. Plus I have it on good authority the rebooted C64 from Commodore USA should be coming out soon. So crank up the 80s music and get back to the BASICs.
If you need a little C64 Christmas Spirit, please check our our holiday special from last year. A Geek Christmas Story.
I grew up with the Commodore Vic 20, then the C-64 and my last Commodore machine was an Amiga 1000. So you can imagine the temptation I feel in getting one of these NEW rebooted Commodore 64 units due out this year. You can find the units and watch for them to go on sale over at http://www.commodoreusa.net/
“Mattie Stevens, a young boy of the early 80′s, dreams of owning a Commodore 64. He sets out to convince everyone this is the perfect gift. But, along the way runs into opposition from his parents and everyone around him including old Santa Claus”
Cast of Players:
Narrator: Kreg Steppe – Technorama
Harvey Stevens: Dad – Kevin Devin
Mandy Stevens: Mom – Susie Murph – How to Grow your Geek Podcast
Mattie Stevens: Son – Daniel Devin
Sandy Stevens: Little Brother – Spencer Holden
Curtz Eisenberg: Friend to Mattie – Harrison Steppe
General Beringer: General – Douglas E. Welch
Lieutenant: Steve Holden – Tech News Radio
Mrs. Little: Katie Floyd – Mac Power Users Podcast
Santa’s Helper: Chuck Tomasi – Chuckchat.com
Santa: Larry Pesce – Pauldotcom.com Podcast
Judge: Victor Cajiao – Typical Mac User Podcast – Typical Shutterbug Podcast
Andrew Carnagie: Andy Helsby – Absoblogginlutely!
J.P. Morgan: Grant Bichocco – Mr.Grant.com
UPS Guy: Paul Asadoorian- Pauldotcom.com Podcast
Skipper: Rylie Starcher
Tip of the Hat to the old Christmas Commodore 64 Demo
Previous FiT Holiday Specials:
- Halloween – Server Room of Horrors – 2005
- Christmas – A Geek Christmas Carol – 2005
- Halloween – Server Room of Horrors – 2006
- Christmas – Lucky the Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Geeks – 2006
- Halloween – It’s the Great Server Chuck and Kreg! – 2007
This has been a Friends in Tech Production.
Friends in tech has made several really great holiday specials over the years. If you are itching for something to listen to while you wait for A Geek Christmas Story try out our previous productions!
Friends in Tech presents a new Christmas Special for 2009, A Geek Christmas Story.
“Mattie Stevens, a young boy of the early 80′s dreams of owning a Commodore 64. He sets out to convince everyone this is the perfect gift. But, along the way runs into opposition from his parents and everyone around him including old Santa Claus”
Watch for it at FriendsinTech.com December 21st.
I believe the NFN is only available at Safeco Field in Seattle, but I’m sure there must be similar geeky offerings at other stadiums throughout the country.
If you know of any geeky-goodness like this offered at other ballparks, let us know. Drop us a line or post to the forums about it.
Our tax refund came in last week. My wife just loves to do our taxes, have it direct deposit to her checking account and then dole an allowance to me. Of course she almost always uses it to update something on the house. But this time I got to spend a little on something. A nice new Roomba 560 from Linens and Things.
Cnet had a good review on the 560 last fall. It has an improved vacuum, traction etc. You can read the review HERE.
The trick to buying an item like this from Linens and Things is to print off the 20$ discount coupon from the Internet. Here is a link to the 20% Coupon. It expires Dec 31, 2008. I was able to get the 560 for $305 including sales tax using the coupon.
The first one I got was dead out of the box. Would not power up or charge at all. Linens and Things exchanged it with no questions asked. The second one worked perfect. It made a little musical tone the moment I pulled out the battery protection tab from the bottom of the unit. Then I let it charge over night. It has been great. Our hardwood floors even feel cleaner when walking around in bare feet. Not that we ever had a messy house. It just makes so much difference in the feel of the floors and quality of the air having the roomba run twice a week during time we are out of the house. You can schedule the 560 for one time during any day of the week. So you can schedule say twice a week at 930am during the day while you are at work.
This was a warning message that I was greeted with on my new laptop at work today when I was messing around with dual screens and setting their resolution. Funny how it thinks the resolution I chose would result in a “fuzzy display” is worse off then its suggested “squinty display.”
Thanks, but no-thanks… I’ll keep my “fuzzy display” setting.
“The Wish Book – A Friends in Tech Special”
Starting December1, 2007
Here is how you can participate…
- Visit The Wish Book site
- Find a toy or other object that you remember from your childhood
- Tell us a story about the toy or object
- In the end, the stories don’t have to be based on the catalogs. Tell us your favorite personal holiday story is fine, too
Try to include the following information in your recording:
- Your Name and Home Town Location i.e. Douglas E. Welch from New London, Ohio
- The catalog and page where you found you item (So that others can see a picture of it)
- Your story
Your story can be whatever you wish — a real-time discussion with siblings, “hey do you remember that? Didn’t you leave that out in the rain?” to amore structured “I remember this…” type of story. Let yourself go! Tell us what made this item so special to you.
How to send in your audio or video? You can send in your audio or video in a number of ways:
- Call the WelchWrite Listener Line at 818-804-5049 and leave up to a 3 minute story
- Record your audio or video and email it to email@example.com
- Email a URL where I can download your audio or video
Please join us in this celebration of the Holiday Season by sharing your memories!
They release great holiday songs each year. Now they have posted them for download in one spot. The Dr. Floyd Jukebox. Give them a listen over at http://www.doctorfloyd.com/jukebox/
“I Want Presents” and “One Meatball” are two of my favorites. If you like the entertainment check out the main show page at http://www.doctorfloyd.com/
Scratch is an awesome visual programming environment made by folks at MIT. Drag and drop coding with color and shapes to each object. It is perfect for teaching programming to kids. It even has a social component in that you can click a button to submit your creation back up to the Scratch site to share with everyone. At the time I write this over 49,000 projects have been shared on the Scratch site. It is free for both Windows and Mac OSX.
Here is a snapshot from the Scratch Introduction PDF showing how a small program is built.
The quote from the Scratch About Page:
Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.
Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design.
I loved it back then. My first computer was a Commodore Vic-20. I recall saving $80 for an 8K memory expander for my solid ole Vic. Yup I said 8KB not 8MB. I had learned to program by turning a stock simulation paper game of my stepdad’s into a simulation. It got so big I had to have the memory expander just to finish it. The first storage I had was the tape cassette drive. I went to heaven when I got the first modem that was not acoustic. No more knocking yourself offline if you played your music too loud.
Next in my computer life came the C64. The best home pc ever. Hours of typing in games from magazines. I was in real heaven the day I got my first 1541 floppy disk drive. I could actually SAVE those games after entering them. I wrote my own BBS software and even had to get a second 1541 to host my BBS. Along came another C-64 when my first one finally died. The c-64 rocked more than anything for the programmer’s guide you could get for it. Peek, Poke and you were in the world of assembly language.
In those days online consisted of dialup BBS systems. You can find a list of the ones I frequented here: http://bbslist.textfiles.com/205/ I remember folks like Rocky Rawlins, Robert Broome and Richard Foshee. There was a time in the mid 80s where we actually did not need passwords. You just entered your name and started talking to folks via the message boards. Then the teen flamers started and I recall all the major BBS admins and programmers in the area teaming up to help each other implement password authentication.
I did a little Apple IIe work in high school labs. But I never had one of my own. I even recall the hype of the colecovision based computer. It sounded so good at the time but completely failed to live up to the hype. It was a turn key system complete with printer. The printer was so bad it was driven by what appeared to be fishing line.
The last computer I got before I finished high school was the Commodore Amiga 1000. Man were the graphics and music beautiful on that system. I actually used that computer all the way through my first three years of college to do my papers in the word processor and dot matrix printer. It was in the University library I got exposed to Apple again. It was way easier to write up physics and chemistry lab reports on a mac.
Now I see the Commodore name is back. This time as a windows based gaming machine. They do have an online web based C-64 emulator in their site. You can find them at http://www.commodoregaming.com/
Oh those were the days….
I thought about titling it “The GOOD old days of computing” but they weren’t “good.” Even then things were a struggle. But there is still a fondness for those days.
The last few days, perhaps it has to do with my birthday — I don’t know, I’ve been thinking back on my career within IT and the computer field in general. I started going back to how I became interested in computers.
It was all my buddy’s fault, Dave Wertz. One day he showed me his new Tandy 1000HX. A sleek little machine with the keyboard and computer all as a single unit, topped off with a Color CGA monitor! We sat down that day and began writing a Basic program that would caluclate the cubic inch displacement of an engine. As we plugged away at each of those lines it all came back to me what my science teacher had attempted to teach me back in high school. The lightbulb came on and I was now hooked!
Not long after that I picked up my first computer — A Tandy Color Computer 3, or more affectionately known as a CoCo3. It was cool… it had ROM Basic! I could now program in basic myself. Quickly I discovered that the CoCo3 just wasn’t going to cut it.
Next up was an actual computer — a clone Tubo XT10, 10MHz XT with 640K of RAM, a single 360K floppy, a monochrome graphics card, and a 2400 baud modem! On top of it sat a 13″ amber monochrome monitor. NOW I was in business.
Even this became a hassle since I only had the single 360K floppy drive, but then another buddy of mine lent me a 20MB Lapine hard drive and another 360K floppy drive. Booting off that hard drive made life SO much easier.
These are fond memories of my early days of computing. Good in some ways, but nearly always a struggle at some point – a sign of growth. Now days, my wristwatch could run circles around those first machines. But I learned more on those machines than I ever would on my wrist watch.
As you may, or may not, know, one of the things we try to do with the Friends in Tech site is highlight not just the techie aspects of our members through their various podcasts and blogs, but also showcase them as regular people as well. People with a variety of interests, hobbies, and projects that are not part of the normal FiT world.
In that regard, over the next few weeks, or months as time allows, we’re going to be putting together some “mashups”. Basically, these are mashed together RSS feeds of other online projects that we are involved in that you can subscribe to and keep track of what the various Friends in Tech members are doing in one place. The first of these is FiT Photography.
FiT Photography was an obvious choice for the first of these projects because so many of us have an interest in photography. Most of us have Flickr or Zoomr accounts, if not a seperate photo blog, to use as part of the mashup, and thus it was just a matter of finding a good mashup tool, and putting them all together.
The tool I used to create the aggregate feed was xFruits. It is a very powerful tool for doing a lot of different things with RSS feeds, I highly recommend checking it out. Then I am routing that finished product through FeedBurner, which gives us even more power to use the feed in a variety of ways, if we decide to, or to gauge what sort of interest there is in the topic, which will help us decide what more we might want to do with it going forward.
Anyway, if you’re interested in subscribing to the feed, you can locate it here:
For those sitting on the fence on whether to bite the bullet and purchase Adobe Photoshop Light Room, now would be the time to make that jump. I already liked LR 1.0, but one of my greatest complaints was the inability to utilize multiple catalogs, or databases. I prefer to use my laptop for immediate processing and then archive to another catalog on an external hard drive. 1.0 made this endeavor a MAJOR pain in the butt, but 1.1 fixes all that. Now, if your workflow incorporates the use of a laptop for field work and a desktop for more permanent processing and storage, you’re set.
If you’re STILL unsure, go grab a copy of 1.1 and evaluate it for 30 days. Trust me, you’ll love it if you are at all serious about your photo processing.
If you listen to Casting from the Server Room then you know I’m a huge fan of the Nintendo Wii. Can you really blame me, the console is seven consoles in one, and is about to add an eighth. If you are not familiar with the Wii you may be thinking what are the seven consoles? If you are familiar with the seven consoles then you might want to skip ahead. If so then goto 70.
The first, of course, is the ability to play Wii games, and these games are the ones that use the new Wii controller that senses motion for the input. This has opened the door to knew types of games that are fun and easy for all ages to play.
The next game type is GameCube games. If you have a GameCube already you can use all your old games on the Wii. If you are like me and haven’t owned anything from Nintendo since the Super Nintendo then it’s nice to purchase cheaper games that you can play on your Wii. Their is a catch to using GameCube games on the Wii. As soon as you put the GameCube game in and hit start, all the Wii controllers turn off. You have to use GameCube controllers to play game cube games. I recommend the Wavebird from Nintendo for you game controller needs. You can save a little money purchasing after market controllers but they break easily. It is worth the extra cost for the higher quality and wireless. Once you’re in GameCube mode you can’t use the Wii controllers to turn the Wii off or go back to the Wii menu. Your Wii is a GameCube at that point. The other catch is you also need to purchase a GameCube memory card to save your games. All that said, I still enjoy playing GameCube games on the Wii and more importantly it has enabled us to purchase more games giving both me and my son more games to choose from.
Now on to the really cool part of the Wii, the Virtual Console. The Virtual Console allows you to play games from multiple old consoles. Currently it supports the following systems.
* Nintendo – 500
* Super Nintendo – 800
* Nintendo 64 – 1000
* Sega Genisis – 800
* Turbo Grafix 16 – 600
This doesn’t mean you can take your old Nintendo cartridge and plug it into the Wii. They have an online store you can go to and purchase games. The store uses a point system with each point costing a penny, 2000 points is $20. I have included the average point required for the games from each system above. I say average because they recently released a Nintendo game for 600 points instead of 500.
The reason I think this part is really cool is because I can get all the old games that I loved playing as a kid, and find new ones that I missed while growing up. I didn’t have a Nintendo 64, but now I can play the games from it. Also my 4 year old son can enjoy the older games as well. The other bonus is they are cheap. You can get quite a few games for the price of one Wii game. Some complain that you have to purchase games that you have already purchased once, but that doesn’t bother me. The price point is right and the games are still fun. Others say I can just play the ROMS on my computer. Sure thing, you are correct and I have done that before, but there is something to be said about playing the games on your TV with a controller in hand. The keyboard isn’t the same. What about putting the ROMS on a modified XBox? That works and I have played them that way and liked it a lot. The only downside is they sometimes seemed to lag and the response wasn’t perfect.
That is seven consoles in one. Wii, GameCube, and 5 systems in the Virtual Console. The eighth console is rumored to be added this month. Yes, that’s right, this month we are supposed to start seeing Commodore 64 games on the Virtual Console. The first game is supposed to be Impossible Mission from Epyx. This will probably not be a big deal for most younger users of the Wii, but for those of use who gamed on a Commadore64 this will really bring back some fond memories. I know I am looking forward to the release of Jumpman. I just hope my son can look past what to him are sure to be lousy graphics, and enjoy it for the awesome game play. I haven’t heard what the price will be on them, but I would guess under $5. So the Wii is really more then just a console for gamers, it is a console for everyone. What are your thoughts?
Santa is trying something different this year and is enlisting all the elves to create a new Massive Multiplayer Online Game for all the girls and boys. Demos have gotten tough reviews and there is a lot of work to be done before Christmas.
Lucky the Reindeer and his friend and Elf, Herbert, Leave Santa’s Workshop out of frustration because they feel like they don’t fit in and are not included in the round of development. Heading out to look for the one place that will accept a geek for who he really is, they travel in search of the Island of Misfit Geeks.
Will they find the Island? Will Santa be good to his word and get a good game out in time for Christmas?
Voice Talents include:
Clinton Alvord from Comedy 4 Cast at comedy4cast.com as our Narrator
Grant Baciocco from Doctor Floyd at doctorfloyd.com as Lucky the Reindeer
JT Shea from The GigCast at theGigCast.com as a Geek
Friends in Tech Members:
Kevin Devin from In The Trenches
Andy Helsby from Absoblogginlutely
Matt Hull from Casting from the Server Room
Kreg Steppe from Technorama
Mike McBride from Out of the Frying Pan, and into the Cube
Chuck Tomasi from Chuckchat.com
For more Christmas Action…Check out out Last years…A Geek Christmas Carol.
This has been a Friends in Tech Production