It’s Odyssey2 vs. Apple II in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

It was a night of terrible twos here in the Green game room on Saturday night. I woke up around 6pm and staggered into my game room to fire up the PC and continue the arduous task of stocking the new version of theLogBook.com Store. This is something I’ve been doing a lot of lately – taking some slightly altered code from the original HTML version of the store and putting the ordering info for those items into the store’s database either one by one or in clusters; for some reason, it takes the database forever to assimilate the information as I input it. Every new entry takes something on the order of five minutes to finally go into the database. (Don’t worry – actually calling stuff up from the database, even with the new search function, is about as fast as it can be when you’re actually looking stuff up.) So I’ve been adding new stuff, entry by entry, and doing other stuff – usually involving, ironically enough, coding upcoming reviews in the old HTML format – and when I alt-tab over to the browser window where I’m entering stuff and see an empty form, it’s time to add another item.

Anyway, when I went to do more of this, I found that my wife was already home from work…and was playing Master Of Orion 2 on my PC. So much for more database entries. “Two can play at this game with the number two involved!” I thought, and fired up the Odyssey2, actually managed to stalemate the computer in Mr. Roboto!, and then set about recording various games for more video segments for the site. I then got around to testing some new Apple II games on floppy that I got recently, and did some recording there as well. (I’ve gotten to where I’m stunned to get a bunch of 20-25 year old floppy disk games and find that only one of them is DOA – depending on storage conditions, all of them could very well be toast.) I briefly played one, Road War 2000, which was really strange – it’s kind of like a Mad Max thing where you have to accumulate and accessorize all the abandoned cars you can get your hands on and go to war with rival gangs. Or something like that; the whole process of tricking out the cars seemed exceptionally complicated. I also tried the Apple II version of Mario Bros., which I’d never seen before. It made me appreciate the 2600 version even more. 😆 Back to the Odyssey2 for a second: for the first time in years, I fired up Keyboard Keyboard CreationsCreations and got a whole scrolling message going. I don’t think I’ve touched that particular cartridge in 20 years, and I still scratch my head wondering what Magnavox was thinking there – were shop owners supposed to get an Odyssey 2 with Keyboard Creations and punch out today’s specials on a membrane keyboard to run in a TV in the window all day? I still stick by my assessment of Keyboard Creations as the video game world’s first and only “cable access channel simulator.” Because if you remember the clumsy pixellated scrolling messages that appeared on cable access circa 1980, that’s what this looked like. The thought has occurred that, having gotten good video of that one in action, Keyboard Creations may never escape from its box again.

Anyway, it wasn’t a bad night of his-and-hers gaming here at Casa Green. We don’t have nearly enough of those. Granted, we’re playing two different games across the room from each other (there’s some kind of metaphor in there, I’m sure), but it’s hard enough for us to get our schedules to meet up where we can even be in the same place and awake at the same time, so it’s a start.

What’s Earl watching?

Good Lord, trust me when I say you don’t wanna know. But I can tell you what I’m hearing. At least when I’m at home. I spent an hour or two today tinkering with another WordPress plug-in, this one easily the most involved of the bunch to date. (I had to manually mess around at the SQL level, if that tells you anything. And I still don’t even know what SQL stands for. Squirrel Quandary Layer? No, wait. That sounds like a new anime series.) But the long and short of it is that you can now see what music/sound file I’m currently listening to on my home PC. (For obvious network security reasons, there is absolutely no way in hell I can install this at work.) When the PC isn’t playing anything at all, it’ll show you what the last track played was.

Just to make sure it works and to keep it running tonight as an experiment, I built a playlist of…well…every MP3 on my hard drive. Seriously. Doctor Who sound effects, video game background music, Brahms, Beatles, Betchadupa, Black Sabbath, Blue Man Group, Brent Bourgeois, the lot of it, just for laughs. I don’t normally have quite this broad a musical potluck dinner going on, but hey, it’ll let me know if it works. 😀 Kind of a neat plug-in, despite some more complicated hoops than usual to jump through to get it working, and the first one I saw which didn’t require going through an intermediary service such as Audioscrobbler/Last.FM, Shoutcast, or the likes.

My next addition may be to get a webcam, hook it up to Orac, and point it out my window at the front yard for a live view of the sheer number of Special Guest Dogs visiting my yard. I like dogs, but this development isn’t making me happy. Othello can’t set one paw out the front door without a strange dog suddenly showing up with a less than healthy interest in the feline race. The other day I let Othello outside for a little while, since Xena was also right on the front porch with him, and then I heard a lot of barking – not all of it Xena’s. When I stepped outside, I saw three strange dogs in my yard – and no sign of Xena or Othello. I shooed the dogs away and then went looking for my pets – and found that Xena had chased Othello into the back yard and up onto the back deck next to the door. Xena isn’t prone to chasing Othello and Chloe, so I’m guessing it was a tactical thing to remove the cat from the other dogs’ consideration. (At least I’d like to believe that. It could also be that the pack mentality took over and everybody chased Othello until they got to the gate leading to my back yard, which is strictly Xena’s territory. Either way, poor Othello wasn’t thrilled with how his trip outside to munch on some grass went down.)

Othello isn’t a big fan of spending his outside time in the back yard, but he’s going to have to get used to it.

Sawdust and splinters at your feet

If you notice a drought of new entries in Scribblings, stay tuned – you may wish instead to look over at the Archives section, as I’m slowly getting around to repopulating the archives with the “classic” Scribblings that existed previously as HTML pages. As soon as I get everything switched over, I’m going to eliminate the HTML pages altogether and replace them with redirect pages.

I have to admit, some of this stuff constitutes the most embarrassing material on the site, dating all the way back to my high school years. (That also makes it easily the oldest; I didn’t even start doing the first LogBook episode guides until 1989.) I’ve also recently rediscovered some other high-school era goodies, which my former classmates will remember simply as the Fenter Toons, which I’ll scan and repost here before long.

In the meantime, keep an eye on the archives, and mind the sawdust while I rebuild some stuff.

And if you like how the blog approach has transformed this section of the site…heh. Buckle yourself in.

(The title of this post is brought to you by Mr. Tim Finn.)

Vid-e-o, ooh, play it one more time on…*

Ah, fun. I’ve discovered yet another new capability in WordPress: video! As anyone who’s been watching the eyeballs pop up in Phosphor Dot Fossils lately has no doubt noticed, I’ve become very fond of Flash video. I work in an audiovisual medium, you see, so while I enjoy writing – I love it, really – I also have one foot in these other media. Now, thanks to an insanely handy WordPress plug-in called Kimili Flash Embed, I can even throw video at you in my blawg.

Now, I’m still a believer in being bandwidth-friendly, so any video I chuck at you in Scribblings will be on a “static page.” That’s something which is kept separate from actual blog postings and comments in the database, and I’ve already added three gems from my archive for you to look at. I may do some actual video blogging in the future – but if I do, it will always be an option, not something that’s stuffed into a blog entry (even though that capability exists) where anyone who comes here has to see it.

* with apologies to Jeff Lynne.

BLAWG!

Oh, man. I just BLAWG’ed all over you. Sorry about that.

I recently opened a blog of my own, beta-testing a new blog feature at mail2web.com, when suddenly I came to my senses and thought: why am I doing this at mail2web when I could be doing it at my own site? (The latter part of that thought admittedly comes from Dave Thomer, who recently installed the WordPress blogging software at NotNews.org, at which point the wheels in my head began turning slowly and noisily.) Scribblings From The Public Restroom Stalls Of The Gods has always been my section where I put stuff on my site that isn’t a product review, or an episode guide, or what have you. Over the entire history of the site, and even pre-dating the web presence and stretching back in the late 80s, dozens of these bits of proto-bloggage have been archived over the years (and can still be seen here). But with my blogs at mail2web and at the Digital Press forums, I came to really enjoy the spontaneous nature of blogging. Scribblings seems dormant more often than not, so I thought…why not? So we’ll see how, or even if, this works. (Hey, it might not work. I’m always aware of that possibility.)

Tune in next time, true believers, and we’ll see what happens. Until then, enjoy the mind-bloggling experience.