Friday, March 20, 2009

Browser Toolbar Icons

I love the Firefox Browser Toolbar, especially afterI added the MiniFox Extension last year. It tightly packs the icons together. These Icons have no title to save space, and are "highlights" of the category menus, which are not shown when the browser window is small. They do however pop off of the right triange of the browser window in a vertical system menu.

hen my browser is maximized (or simply full width), the rest of the Browser Toolbar is shown (with Menus)

These Menus are in the same order as the icon groups. To the far right there are dedicated bookmark menus for Google, Wikipedia and YouTube (to classify new bookmarks.

Finally, the Sub-Menus at top level are as follows:

And that's a peak at my browser's quick list of favorite sites.

Twisty Passages, All Different

I never saw the manual for this game, it was installed in a Apple Compuer Lab long ago.
So I googled it. (It's also known as Alpha Waves)

I saw A Wikipedia Page about Alpha Waves
I saw The Programmer's Blog About The Game

I noticed there was next to nothing about the PLAYING game around on the web. No mention of any game level strategies, maps, or playthroughs to be found.

I decided to make a Continuum Map!

I played the game for 5+ hours with Excel at my side.

After much tweaking and exploring, I made the above GIF. It's a screen grab of the 75% Excel view on a 1280 x 1024 resolution desktop. An amazing huge image in 77K or so. Excel is great for mapping games when you prepare well (text, borders, grid, and go!)

A fun side effect was not knowing exactly where I spawned in the maze. The walls eventually told me. This game taps into your brain, I'd swear it. It's very colorful and varied.

This ran on a 386, people! Full screen! 15+ FPS!


Admittedly this is an obscure, yet groundbreaking game.

Continuum is a game where you bounce around rooms to go through doors. It's very cerebral, yet strangely ineffable. You can thrust forward, turn left and right, and raise and lower the camera angle. That's it for the controls. There are keys and crystals to collect, and different types of bouncy platforms. No shooting, save for one platform type that fires missles where your craft is facing.

You interact entirely in 3d with various objects

Now I keep in mind... this was 1991, This ran on a 386, people! Full screen! 15+ FPS!)

3d Facet rendering had never been done before on this scale, Full Screen, Spriteless, pure genius code. The filled shapes algorhythm and precomputed trigonometric 3d perspective programming techniques made this possible.

The game has two modes:

Action- A Timed Mode. All areas connected with a save game feature, but when time runs out, GAME OVER. This is not a mode favored for detailed analysis, but for kicking Arcade ass once you know the ropes.

Emotion- Free play in discrete areas. I was always more of an explorer than a points whore, so this was my mode. Emotion mode made it possible to make the map without being killed constantly by the time limit,
which came in handy as I was flying without a manual. It gives you one "saved game state" to undo back to. Try, try again.


The DOS version was the last conversion, and it's Soundtrack that permeates every game level was the most ambitious best to be featured in a physics game like this. The Soundblaster/Ad-Lib FM Synthesis jams this game kicks out are unbelievable, is the best use of PC speaker taken to it musical conclusion.

If the soundtrack exists anywhere, I'd feel stupid for using Audacity to make a Soundtrack album: 35.8MB zipped. Not going to link to it, unless someone is interested, but here's the theoretical CD Cover:

I love this game's style, the simple object of ecploring the game and learning its complexity. It's a very universal, abstract, non-violent thing of beauty.

Who knew that
simple was best? Just tons of 3d mazelike rooms, each with a simple Name and a new twist. A simple, unique great game engine with tons of depth thrown in. Timeless & Classy.

Over the years, I learned some rules: Little cubes remove big cubes. If it looks different (platform variations) than it does something different (lightning, creatures, spaceships, teleportation) Some balloons make you lighter than others. There are little Dark-Crystal type shards that you collect for points.

iPhone version? I can dream,,,

That's all for now, folks! Namaste

Thursday, March 19, 2009

PERL/PHP Programmer

I resumed programming when I discovered Perl and how it was used to make websites.

Putting PERL into action, it was deployed on Qru Studios Incorporated for several newsletters, including "Tech Tips" (browse it HERE)

Learned PERL from a Quick Refrence Card, Learned PHP from the Online Help
Read O'Reilly Books cover to cover while working at an ad agency and isp which fired up a dev toolbox I was all too eager to explore

Eschewing plugins, I crafted a text-file database system from scratch, using it's abstraction to remove incompatability with proprietary plugins when hopping platforms.

Late I created Intranet Applications for Business Recordkeeping, Payroll, Legal Documents and Web Site Generation, including calendars & forums, much like the features Yahoo and Google have developed to this day.

Game System Icon Roundup

The Foundation of Personal Computing, represented here. MESS is like MAME except for old system architectures. (someone's out ROM hunting) The Apple ][c is my favorite, Apple ][ logo is so classic

Windows just gets the ONE Icon because little has changed since Win98 except massive software bloat. (WinSXS, ProgramData and Users folders should not be mullti-gig as on Vista) I have used all the Other Platforms except for the iPhone. Still have a Treo 700p (not w) I should make a G5 Ipod Classic Icon to round out the set.

Game Systems my brother and me owned over the years. Old is good because the roms are super small but all the Gameplay is intact.

Didn't own any of these systems, I was a PC Gamer by then. The ROMS start to get really Big from here on out. I am a firm believer that a game doesn't need to fill a CD/DVD to be good. Cutscenes end up sucking anyway.

Trailing _s, by the way, are emulators I have not found and configured, Preferring PC games and any IndieGames that use physics like 2d Boy's World of Goo (under 80MB for the entire game!)

That's all for now

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thoughts On The Amiga

I always envied Amiga owners...
for their Sound and Graphics, their huge Library of Games, and
and their awesome Demo Scene [programmer/artist multimedia]

The company with the best graphic designers back then was:

Apple ][gs and Amiga were truly baby steps in computing, due to their overall poor system software, and lack of hard drives, but the Media Tech that they started has grown into the truly amazing MPCs we see today.

The closest I got to a Hard drive back then was a large RAM disk, which was screaming fast compared to a floppy. Back when RAM was respected and Virtual Memory(ugh) was non existent.

As a tribute to my Amiga HAM Mode 4096 color envy I purchased an Atari LYNX, which was fun and had integrated special chips for graphics and sound. It blew Gameboy out of the water (technically)

WinUAE Amiga Emulator
HANDY Lynx Emulator

Emulator Icon Project

I made these Icons for various PC and Game system emulators. Most are 64x64 BMPs, which were used to set the icon images in Windows. I started from 256x256 originals, and made the best of what I had (see Nintendo and LYNX for examples.

It's hip to be square. If need to make a ZIP file of the BMPs, or a single .ico file. Any recommendations on a program?

Mac User from Day One

The Macintosh line, with the MacII and IIcx, quickly buried any further Apple ][gs development, and when starting high school I became King of the Mac lab. I soaked up any new software like Quark XPress and ended up DTP'ing my yearbook at HS of A&D.

OS 8-9 were the only game around when I used Macs at work. I remember being an avid colelctor of extensions. The Whole PowerPC RISC was a great idea that then was abandoned by Apple. I remember when Apple's whole gameplan was compatibility

After OS X, I started to respect the platform for making a clean break with legacy apps. and then they went Intel again. right move but felt wrong, Windows then decided to make Vista a clean break with the past of the PC, the dirtiest clean break ever. Vista is just NT v6, gone DRM crazy. (see my PC post)

Ever since I saw and played with MacPaint for 45 minutes in a long-defunct COMPUTERWORLD, I got the fever for a GUI os!

I'd like to offer condolences to Jef Raskin's family.
Jef was integral to the classic Mac interface design, and his contributions have remained to this day.

Also thanks to Steven Levy, who wrote a great book about the origins and cult of mac.
And XEROX Parc, who got owned.

Apple ][gs User

The first computer I saved up money for was an Apple ][gs. The commercials roped me in, as did the graphics capacity and the ability to increase speed 3x from the standard Apple ][. I had programmed in Logo and Basic and at the time had a ton of 5.25" Floppy discs.

After singing in the New York City Opera and Met Children's chorus, I had earned an extra $800 to spend on a New Computer, The GS.

I bought it from some hasidic jews who ran "47th Street Photo," an electronics store in mitown manhattan. I remember going to the bank with my passbook savings account and withdrawing 8 crisp $100 bills, then taking a bus downtown with my parents to Buy It.

I got a Apple ][GS, Applecolor monitor, Imagewriter ][ printer, and a RAM expansion along with 3 1/2 and 5.25 drives. The power brick on the ][c was rivaled only by the Texas Instruments one in size.

DeluxePaint from Electronic Arts was one of the first graphics programs with menus and tools. It got me hooked on computer graphics, and many of the works I made while attending High Schoool of Art and Design became the Slides that earned me admission to the Computer Graphics BFA program at Pratt Institute in NYC.

Games that were released for the Apple ][gs were not always stellar, but Will Harvey's Immortal and Zany Golf were great examples of what dedicated people could make for the ][gs.

Other software companies used the default system tools, which were in a Mac Plus state of clunkiness.The official ][gs developers used C, Pascal, or LISP to make their Apps, which was a huge barrier for amateurs to make apps.

After finding Applesoft Basic Extensions from So What Software, I was able to create software that used the Enhanced Graphics of the ][gs, which were not available from BASIC at all until then.

I once programmed a 3d facet renderer in Applesoft Basic, I Created the EXIT board game in basic with a GUI display, and rendered animations of fractals. I also made a voxel [volumetric pixel, like from a 3d scan] rendering system. Debugging and Test Runs took forever (back when scripting lanugages were slooow) but I pushed through, eventually buying a TransWarp accelerator card to 7MHz and cutting development time in half.

The FREE TOOLS ASSOCIATION were some french GS hackers who made their own System software. They came closer than anyone to utilizing the machine's potential. The Amiga Demos were even more spectacular, but they had even greater multimedia functions in hardware.

These days, there are some great emulators for the ][gs and most of the software is still available. A flash drive makes everything 1000% easier today, along with terrabyte drives. Back then it was floppies or nothing.

My Apple ][gs is the "Signed By Woz" special edition.
Now Steve Wozniak is on Dancing With The Stars.
I love the guy, he decided to return to education after Steve Jobs and the Mac's cult of personality pushed the original creative team out.

See Also:
Apple ][gs as a Laptop
Apple ][gs Emulator for Mac for PC
History of the Apple Line
Apple ][gs Wiki Page

Apple ][c User

My first Apple was the sleek Apple ][c which resided under my bunk bed at home. Using basic graphics modes with BASIC filled my time. I made a bitmap editing program for my own use, as well a s primitive games.

The keyfeel and integrated floppy were amazing for the time. I was on the fence and almost got an Apple ][e, but I used those at school in a lab, and wanted something different. I actually carried a monitor and power supply in a backpack a couple of times.

(Later I borrowed others' monitors, eventually I kept it at home - It was not really a laptop, although there was eventually a monochrome flat screen that could mount to the main unit)

Bank Street Writer was THE word processing software of the day, but WORDSTAR on the commodore PET was the feature-packed command line editing tool of the day (my first taste of UNIX). The Print Shop from Brodurbund was my first baby step intop DTP.

Lode Runner, Apple Panic and Marble Madness were my first favorite games after Little Brick Out, which was the first game I saw running on an Apple ][e.

On the Apple ][e I Programmed Tetris, and other similar games, from scratch. It blows my mind how many goto's and line numbers I used back then. Tetris topped out at 1000 lines of code. I had previously filled a floppy with advanced LOGO programs, one of which drew sheet music with command line entries.

TI-994a User

My family had a TI-994a for games (programming required saving sounds to audio tape!) and My school was entirely Apple ][e-based. Games and shareware were just getting started back then, and BBS logons were what passed for what chat, IM, SMS and Text are now.

Among the First Cartridges:
Hunt The Wumpus
Munch Man
Car Wars
Video Graphs
TI Invaders
The Attack

Most Arcane Accesory: Audiocasette Tape Drive

Meta Keywords Revisited

I figured some subdivision of the Keywords in post #1 is in order.
I attempted to sort most recent topics to the top, followed by their precursors.


Web Technologist
Perl/PHP Programmer - Database Admin - Interface Designer
Computer Graphic Artist - Photoshop Bible - Power User Mac/PC
Marketing Agency Campaigns - Ad Sales Representative
Production Artist - Desktop Publisher - Architectual Drafting
Library Automation - Set Builder - Lighting Designer - Special Effects
Data Entry - Research Assistant - Secretary - Parallegal


Avid Collector - Library Of Music TV/Film classics
(Rock-Funk-Electronica-Coens-Greenaway-Epic TV)
LOST Fan - gspn PLUS Member - DPP Superfan
NPR Addict - Slashdot Reader - UI Tweaker
Win95/2000 Power User - Command-Line Jockey
Keyboard Shortcut Advocate - Apache Linux Nerd


Promoter & Programmer for NYC Comedy Clubs
(NY Pro, EM Ventures and Nu-Genesis)

PC Gamer - MAME Gamer - iD software - Electronic Arts
( TI994a - Atari - Colecovision - Intellivision - Apple ][c -Apple ][gs - Genesis - LYNX)

Designer at Qru Studios Incorporated
(HTML - Javascript - CSS - Perl - PHP - LAMP)

Computer Graphics at Pratt Institute
(Lab Monitor - Drawing - Painting - Sculpture)

Architecture at The HS of Art & Design
(TechTips Editor - Yearbook Editor)

Former Child Opera Singer/Actor
(Childrens Chorus - Computer Consulting)

Splitting off the Business Skills will help outline my resume. My personal timeline keywords are intended to sync up with a Life Timeline, currently outlined on my TREO smartphone.

Now to flesh them out, one by one...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Orientation Post

First BLOG post. I spent the majority of my life collecting clips and articles to collage. I hope to open them up to everyone throught this blog.

I would like to thank Brian's LOST AND GONE FOREVER, The Transmission, and the Delta Park Project

To be fully META, here are some keywords that I will compose posts about.

Apple ][GS Owner
Architectual Drafting
Software Usability Tester
Command-Line Jockey
Database Administrator
Director of Special Effects
Desktop Publisher
Computer Graphic Artist
Keyboard Shortcut Advocate
Library Research Assistant
Lighting Designer
Mac Power User
Music Enthusiast
Opera Childrens Chorus Singer/Actor
PLUS Member
Pop Culture Fan
Perl/PHP Programmer
Production Artist
Marketing Rep
Registry Editor
Set Builder
Web Technologist

I attended Pratt for Drawing,Painting, Collage, but mostly Computer Graphics (which morphed into Web Developer and Programmer through independant study) and I studied Architecture in High School (which morphed into Multimedia Design and 3d Modeling)

Later on there were Stints in Acting, Office Work, Advertising, Web Design and Certain (now defunct) Marketing Firms. Stay tuned.

Then I suppose I will add a Section for TV/Film/Radio Greatest Hits.

I should also mention my huge library of music, and how it is maintained and sorted. I definitely am an "album rock" collector.

'Til later-
Mahalo and Namaste!