Archive for the technology Category

A look at the Star Wars Q&A Book about computers (1983)

Posted in 80s, books, computers, movies, pop culture, reviews, Star Wars, technology with tags , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by Paxton

Badass Book Report

I love vintage kids books.  I love vintage pop culture books.  I also love vintage books looking at early computing technology.  This week, I get all three wrapped into one.  I’ll be looking at three early 80s activity books featuring awesomely retro computing technology.  Being a tech guy and a pop culture guy sure pays off some days. The first book I’ll be looking at is the Star Wars Question and Answer Book about Computers from 1983. SW Q&A book cover Yes, I know, mixing Star Wars and computer technology? Yes, please.  And the book is filled with some of the most awesome artwork mixing R2-D2 and C3PO and computer machinery. SW Q&A title The artwork in this book is by Ken Barr. Ken Barr is a comic artist. He’s done a lot of work for Marvel, especially back in the 70s and 80s with titles like Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Doc Savage, Savage Sword of Conan and Rampaging Hulk.  Most of that work being for Marvel magazines that showcase the really nice painted look of Barr’s creations.  You can see a lot of that here, too. This book is mainly an information dump about computers, how they began and what they can be used for.  Much of the information is surrounded by Barr’s gorgeous paintings. However there are also pages without artwork but instead use photographs of actual computer machinery.

SW Q&A intro SW Q&A AppleIIe

Here’s the intro to the book explaining about computers. Next to the intro is another information page featuring a picture of an Apple II.  Click the images to make them BIGGER.

SW Q&A chess SW Q&A arcade

Here are some pages talking about computers and video games. You can see an adorable picture of R2-D2 playing chess against a computer and both Artoo and Threepio playing an upright arcade machine. I’m seriously in love with that arcade machine painting. See it much bigger here. Continue reading

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More fun with my camera phone

Posted in camera phone, cell phones, random, technology with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2011 by Paxton

I bought my first camera phone back in 2006.  It was the original Motorola Razr V3.  It was pretty cool being able to snap pics of stuff I came across at any given moment.  So, in December of that same year, I wrote an article that  took a look at some of the random photos I had taken with my phone.  One of my blogging/Twitter buddies Trish just posted a very similar article and it got me thinking that I want to do it again.  It has been 4 years.  Plus, I have a much better phone now, the iPhone.

So, I’m going to delve into my cell phone photos and see what randomness I can come up with.  Here we go.

Croc Lobster
I found this odd statue outside a restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I call it “Croc-Lobster” (get it?…The B-52’s song?…hello?).  I find myself completely fascinated by the idea of a Croc-Lobster.  This needs to be a monster that fights Godzilla.  NOW.

P A X
Before the baby, my wife was an elementary school teacher. So she had these alphabet letter cards up on the walls of her classroom. I took pics of the letters P, A and X (because it’s my name, duh) and texted them to my brother.  It looks silly now that I’m looking at it but that’s the stuff my brother and I text to each other.

Knight Industries truck
I got so excited when I saw this truck. I have to wonder if a black Firebird named KITT was inside as this is very similar to the truck that transports that awesome car in the show Knight Rider.  Even the logo is similar.

Margarona
Went to Charleston, SC a few years ago with some friends. In the middle of the night, drunk and hungry, we wound up in a small Mexican restaurant in the middle of downtown.  Featured on the menu was this unbelievable site, The Margarona.  A frozen margarita served with a full bottle of Corona turned upside down into it.  It never even occurred to me to try something like this.  My mind can now be considered BLOWN.  For some reason, they wouldn’t serve it at 2am, which seems to me to be the only time someone would order it.

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Microsoft Windows 1.0 was released 25 years ago this week

Posted in 80s, computers, Microsoft, pop culture, technology, Windows with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2010 by Paxton

Orig MicroSoft logo

The original version of Microsoft Windows (v1.0) was released around 25 years ago this week. I say about 25 years ago because It’s really tough to pin down the actual release date due to differing information depending on where you look. If you look at official Microsoft history, they mention in one paragraph that Windows 1.0 was released in 1983, but then in the next paragraph they say Windows 1.0 was released in 1985.  Other places alternately list 1983 or 1985.  It’s possible that the first few releases of 1.0 (ie, 1.0, 1.01, 1.02) were not official and only demo releases.  Most places I check have the release date for Windows 1.0 to be Nov 20, 1985.  So I’m going with that.

Here’s the box for that first release of Windows.

Microsoft Windows 1.0 box

Windows 1.0 required you to use 10 installation disks. And they were floppies!!

Windows 1.0 disks(Via Digibarn Computer Museum)

The original Windows used a radical new GUI interface to handle typical computer tasks like starting programs and file management. This freed the user from having to type commands at a DOS prompt. Delivered applications for this release included a File Manager, calendar, clock, notepad and calculator.

Windows 1.0 screenshot

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Microsoft Windows 95 was released 15 years ago today

Posted in Microsoft, pop culture, technology, Windows with tags , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by Paxton

Microsoft Windows 95 startup screen

Microsoft released Windows 95 on Aug 24, 1995, 15 years ago today.  It was developed internally as Windows 4 or under the codename Chicago.  The whole operating system was designed to be a “ground up” improvement of Windows 3.1 including vast enhancements to the GUI, or “user interface”. It was with this release of Windows that Microsoft became the computing powerhouse it became in the late 90s/early 2000s. It was also this success with Windows 95 and early versions of Internet Explorer that would lay the ground work for all of Microsoft’s problems with the Justice Department about being a monopoly.

Windows 95 welcome screen

Like I said, Windows 95 was the birth of Windows as we now know it today.  The taskbar and Start button began here as well as “plug and play” compatibility, 32 bit processing and the Windows Explorer file management application.  All of these innovations were included and remain in current versions of Windows mostly unchanged to this day.  Internet Explorer 1.0 was available for the release of Windows 95, but not with the default installation, which didn’t even install TCP/IP.  You had to buy the Microsoft Plus! pack to get the brand new Microsoft browser as well as other features like themes and disc compression.  Microsoft Plus! was mostly used in factory installs, so not many people used IE at first.  Internet Explorer would become part of the Win95 installation with IE v2.0 several months later.

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The new Coke Freestyle soda fountain + other bad ass Coke machines

Posted in Coca Cola, hackers, internet, soda, technology with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2009 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

Coca-Cola has started test marketing a new soda fountain called the Coca-Cola Freestyle.

Coke Freestyle machinesCoke Freestyle logo

It is run by computer and controlled through an LCD touchscreen.  The soda dispenser has the ability to mix up over 100 different types of sodas, waters, teas and energy drinks.  The menu even includes items not currently sold in the US like Grape Vault (yes, please!) and Raspberry Coke.  As of right now the Freestyle is only being test marketed in Atlanta and Southern California (list of locations here) but further test markets will be opened up in the Spring of 2010.  Don’t worry, that sound you hear behind you is a chorus of angels in the background singing “Ha-lle-lu-yah!”  Now, whenever I approach the soda fountain at Subway, I’ll immediately have brain shutdown due to the ridiculous amount of soda choices at my finger tips.

There have been rumors about this very thing for years. Coke and Pepsi have so many flavor variations around the world and the US really only sees a SMALL portion. Grape Vault? Are you kidding me? I really want to try that.  I’ve heard of Raspberry Coke in New Zealand, but it doesn’t sound THAT appetizing.  How about the discontinued Coke with Lemon?  It’s all up for grabs with this new machine.  However, don’t expect things like New Coke and Surge to be available, because this isn’t a time machine, it’s a soda machine.

Check out a video demonstration of this glorious machine here.

Now that the technology is here to let the dispensing machines do all the work for us, how long is it before we get into a SkyNet situation? I mean, are we just a lightning strike away from one of these machines going Johnny Number 5 on us? Will this be fun Johnny Number 5, or laser weapon fry your ass like a Roman Candle Number 5? How long before we see this:

Robot Coke Machine

Run tiny, Japanese children!! Run like the wind from the giant Coke branded inhuman monstrosity!!!! Save yourself!!!  It feeds on CHILDREN!!!  CHILDREN!!!!

Speaking of bad ass Coke dispensing Terminator machines, people have been hacking vending machines for years to make them better. One of the more popular things to do to a Coke machine is to connect it to the internet. Connecting your Coke machine to the internet allows you to check inventory levels and dispense sodas remotely from your computer. While this is quite awesome, it also calls onto the carpet not only your laziness, but the fact that you can’t even wait 30 seconds to put money in the machine and make a soda selection.  No surprisingly, this trend was started by Computer Science students.

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