Windows 98, WiFi and Destruction Derby

I’ve been trawling through all my old equipment, trying to organise it in some meaningful manner.  I decided to buy several clear storage cases in the hope of grouping related items together so I can easily select a box and its contents when I want to use certain hardware.

The process is going reasonably well although unsurprisingly I’ve underestimated the number of containers I require and one slightly irritating aspect has been finding lots of items that I didn’t realise I had and have bought duplicates of recently.

I did however unearth a D-link dwl G520+ wireless PCI card and my old Apple Airport Extreme unit.  I installed the wireless card in my bridge machine which until now has lacked any form of networking and set up the Extreme to create a wireless network.

I was able to download drivers for the D-Link card and whilst I was at it I download drivers for the Leadtek Winfast Titanium 500 graphics card and Creative Labs Soundblaster Live which were already present in the bridge machine.  All these drivers were still available from the respective manufacturer’s websites.

I have to say I’ve quite enjoyed using Windows 98 again, it’s relatively unfussy and very quick and snappy 0n the Pentium III I’m using.  The driver installations went pretty smoothly and the D-Link card picked up the wireless network without fuss.

On firing up Internet Explorer I went into Tools/Internet Options/Connections and configured it to connect through my LAN however it wouldn’t connect to any web pages.  After a bit of fiddling I entered ‘winipcfg’ in the Start/Run box and clicked on Release All and then Renew All, this did the trick, my freshly installed Windows 98 box was online.

This box now fulfils the list of criteria I set out for my perfect bridge machine:-

  • DOS
  • Parellel Port
  • Serial Port
  • ISA Slot
  • PCI Slots
  • USB
  • Network/Internet
  • VGA & DVI
  • CD Rom
  • Floppy (5.25 & 3.5)

I thought it might be amusing at this stage to try Windows Update which took me to the relevant site but would always fail with an error when scanning the system.  After searching a bit I found this site which has an unofficial pack of updates.

After installing these updates I was able to access Windows Update again and it worked so I took all the official updates I thought would be useful and installed them.  Pleased with my progress I thought I’d party like it was 1999 and fire up an old game.  First to hand was Destruction Derby which in fact harks all the way back to 1995.

Now, back to that packing and sorting…

Amiga 1200 Liberated From Loft

I decided to have a dig around in the loft as I couldn’t remember exactly what was up there computer wise, I knew there was an Amiga 1200 and a CD32 but I was also surprised to find an Amiga 500 and a barely used Sony Playstation.  I retrieved the A1200 and the A500, the first is in great shape, in fact it looks like new and it works, the hard drive even booting into Workbench on initial power up.  The A500 is pretty grubby, very yellow and not working, giving only a flashing power LED and green screen.  There was also an A590 external hard disk unit with it, I’d forgotten I had that.

The A1200 cost me a small fortune back in 1993, I ordered it with an 80mb drive and a Microbotics MX1230A accelerator board featuring a 68030 CPU, 68882 FPU and 4 Mb of additional RAM.  It was and still is a gorgeous system, probably my second favourite retro system, pipped to the post only by the C64.

Thinking back to how much I used to dream about upgrading the RAM which was devilishly expensive in those days, it was odd to find a 128 Mbyte SIM in one of my piles of junk and simply plug it in.  For some reason, in my mind, the A1200 still seems really powerful.

There were a couple of games on the drive, Sim City 2000 and Frontier, Elite II.  Many, many hours were spent playing the latter which is one of my all time favourite games, despite the bugs.  On researching the game I noticed you can download an OpenGL version here and play the game in high resolution under Windows or Linux which is pretty cool.

I also discovered there’s still a thriving community surrounding the A1200 with much ‘pimping’ of the original machines still going on.  The most common upgrade seems to be a compact flash internal drive which I’m hoping to attempt.  Others have added USB ports and even internal CD ROM drives.

During my Amiga years I still had delusions of becoming a digital graphic artist, I used to dream of ending up at somewhere like Pixar.  With the 1200 I found a box of disks including Sculpt 3D and 4D and Deluxe Paint III and IV.  I managed to recover some saved files from DPaint but no luck so far with the Sculpt files.

Dpaint produced .lbm bitmap files and after hunting around I found this site that allowed me to convert them to GIF’s.  The second image was copied from a 1985 Tolkien calendar and the first from a book lent to me by Urbancamo called Space Wars, Worlds and Weapons.  Very odd to see these again after all those years.

Retrochallenge Winter Warmup 2011 Entry

Well here it is, the first installment of Silent Running, a text adventure created using Inform.  The initial idea was to create something that would run on my Epson PX-8 which is a CP/M based machine. The first speed bump was locating a Z-machine interpreter for CP/M until it was pointed out to me that as I had the original Zork games for CP/M I had a suitable interpreter.

The Zork games typically came as two files, for instance, and Zork1.dat, the .com file being the interpreter and the .dat file the story file.  The interpreter supports version 3 story files and if you create a compatible story file you can rename it Zork1.dat then run and your game will load and run.

Needing to create version 3 story files I opted for Inform 5 as the compiler and was of course free to write the source code in any suitable text editor.  Thus development has taken place on a variety of machines including the Atari Portfolio, Epson PX-8, Epson Equity LT and some more modern machines.  I had hoped to compile the code on the Equity but I still haven’t had any success.

The game itself is heavily influenced in tone by Snowball from Level 9 which remains my fondest memory of text adventuring, that and Melbourne House’s The Hobbit.  I would estimate that I’ve completed about a quarter of what I’d hoped, therefore there are a number of elements within the game that may currently seem like red herrings.  The current goal is to achieve access to the biodome area of the freighter.

There will of course be many bugs, not the crash your system type, but responses to player input that are not catered for and the like.  Once you’re in the world creating it it’s difficult to jump outside and imagine how others are going to interact with it, reports would be welcome.

I’ve been quite absorbed by this process which has been enjoyable although it has meant I haven’t had as much time to keep up with all the other entries as I’d have liked and I’m looking forward to doing that now.

You’ll need an interpreter should you wish to try the game, you should be able to find one here:-

Link to Interpreters

Download Silent Running Story File

If like me you need an interpreter for CP/M you can download Zork and the included interpreter here.