Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Technology
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-03-11 19:31
Break Out
Break Out: How the Apple II Launched the PC Gaming Revolution - David Craddock

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

I never owned an Apple II, but my family did have a Commodore 64 when I was a kid, and I do have a soft spot for the history and evolution of computing (and computers) in general, and I was glad to read this book, for it reminded me of a lot of things. The Apple II, after all, was part of that series of personal computers on which a lot of developers cut their teeth, at a time when one still needed to dive into programming, at least a little, if one wanted to fully exploit their machine. (I’ve forgotten most of it now, and was never really good at it anyway since I was 7 and couldn’t understand English at the time… but I also tried my hand at BASIC to code a few simple games, thanks to a library book that may or may not have been David Ahl’s “101 BASIC Computer Games”, I can’t remember anymore now.)

In other words, due to a lot of these developers coding not only for the Apple II, and/or to their games being ported to other machines, C64 included, I was familiar with a lot of the games and software mentioned in Craddock’s book. Even though, 1980s and personal computer culture of the time oblige, most of what we owned was most likely pirated, as we happily copied games from each others to cassettes and 5 ¼ floppy disks on which we punched a second hole (instant double capacity! Just add water!).

A-hem. I guess the geek in me is just happy and excited at this trip down memory lane. And at discovering the genesis behind those early games which I also played, sometimes without even knowing what they were about. (So yes, I did save POWs with “Choplifter!”, and I haunted the supermarket’s PC aisle in 1992 or so in the hopes of playing “Prince of Persia”. And I had tons of fun with Brøderbund’s “The Print Shop”, which I was still using in the mid-90s to make some silly fanzine of mine. And even though that game wasn’t mentioned in the book, I was remembered of “Shadowfax”, which I played on C64, and some 30 years later, I’m finally aware that I was actually playing Gandalf dodging & shooting Nazgûls. One is never too old to learn!)

This book may be worth more to people who owned and Apple II and/or played the games it describes, but even for those who never owned that computer and games, I think it holds value anyway as a work retracing a period of history that is still close enough, and shaped the world of personal computing as we know it today. It’s also worth it, I believe, for anyone who’s interested in discovering how games (but not only) were developed at the time, using methods and planning that probably wouldn’t work anymore. All things considered, without those developers learning the ropes by copying existing games before ‘graduating’ to their own, so to speak, something that wouldn’t be possible anymore either now owing to said software’s complexity, maybe the software industry of today would be very different. And, last but not least, quite a few of our most popular post-2000 games owe a lot, in terms of gaming design, to the ones originally developed for the Apple II.

My main criticism about “Break Out” would be the quality of the pictures included on its pages. However, I got a PDF ARC to review, not a printed version, and I assumed from the beginning that compression was at fault here, and that the printed book won’t exhibit this fault. So it’s not real criticism.

Conclusion: If you’re interested in the history of computers and/or games; in reliving a period you knew as a gamer child or teenager; and/or in seeing, through examples and interviews, how developing went at that time: get this book.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-02-20 02:51
I like to think that I'm pretty tech-savvy but...
Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything - Kelly Weinersmith,Zach Weinersmith

I'm a naturally curious person (obvious to the longtime reader) and I really enjoy learning about the the world we inhabit. I especially enjoy discussions which forecast what our world might look like in the near to distant future. This book touched on a lot of that and much more (much of it out of my sphere of knowledge). Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly Weinersmith (with illustrations by Zach Weiner) covers everything from space settlements (and space elevators!) to computer brain interfaces (no thank you!) with Utah Array (basically multiple neuron points). The wide variety of topics explored should appeal to a diverse audience and if that doesn't do it the illustrations scattered throughout certainly will as they further explain extremely technical subjects through a pop science lens (some quite funny while others tried just a bit too hard). I have to give them a giant HOORAY for their excellent use of references such as George Church (remember him from Woolly?) which lent a more academic feel. Besides explaining what inventions we might see in the future, Weinersmith discusses the concerns both ethical and economical which could either delay or outright stall further development. The futurists among you would do well to check this book out to get excited for the years ahead while the cynics might want to get their hands on it to strengthen their arguments. ;-) 7/10


And this is why I'm terrified. [Source: Penguin Books]


What's Up Next: Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers by David Stabler


What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-02-15 07:06
How we overestimate technological change
Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change - Bob Seidensticker

This is a fascinating yet flawed book. Robert Seidensticker's argument is that people have long overestimated the speed of technological change, which he demonstrates by surveying the decades of grandiose predictions that have fallen flat. From them he derives a series of "high-tech myths" that serve as a commonality running through many of these overestimates, before concluding by drawing some conclusions as to why people do that and how they might avoid making such mistakes in the future. Seidensticker's thesis is a credible one, and his examples show how it has merit, but his analysis suffers from a degree of confirmation bias by cherry-picking his examples and ignoring or glancing over ones which might require a greater degree of qualification. Had he pursued a more nuanced study he might have produced a more valuable examination of human reaction to technological change, though it would probably not have been as forceful as what he does provide his readers

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-02-09 22:36
Dangerous - Shannon Hale

This was great. The setup is diverse science-geek kids become a Power-Rangers-style team of superheroes with mysterious alien-derived powers. Then it goes somewhere different.


Some cool things it included:

-caring parents that remain present and supportive
-kids with goals/girls w/ STEM goals they're pursuing
-decent representation across genders, races, abilities, nationalities & economic statuses
-everyone has a nuanced backstory
-it's not just another 'yay team' clone

-MC is homeschooled (but not a genius), multi-lingual & multi-racial, lost her hand at birth, designs her own prosthetics


There was a dizzying whirlwind of plot, and I think this could have been split into a duology given the amount of twists and developments. I inhaled it almost in a single sitting. Really entertaining and a lot of fresh takes on tropes while still checking all the boxes for thriller/SF/superhero story. So different than Hale's fairytale retellings, but just as excellent.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?