Distractions old and new

One of Isaac Asimov’s robots short stories features a curious problem:  a robot is running in circles, unresponsive to commands. The troubleshooters who feature in the story quickly realize that there’s a logic conflict:  the robot’s in-built orders, both to save humans and to preserve itself, cause it to advance in one direction, then retreat as the danger grows.  I’ve been running in circles the past week or so myself, with an array of really promising books before me —  all enticing, but none so compelling that I can fight the distraction to dabble in the others.   On the table are The Believing Brain; Where Wizards Stay Up Late– The Origins of the Internet;  Flygirls;  Ravensbrück, Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women;  Our Only World;  and The Moral Animal. And there are more inbound, because when you can’t get into what you’re reading the obvious solution is to..buy more things.  It’s the American way.

Speaking of buying things,  I finally succumbed to the temptation to acquire a Windows 98 retro-gaming rig.   My original intent was to re-format an old machine, but while trying  in vain to find appropriate software,  I saw someone selling a refurbished Dell for a pretty good price.  It boasts 100 GBs of hard drive space and 512 MB/RAM.  (Laughable now, but  ten times the resources of my first Windows machine.)  It booted to an error screen because the shipper inserted a floppy disk, which gave me a laugh.  Once the empty floppy was removed, I was in business. I bought the machine solely to play Star Trek Elite Force, Star Trek Armada, and Star Trek Away Team, all of which are now installed and running. Since I still have the hard drive from my defunct 2004 computer, I’ve imported old custom maps that can’t be found online anymore..  I suppose this is the 21st equivalent of someone digging around in their attic, finding boxes of records from high school, and then buying a record player to relive their salad days.

 I’ve forgotten surprisingly little Windows 98 navigation, in part I think because I learned to use computers on a Windows 95 system, and my ‘formative years’ so to speak were using it at school and then Windows 98 at home.  It wasn’t until 2004 that I began using an XP, and I didn’t stop thinking outside of 9x’s architecture until Windows 10 made it possible to access everything on the PC via the search bar.  That was also possible on Windows 8, but I really did not like the tiles system.  It’s fine on a phone, but when I’m in front of a desktop computer, I want my DESKTOP. 

My only problem so far is finding utilities that will actually install and run: even finding files published in 97-99 which say they’re compatible hasn’t produced any which will run.  The lack of Winzip I can live with, and even Winamp.  Not being able to take screenshots, though, is grating. The two shots above were taken with my camera.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
This entry was posted in Reviews, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Distractions old and new

  1. Mudpuddle says:

    “buy more things” haha, i do that also, except for me, it's downloading more books off Gutenberg that i'll never read… impressive computer knowledge there… i think i missed the learning curve; i've never been able to master computers except on a very basic level… sounds like fun, tho…

  2. Brian Joseph says:

    I remember reading the Asimov story that you are referring to. There is indeed so much to read. All the books that you mention sound very good. Have fun with the old hardware and software.

  3. Marian H says:

    Your screenshots put a smile on my face. I keep meaning to create a Win98 or XP VM so I can play Madeline's European Adventures again (lol). The Star Trek games sound like a blast!

  4. Stephen says:

    I'm not that much better, to be honest — I only learned what the parts were inside a computer case a couple of years ago! Before that I couldn't have told you the difference between the power supply and the processor.

  5. Stephen says:

    Thanks! There was one more, “Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler”.

  6. Stephen says:

    I thought about a VM, but I didn't want to risk any performance issues. If you're interested in retro-gaming, LazyGameReviews on youtube does a lot of it.The Star Trek games are a blast — especially Elite Force, which was highly regarded as a shooter in its day. It used the Quake 3 engine and had active servers well after its sequel was released. Armada wasn't quite as good technically, but it was a new experience for me…possibly my first real-time strategy game. I played a couple of full games of it tonight and forgot how AWESOME the Klingon sounds are. Star Trek Away Team was basically Commandos with a Starfleet skin, and not very popular, but I loved working out the puzzles and chosing my own teams from the available crew. Commandos always pre-chose your team for you, as did Desperados — basically Commandos in the Old West.

  7. CyberKitten says:

    Wouldn't it have been easier to run a Win 98 emulator on your PC? I know a few people who have tried that and (I think) it works pretty well….

  8. CyberKitten says:

    I ensure that I cultivate geeky friends and drop off donuts occasionally to the guys in our IT department as insurance for later….

  9. Stephen says:

    I didn't think about that, to be honest. I've heard of virtual machines and the like, but I assumed a game like Elite Force — a shooter on the Quake III engine, with hardware acceleration and such suggested — would be too much. It's not something I've experimented with, though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s