The Max Headroom Hacker

Monday, December 10th, 2018

1987. Over thirty years ago. What was going on? Well, in the United States we were in the waning years of the presidency of Ronald Reagan. As a matter of fact, in the summer of this year, Reagan made an impassioned speech about tearing down the Berlin Wall, right in front of the Berlin Wall. The same year, Mike Tyson was knocking out every opponent that had the guts to challenge him. ALF hacked into the television ratings to make “Polka Jamboree” the number one television program in the nation. And, if that wasn’t enough excitement to keep everyone entertained, Chi-Town was introduced to…

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Was MS-DOS copied from CP/M?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Even to this day, people are still talking about the CP/M vs. MS-DOS controversy. Did MS-DOS steal from CP/M? Why did they settle a lawsuit if they didn’t? The problem is, almost no one realizes what the actual argument is. People want to make the issue about Microsoft stealing code from CP/M and using it. I don’t deny that there is a rumor that Gary Kildall performed some secret keystroke combination that produced an Easter egg in CP/M that he duplicated in MS-DOS. But, the best I can tell, that is complete folklore that only added to the mystique and mystery. The real argument is more apparent.

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Video Chess and the 10-hour Bug

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Wow! Atari wrote a game that uses some pretty good artificial intelligence. It was fun to play and very challenging. So how could this one possibly be eligible for the Hall of Shame?

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Online Degree or Complete Waste of Time?

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

I just ended my first and last semester taking online classes at the prestigious Oklahoma University.  Okay, that’s not entirely fair.  I know that OU isn’t exactly ivy league, but it’s not a bad school.  They just failed me.  This could be seen as nothing more than a vendetta for getting a bad grade, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I got an A in the class, but at the expense of almost killing me. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Did OS/2 Fail?

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Too many people have speculated why OS/2 faded into the sunset while Windows reigned supreme. I want to explore some of the bigger theories and then offer up one of my own. The fact remains that OS/2 was the operating system that should and could but never would. I wanted OS/2 to work. I remember the Visual Basic class I took all the way back in the summer of 1994. I remember the instructor going around the class having us introduce ourselves. I remember saying how much I hate Windows (it was 3.1 at the time) because it was such a hacked and slashed together operating system, and that I really wished we would’ve gone the “OS/2 route”. In my mind, Windows 3.x was nothing more than a glorified version of DOS Shell, although I later learned that Windows was a real operating system; an operating system you add to pay twice for because you couldn’t run it by itself. All kidding aside, even in my late teenage years I stayed loyal to the OS/2 brand. I even ran it on my PC at home, albeit in dual boot mode because there was a lot of stuff that Windows 95 could run that OS/2 could not. I owned two versions of OS/2, “OS/2 for Windows” which was OS/2 version 2.1 without a standalone copy of Windows where you used your own copy. I also purchased OS/2 Warp 4 in 1996 when I was sick and tired of Windows 95 and the constant reboots.

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Pirhana

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Okay, Pac-Man has hit the arcades. Everyone in the world is now waiting in line with quarters overflowing in their pockets just to get chance to play it. In the wake of this awesome game, we now have to weed through a few things. Namely:

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Pac-Man Fever

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Ugh!

There is no better way for me to lead off this rant than with that word. I really wish that I didn’t have to write an article like this. Unfortunately, because of my commitment to expose the worst in computer history, I have to. This song is beyond stupid. It is beyond pathetic. It is beyond anything that a sane person could comprehend. I have never heard of the people who wrote and sang this. Their names are Buckner and Garcia. I can’t think of anything witty to say about their names, so I’ll ignore that for now and say that they are two talentless hacks.

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The Stacker Conspiracy

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

“You know, Microsoft, when you want to flat out steal someone’s product, it’s a good idea to…actually it is never a good idea for Microsoft to try to steal anything.” – Grantster

Stac Electronics (the maker of Stacker) was one of the many fly-by-night-turned-big-time companies of the late 80’s, early 90’s. They took your precious hard drive and doubled or even tripled the amount of free space. It did this by compressing and decompressing programs on the fly. Kinda like zipping and unzipping files for you automatically. Why was this ever handy? Well, as hard as it is to believe, hard drives weren’t always 2 terabytes in size. They were actually pretty small. The first hard drives were 10 Meg (yes I said MEG!). This was roughly the amount of space that is on 7 of today’s floppies (sorry, I realize many of you have never used a floppy). You could store jack and crap on your hard drive. Therefore, automatic compression software was quite handy. Unfortunately, if your drive ever got corrupted, it destroyed exponential amounts of data due to the way the drive is compressed. Oh, well, details…details. Nevertheless, the was quite a market for this Stacker product.

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Kildall, Norton, and …. Kurzweil?

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

The year was 1983 and I had my first experience ever with computers.  I saw the epitome of modern-day technology in our school library .  It was a TRS-80 with about 16k of RAM and a tape drive for storage.  I was in elementary school at the time and was just blown away.  I saw a girl several years older than me loading up a program (a rudimentary game) from the tape drive.  Wow, I thought to myself, I can do that.  I WILL do that!!  I can make programs too.  I rushed home that evening and tried to write my first computer program ever.  I had no idea what a programming language was.  I didn’t care.  I decided to create a “Hangman” game.  So, I pulled out my tape recorder and proceeded to say how my program was going to work.  I assumed everything because I had no idea how computers really worked.  I even assumed that I didn’t have to tell the computer what words to use, it should magically just pick a word at random and proceed to start the game.  I did, however, at least tell the computer to put the number of blanks at the bottom of screen equal to the number of letters in the word.  I was so excited that I could barely sleep.  I was going to school and going to play the new game that I created!!  In no time, I would write a game better than Pac-Man and become a millionaire before I even get into high school.

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I Wanna Be Like David Barnes

Monday, June 4th, 2012

David Barnes is one of those rare people that, if you ever met, you would never forget.  He has worked for IBM for a number of years, appeared in IBM commercials, and he was a self-described “OS/2 Evangelist”.  He now has some kind of lead position with IBM and their Web 2.0 initiatives.  Without this guy, there is no telling how far OS/2 would’ve gone.  OS/2 went far, but not by IBM’s standards.  If it was a smaller company, OS/2 would be considered a phenomenal success.

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