Thursday, July 18, 2024

Tandy Deskmate - Tandy's Ace in the Hole

In 1984 Tandy released a software package called DeskMate. DeskMate was a basic suite of office productivity software and Tandy would bundle the software with its computers or sell it in Radio Shack stores and via mail order for a relatively low price. DeskMate, while little remembered today, was a key factor in putting Tandy computers in many homes. Let's take a look at how the suite did that and evolved over time.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Power of the Modern Gotek Floppy Drive Emulator

The Gotek Floppy Drive emulator is a diamond in the rough as it comes from the factory. While cheap, the common Goteks only emulate a single type of floppy. While this may be all you need if you only need a DOS or Windows 95 boot disk, running floppy disk images on vintage computers is quite possible with a Gotek flashed with community-based firmware. In this article I will take a look at what the Gotek can do with the Flash Floppy firmware.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Montech MKey - Dipping the Toe in the Modern Keyboard Scene

Montech MKey Full Size Darkness (Stock)

My first post on this blog was about keyboards, namely the IBM Model M keyboard. At the time I thought it was the greatest keyboard that was ever made or will ever be made. As a mechanical buckling spring keyboard it was one increasingly few such keyboards that, even in reduced form through Unicomp, survived the push to cheap, disposable rubber dome membrane keyboards of the 1990s and 2000s. Mechanical keyboards have made a comeback with Cherry switches and their clones and advancements and improvements in keyboard design have compelled me to take a look and see if I can replace my beloved Model M as my desktop weapon of choice. Starting with a relatively inexpensive keyboard, the Montech MKey, let me explain in this blog entry the experience I have had customizing this keyboard.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Godzilla on Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray Disc

The Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray format has been around since 2016. As the next generation in video disc formats, it has certainly not seen the level of success of DVD or even Blu-ray in terms of adoption or sales. Streaming platforms has posed a challenge for physical media's sales, and there may been many hyperbolic statements that "physical media is dead." Streaming offers conveniences over disc, instant access to content, no need for another device to connect to your TV and no need to store discs. But there are serious drawbacks to relying on streaming services, the need to pay subscription fees every month for continued access, having to subscribe to multiple streaming platforms to watch what you want to watch and the variable quality of the stream depending on the bandwidth available. 

With disc-based media, you own that disc for as long as it lasts. Keep the disc free from scratching and fingerprints and it can last a very long time. However, disc-based media is read only, it cannot be "upgraded" when a new scan of a film is made, so you will have to buy a new disc in order to enjoy the benefits of the latest and greatest restoration. For today's blog article, we are going to examine that question in the context of Godzilla films. For the films which have seen Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray releases, I will attempt to tackle the question of whether you should buy or upgrade to Ultra HD 4K for these films. I will also give links so you can buy the correct discs if you wish.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Nuked-SC55: True Roland SC-55 Emulation is Here

Roland Sound Canvas emulation has long been a "white whale" of DOS emulation. While there have been several efforts from Roland over the years to emulate the Sound Canvas line, they have not targeted the modules used by most DOS games, the SC-55 and SC-55mkII. Other emulation methods have not quite hit the mark for other reasons. Recently, an emulator author with the handle "nukeyt" has released an emulator called Nuked-SC55. In this article I will tell you how to run it with DOSBox and other programs.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Completing the Apple IIc Upgrade Experience

The Apple IIc, while a great little system, has a great deal of upgrade potential. In a previous blog entry I talked about the Mockingboard 4c, which is one of the most interesting upgrades for the system, but there are other upgrades worth discussing that may not be worthy of a full blog entry. So here are some of my thoughts and review of some other upgrade options for the original IIc.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Sony PVM 1342Q - A High Quality Display for Consoles and Computers

Sony PVMs and BVMs are probably the most desired CRT displays for all retro gaming. They were high end monitors and cost a lot of money to purchase when they were sold. I recently acquired one of them, a PVM 1342Q, at reasonable cost. This monitor is very versatile in that it has both Analog and Digital RGB inputs as well as Composite and S-Video inputs. Let's take a focused look at what this PVM can do.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

FPGBC - The Budget FPGA Handheld

Portable or handheld devices which play retro video games are very common these days. Companies like Anbernic and Powkiddy make multiple consoles which can emulate some very advanced video game consoles. The Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch can also emulate or run retro video games. These things are a dime a dozen these days and come in all shapes and sizes, but they all rely on software emulation. Until recently there has been one FPGA handheld console, the Analogue Pocket. In the past several months, a new challenger has entered the arena, the FPGBC from FunnyPlaying. In this article I will give my impressions of the device and review it on its own merits compared to the console it is trying to simulate, the Game Boy Color.