Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Dark Shadows - The Complete Original Series Review


Dark Shadows is a landmark of classic television, introducing the concept of a supernatural, gothic horror soap opera to daytime television.  The series ran for 1,225 22-minute episodes from 1966-1971.  While I could wax on all day about the history of Dark Shadows and its significance, and have in the past, there are other sites on the internet which can do that in a more knowledgeable manner.  Today I am hear to talk about the epitome of Dark Shadows, the Complete Original Series boxset (DS:COS) and offer my review of it.  

Friday, December 24, 2021

Packard Bell : PC-Compatibles for the Masses, 1990s Style

In the history of personal computing, we often discuss the great pioneers who brought digital computing from the universities and the state to ordinary people, companies like Apple, Tandy, Commodore, Atari.  These companies, which had big successes in the late 1970s and through the mid 1980s, did succeed in exposing millions of people to computer technology.  But these non-PC compatible computers did not become ubiquitous household items, they were very expensive and offered little assistance for day-to-day non-business activities.  The PC became dominant in the late 1980s in the US market and not too many years afterward in the rest of the world.  One of the key players in that success was Packard Bell, and in this blog post I will talk about the company and my recent experience with one of its PCs.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Nintendo Board and Chip Manufacture and Third Parties

I have often read that Nintendo, as of the Nintendo Entertainment System and everything thereafter, made all cartridges for its systems and required third parties to buy chips, board and other raw materials from them in order to have their software run on Nintendo's systems.  While this was often true, the rule was not an absolute one and at times exceptions were made.

Nintendo does not make anything, it does not construct silicon wafers, it does not extrude plastic into molds, it does not own factories or fabrication plants which do these things.  Nintendo designs and patents chips and products, but turning those designs into reality is a function of contractors.  Obviously Nintendo has to work closely with those contractors to ensure its designs can translate into workable devices, but it is not correct to say that Nintendo really "made cartridges".  In this article we will look at instances where Nintendo permitted third party cartridges to be made.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Reconstructing a "Lost" Version of The Phantom of the Opera in HD

I sometimes like to think of fan-based restorations of classic films, whether they are of a Godzilla film, a Walt Disney classic short or Star Wars, as the culmination of film restoration.  The Internet and broadband has fueled talented creators to take films from whatever sources they can find and make something even better than the studios which made or have rights to these films did or could.  I have talked about this subject before and in the recent past I have done a few minor projects myself.  Unfortunately due to the nature of the films such projects often cannot be shared publicly.  My most recent project is safe enough to share and touches upon a subject I have discussed in the past, the 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera.  Specifically my goal was recreate the first version of Phantom I ever saw, the Killiam Film Classic release.  Sit back and let's go over why this release was significant, how it entered my notice and how I restored it to what I hope will be seen as its "proper glory."

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Apple II Composite Artifact Color - NTSC, PAL and Filters

The Apple II computer are unique in that not only was it the first home computer ever released to the mass market, it was the first computer released to support color graphics, all the way back in 1977.  It worked by exploiting quirks in the NTSC color system called artifact color which TVs were attempting to suppress.  The design of the Apple II was so solid that its color works rather well on almost anything that can accept a composite signal, even today.  But the color method used did not translate to PAL countries and later improvements to color filtering could modify the colors shown.  In this article, let's take a deep dive into how artifact color works on the Apple II and how it was adapted for systems where artifact color could not exist and how artifacts can change according to the display technology inside a display.  

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The EverDrive GG X7 - The Only Game Gear Flash Cart You'll Ever Need?

The EverDrive GG X7, courtesy of Krikzz

Around two years ago, I bought a Game Gear and a TV Tuner off eBay.  The Game Gear was sold as non-working, and after some time I fixed it by recapping the unit.  That was not a fun process.  However, once I did so I had a fully working Game Gear with almost no games to play on it :(  I am a big fan of krikzz products, but for the longest time the only product he sold for the Game Gear was the flash memory based  EverDrive GG.  Last year he finally released the ram based EverDrive GG X7, and I recently purchased one and will give you my thoughts about it here.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Lag Testing on a Budget

Keeping input and display latency to a minimum is very important when playing any kind of vintage video game which relies to some extent on reflexes.  There are some methods which can test display lag of any display, like the Time Sleuth or the Leo Bodnar Display Lag Testers.  Other methods may require running the same software on two consoles at the same time or connecting one console to two displays via splitters and adapters.  Testing controller latency often requires wiring up an LED or shooting video of a screen and button pressing at a very high frame rate.  These methods tend to be expensive, but what if we consider an approach that is likely to be inexpensive and perhaps cost you nothing?

Is there a Doctor in the Game Console? - The Venus Turbo Doctor 6M

Taiwan may or may not have been the birthplace of commercial video game piracy, but it certainly has a strong claim to have been its nursery.  When video games skyrocketed in popularity in Southeastern Asia with the Famicom, it seemed as through the entire island of Taiwan wanted to cash in on the efforts of the Japanese.  Taiwan was the first source of unlicensed Famicom clones and pirate cartridges.  But cartridges were expensive to make, even for Taiwan fabs and the larger games were not very profitable to clone.  Then Nintendo handed the pirates a gift, the Famicom Disk System.  But as it turned out this was a gift that kept on giving.  While copying FDS games was child's play for the organized pirates, they saw in the FDS an opportunity to pirate to go beyond games originally released on disk. They created RAM cartridges, hardware devices that worked with the Famicom and the Disk System to permit cartridge games put on disk to work.  In this blog entry, I will describe my personal experiences with one such device, the Venus Turbo Game Doctor 6M.