Tag Archives: Music

Why you should spend more time on the Internet’s library

Internet_Archive_logo_and_wordmarkI’ve used the Internet Archive for years. It’s where I discovered Over The Rhine, John Holowach and Tryad, Two Zombies Later and a ridiculous amount of concerts and community artists.

It’s a great resource for old books too, be it public domain works from Project Gutenberg or LibriVox recordings of The Lost World.

It’s also where I discovered a lot of great machinima including an old Star Wars classic “A Great and Majestic Empire”. Do yourself a favor and at least watch episodes 14 and 15 (though sadly this series doesn’t have much of a proper end, but it’s still amusing to have British, Irish and Scottish accents in storm troopers).

And if you’ve never played, or even seen, LucasArt’s classic Grim Fandango, there’s a full playthrough here.

The point is there’s a lot of cool stuff*, for geeks of all sorts.

And it just got even better.

If you’ve been a long time reader of the blog, you probably know one of my hobbies is getting old games to work on modern systems with the help of tools like DosBox and ScummVM. Till now if you heard about a cool old game you’d like to try you either had to download a copy of a game from an abandonware site, or buy a copy from GOG or a used store. But the Internet Archive has struck again, releasing several thousand old DOS games that you can play right in your browser. Remember Doom or Commander Keen? Well now you can indulge your nostalgia. For the moment you can’t save your game, but you can at least get a feel for how we gamed in the 80’s and 90’s (and how some of us still do). You can browse the whole library here, but here are a couple of titles you should check out now.

Note: What’s in the collection may fluctuate. I saw Sierra’s Quest games in the collection earlier this week, but they now appear to have been removed. Probably some of this is going to be subject to copyright.

Lost Interplay Titles, particularly Wasteland (the predecessor to Fallout) and Star Trek 25th Anniversary. Also a video game version of William Gibson’s Neuromancer.

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The aforementioned Commander Keen, particularly episode 5.

A whole treasure trove of Carmen Sandiego games (got you singing the theme right?). I played the deluxe Where in the World on my first computer.

Some old Lucasarts favorites Zac McKracken and Maniac Mansion.

And thousands more.

As it turns out the Internet Archive has been awesome in this department for a while. In my searching for games in the Archive I stumbled upon another collection of IBM PC CD-ROM’s from the 90’s. Not a particularly huge collection but it does include my favorite Star Trek Adventure Game, the third chapter of the Monkey Island series and something that may Shock you.

Note: All of these materials are provided for academic and scholarly purposes, so if you’re going to play System Shock, write a paper (or a book) about it 🙂 I don’t have to write one since I have an original sitting in my personal archive but I might for some of this other stuff 😉

Oh and there’s one other thing you can find on the Internet Archive, me. Turns out they’re a great place to host eBook content that I want to give away for free, but retain some Creative Commons licensing and have the site not cost me anything. Starting this time next week, new chapters of the serial novella will appear on the archive. In the meantime, I put up an old story from the first year of this blog in eBook formats for your enjoyment.

If you haven’t checked out the archive at all, just spend a half an hour browsing. I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like and would never have heard of otherwise.

*Oooh ooh and I almost forgot to mention old Computer Chronicles videos. Want to know what the 80’s and 90’s thought the future of computing was going to be? Check it out here.

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Filed under AGFV, Trube On Tech

Hey, It’s Friday!

Or is Thursday, since that’s when I’m writing this post?

Philosophical arguments aside I thought I’d share with you a couple of quick things that are making me happy.

First up, Pomplamoose:

This is from one of the many other bundles available on Bundle Dragon, and has been stuck in my head for the last week along with these:

Quirky huh?

If you at all like what you’re hearing you can check them out at: http://contemusic.bundledragon.com/cintro.

And if you missed it check out this great interview from M. S. Fowle. I promise I’ll work on my car taste at some point.

On Monday a certain Brian D. Buckley is conducting his own interrogation of yours truly. Trust me, no one else could ask me some of the questions this man has come up with. I got chills, serious chills.

Regular programming will resume on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

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Filed under Round-Ups

Music to Work By

I am always looking for the perfect album.

Yes, that’s right I said album. Even in this day and age of individual song downloads, I am still looking for the perfect 70 minutes to spend with an artist. I buy a lot of music, though a lot of it comes attached to video games. In fact the soundtrack is the justifying factor in buying more than a few games. “I may not have time to play this right now, but I always have time to listen to new music.”

Music permeates my every creative activity throughout the day, as well as more mundane moments like my drive home. Some people use music to help them keep a pace while running, and I feel like I use it in much the same way. Music can help me focus by cutting out other distractions, and can help me to establish a tone or rhythm to my writing. It can even affect the pace of my typing, either forcing me to pause and reflect for a moment, or tap the keys with a mad flourish like a concert pianist (speaking as one with no piano playing ability).

Sometimes I construct playlists but this is not always effective in establishing a consistent rhythm. Too many shifts in style, even subtle ones, can take me out of the work and force me to pull my focus back in. Obviously lyrics when writing can be distracting, even for songs I know very well, though for a while I was using Adele’s Skyfall to tell me it was time to pack up the laptop. Ambient music is okay, but if it’s little more than shifting waves it can put me to sleep, at a time I’m naturally inclined to do so. I kinda need a beat to keep me going.

I think I’ve commented on my theory that techno music is the perfect music to program by, and it serves me in my writing often as well. Many good video game soundtracks fit into this category as well, especially the less “symphonic” scores. I like albums not only because I don’t have to spend time putting a playlist together, but also because a good album retains a thematic consistency while keeping enough variety to keep my brain stimulated. And 70 minutes is my optimal writing session, both because it’s about how much time I have before work to write at Starbucks, but also because it gives me enough time to gear up and get going, and to pause and think without feeling rushed, while not cutting too much into my day or sleep.

During the writing of the fractal book one of my soundtrack staples was Indie Game: The Movie. It clocks in right at the 70 minute mark and since the score is to a movie that follows the creative process, it can throw my brain into that mode within minutes. Another more recent discovery is Bastion. I particularly appreciate how individual themes are sung, and then blended in the final tracks.

What about you? What music do you listen to while you work? Or do you work in silence? What is that like?

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Filed under Trubedor, Writing

Who wants used MP3s anyway?

In a not terribly surprising move the New York supreme court has rejected ReDigi’s attempt to sell your used MP3s, at least not under existing law.

ReDigi sells your used MP3s by uploading your music files to their server, and then deleting any copies off your hard drive. From this you, the seller, get a 60% cut of the sale price of your used MP3, and you still get to keep your MP3 if you have half a brain. Backup hard drives, burning to physical media, even renaming files are just a few of the ways to circumvent the loss of your used content.

But the court didn’t get that far. By it’s very nature “moving” a digital file from one place to another is actually copying it, and therefore under the definition of “first sale” it cannot be resold. But ruling on these grounds makes me a little concerned if the music company wanted to get snippy about the copies of their songs floating on cloud servers, MP3 players, burned CDs, backup hard drives, etc.

The publishing industry, particularly Amazon and Apple are interested in this for the same reason. And the technical issues are more interesting with an eBook. When you buy a book from Amazon, it’s stored in the cloud. When you download it to a device you create a unique digital file encoded with the serial number of that device. Most Amazon books allow at least four “simultaneous downloads” meaning that you have four digital files that are technically unique. Are each of these “first sale” books or just the one in the cloud? Can we sell our cloud access provided the devices we download to are programmed to delete books that are no longer in the cloud? What about Amazon’s new “AutoRip” service which gives you an MP3 copy when you buy a physical CD? You can sell the CD and keep the MP3s but what about the other way around?

I think for a while the answer to that question and many other related digital questions is simply, no. I’ve returned digital books that were defective and gotten a refund (from Amazon), but I don’t think there will be a Half Price Books for eBooks anytime soon.

This is the thing that’s weird about digital media in general, we don’t own it, we’re just renting. That means we’re stuck with the things we liked when we were teenagers, or we at least have to press delete. As someone who frequently sells to Half Price Books, selling things used is never about making money, it’s about sharing something you love with someone else, and hoping that others do the same so that you can try something out for cheaper. In the digital world, with the law as it is right now, the only way to try out new things is to pay sticker price, or break the law. That may mean many of us will try less. A CD for $1.00 at Half Price Books is a what the hell moment (I mean one MP3 is 99 cents so I only have to like one song), but a digital file is a more permanent decision, for an impermanent object.

I understand the court’s perspective, it’s the laws that need to change, and 60% back to the seller for something used seems fishy for something so easily copied. But I love buying used music and books, and I love reading on my Kindle (for all I bash Amazon on the blog 🙂 ) and listening to MP3s. But it may be that reconciling these two parts of my relationship with media isn’t going to happen.

What do you do with old digital files (MP3, Video, Games)? Do you back it up, throw it away, or give it to a friend?

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Filed under Trube On Tech