Ex Machina

Ear Tragus

SID Musicians

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I was reading this thread on the Commodore 64 forum Lemon 64, and it had me pondering what I thought of the SID musicians back when I was JCH of Vibrants.

I was a coder and musician myself on the C64 and often paying attention to other composers, both to the technical side of things as well as the music itself. It was important to keep track of the competition to see if there were new tricks, styles, sounds or techniques to pick up on.

At the end of the day we all needed inspiration.

So, what did I think of the other top dog C64 musicians back in the 80’s and 90’s?

Elementary Quips

I just started watching the fifth season of Elementary on Netflix that was made available yesterday. It’s a crime procedural series I’ve been watching faithfully since I first joined Netflix a while back. Jonny Lee Miller plays a modern day Sherlock Holmes, and Lucy Liu a female Watson. It works surprisingly well. In fact, I like the series better than the other modern day version with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Is it me or are there considerably less crime procedural series nowadays? A few years back we were swimming in them. CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and all their spin-off series. It was too much and we got tired of it in the end, craving new ideas.

Today, I actually miss them back again.

All these adventure series are fine and all, but sometimes I just want to sit back and relax with a crime procedural series where each episode is more or less self-contained. Elementary fits this bill quite nicely.

However, after watching the first three episodes of the fifth season, I’ve noticed a few interesting things about the series.

First, a bit of a rant. What the hell is up with Lucy Liu wearing TIES!? Cut that out! Ties, like suspenders, never look good on a woman. No, really! Let the men wear these things in peace. It’s not like you girls don’t have a ton of other options.

It’s hard not to notice how often Lucy Liu changes her wardrobe. Typically 4-5-6 times an episode. I’ve seen a lot of other series where the protagonists wear their suit the entire episode. I have a feeling it’s quite deliberate; they are turning Lucy Liu into some kind of a fashion show.

It has a silver lining in that it gets rid of that awful tie.

Sometimes it feels like the writers of the show relies a little bit too much on their style. For example, try to pay attention to whenever Sherlock Holmes starts accusing a person of a crime. The person typically denies everything to begin with, but at some point later during the conversation, he or she might throw the “say you’re right” card to follow a hypothetical line in the hope of undermining Sherlock’s arguments.

This dialog trick pops up alarmingly often.

But I must say I really love this show. All of the characters are quite likable and I also like how Holmes and Watson often get into discussions at home that has nothing to do with the case they’re working on.

Quote of the Day

Be skeptical of the advice of successful people, they suffer from deep survivor bias. Hundreds of other people did exactly what they did and failed. Chances are their success has more to do with luck than the advice they are given you.Grumpy Gamer Blog

I so agree with this. I believed in my site GameDeed.com and kept it going for 4 years, constantly updating it with new features I hoped would finally make the difference. But it just never panned out.

Grumpy Gamer Blog is written by Ron Gilbert, the creator of the original Monkey Island adventure games and more. He just recreated his blog including all his old posts. Check it out.

Retrospective Games

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Earlier this millennia, I was obsessed with computer games. I played them almost virtually back to back, and today I am both proud and ashamed at the same time that I have completed more than 500 games on the PC. These days it has calmed down to an idling breeze – I barely play one game a month anymore.

The weird thing about this gaming hobby was the way it started. It wasn’t something that came over me as soon as I could hold a joystick. In the 80’s and 90’s, I was almost solely into programming and composing music on home computers. Games just passed me by, and for the most part barely noticing them.

But as is the case with many hobbies, the desire to program and compose eventually turned to dust. I then fiddled a bit with playing and collecting Half-Life maps, created a few of my own, but ultimately also gave that up. The year was 2000, and that’s where I turned to PC games and had an epiphany.

It was like hitting a switch, and I was on fire.

To begin with I played a lot of the contemporary games. No doubt the 3D revolution was part of the reason I was finally grabbed by games, but as I got even more involved in this hobby, writing long diary sessions about each completion, I started to wonder about the classics I had missed out on.

I was judicious enough to reach back in time, fetch a lot of the great ones from before 2000, and complete those too. Some I even had to dig out of the bottom shelf of video game shops.

It had its advantages. I bought a lot cheap – way back when Steam was just hot air. Physical boxes.

The Blast Jedi

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I just saw the Star Wars: The Last Jedi yesterday, in one of the smaller cinema halls of the place I usually visit. I guess 2D viewers are now regarded as secondary citizens. The 3D versions get the biggest halls, with the best chairs and the best sound.

But I don’t care about 3D. Upgrade it to not need glasses anymore and I’ll give it another shot.

The blog post about the previous movie took a while for me to get out as I waited for a second viewing, but I thought I’d get this one out as soon as I had seen it the first time.

As for the movie itself, it was quite a mixed bag of emotions for my part. I actually didn’t like it much in the first third or so. Much like the same kind of disappointment I felt when I saw The Force Awakens for the first time. The inital battle felt a little bland and they still relied too much on classic elements of the original trilogy. I was really afraid that it would once again try to match many of the beats of the next movie from back then, which is widely regarded as the best of them all – The Empire Strikes Back.

But luckily it did manage to break out of this shell in the last half and actually surprise me with a few scenes I didn’t see coming. It was as if the director Rian Johnson (who was also the writer) knew that he had to do something to break that curse, and he sure did. Especially the final confrontation used a daring idea I liked, even if it really pushed the boundaries of what we knew jedis could do so far.

That doesn’t mean that I turned completely on a dime and now think it’s a marvelous movie. It still has its problems and at the end of the day, I believe that even though it is indeed a better movie than the The Force Awakens, there’s still room for improvement.

Time to move into spoilers.

Quote of the Day

The funniest coding hack I’ve heard of is probably for the original Wing Commander. The team at Origin Systems were using a specific memory manager that would crash whenever they exited the program. They couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so they just hacked the memory manager to say “THANK YOU FOR PLAYING WING COMMANDER!” instead of “Error in Emm386.sys”.Ask a Game Dev

Ask a Game Dev is a great Tumblr blog for aspiring game developers as well as inquisitive gamers – if you can endure the excessive use of GIF animations everywhere.

The Later AdLib Music by Vibrants

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This blog post contains the later AdLib music from 1993-94 by Thomas Mogensen, Jesper Olsen, Torben Hansen and Morten Sigaard Kristensen. Most of it was composed in EdLib, an editor I wrote that used the same track editing system as my Commodore 64 editor.

EdLib (Editing)EdLib (Instruments)

In addition to composing a few test tunes in EdLib, Jesper Olsen also wrote his very own AdLib player and composed tunes for it in an assembler listing. These tunes are also included below.

You won’t need an emulator plugin to play the tunes – they have all been saved as MP3 for easy listening.

Quantum Reincarnation

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I have never been much of a religious man. My grand parents, parents and siblings weren’t either, so maybe it was an easy choice for us to just become atheists. There were no prayers and no regular church visits. My parents and my sister did have standard weddings, and my siblings were confirmed. It was more because of tradition than anything else. I chose not to be confirmed and it was nice not having to endure the schooling for it. When my dad died in 1997, we did get a proper burial for him – but it was actually against his wish. He always claimed it didn’t really matter.

He didn’t believe in anything after death. The big, black nothing. That’s what he always said.

Being a logically thinking individual that has always been a steadfast believer in science, I was always one of those that found all kinds of religion to be made up tales. But believers weren’t ridiculous to me. I could see how others found comfort and salvation this way, and I still do. Sometimes I even find the tales of the bible to be good stories worth telling. I absolutely love Prince of Egypt. It’s one of the greatest animated movies I’ve ever seen and I sometimes watch it again not just for the marvelous songs, but also to see Moses talk to god, gather his people and divide the waters. It’s an epic tale.

But to me, it’s still entirely made up.