January Nostalgia

Let’s do the Time Warp again…..

Today nostalgia takes me on a trip to the year 2000 when a nifty little wonder was release way ahead of its time. The fact that it was brought out in the year 2000 as well as the fact that the company participated in some questionable practices lead to it being an overall flop.

I am referring to the :CueCat by the now-defunct Digital Convergence Corporation. What this little “cat” would do is scan a or bar code (UPN, SKU, or ISBN) or “cue” code and take you right to a website that would provide additional information for the product or item scanned.  This is the exact same thing that we do now with the advent of QR codes and our mobile devices.
What went wrong here was simply that Digital Convergence tried to justify that each device was individually serialized and the data was routed through their website cataloging what this user or that user was scanning. This of course didn’t sit well with the public at large and multiple users began posting methods to hack and disable the :CueCat’s serial number so that your data couldn’t be tracked. Another issue that happened with them was that their website was identified as not being secure, allowing anyone to access the Users information.

Amazingly you can still find these nifty cats to go along with your mice (they actually connected inline with the keyboard initially via the PS2 connector, then later via USB).  They are now mainly used for cataloging standard bar code outputs to various applications since the company and their websites are no longer operational.

I loved the idea of them when they first come out I of course was still early in  my own computing days at that time, and I think it was the sad novelty of having a cat and a mouse for my computer that made me like it.  Much like my desire to have my computer able to do 5″ floppies, 2.5″ floppies as well as ZIP and Jazz drives.  I never did get everything before the computer itself broke down as the Jazz drive just seemed unattainable used.  That is another story for another time though.

So I hope this little nugget was able to enlighten or at least bring back a little nostalgia for some of us out there.

December Nostalgia

It looks like this is now becoming a thing with me and writing down my memories of things that I loved as a child or as a teenager, which unfortunately makes me appear older than I am (other than the items I am referencing).  Today’s trip takes us to another nostalgic object that really helped shape the me of today, it is a toy of sorts and I am not sure how many people will jump up beside me and say “Wow, I remember getting one of those.” but hey…  This is about my experiences.

As a kid I didn’t have much in the way of influence towards the geek side, mostly I had a Radio Shack® on the main street of my quaint little town and it wasn’t like any of the fancy and organized stores of today, it was the local electronics repair shop, automotive audio, and all around fixit place.  You would walk in and never in a million years think this is the type of store a kid would love to come in.  Matter of fact I don’t think I had seen more than two people at time while I was in there myself…  Anyhow one day I had popped in and there she was, the most awesome thing I had ever seen.

Original_RS_ScienceFair_60in1
The Science Fair 60 in One Electronics Lab.  I don’t remember if it was the jump into the unknown or if it was that it had a motor, but I do remember that it had a light that shown down from above and was accompanied by a choir of angelic voices.  Of course memories aren’t always what we make them out to be it most likely was sitting under a display lamp and that the owner loved the local hymns radio channel, none the less I knew at that time that it was what I wanted.  Now growing up I had a paper route and would mow extra lawns in the summer to earn my money but just like any other kids during those days my ability to save for what I wanted was crap.  I would get $20 bucks and hit the arcade and the penny candy store before I realized I didn’t save to get this thing.  Fortunately I was able to whine and cry for about 8 months or so to make sure I could get it at the one time of year we all get the “unexpected” gifts.

November Nostalgia

Daylight
See the dew on the sunflower
And the rose that is fading
Roses wither away
Like the sunflower
I yearn to turn my face to the dawn
I am waiting for the day


It is that time again, to look back in to my youthful heydays. This time though I have been inspired to look in a different direction.  There were a lot of things that I was able to see and do back in my far off native land of Wyoming.  It always took years for the latest and greatest to reach us.  Yet the little gem I look at today is one that I will remember for ever, as I am sure my mother does from the huge rental fees it cost when I first discovered it.

What am I talking about???Well Final Fantasy III of course.

1994 SNES release in US
1994 SNES release in US

This little beauty changed my life forever. I had previously played games like Dragon Quest as well as Final Fantasy II, but neither of them dragged me into the mess like this one did. Everything from the opening credits to the extremely outlandish final boss had me hooked.  I had found this little guy sitting on the shelf at the local video rental store, now at this time I didn’t have a Super Nintendo like all the rest of the kids, but I could rent one and that little wierdo on the front demanded that I did and get this game to check it out. So I did. A few weeks later, after some strong prompting from my mother I sadly had to return it… All that time… All that effort… and for what???

For the next 2 months I worked at every odd job and task I could, that game was going to be mine.  Even if I had to “borrow” a friends SNES to play it.  Fortunately it was around Christmas time that year since I wasn’t having as much luck as I thought I would (didn’t know much about saving my money then either) and I wasn’t able to afford the game. I had been paying back my mother at the same time for the “fees” I had incurred.  That Christmas we had gotten a Super Nintendo, and I had gotten my game.

With the dual player capability of the game my best friend and I had thus proceeded to clock 99:99 hours of game time maxing out every character level getting almost all of Gau’s abilities and wasted much more time than I can remember.  Yet what I remember most to this day is how this is the game that really got me into the Role Playing genre of games as well as a liking for fantasy novels.  This is the one that had cemented it as part of who I am today, and it is nothing but happy memories.


Memory
Turn your face to the moonlight
Let your memory lead you
Open up, enter in
If you find there
The meaning of what happiness is
Then a new life will begin

October Nostalgia

This month I had decided I was going to watch one of my old favorites. I can’t really say why it was what my mind drifted there, it could simply be that it was one of my first real “horror” movie experiences.  Alas I put myself up to watching Critters (1986), which was in its day a scary movie (I had to grow up a wee bit to appreciate the humor). It also was probably the first Sci-Fi flick that I had watched, most other horror movies at that time were either based in fantastical fantasy or had it’s roots in old horror.

the-monster-squadStarring: Scott Grimes (Brad), Terrence Mann (Ug), and Don Keith Opper (Charlie) and others.A small band of furry alien criminals escape prison and steal off with a space ship which they end up landing on Earth. Chaos ensues as these little monsters terrorize a small town.

Critters is a 1986 science fiction comedy horror written Domonic Muir and directed by Stephen Herek. This is the first of a four part series ( I would suggest watching the first two and stopping, maybe just the first one).  Though much like a can of Pringles you may not be able to stop after you pop the top on this series.

What I really must say about this series is that it had brought out both the scary and potential possibility of life else were in the stars. Even though for months afterwards cats dashing away on my morning paper route or at night walking home would get me to jump the thrill this one provided me left me with good memories for years to come. After watching it again I obviously don’t feel the same sense of dread and horror but do appreciate what I had after my first viewing.

September Nostalgia

Every once in a while it is nice to revisit something from your youth.  Today I had decided to watch the movie The Monster Squad (1987).  It was an interesting viewing of a movie I loved as a kid.  With the way newer movies make use of CG and with what we have come to expect from the action, story line, and acting this movie earns a full wheel of cheese.

the-monster-squadStarring: Andre Gower (Sean), Robby Kiger (Patrick), Brent Chalem (Horace), and Ryan Lambert (Rudy)

The Monster Squad is a 1987 horror comedy film written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker and directed by Fred Dekker (who also wrote and directed Night of the Creeps). It was released by Tri-Star Pictures on August 14, 1987. The film features the Universal Monsters (re-imagined by a team of special effects artists including Stan Winston), led by Count Dracula. They, in turn, combat a group of savvy kids out to keep them from controlling the world.

It felt good to watch this movie all over again.  I am sure this movie inspired many a kids to start clubs of their own as many like myself had already had a secret desire to be part of some special group.  In my case we had created a snake club.  We had spent time finding our secret meeting places as we didn’t have the luxury of a cool club house in the back yard, instead we found a nice little carved out area by a local bike trail at the local park.  Looking back at that I realize we probably weren’t the first and sure as heck weren’t the last to use that spot.

The things I liked about this movie when I was young are sure different than what I look at and appreciate about it now.  I no longer connect with the main protagonists as I am no longer a youngster myself but I enjoy the effort put in to make a movie like this come together back  in the day.  Something I would have clearly overlooked back then.  The masks and makeup that the actors had to endure in order to become the monsters was a crazy process back then, (there are still some great professionals out there now) yet the acting was allowed to be barely par with passing the line and attempting to bring out the passion of the character on screen.  I am not even thinking about the fact that the movie was supposed to be cheesy, but small things like actors looking for the other before they made moves instead of relying on them to be there to do their job.

None the less this movie was good in its time and had left an impression on me when I was young, I hope that everyone will take the time and look this one over again and not knock it for what it is but appreciate it for what it was.  I know I had fun watching this one again.