42-byte hack adds two-player battles to Karateka

Karateka is not just a classic game, but one of the most well-documented thanks to Jordan Mechner's memoirs and his habit for maintaining archives. 34 years after its release, Charles Mangin studied the game's source code and patched it to allow a second player to control the enemies—effectively adding a vs. battle mode.

I’ve taught myself 6502 assembly after getting back into the Apple II, through the thriving community online. The idea of a two player version of Karateka came back to me while at KansasFest a couple of years ago. I noodled a little on it back then, getting distracted by finding the code that created the unique music in the game. Long story short: I finally found the places in the game code that needed patching to allow a second player to control the enemies in the game, and create a functioning two player version of Karateka. The resulting patch is only 42 bytes long

42, the meaning of life! You can play the two-player Karateka at the Internet Archive.

I'd love to see this done to Great Gurianos (sometimes renamed Gladiator), another 80s' fighter with an interesting combat system whose attract mode suggested vs. battles that were not in the game itself. Read the rest

Artist describes the first time she ever saw white Australians as a teenager

Wangkatjungka artist Nyuju Stumpy Brown first saw white people in the 1940s as a teenager. Here, she describes that time and later shows some of her artwork. Read the rest

Treasures continue to be unearthed this summer in Pompeii

Pompeii is a vast archaeological site that continues to yield treasures buried beneath the pumice. This summer, workers discovered new murals and artifacts at the site of a wealthy homeowner's estate, nicknamed House of Jupiter for a statue of the god found there. Read the rest

Ancient Earth Globe: see what the world looked like from space in the age of the dinosaurs

The Ancient Earth Globe is an interactive 3D globe that depics the Earth at various points in geological history from 750m years ago until now. Here it is 300m years ago.

Late Carboniferous. Plants developed root systems that allowed them to grow larger and move inland. Environments evolved below tree canopies. Atmospheric oxygen increased as plants spread on land. Early reptiles have evolved, and giant insects diversify.

And here it is 0 million years ago, right before the Post-anthropocene Extinction Event.

Amazing! Look how green it all was. Read the rest

Japanese students recreate Hiroshima bombing in VR

A group of high school students in Japan spent two years recreating the sounds and sights of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 in painstaking detail.

The Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima killed 140,000 people. Three days later, a second U.S. atomic bomb killed 70,000 people in Nagasaki. Japan surrendered six days after that, ending World War II.

“Even without language, once you see the images, you understand,” said Mei Okada, one of the students working on the project at a technical high school in Fukuyama, a city about 60 miles east of Hiroshima. “That is definitely one of the merits of this VR experience.”

Wearing virtual reality headsets, users can take a walk along the Motoyasu River prior to the blast and see the businesses and buildings that once stood. They can enter the post office and the Shima Hospital courtyard, where the skeletal remains of a building now known as the Atomic Bomb Dome stand on the river’s banks, a testament to what happene

Can anyone actually find this? Here's another clip. It's frustrating that there seems to be no good video of this anywhere online, let alone the VR experience itself: just brief moments polished into news clips sharing the same AP wire copy. Read the rest

Chicago journalists once opened a fake bar to document corruption

Forty years ago, investigative journalists in Chicago hatched an audacious plan to create a fake tavern packed with hidden microphones, cameras, and reporters everywhere working as bar staff and customers. Their goal was to document local corruption. Topic has a great oral history of the project. Read the rest

Article about legendary keyboard maker Cherry's 50-year-history

Nowadays, chances are you associate Cherry with the clickety switches on fancy keyboards. But it's been a global company for decades: if it's boring business-to-business hardware and it clicks, it might well be a Cherry.

With an assist from computing legend and junk mail collector Ted Nelson, the Internet Archive has collected a wide array of catalogs featuring some of Cherry Electronics’ Snap-Action switches from the 1960s. One such circular described Cherry’s appeal to manufacturers as such: “An entire company devoted entirely to one product—switches. This specialization means thorough application analysis … efficient, reliable assembly of switches … automated testing techniques … faster service.” And while the firm is best known for its keyboards today, these switches look nothing like the perfectly clicky mechanisms that Massdrop fans and heavy writers have been fawning over for years.

So where were they used? A notable example of a place where you’ve probably unknowingly used a Cherry microswitch is an arcade.

Read the rest

Preservationists race to save Antarctica's original outposts

Antarctica's brutal climate is taking its toll on the historic bases built by the original explorers and scientists. Now preservationists are working to preserve these important sites. Read the rest

Documentary on Milton Glaser and the legendary I ❤ NY logo

Through a mix of archival and current footage, this lovely documentary puts Milton Glaser's iconic I ❤ NY logo in historical context. Read the rest

Graffiti has been a part of military life for at least 5,000 years

War is a thing of terror, traditions, heartache and often, boredom. Passing the time between patrols, and the banality that comes from life in the field, is a constant challenge. Some people read. Most exercise. Everyone complains about the food. Soldiers write, train and call home--if there's someone there that'll pick up the phone. Video games? Totally a thing, in some instances. If you have a Sharpie, or a knife, there's a good chance that you might wind up doodling, scratching or scrawling something, at one point or another, to prove that you were there, where ever ‘there’ might be.

Jonathan Bratt, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and a current company commander in the National Guard, put together a great read on the history of military graffiti for The New York Times. Starting with 5,000-year old cave paintings and navigating conflicts across the span of history, Bratten touches on the artwork and vandalization that soldiers, living in Death’s shadow, undertook to cure themselves of boredom and, in some cases, serve as proof of their existence.

From the New York Times Magazine:

World War II brought U.S. troops to Europe by the millions, and this time they were accompanied by a friend: Kilroy. Kilroy was a mysterious phantom, asserting his presence in the scrawled phrase “Kilroy was here,” often accompanied by a cartoon doodle of a bald head just peeking over a wall, nose and fingers visible. And Kilroy was everywhere. Troops claimed that when they’d storm a beach or take a village, they’d somehow find that Kilroy had gotten there before them.

Read the rest

Peter Jackson shares clips from his World War I film restoration

Imperial War Museums and 14-18 Now commissioned Peter Jackson to use the latest technology to restore archival footage of World War I, and the results are remarkable. Read the rest

New DNA tests show remains are Romanovs

DNA tests on remains thought to be of Russia's last royals prove their authenticity, reports Deutsche Welle. Killed by Bolsheviks after the October revolution, probably at Lenin's command, they were shot, knifed and clubbed to death, then mutilated and dumped in the Koptyaki forest. Remains were found in the 1970s and first identified through DNA analysis in the 1990s, but...

... the Church had disputed the authenticity of the bones following a probe under former Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, in which the Church said it felt sidelined. The bones of Nicholas II, his wife and three of their children — Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana — were interred in Saint Petersburg in 1998 under Yeltsin's rule.

The remains of the Nicholas's only son Alexei and his daughter Maria were found separately in 2007 and have never been buried. The Russian Church in 2000 accorded the entire family martyr status because of their faith.

Some had hoped the Church would recognize the remains in time for a full burial ahead of the centenary of the murders which took place on the night of July 16, 1918. The ongoing probe is examining historic documents.

Read the rest

The Tower of London's Ravenmaster wrote a great book

I first spoke with Chris Skaife in 2013 after he was was awarded a position at The Tower of London following a long and distinguished career in the the British Army. A Yeoman Warder, Skaife holds the position of Ravenmaster. As the title implies, he’s responsible for the care of the Tower's unkindness of ravens.

Our first conversation about his gig left me fascinated: Here was a man with a job that’s completely singular in the world. His days, are full or tourists and the occasional state visit, history and tradition. That he goes about his duties in a uniform that looks like it’s designed to kill its wearer on a hot summer day, is shorthand for the amount of dedication he has to his responsibilities. I came from talking with Skaife with so many unanswered questions about what his day entails, his passion for the birds under his care and what it’s like to navigate such a unique gig.

Happily, I’ve had most of my questions answered by Skaife’s upcoming book, The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London. It’s not out until October, but it is available for pre-order at Amazon. Chris, good fella that he is, provided me with an early draft of the book to read, a few weeks ago. I’m looking forward to buying the real McCoy once it becomes available.

The book’s structure and Skaife’s friendly, matter-of-fact narrative style made for a quick, enjoyable read. It smacks of a friend talking you through his day at work. Read the rest

What Steve Jobs thought about consulting

Jobs liked people who stuck around to be responsible for their decisions. Read the rest

Underneath ancient Mexican temple, archeologists find an even older one

Last September, an 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico did all kinds of crazy damage to buildings, infrastructure and ended far too many lives. It’s hard to find anything good in the midsts of a mess like that, but here we are: According to the BBC, a pyramid in Morelos (around 40 miles south of Mexico City,) was damaged by the quake. While assessing how much the quake had messed the ancient structure up, Archaeologists discovered that, underneath the pyramid, there was an even older temple that they hadn’t known was there.

From The BBC:

The temple is nestled inside the Teopanzolco pyramid in Morelos state, 70km (43 miles) south of Mexico City.

It is thought to date back to 1150 and to belong to the Tlahuica culture, one of the Aztec peoples living in central Mexico.

The structure is dedicated to Tláloc, the Aztec rain god.

Archaeologists say it would have measured 6m by 4m (20ft by 13ft). Among the temple's remains they also found an incense burner and ceramic shards.

According to people far smarter about old stuff than most of us are, the structures are the Teopanzolco site date back to the 13th century. The temple underneath of that 13th century pyramid? It’s older--but how much older remains to be seen.

At a press conference held by Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH,) Isabel Campos Goenaga, the director of the INAH's Morelos Center and archeologist Georgia Bravo Lopez told journalists that the newly discovered temple was located about two meters below the floor of the pyramid. Read the rest

British Rail's corporate identity

Amazing as it is to be nostalgic for British Rail, here we are. There's a corporate identity manual, a typeface, and a considerable library of further reading. [via]

This is a website about the British Rail Corporate Identity from 1965–1994 which includes a wealth of digitised examples of British Rail design material collected over several years. I hope you find it useful and inspiring, whether you're a practitioner or historian of graphic design, a scale modeller or simply a connoisseur of corporate design at its aesthetically satisfying best.

Photo: National Railway Museum

Update: You can buy the British Rail Corporate Identity Manual from Amazon. Read the rest

Welsh heat wave reveals ancient ruins under farm fields

The UK's Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has published some recent aerial shots of cropmarks, ancient ruins now covered by farm fields. Unusually dry weather conditions have created a golden opportunity to see these sites from the air. Read the rest

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