Basic Engine: $10 open-source gadget designed to be the best game machine of the 1980s

The Basic Engine is a tiny but intentionally limited computer platform designed to be like a late-1980s game console or home computer, but with some useful modern benefits. In effect, it's like Pico-8, but hardware instead of a set of abstract and arbitrary design limitations on software.

The BASIC Engine is a very low-cost single-board home computer with advanced 2D color graphics and sound capabilities, roughly comparable to late-1980s or early-1990s computers and video game consoles. It can be built at home without special skills or tools and using readily available components for under 10 Euros in parts, or mass-produced for even less.

Graphics and sound · 256-color text and graphics at resolutions from 160x200 up to 460x224 (PAL: 508x240) pixels · Software sprites (up to 32 sprites sized up to 32x32 pixels). · Scrollable tiled background graphics engine with up to four layers. · Wavetable synthesizer and PLAY command that renders music in MML format. · Loading and saving of PCX image files to and from video memory. · Various text fonts built-in, including an ATI 6x8 font (for up to 76 (PAL: 84) characters per line) and PETSCII. · Direct manipulation of video memory and controller registers possible, permitting higher-color screen modes, custom resolutions and other video effects.

"Why not just use a Rasberry Pi?" is a common question but the answer should be obvious: it's about a nostalgic idea of the perfect thing that never existed, a technological hiraeth, forbidden to exceed the place and time the yearning was born. Read the rest

What was hot in pop culture in June of 1998

YouTuber thepeterson makes video montages that pull together clips from pop culture days of yore, highlighting what movies and TV shows the masses were watching, what they were listening to on the radio, and what video games they were playing. In the latest one, June 1998 is put into the spotlight. Prepare to take a (possibly nostalgic) trip down memory lane to see what was "in" twenty years ago this month.

(Tastefully Offensive) Read the rest

Grafx 2 is "the ultimate" 256-color pixel art app

Designed to look like something running on the Commodore Amiga but with all the modern conveniences, Grafx 2 is pitched as "The ultimate 256-color painting program."

GrafX2 has a long history, with the first versions being published in 1996. The development by the original team (Sunset Design) continued until late 1999, when they stopped working on it because no one had interest in running a DOS drawing tool by then. Fortunately, they published the sources so that their work would not be lost.

In 2007, PulkoMandy recovered these sources and ported them to modern operating system. This was the rebirth of GrafX2, which then saw many improvements and finetuning, making it the great tool you know and use today.

Neat touches include extreme custom resolutions (including nonsquare pixels), powerful pallette manipulation (including color cycling) and a prominently pixelated King Tut, as is mandatory for all pixel-art related Amiga shenanigans. Read the rest

Very short films about very small sculptures made from scraps

Lydia Ricci's From Scraps project repurposes bits of refuse into tiny sculptures of objects that have often fallen out of wide use. She also made some very short films with some of the objects: Read the rest

Hasbro trademarks Play-Doh's "sweet, slightly musky" scent

One of the most iconic scents of childhood, Play-Doh's, has been trademarked.

Hasbro, the company behind the modeling clay, made the announcement Friday:

The trademarked scent, which Hasbro formally describes as a unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla-like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough, makes the PLAY-DOH brand one of the few active and certainly most famous scent trademarks in the country...

“The scent of PLAY-DOH compound has always been synonymous with childhood and fun,” said Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of Global Marketing for the PLAY-DOH brand. “By officially trademarking the iconic scent, we are able to protect an invaluable point of connection between the brand and fans for years to come.”

Apparently it's not easy getting a scent trademarked because few qualify. The Wall Street Journal reports, "In the U.S., you have to show that a fragrance serves no important practical function other than to help identify and distinguish a brand. The smell of an air freshener or a women’s perfume wouldn’t count, for example."

To obtain a non-conventional trademark such as scent, it first has to be accurately described. A sample of the scent then has to be sent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for inspection, which Hasbro did in February 2017. They were granted the trademark on May 15, 2018.

Interesting side note, Play-Doh wasn't invented for children. It was first created as a wallpaper cleaner in the 1930s. Read the rest

Floppy disk coasters

It's been a long time since I used a floppy disk as a coaster, and I'm not sure I could find one now if I needed to. There's something unsettling, though, about these silicone floppy discs [Amazon] intended for use as coasters: they're convincing at a distance, are otherwise just little slabs of silicone, but are more expensive than the complex mechanical media whose superficial appearance they crudely imitate.

Anyway, I ordered a set of 4. Read the rest

"Pirate Water" and other fragrances inspired by Disney resorts

We've seen Disneyland-scented candles before but now there are new contenders in the category of "Things that smell like something you'd find in a Disney resort."

While the Magic Candle Company in Kissimmee, Florida is not affiliated with Disney in any official way, they have made an entire line of candles, wax melts, and spray-on room fragrances that smell like something you'd find in a Disney park.

I think the funniest one is this "Pirate Water" which is scented like the "musty, damp smell" of a familiar "dark water ride" (ie. the Bromine-filled waters of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride).

Take a whiff down memory lane with their other (completely unofficial and unsanctioned) scents like: Pinocchio's Village (a "powerful aroma of pistachio nuts, almond, honey, heliotrope, and rich, creamy vanilla custard"), Churro ("cinnamon, sugar and hints of bergamot and creamy dark chocolate"), and the Pineapple Float (they write, "'Dole' out a smile every time you smell our Pineapple Float fragrance").

There's also something called Walt's Office which is the "warm and spicy aroma of cured pipe tobacco."

Prices are $7.95 for wax melts, $18.95 for the room sprays, and between $15.95 and $28.95 for the candles.

The Magic Candle Company

Thanks, Frank! Read the rest

VHS is making a comeback

Free VHS rentals are part of the planned fun at Video Vortex, a new venture by Alamo Drafthouse. The first one is under contstruction in Raleigh, North Carolina. Read the rest

Behold the cacophonous Furby Organ

Looking remarkably like the Mogwai creatures from the 1984 film Gremlins, Furbies first hit the market in November 1998, becoming an instant success. In just the first three years of production, over 40M of these fake fur-covered robotic toys were sold. Since their early days, the Furby has been re-introduced a few times.

That means there are a lot of Furbies collecting dust on this planet.

Well, musician and inventor Sam Battle of Look Mum No Computer salvaged over 44 of them and attached them to an organ. Watch the video to hear a cacophony of "Furbish" music (?).

I won't lie, as noisy as it is, I totally want a Furby Organ for myself. Read the rest

Monorail socks

I'm fresh back from Florida where my daughter and I stopped in Orlando to for a side trip to Walt Disney World and the Disney Springs shopping complex. At the latter, I spotted these monorail socks. Now, I rarely see Disney merch that I really like but I kind of went nuts for these.

If you'd like to slip your feet into some futuristic transportation too, you can get yourself a pair at the online Disney Store for $13.99. Read the rest

Horrors: Chucky the bath bomb

Bathe with one eye open because 80s and 90s horror film icon Chucky is now a bath bomb.

Its scent? Orange soda.

This Chuckie Bath Bomb is a recent creation of California-based beauty brand Loquita Bath and Body who has already sold out of the fizzy Child's Play doll head.

Loquita's founder Mira Perez told HelloGiggles:

Well the name came from my husband, he says I am a “loca” [crazy] which I have to admit, I can be a loquita in the best way possible. The brand, however, came because I was throughly mesmerized by these bath and body companies catering to the “goth” style and as much as I love the dark or obscure I didn’t feel like it screamed “ME!’ So, I decided to create bombs that were nostalgic and that I could identify with.

Read the rest

It Is As If You Were Doing Work is a browser game celebrating Windows 3-era cubicle drudgery

Pippin Barr (previously) created a game that presents itself as a Windows 3-ish desktop from about 25 years ago. Mash away at each task in It Is As If You Were Doing Work until you win promotions and break time, wherein Breakout may be played.

“I positioned It is as if you were doing work in the context of the apparently near future of automated work (I read Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford recently in this vein). Thus the game poses as an application that humans who have been put out of work by robots and AI can play as a way to recapture the sense they once had of doing work and being productive. It’s a kind of semi-condescending service offered by this new world to those of us who can’t deal with it.”

Via Alice O'Connor, who points out the uncanny similarities to the pointless make-work foisted on the white-collar unemployed in Europe, training for jobs that will soon be extinct. Read the rest

Do people actually drink Lancers wine?

I have never actually seen anyone drink Lancers. It must be popular, it seems to still be commercially produced!

I remember my parents having two bottles of this in the fridge from the time I was like 5 years old until I moved out of their home. If I go look, it may still be there.

I'm gonna look for a bottle when my kid and I go to the market later. This could be bad. Read the rest

Re-introduced 'Hai Karate' smells almost as good as never

In 2014 Hai Karate was re-introduced. Perhaps my social life will pick back up!

While not Oriental Lime, or any of the other odd scents I seem to misremember, this classic Hai Karate is ready to let you smell like cheap cologne.

HAI KARATE AFTERSHAVE by Hai Karate via Amazon Read the rest

A particularly GenX protest: "Donna Martin Graduates"

One of the finest moments from television's generation-defining Beverly Hills 90210! Donna Martin got drunk at prom but her friends disagree with school policy and rise up to defend her.

DONNA MARTIN GRADUATES!

...and they say Generation X doesn't stand for anything. Read the rest

Spielberg is contemplating an Animaniacs reboot

Animaniacs was part of a lineage that includes the best animation of the 1990s (including Freakazoid and Pinky and the Brain), and now creator Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment are reportedly mooting a reboot, which would be a most welcome development! Read the rest

Did you prefer the Honeycomb spaceship or hideout?

I've always been a Raisin Bran fan, but I gotta hand it to Honeycomb. They had such wonderfully creative commercials in the 60s and 70s. Read the rest

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