The vicious circles of Google Plus

"Please enter a valid birthday," Google insists, without providing a way to edit the year.

“Please enter a valid birthday,” Google insists, without providing a way to edit the year.

For the last couple years, my wife Yoli has used Talkatone along with a free Google Voice phone number in order to make and receive calls using our iPad.

It was never a perfect system, but it was free, and mostly worked.

Well, Google has apparently turned off third-party access to Google Voice, so Talkatone no longer works for us.

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Introducing my new game, “Doubles”

Remember how I mentioned in a previous post that I was writing two new BBS doors? One was called “Jewel Mountain,” an experimental project I’m making for my daughter; the other was “Sports Stats,” which would let users see standings and scores for baseball and basketball.

Well, a third project came up and leapfrogged those two. I’m calling it “Doubles,” and if you have a Synchronet BBS, you can download and install it right now from my GitHub.

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Mother’s Day: “Mom and Me” for the Atari ST

As Mother’s Day approached, I suddenly remembered two very old programs for the Atari ST which I had fooled around with as a kid.

“Murray and Me” and “Mom and Me” were written by Yakov Kirschen, who called his creations “biotoons.”

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ATASCII animations

Scene from the ATASCII animation "Help From A Friend."

Scene from the ATASCII animation “Help From A Friend.”

You know a computer technique is old school when it was considered old-fashioned in 1985.

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Second collection: BBS-related podcasts

You’ve seen the BBS Documentary. You’ve read reminiscences about BBSing on blogs and tech websites. So how about something to listen to?

Today I’m introducing Break Into Chat’s second special collection: BBS-related podcasts

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Trade Wars vs. Legend of the Red Dragon: Which was the most popular?

tw2002-lord

When I was on the Bobby Blackwolf Show in February, we discussed TradeWars 2002 and Legend of the Red Dragon. Early in our back and forth on LoRD, I said: “It became… you know, depending on who you talk to, probably the number one or number two game out of BBSes.” Blackwolf followed up by saying: “TradeWars is usually number one, LoRD is number two.”

I don’t think anyone would dispute that TradeWars 2002 and Legend of the Red Dragon were the two most popular BBS games. But which was the most popular? Is it even possible to know?

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Hearing from my software heroes

Using the terminal program "ANSITerm" within the "Hatari" Atari ST emulator to write a message on a BBS.

Using the terminal program “ANSITerm” within the “Hatari” Atari ST emulator to write a message on a BBS.

I spent much of my teenage life inside the confines of the Atari ST terminal program “ANSITerm” by Timothy Miller of Two World Software.

I have mentioned the program before on the blog, and I even described it briefly when I was a guest on the Bobby Blackwolf Show podcast. But I’ve never really given it its due.

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Introducing our first special collection: Door World Magazine

Today I’m adding a new section of special collections to Break Into Chat. These are going to be small, targeted collections unique to this website.

The first such collection is Door World Magazine, a monthly online magazine about BBS door games, which was published from 1995-96 by RoAnn Vecchia and Dave Wendling of the N.U.G.I. ConSorTium.

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Jewels, bats, and balls

A mockup showing how the NBA standings might look in Sports Stats.

A mockup showing how the NBA standings might look in Sports Stats.

Last year I was studying BBS doors. This year I’ve started writing some!

I have two percolating right now:

  • “Jewel Mountain,” a game I’m making with my daughter. Progress has been slow because we still haven’t worked out exactly what the game mechanic should be.
  • “Sports Stats,” an informational door that will give live standings and scores. We are St. Louis Cardinals and San Antonio Spurs fans at my house, and my daughter always checks results from the previous night in the morning newspaper. So I figured why not bring that to our little BBS?

I would not have embarked on these projects if not for the fact that Synchronet BBS supports Javascript, which I use a lot at work. The main learning curve is dealing with the console: outputting ANSI colors and characters. I’m also learning about frames and sprites and things.

I have made good progress on Sports Stats, and I hope it might become a door I can release for other sysops who might want it.

Jewel Mountain will likely remain just our private little experiment. But if somehow we manage to make something playable, then we’ll release it too.

My daughter dreams of people sending in registrations like the BBS days of yore, but I had to bring her back down to earth and tell her it’s highly unlikely.

I’ve also been more of a sysop lately, customizing the BBS. I have been created more ANSIs for different occasions: Valentine’s Day, etc. I made one of Kirk and Spock looking at the Guardian of Forever to use with the login matrix mod from Digital Distortion. Of course I make liberal use of Photoshop, then ANSIrez to convert an image to ANSI, and PabloDraw to clean and refine the ANSI.

I also have a number of BiC projects underway:

  • Interviews
  • Adding game articles to the wiki, plus game downloads
  • A series on custom front-end terminals
  • The release of old issues of “Door World Magazine” reformatted for the web.

And more. But there a lot of pots on the stove. I need to get cooking!

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Talking BBS games on the Bobby Blackwolf Show

A few weeks ago, I joined Bobby Blackwolf to talk about BBS door games on his gaming podcast.

We reminisced for almost an hour about BBSing, terminology, TradeWars, LoRD, SRE/BRE/SEE, RIP graphics and more. I had a lot of fun, and I hope you will get a kick out of listening.

By the way — is it coincidence the abbreviation for “Bobby Blackwolf Show” is BBS?

Or is it destiny?

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