Author Archives: Josh Renaud

About Josh Renaud

Josh Renaud works as a journalist and designer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He's married to Yoli and together they have four beautiful niñitos. Find him on Twitter (@Kirkman) or Google+.

Fidonet archive update

A couple updates with regard to the 300,000 FidoNet messages I archived.

First, I have added my FidoNet message cache as a new Break Into Chat “Special Collection” (similar to the existing AtasciiTube, Door World Magazine, and BBS podcasts collections). I have included a lot supplemental material that adds context; as well as a Python parser that can convert the ExecPC message scrape into individual Fidonet .MSG files.

Second, it appears that Andrew Clarke’s fidonet.ozzmosis.com archive is gone. It has been down for months, unfortunately. It contained millions of messages. While copies of this data still exist inside the Wayback Machine, this is a major loss. As a commenter noted on my original blog post, this may mean that new FidoNet messages (yes, people still post to FidoNet!) are no longer being archived by anyone.

Gary Martin, creator of “TradeWars 2002”

Gary Martin created TradeWars 2002, “the granddaddy of all BBS games” which has been played by tens of thousands of enthusiasts around the world.

Gary Martin

In this interview, Martin discusses rocking the University of Kansas campus as a DJ, founding Martech Software, and running one of the biggest bulletin board systems. He also describes two tantalizing projects that never came to fruition: “TradeWars 2112” and “Draconis”.

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Archiving 300,000 Fidonet messages

In 2015, I began looking for archives of networked BBS messageboards, hoping to find contemporary discussions of BBS door games from the 1990s. The best source I found was the fidonet.ozzmosis.com archive.

The Ozzmosis archive is awesome — and it’s still active, archiving any new messages posted to Fidonet. (yes, Fidonet still exists!) But I quickly realized the archive was heavily weighted to the new millenium. I analyzed the dates of every message in the Ozzmosis archive, and found that, only 7% of the archive was from years prior to 2000.

That realization set me on a search. I began visiting long-running BBSes, looking for caches of old Fidonet messages.

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Using high res on my Atari STe with the CosmosEx and a wire

This image shows a CosmosEx screencast of an Atari Mega STe in high resolution.

Throughout my Atari ST-owning life, I have only ever owned Atari’s color monitor, the SC1224. It can display two of the ST’s video modes: low resolution (320×200, 16 colors) and medium resolution (640×200, 4 colors).

The Atari also had a 640×400 high resolution mode, but it required a different monochrome monitor.

I never had one, but recently I came across some high-res software I wanted to test. What to do?

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Modding an iPod 3G to use a CompactFlash card

interior of the iPod 3G, showing the CF card

This year my family was planning to take a trip to South America. As we prepared, I was struck by the idea of fixing up my old iPod 3G so that the kids could use it to listen to music while we traveled.

I’m talking about my 15-year old touch-wheel iPod 3G. The battery has long been shot, and I have had trouble with the hard drive over the years.

I found quite a few tutorials online about how to install a new battery, as well as some which explained how to replace the hard drive with a CompactFlash card. Sweet! Sounded like a great way to soup up some old hardware: better battery life, more durability, and lighter-weight.

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New ANSImation: Star Trek: The Trouble With The Rangifer Tarandus

In December, I created a new ANSI animation for the holidays called “Star Trek: The Trouble With The Rangifer Tarandus”, which was released in Blocktronics’ “Darker Image #2” artpack.

Here’s a video version of the ANSImation:

But (as always), the best way to view this is to use SyncTerm to connect to my BBS, Guardian of Forever, and watch it there.

So far, each of my ANSImations have been a way to try a new technique in ANSI, whether that’s parallax scrolling, perspective transforms, or whatever. This time was no exception.

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Web browsing on the Atari ST with a CosmosEx

This screenshot shows CAB rendering my personal website. This instance of CAB is running on an Atari Mega STe.

Probably the best retrocomputing purchase I’ve made in recent years is the CosmosEx, a cool peripheral for Atari ST, STe, TT, and Falcon computers.

Soon after I bought it, creator Jookie added “screencasting”, a feature which lets you control your Atari remotely through a web browser. Amazing!

Around that time, Jookie was also working on a replacement STiNG-compatible internet driver. The idea was to provide TCP-IP to the Atari through the CosmosEx. Internet apps which support STiNG, such as CAB, the Crystal Atari Browser, would “just work.”

Fast-forward to this week. I decided to see if Jookie ever got the drivers were working. Turns out he did!

Keep reading to see how I set everything up.

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New ANSImation: Star Wars opening crawl

Screen shot of the later version of the opening crawl for “Star Wars.”

When Star Wars debuted in 1977, the first sequence audiences took in was the iconic opening crawl: a wall of yellow text rolling up the screen, shrinking toward a vanish point in the distance.

Screen capture of an opening crawl from a Flash Gordon serial.

This crawl was George Lucas’ homage to the old Flash Gordon serials of the 1930s (which inspired many other parts of Star Wars visual style). Since then, the crawl has become a common trope cribbed by TV shows, computer games, and others.

When I was thinking of ideas I might contribute to Blocktronics’ “Detention Block AA-23” Star Wars artpack, making an ANSI version of the crawl was one of my first thoughts.

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New parallax ANSImation: Millennium Falcon dodging asteroids

I want to push boundaries.

That’s what the original Star Wars films did. Industrial Light & Magic revolutionized special effects with novel new techniques for motion control and amazing model work.

When I work on ANSI projects now, I try to think about ways to do things in ANSI that weren’t possible in the 1990s because of low bandwidth or limited processing power.

How about parallax ANSImation? Well, I cooked up a new one for Blocktronics’ new artpack “Detention Block AA-23” (download). It features the Millennium Falcon dodging asteroids. Check it out:

Want to know how it came to be? Keep reading.

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