The Unofficial History of the Milliways Adventure

Many, many years ago Douglas Adams got together with Infocom to produce the remarkably successful Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy game. Then, being Douglas, he got bored before the sequel was written. Now you can find out some of what happened behind the scenes that meant that Milliways was never released. Fascinating stuff.

How to Slow Down You MacBook Pro: Lesson #1

My new MacBook Pro had been behaving remarkably badly for the last few days, it would start up and get to the login screen quickly – but then once I logged in it would sit do nothing for a good few minutes, perhaps with the search icon showing in the top bar. Once started, many programs apparently hung while loading. This was a bit frustrating, as it’s a brand new Mac so it should be running optimally.

Unsurprisingly it turns out to be ‘my’ fault. I’d loaded my collection of fonts from my PC into the FontBook font management software the other day and it wasn’t handling the few thousand fonts that well. So I went into my user resources and just moved all the fonts out, then restarted the machine, and now everthing is fast again. My next quest is to locate the few key fonts I need regularly and install just those, rather than suffering from font overload.

Of course this is my own stupidity, but I also wonder why the Font Book wasn’t managing the fonts as expected. I had turned off all the fonts except a few, but it seems like the system is still looking at all the fonts before it then cross-checks with the font manager to see which ones are active. This seems a bit daft to me – surely if the integrated font management software says ‘this font is off’ then the system should ignore it until told otherwise? Plus that also raises the question – “How many fonts can my Mac run before slowing down?“. There doesn’t seem to be an answer, but I’ll let you know if I find out.

Life on Mac and PC

Having had my new MacBook Pro for a few days I’m finding myself learning more and more of the cute little tips and tricks to make it easier to use. I especially like being able to scroll multi-directionally on the touchpad by using two fingers at once. Very clever. I was also happy to find that once I’d set up a new wireless network, the MacBook found my PC with very few problems – unlike the old days back at Quidnunc in ’96 fighting with third party software.

Of course since I’m not fully migrated over from my PC, I’m having to work on both machines at once and that causes some confusion. Firstly I keep finding myself trying to scroll using two fingers on my PC laptop.. And the other thing that’s really catching me out is using the ‘CTRL’ key for shortcuts rather than the Apple key. The Apple key on my Mac is where the ‘ALT’ key is on my PC – so I keep pressing ‘ALT+C’ to copy instead of ‘CTRL+C’. Although it’s CTRL+A (select all) that’s really bugging me right now…

Joining the Collective

Well I’ve finally bitten the bullet and joined the cult-like throngs of Mac owners everywhere. Damn you Jobs, you’ve finally won! No longer do I need a MacBook Pro.

I’ve now had my new MacBook Pro (15.4″, 2.2 GHz, Matte Screen) for all of one hour and have already, in no particular order; marveled at the packaging, complained about it getting too hot and how stupid that the fans blow onto the base of the screen, laughed at the ‘hilarious’ voice synthesizer, scared my girlfriend into thinking a monkey was attacking through the built-in camera and made a beautiful photo book. Ok, that the last one was a lie, but the rest are true.

So now I have to look forward to the fun of transferring everything from my PC to this new toy and learning a pile of new shortcuts. Actually, I have to learn important things such as how to install applications first, but sure that will become obvious with time.

One of us. One of us. One of us. One of us.

25 Years On

This month is the 25th Anniversary of the launch of the ZX Spectrum. Although this probably won’t mean much to American readers of this blog, I’m sure all my male Brit friends are now looking up in fond rememberance of their first ‘real’ computer. The computer that set many of us on the path of increasing geekdom.

On reflection it’s interesting how social activities flourished around our computers when we were younger, in the absence of an ‘internet’. When I first got my Spectrum I created a ‘limited run’ fanzine (trans. about 20 photocopies) that used to take me every spare minute to write, draw the illustrations for and send off for free games to play. I mean review. I also used to try and create the next greatest spoof adventure game with other friends under the company name ‘MattSoft’. Then later myself and a few other guys from school created an Atari ST fanzine together that again, had limited exposure. Now all that work would probably get noticed with minimal effort it can take to put up certain sites and then run if you know what you’re doing. One of these days I hope to come across one of my old fanzines – I’m sure that will be ‘interesting’.