Slow, modern Heptameron story eleven XI

The first electronic calculator I remember, and the only one I remember seeing or using for years, was my mother’s. It folded in half on a plastic leather hinge and I think was a Casio SL-100B. I remember the folding hinge getting two cracks on each end, leaving these little tabs that I don’t remember ever trying to pull on.

It was solar powered with no memory, so had no real way to damage it. I played with it often to see what I could do to get the “E” to show up. Dividing by zero was easy, I think after that I found out I could keep multiplying things by large things and that would do it, and at last, taking the square root of a negative.

The best memory I have of it is putting in some huge number (it had 8 digits if it was an SL-100B, so 99,999,999 was the highest it went) and repeatedly pushing √ until I got to 1. I remember the numbers would fall rapidly, then become 1.0000something, and after falling below 1.000,000,050, became just “1.”.

This was more entertaining than multiplying things to reach an overflow because I didn’t have to come up with another number as multiplier, I just put in the initial number and watched it change with “√” until it reached the unchanging “1.”. In this, I now realized, I had a zero-player game, similar to “Conway’s Game of Life“: pick an initial state (99,999,999) and the rules (“√”) and everything in every turn afterward is unavoidably known (fixed value) and the same (no randomness or chance [stochasticity?]).

I like that smell!!

The local utility company sent in the bill this month a scratch-and-sniff insert to let people know what a natural gas leak smells like. It is some mercaptan (methyl or ethyl, probably).

I’ve long enjoyed that smell on account of not growing up around gas heating/cooking/etc but associating it with warmness when wanted. There is usually a short puff of that smell at the start of a use of it. This is probably not what is wanted from a safety view, but does not prevent my taking alarm if the smell persists or turns up somewhere it has no business being.

It is a palindrome day

In the ISO calendar display, yyyymmdd, today is 20200202. I remember in 2002 my father showed me something similar on graph paper. I don’t have it anymore and that is a little sad, but I nearly missed the significance of today and would have had to wait about 2 years for the next one.

Readers of the “Moscow Puzzles” may remember 1961 and the odometer on the family car. I need to finish that book.

Estate sales are creepy things

I don’t know how widespread the term is, but in United States English, an “estate sale” is when someone dies and their heirs sell off their property. There is nothing inherently sinister in this, but usually they just put price tags on every thing and let you look around.

Upshot of this is that you end up looking at someone’s life almost exactly as it was when they died, and end up inferring very sobering things about them.

I went on an estate sale today, the second time I had done so in my life. The first one was very sad. From what I could gather, the woman was single, Jewish, and I suspect lonely but gave her time to breeding dogs.

The one today was interesting in a less sad way. There were two people, a couple, who lived in this moderate sized home in an older part of a medium sized town on its own (not really a bedroom community). What I remember was:

  • They had wired the house for telephone and/or doorbell bells everywhere. Very interesting, but I didn’t see any old phones from Ma Bell anywhere.
  • I almost bought a lazy Susan for the bottom, but decided against it.
  • The basement had a one-time coal hole.
  • I did score a PC for 100 USD that I ended up reformatting and reinstalling Windows 10 on. I intend to give this to someone else.
  • The dude was evidently very into “multi level marketing” back in the 1990s judging by the amount of old magazines on the subject in the kitchen.
  • There was a good deal of class to the house, but none to me poking around it.
  • There were VHS tapes and cassettes around.
  • The person conducting the entire affair was annoyed that there were no bags in the house.

I may blog more about the PC I bought, as I am going to work on it now.

Another ephemeron: CJ Slayer and the Super Peas

Have you ever, when young or otherwise new to a field or endeavor, turned up something interesting that you later discard and then even later realize was truly unique and should have been saved?

Continue reading Another ephemeron: CJ Slayer and the Super Peas

Versioning is getting out of hand

I know the tendency these days is for rapid release of software, but I prefer the older, slower incrementing software. Consider that (MS) DOS went from 1.x to 6.x in over 10 years, while Firefox (for example) has gone up to 52 (!) in that time.

Continue reading Versioning is getting out of hand

Games that (should) Live Forever: Glider PRO

Most everyone who has lived for a while with a PC or Macintosh (or other device) has found at least one thing they just think is such a classic it should never die. I have at least three.

Oddly, the one I’m a-going to feature today is made solely for Macintoshes, specifically the so-called “Classical”, but really original, version of the systems. Consequently, it won’t run on modern “correct” Macintoshes but requires an emulator. I actually never really played it on its native platforme because I didn’t really like Macintoshes and so didn’t have one. I used the BasiliskII emulator to get System 7.5.5 up and running and therefore had a platform to run it on.

First of all, the game itself is based on the idea of paper airplanes, specifically semi-magical, semi-technical ones. You don’t fold them, but you do fly them. You go through a house to pick up magical stars. The bonus items are clocks (that actually tell the correct time) because, as the author, John Calhoun said, “everyone always wants more time”.

I wish I could even begin to describe the amazing feeling that comes from playing the game. It’s peace, calm and innocency, yet highly addictive and replayable. Even when you get an unwanted “gameover” the ragequit isn’t really a “rage” quit, it’s more of a “sigh” quit. To my knowledge, it is absolutely unique. To see what I mean, you can listen to the music and/or play a web-based version of it:

I highly recommend both of them.