One of the things that got chucked in the recycle bin during the latest move was a run of 2600 magazine from roughly 1988 to 1993. Hey, I was a geek and a teenager, I think I can be forgiven for being a bit more than healthily curious about the ways that phones and networks worked.
I never got up to much mischief, mind you, but it was fun to read about.
Anyway, the thing that struck me about 2600 magazine is that its name derived from the Blue Box, a homemade device that let you manipulate the phone system’s switching functionality back in the days before ESS switches became the standard.
The general use of a Blue box, apart from pranking your friends, was to make free long distance phone calls.
The general consequence, once the phone company figured out that people WERE using Blue Boxes to make free long distance phone calls, was to get your home – OK, your parent’s home – raided by the FBI / Secret Service / Men In Black.
Seriously. Free long distance calls used to be the motivating force behind comitting multiple felonies.
The last year I can remember having metered long distance service was 1999, the year I got my first cell phone, and even my landline phone gives me all-I-can-eat long distance for 40 bucks a month. Moreover, high speed broadband service is nigh-ubiquitous in this country, even if we can’t compare to the Japanese and South Koreans with their 100-Mbit home internet service. I remember being thrilled when the v.32 standard for 9600bps modems displaced the old Hayes and USRobotics protocols and brought prices down to a mere 300 bucks.
The next time someone tries to tell me how much better things were in some nebulous “good old days”, I’m going to, well, OK, I’m not actually going to bring up the days when making a long distance phone call was a luxury that you planned out in advance, but I’m going to THINK it while I give them an amiable smile and grunt of agreement.
One more thought, this from a couple of play sessions of “Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers” on our Wii:
This is the first Wii game I’ve tried out that features non-stop motion controls, because you need to swing the controller every time you slash or kick someone. I can only play it in 30-45 minute sessions, because that’s about the point where my forearms plead for mercy.
Some poor bastards in D3’s QA department had to play this game, 8 hours a day, for weeks. They must have arm muscles like braided steel cabling, or massive medical bills stemming from the worst case of RSI in recorded history, or possibly both.
That being said, I have to give Tamsoft – the developer, D3 is the publisher – some serious cred for building a game around waggle controls, but making it so they’re actually quite fun. I’m playing through Saki’s storyline first, which means a lot of grabbing a zombie, throwing it into a horde of other zombies, then wading in with Massive Fekking Katana of Doom while they’re all getting back up, sending zombie gore flying everywhere and it all works very naturally, even the special moves and such that I never bothered to learn when playing the Xbox 360 entry in the same series.
It’s not terribly pretty, even for a Wii game, but I’m enjoying the heck out of it.