Timmy Explores the Wondrous World of Windows 3.1

You begin the game as Timmy, a young boy visiting a crumbling amusement park known as Midway. But Timmy doesn’t see a pathetic locale where everything is falling apart, but rather a world of wonder, with his thoughts appearing in written form at the bottom of the screen.

The above quote is taken from a now gone review on Hardcore Gaming 101 describing The Residents 1995 CD-ROM game Bad Day at the Midway. I know this because I copied that description for a post I wrote on this blog in 2014 talking about this game, which made an indelible impression on my memory when I first played it on Windows 3.1 at in the AVS offices at UCLA. In fact, the description of little Timmy above is perfect to describe another Timmy I know who found himself in the wondrously retro world of archival emulation thanks to the EaaSI project, or emulation as a service infrastructure. What is EaaSI? Well, Tim covers that nicely:

The Eaasi platform allows you to start with basic images of operating systems, and then layer on software as well as “objects”. So, for example, you might have an object that is a Word Document a professor wrote in 1998. Instead of rendering it in a PDF, here we can actually take a Windows 98 computer, add Office 97 to it, and then have the document load at boot. A true native environment that is destroyed and rebuilt each time you go to view it in a matter of seconds and renders the object exactly as it was intended to be viewed.

What’s beautiful for us is that EaaSI is a container-based environment for emulation-based archiving that Tim got running on Reclaim Cloud, so now he can playing Solitaire as it was meant to be played on Windows 3.1:

All of which led us to jump on a video call and see if we could get the iso of the Bad Day at the Midway CD-ROM to run in the Cloud, and turns out it is very possible, even if you have to fix a few issues like mount your virtual CD-drive and fixing the monitor colors:

“Wow!” indeed. Running a 1995 CD-ROM game on Windows 3.1 via the web on Reclaim Cloud is a new level of hosting inception I can dig on. It seems similar in spirit to the remarkable work the folks at the Internet Archive have been doing for years to emulate various games in the browser. It’s exciting stuff, and the fact we could host something like this is mind blowing.

Hardcore Show Flyers

The other day at Reclaim Hosting we were having some issues with the Devo server. Load was high and while investigating it I happened to see traffic to the domain hardcoreshowflyers.net through Apache status. I was intrigued, so rather than fixing the server I headed over to the site (I jest, Tim fixed the server—per usual ? ) to see if it was what I thought it was, and boy was it ever.
Crumbsuckers' "Life of Dreams" album advertisement

Crumbsuckers’ “Life of Dreams” album advertisement

The site was a full blown archive of hardcore punk show flyers from the 1970s through 2017. After this chance discovery I proceeded to lose a good part of the day. One of my earliest music shows was a Sunday matinee at CBGBs in 1985 to see the our hometown punk band The Crumbsuckers. It just so happens that they were playing with New York City hardcore legends The Cro-Mags—I was pretty blown away. I am not certain, but this flyer could very well be an advertisement for that show I went to in 1985: How this fuels my penchant for nostalgia. But the craziest part is looking through the flyers to see what shows I was at. Crumbsuckers were my entré to the scene, and I quickly learned to love the Cro-Mags, Murphy’s Law, and Agnostic Front (a kind of trio of NYC trashcore), but the Bad Brians were something else all together for me. It led me to the DC scene and the straight-edge movement defined by Minor Threat, which then led me to Dag Nasty. At the same time the straightedge scene was gaining steam led by Youth of Today, Judge, Uniform Choice, and Bold. I went to more than a few Youth of Today shows, and after a while it began to get fairly boring and preachy with Ray of Today talking shit on “the dope smoking longhairs” —and then a whole bunch of bands (including the Cro-Mags) became Hari Krishnas and I was outta there.

Bold, Supertouch, and Sick of it All flyer for a show at The Anthrax in 1987

I know I saw Youth of Today and Uniform Choice at CBGBs, and I believe a show with Bold and Judge (though not sure if they played together) at The Anthrax in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1986 or 1987. But the site also reminded me of bands I have seen but not thought about in a long while like Supertouch, No for an Answer, Sick of it All, and many others. There were a ton of bands associated with the scene, and it’s amazing how these simple flyers capture not only my imagination, but chronicle the various sinews of a entire subculture. This is very cool work, and once I fell down the rabbit hole I noticed the site was looking for patrons. I could not resist, for me the folks who have the time and patience to collect and curate an archive like this provide an indispensable service that takes a ton of effort. What’s more, it directly feeds into my personal interests and history. I immediately benefitted from it, so it only made good sense to support he work. But cooler than that is it was using Reclaim Hosting so we could waive hosting fees to try and ensure a site like this stays online as long as possible. Hardcore Show Flyers represents the best of the web for me, a niche collection someone has amassed and wants to share freely over time. This is obviously a passion for the proprietor, and the small, passion-driven web wins for me every time. Thanks for this.

Get SiteSucker, Sucker

I had followed with great interest the discussion on the Reclaim Hosting Community site about archiving a dynamic, database driven site as static HTML files.  I share Alan Levine’s passion for trying to archive as much of the work I’ve done online as possible, I’m just not nearly as good at it. That said, today I had an occasion to use the Mac tool SiteSucker Tim Owens has been raving about for a while. The app costs $4.99 and takes any URL and packages up the entire site (including images and media) into local static HTML files.

Continue reading “Get SiteSucker, Sucker”

Reclaim Hosting Turns 3

Screenshot-2016-07-25-21.30.06-954x1024.pngEarlier today I was talking with my partner in crime Tim Owens about the fact that Reclaim Hosting turns 3 years old this week. I was under the impression it was July 28th for some reason, but turns out it was earlier than that. Tim sent along this article from the Chronicle dated July 25th, 2013 that formerly announced the launch of our little experiment. As an added bonus, Tim reminded me what our website looked like that summer care of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Three years has gone pretty fast, and this fairly modest experiment has become part of a broader community of practitioners that want to reclaim the possibilities of the web for higher education and beyond. It’s been an awesome privilege to help folks stake their small claim on the web. And while waxing nostalgic about the spirit of Geocities, I am reminded thanks to a recent talk by rogue archivist Jason Scott (one of the handful of individuals who helped preserve the history of Geocities before Yahoo! deleted it) that the individual web we create and preserve is part and parcel of the digital culture we inhabit. To abdicate control and stewardship of that culture to those that would commodify and then wantonly discard every last bit of it (see Yahoo! and Geocities above) is a serious cultural problem. And we can only count on folks like Jason Scott and the patron saints of the internet at the Archive to a certain extent. It’s up to us to take responsibility for and make plans to preserve the integrity of the trails we blaze on the world wide web. Reclaim Hosting emerged as part of an educational community to make this easier and more affordable—that remains the mission. Avanti!