DOSbox/Second passport/Marco Polo


Recomendo: issue no. 85

Make your computer 35 years older
In the summer of 1983 my friends and I became addicted to a role playing computer game called Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. It was a lot like Dungeons and Dragons, and had very primitive wireframe graphics to represent a multi-level underground maze filled with orcs, zombie kobolds, bushwhackers, bleebs, bubbly slimes, and many other monsters. We started playing at 9pm every night, drinking beer and sitting around a monochrome PC until 3 in the morning, sleeping for a few hours before going to our summer jobs (installing a sprinkler system for a new golf course) and starting over again the next day. It took us all summer to complete the game. Recently I told my 14-year-old daughter about Wizardry and she wanted to try it. It’s no longer for sale, but the files are available online if you search for them (I don’t know if it’s legal for these sites to give away the files, so I’m not going to link to them here.) In order to play Wizardry on my Mac laptop, I had to download a DOS operating system emulator called DOSBox. It turns my 2017 laptop into a 1983 PC. It’s free and works like a charm. My daughter and I are now playing Wizardry almost every night. No beer this time around, and we call it quits at 10pm, but it’s still thrilling to make the hand drawn maps as we crawl our way through the monster- and trap-filled dungeon. — MF

Second passport
I have two US passports, both valid and official. Because I travel overseas so much, I often have my passport tied up in getting a visa somewhere, so I have the second passport available. This gives me some breathing room. It’s also useful if you are traveling to countries that don’t recognize Israel and you have an Israel stamp in your passport. To get a second US passport you apply as if you are renewing your passport by mail and add a letter requesting a second passport. Instructions here. — KK

Better than Snapchat
I use the Marco Polo video walkie talkie app (iOSAndroid) to keep in touch with my family who all live far away. I’m in a “group” with my mom, 2 siblings, and 2 nieces, and even though we live in different time zones we can all carry a coherent conversation and be more connected. I like that I don’t have to worry about videos expiring and when I check in at night the videos I missed load automatically so it plays like a mini-movie of what my family did through out the day. I also think it’s much easier for kids to use than Snapchat. My 6-year-old niece is a pro at using filters to make creative video messages that always crack me up. — CD

Hacker checkup
As part of my regular digital hygiene I type my email into the website “Have I Been Pwned?” to see if my email/password has been leaked to hackers by a sloppy company. They will tell me if and when a breach occurred which yielded my email on a list for sale on the dark web. This is an indication to change my password for that login. The check site is free, instant, no signups, and specific in needed action. — KK

Kimono style pajamas
I just got back from JoCo Cruise 2018, a week-long cruise around Baja Mexico. This was JoCo’s eighth annual cruise. It was started by musician Jonathan Coulton, who has a delightfully nerdy fan base of board-game loving, scifi reading, cosplaying, ukulele strumming folks of all ages. Over 1,600 “SeaMonkeys” took over Holland America’s ms Oosterdam and we had a terrific time playing games and music, and attending panels, workshops, concerts, readings, and performances. I bought a pair of kimono pajamas ($24) for the cruise (one day was pajama day, where everyone was encouraged to wear pajamas all day) and I got a lot of compliments on them. I like them enough that I’m going to start wearing them at home, too. — MF

Vintage sewing patterns
Vintage Patterns Wikia is collaborative website where you can search through pages and pages of sewing patterns from the past. A lot of the patterns are available and for sale on eBay or Etsy and if they’re not, you can add your contact information to the wiki page in case it becomes available in the future. I found a $2 robe pattern in great condition through the site. — CD


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-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 03/11/18