The Commodore 64 is 30 years old.

I still hear the song from the commercial every time I see one.

I owe my career as a tech support wizard to my Dad and his decision to purchase a Commodore 64 way back when I was but a young teenager. He intended it to be used by everyone in the family, but it wasn’t long before I was monopolizing the machine. The love affair started off slowly because in the beginning all we had was the tape drive for loading software and it was an agonizingly slow experience. I’d often start a program loading and then go off and make lunch, watch something on TV, play with some friends, and then come back to find it was only halfway through the process. Things improved dramatically when he brought home a 1541 floppy disk drive and load times went from infinity to mere minutes.

Things opened up even more when someone, I don’t recall if it was my parents or myself, bought the 1660 300 baud modem for the machine and I discovered the world of Dial-Up Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). Long before I ever started SEB I used to run a BBS on my trusty Commodore 64 (later Commodore 128 and eventually Amiga) with just two 1541 Disk Drives (170K each!). Later I added a Buscard II IEEE which allowed me to utilize four Commodore SFD 1001 floppy drives that could hold 1.02 megabytes each! Yes, back in the heady days of 1983 my little C64 BBS could store a massive 4.08 megabytes at once!

Introduced in January of 1982 for $595 (roughly $1,110.26 in today’s dollars) I was reminded of this event by the BBC which did an article about it the other day because it officially hit shelves in August of that year. Go check out their article as it contains a video clip where an old-timer shows his vintage C64 to some kids to get their reaction to it. You’ll note that he’s loading games from a tape drive instead of a 1541 floppy drive. I can recall seeing C64 magazines imported from the UK that often had free games on tapes long after everyone I knew in the U.S. had moved up to floppies. Turns out they came up with all manner of ways to compress the hell out of programs on tape which made loading from a tape drive a little more bearable so they kept using them. While the 1541 floppy was faster it had its own problems that kept it from being as fast as it should have been which led to Epyx games putting out the wildly successful FastLoad Cartridge which pretty much everyone in the States who gamed on a C64 ended up buying.

Turn on captions to see game names. Though two of them are incorrect (e.g. M.U.L.E is listed, but wasn’t the game shown).

Speaking of gaming, the Commodore 64 was a large part of the reason I’ve never owned a Nintendo game console of any kind. When the video game market crashed in 1983 it looked like the end of console gaming until Nintendo’s NES game out in 1985 and revitalized the market. By that time I’d been gaming on the Commodore 64 for a couple of years and there wasn’t a whole lot on the NES that appealed to me. In fact, had the market not crashed I don’t know if I’d have gotten as into the C64 as I did. Games on the Atari 2600 pretty much dried up after the collapse and that moved my attention to the Commodore (we picked up an Atari 5200 just before it all went to hell, but I never owned more than 5 games for it).

By the time I moved to an Amiga in late 1985 I had owned at least three Commodore 64s (one for the BBS, one for general use, and a replacement when one of the two died) and a Commodore 128, which was largely a C64 as very little software was ever made for 128 mode. I shut the BBS down in 1986 until I picked up an Amiga 2000 and started it back up for awhile only to turn it off for the final time in 1996 as the Internet started to come into general usage by the masses, but the C64 was where I cut my teeth on computing and first dabbled in programming.

Yes, the nostalgia is strong with this one. Watching the clip above of old games makes me want to fire up an emulator and see if I can’t track a few of them down. I don’t think I ever finished Impossible Mission. Which means the name was probably correct. Happy Birthday Commodore 64! You not only gave me hours of education and entertainment, but a career.

Jesus fucking Christ, we’re on the Moon.

Yesterday was the 43rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing back in 1969. I was only two at the time, but I seem to recall watching it on television in that weird way you remember things you were too young to recall because everyone you’ve ever known has told you about it so many times.

As I recall, it went something like this:

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate record of the first words ever said on the Moon.

In memory of friends who have passed.

In memory of William Vesper Owen IV. 6/15/67 to 2/17/03

It’s been nine years since the day my best friend died. The pain has faded in that time, but isn’t gone completely. The past several years I’ve even managed to forget the anniversary. My last post like this was in 2009. I’m not sure what jogged my memory today, perhaps it was a trailer for a movie I would’ve seen with Bill, or perhaps a video game we probably would’ve played together. Hard to say what it was, but I thought I should post something marking the occasion seeing as I’ve not done so in awhile. I won’t go into long reminiscences about Bill as I’ve said all that can be said about that in the past. I just wanted to say that I miss him greatly.

Give your best friend a hug if you haven’t in awhile. You never know when they’ll be gone.

“Doctor Who” tribute video spans the entirety of the show.

If you’re a fan of the revived Doctor Who series then you probably know that the show has a long history — this November with be its 50th anniversary — but may not have seen much, if any, of the originals series. If you’ve got 9 minutes to spare then you can get a taste via the this tribute video that counts the stories from 1963 through the 2011 Christmas special plus various spin-offs and specials:

Probably one of the more comprehensive overviews I’ve seen considering that there’s still 106 episodes missing from the BBC archives. Spotted many of my favorites from both the old and new series. Will have to make a point of hunting some of them down.

Today Stupid Evil Bastard celebrates its 10th Blogiversary!

It’s true. On this date ten years ago at exactly 7:27PM EST I wrote the very first entry on what would end up becoming Stupid Evil Bastard. It wasn’t called that at the time and the first entry wasn’t particularly special. It was also the only entry I wrote until the next month, mainly because I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it. The first real comment happened on January 2nd, 2002 on my Crimes and Misdemeanors entry, which was also the first really lengthy entry I ever wrote. I don’t know who “Joe” was or if he kept reading beyond that one comment, but it was a milestone just the same. You can see a little of what the site used to look like way back then via the Internet Archive. The first page was indexed on October 4th, 2002 and the template for the site had changed several time prior to that. The next major template was recorded on January 26th, 2003. You can poke through the archive there if you want to see other layouts. Since that first comment to today we’ve racked up some 7,201 posts with 84,424 comments. Not the most prolific blogger out there, but not bad for someone who’s attention span often doesn’t exceed 20 minutes.

This blog started after the events of 9/11 and more than a few entries are devoted to that topic and our national response to it. If you were around on the 18th of January in 2005 then you know that was the start of the first real period of unemployment I had ever experienced after working as a contractor for 4 years at Ford Motor Company. It would be 10 months before I’d find work again and another 10 months later I’d head back to Ford for the shortest contract of my career — a whole two and a half months before being laid off again. You might have been around when I talked about the death of one of my cousins that brought home the problem of so many folks without health insurance. Or perhaps you watched as I raged over the death of one of my best friends. So many things have happened which I somehow took the time to document here such as when my daughter decided it was time to move out. Hell, I even managed to finally get around to doing podcasts like I’d been meaning to do for, quite literally, years.

I had more to say, but I lost most of it thanks to one of the cats helpfully stepping on my computer’s power button and shutting down my system in the middle of writing this. But you can always hit the archives if you’re curious as to what other stuff I’ve written about in the past. Most of it is pretty mundane, but there’s some major stuff in there. Some of you folks have been following me for a very long time and I am both grateful and humbled by that fact. Many of you have helped me and my family get through the tough periods and many of you just dropped me a note from time to time to let me know you appreciated my attempts at literacy. My thanks to all of you who have stopped by to see what I’ve been up to over the years. You’ve made the past 10 years worth every keyboard stroke.

Grand Theft Auto III is 10 years old.

Wow, how time flies when you’re having fun. The folks at Rockstar games are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their seminal game Grand Theft Auto III. It was released for the PS2 on October 22nd of 2001 and it’s held up pretty well. I still pop it into my PS3 on occasion just to drive around and launch various vehicles off the ramps. To say that it had a huge influence on games to come is an understatement. It practically defined the Sand Box genre of games.

Check it:

Oh man, playing a criminal has never been so much fun. Especially when you turned on things like the ability for cars to fly once they got to a certain speed. For some reason, most of the people in Liberty City seem to freak out when their cars suddenly start leaving the ground.

My wife and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.

Ten years ago today I married the most wonderful woman I have ever known:

Wedding picture.

The start of the journey.

It wasn’t a huge wedding, just immediate family and a Justice of the Peace, and there wasn’t a huge reception, but it was still one of the greatest days of my life. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing and we came close to smashing on the rocks more than once, but we’ve always managed to work it out and we’re still going strong. No small feat in this day and age.

I had hoped to be in a position to take her away to someplace nice, like Hawaii, but I’ve still not figured out that whole how-to-get-moderately-wealthy thing yet and the funds just weren’t there for it. So instead we’ll be celebrating in our apartment this evening. Anne has been busy putting something special together so it’s not like we aren’t splurging a little for the day. It’s kind of appropriate given our humble start, though I’m hoping to be a little less humble for our 20th.

Anne, I am so happy and proud to be your husband. Here’s to many more great years to come.

Today is SEB’s 9th Blogiversary!

Pic of Anniversary Balloon.

Has it really been 9 freakin' years already?

Back on this day in 2001 I posted my very first blog entry wherein I explained my Grand Vision for conquering the world of obnoxious pontification on topics I have no business expressing opinions on. Given my ADHD and tendency to get bored in record time, I’m surprised to look back and see I’m just one year shy of dedicating an entire decade to shooting my mouth off on the Internet.

SEB has gone through a lot of changes in that time including starting out with an entirely different name. We’ve been on three different blogging platforms and nearly half a dozen webhosts. The look of the site has changed over the years with some of the designs being better than others and I’ve learned a great deal about what is involved in running a moderately popular website.

The most amazing thing to me is that many of you have been regular members of the site since the very beginning. You’ve been with me through thick and thin with the former being most of the first four years and the latter the last five. You have gone out of your way to be a friend to someone you’d never met in person. The generosity I’ve been fortunate enough to receive has been overwhelming and humbling. Thanks to this blog and the loyal following it has attracted I’ve had opportunities to do and enjoy things I probably never would have had otherwise.

My blogging has slowed over the last year or so as my employment situation has been in flux, but I’m hoping that I’ll be back on the upswing in terms of frequency now that I have landed long-term employment. For the record, the current stats for SEB as of this entry are 6,859 posts and exactly 82,200 comments. Not too shabby all things considered.

Will I still be at this in another 9 years? Hard to say. There’s been a couple of times I came close to giving it up over the years only to gain a second or a third wind and keep plugging along. The frequency of my postings tends to rise and fall over time, but I never seem to completely run out of things to blab about. I figure I’ve got at least a few more years in me before I become totally irrelevant. Surely I’ll be able to come up with something to talk about in that time.

Funny, it doesn’t seem like 9 years…

Picture of Anne and Les exchanging vows.

That one moment I'll always remember. Click to embiggen.

… and at the same time it seems like it’s always been this way.

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the day my wonderful wife said “I do” and joined me on a journey called marriage. That day nine years ago started off gray and gloomy and it looked like it would rain on our wedding, but — as you can see in the photo to the left — around about the time we got to doing the ceremony the sun came out and shined like it had something to prove. If I were of a religious or superstitious bent I’d call that an omen.

As it turns out, it was definitely a good metaphor for what was to come. We’ve had our fair share of rough patches along the way. Days where things were so cloudy our future together was very much in doubt. We’ve also had days that were so perfect it was hard to believe they were really happening.

As you can probably tell, our wedding wasn’t big or expensive. It was just her, me, a Justice of the Peace, and our immediate family at a small gazebo in downtown Plymouth, Michigan. All the photos of the event were taken by family members. The most expensive part of the event was the dinner afterward which, due to a an unforeseen closure of the restaurant we had planned on eating at, ended up being at a Lone Star Steakhouse. About the only way it could’ve been any less expensive is if we had held a potluck dinner instead. An extravaganza it was not, but it had all the truly important elements and that’s all that really matters. The rest is just fluff.

At least it was good enough to make a bond that’s lasted nine years so far. Almost a decade. In an age where the divorce rate is 50% getting to this point on the first try is almost a rarity. I’m so very proud of the life we’ve built together and I’m looking forward to many more years to come.

Today is our anniversary!

Anne and I have been married eight years as of today. The odd thing is it doesn’t feel like it’s been eight years, but at the same time it doesn’t feel new either. We’ve had our share of ups and downs in that time, but who hasn’t? Considering most marriages fail within the first five years I’d say we’re doing pretty well and I’m looking forward to the 10 year anniversary which is closer than ever.

So pardon me while I do a little self-congratulatory back-patting for a moment. It’s been a good eight years and I can’t imagine being married to anyone else.