Million Dollar Homepage Suffers Link Rot

It’s really rare that I read a story about computing and hit something I’ve never, ever heard of before. But so it is with the Million Dollar Homepage.

8 years ago Alex Tew financed his college career by selling 10 x 10 pixel chunks of a webpage to advertisers for $100 each. The page went viral, and he sold the entire page in 138 days, grossing a cool million dollars. (Hence the name.)

A site named Quartz, who apparently do computery-related testing and experiments and stuff by request, tested the links on the page this year. 22% of them were dead — they had succumbed to link rot. (Anyone trying to find my Storm Knights site any time during the last decade knows what that’s like.)

Details on the page, including a discussion of the earliest form of link rot and how it affects the Supreme Court of the United States, at the link. (Click now: who knows how long the link will remain valid?)

Video Game Archaeology: The Final Resting Place Of Atari’s “E.T.”

Oh yeah. The most infamous video game in history. The game that killed the Atari 2600 console, killed the company that made the console, and killed the video games industry, causing a 97% drop in sales of video games and game consoles, industry-wide.

Atari’s “E.T.” from 1982. The worst video game in history.

(Allegedly. Though “Mass Effect 3” is pretty close.)

This game was so bad, and sold so poorly, Atari was forced to bury 728,000 unsold cartridges in a landfill in New Mexico. The dump site itself was lost for 3 decades even as the story of the mass burial became a legend.

Just last week, makers of a documentary about video games rediscovered the “E.T.” landfill and retrieved several hundred cartridges of the infamous relic from underneath mounds of trash and detritus. The AP was there, covering the excavation, and you can find their story at the link.

How To Make A Cellphone From A Block Of Wood

It seems unreal, but here one is:

Wooden Cellphone

The guy actually did it, because that block of wood is able to “make and receive phone calls and text messages, store names and phone numbers, display the time, and serve as an alarm clock.”

And just in case you want one of your very own, he can tell you how to make one, at the link.


Alpha Centauri Spiritual Successor Coming Soon

Firaxis, the house that Civ built, announced Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth at PAX East recently. Built on the Civ V engine, Beyond Earth is the “spiritual successor” to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.

SMAC, and it’s successor, SMACX, was one of my favorite games for a very long time, and I only quit playing it when the game would no longer run on newer hardware. (The switch to Intel processors killed a lot of old-school Mac software.) I though the aliens were great, the plot was compelling, and many of the SF-nal elements were spot on, such as an energy currency, and others (like Ethical Calculus) inspired elements in my own universe building. This game, I loved it.

I loved it so much, I played it and played it and played it and played it. I watched the cutscenes (hacking SMACX so it’d play the far-superior intro from SMAC), designed units by hand, raced for secret projects, reveled in smacking Col. Corazon Santiago down hard, and conquered the planet time and again. Just writing this post, I get the urge to send some scout rovers out to locate Sparta’s home base and blow it up. (The Gaians as well, just to be fair.)

(One of the reasons I disliked the recent X-Com game was that I thought it’d be a lot more like SMAC, and it wasn’t.)

I don’t know if Beyond Earth can come close to providing the kick-ass experience SMAC did. I doubt it, but I’d like to see it done.

If you’re interested in more details about the upcoming release, Gamespot has you covered.

(And, just after I finished this little post, I found out that GOG offers SMAC and SMACX for sale, for OS X, priced at $7. I bought it, of course. Due to the Windows dialogue box that pops up when you launch it, I’m assuming it’s a WINE-wrapped Windows binary. Who gives a toss, it’s SMAC and I’m loving playing the game again. For two hours only, which means my willpower has improved somewhat in the last decade, if nothing else. :) )

Skyrim and Gears and Stuff? WTF?

So the introduction to Game of Thrones is cool, but puzzling as hell. WTF do dragons and knights and undead have to do with gears and clockwork mechanisms and claymation? Isn’t that, like, a steampunk thing?

Not content with enjoying GoT’s weird steampunk opening, Brady Wold decided to take yet another world of dragons and knights and undead and give it the GoT treatment — Skyrim, the setting of The Elder Scrolls 5.

Yes, you too can now watch Riften and Markarth and Whiterun unfold from nothing, all in that fantabulous clockwork style here.