8 Bit Underground

.: still here

by root on Feb.16, 2012, under Uncategorized

.COM Domain Name Renewal – 1 Year (recurring) $12.42
Quantity: 1 domain(s)
8BITUNDERGROUND.COM

Subtotal: $12.42
Shipping & Handling: $0.00
Tax: $0.00
Order Total $12.42

I will have some things to share shortly – as always life has gotten busy.. Hang in there if you are going through the same stresses I am. Hopefully it will get better, or maybe I will meet you at the ledge and we can talk each other down to have a beer?

Leave a Comment more...

.: jobs

by root on Oct.13, 2011, under Uncategorized

So its been a week or so since Steve Jobs passed away and I’ve gone through quite a few emotions during that period. I was lying in bed reading pulse news when I saw the news initially on the day of his passing, and of course initially I just lay there without really doing anything other than reading the bold headline and feeling my heart sink a little.

As anyone who still visits this blog knows, I am a geek and I am a geek since the true first generation of computers (i.e. home computers). So for me, the Jobs/Wozniak saga has been one that I grew up with and lived with as an adult for some time.

There were no tears, but I was close. Beyond just the fact that someone who I hold incredible respect for died – there was also the fact that he died pretty young.

So the week trudges on and I make the mistake of reading some of the blog posts and comment sections of places that posted the news of Steve’s death (now that he’s gone, I can call him by his first name right?) and it was pretty disheartening seeing the negative reactions towards those who feel as I do – sad that the guy is gone.

A lot of my family is gone too, and I miss them just as much – granted Steve Jobs was simply a human, but he was by no means a simple human. To a large part of the world consumer products are important, and while Apple might not be right for everyone, they are right for a good percentage of people. I would be willing to bet that its those people who do not care for Apple and the way they sell somewhat of a “closed box” in the ipad/ipod line.

Everyone is entitled to your opinion but to me it is sort of like believing in God.. A lot of people don’t and that is fine for them, but I’ve always wondered what it could possibly hurt to believe in something good.

Steve Jobs holds no comparison to God in my eyes, but he was definitely something good to believe in.

Rest in Peace Steve, it will be interesting to see what the company you co-founded does in the next 10 years.

Leave a Comment more...

.: phonelosers of america: book

by root on Apr.09, 2011, under BBS, Non-Fiction, OldsCool, Telco

So I really didn’t intend this to be a book/movie review site, and it won’t be – but here is another book mention that  I think is relevant.

I have been a fan of phonelosers of america since the extremely early days – though I must admit that when I first saw them I assumed it was just a joke and since my sense of humor is extremely dry and doesn’t normally cross into my geek interests, I didn’t pay a ton of attention immediately.

They persisted though and I quickly realized that the take wasn’t just a comedy, but did involve some actual hacking and phreaking along with some anarchy (which has never interested me in the least – though I would think some people today would consider hacking and phreaking anarchy in themselves). They also eventually broke through my dry sense of humor barriers. I mean how can you read the “Dino” pranks and not absolutely be rolling on the ground laughing?? That story is priceless and worth the cost of the book in itself, even if I have read the story 100’s of times online for free.

Anyway – so I was browsing the shelves at amazon and stumbled across the book and decided I had to have it. Yes the book is basically all of their stories put into hardcopy (or ebook) format, and I will also admit that the way the stories are presented is a little bit odd as they don’t really follow any chronological order – but I have to wonder if this isn’t just more zaniness that makes the PLA so funny to begin with transcending itself into the structure of the book.

So for the uninitiated, the PLA basically consists of tricks suck as prank calls that they record and also persist at for extraordinary lengths of time, fairly basic hacking/phreaking stunts, anarchy type things such as cursing over the PA system at a store similar to Wal-Mart, and changing signs at McDonald’s so everyone who goes through the drive through gets to read them. At first those things might not seem terribly interesting for the type of people who might visit this blog – but unless you already know that you don’t dig the PLA stuff, I would at least recommend you visit their site and check it out or read some excerpts from the book. I say that because I feel like those who enjoy the dedication to the old school that this blog promotes will see some of the same dedication to more primitive pranks and stunts in the PLA – even if it isn’t *quite* as old school as what we normally talk about here. The PLA began formally in the early 90’s, and still exist today.

One other thing about PLA that has always been somewhat interesting to me is that they have never really considered themselves a “group”. I remember throughout my online history that this has always been somewhat of a source of frustration for lamers as they are always asking “can I be part of the PLA”, to which the core founders generally respond “sure, start a bbs or site for your area and tell us what you do..”. The core “group” has always been fairly small – RBCP and several friends. Everything else is simply community – not really anything organized by group activities.

I will once again caution though to not go into this book thinking you are going to read Mitnick/Poulsen level exploits of VMS or HP3000’s. Go into it understanding that voicemail hacking, prank calls, and code abuse are the order of the day. The PLA made being a k0d3z kid cool again.. :)

Finally – and I did not know this until I read the book; RBCP is quite the nomad. I knew he spent some time in Illinois, which I believe is where he “grew up”, but he also left home at 17 and moved to Galveston, lived in Austin, OH, OR, FL, and I believe SC as well. The thing that was even more interesting and actually raised my eyebrows was the fact that he spent a lot of time homeless – very young – and seemed to enjoy it due to the fact that his responsibilities other than finding enough food to eat and somewhere safe and hopefully warm to sleep, were none.

This takes serious balls, street smarts and maybe even a bit of insanity – which goes a long way to back some of the absolutely insane stuff that this book covers.

I have no association with PLA whatsoever other than enjoying what it represents for a long time now, and also being someone who purchased the book, but I will recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed what this blog has been put together for. I do not think you will regret the purchase.

For an excellent “one-two punch”, I suggest not only purchasing this book, but also purchasing Commodork by Rob Ohara as well – a book about growing up with a C64, bbs’s, long distance codes, and one again – a pretty big set of balls. Both books are pretty well written, easy reads, and if nothing else I applaud the authors for taking that big step and releasing novels about stuff they are passionate about.. Something I’ve been pondering and would really love to do some day.

Leave a Comment more...

.: talk hard

by root on Mar.05, 2011, under Fiction, OldsCool

So it was 1990 or so and I hadn’t been out of high school too terribly long. I was definitely still a “kid” in my own mind and was also still very much infected with the bbs/h/p/warez bug.

I don’t really remember if I saw it immediately after it came out or if a little time passed, but I remember seeing the commercial for Pump Up The Volume and absolutely FREAKING.

First of all, I thought Christian Slater was a pretty good actor – but I remember the commercial showing him in his room, it was all dark and he had radios and gadgets and stuff all around. I really “got” that because that was sort of the way I always tried to keep my own room set up.

So we watch the movie and we see that its something a little different than most movies of teenage angst. As a matter of fact, the take on the movie was quite a bit different an approach than I have seen since either. We have an outcast who is new town.. Not just new in town but new in the environment as well as he came from “back east” and was now living in Arizona. Talk about a huge shock to the system right there if nothing else.

So our character Mark had been a ham radio guy “back east”. Unfortunately his setup wont reach his friends, so through a little hacker motivation, Mark figures out that he can create a pirate radio station and begins broadcasting music, as well as commentary and even takes phone calls from others and reads letters that get sent to his PO Box.

He is a loner, and while they didn’t really portray him to be much of a geek in the movie, he obviously had some geek skillz right? What to be running a pirate radio station and all.

Suddenly once people start hearing his show, he starts getting some more serious phone calls (which he was routing through his neighbors yard shed heheh!!) one ends up being a suicide and now Mark (our character) is somewhat involved indirectly with this suicide.

So from there he meets the “eat me beat me” lady which is a fairly hot dark haired actress who we are eventually treated to without her shirt on and the dialogue from that point forward mainly revolves around Mark thinking that “this has gotten too big.. I gotta quit..” and “Nora” telling him that it is his responsibility NOT to quit now – that too many people were counting on the show and that it had become something bigger than just a hobby in a  new town.

It is at this point that we go from a pretty cool movie to something a little more silly. Even at my young age in 1990 it was a bit silly.

So Mark and Nora decide that they’re going to do one last broadcast while the FCC is out searching for Mark to shut his show down for good and (we assume) take him to jail.

So they steal his mom’s jeep and mobilize the radio station and off they go with helicopters and FCC triangulation vans all trying to “catch” them. They even go off road a little bit – but all of this is in vain.

In the end, Nora holds a broken connection in her hands – stating she can “fix this” as she sort of presses the ends together. But Mark knows that there is no need anymore as he stands up – looking over the valley of high school students, police, FCC commissioner, etc..

He has a mic, and begins rolling with some banter about the airwaves are free and whatever you feel you should take them and share your feelings on the air.

I think the thing about this movie that touches me more than the sort of “identifying” I could use to compare my own high school years with Mark’s in some ways is the fact that we were just on the cusp of entering into a new age. An age where not only geeks like me and so many of you engaged in online communication – but where grandmothers, dog catchers, harley riders, and whoever else wanted to have an online presence to “express themselves” could absolutely do so – and as it turns out, eventually do so quite easily.

And now, as we have debate of net neutrality, the whole thought of big brother comes knocking at the door once again, and we may have a total “comes around again” situation on our hands very soon.

So yes indeed.. Talk Hard, Steal the Air… And lets wait and see what the next evolution in the ever continuing saga of communications will bring us.

For anyone who cares – I would rate the movie probably 6.5 or 7 on a 10 scale.. Acting was actually pretty decent mostly – but as I mentioned the story seemed to disintegrate about 3/4 of the way through. I have been meaning to see if this was ever done as a novel. If so I will post about it once read.

Leave a Comment more...

.: 8-bit underground forums are back!

by root on Mar.04, 2011, under OldsCool

Yes, you read that correctly. I have decided to reopen and restructure the forums. They will contain fewer sections in the actual underground topics, and maybe a few more sections in the general areas.

As I believe I mentioned in the last post, I will be coming up with a new way to update and link the software that I am cataloging. Still trying to figure out the best way to do this.

Anyways – I should be adding another relevant post to the blog later this weekend so keep your eyes peeled.

Finally, I am offering a bounty for several OLD pieces of software. If you have them, let me know and you can make some coin.

  • CodeSuck – Atari 8-bit Codehacker
  • TransPhor – by Brew Associates and Phortune 500 (AE Style BBS software)
  • Fone Conspiracy BBS Software
  • Genesis PC and Genesis Deluxe BBS Software (and code if possible)
  • Happy Hacker – Atari phone tone program

There are likely more – but those come to mind first. Really just about any hacker or phreaker type apps for either the Atari 8-bit or the Atari ST would generate a bounty – though I will be honest that its TransPhor that I want more than anything else..

Check back later for a newer post.

Leave a Comment more...

.: spring is near

by root on Feb.27, 2011, under Uncategorized

Tell me why I have to be a powerslave.

I really didn’t mean for the entire dead of winter to pass without making a post to this blog.

Really.

I apologize for 1/3 of the content here consisting of my apologies for a lack of posting. I have kept this domain for another year as I have every intention of continuing down the path of documenting the underground of yesterday but it seems like as I get older the more things that are trying to pull for equal access to my time.

Work and my side work has been claiming my time more than anything else. Stress has been fairly high lately and there have been a few other things going on as well. Additionally, I have decided that collecting 8bit gear isn’t really something conducive to me freeing up time and (more importantly) paying off my bills on the quest towards being debt free. With that said, I will be getting rid of most of what I have accumulated other than things that will likely be placed on display in my office such as my Apple Cat acoustic coupler, my Atari 830 Acoustic Coupler, my GameLine Modem, etc. Going on the block will be my prized C128-D, several commodore monitors, several C128’s, about 4 Atari 1050’s, an Atari 800xl that’s been modified with additional RAM, and the list goes on.

This is not to say that I won’t be looking out for special items, nor that I might not build a c128 or c64 hardware system again sometime, but I just haven’t really found anything that I can’t do within an emulator as it pertains to my endeavors of documenting the underground of the 70’s and 80’s.

I may also abandon my pet project of coding my own software database – which I did in Adobe Flex. Its not really the most flexible language despite its name, and the fact that it cant hook into MS Access, SQL, or any other true database natively is just kind of stupid. The way I am adding things to the database now is one of the reasons the project has stalled a little bit. The work flow is just slow and tedious.

Anyways. I will leave “all of you” with that to chew on as you wait for a real update from me, which I promise before summer. :)

One nice thing was that I did recently get a comment from a reader stating that he enjoyed the blog. I really appreciate that, and it was something that really made me want to continue on with this site.

See you soon.. Get your sunglasses ready! Spring is right around the corner.

Leave a Comment more...

.: merry Christmas 2010 / full circle.

by root on Dec.23, 2010, under Uncategorized

So we sort of come full circle with this blog in a sense as I believe that it was Christmas of last year that I basically got it “started” even though I think we had a post or two prior to the Christmas 2009 post, it was really the one that got me feeling nostalgic and wanting to write about all of the things that I remembered from computing, phones, etc from my youth.

So my image above that I believe comes from the Atari Historical Society (full credit due to them – great site!!!) because the 2600 was the first Atari hardware that entered my house, and really started my love affair with Atari that still exists today.

As I watch my nephew grow up, I am somewhat sad that he won’t have the same feelings to look back on that I have today – but maybe it is a blessing in disguise as those feelings are so intensely happy that they are also pretty sad in the fact that they are gone.

With that said – I am going to enter 2011 with resolve to continue the blog, and likely get the forums back up and running as well. So look forward to more rambling late night after maybe a few too many vodka tonics or whiskey’s on ice and pouring out of my blue heart to all 3 of my readers about how much I miss the old days as I allow the present to just slip by.

Yep, I’ll be one of those who will complain about how quickly life passed me because I sat around and dwelled about an 8 year period or so and the smell of styrofoam and silica gel packets that I can still smell in my nose as if I had just unwrapped them from under the tree.

Merry Christmas – 2010.

Leave a Comment more...

.: misdialing leads to tornado alarms

by root on Sep.26, 2010, under Telco

Just goes to show what you might find with a little handscanning.

This article was ripped from http://www.engadget.com – an excellent gadget blog.

Sounds like fun, no? Find the super-secret phone number that triggers a citywide tornado alarm, dial it up, and watch as Hutchinson, Kansas goes berserk. That’s essentially what happened this past week, when an AT&T “software glitch” caused the security systems surrounding the tornado lines to vanish. When the system operates correctly, these sensitive phone numbers can only receive calls from three specific phones; if and when those phones call, alarms are set off to warn residents of impending danger. Due to this here “glitch,” all phone numbers were able to dial in, which led to a smattering of false alarms when locals misdialed and accidentally rang the tornado hotlines. Thankfully for everyone involved, the issues have since been fixed, but there’s been no word on whether these folks were simply trying to guess Dorothy’s unlisted digits.

1 Comment more...

.: we’re still alive

by root on Sep.19, 2010, under Uncategorized

just thought i would post a quick note that we are still alive and while I have closed the forums for now, the blog will remain open.

through the nearly year long existence of this blog, i’ve only received one piece of correspondence indicating that people actually visit and enjoy this site, so it was somewhat easy to let summer fun get in the way of posting articles for a little while. i do still have an interest in sharing my love for old underground computing with others who might enjoy reading it though, so this site will remain.

for those of you who do visit and enjoy the site i want to say thank you very much for making this site part of your life.

Leave a Comment more...

.: archive updated!

by root on May.09, 2010, under Uncategorized

First of all I’d like to apologize for taking so long for the software review I promsied.. I look forward to doing it, but I had a wild hair to get some more stuff on the underground software archive and ended up adding about 16 new items to it. There are 15 new C64/128 hacking/phreaking apps added, and one Atari 2600 phreaking app added.

I was also able to clean up some of the Adobe Flex code that I’ve been using for the software archive and in turn the code makes a little more sense to me now. There are several other things I will be doing such as adding lightbox to the blog, and if you haven’t noticed there is also a new “special projects” link at the top of the blog. The reason I added this section was that there were several things I wanted to cover that I thought were going to be much too extensive to dedicate just a blog post to. Things like the Atari Gameline Modem, Games Computers Play for the Atari 8Bit, Phone Man for the C64, and more. This will likely be a pretty exciting page to hit every week or two to see whats changed – though I’ll be posting updates on the blog and forums when something new hits as well.

With that said, the archive will continue to be updated – usually on the weekends, but potentially a new item or two during the week as well. The system for updating the archive isn’t as simple as just updating some HTML unfortunately, so I have to sit down and dedicate some time to it – which I usually have little of during the week.

As always – to the one or two of you that may be following this blog, thanks for the hits.

Leave a Comment : more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!