What is a game cartridge? If you’re asking, you must not have grown up in the 1980s. But that’s OK. We’re happy to share our generation’s fun with you.
A game cartridge is a plastic case containing a circuit board, a connector, and a ROM chip. CDs and DVDs ultimately displaced them because they offered higher capacity at a lower cost. But in the 1970s and 1980s, the only lasers our game consoles had were the ones they drew on the screens in games about aliens. We liked our cartridges, even if we called them tapes sometimes.
The new owners of what’s left of Radio Shack want to specialize in batteries. Although this isn’t a guaranteed survival plan, it makes sense to me.
Last week, I went to one of the few remaining Radio Shack locations to get some overpriced diodes and D-sub connectors for a project. My oldest son tagged along. He asked about the store. I tried to describe it, and finally I said, “It’s kind of like Batteries Plus would be if it sold electronic parts too. And phones.”
When I heard Radio Shack was going to be open on Thanksgiving day, I wondered why they would bother. The few Radio Shack stores near me are deserted on normal days, so I didn’t know why anyone would take time out of Thanksgiving Day to go to Radio Shack.
Based on this sad account from an employee who spent hard time working at Radio Shack, I was probably even more right than I thought. The first story, from Black Friday 2004, tells the tale of a store that, when all was said and done, probably lost money on Black Friday. And this was in an era when tech blogs would say, “Believe it or not, there are worse places to be at 6am on Black Friday than Radio Shack.”
Anyone old enough to have played with an original Nintendo NES knows the problem: You plug in the cartridge, turn on the system, and get a blank screen and the power light blinks at you. The schoolyard fix is to take out the cartridge, blow into it, then put it back into the system. Then, with a little luck, you can play your game. The trouble is, that’s just a short-term fix. In the long run, it makes the problem worse and eventually the system can’t play games at all. The solution is to clean them. Here’s a process for cleaning NES games.
The venerable Atari 2600 turned 35 this past weekend. People of a certain age remember it as the device that ushered in home video games. I know I spent a lot of afternoons after school playing blocky, chirpy video games on them in the early 1980s.
The 2600 wasn’t the first cartridge-based console, but it was the first widely successful one. It even spawned clones, the private-label Sears Video Arcade and the Coleco Gemini.
Today, the Web protested SOPA and PIPA in various ways. And though momentum seemed to start shifting as long as a week ago, the protest went on, and some Washington politicians started changing sides, suggesting that maybe, just maybe, sometimes representative government can’t be bought.
I even saw a quote somewhere–I wish I’d written down where–that attributed one side-changer as saying it’s more important to get this legislation done right than to get it done fast. Read more
CES is this week, and undoubtedly there will be a lot of different things showing, but I can’t imagine anything being more important than this: The first ready-to-use home 3D printer. 3D home printing is going to change the world, and this device is the first commercially available printer that you don’t have to assemble from a kit.
This is an industrial revolution in a box. Read more
Like a lot of people are doing these days, my brother- and sister-in-law replaced a CRT TV with an LCD. I helped my brother-in-law hook it up last weekend, and we got it working, but probably could have done things a little bit differently.
A lot of inexpensive LCDs have a limited number of inputs in order to meet a price point, and that’s what we ran into. The LCD had just as many inputs as the TV it replaced, but with some cable shuffling, we would have been able to make the new TV easier to use. Read more