Category Archives: My So-Called Life


At some point in the last couple of months this site got pretty thoroughly compromised by a group of jackasses peddling counterfeit handbags. I don’t know a huge amount about these things, but the basic scheme seems to have been to hijack this site’s Google search results, both by redirecting searchers to their sites and by setting up heaps of links between my site and theirs, thus piggybacking on my site’s reputation. I’ve been vaguely aware that something not quite kosher was going on for the last several weeks, but I kept thinking to deal with the problem by just swatting down the symptoms — deleting strange files that showed up in my site directories, removing a pile of links that appeared on one of my WordPress theme pages, etc. — rather than rolling up my sleeves and properly scrubbing everything clean. Very, very stupid, I know.

After my very sweet mother-in-law called for the second time this week to tell us that when she clicked my name in Google she got handbags, I decided enough was enough. During the last couple of days I’ve rebuilt the site from scratch, and hardened everything in the process. I also learned a lot about how the bad guys operate, enough to make me wonder if they wouldn’t do better applying all that ingenuity to actually, you know, building a legitimate site like this one that people don’t have to be tricked into visiting. But anyway, I very much believe everything should be fixed now. I still don’t know the original source of the infection, but I believe it must have originated with my hosting provider, who have, alas, been having a bit of a problem with security lately.

I want to emphasize that the database itself was never compromised; your email addresses are all secure. Nor did they install anything that could harm visitors’ computers. You may see some slight weirdness with RSS feeds and the like for a few days while everything settles down, and I expect my site will have an odd association with handbags in Google for another week or two, but then hopefully all will be back to normal. I look forward to spending my time making content instead of farting around with WordPress. I think I’m going to have nightmares for a while about that damn handbag site that seemed to pop up every time I clicked a link…

P.S. If you came here looking to buy a handbag, you’re in the wrong place. We’re just a bunch of un-fashion-conscious nerds around these parts. But I would strongly recommend that you avoid buying from “Purse Vally” or any of the myriad other sites with similarly slightly misspelled names.


The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga

As has been something of an open secret for quite a while now, I wrote a book. It’s called The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga, it’s published by the MIT Press, and now it’s shipping at last.

As the name would imply, my book is a history of the Amiga, a computing platform that pioneered much of the digital world of today. Indeed, my central thesis is that the Amiga represents the world’s first true multimedia personal computer. Much of the book is devoted to working out the implications of that claim.

One thing I wanted to do with the book, as with this blog, was to not neglect the technology in writing technological history. To understand what allowed the Amiga to, say, pioneer the field of desktop video (something that has become so ubiquitous in this era of YouTube that, like “desktop publishing,” the term has ceased to be a useful signifier), one has to understand a bit about its design, even about how the Amiga got its picture to the screen and how this differed from other contemporary computers. So, and while I don’t neglect culture and sociology, I do delve quite deeply into the inner workings of the machine. At the same time, I keep the jargon to a minimum and, when I do indulge, make it a point to explain it carefully beforehand. I thoroughly believe that any patient and interested reader is capable of understanding this stuff if the author just shows a little bit of care, and that’s the assumption that guided me throughout the writing. In other words: no computer science degrees are required. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think many of you who enjoy this blog will also enjoy the book — even if only one chapter deals directly with games. (Hey, at least it’s one of the longest ones…)

Again as I do on this blog, I wanted to encourage active reading, to encourage you to go out and explore some of this technology and art for yourselves. With that in mind, I’ve created a website for the book that hosts a fair amount of content. The book itself can of course be purchased from many fine bookstores, online or brick and mortar.

Oh, and sorry things have been a little quiet with the blog lately. I should have some more stuff for you within a day or three.



An Apple II Christmas Card

In the spirit of the season, I thought I would share with you this lovely Apple II Christmas card, originally written by Fred Pence and published in the December, 1980, issue of SoftSide magazine. (If you’re viewing this post via an RSS reader or on a blog aggregator like Planet-IF, you might need to click the link to the post itself to see the embedded video.)

Have a great Christmas, everyone!



The Digital Antiquarian Takes a Holiday

I’m posting this from the good old U.S. of A., where my wife and I are visiting friends and family and availing ourselves of cheap clothes and lots of cheap, greasy food. I’m afraid this holiday also includes a time out from blogging. I will, however, be back on the archaic software beat sometime in the next two to three weeks, once we’ve returned to our home in Norway and I’ve been able to dig myself out from the pile of (paying) work I expect to find awaiting me there. I’ve got some very interesting topics coming up, so please keep me in your hearts and your RSS feeds during this little hiatus. Catch you soon!


Introducing a new blog…

While surveying the state of the Internet today, I decided that what the online world really needed was another blog. Luckily I have never been short of opinions to share. And so I proceeded to do some research into the best approach to my new endeavor. Several sites told me that if I hoped to acquire actual readers I should choose a narrow niche and hew to it rigidly. Others told me that with a bit of planning I could actually make a living off this blogging thing. One helpful fellow said I should review as much music as possible as quickly as possible, linking in each review to the product listing to make some money off every happy consumer I sent Amazon’s way. I needn´t waste a lot of time actually listening to the music I reviewed, he informed me; I need only use the snippets of songs on the Amazon site to get a “good impression” of an album, and so could I be on my way to riches with a minimum of critical effort. I thought about combining these two pieces of seemingly excellent advice, but quickly realized I would have a problem almost immediately: if I built a blog about, say, flugelhorn players who recorded during the 1970s, and reviewed as many flugelhorn albums from the era as possible as quickly as possible, I would soon be out of material. So I decided to throw out all this advice.

Instead, I’m going to use this blog to write about an eclectic mix of things that actually interest me. I may be commiting a sort of Internet-traffic suicide, but maybe one or two of us can have some fun while it lasts. So, you can expect updates on my various projects here along with lots of opinions on music, books, games, and who knows what else. And you can expect a bit of theory, and perhaps some cultural observations, and perhaps even a personal anecdote or two. Or maybe I won’t get to all of that. Who knows?

Defensive self-effacement aside, I have no idea where this blog will go. I tell myself that, as a writer by at least one of my trades, it’s good practice for me to write someplace like this frequently, to keep the old chops sharp, as it were. That’s true enough, and it’s also true that plenty of people before me have kept diaries and journals just for their own satisfaction. But I won’t lie; I’d like it if a few people actually started to read and comment as well. So, whether this is the start of a big thing or a failed experiment or a literary masterpiece whose importance will be understood (a la Samuel Pepys) only a century from now, it’s definitely the start of something. Wish me luck, and thanks for reading!