The President's Message

January 2002

Andy Toth

In the Executive Meeting Notes a reference is made to a new computer for the club. Ventura County Computers will put one together that will support multiple operating systems. This machine will be used for both the beginners SIG at the monthly general meeting and the SIGs at Ventura County Computers. This has a real advantage as the MS Operating systems are not consistent, and differences can be shown with a simple reboot. Recently, I have been experiencing "Operating System Shock." I have left the comfort of Win98 for WinME and Win2000. Change always interrupts security but is necessary to move forward. Remember, I moved into the PC world kicking and screaming. I wonder what it would have been like if UNIX systems were as affordable?

I am going to digress and talk about games, one game in particular. I cannot even remember its name, but my longest encounter with it lasted 32 hours one weekend. I guess I could have been considered a hardcore gamer. A lot of people could. The game was removed from the machine as it ran so much after work hours and on weekends that it interrupted the calculations the machine was doing. It ran on a Vax1100, I think. The operating system was Eunice, Dec's version of UNIX. The year was 1986. What made this game so appealing was that it never repeated itself and it could not be won. There were no graphics, only defined boundaries on a screen full of symbols. The hero was an "*", and potions, charms, scrolls, armor and weapons were all symbols of one kind or another. The task was to work your way to the 28th level of the dungeon, recover the ring, and make your way back to the surface. Once at the surface, who knows what would happen? I actually never made it. The keyboard was the interface, your strategy and imagination the real gem. The TRICK, each time you met demise and restarted, the association of symbols with objects changed and, even more interesting, the dungeon layout and monsters on each level changed. It was a totally new game.

Memorization of keystrokes was useless. "Absolute Blind Luck" was essential. I almost believe that your strategy was learned and reinforced as you proceeded to the lower levels. Just to let you know the time invested, one level had a particular devious monster. It took about three hours to get to that range of levels. It probably took 25 attempts to defeat it. The monsters on the next level were even more devious. Hardcore is an understatement. Yes, one could save games at various levels and resume them.

Where is this going? Well, this was probably the first venture into a sort of Virtual Reality game. In the near future, you may see this capability with incredible graphics. High speed will soon be defined as 20MHz connections to the Internet. Just as my grandmother went from the horse and carriage to a man walking on the moon, we, too, shall see things that are incomprehensible.

The Holiday Season is upon us. I want to wish you all a Happy Holiday Season, and prosperous and Healthy New Year.