Monday, October 30, 2017

RC2017/10 -- Final Stretch

We knew the time would come eventually -- the end of the month draws near, and with it the end of the latest RetroChallenge event. It's been a busy month for me, although once again I've been too distracted between real life and my RetroChallenge judging duties to actually do anything on my actual project... :-(

Uncoordinated Stopping Time

The "official" (such as it is) stopping time for the event is midnight on Halloween, 31 October 2017. Just as we allow people to fudge their start time to match midnight in their local timezone, we similarly will recognize that many people will prefer to use their local midnight for their stop time -- no problem, please take that time. Just be on the Honor System to not borrow too much from anyone else's timezone! In any case, time is ticking -- run hard for the finish line!

Here Comes The Judge

We recognize that good documentation is not done in a rush at midnight. So we will give everyone an extra day or so to finish-up your blogging, videography, or whatever. The judge probably won't take too critical of a look at least until this weekend. With all these great projects, it make take a little while to pick winners and announce prizes. Don't worry, the judge is slow but only somewhat unreliable...

Anyway, even before the end gets here I think I can safely say that this has been another great RetroChallenge event. Thanks to all the competitors for the entertainment they are providing to me and other geeks around the world! Now be strong, keep the faith, fight the good fight, check-back here for the judging results sometime in the next couple of weeks or so, and meet back here for RC2018/04 in April 2018.

Oh yeah, and stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

RC2017/10 -- Halftime Report

It is traditional for there to be some sort of half-time report during the RetroChallenge events, and nearly just as traditional for that report to be a bit late... Well, what did you expect this time??

Comments In Blue

Like last time, I have marked my half-time comments on the entrants page. This is convenient for me, as I don't have to retype names, project descriptions, etc. Plus, I think it helps in keeping the comments near the projects themselves. In other words, I hope you like it because I intend to keep doing it for each event. The final comments will be done similarly, but in another color... :-)

Fourth Quarter Rally

All in all, I'd say we have a nice group of projects and some great contenders this time around. Sure, we have the usual few that still haven't made it out of the gate, but we have some folks that have made great progress and even one or two that could hang-up their soldering iron today and still make a good finish. I'm not sure we have many projects that meet our usual level of absurdity, but there is still time for that too!

So, get out there, check my comments, peek in at the competition, and get to going for the final week of the competition. If you are only observing, then check out my comments, let us know if you agree or disagree, and then cheer your favorites on their path to victory and glory...or at least victory... :-)

And remember, to see what happens you will need to stay tuned!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

RC2017/10 -- RetroChallenge Eve!

It's almost time for RC2017/10 -- the "official" start is at midnight UTC, on 1 October 2017. As I write this, that's only a few hours away. Alternatively, I'm happy to let anyone have until midnight in their local time as a "grace" period. I will extend the same sort of grace period to the end of the contest, so feel free to enjoy your Halloween later in the month! :-)

Latecomers Welcome

We usually see a number of entrants show-up after the start of the contest. I expect that will happen again this time. No problem -- send me the info about your entry and I'll get you on the list. Just keep in mind that starting later only cheats yourself of that extra time for your project. Then again, entering costs you nothing but your dignity...

Prizes Available

As usual, we have a few meager prizes to offer for what we deem to be the best entries. Niels Moseley (@trc_wm) has offered-up a "dead tree" copy of Racing the Beam by Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost. Similarly, I will provide a "dead tree" copy of Interfacing Microcomputers to the Real World by Murray Sargent III and Richard L. Shoemaker. I also reserve the right to dig something out of my stash if I deem it as an appropriate prize for an especially good project. And, of course, I am still open to hear from anyone else that would like to donate another prize.

Guide, Teach, Entertain

So, now is the time to execute your projects and share them with the world. Projects that provide regular and timely updates, produced for the "common man" but with a "skilled hobbyist" in mind will be the most favored. Thorough and lengthy writing is not particularly encouraged unless it is required for explaining some portion of the project, but clear, entertaining, and insightful writing will be highly esteemed. Similarly, video content can be a big plus, but keep your videos short enough to be consumed by a father of three teenagers... :-)

So, that's it for now -- do your best, and good luck in your endeavours! Have fun, stay retro, and show us what you've got! I'm sure the rest of us will stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

RC2017/10 -- Open for Entrants!

OK...I reckon it's about that time again -- who is ready for another round of RetroChallenge?!?!?!

Enter Now

If you plan to join us in the RC2017/10 competition, now is the time to make yourself known. Feel free to refer to our "RetroChallenge Rules" page for reminders, but the basics are "do something interesting with an old computer, and blog about it for month". Whatever you are going to do, please send me an email describing:
  1. Your name (or alias);
  2. Your picture (or I'll find something online);
  3. Your Twitter handle (if applicable);
  4. Your blog location (for project updates); and
  5. A brief synopsis of your project.
I likely will produce an entrants list that looks a bit like the one from RC2017/04, so use that as a guide for the level of information needed. Please send the information requested above to me via email to linville at tuxdriver dot com -- figuring-out how to decode that address is your first test...

Go, Go, Go!

Well, then, that's all for now -- a little more than three weeks until the start of the competition! Currently I do not have any prize donations lined-up, but I am hopeful as always that some of our retro-oriented friends will come through with some great prize offerings. Or I probably can dig-up a thing or two around here. There should be some Tandy Assembly left-overs, if nothing else. Don't worry! Remember, the competition is it's own reward... :-)

Anyway, get your entry to me, order your parts, and make any necessary preparations. October will soon be here!

Friday, May 26, 2017

RC2017/04 Final Results

Not only has April come and past, but now May is soon to follow. It is high time to post some results!

As a reminder, we have the following prize donations:
  • Bounty Box: 8-bit pixelated sunglasses, a copy of The Soul of a New Machine (1981) in genuine dead-tree format, and and a pack of Sugru pliable epoxy repair putty (donated by Mike Spooner)
  • a copy of Terrible Nerd, signed paper book or kindle (donated by Kevin Savetz)
  • a signed/autographed Floppy Days T-shirt? Or any sort of Floppy Days item that can be purchased from VistaPrint (donated by Randy Kindig)
  • a copy of the Original Gamer Stevie Strow CoCoFEST 25th Anniversary Edition CoCo Game Play Videos DVD (donated by Steve Strowbridge)
  • two Raspberry Pi Zero W PCBs (donated by Michael Mulhern)
Just as a side note, Michael Mulhern was originally slated to help with the judging, but the real world has swamped him with personal committments. This has left the judging responsibilities completely to me this time around, so now you know whom to blame if you disagree with the results!

Now, on with the show! I would like to restate that the Retrochallenge is all about fun, with the understanding that it is fun to apply our technical skills and wherewithal to do silly things around old computers. A good showing in Retrochallenge should be fun for the participant and the audience, and receiving (or not receiving) a prize should not be seen as an endorsement (or lack thereof) of anyone's skills or efforts. With that in mind, I designate the following prize pairings in recognition for the entries that I found to be the most "Retrochallenge-y" this time around:
  • Bounty Box -- Richard Loxley
  • Terrible Nerd -- Scott Lawrence
  • Floppy Days schwag -- Tom Raidna
  • ogStevieStrow CoCo Game Play DVD -- Matteo Trevisan
  • Raspberry Pi Zero W -- Mark Sherman
  • Raspberry Pi Zero W -- Ryan Walmsley
Honorable Mentions also go out to Sean McNamara, Phillip Stevens, Alan Garfield, Christopher Just, and Mike Spooner -- nice projects! And, of course, we extend our deepest condolences to Rob O'Donnell on the untimely lost of his father. Best wishes to all, of course.

Prize winners, please send your shipping information to me as linville at tuxdriver dot com... If you can't decipher the email address, then ask in the comments! :-)
 
Well done, prize winners and honorable mentions! Better luck next time to the other competitors! And please do stay tuned for more Retrochallenge news and announcements as we approach the next event, currently slated for October 2017!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A moment for Manchester...

Saffie Rose Roussos: ‘quiet and unassuming with a creative flair’. Photograph: Collect/PAn
Second Manchester bomb victim named as eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos

I had intended to post the prize winners for RC2017/04 today, but after last night's attack on a concert in Manchester, England it seems bit out of place to celebrate much of anything today. As a father of three, it is devastating just to imagine finding myself where too many parents in the UK find themselves today.

Fundamentally the RetroChallenge is a silly thing, a bit of fun had mostly by a few old guys reaching back to their days of youth. But what happened last night is deadly serious. Out of sympathy and respect for the dead, the injured, and their friends and families, I will delay the prize announcements until Friday, 26 May 2017. Please check back here thereafter.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Even Judge's Excuses Wear Thin...

I know, I know -- where are the results? I am embarassed that this is taking so long, and I do apologize profusely!

Partial Results

In the meantime, I have gone through the entrants list and for those entries that never got off the ground I have appended a "FALSE START" notation. Similarly, for those that didn't seem to get where they were going I have added a "DID NOT FINISH" notation. Please check my work, in case I have followed the wrong link for someone's blog or made some other similarly bone-headed mistake -- these things can happen...

Plenty To Do

Once again I am amazed both at the number of entrants and at the quality and depth of many (even most) of the projects. This is something people do for fun and nominal "prizes"! We really have some great competitors producing work that I hope is as gratifying for them to produce as it is satisfying and entertaining for the rest of us to consume!

Anyway, enough of me blogging! I have other things I need to do... ;-)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Pencils Down for RC2017/04

Alright, someone blow the whistle! Everyone has now seen the end of April 2017, even in their own locations. It looks like we have some great entries this time around, so I've got some work to do to catch-up! I hope Michael Mulhern has been keeping-up better than I have, but I hear that Australia may have recently tried to kill him again... ;-) So, he may be just as far behind as I am...

Sit Tight

Anyway, I am now back from the various retro computing festivities this April (i.e. the festivities that distracted me from RetroChallenge until now). With the end of the competition, Michael and I will review the various entries and attempt to boil them down to the cream of the crop...or something like that. Give us another week or so for that review and then check back here for the results.

Suggestions?

In the meantime, feel free to answer back with any suggestions for improvements or offers to sponsor future prizes or whatever else might move you. I know that my own chief complaint this time would be about the lack of running commentary by the host and even the lack of my own entry as part of the competition. Both of those I blame on the new schedule, so if you have any suggestions as to alternate scheduling options, then please post them in the replies below! I, for one, am thinking that a February/August rotation might suite me better for me than the current April/October offering...thoughts?

Anyway, be sure to check back here in a week or so for 2017/04 results, and in the meantime remember this: you were only young once, but you can be RETRO forever!

Friday, April 28, 2017

RC2017/04 is in the final stretch!

Hello, all! It has been a bit quiet here at RetroChallenge HQ this month...or at least that would be the impression left by the lack of blog posts!

Hyperactive Schedule

The fact is, this April (and perhaps April in general) has turned-out to be less than friendly to me for much RetroChallenge activity. Note, that there has been plenty of retro-computing activity -- VCF East, CoCoFEST!, and VCF Southeast this weekend. It is just that none of that activity has been particularly relevant to RetroChallenge. It may be that we will need to entertain another schedule shift, since none of these annual events appear to be shifting their schedules anytime soon.

Deadline Approaching

Nevertheless, time (and the end of RC2017/04) marches on! I have been keeping-up with the Twitter feed, and from there I know that several of our contenders have been making good progress. Due to my overbooked schedule, I never got a "half-time report" published for this round, but there will be no such excuse offered fo the final results... The official end of the event will be at midnight GMT on 30 April 2017, but as usual a grace period will be observed until midnight in each competitor's local timezone.

Pass In Review

It will take a few days after Sunday both to review everyone's entry and for the judges to confer. Thereafter, verdicts will be rendered, blame assigned, and punshments meted-out! Ummm...or something like that... :-)

So until then, RetroChallenge competitors -- may the odds be ever in your favor!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

And...RC2017/04 is a go!

I've been a little quiet over the past few days, due to travel to New Jersey to attend the VCF East event. During that time, my email Inbox filled-up with number of last-minute entries for the RC2017/04 event. Now we have more than 2 dozen entrants -- huzzah!

There are so many entrants that I haven't had enough time to grasp every entry -- I was too busy just trying to log them all! Still, my general feeling is that we have a good group of entries of roughly the same caliber as we are accustomed to seeing. So, this should be another great month of retro goodness to entertain and inspire us all.

Good luck to all the entrants, and thank to all the observers for all the support that you can and will be providing to our competitors...

Now...go be retro!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

RC2017/04 is coming!

The next RetroChallenge event (RC2017/04) is coming soon -- it will be here this Saturday! Do you know where your soldering iron is? Perhaps next to your floppy disks -- don't get burned!

I think we are up to 16 entrants so far, and I hope to see a few more. Often we get a few stragglers after the start of the event -- I'd like to discourage that, but I'm pretty soft about letting them in late anyway... :-)

Anyway, a late entry is time lost for participation. The whole point of RetroChallenge is to have an excuse for spending time on your goofy hobby, so don't delay -- get those entries in ASAP.

Remember, it's RetroChallenge -- the only losing move is not to play!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

RC2017/04 announcement of prizes available

April will be here in less than two weeks, and with it will come the RC2017/04 event -- who else is excited! We do have a few entries already announced, so what are you waiting for? Send your entry to me ASAP!

Prizes Available

We do have a few prizes available for this round of the RetroChallenge competition. In no particular order, lets list them out:

  • Bounty Box: 8-bit pixelated sunglasses, a copy of The Soul of a New Machine (1981) in genuine dead-tree format, and and a pack of Sugru pliable epoxy repair putty (donated by Mike Spooner)
  • a copy of Terrible Nerd, signed paper book or kindle (donated by Kevin Savetz)
  • a signed/autographed Floppy Days T-shirt? Or any sort of Floppy Days item that can be purchased from VistaPrint (donated by Randy Kindig)
  • a copy of the Original Gamer Stevie Strow CoCoFEST 25th Anniversary Edition CoCo Game Play Videos DVD (donated by Steve Strowbridge)

That's a pretty good list, but I'll also keep an eye out for any item from my own collection that seems particularly suitable for a particularly good or inspiring entry. Of course, anyone else that has a prize to donate is still welcome to do so as well!

Enter To Win

We already have six entrants for RC2017/04, but we could certainly enjoy having several more! Be sure to review the rules and then send me your entry as described in an earlier post. I'll be waiting to hear from you!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

RC2017/04 -- Open for Entrants!

OK...I still haven't got all the DNS stuff straightened-out to get retrochallenge.org pointed to the new Blogger site, but the show must go on! Just use retrochallenge.tuxdriver.com for now and hopefully the more usual addresses will get sorted eventually.

Enter Now

If you plan to join us in the RC2017/04 competition, now is the time to make yourself known. Feel free to refer to our new "RetroChallenge Rules" page for reminders, but the basics are "do something interesting with an old computer, and blog about it for month". Whatever you are going to do, please send me an email describing:
  1. Your name (or alias);
  2. Your Twitter handle (if applicable);
  3. Your blog location (for project updates); and
  4. A brief synopsis of your project.
I hope that I can master Blogger well enough to produce an entrants list that looks a bit like the one from RC2016/10, so use that as a guide for the level of information needed. Please send the information request above to me via email to linville at tuxdriver dot com -- figuring-out how to decode that address is your first test...

Go, Go, Go!

Well, then, that's all for now -- less than three weeks until the start of the competition! I know that we have a few cool prize donations promised so far, and I still mean to put-up something of my own as well. One more decision to make! Anyway, get your entry to me, order your parts, and make any necessary preparations. April will soon be here!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New site for RetroChallenge on the web!

Greetings old nerds, middle-aged geeks, and retro computing enthusiasts of all ages! The time for the April 2017 RetroChallenge event (i.e. RC2017/04) is fast approaching, and this will be the new home on the World Wide Web for the RetroChallenge events.

I accepted the mantle of running the RetroChallenge events starting with RC2016/10 back in October. That event continued to use blogging infrastructure supplied by Mark Wickens, but I'm more comfortable with the facilities povided by the Blogger platform. So, there will be a little shuffling around of URLs and the like. Don't worry, we'll still be here (no matter where "here" is)! I'm working on getting things straightened out already, including getting retrochallenge.org correctly pointed at this site.

About RetroChallenge

In a nutshell, the RetroChallenge is a loosely disorganised gathering of RetroComputing enthusiasts who collectively do stuff with old computers for a month.

The event is very much open to interpretation… individuals set there own challenges, which can range from programming to multimedia work; hardware restoration to exploring legacy networking… or just plain dicking around. It really doesn’t matter what you do, just so long as you do it.

While the RetroChallenge has its competitive side, it’s not really a contest… it’s more like global thermonuclear war — everyone can play, but nobody really wins.

Competition Rules

  1. RetroChallenge 2017/04 commences 1st April 2017 and runs until 30th April 2017.
  2. In order to qualify, computer systems must by approximately 10 years old (or older!) however exceptions will always be made for exotica!
  3. Gaming consoles and PDAs qualify if they were made in the previous century.
  4. Where appropriate, replica hardware and emulators may be used.
  5. Entrants are responsible for adequately documenting their projects and submitting occasional updates during the contest.
  6. Projects may encompass any aspect of retro-computing that tickles the fancy of the individual entrant.
  7. Winners will be carefully selected and adulation bestowed.
  8. Have fun!

Getting Ready

With that said, you should be thinking about what project you will be pursuing for RC2017/04. I'm not quite ready to collect entrants, but I will be soon -- within the next couple of weeks, maybe sooner. I already put out some feelers out for prizes and have had some good responses. I may have identified my own prize contribution as well -- hopefully you will like it! I'll have to ping Michael Mulhern to see if he still wants to return as a judge again. :-)

So that's it -- RetroChallenge is still alive and kicking, and we're live on the Web...again...or still...whatever, just stay tuned!