Teen nearly kills himself trying to fix overheating Xbox 360

Brevard (NC) – A 14-year-old boy was knocked unconscious and sent to the hospital as a result of trying to cool off his Xbox 360 over the weekend.According to a local news report, the teen’s console would repeatedly shut off every five minutes. His mother told reporters that he thought the problem was likely linked to overheating. He reportedly tried to fix it on his own based on tips he found online.

“When I left to go next door he was playing a game but when I got back he was laying on his back on the floor and unconscious,” said the boy’s mother.

Local media reports suggest that the teenager took the power supply, wrapped it in plastic and tape, and submerged it into a bowl of water while it was still plugged in. This caused an electrical shock and knocked the boy unconscious.

His mother called 911 and paramedics rushed him to Transylvania Community Hospital in Brevard, North Carolina. He spent the night there and was treated for minor burns to his right hand and foot.

TG Daily – Teen nearly kills himself trying to fix overheating Xbox 360

Shocking! Hopefully he’s learned what the majority of the world’s population knows – water and electricity don’t mix. Well, they *do* – just not with particularly pleasant results.

Star Diamond

Some 20 Christmases ago, my grandparents gave me a program for my Commodore 64 called Adventure Writer. Unlike the rest of the games I owned, this one actually allowed you to create games – specifically, text-based adventure games such as Zork.

For all practical purposes, the genre – known these days among enthusiasts as Interactive Fiction – died in the early 90s. At least in the commercial sense. But my first memory of using an actual computer was playing the original Adventure on the mainframe at the local community college with my dad when I was 7 or 8 years old.

So anyway – back to Adventure Writer. Like most kids interested in computers and videogames, I imagined myself being able to make games for a living when I grew up. With Adventure Writer, I had a way to make my own games without having to know one of the advanced programming languages (you can only do so much with BASIC).

I worked for weeks on my magnum opus, the creatively-named “Star Diamond”. I sent it in to Compute!’s Gazette for possible publication, but a few weeks later, I received a rejection letter – I was one devastated 11 year old. And so died my dreams of being a famous video game designer.

But thanks to the magics of the interweb, Star Diamond shall finally see the light of day! I usually dust off my Commodore 64 around this time every year, and last year I found a copy of the game on one of my ancient floppy disks. So, I’ve repackaged it and made it available for download here [1.8 MB] – it’s Windows-only for the time-being. After playing through it a while and trying to remember how to win the game, I realize how *bad* it actually is ๐Ÿ™‚ At any rate, the unwashed masses may now be witness to my game design genius.

Here are some brief directions, for those unfamiliar with text adventures:

The basic idea of the user interface is command and response. The program gives you a command prompt, then you type in some command and press Enter/Return. The computer chews on your input for a bit, then tells you the results and gives you a new prompt.

The most important question now is: “What do I type?”


Most of the commands you use will be simple and direct. Typing OPEN THE DESK causes your character to (you guessed it) open the desk. Type GET THE PENCIL, and you will pick it up. The process is simple. When faced with the command prompt, just think “I want to…” or “What happens if I…” and let your mind work from there. INVENTORY (abbreviated I) displays a list of items you are carrying.

EXAMINE (sometimes abbreviated X and/or EXA) gives you a closer look at things. It’s used hundreds of times in the course of a typical game.

LOOK (abbreviated L) by itself gives you a detailed description of your location. I always type L just to be doing something while I’m thinking of what to do next.

This is one of the most versatile commands. You can LOOK AT THE CHEST, LOOK ON THE CHEST, LOOK IN THE CHEST, LOOK UNDER THE CHEST, LOOK BEHIND THE CHEST. All of these could give different, unique responses.

GO is a very important command, even if you may never actually type it. Even though GO NORTH, for example, is a command you need to move around, you can abbreviate it to NORTH or even just N.

GET, TAKE, and PICK UP are synonyms. You’ll find many objects you can pick up and carry around with you. If you can’t pick something up, the game will give you a reason, which you may be able to rectify.

DROP and PUT are how you put objects down. DROP is quick and easy, but it just puts the objects on the ground. PUT can be more specific,though, allowing you to PUT THE BOOK ON THE TABLE, for instance.

WAIT tells the computer you want to do nothing for a turn. In almost all games, no game time actually passes while the computer is waiting for your input. Use WAIT to force time to pass.

So… that’s about it. Have fun!

Download Star Diamond

Let Me Blow Ya Mind

OK, so the classic Rubik’s Cube wasn’t particularly difficult once you knew the patterns. Rubik’s Revenge (A 4×4 cube) was significantly harder. But I have no idea what to make of this:

Magic Cube 4D

If that weren’t brain-twisting enough, how about a Rubik’s Cube with five dimensions? And three people have actually solved it – I can only imagine what kind of mutants they are.

Speaking of the New York Times

In my previous post I referenced a link to the New York Times, which reminded me of the fact that I was actually interviewed by them several years ago for an article on retro-computing. The article is still on their website, and the article is still wrong. Quoting the relevant part:

In the early days, programmers looked for creative software solutions instead of glitzier hardware. ”In a way it was simpler back then,” said Lane Denson, a Nashville farmer who has set up a computer museum in his basement. ”You didn’t have 20 or 30 sound cards and you didn’t have to worry about upgrading every other week.”

…except for the fact that I’ve never been a farmer, and I don’t have a basement, nor a computer museum (Well, Emily might debate that last point). I contacted the writer at the time and she said she’d publish a correction, but it never happened. And they didn’t even bother to publish a link to my Commodore 64 website, which is how they got my name in the first place. Oh well – it’s not every day you’re quoted in one of the world’s largest newspapers.

Here’s the link to the full article (may require registration): Living the 8-bit Dream in a 32-bit World

eBay Rocks

The Cabbage Patch Kid or Tickle Me Elmo this year is the Xbox 360 video game console. They were shipped to stores this past weekend, and were made available for sale Tuesday. But word got out a few months ago that they would be in short supply, and even those who had preordered might not get theirs in time for Christmas.

Well, I managed to get very lucky and snagged one off of the Circuit City website the morning they were released. I was going to keep it for myself, but soon afterwards I heard they were selling on eBay at a ridiculous markup… in some cases as much as 500%.

So I did what any good capitalist would do, and put mine up for sale. I set the price higher than I thought was reasonable, because I kind of wanted to keep it for myself. But it did end up selling, and I made double what I paid for it. Nice. That’ll cover a decent wedding gift for Emily ๐Ÿ™‚

My first “Rarity: 8” cartridge!

On a gaming website I frequent, I’m probably the only person actively interested in anything pre-Nintendo. So whenever someone has some old Atari games to unload, I’m usually the one they unload them upon icon_smile.gif

Recently a guy said he found 40 or so cartridges in his basement, as well as a 2600 and a few joysticks. We worked out a deal, and I ended up getting the whole deal for $80 plus shipping.

I received the package yesterday, and the first thing I noticed was how nice all the carts were… they were all in excellent condition. The Activision carts had virtually no “plaque”, all of the labels were secure and clean, no grime anywhere – they looked like they had been pampered from day one.

But even more exciting was the handful of 4- and 5- rarity carts… the “Pole Posit’n” label, Donkey Kong Jr., Mr. Do., etc. But the coup de gracie was the pristine Mr. Do!’s Castle cartridge. I knew it wasn’t common, but looking it up on the Atari Age rarity guide, turns out it’s an 8. I’d say that made the bundle worth it right there.

I looked it up on ebay, and it’s not quite going for the fortune I expected it to command icon_smile.gif There are quite a few games that are rare that aren’t exactly well known or highly sought after, and apparently this is one of them. No matter – I just like the fact that I have an “8” now icon_smile.gif