Long Live the Confederation!
What ever happened to Bandit LOAF?
When we last left our hero, he was on the top of the world. The Amiga had returned from New Zealand and been lovingly reconstructed, a thoroughly unnecessary VR helmet sat atop Karga's yellowed frame... all was right with the world.
So what went wrong? Well, it's the oldest story in the galaxy: boy meets girl and it was very very good until suddenly it was very very bad. You don't want to hear that part. The short story was that I was too happy to spend my time playing with old computers and then I was too sad.
"But this is war, laddie. All of us have lost someone dear to us. That does not make you special." Which is to say that I bought something dumb and it's time to start a new adventure.
One part of the story you didn't hear is that Karga is not the happiest computer in the world today. As the man who would be Maniac said: you bojo, those boards don't work on water. Unless you got power. And I don't, at all. The VR helmet's bizarre USB competitor, Access.BUS (real thing!), sucks so much juice down a weird hole that Karga can't power her lengthy joystick-and-keyboard mess.
Add to that the issue of Wing Commander I, II and Privateer 2 running too quickly. There was hope early on that Mario would create patches, but he's bogged down with other projects and parts of his life that don't involve Wing Commander (?!) So it's time for an executive decision. And that decision is: split Karga in two and give one half to each villager.
Karga will remain the idealized Wing Commander Prophecy machine, featuring a Soundblaster Live, 3dfx card and so on. All the DOS toys will go to a new computer, to be named. And this is the story of how we build that computer. The ideal candidate should be able to run Wing Commander I to Wing Commander IV with enough ISA slots to handle some of my oddities. Maybe even so many ISA cards I can do something more. I haven't even properly specced it out. This is seat of the pants stuff right now.
Which brings us to the turbo button.
What's a turbo button, you ask? That's a stupid question, you exclaim angrily in response to my assuming you would ask that question. It's obviously a button that makes things turbo! Well hah-hah, smartass, you're completely wrong. It's actually a button that makes things SLOWER.
Now I know what you're thinking: knowing that, why would anyone ever press the turbo button? Under what circmstances would you possibly not want your computer to be as fast as possible? Well, people are dumb. But that isn't the reason. In the early days of personal computing, processor power multiplied far more quickly than software had been designed to cope with. So when your office upgraded to blazing new 286 computers sometimes the fifty thousand dollar custom spreadsheet program built for your IBM ATs just didn't run anymore. Thus, the turbo button.
By the mid 1990s, the turbo button was more of a rare leftover, like mashed potatoes after Thanksgiving. That is, not especially desirable after it had been in the fridge, and honestly it probably wasn't that great in the first place or people would have eaten it. And it just doesn't heat up well. Find this and other amazing turns of phrase in my upcoming book, LOAF Does Analogies.
Nevertheless, it turns out the first generation of slot 5 Pentium motherboards sometimes still included the feature. I found a thread on Vogons < http://vogons.zetafleet.com/viewtopic.php?t=26630 > that spoke specifically of this issue and Wing Commander. A Pentium 133--ideal for WC4 and Privateer 2--can be turned into a 486 for Wing Commander 2 at the press of the turbo button and then slowed to a 386 for Wing Commander I by disabling its cache.
Unfortunately, finding particular slot 5 Pentium motherboard models in 2012 is a little bit like... something that's hard (not in the analogies book.) Or at least I haven't had the patience to figure it out yet.
What I did find was a REALLY STUPID eBay auction while searching for +Pentium +"Turbo Button." For fifty dollars, a man in California would ship me... well, it's best you just read the description:
This is a complete vintage HIGHLY DESIRED TURBO IBM COMPUTER. IT WAS THE BEST OF ITS DAY! The computer is in excellent working order as you can clearly see from the display on the monitor.
This computer has an intel Pentium processor with 640kb base memory and 64512kb ram cards installed
It has a ethernet card for going right onto your modern day internet.
It plugs into standard the older At2 keyboards.
It has a video card and an eathernet internet card
It has a cd rom drive as well as a 3.5inch floppy drive,
it has a TURBO button and a reset button and a power switch.
I have not looked at the size of the hard drive I am sure it will be a surprise.
You don't have to remember a lot about old computers to know that this seller doesn't remember a lot about old computers... but he certainly thinks he does. So really I have NO IDEA WHAT I'M GETTING! It's a fantastic surprise and it's the first time in a month I've looked forward to something dumb. Will the mystery PC be what I want? Watch this space! If so, we'll make her shine... if not, the quest will continue.
The highly desired turbo IBM computer arrives on Tuesday. I am sure it will be a surprise.
And hey, like the lady says, there's always hope.
(Do you use tumblr? Probably not, but maybe your kids do. And if so, they should follow http://banditloaf.tumblr.com for these and random Wing Commander/history/literature/topless Gilmore Girl updates. Way of the future.)
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