The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Oldest archived version of my old site

The oldest fairly complete version of my old site on the Wayback Machine is from February 2002. The games section was already “the fastest changing and growing” one, but it had only ten pages and covered less than twenty games. Meanwhile, all my sites combined cover more than 2,000 games. Strange thought, somehow.

Subheaders for Street Fighter

The screenshots for Street Fighter are a bit more systematic than most other galleries on Svatopluk’s Arcade, there is exactly one screenshot for every enemy in the game. Now I’ve inserted subheaders with the countries and the names of the enemies. That’s all.

BTW the R-Type gallery is pretty systematic too: There are two screenshots for each level, one generic and one with the end boss.

New “GameApps” section on Download Central

Yesterday I added a new section to Download Central. I called it GameApps. Any programs related to games will go there: Level editors, savegame editors, viewers for file formats used in games. At the moment the section contains only two downloads, BoBaFeTT’s Diablo Trainer and the Daggerfall savegame editor DaggeD. The section will most likely grow slowly, since I do not intend to search systematically for programs of this kind, I’ll upload mostly what I’ve used myself.

The section will contain only PC programs, but not sorted by software platform, nor by the game they are related to. The reason for the former is that the platform often does not correspond with the platform of the game, DaggeD for example is a Windows program designed to edit the savegames of a DOS game. The reason for the latter is that games developed by the same company often share file formats, so a viewer could not be assigned to a specific game.

Maybe game makers will go into this section as well, I haven’t decided yet. For patches and maps I’ll probably make a separate section in the future.

15 years Diablo demo


It is now 15 years that Blizzard released the first Diablo demo, which I just uploaded to Download Central. The time stamp on the executable is August 29, the time stamp on the readme September 3. Back then, it was distributed on game magazine CDs, and via FTP. Downloading this monster (55.8MB) surely was not an easy task in 1996. Even on my then super fast cable connection in 1999 it would have taken an hour. Over a modem, even a fast one, it would have taken the whole night (Darious wrote it took him seven hours).

When I started writing about Diablo in 2002, the pre-release demo had become impossible to find, only a few screenshots were around. I finally discovered it in 2005 on Biblioteka Kalais’a, a Polish site, but for some reason never got around to upload it myself until now. It’s become far less rare in the meantime.

Unlike the Fallout demo, this is not a separate game, it allows to play the first two cathedral levels and includes the Butcher as a sort of end boss. But nearly all the item graphics are different from the final game, and it still has a number of spells that were later discarded. Of course, since you can only play the warrior, and leveling up is quite limited, it is unlikely that you’ll get to learn any of these spells.

The demo is just a single executable that is highly compressed, no archive utility I tried could reduce the size any further. There is no installation, the game starts immediately. There is some sort of intro video. Due to the format of the demo it is not possible to look inside the MPQ. If I remember correctly, it is not possible to save games, and there is no in-game screenshot function.

This demo is the oldest version of Diablo that was ever released, officially or otherwise. The Alpha4 is available as well, but it is from a later date and already quite close to the Beta and final. And it is currently the largest file on Download Central!

Fallout demo among the top twelve Windows 9x downloads


Today, after being on Download Central for less than two weeks, the Fallout demo entered the top twelve Windows 9x downloads, having been downloaded more often than NetHack in this month. Legal Crime is currently #13 and thus might make it , too, before the month comes to an end.

I have been hosting the Fallout demo for seven years in a different location but I never really monitored the downloads, it was just too much work. That’s one of the reasons I made Download Central, to have all them all in one place and be able to compare.

Web hosting prices in 2003

I just discovered an old file on my hard drive where I had collected the offers of a few web hosts, probably in January 2003. I’ve simply copied it over, just removing two broken links:

  • Seanic.Net: 35MB for $3.92/month, 2 GB transfer.
  • AIT: 100MB for $4.95/month, 20 GB transfer.
  • Future Host: 100MB for $3.40/month, 5 GB transfer.
  • OCCHosting: 100MB for $4.95/month.
  • Empyreal Hosting: 100MB for $5/month, 5 GB transfer.
  • 500MB for $6.95/month, 25 GB transfer.
  • iPowerWeb: 500MB for $7.95/month, 30 GB transfer, lots of extras.
  • Nexpoint: 500MB for $8.25/month, unmetered bandwidth. Dedicated servers from $99/month.
  • PowWeb Hosting: 650MB for $7.77/month, 45 GB transfer.
  • 750MB for $9.95/month, 20 GB transfer.

If you follow the links and look what they’re offering now, you’ll note that in most cases prices remained the same, transfer has increased somewhat but not all that much, but webspace has increased immensely, unlimited not being uncommon.

Commercial hosting was becoming more relevant in 2003. A few years earlier, only institutions, companies and a few freaks had their own domain, the typical personal homepage or fan page was hosted on some free service. But now these free hosts were becoming scarcer.

Originally I just collected these for informational purposes, but a few months afterwards I launched my first project with a domain and commercial webspace, King Svatopluk’s Court. I think I originally chose HostOnce, which I left later because they were migrating from Unix to Windows. For a few years I was on PowWeb, which I left because back then they didn’t support multiple domains (they do now). Currently I’m a happy customer of DreamHost.

Painting with HTML tables

Here’s a little something that I did long ago, and that has miraculously survived for more than ten years: Painting with HTML tables. This will make HTML purists howl, of course, but so what.

Flash Player, Google Chrome, and ads

This is strange. After a routine update of Firefox, I had to install Flash Player again. To my astonishment, this installed Google Chrome as well, without ever asking me (or maybe I overlooked it).

While I wouldn’t have installed Google Chrome on my own, once I had it, of course I checked some of my sites in it, including this blog. I found that on most of my posts there is an advertisement when I view them in Chrome, but not when I view them in Firefox. Same goes for No Fanbois Allowed. Then I counter-checked with Internet Explorer: Yes, ads too. Firefox seems to be the only one not to display them.

Remembering AltaVista

I just read on Oh Internet that Yahoo! will probably close down AltaVista this year. Actually the article is probably old, according to Wikipedia, the shutdown occurred in May, and AltaVista is now a hollow shell, just a front end for Yahoo!’s own search.

Back when I first connected to the Internet, AltaVista was often considered the best search engine, especially on European topics, the other search engines were more America-centric. It was also something of an insider tip, most people used Yahoo!. That Yahoo! bought AltaVista is something of an irony in itself.

I guess it doesn’t really matter. Things come and go. If I hadn’t read the article, I wouldn’t even have noticed, like most people I use google near-exclusively. Still it’s a bit strange. Another piece of the old Internet gone.

Twelve years on the Internet

I just noticed that it’s now more than twelve years that I’m on the Internet. I got my connection on August 5, 1999. Since I bought my first new computer on this occasion, this was also the time I started playing computer games seriously. I took possession of the web space that came with my cable connection in November or December. The first things I uploaded were German poems by various authors. I don’t think I posted anything game related before 2001. The oldest game-related uploads I can still date are the Legal Crime docs in January and You Play Too Much DOOM When… in February. I had a favicon since June in that year and used style sheets since at least September.

The web sure has changed since then. Sometimes I miss the old days. There was no Wikipedia, but there were millions of websites on GeoCities, FortuneCities, Yahoo, Xoom, and countless smaller servers that often had excellent information about a wide variety of topics. There was no almighty Google, but there were links between these websites. I used to surf for hours, swinging from site to site like Tarzan swings from tree to tree. There were no blogs but sometimes people told interesting or funny things from their lives on their websites.

Things change. Not always for the better.