Welcome to the Hotline Lounge, a place to relax and enjoy life generally. Please accept this tiny but very reasonably priced cup of tea. Aromatic, yes?
Fun with retro laptops
Growing up in the '90s, it would have been a dream come true to own a pocket sized palmtop PC such as the 95LX. The ultimate tool of the business connoisseur for their vast spreadsheets. We plan on doing a full review of all these machines at some point. They are adorable yet impressive. This one runs DOS 3.3 although the 40 column display limits app compatibility somewhat.
So let's get a 200LX too, why not? Made in 1994, this rare-to-find palmtop can run any CGA compatible DOS application. It's probably the most versatile pocket computer of the '90s. Here it is linked with the 95LX via infrared. You can also see the rather ghetto RS-232 cable made for exchanging data between other computers.
We picked up this Tandy 1100FD from eBay for more monochrome DOS delights. This machine requires 720kb floppies to do anything. It has been modded with a backlight and runs completely silently. Great for distraction-free typing.
Surfing to the Hotline Café on a Psion 5mx. This stylish palmtop has some very nice features for the time and is notable for its fold out dimpled keyboard. We had to admit that in practice, the keys are a bit stiff and small for long term typing comfort. Worse still is the faint LCD screen that's hard to read except in ideal lighting conditions. The fixed fold out position means you can't adjust the viewing angle.
Here's a rather unexciting Toshiba Satellite 1800. Shipping with XP, it's better suited for 98SE and has excellent I/O. It's hard to find a good retro laptop that has ability to play 3D games, has a floopy drive, DVD-ROM, good USB support AND good DOS gaming compatibility. As you can see, it's also great for making tracker tunes.
Some new ANSI doodles
Who is she? I don't know her name but she wants to sell you a used stereo.
Absolutely awful rendering of the patchwork cat, Millie. Need to figure out a shading technique...
This looks a bit better in terms of getting the lighting right. You can do a surprising amount with only 16 colours. The next step will be to incorporate lettering beyond just blocks.
Everyone needs a special one.
Some lovely Windows 98 memories
Making some dank beats with ModPlug.
Literally MILLIONS of colours available! Also, 95-2000 era was peak Windows UI in my opinion. So clean and efficient! Waving hello at the café from the future! All while 'avin a bit of a cheeky Sim City 2000 sesh! A gander thru my old treasures of tracker music files to listen at (while I muck up some Jazz 2 level.) Fruity Loops 4 demo that the CPU can't handle and so it just makes fart noises. We can plunder the samples for mod tracking tho Game Maker in its purer days. Who needs more than 1GB storage anyway?
Adventures in ANSI art
Time to refresh this section of the cafe. Some more inflatable furniture here, a brighter shade of pink carpet, etc.
Lately I've been getting into collecting ANSI art. There's a vast archive of it available here I've been enjoying cherry picking at random and using various terminals to print the art to screen as if it were actually coming from a BBS. I've been using the shareware versions of TheDraw 4.63 and ACiDDraw to try making my own ANSI artwork. Both programs can fit on a single floppy disk and can be run via DOSBox. I've also been trying out PabloDraw for Windows which, with it's more modern UI, makes the process super easy.
Adventures in Windows 3.1
I installed Windows 3.1 on my MacBook because why not? It's actually really fun having an ancient and rather minimal OS hidden within the main OS that could be used distraction free for typing text documents, listening to MIDI and playing retro games. 3x is actually a really interesting iteration of Windows design given that it basically looks like 9x in design philosophy, but doesn't have the Start Menu (for me, the defining UI feature of Windows) or familiar Windows items like 'My Computer' or 'My Documents.'