Presenting a special ‘Nerd History’ Storybundle!

bundle_102_cover-d325c8dc708aabbb9e6ac2127bb80667[Here’s the ‘side project to my side project’ StoryBundle I decided to curate a couple of months back – bundling some really neat ‘history of tech’ books together! Blown away that we got Fire In The Valley – a seminal history & the basis for Pirates Of Silicon Valley – in there, & there’s LOTS of other goodness too – Gates, Google, Ada Lovelace, & some super-entertaining personal nerd stories. And my curator cut & optional charity payment goes to the Computer History Museum, of course.]

Continuing its popular “pay what you want” ebook bundles, StoryBundle is presenting a special new collection – the Nerd History Bundle. This specially picked set of 7 seminal computer/nerd history books once again features a multitude of great titles for a fraction of their retail price.

The basic purchase tier ($3 or above) for the Nerd History StoryBundle includes ‘A Microsoft Life’ by Stephen Toulouse, a wittily entertaining jaunt through a decade and a half at Microsoft, with lots of behind-the-scenes detail and charming anecdotes. Also included is ‘Priming the Pump’ by David & Theresa Welsh, a rare in-depth look into the history of the TRS-80 and how the authors got personally involved in the blossoming of the ‘PC revolution’. Continue reading

Mono/Monotonik – preserved at Netlabel Archive.

netlabelarchiveJust a quick postscript to the recent post about uploading my idm netlabel Mono/Monotonik’s old music tracks to YouTube & to Soundcloud for easier streaming access.

I mentioned in that post that Zach Bridier was preparing to upload a _complete_ Mono archive, with all the .MODs from the early releases also converted to .MP3. And indeed, he’s done just that via the launch of the Netlabel Archive. You can find the Monotonik entry here, and it includes a lot of obscurities, re-encodes of the No ‘Mo releases, and more. Continue reading

Prisoners Literature Project – a cause worth supporting.

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Over the past two or three months, I’ve become increasingly involved with a charity that I wanted to talk to you all about – and ask that you consider contributing to, if you believe in its cause.

In fact, I’ve just finished redesigning the official website for the non-profit in question, the Prisoners Literature Project, which is “an all-volunteer grassroots group that sends hundreds of free book packages to needy prisoners in the United States every month.”

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Cyberia: The Future Is Now, 20 Years Later

64645.jpg~originalOne of my favorite recent pastimes – simply because technology writing is now old enough – is to dive back into future-leaning writing of the 1980s and 1990s & see how things turned out.

It turns out that book sales in the Bay Area are full of such ‘artifacts’. And Douglas Rushkoff’s Cyberia – originally written in 1992, and published in 1993/1994 – is writing that deserves looking at, more than 20 years later.

The original hardcover description of the book on Amazon explains of Cyberia: “In a vivid journalistic portrait of the underground trendsetters of the 1990s, Rushkoff ventures headlong into cyberspace–the weird and unmapped terrain of hackers, smart drugs, virtual reality, cyberliterature, and technoshamans.”

So yep, the meat of Rushkoff’s book actually delves deep into some of his own journalistic and personal interests – in particular, the ‘smart drugs‘ movement, as also showcased in crossover cyberpunk magazines like Mondo 2000.

But the first 50 pages or so of Cyberia are an overview of the burgeoning early ’90s technology scene, and an attempt to forecast where it may go. Rushkoff is known for coining terms like ‘viral media’, and while much of the book feels very much ‘of its time’, these pages are worth analyzing and highlighting to see how things actually turned out. So let’s do that:
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Several Updates, November 2014!

Hot-Chip-Atomic-Bomb-William-Onyeabor-CoverIt’s been a few months since I updated on this blog (although I’m a regular poster on Twitter, of course), so I thought it might be nice to do a brief update with the state of various ‘not my dayjob’ projects I’ve been working on. Let’s go:

Simon’s Email Musings – sparked by a wish to get a bit more ‘personal’ and write more often and informally, I’ve joined the hipster bandwagon to bring email newsletters back, heh – focusing on games, tech, and what I’m up to personally. Other smart folks like Dan Hon have been doing it for a while, and I’m archiving the newsletters publicly if you want to peruse. Here’s the first one, which includes Spike Jonze, William Gibson, Inkle’s ’80 Days’, & more. Subscribe now

MobyGames – well, the ‘canonical video game info/credits’ site that we saved about 11 months ago is still truckin’ along well, after we (site owner Reed and myself!) reverted its code to the original version (and improved it quite a bit!) Our news section has all the regular updates around new content – here’s a recent post that I wrote that made me happy: Continue reading

A Two Thousand And Fourteen Update

11482301066_d2542609ab_mSince most of the posts on this blog of late are about my side projects like Storybundle, perhaps it’s time to round up the totality of what I’m working on here in mid-2014. And it goes a little something like this:

– I first attended GDC in the late ’90s when I lived in the UK, and I started working on it about 10 years ago, initially on the Independent Games Festival side of things. But my work helping to oversee the Game Developers Conference shows with Meggan Scavio (GDC GM!) continues on strong – especially since the mothership (>25 year old!) GDC in San Francisco has grown so much.

This year’s GDC San Francisco show was in March, and as always, it’s about the experience of being there and meeting friends old and new – in and outside GDC itself – that really matters. But I’m especially happy about the number of free GDC 2014 videos documenting the lectures (sort by vid only using the left sidebar!) There’s so many standout talks this year – from Alex Bruce’s heartfelt history of Antichamber through a postmortem of Robotron 2084 from Eugene Jarvis, how to survive Internet negativity by Nika Harper, and so many more. Continue reading

The Story(Bundle) Of Doctor Who

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Quick update here, but after the success of the Video Game Storybundle earlier this year, I’ve been working with the lovely Jason Chen and the Storybundle folks to curate follow-up bundles – and not just about games (although there is a second video game one coming!)

The first fruits of this are here now, since I dived deep into Doctor Who fandom, as a big fan of the Doctor himself, researched, contacted a plethora of authors, and found some really awesome books that we managed to license and bundle altogether, DRM-free, for one inexpensive price and a limited time.

I think the bundle is worth it for the late Barry Letts’ autobiography alone (legendary ’70s Dr. Who producer – he was mentioned by Bernard Cribbins last weekend in the live ‘Next Doctor’ BBC show, actually!) But if you add in the comprehensive VWORP! (first time ever in Kindle-compatible eBook!), the excellent Philip Sandifer Who criticism books, Nick Griffiths’ sardonic Who memoir, and even Chris-Rachael Oseland’s hilarious recipe book (!) – it’s a really meaningful bundle.

It’s available for two weeks only, folks, so have at it – full announce is below:

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A Two Thousand And Thirteen Update

utahLooks like the last one of these update posts was a year and a half ago, so thought it might be nice to give a little mini-update on what I’m up to, for those who don’t follow me a whole bunch on social media.

Let’s see, some states of Simon:

– Though I’m still working in San Francisco’s SoMa at UBM Tech, am really enjoying living in the East Bay (having settled down and bought a place in Alameda last year). How is it possible to say bad things about a place that has High Scores Arcade, the Pacific Pinball Museum, _and_ hosts the runway (over on the formal naval base) that Mythbusters uses to crash trucks?

– As I write, it’s just a couple of weeks until GDC Europe 2013 kicks off in Cologne, Germany, and – if you follow me on Twitter – you’ll know that video games are still my first love. And with that show going swimmingly, it’s time to concentrate on GDC Next – a ‘future of games’ event we’re putting on in L.A. this November, and even, Kali forbid, Game Developers Conference 2014, for which submissions are open right now. Not. Even. Joking.

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Jean Jackson’s amazing Mystery Science Theater painting mashups…

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[Pictured – Jean Jackson’s ‘The Hoot Players’, after Maxfield Parrish‘s ‘The Lute Players‘, one of the two three pictures I now own from this amazing ‘outsider art’ collection – the others are ‘Crow Wood’ and ‘Servo Throwing Dome At Crow’.]

After talented artist and fan Jean Jackson sadly passed away in January 2013, her family auctioned off for charity her wonderful set of original paintings that added characters from cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 to famous pictures through history.

Since the original MST3K pictures have now mainly been split up among multiple (grateful!) buyers, including me, and there are no hi-res versions of the originals anywhere online besides the Wayback Machine, I thought I’d host [on Flickr] the photographs of the paintings used in auction for posterity.

Some of my favorites include ‘Sunday In The Park With Frank’, recasting Seurat’s pointillist masterpiece with bonus evil sidekick, and ‘Degalala’, where-in Degas’ ballerina portrait ‘The Star’ gets a bit, uhh, Tom Servo-ed. And this mash-up of N.C. Wyeth’s ‘The Giant’ and the MST3K-riffed ‘Amazing Colossal Man’ movie, ‘The Amazing Colossal Crow’, is especially haunting.

There are a few missing paintings that were not offered in the auction and can be seen pictured in low-res on Jean’s Flickr page –  – these include ‘Cezanntillite of Love‘, ‘Two Loose‘, ‘Paleobotic‘, ‘Starry Nanites‘, her best-known work ‘Nightmads‘ (spoofing Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks‘), ‘Crowcasso‘ and ‘Botko‘.

Various images of the paintings (including a few more pics not available anywhere else!) are also available on the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive, which archived multiple versions of Jean’s pages from the mid-2000s, when she sold art prints of them.

[NOTE: I don’t claim ownership or any control over these photos. I just wanted to make sure they were saved and accessible – and I think they are some of the most remarkable ‘pop art’ creations I’ve seen. The witty restyling of some of the titans of vintage and modern American and European art with bonus ‘bots makes me grin every time.]