Reuben Klamer, designer of Trek’s “phaser rifle” and Milton-Bradley’s “The Game Of Life” dead at 99

Although more modern-looking rifles appeared as props in ST:The Next Generation and later iterations, the iconic phaser rifle only appeared in the second pilot, the first to feature William Shatner and the character James Kirk. Reuben Klamer, the inventor of Milton Bradley’s The Game of Life board game and the designer of a Starfleet phaser rifle for the original Star Trek TV series, died at his home in La Jolla,…

Brett Favre Urges Ban On Youth Tackle Football, Pleads For No Hitting ‘Til 14

Concussions in sports often a topic my students pick for their researched term papers. Most seem to put their trust in mandating better training for coaches, funding for better equipment, education to make sure players are wearing their equipment properly, or better treatment for players who end up disabled. The idea of fundamentally changing the sport to make it safer (at least for kids) rarely comes up, so here’s a…

He couldn’t get over his fiancee’s death. So he brought her back as an A.I. chatbot

The death of the woman he loved was too much to bear. Could a mysterious artificial intelligence website allow him to speak with her once more? […] There was nothing strange, he thought, about wanting to reconnect with the dead: People do it all the time, in prayers and in dreams. In the last year and a half, more than 600,000 people in the U.S. and Canada have died of COVID-19,…

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The Game (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 6) Cadet Crusher vs Fun Risian Gadget

Rewatching ST:TNG Cadet Crusher visits the Enterprise on a break from Starfleet Academy. He’s happy and doing well in school, and quickly befriends the happy and hyper-focused Ensign Leffler (Ashley Judd). The opening scene with Riker cavorting on Risa is just odd. Of course what he does when he’s off duty is his own business, but it’s certainly a clue to us when the bumpy-headed babe he’s chasing around a…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In June, 2001 it seems I only blogged three times…

I’m not sure what else I was doing during the month of June 2001, but I only blogged three times. All three links were dead, like tears in rain. As is my habit with all items I feature in my “I was blogging about…” series, I’ve replaced the broken links with archived content from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Author “used up all the hardship” from her youth in her…

1993: Curses (Aaron A. Reed’s “50 Years of Text Games”)

The latest in Aaron A. Reed’s monumental project” 50 Years of Text Games” focuses on Graham Nelson’s programming language Inform, and in particular his game “Curses.” “You have to get a coin from the temple of zeus to buy the ekmek,” explained one responder. “To do that you need to use the rod of luck. To use the rod of luck you have to change the nature of the universe.”…

30 years later, Sierra’s Laura Bow mysteries are still a treasure

When I was in college and grad school, a couple of times of year I would stay with my sister in her apartment for a long weekend, and we would splurge on junk food (often Keebler Fudge Sticks) and video games (often the latest Sierra point-and-click adventure). I remember playing The Colonel’s Bequest in my senior year in college, and The Dagger of Amon Ra while I was in Toronto…

Narnia board game — enjoyable family activity (but it’s weird that the Pevensies compete against each other)

It’s weird that in the Narnia board game, the Pevensies compete against each other. I thought it would make sense that they would have to work together to defeat the White Witch, but no. Why do they all work against each other? In the book, Edmund betrays his siblings — but they don’t betray him! Before Edmund’s visit to Narnia, we read, “The others who thought she was telling a…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In April, 2001 I was blogging about interactive fiction, Roget’s Thesaurus, John Lennon, HTML Frames, and C.S. Lewis

A student newspaper article about interactive fiction (quoting Emily Short and me) Blaming Roget’s Thesaurus Finding the URL of a framed HTML document My visit to the John Lennon Artificial Intelligence Project HarperCollins re-issuing the works of C.S. Lewis Dave Winer on “The Web is a Writing Environment“

What is a CRT and Why Don’t We Use Them Anymore?

I remember when I started seeing political cartoons that began depicting office workers using flatscreen LCDs instead of bulky CRTs. I inherited a handful of CRTs as people I know upgraded. I still haven’t bought a new LCD TV — I’ve inherited several hand-me-downs from family members. The next time I offer my course on the history and culture of video games, I’ll have to include this article so my…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In February, 2001, I was blogging about computer nostalgia, Napster, a horror typing game, usability, and web blurbs.

In February, 2001, I was blogging about Computer nostalgia and text adventure games.“Walking into a room rendered in the Q3 engine can be lovely and impressive, but when you’ve only 16K to tell a story, you have to rely on the gamer’s imagination to provide the details. Just the words ‘you are on a beach’ can summon vistas no game can provide.” — James Lileks Napster. File-sharing was destroying the…

NASA’s Perseverance lander brought some Easter eggs with it to Mars

It’s a bit of a stretch to call this Teddy Roosevelt quote “encoded,” but it’s still fun to notice. We’re told to be on the lookout for more surprises as the mission develops. Systems engineer Ian Clark used a binary code to spell out “Dare Mighty Things” in the orange and white strips of the 70-foot (21-meter) parachute. Only about six people knew about the encoded message before Thursday’s landing,…

Mesmerizing Video of a Printer Terminal Running “Adventure” on a PDP-11/45

After spending several days clicking buttons and ticking boxes and waiting for pages to refresh in my school’s content manager, I really, really miss the command line interface. This video shows the 1970s computer game “Colossal Cave Adventure” running on a printer terminal (that is, its only display is text that it prints out on a long roll of paper).

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In December 2000, I was blogging about typeface snobbery, freedom in video game spaces, the first email message, and T.S. Eliot’s anti-semitism

In December 2000, I was blogging about Typeface snobbery (The Onion) Videogames as gendered play spaces (Henry Jenkins) Who wouldn’t want to trade in the confinement of your room for the immersion promised by today’s video games? …. Perhaps, my son finds in his video games what I found in the woods behind the school, on my bike whizzing down the hills of the suburban back streets, or settled into…