Monthly Archives: April 2017

Cooking with Windows recap Essay categorySoftware category

Cooking with Windows recap

Last week, I hosted Cooking with Windows, a livestream where we made a three-course meal and cocktails from CD-ROM cookbooks. Thanks once again to my friends Jessica and Joe for lending a hand! You can watch the 3-hour stream here.

We went over five different programs spanning the full range of cooking software, from recipe databases to tailored multimedia showcases. What made for a better program? And perhaps most critically, was the food any good? Let’s compare… Cooking with Windows recap » Read more

Explore multimedia history in Denise Caruso’s Digital Media Blog category

In 1991, Denise Caruso founded Digital Media, a newsletter covering the then-nascent multimedia industry. Caruso’s newsletter is a great read if you want a ground-level view of the early years of multimedia and the CD-ROM format.

Caruso used to provide issues of the newsletter through her website, which currently isn’t online. For easier access, I’m uploading them to the Internet Archive. Browse through the collection so far here. They’re a treasure trove, especially the “I/O” editorials, which feature comments from notable figures like game developer Chris Crawford, Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, and Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe.

The September 1991 issue is particular interesting; it discusses Spaceship Warlock, the Voyager Company, the expected future of the Philips CD-i, and Brøderbund’s strategy for producing inexpensive multimedia content. Paul Saffo compares interface challenges faced by early developers to an “electronic piñata,” an unwieldy but fun metaphor. (I had previously featured this issue in an old post I’ve removed for quality and accuracy reasons.)

When completed, the collection will have all 30 issues Caruso edited. It’ll take a bit, and I’ll update once it’s ready!

This Saturday, we’re cooking with Windows Software categoryStreaming category

Cooking with Windows banner

Icon from Delrina Daily Planner 3.0

Time to try something different…

This Saturday, we’re digging up some CD-ROM cookbooks. And we’re gonna cook with them.

The CD-ROM and multimedia era was a heyday for lifestyle software – programs for managing finances, scheduling your week, or picking out a movie to watch. The internet would soon consume almost all these functions, but a self-contained CD-ROM could bundle together tools, writing, and video and audio clips into a unique interactive package unachievable with previous technology. Hundreds of megabytes of storage space let developers run wild with features and how much they could fit in.

Digital recipe managers, which had existed as far back as 1969, could now hold multiple cookbooks worth of recipes with photos and instructional videos. Major brands like Better Homes and Gardens published their own CD-ROM cookbooks, each with their own approach to helping you plan a meal with a computer.

So, with the help of a few friends, we’ll be preparing food and drinks from recipe programs for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95:

  • Cooking with Dom DeLuise by Allegro New Media
  • MasterCook Cooking Light by Sierra Home
  • Williams-Sonoma Guide to Good Cooking by Broderbund
  • Cocktail Hour by Global Star Software

We’ll demonstrate each of the programs, talk a bit about their history, and do a couple different dishes. To complete the 90s computer dinner party vibe, we’ll play a digital party game. I’ll write-up our thoughts on the software (and our cooking!) afterwards. We’ll see if Dom DeLuise’s jokes about bread help us at all.

The food won’t be too unusual, but these recipes haven’t been made in 20 years. Let’s call it technoculinary archaeology.

This is one of the silliest projects I’ve attempted. It could be amazing or a complete disaster. Maybe both! Join us on Saturday, April 8 at 5pm EDT on the Obscuritory Twitch channel for a delicious adventure!

popol maya Adventure category

Title screen from popol maya

According to its introduction, popol maya is “not just a game” but a belief system. Supposedly, its tenets are based on Maya mythology, though it flagrantly misinterprets everything about that culture save for a vaguely tropical setting. The game stumbles onto its own ideas instead, attempting to solve that universal question of how to find meaning in a disorderly, malevolent world.

The game settles on communication. We need to listen to each other. popol maya wraps its answer under layers of groaning animals and dancing, and somewhere along the line, it forgets to link its spiritual dilemma more closely to the bizarre happenings at hand. The message comes through from the whole of your Maya adventure, but it might have shone stronger if – ironically for the theme – the game spoke to you more. popol maya » Read more