The Midnight Writer -- December 1997
After returning from a three-day weekend recently, I was pleasantly surprised to have my live-in engineer tell me that the monitor problem was fixed. It seems that she had tried switching the video, SCSI, and sound boards around to no avail, and then switched the monitor cable for another one. The problem seemed to have gone away. I was a little skeptical, though, as I thought I'd made the problem go away already a couple of times by doing different things (reinstalling DirectX, playing with shielding, etc.). It did seem to be fixed, though, until I tried to start editing this issue of the AJ. Suddenly the madly warping screen was back, and it finally just went black. More fiddling with cables, and my "consultant" told me that the cable must be bad...and I don't have another one that would fit. Off to buy a new monitor cable this morning, connected with high hopes...and it was no go at all.
You don't want to know what I said then, but harsh words and imprecations didn't bring the monitor back to life, either. And the deadline is approaching rapidly (sounds familiar, hmm?), so I went out and bought the only monitor I could take home with me from my local discount electronics shop, a Mitsubishi Diamondtron RD17GXII. I suspect that Beauty II will soon have a repaired Gateway CrystalScan 17" monitor to replace its old NEC 15" MultiSync. Except for being unable to find the exact driver for this monitor - which doesn't really seem to be a problem, since I downloaded and installed what Mitsubishi claims is an all-model .inf file for Win95 - everything seems to be working fine. The onscreen menu lets you do all sorts of fine tuning, and it looks good so far. If it starts to warp and waver like the last one, though, you won't have to read about it next issue: you should be able to hear me ranting, no matter how far away you may be living.
At the moment, though, The Brute appears to be working perfectly again. We all know, of course, that it won't last. Something is bound to go wrong; it's only a question of when.
This issue, we welcome a new writer to the hallowed ranks of AJ contributors. Shannon Jacobs has some interesting tales to tell about working in Akihabara, and I hope to persuade him to let us hear some more of them.
We've also given Vice-President Ken Cotton a column of his own; I'm hoping that it'll encourage him to write us a piece every issue. Ken's the TPC's premier Early Adopter, as far as I can see, and I wish that I had the disposable income to spend on new technology that he has. Not that I would necessarily spend it to assuage my technolust, you understand, but I wish I had the money, anyway. I imagine that next issue will bring some observations about his recent trip to Comdex from Ken, along with...well...wait and see.
With Christmas coming in just a couple of weeks, let me make a gift recommendation to any of you who have friends or relatives with an odd sense of humor, a cynical streak, or a slightly warped outlook on life.
Bullfrog Productions, Ltd.'s Dungeon Keeper is a great - albeit it weird - game. Any of you familiar with fantasy RPGs, or even fantasy novels/movies in the sword & sorcery genre will have encountered the typical tale of the hero(es) braving the forbidding trap-filled dungeon, braving unspeakable evil and loathsome creatures while filling their pockets with loot and striving to destroy the evil mastermind. In this game, you get to be the evil mastermind, hire the creatures, and build/manage the dungeon's creature lairs, warlock research libraries, torture chambers, etc., keeping your minions well-fed, well-trained, and well-paid, as you thwart the forces of good. Bullfrog are justly famous for the Populous games where the player is a god striving to ensure his/her worshippers' ascendancy in a series of worlds (another one is coming out soon; the screen shots and previews on the Web look very promising), and Dungeon Keeper is somewhat similar in its focus on resource management and strategy with the odd option to take a hand more directly in events. I understand Stuart Woodward will be buying it soon. Maybe he'll review it for us [Hint, hint...You all know I'm shameless, right?]. There's a version with a Japanese manual out there, too, although the on-screen text and your majordomo's spoken comments ("You need a bigger lair." "Your creatures are winning a battle.") are in English. Great gift for a gamer, if he/she isn't too set on being a white knight.
Finally, on behalf of the newsletter staff (Ann, Paul, Roland, and Stuart) and contributors, the other members of the TPC's Executive Committee, the various volunteers who help to make it work month after month, and myself, I'd like to wish you all very happy holidays and a truly wonderful New Year.
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