(no subject)
me drawing
tww1fa
Back in October of 2012, my wife and I bought an IKEA SY sewing machine with the idea of using it to create appliance covers and wing bags for my R/C sailplanes. Before we got around to using it life happened and it got put away. Fast forward to this last weekend. The laundry bag we use to carry laundry from the garage to the bedroom ripped, and my wife proclaimed that we were going to sew up a new laundry bag that weekend. We bought some nice cloth, measured the old bag and sewed up a new one. The machine performed excellently (except for once when the thread somehow got out of the take-up lever) even going through 6 layers of cotton twill without breaking a sweat.

The second project was a cover for our blender - I completed that last night and it came out pretty good.

I've got a bunch more covers to make, and I'm really happy with my little $70 sewing machine.
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Searching for title/author or book/story
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tww1fa
I'm attempting to find the author and title of a Science Fiction story I read a long, long time ago. It was a satirical/comedic story involving a robot that was running for public office. The biggest thing I remember is that the robot played some sort of sport (bowling comes to mind) to show that he was a "regular guy".

I'm pretty sure it was Golden Age or earlier. It's not Asimov's 'Evidence'.

whatwasthatbook hasn't come up with anything yet.

Anyone on my friend's list have a thought? Thanks!

Movie recommendation
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tww1fa
I just watched "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec" on Netflix. Very fun movie, very well done. Highly recommended. Do be advised that it's in French with subtitles.

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(no subject)
crashing in flames
tww1fa
Went flying today for the first time this year. Each of the three planes I took had something new (or was completely new). My Radian electric sailplane had an upgraded folding propeller, my SmoothE electric sport plane had a new fuselage and servos, and I brought a brand new plane "designed" by myself and built from Dollar Tree foamboard, tape and hot glue, which I'm calling the Oogly.

The new propeller on the Radian makes it hit 200 meters altitude in 25 seconds (down from over 30 seconds on the old prop.) A hit. And the weather was fantastic - just a slight wind and thermals everywhere. In one thermal I ended up so high it took me 5 minutes of flat spinning to get back down to where I was comfortable. Each 25 second burst of power easily gave me 10-15 minutes of flying.

The SmoothE flew great, as it always has every time except the time I rekitted the previous fuselage.

The Oogly flew. It's a handful. It needs some down thrust on the motor (under power it would pitch up hard and start hanging on the prop) and I think the center of gravity is too far forward.

However, I didn't crash any of the planes, even the Oogly. Any day you come back with the same number of planes in the same number of pieces that you left with is a good day.

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Thermal Flying
me drawing
tww1fa
Today I took my ParkZone Radian out for a flight at the Sacramento Valley Soaring Society's field in the Yolo Grasslands Regional Park. Not very exciting, I've done it before. But today, I stuck a 808 #16 Keychain Camera under the left wing. Luckily, I did so on my first flight of the day, since that was the only time I got any thermals to speak of, but in that flight with only 30 seconds of power I got about 15 minutes of flight before I had to start the motor again. The plane has a competition altitude limiter installed that will cut the throttle at either 30 seconds or 200m altitude, whichever comes first (the notes you hear at about the 15 minute mark are the limiter re-arming when I pulled the throttle down).

Enjoy!



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Take that, Blerch!
me drawing
tww1fa
Today, I met one of my exercise goals - to be able to jog a full 5K distance without taking any breaks. A couple of years ago, before I started working out, a walk half that length would have been about my limit, but I've been slowly but surely improving my stamina. My philosophy is to work towards my goals without a deadline - as long as I'm consistently improving I'll let the milestones come when they may. Next goal is to jog the 5K in under 35 minutes (today I did it in 39:16 - I have run a 5K in close to 35 but that was combining fast running with walking).

As a side effect, I've lost 15 extra pounds, a couple of inches of waist and several points of blood pressure. Not too shabby.

(If you don't get the reference in the post title, the Blerch is described here).

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Run, tww1fa, run!
me drawing
tww1fa
Today I ran my first 5K race - the Capital City Classic. My goals were to finish, and to get a time under 35 minutes. The first goal was accomplished, the second I missed by 47 seconds.

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I has a sad.
sad
tww1fa
The only sport I really follow is Formula 1 racing. A large part of this is due to the announcing team on Speed TV - Bob Varsha, David Hobbes (ex F1 driver) and Steve Matchett (ex F1 mechanic.) Their laid back announcing style is a lot of fun, like watching the race with three friends.

Unfortunately, it's been announced that Speed TV will no longer carry F1, and NBC Sports has picked it up (rumors are that FOX is planning to shutter Speed TV and turn it into a baseball centered channel). A big part of what keeps me watching F1 is going away. I'm hoping that NBC Sports does a halfway decent job of coverage, but I'm not holding out high hopes.

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My contribution to International Observe the Moon Night
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tww1fa
From 2012-09-22


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So long, EVGA...
me drawing
tww1fa
Strike EVGA from the list of companies I will buy products from in the future. My video card (1GB NVIDIA GTX 460 Superclocked) which I bought from them just under two years ago started glitching. I contacted them to start the RMA process since the card came with a lifetime warranty, and they asked me to check the voltages on the +12V rail from my power supply. The rail on my machine reads 12.302V idle, 12.112V under load - a perfectly decent 1.6% regulation - not fantastic, but definitely within specs. Their reply was that anything over 0.05V was a sign of a faulty power supply and could cause glitches.

0.05% is 0.4% - this is the realm of lab power supplies. I went to Anandtech and looked at their power supply reviews - the best I could find were doing 0.8-0.9% tolerance on the +12V rail, and 1.4-1.5% was much more common. Not only that, EVGA's own 1200W power supply, which is a rebadged Antec, measures in at about 1.4%.

As it turns out, it seems the problem was heat related as blowing out the card heat sink caused card temperatures to drop about 20 degrees C and the glitches to go away, but the fact that they are specifying unattainable tolerances for the power supplies to be used with their cards as a way to get out of their warranty obligations is unacceptable. Before starting the RMA process I ordered a new EVGA GTX 660Ti to replace the 460 in my machine, with the warranty replacement 460 planned to go into my wife's machine replacing her GTX 275. As it is, I will be returning the 660Ti unopened.

I sent them the following as a reply to their tech support:

"I consider your assertion that a 0.19V drop (12.302V to 12.112V) on the +12V rail under load as a sign of a faulty power supply ridiculous. This is the voltage drop when the power supply goes from supplying a low load (Windows 7 idle desktop) to a heavy load (playing a GPU intensive game.) Your stated 0.05V is a 0.4% tolerance. Checking out power supply reviews on sites such as AnandTech I found that even high-end power supplies rarely do better than 1%, and 1.5% such as my power supply displays is much more common. Even the Antec Truepower Quattro 1200W which you rebadge as the EVGA Classified SR-2 1200W Power Supply has a 1.4% change in +12V under load (http://www.anandtech.com/show/3807/antec-truepower-quattro-1200w/4) - by your own definition the power supply your own company sells is faulty.

As it turns out, the problem was apparently heat related, as after cleaning out the card's heat sink the problems seem to have gone away.

However, I feel that you were attempting to get out of your warranty obligations by blaming the problem on a perfectly operating power supply. As such, the EVGA 660Ti Superclocked that I have just ordered will be returned unopened, and I will no longer consider EVGA as a source of video cards in the future."

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It's alive! ALIVE!!!
me drawing
tww1fa
And this. ladies and gentlemen, is how you modify a broken Apple Time Capsule to use an external power supply:

From Time Capsule Repair


I'm going to have to rename it from "Tardis" to "Frankenstein", I think.

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There's a little black spot on the Sun today...
me drawing
tww1fa
From Venus Transit June 5 2012


I brought my small scope to work with a solar filter and caught the start of the once in a lifetime event (next transit is in 2117.)

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Yesterday's annular eclipse of the Sun
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tww1fa
Annular phase

Click on the image to go to a Flickr set of various phases of the eclipse. All photos were taken in Redding, CA with an iPhone 4S looking into a 25mm plössl eyepiece on an Orion XT10i dobsonian reflector telescope (10" aperture, 1200mm focal length, f/4.7) equipped with a full aperture glass solar filter.

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Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek that ever lived.
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tww1fa
Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek that ever lived (via The Oatmeal).

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(no subject)
me drawing
tww1fa
Robert H. Goddard
launched rockets from his yard.
He thought solid propellant
repellent.

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(no subject)
me drawing
tww1fa
My early attempt at astrophotography:

IMG_0042

iPhone 4S through an 11mm lens on a 10" newtonian telescope.

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Tricksy batteries... I hatessss them!
me drawing
tww1fa
A few years ago I purchased a Casio G-Shock G-5600 watch. This is a pretty much indestructible watch (the manual recommends not leaving it on the dashboard of a car in full sun not because it will hurt the watch, but because you might get burned when picking it up!) with solar charging, so the battery shouldn't need to ever be replaced. Except that a couple years after I bought it, the battery ran down, and wouldn't charge at all. So it lived in my watch case for a long time, until it came to mind last week and I thought of getting it fixed. Google pointed me to a place where I could purchase a replacement rechargeable battery and all the tools required to change it, so I ordered them and they arrived Saturday. Sunday I sat down and opened the watch case, removed the old battery and took a look. Much to my surprise, instead of the specified CTL1616 rechargeable lithium battery, my watch came with a non-rechargeable CR1616 battery. I suppose that explains why the watch would not hold a charge. In any case, the battery replacement surgery was successful, and hopefully the G-5600 will give me many years of service.

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Crappy start to the week.
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tww1fa
Got into the office this morning to discover than not one (which I already knew about) but two coworkers passed away during the long weekend. Fuck cancer twice.

Heartstrings = tugged.
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tww1fa
Via Philip Plait's Bad Astronomy blog:


(no subject)
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tww1fa
After watching Hogfather on Netflix last night, I noticed that Death reminds me somewhat of The Doctor.

(no subject)
me drawing
tww1fa
Wernher von Braun
preferred up to down.
His rockets flew higher
on pillars of fire.

(no subject)
me drawing
tww1fa
H.P. Lovecraft
drove characters daft
thanks to that lulu
of an Old God, Cthulhu.

One take. One 10 minute take.
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tww1fa

Myrmeleontidae
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tww1fa
Today while walking in the park on my lunch break, I saw ant lion traps. I haven't seen those since I moved to the U.S. over 17 years ago. I love ant lions. When I was younger I figured out how to "fish" for them with a cotton swab, and I did a science project on the shape of the traps when made in different types of soil.

For the trekkies out there...
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tww1fa
How many can you identify?

RIFT, or the grass is not always greener
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tww1fa
I have a friend that has switched from playing World of Warcraft to RIFT, and this last weekend there was an event where current players could invite friends to play with a free trial account. So my wife and I ended up installing RIFT and played it for a bit (up to about level 10.)

The good:
  • The graphics are quite a bit better than WoW - more polygons and smoother textures. Spell effects are specially nice.
  • The talent soul system is interesting. Although there are only four classes available (warrior, cleric, rougerogue and mage) each has around a dozen souls (talent trees) of which you can select three to put points into. Not only that, you can only have as many points in a soul as you have levels, and you get on average more than one point per level, so you level up at least two souls (or all three) as you level up your character (unlike WoW where you can't even start putting points into a second tree until you've maxed the first tree.) Some combinations are quite interesting, like a warrior that steals magical energy from mana users and can use it to cast spells.
  • You can adjust the position of all UI elements without need of addons - just drag when in a special "layout" mode.
  • Rifts - these are essentially public raids. When a rift opens and you walk into the rift area, you are given the option to join the group that is already doing the rift and help out to get the rift quest rewards.

The neutral:
  • Definitely a lot was stolenborrowed from WoW, including most keybindings, map/minimap, quest interface, UI layout, etc. WoW has done a lot to polish this, so it makes sense to follow their lead.
  • No addon API. This is both good and bad. On the good column, there's nothing like Gearscore, and encounters/bosses are designed without addons in mind. On the bad column, it limits what you can do in some ways.

Bad:
  • Although the graphics are very nice, the artwork leaves me cold. Instead of the cartoonish WoW art design, RIFT goes for a more realistic approach. Unfortunately the real world in most fantasy genres is composed of greys, browns and some green. So you end up with a lot of highly detailed drabness.
  • The game attempts to make up for the aforementioned drabness by adding as much UI bling as it can. Every time you give in a quest, you get a flying banner above your character saying "QUEST COMPLETED" and your toon does a fist pump. Same for leveling. It gets annoying fast.
  • This is going to be very subjective, but for me the world was just not somewhere I wanted to spend a lot of time on. I didn't feel any connection to any of the characters, the questlines were bog-standard fantasy fare and I didn't feel the need to keep playing to see what was going to happen. Added to this is the fact that you're not starting as a plain Jane/Joe - even your level 1 character has NPCs toadying up to him/her.
  • Another subjective opinion: RIFT has absolutely no sense of humor. None of the quests I did made me crack a smile. No pop culture references, no silly quest dialog, nothing. Maybe WoW takes the humor a bit too far, but RIFT takes itself way too seriously.
My wife and I played RIFT for a few hours before having to stop to do something else. When we could play again, we asked each other whether we wanted to play again - both of us pretty much said "nah." It just didn't grab us.

I'd rather be in Azeroth.
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Those who believe the moon landings were a hoax ...
sad
tww1fa
... fill me with pity, not rage. It must take a special kind of self-loathing to not allow yourself to live in a universe where ordinary people work together to achieve extraordinary goals.

A song for the geeks on St. Patrick's day...
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tww1fa

Unexpected coolitude...
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tww1fa
Today I checked Heavens Above and found that the ISS was going to be visible and very bright in the sky tonight, so I headed out with the scope a few minutes before it was to appear. A while later I saw a bright spot move across the sky in the right place and direction. I wasn't able to get it in the field of view of the scope, unfortunately. As it moved into shadow in Canis Minor, I decided to look at the moon (always a nice target) and while moving the scope around I noticed another, brighter spot tracing the same path as the first one! Unfortunately I couldn't get that in the scope either.

After I came in to the house I looked on Live Satellite Tracking and figured out that the second bright spot was the ISS, and the first one was space shuttle Discovery!

A lovely thought
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tww1fa
A bursted smile

Organic chemistry is made of cats!
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tww1fa
On Cats, Part 1: Conformations and Configurations

(via BoingBoing)

Craig Ferguson's A Christmas Carol
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tww1fa
Who would be in it? I'm thinking:

Craig Ferguson - Ebenezer Scrooge
Betty White - The Ghost of Christmas Past
Carrie Fisher - The Ghost of Christmas Present
Geoff Peterson - The Ghost of Christmas Future
Eddie Izzard - Scrooge's Nephew
Kristin Bell - Mrs. Cratchit/Bella/Mrs. Fezziwig
Drew Carey - Fezziwig
Syd the profane bunny - Tiny Tim
Bridger - Bob Cratchit
Secretariat - the turkey

Ping dryad_song
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tww1fa
Study suggests that being too clean can make people sick

Yet another reason to stay away from antibacterial soaps.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig.
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tww1fa
Finally back home after driving 3/4 of the way across the U.S. Flew out to Chicago Sunday, drove Chicago, IL to Lincoln, NE (520 miles) on Monday, Lincoln, NE to Rawlins, WY (594 miles) on Tuesday, Rawlins, WY to Winnemucca, NV (642 miles) on Wednesday, and Winnemucca, NV to Redding, CA (361 miles) on Thursday to meet up with my wife at my in-laws. Today my wife drove us back home. I'm done with driving for a while.

(no subject)
me drawing
tww1fa
Arrived at the in-laws around 3:00pm today. Back with my wife, who I'd seen for 24 hours in the previous 6 weeks. Heading back home - she'll be driving :)

(no subject)
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tww1fa
1750 miles done. 360 miles to go.

Where am I going? When will I get there?
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California. I ain't certain, but I expect Thursday. I left Chicago yesterday morning, drove to Lincoln NE, spent the night, and today drove to Rawlins WY. Tomorrow I expect to spend the night somewhere in NV, ending up in Redding CA on Thursday. As of today I've driven 1100 miles, and I have about 1000 to go. I do have a really nice hotel room for the night, though.

Thank $DEITY for A Game of Thrones on audiobook. Makes the miles pass a lot faster.

Name this utensil!
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tww1fa
My wife and I are looking for the name (and if possible where to acquire a replacement) of this utensil. It seems to be made out of olive wood, is 9 inches long, and the edges of the longer bit are tapered to an edge on both sides. The closest we've found in googling is an appetizer spreader, but those aren't symmetrical like this piece is. Any ideas?



EDIT: Found it! It appears to be called a "pancake spatula." I found a 10 1/2 inch version at Sur Le Table.

Proper Opossum Pedicure
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tww1fa
I just have to share this:



Via boingboing.net.

Ping miintikwa
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tww1fa
The Lowbrow Tarot Card Project

w00t!
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tww1fa
I just found out that I got into the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm beta! I didn't get any email mentioning it, but I just checked my battle.net account and it was added to my list!
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Unexpected Amazon shipping notification is unexpected
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tww1fa
w00t! My copy of Max Headroom: The Complete Series (Lenticular Cover) (1987) which I ordered back in May and had completely forgotten about just shipped!

Pushing it to the limit
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I finally decided that my current computer (Core 2 Duo E6750) was just not keeping up with the demands put on it (i.e. World of Warcraft with nUI installed) but my budget isn't currently up to replacing it with the Core i7 of my dreams. However, my budget was up to buying a Zalman CNPS10X Quiet cpu heatsink/fan, which is allowing me to overclock my processor from the stock 2.66 GHz up to 3.4 GHz - a 27.8% improvement. I'm currently running Prime95 to see if it will hold up - so far so good. The core temperature is remaining steady at 52 degrees C, which is well in the safe zone.

One warning - the CNPS10X is HUGE - if you're interested in it, make sure you have a big case :)

(no subject)
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tww1fa
Just watched "Moon" with Sam Rockwell. A brilliant, brilliant film, and an extraordinary performance by Rockwell.

Two low-budget, high content TV shows available for free
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tww1fa
Two of my favorite educational TV shows are legally available to watch free.

First of all, The Western Tradition. I remember being enthralled watching the late Professor Eugen Weber explaining the history of Western civilization. Just the good Professor, a podium, and illustrative slides. Not just the dates and important people, but good insight into how people actually lived during that time.

Second, my favorite "how things work" show: The Secret Life of Machines. Simple and fun explanations of how basic and not so basic machines work, with excellent demonstrations.

I highly recommend both of these shows.

New glasses!
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tww1fa
Just got my new glasses last night!

Picture cut to protect your delicate sensibilities...Collapse )

The frames are Shuron Ronsir Revelation.

If you're interested in retro frames, I greatly recommend Shuron. They've been making frames since 1865 and were the inventors of the "Browline" frame that was the most popular frame style in the 50s and 60s. When you give them a call, they'll ship you multiple sizes of the frame you're interested in for the price of a single frame + shipping. Just find the one that fits, and ship back the rest. Or they can do lenses as well - you just tell them which size fit correctly and ship back all the trial frames - they'll start work immediately on another frame of the same style and size.

Portal - free for a limited time!
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tww1fa
If you play PC (or Mac) games at all, you should play Portal. Until May 24th, if you create a (free) Steam account at www.steampowered.com, you'll get a Portal for free! Available for Mac and PC.

Another reminder of why "Separate but Equal" is never good enough.
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tww1fa
http://www.nclrights.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issue_caseDocket_Greene_v_County_of_Sonoma_et_al

Via kengr.

(no subject)
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tww1fa
I've got "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young" on repeat. Love that song.

Good. Old. Games.
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tww1fa
PC gamers: Have you ever wondered "what happened to game X?" Is nostalgia for a game you played ten or fifteen years ago making you lose sleep? If so, mosey along to Good Old Games. Good Old Games (GOG) is a Polish company that acquires global rights to PC games that are out of print, patches them to the latest version, removes any DRM, and offers them for sale on their website. If the game is a DOS game, they include a copy of the DOSBox DOS emulator as well as a DOSBox configuration file with all settings required to play the game well on Windows XP/Vista/7. Oh, and the DOXBox configuration file also works great with DOSBox on the Mac or on Linux (although you do need to run Wine to install the game.) Once you buy a game you can download it from your gog.com account as many times as you want and install it wherever you want.

The prices are great - I picked up Might and Magic I-VI for $9.99 and four games from The Incredible Machine series on sale for $4.99 (regular price $9.99.)

So, if you'd like to play the original Fallout, or maybe Another World or Red Baron, give Good Old Games a try. Cheap, legal and convenient.

?

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