Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How One TV Show Shows Its Age

Beakman’s World was my favorite science show during my childhood. It was a creative program that kept any my short attention span with quick lessons and comedic writing. It aired every Saturday morning and, much to my delight, has returned for another generation’s Saturday mornings. Beakman’s World is the Mr. Wizard for non-cable subscribers.

On a recent episode, a viewer’s letter asked Beakman how he found his answers. Beakman suggested the following steps (and what this means today):

1. Go to the library and look for your topic in an encyclopedia. (Search in Wikipedia.)

A science guy + guy in a rat costume + young actresses = the world of science as of 1993

2. If the topic isn’t found in the encyclopedia, ask a librarian to help you find the subject in the card catalog. (This really dates the show because many libraries began using computers for “quicker” card catalog searches when the show first aired. Today, if you actually need a book, you can search for and check it out from your home computer. This only helps if you know where your library is located and still have a library card. As if.)

3. If a trip to the library does not answer your question, open a phone book and, with adult supervision, call someone who will have the answer. (Just make sure your spam filter is on when you visit sites from your Google search. Adult supervision is suggested so you don’t wander into older content.)

The scientific method hasn’t changed in the 10 years this episode aired, but the research methods sure have.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

NHL 95 Update – Online Emulator Play

Thanks to a comment on my NHL 95 entry, I’ve found software called Kaillera that allows you to play ROMs using online emulators. Meaning, I could play against anyone in the world in just about any old school game. I haven’t messed with the software yet, but will keep you posted. I hope there’s no lag and at least equals the quality of play of this one device I used in the 90s to play other Genesis players through the telephone jack in my parent’s kitchen. I can't recall the name, but it was cool at the time, I swear.

MTV Cribs Featuring George Washington’s Mt. Vernon

The weekend before last, my SO’s father and stepmother visited to do the touristy things during the cherry blossom bloom. It was fun despite the hoards of people who had the nerve to visit the cherry blossoms at the same time. 1st piece of advice for anyone visiting Washington D.C. during the cherry blossoms…walk an extra two blocks and use the Metro station that comes before the Smithsonian in your direction. The Smithsonian platform was more full than any rush hour backup I’ve seen. Who knows how anyone got on/off the train because the unwritten rules of Metro travel (that should be written for tourists and DCers alike) were not in service.

On Sunday, we drove to Mt. Vernon to see how GW spent what little free time he had after his days leading the country. This was my first trip and I was very impressed. For $13 you get a tour of his home, get to walk the entire property, and see a newly-built education center and museum. We wait a good 45 minutes before entering the home. Once inside, each room had its own tour guide to make like an animatronic creation at Disneyworld. He or she repeated a script over and over again. On a typical day this wouldn’t be an issue, but when the line was as long as it was, and people were cutting ahead by going around a velvet rope, we were treated to information about the George’s dining room, living room, and game room exploits three times.

After the tour, we walked the grounds and enjoyed a great view of the Potomac. We hiked back up the hill, though a bus was available every 30 minutes for those not crazy enough to walk up the path after a full day of DC walking. We returned to the general area and visited the new education center. I was blown away at how well done this area was designed. If I had the mindset of a child and visited this part (not to say I don’t have a child’s mindset at times) I would have loved all of the sites, multimedia theaters, sounds, and interactive exhibits. It surely keeps the attention of any visitor. We skipped the more adult museum because we had had enough GW for the day.