Throw Back Thursday: DOS Sierra games


Last night I was talking with my kids about typewriters, their dad told them he has an old one kicking around at his office. Both kids jumped up as exclaimed, “Can we have it?” So I asked the obvious question, “Why do you want a typewriter?”


I got the nerd look and was told typewriters are cool. Seriously? I told them about my experience in Typing 10 and they laughed and said they took typing in Elementary School. Suddenly I felt vintage.


I grew up in the era of Atari and Intelevision. I played Frogger, Donkey Kong, Galaxia, and all those games you can now play on your iPad because there is an app for that. Never made the transition well to Xbox and Playstation because I suffer from motion sickness those games create for me. I can last about 10 minutes then I am laying on the floor hoping not to hurl. This is unfortunate because I would kick ass at those games…just saying.


Then one day, somewhere around 1988 when I was 21, I bought a computer. This is how stupid I was, I let my  -then Boyfriend, keep it (stupid stupid stupid). There was no Windows in those days but there was DOS, and I became quite efficient in that language. Basically that computer was a REALLY expensive type writer for me. When Windows came along my boyfriend wouldn’t upgrade because he deemed it to be a “fad”. The best I could hope for was Dos Shell, which prettified the screen and made it yellow and blue. Basically it was still just a very expensive type writer. Then I met a gal who owned a computer game that didn’t involve a deck cards.



Sierra Games came out with a series of games where you typed the actions for the character to do. This was all on several floppy disks – not hard floppys-the real floppy. This was called Police Quest. I was obsessed with this game. I would talked to other gamers to discover secrets so I could access new levels. This was before the Internet. I met these other gamers at comic shops. That’s right, I was a vintage gamer geek long before it became the new cool. My boyfriend didn’t understand my interest. I spent hours trying to crack the code. I would type different lines in hopes the police detective would check the wallet. Lines codes went something like this:


  • Open brown door
  • walk through doorway
  • turn right
  • walk straight ahead
  • pick up wallet
  • move wallet
  • open wallet
  • push wallet onto floor


I tried a 100 different ways for the detective to look inside that wallet. Then one day I met a guy  – who later ran from the Weed Party of Canada – he knew the code. You had to walk behind the table and turn the light on first before you had access to the wallet. I remember messing up and having to restart the level. SO FRUSTRATING, but so satisfying if I figured it out!


Watching Wreck it Ralph brought that all back to me. Poor Ralph lives in a vintage game celebrating his 30th anniversary. Those were the type of games I played! I felt comfort, empathy and excitement! Then there was a reference that I didn’t get. Glenda bla bla bla Huh? Apparently if I played Portal I would have understood that reference. I HATE being out of the loop!


I have high schoolers talking to me about retro geekdom from Star Wars to Star Trek, from Atari to Hand held NFL football (I loved those red led players!) All I have going for me is I was a cool geek before geeks were cool. I have finally become someone who needs to rest on her laurels. I need to download Police Quest or Leisure Suit Larry and show off my mad typing skills.




It’s just not what it use to be

English: iPad 2 with Smart Cover running iMovie.
English: iPad 2 with Smart Cover running iMovie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was at the university today in search of actual books. The kind made from paper, glue and ink. The kind of book you open up and sniff that distinctive smell of book. 

It has been a very long time since I read a paper book. I have become the new generation of reader – ereader. I have to admit, I love it. I love having 500 books on my shelf that I carry in my purse. I love that my carry on for airplane trips was light and had room to bring stuff back. In my bag for my last trip I had my iPad, charger cord, tissue, hand sanitizer, and a pashmina. My iPad had a couple of movies and tv shows loaded on it, my New York Times Crossword puzzle, pdfs for university, photo editing software and 500 photos before my trip, 682 hours of music and my beloved book collection. I felt like Arthur from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. All I needed was a towel. I know there are a lot of you who will tell me you love your books and can’t convert. I am not trying to convert you, but I caution you not to close your mind of because books are going the way of the vinyl album, betamax and vhs tapes, cds, typewritters, tube tvs, space shuttles and Concords. This is just the way it is.

I had a hard time at the campus book store finding the required reading material needed for my next class. Seriously, those dudes are USELESS. I left empty handed and went to Tim Horton’s to drown my sorrows in a steeped tea (because Timmy’s coffee is VILE) I had my iPad with me and I started to google. I discovered the chapters I needed were available for download. SWEET! Into my ereader they went and now I have the added benefit of highlighting, adding notes and working right from the tablet. I found the other book I needed available at the campus library and now it also is installed on my ereader. The best part is, I don’t have to lug around a heavy bag filled with text books and note pads. I don’t worry about pens without ink or other crud I don’t need.

This was true of my kids this year as well. Both my kids have some sort of electronic device for school. The oldest has a lap top, the youngest a iPad. The youngest uses apps that connect her with the smart boards at school. The notes are available on-line, so time is spent exploring the topic rather than copying copious amounts of notes. They both email in their assignments, communicate with their teachers via email and have access to on-line learning labs. My youngest understands her need for some hands on work and notes so I bought her pens, pencils, a binder and some paper. The oldest didn’t need anything but his laptop and an ereader. His library has ebooks that he downloads on his reader. When the due date is up, they disappear. This is also possible through the public library. The need for text books is also going by the wayside. This style is perfect for my eldest’s learning style. He reads it, he retains it, he discusses it in chat rooms or clusters with his peers. It’s all very appealing to my children to learn this way. If they have their laptop, they have their homework. Things are saved to clouds and flash drives. Gone are the days of “I forgot to bring it home”.

Don’t bother telling me they way you use to learn is better. Things evolve and change. There is a huge debate on texting versus spelling out the entire word. Let me just say if we always did things they way we use to, I would be writing this blog on the walls with a chisel. Embrace change, maybe even marvel at it. Sure it isn’t the same but it opens up blocks of time for other things that expand the mind. Less time on core details opens up more time for extra curricular creativity. This helps my kids explore things I never had the opportunity to try.

Wednesday I have a class that takes place in my home. I will fire up my laptop, don my headset and microphone, and discuss stuff online, live with a visual of what my classmates look like. Technically I don’t have to change out of my pajama bottoms, shoulders up is all they see, so I’ll brush my hair, wash my face and wear a clean shirt. I can sit on my deck if it’s nice out. That’s right, I will be living my high school dream from 1984. I will have class outside in the sunshine on Wednesday at 5:00 pm and get stuff done. Give me wifi and I could be by the pool.

Who do I thank for this? Steve Jobs? Steve Wozniak? Bill Gates? If you ask me, they are worth their weight in gold because THIS is awesome. I don’t have to drive in rush hour to get to my class. I don’t have to pay for parking. I don’t have to pack a lunch. I don’t have to wear socks.

Now, I cannot WAIT for work to go all electronic so I can do it from my lounge chair while soaking up the sun.