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September 30, 2023: Game Stores In All Sizes

I recently realized one aspect that's pretty special about the tabletop gaming industry: neat, cool, game stores can be found in pretty much every size. I've been in palatial stores that offered myriad options and gaming areas. I've also found amazing treasures sitting on the shelves of tiny shops tucked into a bustling downtown. I recently saw a plethora of places, because my kiddo's need for driving hours to earn his license meant we visited pretty nearly every game store within a two-hour drive.

This ability to surprise at any size contrasts with walking into a tiny hardware store (for example); my first thought isn't, "Oh! Maybe they have those out-of-print nails I've been looking for!"

If you want new places to visit, one helpful resource is the Store Finder on this humble site. And if you have a favorite store in your area that isn't in this database, please let them know about . . . [more]

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September 29, 2023: Steve Jackson Interview With Cigar Nerds

Dragon Con is over, but the folks at Cigar Nerds Podcast have posted their wrap-up shows, and the most recent episode caught our own Steve Jackson as a guest. The "Nerds" in the name of the podcast is accurate beyond cigars, as the topics of this episode range from science, futurism, and games to Demolition Man. You can find Steve's section at 1:23:00, but the entire episode is chock-full of nerdy goodness. Rarely do I hear a discussion of Stallone movies in the same breath as one about NASA! 

Thanks again to Cigar Nerds for the feature! 

-- Hunter Shelburne

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September 28, 2023: Today's Illuminated Musing

The other day I sang the praises of USBs, noting the first version of this long-lived format hit the market in general popularity in August 1998 – over 25 years ago.

As I was posting this to the Daily Illuminator, I realized something really cool that was even older than that: the Daily Illuminator itself.

The first posts were in November 1994 (November 16, to be precise). As far as we know (and trumpet on the archive page), it's the oldest continuously running blog on the net. And, if my math is right, its 30 anniversary should be coming up next year.

Now I need to check with the folks in IT about uploading a cake to celebrate the occasion . . .

-- Steven Marsh

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September 27, 2023: Music To Game To: Hole Dweller

Say what you will about Spotify, but its algorithm has an amazing way of taking you on unexpected musical journeys. I started on one of those journeys a couple of years ago when a song popped up on my Discover Weekly playlist called "The Dwarven Caravan of Rushock Bog," by an act called Hole Dweller. I was immediately intrigued. The piece sounded like music from a lost 90s PC game, right down to the sound effects that were integrated into the background. I assumed that the song was part of a collection of early video game music, but the truth was far more interesting.
Hole Dweller is a project created by Tim Rowland, a musician from Athens, Georgia, whose first release came out in 2019. Rowland is heavily inspired by Lord of the Rings; a majority of his releases are concept albums focused on Jamwine, a hobbit who ventures forth in search of adventure and excitement. One notable exception . . .


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September 26, 2023: In Praise Of USBs

I was cleaning out a box of adapters and computer parts the other day, and I came across myriad USB cables from bygone eras. Curious, I plugged one unusual device in . . . and it worked. If I wanted an IDE-to-USB adapter to muck with any ancient hard drives, I now have a decent prospect.

It got me thinking how amazing the humble USB port is. The USB 1.1 specification that sparked off the widely adopted USB era came out in August 1998, so the technology is just over a quarter-century old. And it's remarkably robust; if I needed to use a decades-old USB keyboard, printer, or memory card, the same rectangular port that enabled the gear to work last millennium still works fine (or, at most, is an adapter away). Any such device almost certainly won't be fast, but it has better-than-average odds of the computer going, "Ahh, I haven't seen one of these since the Y2K era . . . but I . . . [more]

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