CARG Laptop – Hardball!

The computer game environment in 1985 was changing. Society had moved through the various clones of Pong, Space Invaders and Pac-Man. Text adventures were slowly advancing to include graphics (leading to the high-water mark of Sierra games such as Kings Quest). No-one knew where it was leading, so everything was on the table.

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Musicology – The Beatles’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Music

When thinking of another Musicology entry, I thought about other influential bands and songs that helped shape who I am.  For that, I have to credit my parents, whose extensive record collection (all on vinyl) was the source of entertainment for me and my siblings for the first few years of our lives.  Fortunately for me, my parents had pretty good taste.

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CARG Laptop – Networked DOOM

One of the groundbreaking things about DOOM was its ability to ruin networks.  It became so commonplace that companies such as Intel and Carnegie Mellon University explicitly banned the playing of DOOM on its networks.  According to the DOOM FAQ put out by id Software, “In 1994, we fully expect to be the number one cause of decreased productivity in businesses around the world.”  And it pretty much did, or at least made companies think about setting up a policy regarding networked games.

So with DOOM good to go on our CARG laptop, the next logical step is to get our friends playing.  Because as that same DOOM FAQ says, “Who doesn’t enjoy shooting a rocket into a friend?”

Ad-Hoc DOOM Network Structure

DOOM allows up to four computers on a local network to play in the one game.  One of the four is considered the “server”, the others are “clients”.  The server needs to have the DOOM multiplayer program (DM.exe) running, then the others can connect to it.  In the example in the video, I am setting up the CARG Laptop as the server, and my Apple MacBook Pro as a client.  Both are on my local wireless network, and both have DOSBox and DOOM working.

DOSBox adds an extra complication to the architecture, as it does not connect to a network right away.  In order to enable networking, the DOSBox configuration file on each machine needs to be modified.  On the CARG Laptop, that file is ~/.dosbox/dosbox-0.74.conf and on the MacBook Pro it is ~/Library/Preferences/dosbox-0.74.conf.  Near the end of the file, change the following line:




That’s the only thing that needs to change.  This tells DOSBox to enable a network connection.  Save and close the file.

Configure the server

On the server (the CARG Laptop), we need to know what the IP address is, so other computers can connect to it.  Enter the following command:

ifconfig | grep netmask

and look through the information that is returned.  The first series of numbers is your IP address, in the format of AAA.BBB.CCC.DDD.  Remember this – we will need it later.

We also need to allow the other computers to connect through the firewall on the server.  Head to Menu > Administration > Firewall and enter your administrator password.  Then head to the Ports tab and enter in the following information:

Port / Port Range: 19900

Protocol: udp

You can choose any port number between 1024 and 65535, but you will need to use that consistently.  I will be using 19900, so adjust your settings if you use a different port.

Once that is done, we can start the ipx server.  On the CARG Laptop, enter the following command into DOSBox:

ipxnet startserver 19900

It will return that the IPX Tunneling Server started:

ipxnet startserver command on DOSBox as the IPX server
ipxnet startserver command on DOSBox as the IPX server

Now enter the command to start the DOOM Deathmatch server:


The following screen will appear:

Running DM.exe on the IPX server
Running DM.exe on the IPX server

You can see it has already selected the IPX Network.  The setting we are most concerned with is the top right corner, where it has selected “Wait for call”.  This is what we want – we are waiting for the other computers to connect in.  Hit F10 and it will wait for others to join:

IPX server waiting for others to join the DOOM DeathMatch
IPX server waiting for others to join the DOOM DeathMatch

We can leave the server at this stage as it waits for others to connect.

Configure the client

Head over to a client machine (in my example, the MacBook Pro), and enter the following command into DOSBox:

ipxnet connect AAA.BBB.CCC.DDD 19900

Change AAA.BBB.CCC.DDD for the IP address we found out earlier, and replace 19900 with whatever port you chose before.  This will tell us it has connected to the server:

Client connecting to IPX network
Client connecting to IPX network

Now type in the command to start the DeathMatch on the client:


The same window appears as on the server.  Make sure all settings are the same as on the server except the top right corner – it should now have Already Connected selected.

Running DM.exe on the IPX client
Running DM.exe on the IPX client

Once everything is confirmed, hit F10 to proceed.

Run Amok

Things happen pretty fast after that.  The two machines will connect, and DOOM will start pretty much right away.  You are dropped straight into the DeathMatch – there is no menu or introduction screen.

DOOM DeathMatch start screen. The insert window in the top right is for demonstration only.
DOOM DeathMatch start screen. The insert window in the top right is for demonstration only.

Note that the insert box in the top right of the image above is only for demonstration of the network connection.  You will not see that box, nor will you have any idea where the other player is.  From there, it’s pretty simple – find the other player and shoot them!

Happy fragging.

Musicology – The Cure’s In Between Days

Some things you hear about 80’s music is true.  Bands would go out of their way to create the biggest hair possible.  Reverb on drums was expected.  Quirky filmclips stood out.  Neon highlights or accessories were mandatory.

There were also some important moments in music during the 80’s that are still felt today.  Can you imagine a world without Madonna?  Where would filmclips be without Thriller?  Could we Rick-roll without the Rick?  Live Aid would not have happened.  Some amazing things happened, and some great music was made.  And some of that was made by my favourite band of all time, The Cure.

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Tech History – UNIX

If you have never heard of the UNIX operating system, I don’t think I am going too far when I say it’s the greatest operating system you’ve never heard of. And if you have heard of UNIX, you probably know how influential it has been across the tech environment.  Here is a brief history of UNIX and some of its most famous descendants.

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