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Archive for April, 2014|Monthly archive page

E.T. game dig reveals start of Atari collapse

In Business, Economy, Entertainment, National News, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on April 28, 2014 at 11:36 am

DIH LOGOIn the nerd-infested world of video game lore, legend says that Atari was so embarrassed by the abject failure of its “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” video game cartridge, the company buried all remaining copies of the game in a secret, desert landfill. Following the phenomenal success of Steven Spielberg’s big-budget, heart-wrenching feature film of the same name, the E.T. game was released in 1982 for the classic Atari 2600 game console.

Recently, the legend of the secret cartridge burial was confirmed as a documentary filmmaker set out to unearth the long-lost Atari graveyard, located in a landfill outside Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque. Three hours and several layers of trash later, digging in a 150 by 150-foot area, workers uncovered the first signs that this was, in fact, the legendary Atari burial site.

The dig was undertaken by Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Entertainment Studios, the producers behind the documentary film reportedly to be focused on the early years and eventual collapse of the Atari video game empire. The story goes that Atari was saddled with most of the 5 million E.T. cartridges, which were a commercial failure, and buried them, secretly, under cover of night.

One of the VIP’s at the dig was Howard Scott Warshaw, the game’s original designer, who told the press that there could be as many as 750,000 game cartridges buried at the site. Warshaw also designed one of Atari’s biggest hits, “Yar’s Revenge.” Given the “archeological” nature of the Atari dig, there’s an irony in that the game maker also put out a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” video game, also listed with E.T. as one of the company’s worst releases.

ET_GAME_SCREENOn a personal note, and possibly stranger than this story to some, is the fact that I actually still have my original, 1982 Atari 2600 console and game cartridges, all in pristine, working order. Ah, I still marvel at the sleek, faux wood grain finish and the uncomplicated joystick with a single button; classic. I know weird, right? But I always loved my Atari set. It was one of the first “computer” games to which I was exposed and probably contributed to the years of work I spent as a programmer and computer specialist.

A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a modern knock-off of the classic console which is considerably smaller with wireless joysticks and 20 or so games already programmed into it – so no cartridges. Strangely, it loses something on the 46-inch, HD TV screen it’s plugged into. I kind of miss my little, 19-inch color Zenith. Incidentally, I still have my Atari E.T. cartridge and a book that tells you how to win the game. The newer version is just not the same.

In spite of the nostalgia experienced by those of us who grew up in the 80s, there’s a lot to be learned from the E.T. game story. In 1983, Atari was struggling to recover from a failed product and losing sales during a national recession. When a company like Atari creates a product based on a film franchise like “E.T.” or “Batman,” the expense of licensing alone can significantly increase the cost of production over an original title like “Pong” or “Missile Command.”

Because of the added expense, the licensed products must far outperform their counterparts just to be considered successful and add profit for the manufacturer. The E.T. game clearly started out in the red and, because people simply didn’t like the over-priced cartridge, Atari couldn’t recover from the financial blow.

Since Microsoft’s production division is funding the excavation of the Atari landfill site, it stands to reason there is finally money to be made from the demise of the game. My guess is that the dig is simply a film-length “advertisement” for the Xbox game consoles engaged primarily as what now appears to be a highly successful publicity stunt; something Atari could have used more of back in the day.

There’s probably a lot more to be gained from a study of Atari’s successes and failures, but I just don’t have the time. I have to go and see if I can get to the next level on my “Asteroids” cartridge. Good gaming!

 

Jamestown Comet Editor Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and owner of Deer Computer Consulting, Ltd. in Jamestown, Ohio. More at www.deercomputerconsulting.com

 

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Drowning at Shawnee Lake under investigation

In Local News, Uncategorized on April 23, 2014 at 9:52 am

Shawnee Hills – April 22, 2014 – The drowning of a 63-year-old man at Shawnee Lake on Tuesday is under investigation. Here’s the full story from WHIO-TV, Newscenter 7 :

http://www.whio.com/news/news/local/search-missing-boater-shawnee-lake/nffcy/

More family advocacy needed for elder care

In Children and Family, Health, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on April 16, 2014 at 1:31 pm

DIH LOGOCaring for an aging parent is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult and often painful experiences life throws our way. Providing a safe, healthy environment for an elderly family member is just as taxing as doing the same for a child.

What makes this process even harder is when the parent is resistant to help or simply won’t accept that they are no longer in a position to take care of themselves. Poor decisions, an inability to recognize when driving has become hazardous and, worst of all, when they will listen to anyone’s advice but that of their children, complicates the care process and causes serious damage to the parent/child relationship.

It’s hard to watch parents age and knowing you’re headed the same direction only solidifies the reality of it all. It’s harder still when they resist every attempt to maintain their health and sometimes doctors undermine your efforts by telling them they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to.

I understand that people need to make their own choices, but some shrink in a hospital cannot possibly know an individual’s mental status by talking to them once for three minutes and asking a half dozen pointless questions. “Do you know where you are? Do you know what day it is? Can you draw this box? Write your name.” “Draw this box,” are they kidding?

How about we ask them what their checking account number is, or the name of their insurance company? How about asking when they last paid their phone bill? These are vital questions to someone who is supposedly “competent” and yet this is not what is included in a psychiatric evaluation for a senior’s ability to make his or her own decisions.

Then there are those who are intent on taking advantage of the elderly person’s desire to feel “needed” and useful. These individuals worm their way into the lives of the elderly, showering them with compliments and creating a rift between the senior and his or her family. These unscrupulous people are trying to get money and property away from the senior and alienate children and others who are trying to protect their interests.

Deer In Headlines author Gery Deer is helping his brother Gary Jr and sister Cathy to take care of their father, Gary Sr. and it's rarely easy work.

Deer In Headlines author Gery Deer is helping his brother Gary Jr and sister Cathy to take care of their father, Gary Sr. and it’s rarely easy work.

Laws addressing the rights of seniors, as well as those regarding patient rights, seem to take no account to dementia and speak only to protecting them from family members bent on securing money or locking them away in a nursing home. What about those of us who are trying to protect our parents and provide a safe, secure life for them in their own home as long as possible? Where is our protection and support? There is none.

Preserving a person’s dignity is difficult enough without being able to handle even the most basic decisions absent a mile of legal documents in place only to provide more money for lawyers. Power of attorney documents are meaningless unless the person is thoroughly incapacitated and no one will help without signing over deeds and financial statements.

Believe it or not, sometimes money has nothing to do with it! There are actually situations when families are trying to preserve an aging parent’s lifestyle, dignity and financial security. Someone should be out there advocating for us, not making it harder. Unless you’re loaded with money, there is just no support for people dealing with this kind of problem.

So what is to be done? Good question. I am all for protecting the rights of the elderly and maintaining their ability to make decisions, but there are many degrees of incompetence between fully cognizant and Alzheimer’s dementia and that should be taken into account.

My mother lost all of her reasoning ability as Alzheimer’s set in and it nearly bankrupted my family to get her under a guardianship so we could keep her safe and well-cared for. But when a senior has some competence but not all, that needs to be addressed and the family should be able to have some advocacy for protecting the interest of that individual without so many roadblocks.

Legislation should be put into place for the varying degrees of dementia and stop relying on the ‘one size fits all’ psychiatric evaluations that prove nothing more than the person can read a calendar.

 

Gery L. Deer is the editor and publisher of The Jamestown Comet.com an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at http://www.gerydeer.com.

 

Crafters Lodge to host two-day t-shirt quilt workshop

In Business, Children and Family, Education, Entertainment, Health, Holiday, Local News, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on April 16, 2014 at 1:20 pm

CLLOGOSugarcreek Twp., OH – Nearly every event a student attends as he or she goes through school is commemorated by a t-shirt. Crafters Lodge in Sugarcreek Township, is providing a two-day course on transforming those keepsake tees into a cherished family heirloom – the t-shirt quilt.

On Sunday April 27th and Sunday May 4th, Crafters Lodge, located at 6056 Wilmington Pike, just behind Fazoli’s, will host a t-shirt quilting class. The two-day class will provide complete instruction, from start to finish, for a fee of $35 for both days, not including materials. Participants must purchase their own supplies and costs vary based on the materials chosen.

A t-shirt quilt is made up of the artwork from cherished t-shirts commemorating everything from a student’s first day of school or high school prom to concerts and extracurricular events. The artwork is cut from the fronts and backs of the shirts and sewn together to make a quilt. Jo Beth Bryant is co-owner of Crafters Lodge.

“Registered students should stop by the store at least two or three days prior to the first class for instruction on how to prep the T-shirts,” Bryant says. “Having the shirts prepped prior to class will allow the student to begin the layout and design process sooner and thus finish the quilt in a shorter amount of time.”

Teaching the upcoming class is life-long needleworker, Wendy Crawford. A veteran of 4-H and Girl Scout sewing competitions, Crawford started making baby quilts while in junior high school.  She turned to hand quilting after inheriting a quilter’s estate and is now a certified Gammill (Long Arm) operator with more than 350 quilts under her belt. Today, she enjoys sharing her knowledge with the local community after an absence from teaching.

Crafters Lodge opened in September of 2013 and offers high-end supplies and expertise to the serious crafter. In addition to the t-shirt quilting course, the store also offers classes in fiber arts (knitting, weaving, tatting, etc.), tole painting, stained glass and more.

Registration for the t-shirt quilting class is limited and participants are required to bring their own sewing machines. Crafters Lodge is open Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 am to 8:00pm, Sunday noon to 6:00 pm and closed on Monday. For more information and a schedule of classes, visit the store’s website, http://www.crafterslodge.com or call (937) 470-2649.

 

Campaign educates drivers about distracted driving

In Children and Family, Education, Environment, Health, Local News, Technology, Uncategorized on April 2, 2014 at 7:19 pm

DDXENIA, OH – In an effort to make our roads safer, the Greene County Safe Communities Coalition announced today that it has joined the “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” campaign to stop distracted driving.  April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Coalition has pledged its support to help spread the message that distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone else on the road.

“We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesn’t stop most people from continuing to do it,” said Laurie Fox, Safe Communities Coordinator.  “This effort is intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use and other distractions while driving.  We hope that once people see the statistics and realize the danger involved, they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families, and others on the road.”

In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 421,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. That same year, eleven percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes.

While anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, there is heightened concern about the risks of texting while driving because it combines all three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive.

The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education – the same activities that have curbed drunk driving and increased seat belt use.

“Every driver in Greene County has a role in this effort,” said Fox.  “However, we especially want to reach out to parents with teen drivers because we know that statistically, the under-20 age group had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes.”

The Coalition’s goal is simple – save lives by getting drivers to remember that “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.”  All drivers are encouraged to put down the phone and arrive alive.

For more information about distracted driving, please visit www.distraction.gov, or you can contact Laurie Fox at 937-374-5669 or lfox@gcchd.org.  

LIVE! With Michael and Kelly announces Gery L. Deer as guest host.

In Environment, Local News, television on April 1, 2014 at 10:14 am

Gery_Live_April_FoolNew York, NY – April 1, 2014 – Producers of the hit daytime television program, Live! With Michael and Kelly, announce the newest guest host. Writer, entrepreneur Gery L. Deer will join the list of guest hosts to head up the popular morning entertainment show after a successful run as a regular guest on the popular Dayton, Ohio talk show, “Living Dayton.”

An award-nominated writer and marketing expert, the Jamestown, Ohio native is no stranger to the national television stage, having appeared on programs like America’s Got Talent, The Bonnie Hunt Show and Steve Harvey’s Big Time.

An attempt was made to contact Deer, but the only word from his representative, one Bray T Cat, was, “Meow.”
YES THIS WAS AN APRIL FOOL’S DAY JOKE. THANKS FOR PLAYING! (But if Kelly and Michael are reading, I’d be happy to co-host! – Gery D.