Well Whaddya know?

I finally got SBK Superbike World Championship for the PlayStation 3, Need for Speed Undercover for the Xbox 360, a book about video game consoles, and a Raspberry Pi 400 Personal Computer Kit!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Oh sorry, I was so excited, I just couldn’t stand it!)

Anyways, Merry Christmas, and have a happy 2021!

Revisiting Microsoft’s Encarta for Windows

Microsoft’s Encarta is a multimedia encyclopedia computer software that ran from 1993 to 2009 for Microsoft Windows 3.1 up to Windows 10 and for Mac OS 7.0 up to Mac OS 9.2.2 (68030 and PowerPC). The latest version is called Encarta Premium 2009, which is what I’ll be using in this blog post. I had no problems running Encarta Premium 2009 on my HP Pavilion a6010n running Windows 10 (32-bit). Early versions are released on CD-ROM, while the current versions are both released on CD-ROM and DVD-ROM. Microsoft is no longer supporting Encarta due to Wikipedia having more than a million articles written by a community; however, if you want an offline encyclopedia for your Windows computer, most of the versions can be found on the Internet Archive and WinWorldPC. But the Macintosh versions 95 and 97 can be found on the Macintosh Garden.

Interactivity featuring languages of the world.

I always love encyclopedias! My late grandparents used to have them as a book format, but there were no computers back then; in fact, I wasn’t even born yet! Fast forward to the 80s, and CD-ROM was born! CD-ROM contained originally 650 MB of data, but in the early 90s, that limit was bumped up to 700 MB of data, the same timeframe when Microsoft started developing an encyclopedia for Microsoft Windows-based machines, and that resulted in Encarta!

Encyclopedia article featuring the personal computer.

It’s not a hardcover paper book anymore! You can now type in a word of what you are looking for in the search box, and an article appears in an instant! Multimedia components such as music clips and animations are nice additions to Encarta, something that competing encyclopedia computer programs of the 80s didn’t have!

Picture of a Macintosh Plus on Microsoft’s Encarta! 😀

I’ve tested Microsoft’s Encarta 96 using SoftWindows 3.0 (Windows 3.11) on a Macintosh Performa 6400 (180 MHz) running Mac OS 8.6, and Microsoft’s Encarta 2000 using Microsoft’s Virtual PC 7.0 (Windows 98) on a Power Mac G4 (MDD 2003) running Mac OS X 10.2.8 (Jaguar), and no issues were found. Only two native versions of Encarta for the Mac are available, and they are versions 95 and 97.

The Dictionary of Encarta.

Recent versions of Encarta include a section for children, as well as a dictionary. I believe the dictionary component was first used in Microsoft’s Bookshelf, which is a similar software before they did Encarta. Anyways, to sum it up, Microsoft’s Encarta is an interesting encyclopedia computer software, even though it’s dated by 2020 standards. When you don’t have an internet connection, bring Encarta with you! But if you are looking for up-to-date information, or have an internet connection, then try out Wikipedia, which is a better choice containing a million articles written by a community of users. If you like this blog post, keep checking back for more here at Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection! In the meantime, have fun learning with Encarta and take care!

Restored the official StarFlyers Wallpaper/Promotional Artwork from Igloo Animations

I’ve recovered two promotional images of the StarFlyers video game series (2002) from a burned CD-R of internet downloads during 2016. They are from the former version of the official Igloo Animations (Ireland) website. They turn out to be good wallpapers for your computer or tablet running any operating system, and also the PlayStation 3 too! The Wayback Machine provided lower quality versions, so I managed to upload the same two images to the Internet Archive in their full High Definition glory here:

https://archive.org/details/katie-cadet-02

Enjoy!

-Katie Cadet, December 2020

Windows 95 OSR2 on an Indigo iMac G3 and Windows 3.1 on a Performa 6400

As the Windows on a Mac trend continues, I managed to dig out my trusty Performa 6400 Mac OS 8.6 machine to load SoftWindows 3. It included a copy of Windows 3.1, and I tried out a few programs on the SoftWindows Windows 3.1 emulator including Sound Source Interactive’s Lassie MovieBook (Based on the 1994 Paramount Pictures movie), Microsoft’s Encarta 96 Encyclopedia (found at a thrift store), SoftKey’s Key Greeting Card Designer (also found at a thrift store), and Rhode Island Soft System’s Jixxa jigsaw puzzle game. They all work fine with little to no issues.

So far, I think SoftWindows 3 plays the videos from the Lassie MovieBook just fine, although there are minor frame skips here and there. Also, it emulates a 50 MHz 486 on my 180 MHz PowerPC 603ev processor on the Performa 6400, so my recommendation is that you would need a Power Macintosh computer from 1996-1998 for acceptable performance.

On another (earlier) project, I managed to install Connectix Virtual PC 5.0 on my Indigo iMac G3 (350 MHz) running Mac OS X 10.1, and it came bundled with PC-DOS 2000. After having no luck installing Windows 3.1 on top of PC-DOS 2000, I managed to scrap that idea and replace it with a Windows 95 OSR2 virtual machine. So far, I managed to run Global Star Software’s Personal IQ Test (another one of those thrift store rarities), and I noticed the intro animation played a bit choppy, but when I got into the program, the MIDI music played really slow! I managed to turn the MIDI music off, and got an acceptable speed again! The minimum requirement for Connectix Virtual PC 5.0 requires a 400 MHz PowerPC G3 processor alongside the same minimum requirement of QuickTime 6.3.1, but should do just fine for Windows 95 virtualization on a 350 MHz G3 processor, so I’ll call this an equivalent. Connectix Virtual PC 5.0 emulates a Pentium or Pentium II depending on the configuration of your PowerPC G3 Mac.

So those two additions to my Windows on Mac project worked out really well alongside the Windows 98 setup with Microsoft’s Virtual PC 7.0 on my Power Mac G4 (MDD 2003) running Mac OS X 10.2.8 Jaguar! I want to be as cross-platform as I can with my vintage and modern computers! Now, onto the Pros and Cons:

SoftWindows Pros: Videos play just fine with minor frame skips; Emulates a 486 or Pentium depending on how fast your processor can handle.

SoftWindows Cons: No MIDI Music; Sluggish for the Windows 95 version.

Connectix/Microsoft Virtual PC Pros: Emulates a Pentium or Pentium II depending on the configuration; Supports Multiple Virtual Machines.

Connectix/Microsoft Virtual PC Cons: Videos and MIDI Music work but play back very slowly; Does not run the later 3-D DirectX games on Windows 95 or 98.

I also noticed that the Connectix/Microsoft Virtual PC side has built-in OPL3 MIDI emulation support, which is a plus. SoftWindows does not have that feature! The bottom line: If you have a Power Macintosh computer prior to the G3, and is around 200 MHz, use SoftWindows 3, but if you have a Power Macintosh computer that has a G3 processor, and is around 350 MHz, use Connectix Virtual PC on either Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X! And if you like this blog post, stay tuned for more here at Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection! For now, take care!

First try at creating my own Commodore 64 cassette rips!

I’ve always wanted to try new experiments here at Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection. In the age of emulators, I was looking for ways to create both the WAV and tape images of one of my Commodore 64 cassettes “An Introduction to BASIC Part 1”. The result is a more precise transfer compared to the ones you usually see on other websites.

The tools used to make these transfers are GoldWave 6, a Harman Kardon CD-91 cassette deck connected to my Sony STR-VX2 amplifier of my 80s stereo system, and a Sound Blaster Z on my Custom Built High Performance Windows 10 PC. A precise transfer usually tops around 96 kHz 24-bit, then the resulting WAV file is transferred to a 1.4 MB TAP Image file using WAV-PRG and Audiotap, and can be run on the VICE Commodore emulator if set to NTSC.

To explain in more detail of the audio rip, the first part of the data is actually a sine wave tone (that’s the header), the rest is grinding noises (this is where the data is stored on the cassette). When it is played on a Commodore 64, it reads the sine wave tone header and the grinding noise and translates them to data that the computer can read. All you need to do is to type “LOAD” until it says “PRESS PLAY ON TAPE”. After starting the cassette interface, you would have to wait a while for the program to load before you type “RUN” to start it. It’s that easy!

If anyone is interested, I’ll post links to the audio rip and the disk image below for anyone to try out! Here they are:

https://archive.org/details/commodore-64-an-introduction-to-basic-part-1

(TAPE IMAGE IN TAP FORMAT FOR USE WITH EMULATORS)

https://archive.org/details/commodore-64-an-introduction-to-basic-part-1-data-track

(AUDIO RIP IN 96 KHZ 24-BIT WAV FORMAT)

I hope you enjoy this treasure, and don’t forget to check back for more blog posts! Take care!

Measurement Converter 1.0e by Rudy Luiken for Windows 95 resurfaced on the Internet Archive and Vetusware!

I have discovered another rare treasure in the history of Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection! I was browsing through my old CD’s, and found one particular computer program (Windows 95-based) that was downloaded in 2000, but released in 1997. Here’s the description from the author of the program:

This is release version 1.0e of measurement converter. It converts miles to kilometers, mph to kph, litres to gallons etc. There are already some excellent ones out there, but no freeware ones that I am aware of. This particular version is complete. It is hopefully bullet proof. It includes a fuel mileage calculator. Not strictly a number conversion function, but I find it useful. This and it’s successors are intended to be freeware. No support, no registration.

Rudy Luiken, May 1997

Freeware, right? That means you can do anything you want like sharing it with your friends, unless the software is in its original state. Now we are in 2020, and since the Internet Archive and Vetusware don’t have this rare treasure, I decided to do the upload, and it worked!

If you want to try it out for yourself, download links are below, but please note that if you are going to download from Vetusware, you will need an account. The Internet Archive account registration is optional, but you can download without one. Anyways, here are the download mirrors:

https://archive.org/details/converter_202011

https://vetusware.com/download/Measurement%20Converter%201.0e/?id=16677

And don’t forget to check back for more blog posts here at Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection! Take care!

Blu-ray on computers? It does exist!

As Blu-ray movie prices came down, I was looking for a Blu-ray Disc drive for my custom built high performance Windows 10 PC, not just to read discs, but write to them as well!

When I searched on Amazon.ca for USB Blu-ray drives, I drew a blank! The items mentioned on that first search were the flimsy USB-C laptop Blu-ray drives. A few searches later, I found an OWC Mercury Pro enclosure, which has external power and USB 3.2 Gen 1 support, alongside an LG 16x Blu-ray Rewritable Internal Drive, and that’s a better option indeed! I also got myself some Blu-ray Recordables so that I can write my own Blu-ray Discs as well!

When the drive and the enclosure got to my door, they were well packaged! After the unboxing, we found out that we didn’t need any instructions since the installation of the enclosure was very easy!

After the installation, the first order of business is to find a Blu-ray movie player. I chose Leawo Blu-ray Player, because it is great for newcomers of the Blu-ray format for computers! I find that VLC can be tricky to install the Blu-ray components, so that’s why I picked Leawo as a better option!

When using Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect, you might notice that Leawo Blu-ray Player freezes when trying to configure the audio options. I had to turn any of those off on my Sound Blaster Z’s control panel so that I can regain my optical output passthrough when playing back Blu-ray movies, and to finally configure the audio options without any problem! I usually set the audio options of my Leawo Blu-ray Player to the Sound Blaster Z’s speaker output, as well as the optical output passthrough without the Sound Blaster Z taking control of the passthrough with Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect. I have a VIZIO 5.1 Sound Bar connected to my 4K TV setup, so if ever I want to watch a Blu-ray movie on Windows 10, this could be another option for me aside from the PlayStation 3 which also plays back Blu-ray movies!

Some Blu-ray movies may not playback correctly on the Leawo Blu-ray Player, for example, on Don Cherry’s Rock’Em Sock’Em 24, Leawo Blu-ray Player silently crashes when the menu starts. On the 2013 Blu-ray release of Matilda (1996 film by TriStar Pictures), when the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment logo comes on, there is a timing issue where the menu comes on late during the logo and also comes on early when it switches to the menu background, and the Blu-ray controls are inoperable, so I had to use the Task Manager to kill the Leawo Blu-ray Player before trying my next disc, which is the 2010 Blu-ray release of the Back to the Future trilogy, and when I started any of the discs, there was no warning screen or logo, but jumps straight into the menu animation with no menu to access! The only Blu-rays that I got working successfully with little to no issues are A View from Space (2006), and the Mill Creek Entertainment Blu-rays, the latter suffering from the same menu timing issues mentioned earlier, three of them which are Another Stakeout, Big Business, and Straight Talk.

I’ve tested out the writing capabilities of my new Blu-ray drive by putting my entire music library on three Blu-ray Discs! A few weeks later, I put the three recorded Blu-ray Discs onto my PlayStation 3, and it reads it as a data disc, so I went to the Music section, selected the disc, pressed the triangle button on the DualShock 3 controller, then selected “Copy”. It took almost half an hour to copy three Blu-ray Discs (25GB each) worth of music! I didn’t know about that until now! If I want to record something that can’t fit on a DVD or CD, Blu-ray is the way to go! Did I mention that my new Blu-ray drive can also read and write DVD’s and CD’s? That’s something many manufacturers added on the new optical drives!

So, Blu-ray on computers was a success! I am ready for the future! Speaking of the future, there will be more blog posts coming your way here at Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection, so stay tuned! For now, take care!

Linux on a Gateway 3522 laptop!

I was looking for a more up-to-date operating system for my Gateway 3522 laptop. I was thinking about a Linux operating system that is still being actively maintained for older systems, and when I discovered antiX Linux, my dream came true!

So far, I like Linux, and the open-source development for maintaining older systems worked out pretty well! antiX Linux requires a Pentium III with 256 MB of RAM, and is non-PAE compatible, aside from Windows 10 which requires that instruction. I had previously been using Windows 7 when I first got the laptop back in 2018. At first, I wasn’t finding any use for it, but as I rediscovered Windows 10 back in 2019 by building a custom built high performance Windows 10 PC, upgrading an HP Pavilion a6010n, and getting a gaming laptop, I decided to do something different to my Gateway 3522 laptop!

I went with the full version and burned it onto a DVD using ImgBurn, and the file took around 1 GB to download. There are other versions available that are smaller than 1 GB, and could fit on a CD without any problem! It’s only the full version that could fit on a DVD. (Thank goodness that I have enough blank DVD-R’s in the house!)

I also have Knoppix, which is a bootable Live DVD in case something goes wrong with my Windows 10 systems, and is my backup operating system that also is a Linux distribution! Version 8.6 is the latest version, and only uses 4.7 GB of data on a single-layer DVD-R! Older versions can be burned onto a CD-R, and I remember that my Dad had burned a Knoppix Live CD back in 2006, and we played around with it during my childhood years!

So far, I’m happy with how my new Linux upgrade on my Gateway 3522 laptop worked out! antiX Linux will extend the life of a Pentium M laptop pretty well! If you like this blog post, stay tuned for more as I go through my computer and video game collection! For now, take care!

macOS Big Sur on my iMac 4K (2017)!

Ever since Mac OS X came along in March 2001, it revolutionized a new world of Apple with an emphasis of UNIX stability! Almost 20 years later, we have seen a very major upgrade to Mac OS X which is now known as macOS, and it’s called by the codename Big Sur! That means no more version 10! We are now at version 11, that’s a new milestone for sure!

Yesterday, I noticed the Mac App Store decided to do updates of some of my Mac App Store purchases for compatibility with macOS Big Sur, then I went to the System Preferences’ Software Updates section, and sure enough, I’m ready to update! And so, it happened! I just got a whole new iMac 4K again!

It also brought back the macOS Startup Chime, but instead of the usual chime that we hear on computers made in 1997 to 2016, we get a digitally remastered version of the iMac G3 chime that you will only hear on 2016 Macs and later when you update to Big Sur!

Also, macOS Big Sur will be part of a transition to Apple’s silicon processors called ARM (No, not that arm!), and no more Intel for sure! I remember back in the late 2000s seeing Apple launching their new Intel Macintosh computers from a computer magazine. That was when the PowerPC-based Macs were discontinued! First was PowerPC, second was Intel, and now we have ARM! What a technological improvement!

Anyways, I like macOS Big Sur! The user interface just got more modernized and simplistic, I had a blast trying it out! But anyways, if you like this blog post, stay tuned for more! In the meantime, I will be back having fun with my Big Sur iMac 4K! For now, take care!

P.S. macOS Big Sur drops support for 2012 Macs, so if you have one of these Macs, you are stuck on macOS Catalina!