Try out this Katie Cadet Microsoft Agent character!

As a little gift for celebrating two years of Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection, and four years of my Internet Archive account, I thought I would do something different and make a Microsoft Agent character based on my childhood favourite, since nobody has carried it, until now!

Here is where you can download this character for use in Microsoft Agent-based applications: https://archive.org/details/katie-cadet-msagent-character

Enjoy!

The technology behind the animation and music of My Little Pony: Pony Life!

My Little Pony: Pony Life is the recently released spin-off of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic created by Boulder Media of Ireland, and eOne of Canada, in association with Hasbro. Despite a different set of limitations in the animation department, it was animated using Toon Boom Harmony, and when I got the Toon Boom animation software for Macintosh and Windows from a local thrift store, I want to share my technical aspect findings that was used to make the Pony Life show.

First off, I want to show you the ‘different set’ of limitations between Friendship is Magic, and the recently released Pony Life:

Friendship is Magic: Adobe Flash, consistent frame rate, dynamic background animation, DHX Media

Pony Life: Toon Boom Harmony, variable frame rate, static background, motion blur, Boulder Media

To explain why I highlighted these differences, Adobe Flash started out in the mid-90s as FutureSplash before being acquired by Macromedia and renamed the product as Flash, but in 2005, Macromedia was acquired by Adobe, and later on in the 2010s, Flash was renamed to Adobe Animate, but the other animation software, Toon Boom Harmony, came out in the early 2000s, so Toon Boom has less acquisitions of different companies than Flash. Both are released for Macintosh and Windows computers.

Another highlight in differences is that Pony Life is well compared to Cartoon Network’s Mixels and Teen Titans Go, in terms of the similarities in the story line. Pony Life and Teen Titans Go appears to be like television shows set in the modern day, which explains why the styling of the animation and music is similar to that of cartoons of the early 2000s. Here is an example of what Pony Life looks like based on my research:

And speaking of the similarities between the early 2000s cartoons and Pony Life is that back in the mentioned timeframe, there was no need for 35mm film, and a pencil and a piece of paper to do the animation, most animation studios have transitioned to digital animation as the computers got more powerful with the introduction of the iMac G3 and Pentium II-based Windows PCs.

That line above is from a 2D animation perspective, but the one of the more popular examples of the first computer animated TV shows, movies, and home media are ReBOOT, Toy Story, and VeggieTales, all of which are in 3D! I have a copy of “The Mind’s Eye” on VHS, which demonstrates 3D computer animation with accompanying music, and that innovation of 3D animation has been around since the 80s. That explains why!

For Pony Life, all of the music that you hear is a mix between Electronica-type music created using FL Studio, Ableton Live, and Cubase, and the other half is real musical instruments. I highlighted these Digital Audio Workstations for Macintosh and Windows because Pony Life sometimes uses the Electronica-type music as a filler, leaving the rest created by real musical instruments (the non-Electronic type as I call it).

As a bonus, you will notice that in Pony Life, you would see more detail to the characters, like the lines on their legs. Another slight difference is that the lines are black in Pony Life while the lines are coloured in Friendship is Magic. Now, let’s take a look at another example of the animation of Pony Life in the history of Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection research:

So this is the result of my technological research of how My Little Pony: Pony Life was made in terms of animation and music! Now onto the Questions and Answers:

Q1: You haven’t mentioned where DHX Media is located! Where are they?

A1: Their animation studio used for Friendship is Magic is located in Vancouver, while their main headquarters are located in Halifax.

Q2: How come are you mentioning DHX Media instead of WildBrain?

A2: DHX Media is what I was mentioning as the name used in the credits of Friendship is Magic. When the show ended in October 2019, DHX Media was renamed WildBrain.

Q3: Does the Friendship is Magic mention also apply to Equestria Girls?

A3: Exactly! These animation techniques used for Friendship is Magic also applies to Equestria Girls, it’s the same animation studio used for both My Little Pony franchises!

Q4: I’m hearing some familiar voices of the ponies in the videos! Can I make them talk in my own words?

A4: Yes you can! As I am trying to focus on the aspects that made digital animation possible on computers, there is a recently made website made by an enthusiast who works at the MIT on neural network text to speech! It’s called 15.AI! The website also covers SpongeBob SquarePants, Portal 2, Team Fortress 2, and Persona 4.

Q5: I’m seeing some animation errors in Pony Life! Can you give me some examples?

A5: Sure! There is one episode where Pinkie Pie uses her potion to transform into Twilight Sparkle, but a couple of shot changes later, she appears as a standard unicorn instead of a winged unicorn!

Q6: Can I download trial versions of Toon Boom, Adobe Flash, FL Studio, Cubase, and Ableton Live on my computer?

A6: Yes you can! They are both for Macintosh and Windows! Be sure to check the system requirements before downloading! Another note, not all of these products mentioned have trial versions available!

So that’s all of my technical computer talk of how Pony Life was made! Don’t forget to check back for more blog posts here at Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection! For now, take care!

Re-inventing the 80s and 90s computer-based music: Anders Enger Jensen

I recently found Anders Enger Jensen on YouTube, who is a Norwegian synth wave composer who has a lot of retro synthesizers that he uses to make his music with!

Anders Enger Jensen first started making music on a later model MT-32 compatible device called the Roland CM-32L. Look for the video below this text:

He is also part of EOX Studios, which is one the independent music labels that is also associated with the SilverImage music group. He also did the music for some of the 8-bit Guy and 8-bit Keys YouTube videos. Here is an example:

Of course, Anders Enger Jensen just goes out of the ordinary with retro synths aimed a young children:

Anders Enger Jensen has a studio tour available on his YouTube channel! He actually did a 2020 edition for you to see below this text:

Not only does he do original tunes, but he also does remixes of various classic video games, and here are a couple of examples:

Yes, if you remember Links Challenge of Golf and Space Quest 3, then you’ll likely hear the remixes that are far better than the beeps you hear on an old IBM PC back in the early 80s!

He also collaborated with the 8-bit Guy on a video on how to create 80s pop music with budget synthesizers:

Anders Enger Jensen also did a how to/tutorial video on his own, and it’s about remixing in the style of the synth pop genre:

Anders Enger Jensen’s computer-based synth pop music will certainly get you that 80s and 90s vibe of the 2010s and 2020s! If you like his music, you can buy a downloadable copy of his music from EOX.NO, and if physical stock is available, you can buy his music on Cassettes, Vinyl Records, and MiniDisc formats! I recommend checking out his Retro Grooves series, because that would be a good fit for Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection readers out there!

And if you like this blog post, stay tuned for more! Also check out Anders Enger Jensen on Bandcamp, YouTube and SoundCloud for more computer music fun! For now, happy listening!

Getting Microsoft Agent to work on Windows 10.

Double Agent (doubleagent.sourceforge.net) is an open source Microsoft Agent replacement for Windows 7. Further testing is done on Windows 10, and no issues were encountered even with the latest build 2004 update.

Archive.org is carrying the Microsoft Agent characters that used to be available from the old Microsoft Agent Ring website. However, they won’t install normally on Windows 10, so all you need to do is to extract the EXE files using 7-Zip and place the ACS files to the C:\WINDOWS\MSAGENT\CHARS\ folder. After that, Double Agent recognizes the characters just fine by going to the properties of each of the extracted files.

The SAPI4 text to speech voices still work fine on Windows 10 if downloaded from the following website: http://www.bytecool.com/voices.htm

So far, the only program left that uses Microsoft Agent technology and still works under Windows 10 is CyberBuddy by John DeFino, but it was last updated in 2012 so not all of the online features work anymore, but some of them are still usable. It can be downloaded from MyCyberBuddy.com or TheCyberBuddy.com.

Let me know what you think! Don’t forget to check back at Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection for more blog posts! For now, take care!

CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth and MUNT Roland MT-32 Emulator updated for Windows 10 build 2004.

I’ve recently updated my CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth to version 2.10.1 for compatibility with the build 2004 update of Windows 10 on all of my computers supporting it. I’ve also installed the MUNT driver update from the SourceForge project page carrying the latest stable version updates.

CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth and MUNT on the affected Windows 10 update both have trouble recognizing as MIDI devices, and then reverting back to the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synthesizer that we already know existed on all Windows versions from 1995 to now! But thankfully, the creators of these MIDI drivers have worked around that bug and released updates available for download! Use your favourite online search engine to look up either “CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth” and “MUNT MT-32 Emulator” and do a fresh install and/or update for these MIDI enhancements today!

And don’t forget to stay tuned for more blog posts here at Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection, but for now, take care!

Online shopping continues before September arrives!

Well, seeing that it’s still not safe to go out to thrift stores and flea markets, the online shopping experience continues! I got Sonic Generations for the Xbox 360 (the Platinum Hits version) to compliment my PlayStation 3 version that I have! (My first time trial of Sonic Generations was from borrowing it from the public library in 2014 and doing a quick play.)

I noticed there is a difference in the packaging! The PlayStation 3 version that I have is the original release, while the Xbox 360 version is the 2014 Platinum Hits release. (You can tell by the ESRB badges!)

And I actually found a Sonic the Hedgehog Movie Soundtrack LP along the way! I played the Sonic the Hedgehog LP on my Technics SL-Q200 turntable hooked up to a Sony STR-VX2 amplifier, and yes, it is a full motion picture score alright based on a video game! We are almost ready for Sonic’s 30th anniversary in the next year! So these two items are worth it!

How do you like the new acquisitions? Let me know in the comments and in the contact form! And don’t forget to check back for more blog posts here at Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection! For now, take care! (And Happy “almost” 30 years of Sonic the Hedgehog!)

Test your 5.1 surround sound system with these audio files!

Back in March 2012, Kelly Industries provided several surround sound audio files in Dolby Surround Pro-Logic RealAudio files, Dolby Pro-Logic II WAV files, and DTS and Dolby Digital encoded discrete formats. A couple of years later, they switched to audio gear reviews, and now, the site is gone for good! I managed to rescue these files off of my DVD-RW discs and uploaded them to the Internet Archive for future generations to come! I’ll post a link so that you can check out the audio files after this paragraph.

https://archive.org/details/KellyIndustriesSurroundSoundAudioFiles

So how do you play these audio files? Well, for playing the Dolby Surround Pro-Logic RealAudio files, you would need RealAudio Player 3.0 or later on a Windows 3.1 or later computer and a Sound Blaster 16 compatible stereo sound card, or on a Power Macintosh running System 7 or later, with a Dolby Surround Pro-Logic decoder going from the Line Output of your sound card using an RCA to Eighth-inch Stereo cord.

For playing back the Dolby Pro-Logic II WAV files, any audio player capable of playing these files will work just fine on a majority of systems. You can also burn these files onto an audio CD if needed. You can also download these files in MP3 and FLAC format for playing on portable devices for instance.

For playing back the Dolby Digital (AC3) files, you will need a player capable of playing back those files (e.g. CyberLink PowerDVD), but back in the early 2000s, they usually come bundled with certain sound cards like the Sound Blaster Live 5.1, or even on DVD-ROM drives like the Creative PC-DVD Encore.

For DTS encoded files, you will need a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS the minimum and Windows 98SE or later to play them back correctly. They come in both CPT and DTS encoded files at 48 kHz, but the WAV files at 44 kHz would be an alternative option if you can’t play the 48 kHz files correctly.

Modern implementations for playing back the RealAudio, DTS, and AC3 files on current systems are CyberLink PowerDVD (as mentioned before, but no RealAudio support), VLC Media Player, and Media Player Classic (in both Black Edition and Home Cinema versions), the latter two use the open-source FFMPEG and libavcodec frameworks and plugins, so you won’t need to use the proprietary players anymore just because, well, open-source media players are still being developed!

Once everything is set up, you are ready to go and download some surround sound audio! You can also listen to these files online, even if you don’t have the RealAudio Player or an AC3 (Dolby Digital) or DTS compatible decoder. Only the Dolby Pro-Logic files are listenable online. However, you can download the ZIP files if you have a discrete 5.1 surround sound system installed (with a proper sound device) for the best experience possible! You can also download the RealAudio files in MP3 format too!

So after you bought that cool 5.1 surround sound system you’ve always dreamed of, get out there and download already! And if you like this post, stay tuned for more! For now take care!

P.S. I’ve tested the 48 kHz DTS audio files using Media Player Classic Home Cinema Edition and a Sound Blaster Z on my Custom Built High Performance Windows 10 PC with a VIZIO 5.1 Sound Bar, and the results were spectacular! May vary on some systems and audio components.

E-mail from Richard Perez!

Hi, what’s up? My name’s Richard and I’m a twenty-something college student with a huge fascination with retro games.
More specifically, early CD-ROM based games. As such, I’m wondering if you have any info on a 1995 FMV game by Digital Pictures known as “What’s My Story?”.
Very little is known about it aside from it’s existance, some screenshots, and a trailer that I’ve since been unable track down (though I have spotted the game up for auction on Ebay, I wouldn’t really be able to do much with it if purchased since I don’t own any Mac computers).
I was wondering if you somehow had the game in your possession and would be willing to document more of it for the sake of preservation.
I know it’s a bit of a tall order for someone who merely stumbled upon your website through FMV World, but I wanted to at least give this a shot.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, any response would be appreciated!
P.S: I had to pre-type all of this in Notepad since your website’s comment box only displays text in white for some reason O:

Richard Perez

Hi Richard!

Thanks for finding my blog from FMV World! Yes, I haven’t heard about “What’s My Story?” before! I always love CD-ROM games with full-motion video (in the case of live-action). And You’re right, It’s probably a Mac OS 7.5 kinda game that would work on my Centris 650! Unfortunately, I don’t have it! It’s on my list of very obscure games that I have yet to find in the history of Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection collecting.

“Digital Pictures”? Never heard of them, but from my research, they are best known for making live-action CD-ROM computer games for Windows 3.1, Sega CD, and the Classic Mac OS well throughout the 90s! In the mid-2000s, times have changed, since they changed from live-action video to 3D-rendered motion-capture animation, but there’s still very few live-action games being produced! Kinda like when American Laser Games was bought by Her Interactive and became what is now known for developing the Nancy Drew titles, but I believe Her Interactive’s first title which is the only title in live-action was McKenzie and Company (No, not Bob and Doug McKenzie, I’m talking about a live action high-school computer game on multiple discs).

When I get “What’s My Story?” by Digital Pictures for the Macintosh on CD-ROM, I will be able to image the disc using my ImgBurn software that I usually use with my other software on CD-ROM, and then I will be able to upload them to either the Internet Archive, the Macintosh Garden, or both! I will also be able to document “What’s My Story?” to MobyGames if I have enough sources! WorldCat may have this game on file, so it will make my life easier just by searching that title! From what I recall from the title that you mentioned, it seems to me that my guess is an educational game or most likely an adventure game, but not quite. I will look into it further when I get the game!

If you want, I can also test the game on some of my Macintosh computers for compatibility with some Mac OS versions up to Mac OS 9.2.2 and Mac OS X Classic Environment! I have 30+ computers available, so when the time is right to bring out my equipment, “What’s My Story?” will have extensive testing so that the game will be played on modern systems prior to Intel and Mac OS X Leopard for many years to come! In the meantime, keep on playing, and I will update this blog with my final thoughts when it has been discovered! I will make a note so that I won’t forget! For now, take care!

Regards,

Katie Cadet (Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection Researcher, Curator, Tester, and Archivist)

(I always love good feedback! If you have any comments or questions about Katie Cadet’s Computer and Video Game Collection, just click on Contact Katie Cadet, fill in the information, and it will be delivered to my private inbox. From there, I will respond in a blog post for everyone to see! So why not give it a try!)

P.S. The white text in the Contact Katie Cadet form is probably a bug on some internet browsers, not just on my end.

Look what arrived in the mail! (Plus playing around with a Windows 98 virtual machine on my Power Mac G4 MDD)

Is online shopping the replacement of thrift stores during COVID-19? If that’s true, I’ve acquired Hot Wheels Beat That for the Xbox 360, and Atari 80 Classic Games in One for Windows 98!

First of all, I played the Hot Wheels Beat That game on the PlayStation 2 when I was a kid! 10 years later, when I got a 4K TV and a 5.1 Sound Bar, the picture and sound quality on the PlayStation 2 version didn’t look and sound good on that setup, due to that version supporting 480p picture quality and stereo sound. What I wanted was the Xbox 360 version, because it looks and sounds better in 1080p and in 5.1 surround sound (Dolby Digital), and yeah, I prefer the Xbox 360 version more than the PlayStation 2 version! Since I am the proud owner of the Xbox 360, might as well get my childhood favourite on the (then) next generation consoles! I’m surprised that Activision did not bring us a PlayStation 3 version of Hot Wheels Beat That, but we do have the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 versions; despite how the critics negatively reviewed the game, it should appeal to the younger crowd. Some people had fun with Hot Wheels Beat That, and we waited for the game to be value-priced, and that dream came true! Isn’t that something!

Second, I’ve installed Microsoft’s Virtual PC 7.0 for Mac OS X on my Power Mac G4 (MDD 2003) running Mac OS X 10.2.8 (Jaguar). With the recent trend of watching too many Apple ads on TV as a kid, it forced me to buy a Mac, and that’s how it began in the late 2000s and the early 2010s! But now, with the Mac limited to running Mac-only applications on my MDD G4, I decided to install Windows 98 by using a virtual machine. I used my copy of Windows 98 that I found around one or two years ago at a thrift store, and I just had my beginner’s luck at installing it! After that, I tried a few programs, including Aaron Vs. Ruth (A baseball game by Mindscape, due to the sound being glitchy in the virtual machine), Smart Games Puzzle Challenge (Brain teasing fun by Hasbro and KnowWare), LEGO LOCO (Another of my childhood favourites that I find hard to run on my Windows 10 setups), and the newest acquisition which I will talk about right now: Atari 80 Classic Games in One!

Atari 80 Classic Games in One worked really well on a Windows 98 virtual machine, but there is a bug when running it a second time that the software is unable to initialize DirectDraw, and did you know that I was running the First Edition of Windows 98? I had made sure that I was running the latest version of DirectX 9.0c for the first edition of Windows 98, and doing a few reboots every time I quit any of the games and choosing another one to play. Another workaround is by going to the folder using Windows Explorer of where the Atari 80 Classic Games in One program is installed, and making desktop shortcuts for each and every game you want to play in the collection! Simply Right Click on a game executable, go to “Send To…”, and select “Desktop (Create Shortcut)”. So to recap, Make desktop shortcuts of each game from Atari 80 Classic Games in One, and make sure you reboot the virtual machine on Microsoft Virtual PC after playing a game and before playing another.

After playing Atari 80 Classic Games in One on my Windows 98 virtual machine, I played the console port called Atari Anthology for the PlayStation 2! I brought a friend to play Pong, Centipede, and Asteroids because the PlayStation 2 has two DualShock controllers, and we had a lot of fun! Overall, if you are into retro gaming, and you love Atari Arcade games from the 70s and 80s, then Atari 80 Classic Games in One and Atari Anthology for Windows 98 and the PlayStation 2 is for you!

You might’ve noticed that I’ve used GoldWave as my main go-to audio editor. I actually liked the trial version of GoldWave 5 and GoldWave 6 on my Windows 10 setups, due to being a fan of the program since 2008 during my Windows XP days! I actually purchased GoldWave, and I’m really proud of the many features GoldWave can do! I can never live without GoldWave!

I’ve also actually made good use of the VinylStudio computer software and my Audio-Technica USB Turntable on my iMac 4K running macOS Catalina! It gave me the chance to revisit transferring vinyl records to MP3 after my initial testing back in December 2019! Unbelievable!

So, Hot Wheels Beat That for the Xbox 360, the Windows 98 Virtual Machine on my Power Mac G4 (MDD 2003), the Atari 80 Classic Games in One, the GoldWave purchase, and the revisit of transferring vinyl records to MP3! That’s what I’ve been up to! And if you like this blog post, stay tuned for more! In the meantime, I’ll be back to working on my computers! During those difficult times of COVID-19, stay safe and see you in another blog post! Take care!