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Archive for September, 2009

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Duplo (or Big Lego!)

Posted by Big Boo on September 14th, 2009

duplo legoWhen I was very small I first got into building with Lego with a selection of Duplo bricks, or as my family called them, Big Lego!  Back then they were pretty simple looking bricks.  I only remember having the 4×2 studded and 2×2 studded rectangular bricks, and a largish base to build on which was fitted with wheels.  Despite the simplicity though, many houses, cars and towers were built with those bricks.

When I got old enough to play with regular Lego, my sister inherited my Duplo bricks, but she was lucky enough to get some more interesting bricks to play with.  Where I had to be content with just rectangular bricks she had a set to make a school class room with, with little square bodied people, a “blackboard” with pull out plastic lesson displays, a large piece with a clock on the side and best of all, a piece with a picture of a bell on it that had a little button in the top.  When you pressed the button, a bell chime rang!

I must admit I was probably a little jealous so I was quite happy to play with her with these new bricks, despite the fact they were really for toddlers!

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Which Was The Best Wispa?

Posted by Big Boo on September 12th, 2009

So it seems Cadbury are slowly but surely reissuing the old family of Wispa chocolate bars, given that the original Wispa has been on sale for well over a year now, and the Wispa Gold is set to return (or already has, given that I saw an empty wrapper for one today left in a shopping trolley).

This weeks survey is to find out which of the various varieties was your favourite, and who knows maybe if Cadbury are reading this they’ll bring your favourite back next? If you need a bit of memory jogging then here are some brief descriptions (assuming of course I’ve remembered them correctly):-

  • Wispa – Bubbly milk chocolate.
  • Wispa Gold – Bubbly milk chocolate with a layer of gooey caramel.
  • Wispa Mint – Bubbly milk chocolate with a layer of mint creme.
  • Wispa Bite – A Wispa Gold with added biscuit bits.
  • Wispaccino – Bubbly coffee flavoured milk chocolate.
  • Wispa McFlurry – McDonalds soft ice cream blended with Wispa bits (which interestingly was available prior to the original Wispa’s relaunch!)

To finish, before we get to the survey itself, here’s a Wispa related joke…

Q. Why did George Michael have brown lips?

A. He was careless with his Wispa!

Ahem!  OK, terrible joke I know…

Which was the best Wispa?
View Results
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Computer Viruses (or Dokken Hates Chicken…)

Posted by Big Boo on September 11th, 2009

flu virusOne thing to come out of the 1980’s which I really wish hadn’t was the computer virus. These nasty little pieces of code can ruin your hard disc (not to mention your day) should you be unfortunate enough to have your computer become infected.

Put simply, a computer virus is a program whose main aim (just like a real virus) is to spread itself to as many computers as possible. There are various methods in which this can happen, and the different methods are given names to describe them. For example, a Trojan virus takes its name from the famous Greek Trojan Horse story, making its way onto your computer by seeming to be a perfectly normal file, but when opened it unleashes a nasty surprise!

The first virus I ever encountered was the SCA virus on the Commodore Amiga. This was called a bootblock virus, because it wrote itself to the part of the disc which allows it to load up automatically when the disc is inserted. Bootblock viruses are rare these days simply because we no longer really use floppy discs, but in the early Amiga days hard drives were rare, so you had many hundreds of floppy discs.

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Posted by Big Boo on September 9th, 2009

automanThere are a great many science fiction shows from the eighties that I fondly remember today, although it has to be said that quite possibly some of them were possibly not as good as I recall.

For every Knight Rider or A Team there was a Manimal or, indeed, Automan, the subject of todays post. Where the former have had several repeat showings over the years, the latter have just not been shown as much.

Automan was about a police officer named Walter Nebicher (played by Desi Arnaz Jr., the son of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball of black and white sitcom I Love Lucy) who also happened to be a computer programmer. Despite the fact that the processing power of the computers Walter had available to him would have been a small fraction of todays normal PC, he still somehow managed to create an artificial holographic life form that helped him fight crime. This AI program was called the Automatic Man, or Automan for short.

Automan (played by Chuck Wagner) had a human head but spent most of the show with his body glowing blue and covered in a circuit board design. He had his own sidekick called Cursor, which was a little glowy ball of light that flitted around gathering information and generally adding a bit of comedy relief.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Wispa Gold Returns!

Posted by Big Boo on September 7th, 2009

wispa goldIf you are one of those who rejoiced when Cadbury’s brought back their bubbly Wispa chocolate bar then you may well be pleased to hear that the caramel filled version known as Wispa Gold is also set to make a comeback, albeit temporarily, on September 14th.

The Wispa Gold was one of the many derivatives of the Cadbury Wispa to appear on sweetie shop shelves, and presumably one of the most popular since it is the first to be reissued. It was basically just a standard Cadbury Wispa but with a layer of smooth caramel sitting atop the bubbly chocolate and hiding beneath the outer chocolate shell.

To promote this comeback Cadbury even produced the world’s most expensive chocolate bar by wrapping a standard Wispa Gold in a wrapper of gold leaf, making it worth a whopping £961.48. I wonder if whoever bought that one greedily ripped the wrapper off and threw it in the nearest rubbish bin?

Many thanks to Hindleyite at Retroyakking for making me aware of the Wispa Gold’s re-release, and I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before the Wispa Mint, Wispa Cappuchino and all the other versions which I’ve probably forgotten about also make a return?

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Magna Doodle

Posted by Big Boo on September 4th, 2009

magnadoodleMagna Doodle was one of the best drawing toys available during the 1980’s.  Unlike the classic Etch-A-Sketch you could draw directly onto a panel rather than twisting little knobs to move a pen horizontally or vertically.  Probably it’s closest rival for ease of use were the old Magic Drawing Slates, which may have been much cheaper but were much easier to damage than the Magna Doodle.

Once you had finished drawing your masterpiece you simply had to pull a little lever across to erase the screen completely and start drawing something else.  I seem to recall you also got a couple of magnetic shapes which could be used like stamps, or could be dragged around the panel to make a big thick line.

But how did it work?  Well, the pen was obviously magnetic, and looked as if it had been pinched straight from a Wooly Willy face drawing toy.  The drawing panel was made up of hundreds of little hexagonal cells, which contained a mixture of magnetic particles and a thick gloopy liquid.  Rubbing the pen over the surface of the panel attracted the magnetic particles upwards, and they then stayed in place thanks to the liquid stopping gravity pulling them back down again.  Simple really, but still very clever.

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Cool Site of the Day!

Posted by Big Boo on September 2nd, 2009

coolsiteofthedayI am extremely pleased to report that Child of the 1980’s has been chosen by Cool Site of the Day to be today’s, well, cool site of the day!

Every day Cool Site of the Day features a different website, and you get the chance to vote for whether you think it is cool or not, so if you like this site then I’d be very grateful if you would cast a vote for it, which you can do by clicking here.  On September 2nd only you should see  this site with a voting frame above it.  The highest ranked site each year gets the coveted Cool Site of the Year award!

Finally, if you like what you see here, then why not sign up for our e-mail updates or RSS feed?  It’s free and you’ll get every new post delivered straight to you, and you can be sure we won’t bombard you with spam mail.

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How to Make a Calculator Laugh!

Posted by Big Boo on September 2nd, 2009

texet calculatorWhen I was at primary school I bought myself my first calculator with my own pocket money. It was fairly simple, with red numbers on its display and great buttons that made a clicking sound when you pressed them. It was made by Texet, and it was grey with black buttons and a metal panel surround in silver and blue.  I was quite shocked to find the picture of it accompanying this post on the Internet I must admit, so thanks to the Freeman PC Museum website page on classic calculators!

I used to spend many happy hours just tinkering with it, adding and subtracting numbers, until the “equals” button got prised off with a pair of compasses by a “mate”, which made it useless for doing sums. I could however still use it for that finest of calculator uses – entering numbers which when the display is viewed upside down spell out a word.

I first came across this idea in a book of practical jokes, which contained an piece entitled “How to make a calculator laugh”. Intrigued I read through and it instructed me to enter the number 376616 and turn the calculator upside down. I did this and was most amused to read the word GIGGLE on the calculator screen. I then set out on a quest to find as many of these words as I could. Here are a few of those that I remember, with a cryptic clue as to what the word was!

  • 14 – Greetings!
  • 0.7734 – More greetings!
  • 0.02 – Lots of animals here.
  • 5317 – Make your calculator tell fibs.
  • 710.77345 – Product of a petrol company?
  • 5318008 – Every schoolboys favourite.

If you’re having trouble working these out, or want to create a few of your own, then below is a fun little toy for you to play with (assuming you have Java installed that is!). It’s a calculator that’s already upside down, saving you all that effort of turning a real calculator through 180 degrees. Just click the buttons on the keypad and enjoy!