Happy Birthday Jumpman, I mean, “Super Mario”

Today marks Super Mario’s 25th birthday, or the anniversary of the start of the best selling game franchise of all time. Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario and all of the spin-offs have sold over 240 million game copies.

Super Mario Evolution

Here’s something I learned recently. Super Mario was originally named Jumpman. Do you think the game would have been a big with the name Jumpan? Or should we ask what William Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” Mario got the name because the orginal character looked like Mario Segali, a caretaker at the New York City office where the game was programmed. I read that on the Internets so I knows it to be true.

Mario was the first game that got me into video games, my gateway to Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Tecmo Football. I have a special place for Mario, the sound effects, and the music.

Here’s a list of some things that I learned from Mario:

  • Use your head at all times
  • Turtles should be jumped on or fire-balled although I love turtles
  • Stars make you invincible
  • Mushrooms make you taller
  • Donkey Kong hates barrels
  • If you play the game long enough, you get the girl in the end

Thanks Mario!

Toaster + Twitter = Internet of Things

Really?

You might be hearing this new buzz-phrase, “Internet of Things” quite a bit lately. You might be wondering what it’s all about. Let me try to explain.

A “thing” could be a lot of things, but it’s not people (and definitely not places). That leaves everything else. Now according to the Internet, there are 6,767,805,208 people on Earth and of those 6,767,805,208 people 1,802,330,457 have used the Internet. That’s (only) 26%. So, that means one out of four people do not know what Numa Numa is all about. This also means there are a lot more things than people. A thing could be a camera, mobile device, sensors, your air conditioner, a river, and even a toaster.

The trick to the “Internet of Things” or the “Web of Things” will be providing connectivity to all of those things. Once we do, we will be able to gain access to a lot of information. The next challenge will be making that data useful in our everyday lives. We are just at the start of this, that’s why we are just starting to hear about it (with some help with IBM commercials).

I have been fascinated by this concept since I first joined the Internet, back where GeoCities and L’Hotel Chat were the hip spots. For me the interest started off by controlling things over the web. Then, I started wondering what are my things doing. What temperature is it at my house? What’s going on with my freezer? Is it time to refill my humidor? How much power is my computer using?

Over a year and half ago, I placed my toaster on Twitter (@mytoaster). Since then, my toaster starting using other social networks and discovered online dating all by itself. That is a weird thought, “What if things get smarter and smarter?” Things will eventually be able to socialize with other things. My (sentient) toaster might even find another compatible toaster using eHarmony.

I am not saying that this is the best example of the Internet of Things, but what I am saying is that it’s a start. I believe in a future of connected things so strongly that I joined a start up company that enabled my toaster way back when I was more interesting than my things.

For a good primer on the Internet of Things, check the recent article on Silicon.com called, “Cheat Sheet: The internet of things”. My toaster even gets a tongue-in-cheek reference. Actually there are lots of great sites that are covering the Internet of Things and making things happen in this emerging industry – Singularity HubReadWriteWeb, Wired.com to name a few.

My guess is that you will hear more and more about The Internet of Things until it hits Smart Grid proportions, then you will hear about the next big thing – the smart internet of things grid perhaps.

She’s Gotta have IT

I venture from the lair to meet up with the opposite sex from time to time. I had a date recently that turned from a romantic encounter to awkward tech support. Our evening started at an exotic and unique restaurant that just opened in my home town called Applebees. I had the riblets and Jenny had a couple of veggie wraps. I was killed by chocolate and she had a Weight Watchers dessert that only cost 4 points on her daily allowance. I have known her for a while and was attempting to make this transition into dating. I was going strong. We shared our dreams and passions. She wanted to be a lifeguard. I wanted to level up my RPG character. She has a cat. I have my mom. It was a bona-fide match as she uncomfortably laughed at some of my puns. The awkwardness reached a crescendo when we talked about our favorite books. I like William Gibson. She likes road signs. After dinner we had drinks at a local establishment where we discussed philosophy, economics, and the “flight” of humankind as she put it.

To my surprise, she asked me back to her place for a drink. I am sure I had something on my schedule, but I went anyway.

She opened a bottle of wine, put on the new Mariah Carey, and she sat beside me on her couch. We got closer as our conversation got deeper and the alcohol took its desired affect.

“I want to ask you something,” Jenny said.

I said, “(nothing).”

“My wireless router is dropping my connection from time to time…would you take a look?”

If this situation was in a movie, the song “Touch My Body” would have come to a screeching stop.

I fixed her router – I fixed it all night long. Well, I did fix her router even though this is where I didn’t want the night to end, but I made her WEP key easy to guess. It wouldn’t take Tommy Tutone to be able to figure out Jenny’s password. There probably won’t be a next time, but if she needs help with something she is going to have to submit a trouble ticket like everyone else.

New Computer

I finally ordered a new computer. In the PC clone line of computers, my first computer was a 286 with MS-DOS. It was not a productivity machine, but I did play a stock market game and Duke Nukem quite a bit. I have upgraded a few times since then and my desktop now is a P4/1GB/Vista/Ubuntu modded several times starting in 2002. It served me well as I made a living off the system by writing software and technical books. And yes, Doom was played heavily to mom’s chagrin. Vista was not a good upgrade for this aging system. Even in its most optimized state, the lag in video playback, game response, and DHTML processing made it a pain to use for day to day entertainment purposes. AGP video cards and Vista don’t mix, so it’s time to look at SATA, more RAM, and PCI Express/SLI video.

On a tip from Darth Kevin, Shadowlord’s nemesis in the real-world, I purchased a custom SLI machine from CyberPower. I was able to build a system that will fit my needs (gaming, AJAX development, updating online dating profiles, using Google, watching the Matrix, etc.) and fall into my budget of $2000.

The first system I configured was absurd – 2TB of storage, 4GB of RAM, dual SLI video cards, Quad processor, and floppy drive. I have trimmed off some excess and now looking at a solid configuration. When I settle into the machine, I will let you know how it stacks up.

Case and Power Supply

Apevia X-Juniper Jr. (S Type Metallic Gray)
Apevia ATX-LCD650W Quartz

Motherboard and Processor

Asus P5N-E nForce 650i SLI
Intel Quad Core 2.4GHz/64bit/8MB

Internal Drive

500GB SATA-II

Sound and Video

3D Wave On-board Sound Card
GeForce 8800GTS (XFX Extreme Edition) 320MB/16X PCI Express Video Card

External Drives

LITE-ON LH-20A1H – 20X, Double Layer, DVD burner and player
12in1 Flash Media R/W
Floppy Drive

OS

Vista Ultimate

Connectivity

10/100/1000 On-board LAN Card

Peripheral

Logitech G15 Keyboard
Logitech MX Revolution Mouse
Dual Samsung SyncMaster 204B 20" Monitors