Giant robot submarines, we’ve got those too

One interesting aspect of most knowledge being instantly accessible is the holes in that knowledge-things from the before time that never got ingested into the web and as such still mostly exist in your memory. I find myself trying to fill in those gaps sometimes. I found myself asking “what the heck was this old toy series I remember?” Not everything will get the Toys That Made Us treatment.

pink robotic lobster toy

I picked up a set (not pictured) at what I seem to remember being an aquarium gift shop, but it could really have been any pit stop on the mass pike, back in the 90s or early 00s. The scifi theme and being unencumbered by a fleshed out fictional universe was appealing.

More recently, I decided to figure out what the heck they where. I didn’t have the original handy, but after googling some vague descriptions, an imageboard (of all places!) pointed me in the right direction with a very accurate rendition that sparked my memory.

I’ve now got a decent handle on what the internet seems to know about Silverlit Toys’ Multimac. There isn’t much of it. They can be had on ebay (see the lobster above.) There are good pictures of the drivers here, as well as some information.
some good pictures of the crustacean-shaped submarines as well. There are a couple of forum posts here and here that put it in context (how it related to other lines, where parts where reused, etc.)

But really, these just create more questions than answers. Especially looking at the shark, lobster, and crab shaped submarines I’m reminded of Lego’s Aquazone line – which one came first? Or was there a general atmosphere of “giant animal shaped robots piloted by humans” in the 90s?

I had a small breakthrough when looking at the packaging of the lobster and crab though – I believe that they are a later addition to the line because they have a URL on their packaging! It might be possible to date them by when that became common practice, but now I’m eager to actually dig up the site!

This one is small and hard to read.

And this one has a label over the URL, but a upon close reading they appear to have just owned “www.oceandiscovery.com”

And in 2001, the internet archive captured a copy!

And that’s it, everything the English-Speaking internet knows about this (dare I say mysterious?) line. I suppose that’s what made it appealing at the time: the suggestion of a wider world, a connection to a past (specifically the giant-robot-and-vehicle toy-verse that included more popular lines like Transformers and Zoids) that I didn’t really have knowledge but the matter-of-fact-ness of the packaging suggested it. It was as if to say “yeah, you know, giant robot submarines. We’ve got those too.”

Never will I ever (Pandemic: Week 9)

Having tons of time to fill can show you something about yourself: what will you really get around to? What, given unlimited time and boredom will you still never do or try?

Things I did do:
Music
Painting 40k miniatures
Working on Flythrough.space
Messing with Godot
landscaping
Boardgame (especially Machi koro)
Doom Eternal
Heroes of the storm
Deep Rock Galactic
Try to run old Java games
Obsess over the Cosmic Frontier Kickstarter
Lego
Walks
Rowing
Blogging

Things I did not do (yet)
Soldering
Painting battletech
Setting up a 3d printer
Getting into emulated games
Get up to speed on modern C++
Exploring the small internet
Hardware synths
Brewing beer
Sewing masks
Playing all the unplayed games in my Steam library

It’ll be at least three more weeks before this experiment ends, so


*Except as a home for our food horde

Pandemic: Week 8

We have a tentative back-to-the office date now: June 8th. That’s the best case scenario.

It’s finally official-we’ve got an alternate date for the wedding in October.

This has been an exhausting week, so I’ll just leave you with a smattering of links.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/underlying-conditions/610261/

https://www.npr.org/2020/05/07/851712311/u-s-field-hospitals-stand-down-most-without-treating-any-covid-19-patients

https://www.newyorker.com/news/us-journal/how-the-coronavirus-pandemic-has-shattered-the-myth-of-college-in-america?utm_source=pocket-newtab

https://local.theonion.com/man-not-sure-why-he-thought-most-psychologically-taxing-1843004933

Pandemic: Week 7

Lucky number 7. We successfully flattened the curve in Mass, avoiding hospital overcrowding. The fight is far from over, but it seems like the horror of Lombardy will not be visited on us. As long as we stay inside. Meanwhile New York was devastated and some places are already opening up. The uncertainty isn’t over, and there is no new normal yet.

Making exciting amounts of progress on flythrough.space. In order to get fleets into the game I’ve needed to do a bit of refactoring, but it’s actually been very nice because everything player-related goes through the PlayerSave object so as I hack it up I’m also adding unit tests. I probably should have written them a long time ago, but the second best time to write tests is right now!

We’ve had a couple of mercifully sunny weekends to bookend the dreadful rain so we’ve been making great progress on our project to clear the vines and pricker bushes out of our yard. The vines are Bittersweet (we think Orbicalatus) and have already brought one tree down. We’d like to prevent it from taking the next one down too. Be somewhat cautious when fighting with bittersweet vines-many of the scratches got alarming (though temporary) reactions. Speaking of trees, the town took down a tree in our front yard that had enveloped some power lines and that might be the most exciting thing that happened all week.

Pandemic: Week 6

Are we nearing the end? It’s a bit of a time of suspense – will the quarantine end soon, or are we in for another month or two? Uncharted territory.

Had a really fun DnD session via Zoom. I guess it’s finally time to make the jump to 5th edition. They really streamlined the Wizard class. We’ve also been taking long drives to nowhere.

I’ve been making really rapid progress on http://flythrough.space. I expect to do something resembling a release soon. I’m not sure when I should call it done. There’s certainly more space to fill out, more balancing, and, like, sound. But Plunder, shot impacts, and other real game features are in. And I seem to be nearly done with ship models, leaving only some tidying up and shot models to go.

Digital Native: workflows

Made in Renoise with a Monologue sample, the same Cheetah drumkit I used for BattleMETAL, and an Ob-Xd. Mastered in Reason.

I wrote the melody in Reason (sequenced on some ABL-3s, played on Manis Iteritas), exported each measure as a separate file, then imported them all into Renoise and painstakingly sequenced them back in order so I could write drums on top. Then I exported the tracks, put the drums back into Reason, and finished the track. This took quite a bit of time but the results speak for themselves.

Sequenced entirely in reason, with mouse-edited drums and mostly ABL-3’d synths (starring the TAL-Bassline 101).

ABL-3s driving Manis Iteritas again, except this time the sequences where random! I let the machines go and automated the whole thing in one epic train ride into Boston.

Pandemic: week 5

The Culprit

This week got interesting. 60mph winds took down power lines and left our street (along with hundreds of other people in New England) without power. I remember how safe we’d felt when we stocked up. Having to throw away so much meat that had spoiled was painful, as was having to go out again, as was having the illusion of security shattered.

This week we, bizzarely, saw protests demanding an end to the lockdown. They appear to be AstroTurfed.

Pandemic: Week 4

We’re in the shit now. People I know and family of friends are starting to test positive. I imagine that this will be a difficult spring. Horror stories are coming out about what it’s like to be on a ventilator. Send a letter to your grandparents.

I can only speak for myself, but any attempt to suppress my vote this November by disrupting the USPS will be unsuccessful.

Pandemic: Week 3

This is where we started the week, giant tent hospital in the middle of central park. Vigilantes locking people in their homes. Some are still flagrantly violating the quarantine order but as evidenced by video of empty streets, it seems that most are complying. More people in the US have died of Covid then died on 9/11.

(u/Mholz)

Scott Aaronson wrote a very strong Mean Culpa regarding his initial reaction to the outbreak. I’d like to see more of these. Here’s mine: I totally bought into the propaganda that masks don’t help. They obviously do and I’m a contrarian idiot for arguing even the most watered down version of the anti-mask position.

In the context of private industry being praised for it’s response to the pandemic, this article is very interesting, showing how the medical device industry utterly failed to produce the ventilator stockpile that we now so desperately need. We needed a Manhattan project, we got a OICW program. Speaking of utter failures, this opinion piece by the Boston Globe clearly lays out the case against the trump administration.

We’ve run out of Bananas, beginning our slow crawl towards needing to go out and get food again. My worry is that we’ll be unable to stock up for longer then a week again and be forced to return to the grocery store too frequently. I’m hoping that the panic will have turned to a grim march by that time. We shouldn’t need to go out and get food until next week.

I can’t believe we’re three weeks in. It feels like just yesterday that I was back at the office. I keep telling myself that I’ve adjusted well, but I’m not so sure.

But hey, I released Digital Native, a collection of tracks I’m extremely proud of. I also published (on this blog) my essay laying out the case against fan remakes.

Pandemic: Week 2

This article does a very good job of pointing out what we should have seen coming, but I disagree with the conclusion. I don’t think it takes any sort of specialized ‘complex systems’ thinking to observe the actions China was taking and realize that soon everyone would be in the same situation. I think the problem was simpler – people have a hard time imagining that the world is going to change very quickly, or that something will affect them. You see the same thing with a lot of risk taking.

https://weather.com/coronavirus/l/41.8934,-70.9117

This tweet chain: is a good summary of what it was like to experience the evolving situation at Slack, a company we and many others use for chat and videoconferencing. There is competition at Hopjump between Slack and Zoom. There are a few macbooks that won’t run Slack calls with a mic, and Zoom offers hilarious backgrounds. But we all already use slack and it removes the overhead of notifying people that the call is starting, distributing the link, etc. I suppose this is the sort of problem an IT department would solve by A) mandating it’s favorite be used and B) fixing everyone’s computer, but we where caught at an especially inopportune time when we’d just engaged an IT services provider. Let’s keep this theme of articles going. This hefty think piece puts the whole situation in an interesting perspective.

is there any benefit to reading all of this, at this point? We’re already doing what we can by avoiding all human contact. We don’t need further convincing. At some point there have to be diminishing returns. I can’t believe this week is already over.

Let’s instead talk entertainment. Nine Inch nails released new Ghosts this week, can’t wait to listen to it. Tiger King (Netflix) is absolutely bonkers, like /r/unsolvedmysteries meets /r/hobbydrama. It’s got a cast of zany, homicidal characters who are all accusing each other of larger than life crimes. I finished the cover for an EP-type thing and I’ll probably drop it next week. I finished painting another 40k miniature.