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Web valleyofthegeeks.com

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

These are the top web sites for budding geek-aholics looking to find out more about the latest technology from Silicon Valley and around the world.  Also check out the latest in cool gadgets on our TechnoLust page.

InfocomInteractive Fiction  

In the early days of personal computers, before Windows was even an idea in the minds of Xerox Parc, there were microcomputers that had little or no graphics and were used for text-oriented applications.  Some fine students from MIT who had been smitten by the original Adventure game written by Crowther & Woods set out to write their own game called Zork using the AI labs LISP-like language MDL or "Muddle."  Low and behond when they graduated they created a company called Infocom that commercialized dozens of text-based "Interactive Fiction" (IF) games in various genres from science fiction, fantasy, detective, etc .  Eventually, the graphics on machines like the Macintosh, the IBM PC and the Commodore Amiga eventually caused Infocom's fortunes to fall and alas, they were an interesting footnote in the history of computing destined for obscurity.  However, with the power of the Internet and some serious hacking around the world, there's been a tremendous resurgence in IF. You can download legitimate free copies of the original Zork games, as well as hundreds of more recent works at the IF archive, you can get interpreters to play Infocom style games on everything from Windows to Palm machines and you can even find a range of specialized IF development languages (Inform, Tads, Alan, to name a few), editors, and books to help write your own games. There's also an annual IF competition and newsletters like SPAG, the Brass Lantern, Roger Firth's Informary and XYYZY News where you can find reviews of games, books, tools, interviews, articles and more.  It's enough to make me nostalgic for my old Apple II computer!  


New York Gadget guru Peter Rojas left Gizmodo to hook up with rival blogs mini-empire WebLogs Inc to create another new gadget web site suitably named Engadget.  Ok, you may not care who's behind this blog, but if you care about the latest 2 pound laptops to come out of Japan, what's going on with wireless devices, audio players, digital cameras, cell phones or frozen PCs or how to scam Apple's iTunes contest this is the place to go.  Rojas brings his mix of cool geek irreverance and well researched blogging to capture what's going on in weird & wonderful consumer electronics better than any other site on the web.


Just when Red Herring gave up the ghost and stopped publishing, co-founder Tony Perkins was creating the AlwaysOn-Network.  The name may be a bit generic, but the combination of editorial, news and populist weblog has made AlwaysOn the best example of what Internet publishing can be.  If you have a big enough ego, or at least one that is Teflon-coated, then you can start blogging away and see if you can pull more readers than Silicon Valley CEOs and VCs.  Considering that Perkins started the site with a few hundred worth of open source software (pmachine and MySQL) in early 2003, the site has attracted a significant following. Maybe this really is the future of publishing.


O'Reilly has been publishing some of the best technical books in the development community for years.  They now offer a web site called onLamp.com dedicated to the open source software stack known as LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PhP / Perl / Python).  If you're into open source development, or trying to figure out whether it can go head to ahead against proprietary software from Microsoft, IBM, BEA or others, this is a great source of information.



If you're really addicted to the latest electronic devices from Japan, but don't find yourself scheduled to do some shopping in Akihabra, then you can get the next best thing at Dynamism.  This web site caters to Americans who want the latest imported laptops and PDAs and don't mind paying a premium.  Dynamism preloads the appropriate English language operating system and gets you products that aren't available outside of Japan.  If you can't help but lust after that new 3 pound Japanese laptop, what's a few extra dollars?  Besides, you get installation, support, a warranty and, best of all, no risk of SARS. 


Gizmodo is a new style of "micro" publishing site which is a specialized web blog for the serious gadget addict, with dozens of new stories every week on the lightest laptops, coolest cameras, as well as obscure electronic items you'd never actually use. There's more new information here in a week than you'll find on other sites in a month: new Linux PDAs, smart phones, laptops from Japan, whatever.  The only challenge is keeping up with everything.  But if you want to get the latest hot gadgets, you're sure to become a Gizmodo fan. 

SDTimesSD Times

SD Times is the best, and in many ways the only, newspaper for software development managers.  It's the brainchild of former Miller Freeman (Computer Language, Dr. Dobb's Journal etc) stars Alan Zeichick, a regular contributor to Red Herring, and Ted Bahr, author of the definitive technical review of caffeinated soft drinks.  Alan and Ted have been covering the software industry for years and have created a great resource.  It's available in print and in electronic PDF form.  If you want to keep up on the business as well as technology aspects of software development, this is a great resource.


If you read this site regularly you've probably heard of Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and inventor of the original Apple II Computer.  Wozniak graduated from doing working at HP to building "blue boxes" that enabled long distance calls without charge, to building the original Apple I motherboard, graphics, BASIC, disk drive and more.  Wozniak is still active teaching kids about technology and with his latest startup company Wheels of Zeus (get it?).  If you want to get the inside scoop on the Apple II, the US rock concerts or Woz's take on the industry, check out this site.  If you have a hankering to run your old Apple II software on a PC, get yourself an Apple II emulator and disk images available from various sites.

Dan BricklinDan Bricklin's Web Site

Dan Bricklin is one of the earliest pionneers in the PC industry; he and Bob Frankston wrote the world's first spreadsheet Visicalc for the Apple II computer back in 1979.  This was the first "killer application" that was so useful people went out and bought a computer just to run the software.  Visicalc was a marvel in it's time cramming such power into a tiny assembly language program under 32K.  The IBM PC version is available for download in case you want to stroll down memory lane.  Also good links to other historical software and sites.

Tom's HardwareTom's Hardware Guide

This is the definitive website for hardware hackers.  You can find out just about everything you need to know about overclocking, graphics cards, hard drives, benchmarks and the likes.  Also includes detailed reviews and an easy-to-use online pricing guide.  If you're in the hardware industry or you want to build your own hot rod PC, this is a great place to go.


Good Morning, Silicon ValleyGood Morning, Silicon Valley

You can subscribe to Good Morning Silicon Valley from the San Jose Mercury News to get the always topical, usually skeptical, sometimes cynical always insightful perspective from John Paczkowski .

Palm InfocenterPalm Infocenter

This is a great site for all the hottest news around the Palm OS and hardware products.  Palm Infocenter always has early scoops on new hardware platforms, new announcements and some good insight into what's going on at Palm, Handspring, Sony and elsewhere.   Lots of reporting and great product reviews.  Also a good source of closeout deals...


This is a great source for early news and rumors on all things Apple.   Nick dePlume (get it?) gets early access to all the dirt from inside sources.  If you're trying to get good Macintosh reporting, or if you've got a hot tip, this is the place to go.  

Catch of the DayWhat's Next

Former Red Herring editorial director Rafe Needleman has taken the "Catch of the Day" concept over to Business 2.0.  This is a great way to keep up with the latest in high-tech startup technologies.  Rafe covers it all, from the software to biotech, with his several times weekly email bulletin.   

Tangled in the ThreadsTangled in the Threads

I've known Jon since he was an editor at Byte Magazine in the 1990s.  Jon is an expert in groupware and has a track record for calling many of the major technology trends over the last ten years. If you want to get down in dirty on groupware or peer-to-peer technology, Jon's an expert.  He created the original Byte.com web site, wrote the "Tangled in the Threads" column for Byte and is now a test center director at InfoWorld.  He also maintains a separate web site and weblog where you can see read about his latest interests.      


DaveNet, by long time programming guru Dave Winer, is one of the best ways to keep up with latest in programming technology. A lot of Dave's focus is on weblogs, scriptingSOAP and XML-RPC.  If these are topics you want to learn about, dive in.  You can also learn about some of Dave's latest projects including Radio Userland, an easy-to-use and incredibly cheap software package for publishing your own weblogs in minutes.  (And yes, we publish a Valley of the Geeks RSS newsfeed at http://www.valleyofthegeeks.com/rss.xml.)


User Interface Design for Programmers, Joel SpolskyJoel On Software 

Joel Spolsky, author of "User Interface Design for Programmers" developed the Joel On Software site to provide a regular free online newsletter on software design.  Joel's never shy on opinions, so you're guaranteed to learn something about programmers, management or user interface design.  Joel also developed Fog Creek Software's CityDesk content management system which was used to build this site as well as the FogBUGZ bug tracking system.  You can get free trial versions on their site


Thinking in JavaBruce Eckel's Mindview Inc.

Bruce's site and email newsletter are excellent sources of information on Java, C++ and Python by one of the gurus of object-oriented programming.  Bruce is the author of the "Thinking in..." series of books on Java, C++ and other languages.  Not only can you get the free electronic versions of Bruce's books but you can also win a date with Bruce (ladies only, please).


Dr. Bob

Dr. Bob ("he's not a real doctor") is a programming guru who operates out of Europe.  His web site has a vast number  of resources for Delphi, C++, Java programmers including extensive technical tips, book reviews and more.

Will-Harris House & Studio

Daniel Will-Harris runs this web design studio.  If you need someone to design a logo, add some flash or otherwise design your web site, this is the place to go.  In addition, you can subscribe to the world-famous Schmoozeletter email newsletter on design and writing. 

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