Category Archives: History

via the Verge: You can play nearly 2,400 classic MS-DOS games for free right now

Back in November, it was announced that the Internet Archive was making 900 classic coin-op arcade games available on their site for free. Now, they’re doing it again. The Verge reported today You can play nearly 2,400 classic MS-DOS games for free right now. According to their post, the games run in your browser and include:

That includes the likes of id Software’s Commander Keen, the apocalyptic RPG Wasteland, the original Prince of Persia, early FPS games like Wolfenstein 3D, and many more. There’s even Mario Teaches Typing.

They report the whole thing is in beta so it may be buggy and there are no instructions for each game. Call it an added layer of challenge in playing these old favorites! Personally, I’m looking forward to revisiting Caveman Ugh-lympics, Harpoon, and Dragonlance: Champions of Krynn! Use this link to get to the archive.

Image from Wolfenstein 3D

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Favorite History Podcasts – Part Three

In Part One and Part Two of this blog series I introduced you to many of my favorite podcasts on history. They ran the gamut of historical topics from the Byzantine Empire and Ancient Warfare up through modern times and everything in between. In Part Three, I’ll introduce you to the first podcast I became addicted to on a mobile device and my two all time favorite history podcasters. As always, you can listen to episodes usually right from a podcast’s website or search via iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

  •  The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast (napoleonbonapartepodcast.com/): According to the podcast’s website, this was one of the first history podcasts online. Produced from 2006 to 2009, over 59 one hour-long episodes were recorded on the life and career of Napoleon Bonaparte. The two hosts, Napoleon scholar David Markham, residing in Canada and, Napoleon fan and podcast entrepreneur Cameron Reilly, residing in Australia, collaborated to create the longest podcast, in terms of both number of episodes as well as recording length, I have ever heard of covering just one topic. David and Cameron are unabashed fans of Napoleon and try to put him in a more positive light than traditional English based history usually does. Back when I listened years ago, all of the episodes were free. Now, only the first 19 episodes are free, but that’s 19 hours plus of content. If you like it, the remaining 40 cost a flat $10 for all of it. Still not bad. I spent many hours listening to this series and it is highly recommended! (Side note: Cameron’s company, The Podcast Network, also produces other shows including The Life of Caesar which I plan to try soon.)
  • The History of Rome (www.thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/): Produced by Mike Duncan, this 179 episode series covered the Roman Empire from the founding of Rome through the fall of the Western Empire. He elected not to continue on to do the Eastern, or Byzantine, Empire which survived many centuries after the fall of Rome. This was not my first podcast addiction, but it was my first “must check every week for a new episode” podcast. Mike is a fan of history and it shows in this series. This was my first encounter with a podcast where the creator truly does it solely for the love of the topic and sharing knowledge with the audience. In fact, he mentioned only after quite a few episodes that he added a donation button to the site at the urging of fans in the site forums. The podcast got so popular, Mike was able to organize “History of Rome Tours” to famous sites in Europe for him and fans of the show! Mike’s plain language story telling and dry humor make this my second favorite podcast of all time. After 179 episodes, a marriage to Mrs. History of Rome, two household moves, and the birth of his first child, Mike felt it was time to end the series in 2012. I was truly sad and missed the weekly updates. But, then he resurfaced…
  • Revolutions (www.revolutionspodcast.com/): In September of 2013, Mike Duncan returned to podcasting with Revolutions. In this ongoing podcast, instead of covering one topic or civilization, Mike is doing multi-part discussions of various revolutions throughout history. So far, he’s covered revolutions in Britain and America. The show is currently discussing the French Revolution and will cover the Haitian Revolution next. The show looks at the causes and effects of the revolutions and Mike’s background in Political History definitely shows. I’m just getting in to this one, but it’s very good so far. Oh, and he’s now doing tour tips again!
  • Hardcore History (www.dancarlin.com/): Dan Carlin hosts what is my all time favorite podcast on any topic. Dan is renowned in the podcast world for his work on Hardcore History and his more frequent series on politics, Common Sense. (Both found at http://www.dancarlin.com/.) Dan has a background in “old media” journalism but made the transition to “new media” impresario. His vocal delivery is fast, passionate, and assertive. He calls himself a “fan of history” not a historian, but the topics he covers are well researched and covered in-depth. He tries to ask tough questions and he will challenge your assumptions and the myths we learn in school. His episodes notoriously run longer than he plans, take more episodes to cover than he figures, and entertain me endlessly. It may take a few months between episodes, but every episode is worth it. If you only have time for one podcast, this is it.

Most of my favorite podcasts are labors of love, created by one or two person outfits who do it because they love history. I make a point of tossing these guys the occasional donation or I make a purchase in their store to “pay back” for the entertainment they’ve given me. Bandwidth, servers, etc. cost money. And, do not forget the opportunity costs in time spent on making these podcasts! I believe content creators should be fairly compensated for their work and I urge you to support those creators whose content you enjoy, too. You can usually find donation and/or store links on their websites.

If you’ve got some favorite podcasts of your own, tell me about them in the comments below!

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Favorite History Podcasts – Part Two

Yesterday, in Part One, I listed three very good podcasts covering the Byzantine Empire, the Norman Conquests and Migrations, and the entirety of world history. Today, in Part Two, I will give you three more covering ancient warfare, general topics in history, and one from an interesting fellow in England covering history from a decidedly British view. You can find these podcasts via the linked websites or search in iTunes or your favorite podcast app:

  • The History Network .Org podcast (thehistorynetwork.org/): started by two history buffs who just weren’t satisfied with the quality of history podcasts available back in 2005, the History Network is actually home to three podcasts. The first, which is the namesake and “flagship” podcast, is simply called “The History Network Podcast” and covers all of human history but is, as its creators, Angus and Nick put it, vaguely military” in focus . It is now in its 17th season and its episodes, running from about 15 to 30 minutes each, usually cover a specific topic. Topics can be about a specific battle, commander, campaign, operation, or anything else “vaguely military.” It is a scripted show with Nick Barker reading about the topic. The fun part is the producers actively solicit scripts from listeners, so if you’ve ever wanted to write for a history podcast that is downloaded millions of times, here’s your chance. I get behind on my podcast listening, but I can binge a whole season of these bite-sized, focused podcasts in a day or two. Their website also hosts a store with past seasons to purchase, as well propaganda films from both sides of World War II, special long form topic episodes and interviews, and a new podcast on historical war games that I have not had time to listen to yet.
  • Ancient Warfare Magazine podcast (thehistorynetwork.org/category/ancient-warfare-magazine/): this is the other popular podcast from the History Network. It is a companion to a Ancient Warfare Magazine which can be purchased at https://www.karwansaraypublishers.com/shop/. However, this podcast has some notable differences from its parent. Where their flagship podcast is broad, covering all eras of history, the AWM podcast is focused on one topic, ancient warfare. Where the parent podcast is done in small episodes, AWM is usually an hour or more long. And where the original podcast is one narrator on script, AWM is a panel discussion of usually four experts discussing and expanding on a topic covered in the most recent issue of Ancient Warfare Magazine. If you want to listen to four serious history nerds discuss topics like Greek phalanxes or what did Roman Legionnaires really use in battle, this is definitely for you.
  • Binge Thinking History (www.bingethinkinghistory.com/): this is a cool, “home-grown” podcast by Tony Cocks from somewhere in the UK. I’ve been listening for a few years. Also known simply as “BTHP,” Tony does this podcast for the sheer love of it. It is not his “day job” so the episodes can be a little infrequent. But, they are good. Tony really gets into his topics. His method is to pick a bigger topics, say the history of the Royal Navy or the RAF, and spend several 30 minute or so episodes on it. He references multiple historical sources, includes sound effects for “decoration,” and has some really cool ways of enhancing his reading of quotes from historical figures by using sound enhancement. You have to hear it. Tony is just an everyday bloke doing a podcast for fun. And, he makes me feel guilty for not doing one myself.

There are a couple of other small, one or two person, efforts that were pretty good but faded away. Of those, Historyzine, produced by Jim Mowatt, was my favorite of those. Another Brit, Jim was doing a very detailed series on the War of the Spanish Succession. Alas, he has not done an update since 2010 but I leave the website here for you to check it out as long as you are OK with not getting the ending. Maybe, he’ll return someday.

Tomorrow in Part Three, my all time favorites covering Napoleon, Revolutions, the History of Rome and some Hardcore History! Feel the History Nerd Power!

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

Favorite History Podcasts – Part One

Podcasts are a wonderful thing. You can listen or watch them on computers, game consoles and Internet streaming appliances via various apps, or carry them with you on a mobile device like a tablet, smartphone or MP3 player. They can be about any topic under the sun and, anyone can produce one if they want to. All one needs is a basic computer and microphone, some cheap or free software, and a web site to host them on for download. The barrier to entry is low, with no need of a big media company to produce or distribute the content.

I am a huge history geek and podcasts about history are my favorite. World history is a vast topic and there are podcasts on just about any specific area of historical study a person might want. I tend to be most interested in ancient and medieval history as well as almost all aspects of military history. Below is Part One of my listing of favorite history podcasts, in no particular order of preference. You can find these via the linked websites or search in iTunes or your favorite podcast app:

  • 12 Byzantine Rulers (http://12byzantinerulers.com/): This podcast from history author and lecturer Lars Brownworth discusses in detail 12 emperors of the Byzantine Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman Empire. I’ve been fairly well versed in the Roman Empire for some time, but until I discovered this series I knew little about the half of the empire that survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire by a millennia. This is the first podcast I ever listened to even before I had my first iPod.
  • Norman Centuries (http://normancenturies.com/): Another podcast series by the aforementioned Mr. Brownworth. This one covers the conquests, migrations, and lasting impact of the Normans. The Normans were descendants of Viking “Northmen” who came exploding out of Scandinavia in the Middle Ages. From the podcast’s website:

    In the course of two centuries the Normans launched a series of extraordinary conquests, transforming Anglo-Saxon England into Great Britain, setting up a powerful Crusader state in Antioch, and turning Palermo into the dazzling cultural and economic capital of the western Mediterranean.

    If you thought the Normans were just the oppressors of the Saxons in England and got really annoyed by some guy named Robin Hood, give this one a listen.

  • A History of the World in 100 Objects (http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/): My best friend since 1979, a fellow geek, introduced me to this one. This is a unique podcast produce by the BBC for radio and also distributed online. It covers the entirety of human history by using 100 objects on display in the British Museum. It’s a really cool concept because as you listen to an episode you can visit the series’ website and see photos and other additional information about the object. I think it’d be a great teaching tool in schools as well.

Give these a listen. Tomorrow, Part Two…

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

2000 Years of European Border Changes In 47 Seconds

This is an interesting little history nerd thing that popped up in my Twitter feed the other day. (Hat tip to The Independent.) It’s a little video from New Scientist (sub. required) of a European map showing the borders of nations, empires, states, etc. over the last 2,000 years. It is amazing to see how much, and often, borders change.

And, with all the stuff Uncle Vladimir is stirring up in Ukraine, one wonders if a new map is coming…

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.

British Royal Mail stamp honoring Noor Inayat Khan

Via NPR: “One Woman, Many Surprises: Pacifist Muslim, British Spy, WWII Hero”

This Tuesday, PBS is showing a docudrama about Noor Inayat Khan, an Indian-American Muslim woman who in World War II acted as a spy for the Allies in Paris. She was raised a pacifist but chose to work for the British as a liaison to the French Resistance. The movie is called The Noor Inayat Khan Story and NPR did an interview with the movie’s creators.

Dad, hubby, geek, nerd, gimp, cynic and optimist.