Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nostalgia

I've been coding for quite some time now. It just so happened that my freshman year of high school coincided with the release of an exciting new technology / language named Java. This was a language with its own runtime, which included the ability to run inside of a web browser (think Netscape). Seeing as how I already had some experience tinkering with C and C++, the prospect of creating visual applications made Java all that much more appealing to me. I borrowed my Dad's Teach Yourself Java in 21 Days book, read through a bunch of tutorials, and dove head first into the world of applets and AWT.

At this time, I was also very much into freestyle BMX, and with my best friend Eric Miller had created a moderately popular community site, JEBikes.com. In order to satisfy my urge to code, and also for us to put some interesting content on the site, we'd sit for hours in my room, Eric on Windows Paint, drawing the graphics and designing levels, and me in front of Notepad, typing away at my monolithic Java class file. We ended up creating a handful of these games, and it was a great experience.

A short while ago, an old friend of mine from high school contacted me about these games. Since the site had long since gone offline, and the domain had been surrendered, I got excited about the prospect of resurrecting them, just to see if and how they'd work today. It took some time, but I was able to locate the original source files on a portable hard drive tucked away in storage. The most annoying and difficult part about getting everything running was dealing with the old Windows 98 / DOS extended filenames; on the disk they were written out as eight characters with three character extensions, all in caps, and if there were any special characters or the length exceeded, then you'd have something like SCREE_~1.GIF, so I had to go through and carefully rename each file, even if it was simply to lowercase it.

For posterity and safe-keeping, I've decided to put these up on github. They are definitely not examples of my finest coding work, and might actually make interesting case studies in TDD refactoring in the future (if they weren't applet-based... ick!). It's always interesting to revisit code you've written 15 years ago, especially since most of the time I question what I was thinking with code I've written 6 months ago. Enjoy!

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