Bob Eichler's Web Site

Last updated Apr 28th, 2015
Welcome to my site. It's not a Facebook page, it's not a blog - it's an actual web site that I wrote myself, HTML, javascript, style sheets and all. I know that's not very popular any more, but what the heck. This site began as a sprawling mess that I created with my original dial-up account back in the misty days of the early web. When I upgraded to high-speed internet in 2007, I had to re-host the site, so I edited out some stuff and started adding even more useless ponderings. And most recently, while on vacation over the end-of-the-year holidays in 2014, I decided to re-vamp the site again and try to use some things I've learned about style sheets to make it look a little nicer. And to prune out some of the older dead wood. I keep toying with the idea of just taking the site down - it's really more work that it's worth. But it gives me an outlet for those occasions when I feel like writing about something, and over the years I've gotten a lot of positive email from people about some of the things on this site. So I guess I'll keep it.

Here are the bits that I've gotten the most emails about:

Frank Zappa Reviews - In 1999, during the two and a half weeks between the anniversary of Zappa's death and his birthday, I got the crazy idea to write a quick review of every one of his albums. Somehow I pulled it off, and despite their quickly-thrown-together nature, those Zappa review pages have generated far and away the most positive email I've gotten for anything on this site. Gradually I've been adding new pages as posthumous releases come out, and in late 2014 I worked on spiffing the pages up with better layout and album cover images so they didn't look like they were written in the stone age. My daughter says they now look 10 years out of date instead of 20. Progress!
Zappa references on MST3K - As you can tell from the Zappa reviews section, Frank Zappa is one of my favorite composers/musicians. The writers for the cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 must have liked him a lot too, because they threw obscure references to him into many of their episodes. As I traded tapes of old episodes with other fans, I started to wonder just how many times Frank was referenced. So I started documenting, and eventually came up with what I'm pretty sure is a definitive list of Zappa references on MST3K. I know, no one else cares, but what is the web for if not usless info like this?
Does Humor Belong in USENET? - There are some damned funny people posting to newsgroups, or at least there used to be, before web-based forums stole a lot of the regular posters away. But here, documented for all time (or at least until I take the page down) are some prime examples of how much fun it could be to read USENET, once upon a time. Oh yeah, there's also a MiSTing that I did of a Charlton Heston diatribe in there too.
Nintendo Gameboy Connection Cable Conniptions - After spending about a month trying to figure out how to get two old Gameboy games to successfully communicate with each other using Gameboy Advance SP units, I decided to document my findings for the benefit of other video game fans. I thought this information would be readily available on the web, but I had to dig long and hard to find it, and even then it was spread out over multiple pages. This brings all the information together in one place, with pictures.
Indenture Solution - a long time ago, in an age when people could enjoy video games with simple, blocky graphics, there was the grandfather of all graphic adventure games, the appropriately entitled Adventure for the Atari 2600. One guy who enjoyed that game as much as I did was Craig Pell. In fact, he liked it so much he wrote his own DOS version, which was an exact simulation of the original game, but also added new difficulty levels that expanded the game out to 10 times its original size (and approximately 100 times its original difficulty). I doubt anyone out there still plays Indenture, but if you have gotten stuck in it, then you may find my solution/walkthrough file useful.
The Microvision Simulation Project - The Microvision was a primitive hand-held video game system from the late 70s, the first one to feature interchangeable cartridges. I tried to start a programmer collective to write emulators/simulators for all the Microvision games, preferrably as playable web pages. I didn't think it would be too hard, since the original games were mostly pretty simple. It turned out to be harder than I thought, and I didn't get any volunteers to help with the programming, so the project died with only four simulators written. Enjoy what's there though.

Recent Additions:

04/27/2015 - The Some Kind of Jam 10 Festival - I recently made a spur-of-the-moment decision to attend a three-day music festival about a 45 minute drive from my house. Apparently this was the 10th annual event, but I just found out about it recently. It's an outdoor music and camping festival, with 30 bands on four stages. It was one of the best (because of the music) and worst (because of the freezing cold temperatures) experiences of my life. Here's a web page full of photos and notes documenting those experiences.

03/25/2015 - A History/Review of Genesis - yet another entry in my ongoing series about "music no one under 40 even remembers". Well, Genesis were pretty popular into the early 1990s, so maybe we can say "no one under 30 remembers" this time.

02/01/2015 - A History/Review of the Music of Yes - adding more content to the "music no one born after 1990 cares about at all" section of this site, here's a lengthy, rambling and opinionated review of the catalog of the band Yes, with a lot of info about the band's history mixed in. This started out as a review of the "Studio Albums 1969-1987" boxed set that came out last year (which I got for Christmas), but then it got totally out of hand.

12/15/2014 - Isaac Asimov's Robot/Empire/Foundation saga - I reccently re-read this classic sci-fi series and decided to throw together a web page about it.

11/14/2014 - Pink Floyd's Endlesss River - Some thoughts on the new Pink Floyd album.

09/15/2014 - ProgDay 2014 - A belated write-up of this year's outdoor progressive rock extravaganza, the 20th annual ProgDay. A vacation followed by illness delayed this year's write-up, but it's finally here.

07/17/2014 - Electric Light Orchestra - Doing that Cheap Trick page put me in the mood to write some more about music, so I picked another of my favorite bands from the 70s/80s, ELO, and did a write-up about each of their albums. Enjoy, or ignore - the choice is yours.

06/07/2014 - Cheap Trick - Cheap Trick has long been a guilty pleasure band of mine, and last night I got the chance to see them in concert for the first time in many years. To get ready for the show, I listened to all their albums (you might be surprised at how many discs that is) and decided to write up a little blurb review of each one, which ended up turning into a web page that's pretty much a career overview of the band.

05/11/2014 - The Best Yes Solo Albums - Recently I've found myself listening to a lot of solo albums released by the various members of the band Yes over the years, and at the same time trying to teach myself some of the basics of web page layout using style sheets. So the natural result, of course, is an overly-opininated, styled-to-the-point-of-being-an-eyesore web page about the best Yes solo albums.

ProgDay Scrapbooks

On the Friday of Labor Day weekend in 1997, I drove to Baltimore to see a show at Orion Studios, and then made a spur of the moment decision to continue driving south the next morning to attend the third annual ProgDay festival of progressive rock at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, NC. I mostly just wanted to see ex-Kansas voiolinist David Ragsdale play a rare solo performance, and I greatly underestimated how much further south Chapel Hill is from Baltimore. It was a crazy thing to do, and by the time I got home around 3am on Monday, I was utterly exhausted and flat broke. But I was also head-over-heels in love with ProgDay, and I've been back every year since.

Year after year, I got more and more interested in "archiving" the event - making low-budget audience recordings of the performances, taking lots of pictures, collecting programs, etc. Starting in 2007, I took a lot of that material and started putting together a "scrapbook" web page of my ProgDay experience. I've done the same for each year since. If you want to read WAAAAY too much of one man's opinions about the longest running progressive rock festival around, check out:

ProgDay 2007 - ProgDay 2008 - ProgDay 2009 - ProgDay 2010 - ProgDay 2011 - ProgDay 2012 - ProgDay 2013 - ProgDay 2014

Archives:

05/18/2013 - Saturday Night Live Season Six - Why? Why not?

10/03/2011 - iPod Rant - I wrote this several months ago at work when I had some free time and emailed it to my home account to put up on this web site...then completely forgot about it. I just found it while cleaning out my email inbox, so here it is...why the iPod is really overrated.

09/17/2010 - How I Connected an iPod to my 2005 Prius - After being told by two different professional car audio installers that it was impossible, I found an adapter that could let my Prius connect to my iPod and installed the thing myself. Dang right I'm proud of myself. :-)

11/13/2009 - Cerebus The Aardvark - back on my old dial-up web site I had a sprawling review of the comic book, er, graphic novel series "Cerebus" that eventually strayed off topic and became a rant about the author and his religious beliefs. I didn't re-host it over to this Comcast site because the only email I ever got about it was the occasional hate mail from people who were offended by my remarks about religion. But just today I got a request from someone who was cleaning up dead links on a Cerebus fan site asking if I could put my review back up. So here it is.

11/13/2009 - The Dark Tower - while I'm at it, I might as well put the sprawling review I wrote of Stephen King's Dark Tower series of books back up as well.

8/7/2009 - Vacation Travelogue - Pictures, stories and gripes from our family vacation to Disney and Cocoa Beach in July of 2009.

4/8/2009 - Yesoteric - A historic documentation of the massive collection of rarities by the progressive rock band Yes. WARNING: Waaaay too long and boring to anyone but super-obsessive Yes fans.

6/19/2008 - Brandy - a tribute to our beloved hound, who was taken from us far too soon.

12/21/2007 - Video Game Memories - yet another rambling, lengthy monologue, this time about all the video games that I've played and loved over the last 30 or so years. It started out as a response to a web article that I read about the 50 most important releases in video game history, and grew out of control from there. Read only if you have a lot of time to kill and a love of old video games.

Undated: Why I hate Stored Procedures - A rant that only a crusty computer programmer like myself could identify with. My bosses at work made the decision, against my strenuous disagreement, that ALL database access should be done via stored procedures. What the heck, they weren't the ones who had to do the programming. It made life a living hell. If you are a programmer and you've been forced to use stored procedures against your will, give this a read and see if you agree.


If you want to send me an email to point out the flaws and spelling errors of this site (I know there's got to be at least a few), feel free. My email address, and hopefully this will be confusing enough to confound spam bots but not too confusing for humans to figure out, is this: my last name (see top of this page) in all lower case letters, followed by the number two (in digit form, not spelled out) at Comcast followed not by dot com, but rather by dot net (look at this page's URL for example). No spaces or underscores or anything - just run all that together and you've got it. I know, no one will be able to figure that out, but it's better than getting tons of spam.


Last but not least, here's a cool picture of a sunset I took from my front steps one day in early 1999. Why's it here? Because I really wanted to include it on the web site somewhere and couldn't come up with a better spot. It actually started out as two photos taken a couple seconds apart and from different angles, but someone named Timothy Kreitz saw it on my web page and photoshopped it into one big picture for me. Thanks Tim.

Kickass Sunset Photo