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The Spam Thread!

I present my cool little Hallmark Story Buddy, Abigail!

The videography isn't great and perhaps I should have turned up the story audio a bit more, but as an unlisted video, perfection isn't that important. Tongue

The Hallmark Story Buddy line was introduced in 2012, and I found Abigail at Walmart, in the greeting card section of course. Abigail, or any of the Hallmark Story Buddies, lack mechanical parts so there's no mouth movements or fancy LCD eyes. This ensures longevity as there aren't as many parts to break. In the books themselves, certain sentences are highlighted in bolder text. These sentences are what cause the story buddy to respond to the reader. So this means the buddies are constantly "listening" for these key phrases. It's no privacy issue though as these story buddies don't have bluetooth or Wifi capability. The "online story time" from what I could find was a companion website printed on the back of the original packaging. There were companion apps released, but the box only lists iPhone/iPad compatibility. No mention of Android.

My Abigail story buddy came with three books and a companion CD, which I ripped to MP3. There was at least one more Abigail book released that wasn't included in my set. Some of the other buddies available were two little Christmas huskies Jingle and Bell, a mystery solving raccoon named Watson, Nugget the puppy, and Cooper the bear. There was even a licensed Scooby Doo story buddy as well.

Unfortunately, Hallmark has cast story buddies into the dustbin of tech history. They can no longer be found on Hallmark's website. I think the Jingle app is still available, but in the case of Nugget the puppy, both the app and companion website are gone. There doesn't seem to be a Web archive of the Nugget site either. Sad The toys did get good reviews upon their 2012 release, but looks like the popularity waned in the face of more appealing apps for kids, I guess.

On the plus side, you can find many of these story buddies on eBay brand new for cheap. Just pray that the pre-installed alkaline batteries haven't started leaking yet, and keep in mind you're probably limited to just the books and companion CD for interactivity.

Here is the web archive of the main Story Buddy website as mentioned in the storyteller CD above:
https://web.archive.org/web/201301231833...torybuddy/

For 2012, these were rather cool, and still are today IMO. It shows that interactive toys don't need Wifi or Bluetooth to be fun. I also find it funny how Abigail's head is bigger than her body, almost like a non-Anime SuperDeformed design. Her adult mom is the same way. Big Grin

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At least Hallmark did it right with not making it yet another (unsafe) IoT device which toy manufacturers somehow made an half-assed job at.

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(10-29-2020, 10:19 AM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  At least Hallmark did it right with not making it yet another (unsafe) IoT device which toy manufacturers somehow made an half-assed job at.

Perhaps those same potentially unsafe IoT toys sped up the demise of the Story Buddies. It's sad, really. Internet connected toys just have such bad security due to execs choosing to cut costs in any way possible. Security is something that shouldn't be considered to be cut back on in toy development, but time and time again, we get news stories of kids IoT tech that either gets hacked or has massive security holes discovered by experts.

In Hallmark's case, they seemed to know how to make a good interactive kids toy without needing to throw in Wifi or BT. I read from that archived website that the story buddy companion websites contained other activities besides stories that would also cause the dolls to reply back. If Hallmark kept on trying to make these toys successful and build upon the existing tech, or maybe promoting them beyond their stores and the greeting card section, they may have been more successful. Hell, they could re-introduce them in the future to market to parents who don't trust other kinds of kids IoT stuff.

Over the next few months, I will begin acquiring the remaining Story Buddy dolls via eBay. These things may get a ColbertBump at some point and the prices for new-old-stock buddies will start going up.

I'm also going to run some auditory experiments with Abigail that involve Mac'nTalk. That had me thinking.... I'd imagine there are certain phrases only known to the developers of the Story Buddy tech that could unlock diagnostic modes or other developer-only features. The question is, what are they? We won't know for sure unless someone finds them by accident or the developer documentation is somehow leaked online. I couldn't even find any article or video of someone tearing down the little box inside the buddies.

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The Spiderman PC game arrived today. Disc is in okay shape, but still reads fine. I'm going to back it up to an ISO just in case.

The 8800GS in my iMac can easily handle this game. Well, maybe a bit too easily. It runs at a very smooth 60fps, but the cutscenes end up being a bit buggy because of it. It also means that one later cutscene in the game doesn't play properly, and Spiderman ends up dying in that cutscene, not allowing you to go forward in the game.

Time to download RivaTuner to cap the game at 30fps. It's the only way to get past that cutscene bug from what I read.

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(10-30-2020, 07:08 AM)cpd2009 Wrote:  The Spiderman PC game arrived today. Disc is in okay shape, but still reads fine. I'm going to back it up to an ISO just in case.

The 8800GS in my iMac can easily handle this game. Well, maybe a bit too easily. It runs at a very smooth 60fps, but the cutscenes end up being a bit buggy because of it. It also means that one later cutscene in the game doesn't play properly, and Spiderman ends up dying in that cutscene, not allowing you to go forward in the game.

Time to download RivaTuner to cap the game at 30fps. It's the only way to get past that cutscene bug from what I read.
Yeah, some games unfortunately tie things to a certain framerate, and if you go beyond that, something screws up. Case in point the Grand Theft Auto games from GTA3 to San Andreas, where if you disable the frame limiter, driving physics go a little bonkers and driving in reverse is broken.

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I'm back!

I lost my email and password a long time ago!

I'm doing well and so is my family! Smile
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(10-30-2020, 11:35 AM)Stella Grapes Wrote:  I'm back!

I lost my email and password a long time ago!

I'm doing well and so is my family!  Smile

That's 'swell! Glad to be back on board too!

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(10-30-2020, 11:35 AM)Stella Grapes Wrote:  I'm back!

I lost my email and password a long time ago!

I'm doing well and so is my family!  Smile

We were just wondering about you a few weeks ago. Welcome back! It's been rather quiet here the past couple years, so perhaps we can get things rolling again.

Glad you have been doing well too. Smile I also have begun drawing pictures, and I plan on sharing some of my artwork here soon. I hope to be a freelance illustrator someday, but for now, I plan on just drawing stuff for fun, mostly featuring cute animals doing cute things.

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The mid-2011 iMac has arrived, and as with the previous purchase from MacOfAllTrades, the condition was spot on. It looks brand new.

Did a quick run with the HDMI dongle, and yes, hardware encoding works! Smile Only around 20% CPU is being used during the video recording session.

I'm debating whether or not to leave it on High Sierra or downgrade to Mountain Lion. This iMac will be offline most of the time, so running an old MacOS won't be a big deal.

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(10-31-2020, 01:50 AM)cpd2009 Wrote:  The mid-2011 iMac has arrived, and as with the previous purchase from MacOfAllTrades, the condition was spot on. It looks brand new.

Did a quick run with the HDMI dongle, and yes, hardware encoding works! Smile Only around 20% CPU is being used during the video recording session.

I'm debating whether or not to leave it on High Sierra or downgrade to Mountain Lion. This iMac will be offline most of the time, so running an old MacOS won't be a big deal.

Mind if you share us some pics of the iMac soon?

Oh and I had to replace the theme yet again as I just noticed that the login/register buttons don't show up if you are on a mobile phone or viewing the site in a small window.

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