Running 16-bit Windows 95 games on 64-bit Windows 10

If you are running an x64 version of Windows then when you try and run an old 16-bit Windows 95 application you will see an error screen saying “This app can’t run on your PC”:

To solve this:

  1. Grab a build of winevdm (source) from AppVeyor
  2. Extract the artifact somewhere local, open a command window and cd to that directory
  3. Run your win16 binary as a parameter to otvdm e.g. otvdm c:\games\game.exe
  4. Done!

There’s some background information on why this running 16bit apps doesn’t work, and the virtualisation layers and tooling involved here.

The reason I started looking at this is because I was reminded of an old game called Mordor (here is the official Mordor homepage and here is the demo on the Internet Archive) from some random videogame nostalgia thread somewhere on that internet. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with anything by Tolkein, but is a rogue-like dungeon-exploring RPG.

I had forgotten it existed until seeing its name in that context jogged a 25-year-old memory, and now I can play it again!

Getting art from the National Gallery into Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a good game to play during the Great Coronavirus Lockdown of 2020. Even without the bits where you get rewarded for Just Buying More Stuff, it’s a handy reminder whilst we’re not at work of the rewards that capitalism provides for exploiting nature.


In the game you can create little 32×32 artworks which you can display on easels, or floors or your own clothes. Drawing your own pictures is relaxing, but hard.

Getty have provided a tool (explanatory blog post here) which lets you convert any of their artworks into a QR code which you can scan on your phone and send to the game.

For example, here is Picasso’s self-portrait:

They have also provided an importer which takes an IIIF metadata file and allows you to send the image described by the metadata into your game. There is a list of IIIF-participating organisations but navigating those sites and finding works which actually have the IIIF metadata is a giant pain in the ass, so I gave up with that list and wondered about the National Gallery. It’s not on the IIIF’s list, but it turns out that they do have a research wiki and do actually have a test IIIF server!

All you have to do is search and find a painting you like, right-click the red and blue “iiif” logo in the top right corner, copy the URL it links to and paste it into the importer. With luck you’ll then just need to scroll back up to see your imported painting, ready for you to scan!

This means that you can import works like van Gogh’s Sunflowers straight into Animal Crossing to impress all your island visitors. Have fun decorating!

Playing games

Growing up I played the board games that you might expect a kid growing up in the 80s to play: Scrabble, Monopoly, Frustration, Cluedo and so on. Although I mostly enjoyed them, they were all tedious in their own ways. The more interesting the game, the longer it took, and the more “adult” it was seen to be and was therefore either out of reach of my younger sibling or took to long to play with my parents. Today is very different.

Sites like mean that it’s possible to find games for my kids which don’t take too long to play and are also accessible for their ages, meaning they’re much more fun!

As well as some of the classics like “Guess Who” and “Connect 4” we’ve acquired Kingdomino, Castle Panic and Labyrinth, all of which are good fun.

On our horizon I can definitely see Catan Junior and Ticket to Ride: First Journey (Europe). Hopefully my kids will be able to look back on the board games they played with pleasure rather than mild horror, and will be able to play better, more interesting games as they grow up.

Keep Posting

Pete has some good advice for writing a blog that lasts: Keep Posting.

I should post more, but I’m frequently paralysed by choice. I’m a software dev manager, so I’m interested in down-in-the-mud-coding, software quality, personal and team productivity, agile techniques, web analytics, business value and return on investment.

That’s not to mention the fact that my two-year-old is finally sleeping at night and I’m starting to pick up videogaming again (did I mention I have a 3DS so that I can finally complete Ocarina of Time? The console is physically delightful and OoT:3DS is the best version Nintendo have made of possibly the best videogame ever).

Also: Kindles, tablets, portable computing, mobile apps vs. web. Someone at work described me as ‘decisive, but easily distracted’. I like to know about everything; frequently, this doesn’t leave time for writing about anything.

Nintendo DS strikes right note for teaching

My shiny new DS lite

My wife is a maths teacher, and I have a new DS lite. This means that she now has a DS fat, and we can play Brain Training competitions against one another from our single cartridge.

Inspired by a bit of ad-hoc wireless play (during which she soundly thrashed me several times), she took her new DS into school, and set the kids a competition to see who could get the most Brain Training sums correct in the shortest amount of time – using a webcam to project the game as they play onto the whiteboard. Obviously this generated a great amount of excitement and it was sums-a-gogo for the rest of the lesson.

At the end of the lesson she asked the kids to bring in their own DS the next day, if they had one – eight did and they played the competition against one another. Absolute genius. Talk about next-gen classroom interaction and introducing games as a teaching method!