Sunday, August 16, 2009

Oldskool Amusement

I always liked amusement park attractions and I had some rather disturbing memories of Budapest's "Vidam Park" which I visited when I was very small (about 10 years old).

Last week, I visited it again, and it was even more bizarre than I remembered it.

There are some rather recent rides, well known from European amusement parks. But let's forget about these and get nostalgic:

There is an operational wooden roller coaster built in the year 1922!!!


The cars look like something from children's railroad and the track itself is constructed from what looks like standard rails. There is no drive mechanism on the passenger platform (the train moves here because the track is slightly sloped) and passengers often embark and disembark without the train even stopping. There are no safety features, hydraulics or electronics at all.

The ride is very bumpy, of course, and the train has a driver who hand brakes during the whole ride, otherwise the train would go too fast and crash. I cannot decide if this is the best or the worst job in the world, riding on the roller coaster all day. It's certainly very important job, because if he got sick and lost consciousness, for example, everyone in the train would probably die. Now this is hardcore!


There are other ancient rides which look and operate like something from Fallout, but the most terrifying of them is an automated boat ride for kids.

You get in the boat and you ride it in a narrow canal, watching the scenes from popular fairy tales. Again, there is no motor or electronics, the boat moves simply because the water is flowing, and often crashes into the walls.

All of this takes place inside artificial cave, mostly in total darkness and total silence. The fairy tales are represented by scary plastic figurines (who don't move at all, of course) placed behind scary bars (probably to prevent kids from stealing them). The original idea probably was to create something like Disneyland's "It's a Small World After All" but the execution is creepy beyond belief. Watch the video:

No wonder I had nightmares about this for the last 30 years...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Custom Alert Sounds On HTC Hero Phone

I am posting this chiefly so that other people with the same problem can find the easy solution here:

HTC Hero mobile phone offers custom ringtones. It lets you use any MP3 file anywhere on your memory card as a ringtone (you don't have to install any special software).

However, this is not the case with alert tones (the sounds that sound when calendar alert is triggered). The phone only offers some short predefined wimpy sounds which definitely cannot wake me up.

I tried installing "Rings Extended" (an app which provides extended ringtone functionality for other Android phones) but it didn't work on HTC Hero.

However, the solution is really simple!

Just create a directory called /media/audio/notifications/ on your memory card and put your MP3s in it (and maybe restart the phone). After that, the sounds in this directory will be automatically offered to you when choosing notification sounds (I am using this one).