It Happened to Me

Virtual Bubble Wrap [Updated]

[Update January 28, 2005]: Welcome, BoingBoing

readers! I’d love to show you Virtual Bubble Wrap online, but I’ve since taken

the page on which it lived down and put it somewhere yet. It will have

a home soon, promise!

Windows users can download a standalone version from this entry.

Once a year, just to keep this lovely piece of absolutely useless

software alive in the collective mind of the ‘Net, I point everyone to Virtual Bubble Wrap.

Yes, there are many other versions of Virtual Bubble Wrap, but the version created by Mackerel Interactive Multimedia

way back in 1993 is still the best (the original version was part of a

floppy disk-based presentation). I like to think that my Shockwave

adaptation, coded up during a severe hangover the day after my birthday

party in 1995, is a close second.

One reason I was inspired to post this particular entry is that Brendyn Alexander’s trying his hand as developing multimedia apps in Director. Good on ya, Brendyn, and welcome to the club!

Recommended Reading

Burying the Fish. A Cory Doctorow piece about Mackerel that was commisioned for but never made it into WIred. I think it’s the very first time he’d acted as my unofficial press agent — here’s the relevant snippet:


next-generation Mackerelites are a mixed bag. There isn’t a one of them

that isn’t hip and downtown as all get-out — walking into the old

Mackerel office was like stepping into some weird Hollywood vision of

sexy young geeks in great clothes, firing Nerf darts at each other and

disappearing into the overflowing kitchen for company-sponsored Shiatsu

massage from a geek therapist who logged in regularily to the company


They came from all walks of life. Joey DeVilla, the only production

grunt with a background in computer science, was seven years into a

four-year CS degree at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, was

DJing one night at a campus bar, and running a hunk of video wallpaper

that included screen captures from the Mackerel Stack, recently

downloaded from a BBS. One of the dancers caught him in the DJ booth

and mentioned that he knew the guys in Toronto who built the thing. The

next morning, Joey packed his things and hopped a train to Toronto, and

demanded that Ollie hire him.

6 replies on “Virtual Bubble Wrap [Updated]”

That’s just the saddest f*ckin story. But it sounds like the Mackerelites took a delivery from the Cluetrain earlier than some.

How old was the article? Zounds like pre Open Cola? Nu?

Mackerel closed its doors in the summer of 1997, and Cory conducted interviews of most of the staff shortly after that. The story was probably written up in Fall ’97 and would’ve run in late ’97 or early ’98. I believe Cory was paying the bills by doing Web design back then.

Hi, Gideon!

Mom says she always had “Joey” as a name for a son, but decided to work backwards from “Joey” to a “real” name. The Philippines’ 300-odd-year legacy of being a Spanish colony means that most names are Spanish, so Mom and Dad worked backwards from “Joey” to “Jose” (“Jose” being Spanish for “Joseph”).

The problem is that in any country colonized by Spain, a hundred people will turn around and say “Yes?” if you yell out “Hey, Jose!”

(“Hey, Juan!”, “Hey, Pedro!” or “Hey Maria!” are also good for that kind of reaction.)

My folks decided to give me a double name. Jose something. My birthday is November 5th, which happens to be the feast day of Saint Martin de Porres, patron saint of doctors, racial harmony and hairstylists.

Hence “Jose Martin”. It’s a double name, like “Billy Bob” or “Peggy Sue”.

Oddly enough, I have no middle name. I’ve unofficially adopted “Trouble” or “Adventure”.

Oh please please please put the flash version back online. It is easily the best virtual bubble wrap program of all time, and I’ve been wanting to play it for years, but always finding 404’s at the end of a long google search.

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