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About this blog

Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

 

making an app

YouTuber Tom Scott has just released a 16 episode series on making an app.  (YouTube link behind the Spoiler.)   I haven't watched the series (although I will), but IMHO the first question you need to ask yourself is what it's going to cost on an ongoing basis and how you plan on paying for it.   For Slide Tilt Roll, the only ongoing costs were my Apple Developer ID* and a small website & domain name**, but something like Tom's failed messaging app is going to require s

EricBall

EricBall

 

Why CS:GO Danger Zone is better than PUBG

Valve decided to make CS:GO free to play and at the same time add a battle royale mode "Danger Zone". This is great for me as I was looking for a way to scratch my PUBG itch on my 27" iMac rather than playing PUBG on phones. But IMHO Danger Zone is better than PUBG because it is only 16 players on a correspondingly smaller map. This leads to quicker, more intense gameplay and shorter games. With PUBG, I typically spent the first third of the match (10-15 minutes) looting up, the second thi

EricBall

EricBall

 

Fortnite keyboard trainer

One of the big challenges in getting good at Fortnite is getting good at building. While many hours of playing Wolf3D, DOOM, Descent etc have drilled the standard WASD key mapping into instinct, but I find I'm fumbling when I want to build. I realized I needed something akin to typing drills, so I coded something up in Javascript: <html><head> <title>Fortnite keyboard trainer</title> <script language="Javascript"> var h1txt = ""; var h2txt = ""; var id

EricBall

EricBall

 

Fortnite versus PUBG

I've been feeling minor PUBG withdrawal since my son took his Samsung tablet to college as I'm unwilling to spend the $$ to buy my own tablet for a "free to play" game. Last night i broke down and installed Fortnite on my 27" iMac. I've played about a dozen games so far and noted the following differences: The big one is the whole building mechanic. It's hard! I'm not sure I have the free time to be more than a noob. I'm certainly not expecting to win any time soon. Unlike PUBG, it look

EricBall

EricBall

 

OSMC on RPi0w

I have an external drive (5TB in your pocket for US$120 - the mind boggles) to which I've ripped DVDs, including Game of Thrones. Now that my son is off to college, it might be easier for my wife and I to find the time to watch them. They play back fine on my wife's MacBook - but its USB ports died so we have to use a DisplayPort adapter, which then precludes connecting it to the big screen TV. However, the new router has a USB port and can share the drive over the network. However, it's st

EricBall

EricBall

 

Dream computer - OpEd

Via one of the guy's YouTube videos, I happened across http://www.the8bitguy.com/2576/what-is-my-dream-computer/ Now, not to rain on anyone's parade - but retro dream computers are just that, dreams. I've been playing with computers since the Apple ][+ days - so I've got plenty of nostalgia for retro computers. But guess what, when my parents gave me a TRS-80 Color Computer as a gift a few years ago, I wondered why they bothered. Sure, it's the computer I had in my teens and I've got a lo

EricBall

EricBall

 

my (100% free) iOS game is on the App Store!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/slide-tilt-roll/id1366633420?mt=8 I took a day off so I could finally put on my "round-tuit" and get my iOS game into the App Store. 100% free to play. No in-app purchases. No subscriptions. No advertising. WiFi not required. 30 levels to complete (so far) Built-in level creator with the option to submit levels for inclusion in future updates. Requres iOS 9 or better, compatible with all devices

EricBall

EricBall

 

PUBG Mobile

So last night I played my first game of PUBG Mobile - and survived long enough to reach #34 and made 3 kills. (And I probably would have done better if the game hadn't glitched and not auto-reloaded my AR.) I'm old enough to have played Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM; but not Quake because I'd stepped off the upgrade treadmill. Multiplayer shooters also didn't interest me as I didn't have the time to sink into playing the games to get good enough not to be cannon fodder. So why am I playing PUBG M

EricBall

EricBall

 

N64 versus PS1

This past Christmas I bought an N64 for my son (and me) to enjoy my collection of games. (Although the problem turned out to be dirty cartridges rather than a dead N64.) He's been having a blast playing Super Mario 64 and the Mario Party games. This nostalgia rekindled my interest in what is under the hood of both it and the original PlayStation. It turns out there's a lot of similarities between the two, more than I would have expected. Both used a MIPS CPU (PSX: 32bit R3051 @ 33.8688 MH

EricBall

EricBall

 

iOS game nearing completion!

(See previous entries for more info on the game.) It's surprising what a little motivation and enthusiasm can accomplish. One big help was I reached out to YouTuber Torogadude and asked if I could use his compositions as background music and he agreed. Bonus! I've also added sound effects and knocked a lot of other items off my to-do list, which leaves really only three big ones: Revise the embedded HTML "About" pages and try to fix the back navigation so it goes to the previous page rat

EricBall

EricBall

 

Back working on my iOS game

I'm back to working on my iOS game "Slide Tilt Roll" in preparation to using it for a presentation to some computer students at my son's high school.   I updated the MacBook to High Sierra, updated to XCode 9, installed XCode 8 to upgrade the code base from Swift 2.2 to Swift 3.0, then used XCode 9 to bring it up to Swift 4.0. That worked for 90% of the code, then I needed to go through and manually fix a few errors and warnings (mostly confined to sqlite and CGPath functions).   I've als

EricBall

EricBall

 

DIY microconsole part 2

I now have MAME (2003 - 0.78) up and running, woot! I've loaded up "the best of" from pre-1986, now I need to figure out how to set the controls beyond the defaults. This also means I can play the originals rather than the console ports. I'm also working on getting Colecovision running. I've created a script which creates a playlist from a directory of zip'd ROMs, as Lakka doesn't seem to auto recognize them. Unfortunately, the CV emulator is also the MSX emulator, so I need to figure out

EricBall

EricBall

 

DIY microconsole

Ingredients: Bought: Raspberry Pi Zero W, Pro: cheap at C$13.50 (+tax & shipping, case C$6), tiny (65mmx30mm), low power (powered via USB on TV), WiFi & Bluetooth (for controllers). Con: can only handle 8 bit & 16 bit gen consoles, miniature connectors require special cables (C$6) On-Hand: 4GB micro-SD card, HDMI cable (dollar store), micro USB cable (for power), PS3 controller For initial set up: PC (downloads etc), USB keyboard (to set WiFi passphrase), mini USB cable (for PS3 co

EricBall

EricBall

 

Sega Forever suffers from poor emulation

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/06/sega-forever-emulation-performance-problems/ For some reason I've never gotten into Sega's consoles. Sure I've played Sonic, but that's about it. However, when I heard about Sega Forever, I thought I might give it a try - watch a few ads, play a few games. But now I probably won't bother. The question for me is why Sega would release anything less than perfect. I have to conclude the decision makers at Sega don't care about their games, only about m

EricBall

EricBall

 

wav2tia redux

So, can the TIA generate speech just using normal AUDC waveforms (versus AUDF based PCM)? The initial results say no. Although you can hear some of the inflection. In the attachment is are two WAV files (one with just a simulated TIA output and one with a the input and output in stereo) along the code & executable I used. The code generates two frames worth of audio of each TIA AUDC+AUDF waveform (except AUDC 3 where the waveform is dependent on the initial state of the LFSRs). It th

EricBall

EricBall

 

TIA Audio Noise Generator redux

In the comments for http://atariage.com/forums/blog/148/entry-13844-blast-off/there was some discussion on whether the TIA could be used to generate speech. Previously I'd done some programming which tried to brute-force fit the TIA waveforms to music. The results were less than impressive, but speech might be simple enough to achieve better results. The waveforms were based on what I'd learned about the TIA Audio Noise Generator circuit, and documented in several blog posts (sorry about th

EricBall

EricBall

 

Tempest 2017 - value of an unfinished project

As my wife often reminds me, I have a habit of not finishing projects once I've started them. (Usually while pointing at one of them.) I have to say that I've gotten better at managing this habit (although not necessarily at finishing projects). I try not to start projects, or at least start spending money instead of just time, unless I have a relatively clear understanding of what it's going to take to finish the project (and why I'm bothering). But i still have quite a few projects hanging

EricBall

EricBall

 

3D TV is dead

https://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/17/01/19/2218238/3d-tv-is-dead I don't dispute that 3D TV never took off, what I find interesting is the TV manufacturers decided to drop a feature - no matter how unused. What's interesting is 3D is still popular enough to make 3D films. (Although my preference is for 2D editions I saw Rogue One in 3D because there wasn't a non-3D showing on a big screen.) Personally my 55" LG TV is passive 3D capable - so the glasses don't require batteries. I

EricBall

EricBall

 

Nintendo Switch musings

Poor Nintendo, their idea for a home video game console which can also be used as a portable video game console became a portable console with removable controllers which can be plugged into the TV. From my perspective, Nintendo has two overwhelming challenges when creating a new console: 1. Not understanding their historical successes. 2. Competition First, I don't think anyone at Nintendo understands the reason the Wii succeeded was because it was often purchased as a fitness accessory. P

EricBall

EricBall

 

this ain't my first rodeo

The lack of interest in creating levels for Slide Tilt Roll has put a serious black cloud over my plans to release it. Seeking some inspiration, I started watching the But after watching the first two I started to think - what was my first game? Yes, I created Skeleton / Skeleton+, but I'm talking about before that - 'way before that. I know I did a few games for the Color Computer back in the 80s - I distinctly remember a simple racing game. (Probably done in Basic - it used text mode

EricBall

EricBall

 

Wanted - level creators for my iOS game

The level creator for my iOS game "Slide Tilt Roll" is working. But before I put the game on the App Store, I need some levels. Which means I need people to create levels.   Interested? You need an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 9 or later (configured to send email) and a willingness to create levels gratis for my 100% free application.   In order to install my app I need the UDID for your device. This can be obtained from iTunes by clicking on the Serial Number on the device S

EricBall

EricBall

 

iOS programming - end of line confusion

One of the features of my iOS game is a level editor, so users can create their own levels. The plan is for users to create levels then submit them to me (via email). I will then take those levels and add them to the application bundle and update the app so everyone gets to play them. The hard part turned out to be easy and the easy part turned out to be hard. Creating the email itself was easy - only a few lines of code. I could even easily create attachments, including the PNG of the lev

EricBall

EricBall

 

iOS programming - a non-programming roadblock

So my iOS game is coming along smartly. User created levels are now stored in an SQLite database on the device, which can then be selected from a list (complete with icon showing the level). It's actually getting to the point where I might want to make it available as an ad-hoc download. For testing, Apple provides three methods to get your code onto someone's device: 1. Connect the device to your development environment and deploy directly. This is what I've been doing so far. The good

EricBall

EricBall

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