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About this blog

Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

 

Tempest MAME 2012 pt2

My Tempest MAME cabinet is coming along well. After some initial learning curve frustration, I now have 3D Arcade configured as a front end. It displays the games as 3D cabinets in a spinable cylinder. It still needs some tweaks and some additional setup, but it's now close enough to be usable. The main task is now going through all of the games and making sure they work and making any necessary configuration tweaks. In doing so, I've run into a problem...   MAME is, first and foremost, a

EricBall

EricBall

 

tired of waiting for Mac Mini

Back in late September when Apple announced the Haswell iMacs I thought it wouldn't be long before Apple would announce a Haswell update for the Mac Mini. But in spite of much forum speculation and rumor no update has occurred. I'm done waiting, so I will probably buy an iMac in the near future.   Which is funny, because when the Haswell iMacs were announced that was what I was going to do. But then a coworker pointed out the wisdom of keeping the screen & CPU separate (so the screen co

EricBall

EricBall

 

Cray-1

Even though I didn't get into computers until several years after the Cray-1 first came to market, it was still a legendary computer.   Just the look and shape of it was awe inspiring; looking like something from 2001: A Space Odyssey (or any other SF film). No simple box, but a C shaped tower with a "love seat". Then you learned that "love seat" was the refrigeration system - it was cooled with Freon - how cool was that? A computer that got so hot it needed a cooling system. (Which actual

EricBall

EricBall

 

worth the effort?

The head honcho of my department has decided he no longer wants to fund the public area meeting room he inheritted. In the room are a pair of 15 year old ceiling mounted Electrohome ECP-4101 front projection CRTs. There's a high probability that I could take them myself if I asked nicely. (Otherwise they will probably be scrapped.)   Now, in spite of their age, they probably have been used very little. So I doubt the 7" tubes have been used up. They were also high-end data projectors for

EricBall

EricBall

 

Apple TV 4 games - fail

Why do I say fail? Simple: no standardized controller except for the small touchpad on the remote. Why not announce a standard controller app (similar to the Remote app) or declare the PS3 or PS4 controller a de-facto standard Bluetooth controller? (Although then they'd need to provide a USB input for pairing.) This would then allow developers to port games much more easily. Heck, with a controller app Apple could provide a way for the Apple TV game to push the controller layout down to

EricBall

EricBall

 

I'm an iPod mechanic!

Last night I replaced the hard drive (which had died) & battery in my wife's iPod color. So now she's happy again. Plus I upgraded the drive from 20GB to 30GB and replaced the faceplate with a brand new glossy black one (from the U2 model).   The only difficulties were finding a Torx T6 screwdriver (well, not that hard, but I think only one multibit at Home Depot had it) and prying open the case. (It looked much easier in the how-to video.)   Oh, and I did manage to install Win2K onto

EricBall

EricBall

 

No Windows 10 for me

The Acer Aspire One netbook we bought after the fire has turned out to be a decent computer (especially with a RAM & SSD upgrade). It came loaded with Windows 7 Starter Edition and (bonus) MS Office Starter Edition. The free upgrade to Windows 10 sounded like a good idea. Not only would I get all of the ongoing security updates etc., but it wouldn't have the 2GB limit of Win7SE. Unfortunately, I just ran the Win10 upgrade check and learned the Intel GMA 3600 graphics adapter isn't supp

EricBall

EricBall

 

laser parking idea

Winter makes me glad to have a garage to park in. No scraping ice & snow in the morning. And I've learned to back in so I don't have to change direction if the laneway hasn't been plowed.   And there's the rub. In my old car, a Plymouth Acclaim, I could see the rear corners but I'm having a devil of a time with my new Corolla. Although I can use the side mirrors to make sure I don't scrape the sides, it takes me several tries to get squared up.   So I was wondering if I could rig som

EricBall

EricBall

 

flaws in Force Awakens (spoilers)

I saw SW VII last weekend so I could stop worrying about spoilers. While the Force Awakens is a great movie and a worthy and logical successor to Return of the Jedi, it is not without it's flaws. First is the Death Star Mark III, complete with last minute destruction (IV & VI) following an attack on the shield generator (VI), a short trench sequence (IV), and flying into the structure (VI). Even Han points this out when planning the attack; almost, but not quite, breaking the fourth wal

EricBall

EricBall

 

Acer Aspire One upgrade

After the fire we bought an Acer Aspire One (D270) netbook to use while our laptops were being cleaned. It's biggest problem isn't the 10" 1024x600 screen or the correspondingly small keyboard but the 1GB of RAM. The Intel Atom N2600 isn't a speed demon either, but it's surprisingly adequate for basic web surfing. But once that RAM fills up the system slows to a crawl. So I'm looking at upgrading the RAM and replacing the hard drive with an SSD.   Although officially the system will only s

EricBall

EricBall

 

2b2t Minecraft - starting a YouTube channel

I am going to start a YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxuqdYak8Q81EUkUeSDoUVg of my 2b2t experience. My plan is to kill myself so I start back at spawn, then work out from there. Hopefully passing along a few bits of wisdom for new players and a few laughs. I'm bringing home a headset from work tonight to see how that works out. QuickTime does a great job of recording the actual gameplay at 4K then converting it down to 720p for YouTube.

EricBall

EricBall

 

Minecraft PS3

Apparently the big game for early teens in Minecraft - at least according to my 13 year old son. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to partake in the game himself as we still haven't replaced the home computer (when will the Mac mini be upgraded to Haswell Apple, when?), nor can it be installed (even the "classic" version) on his Chromebook. But now the Xbox360 port has been ported to the PS3 - so I downloaded it as an early Christmas present.   We originally tried to play the demo (which se

EricBall

EricBall

 

PS3 as ATSC PVR?

Of course, now that I've ordered a new computer the "dead" one stops crashing and actually transcodes overnight. So now I have a spare computer to find a use for.   I have two SD TiVos - a dual tuner connected to the HDTV for analog and digital cable, and an old Sony S1 in the bedroom for analog cable. I also have an antenna connected to the HDTV for getting OTA (over the air) channels in HD. I'd love to add an HD TiVo but I can't quite justify it for recording network television; and I can

EricBall

EricBall

 

Next project

While working at IBM (1993-2008) I acquired several classic Model M keyboards. Unfortunately, they have PS/2 connectors which isn't supported even by many current desktops. I have bought one of the "blue cube" adapters so I can use one at work, but I'm thinking I'd rather "roll my own" - open up the keyboard and replace the 6805 based controller with something that will output USB.   This has been done before by others, so I'm not breaking new ground. I even have a keyboard which is missing

EricBall

EricBall

 

Tempest MAME - 2012

Due to my basement purge, my Tempest cabinet is getting an upgrade from a P3-450(?) to an Athlon XP 2000+ (1.2GHz).   The first step is to install Windows XP. Although this PC previously had XP installed, it's hard drive now contains Mythbuntu and is in a different PC. As I detailed in my previous entry, I spent several hours trying to get a 37GB drive to format before giving up and dropping in a 10GB drive (which I formatted FAT32). I managed to find the XP manual & key and the insta

EricBall

EricBall

 

Clash of Clans

My son managed to convince mom to install CoC on his iPhone. After watching a little bit, I put it on my HTC. It's pretty cool, although I wonder how Supercell is making any money given lack of IAP pressure and the TV advertising.   IAP - in app purchases, or the way "free-to-play" games make money. In the case of CoC, $$ buys you gems which can be used to: Instantly complete anything which would otherwise take time to complete. (More time requires more gems.) But if you're willing to w

EricBall

EricBall

 

more Apple ][ musings

My latest distraction is the Apple ][ disk. I'm sure some of you, like me, remember the golden age of copy protection & cracking which happened around the Apple ][. Much of that was because the A2 was largely software driven. (Another Woz brilliant lunancy cost-cutting effort like A2 graphics.)   Unfortunately, because the A2 was pre-Internet, there isn't a lot of surviving detailed documentation on the web. The one piece I'm missing is a detailed description of how the bits get writte

EricBall

EricBall

 

"free to play"

Although I don't program games for a living, I visit gamasutra.com daily. A common topic in many articles is "free-to-play", from philosophical treatises to in-depth tutorials on how to best convince players to pay-up. Personally I think "free to play" is killing the industry (Nintendo being the current whipping boy) because it disrupts the most direct feedback loop between the creators and the players.   You see, IMHO players should be paying for content, because this is what the programmer

EricBall

EricBall

 

PS3 OtherOS class action update

All files available from: http://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/candce/3:2010cv01811/226894/   Well Sony has fired back at the Amended Complaint with two barrels: a Motion to Strike and a Motion to Dismiss. I haven't gone too far into them, but Sony's first point is the five plaintiffs have different complaints and one didn't even install OtherOS! So Sony's point is if the the five plaintiffs are representative of the class, as a whole, then the court can't assume a class really exists

EricBall

EricBall

 

Apple TV 4 games?

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/01/report-apple-tv-successor-with-revamped-os-coming-in-first-half-of-2014/   Reading the article this morning I had the question - could an Kinect device make it possible to play touchscreen style games on your home TV?   The problem is the two aren't equivalent. A touchscreen gives visual position feedback and an actual touch input. While a Kinect is a "zero button mouse". The list of existing Kinect games doesn't include ports of most popular touchscre

EricBall

EricBall

 

Infinity Blade II

A few months ago a few iOS games were released for free on the AppStore, Infinity Blade II being one of them. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough space on my iPhone 4S at the time to complete the download. But I recently unchecked the 2012 C3 panel recordings (to add the 2013 Pinball Expo panel recordings) and freed up enough space to complete the install.   Ghods it's a pretty game.   It looks like a AAA PS3 game. The environment is lush and detailed and the characters are graphically an

EricBall

EricBall

 

Unity - handrolling meshes

The other day I decided I needed to set myself a goal to work on in Unity. A game project to help focus my self education.   What I settled on is a Battlezone style game. (Not a port - just the basic ideas.)   So one of the things I need is a tank to shoot at. Which means I need to create a model which Unity will then display. While I could download Blender (also free), that seems like overkill for something as simple as a Battlezone tank. What I wanted was something dead simple - an AS

EricBall

EricBall

 

Linksys WRT54G v4 firmware confusion

A while back the wall wart for my Netgear wifi router died. I borrowed the one for my external drive as a temporary replacement, but I wanted a more permanent solution. This weekend was the community garage sale and I scored a Linksys WRT54G v4 for $5. This is the router which started the open firmware revolution, but I'm not sure I want to join the revolution.   The problem is I'm more into stability and easy to use than features beyond what the stock firmware provides. Well, there are tw

EricBall

EricBall

 

Grand Theft Auto V

As has been splashed all over the news, GTA5 sold $800M in the first 24 hours, the most of any game and far more than any movie. I'm sure than most of the approximately 13 million copies were pre-orders, so it remains to be seen how many more sales will happen over the next month (or however long the advertising blitz continues). But in any case I'm sure Rockstar and Take-Two Interactive are celebrating.   What amazes me is with just the first day sales, GTA5 is already near the top of the b

EricBall

EricBall

 

Raspberry Pi

http://raspberrypi.org   The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized US$35 Single Board Computer with the following features: 700 MHz ARM11, 1080p OpenGL ES 2.0 GPU with hardware H2.64 decode, 256MB RAM, SDHC slot, HMDI out, 2.0 USB jacks & RJ45 Ethernet port.   From my perspective the biggest attractions are the low price and the HDMI output. I was seriously considering getting one and setting it up to play MAME, but now I have an even better idea: a DVD library.   I jumped on the DVD b

EricBall

EricBall

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