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About this blog

Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

 

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

 

iOS programming - major milestone reached

My iOS game has reached a major milestone - I've linked the level creator to the play level so it's now possible to create a level and play it. In theory a lot of the remaining coding should be relatively standard and therefore easier. Hopefully I can get my son and a few other friends / coworkers to use it to start creating levels First I need to update it to Swift 2.3 so I can load it onto iOS 10 devices. (This is one part of the process I dislike, there's a lot of forced obsolescence in

EricBall

EricBall

 

Subversion

For my iOS programming project I been using sneakernet to try to keep the iMac and MacBook project directories synchronized with limited success. While XCode has support for Git and Subversion (and will create an local Git repository for tracking local changes), the instructions on how to do the initial setup. The Apple documentation starts with "Check Out the project from your repository" and is mum on how to import an existing project into a repository. Well, with some help from http://sta

EricBall

EricBall

 

channels watched versus available

A Neilsen report (picked up by USA Today, then by Slashdot) says, on average, people only watch 20 channels of the 200 they are subscribed to. Is this news to anyone with a normal cable or satellite package? It's called bundling. In order to get those 20 channels, they have to subscribe to the 200 channel bundle.** In my case, my bundle includes over 100 English language HD channels. (Included in that count are some semi-duplicate channels, like "regional" versions of the two major sports

EricBall

EricBall

 

iOS programming - battling with UICollectionView

In my game I want a level builder. Users will be able to create their own levels and send them to me for inclusion in a future release. The UI is fairly simple - a level grid in the top of the screen and the level tiles in the bottom of the screen. Select a tile then where you want it in the grid. The tiles are in a scrolling view like a photo gallery. The iOS UIKit SDk even provides an out-of-the box solution - the UICollectionView (+UICollectionViewFlowLayout). It's suppose to be easy; n

EricBall

EricBall

 

Swift 3 catch 22

Last night I told myself to stop playing Minecraft and get back to work on my iOS game. At least start to put together the level editor. Once I have something partially working I'm much more likely to spend time working on it. But XCode had other ideas as it had updated. So when I opened the project, it asked me (twice) whether I wanted to convert it to the current version of Swift. I said no, but then it said it wouldn't be able to compile it. That wasn't a good option either. So I made

EricBall

EricBall

 

Home WiFi sniffing

Over the years my home internet access (though my cableco) has steadily improved. However, it's always had a usage cap. Not a hard cap where it stops working, or even a soft cap where the bandwidth gets downgraded. Nope, instead I get a usage charge if I exceed it - which I've done occasionally. The "fix" is to increase my service. However, I've also configured my Netgear router to kick out a warning page when I've exceeded 100GB to give me some warning (the cableco will as well, but their

EricBall

EricBall

 

programming iOS using SpriteKit chapter 3

The game part of my iOS app is 90% done. (Which all programmers know means there's still 90% left to do.) But the big challenges have been conquered - the touch & tilt controls and physics works. There's still some to-dos to load a level, do a reset, handle pause etc. but they will wait until I get the level builder working. However, before I did that I wanted to take a look at performance. One of the cool things with iOS development is you can easily test out the app on an actual dev

EricBall

EricBall

 

death of the 3.5mm 15mm TRRS socket?

Reading https://www.buzzfeed.com/johnpaczkowski/inside-iphone-7-why-apple-killed-the-headphone-jackgave me an idea. What if you combined the Apple W1 wireless chip with something like a Chu Moy pocket amplifier. So you plug your $tupidly expen$ive headphones into the pocket amp which is wirelessly connected to your phone. On the actual removal of the headphone jack, I think Apple is ahead of the curve. Bluetooth based headphones are becoming more common and there are definite advantages to

EricBall

EricBall

 

Mucking around with fragment / pixel shaders

In my game there's a ball which rolls around the playfield. While SpriteKit is very cool with baked in physics and lighting, it's a 2D engine. So although it will rotate the 2D texture of the ball around the Z axis, that doesn't really convey the look of the ball rolling forward. My original idea was to go with a flat shaded sphere and let the normal map lighting give the ball a more 3D look. Unfortunately the result was less than satisfying. But then I had an idea. What if the ball was

EricBall

EricBall

 

Mucking around with iOS SpriteKit

I have this idea for a game, which I'm trying to program for iOS (using Swift). As this is a considerable step beyond my typical C & ASM skill set, it's been slow going. Swift itself is a post C object oriented / procedural language so isn't that difficult to understand, and I can certainly appreciate _not_ having to learn Objective C. No, the problem is the frameworks. Swift on it's own can do very little. It needs libraries like UIKit and SpriteKit. So unlike C where you can do a lo

EricBall

EricBall

 

Laser Vector Display

Earlier this month the family and I spent a week camping at (nee Six Flags) Darien Lake - riding roller coasters & other rides plus roasting marshmallows & drinking beer. Every night DL has a laser & fireworks show set to music. (Unfortunately the same one every night.) The laser show part of the show in particular was particularly impressive and would have made Pink Floyd (from 40 years ago) green with envy - complex animated scenes in full color. (Probably restricted more by th

EricBall

EricBall

 

Apple ][ copy protection

For those interested in Apple ][ copy protection (and cracking of it) I have found two troves of information. First is the 4am Apple ][ Library at https://archive.org/details/apple_ii_library_4am Attached to each archive is a text file where 4am describes his cracking process. In most cases he simply follows the boot process, analyzes the often obfuscated code to figure out how to capture the next step in the process, then determines the minimum change required to allow the disk to be easily

EricBall

EricBall

 

4K why?

The other day I was browsing a warehouse sale which had a few 4K TVs (but no 3D, which I found interesting), and it got me to thinking about them. Not because I want one, but strictly on a why? basis. The local cable company is hyping their 4K TV offering, starting with local baseball and hockey games. But when I'm watching my 55" HDTV, I'm not thinking "boy, I'd pay big bucks to have more picture detail". Maybe if my TV filled the entire wall so HDTV looked like 320x200 VGA on a 21" mon

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

 

Pi Zero lust

I'm temped to try to do something like https://shkspr.mobi/blog/2015/11/raspberry-pi-zero-hidden-in-an-xbox-controller/ The one tweak I would make is to solder the micro USB cable to the controller rather than splicing wires. But then I have to remind myself of the number of other projects I have in progress, the number of game systems I already have (not to mention a very nice 27" iMac which can also handle emulators), and that I'm mostly playing Minecraft anyway!

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

 

2b2t Minecraft - Darwin Award

My second base was semi successful. While the mine bottomed out into lava, it still yielded a few diamonds and other ores; but no emeralds (not that I've seen a village, where emeralds are used for trading). I also found an abandoned mine shaft, complete with a cave spider spawner. Unfortunately, it's difficult to create a automated grinder for cave spiders. I constructed a Nether portal, but discovered it linked to an existing portal so I didn't return to my base. I now better understand

EricBall

EricBall

 

2b2t Minecraft continued

My first plan on my journey away from my book making base was to set up a fresh spawn point. So I column jumped up to cloud level and created a 7x7 small platform on which I put small pond, melons, wood blocks and my bed (which I slept in to reset my spawn point). The idea was if I died I would at least have enough food and wood to make a fresh start, and I could get down from the clouds by turning the pond into a waterfall. One item of interest I found on my journey was an Ocean Monument, c

EricBall

EricBall

 

more 2b2t Minecraft

I ended up playing a lot of Minecraft on 2b2t over the long weekend. Once you get away from the chaos of the spawn area (and turn off the chat) the server becomes remarkably peaceful. Maybe I'm just travelling a different direction than most, but I've seen very few large builds; although there is still occasional evidence I'm not the first player to pass this way. Although while wandering though the wilderness may be far better than fending off other players, I decided I wanted to settle do

EricBall

EricBall

 

2b2t - ultimate public SMP Minecraft

I finally took the plunge and bought Minecraft for the PC (after playing many hours on the PS3). An article about 2B2T, an "anarchy" server with a world which is now five years old, intrigued me. The world is littered with stuff players have built up and others have torn down. The central spawn point is a wasteland of blocks floating far over bedrock. Simply not dying of falling or starvation when you start is difficult. And yet, in spite of it's reputation as a lawless environment, it's s

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

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