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Geeky things I'm up to

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Stupid Propeller Tricks

The Propeller has two "native" languages. Like any microprocessor, Propeller Assembly (or PASM) is the human version of the machine code executed by each processor. But like 8-bit computers of old the Propeller has an onboard interpreter. However instead of being a version of Microsoft BASIC, this interpreter is for a new high level language called SPIN. The SPIN interpreter itself is written in PASM, but the initial code for any Propeller program is in SPIN (which can then start additional

EricBall

EricBall

 

status updates

Made some minor revisions to my tracker code and posted it to [stella]; no feedback yet (whine). One thing I'm not happy with is the byte to note ratio being 2+. This chews up ROM space much faster than I imagined. Certainly with a lot of repeated sequences, the total bytes per song will come down, but even my demo takes 168 bytes. Which kinda puts my idea of dedicating a page of ROM in Leprechaun for music to be woefully inadequate. I could probably come up with a data format which would lo

Guest

Guest

 

stationary sprites, scrolling background

I've merged in the initialization and display list builder code from 4K SpaceWar! 7800 and made the necessary tweaks to handle the moving zones. Fun! My main problem with this code was I kept running out of ZP RAM, which would push a (ZP),Y pointer variable to $FF, which doesn't work at all.   I first ran into the problem when I put in the initialization code and tweaked the display list initialization (so the constant parts of the tile headers only get written once). Kaboom! So I dragge

EricBall

EricBall

 

StarCraft 2 demo

I've just played through the StarCraft2 demo for the n'th time. Part of me wants to like it, but I can't get past the basic nature of RTS - having micromanage everything in real time.   I have to say I never played the original StarCraft. The closest RTS I've ever played was Pikmin. But the resource management on that one is pretty minimal and there's no need to protect your base.   Anyway, although I like the single player storyline, I'm just having problems trying to optimally use my ba

EricBall

EricBall

 

Star Wars - The Force Unleashed

In summary, the demo is better than the game.   Many moons ago I downloaded the free demo for my PS3. I played through that demo numerous times, searching for secrets, discovering combos, and finding new ways to wipe out hapless stormtroopers and rebel scum in efforts to achieve the frenzy bonus. So when I saw a kid selling it at a garage sale, I scooped it up (along with Prince of Persia). Now that I'm playing the actual game, I'm pining for the demo.   The one thing which is keeping me

EricBall

EricBall

 

some success

I found a couple of bugs in my code (using MOV instead of MOVS and wiping out the pixel counter), and I've determined my 240 pixels will probably stretch into the overscan. But even with those bugs fixed I still didn't get anything more than a B&W picture. Hrmm... But, curiously, my video capture card picks up colors although it's not stable.   Found a typo / miscalculation in the number of pixel clocks for the blanking. Getting closer, but still not 100% stable.

EricBall

EricBall

 

Software licenses?

On the Prop front, I now have 2 to 5 COGs happily working together, alternating lines to produce a stable static screen. This is very, very cool (for me).   Next steps: 1. (Easy) fold the blank line code into the active line code. Every bit is sacred! 2. Put back in the sprite -> lineRAM code. 3. Create a demo to show it all off.   And... that'll be about it, just ready for release. Which brings me to my topic question - Software licenses.   What I want to do is release the code

EricBall

EricBall

 

Slippery slope

My son recently bought himself Pokemon Platinum so I retired the SNES & Gameboys which were only used to play Pokemon Blue. But those weren't the only SNES & Gameboy games we had. So I downloaded the entire GoodSNES collection via BitTorrent (dang that was easy, although I don't see the need for all of the bad dumps, hacks etc.) and put an SNES emulator on the Wii along with the ROMs for just the SNES titles I owned. I'll probably do the same for the Gameboy titles. And I'd like to g

EricBall

EricBall

 

slinking down the path to the dark side

The other day my wife casually said "my DS". Now, I have to admit that we may have discussed that my son's Nintendo DS was hers since he now has a 3DS, but I hadn't really considered it. The problem is my wife's interest in games doesn't match mine or my son's. And although she has more free time to play, her interest in a particular game can disappear quite quickly. In other words, she's the typical Facebook gamer.   So how to possibly satisfy her needs? Hmm.... I've always wanted a flas

EricBall

EricBall

 

Skyward Sword

For Christmas I got Skyward Sword. Unfortunately, my wife didn't get my email about the game+controller bundle, so I had to pick up a Motion Pus controller before I could play it.   I've played about 4 hours so far, so consider this a very early review.   I will say there's been an awful lot of dialog in the game so far, on top of the intro backstory movie. I just hope they do something with Groose, or that was a whole whack of dialog which wasn't that necessary.   The game - it's Zelda

EricBall

EricBall

 

Skyland - watch it!

I shoulda posted here earlier (since the first episode was shown this past weekend) but it's never too late to get started.   Anyway, if anyone is into anime / cartoons / animation then you really should watch Skyland (Weekends @ 7:30 on Teletoon in Canada, also on one of the Nick stations, and probably also some over in Europe). The quality of the animation (particularly the backgrounds) is equivalent to the big screen anime of Studio Ghibli (Howls Moving Castle; Spirited Away) or Akira. No

EricBall

EricBall

 

side scrolling star field

That was both easier & harder than I expected. The hard part was the usual lack of debugging tools on the 7800. The easy was more a reflection of how my 6502 coding skills have improved over time.   Next challenge is to put in the Y & SINE routines. I also need to do some cycle counting and figure out how much CPU time the background starfield will eat. I'd really like to be able to recalculate everything every frame, but I have a sneaking suspicion I might need to interleave backg

EricBall

EricBall

 

sensible guide to safe computing?

One of the things I did while visiting my in-laws was to do some cleanup of their computer. In spite of having the McAfee suite, they'd managed to pick up a bunch of malware. I suspect it started with some kind of "free" download which installed a toolbar or taskbar tool, which then installed something else . . . and next thing you know they're getting random pop-ups and error messages.   Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone has ever found a sensible guide to safe computing? Not just "install an

EricBall

EricBall

 

self-modifying code HELP!

My Propeller video driver is almost done, but I've run into a snag. The following is a snippet from the pixel byte to long lookup routine.   SHR sprgfx1, #8 ' shift byte into position MOV sprbyte, sprgfx1 AND sprbyte, #$0FF wz MOVS :byte6, sprbyte ' update source pointer MOVD :byte6, sprdata ' update destination pointer ADD sprdata, #1 :byte6 IF_NZ MOV sprdata, sprbyte ' copy color lookup table entry to lineRAM SHR sprgfx1, #8 wz MOVS :byte7,

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

 

Scribblenauts

Last friday was my son's 9th birthday, so I got him Scribblenauts for the DS. After playing through the first world (11 "puzzle" levels and 11 "action" levels), I have to say I'm fairly impressed. The game manages to squeeze a mind boggling number of items onto the cartridge. And there's another nine worlds to be played through (each with 11 puzzle & 11 action levels). I also like how it makes you think - and the spelling is a good "edutainment" angle.And yet, I have a few complaints:

EricBall

EricBall

 

saving for Wii

Monday my wife declared my son's piggybank to be finally full and started sorting and rolling. In all, it was over 40lbs and C$800 (those $1 & $2 coins add up quick) which will be added to his university account. But there was also over C$200 in paper money, which he has earmarked for buying a Wii. Unfortunately, the cost of the system plus one game (and tax) will cost C$400. So I guess he still has some saving to do. (Which he will probably accomplish in a year or so as he rarely spend

EricBall

EricBall

 

Road Not Taken

A couple of years ago my wife and I played an MMO called Glitch. IMHO Glitch was doomed from the start because it only charged real money for vanity items and it wasn't social enough or fun enough to play indefinitely. However, the stylized artwork was was very well done and one of the more enjoyable parts of the game.   When I first saw screenshots of "Road Not Taken" on gamasutra, I was struck by how much the characters reminded me of Glitch. Not surprising since the same artist, Brent Ko

EricBall

EricBall

 

restoring dusty backups

This past weekend I reinstalled my primary PC from scratch - both to clean up the cruft and dump the Win98 partitition that I never used. Of course one of the first orders of business was to make a complete backup to my external 320GB hard drive. (Highly recommended - big drives are relatively cheap and easy to use in an external USB case. And, if you don't leave it except when you're using it, it should last for years.)   But while I was at it, I decided to chuck some of the old CD & D

EricBall

EricBall

 

re-learning past mistakes

Experience is what tells us that we've f*cked up ... again!   It was a case of one thing leading to another.... Adding the scoring routine (which still isn't complete) meant I needed to rework the banking and layout to free up some more usable space. Which lead to a minor kernel rewrite, then some tweaks to the movement logic, and a complete rewrite of the movement routine to use fractional positioning with difficulty levels, and a cleanup of the initialization routine.   Too many changes a

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

 

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

 

PS3, Xbox 360 HD-DVD, Wii

Okay, Sony has announced that the Blu-Ray based PS3 will be available November 11th for US$600 for the full featured model and US$500 for one with a 20GB hard drive (instead of 60GB), no WiFi, and no HDMI outputs. No HDMI means no HDCP, which means downsampled outputs for movies that have that setting enabled. But is this as big a deal as the value Xbox 360 lacking a hard drive? It is if A: you think that Blu-Ray will make HD-DVD a technological footnote and B: you have (or plan to buy) an HD

EricBall

EricBall

 

PS3 review - Blur

So after performing some housekeeping on my PS3 (didja know that you can assign downloaded games an "Album", and then select "Group by Album" - so now my purchased games are in a separate folder) I downloaded the multiplayer demo of Blur.   First, big kudos to Activision for releasing a multiplayer demo which actually allows you to play as if you bought the game (up to level 10 at least). That's right - no timing out on the last lap or limited play time. You can really get a good feel for wh

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

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