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About this blog

Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

 

Home firewall idea

One advantage of IPv4 NAT is it makes a pretty effective inbound firewall. Unless the communication starts from inside the firewall (or is explictly opened via configuration or UPnP) packets from the outside (Internet) are dropped. But it does nothing for outbound communications. So once something gets inside the firewall, it can open connections to the outside world or open ports via UPnP.   The idea I have is to make the outbound communication dependent on DNS. So connecting 74.50.103.22

EricBall

EricBall

 

Next XBox will install all games to hard drive

from http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/03/20/xbox-durango-requires-all-games-to-be-installed   "Every Durango console will have a hard drive, although its exact capacity has not been chosen," reads help documentation in the Durango XDK. "It will be large enough, however, to hold a large number of games. All games will be installed on the hard drive. Play from the optical disc will not be supported."   My question is why. I can't think of anything (anti-piracy or anti-resale) which would requ

EricBall

EricBall

 

pining for CableCard

It's too bad that CableCard never replaced set top boxes. I just hung a TV on the wall (32" which I can see while I do dishes) and now I need to figure out how to mount the cableco STB if I want to watch something more than basic cable.

EricBall

EricBall

 

Beyond HDTV monitors

With the house fire, I'm in the market for a new monitor - so I dropped in at my local Best Buy to get a feel for what is available. I felt like I was buying a Model T - I could have any size I wanted, as long as it was 1920x1080. I've since confirmed this via Newegg - there are a few 1920x1200 (all 24" 16:10 so I suspect they are the same panel) and a few 2560x1440 or x1600, but the majority are 1920x1080.   Now I understand the economics at work - HDTVs use the same panels and they don't n

EricBall

EricBall

 

Playstation 4 musings

So Sony has decided to partner with AMD to provide the processing power in the next Playstation console. They are sticking in a single chip eight x86-64 AMD "Jaguar" cores and a AMD next-generation Radeon™ based 1.84 TFLOPS graphics engine backed by 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. The single chip "APU" will likely also include a dedicated video encoding & decoding processors.   My first question is whether 8GB of RAM will be enough (although that's a leap from the 512MB of the PS3 & XBox360) - and

EricBall

EricBall

 

no Chromium for me

Although I bought my Acer netbook as a temporary stopgap I've really grown to enjoy it (especially with the RAM & SSD upgrades). Sure it's not as fast as a Core based desktop and the screen can be a little small, but it's dang portable and seems to run forever on a full charge. Surprisingly, it's the keyboard layout which trips me up more than the reduced size.   Anyway... I had the thought of giving Chromium OS a try. So I downloaded the current Hexxeh Vanilla build, borrowed my wife's

EricBall

EricBall

 

TVs & DVDs

Yesterday I bought an LG 55LM6400 (pick it up Tuesday) for C$1300. It's a 55" passive 3D HDTV. Again I declined the extended warranty - hopefully I won't have reason to second-guess that decision again. My buying decision started with passive 3D (which also implies LCD - but I would have gone with LCD over PWM flicker plasma anyway) as the glasses are cheaper, don't require batteries & give a more stable image to boot. Yes, there is some loss of vertical resolution, but I read some semi-

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

 

PS3 - Uncharted 3

The pack-in in my PS3 bundle was Uncharted 3, so I'm playing through it. (Probably much to my wife's annoyance as she would really rather I didn't play shooters.)   Playing through it is a good description as the game is linear. Sure, sometimes there are battle areas where you get a little more choice for directions to go, and there are short branches for "hidden treasure" (which doesn't seem to do anything from a gameplay perspective). But there's really no chance of getting truly lost - y

EricBall

EricBall

 

Wii U 4 me?

Back in August we had a house fire which destroyed much of the contents by heat & smoke, including my Wii & PS3. Insurance will replace both, but I'm debating whether I should replace the Wii with a Wii U or not.   Actually, the first question is whether to replace them at all. I mean, my free time is fairly limited, and we try to limit my son's game playing time. So why drop $$ on a console which doesn't get used?   The PS3 will get replaced because it's a decent Blu-Ray player (

EricBall

EricBall

 

Crypto, hashing & passwords

Many years ago when I was a university student, I worked at Bell Northern Research (the R&D division of Nortel, RIP). One of the projects I worked on was a device which sat between an endpoint and an X.25 network and encrypted the data portions of the packets. A similar device at the destination handled the decryption. Although I didn't get down & dirty with the crypto, I learned enough to have a passing understanding of the field - including the wisdom to never roll your own crypto;

EricBall

EricBall

 

personal cloud computing?

About three weeks ago our house caught fire. No-one was hurt (although the cat didn't make it) and the majority of the damage is smoke & heat related. (The fire appears to have started from some loose batteries - probably a shorted 9V.)   At this point I don't know if my desktop tower computer can be saved, but I'm mulling over options to replace it. As a temporary solution (while my wife's Macbook & my work laptop were out for cleaning) I bought a netbook (asus Aspire One) which do

EricBall

EricBall

 

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

 

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

 

Pack Rat Penance part 2

Yesterday I attacked the pile, or should I say mountain, of software I have managed to accumulate over the years. When you don't throw stuff out you never have to ask yourself, "why am I keeping this?" But now I am asking myself that question.   Of course, the first problem is anything written for Windows 3.1 is not going to run on Windows 7. Goodbye Gadget, at least you were better than The Journeyman Project and Quantum Gate. However, DOS programs will probably run in DOSBox (yea Doom!)

EricBall

EricBall

 

Pack Rat Penance

Like a lot of geeks, I have a collection of old and obsolete PCs in the basement. A few were my primary PCs, but many I rescued. And like any pack rat, I had plans for them - like being used in a MAME cabinet. Some of the plans have even panned out - like a MythTV backend or a TiVo guide server.   But the basement cleanup & purge brought to light the number of PCs which were lurking in the corner. The two 486s were declared surplus after removing the hard drives (for a final backup &am

EricBall

EricBall

 

Cray-1 fantasies

Something about the Cray-1 keeps dragging my attention back to it - mainly wondering whether it would be possible to create one using modern chips etc. Of course some one has already done it: http://chrisfenton.com/homebrew-cray-1a/ but that doesn't stop me from thinking about how I would do it.   From a hardware perspective, there's a certain elegance about the design methodology Seymour Cray used building all of the logic from a single chip which contained a 4 input AND and a 5 input AND wi

EricBall

EricBall

 

Adventures in Python

Earlier this year I managed to complain enough to my cableco about their move from analog to digital for SD stations (and the impact on my dual tuner TiVo) to get a free rental HD PVR. Last week I realized there's a whole whack of movies which get shown on the HD channels (i.e. my wife taped Inglorious Bastards, and I watched one of the Transformers movies), but there's no consolidated listing which would make it easy to find the ones which I might want to watch.   But then I got to thinking

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

 

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

 

illogical eBay economics

A few months ago my wife's Macbook stopped recognizing the MagSafe power cord. After some Google searches and a check by a repair shop we concluded it would require a motherboard replacement to correct. Since a replacement motherboard would cost $400+ and I'd already bought an Apple refurb replacement, I sold it "for parts" on eBay.   Based upon the items the buyer is selling on eBay, he will part it out - selling various components separately. Now, I could have done the same thing and mayb

EricBall

EricBall

 

Google Gadgets and Javascript

I have been making updates to my Panoramic Photo Gallery: https://sites.google.com/site/ericballpanorama/ both adding newly stitched panoramas and revising older ones adding metadata and a watermark. Now I've reworked my main page to list the panoramas by location rather than in a simple ToC. At the bottom I've linked one of the panoramas, but what I'd really like to do is make that a slide show or a random panorama. With a normal site this would all be done in Javascript, but as this is Goog

EricBall

EricBall

 

Horizon detection for creating panoramas

One big challenge creating panoramas (see my gallery at http://sites.google.com/site/ericballpanorama) is getting the horizon right. This is particularly true for panoramas looking out at the ocean which spans multiple photos. This is because you have to get 2 things absolutely correct: The horizon must be straight level. Even if the photos were taken with a tripod, it doesn't take much for the horizon to be at a slight angle. Additionally, if the photo was taken looking slightly up or dow

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

 

I want to program dead consoles

In addition to the 2600 & 7800, I have the desire to program the Vectrex. I grew up in the golden age of video games and vector games were part of the magic. The Vectrex also uses a 6809 - the processor I first programming in ASM.   In brief, the way the Vectrex draws vectors is: 1. Set the Y velocity 2. Set the X velocity 3. Turn on the beam 4. Turn on the integrators which change the X/Y velocity into X/Y position 5. Wait for timer to expire 6. Turn the integrators & beam off

EricBall

EricBall

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