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About this blog

Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

 

Piracy is too damn easy

This weekend the family and I got together with the in-laws for a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. We arrived early and ended up spending the time watching "How to Train Your Dragon". About halfway through, their son comments, "pretty good quality for a download." I'd figured we were watching a DVD instead of a Blu-Ray, even though they had a PS3. But then I realized he wasn't saying this was streaming from Netflix, but it was pirated (via LimeWire, which he was using to download Gladiator).  

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

 

Pinhole Panorama camera idea

Roughly based on: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2010/03/weekend-project-pinhole-panoramic-c.html   The design point is to make a 120 roll film cyclindrical panorama camera. My original idea was to make one with a 90 degree vertical field of view & 135 degree horizontal FoV, with the idea that a full 360 degrees would be covered in 3 shots. But then I got to thinking about adding a zenith shot (which would be easy if the depth of the camera was half the height), so up'd it to 105 degre

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

 

Phase 1 completed!

Found the typo/bug. Again, I was using MOV instead of MOVS and setting the PixelClocks to 0 (which means 256 clocks per pixel) when it should have been 1. So now I have beautiful color bars.   Next steps: Put back in my rainbow display & check the colors are right (i.e. phase order correct) Variablize parameters Multiple cog action!

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

 

Panoramic photos & horizon detection

One side effect of buying a new camera (Panasonic FZ40 to replace a Canon S3) is I've rekindled my interest in panoramic photos. Using Hugin (free software) a series of overlapping photos can be assembled into one giant image. Doing this requires identifying "control points" which either link to photos together (i.e. this white dot on photo 1 is the same as this white dot on photo 2) or identify horizontal, vertical or straight lines. With enough control points, the software can determine the

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

 

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

 

One bug fixed, one needs some thought

Thanks to vdub_bobby, I'm making progress.   Okay, I've fixed the problem with the leprechauns getting stuck. (I had a BPL in the en_stop routine where I shoulda had a BMI. So hunt mode wasn't working right. There may have also been an error in the "rotate joystick" lookup tables.) I'll update the Leprechaun Level Editor shortly (check the date).   The problem with the ladders is a little trickier. It has more to do with the lookahead routines and that I'm using the same one for both th

EricBall

EricBall

 

NTSC240H driver complete, now with video

Last night I posted my sprite video driver to the Prop forum, complete with demo (a bouncing beanie which explodes into individual sprites). Screen capture in MPEG2 of first 20 seconds: ntsc240h.zip   So far, I've had two comments - one attaboy & one not-very-useful. (The latter obviously can't see the videogame potential.) But like the circus bugs in "A Bug's Life" I crave applause. I want that feedback!   Sigh... other Prop projects I'm considering: PWM based waveform generator

EricBall

EricBall

 

Now with sprites!

Thanks to Ben Langberg, Leprechaun now has sprites.Thanks to Manuel & Thomas, I've managed to trim 13 whole lines of CPU time off the blit routine. I still need to work on their suggestion of changing the playfield to reflected. That will take some more effort. I also have plans to squeeze in REFP0/1 logic, which will reduce the ROM space needed to store the sprites (since right now I have to store both right & left versions).Other major to-dos (not necessarily in this order):1. Add t

Guest

Guest

 

nope, no round tuit here

Well, I haven't touched Leprechaun in over a month. I thought I might find the time over the holidays, but the drive simply wasn't there. Sigh   Big news on the home front is my mother in law is in town 'cause my wife had jaw surgery to fix her overbite. She's not wired shut, but she is swollen and on a liquid diet. I don't think either of us were prepared for the full impact. Ah, well; it's a temporary thing.   My son is having fun playing New Super Mario Bros on his DS, although I thi

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

 

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

 

Nintendo Wii ? maybe not

I've been reading & listening to Ben Heckendorn's (of VSCp fame) disenting opinions of the Wii, and I think he has some good points on why it may be doomed to failure. It comes down to two major design decisions: #1 no HDTV support & #2 unique controller which lead to three reasons why the Wii is doomed.   Currently I don't have an HDTV, nor any plans on buying one in the near future; and I suspect the same could be said for the majority of people. (Although with prices of HDTVs fall

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

 

Nintendo DS for Christmas

My six year-old son's Christmas wishlist has GameBoy on it. After some thought I realized we have enough ways to play video games around the house that adding another won't be encouraging him to play more. Plus the battery connector on the portable DVD player died (really bad design IMHO - two very small spring steel "fingers" just waiting to get bent out of shape) and we have a 5+ hour plane flight coming up.   Although the DS doesn't have GB/GBC compatibility, it's the current platform so

EricBall

EricBall

 

Nintendo DS - first impressions

My son got a DS lite as an early Christmas present (to play with on the plane). We also gave him "Super Mario 64 DS" and "New Super Mario Bros.", along with the GBA version of Activision Anthology which I happen to have...   I have to say I'm amazed that the DS is able to do justice to SM64 from a graphics perspective. It really says what kind of 3D power it has under the hood. NSMB also has 3D graphics, but more in the Donkey Kong Country style - but rendered in real time instead of pre-re

EricBall

EricBall

 

Nintendo 2DS announced

http://www.nintendo.com/3ds/new/   I guess Nintendo realized that most people play 3DS games with the 3D turned off, so they could sell a cheaper system without the 3D screen.   My son has a 3DS XL (currently playing through Mario & Luigi: Dream Team) and I admit we generally play with the 3D off. I'll turn it on and IMHO it does add to the games. But in most cases the "wow" doesn't offset the annoyance of having to keep everything steady and I'll turn it off again. However, I wonder

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

 

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

 

next gen copy protection

Since the PS3's security structure has fallen, I'm left to wonder whether it's even possible to create a secure console. Secure in the sense that it prevents piracy. And if I was Sony/Nintendo/Microsoft I'd be talking to fail0verflow to contract them to help design it.   Copy protection basically comes down to making something which can be read (by the console) but not written (by anyone other than the creator). The PS1 used some sectors with zero'd ECC. So the PS1 drive could read the dat

EricBall

EricBall

 

new review of an old game

I played Wolf3D when it first came out. I played DOOM and DOOM II when they first came out. But when Quake came out my home PC no longer had the necessary horsepower. Thus I was pushed off the FPS bandwagon (except for Goldeneye). I also no longer had the time and desire to dedicate to playing games. And online has little appeal to me. But then I saw Half Life athology in the bargain bin at the grocery store. I resisted for a long while, but I finally couldn't say no to $10. At one time I played

EricBall

EricBall

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