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Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

 

Lord of the Rings - BD

WB has pushed back the release of Lord of the Rings on Blu-Ray to next year. And although I'd love to have LotR on bluray, I don't care - cause this is the theatrical release, not the extended version. Annoyingly, WB hasn't mentioned anything about the extended version yet. But I can wait, I have patience.

EricBall

EricBall

 

expensive toys

Last year I bought my wife a MacBook, which she loves. One of the cool tools provided with OS X is Time Machine, which will automatically back up any changes to an external hard drive. She has an external USB hard drive for this which she connects about once a week, but you're only as safe as your most recent backup.   Apple also makes the Time Capsule, which is a WiFi router with a built in 1TB hard drive. With one of these, Time Machine would automatically back up her MacBook any time she

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

 

Propeller updates

So I posted my OnePinTVText driver. That's right, a text display on a TV using only 1 pin. Actually, there's no reason it can't do any other monochrome display with an 8x8 font. Anyone for a nice game of chess? Not much feedback yet. Sniff. I'd like to try to get it to work with the internal RC ~12MHz clock, but my first try didn't work. So I'll put that idea on the back burner for the moment.   My next project is to add SD support to my Z-machine interpretter so it can play the Infocom

EricBall

EricBall

 

My name is Eric and I'm a packrat

Yesterday I tidied up the corner of the basement where I store all my computer (and other tech) junk. I have no idea how I ended up with a dozen (or more) IEC power cords. I should keep enough of the best looking ones for the working PCs and monitors I currently have and toss the rest. Or figure out how to make them into a modern art exhibit and sell 'em to some gallery.   I also have a whack of serial cables which I'm trying to justify keeping. I don't think I have an external modem hidin

EricBall

EricBall

 

CivRev

I have been playing Civilization since version 1 although I haven't played version IV or any of the version III expansions. Nor did I play on deity level. So I guess I'm not a hard-core Civ player.   But that's a good thing, 'cause Civilization Revolutions isn't for the hard-core Civ players. Unlike the rest of the Civ seies which added complexity with each version increase, Civ Rev tries to make the game more fun by removing complexity. This isn't to say the game is easy (although experience

EricBall

EricBall

 

Z3.C - debugged

z3c.zip It works! I found the bug in the parsing routine (dumb error on my part). I'm going to call this chapter complete.   The next chapter is to create z3.spin based on this code. I/O will probably be based on a serial terminal interface. And it will run catseye.z3, which is small enough to fit in HUB RAM (hopefully), so no SD I/O. The objective is to do as little as possible other than porting the code from C to SPIN.

EricBall

EricBall

 

Z3 continues

Z3.C is functional, but I'm still bug hunting. It now gets to the first input in HitchHiker's, but doesn't grok the input. MiniZork starts, but misfires printing out the detailed location info. (Which probably means a bug is in the object/property/attribute code somewhere.)   What I really want is a PC trace from a known good interpretter, which I could then use to narrow down my bug hunt. Unfortunately, none of the Z-Machine interpretters I've found has this option. I could look at their

EricBall

EricBall

 

Z3 compiler frustration

What do you think the following C should do?   unsigned byte zmem[128*1024]; int read_word( int a, x ) { a = zmem[a++]<<8 + zmem[a]; ... } There are three (!) errors in the above code: precedence error : addition is done before shift order of operations : is a incremented before the second array reference? compiler bug : a contains a++ after the operation All three can be worked around by using a temporary variable. Here's another gotcha I ran into: int PC; vo

EricBall

EricBall

 

Z3

Zork! HitchHikers! Ahh, the memories of glowing green text and the frustration a text adventure can bring.   Interestingly, Infocom had the forsight to create their games as a program for a virtual computer. That way they didn't have to create separate versions of each for each home computer. The same game file could run on multiple home computers using the existing interpretters. And when a new home computer reached the market, the whole library of games would be available by just writing

EricBall

EricBall

 

My free time is doomed!

This weekend my wife spotted Civilization Revolution for the PS3 at Walmart. She (and I) loved playing Civ (1,2&3) so she was immediately interested. I thought I remembered seeing a downloadable demo, but I couldn't find it. Silly me it's "Sid Meier's Civilization" so it's under S. Anyway, I downloaded it and starting playing Monday morning.   They are cruel. This ain't no demo, it's the first third of the game in all it's glory. More than enough to make me remember why I spent so ma

EricBall

EricBall

 

Propeller project status update

The Propeller projects I listed in a previous blog:   PWM based waveform generator Done, but I'm not going to release it as the limitations outweigh the results. Since the waveform is hardcoded, there's no way to dynamically change volume. There's also no way to internally mix voices onto one channel. And, finally, the sound isn't that impressive. (I was hoping to get something which really sounded like a cello or trumpet.)   single pin NTSC text display driver Functionally working 100

EricBall

EricBall

 

Wanna be a pinhead

Who wouldn't want to have their own pinball machine? You too can be a pinhead, all you need is the space and the cash.   I have the space . . . in theory. I have an unfinished basement but it has accumulated a lot of stuff & junk over the past decade of residence so there's not a lot of empty floor space. Getting stuff down to the basement is also a challenge as the stairs make a 180 degree turn halfway down. But ultimately no show stoppers.   The cash is kinda sorta there too. The

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Back to the beginning

After a long hiatus, I'm tackling my Propeller video driver. I think I figured out why my previous attempts didn't work. First, there were some technical issues with synchronization of the cogs which I now think I understand. (Plus Chip, the head honcho, has given the step-by-step instructions on what needs to be done.) But the bigger problem is I tried to do everything at once. I was trying to achieve too many new ideas at the same time. So when it didn't work, I didn't have   So this

EricBall

EricBall

 

Force Unleashed

I love that I can download demos for my (new) PS3. Yeah, I can pay for and download Virtual Console games for my Wii, but nothing beats free. Last night I added Lucasart's Force Unleashed demo to the list of PS3 games & demos I've downloaded.   In this demo, you're Vader's secret apprentice out on his first misson to eliminate one of the remaining Jedi, along with whoever & whatever gets in your way. Yes, you have a lightsaber, but in a lot of cases you'll be throwing stuff around w

EricBall

EricBall

 

geek lust lacking

My home PC is old (Athlon XP) and yet I'm not craving an upgrade.   It wasn't that long ago (ie when I bought my home PC) when I would spend time reading about the latest hardware and coming up with a wishlist. But now I look at the PC market and wonder when (or maybe if) I'll bother upgrading.   Sure, if I was to buy a new PC some tasks (video encoding) would take less time - but I can live without (let it run overnight). And I'd be able to play the latest and greatest games - but I don't

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

 

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

 

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

 

TiVo happiness

I love eBay. Where else can you easily buy something like a 25' headphone extension cord dirt cheap? Yeah, there might be a local supplier but I have no idea how to find them. And places like Radio Shack will charge you the item's weight in gold. It's the long tail idea.   And why did I want a 25' headphone extension cord? To connect my old TiVo on the first floor to a computer in the basement via it's serial port to retrieve guide data. So now I can use the TiVo's far superior search &a

EricBall

EricBall

 

Why yes, I am a geek

After much procrastination, I now have potatohead's Propeller Demo Board working. Of course my super-duper display driver doesn't work yet, but now I can do my own debugging.   I am now the proud owner of a Dell 1320c color laser printer. I got tired of the ink drying out in my inkjet ('cause I don't do that much printing at home) and the Dell had the lowest consumable cost. So although I could have gotten the HP 1600 for $100 less, I save that much on the first set of toner cartridges.  

EricBall

EricBall

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