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matthew180 last won the day on May 27 2014

matthew180 had the most liked content!

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About matthew180

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    River Patroller

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Castaic, California
  • Interests
    My family, programming, electronics, coin-op, reading, outdoor activities.
  • Currently Playing
    I can sometimes be found playing Nancy Drew or Tim Schaffer games (Grim, Monkey Island series, etc.) with my kids. Also playing Shroud of the Avatar now that property can be claimed.

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  1. matthew180


  2. Not that it means much if I have not heard of a cartridge, but I've never heard of Picture Parts, Frog Jump, or Space Bandits. As for the "pink" PARSEC, to me that just looks like a cart that sat in direct sunlight too long. It probably started life as a normal red label.
  3. https://livingcomputers.org/ I cannot say enough good things about the LCM (Living History Museum) in Seattle! I went there in April for the Vintage Computer Festival, which was held at the museum. Fantastic place! Just the fact that they run the computers for you to interact with sets it above all other computer museums IMO. You can touch, program, and interact with a mainframe, mini computer, workstations, micros, video game systems, coin-op games, discrete electronic games, and tons of other stuff. Just amazing. Side bar: [I have the opinion that museums should be running their exhibits for artifacts that *do* things. If a an artifact breaks while being run, then fine, let it sit there at that point; it will be no better than it is now (just sitting there). But until something breaks, run it! I grew up going to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan, and back in the day they used to run the steam engines, machine shops, generators, and such. These days the equipment just sits there, still and cold. Very sad.] The LCM Beats the crap out of the Computer History Museum, IMO. The last two times I went to the CHM it was getting worse. Things that were broken before were still broken, the home computer section is pitiful, and they don't run anything other than a few of their systems on various weekdays between 3:00pm and 3:01pm. And then, you can only watch while gray-beards run the computers, you don't get to touch them. At the LCM there is no glass, no fences, no barriers. I walked right up to the mainframe and touched it. For being in the middle of Silicon Valley, and apparently getting funding from places like Microsoft and Google, the CHM is not nearly as impressive as the LCM. The late Paul Allen (RIP) founded the LCM and graciously made his collection available for everyone to enjoy. I really hope it survives, and I hope the VCF Pacific Northwest returns to the LCM in 2020. Anyway, the point of this post was to show the LCM's 99/4A display as of April 2019 when I was there. It is pretty minimal, no PEB or expansion other than the speech synth. All the carts were games or other software that does not require the disk or 32K. They have plenty of 99/4A consoles, as well as PEBs in their inventory, but I think it comes down to not enough time or people to do the work for all the systems they support. If anyone lives in Seattle area and wants to volunteer, you could probably get in with them. I wish I lived in Seattle, just to be able to go to and participate with the LCM! The pictures below are some of the ones I took in the Mainframe Room. Note that every system in the room is *running*, even the CDC-6500 that I'm standing almost inside of! True of mainframes, they never shut them down unless they have to. They had terminals scattered around the room that you could use to interact with the systems, write and run programs and jobs, etc. The photo of the paper tapes, I call that one "software!" 🙂
  4. Your assumptions are accurate for what I'm planning as of right now. However, I'm sure you can get the panel-mount HDMI connector on the FFC board directly, so you could eliminate the Type-D to Type-A cable. Yeah, it was going to work out well, it is even smaller than USB-C. However, the connector is one of the main pieces covered by the patents, and the Type-D connector is relatively new. If I were making 10,000 units I could get a license and not worry about it, but I'm not confident that there will ever be that many MK2 boards in existence. Now, if someone wants to put up the money to make 10,000 boards, please send me a PM ASAP!
  5. I have no idea if the people making these boards have licenses, some probably do, many probably don't. I think they are popular now because of cameras like the GoPro, and SoC boards like the Rpi, BeagleBoard, and many others. Lots of devices output HDMI now (legally and illegally), and small form factor is always important. I think some of these are as cheap as $8 (quality ones are probably more), but still way cheaper than I could ever hope to make them for. The MK2 *might* have a DVI header board, but I'm not sure about that. I suspect most people will probably just go directly to HDMI.
  6. Qix is one of my favorite coin-op games. It would be interesting to port to the MK2, but I have to focus on the hardware or things will never get done.
  7. The MK2 will *not* have an HDMI connector on the board. HDMI is a licensed technology, and connectors are covered by the patents. As a hobbyist I cannot afford the $5K/yr to license HDMI. The MK2 will produce Transition Minimized Differential Signaling (TMDS) output via a standard 19-pin FFC connector. It will be up to the user to acquire the final output connector of their choice. For example, do an image search for "ffc hdmi".
  8. Controversial topic for sure. I hope you are not expecting any kind of consensus. For me, I like a lot of TI games, but I also hate them all. I like them from the nostalgic perspective since many were the first text adventure (Pirate Adventure) I ever played, the first RPG (computer or otherwise (Tunnels of Doom)) that I ever played, and a lot of unique titles that were at least enjoyable for a while. But, seeing what Konami had done with the same VDP, as well as some other systems like the ColecoVision, TI completely failed to utilize the hardware. It seems their idea of making software was to put engineers on the task (really bad idea). Almost everything on the 99/4A pales to what it could have been, and trying to enjoy the same games now it just not possible for me. I remember some fondly, but I don't enjoy them today. Sorry if that seems harsh. Some favorites from BITD: Tombstone City. I liked it, but it is very shallow. Everything about it could have been so much better. Reading the postmortem article with the author was depressing. I do like music though, even to this day. Chisholm Trail. A unique and interesting game, I played it for quite a while. I liked seeing what the next set of monsters would look like. It seemed like an updated Tombstone City. Shallow game play though. Adventure. I really liked the text adventures, but I replayed some in the past few years and realize how tedious they were. Fun the first time, so I will remember them as they were. Tunnels of Doom. I probably played this the most. I really liked it BITD, but when I tried to replay it a few years ago, the mechanics of the game were just to tedious, and the amount to total randomness gets frustrating. The interface is clunky too, and just gets in the way. MunchMan. Unique enough take on PacMan to hold its own, and my attention, at least for a while. Hunt the Wumpus. I liked the game, it was totally unique and a nice puzzle that you could take at your own pace. Figuring out where the Wumpus is seems a lot like Mine Sweeper to me. However, some of the difficulty settings were ridiculous and could never be played other than by pure luck or chance. Parsec. I liked it back then, but it put too much effort into the scrolling effect that the rest of the game really suffers for it. When I see games that Scramble that Rasmus did on the same hardware, Gradius on the CV, Knightmare on the MSX1... Parsec could have been much more. A-Maze-Ing. I like mazes. While somewhat shallow, it was good enough to make the list, and it was one of the few games my sister would play with me. Extended BASIC. While not a game, it might as well have been one for me. I learned to program on the 99/4A and XB was a huge part of that. I spent more time writing my own programs and typing in games from magazines than I did playing commercial games, or anything else. Editor Assembler. The most challenging adventure I ever undertook on my 99/4A, and the most rewarding. I still play this one to this day, and I can use the skills I learned in my day job and apply them to other games like x86, Z80, RiskV, C, etc. I didn't have too many other cartridges, none really worth mentioning anyway. My commercial software experience on the 99/4A was very limited.
  9. I can already tell the new editor is going to cause some hair pulling and crying. I consider A.A. a technical forum and I do a lot of posts that involve code examples, formatted diagrams, and such. The previous editor introduced some quirks that made it harder to do these kinds of posts, but at least we could fall-back to the text version to fix things. Yes, the "code block" is there (although it still does not have an assembly language highlighting option), but I've been trying all night to get it to do some basic things that were at least possible in the previous editor (the editor from around 2014 was the best, IMO). Doing these kinds of things now seem very difficult or maybe not possible: 1. Wrap long code-examples in a spoiler block so they are collapsed by default, to make the text part of the post easier to read. I have tried to make this work a few times tonight and I cannot manage to get it working. And when I tried to put a code-block into a spoiler, the code-block *went away*... I'm glad it was only a test; an editor should *never* lose your text. Also, it is difficult enough to get people to wrap their 400-line programs in the old spoiler and code tags, but having to fight with the placement and nesting in this editor is going to make it much more challenging. 2. Quote multiple people (or just one person) and "slice up" their quote into multiple pieces, so a reply can address each point in a multi-part question or previous reply. In the old editor this was tedious (using the text mode to duplicate the quote tags), but at least it could be done. 3. Making the post box bigger to start with. Yes it auto expands, but why not just have it be the maximum height of my browser window to begin with (that's why I paid a lot of money for my giant-ass monitor)? This seems like an artificial limitation based on someone's bad idea of what "good modern UX design" is supposed to be. White (or dark depending on the theme) space is good, and personally I like a lot of blank space to write a post (it helps me think). At least the previous editor let me make the editor window as big as I could inside the browser. The preview does not seem to be accurate either, from the initial testing I was doing. Maybe I'm in the minority of the typical demographic of user on A.A.? Media (images, movies, hearts, likes, etc.), font sizes and colors, etc. are secondary to the text content, IMO. Of course images can certainly be useful, and videos too from time to time too, but I would trade that for a editor that makes writing good replies easier. Actually, I have never seen a good editor in any forum that makes writing a technical or multi-part reply easier. And that should be the primary focus of an editor, again IMO.
  10. I always considered this a big security risk and never understood why A.A. followed that practice. By using a person's login/account name as the publicly visible display name, I automatically know 50% of everyone's login credentials. An account's unique identity and login should always be kept private to the account holder and the server admin.
  11. Nice video! Is the author an A.A. user I wonder? Agreed, the amount of background details can be staggering, which makes it very hard to do and introduction that actually leaves you with a sense that you can accomplish anything. There is no easy way to get into assembly, so sometimes you need to give a working program and explain the nuances later. I think the video does a nice job or introducing a few simple programs in BASIC, then demonstrates the advantage of all the effort needed to make the same program in assembly; primarily the speed advantage (which on a retro-computer is night and day when comparing to BASIC). Also, IMO a person learning assembly needs to do a lot of reading and finding details on their own, so anything they don't understand becomes a good catalyst for some research. I think the video gives a lot of points where a person really into learning assembly could discover quite a bit, and use a resource like this forum to get help and clarification when needed. I hope there are more videos to come!
  12. Sure, and I did some of that, along with some hex editing and such. There are always ways to get it done, I was just looking to see if Magellan had the features I was looking for. On a side note, coercing modern "paint" programs into dealing with individual, single, square pixels is an exercise in frustration. And none that I have found work very well when zoomed in 1600%.
  13. In this case both sets were full 256 tiles, and I just wanted the subset of lower-case from one set merged into the lower-case of the other. I'm happy to defer to what others think. I'm not making games, and the "out of context" ideas I have come up with in the past have proven to be more than useless in practice. I was just seeing if Magellan could be a solution for the problem I was having at the moment.
  14. Well, in the recent example where I ran-up Magellan to see if I could use it, I wanted to mix two fonts, selecting the upper-case tiles from one set and the lower-case tiles from the other. But, there was no way to import a range, so I just worked it out manually with a hex editor or whatever (actually I think I used Paint, zoomed in to the pixel level (all other "fancy" graphics apps try to anti-alias the pixels... grr.)). If I had a place where I could just load in tiles unrestricted by limits like the number of tiles, or a range (0 to 255), then I could just load up whatever I need, rearrange them, and save out sub-sets. Having a giant tile database would also make it easy to import graphic images and have it broken up into the tiles needed to reproduce the image. Not that I need to do that, it just comes to mind. Also, when I look at the tile sets like what adamantyr has for his game (http://atariage.com/forums/topic/157742-ti-994a-disk-based-crpg/page-13?do=findComment&comment=4223023), it makes my head hurt thinking about what he has to do to manage all those tiles, picking tiles to use for certain maps, etc. A large database would help a lot in cases like this. The way I described it earlier, using the large tile database would be optional and should not affect the way the app currently works for people who would not need the flexibility.
  15. Well, I can think of a few ways to do it, but since I'm not willing to do the work right now, these are just thoughts... (Note: I will randomly use the term "tiles" in place of "characters") Meaning of terms: I think "tile map", "tile sheet", "tile set", etc. might already mean something, so I'm going to use the term "tile database" to refer to a large, unrestricted set of tile definitions. I would not limit the size of the main tile database; malloc works in Java too, yes? If someone wants to define 10,000 tiles, let them. To keep it manageable it could use a 16-bit ID for each tile, so a max of 65536 tile in the database. I would also not restrict colors-per-tile in the tile database either. I would also create a color database with 12-bit capability. The tile and color databases would be saved out independently from anything else, could be an SQLite database, a large text file, or whatever. The user can then define "tile groups" and "color groups". These are just what they sound like, groups of tiles (size should be user specified from 1 to 256) picked from the tile database, and groups of colors (size from 1 to 16) picked from the color database. These are basically just index lists from the main databases. For example, I could make a tile group with 4 tiles, picked from tile database indexes 20, 4567, 10001, and 33987. The user should be able to name the tile and color groups to easily identify them. Once the tile and color groups are defined, they can be swapped into the one main "tile map", which is always 256 tiles, and the main "color map", which is always 16 colors (i.e. the existing tile and colors in the program as it is now). You should be able to copy any tile group into the main tile map, at any starting location in the tile map. Same with colors. You should also be able to choose a range of tiles from the tile map and create a new tile group from it (and again, same with the colors). When tiles are moved / copied from a tile group to the tile map, the bits-per-pixel is limited to whatever the active color map is set to. However, the bpp information should not be lost. Basically, the main color map is used to limit the colors for display and export purposes, but should not destroy any extra bpp contained in the tile. This adds some data management overhead for sure, but should not be too hard to maintain. The tile database UI would just be a big sheet of tiles. There would be a list of the groups, and when you select one the tiles in that group are highlighted. If you wanted to be fancy you could draw boxes around each group (although the groups do not need to be consecutive in the tile database, so this might not work out very well). Maybe the group view is separate from the main tile database, so when you select a group the tiles in that group are shown consecutively in their own area. Anyway just some quick thinking, and certainly room for improvement in the idea.
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