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LTO Flash! - Intellivision Flash Cartridge Information

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Yey, got my LTO Flash working with Tower of Doom, which I own on Inty Flashback, but can now play 🙂

 

Oh, it would be nice to have 20 column formatted text manuals for all these games...

 

On that note, attached is one for Tower of Doom :D

 

DoctorMike

Tower of Doom.txt

Edited by DoctorMikeReddy
typo

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3 hours ago, DoctorMikeReddy said:

Oh, it would be nice to have 20 column formatted text manuals for all these games...

I'm certain somewhere on this forum you can find a bunch of them.

 

But, did you know that the manual reader on your cart does a pretty darn good job already, even without that? @intvnut did a stellar job on implementing a decent word-wrapping algorithm in the manual reader on the cart, so in a pinch, even a non-bespoke text version of the manual should display reasonably well.

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18 hours ago, intvsteve said:

I'm certain somewhere on this forum you can find a bunch of them.

Like here?

That is some of them, at least, but will need the text extracting. Are there any other resources online? My initial searches have not found one single source

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The intellivisionlives web site has all the mattel and intv game instructions in text file format but they're not formatted for twenty columns.  Formatting instructions to fit twenty collumns has been around since the cc3 came out.

Edited by mr_me

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Is there an issue with posting a zip archive of these here so folks have easy access to these 20-column text files? If not, I'll post what I have.

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Customers in Asia and Oceania may contact Elektronite to purchase LTO Flash!  at 

 

elektronite@hotmail.com

 

Please contact Left Turn Only or Good Deal Games if you are in the USA, Steve Jones if in Canada, and Pascal Bernard if in Europe. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, stringfellow said:

still wanting one of these

 

Stringfellow, Brother!!!!!   Where have you been?   Can I borrow the helicopter tonight?

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On 2/16/2021 at 6:22 PM, KylJoy said:

Is there an issue with posting a zip archive of these here so folks have easy access to these 20-column text files? If not, I'll post what I have.

I would definitely appreciate that

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After receiving my LTO flash a few weeks (months?) ago, I finally got over the hurdle of setting it up.  I've never felt the need to write a review of setting up a flashcart before, but I may start a new thread for that because this one is different.  I'll chime in that I also had to manually install the FTDI Virtual Com Port drivers to get it working.  I'll note that I typically don't run the installer for drivers and still opt for the "Have Disk" manual method.  If you do that in this case, note that you will have to do it twice to get the LTO fully working.  Here is my current Windows version info for reference:


WinVer.png.411c2f1dc8788cf099ffdefdefc46a58.png

 

I have a few questions that @intvsteve or others who have used the cart for a few years might be able to help me with.   Basically, I'm looking for advice on how to spend less time in the GUI tool.  If you don't read this whole thing, just tell me how you maintain your roms and what steps you've developed to add them quickly to the device.

 

My setup is that I have an old set of roms for the original library that is nice and orderly in a single folder.  These are all .int files and they are alphabetized and have reasonably good filenames that tell you what they are.  I pointed the LTO flash UI at that folder and it added them all to the left side of the interface quickly and easily.  I wasn't sure how it would handle the .cfg files, but I noticed that it created a unique .cfg for each .int.  It would have been nice to have been given the option of where to store those .cfg flles, but I guess it is fine.  Anyway, now my original library is on the left side and (because I chose yes at the popup) each file was added to the right "Menu" side.  This is where I started having a problem.

 

I don't want 125+ files on the root of the LTO flash, so the next thing I did was create a folder.  It was at that point that I discovered that I cannot multi-select files in the menu layout window.  Am I missing something because the shortcuts and mouse movements that let me select multiple items in Windows don't work in here?  This meant that I had to select each newly added file individually and "drag" it to the newly created folder.  I also noted that there is no way to sort the files once they are on the menu side.  So I also had to ensure I dragged them to the new folder in alphabetical order or be forced to fix it manually later - fnck that!  I got past this first hurdle relatively quickly by simply removing all the items (one click at a time) from the Menu Layout then I created my desired folder and was able to add all the files from the left side to the right by highlighting them all and clicking "Add to Menu."  I still didn't do it exactly as I would have liked and I need advice, but I will come back to that.

 

Adding demos, alphas, and homebrews proved to be MUCH more time consuming.  I don't have these neatly ordered in a single folder.  I have them in many sub-folders.  Some are .bin, some are .rom and some are both.  MANY of them lack a descriptive name.  Many others were still zipped up.  So I took the time to create a folder on my PC called Homebrews where I unzipped all the brews into their own sub-folder with the best name I could come up with.  I then pointed the LTO Flash UI at the top level Homebrews folder and it found them.  This time I didn't choose to add them to the Menu Layout because I knew I wanted to nest some folders and add some organization.  I ended up with a long list of new files on the left side added below the original library (as expected).  I then went through and chose the individual roms and added them to subfolders in the Menu Layout.  This took some time, but it is organized.  However, I still can't figure out how to sort these files once they are added to the menu.  It just adds a file to the end of the list . . .

 

So now I have 3 problems that I am trying to think through

1) I want my original library organized into sub-folders.  I think I have to create those folders and then drag the files one at a time manually in the correct order in the menu layout window.  Alternatively, I could remove all the files, create folders and then select the roms in alphabetized groups from the left window.

2) I want my homebrews alphabetized.  I think I just have to do this manually one file at a time - eeek.  Since the only way to sort the files is on the left side of the screen, I think I need some ways to add folders over there.  That way I could separate Homebrews and Originals and still sort under those headers, making it easy to multi-select those sub-lists and add them to the menu layout.

 

3) I want to experiment with different menu layouts without ruining the existing configuration.  Right now even when the LTO isn't connected, I can see the existing menu layout I created previously.  That's nice if I want to make some changes and then apply them later (I think), but how do I wipe the slate clean, test some different ways to import without losing the current config?  What if I change something and decide I don't like it?  Is there an "undo" button that I'm not seeing?

 

 

 

 

 

Win FTDI Drivers v2.12.28 WHQL Certified.zip

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TL;DR...  actually I agree with many of your points.  If you want to shuffle around a large number of files on the LTO Flash, it is a right royal pain without any kind of multi select.  I think when I set up my LTO, it took me a good 4 or 5 hours to get the folders and files organized the way I wanted.

 

Perhaps a multi-select would be a nice feature to politely ask for if there is a future software release.

Edited by ls650
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2 hours ago, ls650 said:

TL;DR...  actually I agree with many of your points.  If you want to shuffle around a large number of files on the LTO Flash, it is a right royal pain without any kind of multi select.  I think when I set up my LTO, it took me a good 4 or 5 hours to get the folders and files organized the way I wanted.

 

Perhaps a multi-select would be a nice feature to politely ask for if there is a future software release.

True, but what I did is have all my files set up in a folder ahead of time. Then broken down by Mattel, INTV, ECS, Intellivoice etc. since everything was already set up that way on my computer it was a simple drag and drop into the software for me.

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On 3/4/2021 at 8:45 PM, Sinjinhawke said:

Stringfellow, Brother!!!!!   Where have you been?   Can I borrow the helicopter tonight?

😁

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@wongojack - I'll get to the details in your post eventually (I hope!)

 

Regarding the #1 gripe - which I have as well - Multi-select in the menu tree in Windows... Yeah. Long time sore spot for me, too. The Mac version has this - their "stock" tree control has all kinds of utility baked in. Sadly, that's not the case in Windows, so I've explored a few options there:

  • Good controls that have such features cost $$$$
  • No success so far in finding any that support the features I want in the open source community
  • The baked-in Windows tree control supports neither drag and drop nor multi-select, so I've had to write these from scratch due to the items above

I've actually been working on my own implementation off and on over the past couple years but have been overwhelmed with a lot of other things that take time away from the hobbies. There are many corner test cases likely not yet tried out, and I recall specifically the keyboard support features being a real pain to get working as well.

 

EDIT: And based on highly scientific polling, this is the third-most-requested feature! (I initially misread the 'Live menu edits' option as "Select multiple..."

image.png.7d31b6da8604275eda37784cbcd8a701.png

Edited by intvsteve
Misread the feature poll
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Regarding .cfg files:

When you run a game in the classic .bin format (.int is identical, not sure of the origins of that file extension for these), a .cfg file is required. jzintv has implemented an internal database that will use an in-memory lookup for the original 125 if the file is missing. The UI does this as well. IIRC some of the file format conversion tools necessary for populating the cart may require the .cfg. My memory is a bit fuzzy on that specific detail. In any case, IIRC the .cfg files must be located in the same directory as the ROM itself, so dropping them in a different directory would not be very helpful, and could turn into a nightmare of doubling the file management.

 

It's quite possible that the auto-creation of the .cfg files was done early on, and later I changed to have this all operate on a backup copy.

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22 hours ago, wongojack said:

I also noted that there is no way to sort the files once they are on the menu side. 

It may be that it's hidden in a right click menu in the menu layout (right-hand side).

lto-menu-context-menu.png.95739eb095c33524ad26e54254f81c89.png

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Trying different menu layouts:

You could explore the features here:

lto-menu-backup-restore.thumb.png.c7364cedf320789042f9c81194b4c588.png


This makes a copy of the ROMs list and menu layout in directory based on date and time. (A fancier option is on my wish-list.)

 

So, you could make a backup, tinker with it, make another backup, restore, etc. It's been a couple years since I've looked at the code for it, but I think it literally just swaps out the files for you.

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Regarding organization in general, we found during testing that almost everyone already had arranged their ROMs in some fashion in folders on the file system. When adding files from a folder, the folder hierarchy is reproduced in the menu layout pretty much as-is, subject to limits in the file system on the cartridge (max number of files / folders limits).

 

Aside from the multi-select drag/drop in the tree, are there other approaches you could suggest?

One idea that just occurred to me that would only really work for the original 125 (mostly) is to offer an option to do an "organized import". Here's a sketch of the idea:

  • We can pretty reliably identify ROMs via a checksum
  • We have a database of the original games' checksums as well as other metadata (like publisher, official game name, network, etc.)
  • The option to organize by "Publisher, Network" could work for this kind of import

 

Multi-select in the menu tree for Windows is a big feature, and I do intend to release it. At some point. It's been almost a year since I last was working actively on it, so I can't say how near release quality it is. There are several other items in the hopper too so juggling everything is a bit tricky.

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19 hours ago, Jeffrey Bouchard said:

True, but what I did is have all my files set up in a folder ahead of time. Then broken down by Mattel, INTV, ECS, Intellivoice etc. since everything was already set up that way on my computer it was a simple drag and drop into the software for me.

During beta testing, we found just about everyone had this kind of folder layout already as well.

 

Later, we hit a case where someone had almost the opposite problem - they had downloaded every single ROM as a .zip, and unzipped everything. The default behavior in that case was that every single ROM was in its own folder. In this case, we ran out of directories on the cart! There's just no way to "win" lol.

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1 hour ago, intvsteve said:

During beta testing, we found just about everyone had this kind of folder layout already as well.

 

Later, we hit a case where someone had almost the opposite problem - they had downloaded every single ROM as a .zip, and unzipped everything. The default behavior in that case was that every single ROM was in its own folder. In this case, we ran out of directories on the cart! There's just no way to "win" lol.

 

Ah, the travails and pitfalls of trying to smarter than the user and attempting to read his mind.  You are not alone; alas, this seems to be plaguing every major software provider in the past 10 years, so you are in good company.  One good thing is that you are not attempting to get trendy and apply some buzzy "machine learning," or else we'll end up with all sorts of weird hierarchies encompassing the gamut of everyone's (especially engineers') preferences! 😱

 

Why not just offer it as an option instead of trying to do magic?  The default behaviour could be to just import all ROMs into the root.  That would be my expectation if I have a folder full of ROMs.  I see this behaviour in other software to manage things like ROMs and MP3s:  they offer a "scan for media," which will just import whatever it finds, digging deep into folders.

 

Then, on top of that, you could offer additional options for common organisation, such as "organize by publisher/network," or "keep original folder structure," etc.  Again, these are typical functions on other media management applications.

 

    -dZ.

Edited by DZ-Jay
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I opted for a pretty obvious option for the auto-populate-the-menu, on the premise that if you had taken the time to organize all those ROMs on disk, it's a very likely you'd like to keep it that way simply out of habit lol. But you know what they say about assuming....

 

Of course more mundane pressures also applied as we worked on it - like "Holy crap this thing's already so late! Stop polishing the turd, Steve!" ... And every layer of that polish needs testing, et. al. "It worked on my machine" is one of the worst things in software developemnt lol.

 

Having a "flat list" option - which is how the ROM list is presented, would be simple enough to implement I suppose - but there's a BIG caveat. The file system on the cart is limited to 255 files in one folder. These days with the highly productive IntyBASIC scene it's pretty easy to hit that limit. Not saying this isn't a valuable option, just that sadly it's fraught with extra complications that need more testing and a plan to guide the user on what to do next, etc.

 

Since there's already a "nag" dialog in the UI on import (unless you tell it to go away and never come back), there is an attachment point in the UI to expand the options...

 

<runs off looking for another box of flux capacitors />

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19 minutes ago, intvsteve said:

I opted for a pretty obvious option for the auto-populate-the-menu, on the premise that if you had taken the time to organize all those ROMs on disk, it's a very likely you'd like to keep it that way simply out of habit lol. But you know what they say about assuming....

 

That's what I mean ... assuming is the wrong approach, at least in my opinion.  You could offer that as an option during import, certainly, and it may be the popular choice.  However, how can you be sure that I personally spent my time and effort in organising my ROMs in a bunch of folders (as opposed to, say, they having come that way when I downloaded some random ZIP file from the Web), or that I wish to keep that structure?

 

You don't, and making that assumption and enforcing it silently may work well for most users, but then it will cause pain for some.  So, an import option may help.

 

Quote

Of course more mundane pressures also applied as we worked on it - like "Holy crap this thing's already so late! Stop polishing the turd, Steve!" ... And every layer of that polish needs testing, et. al. "It worked on my machine" is one of the worst things in software developemnt lol.

I hear ya'.

 

Quote

Having a "flat list" option - which is how the ROM list is presented, would be simple enough to implement I suppose - but there's a BIG caveat. The file system on the cart is limited to 255 files in one folder. These days with the highly productive IntyBASIC scene it's pretty easy to hit that limit. Not saying this isn't a valuable option, just that sadly it's fraught with extra complications that need more testing and a plan to guide the user on what to do next, etc.

Can you pre-scan on the client and provide feedback to the user?  Say, you scan and find that there are 1,000 items in one single folder, you then respond to the user with something like, "Sorry, your folders appear to be too big.  You could cancel and re-organise them, then try again; or we could do some fancy organisation for you.  Please choose which fancy organisation style you want?   [ X ] Split by publisher; [   ] Split by letter;  [   ] Split randomly; [   ] Developer choice; etc." *

 

* (I may have made up some of those options.)

 

Quote

 

Since there's already a "nag" dialog in the UI on import (unless you tell it to go away and never come back), there is an attachment point in the UI to expand the options...

 

<runs off looking for another box of flux capacitors />

 

Even if there weren't, I would still recommend it.

 

To be honest, I have not used the LTO software (yet), but I have read some of the (minor) complaints from others.  I also know that Rev uses it successfully -- and he even tried to convince me to start using it -- so that must mean that it is really not a bad UI at all.   :)

 

    -dZ.

Edited by DZ-Jay
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