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About this blog

Geeky things I'm up to

Entries in this blog

Playing Gameboy Advance & Virtual Boy games

A month or two ago I watched a YouTube video which showed off Red Viper - a Virtual Boy emulator for the 3DS which uses the 3D screen so you get the same 3D experience you would with an actual Virtual Boy (complete with monochrome graphics, although you can change the color).  I thought that was cool, especially since my son has a couple of 3DS XLs kicking around.  But I didn't do anything because I've typically shied away from jailbreaking.   However, after some research I discovered

Yuzu - what were they thinking?

I've been using emulators since early MAME days.  However, I've also recognized there isn't much difference between preservation and piracy.  But I figured there isn't much risk of prosecution when emulating games which could no longer be purchased.   So I have to wonder what the developers of Yuzu, a Nintendo Switch emulator, were thinking.  Nintendo is well known for being litigious and the Switch is still being sold and it's not a stretch to state that the emulator itself is resulti

retro 720p GPU addendum

I recently took the time to learn more about the graphics processors of the Sega Genesys & SNES and realized that my previous "retro 720p GPU" had a little too much Atari 7800 in it's design.  Really, if someone wanted to create an HD 2D GPU they really should start with the SNES (or the GBA or NDS) PPU as these really represent the ultimate in 2D GPU design.  However, IMHO there will be three main challenges which the designer will need to address: 720p has a 74.23MHz pixel clock (v

EricBall

EricBall in MAME

I have Escaped From Tarkov

After nearly 700 days of ownership and over 1450 hours of playtime I have decided to stop playing Escape From Tarkov.  Hopefully the withdrawal symptoms won't be too severe.   This is not because EFT isn't a good game - otherwise I wouldn't have played it as much as I did.  It's more a combination of two factors: 1. This wipe I was able to accomplish some landmark tasks - reaching PMC level 40 and completed the "The Punisher - Part 6" quest. 2. There are probably other things

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EricBall in Escape from Tarkov

Escape From Tarkov made fair

One of the main mechanics of Escape From Tarkov is progression.  Primarily players complete quests in order to level up the NPC traders in order to obtain access to better gear.  However, there are numerous other ways for players to progress in EFT, typically giving them advantages over players who have not progressed.   While progression is a significant part of what makes EFT more interesting to play, it also has some significant downsides: Players who have progressed more ha

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EricBall in Escape from Tarkov

Raspberry Pi 5

The Raspberry Pi 5 was announced today, complete with websites and influencers giving reviews based upon pre-release hardware.   Personally I'm unimpressed.   For me the raison d'etre of the Raspberry Pi has been more about price than performance.  The original Raspberry Pi was little more than an SoC devkit built around a chip they could get cheap from Broadcom.  People used it because it was cheap and it had just enough processing power to make it useful for a lot of microc

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EricBall in rants

(rant) self replicating robots

"Turn asteroids into space habitats!  Just use self-replicating robots." Says the blurb - and I immediately stop reading.  Because, unlike the author, I've actually given the concept of self-replicating robots some thought and have concluded they are distinctly non-trivial and not something humanity is likely to create in my lifetime.   In my case I was considering von-Neuman probes - inter-steller spacecraft which use the resources of the destination solar system to create replicas wh

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EricBall in rants

portable retro gaming

After seeing it on a YouTube video, I've ordered an SF2000.  Physically it looks like an SNES controller with a built-in screen.  It includes emulators and full rom sets (!) for NES, SNES, GB, GBC, GBA, and Genesis.  Unfortunately the SoC doesn't seem to have the power for SNES and GBA, but at less than C$30 (shipped) I'm not going to complain too much.  And who knows, maybe the hacking scene will figure out how to improve performance.   But it got me to thinking about the "perfect por

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EricBall in MAME

What Was Your Longest-Lived PC?

This Slashdot thread got me to thinking about the PCs I have purchased over the years.   1989 12MHz 80286 - bought it on my first work term in university and used while in university. 1993 66MHz 80486DX2 with VLB motherboard - bought after I graduated and started working for IBM 1998 MediaGX Ambra Ispirati - this was a real dog of a computer which I wouldn't have bought except we received a $1000 gift certificate with our mortgage 2001 Athlon XP with nForce 420 motherboa

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EricBall in Old Computers

There's a hole in the bucket

I've been clearing out the basement by selling or giving away stuff which hasn't been used in a decade or more.    One of the items which I plan on getting rid of is an old IBM Thinkpad 765L.  Amazingly it still works (although the battery doesn't hold a charge, which isn't surprising) and it even has a clean copy of Windows 98 installed.  It also seems to have what appears to be files restored from old backups.  Files which I aren't on my external backup drive.  So before I put it up

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EricBall in Old Computers

New PC - upgrade, part 5

The Corsair XD5 reservoir + pump includes a temperature sensor which screws into one of the inlet ports.  As my motherboard doesn't have a header I could plug it into and I wasn't interested in spending ~$100 on a Corsair Commander. So I just left it (along with the RGB connector) disconnected.   However, there are advantages to measuring the temperature of the water rather than components.  One of the benefits of water cooling is the water has a very high thermal mass.  This means the

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EricBall in Programming

New PC - upgrade, part 4

It's done! https://youtu.be/2AIxvOHdLRQ   Fortunately the leaks were all due to the fittings not being tightly seated.  Unfortunately, to fix this I had to undo & redo the compression fittings on each connection.  I also learned that draining the system isn't simply a matter of breaking the loop at the lowest point - water doesn't siphon out of the whole loop.  So every time I disconnected a tube I'd get (distilled) water flowing out.  If / when I want / need to drain the loop

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New PC - upgrade, part 3

What was I thinking?  I just hope the end result justifies the money, time & effort I'm spending.   Last week the first order of parts arrived with the radiators and fittings.  As suggested on /r/Watercooling, I bought a cheap (C$20) fountain pump and used it to run distilled water through the radiators and a coffee filter.  The idea is to flush any particles or other manufacturing residue out so it doesn't clog the water blocks and pump.  I don't know where other people are buying

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EricBall

New PC - upgrade, part 2

My EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 XC3 Hydro Copper 12GB arrived yesterday - and it looks perfect.  (It's also heavy.)  But unlike a normal air cooled graphics card I can't just drop it into my system.  I need to order a whole bunch of parts first.  Any water cooling loop will have the following: Blocks which attach to the CPU or GPU and transfer heat from the CPU or GPU to the coolant.  This is built into the graphics card, but I might as well get one for the CPU too (in for a penny...). R

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EricBall

New PC - upgrade, part 1

For the most part I've been very happy with the PC I bought two years ago.  From a performance perspective it's handled everything I've used it for and it's definitely faster than the iMac which I was using previously.  Sure, I could have spent more and made it even faster, but my plan was bang for the buck.  I am also very glad I bought it when I did - if I'd waited much longer the epidemic & ethereum related supply difficulties would have made it more difficult and expensive.   H

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game idea

I've been playing Escape From Tarkov for the last month.  It's an interesting twist on the online PvP FPS with a money based risk / reward system.  If your main character is killed then any equipment you were using (with a few exceptions) is lost and you must spend in-game money to replace it before playing again.  Or you can play as a "Scav" which spawns later in the raid with random equipment.  In raid you can also find randomized loot in various locations or take equipment & loot from dea

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EricBall

Failed Projects - Lessons Learned #1

In my life I've undertaken many personal projects and there are a few I would qualify as failures.  After working on my latest MAME cabinet project I realized I had learned some important lessons from those projects.  In the hope that maybe others can learn from my mistakes...   Decades ago I had an idea for a circuit which would remove Macrovision copy protection from an analog video signal.  IIRC it was based around a sync separator and I was positive it would work.  So I ordered the

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EricBall

Babylon 5 reboot

I watched Babylon 5 when it was first on TV and I have every episode recorded on VHS.  One of these days I'll digitize them so I can enjoy them rather than the "widescreen" versions.  Babylon 5 was great TV - each episode and season told a story which was then part of the story told by the entire series.   But a reboot doesn't compute IMHO.  Part of the reason B5 was great TV was JMS.  He had the vision for the entire series, the backstory, and the ability to change plans when required

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EricBall

Nintendo Switch successor

An arsTechnica staffer apparently overheard someone saying, "I'm working on the thing after the Switch." and wrote a whole article about it (which I read, although it's a lot of empty musings).  Of course, it's no surprise that Nintendo would be working on a successor to the Switch.  For home consoles they have a pretty regular 5-6 year cycle.  The Switch was released back in 2017 (how time flies) so I'd expect a successor in the next 18 months.!?   But it got me to thinking - if I wer

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EricBall

Breath of the Wild - finished

After 135 hours of playing Breath of the Wild I have defeated Ganon and finished (but not completed*) the game.  It was a lot of fun, but I'm not planning on replaying it in the near future and I certainly have no desire to buy the DLC and play through a modified version of the game.     One of the parts of BOTW I loved is Zelda's story revealed through the memories and her and her Father's diaries.  Unlike the Champions who chose to be warriors and then accepted the role of Champion,

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EricBall

Breath of the Wild

Earlier this summer I heard an orchestral medley of Zelda themes and it reminded me that I hadn't bought Breath of the Wild.  When it first came out I didn't have a Switch and couldn't justify buying one just to play Zelda.  However, my son got one a few years back for Christmas so now I just needed to spend the $$ to get the game.  So I picked it up and I've been playing it since July 1st.  I haven't finished it yet, I still need to grind a while to get Ancient Armor and upgrade it before takin

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EricBall

I want (but don't need) a portable system

A few weeks ago a YouTube video about the G-Boy kit caught my interest.  This isn't a portable cobbled together from old smartphone components, but an actual Wii PCB, cut down to remove unnecessary components & to make in smaller, then wired up to custom PCB to provide battery power, controls, LCD interface and replace the DVD drive with an SD card, and finally put in a custom case with the LCD etc.  Of course, many Wii titles would be problematic without the Wii remote, but the Wii can play

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EricBall

Vertical MAME pt 15

The base software install and configuration has been completed!  Now I just need to build the final cabinet (current roadblock is persuading my son to work on the control panel artwork).  For those who might be interested, here is the "top 40 classic vertical arcade games" which are playable:     I'm hoping I will be able to track the number of plays for each game.  I suspect there will be few which get played a lot and a few which aren't played.  

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Valve SteamPal musings

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2021/05/exclusive-valve-is-making-a-switch-like-portable-gaming-pc/   Not to be a wet blanket, but I predict failure (based upon the info in the article).   IMHO the main problem going to be processing power.  A decent gaming PC has a CPU & GPU far more powerful than the Switch and if Valve tried to squeeze that into a portable system the battery life would be very short.  But downgrading the CPU & GPU to a level where battery life if re

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EricBall

Vertical MAME pt 14

I got the Raspberry Pi 3A+ last week and the HDMI to DVI adapter finally showed up on Friday.  So I immediately hooked everything up and started to redo the setup (fortunately I'd tried to keep notes for most of the config changes).  I had powered the Zero off the USB hub built into the monitor which meant I could turn both on and off with the monitor's power button.  At first I did the same with the 3A+, but I got occasional "under voltage detected" errors.  At first I ignored it as it didn't s

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