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Geeky things I'm up to

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N64 versus PS1

This past Christmas I bought an N64 for my son (and me) to enjoy my collection of games. (Although the problem turned out to be dirty cartridges rather than a dead N64.) He's been having a blast playing Super Mario 64 and the Mario Party games. This nostalgia rekindled my interest in what is under the hood of both it and the original PlayStation. It turns out there's a lot of similarities between the two, more than I would have expected. Both used a MIPS CPU (PSX: 32bit R3051 @ 33.8688

EricBall

EricBall in MAME

iOS game nearing completion!

(See previous entries for more info on the game.) It's surprising what a little motivation and enthusiasm can accomplish. One big help was I reached out to YouTuber Torogadude and asked if I could use his compositions as background music and he agreed. Bonus! I've also added sound effects and knocked a lot of other items off my to-do list, which leaves really only three big ones: Revise the embedded HTML "About" pages and try to fix the back navigation so it goes to the previous page rat

EricBall

EricBall

Back working on my iOS game

I'm back to working on my iOS game "Slide Tilt Roll" in preparation to using it for a presentation to some computer students at my son's high school.   I updated the MacBook to High Sierra, updated to XCode 9, installed XCode 8 to upgrade the code base from Swift 2.2 to Swift 3.0, then used XCode 9 to bring it up to Swift 4.0. That worked for 90% of the code, then I needed to go through and manually fix a few errors and warnings (mostly confined to sqlite and CGPath functions).   I've als

EricBall

EricBall

DIY microconsole part 2

I now have MAME (2003 - 0.78) up and running, woot! I've loaded up "the best of" from pre-1986, now I need to figure out how to set the controls beyond the defaults. This also means I can play the originals rather than the console ports. I'm also working on getting Colecovision running. I've created a script which creates a playlist from a directory of zip'd ROMs, as Lakka doesn't seem to auto recognize them. Unfortunately, the CV emulator is also the MSX emulator, so I need to figure out

EricBall

EricBall

DIY microconsole

Ingredients: Bought: Raspberry Pi Zero W, Pro: cheap at C$13.50 (+tax & shipping, case C$6), tiny (65mmx30mm), low power (powered via USB on TV), WiFi & Bluetooth (for controllers). Con: can only handle 8 bit & 16 bit gen consoles, miniature connectors require special cables (C$6) On-Hand: 4GB micro-SD card, HDMI cable (dollar store), micro USB cable (for power), PS3 controller For initial set up: PC (downloads etc), USB keyboard (to set WiFi passphrase), mini USB cable (for PS3 co

EricBall

EricBall

Sega Forever suffers from poor emulation

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/06/sega-forever-emulation-performance-problems/ For some reason I've never gotten into Sega's consoles. Sure I've played Sonic, but that's about it. However, when I heard about Sega Forever, I thought I might give it a try - watch a few ads, play a few games. But now I probably won't bother. The question for me is why Sega would release anything less than perfect. I have to conclude the decision makers at Sega don't care about their games, only about m

EricBall

EricBall

wav2tia redux

So, can the TIA generate speech just using normal AUDC waveforms (versus AUDF based PCM)? The initial results say no. Although you can hear some of the inflection. In the attachment is are two WAV files (one with just a simulated TIA output and one with a the input and output in stereo) along the code & executable I used. The code generates two frames worth of audio of each TIA AUDC+AUDF waveform (except AUDC 3 where the waveform is dependent on the initial state of the LFSRs). It th

EricBall

EricBall

TIA Audio Noise Generator redux

In the comments for http://atariage.com/forums/blog/148/entry-13844-blast-off/there was some discussion on whether the TIA could be used to generate speech. Previously I'd done some programming which tried to brute-force fit the TIA waveforms to music. The results were less than impressive, but speech might be simple enough to achieve better results. The waveforms were based on what I'd learned about the TIA Audio Noise Generator circuit, and documented in several blog posts (sorry about th

EricBall

EricBall

Tempest 2017 - value of an unfinished project

As my wife often reminds me, I have a habit of not finishing projects once I've started them. (Usually while pointing at one of them.) I have to say that I've gotten better at managing this habit (although not necessarily at finishing projects). I try not to start projects, or at least start spending money instead of just time, unless I have a relatively clear understanding of what it's going to take to finish the project (and why I'm bothering). But i still have quite a few projects hanging

EricBall

EricBall

3D TV is dead

https://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/17/01/19/2218238/3d-tv-is-dead I don't dispute that 3D TV never took off, what I find interesting is the TV manufacturers decided to drop a feature - no matter how unused. What's interesting is 3D is still popular enough to make 3D films. (Although my preference is for 2D editions I saw Rogue One in 3D because there wasn't a non-3D showing on a big screen.) Personally my 55" LG TV is passive 3D capable - so the glasses don't require batteries. I

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

this ain't my first rodeo

The lack of interest in creating levels for Slide Tilt Roll has put a serious black cloud over my plans to release it. Seeking some inspiration, I started watching the But after watching the first two I started to think - what was my first game? Yes, I created Skeleton / Skeleton+, but I'm talking about before that - 'way before that. I know I did a few games for the Color Computer back in the 80s - I distinctly remember a simple racing game. (Probably done in Basic - it used text mode

EricBall

EricBall

Wanted - level creators for my iOS game

The level creator for my iOS game "Slide Tilt Roll" is working. But before I put the game on the App Store, I need some levels. Which means I need people to create levels.   Interested? You need an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 9 or later (configured to send email) and a willingness to create levels gratis for my 100% free application.   In order to install my app I need the UDID for your device. This can be obtained from iTunes by clicking on the Serial Number on the device S

EricBall

EricBall

iOS programming - end of line confusion

One of the features of my iOS game is a level editor, so users can create their own levels. The plan is for users to create levels then submit them to me (via email). I will then take those levels and add them to the application bundle and update the app so everyone gets to play them. The hard part turned out to be easy and the easy part turned out to be hard. Creating the email itself was easy - only a few lines of code. I could even easily create attachments, including the PNG of the lev

EricBall

EricBall

iOS programming - a non-programming roadblock

So my iOS game is coming along smartly. User created levels are now stored in an SQLite database on the device, which can then be selected from a list (complete with icon showing the level). It's actually getting to the point where I might want to make it available as an ad-hoc download. For testing, Apple provides three methods to get your code onto someone's device: 1. Connect the device to your development environment and deploy directly. This is what I've been doing so far. The good

EricBall

EricBall

iOS programming - major milestone reached

My iOS game has reached a major milestone - I've linked the level creator to the play level so it's now possible to create a level and play it. In theory a lot of the remaining coding should be relatively standard and therefore easier. Hopefully I can get my son and a few other friends / coworkers to use it to start creating levels First I need to update it to Swift 2.3 so I can load it onto iOS 10 devices. (This is one part of the process I dislike, there's a lot of forced obsolescence in

EricBall

EricBall

Subversion

For my iOS programming project I been using sneakernet to try to keep the iMac and MacBook project directories synchronized with limited success. While XCode has support for Git and Subversion (and will create an local Git repository for tracking local changes), the instructions on how to do the initial setup. The Apple documentation starts with "Check Out the project from your repository" and is mum on how to import an existing project into a repository. Well, with some help from http://sta

EricBall

EricBall

channels watched versus available

A Neilsen report (picked up by USA Today, then by Slashdot) says, on average, people only watch 20 channels of the 200 they are subscribed to. Is this news to anyone with a normal cable or satellite package? It's called bundling. In order to get those 20 channels, they have to subscribe to the 200 channel bundle.** In my case, my bundle includes over 100 English language HD channels. (Included in that count are some semi-duplicate channels, like "regional" versions of the two major sports

EricBall

EricBall

iOS programming - battling with UICollectionView

In my game I want a level builder. Users will be able to create their own levels and send them to me for inclusion in a future release. The UI is fairly simple - a level grid in the top of the screen and the level tiles in the bottom of the screen. Select a tile then where you want it in the grid. The tiles are in a scrolling view like a photo gallery. The iOS UIKit SDk even provides an out-of-the box solution - the UICollectionView (+UICollectionViewFlowLayout). It's suppose to be easy; n

EricBall

EricBall

Swift 3 catch 22

Last night I told myself to stop playing Minecraft and get back to work on my iOS game. At least start to put together the level editor. Once I have something partially working I'm much more likely to spend time working on it. But XCode had other ideas as it had updated. So when I opened the project, it asked me (twice) whether I wanted to convert it to the current version of Swift. I said no, but then it said it wouldn't be able to compile it. That wasn't a good option either. So I made

EricBall

EricBall

Home WiFi sniffing

Over the years my home internet access (though my cableco) has steadily improved. However, it's always had a usage cap. Not a hard cap where it stops working, or even a soft cap where the bandwidth gets downgraded. Nope, instead I get a usage charge if I exceed it - which I've done occasionally. The "fix" is to increase my service. However, I've also configured my Netgear router to kick out a warning page when I've exceeded 100GB to give me some warning (the cableco will as well, but their

EricBall

EricBall

programming iOS using SpriteKit chapter 3

The game part of my iOS app is 90% done. (Which all programmers know means there's still 90% left to do.) But the big challenges have been conquered - the touch & tilt controls and physics works. There's still some to-dos to load a level, do a reset, handle pause etc. but they will wait until I get the level builder working. However, before I did that I wanted to take a look at performance. One of the cool things with iOS development is you can easily test out the app on an actual dev

EricBall

EricBall

death of the 3.5mm 15mm TRRS socket?

Reading https://www.buzzfeed.com/johnpaczkowski/inside-iphone-7-why-apple-killed-the-headphone-jackgave me an idea. What if you combined the Apple W1 wireless chip with something like a Chu Moy pocket amplifier. So you plug your $tupidly expen$ive headphones into the pocket amp which is wirelessly connected to your phone. On the actual removal of the headphone jack, I think Apple is ahead of the curve. Bluetooth based headphones are becoming more common and there are definite advantages to

EricBall

EricBall

Mucking around with fragment / pixel shaders

In my game there's a ball which rolls around the playfield. While SpriteKit is very cool with baked in physics and lighting, it's a 2D engine. So although it will rotate the 2D texture of the ball around the Z axis, that doesn't really convey the look of the ball rolling forward. My original idea was to go with a flat shaded sphere and let the normal map lighting give the ball a more 3D look. Unfortunately the result was less than satisfying. But then I had an idea. What if the ball was

EricBall

EricBall

Mucking around with iOS SpriteKit

I have this idea for a game, which I'm trying to program for iOS (using Swift). As this is a considerable step beyond my typical C & ASM skill set, it's been slow going. Swift itself is a post C object oriented / procedural language so isn't that difficult to understand, and I can certainly appreciate _not_ having to learn Objective C. No, the problem is the frameworks. Swift on it's own can do very little. It needs libraries like UIKit and SpriteKit. So unlike C where you can do a lo

EricBall

EricBall

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