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Geeky things I'm up to

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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

Love / Hate

I have a love / hate relationship with some games. I love playing them, but I hate how much time I spend on them. Time which I could be spending working on other projects or, in some cases, sleeping.   This summer I played HalfLife into the wee hours of the morning the night before I needed to leave for the airport at 4 AM.   This past Friday I played Civ3 past midnight even though I started the day at 4:30 AM and had a 9 AM meeting the next day. Last night it was only through a great f

EricBall

EricBall

new review of an old game

I played Wolf3D when it first came out. I played DOOM and DOOM II when they first came out. But when Quake came out my home PC no longer had the necessary horsepower. Thus I was pushed off the FPS bandwagon (except for Goldeneye). I also no longer had the time and desire to dedicate to playing games. And online has little appeal to me. But then I saw Half Life athology in the bargain bin at the grocery store. I resisted for a long while, but I finally couldn't say no to $10. At one time I played

EricBall

EricBall

N64 acquisitions

If I'm not careful, my wife is going to kill me. My original idea was to create some favorite eBay searches for the top-rated kid-friendly N64 & GCN games which I didn't already have. My price point is C$10, including shipping (which typically doesn't leave much for the game). I've picked up: Blast Corps, Rayman 2, Rocket: Robot on Wheels, and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (not kid friendly, but one I've wanted since I rented it a long, long time ago).   Unfortunately, it looks lik

EricBall

EricBall

saving for Wii

Monday my wife declared my son's piggybank to be finally full and started sorting and rolling. In all, it was over 40lbs and C$800 (those $1 & $2 coins add up quick) which will be added to his university account. But there was also over C$200 in paper money, which he has earmarked for buying a Wii. Unfortunately, the cost of the system plus one game (and tax) will cost C$400. So I guess he still has some saving to do. (Which he will probably accomplish in a year or so as he rarely spend

EricBall

EricBall

sensible guide to safe computing?

One of the things I did while visiting my in-laws was to do some cleanup of their computer. In spite of having the McAfee suite, they'd managed to pick up a bunch of malware. I suspect it started with some kind of "free" download which installed a toolbar or taskbar tool, which then installed something else . . . and next thing you know they're getting random pop-ups and error messages.   Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone has ever found a sensible guide to safe computing? Not just "install an

EricBall

EricBall

GCN Super Monkey Ball 2

Have you ever played a game and wondered whether you bought the same game as reviewers? Super Monkey Ball 2 is like that for me.   Another one of my cheap bastard eBay purchases. I don't have Super Monkey Ball 1 yet, so I can't compare the two. But I'm glad I only paid $10 for it.   Maybe it's because I'm playing the single player story mode instead of the multiplayer games. Or maybe the reviewers only played the first ten maps and cribbed the rest from Super Monkey Ball 1. Who knows?

EricBall

EricBall

GCN Star Fox Adventures

Although it's no Zelda OoT, I'm quite enjoying ripping through Star Fox Adventures.   the bads: #1 Exit doesn't save, or give the option to save! (I lost an entire stage discovering this.) #2 Very linear. There's one path through the game and very few (and very short) side stories. In most cases it's pretty obvious where to go & what to do. #3 Although the manual seems to suggest a complex attack system, it really comes down to A-button mashing while wiggling the control stick. (Al

EricBall

EricBall

self-modifying code HELP!

My Propeller video driver is almost done, but I've run into a snag. The following is a snippet from the pixel byte to long lookup routine.   SHR sprgfx1, #8 ' shift byte into position MOV sprbyte, sprgfx1 AND sprbyte, #$0FF wz MOVS :byte6, sprbyte ' update source pointer MOVD :byte6, sprdata ' update destination pointer ADD sprdata, #1 :byte6 IF_NZ MOV sprdata, sprbyte ' copy color lookup table entry to lineRAM SHR sprgfx1, #8 wz MOVS :byte7,

EricBall

EricBall

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