Epoxy blobs should be illegal.

I picked up a TV Games Touch Star Wars game on sale at Toys R’ Us. I’ve never seen one of these plug-in games with a touchpad before, and thought maybe it would be fun to hack. Well, as usual, I was disappointed.

EPOXY BLOBBBBBBBBBBB!
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I wonder if there’s anything under that one that looks like a pad for a RAM or Flash? Where’s an x-ray machine when you need one.
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Interestingly, the touchpad connects to the mainboard via SPI, so maybe that bit might be usable on its own.
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Retro computer fiesta, part 1

I’ve been on a retro computer buying spree! Watch this.

Writing Conway’s Life for the MC-10 was an interesting exercise – it’s complex enough to not be trivial, to exercise a fair set of the language features, and to bump up against some of the machine’s limitations. It works pretty nicely, although holy CRAP does it need some optimization. You can download it, formatted for running on both emulators and real hardware here:

mc_life.zip

And here’s the Microcolor BASIC source code, for your interest.


10 REM MC-LIFE (C)2012 RINEY
20 CLEAR
30 W=63:H=31:AC=2:CX=1:CY=1:NC=0:PX=0:PY=0
35 INPUT "GRID SIZE(W,H - MAX IS 63,31)";IW,IH
36 IF W>=IW THEN W=IW
37 IF H>=IH THEN H=IH
40 DIM GR(H,W)
50 CLS
51 PRINT "RETICULATING SPLINES..."
55 GOSUB 7000
56 CLS
60 PRINT@237,"MC-LIFE"
70 PRINT@266,"PRESS ANY KEY"
80 A$=INKEY$:IF A$="" GOTO 80
90 CLS 0
110 GOSUB 2000
120 GOSUB 3000
130 GOTO 90
1000 REM INIT
1010 FOR Y=1 TO H
1020 FOR X=1 TO W
1025 A = RND(11)
1030 IF A>9 THEN GR(Y,X)=AC:GOTO 1040
1035 GR(Y,X)=0
1040 NEXT X,Y
1050 RETURN
1100 REM ZERO
1110 FOR Y=1 TO H
1120 FOR X=1 TO W
1130 GR(Y,X)=0
1140 NEXT X,Y
1150 RETURN
2000 REM DRAW
2010 FOR Y=1 TO H
2020 FOR X=1 TO W
2025 IF GR(Y,X)=AC THEN SET(X,Y,AC)
2040 NEXT X,Y
2999 RETURN
3000 REM UPDATE
3010 FOR CY=1 TO H
3020 FOR CX=1 TO W
3030 GOSUB 4000
3040 IF POINT(CX,CY)=AC THEN 3100
3050 IF NC=3 THEN GR(CY,CX)=AC
3060 GOTO 3900
3100 ON NC+1 GOTO 3200,3200,3300,3300,3400
3200 GR(CY,CX)=0:GOTO 3900
3300 GR(CY,CX)=AC:GOTO 3900
3400 GR(CY,CX)=0:GOTO 3900
3900 NEXT CX,CY
3999 RETURN
4000 REM NEIGHBOR COUNT
4005 NC=0
4010 PX=CX:PY=CY-1:GOSUB 6000
4020 PX=CX+1:PY=CY-1:GOSUB 6000
4030 PX=CX+1:PY=CY:GOSUB 6000
4040 PX=CX+1:PY=CY+1:GOSUB 6000
4045 IF NC=4 THEN RETURN
4050 PX=CX:PY=CY+1:GOSUB 6000
4055 IF NC=4 THEN RETURN
4060 PX=CX-1:PY=CY+1:GOSUB 6000
4065 IF NC=4 THEN RETURN
4070 PX=CX-1:PY=CY:GOSUB 6000
4075 IF NC=4 THEN RETURN
4080 PX=CX-1:PY=CY-1:GOSUB 6000
4999 RETURN
6000 REM WRAPPER
6010 IF PX=0 THEN 6100
6020 IF PX=W+1 THEN PX=1
6030 IF PY=0 THEN 6200
6040 IF PY=H+1 THEN PY=1
6050 GOTO 6300
6100 PX=W
6110 GOTO 6030
6200 PY=H
6300 IF POINT(PX,PY)=AC THEN NC=NC+1
6310 RETURN
7000 REM GLIDER
7005 GOSUB 1100
7010 GR(4,6)=AC
7020 GR(5,4)=AC:GR(5,6)=AC
7030 GR(6,5)=AC:GR(6,6)=AC
7040 RETURN
8000 REM BLINKER
8010 GOSUB 1100
8020 GR(3,3)=AC
8021 GR(3,4)=AC
8022 GR(3,5)=AC
8030 RETURN

worklog 12/28

Inaugural work in the new garage workshop! Nothing major, just drilled the jackplate for the marquee, and installed the power connector. I also put another coat of poly on the frame. Looks shiny!

jackplate and power connector

On the 3D printer front, I got the heated bed PCB soldered and installed the endstop switches. Soon!

Tickertweet

When the east coast earthquake hit a little while ago, I found out about it first from a tweet, followed up by an IM from a friend in Brooklyn, followed up 10 minutes or so later by Google News. I thought it would be neat to have a way to call attention to important events. Inspired by old-fashioned ticker tapes, I put together some code to print specified Twitter updates in near-real-time to a thermal printer. More details in the video:

sample of the tweet output

The tweets are fetched using the twitter Ruby gem, rendered into a PBM image with rmagick, and printed via the pbm2lwxl library. I’ll put the code up on github after a little cleanup. As an upgrade, I’m setting up the software to run on a NSLU2 single-board computer, so the printer doesn’t have to be tethered to my desktop. More on that in a bit!

EDIT: the code is now on Github here: https://github.com/riney/tickertweet-proto

i spell “w3rd” with a three

Saying “hello, abandoned blog” seems kind of stupid when my post ratio is approximately one post every year and a half, so let’s just skip past that. Some notes:

  • I went to Bass Pro Shops today, looking for a suitable holster for my Halloween costume. That store might just be the best reason I’ve found so far for Texas to exist at all. They are incredibly enthusiastic to throw a gun in your hand. No exaggeration; upon approaching the handgun counter, the gentleman behind it said “Well, howdy, tall feller! What can I put in your hand?”

    This is a line that is only appropriate at either gun shops or gay bathhouses.

    I’m actually a pretty big gun fan. I find them technically interesting – you get to hold, in a convenient, handheld package, the cumulative result of several thousand years of applied technological development. Plus, shooting is fun – you have to relax, concentrate, and zone out a bit to shoot well, which is oddly similar to coding…

    Anyway, I looked at a few M1911 pistols. There was a Taurus, which was attractive but cheaply made, and a Sig Sauer, which was far, far nicer. I was hoping to get a look at a Springfield Armory Mil-Spec and Smith and Wesson’s version, but no luck. Both of those are far closer to the original GI version, which strikes me as a good thing – why add rails and gizmos to a fantastic design that has survived since WWI…

  • What’s also fun? Booze. Know where I’m never going to get any again? Dallas Liquor Store, located at 2121 Main St # 102, just past the new Main Street Garden park. When I went in, there were two homeless people sitting on crates INSIDE THE SHOP harassing customers (i.e. me). And the guy working there didn’t seem particularly bothered by this. FAIL.

why i hate apartment living

It’s 12:15 AM. I’m hungry. I’m hungry because I’ve been working on DragonCon stuff for hours, and I’ve forgotten to eat. So I go to toss together some basic subsistence food (pasta, canned sauce, mystery meat from the freezer, and frozen vegetables). Fine. Here’s the problem, though. Last time I cooked, I used some oil. If you cook with oil, some of the oil gets on stuff, like your other stove burners. Normally you don’t give a damn. You can try to clean it off, but no amount of scrubbing will keep the burners from smoking, at least a little bit, when you turn them on. Normally, again, you don’t give a damn. But the smoke detectors in my apartment are so hyper-sensitive that making toast is enough to set them off.

Not burning toast. Making toast. And my toaster’s clean, don’t ask.

So now what I’m doing is, with all the windows open, and with every fan I can find blowing toward them, gently throttling each burner, one at a time, for brief intervals, and hoping that the slight tendrils of smoke generated aren’t enough to start the screeching wail of the alarms. We’re not talking a kitchen full of smoke, here. We’re talking wisps. WISPS! I know it’s an old building and all, but jeez. If the alarms don’t clear in a minute or so, the whole BUILDING’S alarm goes off, the fire department comes out, everybody evacuates. It’s happened five or six times since I’ve been here. Not caused by me, thank goodness.

So I wait, daring the alarms to go off.

And I’m really really hungry, dammit!

never as complicated as I wanted to be

Dear abandoned blog, here are some videos:

This is the video I made at DragonCon last year. I never posted it here. It might give you an idea what a big science fiction convention is about. Or it might give you an idea how weird my friends and I are. Or it might give you some other ideas altogether! Best of luck with that. It’s probably what you’d call “not safe for work”, mostly due to cussin’.

Second, here’s a neat video wherein I play with thermal conduction. It’s just *slightly* more interesting than it sounds.

From E3 today, a teaser trailer from Portal 2:

Something that always blows my mind about Valve games is the excruciating emphasis on storytelling. The *first line* of this trailer tells you a number of things about the game – “It’s been a long time.” GLaDOS, as we all know, is Still Alive – and she sounds dark. Angry. Serious. This is gonna be a helluva game.

Other E3 goodness – a new Kid Icarus! A new StarFox! A new PilotWings for crap’s sake! By any definition, Nintendo killed it in their announcements today. Epic Mickey, alone, might sell me a Wii.