Project Mame: Alpha phase – the quest begins.

June 20th, 2012

Likely if you know me well – you know the many projects I dream of completing.

Finally, with the help of Androond, we have decided to release a mutual dream. To build our very own arcade cabinet. We are both pretty enamoured with retro gaming and reliving the glorious history of gaming. A visit to Barcade in NY solidified our resolve and we decided it was time to commit – time and money.

Our first discussions were about the cabinet design – the most obvious build is the standard cabinet. The standups are the most common examples of arcade machines but they require a pretty large amount of space and can look gruesome. The alternative was to build a cocktail table type machine – these are much more compact and less intrusive. Cocktail machines also have a slightly more retro look and … are just cooler.

Debate ensued. Evidently Androond was driven to madness and insisted he would go off and design us a magical beast that would negate the need to build either as a single… but it would combine both designs and give us the ability to transform directly from a cocktail to standup cabinet.

I laughed. Directly in his face. Loudly.

On our next business meeting over a game of table tennis (yes, we conduct all business over table tennis) the design was discussed further – I was hesitant to say the least. The idea of a cabinet being able to shift from one form to another without disrupting cables and still providing stability struck me as slightly impossible. Post game ( a 3-1 loss to Androond) I was shown the AutoCAD designs (yes, we are professionals). Once we worked through a basic zoom problem I was pleasantly surprised. The design is simple and appears to work in a virtual world – the thing transforms for gods sake! Magical.

We’ve agreed to push on with this design but before any physical building begins we need to build our donor computer and configure it with MAME. Some testing will be done here and then we will move on to testing with physical buttons and joystiqs. I’ll tentatively title that the Beta phase!

The dream lives and advances!

Dam you early lunch!

June 19th, 2012

I totally shouldn’t be hungry for another hour but the internet has gone and ruined that.

I own a blog?

June 12th, 2012

At first – I thought this was all lies and slander. I’ve never had a blog before. Have I?

Apparently yes.

I even found this pretty interface.

What happened? Well, life got interesting. Now? Life seems less interesting – or perhaps I am stumbling across things to share once more.

Lets get the party started with some small nerdy stuff. I’ll try to keep the momentum rolling through-out the week;

Awesome lamp

Check out this wicked lamp, admittedly, its internet old (aka, been round the block). But its sticking in my favourites as a must buy. Totally present worthy. Who doesn’t want to jazz up the light world with some funky Mario graphics and sounds.

While we are on the Etsy subject – something that popped up today that surpasses the lamp. An unbelievable wall mural. You are not a parent if you a) don’t already own one for your child. b) don’t want to buy this for your future child. I guess if point b) applies… then you aren’t a parent anyway.

Not only is this item wicked – its affordable. So its a double threat…. you can afford to buy 32 of these AND it will help you pick up chicks. What. Could. Go. Wrong.

Its dangerous to go alone. Take this!

Google Tracking

October 28th, 2011

Slightly hilarious some of the information google passes me via its tracking API. The API is free and ties in with your CMS (wordpress/drupal – or whatever) to provide traffic statistics and details on how users get to your site.

Mine used to be valid (and still is to a point) but since I’ve started having problems with finding a good *free* captcha plugin I’m getting more spam bounces. This has skewed my ‘top referrer’ sites;


Or, I have odd friends that get to my blog in odd ways. Don’t feed the trolls – don’t go to any of these sites!

The real hilarity comes via the ‘Top Searches’ report. ‘Top Searches’ shows the google searches that lead users to my blog and lets me see what keywords they searched. I’ve watched this for a while and it often brings a chuckle. Currently my ‘top searches’ are;

– binary scrimp
– www.funy
– cinnamon soda
– judas unchained
– movember ends

Ok sure, some are slightly applicable. But tell me – what is a ‘binary scrimp’ – maybe I should google it! Hrm. Awkward, I’m the first result if you search ‘binary scrimp’ (and yes I clicked through to maintain my high rating!). Glad I represent a strong interest in the scrimping of binary then. Welcome all you Binary Scrimpers!

I won’t even touch what a ‘funy organisme’ is – or why this person decided to try with a www. and a .com but still kept his space in the middle! Perhaps on his google journey he learnt how to spell what he was searching for? Doubtful.

Cinnamon soda? Ok sure, I wrote a line or two on the ‘Big Red’ soda – but I gave up searching by page 23 of the google results. Did someone *really* pass up all those results to choose my carefully crafted words? If so, I applaud you sir.

Judas Unchained! Evidently my poetic prose of a review interested someone or something. I tend to write all my reviews directed at web scrapers – what, web scrapers read books as well! Just because my niche market is semi-sentient self aware google bots! Don’t judge me.

‘Movember ends’ I can’t even hazard a guess at how this person made it to me. I would have thought it was clear Movember ended along with November. This concept may be confusing for some – I know I start early usually…. so perhaps others end late and this guy just wanted to clarify.

How about I conclude my little google tracking rant with a pretty graph?

Its funny because while the spikes show *me* the users per day (when I hover over it) they don’t show you. So if I said – that large spike represents 798 unique visitors – you would be impressed and only I (and google) would know the real data.

Also interesting to note I can only entertain the average person (read: web scraper) for 1 minute and 14 seconds. Evidently when you are a semi-sentient web scraper it doesn’t take long to digest my entire site… in fact, I’m partly flattered they hang around for the extra 1 minute and 12 seconds – as clearly this blog isn’t that dense.

Alright. That ends my foray into google analytics for today. Back to work!

Update: Excellent news! I’m now also the top result for ‘Binary Scrimpers’. Finally I’m a high flyer!

Paper superseded.

July 6th, 2011

Many of you know I am an avid reader – avid. I’ve even posted my book stacks before. Times a change and no more shall I be haunted by stacks of books.

I bought a Kindle.

Don’t get all hissy. And yes, I did sell out. Why? Travelling mainly – but a few reasons.

I’ve read roughly 30 books on the Kindle since purchased and I think its a massively good idea. Its size is the largest positive for me. Slips into a back pack with ease and can be whipped out when required – trains, bus, aeroplane etc. Awesome. Controlling the font size is also pretty cool and gives control of words per page. I like it small and teeny to minimise page turns. Connected to Amazon is a change and has its ups and downs. Ups, epic ebook selection at my fingertips – global 3g access pretty much means I can buy a book anywhere we head. Downs, I have to *buy* the ebook from Amazon. Pretty much directly removed myself from the second hand market.

A few bad notes but things I can live with as a tech-head. Battery life – I haven’t had it die on me in a time of need but I charge it when ever I feel I’m reading lots. Obviously you don’t have to charge a paper back. Format support – awww. No ePub support? Well I only recently delved into the Calibre world and started converting ePub to .mobi. Pretty easy conversion and was a one off for Jemma to read a book not available on Amazon. Price wise the device is cheap for what it is but you are spending more on *buying* books – a new release is usually around the $12 USD mark – cheap sure – but an older book might still cost $9 USD… bit more than in a dank second hand shop.

One of the biggest ups is the greater exposure to unknown authors through self publishing. An indy author can publish their own titles at their own prices (Amazon takes a massive cut) but it means you start to see books you normally wouldn’t see in say Dymocks or Borders. Some of the price points are amazing – $0.99 USD for example.

The build quality is high in my opinion – hardware feels strong and I haven’t lost any buttons to excessive use. I find the keyboard a little useless and much prefer to buy the books via a full featured browser on a PC rather than through the device. The software is pretty tight as well – there is good link in and you can see Amazon thought hard about trying to up sell/on sell. A few factors I dislike – the “highlights” system where a user can highlight content and its shared through WhisperNet (Amazon 3g network) for other readers. I still leave this feature on out of curiosity but the dribble people highlight never ceases to amaze me. Then other people seem to highlight it *just* because someone else did. WHY? I’d also like to see some way of providing feedback on editing. In a perfect world – I’d be able to highlight a typo and tag it for the publisher. The publisher would then be notified and be able to push a new version of the book with a batch of corrections. Sadly nothing like this.

My biggest hate? And this is the biggest. When the screen is ‘locked’ a screen is thrown with a notable author – there is a group of say 10 of these images all based on authors I have no interest in and then a few “Provide Feedback” or “Kindle” images. What I would like is control over this – personally I want it to rotate between the covers of the books I own each time I lock it. Too much to ask Amazon? Apparently so.

Which has just reminded me of another little niggle – apparently publishers don’t care much for eBook covers so they throw in some of the worst template covers. Essentially a grey background with Author Name Book Name. Horrid. At a minimum scan the real cover in monochrome and include that. Geez.

Apparently I’m on a negative spiral but this is the last problem I swear…. the publishers also get to set the ‘opening page’ so when you *start* a book it doesn’t open at the cover it normally starts at the first page of the book. Ok fine, this is a tough one as people will argue for either way but I want to start at the cover then flick through. The existing first page technique means you miss the author dedication among other things. Poor form!

Evidently this became a Kindle essay – sure there are some bad points but I love the dam thing. Its actually really easy to read. Its light and compact. Looks good. Feels good. Its sad not having to enter all the second hand book stores but I still do for a peak and maybe get some inspiration of what to read next.

And how about a shameless link? Sure – here is my Amazon wish list – I have no idea if other people can buy Kindle books for me but WHY NOT!

Shameless link to my wishlist

Now with added neglect.

June 1st, 2011

Turns out life can be pretty busy when doing an epic amount of travelling. I haven’t seen a single flick to report on.

I’ve conducted many a nerdy things – including work and personal shenanigans – but have nothing grand to write about.

Perhaps something will come up later this week for me to comment on. For now, enjoy the 10% more neglect.

Tron Legacy – the interesting stuff

April 11th, 2011

I wrote a while back on my general excitement for the movie Tron Legacy. As I essentially have the mind of a sparrow I don’t think I ever reflected on the movie. A review of sorts. Well – I’m not doing one. I really liked it. I really enjoyed it. The graphical art was amazing and the digital world was rendered to perfection.

Sure, the plot was thin in places and the some of the characters lacking – but the core digital world (the grid) was perfection for me. More than that, all the digital renderings were so well done – the board room layout in the opening scenes. Flynn’s desk/touch screen combo computer in his basement. All of it was just how it should have been.

Imagine my glee when I stumbled upon this link. Its crafted by one of the software engineers who played a major role in the creation of the digital art for Tron Legacy. Its worth read if you enjoyed the movie and are tech minded.

I’ve never read in to how the graphics were rendered or even created so this was an eye opener for me. I had assumed all these types of CG were done by art types sitting in front of photoshop or some rendering engine for months on ends. I never considered the use of programming and applications to generate this stuff. Its interesting to see how the code is manipulated and shapes are created to help with the end result.

It was also great to see someone tech minded used to create the characters actions – finally a movie that at least attempted to mimic real world commands (use of ps | grep and the kill command). I picked that up while watching and thought it was great to see.

Would be great if all films had this level of talent and skill applied to the graphical processing AND technical input. I hope to see these guys go far and get on some more big name flicks.

Each pixel is sacred.

April 9th, 2011

One of the best custom images I’ve seen in a while. I haven’t considered owning a poster for a long time – if I had a wall, I’d consider owning this as a poster. I don’t have a wall therefore, no need for the poster.

I need to get some walls.

[Credited to it8bit]

The North American “Can you eat it quest?”

March 16th, 2011

Why yes I can eat it! And will!

I thought I’d throw together some of the good piccies of the food we have conquered so far! These are in no specific order and you can click to get the grainy details;

First up – the classic hot dog. Value here – $3 a pop. Good location – near the beach. All you can eat condiments. Most authentic award.

What the? Its a donut alright. It was tiny. My mouth dominated it in like 2 bites proving my manly-ness. Purchased Pike Place Market, Seattle. Good? Yes. It was warm and powdered. Award? Most powdered donut eaten by me. Bonus round; also visited the first Starbucks here AND had my first fresh King Crab.

Oh yea – now we are talking. Red Robin. Seattle. Expectations were low. End result was high. Beef burger with deep fried jalapeƱos. Unlimited steak fries (which I did not take up). Awarded Most Improved player.

Beer and pizza – an assumed play. Zeeks. Good topping. Good pastry. Awarded top pizza in North America (so far!)

This was a first for me. Popcorn shrimp – how do they fit the corn in the shrimp? There is no corn in the shrimp? How is it popcorn? Oh! right. It tasted dam good though – best you don’t add popcorn. Even Jemma got in there. Awarded Seafood Appealing to Jemma award (this is a lucrative one).

An odd one – its a hot chocolate (in Whistler). But all the chocolate was in the bottom. What did I do? Turn it in to ART! I then proceeded to not drink (eat it) but I insisted photos were taken. Award? Most creative!

Hur hur hur. I look like Snoop Dawg. Not really, its just steam. This tasted crap. Slight letdown here random Asian store on Davie St. I. shall. not. return.

Funny story here – It was some soup – chicken noodle. Granville Island. Was good as it was cold. What ruined it? A seagul poo’d on me. I can’t fault the soup on that – just the bird. Awarded Most Poo’d on while eating award. Current tally = 1.

I ate the pizza here – Jemma (the one up top) survived my ravenous appetite. The pizza shop talked it up – We rise the dough three times BLAH BLAH BLAH – let me eat the pizza already. End result? It was crap. The “deli meat” you bragged about? Crap. Seriously – was I in a children’s cafeteria. That was like some devon. Points for effort and style – the thing looked good (but clearly the olives were from a can). Awarded Least NY Style pizza (advertised as New York Style pizza).

Ok, so I didn’t eat this. I mean really – its sliced. I like mac’n’cheese. I like sliced meats. Who woulda thought the combination looks like maggots. So no, I didn’t eat it. FAIL FOOD QUEST. Maybe a little less MACARONIS and a little more FROMAGE! Most maggot appearance award.

I shall attempt to eat more as clearly I haven’t eaten enough.

Mass Effect – I want to like you.

March 14th, 2011

I really do. We should be friends. We can be friends. Everyone says you are really good and have a great story line.

I’m in a foreign country. Your installed. Lets play.

Alas, I’ve been down this path before. I got too caught up in all your side quests and content. Not this time! This time I stick to the main plot thread and don’t get distracted.

So, where are we now? We are together – I’m playing you. Its fun. Life is good. We are both happy.

Queue Krogan Battlemaster;

Yes, you ugly bastard. You ruined it all. All of sudden I’m stuck – I can’t beat you and when I load from ‘last autosave’ I’m already trapped just before I battle you. Of course I’m a low level – derrrrr – I’m not doing all the side quests.

Oh I see. I have to either – get stuck OR do all the side quests.


I don’t think this is going to work out.