May 29

Friday Post: BeagleBone Splatoon

Hey All,

Happy Friday!

Today Nintendo released a whole bunch of new Amiibos that were highly sought after.  I was in line at WalMart at midnight and had a lot of fun.  Met a bunch of cool people in line.  We were laughing and comparing game collections, and then the electronics guy comes out and tell us there are 6 Amiibo.  Not 6 of the 9 characters.  Just 6 Amiibo total.  3 Pac-Man and 3 Charizard.  I was 7th in line.  We could only laugh at the ridiculousness.  On the plus side, I picked up Splatoon! It is just as amazing as the demo!  If you have a Wii U and like FPS / 3PS this is a must.

The only Amiibo I was after was the Silver Mario.  I mean, come on, Silverman, Silver Mario.  It was a must buy.  There was no line at my GameStop so I was able to get one without a problem, it was just that was all they had.  This whole product line is crazy.  People going crazy over little figures.  Gotta catch em all!

In other news,  I picked up a Beagle Bone Black and I am working on testing PiPlay on that.  Initial tests look good.  It runs Ubuntu, and has some quirks, but I was able to get Mednafen, CaveStory, and DGen working without issue.

Look for more updates regarding that soon!

Have a good weekend all.

-Shea

May 15

Friday Post: F-Zero AX

Hey All,

So, I used to collect arcade games, but when I moved, I had to sell my collection.  Now that I own a house with a garage, I’m able to start rebuilding my mini arcade (and using PiPlay in the mean time 🙂 ).

One of my favorites and prized machines was an F-Zero AX.  This is the companion to the GameCube’s F-Zero GX.  It has a magnetic card reader, which allows you to save your pilot data between racers, and has a gamecube memory card slot which can access your save data.

I got very lucky that my original machine went up for sale, so I was able to repurchase it!!

01 - Bt1urXb 02 - aK75tBD 03 - SotnL5Y 04 - Lkb3tcm 05 - X69U3fp 06 - 4N1yGFU 07 - uHN6KvI 08 - 5Ew0Exk 09 - 8dSMkaX 10 - WtA0RDh 11 - mVMRQNf

The board it uses is called the TriForce, which is a regular GameCube with more memory.  The game is on optical media, but rather than using gamecube optical discs, it uses GD-ROMs.  Yep, the same media used in the Dreamcast.  In fact, the platform is a collaboration between Sega, Namco, and Nintendo (hence, TriForce).  The racing cabinet is a standard Namco / Sega model.

It’s really awesome, and I’m so glad to have it back.

Have a good weekend!

-Shea

Feb 13

Friday Post: Termboy

Hey All,

Happy Friday!

So I have had my Pi2 for a week, and I gotta say, it’s a great piece of kit.  PiPlay is coming along nicely.  Having some hiccups on the Pi2 that I need to fix before I do a full release.

TermBoy

With that being said, I saw on Hacker News today a port of a gameboy emulator to the Go language, that also only utilizes the console.  It’s called Termboy, and while it doesn’t run that fast on the Raspberry Pi, it’s still a neat little tech demo.

We first download the proper console font and install it:

wget http://kbd-project.org/download/kbd-2.0.2.tar.xz
tar xf kbd-2.0.2.tar.xz
sudo cp kbd-2.0.2/data/consolefonts/default8x16.psfu /usr/share/consolefonts/

Now we download the latest GoLang version (The apt-get version of Go is 2 years old)
[code]
wget https://storage.googleapis.com/golang/go1.4.1.src.tar.gz
tar xf go1.4.1.src.tar.gz

Set the path for where we want our Go packages to be downloaded

mkdir godownload
export GOPATH=/home/pi/go/godownload/

Build Go

cd go/src/
./make.bash

One that has completed, it’s time to download Termboy and build it.

cd ../bin/
./go get github.com/dobyrch/termboy-go

Now goto the bin folder where our newly built termboy executable resides, and run it like so:

cd ../godownload/bin/
./termboy-go /path/to/game.rom

More PiPlay news soon.  Promise!

-Shea

Jan 23

Friday Post: Javascript for Kids Review & iOS dev needed

Hey All!

So my 31st birthday was great.  Got a Gamecube controller adapter for the Wii U, had some 8 player smash battles, and my wife made me an awesome Pokemon cake!

IMG_4703

PiPlay iOS App

So one of the items I have been working on on the side for PiPlay is a remote controller option.  I have the backend working.  A daemon sits on the Pi as a virtual keyboard (using udev) waiting for a specific HTTP request which is then interpreted and issued a keypress.  It’s really cool to see in action, but ugly as all get out.

This is why I am asking if anyone has any iOS design / dev experience, I would love to chat with you and hopefully work together on this as an open source project.

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My not so impressive mockup skills 🙂

Book Review: Javascript for Kids

Javascript For Kids is the next book in the “For Kids” series from No Starch Press.  When they originally sent me the Python For Kids book, I was really excited.  It was my first time reviewing a book, and it was an amazing text in its own right.  So when they told me Javascript For Kids was available, I jumped at the chance to review a copy.

I’m going to say this outright: I like Python For Kids better.

Javascript For Kids takes you from zero programming experience, all the way to programming graphics and mini games using the canvas tag.  Whereas Python For Kids was very easy to read and hard to put down, I find this book to be information dense, and a little overwhelming at parts.  The author knows his stuff, and the information is clear and well written, but I wish the book was paced a little slower.

That said the examples used are lots of fun, and the audience will probably enjoy writing and expanding on the included code.

No Starch landed a 10 / 10 on Python For Kids, which set the bar extremely high.  I’m giving Javascript For Kids a 7.5 out of 10.  It’s deserving of the For Kids title, and I eagerly await the next book in the series.

Have a good weekend all!

-Shea

Jan 02

Friday Post: 2015!!!!

Hey All,

Happy New Year!!! 2014 was an amazing year for me:

  • Got contracted to write a second book (almost done)
  • Ran a successful Kickstarter
  • Had YTD 64,000 downloads of PiPlay
  • Spoke at PyCon, Computers in Libraries, and EDUCAUSE conferences
  • Participated in Orlando Maker Faire
  • Was able to hire the very talented Elizabeth Williams to be part of my team at work
  • Developed software that is helping 60,000 students
  • Added a very cute and very annoying kitten to our family
  • Learned a few new technologies that I had been putting off
  • Watched my wife get a great new job
  • Watching my friends start families
  • Made some new friends

Not to say everything has been great, but the good has totally outweighed the bad.  I have to thank all of my readers as well.  I couldn’t have done without you all.  Thank you!

Amiibos

So I’ve been hit by the Amiibo bug.  I started cutting out these stands for my collection.

IMG_4653 IMG_4654 IMG_4655 IMG_4656 IMG_4657 IMG_4658 IMG_4659 IMG_4660 IMG_4661 IMG_4662 IMG_4652I may have gone a little overboard.

PiPlay

The next version of PiPlay is really coming along.

snapshot

You can see our game listing screen now shows a lot more info.  We are also moving a lot of our configs into SQLite DB files for faster retrieval.  This is going to be an awesome release!

Happy 2015 everyone!

 

Nov 23

Late Friday Post (yeah it’s Sunday): IAAPA! Super Smash Bros!

Hey All,

Sorry for the super late post.  The weather changes here in Florida knocked me on my butt.  I’ve been in bed for the past two days trying to get over this cold.  Going from 40 degrees to 70 to 80 back to 40 just messes with me.  It also didn’t help that I ran myself ragged on Friday.

IAAPA

So Friday was the “members of the public” day at IAAPA.  IAAPA stands for  International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, which means that if you ever wanted to see how a ride works, or where to get new arcade machines, or pretty much anything within the amusement / coin op sector, this is the place.  I go every year and it is always a blast.  The biggest noticeable trend this year is how un-3d everything is.  2 years ago every ride and game had a 3D gimmick to it.  Now, pretty much nothing is 3D except for the big ride experiences.

This year some of my coworkers went with me.  They enjoyed themselves.

Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U came out this weekend.  Holy crap it is amazing.  I had friends over on Friday, we played 8 player smash, and it was a riot.  I will have the image of me playing as Samus getting the smash ball and taking out all 7 of the other players in one final smash attack burned into my memory for a very long time.

It’s a beautiful, well made, extensive game.  I have no idea how long it is going to take me to unlock everything.

The game also includes support for Nintendo’s new NFC characters called Amiibos.  Think Skylanders but different.  For now, the way they work is dependant on each game.  For Mario Kart 8, it just unlocks new outfits.  In Smash Bros, they act as a super smart CPU character.  The figures are really well made and look good sitting on display.

IMG_4536

I’m still trying to get some of the NFC info from them.  I’d love to write a program to back up the data, but it’s hard finding info on the MIFARE Ultralight chip it identifies as.

If you have any info please let me know!

Have a good week all,

-Shea

Oct 10

Friday Post: Custom Carts

Hey All,

Happy Friday!  This week I got in two cartridges that I am very to share with you all.  The first one is a custom SNES cart called StarFox Legacy!

StarFox Legacy contains three games:

  • The original StarFox
  • The StarFox competition game (a modified version that has a timer set and you have to rack up the most points before it runs out)
  • The unreleased StarFox 2.

To change games, you hold the reset switch down for 3 seconds.  It’s a really cart, and I’m glad I was able to acquire it.

The second cart is made for the Sega Genesis, and is a homebrew game some of you may know called FIX IT FELIX JR!!!  Yes, someone programmed a recreation of the game from the movie Wreck It Ralph!  It’s really well done, the label looks awesome, and I love it.

PiPlay 0.8 Beta 7 is coming!

Nothing too groundbreaking in this one.  Bug fixes for the controller setup, a popup window on first startup to give you some hints as well as a change log popup.  Some bug fixes, a little bit of speed improvements, background sounds.  I’m also switching out the python flask built in webserver for gunicorn.  It causes great speed improvements, uses less RAM and CPU.  When I switched to it, I noticed a lot of SNES games stopped stuttering.

I’ll be uploading the image this weekend and the updater should be available shortly.

-Shea

 

Sep 19

Friday Post: Maker Faire and Kano Unboxing!

Hey All,

What a week.  Maker Faire was amazing but exhausting!  So many kids playing Street Fighter 2, and so many adults loving the nostalgia.  It was a great time.  Tons of 3D printers, awesome products, and great people all around.  I hope you enjoy the gallery!

I also received my Kano computing kit today.  I haven’t had the chance to boot it up, but I have made a short unboxing video.  The packaging is spectacular, and the custom keyboard is great to hold and use (tested it on my desktop).

 

The next release of PiPlay is coming together, I hope to release it this weekend.

Small list of changes:

  • modified romlist layout to include area for game descriptions
  • added 2 player controller config support
  • added “button combo” support for PiPlay Menu actions
  • optimization, screen updates only happen on controlled events
  • removed horizontal romlist option in theme support
  • Loading time speed up
  • Wifi Configuration Tool

Have a great weekend all!

-Shea

Mar 28

Friday Post: Framebuffer Copy and new PiMAME 8 beta release

Hey All,

Another week another PiMAME release 🙂

This is beta 2 of the new PiMAME 0.8.  I’m loving the feedback.  I know there are bugs and issues, but I’m able to iterate so much faster now.  This latest release includes:

  • Added NES support again.
  • Added C64 support again.
  • Put back in restart, shutdown, and updater tools.
  • Menu will now notify you if there are updates available.
  • PiMAME bootsplash video
  • Tankstick support

High priority features I’m working on:

  • Adding back in screenshot support
  • More joystick configuration options

Framebuffer copy

I’ve started playing with Notro’s FBTFT module again.  This allows you to use little inexpensive LCD screens for things like the console and X Windows.  The problem is that most programs expect output on framebuffer 0.  These screens operate on framebuffer 1, or /dev/fb1.  Tasanakorn has created a program called fbcp.  This mirrors the screen from the hdmi / rca port and onto the SPI based screens you see above.

It doesn’t work 100% yet for me.  I don’t know if its my screen or the program.  I’m going to purchase some more and test them out.

Little Arcade Machine

Steve Smith has created this awesome little MAME cabinet.  Plans and more images are below at the imgur link.

http://imgur.com/a/Pr4rG

Have a great weekend everyone!

-Shea