Mar 27

Friday Post: PiPlay 0.8 Beta 9 Released!

Happy Friday Everyone!

I am proud to present the very latest version of PiPlay!  PiPlay 0.8 Beta 9!  I feel like this is the best release yet!

While this was mostly a bug fix and compatibility update, we do have one awesome new features implemented.  When you upload, drag and drop, ftp, or somehow copy a game file to the roms folder, our file watcher will pick that up, and automatically update the PiPlay Menu.  No more running the Rom Scraper, or getting popups about unscraped files.

Update now via the PiPlay Menu, or download the latest image!

 Changelog
  • Numerous bug fixes!
  • Updated to latest Raspbian
  • SQLite Backend
  • Webserver now a background process via supervisor
  • File Watcher automatically scans for game files and updates the PiPLAY menu
  • Raspberry Pi 2 comparability
  • Controller config updated
  • Moved more repos to GitHub
  • Master games list updated
  • Toggle menu item visibility (in beta mode still)

Have a good weekend everyone!

Mar 14

Late Friday Post: Pi Day!

Hey All!

Happy Pi Day!!!  Sorry about the late posting.  My internet has been acting up for the past two days.  Yay.

The past few days have been the Orlando FIRST Regional Robotics Competition hosted at UCF.  I am a FIRST Alumni from 2002, a member of Team 108 SigmaC@Ts.  It was so awesome to see the competition again after all these years.

PiPlay is coming along.  Fixed the bugs with the joysticks.  Working on improving more things.

Thanks!

-Shea

 

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Feb 20

Friday Post: PiPlay 8 Beta 8!

It’s now available on SourceForge!

Hey All,

PiPlay 8 Beta 8 is here!  Mark has put a huge amount of time into the new frontend code.   We have moved form YAML files to a SQLite database.  Many items have been sped up.  The web frontend now has a database administration section.

This is a huge update.  Probably the best I think we put out… but because of the Pi2, we have had to do a lot of extra testing, and may have missed some stuff.  Please please please let us know if something isn’t working, or if something slipped through the cracks.  I want this to be the best release ever!

This new image will work on the Pi2 and B, B+, A, and A+.  I have spent the past week pulling out hair trying to get everything to work.  I have had to remove Stella, the Atari 2600 emulator for the moment.  When I can get it working properly on the new kernel, I will add it back in.

The image is currently being uploaded to SourceForge, so in a few hours it should be available.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks to all the testers.  If you find any bugs (I’m sure there are some) let us know in the PiPlay forums.

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 31

Friday Post: PiPlay Sneak Peek

Hey All,

I wanted to give you all a sneak peek on the next version of PiPlay.  The biggest feature is that we are moving from YAML files to a sqlite DB to store a lot of the data.  There are also lots of optimizations and speed improvements.

My two favorite features have to be the ones that Mark implemented:  Favorites, and Game Info.  You can now favorite a game and it will appear in the favorites category.  Alongside the game list, you will also find info available about your game (as long as you have run the scraper.)

The web interface has also been extended to include database editing.  You can now add menu items to frontend via the web interface.

1 2 3 4 5

 

This release should be out in the next week or so.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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.

10935506_10103804677807022_1324185694_o

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 17

Friday Post: 31

Hey All,

So I’m 31.  I feel like this year is going to be amazing.  I’ve felt burnt out on a few things, been struggling to find time to do everything I wanted.  But this year I’m going to work on better time management.

I’ve finished the tough part of my book, the writing portion.  The revisions are also done.  All thats left is to proof read the final copy when it’s ready.  This book took a lot out of me.  If I say I’m writing another book after this, punch me.

My goals this year are:

  • PiPlay
  • Finish some of my game backlog
  • Release a Swift app

I’m currently working on a swift based controller that interfaces with PiPlay.  I’m excited about it.  The code is done, but the design is ugly.  If you are good with Xcode / app design, shoot me an email!

This weekend is Otronicon at the Orlando Science Center.  It’s a convention filled with Digital Media, Gaming, and Simulation.  If you are in Orlando you should check it out.

Have a great weekend!

-Shea

Jan 10

Friday Post: Django, AWS, and oAuth

Hey All,

So the semester begins on Monday, meaning this whole week our department has been dealing with semester startup.  Making sure all our apps are tested, available, and production ready.  One of my apps has become the guinea pig for moving our infrastructure into the cloud.  This has been a really fun experience like rewriting parts to save to S3 instead of the filesystem, etc.  Except when it hasn’t been fun.  Like dealing with oAuth behind a load balancer.

Long story short, if you use Django, AWS, and oAuth or LTIs (and SSL), add this to your config file:

USE_X_FORWARDED_HOST = True
SECURE_PROXY_SSL_HEADER = ('HTTP_X_FORWARDED_PROTO', 'https')

Basically, we have our website serving HTTPS through a load balancer, and due to some other infrastructure setup, our oAuth URL was being changed during the signature check.  This caused it to become invalid.  Adding the two lines above fix the whole issue.

Have a good weekend!

-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!