Dec 12

Friday Post: Time Drift Sucks

Hey All,

I’ve been plagued by a bug at work for the past 6 months. Every so often, my oAuth library would fail out of the blue, causing some of my apps to die. It never occurred in production, only in our development environments. If I made the oAuth token by hand, or used the console, it worked fine. If I waited a few minutes, it would authenticate, and everything worked. Totally random, no rhyme or reason.

It wasn’t until this week when I was trying to use a library and upload some test files to an AWS S3 bucket that I got an error. My request time signature was 19 minutes behind the Amazon server. AWS (and my oAuth lib) have a 15 minute time window. But why was this happening? My clock was synced using NTP. I went to check my app and it had also failed. Then it hit me. I hadn’t rebooted my machine in a week. Our dev environments use vagrant, which runs a small virtual machine that containerizes our software. The virtual machine has its own clock, which gets synced on reboot. Over the week, it’s clock slowly drifted just enough that my timestamps failed for Amazon, and then for oAuth. Every so often it will resync, but not fast enough.

In 2014, I thought Time Drift was a thing of past, a relic of dying CMOS batteries, but it still exists today. So if you are ever using vagrant to develop your applications, setup an NTP daemon on the virtual machine, or just vagrant halt / vagrant up every so often :)

Happy Friday!

Nov 15

Friday Post: MakeSmith CNC Router

Hey All!  Happy Friday!

This has been a “short” week for me.  Had the day off on Tuesday for Veterans Day, and today campus closed early because our football team is going up against Tulsa.  Go Knights!

PiPlay happenings!  Mark has been working on an advanced database scraper tool.

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It’s going to be awesome once it’s get a little more polished.  I’ve been working on some more controller stuff.  I’ll have more to say about that soon.

MakeSmith CNC

A few months ago I backed the MakeSmith CNC router kickstarter.  The project was created to design and sell a CNC mill / router that cost less than $200.

cncnew

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My kit arrived yesterday, and I’ve gotten what appears to be the base put together.  The instructions are in the form of a bunch of YouTube videos, so I’m watching each one a few times, and then attempting the install.  I have forgone using wood glue at the moment, just in case I mess up or need to redo something.  I figure I will just reinforce the joints after everything is attached.

Have a good weekend all!

-Shea

Nov 07

Friday Post: DISPMANX_vnc and Homepass

Hey All,

Happy Friday!  I want to send a Very Happy Birthday to my Father.  This weekend is his birthday and I’m very proud to be his son.

I’ve been very busy these past few weeks,  I’ve been contracted to write a second edition of my Raspberry Pi Gaming book, and it’s taking up a lot of my time.  Even though its a subject I’m very familiar with, i’m finding out tons of new things I can do with the Raspberry Pi that have cropped because of my need to record and capture things coming from the Pi’s framebuffer.

I’ve been using a few tools, mainly ones involving DISPMANX to copy the framebuffer into a png file.  It’s called raspi2png and it works really well.  Sometimes its difficult to trigger raspi2png at the right time though.

One thing I have always wanted was a way to ssh / tunnel into the actual console terminal.  Not a new tty device, and not from XWindows, but the one that displays on /fb0.  Enter dispmanx_vnc.  I had never thought of using VNC to tunnel the framebuffer,  but Hanzelpeter has done just that with dispmanx_vnc

There’s definite input lag, and I can only achieve about 15fps, but it is the best way I’ve found to record and capture straight from the framebuffer right now.  I can ssh into my Pi, run the dispmanx_vnc command, then use a VNC viewer (I used tightvnc) to control the main display.  I’m so excited about this :D

Other news, if anyone has a 3DS, then you know about StreetPass.  It’s a way to virtually meet others who are around you with their 3DS.  There are a bunch of mini games built into the 3DS that require you to meet people using Street Pass in order to advance. There is also Street Pass Relay, which Nintendo created last year.  This allows those who are connected to a Nintendo Zone wifi access point to StreetPass with others from around the world, who are also connected to a Street Pass Relay. So of course this has been reverse engineered, and you can now turn a Raspberry Pi into a “HomePass” StreetPass relay.

Original instructions here .  There is a premade SD card available here, but I have yet to try it out.

Have a good weekend all!

-Shea

Oct 24

Friday Post: PiPlay 0.8 Beta 7

Hey All,

Sorry about the lack of posts last week, dealing with family stuff.

I am excited to formally announce the release of PiPlay 0.8 Beta 7!

  • 0.8.0 Beta 7
    • Added changelog popup
    • Themes now support background music (uncompressed preferred)
    • Fixed problems with semi-transparent labels
    • 2 player controller config support added
    • Controller Config list sorted
    • Now using gunicorn for web frontend.

Get it now by by downloading the image or updating your current version with the PiPlay updater.

Have a great weekend!

-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

 

Aug 15

Friday Post: Kickstarter shipments

Hey All,

As I’m sure you’re aware, I’ve been spending most of my time working on the PiPlay Kickstarter.  This has involved ordering samples, getting materials, designing hardware, and all sorts of fun things that goes along with PiPlay the application.

I’m really thankful to all the backers (and other supporters) who were able to make this a reality.

0cfaeeacd077645e6addbb6d231575f8_large 036b4257a8b09d0660981b47eef8806c_large350 SD Cards have been made with the PiPlay software, and above that is my living room filled with boxes of joysticks.

I’m going to have fun this weekend sending out shipments.

Now it’s time to work on the next release.

Have a good weekend all!

-Shea

 

Aug 08

Friday Post: PiPlay 0.8 Beta 5

Hey All,

Happy Friday.  One more week of break before the Fall semester starts up.  It’s going to be a busy month!

I’m happy to announce that PiPlay 0.8 Beta 5 is being released.  It should be available on SourceForge in a few hours.

Fixes / Improvements:

  • Smoother animations and framerate
  • More optimizations
  • Memory leak fix
  • Control Pad setup is now under the popup menu (press tab or the second button on your joystick)
  • This is the master image for the PiPLAY Kickstarter

Work is already being done on the next release, which will include 2 player controller setup support, thanks to Mark.

Have a good weekend everyone!

-Shea

Aug 01

Friday Post: Book Review

Hey All,

So, this week K and I went on a last minute cruise to relax and get energized for the upcoming school year.  It was a much needed vacation.

During the cruise I ended up reading (and eating) a lot.  Here are some of the things I read which I thought were great:

Seconds

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley, who is probably best known for the Scott Pilgrim series, is a standalone graphic novel about a girl, her restaurant, and how life happens.  Don’t go into it thinking it’s going to be another Scott Pilgrim with video game and pop references.  It’s about life, and dealing with all the things that come with it, and how we all sometimes wish for a second chance at events.  I read the entire thing in one sitting.  I could not put it down.  I highly recommend it.

Mega Man Gigamix

I bought this on a whim when I was going to a conference and ended up not having time to read it.  I finally opened it up and even though it says Vol. 1, it’s actually a sequel to Mega Man Megamix.  With that being said, Gigamix works on it’s own, and has two fun stories.

Wizzywig

Wizzywig is the story of Kevin “Boingthump” Phenicle Jr. as he grows up during the early days of the computer revolution, where his curiosity runs faster than the law can keep up.  The story is a very loose adaptation of what happened to Kevin Mitnick.  At times it can be a little pushy on it’s message of corruption and redemption, and the art style can be a bit too over the top sometimes, but all in all, it works.

Super Scratch Programming Adventure

I reviewed this last year, but I decided to reread it as I have been wanting to work more with Scratch.  It’s a graphic novel that teaches you how to program by following the adventures of Scratchy the cat and his friends.  It’s a little hokey, but it does its job well, and by the end, you will have learned how to make a bunch of different types of games.  The version I have is for 1.4, but they have recently updated it to cover version 2.0.  There are also a bunch of demos available at http://scratch.mit.edu

Like I said, it has been a relaxing week, and I’m ready to get back to my projects!

Have a great weekend everyone!

-Shea

Jul 25

Friday Post: Small and Large Updates

Hey All,

A few good updates this week :)

The PiPlay 0.8 Beta4 got a very small update (0.8b4.1)  You can get it by selecting the update option.

It fixes a few small config items, like the finalburn alpha emulator not looking for the proper config file, and Dgen missing the proper binary files.

A bigger update is coming later this week with 0.8 beta 5.  Mark figured out how to speed up the menu by at least 50%.  A lot of optimizations were made, and it will be incorporated into the code ASAP.

Have a great weekend all!

-Shea

Jul 18

Friday Post: Space Madness!

Hey All,

For the first time in a long time I feel rested.  I did a sleep study to find out why I was so fatigued all the time even though I was getting around 8 hours of sleep. ( I’m not counting that my other waking hours have been spent on the Kickstarter, PiPlay, and Work with no breaks ;) )

The study people hooked me up to a machine that essentially blows air at you, and holy crap, it helped me sleep through the night like a log.  I was up at 5am, didn’t need any caffeinated drinks in the morning (but force of habit…) and I’ve been going strong all day.  If I feel this good and energized after one night,  I’m excited to see what will happen after a few weeks!

PiPlay

PiPlay 0.8 Beta 4 has so far been really good.  Only a few relatively minor bugs to fix.  I am going to push the update this weekend and a new image as well.  Be on the lookout for that.

Raspberry Pi Model B+

Last Monday the Raspberry Pi Foundation released the latest Pi board, the Model B+.  While the core hardware stays the same, the board includes 4 USB Ports, more GPIO pins, improved board layout, and a switch from SD Cards to Micro SD cards.  My board came in today, so I took some pictures of it.

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Have a good weekend all!

-Shea