Categories
Music

Building the MP3mobile

Apart from hoarding driver CDs and diskettes in 1999 I also printed out a huge number of pro-Linux news articles. One of those was this page on building an MP3 player for a car called The MP3mobile.

Over the years I had grappled with the idea of adding an MP3 player to whatever my current car was but never really got anywhere but the MP3mobile was the initial source of inspiration for this idea.

The furthest I ever got with the idea was using a portable MP3 CD player but that didn’t work too well:

  1. Bumps in the road caused skips.
  2. Irish roads are bumpy.
  3. More skips.

It’s funny now to see what the MP3mobile can do, but back then this was highly impressive.

The final result is immensely wonderful, and impresses the hell out of most hackerish people (like me). Non-computer people just wonder why you havn’t got a CD player. But, with my setup (based on RedHat Linux 5.0) I can do these things:

* NFS mount my car from my laptop (there’s a loose 10-base-T cable behind the drivers seat) and squirt new tunes into it.

* Hook up my GSM-modem to the car (so you can telnet into it and run emacs at 60mph 🙂 ).

* Hook up a GPS unit, so you could finger the car and find out exactly where a car full of computer equipment suitable for stealing is located.

* Compile as I go round bends.

* Coredump as I change gear 🙂

None of these things can be done with an autochanger. Sorry, but you lose 🙂

Future plans include:

* 418Mhz low-power radio link to allow me to upgrade the software when the car is in the garage 30m or so from the flat.
* Link into the car’s engine management to monitor boost pressure, etc
* Voice-command of the music functions.

The machine ran off a Pentium 166MMX CPU, and had a 2.5″ laptop drive with a massive 2.1GB of storage space.

It all seems so quaint and obsolete now doesn’t it? That may well be how your current state of the art tech appears in another twenty years!

In the time since then the rise of smart phones led to miniaturisation, better screens and power efficient computers. A few years later a Raspberry Pi or Android phone would have been a suitable replacement for the device. And later still Android Auto or Car Play would make the job of playing your own media even easier.

If you use an Android phone, then your car stereo could run Linux, at least through Android Auto as your phone has a Linux kernel!

Categories
C64

How “oldschool” graphics worked Part 1 – Commodore and Nintendo


This is a good explanation of how old computer systems generated their graphics. 

I remember drawing sprites in the same way until I found programs to make that process much simpler!

Categories
Games

Play Speccy Games Online

Ah no, not another retro post? Oh yes! ZX Spectrum.net will give you a reason to run Java again if you were a fan of the rubber keyed micro. Thanks Paolo for the link!

Categories
demoscene

Batman Forever

Batman Forever is an amazing looking Amstrad CPC demo made last year and won first place in the CPC Demo compo at Forever 2011.

Stunning artwork, great effects but perhaps a little bit of the old school yard “my computer is better than your one” in there too. Not too fond of the Commodore 64 are they? 😉

Also check out pushnpop.net, an Amstrad demoscene website! It even has an article on cross-platform development using Linux and Vim!

Thanks Keith for leaving a comment in my last post about this demo. Well worth watching!

In related news, the 1541-II I ordered last week arrived this morning. I’m waiting on the zoomfloppy USB interface to connect it to my laptop now. Fingers crossed it’ll work and it’s not too late for my 20 year old Commodore 64 5 1/4 discs. I tend to agree that if it wasn’t for piracy ancient games would be lost to history now ..

Categories
C64 Games

8-bit Trip

Neat video showing off characters from the 8-bit era. C64 and Nintendo fans will recognise some favourites!

1500 hours of moving legobricks and take photos of them.

(via Justin and Retro Thing)

Categories
C64

VirtualC64 for Mac OS X

VirtualC64 is a new Commodore 64 emulator for Mac OS X. It’s a promising project, let down by the fact that it’s still in beta but by the looks of things development is moving at a steady pace.

When you first run the emulator it will ask you for C64 roms: basic, kernal, chargen and vc1541. Ironically, you can find all these roms inside Vice, another C64 emulator. Look in /Applications/VICE.app/Contents/Resources/ROM/. The 1541 ROM is DRIVES/dos1541.

Loading a game or demo is as easy as dragging the d64 or t64 image into VirtualC64. When you do you’ll see a dialog like this.

picture-6

“Flash file into memory” works great for single load programmes but multiload could be a problem. I tried Armalyte. Mounting the d64 as a disk didn’t work. I couldn’t type anything. Loading the first file on the disk by flashing it brought up the crack intro but failed to load. The neat integrated debugger (click “Inspect”) showed the emulator had died doing jsr $2020 and unfortunately at 2020 was another jsr … ($20 is the character code for a space if memory serves, and the machine code for jsr was $20, so memory was full of spaces!)

picture-3

Blue Max worked much better, as did a 3D Pool game I tried. the crack by Remember included the documentation and again using the debugger I watched as the programme checked for the various key presses. Geeky I know but it brought a smile of recognition to my lips. Here’s that debugger in all it’s glory. Anyone familiar with the C64 should recognise the code beginning at 1AA0. (I had to look up what D016 does. It’s the screen mode. I had completely forgotten. It’s only been 16 years.)

picture-10

One thing it has going for it over Vice, is a real fullscreen mode. The current version of Vice uses some dodgy resolution changing in Linux (that I rarely got to work properly without screwing up my desktop) and I couldn’t get to work in Mac OS X at all. Fire this baby up in fullscreen mode and you’ve got your very own C64 laptop! Cool or what eh?

As luck would have it VirtualC64 has blown a fuse just as I finish this post. If you have a usb joystick plugged in and activated in port 2 it does strange things. First the keyboard wouldn’t work, and flashing a file didn’t run it automatically. Then the keyboard sort of worked but the left arrow character appeared for most key presses. Odd stuff. Unplugging the joystick and restarting the emulator fixed that problem.
Even my Bits ‘n’ Bobs demo worked in it! (Bah, all my screenshots failed. They only show white. I wonder if the emulator does strange things to the Mac while emulating mixed video modes? I mixed character and video modes in the screens I tried to capture, ah well.)

VirtualC64 is a very promising C64 emulator, and it’s GPL too! I’ll certainly be keeping an interested eye on it, and I wish Dirk and the other project members the best of luck with it.

Categories
demoscene

State of the Art by Spaceballs

This Amiga demo blew me away when I first saw it. There are better ones out there but I think the dancing figures were such an unusual feature at the time it struck a chord with a lot of people.

Check out the follow up demo, Nine Fingers and other releases by Spaceballs. Of course, you should grab the original disks for State of the Art and 9 Fingers and watch on a real Amiga rather than watching a low quality Youtube video!