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[#] Thu Feb 07 2019 20:54:00 MST from noreply@blogger.com (Donovan Colbert)

Subject: On Creation and Evolution

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Through Doug TenNapel I have come to be in a discussion about the merits of creationism versus evolution. This conversation includes accounts Creationist Misconceptions and The Innominate One.

These last two accounts are interesting, in that they claim to be academically enlightened practitioners of the scientific method - and they seem to enjoy nothing more than arguing with inferior fundamentalist intellects in 200 character at-a-time exchanges.

I guess I must not be that smart. I don't find it at all enjoyable arguing with fundamentalist zealots who argue in circular logic, can't be reasoned with and resort to ad-hominems immediately as their arguments slowly erode - which is why I've decided to blog a response to them rather than to continue to engage these two directly on Twitter. Arguing with those who refuse to argue in good faith is futility unless you're enjoying simply trolling your opposition.

 For three days these accounts have responded dutifully to every post that challenges their orthodoxy - which is that the random chance of the universe is responsible for all of creation everywhere, including the rise of sentient intelligence that can contemplate creation on Earth. Any disagreement with that position is ignorant blasphemy and must be attacked and exposed for the affront to the Temple of Science that it is. If these two really believe in the futility of their arguments against Doug and I, yet they continue to argue, one must conclude they are either not smart enough to recognize the futility of their efforts, or they're trolls. Either way, they really exclude themselves from being taken seriously.

This conversation stems from an observation by Doug that science has never found "the missing link."

Now, of course we've heard all the usual counter-arguments, "there never really WAS a missing link, that was just a layman's invention," from Creationist and Innominate.

No. That argument is a post-hoc adjustment to the hypothesis that a missing link fossil would surely be discovered. It came about when decade after decade, it did not materialize. The TEMPLE of Science does this a lot. They make post-hoc adjustments when their predictions didn't pan out and claim the adjustment was always what they claimed.

Let's not confuse the TEMPLE of Science with actual science. The Temple of Science practices Doctrines and Dogmas of an Orthodoxy of SETTLED Science and attacks anyone who dares step out of line with the teachings of their church. If they could, the High Priests of the Temple of Science, Pope Dawkins, and his clergy of Bill Nye, Neil Tyson Degrasse, Stephen Hawking (May Oblivion be his Pascal's Wager,) and other celebrity "Scientists" would surely revel in holding inquisition style torture of the heathen masses who reject the doctrines of the Church of Science.

The thing about the members of the Church of Science is that they're dogmatic and evangelic and at root, fanatic fundamentalists. Science isn't science for them. It is religion. They could justify killing for their faith, if they believed it was threatened by the forces of the non-believers.

There is also almost always a partisan political agenda and ideology driving members of the Church of Science. Not always - but so frequently it can almost always safely be assumed so. There is something they identify as an even more core level than their membership in the Church of Science - and that is the Cult of the Left.

My position in this argument is that there are three possibilities:

Humanity was created by divine, metaphysical creation in whole.

Humanity was created by cosmic accident.

Humanity was created when cosmic accident gave rise to life, and some other intelligence came and modified it to give it the spark of sentience, reason and self-awareness.

I don't actually have a position on which one is right, because none of them have conclusive evidence in my opinion - or even a reasonable amount of evidence to indicate that one is more likely than the others.

The same people who would quote Sagan that we require extraordinary evidence to establish proof of extraterrestrial intelligence:

- and they mean, "show me an alien or a UFO, and it better be something that is verifiable not a hoax,"

...think that the claim that sentient life occurred by the random throw of a universal die is fine, that no additional evidence is necessary, and if you question this at all, you're "irrational."

The problem is, they're so locked into the binary nature of their doctrine, they can only see it from the perspective of a fanatic fundamentalist. It is either wrong or right, and they cannot be wrong - so all their evidence is circular. Everything confirms their dogmatic belief, and anything that challenges it is dismissed, violently.

The modern theory of plate tetonics did not emerge until the 1950s through 1970s.  I know because when I was 5 I asked my teacher if all the continents locked together and she told me,

"Of course not dear. They look like they would have, don't they, but they're too big to move like that."

Now - she was a Kindergarten teacher, not a geologist - but the concept of continental drift had first been proposed in 1912 by Alfred Wegener - and many, perhaps most, mainstream scientists of the day thought he was an irrational crackpot. It was well into the 70's before the idea of continental drift and Pangaea became mainstream well-known and accepted scientific hypotheses.

Likewise, in my lifetime, paleontologist Robert T. Bakker faced withering criticism in his field for proposing that some dinosaurs were endothermic. Bakker is an interesting figure because not only is he a scientist, but he is also a Pentecostal Ecumenical Christian minister.

Who believes in evolution.

Meanwhile, Creationist Misconceptions and The Innominate One argue with straw-men and ad hominem attacks on Twitter, 200 characters at a time, all day long - that the science they accept is settled. New Atheists of the Dawkins model are such jerks even the Left doesn't really like them. They somehow expect to be taken seriously by anyone outside of their own insular little cult of groupthink.

The nature of their argument belies how little they understand the actual philosophy of the discussion on the table. For example, Creationist Misconceptions asks,

"perhaps you can address the telomere to telomere fusion on human chromosome 2. Doug refuses to even acknowledge the question."

Doug's argument is metaphysical. His world allows for an all-powerful God who can alter the physics of the universe at any time on a whim, transparently, without any living soul being even the slightest bit aware that the rules have changed. If Doug is right - then the question literally doesn't matter. It is a distraction, put here to mislead. For what reason? The amusement of God? I don't know. It doesn't matter. There is a philosophical possibility that Doug's argument is correct - and wagering against Pascal's Wager is a fool's bet. To win, you have to lose and not even know it. You don't have to be a scientist, or philosopher, or particularly smart to see there is only one bet in Pascal's Wager that has any payoff if you win, and there is no cost if you lose. So, why would people like Creationist Misconceptions and Innominate One put their money on the wager where if you win you get nothing and won't ever even have the pleasure of knowing you won? That doesn't seem very smart to me for rational people to do.

My argument is that it is possible that apes evolved, and then were intelligently engineered into humanity,  I believe there is evidence that supports this claim, in many ancient traditions and archaeological sites that exist today - in the echos and shades of forgotten segments of humanity's history that dispute the conventional wisdom of the scientific community about the rise of mankind. Folks like Misconceptions and Innominate refuse to even acknowledge this data much the same way they claim Doug refuses to acknowledge their "questions" about genetic features they believe link humanity to primates. The evidence I believe in is as controversial now as evidence for continental drift and plate tectonics or warm-blooded dinosaurs may have been in the past, as much at odds with the conventional wisdom and consensus of the mainstream scientific community. But the reason I used those examples is because they're evidence that this happens, time and time again, in the scientific community. It decides something is "settled," and acts dogmatically and derisively towards people who refuse to accept that - only to discover later that it had things completely wrong. Evidence that this has happened in the past is evidence that it is likely to be happening right now, and likely to happen in the future, on things we're certain we have right in the moment. This hubris is the great weakness of the scientific method - and it is well documented to be just that by peer-reviewed scientific research.

If I am right, then certainly we would share basic genetic code, perhaps most of it, with lesser creatures. It would, in fact work a lot like any object oriented language - where there were master-classes that define reusable objects that can be put together to create related, but uniquely different end-results. The example that Intelligent Design employs isn't strictly creation or evolution, but a combination of the two.

The interesting thing is how the Evolutionists want to have their cake and eat it, too.

They dismiss evidence supporting creationism, either metaphysical or by Intelligent Design - by claiming that there is an absence of evidence.

Replying to   and 
In the absence of positive evidence for a phenomenon (gods, extraterrestrials, etc.), there's no reason to posit they must be true. I don't know there are no extraterrestrials, I just just [sic] there's no evidence. I don't know there are no gods, I just know there's no evidence.

Yet where they have no evidence (the lack of a definite evolutionary missing link between proto-human and modern human,) they claim that isn't important - that the idea is more of a "concept" to help ignorant laymen imagine the evolutionary process that took place to turn monkeys into beings that create rocket ships and space stations.

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

The absence of evidence for a phenomenon (the evolution of apes into humans,) is no reason to posit that it must be true, then, certainly?

In a nut-shell, with a lack of strong supporting evidence, you can neither accept or dismiss an idea. The disagreement between Creationists, Evolutionists, and Intelligent Design Theorists comes down to the idea that none of the sides can really agree on the "evidence" of the other side, and when one side sees a "lack" of evidence, the side that applies to think that lack of evidence is trivial and easy to dismiss. Inevitably.

Ultimately, the arguments of Evolutionary Evangelicals are faulty - but to a depth that can't be accurately addressed on Twitter in 200 character exchanges at a time. So, I'm posting this once, and then not wasting any more time with these trolls. They are the ones actually engaging in pseudo-science and quackery.










http://donovancolbert.blogspot.com/2019/02/on-creation-and-evolution.html

[#] Mon Feb 04 2019 18:39:00 MST from noreply@blogger.com (Donovan Colbert)

Subject: When The Challenge Is More Than Half The Fun - Macintosh Edition

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Click Any Image To View Full Size

(For additional documents, discussion, and files related to MiSTer, FPGA, Retrogaming and emulation, log into my BBS at http://wallofhate.com )

I have a friend on Facebook who is really interested in the reward centers that motivate people to do what they do.  He recently noted that when I took on designing an Access DB, including automated programmatic routines to clean, massage and import comma delimited textfiles and Excel files from other sources through a button in a form - that what I was most excited about was figuring out the rule-base - understanding the mechanics of it, and then figuring out how to bend it to my will.

I had never verbalized it that way - but I understood there was a basic honesty in his assessment. I like "winning" against technology. I frequently see it as a battle. The machine doesn't want to do what I want it to do and tries to make it as difficult as possible - but at the end, when you've forced the machine to bend the knee and swear its fealty to you - that is a great feeling.

I've been on a big retro-gaming kick - and it started when my wife was in the middle of a remodel of our home that had all my retro-gaming equipment boxed in storage. My study was unaffected and in that room I had an old Mac PowerPC 8500/180 hooked up. My motivation at the time was to finally finish the game of Ultima 3 I had started in 1986 when I bought my first Commodore 128. Doing research indicated that the best version of the game today is a $5 reboot of the game by Lairware. I had copies for emulators on Amiga, Atari ST and Commodore 64, and I have those emulators set up - but something about playing the game on real hardware from 1995 seemed more authentic. So I ponied up my five bucks and downloaded the full version.



Here is my confession - there was a "game hack" on the C-64/128. If you lost a character in battle, or your entire party, if you just rebooted - it didn't update your characters. You would lose all experience and treasure since your last save - but your party would be alive. Unfortunately, if your party was onboard a ship and it was sucked in by the whirlpool that travels the oceans in the game - the text that described the event made it seem as if your entire party had died. Every time this happened, I'd pull the disk out and reboot.

But going down that whirlpool is key to finishing the game. You don't die, you go to a secret continent where you visit temples and gain attributes. I didn't find that out until years later - and then decades later still, I decided to sit down at a 25 year old Mac and finish what I had started.

The Lairware version is gorgeous, by the way, and I became every bit as immersed in Ultima III as I was with Skyrim on my Xbone.

Ultima 3 for Mac by Lairware


And then I completed the game, and realized that I'm running out of classic Macs. They're all slowly dying on me - and my finished copy of Ultima 3 with a 42nd level character is now stranded on this old machine with numbered days. It wasn't keeping me awake at night, but it was a vague concern.

MiSTer FPGA Platform

Recently I picked up a MiSTer FPGA retro-gaming platform. It is like a little slice of retro-gaming nirvana. It isn't software emulation of old machines like a RetroPie. MiSTer is cycle-accurate hardware level simulation of the actual retro-machines.



FPGA stands for "Field Programmable Gate Array." Basically there is an array of "gates" and they can be programmed to physically re-create a wide variety of circuits. In practical terms this means that your FPGA device physically becomes a C-64, or Amiga, or Atari ST, or NES.

MiSTer Core Selection Menu


Or a classic Macintosh.

One of my surviving Macs is an old Mac Classic that only boots intermittently and requires me to play around with the debugging buttons on the side to get it to finally work. It is getting to a point beyond my ability to repair or maintain - and I'm going to have to find a good home for it with someone more skilled with electronics than I am. But I keep old Macs around because there are a couple games from my youth on the original Macintosh that entertain me. One is a simple game called Glider. Your job is to guide a paper airplane through rooms avoiding obstacles and riding air currents.

A Mac Classic II, actually.

The programmable routines that define what kind of machine the MiSTer configures itself as are called "cores." I knew that the MiSTer supported a Mac 128 core that could be configured up to 4mb of memory (making if effectively a Macintosh Plus).


Mac Classic FPGA simulation on MiSTer

I installed the Macintosh Core for MiSTer and began my journey down the rabbit-hole of Classic Macintosh preservation.

Classic Macs had a funky file system that broke files into data and resource forks. I'm not going to go into great technical detail - but it has always made dealing with Mac files a pain in the ass. If you're not careful - moving files between a PC file system and back to a Mac can make them useless on the Mac. In order to store and transfer files outside of the Mac world - Apple came up with all kinds of compression and archival solutions. Disks were changed into .sit.bin files, to .image files, to .img files, and to .dsk files. These files could be moved around and written back to physical media - but things get a little challenging when you're trying to feed that data into an emulator or MiSTer core - that doesn't actually have physical floppies. Like other platforms, Amiga, Commodore and Atari - the old floppy media can be made into disk images - but it isn't as straight forward as on those other platforms. MiSTer's Mac Plus core requires a disk image that is exactly 400k or 800k.

I had a lot of trouble tracking those down. Links are expired, people who were active in the Mac Classic restoration/preservation community have moved on, and Apple has less and less interest in providing any support for Macs that came out between 1984-1995. When I found a set of the right Mac System disks (System 6.0.8), they were actually on .image files designed to be written to physical media and were 816k in size. The MiSTer emulator would not recognize them.

That led me to install a Mac Plus emulator Mini vMac, on my PC.

Mac Classic Simulation on MiSTer

From there I was able to mount the System 6.0.8 floppies, then copy the contents onto a virtual hard drive I created on Mini vMac. There are virtual blank 800k floppies available for Mini vMac. I mounted those, then copied the folders back from the hard drive onto the floppy media. Once that was done, I transfered those 800k floppies back to the Mac core directory on the MiSTer. I was then able to boot the MiSTer as a Mac with the included boot disk and mount the included hard drive, then install OS 6.0.8 on that drive and make it bootable. I followed a similar process to move the files, like Glider - from Mini vMac on the PC to the MiSTer core. It was a lot of work - but by the end of it - it was as much about "winning" as it was about having the Mac Plus on MiSTER, anymore. The challenge of figuring out how to bend these machines to my will and make them do what was far more difficult than it needed to be was my motivation.

RetroPie Splash Screen
RetroPie Macintosh Emulation Selection Menu


But it didn't stop there. In for a penny, in for a pound, I decided to set up Mini vMac for my RetroPie. After doing that, I decided to look into Basilisk II, a more powerful emulator that emulates 68000 based classic Macs, but includes support for the later, more powerful color Macs that came after the original Mac 128, 512 and Plus. The link above will lead you to all the files you need to get started, and an easy to follow walk-through. In no time at all I had a real color Macintosh running in emulation on my i7 Surface Pro 5. It is arguably easier to get programs installed on Basilisk II. There are more disk images out there, there are a number of ways to get them into the running emulator, and it is all well documented. But I didn't want to just download and install titles on this particular Mac - I wanted to move over the copies I already had installed on my physical PowerPC 8500. I wanted to move my full, licensed copy of Ultima III and Links Pro from the 8500 to the emulated system.

Basilisk II on Windows 10

Which would be easy - except that my Windows is a 64 bit OS - and Basilisk II is itself far out of date and only has driver support for CD and network on 32 bit systems.

G4 Quicksilver PPC 

My solution was to pull of my Mac G4, running OS X 10.4.11, the last universal (PPC and Intel) version of OS X ever. It is itself a dinosaur - but the newest Mac I own since my core-2-duo Mac Mini bit the dust. Seriously, as I was struggling with this, I considered just picking up a refurbished Intel core Mac Mini. They're available for $100 - and would have solved a lot of the headaches. Although it took me a while, I figured out how to get all the machines to do what I wanted.

The Modern Mac Mini died a decade before any of the classic Macs 20 years older than it.

The first problem I encountered is that while I can map from the Mac to my Synology NAS and Windows machines via Windows SMB file sharing, none of my Windows machines can map the shares on the Mac anymore. This is something I see. Old versions of SAMBA do not support the right encryption methods for passwords and so verification fails. The PPC 8500 sees the G4 fine, and an old Debian core-duo I have that still runs the Compiz Cube was able to map the shares too - just my modern Windows machines refused.

G4 Quick Silver Desktop

The way I was first approaching it, I was copying the entire folder from the 8500 to the G4, then from the G4 to the Synology NAS.  I was using a utility called HFVExplorer.exe - that can mount a hard-disk image file and allow you to drag and drop files from your PC into the hard drive image file. This works fine if you're copying .image or compressed archive (.sit, .sit.bin, or .zip files) from your PC to the Mac hard drive image. In this case I was copying the files and folders from the 8500 to the G4, then from the G4 to the Synology. I tried zipping them up on the Synology before using HFVExplorer - but the minute the files were copied onto a non Mac FS, the resource fork was lost, and when I uncompressed them in Basilisk II they were no longer recognized as Macintosh binary executables. By this point I had been working on the Mac issues an entire day and it was late and I was getting tired and making sloppy mistakes, so I called it a night.

HPVExplorer with the Sysem 7.5.3 Hard Disk Image Open

As I was drifting off the sleep I realized that I was approaching it wrong. What I needed to do was to archive the files and folders on a Mac. This morning, I tried using DropStuff 10 to create .sit archives of the folders I wanted to transfer to Basilisk II. I coped those .sit files to the Synology NAS, then used HFVExplorer to move them onto the hard disk image. I booted Basilisk II, and dropped the SIT files on my installed copy of Stuffit Expander - and it promptly failed. Stuffit Expander 5.5 can't read archives compressed with DropStuff 10. I ran out of time and had to leave for work.

On the drive there I realized that I needed to use Dropstuff 5.5 on the PPC 8500, copy that archive to the G4, then to the Synology, then use HFVExplorer to move that .sit archive onto the hard drive image, then boot Basilisk II and use Stuffit Expander 5.5 to uncompress the folders.

After work, I came home, went through these steps, and it worked perfectly. It sounds like more work than it is. If I simply had a modern Intel based Mac - I'd be able to map a share from my Windows machine to the Mac, then use HFVExplorer to copy the folder, uncompressed, from the Mac, into the Mac hard disk image directly - bypassing all of these other hoops I'm jumping through to avoid spending $100 on a Mac Mini. But the point is to avoid buying new hardware. My goal is to prepare myself to have access to the games and data from my old systems on new hardware as those old systems die. So the G4 and the PPC 8500 make a perfect bridge to get the data I want from them onto emulators and FPGA based machines so that I can slowly phase out the actual physical machines to be replaced by emulators and FPGA simulation. The key to setting up an "alternative" Macintosh platform in this case, regardless of if you use FPGA simulation or software emulation - is to have emulation set up on your PC at least - and if possible to have classic Macs available, 680x0 and PPC ideally.

So, which is better, emulation or FPGA? You'll get a lot of opinions on that and people tend to favor one or the other. My opinion is a little more complex. I plan on getting into that deeper in future blogs - but both FPGA and Emulation have advantages and disadvantages, things that are made easier and more difficult by the different approaches they take to delivering old computing experiences on modern hardware. I'm not a Mac guru, but the challenges with setting up a Classic Mac in either FPGA or emulation are not trivial, and having a decent familiarity with both Mac OS Classic and OS X is helpful, and knowing a bit of Linux and Unix won't hurt either. With that said, it isn't impossible to do, and the process is pretty well documented at the links I included above. Honestly, unless you have a particular nostalgia or fondness for the Mac platform - there isn't a whole lot here that isn't available on other, easier to emulate platforms, most likely done better. Other than a handful of unique and quirky games, the Macintosh has never been a dominant platform with gamers. But if you are interested, it isn't all that difficult to get set up.

If you have any questions, let me know and I'll be glad to help if I can.



http://donovancolbert.blogspot.com/2019/02/when-challenge-is-more-than-half-fun.html

[#] Mon Jan 21 2019 18:20:00 MST from noreply@blogger.com (Donovan Colbert)

Subject: Retro Gaming Emulation and Android, Why it Sucks, and Why it Shouldn't Have To

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Note: I stared writing this blog back in November, and got waylaid with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other events along the way. I'm going to go ahead and publish it now, from my perspective back then. Some things have changed - and I'll address those things in a follow up blog to come later.

Retro Gaming Emulation and Android, Why it Sucks, and Why it Shouldn't Have To

(For additional documents, discussion, and files related to MiSTer, FPGA, Retrogaming and emulation, log into my BBS at http://wallofhate.com )

So, recently we've been watching Cheers, the early 80's Ted Danson sitcom about an alcoholic former baseball star turned into Boston bartender. Whenever I watch this show, I get an irresistible urge to bust out my Atari 5200 and play some old-school home video games circa 1982-83.

My wife recently did a home remodel, and so all my retro-gaming goodness is boxed up and put away until we can find custom display cabinets that satisfy my need to have multiple consoles hooked up to old school TVs and my wife's need to have our entertainment room free of a bunch of 80s woodgrain TV sets disrupting our open-concept floorplan.

To that end, I started working on a master-plan to turn one of my many spare systems into an emu-gaming console. I already have a soft-modded original Xbox in my warehoused collection of old-school gaming gear.

I looked at Raspberry Pi and RetroPie - and while I find the idea cool - spending another $100 to build an ARM core system as *another* Emulator box seems like a bad use of resources. I have all kinds of old Android devices lying around - and they're *basically* the same hardware as a Raspberry Pi, right? So my plan was to re-purpose one of the 2012 Nexus 7 16GB units I own. I really loved my Nexus 7 tablets in the day - and I would love to find a use for them. Unfortunately, there are some real execution obstacles on Android that make the dream far more accessible than the reality.

I think the main problem comes down to Android OS itself, and the way it developed external I/O solutions. I remember the first wave of applications that would allow you to pair a Wiimote with Android. Google has always struggled with wanting Android to succeed while not threatening Chromebooks and ChromeOS. Frankly, I think it is a battle they've lost. Consumers prefer Android to ChromeOS and Chromebooks - and it doesn't matter how many Google gives to schools, that isn't changing. Regardless - this obsession with keeping Android a mobile OS has caused Google to limit the ability of consumers to use Android in a "laptop style" configuration. I think it is why they killed Motorola Webtop and Lapdock right when it was getting good. It also seems to mean that most USB and Bluetooth I/O solutions are still kind of a kludge without a lot of standardization. This is where the frustration begins.

While emulation and mapping to different keyboard layouts (like the Commodore 64) or different D-pad or joystick configurations on a PC can be a challenge - it is absolutely infuriating on Android devices.

My experience starts with going to Fry's to pick up an 8Bitdo controller. Over the years I've had a few different Android D-pad solutions, including the Game Stop Red Samurai and the 8-Bitty.  As you'll see from those links - the main problem with these devices is limited support. Both the 8_bitty and the Red Samurai have a little switch that toggles between "keyboard" and "gamepad" on them. This kind of duality seems to confuse development by giving programmers a couple of different choices on how their application is going to see and interact with the interface. I think it was originally intended to make it easy to make an app the most widely supportable by an I/O device - but in the long run, I think it just causes a lot of confusion and poorly interfaced I/O solutions.

Emulation seems to make this worse. Most emulators start out on PCs and assumed that a keyboard would be the default input device - but some support USB joysticks too. Those emulators then were ported over to Android, bringing a legacy of design intended for PCs to Android, which already had its own unique challenges with keyboard and I/O interfacing. When I say I/O interfacing - we're talking about a D-pad, joystick, or other similar input device.

This is a lot of words so far to basically get to the point that for a number of reasons - getting your emulator to work with a d-pad and keypad is difficult in the best case, and terrible in most examples on Android in particular.

The 8bitdo is an awesome little bluetooth 8-direction d-pad controller with 4 "action" buttons (XYAB), two center buttons (think Start and Select), and two shoulder buttons. The problem with the Red Samurai and 8-Bitty was both were "full console-sized" d-pads. Not easy to put in a pocket and take with you. The 8bitdo is this perfect balance of being small enough to be pocketable but not too small to be comfortable to play on. There are some very fancy models, but I just bought the basic "Zero" model.  It also dispenses with the choice between a Keyboard or a Gamepad mode.

Here is the thing - for NES emulators, the 8bitdo works almost universally. You may need to enter settings and assign the buttons and directions - but everything is assignable in the way you would expect and want it to be. What I mean by this is that you can go through and assign the d-pad directions to Up, Right, Down and Left to the D-pad. You can assign the buttons to their corresponding positions on a NES, SNES, Gameboy, DS. You can assign the center buttons to Select and Start. At the end of it, things will work just like your muscle memory remembers the controller working on the real hardware - making the game experience awesome.

And if NES was the primary retro-gaming platform I was interested in, that might be enough for me. Honestly - if you're trying to recreate every Nintendo platform from the NES to modern DS portables - the 8bitdo and your Android tablet or phone are a hard-to-beat combination.

But that is what makes all other emulation applications on Android so frustrating. I've tried multiple different solutions. I've used the Nexus 7 with an OTG USB cable, a hub, and a Logitech Unifying Receiver keyboard. I've used my Galaxy Edge 7 with this foldable bluetooth keyboard. I've used the 8bitdo, the Red Samurai, and a Logitech F310. Everything kind of works in some cases for some things, and fails horribly in deal-breaking ways in others on Android devices.

To that end, I've tried multiple different application solutions. I've used Retroarch, I've used ViceC64 and Frodo C64 I've used Hataroid and UAE4ARM and Kat 5200 and Colleen.

And ultimately what I discovered was that for my portable emulation needs - an ASUS Vivotab Note 8 with Windows 10 was far less hassle than any Android based machine, apples to apples. Paths are easier to navigate, set up and configure, controllers and keyboards work better, and copying files around is easier on a Windows 10 device. Ultimately, the emulators available for Windows are more mature, robust and reliable.

Ultimately the problem came down to controlling and keyboard mapping in almost every case.

I don't logically understand this - because the joystick mapping in every Nintendo emulator I have for Android is flawless. But... if there is a PC version and an Android version of an emulator, say, Vice64 or WinUAE vs. UAE4ARM - the Windows I/O mapping works fine and the Android version is unlikely to.

I've tried to make excuses for this in my mind - blaming Android and Google, blaming the non-standardization of the I/O devices for Android, and blaming the developers. The truth is probably that it is a combination of all 3 of these things. But the bottom line is - if you're planning on re-purposing that older Android device as an emulator platform - you're probably better off to buy a Retropie Raspberry Pi package or to use an inexpensive ATOM based Windows 10 tablet.

You can do it, if you're patient, and flexible, and you really want to out of either being stubborn or a masochist. With the BT foldable keyboard and the 8Bitdo Zero and my Samsung Edge 7, I brag that I own the world's most portable SX64 - and it is true. But the fact that I can play Ultima 3 fine on ViceC64 but I can't get the 8Bitdo and the keyboard to get along so I can play Gateway to Apshai is infuriating - especially when these problems just don't exist on the Windows platform. It also drives me nuts that I run into problems on almost every emulation platform on Android that isn't a NES property - and all the NES properties run without a hitch. I'd like to challenge my generation - we're the 1st generation that invented hacking, cracking and phreaking. Every cracked C-64 ROM image you download, some trailblazing geek code-warrior cartel was responsible for. They stripped the copy protection, made the intro demo, and distributed it across the country by black box from BBS to BBS.

So, why are the Nintendo kids (our little brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces,) making better emulators for Android than the emulators for our generation of machines? How come all the NES emulators are better than the Commodore and Atari 8 and 16 bit emulators? It isn't that we can't do it - because the Windows versions are all excellent. It is that we're *not* doing it for Android.

The thing that remains elusive to me is - how is this all working on Retropie on a Raspberry. That is an ARM platform, with a Debian based Linux variant running IA32/34 based emulator ports on it.





It may just be that if you're *serious* about this - *that* is the way to go. But I don't know if I want to spend a Benjamin to build an entire other machine to test it out when I've got the above-mentioned ASUS Vivotab Note 8 which was just lying around doing nuthin' - and it works just great in this capacity. In the meantime, if any of you retrogamers out there are interested in a couple of old Nexus 7 2012 laptops, one with 3G - drop me a line. Maybe you can flash them with a new ROM, even Debian, and make them live up to their full potential.

Addendum: 1/21/2019. Over the next 90 days, with a crash course re-acquainting myself with emulation on Android and Windows 10, RetroPie on Raspberry Pie, FPGA systems, and modern hardware solutions on original 8 bit hardware - I've been mostly successful at doing everything I wanted to do on Android with emulation. It isn't the best platform for emulation, and the Nexus 7 in particular has some hardware performance challenges that a newer system (like a Nvida Shield TV) would resolve. I suspect that the Nvidia Shield TV is actually the easiest way for the casual user to get a full suite of 8 and 16 bit emulators running on their television. My goal headed into this was really to complete Ultima III, which I had gotten close to back in 1985 but never finished. By the end of it, I had finished Ultima I, II and III, as well as the NES title Dragon Warrior, all on my Samsung S7 Edge with a keyboard, the 8bitdo controller, and a BT mouse. The trick is, while you can do it software free as in free beer free on Windows - ultimately on Android I had to pay for the commercial versions of a couple of emulators. It wasn't just that to be ad-free. The paid emulators are superior for Android. In future blogs I plan on discussing this in more detail as well as my choice for a modern FPGA based solution to read Commodore disk image files using an original Commodore 128 computer and how I ended up with two RetroPie boxes, why I love them - but why they frustrate me. I've also ended up rebuilding a bunch of old Slik Stik joysticks, ended up buying the more expensive 8bitdo F30 bluetooth D-pad, and I'm waiting for a Collectorvision Phoenix FPGA Colecovision console pre-order to arrive, along with an Amiga 500 style Raspberry Pie case. I plan on writing some HowTo: docs for setting up emulators on Android and RetroPie, as well as reviewing some of the products I've purchased recently and the vendors I bought them from. Of course, I've got to fit all this in between reliving my 8-bit glory days - which is why this article is 90 days late.














http://donovancolbert.blogspot.com/2019/01/retro-gaming-emulation-and-android-why.html

[#] Tue Jan 01 2019 10:02:00 MST from noreply@blogger.com (Donovan Colbert)

Subject: SJWs Define their Fandom by Personal Identity - Not by Love for the Franchise

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So, recently a post of a "transgendered" man having a meltdown in a Gamestop has gone viral. If you have Facebook, you can view it here

In it, a 6' tall plus TG with shoulders like a linebacker threatens women and a cowering little clerk behind the counter with violence repeatedly because "she" feels "she" was "misgendered" by patrons and staff.  

Listen - whatever floats your boat. I have no problem with the fact that this individual wants to be referred to as a female. But the reason that the individual is so hostile and aggressive is because "she" has too much testosterone in her system - because she isn't a biological woman. She is a man. No matter what she believes in her head, her body chemistry is male. Which is why she is 6' tall with a receding hairline, a 42 double A bra-size, and shoulders like a lumberjack. I think it is safe to assume, all other things being clearly true, that she probably also still has a penis. Instead of expecting the rest of the world to play along with her reality distortion field - maybe what she needs to do is to learn to ignore when people assume the obvious and call her "Sir" instead of "ma'am." She needs to accept that on "transparently becoming the woman she feels like inside the body she is trapped in," she isn't doing a very good job at it from an outside perspective. Even if she were a biological woman, looking as she does, she would probably be confused with a man frequently.

That all being the case, acting out violently when someone else doesn't want to play along with her mental health issues is unacceptable. It isn't intolerance that people in the store have misgendered this individual - it is dangerous pacification of a serious mental health issue with someone who poses a physical threat to the general public - to allow them to think that acting this way in public is ever appropriate. The only way she gets away with it is because she is so much bigger than everyone else that she can bully everyone around her. Acting out like this isn't helping her cause. 


Like a Snarky Tyler Durden with a yamika.

Shortly thereafter I saw a picture of some Retrogamers and they just had that look of urban white Millennials. Beards and retro print shirts and knit scarves... two men and a woman. I may be wrong. I am totally judging the people in this photo by superficial appearances with absolutely no evidence.

But, the judgment is based on previous experiences. 
Since the politically correct social justice movement has caught steam, I keep encountering this in online groups and communities. It doesn't matter what group.

Comics and other escapist fantasy groups.
Gaming groups, both video and FRP.
Technology groups...

Pretty much anything related to what would traditionally and broadly be called "nerd culture" has seen an influx of radical Cultural Marxist oriented Social Justice Warriors.

The irony is that they tend to show up on the scene and claim to want to be a mechanism of inclusion. Ask them about it, and they'll tell you that they want to put an end to gatekeeping in nerd culture, that they want to see a more diverse, inclusive community in comics, fantasy, cinema and gaming genres that have traditionally catered to white and Asian male nerds.

Their method of achieving this is almost universally by driving white and Asian male nerds out of the community if they will not accept being shamed into second class citizens in the cultures they've created and nurtured for the last 50+ years.

I see it in the AD&D and other FRP groups. I see it in the way that the mainstream media, film and comic industry attacks the Starwars fandom and Comicsgate community. Although it has been shot down repeatedly when seen in classic Retro Gaming groups, it still shows up there and runs the same plays from the same playbook. It is predictable - and frequently seems most driven by militant and radical LGBT+ agenda. I'm not sure why this is true, but it is. Most militant SJW activism seems to be a front for militant LGBT+ activism.

The more obscure and older the demographics of a nerd community, the safer it is. GammaWorld communities seem fairly immune from this trend so far - Advanced Dungeons and Dragons communities, as the most mainstream FRP in the world with a much younger audience, are infested with it.

And the thing is - in general I don't care if you want to include gender fluid elves in D&D and I don't care if there is a gay individual in Star Wars. But the whole premise that the white male patriarchy in nerd culture is the problem is patently false. The idea that we're threatened by having our dominance eroded and therefore clinging onto these old ideals that exclude diversity are a lie.

The difference is a simple one.

I have no problem with a nerd who is into retro-gaming or fantasy role playing games or comics or super heroes or any other aspect of nerd culture as their primary defining identity FIRST and who is concerned about social justice issues as a secondary aspect that further defines who they are.

But what I encounter - what we see in the video linked at the top - is people who insist that this unnecessary and unrelated quality of their personal identity be acknowledged as a primary characteristic as a member of the geek communities they want to identify with.

All of this while claiming that they are being oppressed and excluded because of that personal identity from a group where that identity is irrelevant.

These people are not involved in ComicCons and gaming and retro-communities because of a primary love of those things. Star Wars and Commodore 64, Conan The Barbarian and Doctor Who are not their real passion that brings them into the communities that exist to celebrate these escapist traditions.

They aren't content to be acknowledged as a fan of Star Wars or Anime or Comics or Gaming. They have to be acknowledged as an LGBT fan, or a female fan, or a minority fan. The division by IDENTITY arises not from the community excluding them, but by their instance that their fandom be defined by their personal identity first.

If you want to be accepted as a gamer, or a comics fan, or a retrocomputing enthusiast, stop calling yourself a GAY gamer, a female retrocomputing enthusiast, a black comics fan. Just be a fan. We're all just fans, until you start adding something in front of YOUR fandom that identifies you as different than me because of skin color or genitalia or sexual identity or preference. I didn't do that. You did.

Oh, and if a white guy who has been a fan in these communities forever says this to you, don't tell him it is his white male privilege that allows him to think it is OK to say this in public.


An Athiest, a Vegan and a Social Justice Warrior walk into a ComicsCon. How do I know?
 But they won't listen to that advice.

Their goal is to be militant political activists disrupting these communities to change the focus from the love of the thing to a platform for Social Justice agendas and Cultural Marxism. Their goal isn't to create more unity and inclusion and tolerance. It is to create division - to generate hostility and to create a class of oppressors and victims - and then justify treating the oppressors exactly how they claim the victims have been treated.

And then when those identified as the oppressors raise their hands and politely say, "Wait... I think you've got us wrong, and worse yet - I think you're treating US exactly the way you say you don't want to be treated..."

They shout those voices down and call them the voices of homophobia, racism, misogyny and xenophobia - with the fanatical mob mentality of a group of Puritans on a witch-hunt.



This just for saying I wasn't a fan of Into the Spiderverse?


Increasingly, if you oppose this kind of thing in your communities, and you speak out about it, you're liable to be summarily judged a witch... er, a racist, misogynist, or homo or xenophobe - and be kicked from the group. You know, because, people like you act as gatekeepers to nerd communities and that is unacceptable - so someone has to man the gates of those communities to keep people like YOU out of them, because if you're not excluded, they all know you're going to be excluding people.

The hypocrisy of this is that transparent and mind boggling.

For me, one of the most annoying parts of this experience is that these are often in communities I've been a part of since I was a kid. 40 years of group membership and experience. I've got comics that have a $.15 cover price that I bought from the 7-11 with my allowance money when I was 6. I saw Star Wars in lines that wrapped around the theater in the summer heat of 1977. I played Atari 2600 games on brand new heavy-sixers and watched the world go from Pong to Fallout in Virtual Reality, there for every step of the way.

The people lecturing me and telling me how I don't belong frequently seem to be people who just "dig" the aesthetics of 8 bit Retro gaming or who set up their dad's old NES and fell in love with it. They're very passionate about whatever they've discovered and like all nerds, they've become compulsively obsessed with whatever they've identified as the core of their fandom and they've studied it to where they frequently DO know more pedantic details about it that they've studied and read up on than I have. But what they don't get is that reading about it and getting a historical view of it and knowing every obscure detail is not the same, and never will be the same, as actually being there.

Ultimately, that is the conclusion of this entire article. No matter what you think - if you are a Millennial Social Justice Warrior trying to disrupt nerd culture to drive out the white (and Asian) male patriarchy because of your professed claim of love for the franchise or experience - you'll never experience it like I did. First hand, brand new, when it happened. No matter how you destroy the franchises of Star Wars or Dcotor Who or The Masters of the Universe or any other geek community, no matter how you try to rewrite history - you can't. You can't have the original experience, and you can't change it, and you can't make it go away. The fact that it happened and the way it happened are immutable.

So the heritage of comics, of golden age books by Kirby where men had square jaws and women had large breasts and impractical outfits is mine. Dungeons and Dragons is mine. The gamut of Japanese fiction from Speed Racer and Ultra-man forward is mine. Their history, their first hand experience, being part of something deeply counter-culture and outside of the mainstream... like Heavy Metal Magazine - is mine.

You're just a guest, just a tourist, someone who arrived after it had been bought out by soulless giant global corporations and turned into a family friendly theme park property.

You'll never experience REAL Las Vegas
Nothing you do or achieve will ever change that fundamental truth. Instead of trying to lecture me and shame me by creating this fantasy in your head where people like myself are actively excluding you - why not put down your political agenda and actually join us in loving and celebrating the culture we are part of first? It is far more rewarding than the crap you're involved in now. I'm not a straight white male Star Wars fan. I'm a Star Wars fan who happens to be a straight white male.

Ultimately - you're the actual problem, the real problem - all of the things you believe you are fighting against, not me. So you don't even have the moral high ground. Like online trolls, you don't join communities to be part of them. You join them to destroy them, because you aren't happy with yourself, and you are only ever really happy when everyone else is as miserable and isolated and lonely as you are.


















http://donovancolbert.blogspot.com/2019/01/sjws-define-their-fandom-by-personal.html

[#] Wed Aug 29 2018 21:55:00 MST from noreply@blogger.com (Donovan Colbert)

Subject: In defense of Robbi Rodriguiz

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Recently, a Marvel/DC Comics employee, Robbi Rodriguiz, who is evidently an advocate of the agendas and platforms of the Left's Identity Politics movement, tweeted some images directed at Ethan Van Sciver, a member of the Comicsgate community, a loose group of fans of escapist fiction opposed to the encroachment of "Social Justice" issues into science fiction and fantasy genres.

I have only seen censored versions of these pictures, and have not tried to dig deeper (no pun intended) to see the uncensored versions - but my understanding is that the images contain pictures of Robbi Rodriguiz's nude, hairy taint and possibly his anus.

The accusations that have resulted have frankly, been blown out of proportion. Robbi has been accused of tweeting unwanted gay porn, of sexual harassment, and the images have been called "bizarre, unsolicited graphic images."

I'm not sure I disagree with this last description - but ultimately I feel like people in Comicsgate are intentionally distorting and exaggerating the intent of the tweeted image. I believe there is a reason for this, which I'll get to in a minute. I think the images were crass, unprofessional, gross, offensive, adolescent and sophomoric. I think the behavior was unacceptable. But I think calling them unsolicited gay porn or sexual harassment crosses a line.

I think the people doing this are doing so for a specific reason. They're the same people who might get called "pro-rape" while being perceived as "explaining away," a similar situation where the victim was a woman or LGBT. I think they're adopting a "fight fire with fire" approach, and I think the Identity Politic activists deserve this kind of retribution. They use the same technique against their political opponents all the time, stretching the boundaries and definitions of what is "inappropriate and unwanted sexual attention," to try and shame people they disagree with politically, and claiming that anyone who doesn't agree is promoting and advocating sexual harassment and abuse. When the #MeToo movement broke out, we saw this happen time and time again. This is the problem I keep describing with the dirty tactics the Left uses in cases like this. Once you set the bar low, there is nothing preventing your opposition from using it back against you if you make a mistake that can be twisted out of context, and you almost certainly will, some of you, anyhow - whoever you are, whichever side you're on.

The danger is that by adopting this same technique, the ComicsGate movement normalizes this behavior and makes it "just how the game is played". That we assist in moving the bar on the definition of sexual assault in a way that many, maybe most of us, don't agree with. Diminishing the definition in a way that disrespects actual victims of real sexual harassment. The Political ID Left likes to weaponize issues that are hard for the accused to defend themselves against without sounding like exactly that the Political ID Left accuses them of being. They don't support victims, they manipulate them for their own political agendas. We see it every time the Left claims to be pro-LGBT and then implies that there is something unmanly and homoerotic about Donald Trump and Putin. We see it when they hire a Chinese journalist with terribly racist tweets and then ban a black journalist from Twitter for retweeting those same tweets, replacing the target ethnicity (whites), with a minority ethnicity (Jewish). They're not on the side of diversity and inclusion. They manipulate these things like pawns to achieve their political goals - and they only support those minorities and sexual preferences when those "victims" are of their political ideology. If it is a minority member who supports their opposition, they attack them in exactly the way they claim the Right is guilty of.

I want ComicsGate to be better than the Far Left at every opportunity. In this case, that means realizing and acknowledging that what Robbi Rodriguez did was disgusting, childish, unacceptable behavior that had nothing to do with sexual harassment and everything to do with trying to be as shockingly juvenile and asinine as possible. It is the dumb shit a Middle School boy does to another Middle School boy he doesn't like. In this sense, the fact that Robbi Rodriguez is an adult male professional working in a high profile industry with a public social media presence and acted like this is potentially more troubling than simple sexual harassment. This isn't just inappropriate sexual behavior it is clinically and chronically arrested development and terribly bad judgement. Maybe Robbi Rodruiguez just needs to stay away from social media after ingesting mind and mood altering substances and get himself into a 12-Step program - or maybe there is a serious mental psychosis on display here that needs professional clinical treatment - but a man his age in his position shouldn't be sending butthole pics to his enemies on Twitter. Really, accusing Robbi Rodriguez of what he is actually guilty of is far more damning of his character and mental stability than accusing him of simple sexual harassment. Adults sexually harass people fully understanding the potential consequences of such behavior. Adolescents send butthole pics to one another without a fully formed adult understanding of the variety of personal consequences that may result. When an adult man acts like an adolescent, shows the reasoning and personal accountability of a high school kid who just does things for the LOLZ - this is an adult we should be very concerned about.

The ComicsGate movement should take the adult, responsible reaction this this and instead of trying to distort it into something it isn't, point out that what it actually is - is probably more troubling still than the thing it could be twisted into. The community should take the high ground and ask what kind of company would employ someone so clearly suffering from delayed maturity and arrested development, someone lacking the basic adult judgement to understand how what he was about to do was a career ending decision of epic stupid proportions. Robbi Rodriguez's shame isn't that he acted like a sexual harasser - it was that he acted like a child who didn't know better - about what any reasonable adult would have seen as a line clearly too far beyond the pale to cross. Rodriguez isn't a predator. He is a child. That is who his side circles their wagons around - adult men who act no better than unreasoning children. 

http://donovancolbert.blogspot.com/2018/08/in-defense-of-robbi-rodriguiz.html

[#] Wed Feb 17 2021 15:39:37 MST from ParanoidDelusions

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Realizing that my blog is available as an .RSS feed and that I could have it all show up here has been the high point of my day. 

 



[#] Thu Feb 18 2021 12:28:56 MST from TheDave

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Wed Feb 17 2021 15:39:37 MST from ParanoidDelusions

Realizing that my blog is available as an .RSS feed and that I could have it all show up here has been the high point of my day. 

 



I especially enjoyed your take on the whole creationism debate.  



[#] Thu Feb 18 2021 19:34:41 MST from ParanoidDelusions

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I really need to create a separate blog for politics and philosophy and one for Retrogaming - because the first two alienate half the audience for the second one. 

But they'll find the Politics and Philosophy blog and it will alienate them anyhow - because they can't share passion for something with someone they disagree with politically. 

 

Thu Feb 18 2021 12:28:56 MST from TheDave

 

Wed Feb 17 2021 15:39:37 MST from ParanoidDelusions

Realizing that my blog is available as an .RSS feed and that I could have it all show up here has been the high point of my day. 

 



I especially enjoyed your take on the whole creationism debate.  



 



[#] Thu Feb 18 2021 19:40:30 MST from ParanoidDelusions

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On the other hand, I need to stop *providing* so much content and force you guys to CREATE more content. Maybe the problem is you're so busy *reading* all the stuff I'm providing, you never get around to POSTING conversations. :) 

Also - the problem with a site full of people who mostly agree on almost everything is, they don't have anything to argue about. :) 

 



[#] Thu Feb 18 2021 22:31:25 MST from TheDave

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Thu Feb 18 2021 19:40:30 MST from ParanoidDelusions


Also - the problem with a site full of people who mostly agree on almost everything is, they don't have anything to argue about. :) 

 

This is the dilemma of any forum.  You need enough new blood to keep conversations going but don't want to overwhelm the old guard with jackasses who haven't yet learned how to think with their brains instead of their social media bubbles.



[#] Tue Feb 16 2021 22:21:00 MST from noreply@blogger.com (Donovan Colbert)

Subject: Using Web Rendering Proxy to Surf on Retro Computers

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One of the biggest limitations of classic machines is that even if you can successfully connect your 20-35 year old machine to your network, web browser development for these systems often stopped decades ago. If development still continues, their publishers sometimes expect unbelievable prices. iBrowse for Amiga costs an outrageous $59.99 for a license. Netscape faced the music 25 years ago that few people will pay that much, if anything - for a web browser when there are decent free alternatives available. Regardless of how good a classic browser is, most retro platforms do not have the horsepower to drive TLS security or advanced javascript and other client-side scripting, anyways.

Classic machines are generally limited to old sites that use little or no security and display static, simple web pages. There is a decent network of retro-oriented web pages that do not require modern browsers out there, but most modern pages are simply out of the question. Your browser will either completely refuse to display those pages or display a scrambled mess that is useless. 

Web Rendering Proxy, or WRP offers an interesting solution to this challenge. WRP is a small executable program that you install on a host machine. It is available in Mac, *nix and Windows versions as well as being available for Intel/AMD or ARM architectures. It is executed from the command line and there is no GUI front-end. 

BOOGER! Wrong station, fellow babies!


The concept is fairly simple. You point your browser on your classic Retro computer towards WRP running on a more powerful PC. That PC then grabs website requests from your Retro browser. It downloads that site, then converts it to an imagemap in either GIF or PNG format - and sends that back to your classic browser. As you click on parts of the imagemap, WRP interprets that and performs the requested "click" or "action" on the web page, repeats the process, and sends you an updated imagemap of the results. 

It is kind of an illusion. You've got a more powerful, modern computer doing all the actual work - but it is a satisfying way to enable your classic machine to reach more of the modern web. You may be thinking now, "if I have a modern PC doing all the actually surfing, why not just sit at that machine and cut out the middle man?" 


Online BBS displayed via WRP on IBrowse on V4



You're probably right in many cases. The practical use models for this method are relatively limited - and just surfing that page on the more powerful machine is usually faster, more reliable, and offers features that WRP currently doesn't. But the wow factor of brining up modern pages on your ancient web browser is still pretty cool. Honestly, WRP would make more sense as a web-hosted public server that anyone with a Retro computer could use without needing their own modern PC. Even then, there are limits. 

The biggest limitation I've encountered so far is that WRP cannot proxy for file downloads. I'm not sure what happens if you go to a site and click on a file-transfer link - but WRP does not download that file and then transfer it to your retro-browser. That would honestly be the killer application for this concept - allowing people with a classic machine, classic browser, and Internet connection to bypass a lot of jumping through hoops necessary to get software from the modern world into their ancient systems. Unfortunately, it does not work this way. 

I tested WRP, both the server and as a client, from several different machines and configurations. 

As a server I ran it on an Surface Pro 5 i7, a Pi400, and a Linux Debian Buster i5 NUC. 

I accessed it from a V4 and a MiSTer, using AWeb and iBrowse Demo. 

I did encounter an issue with the V4, but I think the problem affects V4BL users who have ApollOS and Coffin installed. V4BL can cause confusion because it will mount volumes from other OS installations by default, as described in the V4BL checklist matrix. If you're not thinking about this, you may run a program installed and configured for ApollOS while in Coffin, or vice versa. That can cause problems. 

In this case, if you are in Coffin and run the versions of iBrowse installed for Coffin the the Programs:internet/ path - iBrowse will not correctly display .png images. 

On the other hand, if you navigate to Work:Internet/ - the path where ApollOS has iBrowse installed - launching from there launches a script that requests you unload Zune and load MUI. I'm not sure that doing this does anything in Coffin - but launching iBrowse this way, I was able to view PNG format imagemaps generated by WRP - and they look better and render faster than GIF imagemaps. 

I had issues with aWeb being unable to connect, so I focused more on iBrowse. Unfortunately, iBrowse performed consistently better with WRP, resulting in my first time using iBrowse that 15 minute time limit became an issue. This is normally where I'd suggest that if publishers are charging an unreasonable price, that some things aren't theft, they're social protest. Instead, I'll just suggest that charging $59 for software that is only truly useful if you've installed a proxy that is FOSS seems kind of pointless. I'd donate to the author of WRP before I'd give a dime to the authors of iBrowse. 


Be it some thing said has caused ye offense?


Requests and generation of imagemaps was predictable. The i7 and i5 performed better than the Pi400 - but all 3 systems did a respectable job at processing requests, downloading the pages, and generating imagemaps back to the retro-machines connected to them. 

On the retro-platforms themselves, I noticed something interesting. It might be a misconfiguration on my part somewhere in my stack - but running a classic AGA Amiga 68ec020/100 using AOS 3.1.4 and MiamiDX as my stack on Minimig on MiSTer - rendering was painfully slow. 

Changing that to an AGA/RTG Amiga 68ec020/100 using Coffin and MiamiDX - things improved significantly. It was still slow, but not as maddeningly slow as with the other configuration. I did not have time to test pointing my actual OCS/ECS 68ec020 accelerated Amiga 500 systems at WRP. I suspect they would be slower than the worse MiSTer config. 

Coffin on MiSTer connected to web BBS



On the V4 - things were significantly faster. Again, this isn't any real surprise. In this manner, the V4, running iBrowse, pointed at WRP running on the i7 posted the best and fastest results of the various combinations I tested. 

How does it work? You don't set up an HTTP proxy in your browser settings. Instead, WRP acts as a webserver on port 8080 on the host machine. You point your URL at that address http://machineIP:8080. This loads up a simple webpage that has an address bar and some other settings as a menu bar. Enter a web address and generally WRP goes to that address, downloads it, generates an image map, and updates to display that imagemap in your browser. All further browsing is done from within the WRP page. It is kind of difficult to explain - but once you connect to WRP, all navigation is done from within WRP. You don't use the back buttons or scroll buttons or URL button in the browser. It is basically running a REMOTE browser within your local browser, and all navigation is done within that remote browser. If you've ever created a remote session to a RDP or VNC host and launched a browser on that remote server - that is similar to what is happening here - just stripped down. 

What could I do? Well, I was able to search and browse almost every page I requested, and I was able to download images by right-clicking and "saving as". But as noted, any kind of file download didn't work. 

I was also able to connect, log into, and enter and save posts on my Citadel BBS. The way this is handled is kind of janky. The server window for WRP has a URL, with buttons for "go" and "bk" (back). After that are width and height fields that allow you to set the resolution of the page being rendered to match your browser. Next is a field titled "S" where you can set the scale/zoom of the page. After that is a field titled "c" where you can set the colors, which is 256 by default. 

Next is a field labeled "K". This field allows you to generate text input to send through WRP to the website. 




In order to log-in, I had to follow these steps.

Enter the website URL and click "go", wait for it to request, transfer, render and display the imagemap of the website. 

Click the "login" button and click "go". Wait for it to request, transfer, render and display the imagemap of the website updated with the login prompt. 

Click the "username" field and click "go". Wait for it to request, transfer, render, and display the imagemap of the website updated with the login prompt with a flashing input cursor. 

Enter my username in the "K" field and click Go. Wait for it to request, transfer, render and siplay the imagemap of the website updated with the login prompt with my username updated into that field. 

Then repeat the process for the password, then repeat the process to enter "OK" to actually log in. 

It is a very indirect and clunky way to manage input in interactive websites - but it works, and is probably the only way it could really be done. 

I had to repeat this process to open a new message input form, enter the message, and save it. 

A lot of effort for a small post. 



It honestly isn't something you would want to do frequently or for any serious input. I certainly wouldn't use this method to compose an article for this blog. But as a proof-of-concept that this can be done and does work, it is a pretty cool idea

WRP also won't work for streaming video or for pages that update dynamically in real-time. You get a snapshot of the page as WRP downloaded it. You can manually hit the series of up and down cursor buttons on the WRP control bar to refresh the page you're on and see updates - but it doesn't happen automatically. 

Ultimately, WRP is something of a novelty that falls just short of being a very useful utility. If you could click on file downloads, it would then download to WRP and transfer to your Classic Machine's browser - WRP would be an essential application for any Retro Platform capable of running an old web-browser. As it is, for now, it is just a cool way to be able to see a site like Gmail or Facebook displayed correctly on an old browser on a classic Retro computer. 

Ideally - the Apollo V4 would have enough power to actually run a modern, full fledged browser and some developer is hard at work creating a modern browser for it. I think this is unlikely on several levels. Barring that, maybe someone will take this proof-of-concept and design a more robust public proxy that works on a similar concept. Until then, this is the best, maybe the only way to see and navigate a modern website from your retro-computer running a classic browser. 







http://donovancolbert.blogspot.com/2021/02/using-web-rendering-proxy-to-surf-on.html

[#] Thu Feb 18 2021 23:42:02 MST from ParanoidDelusions

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This is so awesome. :) 

 



[#] Wed Feb 24 2021 10:14:00 MST from noreply@blogger.com (Donovan Colbert)

Subject: Apollo Continues Aggressive Development on Amiga OS Alternative

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The Apollo Vampire team, responsible for a line of FPGA accelerators for the Amiga as well as the Vampire V4 stand-alone FPGA Amiga computer continue to aggressively develop their ApollOS fork of the AROS platform as an Amiga OS 3.x alternative.

AROS is a multi-platform desktop OS intended to be AmigaOS API compatible. Most Amiga users are familiar with AROS as the alternative built-in kickstart bundled with UAE that they replace with a real Kickstart ROM image in order to actually get UAE working. 


AROS is a somewhat obscure platform that doesn't generate a lot of interest or discussion in the broader Amiga community - but has ambitious goals. The adoption of AROS by the Apollo team has made AROS a much more interesting platform. 

The Apollo team has some valid criticisms of Cloanto and Hyperion, their long running legal battle over the Amiga IP and trademarks, and the affect that has on the Amiga community. In part because of that, it seems that they've decided to adapt the AROS project, which is open-source, and make it the default operating system for their Vampire FPGA devices. It isn't a bad idea. By adopting an alternative Kickstart BIOS and Amiga API compatible operating system as their official platform - they avoid any entanglement with the legal teams of either of these litigious companies trying to squeeze any last drops of profit out of the corpse of the Commodore Amiga brand and properties. 

ApollOS Amiga Desktop


But AROS is really an "alpha" platform. Part of this is an ambitious scope, and part of it is in the nature of trying to reverse engineer compatibility without reusing any of the code or design of the original you are trying to clone. For most users, in practical terms this means - AROS is not highly compatible, stable or tuned for peak performance. Apollo responded by forking AROS into the ApollOS platform - allowing them to concentrate on fine-tuning ApollOS for their Vampire "68080" FPGA architecture, stripping out code for alternative architectures and making the OS more efficient and less complex. 

Lead developer/engineer Gunnar von Boehn announced today on the Vampire Discord that he has had a major breakthrough with IDE performance under AROS. This has been a persistant complaint of Vampire users of the ApollOS platform - and may be part of the reason that the alternative Amiga OS 3.9 based Coffin OS distribution remains probably the most popular OS platform used on Vampire based systems. In fact, Coffin is so popular that despite being designed for the Vampire, versions have been "ported" to MiSTer and for UAE.




Gunnar claims that in some disk functions AROS IDE performance is up to 30% faster than the same activity on Amiga OS 3.x 

Traditional speeds on Amiga OS 3 are about 12-13 MB/Sec. This is AROS delivering 17MB/Sec on a Vampire.



The Vampire accelerators are so much faster than anything else available in the realm of physical Amiga equipment that disk performance is easy to overlook. This improvement may address other more subtle issues, like frequent write errors with large file transfers on the V4. Improved disk performance may have benefits in increased stability and compatibility also. 

There are still outstanding issues with the AROS kickstart and ApollOS.

WHDLoad saves are apparently not currently working - reducing the V4 to an Amiga that can't save high scores or be used for games that require save points.

There are some strange issues with PAL/NTSC modes that affect many popular titles. I discovered that "Firepower," a classic "capture the flag" overhead, Combat style tank game wouldn't run at full speed on my system. After reporting this, several other users reported issues as well. Strangely - the issues were not consistent. Some users had no problems, some had intermittent issues, and others couldn't get the game to load at all. Issues with PAL/NTSC and possibly related to the EBM and having V4BL installed all seem to contribute to the issues experienced. 




Part of the challenge here is that there are a variety of different official, semi-official, and "not really supported" configurations possible with the V4 - and different peripherals, including monitors, and different international electronics standards all come into play here. On top of the ambitious goals of Apollo to create a "next-generation" Amiga instead of merely replicating the classic Amiga platform faithfully - that creates a daunting challenge for the Apollo team to confront. 

Fortunately, the V4 has generated the interest of many developers who are actively working to contribute to improvements to this platform. The ability to boot from .ADF and SD card are both in active development and should show up in future releases of the V4. These will both be major steps forward for the Vampire platform. 

For now, Coffin R58 remains my recommended platform and daily-driver OS for the V4, and MiSTer remains a more compatible classic Amiga if you're solely interested in recreating the most faithful traditional 68xxx Amiga experience. But there can be no doubt that ApollOS is committed to developing a modern evolution of the Amiga that maintains high levels of backwards compatibility while moving the platform forward with a vision that will make Amiga less complicated, free of legal complications, and more powerful than ever before. Apollo, ApollOS and the V4 remain the most interesting parts of the Amiga community with the clearest vision of what its future should be - and the clearest progress and roadmap toward achieving their goals. 
  



http://donovancolbert.blogspot.com/2021/02/apollo-continues-aggressive-development.html

[#] Wed Feb 24 2021 11:21:00 MST from noreply@blogger.com (Donovan Colbert)

Subject: Firepower Work-Around for Vampire V4 and Coffin R58

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 Firepower is a classic, top-down, Atari 2600 Combat-style, capture the flag Tank game on the classic Amiga. It has a great single player mode and an even better head-to-head mode where you race against an opponent to find the flag in their bunker and return it to your base. If you haven't played it, I highly recommend it. 

But if you have a Vampire V4, you may encounter difficulties. Many V4 users report no problem running this title, but for others, it may refuse to load completely or run with such terrible slow-downs during intense screen activity that it is virtually unplayable. 

I may have a solution for you if you're in the latter category and running V4BL. 

I've tested this fix on my system under Coffin R58 and AOS 3.1 and 3.9. I can't get the title to work with ApollOS yet. 

It seems like the V4 can get confused about what video mode it is in, PAL or NTSC. 

These steps may help resolve this issue: 

Boot your V4 into Coffin OS. Reboot using Ctrl-Amiga-Amiga (CTRL, Windows Key, Windows Key). Do not use the reboot option from the pull down menu. If you do, I don't know why, but this will not work. As soon as the system restarts, hold down the Left and Right mouse buttons to enter the EBM. 


In the EBM click the Display Options button. 

The Radio Button next to PAL should be selected. 


Hit the SPACE key a single time. You'll note a lighter gray bar at the bottom of the Display Options EBM screen. 


At this point, click the radio button next to NTSC. I'm not sure if this step is necessary - but it has become a superstitious ritual for me. Do not press the Space key. 

Now, again without hitting the Space key, reselect the PAL radio button. 

Click on the Use button. 

Click on the Boot button and allow your V4 to boot. 

Navigate to the drawer where you have Firepower installed and double click on it to launch. 

Wait for WHDLoad to launch and load the game. 

Blow things up and turn enemy soldiers into red splats. 

This works for me every time. There may be other titles exhibiting the same issue, and it will probably work for them as well. It took me quite a while to narrow this issue down and come up with a repeatable solution. I hope you find it helpful. Please share, leave comments, or contact me if you have anything to add. I can be reached quickest at The Sanitarium BBS.  











http://donovancolbert.blogspot.com/2021/02/firepower-work-around-for-vampire-v4.html

[#] Sat Feb 27 2021 22:57:00 MST from noreply@blogger.com (Donovan Colbert)

Subject: Persistent FTP Mounts using SMBMount on Coffin R58

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 So, regardless of if you use MiSTer, PiMiga, Vampire V4 or other solution to revisit classic retro platforms - a common method of getting started is to use a "pre-rolled" hard drive "image" file, like Coffin or ApolloOS. This is a convenient solution where someone else has built an OS, bundled in useful software, and created an image file that your emulator, FPGA device, or even genuine hardware boots. It is a huge time-saver over rolling-your-own hard drive image solution - and frequently saves you hours of effort tracking down, installing and configuring countless apps, utilities, and enhancements to your operating system. 

The liability of this solution is that you generally do not have any documentation describing the applications installed on your system, and often don't even know what is there. Sometimes images will contain a folder of installed application documentation - but there is no context or reference. The manual may be there - but in pieces and it is up for you to put it together. Other times you may be using a piece of software with no idea that it has features far beyond those you are using. Directory Opus is a program that many Amiga users think of as simply a file management utility. I only recently discovered, because of ApolloOS - that it actually can serve as a direct Workbench replacement. But that isn't what this blog is about. 

Recently I was in a discussion on the Vampire Discord and the topic of SAMBA file sharing came up. If you're not familiar with SAMBA, it is just a cross-platform method of allowing dissimilar machines to access Windows File Shares. I use SAMBA, or SMB - to connect my Amigas to a NAS. Another V4 user was having difficulty, and I was explaining my experience. He asked if I was able to mount a "root" share. I had not had any luck with this, only having success with mapping shares off the root directory. 




As we talked, I booted up the V4 and loaded the included SMBMounter app that I use to navigate SMB shares. In the Quickmount field, I typed the FTP://Synology and hit enter. This failed, unable to find the host. I then tried the FTP: mount by IP address, knowing that AmiFTP also could not find my Synology NAS by name. 

A requester popped up that read,

"Error - QuickMounts should be entered in the format //hostname/service or ftp://hostname." 

I had seen this error before working with SMBMounter and busy trying to finish other tasks. I'd kept forgetting to play around with it when I didn't have anything else going on.

For FTP, I had been using AmiFTP, a program I use on my genuine Amiga and am comfortable with. The truth is, I've been too lazy to install, setup and configure SMB on my real Amigas, where I built the OS from scratch rather than using a pre-rolled image. SMB can be difficult to configure and older systems generally do not support the encryption standards necessary to mount modern SMB file shares - so it felt like a lot of work for possibly no pay-off. I only use SMB with the V4 because it was pre-installed and configured and it just works.

I wondered what the FTP mount on SMBMounter would work like - so I followed the instructions in the requester, and entered ftp://synology (the network name of my NAS) into the QuickMount field and hit "Go!" 

Another familiar requester appeared, asking me for my username and password. I entered these and hit "Connect".  




And instantly got an error alert. "FTPMount startup error - USER environment variable not set Anonymous login with unknown@localhost used as your address." I clicked "continue," here and got another error alert, "Host Synology is unknown." I hit "OK" here... 




And then noticed a new Drive Volume icon titled "FTPMount" on my desktop. 




Intrigued, I opened this mount, and inside it I found titled "aminet," "localhost" and "grandis.nu." 

Still unsure of what exactly was going on, I opened the "grandis.nu" "drawer" and received a "connecting to grandis.nu" notification. 




From that point, I got a window that looked like a terminal window with ASCII art. I clicked through a series of other notifications - and soon found myself in a directory structure full of a great collection of Amiga software, including TOSEC images and even collections for Atari, Comodore 64 and others. I had no idea this site existed - and it was kind of like falling down the rabbit hole discovering this site. There is a lot to explore there. 



Distracted by this "drawer" - what I missed was the scrollbars in the drawer window I had opened. On closing the grandis.nu folders, I noticed these, and scrolled over to find a drawer titled with the IP address of my server. When I clicked the folder matching the name of my NAS, I received an error alert "Host <hostname> is unknown." 

I rebooted, and this time, instead of connecting by the server name - I used the server's IP address.



 Everything worked the same, but now there was a folder named the IP address of my NAS. 



Clicking this folder I got a dialog that read, "User logged in". 

Because there are no .info files, the drawer shows empty - but if I open up Directory Opus or FileMaster Pro and point that app at ftpmount: I can access all of my shares beneath the root share, and all of the files located on the NAS. 




This is a pretty useful discovery to me, and is another step forward in making it easier to download, copy, and install software on my V4. In fact, it is such a useful utility I'll probably look into installing it on my actual Amiga systems also - which may mean installing SMB for Amiga as well. While FTP doesn't require SAMBA in order to operate, I believe I've read something about SMBMounter requiring SMB to be installed. In any case, an additional, familiar way to be able to mount, browse and manipulate files - via FTP or SMB, on my Amiga systems - in a File Manager seems worth the effort to me. 

The problem, though - is discovering what programs are installed and what they can do. I can't really figure out how SAMBA is installed and configured on Coffin. Trying to "find" the files I expect in a SAMBA install doesn't return anything. Downloading the SAMBA package from Aminet and expanding it was no more enlightening. While digging around in the System: volume looking for SAMBA, I did find "tinylauncher.exe" in the C: folder. This is an interesting front end for loading games, music and demos, and if you didn't know it was installed, or don't know what it does, you should check it out.




There are probably a lot of other programs installed on Coffin that would enhance my experience - but either I don't know what they are, where they are, or what they do. 

If you have any tips, on ApolloOS, Coffin, PiMiga, or other pre-rolled OS distribution leave a comment, contact me on The Sanitarium BBS or hit me up on the Discord channel. 






http://donovancolbert.blogspot.com/2021/02/persistent-ftp-mounts-using-smbmount-on.html