(via Boing Boing)
Archive for February, 2003
Jenny’s sister Judy and her two kids are here to visit. Here’s Janice showing off her new trick, standing. She can also stand without holding on to anything.
Her other new thing is this squinty cute face she makes when you smile at her.
Then I was uploading those two pictures and Sharena came over and said “Can you go to pbskids.org?” I was impressed because she said it right, like “P B S kids dot org”. So I typed it in for her and she immediately went to the Animal Karaoke section. Here she is surfing away.
Sharena says: “I wish you Happy Valentine’s Day!”
I had never heard of this until last time we were in Taiwan, and we went up to the top of the Shin Kong building, and I saw a park in Taipei I didn’t remember ever going to. I asked Jenny’s cousin Yvonne, “What’s that?”
The 228 Incident was a military crackdown on civilian protests that broke out on Feb. 27, 1947, against the KMT administration. Historians estimate that around 30,000 people were killed.
A a female cigarette vendor who was selling illegal cigarettes to make ends meet was caught by KMT revenue agents on Yen-ping North Road in Taipei City. The Tobacco Monopoly Bureau agents injured her and mistakenly killed a bystander.
Crowds demonstrated in protest, demanding punishment of the killers. They were, however, met with gunfire, igniting a fury of widespread public protest across the island the following day. To resolve the conflict, Chen Yi — then chief executive officer of the Taiwan Provincial Government — requested military assistance from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who later dispatched troops to Taiwan.
I was looking for this story the other day and couldn’t remember where I originally saw it. Then just today it pops up at muxway. How about that!
Several days ago a very large number of trucks and men from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power descended on my neighborhood. They removed large sections of Pershing drive to a depth of 15 feet or so over a stretch of about a city block. I assumed they had a problem with a water main or something.
When they started building semi-permanent structures over the holes I knew something really big was up. When the large trucks full of strange power tools, mega-welding machines, breathing equipment, and racks of test equipment came I started wondering. Driving by a couple nights ago (11 PM), I noticed that the pace hadn’t slowed – they were at it 24 hours a day.
My curiosity got the best of me yesterday when they brought in the giant tanks full of liquid nitrogen. LN-2 for the DWP? I parked my car and played the lookie loo.
OK, so you’re all probably out there chuckling to yourselves each time I talk about messing around with the MAME source code to get the music and sprites out of SFII. Well, your little joke is over. I found the “Self Test” menu.
I’ll probably do nicer versions of the MP3s in a few days. But, even with the power of “Self Test”, and understanding how the graphics are stored in the ROM, getting at the sprites is difficult. It turns out that to save space the fine folks at Capcom split up all the graphics into 8×8 pixel squares, and then reused them wherever they could. For some of the characters, all the squares for a particular frame are stored together and are easy to grab. But for others, they’re spread all throughout memory wherever they can fit in. Somewhere I suppose there’s a table that says which squares you use to paint each frame of each guy, but I’m not about to go find it.
But one mystery I always wondered about is solved: When Chun-Li jumps, she does a flip and her feet disappear off the top of the screen. I was always curious if they bothered to draw her feet, even though they are never shown.
The style formerly known as “lite-yellow” is now the default. The style formerly known as “default” is now called “bluerobot”. If you select “bluerobot” it “should” remember your choice.
The side effect of adding RAM to the iBook is now I have a useless 128MB memory module lying around. What should I do with it? Does anybody want it?
It looks like I could sell it on eBay for maybe up to $50 which is pretty good since that’s what they cost new.
I’ve finally upgraded the iBook, it now has 5,368,709,120 bits of memory. My first computer, a ZX-81, had 8,192 bits. That means computers have gotten about 655,360 times better in those 20 years since I started playing with them:
10 PRINT "STEVE"
20 GOTO 10
But the iBook is just a laptop, and if it were a desktop I’d probably have a Gig of RAM, or 8,589,934,592 bits. So since I’ve started, I’ve seen computers get A MILLION times better. Literally. Just about exactly a million times better. Crazy.
And even though the pace has slowed somewhat, I’ll see them get ANOTHER million times better over the next 20 or 30 years. It’s almost inevitable.
I got them all! Even the end guys. But minutillo.com doesn’t have room to post them all. I’ve already put up Guile and Chun-Li, I’ll add one more, hmmm… how about… Ryu. What should I do with the rest? Is there some other site I should donate them to or is willing to host them? All together, they’re about 20 megs, and if they’re within reach of the GoogleBot, I’d expect a reasonable amount of bandwidth would be needed too.
UPDATE: Found a host, here are all the MP3s.
Guile – and I can get the rest tomorrow. I don’t think I’ll post them all here though, that would take up too much space.
The sprites will take a little longer. I compiled in some options to dump the video RAM and some other buffers, but now I have to figure out what kind of crazy format they’re dumped in and how to convert them to something reasonable.
OK, is this real? The Air Force is looking into using a quantum nucleonic reactor to power a UAV to fly for months at a time? Is “quantum nucleonic reactor” even anything? Google’s never heard of it. Sounds like what Data needs to use to save the ship from bad guys who use tachyon based weapons.
From the article:
But nuclear-powered planes are not a new idea. In the 1950s, both the US and the USSR tried to develop nuclear propulsion systems for piloted aircraft. The plans were eventually scrapped because it would have cost too much to protect the crew from the on-board nuclear reactor, as well as making the aircraft too heavy.
The AFRL now has other ideas, though. Instead of a conventional fission reactor, it is focusing on a type of power generator called a quantum nucleonic reactor. This obtains energy by using X-rays to encourage particles in the nuclei of radioactive hafnium-178 to jump down several energy levels, liberating energy in the form of gamma rays. A nuclear UAV would generate thrust by using the energy of these gamma rays to produce a jet of heated air.
Trivia: I’ve been inside some of the old test cells, in Middletown, Connecticut, where these original nuclear jet engines were tested in the 50’s.
(via robot wisdom)
Mericans are asking: What does Homer vs. Kidd mean?
Mericans are asking: When will Nate post the rest?
Here’s a list of hobby type stuff I want to do, written out here so it stares me in the face until I do it. (this method has proved effective in the past)
- weblog stuff
- create an alternate style good enough to be the new default (do you like yellow?)
- fix the URLs so they don’t have ? in them
- render some or all pages statically, especially the various feeds and the homepage
- maybe someday wrap up all my changes and release them as b3 since b2 is no longer active? b2.1? b2-1/2?
- RSS stuff (feed on feeds, my own web based RSS client)
- display DC metadata on each item
- mark individual items as read instead of all items
- cron job to update every few hours when I’m not around so I don’t miss any items
- release to unsuspecting world, hear crickets
- recompile MAME to be a sprite and music ripping monster
- the whole world domination thing… I haven’t forgotten
For absolutely no good reason, my latest thing is ripping music and sprites from old video games. I did this animated gif of Chun-Li the old fashioned way, which means I take screenshots from MAME and then import them into Photoshop for painstaking pixel by pixel cutout work. (actually just masking out the colors of the background works well and is pretty fast)
I also know I can rip music by setting up one of those programs that records all the sound passing through your sound card to a file. But both of these methods are a pain: Screenshots and cutting out sprites takes too long, and recording music means you’ll also record sound effects. I want to go right to the source! So I downloaded the source. Of MAME. And I’m looking at it now.
It seems there’s some defines in there to do just exactly what I want, to dump out the sprites as they’re rendered to all seperate files, and to dump the sound, channel by channel, also to seperate files! But, you need to compile those flags in. It looks like the path of least resistance there is to do the work on my PC since MAME only compiles out of the box on the Mac if you have CodeWarrior.
Check it out now! See over on the right where it says “styles”? Try yellow, then switch back to default. Isn’t that cool? It should remember which one you chose and use it for future visits. Thanks to A List Apart for figuring this out for everybody.
(I already know that on Mozilla/Mac, if you switch to yellow and then back, my name turns into Steve Minutill. Other bug reports welcome.)
I guess that means I’m all set since Jenny feeds me 苦瓜 (bitter melon) all the time. When they say bitter melon, they really mean it! That thing is SO BITTER! (they also have 酸菜 (sour vegetable), which lives up to its name too.)
The other side of the coin is that SUPERTASTERS don’t like overly sweet or fatty foods and tend to be thinner. Jenny self-describes herself as a STUPIDTASTER and doesn’t have this problem.
Really good stuff coming out on other weblogs today. I’m just at home, watching the snow pile up, and Jenny’s playing Mario Tennis.
So what to do today? Can’t really go anywhere, so might as well hack on something…
Various sites and lists are talking about a small part of this month’s issue of Crypto-Gram, where Bruce Schneier puts Meganet in the doghouse. But there’s much more to Crypto-Gram than that. This is something everybody who is even mildly a geek must read. He publishes it each month, around the 15th.
IRAQ WAR NO
(seen posted in a car window on I-95 this morning)
Dave had some guy on the other night showing some pretty cool bugs. He had one bug that looked like a leaf, it was OK, but not as good as this bug:
I found that bug sitting on the door of the apartment across from mine, in Hamden, Connecticut, last year. No, not the Amazon basin, not Mars, in Hamden. Here’s a closeup:
Jenny freaked out, I loved it.
The next day, with fresh perspective, I got annoyed by Konfabulator’s permanent “register me!!!” window, and now I don’t think I’m ever going to finish it, unless somebody out there in cyberspace gives me some prodding. So prod away. If you care.
If you put this link on your weblog: reversible.org/weblogs [delinked to avoid corrupting the index when R comes back], and then click on it at least once, your weblog will show up in the brand new weblogs category at Reversible. Do you get it? That’s what he meant when he said it’s a bit like a directory, and a bit like a Wiki. Anybody can create any category they want (I created /weblogs/) and can associate any site they control with it. I like it.
Here’s somebody else trying to use Reversible in another way: Polls.
The previous post led me to discover that the guy (Joshua Schachter) who came up with Reversible.org [delinked to avoid corrupting the index when R comes back] also has this site, muxway, and is the same guy who invented GeoURL and co-runs Memepool.
Now I won’t be able to sleep until I know what Electronomicon is.