Thursday, October 15, 2020

Running the Apple //e - Intermediate Topics

In the last blog entry I focused on the basics of how to get an Apple //e up and running.  In this entry I am going to focus on some of the more advanced issues that users may encounter with running software, programs and hardware on an Apple //e.

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Beginner's Guide to Running an Apple //e

The Apple II platform lasted a very long time.  The first Apple IIs were released in June of 1977 and the last Apple //e systems were last sold by Apple in November of 1993. No other non-PC compatible home computer had as long an official lifespan.  Unlike its early home computer competitors, Apple is still in business, still independent and still highly relevant to the consumer today.  Apple first entered the public consciousness with the Apple II and II Plus computers, and its Apple //e computers were many, many schoolchildren's first encounter with a computer. The Apple II was the first computer with some attention given to playing games, and over a fifteen year period thousands of games were released for it. There are several emulators for the system and some emulate the system to a very advanced degree, but the hardware is also fairly easy to use.  Here I am going to give a beginner's guide into using Apple //e hardware.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Speak to Me! - Speech Synthesis with Early Home Video Games

When considering the evolution of video game audio, of the three components of audio, sound effects, music and speech, those components were introduced into video games in that order.  The earliest video games generated simple tones and noise to produce simple sound effects.  Music chips were well developed by the late 1970s, bringing a slightly more sophisticated method of sound generation to video game players.  Speech, which requires the utilization of more complex sounds to be intelligible, tended to be brought to home consoles and computers in the form of specialized speech chips.  In this article we will trace some of the lineages of speech in early video games.  

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The PlayStation 3 (Fat/Slim) as a Universal Region Free Blu-ray Disc Player

Although not as popular as its predecessor, the PlayStation 3 did almost as much to bring Blu-ray discs into the mainstream as the PlayStation 2 had done for DVDs. Every system came with a disc drive and flat screen HDTVs were also affordable by the time system sales began to pick up with the Slim revision of the console.  When I picked up mine in 2010, I bought it more as a Blu-ray player than for games.  I knew that at some point the console was hacked and jailbroken, but I did not want to continually switch between official firmware updates and iffy custom firmware that could end up bricking one of the only ways I had to play high definition discs.  For many years I got by with ripping DVDs and Blu-rays and streaming content via the media server, but that tended to take up a lot of hard drive space and time when I could just simply run the discs I had legitimately purchased.  I have as many UK DVDs than US DVDs and a fair number of UK Blu-rays.  Now that the PS3 has been discontinued and the console is essentially on life support in terms of firmware updates, I finally decided to investigate what it would take to get my PS3 working as a Universal DVD and Blu-ray disc player.  It turned out to be quite a journey.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Early Efforts at Online Interaction on Nintendo Consoles

We tend to think that Nintendo consoles first entered the online arena with the GameCube, its Modem and Broadband Adapters and Phantasy Star Online.  In the west, this is the case, but every Nintendo home and portable console (except that hunk of eye-straining junk called the Virtual Boy) has had some way to access the non-local world.  Sometimes these methods were first party supported, sometimes third-party exclusives and there was even an unlicensed publisher or two in the mix.  This blog entry will give an overview of the subject.  I will describe briefly each device or method, As this blog entry's purpose is not meant to give a comprehensive review of each of these devices.  I will include links for more information to sites and videos with more information.  

Sunday, July 26, 2020

2.4G on Controllers for your Vintage Consoles 2020 Edition

In 2019, 8BitDo released a unique product, the M30 2.4G.  This product was notable in that it was shaped like a Sega Genesis 6-button controller, used a wireless non-Bluetooth 2.4GHz protocol and came with a 9-pin dongle that worked on original consoles and cost only $25 to buy.  While not the first wireless controller for the Sega Genesis, it was the first from a noted controller manufacturer.  Now 8BitDo has released new controllers with the same price tag and functionality, the N30 2.4G and the SN30 2.4G.  I bought a pair the day before the launched and have had some time to play with them.  I'd like to share my thoughts on them in this blog entry.  (All photos used in this review hereafter courtesy of Amazon and 8BitDo.)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Batty over Bits - The Complexity of the Intellivision's Memory Layout

The Atari 2600 had a rather conventional design by later home computer standards.  It's CPU, the 6507, had an 8-bit data bus and a 13-bit addressing bus.  Whatever it did, it did in multiples of 8-bits, which has become the accepted standard for computer design.  But its' successor, the Mattel Intellivision, has a memory architecture remarkably more complex than its older predecessor as well as many of its successors.  Even most later 16-bit systems do everything in 8-bit, 16-bit, 24-bit etc.  It is important for anyone wanting to get into Intellivision to understand why it is different.  In this short blog post, I will try to explain those differences.

Monday, May 4, 2020

The EverDrive N8 Pro - Second Time Perfection? A Review

Your Choices (courtesy of krikzz)
Krikzz has been a premier maker of flash cartridges for various systems for a decade.  Beginning with the Sega Genesis, he has made flash cartridges for just about every cartridge-based system from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Game Boy Advance.  For many systems, his flash carts are the only flash carts of any quality available.  In 2013 he released his NES and Famicom flash cartridges, the EverDrive N8, in 72 and 60 pin editions to widespread acclaim and adoption.  Six years later, he brings an updated flash cartridge, the EverDrive N8 Pro.  In this review, I will look into the new flash cart's features, review some of the issues from the previous model and deliver a verdict on whether the cartridge is worth an upgrade for existing users and whether new users should choose it over the original N8.