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Category: Technical

Dandy, the inspiration for Gauntlet

Dandy, the inspiration for Gauntlet

I’ve met Ed Logg before, the programmer/creator behind the arcade classics Gauntlet and Gauntlet II and attended his GDC talk in 2012. (I was the one that asked him the question about those that could play forever at 42:53)

Logg was inspired by this Atari 8-bit game called Dandy, developed by John Howard Palevich as his undergrad thesis project at MIT. Some have suggested the ‘inspired by’ was a lot closer to ‘directly copied’, but it was resolved without lawsuit – Palevich got a free Gauntlet arcade system and is now listed with ‘special thanks’ in the credits.

Check out some of the gameplay from Dandy (below) and see how many similarities you see (4 play co-op, monster movement, etc)

For a little extra fun, check out Ed Logg’s first, unreleased, Atari game – called ‘Maze Runners’ and to see how he developed

Setting up a Raspberry Pi-hole

Setting up a Raspberry Pi-hole

Ad blockers such as uBlock Origin and Adblocker make the web usable – but are not available on every platform and not of the same quality.

Pi-hole is an Linux-based server setup that absorbs ads by filtering DNS requests. You set up the Pi-hole server on a simple Raspberry Pi, set your devices to use the pi-hole server to resolve DNS entries, and voila – any requests to ad sites are immediately and transparently absorbed.

This is far superior to ad block applications for a few reasons. First, because the websites doesn’t even know you’re using it, you will never get those annoying ‘disable adblock to continue’ messages. With a little extra work, you can make your wired/wireless router also run DNS requests through it so that all devices wifi connected phones/laptops/game systems/etc get free ad filtering.

I just set one up this weekend on a raspberry pi and it’s been interesting to play with so far. Pi-hole has been a bit too fiddly in the past, but seems to be working pretty well these days with a slick web interface and easy installation. So far, it has worked really well – but I do occasionally get a false positive and have to turn the filtering off. I’ll give it a few days and see if it grows on me.

Here’s the instructions I used: https://blog.cryptoaustralia.org.au/instructions-for-setting-up-pi-hole/

Changing the DNS for your Win10 system while still using DHCP:
https://www.windowscentral.com/how-change-your-pcs-dns-settings-windows-10

Setting up SSH after install on your raspberry pi so you can access your pi hole via windows/putty/etc.
https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/remote-access/ssh/

Here’s the parts list from Amazon:

Raspberry Pi 3 b+ Case, iUniker Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Transparent Case with Raspberry Pi Heatsink for Raspberry Pi 3B+, 3B, 2B – Access to All Ports (Clear) $5.68
Samsung 32GB 95MB/s (U1) MicroSDHC EVO Select Memory Card with Adapter (MB-ME32GA/AM) $7.49
Element14 Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Motherboard $36.97
iTrunk Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (B Plus) Power Supply, 5V 2.5A Extra Long 2M Micro USB Power Supply Charger Adapter for 2018 New Version Raspberry Pi $8.15
Google hand tracking now open source

Google hand tracking now open source

Google has made its hand detection and tracking tech open-source, giving developers the opportunity to poke around in the tech’s code and see what makes it tick.

“We hope that providing this hand perception functionality to the wider research and development community will result in an emergence of creative use cases, stimulating new applications and new research avenues,” reads a blog post from the team.

That post over on the Google AI Blog dives into exactly how the tech works, and devs interested in getting a closer look at it can find the project over on Google’s Github repository.

Computers are for funny cat movies – even in 1968

Computers are for funny cat movies – even in 1968

More than 40 years ago in 1968, a team led by Nikolai Nikolaevich Konstantinov created a mathematical model of the motion of a cat. The BESM-4 machine, executing a written program for solving ordinary differential equations, draws a cartoon cat. Each frame was physically printed using a standard desktop printer (using W’s to fill the drawing space), photographed, then put together into this simple animation.

Read more about it here (use google translate):
http://www.etudes.ru/ru/etudes/cat-animation/

Windows 10 99% memory usage even when nothing is running

Windows 10 99% memory usage even when nothing is running

Running out of memory while running Windows isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. But since Windows 8, things have mostly gotten better from memory usage/performance.

I recently ran into an issue where I’d close down all of my apps, but leave my system on overnight. When I’d jiggle the mouse in the morning, I would be greeted with horrendously sluggish drive swapping and 100% memory utilization. On a system with 32 gigs of memory. Even worse, I opened up my task manager and shut down everything possible – but nothing was indicated where 25+ gigs of memory went. Bad job Microsoft, shouldn’t your performance tools be able to tell me what is using up 90% of my system memory?

I got a clue from the fact my non-pageable memory usage was huge. This, apparently, indicates a driver or service with a memory leak:
https://windows101tricks.com/fix-memory-leak-problem-on-windows-10/

The problem was the Killer Network Suite. Apparently, this is a pretty common problem with the Killer network driver. I uninstalled it, and the problems seemed to go away.
https://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/comments/3yzjyz/killer_network_suite_gave_me_a_major_memory_leak/

I then downloaded and installed the DRIVER ONLY package for the network interface by going directly to the Killer network website.

Turns out that the Killer network suite unfortunately lives up to it’s name: it certainly killed all the memory on my system. 🙁

Autonomous taxis won’t save us from congestion either

Autonomous taxis won’t save us from congestion either

I’ve already written about this before. Namely, rideshares like Uber/Lyft increase congestion in cities – not alleviate it. Mostly because these services put people that would have likely taken public transport/walked/biked into a car instead. It doesn’t reduce driving either since they’re just swapping one car on the road for someone else’s. Since then, there have been numerous other studies that have confirmed this effect.

A new study by EHT – Zurich’s Institute for Transport Planning and Systems seeks to find out if that equation changes if autonomous taxi services were introduced. Using an agent-based simulation on the city of Zurich, they tested a number of scenarios (service models, owner models, etc), examined costs, and how disruptive the shift would be. The simulation uses an agent-based system in which individuals make decisions based on time/cost/etc, instead of overarching rules. This has previously produced really accurate studies.

Turns out, the impact is not as much as people expect, and the fleet to do it actually must stay relatively small when paired with existing, good quality mass transit systems to be viable. This doesn’t shock me in European cities with great public transit, but I wonder how it would play out in American cities without that infrastructure. My gut tells me it likely would be the same as Uber/Lyft study results.

Either way, the study is definitely worth a read:
https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2019/06/driverless-congestion.html

MacOS 10.14 Mojave in VMWare

MacOS 10.14 Mojave in VMWare

Developing a iOS app used to require buying a Macbook or Mac mini. With VMWare, it is no longer necessary. I used VMWare Workstation 15.0 Pro and was able to develop an app and debug it on real iPad/iPhone hardware. Setup instructions are here:
https://techsviewer.com/install-macos-mojave-vmware-windows/

Here’s the latest VMWare Mojave 10.14.4, 18E226 (March 25, 2019) image:

Further tips after the above setup