24 Jul 20:27

Haystacks

http://oglaf.com/haystacks/

23 Jul 05:00

Comic for 2016.07.23

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
24 Jul 05:00

Comic for 2016.07.24

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
23 Jul 05:02

Comic for July 23, 2016

Dilbert readers - Please visit Dilbert.com to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to Dilbert.com.
24 Jul 05:25

Comic for July 24, 2016

Dilbert readers - Please visit Dilbert.com to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to Dilbert.com.
25 Jul 07:42

Comic: Illiterati

by Tycho@penny-arcade.com (Tycho)
New Comic: Illiterati
24 Jul 22:12

The Raspberry Pi Has Revolutionized Emulation

by Jeff Atwood

Every geek goes through a phase where they discover emulation. It's practically a rite of passage.

I think I spent most of my childhood – and a large part of my life as a young adult – desperately wishing I was in a video game arcade. When I finally obtained my driver's license, my first thought wasn't about the girls I would take on dates, or the road trips I'd take with my friends. Sadly, no. I was thrilled that I could drive myself to the arcade any time I wanted.

My two arcade emulator builds in 2005 satisfied my itch thoroughly. I recently took my son Henry to the California Extreme expo, which features almost every significant pinball and arcade game ever made, live and in person and real. He enjoyed it so much that I found myself again yearning to share that part of our history with my kids – in a suitably emulated, arcade form factor.

Down the rabbit hole I went again:

I discovered that emulation builds are so much cheaper and easier now than they were when I last attempted this a decade ago. Here's why:

  1. The ascendance of Raspberry Pi has single-handedly revolutionized the emulation scene. The Pi is now on version 3, which adds critical WiFi and Bluetooth functionality on top of additional speed. It's fast enough to emulate N64 and PSX and Dreamcast reasonably, all for a whopping $35. Just download the RetroPie bootable OS on a $10 32GB SD card, slot it into your Pi, and … well, basically you're done. The distribution comes with some free games on it. Add additional ROMs and game images to taste.

  2. Chinese all-in-one JAMMA cards are available everywhere for about $90. Pandora's Box is one "brand". These things are are an entire 60-in-1 to 600-in-1 arcade on a board, with an ARM CPU and built-in ROMs and everything … probably completely illegal and unlicensed, of course. You could buy some old broken down husk of an arcade game cabinet, anything at all as long as it's a JAMMA compatible arcade game – a standard introduced in 1985 – with working monitor and controls. Plug this replacement JAMMA box in, and bam: you now have your own virtual arcade. Or you could build or buy a new JAMMA compatible cabinet; there are hundreds out there to choose from.

  3. Cheap, quality arcade size IPS LCDs of 18-23". The CRTs I used in 2005 may have been truer to old arcade games, but they were a giant pain to work with. They're enormous, heavy, and require a lot of power. Viewing angle and speed of refresh are rather critical for arcade machines, and both are largely solved problems for LCDs at this point, which are light, easy to work with, and sip power for $100 or less.

Add all that up – it's not like the price of MDF or arcade buttons and joysticks has changed substantially in the last decade – and what we have today is a console and arcade emulation wonderland! If you'd like to go down this particular rabbit hole with me, bear in mind that I've just started, but I do have some specific recommendations.

Get a Raspberry Pi starter kit. I recommend this particular starter kit, which includes the essentials: a clear case, heatsinks – you definitely want small heatsinks on your 3, ftop dissipate almost 4 watts under full load – and a suitable power adapter. That's $50.

Get a quality SD card. The primary "drive" on your Pi will be the SD card, so make it a quality one. Based on these excellent benchmarks, I recommend the Sandisk Extreme 32GB or Samsung Evo+ 32GB models for best price to peformance ratio. That'll be about $15, tops.

Download and install the bootable RetroPie image on your SD card. It's amazing how far this project has come since 2013, it is now about as close to plug and play as it gets for free, open source software. The install is, dare I say … "easy"?

Decide how much you want to build. At this point you have a fully functioning emulation brain for well under $100 which is capable of playing literally every significant console and arcade game created prior to 1995. Your 1985 self is probably drunk with power. It is kinda awesome. Stop doing the Safety Dance for a moment and ask yourself these questions:

  • What controls do you plan to plug in via the USB ports? This will depend heavily on which games you want to play. Beyond the absolute basics of joystick and two buttons, there are Nintendo 64 games (think analog stick(s) required), driving games, spinner and trackball games, multiplayer games, yoke control games (think Star Wars), virtual gun games, and so on.

  • What display to you plan to plug in via the HDMI port? You could go with a tiny screen and build a handheld emulator, the Pi is certainly small enough. Or you could have no display at all, and plan to plug in via HDMI to any nearby display for whatever gaming jamboree might befall you and your friends. I will say that, for whatever size you plan to build, more display is better. Absolutely go as big as you can in the allowed form factor, though the Pi won't effectively use much more than a 1080p display maximum.

  • How much space do you want to dedicate to the box? Will it be portable? You could go anywhere from ultra-minimalist – a control box you can plug into any HDMI screen with a wireless controller – to a giant 40" widescreen stand up arcade machine with room for four players.

  • What's your budget? We've only spent under $100 at this point, and great screens and new controllers aren't a whole lot more, but sometimes you want to build from spare parts you have lying around, if you can.

  • Do you have the time and inclination to build this from parts? Or do you prefer to buy it pre-built?

These are all your calls to make. You can get some ideas from the pictures I posted at the top of this blog post, or search the web for "Raspberry Pi Arcade" for lots of other ideas.

As a reasonable starting point, I can definitely recommend the Build-Your-Own-Arcade kits from Retro Built Games. From $330 for full kit, to $90 for just the wood case.

You could also buy the arcade controls alone for $75, and build out (or buy) a case to put them in.

My "mainstream" recommendation is a bartop arcade. It uses a common LCD panel size in the normal horizontal orientation, it's reasonably space efficient and somewhat portable, while still being comfortably large enough for two players if that's what you want. That'll be about $100 to $300 depending on options.

I remember spending well over $1,500 to build my old arcade cabinets. I'm excited that it's no longer necessary to invest that much time, effort or money to successfully revisit our arcade past.

Thanks largely to the Raspberry Pi 3 and the RetroPie project, this is now a simple Maker project you can (and should!) take on in a weekend with a friend or family. For a budget of $100 to $300 (maybe $500 if you want to get extra fancy) you can have a pretty great classic arcade and classic console emulation experience. That's way better than I was doing in 2005, even adjusting for inflation.

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23 Jul 04:01

Pleases

by David M Willis
25 Jul 04:00

Girl Genius for Monday, July 25, 2016

The Girl Genius comic for Monday, July 25, 2016 has been posted.
25 Jul 04:00

Snapchat

For obvious reasons, the prize is awarded at a different time of year from the others, while it's still fresh in the committee's memory.
25 Jul 07:43

Comic: Illiterati

by Tycho@penny-arcade.com (Tycho)
New Comic: Illiterati
24 Jul 04:01

Yet

by David M Willis
25 Jul 07:00

Chapter 59: Page 6

23 Jul 05:02

Comic for July 23, 2016

Dilbert readers - Please visit Dilbert.com to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to Dilbert.com.
23 Jul 15:04

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Ursa Major

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Hovertext:
Of course, it actually looks more like a monkey

New comic!
Today's News:
23 Jul 15:04

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Ursa Major

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Hovertext:
Of course, it actually looks more like a monkey

New comic!
Today's News:
25 Jul 04:01

Diddlin’

by David M Willis
25 Jul 03:20

Hunger Pains

Inevitably, any Fire Emblem food that I cooked would either go to characters that didn't benefit from the stat boost or, even more likely, to the 2/3 of my army that I wasn't even planning to bring to the next battle at all.
24 Jul 05:25

Comic for July 24, 2016

Dilbert readers - Please visit Dilbert.com to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to Dilbert.com.
25 Jul 15:04

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Death of an Economist

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Hovertext:
We need to continue collecting data right until the moment that I appear to be right.

New comic!
Today's News:

Well, looks like our mini book review went well, so I'm going to try rolling out my whole June reading list. Thanks for clicking the links last time, geeks. We're going to see about making this a more regular feature, and we'll tweak as we go.

One thing I wanted to add just for transparency - as I understand it, the way it works if that once you click my affiliate link, anything you buy at amazon for the next 24 hours contributes a cut to me as an affiliate. I get a report of stuff that was bought, but none of it's attached to anyone's name or personal information. 

So, basically, if you want to creep me out, click one of the affiliate links below, then buy something horrifying.

I'm also adding a rating system. I don't really like these, but I assume a lot of you are just looking for "what was your favorite book this month," so this should help. I want to stress that a 4/5 really does mean great:

1/5 = Blech
2/5 = Not recommended
3/5 = Not bad. Recommended if it's something you're curious about or a genre you like.
4/5 = Recommended. A great book.
5/5 = Phenomenal. Buy it, period, even if it doesn't sound interesting to you. I'm going to reserve this only for books that nearly brought me to tears or upended the way I think about the world. So, you won't see it too often - maybe once or twice in a good month! 
 

June 4 - Why Does the World Exist (Holt)

 

-Kind of a meandering memoir of the author asking people the eponymous question. A somewhat light read, at least given the topic.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

June 7 - The Quants (Patterson)

 

-Enjoyable history of the entry of mathematical modelers into finance, but I think I’ve read this story too many times to enjoy another book.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

June 8 - On the Origin of Sports (Belsky, Fine)

 

-Fun, but it’s really more of a reference/trivia book than anything. This book is a collection of the first written rules of a whole bunch of different sports, plus a bit of commentary.

 

Verdict: 3/5 as a reference book. 2/5 as a book to sit and read.

 

June 9 - Grunt (Roach)

 

-Mary Roach is always a delight. This one is about stuff related to soldiering, though it’s a bit more wide-ranging than some of her other books.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 10 - Diet Cults (Fitzgerald)

 

-I enjoyed this book a surprising amount - Fitzgerald does some mild debunking of a number of fashionable diets and also explains who complex nutrition can be. It’s a sort of skeptics guide to nutrition, though it’s (to my mind) fairly gentle in its handle of various non-empirical approaches to diet.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 11 - Dreamland (Quinones)

 

-An excellent description of the rise of opiate use in the United States over the last several generations. My personal belief is that it all argues for a broad program of legalization, but I don’t think that’s Quinones’ take. One depressing part of the book is how enterprising a lot of the drug traffickers are. You end up wishing they could use that work ethic and competence toward some more productive end.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 17 - The Looming Tower (Wright)

 

-A great history of events leading up to September 11th. It’s obviously the case, but I’m frequently amazed by just how much more rich and human the truth is, when compared to the nonsense you catch in daily newsmedia.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 17 - Dr. Futurity (Dick)

 

-An early Dick book, though with hints of what’s to come. It’s a sort of mystery plus time travel story that threatens to implode from its own complexity, but manages to pull out at the last second. Not exactly deep stuff - Dick’s early work is quite pulpy - but enjoyable.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

June 17 - Lean In (Sheryl Sandberg)

 

-Enjoyable, but honestly a bit disappointing. I was hoping this’d be a bit more data driven, but it’s more of a personal memoir. That is, of course, just fine, but there are better books on similar topics.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

June 17 - Ava’s Man (Bragg)

 

-I am just in love with Bragg. Here he gives a biography of his grandfather, a moonshine-making mountaineer, really from a different era. Great prose and great stories.

 

Verdict: 5/5

 

June 18 - Ruth (Gaskill)

 

-Gaskill is starting to become a guilty pleasure. It’s Dickensish, though not quite as clever.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 19 - All Creatures Great and Small (Herriot)

 

-A great little collection of semi-fictionalized stories about being a veterinarian to a small farming community in Yorkshire. I really enjoyed these. The two books to follow are more of the same, and each is slightly last good than the one that came before. Still, wonderful charming little stories.

 

Verdict: 5/5

 

June 19 - All Things Bright and Beautiful (Herriot)

June 21 - All Things Wise and Wonderful (Herriot)

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 23 - The Cosmic Puppets (Dick)

 

-Man, you get the feeling Dick banged this one out over a weekend. It’s like an okay episode of the Twilight Zone.

 

Verdict: 2/5

 

June 27 - Sapiens (Harari)

 

-A fun, somewhat light book on *all of human history*. Too simplified to be certainly true, but it’s a joyful little romp with a lot of clever ideas.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

June 28 - Solar Lottery (Dick)

 

-You can see the hints of the writer to come - the complex world-building and the enormous number of weird ideas and the avoidance of the usual early sci fi tropes. But… this book wasn’t so great. There are all these wonderful concepts, but it’s like he hadn’t quite got the hang of a narrative yet.

 

Verdict: 2/5

 

June 29 - North Korea Undercover (Sweeney)

 

-Sweeney writes sort of like a gonzo journalist, but it’s enjoyable in this context. This book is a memoir of a trip to North Korea and all the strange sights. It also contains a number of asides telling weird DPRK history and tales of defectors.

 

Verdict: 4/5

24 Jul 19:30

#921 – he’s gonna do it

by meredith

Did you see I put up some new original art in the store? Come see, it is all here.

25 Jul 15:04

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Death of an Economist

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Hovertext:
We need to continue collecting data right until the moment that I appear to be right.

New comic!
Today's News:

Well, looks like our mini book review went well, so I'm going to try rolling out my whole June reading list. Thanks for clicking the links last time, geeks. We're going to see about making this a more regular feature, and we'll tweak as we go.

One thing I wanted to add just for transparency - as I understand it, the way it works if that once you click my affiliate link, anything you buy at amazon for the next 24 hours contributes a cut to me as an affiliate. I get a report of stuff that was bought, but none of it's attached to anyone's name or personal information. 

So, basically, if you want to creep me out, click one of the affiliate links below, then buy something horrifying.

I'm also adding a rating system. I don't really like these, but I assume a lot of you are just looking for "what was your favorite book this month," so this should help. I want to stress that a 4/5 really does mean great:

1/5 = Blech
2/5 = Not recommended
3/5 = Not bad. Recommended if it's something you're curious about or a genre you like.
4/5 = Recommended. A great book.
5/5 = Phenomenal. Buy it, period, even if it doesn't sound interesting to you. I'm going to reserve this only for books that nearly brought me to tears or upended the way I think about the world. So, you won't see it too often - maybe once or twice in a good month! 
 

June 4 - Why Does the World Exist (Holt)

 

-Kind of a meandering memoir of the author asking people the eponymous question. A somewhat light read, at least given the topic.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

June 7 - The Quants (Patterson)

 

-Enjoyable history of the entry of mathematical modelers into finance, but I think I’ve read this story too many times to enjoy another book.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

June 8 - On the Origin of Sports (Belsky, Fine)

 

-Fun, but it’s really more of a reference/trivia book than anything. This book is a collection of the first written rules of a whole bunch of different sports, plus a bit of commentary.

 

Verdict: 3/5 as a reference book. 2/5 as a book to sit and read.

 

June 9 - Grunt (Roach)

 

-Mary Roach is always a delight. This one is about stuff related to soldiering, though it’s a bit more wide-ranging than some of her other books.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 10 - Diet Cults (Fitzgerald)

 

-I enjoyed this book a surprising amount - Fitzgerald does some mild debunking of a number of fashionable diets and also explains who complex nutrition can be. It’s a sort of skeptics guide to nutrition, though it’s (to my mind) fairly gentle in its handle of various non-empirical approaches to diet.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 11 - Dreamland (Quinones)

 

-An excellent description of the rise of opiate use in the United States over the last several generations. My personal belief is that it all argues for a broad program of legalization, but I don’t think that’s Quinones’ take. One depressing part of the book is how enterprising a lot of the drug traffickers are. You end up wishing they could use that work ethic and competence toward some more productive end.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 17 - The Looming Tower (Wright)

 

-A great history of events leading up to September 11th. It’s obviously the case, but I’m frequently amazed by just how much more rich and human the truth is, when compared to the nonsense you catch in daily newsmedia.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 17 - Dr. Futurity (Dick)

 

-An early Dick book, though with hints of what’s to come. It’s a sort of mystery plus time travel story that threatens to implode from its own complexity, but manages to pull out at the last second. Not exactly deep stuff - Dick’s early work is quite pulpy - but enjoyable.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

June 17 - Lean In (Sheryl Sandberg)

 

-Enjoyable, but honestly a bit disappointing. I was hoping this’d be a bit more data driven, but it’s more of a personal memoir. That is, of course, just fine, but there are better books on similar topics.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

June 17 - Ava’s Man (Bragg)

 

-I am just in love with Bragg. Here he gives a biography of his grandfather, a moonshine-making mountaineer, really from a different era. Great prose and great stories.

 

Verdict: 5/5

 

June 18 - Ruth (Gaskill)

 

-Gaskill is starting to become a guilty pleasure. It’s Dickensish, though not quite as clever.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 19 - All Creatures Great and Small (Herriot)

 

-A great little collection of semi-fictionalized stories about being a veterinarian to a small farming community in Yorkshire. I really enjoyed these. The two books to follow are more of the same, and each is slightly last good than the one that came before. Still, wonderful charming little stories.

 

Verdict: 5/5

 

June 19 - All Things Bright and Beautiful (Herriot)

June 21 - All Things Wise and Wonderful (Herriot)

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

June 23 - The Cosmic Puppets (Dick)

 

-Man, you get the feeling Dick banged this one out over a weekend. It’s like an okay episode of the Twilight Zone.

 

Verdict: 2/5

 

June 27 - Sapiens (Harari)

 

-A fun, somewhat light book on *all of human history*. Too simplified to be certainly true, but it’s a joyful little romp with a lot of clever ideas.

 

Verdict: 3/5

 

June 28 - Solar Lottery (Dick)

 

-You can see the hints of the writer to come - the complex world-building and the enormous number of weird ideas and the avoidance of the usual early sci fi tropes. But… this book wasn’t so great. There are all these wonderful concepts, but it’s like he hadn’t quite got the hang of a narrative yet.

 

Verdict: 2/5

 

June 29 - North Korea Undercover (Sweeney)

 

-Sweeney writes sort of like a gonzo journalist, but it’s enjoyable in this context. This book is a memoir of a trip to North Korea and all the strange sights. It also contains a number of asides telling weird DPRK history and tales of defectors.

 

Verdict: 4/5

24 Jul 14:58

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Last Meal

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Hovertext:
I dare anyone to try this.

New comic!
Today's News: