Still more 2600 hacking…

Well, today I added a block cursor that I could move around (first real time I’ve written a general motion code for the player missile graphics, kind of whacky). Figured out the joystick handling and even added some primitive (and I do mean primitive) sounds.

I also picked up some real Atari 2600 hardware to go with these PC boards. I’m gonna eventually burn my creation in EPROM and run it on the original hardware.

TiVo turns to the dark side…

Sigh. I’ve been flaming Microsoft for not listening to its customers, so it is sad to see that TiVo has decided to screw their customers at the request of copyright holders. Previously, you could store whatever programs you recorded for as long as you like. Now, if the copyright holder requests it, TiVo will refuse to allow you to keep your programs as long as you want, and will keep you from saving them out using TiVo2Go.

Sigh.

Tivo, I wonder just why you think customers should be happy that you’ve removed features from your product, or that you’ve placed the desires of copyright holders (who, I assume, don’t pay you) over the desires of consumers who are merely exercising their rights to time shift their material.

I guess I won’t be buying another TiVo either. Hello MythTV.

Addendum: It appears that this was mostly a bug, the flag was only meant for PPV broadcasts (which is slightly less bad, but not entirely great either), and was triggered by accident.

Camera Phone Test Image Gallery

Despite remarkably inconsistent remarks about the pictures (many are labelled with “sharp” which are not very sharp, and some are labelled “unacceptably blurry” which actually look reasonably sharp) this gallery is the first I’ve seen which tries to compare many different models of phones on a standard test scene.

You can see why I’m less than completely thrilled with the imagined 1.3 megapixel camera in my Motorola MPx220.

This phone produces pictures which might be in the ballpark of what a reasonable $150 digital camera could produce.

PDC Scorecard

Robert Scoble thoughtfully provided a list of all the revolutionary stuff he thinks is being introduced at PDC. To his credit, he includes links to at least on detractor as well as a couple of cheerleaders.

I said last week that I’d probably not be all that enthused about anything that they were releasing, and Scoble said for me to wait. Well, I thought I’d work through his list and tell you what I think about it.

  • Office 12 demonstrated publicly for the first time. Tons of new features and UI.
    I don’t use Office. In previous years, it was simply too expensive for me to justify for personal use, now open source alternatives are at least credible and, well, they are free. I have used individual applications in Office from time to time, and I think they are quite good on the whole, but it takes more than shiny new buttons to enthuse me about applications in this arena.
  • Windows Vista features demonstrated publicly, including new search integration, new performance enhancements, new sidebar.
    Get back to me when it ships.
  • LINQ (Language INtegrated Query). Cool database stuff for .NET developers. This does sound like a good deal to me, it’s a pity that I don’t like to lock myself into proprietary platforms when designing applications.
  • Windows Presentation Foundation/E. “E” is for everywhere. I’d be more impressed by improvements to IE that would fix their broken implementation of the box model. That truly would allow web pages to be viewed everywhere.
  • Start.com updates released. What’s start.com? Oh, portal. Gotcha. Yawn.
  • Atlas (our AJAX Web development toolkit) demoed for the first time.
    This does sound like a good deal to me, it’s a pity that I don’t like to lock myself into proprietary platforms when designing applications.
  • Microsoft Max. A new photo sharing and display application. Yawn.
  • Digital Locker. A new place to find, try and buy software. Double yawn.
  • New sidebar and gadgets and new Microsoftgadget site. Hey! We have these new things called gadgets! Aren’t we innovative. No, they don’t look like something our competitors created. No, really.

Okay, to be fair, I’m one of those long haired hippy freak Open Source/Unix hacker/communists, so it really would have been difficult for Microsoft to wow me. But really, none of this is all that inspiring. It’s not that I don’t like new eyecandy, or sharing photos, or good internet portals. It’s just that while providing candy, Microsoft isn’t providing the meal. What I’d like to see…

  1. Security. Number one. No eyecandy will make me happy when I can’t hook my computer to the internet for fear of spyware, adware and viruses.
  2. Browsing technology with exemplary adherence to web standards. Focus on technologies that support users, rather than support companies trying to annoy users.
  3. Add value. While most desktop versions of linux are admittedly a little bit rough around the edges, they are improving quickly, and come bundled with many options that are extra cost items in the Windows world. This includes word processing, network apps, audio and video, and web servers.
  4. Performance. Deliver the raw performance of the box to the user. My experience with XP and its predecessors is that they simply don’t. Applications require more memory and more processing power to reach acceptable performance levels than their open source conterparts.
  5. Simplify. Developing for the Microsoft platform (and I’ve done it off and on since the days of 3.1) has increasingly become like decoding Chinese with only a single small pocket dictionary. It’s all about the API du jour, some of which are obsoleted by the time your product hits the market.
  6. Well, that’s enough of a rant for the morning. Time to shower and go work to pay the bills.

Josh Scores New Gadgetry at PDC

Josh, one of the guys who convinced me (by example) to record my podcasts on my PDA scored a new Phone PC at PDC. It seems like quite a cool gadget that runs Windows Mobile 5, it even includes Skype (although Josh didn’t mention it in his brief preview). They were apparently being offered to a limited number of conference goers for a mere $150, which is probably too good to refuse. I would have jumped at the chance too.

My Motorola mpx220 needs a replacement as soon as my contract wears out in November. I can only hope I’ll find as good a deal around that time.

Looking forward to seeing some camera and video samples from Josh.