Sunday, September 20


Daily News Stuff 20 September 2020

Dundundundundun Edition

Tech News

  • Had the soundtrack to a side-scrolling shooter from the Amiga running through my head this evening.  Could not even remember the names of any of the side-scrolling shooters I played back then.  So I asked YouTube.

    It was Menace.

    That track, the one that plays right at the start, that's what I had stuck in my head.

    If you didn't play this game on the Amiga, though, you would have had completely different memories of it.  Mostly sad ones.

    Menace was created by DMA Design, who also created Lemmings and subsequently a little title named Race'n'Chase.

    Better known today as Grand Theft Auto.

  • Just watching that video I can see the Amiga is using:

      •  Dual-playfield mode (for parallax scrolling).
      •  Hardware sprites.
      •  Blitter objects.
      •  Copper (display list) programming to change the video mode on the fly.
      •  Four-channel PCM audio.  Well, I can't see that one.

    The other three systems have none of those features, and as a result those ports of the game all kind of suck.

  • Went out to lunch today with my brother and sister-in-law, who live locally.  Most things were back to normal, the shopping mall was bustling, and the asian fusion restaurant that does the amazing gluten-free pad siew was still in business and open.

    The Apple store, on the other hand, had a queue where they took your details, sanitised your hands, and gave you a mask to wear inside.  We did not go into the Apple store.

  • Behind every warning label lies a story.  The same is likely true of this motherboard with 20 USB ports.  (Tom's Hardware)

    I'm not sure I want to hear it though.

  • Spider Man, Spider Man, does whatever a 105GB download can.  (WCCFTech)

    That's only approximately one million Imagine 1000 ROM cartridges.

  • Apple has reportedly booked 100% of TSMC's 5nm production capacity.  (ExtremeTech)

    To be fair, Apple, or rather the fools who buy Apple's overpriced toys (cough ignore the retina iMac to my left cough) paid for TSMC's massive CAPEX that enabled the 5nm process in the first place.

  • If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again.  (Phoronix)

    Intel have submitted patches to include support for their secure enclave in Linux.  For the 38th time.

  • It took me about two minutes to identify Menace on YouTube from just a half-remembered theme tune.  Find a video of the top ten Amiga side-scrolling shooters and flip through them going nope, nope, nope, cool but nope, THERE, THAT'S IT!

    Some people take a bit longer to find the game they're nostalgic for. (Break Into Chat)

    Like, seven years longer.

  • Russia has announced plans to explore Venus.  (EuroNews)

    And to be fair, Russia's track record with its Venus probes is as good as its record with its Mars missions is bad.

  • I've moved the launch of the Mirage (the 11 bit architecture in my emulator) back to 1984 and downgraded the hardware to match.

    It now has specs very similar to the original Imagine from 1983, but instead of 128k of VRAM, has two video controller chips each with 64k.  And the floppy drive capacity will be 900k, since double-sided 3.5" drives came out in 1984.

    It has just two graphics modes, compared to approximately seventeen thousand on the Imagine, but they are really nice graphics modes:

    Mode 1: 480x270 in 32 colours or 240x270 in 1024 colours, switchable on a two-pixel boundary.
    Mode 2: 480x270 in 32 colours, or 960x270 in 4 colours with 4 palettes, switchable on a two-pixel boundary.

    Update: Three modes.  When I figured out Mode 3, I realised there's no way they wouldn't have pushed it in somehow.

    Mode 3: 320x270 in 256 colours with 4 palettes, switchable on an eight-pixel boundary.

    And you can overlay a Mode 2 playfield on a Mode 3 playfield, and modulate the colours on one-third pixel boundaries.

    The pixel data from the two VDCs is XOR'd and fed into a 1024x12 external palette RAM.  (I looked it up and suitable chips were indeed available in 1984, though I'm not sure how much they cost.)

    By default VDC1 would output the low 5 bits and VDC2 the top 5 bits of the final pixel value, so they combine independently to provide one of 1024 colours. And that means you can precisely define transparency, translucency, and shadow effects, or just output 480x270 in 1024 colours, or anything else that is not actually mathematically impossible.

    If you output two 1024-colour low-resolution playfields, though, things will get weird.  I might not bother to fix that.  Sometimes weird is good.

    I think the 11th bit in the instruction encoding will be used as a size bit - byte or word.  That's a really simple update to the 10-bit architecture but a very nice one; it makes the four index registers (WXYZ) true general-purpose registers. On the Imagine they can be used for arithmetic via LEA, and just gained shift operations in the weekend opcode cleanup, but they don't have the usual AND/OR/XOR, or even subtraction.  And while LEA can do A=B+C addition, by design it doesn't set the carry bit and can't be used for extended precision arithmetic.

Disclaimer: Me listening to 30-year-old Amiga music: Wow, eight-bit PCM audio was pretty rough.  Me listening to 30-year-old Atari, PC, and C64 music: Oh, right.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 11:31 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 105gb? Rookie numbers compared to PC games!

Posted by: Jay at Monday, September 21 2020 12:18 AM (0jVI9)

2 I was in Kroger this morning and within 30 seconds I saw three people with masks off their noses.  Meanwhile Not Always Right is full of stories about how stupid and paranoid "anti-maskers" are.
Meanwhile, the local Walmart has taken down the barrier separating the entrance/exit streams from the main exit, all the one-way floor aisle stickers, and opened the second entrance, and several of the local convenience stores (as opposed to the chains), the cashiers are stopping wearing masks.

Posted by: Rick C at Monday, September 21 2020 02:05 AM (eqaFC)

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Apple pies are delicious. But never mind apple pies. What colour is a green orange?

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