Wednesday, September 09


Daily News Stuff 9 September 2020

BEEEP Edition

Tech News

  • How do you stop a Synology box beeping when it insists that it is not beeping?

    Not a rhetorical question.  I really want to know.

  • Just back on the Sbox for a moment: It costs $299 and includes an 8-core Zen 2 CPU, which costs $299, plus essentially an 8GB Radeon RX 5500 XT, which costs $199, plus a 512GB NVMe SSD which admittedly only costs about $59.  And the motherboard, case, and power supply, and another 2GB of RAM, are free.

    I want a couple to run Windows and Linux.  These are really nice little compute bricks.  Not stackable though, not with that huge vent.

  • Speaking of nice little compute bricks ASRock Industrial has announced a Ryzen 4000 NUC.  (AnandTech)

    A choice of 4300U, 4500U, or 4800U, up to 64GB RAM, one M.2 slot and one 2.5" drive bay.

    Rear I/O consists of both 1Gb and 2.5Gb Ethernet, HDMI and DisplayPort, and two USB 2.0 ports.  On the front you get one USB 3.0 Type-A, a headphone jack, and two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports (that is, 10Gb) with DisplayPort alt mode.

    No official pricing as yet.

  • Some Western Digital 5400 rpm drives run at 7200 rpm.  (Tech Report)

    WD, would it be too much to ask for you to simply sell what you advertise, and advertise what you sell?

    This isn't an obvious downgrade, at least; you're unlikely to be disappointed unless you're building for a strict low noise / low power / low heat configuration.

  • Still can't log in to Patreon.  Yes, Patreon themselves are dirtbag morons, but there's someone I'd like to throw a few dollars at.

  • No new graphics mode for the Imagine today.  I'm trying to figure out an elegant 256-colour high-res mode that fits into the same memory and bandwidth as standard 32-colour mode.  Of course that's a trick since the hardware only has 32 colour registers and you can only pack four five-bit pixels into twenty bits.

    But I want to improve the appearance of that last tileset I posted yesterday.  And there are tricks we can do.

    It's mostly in shades of green and grey; 16 colours should cover that reasonably well.  The little buildings though are in red and brown, and they suffered badly when I flattened it to 32 colours.

    But the buildings all have a white outline around them, so what we can do is encode our pixels so that we only have 16 colours at a time, but every four pixels we can switch which 16 colours we have, from 16 palettes.  If each palette contains our border colour - white or black here - and the border is at least three pixels wide, we can do this invisibly.

    That's 256 colours.  Only 32 would be freely programmable; the rest would be derived from the colour index by some trivial algorithm.  Maybe with some bits to flip how the algorithm works - in 2x8 slices or 4x4 blocks, for example.  Easy to implement in the emulator; it just needs to not be too much of a cheat.

    Update: You know what?  That tileset should work just fine with 32 colours.  I blame Affinity Photo for generating a crappy palette.  I'll see if I can coax it into doing a bit better.  It's also really bad at scaling pixel art; it is after all a photo program, not a pixel art program.  I should probable buy a pixel art program.  I probably already have one in my Humble Bundle treasure chest.

    Here's three versions, colour-squashed before being pixel-squashed this time.

    16 colours:

    32 colours:

    64 colours:

    64 colour mode looks great, which is good news for the 12-bit Dream system but doesn't immediately help with the 10-bit Imagine.  But once these images are squashed down to a 64-colour palette it's much easier to optimise that to 32 colours.  Just find the colours that are almost the same and drop one from each pair.

    So maybe just forget the whole 256 colour mode nonsense?

    For my next trick: Hardware-based hexagonal tiling!

    Update: I bought the tileset - ten bucks.  It's a 249MB download, so about five hundred Imagine floppies worth.  But the tiles come as 210x210 images, which is about half an Imagine screen, so they will scale down a bit.

Disclaimer: Because if I wanted to cheat I could just implement the Imagine 1400CD, with 6M of RAM, 1024 colour registers, and a 150MB mini-CD-ROM.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:57 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 I hate machines that make unsolicited noises.  I would desolder the piezo speaker from the PCB.

Posted by: normal at Thursday, September 10 2020 06:50 AM (LADmw)

2 "you're unlikely to be disappointed unless you're building for a strict low noise / low power / low heat configuration."
Those seem to be exactly the people who are disappointed, and also, probably not coincidentally, who noticed it in the first place.
I'm not going to question them--I certainly go to fairly great lengths to minimize noise in, for example, my PC--but they are complaining about, IIRC, 2-3 watts per drive.

Posted by: Rick C at Thursday, September 10 2020 09:11 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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