Hiragana tester


I put together a simple javascript application that drills you on Japanese Hiragana. At the moment it only supports 15 characters, which is about all I can handle at the moment. 🙂

No more NTSC broadcasts in 2009

USA Today

Warning: ranting ahead

This is stupid. To allow the FCC to collect a bunch of money auctioning off the VHF/UHF airways the government has decided to obsolete NTSC televisions by 2009.

This especially hurts people like me…

I for one own an AWESOME NTSC Sony Trinitron Wega TV. I’ve looked around at getting a replacement.. YOU CAN’T. To get an equivalent HDTV version of my set I’d need to spend like $1300. I’m not ready to drop that much cash on something I consider to be a waste of time to watch.

I also don’t have cable or satellite. The only TV I watch is Fox and PBS. Fox has Seinfeld and Simpsons re-runs, and PBS once in a blue moon has a cool documentary on. If nothing’s on the airways and I absolutely MUST watch something I turn on a TV show I downloaded off the net. Or, I have friends that record stuff for me on their PVR and ship it to me. I hate watching ads. It’s a waste of time. I’d rather be playing video games or doing something interactive with my time.

So I’m very upset about this decision to obsolete my TV in 2009.

Sure, I’ll probably buy a HDTV set by then, but the primary reason for that will be for video games. Halo at 1280i would be pretty nice, and I imagine there will be other games that will look a lot better in high-def. But what about people that can’t afford to replace their old sets?

I’ve looked into buying an HDTV tuner for my current set (yes, there are tuners that will receive DTV and down-scale it to 480i), but they’re so freaking expensive it’s just not worth it (last I checked the cheapest boxes were $400). Plus they all require expensive antennas, which usually run another $100.

This is stupid. 2020, maybe 2015 I would understand, but I just can’t imagine junking this excellent TV of mine four years from today.

If the government gave me a free DTV to NTSC converter box that would be fine, or if the prices dropped below $50 that would also be fine. Wait.. if the government handed out these boxes that would be messed up. “Here you go… watch TV… turn on.. tune in..” you know the rest. LOL.. yeah, they all default to Fox News..

OK that was my most random blog post yet.. My apologies.

Gameboy Advance programming

A buddy of mine (Shu) and I decided yesterday to get together for the day and see how much of a GBA game we could write in a day. It was a fun learning experience. Both of us came to the table complete noobs in the GBA homebrew space and left the evening feeling pretty comfortable with how GBA games are designed and developed.

We targetted a platformer-esque game because we thought originally that it would be the easiest. Well it is and it isn’t. Platformers have very large maps and the GBA has big limitations on what size background images you can draw (256×256 or 512×512). Relying on the GBA hardware to handle the terrain/world/map (whatever you want to call it) isn’t ideal in a platformer. We ended up coding something that built the background on the fly using a much larger array stored in memory and a tile set. I then invested the rest of my time building a force-based approach to moving Mario so he could slide and skid around the map, and Shu spent his time building sprite code so Mario could chuck fireballs.

The biggest hang-up for me and the reason I think we didn’t get farther was the toolset and the documentation. Beware if you’re considering getting into GBA development: I would recommend you just stay away from all the tutorials that are out there. I tried following several of them and they’re not only poorly written, but in many cases they’re outdated and innaccurate. I wasted probably 2-3 hours just trying to figure something out in one of the tutorials that just wasn’t possible on the latest version of the devkit. If you want to get into GBA development just go to the devkitpro website and don’t leave it.

Another big hang-up with the toolset were the map editors people have written for GBA. I hate to knock free software, but frankly they’re just a complete waste of time. One of the map editors only exports half of your data, and the other one adds nonsensical padding information into your map making a 33×31 map where it should be making a 32×32 map. In the end I scrapped the map editors and decided to just write the game so that I could pause it and edit the map directly in game. To retrieve my edited map the Visual Boy Advance emulator has a feature where you can dump a location of memory to a binary file. I edit the map and then in the game code I copy the data to a fixed, (hopefully) unused location in memory, dump the data to a binary file using VBA, and then use the ‘raw2c’ command line tool that comes with devkitarm to make a header file out of the new map. Instant map editor, and I can play the results as I go along.

Microsoft’s New Clone War?

Fool.com writes today about an interesting rumor: Microsoft may be considering opening up the door to allowing other companies to make their own xbox systems.

This sounds like a great idea (for Microsoft), but in practice I just can’t see this working. OK, so it would be really cool if HP/Gateway/Dell/etc made a media center / entertainment center PC that went in the living room that in addition to being an easy-to-use PVR (tivo) could *also* play xbox games. But… think about the ramifications of this.

First thing that came to mind was piracy. Every vendor would most likely have their own variations in hardware. If one of these gets hacked–just one–then it opens up the flood gates to xbox game piracy. I don’t think MS wants this very much. 🙂

But.. Each of these “xbox media center” (that’s a joke) PC’s would have an internet connection. What if playing a game on your xbox required some kind of digital signature exchange with a central MS server? Hmm.. that would solve the piracy problem right quick, if done correctly.

Hmm.. so many things to think about this weekend.. 🙂