Machine Organization – Game Boy Project /w Assembly

Machine Organization – Game Boy Project /w Assembly

Last quarter I took a Machine Organization class as part of my required studies at UW.  Machine Org deals with how computers (and other machines) translate between voltage changes coming in, to discrete 1’s and 0’s and finally towards maintaining state and running the software and other functions that are asked of them.  I like the class a lot, but completely hated the book (I’ll probably get around to reviewing that later).  The more I got entrenched in the minutiae, the more exciting it became.  I decided to try my hand at building a working Game Boy game in C and/or Assembly, and dumping it to a working cartridge to play on an actual console. (more…)

snow_light_1Snow and ShivasFF_13_Crew

From the Vault: Final Fantasy XIII

In an earlier incarnation of GeekApproach, I wrote an awful lot about video games.  At the time I was doing work for the games industry and it was a logical extension of the sheer amount of free time I had to actually play said games.  Rather than spend more money (that I don’t have currently) on games, I thought I would go back and replay some titles that I have skipped or didn’t finish for some reason.  Enter Final Fantasy XIII.

The Final Fantasy series is rather legendary in gaming circles.  A cornerstone of the so-called, JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) genre, Final Fantasy (FF) titles have been on every major gaming system since their inception.  Beginning with Nintendo consoles, and moving hand-in-hand with Sony during the PlayStation 2 era, and finally being wooed by Microsoft in the X360 generation to at least make a multi-platform title.  Within the 7th-Gen lifespan that included Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, and Nintendo’s Wii, Square-Enix managed to put out at least 3 FF titles that spanned the XIII universe: FF XIII, FF XIII-2, and FF XIII: Lightning Returns.  Around March 2010 the game was released worldwide after a holiday release in Japan the quarter prior.  The reviews were a mixed-bag with reviewers offering contradictory opinions on the games linearity, as well as its much-hyped “Paradigm” battle system. (more…)

U-2 Caused Widespread Shutdown of US Flights Out of LAX

From the article:

“Reuters reports that last week’s computer glitch at a California air traffic control center that led officials to halt takeoffs at Los Angeles International Airport was caused by a U-2 spy plane still in use by the US military, passing through air space monitored by the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center that appears to have overloaded ERAM, a computer system at the center. According to NBC News, computers at the center began operations to prevent the U-2 from colliding with other aircraft, even though the U-2 was flying at an altitude of 60,000 feet and other airplanes passing through the region’s air space were miles below.”

One of the commenters on the post suggested the aircraft was flying VFR-on-Top, a set of rules governing how the ATC systems respond to potential collisions in airspace and warn aircraft (or operators) to move.  The system was only designed to respond effectively to aircraft using this specification below 18,000 feet, but the U-2 was flying at 60,000 ft.  Essentially every aircraft below that ceiling was “in the way” and the system overloaded attempting to parcel out commands to move those aircraft out the way.

(more…)

Confirmed: Zebra Tech Is Buying Motorola Solutions For $3.45B

Azure based augment for gaming

Azure based augment for gaming

Here is a link to a Kotaku article about Microsoft augmenting a future title using the power of Windows Cloud (or Azure, or whatever they’re calling it these days).  I can only imagine that one of the sweeter deals of being an Xbox One developer is that you’ve got access to some of these services backed by Microsoft.  I know the game Titanfall mentions making some use of this (here). By offloading CPU intensive tasks to the cloud and “streaming” that data back to the client requesting it, you free up the CPU and GPU for more intensive rendering tasks.

That has to be a huge win for Microsoft!  Utilizing such a cornerstone of the Microsoft infrastructure hurts, especially if there’s no equivalent on the Sony side to touch. Unfortunately, I find almost no mention of this on the Net, and navigating the Channel 9 MSDN video site is an exercise in pain.

Filing away to follow-up and dig up more.

Setting up for C

Setting up for C

My last experience in development in “true” C was at least 10+ years ago.  This quarter for my Machine Organization class we’re getting down and dirty with some basic C operations as we develop in Assembly and execute some operations on a virtual ISA.  After spending so much time Java, I underestimated how much time it would take to jockey around my workspace and preferred IDE, Eclipse to get into C.

For most of my time in Java I’ve developed with Eclipse as my IDE, using the latest Kepler release after transitioning from Juno the previous year.  I find myself in the minority of people who like Eclipse, though I’m not doing most of the advanced visual things (Android dev for example) that either Android Studio, IntelliJ, or NetBeans really excel at.  At the end of setting up everything for C, I realized that I have a ton of preferences tweaked and set just so in the app.  Attempting to duplicate this across my two dev machines was a bit annoying but not insurmountable.

(more…)

Can Xbox One Be a Trojan Horse to Lure Developers? | Re/code

Can Xbox One Be a Trojan Horse to Lure Developers? | Re/code

Microsoft disclosed Wednesday that it plans to make it possible for developers to write a single program that can work across Windows, Windows Phone and, yes, the Xbox [One].

Dig it.  Can I predict another Microsoft purchase?  They’ll buy Xamarin which makes a great set of tools that integrate with Visual Studio to allow you to truly target one API and make it run on multiple devices.  My only gripe will be if they limit individual functionality on a per-device basis.

Can Xbox One Be a Trojan Horse to Lure Developers? | Re/code.

 

 

Papers for Mac Review

Papers for Mac Review

This quarter I’ve been doing a lot of research paper writing, article summaries, brief essays and the like for one of my core CS courses.  To be honest, I haven’t had to write a proper essay in at least 10 years, though I did my fair share of writing RFP responses, fluff text,  and technical writing.  My requirements this quarter involve a large (8-10 page) research paper for my Ethics class that is actually really interesting for me, but I was a bit left out on what new tools are out there to support the essay writer these days.  Enter Papers for Mac. (more…)

Sony quits the PC business to focus on mobile

Sony quits the PC business to focus on mobile [Source: The Verge]

I know we keep talking about the demise of the traditional PC, that things are trending towards a powerful mobile device that will be cheap and easy to use.  I don’t think we’re there yet, and while I love my Apple products, I still end up juggling a lot of them.

Sony’s devices had a similar design aesthetic to Apple.  They were truly beautiful machines, designed with intent and purpose.  But while running WinTel it was hard to justify the rather insane price premium vs a completely different OS and environment like the Mac offered at the time.  Throw in that that ridiculous support of the MemoryStick format, and any other proprietary Sony technology and its easy to see why the ship began to sink.

Still sad to see fewer manufacturers out there making the devices we use every day.  I want to see an underdog arise that makes some truly mind-blowing tech.

Apps and Mobile Ads Make Surveillance Easy

Apps and Mobile Ads Make Surveillance Easy  [Source: MIT Technology Review]

From the article:

It is often difficult to tell whether an app is using encryption or not to transmit data. Web browsers show a padlock icon next to a site’s Web address if it is using encryption, but there is no such equivalent for mobile apps. Manually checking whether a mobile app is securing data transfers involves inspecting network logs to examine how an app is connecting to servers.

This is something that’s been rolling in my head, and is the subject of an upcoming paper I’m writing about privacy and the need for a system to at least notify us of the granularity of the data being “exported”.  It would also help to able to somehow independently verify that the data being sent across in secure, without resorting to a deep packet inspection of outbound data.