Tuesday, February 28, 2023

New website, same address

 Migration from blogger is nearly complete. I think the only real content to be migrated are my static pages, and that should be wrapped up later this week. Theme related details are provisional and may be monkeyed at my leisure.

A key new awesomeness comes with this migration: HTTPS all the things! Well, at least that are hosted here!

I've set my feed burner's original feed to the new source. I apologize if the migration interferes with anyones newsreader, and recommend that you migrate accordingly.

  • Old RSS: https://feeds.feedburner.com/spidey01
  • New RSS: https://blog.spidey01.com/feed
The old feed should continue to function fore the foreseeable future, in as much as Feed Burner does. Any bookmarks to the raw spidey01.blogspot.com address should be updated to blog.spidey01.com or spidey01.com, feel free to go HTTPS if ya do because I am.

The canonical address has been blog.spidey01.com for quite a few years, after all.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Future Plans: Moving My Blog

Something that I've had in mind for a while since the end of Google Photos being such a nice free storage system, and again since there was no luck with HTTPS: migrating away from Blogger, again.

Details are still being planned, but I expect this to occur sometime in the near future. Accessing things by blog.spidey01.com or even spidey01.com, should continue to work (and gain HTTPS). Anyone using the raw blogspot address will probably not see a lot more posts once the transition point.

FeedBurner will probably get pointed at whatever the new feed source ends up, but left as is beyond that. But no idea how that will deal with the wider migration, and FeedBurner isn't exactly known for a lack of bugs these days.

Why am I planning on migrating platforms? Well, it's a fairly simple set of reasons:

  1. Lack of support.
    1. While Blogger was once one of the top blogging platforms, at this point I imagine that it only continues to exist because it would cause more trouble for Google's own blogs to migrate somewhere else than maintaining the system.
    2. Google's never been very forth coming with details here :P.
  2. Tablet experience
    1. I prefer share -> post to share -> copy -> switch apps -> goto web page -> create new post -> paste.
    2. Google has done such a fine job of maintaining their own app that it no longer exists.
    3. Likewise, APIs and things for third party clients are increasingly pissed on from what I can observe.
  3. HTTPS
    1. haven't had any luck combining my custom domain with my taste in TLS, and I'm basically done dealing with what passes for Blogger's documentation and UI :P.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

SIGNALIS - Survival Horror Done Awesomely

It's relatively rare that a contemporary game invokes so much feeling of games like Resident Evil or Dino Crisis, yet don't become overly difficult or annoying. Much less, one that tends to have a more entailing story than DooM or Zombie Master.

SIGNALIS on the other hand....wow. Not really into the pixel art inspired style, but I love the choice of a quasi top down twin stick approach (and tank controls for you gluttons out there). It even tickles my inner wonders for how much our future has in common with Blade Runner.

By and large though, I think SIGNALIS is the closest I've experienced to the original Resident Evil since the original Resident Evil and its Director's Cut on the original PlayStation. One thing I also love, is that it draws a similar balance: there is plenty of opportunity to prefer running past and dodging the monsters out to eat^H^H^H slice your face off, and a fair enough supply of ammunition to shoot your way out of hostile situations. But both talents are advised given the ratio of enemies and ammunition. You can run past or blast most enemies, but certainly not all the enemies.

While the door animations thing in RE was somewhere between dull after its zillionth door more than suspenseful, the occasional first personification of puzzles and certain environments are neat. Somehow it manages to invoke both that classic survival horror genre "What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?" along with keeping it simple enough that the back tracking is not extreme, and like good ol' RE, often if you explore everywhere it's likely that some clue or solution will eventually present itself.

Being a fan of Metal Gear Solid, I also rather loved the radio frequencies bit :).

Since the games use of German exceeds my limited ability at reading it, and I'm unable to read the occasional Chinese characters that pop up; I'm also quite happy that the game manages to be quite friendly to those of us who can't read All The Things (tm) in the art language and need translation; or at least, with some effort there is usually enough English available that it isn't a problem. More often you'll be asking yourself what can you do in a puzzle than needing to worry about translation.

Also, did I mention it was great fun? Well, at least if you enjoyed some of the survival horror games around the turn of the millennium.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Even with the M2 Pro, Mac gaming is as bad as it’s ever been - MacWorld

An interesting subject, and one that I find amusing in some ways.

You see, there is exactly one reason I maintain a Windows machine at home. DirectX based video games that are only released for Windows. Otherwise, I would have switched to BSD and Linux based machines eons ago. By now, I'd also have dropped the desktop form factor if it wasn't for the ten pounds of GTX problem.

With Rimuru's recent motherboard replacement, I was left without my gaming desktop. Fortunately the games I was most playing at the time (Subnautica: Below Zero and Subnautica) have 64-bit Intel versions that my Air can play under Rosetta 2. In Below Zero's case, it's even a really good experience.

But there's a reason why I consider the Macintosh a joke of a gaming platform, and this article nailed the crux of it: there's just a few games! This problem until recent years, was also shared by GNU/Linux and even that is still an on going concern IMHO.

The comparison between a beefy Mac mini and a comparably priced gaming PC, is about what you would expect. Dollar to the pound, as nice as Apple Silicon is, it can't out perform a dedicated Windows gaming machine -- which will have both the games, and be at the forefront of developer's optimization and quality assurance (lol) processes. I think it's kind of awesome how capable Apple's GPUs are, and let's be fair, if you really do prefer a Mac, the price difference may be worth it to you versus a PC. Good financial sense, not likely, but to each their own tastes in technology.

What really doesn't have a solution is the games. Using my own Steam library as an example, about 1/5th support macOS -- and most are simply not possible to run because they require support for 32-bit Intel apps. Ones I've tried on my M2 MacBook Air, have left me impressed with the performance of Rosetta 2 for running 64-bit Intel apps. 

This is about the same amount of my Steam library that is Verified compatible with Valve's Steam Deck. If we expand the criteria to "Verified and Playable", Steam Deck is compatible with half my library. Include those that are simply untested, and the search selector suggests that 80% of my collection can at least "Attempt" being run on a Steam Deck. Those numbers are likely skewed a bit thanks to Renpy and various indy things that are more inclined to offer Linux binaries for 64-bit Intel.

That doesn't even consider that Steam's own app has superb quality on Windows, is meant to be the focal point of SteamDeck's UI, and that on macOS it really has an "Valve also ran" grade of hit and miss quality issues. You won't love Steam on macOS unless Valve makes it a significantly higher priority, and there is little reason they should when it's most useful on Mac for streaming games from a PC!

MacWorld on the other hand makes an interesting case for investment. Apple has a lot of money at present; for years, they've fit the demographic I dub "More money than GOD". I'm not sure if Apple simply bribing publishers and developers to support macOS is legally wise, but boy, that would be an interesting idea.

Sadly, I don't think Macintosh has offered a lot for games since floppy diskette was the prime distribution media. And even then, I would probably have been inclined to explore CP/M and MS-DOS coprocessor options if such things weren't comically out of our price range back then. Actually, I still have no idea how my mother afforded a Tandy 1000 series PC in the first place :^o.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Having spent part of my day studying network captures that made me ask if a network attached blender was involved, I'm reminded of my awesome router.

About a decade ago, after a stream of typical home routers and much rage, I decided to buy an RT-AC68U. At about $242 and change it was like pulling teeth bare handed, to pay that much for a router. But it quickly became worth every penny when it achieved the level of more reliable than our ISP, like literally the neighborhood had network outages more often than there has been need to reboot the thing.

I reckon, if the savings in pain and suffering haven't caused it to pay for itself yet, the whole reliable long lived service life thing has. One of my favorite equations for equipment is cost divided by age, by which that router has cost me about $24 and change per year. By contrast, the $65-$75 routers it replaced were only lasting a few years before they either failed or failed to cope with the ever increasing number of devices connected. Ahh, there is such a thing as a good router.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Rimuru Restoration - With a screwdriver, I stab at thee

Despite it only being only a few years old, motherboards compatible with Rimuru's processor are largely gone and needless to say, my AsRock isn't re-obtainable as far as local resources go. That's been the sad trend IMHO, that yes, desktops are still pretty modular, no the parts won't be worth a fart tomorrow. But alas, that's a different issue.

Deciding that the motherboard is the root of the problem based on my multimeter readings and the screwed up power behavior, I debated two courses of action: decommission Rimuru in favor of a laptop, as it was already expected to be my last desktop build; or attempt to fix things with replacement parts. The upside of the later is that it is the minimal cost option, the former that it's the less likely to piss me off.

Rimuru is now rocking an Asus motherboard a generation forward. A small fortune and the better part of my day later, everything seems to be operational. Fortunately, re-activating Windows licenses purchased from Microsoft's own store are still not too terrible to deal with motherboard replacement.

In the process, I've also decided to ditch the humongous air cooler and get a liquid cooler, cue kraken, stage left. When I originally designed Rimuru, I had considered liquid cooling and decided to stick with what I know. Well, I decided if I was going to be replacing a motherboard, there was going to be something a lot smaller hovering over the processor getting int he way of my hands, or I was going to drive a spike through the board. So, liquid cooler it be.

Now if there was just a solution for the raging headache ^_^.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Rimuru facing decommissioning

Before the holidays, I had the problem that Rimuru would power on in a brain dead state -- fans would spin up, most buses would power their components, and so on. But it wouldn't POST or reach BIOS. Just brain dead. The only way to turn it on or off was the cord and kill switch on the PSU, and trying to hold the power switch on the case would just act like a reset and then total brain death with running fans.

Tried all the good jumping off points: trying to boot off integrated graphics, reseating and walking RAM sticks, etc. Then I took my multimeter to the power supply's ATX main and CPU power pins, and that seemed to be fine.

At that point the only thing I hadn't reseated was the CPU, and I'd have to go to Micro Center for fresh thermal gloop anyway if I did that. So, I decided to drop it off and see what they could figure out. Today, I got my machine back. Reseated memory, POSTS. Well, I hoped their touch was more magical than mine. But no dice.

When I had asked, it was unknown if it fresh thermal paste was used, since the guy doing initial processing had tried reseating the CPU and swapping in another of the same model with no luck. Reseated the processor with fresh thermal gloop, and I've decided that I am taking a new policy on this. If the CPU cooler is connected and it don't catch fire, I'm not effing remounting CPU coolers for this--it's just to much of a pain in the ass in such cramped spaces, and my hands ain't gettin' tinier. If I ever build another desktop, there better not be a huge ass heatsinkage over the processor or I think I'm outsourcing to someone fitting that description.

Anyhow, the machine wouldn't boot and was doing the same thing as when I dropped it off. Gave it a kick and numerous elevated heart rate notifications later while choking on my urge to go Incredible Hulk on the decommissioning, I eventually came back to try a few things.

Tried loading a single RAM channel up and with some fiddly, I got into the OS. To do so, I had to pull the front panel header and rub a nail clipper on the pins. Eventually, I put in the other RAM channel but it didn't seem to make a difference what I did with the memory.

Depending on how I manually short the reset and power switch pins, the system either hangs as before, goes into brain death, or does a sorta reset and may boot or die.

Fiddling around, I noticed that USB ports may or may not have power. I.e., plug in a keyboard while in BIOS, walk it through the ports toggling num lock, cycle back and what the fuck there's no power, and then again and now it works. Stuff like that. In some cases the keyboard would draw power enough to light the num lock LED but wouldn't toggle, and then in some cases it would just be flashing all three LEDs at the top for a while and then go dead.

Anything resembling a "Proper" shutdown like the OS would do leaves the machine brain dead. Have to pull the power and fiddle pins trying to find the right fiddling and timing to boot. Trip the right way and the processor fan cranks and the case fan turns off, and it's total death until power pull.

So at this point, I think a technician who's able to test piece by piece and determine what is failed would be needed. That's beyond my skill without a schematic, and the tiny as hell components to desolder and resolder would make the repair work beyond my ability even if I did have a schematic to work off.

Based on its behavior, I'm inclined to believe the power management chip is screwed up or something has gone awry with the path of power causing it to just "Leak" into systems that should remain unpowered until initialized properly.

To garner a second opinion, I think I may buy one of those PSU tester things to double check my power supply's readings vs my multimeter. Which basically means, motherboard if it's not the power supply. If that's the case, given how much issue it is to get ahold of another motherboard of that model; I may opt to decommission  Rimuru.