Monday, June 28, 2021

Signs of a simpleton having fun with a new microcontroller:

  1. Write a program that makes the LED blink like a mother fucker.
  2. Write a program that spams a hello world to USB serial.
  3. Write a Read Eval Print Loop over USB serial.
Compared to what I've done in C with simpler micros like the 8051 family, I'm finding the RP2040 really damned nice. Not only because of the Cortex M0's horse power, but because of the really nice library that comes with the Raspberry Pi Pico. For the hell of it, I decided to abuse it with some simple C++ by for the REPL just to see that C++ I/O and string handling, does in fact work.

Of course, me being me, I ended up with a really simple set of commands:

static string evalline(const string& line)
     if (line.empty())
         return "";

     if (line == "monkey")
         return "Willow?";
     if (line == "monster")
         return "Corky?";
     if (line == "sweet")
         return "Misty?";
     if (line == "help")
         return "Try nicknames with fur";

     return string("Unknown command: ") + line;

Because why not? 😜

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A Visual History of Windows Icons: From Windows 1 to 11

While somewhat a reminder of how old I’m getting, I found this a refreshing and well executed trip down visual memory lane.

Tastes and styles pretty much change as fashions come and go. But system icon themes tend to be long lived.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Pimoroni's New Pico Display Takes It to the Max

“Damn it, people! Stop making me want a handheld Pico that can play DooM!” — Terry Poulin upon seeing how many buttons this display has.

A reoccurring thought of late has been just how much of DooM could fit within the Pico’s memory constraints, and a practical way to handle storing the wad files externally.

Thursday, June 17, 2021


Interesting picture it paints, but perhaps short sighted.

Part of the rise of the PC IMHO: owes to the level of binary compatibility Intel’s x86 processors maintained, and the relatively open hardware architecture around that processor. I don’t think I even met a 5 1/4” our Tandy failed to run until the late ‘90s. Which surprises me even more today than it did then.

I rather like ARM’s approach to the whole IP core thing. ARM processors are largely ARM processors the way Intel processors are largely Intel processors. But the relationship between architecture and a product in your hands is quite different. Because of this we have a very broad range of ARM based products and vendors out there, and while compiling code retains strong compatibility the overall hardware varies significantly.

While ARM largely focused on doing its share well, and other companies doing what they do well. Intel largely retained control over its niche, occasionally spreading into other hardware fronts. In practice Intel and AMD are the only big players in x86 today, and Intel has often helmed the development. You can get an ARM based processor from more vendors than you can shake a stick at, or given sufficient cash and effort start developing your own hardware around it. If you want an x86 then odds are you’re buying Intel, or second sourcing from AMD.

While I think the compatibility made a big difference, I’m not so sure that we benefited from Intel’s monopoly over its ISA. When I think about why there are few cheap ass x86 SBCs, I usually think of this as “Because that’s not Intel’s market” — and Intel’s the real stick in that mud.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Starting A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, I’m pleasantly surprised to see Joan Cusack pop up as Justice Strauss.

At first it was hard to place her with that silly wig, but both the voice and the face were sticking out enough that I had to look up the cast. That she’s the voice of Toy Story’s Jessie explains why the voice jabbed me in the face as very familiar. While I’ve seen more than a few of her films countless times over the years, oddly the part I most remember seeing her in is as Robin Williams’ quirky sister in the film Toys. A silly little movie perhaps few remember today, but one I enjoyed quite a bit growing up.

Sunday, June 13, 2021


This is one of the more interesting metaphors you could apply. Walled garden has been used so long for Apple’s modern eco-system that it is the defacto definition, if not the dejure definition of the App Store. Using the metaphor that Apple is a carrier: seems highly appropriate, but sadly, I think paints the case that Epic should win.

You see companies are first of all in the business of staying in business. For some reason, the FUPM scene from Goodfellas is playing in the back of my mind. What is good for users, and customers, is not always what is perfect for businesses. I like to believe what is good for the customer should be good for the business if you achieve a fair compromise rather than a big stick.

The real moral of this story is that large one sided monopolies are bad. Carriers like Verizon and AT&T got away with all but murder because of the extent of their power over their own networks. To be fair, when it’s “Yours”, you should have some say in that. I believe that the whole digital signatures thing for installing apps on modern platforms is a great thing. The difference is kind of in implementation: Apple runs the App Store, and they should have power over it. Much as Google does over Google Play. But one of the twists is that on Android: the user is the last stop on the right to install software. On iPhone: Apple has total control. In my opinion users should have more control over the software they can install, not more control over a provider’s store front.

Having stopped sewing people at the drop of a hat, Apple has been doing a fair job of obeying Wheaton’s Law—don’t be a dick. Which is key to prolonging your monopoly and circumnavigating confrontations like Epic vs Apple. Because if you’re more benevolent than malevolent it is harder for your enemies to gather strong support, and come for your bottom line.

The greater your enrage customers and businesses in between: the more support potential adversaries can build. Carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless have done the big stick to beat down companies and shove up users keesters so well, that pretty much no one loves them for it. Eventually if you’re a big enough dick: someone will punch you in the nuts.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Captain's log, Star date 2021.163

Thus far it has been a good day.

Between work and a leaking hot water heater: it feels like the first day off I've actually had in a while.

Which of course means that I had to drag my ass out of bed and go do erands, lol.

Long overdue grocery shopping got done, and on the way from other stuff: I opted to stop at the diner for an omelet and coffee-exactly what I needed. Managed to slurp coffee and catch up on video games and Netflix between dog walks.

Sometimes the whole sitting on the couch and drooling plan, as I call it, rather has a therapeutic effect upon my sanity.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The subtle joys of a hot water heater that doesn’t leak: when not only is your hot water working great, but you don’t have to mop the floor so often 😂