Wednesday, August 21, 2019

My earliest arcade video game experiences

The first video game I saw was Pong in a restaurant I visited with my parents visited. Must have been 1974 or something. Two years later I saw Gun Fight on a fairground and a year or two after that Seawolf II, or was it Depthcharge?

The pizza restaurant in our small suburb put 1980 the game Asteroids in a corner of the hallway near the entrance and youngsters lined up. He later added Defender and more youngsters showed up, while the restaurant had only few visitors. By 1982 he dedicated the smaller room to arcade games, removed tables and chairs and by the time Donkey Kong by Nintendo or Sega's Astroblaster hit the German market he offered ten or so cabs. Every other week a new game came and each time I was blown away. This room was cramped with teens and twens, while the restaurant was mainly empty.

Now the "shocking" part. On April 1st 1985 the German government put a law into action to protect the youth. Violent video movies were moved into a separate room. Vending machines selling booze were removed and besides more things so were video game cabs. So this pizza restaurant probably went bust that year. If you wanted to play video games you had to go to dedicated arcades where the minimum age to enter was 18. And when the guy in front was in doubt you needed to show ID. I was lucky because I just turned 18 a few months prior. Not so lucky to friends being one and two years younger than me.

Imagine you love to play arcade games and are hooked since a couple of years and suddenly this love is taken away from you. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for them.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Motorola 68000 microprocessor

The Motorola 68000 (MC68000) is a 16/32 -bit CISC microprocessor designed and marketed by Motorola (currently produced by Freescale). Introduced in 1979 deploying HMOS technology it was the first member of the successful family of 32-bit m68k microprocessors. The software created for this processor is usually fully compatible with future versions of the rest of the line, despite the fact that this first version is limited to an external 16-bit bus width. After three decades in production, the 68000 architecture is still in use today.

Notable computers using the Motorola 68XXX processor

The microprocessor owes its name to the number of transistors of which it’s composed. It has been used, among others, in the Commodore Amiga family, the Atari ST line of micro computers, the very first Macintosh, the Sharp X68000 and the first gaming video games used by Capcom. The MC68000 was launched in 1980 and is the first of a family of microprocessors that is made up of the Motorola 68010, Motorola 68020, Motorola 68030, Motorola 68040 and the Motorola 68060. This family of processors is often designated by the generic terms 680x0, m68k, 68k or 68000 family . Motorola also developed a 680x0 successor, called the Coldfire.

History

The 68000 emerged out of the the MACSS project (Motorola Advanced Computer System on Silicon, Motorola Advanced Silicon Computing Systems), which started in 1976 to develop a completely new architecture without maintaining compatibility with any previous processors. It would be the most powerful microprocessor to complement the 6800 8-bit production line instead of designing a compatible line. After all the 68000 provided a bus protocol with a compatibility mode for peripheral devices of the 6800 line. Thus a version with an 8-bit data bus was produced.

However, the designers focused mainly on the future or forward compatibility, which gave the m68k platform an advantage over subsequent 32-bit architectures in its instruction set. For example, the CPU registers were 32 bits wide, although only few autonomous structures in the processor worked in a 32 bits mode at that time. The MACSS team was very strongly influenced by the design of processors for minicomputers, such as the PDP-11 and VAX systems, which have a similar microcode.

Architecture

The 68000 architecture is based on two banks of 8 32-bit registers. One bank represents data (Dn) and the other the pointers (An). It also has a 32-bit program counter and a 16-bit status register, the so called "System Byte" being high and the "User Byte" being low. Data registers (D0 to D7) can be used as 32-bit (.l), 16-bit (.w) and 8-bit (.b) registers. Any of them can be used for the accumulator, index- or pointer registers. This processor is made in HMOS technology and has 64 pins without signal multiplexing.

Address registers

Address registers (pointers) are very similar to those of data registers, but cannot be used as bytes and operations, because they do not affect carry registers when performing calculations. The A7 register represents the stack pointer and is duplicated, with one stack for the user mode and another for the supervisor mode.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The home computer

A home computer is a micro computer, which entered the market with the birth of the Altair 8800 on 1975 and extends until the early 1990s. This encompasses almost all 8-bit computers. Commonly used CPUs were the Zilog Z80, MOS Technology 6502 or Motorola 6800 and the first wave of micros equipped with 16-bit CPUs, mainly Motorola 68000 and Intel 8086 and 8088. The term home computer describes from a computer commonly found in the industry and take it home. Excluded from this group are IBM PCs and compatibles.These are called personal computers.

Development

Commodore 64The Altair 8800 was the first home computer but lacked a keyboard and monitor. 1977 saw what the BYTE magazine called the 1977 Trinity and encompassed the Commodore PET, Tandy TRS-80 and Apple 2. They came with a built-in keyboard. The Commodore and Tandy also sported a monitor. Shortly after Atari introduced their 8-bit line of micros. In the United Kingdom computers like the Sinclair ZX 81 and Spectrum as well as the Acorn Atom, better known as BBC Micro, became famous. Many teenager began coding, mainly writing games. They became soon known as bedroom coders. All home computers but the Jupiter ACE had the BASIC programming language built in. The best selling machine was the Commodore 64.

Some types of computers stayed for longer, others evolved trying to maintain compatibility. For example was a Z80 card available for the Apple II as well as for the Commodore 64, opening the huge world of CP/M software for their owners. However, by the end of the 1980s most were eliminated by IBM compatible personal computers and the newer generations of video game consoles because all used their own incompatible formats. The IBM revolution was triggered in 1981 by the output of the IBM 5150 personal computer, the IBM PC.

I got my first micro with the Commodore 64 in 1984. I also had some BASIC knowledge but soon learned to code in 6502 (the C 64 had a 6510 though) assembly language. I soon wanted a Commodore Amiga 500 but waited until 1988 the price came down. After that I only bought IBM compatibles.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

American Dad!

American Dad! is an animated television series and adult sitcom created by Seth MacFarlane, Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman for the Fox network. After Fox canceled the show it was picked up from TBS. The series is initially released on February 6th of 2005. American Dad! has been nominated many times, most notably for two Primetime Emmy Awards and two Annie Awards. In June 2013, she was awarded the category of best animated series by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Since its first broadcast, the series had more than 200 episodes. In the year 2014 the series passed from the FOX to the TBS network in its eleventh season in September.

Synopsis

The TV show focuses on the Smith family and three other characters with whom they share their lives daily: father and husband Stan Smith is a CIA agent, his wife Francine Smith is a housewife. Their eldest daughter Hayley Smith (voiced by Seth MacFarlane's sister Rachel MacFarlane) and their youngest son, Steve Smith (voiced by Scott Grimes) is a high school student. Apart from the entire Smith family, the series also includes three other main characters, including Hayley's boyfriend and husband Jeff Fischer, the domestic goldfish called Klaus Heissler, actually an East German, trapped in the body of a fish and Roger an alien.

The Smith family resides at 43 Cherry Street in the fictional Langley Falls, Virginia neighborhood. inspired by the city of Langley, Virginia in the United States. The house of the Smiths would seem to be composed of many secret chambers, and many other related and unorthodox pieces seen. The house is also composed of several hatches, including filled with alligators. Greg and Terry are a homosexual couple and neighbors of the Smiths. Steve has three friends. Snot, a Jewish curly-haired teenager, Barry an obese naive and greedy teenager under heavy drug treatment for behavioral problems. And Toshi, a young Japanese who, while understanding English, only talks in Japanese.

My opinion

Almost all episodes follow the same scheme. Like already in Family Guy, somebody of the Smith family goes after another member of the family or friends. There is a fight, struggle and towards the end a reasoning. The situation is usually resolved by saying "I'm (so) sorry" or "I was wrong". And everybody is happy. So predictable. I don't know why I'm still watching this.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

How to prevent VOIP Spam

What is SPIT?

Spam over Internet Telephony (SPIT) is telephone spam that is transmitted over the Internet Protocol using IP (Voice over IP) telephony. Telephone spam refers to unwanted telephone calls that are automatically and in large numbers recorded. Phone spam is similar to email spam, but is currently less common and requires other safeguards due to synchronous communication.

How abuse takes place

IP telephony, as well as email and other Internet applications, is prone to being abused by unwanted messages and connections. Call machines can be used for telesales, telemarketers, for alleged winning messages, or as phone calls. In particular, IP telephony offers this freely available software (such as Asterisk or SIP) and inexpensive options to automatically sell a large number of calls. The IP telephony is often based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) [1] for setting up, controlling and reducing the telephone connections. After establishing a SIP session and accepting the call by the called party, a pre-recorded spam message can be recorded. For pure lock or ping calls, no audio data is transmitted.

Large numbers of unwanted and automated phone calls

SPIT is characterized by a large number of unwanted and automated phone calls that are transmitted using the Internet Protocol. The caller (spammer) tries to establish a large number of connections using suitable software and plays a recorded message as soon as the called party answers the call. Using the widely used Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), the connections to INVITE messages are initiated and then configured and set up with other messages; The audio data is then transmitted via the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP). The spammer can this telephony software such. B. Asterisk use. The spam calls can be transmitted via gateways of the telecommunications network operators in the conventional telephone network (PSTN).

How to prevent VOIP Spam?

Many users have no problem with SPIT already being "shielded" behind NAT or a package filter, AKA firewall. Others, running a Linux server with VOIP server and client on it might be exposed to VOIP Spam. These can protect themselves by setting up one package filter rule:

iptables -A INPUT -p udp ! -s 217.10.79/24 --destination-port 5060 -j REJECT
assuming 217.10/16 is the IP range from your ISP. In this case it's Sipgate. That will throw away all UDP packages to the SIP port (5060, might differ on other setups) unless they come from 217.10.79/24.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to disable auto play of videos in Chrome and Firefox browsers

When users enter certain web pages, often videos embedded there start to play automatically. Many users, including me, do not wish to run videos they didn't demand. But they play anyway. Is there a way in Browsers like Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox to deactivate the automatic play of videos? Besides it's annoying, these videos use data. When a user has a "cap" with his ISP (the maximal amount of data he can transfer every month) he might pay additional charges for a data transfer, he didn't demand. Luckily for web browser like Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome there is a way, to deactivate the automatic playing of videos, like in Youtube.

Chrome and Chromium web browsers

The Chrome web browser is currently the dominant browser and holds the biggest market share. Thanks to the implementation in Android smart phones and tablets, Android ships.

Desktop

After launching the browser click into the address bar on top and type in about: flags and hit the RETURN key. On top you find a search form. Enter autoplay and click on the first find the drop down menu and choose Document user activation is required. After you restart Chrome videos should not start automatically anymore, but asks the user to confirm, he wants to run a particular video.

Chrome on Android

This is easier. Launch the Chrome browser on your tablet or smart phone and visit Settings and then Site Settings. Scroll down the media menu and select the media tab. There you must select autoplay and click the checkbox, to disable the function.

Mozilla's Firefox

The Firefox browser of Mozilla has some great features. It is highly customizable. It has among other native features the ability, to prevent videos from starting to play automatically. Click the URL bar and type in about:config. Ignore the warning and use the search form to find media.autoplay.default. Set this to "1" if it was not already set. Also find media.autoplay.allow-muted and set this to false. Restart the Firefox browser that the changes take effect

Other methods

If this isn't working for you, third party add-ons come into play. Open the Preferences menu and search for addons or extensions. There is a search form. Search for something like disable, auto play or automatic and install the appropriate extension.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

TV series The Orville

The series The Orville is an American TV show created by Seth MacFarlane and premiered on September 10th 2017 on the Fox network in the United States and simultaneously on the Citytv2 network in Canada.

It's a science-fiction drama set in a future, where Earth is part of a larger community of civilizations that coexist in the universe in a peaceful way. The story takes place around a medium-class space ship called Orville and its crew.

Plot

In the 25th century, Earth is part of the Planetary Union with an extended civilization, advanced and above all peaceful and comprises a fleet of approximately 3000 vessels. Among them the Orville, a modern spacecraft led by Captain Ed Mercer (portrait by Seth MacFarlane, the producer of the show), determined to prove his worthiness and to write a new chapter in his life, backed by an eccentric crew.

Cast

Main actors

  • Seth MacFarlane as Captain Ed Mercer
  • Adrianne Palicki as Commander Kelly Grayson
  • Penny Johnson Jerald as Dr. Claire Finn
  • Scott Grimes as Lieutenant Gordon Malloy. Scott Grimes was acknowledged in the movie Critters, when he was at the age of fifteen.

Continuity

The first season is considered by fans to be lighthearted, with the focus on jokes similar to these found in Family Guy, which is also produced by Seth MacFarlane. Season two started much darker and had fewer jokes but more blood and killings. Later episodes of season two followed what season one was like.

Crossover between Family Guy and The Orville

Some episodes of Family Guy mentioned The Orville. Many fans of both shows expect that at some point in the near future a crossover between Family Guy and The Orville should take place.



Star Trek references

Some actors from the Star Trek franchise took part in The Orville. Jonathan Frakes and Robert Duncan McNeill already directed episodes of The Orville. While actors like Roberto Picardo (the EMH of Voyager) or John Billingsley, portraying Dr. Phlox in Enterprise or Tim Russ (playing a Vulcan officer onboard the USS Voyager) already had a role in The Orville. Apparently Seth MacFarlane likes to have actors from the Star Trek universe in his show.