Thursday, November 23, 2017

The M.A.M.E. emulator

M.A.M.E. (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator), or short MAME, is a software emulator, allowing to play original video games from the arcades, starting from 1975 to today and tomorrow. Its main purpose though is to preserve decades of software history. Besides the emulator itself you also need roms from the game you want to play.

An emulator in general is creating a hardware environment (called "driver" in MAME), like chips in a video game (CPU, RAM, I/O and other support chips) by software. Thus you can "have" what ever video game hardware you want in your PC or smartphone. Then you can load up the original code, usually dumped from the original chips of a video game, into the emulator, and play them. Since it's all original you can even experience bugs and glitches which came with the original game. But you also have the option to activate cheats, speed up or slow down the game and more.

Since 2015 MAME's sister project M.E.S.S. (Multi Emulator Super System), or short MESS, was merged into MAME. MESS allows to also emulate any computer, if somebody wrote a driver for it and the BIOS rom was dumped. You could run an Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, (Super) Nintendo Entertainment System, SONY Playstation, XBOX, SEGA... Well anything existing. In theory you could play on a Playstation or other which would only exist in say three years - if someone would get hold of it specification. But that's just theoretically. And even if, no actual of today's PC hardware is powerful enough to run it in a decent speed. Even on older systems or video games modern PCs cannot run the emulation in a speed to match the original speed of the emulated machine. There are also prototypes or hard to come by systems you can emulate. Like the Apple I or Commodore 65 you can run.

If you want to bring back some fond memories you had when you had your first game console, first home computer or video games you played as kid in the arcade back in the day, the MAME emulator brings back nostalgia.

Legal mention: Obey the ROMs copyright!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Stop bed bugs

How to stop bed bugs, and possibly for good

Do you have bed bugs? Don't be ashamed, bedbugs are everywhere. I had them too when I moved into a new apartment. They don't care if the place is spotless. They don't care if you live in an apartment, house or villa, or for holiday in a hotel. They don't care if you are rich or poor. They only want your blood. Although it's suggested they prefer alcohol free blood. Not that I want to suggest everybody should become an alcoholic to fight them.

The good news is that bed bugs do not transmit diseases. Besides some, possibly nasty, itching there should be no health concerns. Unless you scratch the spots open and accidentally let something enter the blood stream. It's also known that a few people are allergic to bed bug bites.

Some people call an exterminator to stop bed bugs. While that might work for a while, it can be inconvenient having the place gassed. And they will be back after some time if areas outside your apartment and thus out of your control also have them. This, and an attempt to spray the rooms by oneself or apply heat to the spots where they are suspected to hide, are active approaches which may only be of temporary relief.

Keeping that in mind I was looking for a permanent - or close to permanent - solution to tackle the problem, which then must be a passive attempt. A solution which once put into place stop bed bugs without further action. And something cheap if possible. So I did some research.

I read about Diatomaceous Earth (I will use DE later), a powder killing bed bugs and prevent re-infestation. It is available in any home improvement store, usually found where the other insecticides, like RAID, are located. And fairly cheap ($20) compared to other, less promising means of stopping bed bugs. If you cannot find it, ask the staff. Again, don't be ashamed, you won't be the first asking them.

Now a warning. Although DE doesn't harm - you could even eat it - it's a powder and while applying it or when accidentally stepping into it one could inhale it. People with asthma, people with young children or pets should take extra caution or not do this at all!

My idea was to have two zones in each room where there is a bed. The bed bug free zone, which is the bed, and the "well there may be bugs but doesn't really matter" zone, so everything else. The border between these zones is a layer of DE. Bed bugs coming in contact with DE ingest it. The powder will then bind their inner body fluids and they dry out from within and die. It's not instantly but will take between 24-48 hours. Every bed bug coming to your bed will die, assuming the layer has no gaps. Since it also takes some days (thus longer than 48 hours) for a new born bed bug to mature and be able to reproduce, this also will never happen. And the population in your environment will soon be gone. Give it three or four weeks after DE is applied.

Another good thing is the DE layer works for a long time. Months or even years before it should be re-applied. The bad new is that when you step into it you carry it around. Not that it causes stains, but think about how you would handle wheat.

To work with this you have to embrace that ever so often a new bed bug might come from the outside of your apartment, walk through the DE and bite you. But will die soon after. So there might still a few bites. But you might not even notice them at all.

I could now go on explaining how to apply, what to also take care of. But I already did this on a web page where I explain all of this and more in detail.

I hope you can also get rid of your bed bugs. Although this advice is free I'd appreciate a small donation on this web page if you were successful. Would also be nice to put your comments on the Facebook form there.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

War with North Korea?

Like the Trump administration or not (I don't). But while the threat, that North Korea develops nuclear weapons was lingering since decades, just like it was with the Iran, nothing has been done. Both countries are in my opinion instable and should not have nukes. Like children you give matches, "Now go playing outside, have fun". One might be reminded on the development in the 1930s when Nazi Germany (illegally, according to treaties) built up and army and weaponry. The world condemned it, namely European countries, especially neighboring France, and the UK, but also the US. But nothing was done. Pretty much until the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. Only then war was decleared upon Nazi Germany. But it was too late to quickly deal with the situation, because Nazi Germany had one of the largest armies by then. The result was much of Europe was overrun by the Nazis, and the allies (well UK, France, Poland, Canada, Australia and a few others, but not the US yet) suffered defeat everywhere, while the Reich was expanding. You might also see parallels to the Japanese Empire, also pretty much have been left alone for too long. It took the attack on Pearl Harbor, until the US woke up. Not after a year two or until the US joined the war the tide was turned, but killing and destruction still went on for years until 1945. Are we (mainly the US) doing the same mistake again? Seeing the problem but not tackling it already? Again waiting until it's too late, and when finally dealing with it - which of course means war, since diplomatic attempts failed since decades - and casualties on all sides will mount? Back to Mr. Trump - like him or not. In my opinion he is the only president within the last decades to have the balls to do something about it. And now. Although so far he only had a big mouth and nothing has happened I hope he is doing something about it soon. Which unfortunately will include war. I hoped though that China could be persuaded to deal with it instead. Is China more or less the only reason the US hasn't intervened already when Bush or Obama was president. [Update] The 2018 inter-Korean summit was a meeting between leaders of the two Koreas, Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea and Kim Jong-un, North Korea's leader. It leads to the Declaration of Panmunjeom, which affirms the common intention of "no longer wanting war on the peninsula", to put an end to hostilities and to sign a peace treaty by the end of 2018; the two states also undertake to denuclearize the peninsula, both on the South Korean side, which does not have the atomic weapon but is under an American nuclear umbrella, than North Korea I don't understand why Kim Jong-un was building a nuclear arsenal over decades, threatens the US with an attack, and now takes a 180 degree turn, wants denuclearization and peace. Is North Korea out of money? Or is this just a distraction to soften up the US and secretly continuing building up?

Syria plans to join the 2015 Paris agreement

Apparently Syria plans to join the 2015 Paris agreement along with Nicaragua. Makes the US the only country not joining. There are tow things making me wondering. Is Syria now doing anything to oppose what ever the US is doing? Why would they (and Nicaragua) suddenly care? May be it just feels bad to be among the few countries not signing, bad to be outcast? And why didn't they sign earlier? Both are not among the major polluters, why did hesitated? The other thing is what would have happened for the decision of the US if not Trump, but Obama, even Bush, were in charge? May be they'd joined? If, that would be just another indication that the Trump administration seeks to be isolated from the rest of the world. Possibly trying to get back to a state from the 30s before the US joined World War II, where the US didn't really cared what was going on in the rest of the world, minding their own business.

How to keep vintage game consoles alive

In November of 2017 The 8-Bit Guy on YouTube created a video featuring new (2016 or 2017) games for vintage consoles, such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis. Although he isn't a big fan of beat-em-ups he tried to give an objective view. He concluded that buying new games will keep these consoles alive. Although I agree one should support new games if one is fan of vintage consoles I don't agree that these new games are the (only) way to keep them alive. In my opinion only the love of folks who owned and used them back in the day already will do just that. That said, some things can kept alive without spending a dime. If you still own a working machine and (old) games, play them, to bring back memories from decades ago. If you don't own one, there are emulators and fan pages in the internet dedicated to a certain machine. Lot of documentation, tips, questions and answers, as well as discussion forums. One might as well find some game code dumps to use with these consoles.