Pre-ordering the Steam Deck

I’m super excited about the Steam Deck, Valves new hand-held gaming PC that runs AAA games on Linux.

Pre-ordering were crashing the reservation system, and I had issues for 40 minutes trying to get it to accept my credit card. But eventually got an email confirmation. Though, I missed the 2021 shipping window.

The specs seem pretty good for running current games and previous generation games. but there will eventually be newer games that will push it a bit. Even newer current generation games might.

I wonder publishers end up considering its support like they do for consoles, or if Valve revs the specs in a shorter window than consoles.

But maybe Valve doesn’t even need to worry about the specs for future games. Game streaming could be the future of this form-factor. Xbox Cloud seems like a possibility on the Steam Deck since you can install Windows, and you will probably be able to stream games to it from you local PC like you can from other Steam clients.

Maybe Valve will even launch an Xbox Cloud competitor which could prolong the hardware’s life.

Journey in to Cryptocurrency

Last week my new Windows PC with an RTX 3080 finally arrived, and I was lucky enough to get a 3080 before the limited hash rate version came out. Getting one without the hash rate limit got me thinking about digging in to cryptocurrency.

This isn’t the first time I’ve dipped my toes in to the waters. My interest in cryptocurrency always seems to perk up when I get a new GPU, but after some playing around I tend to give up on it. Mining generate too much heat in the room for Texas summers. I’m also unsure of cryptocurrencies being viable for normal transactions, and it is too speculative if I just wanted to exchange dollars for cryptocurrencies instead of mining them.

AmigaOS 3.2 Released

Hyperion Entertainment CVBA is very pleased to announce the immediate availability of AmigaOS 3.2 for 68K based Amigas.

AmigaOS 3.2 comes packed with well over 100 new features, dozens of updates that cover nearly all AmigaOS components and a battery of bugfixes that will undoubtedly solidify the user experience.

Also this month, there has been some progress on the production of new Amiga 500 cases. The top shell mold had it’s first injection test.

How to cut GTA Online loading times by 70%

GTA Online. Infamous for its slow loading times. Having picked up the game again to finish some of the newer heists I was shocked (/s) to discover that it still loads just as slow as the day it was released 7 years ago.

It’s parsing something. Parsing what? Untangling the disassembly would take forever so I decided to dump some samples from the running process using x64dbg. Some debug-stepping later it turns out it’s… JSON! They’re parsing JSON. A whopping 10 megabytes worth of JSON with some 63k item entries.

It’s surprising that this issue had never been considered worth it to be fixed by Rockstar. I do think 63,000 items loaded via JSON is excessive, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable given the size and scope of GTA online.

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars

NASA safely landed a new robotic rover on Mars on Thursday, beginning its most ambitious effort in decades to directly study whether there was ever life on the now barren red planet.

While the agency has completed other missions to Mars, the $2.7 billion robotic explorer, named Perseverance, carries scientific tools that will bring advanced capabilities to the search for life beyond Earth. The rover, about the size of a car, can use its sophisticated cameras, lasers that can analyze the chemical makeup of Martian rocks and ground-penetrating radar to identify the chemical signatures of fossilized microbial life that may have thrived on Mars when it was a planet full of flowing water.

What a great day for science. Missions like this lift my spirits.

NASA did a great job not just with the mission but with engaging with and including everyone at home. NASA Pre-landing Simulation is a cool visualization to play with, and they also have some great resources for kids. My daughter and I made paper helicopters from their Landing Toolkit website while we watched the stream on Youtube.

ReStuff

StuffIt is the de-facto standard for file archiving and compression on Mac OS before OS X. Most old Macintosh software is preserved in StuffIt format, but a format change in StuffIt 5 makes archives created in this version unreadable in older versions of StuffIt. Since StuffIt 3.5 is the last version that works on System 6, many archives cannot be opened on compact Macs running System 6.

ReStuff is a SaaS that automatically converts StuffIt version 4 & 5 archives to a format readable in StuffIt 3.

This tool solves a big problem I’ve run in to getting software for my vintage gear.

Joshua Stein also has a C Programming on System 6 video series where he’s trying to make an IMAP client for System 6.

Audion 4.0

Once upon a time, we made one of the earliest MP3 players for the Mac, Audion. We’ve come to appreciate that Audion captured a special moment in time, and we’ve been trying to preserve its history. Back in March, we revealed that we were working on converting Audion faces to a more modern format so they could be preserved.

Today, we’d like to give you the chance to experience these faces yourself on any Mac running 10.12 or later.

Now, this isn’t a full-fledged return of Audion. It can play music files and streams, but it doesn’t have playlists, and we’re not offering support for it. Its primary purpose is to view faces in the converted format. In addition, we’re releasing the source code to document how these faces work and an archive of converted faces.

I love seeing the Audion icon bounce to life on my dock again.

Little Things That Made Amiga Great

In a time when home PCs were single tasking DOS boxes with 8 character file names and Ataris and Macs were single tasking GUI boxes, hampering any hacker with their glaring lack of a CLI, the Amiga was a champion of both worlds: It combined the CLI and GUI, leveraging both their strengths. But there was more to it than that, something that’s hard to convey in so many words.

Working from home at 25MHz: You could do worse than a Quadra 700 (even in 2020)

Despite these shortcomings, the Quadra 700 reinforced some of the same conclusions from my timing roadtesting a refurbished Macintosh IIsi some time ago. The gap between an ‘040 powered Mac and modern PCs doesn’t feel nearly as wide as it should. This computer was released almost 30 years ago. On paper, it should be inconceivable that this can at all fit into a modern workflow. Present-day computers are gigascale monstrosities that should smoke something as old and plucky as the Quadra. And yet, they just… don’t.

Computers today weld supercomputer levels of power by the standards of the Quadra 700, but they don’t seem any faster in terms of responsiveness for the end user doing normal tasks like typing in a word processor.

Dan Luu measured response latency in some vintage modern hardware and the results are surprising.

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