Monthly Archives: January 2012

The latest Humble Bundle is out and features Android as well as Windows/Linux and Mac versions of the following games: World of Goo, EDGE, Osmos and Anomaly Warzone Earth.

Mastering Machine Code on your Commodore 64

Before the internet became popular and the web was still in diapers I had a Commodore 64 at home. “Mastering Machine Code on your Commodore 64″ by Mark Greenshields was the first programming book I owned that wasn’t full of BASIC listings and opened my eyes to the wonders of low level assembly development. It was a daunting task learning machine code on my own but I devoured the book and learned so much by looking at the code in demos and games of the time.

The book was originally published in 1984, and I discovered it in a small bookshop next to Paul Street Shopping Centre in Cork sometime in 1990 or 1991. I still remember the excitement I felt at finding any book on the subject. The city library had books on computers, even one or two on building robots and things you could connect to a computer but nothing that explored the C64 in depth.

Based on what I learned in that book and from hacking demos with the aid of an Action Replay I was able to do quite a bit. Nothing amazing but I’m proud of what I did along with others in my demo group way back 20 years ago. I was 16 at the time. I wonder what I’d be hacking on now if I was that age?

You can find a zip file with all our demos in this post. Commodore 64 emulator required!

While flicking through the book I stumbled upon a favourite section, the one on interrupts which I’ve scanned and posted the first two pages of in this post. Here’s another doc on this subject, with the same example code flashing the border 60 times a second. Happy memories.

What was your first programming book?

Ghosts ‘n Goblins is much easier..

Games are a hell of a lot easier when they’re trained! Ghosts ‘n Goblins was one of the first games I dived into to see how it worked back in the day. Earlier I played a remix of it’s soundtrack and fired up the game afterwards. I remembered it was hard but compared to games today it’s a demon!

Luckily it was trained and my son and I had an enjoyable half hour shooting the baddies and jumping from platform to platform. I wish the compatible joysticks from back then had more than one button, left/right and up to diagonal jump is a PITA!

In case you’re wondering, a trained game is where the game has been hacked and various cheats added. Usually a fancy intro with swirling graphics and music is added at the start and the group that has hacked the game give you the option of adding infinite lives, time, invulnerability or whatever suits the games. Practically every C64 game you’ll find online has these features now. :)

Can’t login to Games for Windows Live?

I changed my Xbox Live password recently and found I couldn’t login to GFWL this evening. “No problem”, I thought. Just change the password to my new one.

No, I can’t change the password. I can select the password field. It’s active, I can move the cursor back and forward but I can’t type or delete the * characters.

Luckily it was a simple, if non obvious, fix to get around this. Uncheck the “Save my e-mail address and password” and “Sign me in automatically” checkboxes. Now you can select the password field and change it. Don’t forget to “remember” the password again..

Yes, Games for Windows Live is a POS.

1:51 of utter cuteness

If you’ve had enough of SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, bailouts, the Euro defaulting, rising oil prices and the rest of the bad news you’ll enjoy this video.

By chance we have a Shitzu at home and a black and white cat (daughter of this cute little fella). They’re friendly but not like these two!

I expect this video will be pulled from Youtube just as soon as the copyright holder matches the song.. Oh well. :(

(via)

Stop Ireland’s SOPA

Before the end of this month the Irish Government will introduce a very vague copyright protection law. It won’t be debated in the Dáil as it will be enacted by a ministerial order. Protection of copyright is a laudable endeavour but when so little is known about the amendment or how it’s implemented it’s impossible to figure out how it will affect us. Once IRMA get a whiff of any more power or influence you just know they’re going to abuse it! Remember the infamous “3 strikes” rule?

Before I go any further, here’s how you can help. Sign this petition or use this contact form or this list to contact your local TD to express your misgivings and anger at this law being pushed through so quickly.

From the stopsopireland.com website:

SOPA is the name of a piece of US legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act, recently proposed in the US. It caused an Internet-wide outcry due to its far-reaching implications; way beyond simply closing access to outlaw file sharing websites, it would have enabled law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing material posted on a single blog or webpage.

A similar proposal is about to become law in Ireland. And while 7 million Americans contacted their representatives to say No to SOPA in the US, Irish citizens will not get that chance because the new law in Ireland is not being voted on in the Oireachtas.

Instead, the law is being enacted by ministerial order. This new law will give music and movie companies the legal leverage to force Irish ISPs like UPC, Eircom and mobile networks to block access to sites suspected of having copyrighted material on them. It also means judges can order ISPs to block access to sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter where an individual user from anywhere in the world has shared infringing material.

As I mentioned in my Wikipedia post, this law might already be illegal:

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered a landmark case for protecting free speech in the fight against online piracy. In a decision issued today on the Scarlet Extended SA v SABAM case, the Court stated that web filtering systems used to prevent illegal downloading on peer-to-peer networks was incompatible with fundamental human rights.

Minister Sean Sherlock will be on drivetime (RTE Radio 1) after 6pm this evening to talk about this law. I hope he comes to his senses.

Oh, it is very easy to bypass any spying the music and movie industries force on Irish ISPs. All you need is an encrypted tunnel to a remote host outside the country. If Irish ISPs ban users from using tools like that then you can say goodbye to a huge number of IT jobs. I rely on these tools every single day of the week to do my work.

More links:

Next in the firing line of laws that will limit consumer freedoms is ACTA but let’s get one bad law stopped before we move on to the next one, ok?

The image above taken from No Shit, Sherlock website. Thanks Sean Sherlock.

SSH Socks Proxy for Android Phones

Android has had VPN support for donkey’s years but I could never get it working. I tried pptpd and xl2tpd but pptpd didn’t work (and has security holes) or the configuration is daunting and lengthy when all I want is a simple proxy.

There’s also HTTP proxy support built into Android. It’s exposed in Samsung and other ROMs at Settings->Wireless and Network->Wi-Fi Settings, Advanced. Apparently this app sets things up correctly too. I’m not sure if it’ll do authentication however unless you add the username:password in the hostname. I also don’t want to install Squid on my public internet server!

So, the holy grail of proxying would be doing so through ssh. Nothing else to install on my server and I get an encrypted tunnel through the internet and out of Ireland which might be a good thing to protect my privacy from the prying eyes of the Irish Government. A far more mundane reason is the security of my data from others on a public wifi network. (Aside, on what will the record companies blame the falling numbers of CDs sold when the Irish version of SOPA is passed?)

The good news is that you can now create an ssh tunnel from your Android device. The bad news is that it has to be rooted to make the most of it. Go grab the SSH Tunnel app and you’ll be sending data through your remote host in no time. There’s also a beta version that uses an OpenSSH native binary rather than a Java implementation. I haven’t tried that yet, the stable version worked fine for me.

You can stream Netflix through it, and browse the net, post to your blog or whatever else takes your fancy. All through a secure tunnel to a remote server.

In case you’re interested, it’s simplicity itself to do the same thing on Linux or Mac computers using the installed ssh client. On Windows just use Putty!