Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Cyberpunk series on YouTube

I'm a bit of a CyberPunk geek.... you may have guessed that already.

However, just watched the first 2 of these and man, did they take me back in time!

Wow! I think I've had pretty much every one of those dodgy movies on VHS back in the early 90's, as for the games, had a few - didn't even know that a load of those even existed, life could have been very different had I known....

anyway, watch, observe and appreciate losing yourself for a few hours in these very well made videos about Cyberpunk.

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


....and now we will have the Omniverse / Metaverse.... looks like the old Cyberpunks are going to get their way in the end... dystopian future being jacked into a pointless existence of digital mayhem... oh well, let's join in and break some rules :-D

Wednesday, 24 November 2021


 I'll post an update about Metaverse later on and all the fun and games (and vapourware etc...) but for now I'll post this REALLY interesting video from NVIDIA (yes, that NVIDIA), wow! they have been very busy in the background....

....OmniVerse is where it's going to be at - for Industry and Businesses... 

I just fired up the Unity Hub on my Mac - it needed a bit of an update, it's been 2years since I last used it and it was 6years since I originally installed it - wow, time flies....

and this is the thing to start learning....if you think HTML, then for this new Omniverse, the language to use is called USD:


Sunday, 21 November 2021

Retro Sunday night - Atari ST - Part III

 okay...okay...okay...so I managed to get Secret of Monkey Island running and working from the UltraSATAN disk drive - all is good with that.

Then I thought, maybe I should get some of the "other" things I have lying around working too.

Such as the NetUSBee that plugs in as a cartridge, here it is plugged into the 520 ST (with 4MB), although I did transfer over to use the 1040 ST (with 1MB) shortly afterwards:

I found an old TPLink wifi extender device, that I could plug the Cat 5 cable into (and then downstairs, I had the other end plugged into the wifi router)

and there is the device itself, not much to look at, but does what it was built for:

This is a great little device that I obviously bought many years ago, got working once and then "forgot: about it.  It is basically a network card, plug in a CAT5/6 cable and you're good to go.  It has a couple of USB connections, someone wrote a USB Mouse driver for it, but doesn't look like anyone got any further with other devices such as storage or anything else.

Anyway...I found a load of old disks and I wanted to get the AtariST connecting to the home network - main goal was to be able to just hook up to the same network so that I can transfer files to the AtariST HDD in a quicker manner than I was doing before.  I am glad to state, yes, I actually managed this.  I am also not so glad to state, yes, it did indeed take me far too long to get this working!

I found the uIP tool app, watched a YouTube video about it and that explained that you could run this software, it would grab an IP Address, then run a tiny webserver that would allow you to navigate the Atari ST and send files over to it:

Basically, I could still boot the HDDs up, but then have to run the program from the A: disk, when it runs, it just sits here at this prompt.  Now, interestingly.... I have several versions of this app - this was the ONLY one that would work! Don't know why?  The newer versions have more functionality, which is what I was after, but this will do for now:

On my Mac, I opened up and a web-page appeared, I could then select to darg&drop files to copy over to the Atari ST, I could even pick where to put them:

As you can see, it listed out all the HDD drives that I had.  I chose to copy over SYSINFO.PRG:
and there is the file, copied over:

and that is it executing (on the Atari ST 1040) - you can tell by the RAM - I am wondering of the TOS version being so low on this one is why some of the apps don't work for me?

Whilst this was great and kind of did what I wanted, the uIP app only does the one thing (although they do provide the C source-code, so I will be taking a look at that later to see if I can use it to do some other stuff or whether I stick to just using STinG)

Talking of STinG...I had this previously setup to boot from an A: floppy disk - I found that I could boot it up okay if I had the HDD turned off...I found I could boot it up if I didn't, but it only ran from the A: disk.

Under a normal C: drive boot up, you can see how I "cheated" by setting up 1 SD-Card to be the C: boot drive (yes, I know what a LOT of waste) and the other drives are all on the 2nd SD-Card - this way, if I screw up the C: boot drive again, it won't take out the whole SD-Card again! I also have the C: drive backed up, so I can restore back to a known good point - lesson learnt.

Upon booting up, there are all the lovely drives:

Sadly though, GAPFTP still will ONLY run from the A: disk drive - yes, I change the config, but still will only run from there, not too bad however.  As you can see, using basic FTP commands I can connect to the home FTP server (with a temporary user/pwd setup), I navigate around the NAS drive:

I can list the files available:

and just to prove it, there is the same folder from the Mac:

Now, I thought I'd have a little fun, there's a graphical FTP client (apparently):

So, I downloaded the files, which came down pretty quickly and nicely:

and there they are copied onto the A: disk drive:

However, when I run the app it throws an error:
I actually had this already on one of the existing HDD folders, I ran it from there and I also copied onto a new A: disk, and I got the same error - so it wasn't the FTP GET that corrupted the file - it just doesn't want to run on this machine.  I'll give it a go on the 520 ST with 4MB RAM and TOS v1.04 to see if that makes a difference.

The GOOD NEWS is that I also managed to get the C: drive setup to not only boot correctly now, BUT to also startup STiNG correctly (from the C: drive with the right drivers loaded) and it gets assigned a valid IP address for the network - proving that two-way comms. are available:

ha!ha! we have connection via STiNG:

So, what does that mean? why is that different to the above?  Well... STiNG is a common-layer that once loaded will stay loaded to provide the network connectivity, there are applications that are built on top of this (and I can build my own, using C-code!) that can then let me doing more useful things.

I could, for instance, write my own file transfer application, I can run an existing set of apps for email, IRC, there is a web-browser called CAB that I have attempted to run on the 1040, but it throws a "TOS error #35" - again, I assume that is due to the low version of TOS, will try on the other machine...

Well, that proved fruitful - it looks like I did either need more RAM or higher TOS version, because CAB runs from the HDD drive:

I just need to now figure out which cab.ovl file I need to drop in the same folder for it to connect to the actual internet - I'm not expecting much as it is version 1.5 that does HTML2 or something?!? v2.8 handles HTML 3, so that's not going to be super wonderful, but, for basic stuff fetching web-pages in my own network, this might actually be sufficient - who needs all that modern web-browser luggage?

Basically, it means that I now have from the UltraSATAN HDD device the ability to boot up, onto the network and then "do stuff".... exactly what that "stuff" is going to be...I shall ponder.  I was at the point on my old PC and PC110 devices where I was coding network communications over the network using Microsoft C v7 and the networking libraries - maybe I can have the old Pentium 1 MS-DOS v6 machine running an app that communicates with the IBM PC110 486 MS-DOS v6 palmtop with wifi running an app that communicates with the Atari ST that shows some graphical pixel or something that allows each computer to move around and then send that message to the others for some reason?

Oh I don't know....if both Microsoft and facebook are allowed to regurgitate "Second Life" and claim they are inventing the next generation of the Internet as a "Metaverse", then I am allowed to do the same on old 1980/1990s computers too!

Right, that is enough for now.... I am happy that I've got this far and am genuinely excited to take this further - ooooo, maybe I can bring in sensors and my robot into the equation too....

Flight Radar

You know what happens... you're attempting to do something useful / complex and the brain wanders off and you find yourself looking out the window....and then you spot a light aircraft or a "chem-trail" (snigger) up in the sky and you wonder to yourself, "I wonder what that actually is...?" ... no? just me?

Well, as with everything today, there's a web-site for that.

This is now my new background image for one of my old 21" monitors...it moves, it's kind of interesting and it is definitely geeky.

Yes....I am procrastinating, attempting to get my Atari ST connected to my home network.

Oh, is that the drone of another airplane engine I hear?  Oh, quick, best take a look!

(if you zoom out a little bit - you get to see just how much "junk" is up in the sky!)

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Retro Sunday night - Atari ST - Part II

well..... it turns out that technology is not always your best friend.

I ended up being successful and copied the Monkey Island .st files to a USB stick that I placed into my 1040 STFm that has a GOTEK drive within it.  I can now boot from disk1 and everything works as it should - game works, mouse works, in fact all fine - not sure what all the fuss was about?!

What niggled me though was the fact I wanted it running from my 520 STFm that has 4MB RAM and the UltraSATAN hard-drive connected.  Never happy am I!?!

Well, this was the challenge, but also the flaw.  I was using my Apple Mac with an external USB drive connected to copy the files from my 4TB HDD NAS storage onto the 720k formatted double density disks.  I was then copying those .st files manually onto the old MS-DOS 6.22 PC and using makedisk to extract the .st files out directly onto other double density disks - allowing them to be formatted for the Atari (usually 800k).  I would then take out that disk and then put it into the Atari and then finally copy those files onto the UltraSATAN hard disk.  Phew, what a faff!

Turns out that series of steps was flawed...from step 1.  The USB disc drive connected to the Apple Mac is, apparently, flawed in copying files over.  Therefore, all of the hot & miss experiences I'd been having was due to this step.  Looking back, in hindsight, it does make sense.

I was doing some fiddling around with a Vortex 30 external HDD (German version of the MegaFile 30) and was attempting to get it to work with my basic 1040 STFm with normal floppy disk drive - I was failing badly at this, apparently the HDD software could "see" the drive was on BUS:0 but would not connect to any partitions or allow formatting to get partitions - I suspected that the ST-238R 33MB hard drive itself was faulty internally - it did make all the right noises and flashing lights, which is why I persisted so long.  However, during this exercise, I was copying HDD related files via the USB floppy disc drive and was noticing oddities with the files being copied over - this is what highlighted me to that as being the source of the file copying corruption.

I then (stupidly) copied some .cpx files over to the UltraSATAN c:\ drive for the Control Panel software to use - fatal mistake!  Now when I rebooted the hard-drive was detected, it attempted to load the CPX plugins and then showed 2 bombs! and rebooted in an infinite cycle.... and there is no-way to "pause" the steps, there is no ctrl+c....

I hunted around for another micro-SD card and I found the original one that I had used when I got the UltraSATAN, I plugged that in and it booted up quite nicely and showed me that I had 5 hard-drives setup with a load of files.  I wondered for a minute or two as to why I stopped using that card... then I clicked on the F:\ drive and I saw some "corrupt" file names - I had assumed that the micro-SD card was no good.  It was formatted as FAT-16, which allowed you to connect it to a PC/Mac and manually copy over the files directly onto the micro-SD card itself, then just unplug and plug into the Atari and off you go.

HANG ON AMINUTE..... I noticed a D:\ drive that contained a huge folder that matched what was on my HDD NAS storage... that included a folder named SECRETMI.... I wonder?  I double-clicked START.TOS and there we have it, Monkey Island started up, went into the game (press ESC), and the mouse worked too... I could play the game running from the hard drive with no issues at all!  This is what I've been trying to do for the past 3 weeks!  and it was always already there..... typical!

I took that other micro-SD card and plugged it into the Mac, but it could not read it at all - so I'm assuming that when I set it up I used the ICD .img file that formatted it in a specific Atari format, which means I cannot read the micro-SD disc and therefore it is knackered, it'll have to be wiped and started again.

In someways that's not too bad, I can format it FAT-16 (if I can do it via my Linux laptop?) and then be able to back it up, so I won't be in the scenario again.

Roll-on tomorrow night, when I'll look at getting it all back to where I was a month ago.  Got to love technology!

So...I finally figured out how to format FAT16 on a Mac... yep, it can be done, took a little bit of research: https://www.dssw.co.uk/reference/diskutil.html

The trick is to NOT use Disk utility - but run the above command from a Terminal session.  As you can see I've now made, what I believe is a compliant setup for the Atari ST.  The "C" drive will be the P1 15MB partition, this will just store the hdd boot stuff and desktop.inf, then the other E2/3/4 partitions will be for C coding apps, games and utils.  I've left E5 to be 1GB for now.

In theory, I should now be able to copy files over onto the card from my NAS HDD and then just put the SD-card into the UltraSATAN and it should work.  Obviously, I doubt that will work, I'll need to install ICDHDD driver and then map the C: D: E: F: drives and save Desktop.inf, but if this works, it will save all the grief - however, it still won't solve the files that are in the .st format, but if I use the Hatari emulator with a GEMDos HDD and just extract the files out from the A: drive to the HDD, the files will then become accessible to then copy over.  we'll see!

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Luxonis Oak-1 DepthAI Hardware


Luxonis Oak-1 DepthAI Hardware

Now, this look interesting indeed..... AI at the Edge.

The Oak-1 is an all-in-one machine vision solution. It’s a 4-trillion-operations-per-second AI powerhouse that performs your AI models on board so that your host is free to do whatever you need it to do.

Its integrated 12 MegaPixel camera module communicates over an on board 2.1 Gbps MIPI interface directly to the Myriad X, which ingests this data and performs neural inference on it, returning the results over USB.

Such a data path offloads the host processor from all of this work. In the common use case of object detection from a 12MP image, this means your host is now dealing with a 24 Kbps stream of what the objects are and where they are in the image, instead of a 2.1 Gbps stream of video. So an 87,500 reduction in data your host has to deal with, and such a reduction means that even on relatively slow hosts, one can use dozens of Luxonis OAK-1 without burdening the host CPU.

Read the documentation HERE - it can be controlled by C++ code or Python

I can think of many uses of this device to relieve the burden on my poor little Raspberry Pi's - I especially like the fact you can add 12 (TWELVE) of these at once - maybe not just yet at £200 each, but soon the price will come down


Monday, 8 November 2021

Retro Monday night - Atari ST

well.... I couldn't leave it there could I?

After a bit of head scratching and Duck-Duck-Go-ing last thing last night, I found a little MS-DOS program called makedisk.exe v1.5.  I downloaded it to my phone at 1am or whatever it was, so that I could copy it over to my old PC laptop and try and use that instead of the Windows based app.

It turns out, that I have an old PC (well, Mrs.Geeks old PC that I stole about 10years ago) that just boots into MS-DOS, but has a built in 3.5" floppy disk drive and well, would you look at that... it actually had a disk in the drive that said.... oh...I think I've been here before?!

After checking out the date time stamps on some of the files, it looks like I've repeated this same exercise in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and yet again now in 2021.... seems like I have a 2year cycle of doing retro-goodness and then get very distracted by work/work and then remember again and repeat the same thing over and over again - except this time, I'm not going to stop as I've got a decent Atari ST machine and I now have the proper C compilers to do something useful with it.  I also have all those extra's, like a NetUSBee so I can connect to the network and plug in USB devices too... I say all this, but y'know Feb 2022 will come around and then I won't touch this stuff again until 2023, a bit like the P1 Elonex PC I have sitting on the desk over there, waiting for me to code some Microsoft C++ 7 on it!

anyway, after finding that I have a D:\ATARIST folder that contained the makedisk.exe and lots of .st files, I then wen about testing it out.  It works GREAT! it even formats the disks in the special 800K format that is needed for some of the disks too.

I even thought I'd try out the Rick Dangerous .st file from before - it did format correctly and did copy over.... when I looked at the disk from Aari ST it appeared empty.  So I switched off the HDD and rebooted and would you believe it, the game actually boots up and is playable!

I couldn't resist and I tried it with XEVIOUS as well - ah, now THAT took me back to the big arcade game that we had of this... not quite the best re-creation, but it was okay for a 10minute blast!

...and whilst I was there, is that Mr.Do!  No....surely not... well, I was too correct there, it wasn't the Mr.Do! from the arcade, but again a close clone.... this was still proving that the mechanism was working though.

It was a bit hit & miss though when copying to the UltraSATAN HDD, some would work fine, some would not.  Oddly some would run absolutely fine when just booted from A: drive - and that is what eventually happened with The Secret of Monkey Island!  It was in English too, I was sooooo excited, until... well, until.... it then got to the screen where I could play... and the mouse target icon just stayed in the top left hand side of the screen.  I thought maybe it was my new USB mouse, so I swapped it over for the old proper mouse - no difference.  I found an old QuickShot Pro (autofire) joystick, plugged that in - it had a fault (left didn't work), I found another one! the back of the cupboard that just keeps giving!  I have no idea when I got these, I think they were in a bundle with some other stuff about 10years ago - anyway, the new joystick works fine - except Monkey Island controls still don't work - nothing I could do would force it to use the arrow keys either..... SO CLOSE!

As you can see, I distracted myself with getting a few other games copied over, just to test the process - it now takes about 6 minutes to do this task and it is soooo simple now.  I may eventually end up transferring over all 1.8GB, who knows?!

Ah, ha! Then I found a folder named HD_GAMES - looks like these one's were specifically modified to run from the HDD, they are not .st files, but the actual files - so after a few disks worth of copying over manually, some of them worked a treat.  There are a few, like DragonsLair that have 900Kb files in them - not sure how I get them over using a DD disk?  I'm thinking they will only run on the later machines with a 1.44MB disk drive.

anyway - PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE, if only a small amount.  I'm still no closer to Monkey Island - and there is no way I am paying the prices on eBay to be able to play a 1990s game!  Yes, you read that right... absolutely SILLY money and this isn't just, "let's stick it up at silly price just to show off", these actually sell.  It is really annoying as I know for a fact I had the original of this game on Atari ST & PC as I was playing them at around the 1991 time of my life when both Atari ST & my first 286/286 machines were overlapping.  I still have my original copy of Day of the Tentacle for the PC - I installed it onto the Elonex, still runs fine!

anyway, another long-ish night, another minor success.... maybe I'll actually start writing some code on these things and do something useful?....