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Exult for the GCW Zero

Good Old Games had the whole Ultima VII Collection on sale for the holidays dirt cheap this past week. I ended up picking it up with an eye towards getting it running Exult on the GCW-Zero (Exult being a free software implementation of the game engine, and the GCW-Zero being a handheld shipping an almost entirely free software stack. )

I had some problems wrangling the libraries in the GCW SDK. However, with a minimum of trouble I was able to get it running. The biggest problem was getting a configuration file together for the GCW’s resolution, as Exult tends not to expect it’s host environment’s resolution to come close to the original. It fought me a little bit to turn off the scalers.

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Posted by trashHeap on Thu, 19 Dec 2013

On the State of Instant Messaging.

Instant messaging is in a bizarrely fractured state right now and what strikes me as odd about it, is that on the whole people are happy with it.

The Past

I started being active on the Internet in a serious capacity around ‘96 or ‘97, at the time the vast majority of folks I encountered were on ICQ or AOL Instant Messenger. These protocols were by and large closed and proprietary (That is somewhat of an over simplification of AIM’s history considering the nature of the OSCAR vs TOC protocols, but that can be tabled for our purposes.) Half my friends were on one, half my friends were on the other.

Needless to say toggling back and forth between both clients was a bit of a nuisance, when Yahoo Messenger arrived on the scene in ‘98 and MSN Messenger arrived in ‘99 I merrily ignored their existence not wanting more balls to juggle.

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Posted by trashHeap on Fri, 22 Nov 2013

YouTube Subscriptions Sans a Google Account

One of the toughest things to nail when thinking about deleting my google account was what to do about my YouTube subscriptions. I may have some beef with with google, but YouTube is frankly a damn fine product.

One does not need an account to view YouTube videos, but one is left to one’s own devices for finding out if or when any particular channel updates.

Luckily the Internet has a prescribed mechanism for subscribing to and updating feeds with information in them via RSS. It also just so happens that Google internally uses RSS feeds for all Youtube channels. They do not advertise what these RSS feeds are, typically. They do however, follow predictable patterns.

I am likely not the first person to do this, but largely because I didn’t want to do it by hand (and partly because I thought it would be a good exercise) I wrote a small command line utility to parse URLs from YouTube and output RSS feeds. It can operate in an optional batch mode reading URLs from a text file, and outputting a OPML file for a RSS reader.

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Posted by trashHeap on Mon, 4 Nov 2013

On Google and Facebook

During the last three weeks the following things have happened:

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Posted by trashHeap on Sat, 2 Nov 2013

Installing/compiling pidgin-opensteamworks on Debian Wheezy.

pidgin-opensteamworks is a plugin for the Pidgin instant messenger allowing it to connect to Valve’s Steam service. (Actually it should work with anything using libpurple, so any telepathy client w/ telepathy-haze can likely make use of it as well.)

However it is currently unpackaged in Debian and worse, its makefile is crap. I ran across a dozen posts at various blogs and associated comments which were all generating noise on how to massage the Makefile into a working state for their respective distributions. None of which really worked for me.

I discovered it was packaged in an Ubuntu PPA but it had a dependency on a version of libc which was newer than what Wheezy ships. However I was able to extract a makefile from the source package, apply it to the SVN code and got it to compile relatively cleanly.

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Posted by trashHeap on Wed, 23 Oct 2013