Play classic Atari 2600 games on your Moto Q

Tetris for Atari 2600

Yep, if you have been dying to play those games on your smartphone, well, now you can.  PocketStella is a Windows Mobile version of the classic Stella 2600 emulator.  You can download it here.  Installation is easy: Download the zip file and unzip to a temp directory.  On your device, create a ‘PocketStella’ directory and copy the executable file to that directory on your device.  Next, in the PocketStella directory, create a directory called ‘ROMS’ and copy whatever games you might have there.  Then, on the device, run  the PocketStella program.  You’ll get a menu listing all of your games.  New in this version is an option to rotate the display so you can view the game comfortably.  It supports most screen sizes.  On the Moto Q, the up/down/left/right is backward.  Changinstellamotoq g the assignments in the options seems to have little effect.  I suspect it is a bug or I’m just stupid and am doing something wrong…very likely.  Of course, I have to say that downloading and copying commercial ROM images is, in most cases, illegal.  There are, however, a number of free and legal games you can download and play.  Among them, the excellent Tetris2600 homebrew.  You can  go to AtariAge.com and discover a wealth of NEW and very good Atari 2600 games that you can download for free or a small fee.  There is a large and very active Atari 2600 homebrew community.  The quality of those games is excellent and, in fact, several were included in the Atari Flashback 2.0 game console that Atari sold a couple of years ago.  The Flashback was a ‘real’ 2600 and can be hacked into a cartridge based console. 

You can go here for a list of currently available NEW homebrew games on Atari Age.

PocketStella is but one emulator for WinMo.  There’s an Intellivision emulator, though I’ve had problems with it and there’s a number of dedicated game emulators.  Emulation can be a great way to experience these wonderful (and not so wonderful) games of our youth.

More Moto Q Home Screen madness

 

Ekopapers has some really nice home screens.  I decided to change mine again since I’ve stuck with the same one for weeks now.  Time for a change.  The one I picked has a Vista flair, of course.wm7facadepreview It requires FACADE.  This site has lots of cool wallpapers, home screens and color schemes. Looks like it is all free, too.  

I’ve also been playing around with making some of my own, but get bogged down in details that I just do not have time to master right now.  There are tons of things you can do, especially with something like Facade installed.  I’m toying with writing some kind of designer that can incorporate Facade’s settings, but, again, time is a problem.  Anyway, check out this site.

Some Apple love…from 1976

LetterToAPPLEDDJ76-1 Since I’ve not been overly kind to Apple for  the last few posts, I thought I’d show Apple some love and share a letter to DDJ that I found from 1976.  In the letter, a reader shares his story of purchasing ‘an Apple computer’ that developed a problem.  He wrote Steve Jobs (yes, he was very accessible then) and explained his problem.  The reader got his computer back within two weeks, fully repaired and functioning.  According to the reader, he also got an explanation from Steve Jobs about an error that Steve found in a program written by the reader.  It is an interesting letter and speaks volumes about the level of service of the then small Apple Computer Company.  It is fairly indicative of the lovefest that Apple will enjoy later in it’s life.  This reader’s experience is a far cry from this one.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

PWN TO OWN – Last day, Vista falls

On the third and final day of the CanSecWest’s ‘PWN TO OWN’ competition, contestants were allowed to install third party applications.  This time, Adobe Flash was installed on the Vista SP1 laptop.  It took seven and a half hours, but Shane McCauley was able to hack the Vista laptop. He wins $5,000 and the Fujitsu laptop that he hacked.  Spin time:  As with the Macbook, the operating system itself was not hacked.  In this case, it was a zero day flaw in Flash from Adobe that allowed access.  Again, as with the Apple, the appropriate parties have been notified of the breach.  That it took much longer to breach is certainly a bit of good news both for Adobe and Microsoft.  Let’s hope Adobe will plug the hole before the genie escapes.

I’m sure, too, that the Linux contingent will strut around, pointing to Windows and Mac OS X and say how insecure they are and how everyone needs to switch to Linux.  Baloney.  The thing is, none of the three operating systems are really any better than the other.  Sure, we have our favorite and we all like to ping the others.  I, personally, love to tweak my Mac friends. They are so naive.  But, the one’s who can be even more smug are the true Linux faithful.  Anything other than a command line and some two hundred character, cryptic command line is just for kids and newbs.  I digress.  I think the bigger reason we do not see many Linux exploits is because of the open nature of the operating system and the speed with which changes can be placed into production, so to speak.  The reality, though, is that even though such changes can be made public very quickly, corporations using the operating system still work the same, no matter where the software comes from.  Changes need to be tested and confirmed and not cause more problems than they solve.  So, in this case, it is no different than Microsoft or Apple-if they had a significant business presence, that is. 

That Vista was hacked is disturbing, but not surprising.  Microsoft has spent a great deal of time beefing up Windows.  I’d be curious to know if the exploit generated a UAC dialog box. Or, perhaps, if it would have pre-SP1.  One of the changes Microsoft made to SP1 is a reduction of UAC prompts. It would be interesting to know if the exploit would have generated one before but does not now.  A definite step back, it it would have.  Personally, I don’t mind the UAC prompts.  I also find it funny that when the latest Ubuntu major release came out, it prompted me the same way that Vista had, but somehow, that was acceptable in Ubuntu and not in Vista.  Funny how that works.

Please read the article about the last day of the contest.

Safari on a Macbook…hacked

There was this ‘conference’, see, called CanSecWest.  During this conference, there was a hacking contest, see, called ‘PWN2OWN’.  The first person to hack one of three devices, won the device.  There was a Macbook Air, a Linux machine and a Vista machine.  The first day of the competition was uneventful and none of the machines were ‘PWND’.  Man, I really hate ‘leet speak’.  It is the dumbest thing. Anyway, on the second day, rules were ‘relaxed’ , allowing email and browser exploits and other such things.  This is where it got interesting.  Three guys, Charlie Miller, Jake Honoroff and Mark Daniel got a zero day exploit to work on the Macbook Air…specifically, the Safari browser running on the Macbook Air.  Now, at first glance-and as a Vista user-I would be inclined to think ‘well, they finally got theirs.’  However, when you examine it more closely, it is just is not all that significant.  Presumably, the exploit COULD work on any browser.  However, the ‘hack’ itself, not all that.  Yeah, it allowed control over the machine.  No, the significant thing about this is the SPIN put out by the press and some of the Macnation.  The spin included things like ‘Apple will quickly patch this’ (maybe, but it has taken them, historically, months and months to patch things, often longer than Microsoft has been accused of taking) to things like ‘well, Mac users are smarter and would not click on such links.’  Oh, man.  That one really got me.  I’ve been listening to a variety of Mac oriented podcast’s for a long time now and the thing that I’ve learned is that…yes, they will click away.  They are, mostly, so confident in the Mac OS that they do not worry about things like virus’ and vulnerabilities.  They should.  While a Mac OS virus is far less likely, those vulnerabilities are there. Now.  And with Apple marketshare on the rise, you can bet that more will be targeted right at Apple products.  I suspect the iPhone will be the first to really be hit hard.  At least, Safari.  Many, if not most, Mac users are a very smug group when it comes to the computer.  I do not mean that in a disrespectful manner either.  I mean that when it comes to things computer wise, they feel a superiority over all non-Apple products.  An application that exists for both Windows and Mac will only be good on a Mac.  Microsoft cannot do the Mac justice.  If it is from Apple, it has to be great because they pay attention to detail. And so on.  Smug.

Now, I don’t want to get into a mine is better than yours argument.  However, the most interesting aspect of the competition was that, at the end of the day, the Vista laptop and the Linux laptop weathered the storm.  Neither of them were hacked.  It took two minutes to bring Safari down.  TWO MINUTES.  So much for IE 7 being so insecure.

You can check out an article here for more.

Thanks for the memories, Doctor Dobbs’

DDJ Cover 001 Recently, I was rummaging through some junk and found a stack of old Dr Dobbs’ Journals from 1976 and 1977.  As I glanced through the magazines, lots of good memories sprang up.  That was an exciting time for me. I was getting to know my Dad-who for various reasons-had not been in my life much before then.  He was an engineer and what was called a ‘hobbyist’, though we would now just call him a geek.  My Dad was a tall man-well over six feet-and lanky and fit the modern definition of ‘geek’ nicely.  He was very smart, but not very successful.  He had many health issues and always seemed to have the worst luck.  He was an engineer at several local television stations and, eventually, a local paging equipment manufacturer (a place I worked as well, until I was laid off.)  1977 was an especially momentous year.  We got a VHS tape machine, I got a video game (the 1972 Magnavox Odyssey I-already obsolete,) Star Wars was released, and…most importantly…I attended my first ‘hamfest.’  For those who do not know, a hamfest is a swap meet/yard sale for ‘hobbyists’, ham radio operators and anyone selling junk.  Oh man, this one was in Manassas, Virginia and was big.  I saw many things that I had never seen before.  Computers that could draw pictures.  Amazing.  Mind you, my experience with computers at the time, consisted of an Intel 8008 based thing that we had to toggle switches on it’s front panel just to get it to start up.  It had like 512 BYTES of memory.  I think we could play NIM or something on it.  After that hamfest, though, my Dad built up another computer that connected to a video screen and had four or eight times the memory and–I could program it.  I think this computer had either an 8080 or a Signetics 2650 CPU. I don’t remember which.  He eventually built several computers using both of those processors.  The 2650 was an oddball processor.  I think it was a quasi 16bit CPU.  My memory fails me here.  Anyway, that new computer he built had something called ‘tiny basic’.  Tiny Basic was a subset of Basic designed to fit and work in under 2k of RAM. Dr Dobbs”s Journal was the main backer of the tiny basic movement.  My Dad subscribed to this magazine and we both eagerly awaited each copy.  Of course, he got it first and took what seemed like an eternity to read it.  I’d scour that magazine from cover to cover, soaking up all I could.  I learned about so many things just from that magazine and bonded with Dad by being able to talk about what he was doing, even though I understood little.  DDJ, along with Byte Magazine helped build my relationship with my Dad. Sure, the amusement park trips, movie trips and vacations all helped, but those two magazines did more than anything else.  By being able to talk on his ‘level’, we could carry on for hours.  I got to play with the toys he built and would stay up way past my bed time trying to figure out that thing called a computer. The two of us figured it out.  It took us thirty years and dozens of computers to do so, but we did.  Along the way, he remarried-twice.  I graduated, went to work, began a career in programming, got married and had a child.  My father passed away a couple of years ago due to one of those health problems.  These magazines are a gold mine of memories that I’ll treasure for a long time. 

 

DDJ is still around:  DDJ Portal

Alas, Byte is no more.

Picasa 2

So I have this nice camera and am still learning how to use the bloody thing.  However, I’ve been taking photos with a digital camera of some kind for almost nine years now.  Organizing all of those photos has never been a collage5priority, until now.  I’d like to have all the photos of my son’s early years in one album/forum/folder/whatever, Kings Dominion photos in another, etc.  I’d also like to be able to sort them on year, category, camera used, etc.  However, as you know, I am a cheapskate.  I don’t want to pay a lot of money for this since it is not something I INTEND to use a lot.  Recently, as you can see from the collage photos I’ve show, I re-discovered Google’s Picasa.  PitimelinePicasacasa does a rudimentary database system whereby you can tag your photos and it will sort them accordingly.  Sounds much like Windows Photo Gallery.  Photo Gallery is pretty good and serves most of my needs.  So much so, in fact, that it is my primary tool.  However, Picasa does a few things that Photo Gallery does not.  Those collages, for one. It also has a rudimentary but functional photo enhancement tool, special effects, etc.  You can order books from Picasa and upload photos to several photo sites, including Picasa’s own service.  However, the one cool thing that Picasa does is this whirly graphical search, sort of like Coverflow, but predating Coverflow by several  years.  You can view slideshows, create DVD’s, etc.  Picasa is great and FREE tool. 

However, it is not the one great tool I am looking for to replace Live Photo Gallery and other similar software that I use.  Any suggestions?  Please remember I am cheap and Windows only (not that those go hand and hand…I’d be a cheap Apple fan too.)