A Video Celebration of the Commodore 64

My first computer and game console was the Commodore 64. I still remember those halcyon days with the hulking keyboard/computer assembly connected to the back of the beautiful wooden console television we got as a hand-me-down when my grandparents upgraded theirs to a new Curtis Mathes from the company store in Austell. I can close my eyes and instantly be transported back to the late-1980s, sitting crosslegged in the living room floor, turning the television dial to channel 3 with a satisfying “kaCHUNK” giving way to the unbearable roar of analog snow. With a flip of the switch from “TV” to “GAME” on the small black box dangling from the antenna connection, the snow gave way to the low hum that an old CRT emits when forced to display a static image–the one that changes pitch slightly depending on the color displayed. I had Frogger on cassette tape and it took what seemed–to a child, anyway–to be hours to load, but it was all worth it when I finally managed to beat the preset high score!

The Commodore 64 taught me more about electronics than any single device and begat a lifelong affinity for computers, games, programming, production, and tinkering that persists to this day. Without the Commodore 64, I may never have desired a world beyond Cobb County, Georgia. The gentleman in the video–microcomputing heavyweight Jim Butterfield who, let’s face it, is nearly comical in his blasé approach to the presentation (“It’s a pretty good computer”)–walks us through the entire setup and use of the C64 in a 2-hour-long celebration of the classic machine.

Commodore 64 User's Guide. It's a very important book. You'll need it. Don't throw it away.“In here we have the Commodore 64 User’s Guide; that’s a very useful book. You’ll need that. Don’t throw it away.”

Jim Butterfield

Yes, sir, Mr. Butterfield. Yes, sir.

How To Build a Digital Photo Frame From a Raspberry Pi (Preliminary/Scope of Work)

I’ve had a first-generation Raspberry Pi B+ sitting around the house for quite a while now, and I’ve been wanting to build a few projects with it, but I simply haven’t settled on anything interesting until now. One project that I’ve had mulling around in my head for a while has been an internet-connected digital photo frame that a group of authorized users could add photos to remotely. Building a digital photo frame from a Raspberry Pi seemed like a nice project to combine software, hardware, and some light woodworking into a handsome package that I could eventually gift to someone.

With the gift strategy in mind, I’m going to be building this project as a plug-and-play device that I could “set and forget” in my Granny’s house, allow the rest of the family to drop photos into a shared folder, automatically update, and turn on and off at specified times. Taking into account Granny’s flowery language, I’m going to dub this Project Spoofy.

Project Spoofy (Digital Photo Frame From A Raspberry Pi) Workflow:

Set up Raspberry Pi

Set up cloud photo repository

Access cloud photo repository with DDNS/Port forwarding

Set up slideshow

Automatically login

Automatically run DDNS client and slideshow on boot

Automatically reboot system at set time to update slideshow

Power both the monitor and Raspberry Pi from single power supply input.

Automatically power on and off system

Replace default Apache information page with custom landing page

Build frame to house monitor and Raspberry Pi assembly

Naturally, we will need a few parts and supplies as the project goes on, but to start we’ll simply need a Raspberry Pi (with power supply), HDMI monitor and cable, and a keyboard and mouse. Since I’m using an early-generation RPi, I’ll also use a WiFi dongle to connect to the local wireless network.

This isn’t my first foray into the Raspberry Pi, but this will be my first full-on project with a tangible outcome. I’ve tinkered with an RPi-powered XBMC box (which couldn’t run 1080p video, so it was shitcanned) and played some with developing the RPi as a viable lightweight workstation terminal to varying levels of success. Naturally, like everything else in this blog, it’s a learning experience and a work in progress, so stay tuned as I develop and deploy the project!

Getting Started With Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is proving to be quite an interesting–and capable–little device. It’s a small system-on-a-chip (SoC) board with USB, GPIO, and HDMI interfaces that provides computing power roughly equivalent to a low-end smartphone in an open format for $35. Granted, the “real” price of an RPi depends on what you’re planning to do with it, but will definitely include an SD card (6GB or bigger, depending on your chosen OS flavor) and will often include a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and power supply. Sometimes you can scrounge around the workshop for these parts, but you may need to purchase them. There are a number of outfitters that market “starter kits” with common parts at various price points, so just know that getting started with Raspberry Pi might cost slightly more than the $35 core price tag.

The next thing that you’re going to need to know is how to use Linux. Don’t mess around with that Windows 10 IoT nonsense. Everyone who is anyone who is worth their salt is going to be developing in FOSS (Free/Open-Source Software) because that’s how and why the RPi was made. Besides, putting Windows 10 on RPi requires that you install Windows 10 on your desktop, and I wouldn’t entirely recommend that. Don’t worry if you’ve never used Linux, it’s all part of the fun! The Raspberry Pi was developed as an educational tool to help people learn how to better interact with sophisticated computer systems–how to read new languages and write in code. There are lots of resources online that can get you familiar with the basics, including an entire section of this very website.

Getting Started With Raspberry Pi

Once you’re ready to begin working with the Pi, you’re going to need an operating system. This–if you didn’t know–is the set of instructions that tell the computer how to process information and how to behave under certain general conditions. By default, Raspberry Pi uses Raspbian, a specially-designed version of the Debian Linux distro. You could use Ubuntu Mate, OpenELEC, but I like the “official” support that comes from Raspbian, and it’s what I’ll be using for most of my projects.

Download the NOOBS installer from the Raspberry Pi Foundation and unzip it to a convenient location on your main computer. Stock NOOBS comes with Raspbian and WiFi support by default while NOOBS Lite will require a hardline connection to the internet to download your OS of choice.

Download the SD Card Formatter from the SD Association and install it according to their instructions. Insert your SD card into your card reader and format it with the application.

Copy the extracted contents of the NOOBS zip file to the formatted SD card, eject it, and insert the card into the slot on the Raspberry Pi.

Make sure that your Raspberry Pi has keyboard, mouse, and monitor plugged in, then plug the USB power cable into the Raspberry Pi. The device will boot into the NOOBS installer and allow you to choose your operating system. Select “Raspbian” from the list and click “Install”. The process may take a few minutes, so fix a cuppa tea and have a sit. When installation is finished, the configuration menu will appear. Make the appropriate adjustments to settings, then click the “Finish” button.

If you are dumped out to a text screen asking for login information, the default user is “pi” (always lower-case user names in Linux) and the password is “raspberry”. You can always change these credentials later. If you prefer to play with the graphical user interface, type startx and hit enter/return.

In a World of Self-Driving Cars, We’ll Still Need the Miata

I’ve had a 2001 MX-5 as my daily driver for nearly 10 years now, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world! She and I have been through a lot, and we’ve helped each other limp along sometimes. We’ve driven across the continent together, and as much work as I’ve poured into her, she’s helped me put my own life on track. She’s responsive, nimble, and a pure joy to drive. Yes, I know she’s got a reputation as an under-powered “girls’ car”, but she’s my under-powered “girls’ car”; and I’ll have more fun with her rear-wheel-drive, racing-inspired suspension, and 5-speed 4-banger on and off the track than you will with any of that nostalgically-overpriced Detroit go-in-a-straight-line-as-fast-as-possible-on-11-miles-per-gallon muscle. Don’t get me wrong: I like and I respect classic muscle for what it was, and I still enjoy the thrill of burning a quarter-mile in under 15 seconds, but I love my roadster.

Basically, to all the Miata-haters out there: Go fuck yourselves.

What will you do when driving becomes a pastime instead of a necessity?

Source: In a World of Self-Driving Cars, We’ll Still Need the Miata | WIRED

AT&T: “We clearly have competitive prices” (circa 1988)

Remember when you had to pay for long-distance telephone service?

One of AT&T’s “The Right Choice” series of advertisements from the mid-late 1980s. This one features then-director of market management Nina Aversano explaining why AT&T is the best market choice for long-distance telephone service in the deregulation era.