fuzzy notepad

Tagged: gadgets

[blog] ZDoom on a Wii U GamePad with a Raspberry Pi

Well. That was the idea, anyway. SPOILERS: It didn’t work.

Vladimir Costescu has upped the ante and bought a day of my time this month, requesting:

It would be cool to read about you tinkering with a Raspberry Pi or similar cheap device and trying to get it to do cool stuff (where “cool stuff” is left up to your discretion).

Well it just so happens that I already have a Raspberry Pi. I got it at PyCon US, I think three years ago, when they gave every single attendee a Pi for free. I thought it was super duper cool and I spent a whole afternoon tinkering in their Raspberry Pi lab and then I came home and put it in a drawer forever because I had no idea what to use it for.

At first I thought it would be cool to rig something that would download a random wad from idgames (like vectorpoem‘s WADINFO.TXT) and just launch it and let you play it. A teeny tiny portable Doom box.

Then I realized you’d still need a mouse and keyboard (well, at least a keyboard) to actually play, which is a little bit more cumbersome and detracts from the portability a bit.

But I remembered hearing about a Linux-only project that had managed to interface with the Wii U GamePad. Run ZDoom on a light wireless controller with gyros and everything? That sounds awesome.

So off I went.

[blog] I bought a new laptop

Wow, where the hell have I been.

That whole “dying cat” thing ruined most of my April, and I spent most of May dealing with various other life crises, and then June scrambling to catch up. I’ve started and abandoned maybe half a dozen posts in that time that I will totally maybe finish someday. In the meantime, here’s something aimless and specific to me about how I bought a thing. Par for the course, then.

[blog] P.A.D.D.

Screenshot of a P.A.D.D. from Star Trek

Hey, remember these things?

This was the future, man. A gadget that displays anything in the universe you want to know, at your fingertips. One of the coolest things in Star Trek. “Hey, Bob, you have those simulation results?” “Yeah, right here—on my magical tiny touch computer.” And nerds everywhere cheered; paper was for norms, man.

Now we actually have these devices: smartphones, tablets with their own custom-tailored OSes, ebook readers. But what are we using them for?

Ebook readers actually get a pass here; I expect them to do exactly one thing, and anything else is just noise. I know Sony and Barnes & Noble are embroiled in an arms race over this, but the results on both sides are worse at the one thing I want an ebook reader to do. (The Nook Color has an LCD screen. Why would you do this?) I do welcome the merger of tablets and readers, should the screens somehow become as easy on the eyes as e-ink.

But a significant chunk of smartphone applications are just “Our Website: The App”, built by developers who forget that every phone platform has a fully-featured Web browser on it. Many of the rest are desktop applications jammed into the alien form factor and made worse—either in UI or functionality—by the transition. Tablets aren’t much better off; last I heard, many tablet applications were those same shrunken-down smartphone applications, scaled back up again.

Look at the top Android apps and this Time list of alleged top iPhone apps. YouTube, a website. Gmail, a website-slash-email-app. Twitter, a website. Best Buy? Cut the Rope?

Smartphones are incredible pieces of hardware, and by all appearances, we’re barely using them for anything. Crappy versions of desktop software, crappy versions of websites, and perhaps an MP3 player so we have one more free pocket each. This is a sad state of affairs.