The Null Device
Atari 2600 retro fan site Stick It In The Slot has a list of the best games you never heard of, with the stories and full-colour screenshots of rarities like Peabo Bryson's Cow Tipper, Kramer vs. Kramer, Mrs. Paul's Fish Stick Hunter and not one but two games named Space Cobbler.
First there was the C-One, the Commodore 64 of the future, and now some hackers are using FPGA chips (i.e., dynamically reconfigurable hardware) to reimplement old arcade game boards, all on a chip; just supply the ROMs. The FPGA designs apparently even have extra "code" to convert the arcade-video-monitor signals to VGA, for those who don't have one of those big glass bottles sitting around. (via Slashdot)
(This is cool, not just because of the hipness of the the retro-video-game thing; the fact that you can make a small FPGA chip emulate any digital circuit, from a Pac-Man board to a Commodore 64 with an IDE interface bolted onto it, all by downloading the right information into it, is very cool. Now you have hackers creating open-source "hardware" components for FPGAs; i.e., code which, when integrated into a project, makes a complete 6502 core or USB interface or whatever, and others bolting them together to make all sorts of highly miniaturised gadgets. Unfortunately, FPGAs seem to only work for digital circuits, so something like a purely analogue open-source TB-303 core (suitable for embedding into mobile phones, childrens' toys and other gizmos) would not be possible.)
This afternoon, I made my way down to the Fitzroy swimming pool. Why, you ask? No, not to do a few invigorating laps of the pool, nor because of any sort of aesthetic liking of the smell of chlorine and the sounds of children running around and splashing, but because today was Rockpool, the annual daytime-concert-at-the-pool event. No major international artists, but local acts (like B(if)tek and Architecture in Helsinki) came along to give something back to the community.
In particular, I showed up just in time to see the Ninetynine set; the first one of the year, I believe, and the first time I had seen them since London. The sounds wasn't ideal, but the energy was there and it rocked. (Incidentally, they seemed to rely on a MiniDisc for a lot of the rhythm loops; perhaps they're running out of Casiotone keyboards or something?) They did a new song, with Amy singing; it sounded a little New Orderesque, at least to my ears. (Occasionally I wonder just how much they were influenced by New Order/Joy Division; that and the guitarwork on Woekenender and Laura's lyrics sounding just a tad Barneyesque in places.) Anyway, they rocked.
The audience was full of pale indie types who don't usually go in the sun; some were looking a tad awkward in bathing costumes, others came wearing band T-shirts and shorts and such. (I was the guy in the Gentle Waves T-shirt and brown cords, looking rather out of place in the sun.)