2007.9.3

In the fall of 2004 I finished rewriting the SPC700 emulator in SNESAPU, and then any work on personal projects pretty much ended at that point.  I think after five years of dedicated emulation programming I just got tired of it.  Every few months a spark of interest has appeared then faded.  But last month I suddenly gained a big appetite for programming.   I started putting in extra hours at work, but it wasn't enough.  I'd come home and go to bed thinking about templates and algorithms and all manner of concepts that my wife calls nerdy.

So once again I'm staying up far later than I should working on projects that should be put to rest.  Long ago I planned on releasing a Windows version of SPCTool.  I have a version that's mostly working, but it's buggy.  I've peered at the code, wondering if I should dare to resurrect it, and I've decided to leave it as is.  If I tried to work on it now I don't think I'd be able to resist the urge to rewrite the whole sloppy mess.  I've had a hard enough time lately not thinking about how I could rewrite SNESAPU to make it better and easier to use.  No, time to move on.

Since I won't be working on SPCTool, I chose instead to rewrite SPCRen and make it work like the renaming ability SPCTool has.  I've also finally gotten SNESamp to a releasable state.  Both programs are in the download area as usual.

Early this year I suffered a hard drive crash.  This is the first time I've had a full on crash, where the drive just died.  In the past I've been able to mostly recover from a crash, but not this time.  Fortunately I had placed most of my source code in a CVS repository and was able to get that back.  However, the language packs for SNESamp were lost.  If anybody is up to the task, the SNESamp dialogs need to be retranslated.

2006.1.16

Getting married seems to have a direct impact on the amount of time one spends at the computer.

I posted an update to Riffed.  I fixed an annoying bug well over a year ago, and now am getting around to actually uploading the new version.  A poor turnaround on my part, yes, but when software is free you get everything you pay for. :P

I also posted another program I wrote sometime back that I find useful.  It's used for converting numbers between various forms, and works a little better than the Windows calculator.


2004.8.26

I was asked to add Super Magic Drive support to SWCUtil.  I don't have an SMD, but the interface is similar to the SWC, and since I'm bored I decided to comply.  I can't guarantee it works, but if you have an SMD and would like to test it out you can find a copy of the new RBDUtil in the download section.

2004.7.30

I know this place has been pretty quiet.  Truth be told, I've been spending more time with my girlfriend than working on personal projects.  However, the complaints falling on my ears have been unrelenting, and in an effort to quell them I've fired up the old workstation to produce, what I hope is, a viable solution to SNESAmp dialogs not appearing with the new Winamp 5.  This problem arises because the Modern Skin creates a new main window to replace the old one, but Winamp continues to let SNESAmp think that the old window is still in charge.

May all of your dialogs appear shiny, new, and in full view with this build.

Update:  A couple of bugs crept into SNESAmp at the last minute (and I should expect as much when I program until the sun begins to rise.)  If SNESAmp 3.2 was crashing on you, try downloading it again.

2004.1.26
Five years ago today I released SPCTool v0.5, my first attempt at writing an emulator.  It was a project born of boredom while I was between jobs in the summer of '98.  At the time I didn't think it would lead me to invest thousands of dollars in electronic equipment, that it would spark a video game music archive, or that it would get me my next job.  Neither did I think that emulation would get as close to the original hardware as it has.

SNESAmp 3.1 is out.  This version contains many improvements to the DSP emulation.  The ADPCM decompression, gaussian interpolation, mixing, and echo FIR filtering now work as they do in the Super NES hardware.  The syncronization between the DSP and SPC700 has improved to provide more consistent timing between KON writes.  I've also, hopefully, defeated any issues with the Winamp 5 Modern skin.

2003.8.4
Anybody who knows me knows that I like to customize things.  Whether I'm upgrading components in my car, running wires through the internal structure of my house, or improving my keyboard layout, I'm always looking for ways to adjust my surroundings to fit my personality or to make my life easier.  And this is no less true for video game consoles.

I like to modify gaming consoles.  Change their color and add features that weren't there before.  Surprisingly, people have given me looks of shock and stepped back into a defensive stance when I throw out the idea of customizing their beloved console.  Mind you these same people are ever so willing to open their $1500 computer and swap out a $300 video card, but take a soldering iron to their $150 GameCube?  Perish the thought!

Anyway, many months ago I was reading in the Atari Labs forums about how to modify the component cable for the GameCube so it will output an RGB signal suitable for use with a VGA monitor.  The thread then moved into a discussion about adding an S/PDIF out (since the engineers at Nintendo obviously forgot that one little detail.)  I figured if an S/PDIF out could be added to the GameCube, then one could certainly be added to the Super NES.

I withdrew myself to the corner of the room where I work all manner of electrical evil, and I began poking around the sacred innards of that little gray box that's brought me so much joy throughout the years.  After sufficiently violating the poor console, I returned victorious in my surgical efforts and sloppily threw together an HTML file documenting my adventure.

If you can't part with your long time SNES friend, but wish it were more compatible with your modern home theater system, you can find the said document in the Information area.  (That's the comic balloon icon with the 'i' in it.)

2003.8.1
The heat's been killing me lately.  I find thinking (and thus programming because it requires thinking) to be difficult when I feel like I'm melting in my chair.  I have managed to get some fixes into SNESAmp and finally post a Spanish translation.

The alpha-ii.com web site and its subsidiaries will be moving to a new server this week.  This doesn't affect you, per se, but it is something notable I can post here in the news section.

2003.7.4
Just a quick update.  I'm currently on vacation and don't have any decent 'net access, so I'm writing this on an Xbox running Linux.  Whatever works, eh?  Anyway, SNESAmp 3.04 is up, along with a Chinese translation.

2003.6.17
Hmm, yes.  Another build of SNESAmp is up.  This build contains what I like to classify as a work-around.  Not necessarily a bug fix, because I don't consider it my bug.  Well, I guess it could be my bug.  Nullsoft's documentation on plug-in development is sparse at best, and the proper way to interface with the rest of the Winamp system isn't always intuitive.  If you're using the waveOut plug-in distributed with Winamp 2.91 and you have the volume control enabled, changing the balance while playing an SPC results in your sound card's volume jumping to 100 percent.  SNESAmp 3.03a eliminates this adverse behaviour.

2003.5.22
SNESAmp v3.03 is now posted.  This is becoming routine, and I really hope this is the end of that routine.  It's causing me to lose confidence in myself as a competent programmer.  Even though all of the bug fixes have been minor, usually only one line of code needed to be changed, a bug is still a bug and just as annoying as all the others.

2003.5.18
I returned from E3 to find many e-mails in my mailbox reporting that the 64th song in RSN files won't play.  This has been fixed, and a new build of SNESAmp v3.02 will be posted today or tomorrow.

E3 was enjoyable.  With no new consoles being released there wasn't anything super exciting to see.  Just a lot of games.  That's not necessarily bad a thing.  This year developers have a firm grasp on the hardware and game quality is up significantly.  Here's a quick relation of my experience.

Day 1:  Scope out the territory, find everything cool, build an action plan

After hitting Nintendo and Sony we padded our way to the back of the West Hall.  We stopped by Bioware to see if we could get a glimpse of the Neverwinter Night expansion due shortly for release.  Unfortunately this, like many of the highly secretive works of magic produced for E3, was guarded from peasants like us and reserved for the higher nobles of the media.  Tycho and Gabe were there, sitting on the floor, waiting for their turn to get inside.  I'm not sure what this had to do with us, but the bouncer at the door said when the Penny Arcade guys came in we could come too.  So we got to see what's new in Neverwinter Nights and picked up some cool Bioware posters on the way out.  We weren't offered a sandwich, though.

Day 2:  Follow the action plan and play as many games as possible

I haven't finished playing all the games I purchased last year, and already there are many more ready to find their way into my house.  One of the best is Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.  It's like a four player version of Secret of Mana, but each player plays the game with a GBA so you can use items and change spells without having to pop up annoying menus on the main screen.  This game has me excited, and I already have the GCN and the GBA's--uh... er, I guess I'd also need friends in order play this one.  Now I'm feeling depressed, like someone told me Starfox Adventures was going to be released on the Xbox.  *sigh*  At least games like Jak 2, Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, and Megaman X7 only require one player.

After E3 we headed on up to Hollywood to see the Matrix Reloaded.  I went in with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised when I came out.  People who don't like this movie either didn't like the first one (how that's possible escapes my level of understanding) or they were expecting to go on the same ride they took with the first movie (which you won't because this isn't the same movie).

I've also seen much debate on which is better, Reloaded or X2.  This argument carries no weight with me because in the part of the world where I live people are allowed to see more than one movie a year.  I'll see both movies, I'll enjoy both movies, and I won't compare them because there's nothing to compare.

Day 3:  Collect swag

...that was the plan anyway.  This year Nintendo wasn't giving out GBA's.  (Curse them!  I only needed one more.)  Instead they were only giving out GBA SP cases, which would be cool if I had a GBA SP.  (I did manage to get one of the cases, if you were wondering.)  Many of the lines at other booths had grown so long the ends had to be cut off, and there really wasn't much else to see.  So we packed up and left a bit early to avoid the rush.

I've posted a collection of photographs taken at the event with my meager digital camera.  You can find them in the photo area with the rest of my pictures.

2003.5.9
Just when I thought it was safe; when I thought SNESAmp was solid.  Bleh.  I forgot to add "plugins" to the search path for unrar.dll.  This one-line-of-code bug was so small it didn't warrant the effort needed to repackage and upload the plug-in.  If you noticed .RSN files weren't getting loaded as you expected, this was very likely why.

2003.5.1
Arrrgh!  Creating a bug free plug-in was just too much to hope for.  SNESAmp 3.01 is ready for download.  This new build fixes some problems with the configuration values.

2003.4.30
SNESAmp 3.0 is ready for you to download.  Whether this alone makes you giddy is not important.  What is important is that yes, I think I've fixed all the bugs that plagued the last release and more.  More being that I remedied some errors in the emulation core that have been around from the beginning, since before the turn of millennium.  I'm shamed in knowing such errors have persisted, but I present this new build as a token of my repentance.

I deserve a sandwich.

2003.3.5
Before I fall asleep on my keyboard and drift off to a land of demons and nightmares, I'm taking the time to post another small utility.  This one is for those of you with a Super WildCard or Super Magicom and who are keeping that Win98 partition around so you can use it.  It's a Windows replacement for the now antiquated VGS.  I haven't really tested it beyond the scope of uploading a couple of programs, but those tests produced a myriad of colorful sprites on my screen which is probably enough for most people.

2003.2.10
After well over a year I finally decided to release a new version of SNESAmp.  What took me so long?  Well SNESAmp has this annoying bug that sometimes causes a crash when you close Winamp.  I know where it's happening, but I don't know why nor how to fix it, and I didn't want to release a version with a known bug.  Enough people have assured me that even with this minor flaw a new release would be appreciated.  This non-fatal crash will ONLY happen if you enable the Control dialog or edit an ID666 tag, and even then it may not happen.

Other than the afore mentioned issue, this version of SNESAmp fixes many items people have complained about in the past.  As always, you can find a copy in the Downloads area, and not as always, the C++ source is in the Source Code area.

2003.1.14
I've received complaints that I don't update my main page enough.  The lack of updates is only because I desire that all updates are worthwhile and worthy of being viewed.  Posting my personal journal daily would give the appearance of an active web site, but in the end would be uninteresting and a non-constructive use of screen space.  Be assured that I have been busy, and worthy updates will be made as quickly as I feel I can make them.

I'm no longer hosting the site on my own server.  My measly little DSL just couldn't offer the bandwidth required, so I've gone with a web hosting company.

I've also since moved to a new location.  In the last three years I've moved five times, and I'm hoping I can go at least a year without having to move again.  When I first arrived in my new home I was anxious to get connected to the Internet.  I called the phone company and accepted the first ISP they offered me.  MSN.  Please forgive me.  It was the Dark One and his craftiness that blinded me.  I can now clearly see the errors of my choosing.  Learn from the pain of my mistake and DO NOT get MSN.  The modem sent to you is setup to talk to ONLY one, fixed IP address, and it is NOT user configurable in any way.  In addition, MSN is a full featured "service", not merely a gateway to the Internet, and you are charged, in full, for that service.  What exactly that service is, I'm not sure, but it costs a lot more than what I was paying before for a basic ISP.

Apart from the above ranting, this post is also to announce a new program for you to download, if that is what you so desire by visiting my tiny spot on the Web.  This program is called Riffed, and it's a RIFF viewer.  What's a RIFF viewer?  If you don't already know, then downloading the said program may not fill you with as much joy as expected.  In a nutshell, it displays the internal structure of Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF) files.  If you've ever played a WAV file or watched an AVI, then you've used a RIFF file.  No, Riffed doesn't play WAV or AVI files.  It merely displays the internal structure of the data.  A programmer's tool in every sense, though any able body, programmer or no, can download this gem to view internal contents of a WAV file or any RIFF file for that matter.

2002.6.24
It's about time!  Last January the server alpha-ii.com was being hosted on went down.  After a long time I finally got a new server up and running (largely due to a couple of friends of mine), and then had a long battle with Network Solutions trying to get the name server relocated (don't use NS for your domain name registration).  The new server is residing at my house on the fastest DSL the phone company would give me, which isn't really that fast, but good enough.

The old layout is gone.  I was never satisfied with it and decided to start over with a new design.  Something that had a theme to it and more closely matched my personality--which is void of color. :)  Overall I'm pleased with how it turned out.

You may be wondering what became of SNESAmp.  Well, long ago I fixed a couple of annoying bugs, then never released a new build.  Don't fear, though, a new version is on its way, and it even includes some new features.

Photography has always been a hobby of mine.  I'm not a professional by any means (which is why it's a hobby and not an umm... profession), but with all the crap I've seen circulating on the 'net, my snapshots are certainly good enough to warrant posting.  I've added a new section for my photos for people to look at.