Games Distributed by Magazine

January 3, 2022

In the early days of home computers, software was small enough to be distributed in the backs of computer magazines. Topaz gives a quick rundown of his experiences with this method of software distribution.

Thanks to Tyrel (@tyrelsouza), Jim K. (@ijimkoz), J3!

References

Credits

Book List

January 2, 2022

Happy New Year! I’ve added a book list to the site listing all the books I’ve read that are The Industrious Rabbit adjacent. If you like the stuff I’m doing here, check these out.

Phone Intention

November 22, 2021

I’ve been trying to be more intentional when using my smartphone. I don’t mind carrying a supercomputer with me wherever I go, but I’ve been finding myself looking at it compulsively a little too much for my taste, and this is even without any social media or notification-heavy apps on it.

I already use a tool to block a Reddit client I use, allowing me to prevent the app from launching for 24 hours after I use it for a few minutes a day. But I don’t want to rely 100% on blocking. I want to deal with the compulsive behavior, and the best way to handle that is mindfulness.

I have some variations of the image for different devices. If you want one set up for a different aspect ratio, email me at hello [at] theindustriousrabbit [dot] com and put the phrase Hey, Topaz! in the subject line with what you’re looking for.

Reflection on Chapters 1 and 2 of The Industrious Rabbit

October 10, 2021

With the publishing of Holding down RESET on an NES, I’ve hit one of my milestones: publish four explainer videos to YouTube. Time for some self-reflection on The Industrious Rabbit.

This project was initially started as a series of small, Instagram-targeted comics about my experiences working in and with technology, and I thought insights gleaned over my years in the software industry would be useful to others. But around July 2020 I chose to take a step back from trying to teach others and instead start teaching myself. I also stepped away from using social media to promote my work after realizing it would not be a good venue for what I was trying to do.

I had always wondered what NoFastMem did on the Amiga computer, and so I dove in, did the research, and wrote & illustrated What the heck is NoFastMem?. It was an experiment to see if I enjoyed digging into old computer topics that interested me and if I liked writing about what I found. Turns out I did, and I continued exclusively blogging and drawing on these topics until Summer 2021, when the itch of wanting to make videos got to be too strong.

I now consider that first run of blog posts Chapter 1 in the Industrous Rabbit story – “Is This Even A Thing?”. Like with my comics in the past, it was focused on storytelling, but it was storytelling that requires a lot of research and technical illustration to show how things that often have no physical presence works. And along with these technical descriptions, I wanted to include as many cartoon characters as I could, because I love drawing cartoons characters.

The skills I picked up in that first chapter helped immensely with Chapter 2“I’m Gonna Make Videos, Gosh Darn It, And I Don’t Care How”. I made the first four videos in a very sloppy manner, with directories all over the place and filenames all askew, simply because I was trying to feel out how these types of things seemed to want to come together. After 23 Year Old Code, I started to have a good sense on what I needed, since I had now used modern versions of every available well-polished open source art tool (Krita, Kdenlive, Audacity, GIMP, Inkscape, and finally Blender) to produce a video. Holding down RESET on an NES came together a lot faster and with more structure because of this.

So what’s next? Now that I have a structure that I like, it’ll be time to automate it in Chapter 3“Parallelize and Systematize”. I have three videos that are all related that I want to work on in parallel, and I want to take those structures I developed and write software to automate their generation. I’ll be building command line tools to generate directories and template files based on whatever structured inputs I can use, starting with the data in Kdenlive files, where I build my animatics from Krita frames and Audacity audio. This is something I’ve done with my comics in the past, creating build scripts to process Inkscape SVG files into print- and web-ready files.

After that, I’m not sure where I want to go. I have an idea to work more streaming into my schedule, most likely involving Amiga development. I do know I’ll be doing a series of videos on the Amiga soon, so if that’s your thing, subscribe to the YouTube channel or to this site’s RSS feed for updates.

Thanks for coming along in this journey! I don’t know where it’ll end up, but I’m loving the ride, and I hope you are too.

Why were you asked to hold down RESET when powering off battery backed-up NES games?

October 8, 2021

Topaz tackles the age-old gamer question: Why did some battery backed-up NES games ask you to hold down the RESET button when you powered down the NES?

Thanks to @ijimkoz, Tyrel, and Keenan for their help with this video!

References

The best answers I could start working from

The 6502 and the RESET line

The NES’s RESET button and the CIC

NES Schematics

MMC1 and MMC3

Less than 1/10,000 chance?

Batteries don’t last forever

Textures

Music

Changelog

  • 2021-10-08: Initial post.

23 year old code

September 8, 2021

Topaz figures out how to get code he wrote 23 years ago on the Amiga to work for someone today, and it involves a lot of work with libraries.

Thanks to Piotr Kuchno for contacting me and working through debugging the code, and for the videos of the code in use on real Amiga computers! Thanks also to @ijimkoz for valuable feedback!

Resources

Intro

AMOS Extensions

Amiga libraries

Why was my server code not working?

Music & SFX

Notes

  • Piotr and I were actually using AMOS Professional throughout, despite me showing an original AMOS The Creator box I used to own. AMOS Pro allowed accessing system libraries, while AMOS the Creator did not.

Changelog

  • 2021-09-08: Initial post.