Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Year-endxxxxx Decade Blog

As part of my yearly evaluation, I need to sort through everything I did at work for the last year. Since the survey thing from Livejournal that I used to do was bugging me, I thought maybe I'd do the same thing at home!

Then someone decided that no, no, it's the end of the decade, list your DECADE of accomplishments. Well damn it, fine. But only in summary for the earlier stuff. ;)

Okay, looks like the biggest thing I accomplished in 2010 was my work for Neato.
I contracted for Neato robotics getting the Pinky chip up and running for the second generation Neato vacuum, which is of course the best one ever. ;) Sorry Camp!


Honorable mention to becoming Nintendo certified for the eventually cancelled Cool Herders DS (ROM here: http://harmlesslion.com/zips/CoolHerdersBeta_90Percent.rar )


In 2011 I went back to work full time after Cool Herders was cancelled, after contracting at NET, and went to work full time for Neato. But my top completed project would probably be the Skunkboard Revision 3, released with the financial and sales assistance of the GOAT store. This was a development board for the Atari Jaguar, designed by KSkunk and coded mostly by me. Due to problems with procuring the flash chips, this took a long time and we ended up with two vendors coming through, letting us produce 200 instead of the 100 we intended. All sold, of course. 


After this run, I released all Skunkboard properties to the public domain. (This has led to a couple of after market productions!)


2012 is pretty easy - this is year that I moved to Los Angeles for probably the only thing that could tempt me to move to Los Angeles...

Garmin was also trying to get me, and they had a great offer and a fun team and a neat project. I still feel a little bad for them. They were amazingly flexible and just awesome people.

In 2013, I didn't seem to release much of anything. I focused on my new work, some of which ended up in the park in Florida a year or so later, and helping people with their projects. (I see lots of TI, F18A, and Skunkboard in my outbox). So it's unfortunate, but it appears I didn't directly contribute to the world at large in 2013 (or at least, what I DID do was laying the groundwork for future contributions. ;) )


By contrast, 2014 was busy. I bought a house, I got my lion fursuit that I ended up never using (sigh), I released the TI UberGROM, and I finished Trixie's MLP-themed magic show in Second Life (barely in time to perform it by the end of the year). I also did a Day in the Park, working as a cast member at Disneyland for two days, so I could understand the operation of an attraction in real life. (That was tough for an introvert like me, but I'm glad I did it.) I even did a training course on Kuka robots! I built my Sega Genesis "3-way" multicarts including a hacked Thunder Force one, and a custom talking Nightmare Moon with real show quotes.

But for all this, the big thing in my life was agreeing to go to Shanghai to work on the new park there. Though I didn't leave before year end, a good half the year was spent getting ready to go.



In 2015, right off the bat I left for China. Early on, I got a recruiter call from Cyber Command, which would have been awesome. But they ran away when they heard I was Canadian. Pity. But other than that, I was largely focused on coming to terms with what I had done. If I thought Basic Training was a culture shock at only 10 weeks, man... I sure had a lot to learn.

I did get some travel in, seeing Tokyo (very briefly) and Beijing (also brief but more touristy), and I did a podcast with Floppy Days: https://player.fm/series/floppydays-vintage-computing-podcast/floppy-days-51-ti99-tech-specs-modern-upgrades-with-tursi

I also had the only internal surgery of my life (thankfully minor) when I had my gall bladder removed in Hong Kong!

But the best thing I unleashed upon the world was my "Spaceballs" demo for the TI, finally showing audio and video playback on the machine. This is what paved the way for Dragon's Lair four years later...




2016, is there any competition? In 2016 I helped open an entire new Disney park. A massive amount of effort and stress, but somehow we were open on opening day. :)


It's also the year I finally started to negotiate my license for Dragon's Lair...

In 2017 I moved back to Burbank and sold my place, worked in earnest on the 3 Way Genesis carts with a fellow online who was having fun making various ones. I created a patched Coleco BIOS for CollectorVision which led to me working on that device years later. My Dragon's Lair license also went live with a 2 year timeout. I tried to get help from several people on that, but everyone was just too busy.

But about all I managed to finish for myself for the year was a 4k remake of an old XB game I wrote as a kid, called HeroX:



I also had a minor role in the award winning TI Megademo by Desire: 


2018 brought the release of a finicky raccoon for work, and I got back out of rental into a townhouse just outside of town, which may have been a bad move. It doesn't look like I released very much, though I spent much of the year working on Dragon's Lair, and I commissioned a life-size Starlight Glimmer plush who sits atop my bookcase. But the main thing that I finished was the MLP Fanfic I started almost two years earlier in Shanghai. The story of Nightmare Moon defeating Celestia, and Celestia coming back - Night Reigns. 


It did all right, and even today is in the top 5% on the site (barely!) I printed out copies and so I can say I have a book on my bookshelf that I wrote.


Finally, we come to 2019, and I can be more detailed here, as this is what I originally wrote this for...

First of all, I managed to get Dragon's Lair for the TI-99/4A finished and out into the world as a full production. That was a huge task that took a few years to finish, and included learning some VHDL and KiCad for PCB layout and manufacturing. I wrote a document that details all about it:
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1u7SOusjQDInq95GrEH2tmIphUAjRg-9YbhR_X25D62A/edit?usp=sharing



Numerous bug fixes to Classic99 and ConvertHGR packages, as well as a massive (and long overdue) update to FlipTerm, my muck client, which brings the API up to speed again.
http://harmlesslion.com/software/classic99
http://harmlesslion.com/software/converthgr
http://harmlesslion.com/software/flipterm



Attended Vanhoover, which was a lot of fun, and also traveled to Ottawa to see friends, but completely failed to make any business contacts there as I intended! Also made it down to Australia for the first time in many years! I attended Further Confusion, but had a lousy time due to hotel rudeness and overpriced rooms. (I guess that's hardly an accomplishment, but I did it ;) ) Finally, I even made it to the Chicago TI User's Group annual International Faire - more than 35 years running!



Built the Coleco menu software for the CollectorVision Phoenix. Buy page here (note I do not get anything if you buy one ;) )
https://collectorvision.com/shop/colecovision/collectorvision-phoenix/



Shipped nearly two dozen of my PS/2 keyboard adapter chips for the TI. At least /someone/ wanted it! ;)
http://harmlesslion.com/software/keyboard

Image result for avr mcu"

I stepped out of my comfort zone, and did a "Haunted Cocktail Night" in Los Angeles. This was cute, and it was a set of scenarios in a fairly old mansion, including ghost actors you could interact with. But... it wasn't really creepy, it wasn't cohesive enough. It would be crazy hard to put such a thing together, and it was fun, but I would have done it differently. ;)



.. and of course I got out to see Weird Al Yankovic in the Strings Attached tour:



I worked out how to skin the cars in Wreckfest and published a little skin mod on Steam for my friends and I to use in our weekly game.


And I created an MLP Random Scene generator to commemorate the end of the series. Just a silly little script I've run for years and named BIBO (for "Babble In, Babble Out" ;) ) It's not supposed to make sense!
http://harmlesslion.com/cgi-bin/ponychat.cgi



There's still a month and a bit to go, but all I'm hoping to get done by end of year is an update to my TI music compressor, and there's not much of a picture to go with that anyway. ;)