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Showing posts from 2017

A Cold Wind From the USSR - Part 1

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In my retrocomputing adventures, I have sought things not purely based on style alone, but based on combinations of processor, wide 3rd-party adoption and support, and "interesting" factor.  Having picked up at least one system from each common type of processor (8088, x86, Zilog Z80, 6502, 68xx, 68xxx) and the schemes popular in the USA (IBM & compatibles, Apple, Commodore, Amiga, Atari, Tandy), I thought it was time to try for something from overseas.  Plenty of computers were made for the UK market, such as the Amstrad, Acorn, and BBC Micro, and Japan had many interesting varieties of computers offered by NEC alone, not to mention their other manufacturers such as Sharp and Fujitsu.

However, really not much is known (in English) about computers from behind the Iron Curtain.


A Brief History of Why This Is a Thing
One thing that is for sure: in the 1970s, the Soviet Union, in an effort to keep up with rapidly-evolving Western technology, decided to put an end to all the cu…

Journey to a Fully Custom Pinball Machine - Part 2

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From walking the show floor at Texas Pinball Fest 2016, I couldn't help but get the vibe that something novel and big would be in store for TPF 2017 -- something beyond the big but also typical/expected releases of commercial games such as The Big Lebowski and Ghostbusters (more on those later), but in fact the ushering in of a new era: totally home-brew and open-source pinball.  As the re-themed games became more impressive from 2015 to 2016, and with easy access to leaning about hardware, fabrication techniques to develop new things and restore/renew/improve on old things, and a rejuvenated fascination with pinball in general, it was not surprising to me in the least that we would see someone totally knock it out of the park like Scott Danesi did at TPF 2017 with Total Nuclear Annihilation.

However, just in case Scott wasn't there with his amazing game (for which I placed one of the pre-orders slated to ship sometime in 2018), I wanted to produce some work as well in order to…

A "Baby Tornado" to aid in Python server development

Why?
Since my last post, I've been highly focused on Tensorflow projects at home and at work.  In the process of running Tensorflow behind an API, I've needed to make code changes to the "secret sauce" (business logic) that stands before Tensorflow and actually provides it with its data.  This could be in the pipeline of multiple Tensorflow models chained together, image manipulation, working with data that gets outputted from the model, or whatever other reasons.  Unfortunately, it is often slow and wastes a bunch of time to constantly restart the whole server (including reinitializing Tensorflow for 20 or 30 seconds), especially when you simply made a typo or used the wrong variable name or something like that.

Besides the Tensorflow work, I've been involved in many blog-worthy pursuits since my last post but simply haven't had time to write about them.  (In fact, I meant to write this last week, but forgot.)  Anyway, at the end of June, right before my previ…

My Tensorflow Project Isn't Saving the World

Among all the hype around the latest and greatest technologies, there is so much publicity devoted toward how they are being used in grand schemes to cure cancer, reduce energy waste, conserve water, solve poverty, and so forth.  While all these things are wonderful to humanity, there has to be someone left in the background who helps all the do-gooders unwind when it's time to take a break!


The TL/DR Version: Get To the Point!
Use clever arguments when loading up your Docker container so you don't have to shut it down and restart it when you want to mount external directories from the host filesystem or expose the port for the Tensorboard server.  There is also nvidia-docker available if you want to use your CUDA cores.

sudo nvidia-docker run -it -p 6006:6006 -v ~/Pictures/video-game-training/:/video-game-training gcr.io/tensorflow/tensorflow:latest-devel-gpu bash

Use the --output_user_root option in your Bazel builds so you can save it to that external directory on the host yo…

Pre-Google I/O Entertainment: Old Electronics Stores and Computer Resellers!

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The opportunity Google gave me to attend Google I/O, their annual conference, two weeks ago required me to travel to the Bay Area in California in order to attend in person.  Also known as Silicon Valley, it is an area steeped in computer history, featuring (of course) the Computer History Museum, not to mention large offices or global headquarters for many current and long-gone tech behemoths, plus all the tiny startups making millions off various Internet and mobile technologies.  As someone who has been using computers their entire life (well over 25 years now), I am enthusiastic about the way forward but do not want to forget about the winding, bumpy way that has gotten us to this point.

As I seek to bolster my collection of retro-tech, it is fascinating to pontificate on what all these devices would have cost brand new.  There's no way my family could have afforded but one or two these things back in the day, but as technology marches on and leaves so much of itself in the dus…