Disks and Discs
Get you a man who can do both in Phil's Newsletter Volume 3 Issue 3
Previously on Phil’s Newsletter: We listened to The Clash, Hank Radio was on Apple Podcasts, the Good Links returned.
Yeah yeah I said Sunday, but it’s Monday, Again! That is not the name of my first solo album but it could be. Anyway welcome back, I have many updates for you from the world of doomed media. Let us continue.
Cramming Movies Onto Floppy Disks
I spent some time last week with a stereotypically goofy side project: Trying to see how much movie I could cram onto a 1.44mb 3 1/4” floppy disk using H.264 as the encoder. As you can see from the video embedded below, things got ugly:
… but they did, sorta, work! That’s The Doughnuts, our favorite short film, playing (if you can call it that) on a Raspberry Pi via a floppy drive. I got capacity up to about 10 minutes per floppy at the 4fps very bad quality seen in the video. Yes, I saw the guy who put Shreck on a floppy but they created a whole custom codec (and hasn’t shared it yet).
The FFMPEG command I used to generate the above is the following kludgy thing, bring you own duration:
ffmpeg -i thedoughnuts_201705.mp4 -vf "scale=120:-1,scale=iw/2:ih/2,scale=2*iw:2*ih:flags=neighbor,unsharp=luma_msize_x=7:luma_msize_y=7:luma_amount=2.5" -r 4 -preset slower -c:v h264_videotoolbox -b:v 1200 -b:a 1000 -ar 22050 -ac 1 Doughnuts_flop1.mp4
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Mini, meaning “small,” and Disc, meaning “disc”
I bought a MiniDisc player and I don’t regret it one bit. It provides many opportunities for hoarding bits of plastic and metal and I love doing that. So far the only official discs I have are Automatic For The People by R.E.M. and Journey’s Greatest Hits Live. Official discs are insanely expensive due to the ongoing inflation of the collector markets.
… BUT I have many recordable MiniDiscs, and it is fun to make mixtapes of a certain duration (in this case 80 minutes). Maybe I will post some MiniDisc mixes on my Apple Music account.
RetroStrange Movie Night + New Hank Radio
RetroStrange Movie Night, the sometimes-monthly movie night I host, is coming up on February 18th. The gimmick with RetroStrange Movie Night is we use it as a sort of feeder system for RetroStrange TV, our community-supported 24/7 streaming channel. The Curator picks a couple of new feature films and shorts and we debut them on Movie Night, then we add them to the channel as part of the regular schedule.
This time we’re going to watch some 1950s Hot Rod movies, so expect some fake 50s greaser slang and even faker races. Drop by the audio chat on our Discord server if you’d like top crack wise at the movie with a few of us.
This Friday is also Episode 2 of Hank Radio! It’s an audio podcast where my nephew Hank hanks picks 30-minutes of public domain music content from the 1920s and before, and his dad Chuck brings up relevant historical info about the bands and performers.
I’m Making A Game For iPhone
Back in the dark, dark, days of 2020 I started working on a game to bring the stress levels down. That game became Chipping Challenge, and you can play it on PC or Mac for free. It’s a deliberate, blissed-out, mini golf game designed to help you find some chill.
After 2 years of not touching the code I’ve decided to get back to it, and polish the game up to release it for iOS on the App Store. It’s currently functional but needs a lot of work. If you have an iPhone and want to test/play it, send me a message with the email address connected to your Apple ID and I’ll send you a TestFlight invitation.
SetSideB: Investigating Bootleg Battletoads
Over on my indie gaming website SetSideB you’ll find great gaming content from the flipside every day, such as the following mystery, wherein a Brazilian copy of Battletoads actually skips Level 2 entirely. Site editor rodneylives:
Was it a change in the game’s code, or a malfunction caused by his NES hardware? chirinea had a bit of an adventure in figuring out how to get the code off of his cartridge into an emulator so it could be compared with the official release, and ultimately found out that yes, the code was different, and it was probably done to avoid problems with Brazilian bootleg NESes crashing on level two.
It’s an interesting journey, and worth the fairly brief runtime to find out how he did it.
Interesting, indeed! Watch the video to get the full story.
The Good Links
Guaranteed to satisfy, much like the ice cream man. None of these are ads, btw.
AMC Theaters is going to start charging more money for the best theater seats
“We come to bury ChatGPT, not to praise it.” The AI chatbot who can pretend to know things is not making many fans outside of the PR industry
Speaking of AI, things are heating up on the generative AI front for images too; Getty Images Claims Stable Diffusion's Creator 'Copied' 12 Million Copyrighted Images
It’s not all bad news, though. On Vice: Developers Created AI to Generate Police Sketches. Experts Are Horrified. Hey I said it wasn’t all bad news, not that the news wasn’t worse than bad
Discovery+ and HBO Max are still merging, but not exclusively, and it sure looks like every executive involved really blew it here
Monocle: An open source augmented reality device that clips onto one side of a pair of regular glasses. LightTwist CEO Vikas posted this in the company Slack, and it’s petty cool.
More ChatGPT realism: ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web from the New Yorker. This is the best one yet.
A full 16 years after the initial release, and years after the last major update, Team Fortress 2 is getting another big one. TF2 got a lot right that many of the games that rip off TF2 still get wrong.
“Last week, a part of the sun’s surface broke off and started circling the sun’s north pole almost as if it were a giant polar vortex––and scientists don’t know why” I’m sure it’s fine.
StreetPass for Mastodon is a browser extension heavily-influenced by the Nintendo 3DS feature also called StreetPass. It tells if you the person whose website your are on has a Mastodon account, among other things.
Many former Taliban fighters are now living the salaryman life, and they find it pretty empty
Microsoft is giving old school developers like myself the greatest Valentine’s Day present ever: finally killing Internet Explorer.
That’s all for now. Come on down to Movie Night this Saturday!
Wizard Tower Gamma, South of Market, San Francisco, California, United States of America, Earth, Hell