How to Speed Up Flash Video Playback in Firefox on Linux

If you’re using Firefox on Linux and experience Flash playback issues (like video playback slowdowns, etc.), especially on slow machines, the solution is very simple (though not necessarily obvious): Uninstall Flash!! Problem solved. The reason is that using Flash on web pages has been discouraged for years, and most web sites have migrated to HTML5 already. Even browsers like Firefox or Chrome might ultimately drop Flash support in the near future. (Search slashdot.org for Flash related articles if you don’t believe me)

Fixing Audio Issues / Hollow Sound / Problems with Ubuntu Linux 14.04 on iMac11,3 with Cirrus CS4206 Audio Chip and Renoise 3.1.0

The iMac model 11,3 with Cirrus CS4206 audio chip has a comparatively unique audio problem: Internally, it has two volume controls for output, one for regular output and one for bass output. If the bass output volume is set to zero, audio output will sound “hollow”, because only upper and mid range tones are being output.

Of course, everything works right out of the box in MacOS X, but for those of us who wish to use Linux, extra suffering is in store.

For Ubuntu Linux 14.04 this has the following consequences: PulseAudio will see the additional volume control and set it to zero. Using an advanced PulseAudio mixer like VeroMixer, you can see that PulseAudio seems to know there is Dolby Surround 4.0 support, but for some reason, the bass volume control will always be set to zero, and there’s no way to change it for the user. (Also, of course, the Dolby Surround 4.0 channel does not work.)

The only solution I found is to entirely disable PulseAudio by editing “/etc/pulse/client.conf” and adding the lines “autospawn = no” and “daemon-binary = /bin/true” and then logging out and back in.

After PulseAudio is disabled, media players etc. will fall back to ALSA and correctly set the bass speaker volume to non-zero.

One exception I found is Renoise (3.1.0). To solve the problem, I set Renoise to use Jack, and configured Jack such that it supports only 2 audio output channels (setting “I/O channels”). Problem solved! (when playback runs slow it’s a bug in Renoise and Renoise has to be restarted)

 

Using Recreated ZX Spectrum with FUSE 1.1.1 Emulator

I’ve created a tiny patch for FUSE 1.1.1 to be able to use it with the Recreated ZX Spectrum in Mode A (“Game Mode”). My main goal was to use it for learning ZX Spectrum programming with ZX 48K BASIC. Thus, I haven’t tested it any other way. FUSE license (file “COPYING”) and file headers have not been modified.

rzxinput003

To build the modified FUSE on desktop Linux systems, do the following:

  • Get the FUSE 1.1.1 source package. Unpack it. Read the “INSTALL” document to learn about the compilation procedure.
  • Run “./configure” with the options you want to use. Usually, you might want to leave “–prefix” at the default setting (/usr/local). The configure script will notify you about any problems or additional packages that need to be installed.
  • Run “make” a first time to see that everything is OK.
  • Replace files with mine from the archive and rebuild using “make”.
  • Run “make install” or “sudo make install” to install it.

To build the modified FUSE on RetroPie systems, do the following (thanks to Choose Balduin for discovering how to do that, together with me; please contact him with any questions):

  • Same as above, except install libspectrum using “sudo make install libspectrum1 libspectrum-dev” and do “./configure –prefix=/opt/retropie/emulators/fuse –without-x –with-sdl”.
  • Copy the resulting “fuse” executable into the “/opt/retropie/emulators/fuse/bin/” directory using the RetroPie file manager.

For Mac users, it might be easier to use the Retro Virtual Machine emulator, which has built-in support for Recreated ZX Spectrum Mode A.

With FUSE, if you run into trouble, be sure to have Joystick emulation disabled and ZX Printer emulation turned on.

.INS-File for Waldorf Blofeld

I made an INS-File for Waldorf Blofeld, for the factory preset names. Use everything in the archive at your own risk!

blofeldins

If you want to create your own INS file from a Blofeld instrument list:

  • A “.c” file is included for the program demacify (which translates a MacOS input file — the official factory preset name file — to a “demacified” version using LF line separators; compile using “gcc -o demacify demacify.c”, and use “./demacify <inputfile >outputfile” to run).
  • A “.pl” file (Perl program) is included which contains the script that translates the input file to INS file format. Edit it to change the input file name, if necessary. Run it using “./make-insfile.pl >outputfile.ins”. This should create your INS file.

Some of my VIC-20 games

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Screenshots of my VIC-20 games "Changa", "Alpha Raid", "Boom Blaster" and "Polar Maze", all from around ca. 1983-84

Screenshots of my VIC-20 games “Changa”, “Alpha Raid”, “Boom Blaster” and “Polar Maze”, all from around ca. 1983-84

These are some of the VIC-20 games that I wrote between 1983 and 1984: Changa, Alpha Raid, Boom Blaster and Polar Maze.

You can download them here as a D64 disk image (zipped) : ekkisgames1

  • Changa (file name “CHANGA 16K KOMPL”, 1984): This is a little action adventure. You are a diver under water. Avoid touching the electrified walls and beware of the piranhas! Controls are P for up, . for down, L for left and ; for right. Use A to fire the harpoon, and SPACE to set off the smart bomb (smart bomb count is displayed in the lower left corner). The game goes into game mode immediately after you run it. There is no audio output.
  • Alpha Raid (file name “ALPHA RAID 16K”, 1983): This is a top-down shooter. Controlled using joystick (use numpad joystick emulation in emulator for instance). The music is the theme from Battlestar Galactica (if there are any complaints, I’ll remove it, I loved the show as a kid).
  • Boom Blaster (file name “BOOM 16K”, 1984): Avoid the skulls and blow them up using the bombs lying around. Controlled using joystick (use numpad joystick emulation in emulator for instance). Press FIRE button near bomb to send it flying in the direction you last walked.
  • Polar Maze (file name “POLAR MAZE 16K”, 1983): This game is based on things I heard about the Pengo arcade game. It doesn’t aim to be a Pengo clone, since I’ve never seen nor played the original game. The music is the theme from Battlestar Galactica (if there are any complaints, I’ll remove it, I loved the show as a kid). Controlled using joystick (use numpad joystick emulation in emulator for instance). Press direction + FIRE button near ice block to send it gliding or to shake the wall. Group X marked blocks in a row to receive special bonus.

 

Demo Tune 2 for FICKEN V0.06 and up

I just created a slightly more elaborate tune to demonstrate FICKEN V0.06 and up.

It uses my Roland GW-7 and Yamaha PSS-790 synthesizers.

The archive contains the config files and one MP3 file with the audio rendition. Licenses for each type of file are contained also.

Download here: demotune-2

(The config files are covered by GPLv3, the MP3 file is covered by a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA LicenseCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License)

Demo Tune 1 for FICKEN V0.06 and up

I created a simple demo tune with FICKEN V0.06 controlling my Roland GW-7 synthesizer. The archive contains the config files and one MP3 file with the audio rendition. Licenses for each type of file are contained also.

Download here: demotune-1 (ZIP archive)

(The config files are covered by GPLv3, the MP3 file is covered by a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA LicenseCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License)

FICKEN V0.06 Update

This version provides the following changes:

  • Flags bit 2 (Swap Bank Select MSB and LSB) in instrument definitions didn’t actually work. This is now fixed.
  • There is a new bit 3 (Send Program Change Only) in instrument definitions that doesn’t send Bank Select at all for the instrument if specified.
  • In instrument definitions, instead of specifying the optional flags field, you can now specify MSB and LSB fields directly to specify the Bank Select bytes yourself (b/c some instrument documentations contain exact values for these bytes). This saves you from computing the patch number yourself (which would be MSB*16384+LSB*128+PGM).

Download Source Code here: ficken-v006 (License: GPLv3)

Previous versions: 0.05 0.04 0.03 0.02 0.01 0.00