Monday, June 21, 2021

Asus ProArt PA248Q and Dell XPS13 video waking

This is a very, very specific situation... but posting in case it helps someone else. You never know. I won't be DenverCoder9.

When I got the Dell I was struggling a bit to find the right cable to hook up the monitor. That USBC stuff was all new to me. So I got a DisplayPort cable and set the ASUS to use that.

I pretty much never shut off a laptop at night but just leave and let it go to sleep mode on its own. But I began to notice the monitor turning its backlight on and off, frequently but not always regularly. And it was bright enough that when I had insomnia (rather frequent starting around 2018) it would really annoy me. 

There must have been some signal coming from the XPS13's USB port that was enough to wake up the ProArt, but obviously since no actual video data were sent, the monitor would go back to sleep. What I was seeing was the ProArt's power light going from orange to white (active), the backlight would go on, then after a moment a little window would come up with "No Signal" and everything would shut off. All the USBC ports caused that behavior. 

I could unplug the monitor from the USB port but that didn't seem like an elegant solution. I bought a USB on/off that was actually meant to turn off the USB port on a Raspberry Pi, and that did not work at all. I bought a switchbox that was supposed to allow two computers to share a monitor, figuring that I could just switch the monitor to take its input from a nonexistent computer. That did not work at all either. 

Then while dicking around with the monitor, I accidentally set its input to the VGA port. And got totally stuck because there was no VGA signal, the monitor wouldn't display the menu. I had to RTFM to get it back to taking input from the DisplayPort port. And that's where I found the solution to my problem.

Just above the power button is the input selector. Its icon is an oblong with an arrow pointing into it. Clicking it cycles through all the input ports. All I have to do is tell it to take input from something that's not DisplayPort, and since there's absolutely nothing coming in there, it never wakes. It seems to be easier on the XPS13 as well, since unplugging the external monitor would cause the laptop screen to wake up and display. Now it just stays black. 

It's nice to solve stuff without having to spend money....

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Creating a post on Nordinho

Nordinho is kind of an old school forum so things are not super easy to do sometimes. 

You'll need:

  • a screenshot of the game saved on your computer
  • the URL of the game (copied from your browser)
This should really be done from a desktop computer. It's possible to do it from mobile, but it's definitely harder because of the screen size.

Up near the top of the games list, click the NEW THREAD button.

You'll get the next screen. Write some stuff in the title block (usually the name of the game and the author), and a description of the game. 

You can simply paste the URL of the game directly after the game description. But if you want to make it look tidier, such as a single word "Play" as a button, you can use the link button indicated in the image below. Type the word "Play" (or whatever text you want to use as the button), highlight it, then click the link button.

A window will pop up, which is prefilled with "http://". Since we're in the 21st century and we do things securely now (or at least hopefully), erase that and paste the game URL.

Clicking OK will close that popup. You will see some messy looking text with square brackets and quotes have been added around your URL. Don't delete this stuff, the Nordinho website needs it to create that nice looking link. 

Now you need to add your screenshot. Scroll down until you see "Addtional Options". Click MANAGE ATTACHMENTS.

Another window will pop up. Click the CHOOSE FILE button which will open your file manager and select your screenshot from your computer. Then click UPLOAD. It may take a few seconds but your file name should show up in the area above where it says "Attachment key". Click CLOSE THIS WINDOW or the red X box in the top right. 

Just a note: there are file size limits to what you can upload. If your screenshot is too large you will see an error message show up below the words "Manage Attachments." If that happens you need to find a way to make your screenshot file size smaller before you can use it.

That's everything you need to enter! Scroll down and click the SUBMIT NEW THREAD button and you should see it in the forum right away. 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Goodbye MapTag :(

Google Cloud platform made some changes to its TOS which resulted in charging me $100 for 1 month of PlayMapTag. A handful of people around the globe play it, but apparently the Maps API access charges exceed the monthly credit by that much, and I don't want to be paying that amount each month for what was a fun learning project. And I'm not about to put advertising on the website, which would probably not offset the cost anyway. 

The Maps API was used by PlayMapTag and Tacotacotruck (which probably nobody used anyway and was probably way out of date, so no tears were shed), so I took down both of those. 

Had a really good run and a fun time with these projects. I'm not sure there's any way to hit the API less. Streetview, which nearly all of what PlayMapTag was using, is very data intensive as you can imagine. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The ever changing API

I just played a game after several months' hiatus and discovered labels all over the StreetView. Well, where's the challenge in that? Thanks, Google! So after poking in the API for a few minutes, I found a StreetView panoramaOption called showRoadLabels. Easy to fix, but it makes me wonder if I am going to have to play MapTag for the rest of my life to check on API changes.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

ESC by Yukihiro Hozumi - walkthrough

Note: there's an in-game help system that will get you through the whole game plus the second ending. You must watch an ad each time to view the help. I assume this generates revenue for Hozumi, and I urge you to open up the help a few times and play the ads anyway because he deserves to be rewarded for these fantastic games that are otherwise free. If he doesn't get enough ad revenue he might have to charge for all his games. And we don't want that, now do we?

First once-over: Ghost leg puzzle, a panel in the wall covered and secured by bolts. A 3x3 cabinet with tools, which you can (initially) only take one at a time. Take, of course, the wrench. Next wall has a door and keypad with missing keycaps. Last wall has 3 keys locked away behind domes.
Open the wall panel and take a keycap, and place it on the keypad.
Solve the ghost leg and enter what would be on the top into the keypad, and press Enter.
Door will open
You're in a very dark room with just 1 lamp. Get closer and take another keycap. You'll need help seeing in this room, and there is one item in the tool cabinet that can help you.
The camera.
Take that and enter the room again. Use it, then look at it in inventory.
You'll see a note with the word
CAST, with sort of a sun symbol.

Go out to the keypad, add your keycap, and enter
Let there be light!

Check out the room: A book that opens. A "clock", the hands of which will cycle through positions when the button on top is pressed. The sequence
of dots is 1, 5, 3, 4.
You can also collect a battery from the clock at this time. Under the bed, center drawer, is an "O" keycap. The drawers on either side of the center drawer are stuck, but play with the middle drawer some more and
you'll find they are blocked with screws.

Next wall to the right is a large locked door, and a chain. You can yank the chain if you like :) Ooh, secret TV!
Next wall to the right is a water dispenser with red and blue buttons, and some words that may or may not be helpful.
Next wall to the right is a hatch, and a cabinet wired shut.
Go back to the first room. Take the screwdriver and open the left drawer, and take a lens. Return the screwdriver, take the camera and put the lens on. Take a picture of
the cabinets
and you'll see a code. Return the camera and take the dice. Click on the faces (there will be no audio feedback when you click, though) for a pair of cutters. Also click the faces
according to the clock
for a second battery.
Return to room 2 and open the wired cabinet with the cutters. Get a - screwdriver and a keycap. Also take a look at the photograph and how it compares to the one on the wall. Use the - driver on the drawer and get a hook (it is not visible :/ just click inside the drawer).
Return to room 1. Swap the - screwdriver for the + driver and take the remote. Put the batteries in and use it on the picture to get a code. Rearrange that code
according to the photo in the Room 2 cabinet
and enter it in the keypad. You can now pick up two items from the 3x3 cabinet.
If you have picked up and looked at all the items you know that one was meant to be used on the other. If you haven't guessed, it's
the pyramid and the hammer.
You'll get a keycap and a dial. Don't use the dial yet, though. Take the ball, attach the hook, and hang it on the chain. Take also the remote and use it on the TV for a red/blue pattern.
Return the ball and the remote, and take the spray bottle. Put it in the water dispenser. Note the spiral diagram which will tell you how to press the pattern.
This will fill the bottle. Spray it on the book. Take the camera and take a picture of the book for another code.
You will need to put the dial on the thing below the ghost leg and turn it before that code will have any effect. Your inventory items will disappear. Go ahead, take all the keys.

I didn't really care for this part too much because the clues seemed pretty vague, but TBH if you're familiar with Hozumi's games, vague clues are kinda par for the course, especially in his longer games.
You should open the door with all the keys just to get a sense of the environment. Use the Wise key and
turn off the light.
Use the No Name key for the clue as to where to put all the keys. You should do them in the order listed as well.

The Fool Sits Far From the Moon: open the door using the Fool key and
face the moon (the exit hatch). Turn twice so you are facing away from it. Step forward until
you come to a chair. Set the Fool key on the chair.
The Wise Sits in His Hideaway: that key goes back to
its niche behind the dome.

The No Name Finds His Seat: open the door using the No Name key and
set it on the chair.

Second ending:
After you exit click the cube at the top left corner and click return. Take the key from the chair, which will make the entry door reappear. Go back into the room and enter
the hatch. Face away from the moon
and keep going until you come to a room. There are some green words on the wall.
If you've looked at the keys you noticed there are
letters on them.
Use this to click the words on the wall. This will turn the lights on, and now you can see a keypad on the wall.
Have a look at each of the shapes and the shadows they make. The words on the wall said
square, circle, triangle.
Enter the shadow letters into the keypad
This will reveal the final door.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Visiting the One World Observatory

I was surprised at how emotional this made me. Going up the elevator I felt tightening in my throat, and several times more as we filed out to the entrance hall with the sliding windows and watched the slideshow projected on them. The strength of my reaction seemed disproportionate: nobody I knew was directly involved in the event or witnessed it personally; at the time, I had one friend attending Columbia, but he was unaffected. I had watched the event unfold on TV, but when I deemed that I was getting late for work, I turned it off and got in the car. At work, it was unusually quiet. Our office at the time was a huge single room with cubicles, and I could hear someone near the front weeping. I never found out who that was. A few days after the planes destroyed the buildings, the newspaper delivered a flag, printed on 12x18 light card stock. I put it on the mantel and felt strangely comforted by it.

I wouldn’t consider myself seriously patriotic. I was born here, I live here. I like to think I’m reasonably objective when comparing my country to others. There are countries more sane than the United States in a multitude of ways, and there are many countries that are far worse. The United States has not always been welcoming to both my race and me as an individual; I’ve had my share of racial slurs thrown at me, received the micro~ and macroaggressions that call me a foreigner, outsider, and/or second class citizen, been told to “go back” to a country I’ve only seen as a tourist. I’ve been expected to disavow others of my ethnicity because they are immigrants and I am not. And I'm well aware that Asians in other states have it worse. But in the end, I’m an American, I live here, I love California’s weather, diversity, culture, food, and its high proportion of intelligent people, and I’d find it very hard to give up that winning combination.

We walked around the observatory looking over Manhattan and beyond, looked straight down onto the former footprints of twin towers, now fountains waterfalling over black stone, inward to a square dark hole in the center. It’s symbolically beautiful and appropriate.

I think what makes me emotional, what makes me mourn, is not the event itself or the lives lost there, but how it changed this nation so much. We’ve had acts of terrorism before -- from Timothy McVeigh, the Army of God, animal rights terrorists, and the Jewish Defense League, just to mention events in recent memory. But 9/11 indelibly associated terrorism with Muslims, Islam, anyone from the Middle East regardless of their religion, and even any bearded, brown skinned person. 9/11 created the TSA and its security theater. 9/11 divided the United States. One side believes fear is justified, that the nation is under attack, that the Christian religion is under attack, and any measures to protect the nation are necessary. The other group sees terrorists as small groups of people using their religion as a justification for violence, and do not represent Islam as a whole, just as the Westboro Baptist Church, which uses Christianity as an excuse to be as offensive as possible, does not represent all Christians. The United States is no longer the land of the rough and ready, optimistic people who throw in a helping hand and get things done, people who believe every problem has a solution. It seems decreasingly possible to compromise; people now insist on expressing their views, sometimes at the expense of others. Everything has spin. People seem far more inclined to put others in a box in order to more easily dismiss views they don’t agree with.

I’m just describing my thoughts/concerns. I don’t have answers or solutions for how to get our mojo back. But I do feel we have to get back to seeing our country as belonging to all its citizens and those who want to become citizens -- not just those who ascribe to our own views. We have to find the middle, the common ground; rate our individual desires by importance and be willing to let go of the less important ones in the interest of unification.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Compensating for Google Maps, again

I'd been trying to avoid it, but the new version of Google Maps has made it really difficult to get exactly 1000 points in MapTag. It used to be you could step out of the StreetView and it would leave your marker on the point where you were. That doesn't happen anymore; instead, to get your most-precise location you have to rely on the tiny thumbnail in the bottom left. And it's annoying, so I'm planning to widen the high-score area from 2m to maybe 10m.