Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A lot has changed since I last downloaded MESS

Cartridge image formats have changed a bit over the years.  MESS went from sharing the V9T9 format (*c.bin, *d.bin, *g.bin) to using a new RPK format (same files with some XML metadata in a zip archive) to a new zip archive format which looks to contain something akin to the gram cracker cartridge images used by PC99.  Going to a single file per cartridge is definitely an improvement, but having two different image formats makes mixing and matching emulators more difficult than it used to be.

I was happy to see that the MBX expansion system is now supported in emulators, I have a few more Milton Bradley games to try out which I've never seen before.

After looking around a bit a seeing what is out there I was a little surprised to see that nobody has really made the entire TI-99/4a emulation process "easy".  I guess it isn't too surprising since those working on emulators are a more technical than your average TI-99/4a user was back when they were new.  I will definitely hunt around a bit more before I do anything about it, but I'd like to see emulation be as easy, or easier, than just turning on the TV, shoving in a cartridge and turning it on.  Seems like a good project to take on in my lack of free time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

It's Been Over 17 Years

Sometime shortly after I started college I got really got into emulating the TI-99/4a and curating a library of cartridge images as the available sources were scarce.  Designing and maintaining a personal website had long been a hobby of mine so logically I decided to share my collection.  Apparently I was more rebellious in my youth and provided everything for download before actually getting the ok from TI, but I did eventually contact TI and get permission.  I was a little amused that my post on remains and is even referenced by the MESS emulator wiki.  I was afraid I had lost that information forever since I lost access to my university email before I thought of saving a copy.

My TI-99/4a interest was recently rekindled when I found out that a coworker was also a former TI Home Computer owner and was excited about exploiting a bug to run assembly programs from TI-BASIC.  He had it working on an emulator and wanted to try it on the real deal so I brought my real system for him to play with.

I had a bunch of prototype website designs leftover archived on my NAS from my decades old plans to put a site back up after college and used some of those materials to make a blog instead.  I aim to update/restore the content I had on my previous site, pointed to by for a while I had a free domain, over the next few days.

I am also really excited to get my son into the TI-99/4a as soon as he is old enough.  He is almost a year old right now so it will be a few more months before he is read for Early Learning Fun and the like.  It will be fun to share the programs I enjoyed growing up with the next generation.