Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mac OS X Jaguar (10.2)

The third release of Mac OS X, let’s hope the bugs from the last version were fixed in this build. Some screenshots come from QEMU (4:3) and off a real PowerMac G4 (16:10)

The desktop, not much has changed from Puma, aside from a few new icons in the dock.

QEMU has a few issues running this build of OS X relating to the finder, where the main Finder window will not open correctly. As a workaround, you can click on the Go menu and then select the window you wish to open.

The emulated IDE controller also has a few issues with a blank/duplicate hard disk.

Install

Install procedure remains the same as the previous versions, with the ability to modify what components are installed. Print drivers were removed since we are never going to use them in QEMU, and we also dont need any additional languages.

Setup

After the install we are presented with the registration wizard.

Desktop

Appears mostly the same as Puma, although you lose the pinestripes out of the dock. Finder window appears to be the same as Puma, with some elements of Windows explorer included which gives it a browser-based feel with the back and forward buttons.

Rendezous is a feature that you will come across in OS X, this allows for local network devices to discover one another, typically used for media devices like DVR (Digital Video Recorder), and Printers. This was later renamed Bonjour, although the technology remains the same. In Safari you can view any local webpages offered by supported devices, such as the configuration webpage of certain routers, and in iChat you can use it to discover other users that have Rendevous enabled. Many OS X applications make use of this technology.

Sound: Works somewhat if you use the screamer audio builds from emaculation. It’s not very good quality audio with stuttering and crackling when playing mp3 audio via iTunes (This might have more to do with the emulated CPU running at 200MHz. Eventually the sound just gave up one time and I had to reboot the OS to get it back.

Applications

iTunes – Version 3 comes bundled with this release and serves as the default music player. This release predates the iPod and the iTunes store, and thus cannot sync without an update.

iChat – Apple’s alternative to MSN Messenger, which supports AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) accounts. works to some extent, whilst the online service will no longer allow sign-in from this client, we can enable Rendezvous chat to communicate with other compatible users, at least on the local network. iChat was originally intended to be used with AOL Instant Messenger.

DVD Player: Plays back DVD movies if your Mac is equipped with a DVD drive or a Combo (DVD Player with CD-R capability) or a Super drive. Also blocks screenshots when using the built-in grab tool.

iMovie: A basic video editor that lets you create home movies, complete with special effects using clips stitched from various video files, typically from a digital video camera. You can also add your own voice effects, allowing you to add commentary to your video. This is one of those apps that runs in full screen, hiding the dock.

iPhoto: Import pictures from your digital camera and organize them into various different albums, Different effects can be applied, and features a printing utility if you have a photo printer.

Address Book: Appears to have a brush aluminum appearance which would later influence the Finer window interface for Panther and Tiger

Sherlock: opens but refuses to load any channels, possibly its no longer online.

Photo Import: is a tool that transfers photos from a supported digital camera connected via USB, and can transfer files to your Documents directory. You can choose to import them all or manually select which images to transfer and if they need to be rotated. YOu can also set to delete the photos from the camera itself to free up space. A good utility but surely this could have been integrated into iPhoto.

Bundled in later updates:

Safari – Although mainly introduced in Panther, one of the OS X updates introduced Safari as an alternative browser. This was to replace Internet Explorer and would include its own rendering engine.

AirPort: Additional drivers are included in later releases of Jaguar, third-party cards are supported providing they are using a specific Broadcom-based chipset (The wireless card in my G4 is actually a BT Voyager branded PCI card). But you are still limited to WEP support, no WPA or WPA2.

Third-Party

RealPlayer: Popular video streaming application, before Youtube was king video clips and music videos were streaming using RealMedia .rm files. RealPlayer later evolved into a full-fledged MediaPlayer similar to iTunes or later versions of Windows Media Player

Opera: An alternative browser using the Presto rendering engine. This was from the era when Opera was a browser you had to pay for, but a free version existed that would show adverts.

Camino: A fork of Firefox designed to be built for use on Mac OS X, making full use and integration into the Finder.

Appleworks: Apple’s own productivity suite of applications that consists of a word processor, spreadsheet and desktop publishing. Technically this is first-party, but is not included with the OS install. Appleworks was never really popular, and many mac users would opt for Microsoft’s Office which had full compatibility with the mainstream file formats. In contrast, the CWK format was used to save text documents.

Norton Utilities: A must for early versions of Mac OS X, includes a set of tools to keep OS X running smoothly.

Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties

3DO’s killer Rom-com

Before we had Heavy Rain or Until Dawn, Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties was a pioneer in the interactive storytelling genre. I guess you could say it was ahead of it’s time.

Story

The game treats you to a opening FMV, followed by the publishers logo, showing off the swirl effects. The game then gives you the option to view the opening sequences or to just skip to the first decision, which saves having to go through the introduction clips.

John’s mother, Certified MILF

One thing you will notice about the voice acting is how finished or unpolished it is, with background noise and microphone artifacts able to be heard. This is very noticeable on the voices that play when selecting an option.

The goal of the game is to get John and Jane together.

Left: Emma, the woman John’s mother wants him to marry, Right: Jane’s father with the butler from Tomb Raider

Parking Lot: The first major decision come up and it is at this point we are introduced to the game narrator. You are given a choice of three options, either John makes the first move, Jane makes the first move or neither of them make the first move.

Picking the third option results in a really long cut-scene slideshow between several other characters, which also makes little sense. I’m not sure if these characters are canon, since they wouldn’t appear in the other two options, or will they ever appear in the game again.

The game then ends and you are promoted to choose another option, as this seems to be the one incorrect option.

The Job Interview: Jane is in the middle of a job interview and you are given a choice on how to proceed, either she gets the job, she gets turned down for the position, or Thresher can take advantage of the situation

The third option is when the game become a Harvey Weinstein simulation, and offers Jane the position if she agrees to take her clothes off. This leads to another decision where she can either agree to do it, or she declines

Picking the first option results in her stripping off, before she smacks Thrasher and runs. Here a chase scene starts with Thrasher armed with a weapon (There’s no gameplay, just still images. This would have been a great opportunity for a mini-game) Jane runs outside back in the parking lot.

If you chose the second option, she will strip off and the game will end

The Chase: Once outside, another decision you will have to make. John can either case after Jane, or he can distract Thresher from her. Choosing the first option results in a long case scene.

The second option results in Thresher flirting with John, and the two end in a relationship leaving Jane standing on her own, possibly becomes a nun to tie in with the other ending?

The chase takes place all around Hollywood, and concludes in an vacant office building where Thresher give Jane an offer. Here another decision is to be made.

The first option has Jane choose Thresher, leaving John on his own.

The second option results in John and Jane getting together, meanwhile Thresher hooks up with Yoko Ono

The Ending: The final decision lets you choose the ending, you only have two possible choices. The normal Hollywood style ending or something completely different where Jane becomes a nun.

Windows Version

The game experience was ported to the Microsoft Windows platform, and was designed for Windows 3.x series of operating systems, This made use of the MPC (Multimedia PC Standard) and requires a 4x CD-ROM drive, a compatible soundcard and a capable video card. Compared to the 3DO version, some effects are missing like the zoom in/out whilst John is on the phone to his mother. This is possibly due to the PC’s of the era not being able to pull off the effect.

The game will run OK in PCem or 86Box, using a 486 (Or 386 running at 40Mhz). The game is simply displaying bitmapped images with a WAV file playing in background, no JPEG compression, possibly to reduce CPU and decompression times.

Specifications:

The game runs the same as it would on the 3DO, but it lacks the opening FMV video of Jane at the start of the game. Aside from that it’s mostly accurate. You can actually browse the games images from the File Explorer/Manager and open them outside of the game.

There is no installer, the program just runs straight from the CD-ROM drive.

Also remember to disable your screensaver, as it will appear whilst in the game.

Full Motion Video?

Most of the game is presented using still images, with the occasional zoom/scaling effect being added. One possibility was the game was still in the prototype stage, which would explain why the still images look like key frames (but does not explain the wacky filters that are used), and the game was just released without encoding the video.

Another possibility being the game running out of space on the disc, the BIN/CUE image is over 500Mb with the still images, and would have been larger had they used actual FMV. Also remember that even though the 3DO was capable of full PAL/NTSC resolution video, it was limited to MJPEG-like video (The exact Codec would vary depending on the game being used), with MPEG1 support only offered as part of an external addon (This predated MPEG2 which was used for DVD and DVB digital TV)

A third possible theory was due to the multiple decisions possible in the game, it was have been preferable to use still images than having to re shoot multiple scenes for each decision in order to save on production costs. Instead they could alter the images and record different voice lines which was much cheaper. This make no sense for the opening and introduction sequences, since that will always be the same.

I’m also curious if this game was ever ported to other platforms besides the 3DO and Windows. The Sega CD would have been a good candidate.

One of the possible endings

Windows NT 3.51 (Build 854)

An updated release of Microsoft’s fledging new kernel, released in 1995.

Install: Attempt 1

First I tried installing it the normal way, inserting a floppy disk and booting from it and have the CD-ROM mounted. First hurdle was towards the end, where the installer complained about not detecting a valid partition, despite the hard disk being detected by the BIOS, and was recognized by FDISK on the Windows 95 boot disk

So I formatted the disk using FDISK on the 95 boot disk, making sure it was FAT16 (Using the FDISK /FPRMT switch) but to no success. It’s weird since it detects the CD-ROM ATAMP drive, but no hard disk

Install: Attempt 2

After a quick search I was advised to use a LOCK command to allow full access to the drive, even though the work LOCK signified you restricting the drive?

To do this I had to use the Windows 95 boot disk to get to a DOS prompt with CD-ROM drivers enabled. Then ran the command below

lock c:
d:\i386\winnt /b

This started copying the file (slowly) to the hard disk which then instructed me to reboot the system. Unfortunately this did nothing as the BIOS could not find anywhere to boot from. It seems this method neglects to install a bootloader

A program crashing in NT 3.51

Install: Attempt 3

After swearing relentlessly , I coped an existing VHD that had MS-DOS 6.0 installed and decided to use that as a base to install NT on, which thankfully had working CD-ROM drivers. Then from the DOS prompt I ran the CD-ROM installer . This copied files in the same manor as attempt two, and upon reboot had added another entry to the bootloader. I guess it only adds to the bootloader rather than create its own?

Either way after selecting the NT option, setup resumed install and gave options for the install.

Another reboot later and we are in the graphical installer, which is where t could customize our NT installation and where we can configure its networking settings.

What I learnt:

  • The lock command only works for MS-DOS 7 and 8 which were integrated with Windows 95 and 98 respectively,
  • NT 3.51 requires a DOS or Win 3.11 install, or assumes the PC already has this installed? Or maybe this is a quirk of the installer disk I was using
  • Maybe this copy is an upgrade copy, or early NT versions were designed to dual boot with DOS. That makes sense since this OS will still in a primitive stage and was probably not designed for regular use at the time.
  • Use the WINNT /B switch to stop the CD-ROM setup from creating blank floppy disks. It insists on creating three blank floppy’s and will not progress until these have been made.

Shortly after getting everything up and running, the OS decided to commit seppuku and would refuse to boot, ultimately crashing the emulator completely. Even VGA mode was unable to fix it. Possibly this build has issue running in this configuration.

PCem config

Motherboard: Elonex PC-425X

Processor: Intel i486DX4

Video: Cirrus Logic GD-5429

Audio: Windows Sound System

eMachines eMonster 800

Another eMachines system, let’s have a look at what comes bundled…

Install is as simple as always, simply boot and the recovery software will automatically partition the disk and action the recovery. Norton Ghost is the utility used to image the recovery media.

After installing the VM rebooted into the Windows ME and began detecting the new hardware. There are a lot of PCI bridges that will be picked up as part of the VM (If you are installing on Vmware Workstation) you can simply hold the enter key whilst Windows detects and notify new hardware was detected.


Eventually, it will start detecting the Network, Sound, and Video adaptors however whilst the sound and network work out of the box, video is a tad more complicated. Simply use the stock VGA driver for now.

The next part is a bit messy, we are tasked with completing the OOBE (Out Of Box Experience) by filling out a few registration details as proof of purchase. We are stuck at a low screen resolution(640×480) with no ability to change and this causes some of the text to overlap. With a bit of luck we can fill in the required fields (Use 90210 for the ZIP code) and then proceed. At some point the system will try to dial out to eMachines to complete registration, you can simply click on skip to move on.

Also that wizard from the XP OOBE (And Office) appears with a robotic voice.

Eventually, we are presented with the desktop, but we are not done yet. We need to install the VMWare VGA drivers but the OS is so old we cannot use the latest VMWARE tools, instead we can download an old version of the VMWare tools and install that. These files are iso files and can be mounded into the VM using one of the virtual drives (I recommend adding two IDE CD-ROM drives for convenience, although more can be added using SCSI which Windows ME supports)

VMWare tools old version

This one worked best, but even that generated an error, thankfully we can manually install the VMware VGA and mouse drivers through device manager. A quick reboot and we have some acceleration enabled.

Though we still have issues with the USB controller and some other PCI devices.

Alternatively, we can use 86Box to provide more accurate emulation, however im not sure which system is the best match for the eMachines monster.

Some branding on the boot screen

Desktop

It’s a bit cluttered and there’s quite a bit already preinstalled. You will notice another bar on top of the Windows taskbar. There are a few icons and an advertisement banner on the right. Yup that space was intended for adverts direct to your desktop
Clicking on the search button opens up a search box, where you can search on multiple search engines, It’s sort of like Apple Sherlock.

Nothing seems to work, and the error box reports the program as iSearch. My guess is the server is offline.
Search engines supported are yahoo, AltaVista, InfoSeek, Excite and Lycos. No Google, thank fuck for that.
The other buttons on the toolbar are shortcuts to various web pages online, many of which are defunct or return dead links:
Accuweather
Barnes&Nobile
Shoppinglist.com
Flooz
cnet
ourhouse.com
Fool.com
You can add your own website shortcut and assign your own icon, for which there’s a large collection to choose from.

Clicking on Shop on the right of the bar opens up the eWare menu, with a bunch of categories to choose from like travel, Entertainment, Fitness, etc. these contain links to further websites, acting as a directory of online shopping sites.
The Surf button is nearly the same as Shop but contains no e-commerce sites and has various categories for entertainment, knowledge and utilities.

It’s actually not a bad idea since these PCs would be intended for first-time internet users who may not be knowledgeable on what websites to access. It’s a shame about the banner adverts.

Software

Easy CD Creator

This system came configured with a CD Burner, and I don’t think Windows had native support for CD burning, at least not integrated into Windows Explorer so additional software was required to fulfill this task. Here you can burn audio and data CDs so you can copy your Napster MP3s and convert/burn them for your CD Player or some PSX isos.
The Easy CD Creator comes will a full-blown interface, and even has Office assistance-like features that will help you use the program. Images created here to use the CIF CD Image File format, another format that nothing else uses, Alternatively ISO can be used instead.

HiWire

A radio streaming program that lets you stream internet radio over your dial-up or LAN connection, Has a unique interface that stands out from the rest of the Windows applications. You can browse a directory of preset radio stations, of which you can double click to listen to. The chat button open a link to the palace, which was an external virtual chat application.
None of the radio stations will work, and will just result in a connection error.

Deltathree

A phone dialing application is used to make phone calls with your PC, although it requires a login to the server. Possibly some sort of VoIP application.

Eudora

This was a popular email client application used as an alternative to Microsoft Outlook. However it requires registration and payment, otherwise, adverts will be shown, similar to Opera.

Incanta Video

Not sure what this is as it only shows a login box. A look on their archive website, it appears to be some sort of video music service, like VEVO?

Microsoft Works

An OEM favorite, basic office suite with a bundled word processor, spreadsheet software and a calendar application.

Microsoft Money

Money 2000 comes included here and plays a short tutoral upon the first startup.

RealPlayer

Version 6.0.8.122 is bundled here, RealPlayer was used to stream audio and video over the internet.

RealJukebox

Serves as a media music player for playing local MP3 files that you obtained from Napster

Netscape Browser

Not installed by default but can be done by clicking on the install icon on the desktop, this will install Netscape Navigator and will set it as the default browser

Trellix Web

Website building application and the first I’ve seen on an OEM system. You can generate a website built from a template and publish it online, although the bundle host has long since gone defunct.

Further Info

Archive link – CD Image

Press Release

Corel Linux

An early Linux distro, this time by Corel who also developed Corel Draw and is known for PaintShop Pro and WordPerfect office suite

Install

The installer has a very Windows-like look to it, at least going by the window styles.

Originally I tried using the Cirrus Logic GD5440, but the X Window system would not start up with that card. Instead, I tried S3 Vision968 instead, which actually worked fine. I guess certain cards have issues running under Linux

Boot

The logon screen on the left, and the default desktop after a fresh install. It seems that most drivers for the hardware were detected and installed, all except for the sound.

Sound

This was an issue trying to get the sound to work with this distro, at first I tried using the SoundBlaster AWE32 (both normal and PnP versions) and using the sndconfig command in the terminal to configure it but I had no luck. The PnP version said it was detected and set up but after rebooting there still wasn’t sound. Using the regular AW32 resulted in no devices being detected, even after using the –noprobe switch to force it into selecting the soundcard values.

Lastly, I tried using the Ensoniq that 86Box emulates and although this is automatically detected by the OS, I still had no luck getting the sound to work.

Meanwhile, everything else seemed to work, the network card & the SCSI adaptor.

Applications

There are a few applications bundled with the OS, some will also appear in other distro’s

Games

kblackBox (0.3.0) No idea how this game works…

Konquest (0.99.1) Not much luck with this one either

Mahjong (0.4.1) Typical Mahjong clone

Minesweeper (kmines 1.0.1a): Standard Windows minesweeper clone

Patience (0.7.3) Looks like another solitaire clone

Poker (kpoker 0.5)

Reversi (kreversi 1.0.1)

SameGame (0.4) Objective is to clear the board by clicking on groups of colours

Shisen-Sho (kshisen 1.1): Looks like Mahjong, objective is to move pairs of matching pattens/tiles that are on the same line, within 3 spaces of each other

Smiletris (Ksmiletris 1.1) Sort of like Tetris, but blocks drop in pieces of three. According to the help documentation, at least two blocks vertically have to have matching patterns to be removed.

Snake Race (0.2.1): A bizarre take on the snake game formula, you have to control your snake and eat as many apples as possible, whilst avoiding the computer-controlled snake. There is a ball flying about, but I have no clue as to what that does? Annoying it you open the menu to change difficulty, the game does not pause and will continue playing in the background.
You can also customize the game itself, like changing the background image. Or set the amount of computer-controlled snakes.

Sokiban (ksokoban 0.2.2) A game where you have to push the diamonds into the correct holes in order to progress to the next level. Same as what was included in Mandrake 7.

Graphics

the GIMP (1.0.2) Image and photo editing application

PS Viewer (kghostview 0.7) Simple image viewer

Multimedia

CD Player: Standard CD Player, I couldn’t get this to recognize any mounted CD audio formations (They were mounted as BIN/CUE)

Media Player (kmedia 1.0) plays back WAV format files

MIDI/Karaoke Player: Starts up fine, but unable to test any MIDI files due to the lack of working sound

XMMS (0.9.5.1): X Multimedia system, sort of acts like WINAMP. Has support for MP2 and MP3 files.

Network

KVIRC (1.1): An IRC client that asks a lot of questions on startup, like where you want the config files to be saved, and if you want an icon placed on desktop.

KRN (0.6.0) : Newsgroup client

Samba Server Wizard: Sets up your computer to share files within a workgroup, and to share printers if needed, Samba is the protocol that Windows uses to share files within a local network.

System

Corel Update: Searches for updated packages and new components to be installed. No longer functional since the update servers are now offline.

Event Viewer: Similar to the Windows event viewer, shows any issues or events logged with the system. Very useful for troubleshooting, here it found that the AWE32 soundcard was not being detected properly.

Font Manager: Shows X11 and KDE fonts currently installed on the system

MIME Editor: Change application file type defaults, i.e which program to open DOC files in

Process manager: Like the task manager, shows running processes and how much resources they are consuming

User manager: Add and manage user accounts, and any background users for specific processes.

Utilities

Archive Administrator (0.5): Create and open tgz files

Calculator (kCalc 1.2.7): Functions as a regular or a scientific calculator, looks very similar to the one found in versions of Microsoft Windows

Console: Enter bash terminal commands here

Format Floppy (kFloppy 1.1.2) : Formats a floppy disk, supports both 3.5 and 5.25 inch drives

Hex Editor: View hex value for certain files

Note (knote): Similar to sticky notes, you can add different post it notes to the desktop

Text Editor (kwrite 0.98): Text editor, like Windows notepad

Online Services

Corel also bundled a few links and utilities to online services, these were typically links to products Corel had developed or had sponsored.

Other Applications

Netscape Navigator (4.7): The default web browser for the system.

Most of the built-in links have expired and do not return any proper webpages, some even throw up a phishing warning by my ISP (CorelCity).

Still, I was able to load Richard Stallman’s own website, although the archive version works better

Acrobat Reader: I’m surprised that this was here, I didn’t think Adobe developed Acrobat for Linux, unless this is a Wine port. Sadly it refused to work, with only an error message appearing.

Control Center

Various elements of the Corel Linux operating system can be configured here, and details of the system will be shown here. In essence, it’s the systems Control Panel.

There’s a variety of themes to choose from they add style to the windows, taskbar and background image. You can also stick with the default theme, and just use a different preset colour scheme, or you can modify the individual colours themselves.
There are also system sounds, but I could not get the soundcard to function in this operating system.

Sample Themes


Screensavers are also offered here and there is a good selection compared to a typical Windows install.

Window minimizing effect

86Box Configuration

  • 86Box Version 3.3
  • Motherboard: Intel Advanced/ZP
  • CPU: IDT WinChip 2 – 240Mhz
  • 128MB RAM
  • Video: S3 Vision968 (SPEA Mercury P64V) 4MB VRAM
  • Sound: None (Tried Ensoniq AudioPCI ES1371 and SoundBlaster AWE32)
  • Network: Realtel RTL8029AS
  • SCSI: NCR 53c860
It’s now safe to turn off your computer

Nvidia Shield

The unknown fourth player in the console market

Android TV Home

Nvidia Shield has been out for a while now and has become a attractive device for Android based emulation due to is relatively powerful SoC and the application support of the Android TV platform.

History

The Shield series of devices started out with the original Nvidia Shield, which was a portable Android powered device which was capable of streaming games from a desktop PC that had an Nvidia graphics card. Very similar to Sony’s remote Play for the PS3 and PSP, and later PS4 and the underrated Vita. They later evolved into the Shield tablet, and the Shield TV which is a Android TV powered streaming set top box, like the Amazon Fire TV.

Processor

The Shield and the Nintendo Switch share the same processor, the Tegra X1, and X1+ in later revisions which is a die shrink of the original processor. The processor is quite powerful, compared to other Android which rock the Cortex A53 (An in order CPU) the X1 has both the A57 and the A53 with the former being used to run common applications. Together with its Maxwell based GPU makes the Shield an attractive device to run emulators on. There are also Android TV games that are distributed on the Google Play store which will run on the Shield.

Play Store has plenty of emulators

Controller

By default the Shield Pro does not come with the Shield controller (Previous versions did) but can be purchased separately and paired. The controller itself seems to be inspired by the PlayStation Dualshock design with its symmetrical dual analogue sticks, and the face/shoulder button design. The controller also features the regular android navigation buttons to call up the home screen or the app switcher. There is also a microphone and a Nvidia button which calls the Google assistant. Vibration is also present, but I have yet to use this with emulators, it seems Nvidia are using a custom controller API which makes vibration support difficult. Remember this is an Android based device, and features like Xinput are unsupported with out third party applications.
Also shipping with the SHIELD is the remote control, which is shaped like a Toblerone, and is quite comfortable to hold. Here you can navigate Android streaming apps and adjust the volume of the TV or AV receiver if you have one. Soundbars are also supported. A nice feature is it come with a backlight that activated when motion is detected.

Emulation

Retroarch

This was the first thing I installed on the Shield, and whilst I’m familiar with how Retroarch, and Libretro in general, there are a couple of issues.
The way it detects the controller is an issue, since Retroarch will detect the Shield remote and assumes it is some sort of controller and assigns it as controller 1, whilst the Shield Controller is detected as controller 2, which prevents you from navigating the retroarch interface. Also sometimes retroarch will not detect a controller at all, the fix for this was to press the home button which would return you to the Android home screen, then open Retroarch again with the controller, which Retroarch should detect as player 1.
Retroarch can be difficult to set up, I’m not sure if this is an issue with the Android / Play Store version since I can use the PC version without these issues. There’s also an issue where retrarch does not apply changes will often resert some setting back to the default, like the BIOS location or the game save directory.

Retroarch


It’s a shame because Retroarch does have a good list of emulators that can be used and its user interface is one of the best, but the complicated set up on config file issues make it a huge turnoff.

Duckstation (PlayStation)

Sideload launcher

The best PlayStation emulator imo, but there is one huge issue here. Duckstation does not support Android TV officially, it will still run if you sideload the apk but the app runs like its running on a smartphone, and there are issues when navigating the interface using the controller as the emulator is expecting the touchscreen. Its perfectly usable with some compromises having to be made. Sideload launcher will need to be installed to access Duckstation.

  • When scanning for roms, Duckstation will open the Android file browser for you to select a directly to locate your roms, but this app does not support input from a controller. The workaround? Use a USB or Bluetooth mouse, which allows you to control using the mouse cursor. Thankfully you only need to do this one since one you have told Duckstation where your roms are located, it will keep updating the rom browser when you add new files to that directory.
  • On screen buttons, thankfully there is an option to disable this.
  • Memory Card file management, I have yet to find a way to change the directory where Duckstation saves the memory card files, I could do this on the Xbox One version and have all my game saved stored on the external hard disk, but are inaccessible since there is no way to change the directory from what I can see.
  • Lastly just to recap what was mentioned at the start, because its not built for Android TV you have to use sideload launcher in order to open Duckstation, and you have to use the platform tools in order to sideload, along with enabling developer mode.

But this emulator has its merits, since it is able to offer enhancement in a simple menu structure. There are two types of settings, global/default applies the settings for all ROMS you load through Duckstation but you can also specific induvial settings for specific games that override the global settings. useful if a specific game has issues with say, enabling PXGP, you can disable that settings and that will only apply to that game only.

Grid list of roms, cover art can be set but is a manual process
  • PXGP support – Helps reduce or completely remove the polygon warping effects, can also help with the texture popping
  • Upscaling – handled in multiples depending on the games resolution, the Shield can handle 720p, with 1080p for some titles. I should mention that some games like Wipeout 3 run in a high resolution mode (around/near 640×480 compared to 320×240 for most games)
    • I should also mention the Shield being advertised with 4K upscaling capability , but this only applied to video content and not games or any app that generates its own graphics. I’m also not sure if the Shield reserves a few CUDA cores for the upscaling, as even though I have tried disabling the AI upscaling option there is little different with the graphics performance when upscaling, 720p seems to be a limit for most titles.
  • CD-ROM Speed – A faster read speed can be used to reduce loading times which was the main issue with CD-ROM based games, but can cause some games to malfunction since they may be hardcoded around the PlayStations CD drive limitations.
  • Memory Card Management: Each game can be set to have its own memory card and the emulator will create a file for that game. This fixes one of the main issues with the PlayStation, as each memory card is limited to 15 blocks per card with some games consuming multiple blocks. You no longer need to create and swap virtual memory cards as Duckstation will do this for you.
    • But you can set memory card slot 2 to be shared, and you can set certain games to use a specific memory card instead by amending which save file it uses. This is useful for PlayStation games that make use of another titles save file.
  • Overclocking – Another nice performance feature, but can break games if they were hardcoded to run at a specific speed. A must for certain games like Driver, The Shield can overclock the PSX CPU at up to 1.5x the original clock speed without suffering from frame drops. Some titles may be able to go further, depending on how they run in the emulator.

Overall Duckstation is perfectly usable, And I would recommend it over retroarch despite the issues outlined above. A lot of these can be fixed by incorporating a few of the Android TV API’s

ePSXe (PlayStation)

On Android its kind of been left to rot, since the interface isn’t very polished and there are a few emulation issues that crop up here compared to the other emulators. Overall it will work and its on the play store, so you can launch it from the Android TV interface directly, but I don’t recommend it.

M64Plus FZ Emulator (Nintendo 64)

A nice emulator for Nintendo 64 titles, has support for upscaling and has a prebuilt set of plugins that can be tailored to performance or accuracy. The Shield can handle the accuracy settings rather well if your happy with 720p rendering, otherwise higher resolutions can be used if you choose the performance profile. Some of the later N64 games that used their own microcode can have considerable slowdown (Perfect Dark) so you may need to tailor the performace settings to compensate.

There is also a similar emulator known as Mupen64+AE which is an older version of the Mupen emulator, and lacks Android TV support.

Yaba Sanshiro 2 (Sega Saturn)

Named after the mascot of the Sega Saturn, this is an Ok emulator but what lets it down is its limited compatability with certain games. Many Sega exclusives will work fine, with a few thrid party games failing to boot or suffering from issues. Thankfully these games have PlayStation/PC/3DO ports which arguably run better on those platforms, at least for 3D titles.

The user interface is noice and tegrate with the android tv launcher, showing previous played games, and will sort the games in alphabetical order which allows you to navigate and find titles more easily.

MAME4droid (Acade)

This is an Android adaption of MAME 0.139, and uses its romsets. As MAME 0.139 was relased mid 2010, it misses out on any improvements to the different machines that MAME emulates and as a result it struggles to emulate machines from the early 90s onwards, espically 3D arcade boards.

Namco System 11 games are playable but the sound emulation is poor, System 12 games struggle to run at full speed. Forget System 22 or Sega Model 2 or above, as the Shield lacks the CPU power to emulate these in the way that MAME does.

Sixth Generation

Emulators for sixth generation consoles are available like Dolphin and Redream, but due to the Shields aging hardware it is unable to reach full speed in these emulators for the majority of games. I wouldn’t recommend using the Shield for Gamecube titles, rather look to the Wii/Wii U instead which features native comparability. Dreamcast you can sort of get away with if you avoid the problematic titles, but for PS2/NGC/DC i would adisve to get an Intel NUC running either Linux or Windows with a living room friendly frontend. Retroarch can be configured to run at startup if you wish to use that.

External Hard Disks

Internally the Shield has 16Gb of flash storage, of which half is reserved for the operating system and the preinstallerd apps. The Shield Pro come with two USB3 ports for expandable storage for use with an external hard drive.


There are two ways to provision external storage on the Shield:
External storage which mounts the drive for use, as long as its formatted using a compatable file system. NTFS, FAT32 and exFAT are supported. As the name suggests, you can transfter files and access them, providing you give the application the correct permissions to do so. And you can connect and mount the drive to another computer or Android device whilst keeping the file system intact.
Device Storage formats the device using it’s own filesystem, which allows for additional Android applications to be installed to the external hard drive. This pairs the hard drive to the console itself, so you cannot use it as removable storage for use of another Android or any other device without reformatting.

However the Shield implemtation is not perfect and there are a few issues when it comes to pwer management. Android itself has no ability to spin down the hard drive without the use of additional software, unless the drives firmware has support to do this.
The Shield does have the option to power down the USB port when it enters sleep mode, however I found this to be rather abrupt since it will shut off the power to the drive without spinning it down first, which means it has the same effect as unplugging the drive whilst it is still spinning. This may have an affect on the life and health of the drive, since hard disks need to be spun down before they are powered off.
I did look into using the hard drive utilities to spin the drive down after a certain amount of time. I downloaded Seagate Tools to see what was offered but found this only allows control of the drives LED lights. Nothing in regard to the hard drives power management or sleep time.
The only other thing I can think of is if an app is keeping the drive alive by accessing it. I did hear that the photos app will routinely check any external drive for new content, and will check every 20 mins or so. I disabled these to check but found it made no difference, The drive still spins.

Alternatives

Amazon Fire TV: Fire TV set top boxes are based on the Android operating system , and Amazon sold game controllers that were compatible with the Fire TV but these have since been discontinued. Note this isn’t regarding the Fire TV stick which are quite underpowered and are designed for boomers to connect their 10 year old Bush/Alba TVs
Later Fire TV devices use the Cortex A53 which can cause issues with more demanding emulators due to the lack of performance, the second generation Fire TV cube or box are recommended.
Nexus Player: Considered to be the predecessor to the Shield, although now underpowered for most apps and emulators.
Razer Forge TV: A good alternative but sadly discontinued. The Shields is more powerful than the Forge TV and runs a later versions of android.

Non-Android
Atari VCS: Recently released in the US, although there is no confirmed Europe release date. Runs a customized Linux disto similar to Ubuntu which should allow for compatibility with Retroarch and Linux emualtors.
Apple TV: Not much experience with Apple gear, but jail braking is a possibility (Check software version before use) and game controllers can be used. However the software restrictions make this a huge turnoff.
Intel NUC: This is more of a DIY solution, but the form factor of the NUC devices makes them suited for set top box use. Windows would be the first option to install, but SteamOS would make more sense sine it has a TV based user interface as the default, and Debian based Linux distributions typically have good hardware and software emulator support. You would have to use your own controller, or use the Steam controller instead if you go with SteamOS.

Xbox One / Series: Can be a good alternative, they are easily the most powerful but install but setup can be longwinded. Two methods are avaliable, the dev mode or the whitelist. The dev mode route requires you to have a developer account with Microsoft, if you have used MSDN or Dreamspark (Or any Microsoft Higher education program) previously you may already be registered. This will allow you to sideload emulators onto the Xbox itself, but requires you to reboot into developer mode each time. Alternativly you can go the whitelist method, which will allow you to run these emulators in retail / regular mode, but the Xbox must be online and connected to Microsoft whenever those applications are used, and may be removed at any time. You must register with the developer who will have to approve your account in order to download and install the emulator. There are also some file system limitations with both methods, having everything stored on an external drive is reccomended, espeically for roms and game saves.

Adding a Hard Drive to a Dell Inspiron 5485

Introduction

This laptop comes with an onboard M2 SATA drive that has a 256GB capacity, with the provision of adding a SATA hard disk internally. Whilst you could add another SSD, I decided to reuse an old HDD I had around for some extra storage.

To prepare, make sure you have the hard disk ready that you would like to install and the SATA cable. The thickness of the SATA drive is important, as you will see later I made the mistake of installing a thicker HDD than the bay is designed for. I would also check and make sure the SATA cable is already shipped inside your laptop, since I assumed I had to purchase one separately.

Opening Up

This was a bit tricky, you have to unscrew the screws, the top three being fastened into place and are non-removable. What this means is that you unscrew then as normal but they do not come out of the case, rather they stay to prevent them from falling out.

Once the screws have been removed or loosened, you will need to pry around the edges of the laptop with either a credit or debit card or a thin plastic tip to loosen it. You may need to pry to get it to loosen, be gentle and apply even gradual pressure.

Removing the caddy

Once opened you will locate the area where the HHD will be installed, alongside the battery that will need to be removed and the socket where the SATA cable will connect to

Removing the battery

The SATA cable will need to route under the internal battery, so we have to temporary remove it, or in my case move it so we can access the area underneath There enough space where you can just place the battery on top of the motherboard whilst you install the SATA cable.

Adding the Hard Drive

Dell have provided a hard disk caddy where the drive can be installed, simply unscrew it (for screws) to take it out.

Unfortunately at this point is where I made my first mistake, since I assumed Dell did not provided you with the SATA cable and had to be purchased separated. Imagine my surprise when I took out the HDD enclosure and saw the SATA cable nestled between the plastic cover, meaning I now have two SATA cables. Well that’s £18 wasted…

Then again at least I have one spare incase anything was to happen to it. I’m pretty sure the Dell service manual mentioned you had to buy the came separately, or maybe that only applies to certain markets?

Now it is time to screw in the HDD, which is where I ran into the second issue. I noticed the SATA cable wouldn’t reach, At first I thought I had installed the HDD the wrong way round since the connector wasn’t aligning up but from looking at the hole underneath the HDD bay it seemed to fit. Upon closer inspection it seemed the hard drive I was trying to install was too tall for the enclosure and I had installed it upside down. When the hard drive is too THICC for the laptop…

Thankfully I had another hard drive lying around, a HGST that was pulled from my old PS4 when I upgraded its hard disk. This hard drive was thin enough that it would fit inside the bay.

Reassembling

A quick power on test before reassembly to ensure I didn’t fuck anything up. The laptop booted and the HDD was recognised in its BIOS EFI (Still trying to get used to that)

Motorola V547

The Motorola V547 is based upon the V500, and has a similar feature set however the V547 is slightly lighter and adds support for video capture and improves the battery life slightly. The display is capable of displaying 65k colours.

Although the device can play MP3 files, it does not have a dedicated MP3 player function, also the phone only has 5.5Mb of memory that cannot be expanded, which is very limited for a phone that supports a VGA camera and video playback, you certainly cannot use it as a music player, barley having enough storage for one MP3 song

Starting Up…

Homescreen

The four icons in a middle corresponds to the shortcuts than can be accessed using the phones directional pad buttons, and can be configured to the users preference. There is also a clock display at the bottom left, which can be set to either digital or analogue.

Unfortunately this phone has a lot of O2 branding (Phone provider in the UK), which results in a lot of O2 icons and link to online services.

Phonebook

List all contacts saved in the handset and the SIM card, when stored on the phone, additional information can be saved, you can also set a picture for the contact, save a voice name so you can speak to call the contact

Calls

Lists of received and previously dialled numbers appears here

Messages

SMS messages can be sent and view here, you can also send email’s and Multimedia messages (MMS).

Office Tools

My Service (SIM Application Toolkit)

If the SIM card inserted supports the SIM-AT, a list of applications can be accessed in the My Services menu

Calculator

A basic calculator is offered, along with a currency converter which can be configured with the exchange rate

Datebook

Basically a calander, can be set to a month or a week view. Events can be added and set to reoccur daily, weekly or on a specific date of a month. Timer events can also be set here.

Shortcuts

New shortcuts can be added to the shortcut menu, and the list can be reordered

Voice Records

A list of recorder voice notes, and the ability to create a new one. To record, there’s a voice button on the right side of the phone that needs to be held in order to record, releasing the button stops the recording, and you are limited to 50 seconds per recording.

Alarm Clock

Multiple alarms can be set, each alarm can have have a unique ringtone set

Dialling Services

Quick Dial

Chat

Simulates a threaded style view of SMS messaging, messages from the sender and recipient can be seen in one view

Games & Apps

One game comes installed here, FotoFunPack2 and Wakeboarding Unleashed

WebAccess

The web browser can be used to access WAP and HTML sites using the built in GPRS modem

Web Shortcuts

Saved pages and bookmarks, the bookmarks can be accessed here

Multimedia

Themes

Three themes are available here, Scarlet, Moto and Silver. Themes change the wallpaper and the phones colour scheme.

Camera

The handset uses a VGA camera, the viewfinder supports zoom and brightness adjustment. Annoyingly photos captured aren’t automatically saved, you have to manually select save. This ties into the phones design, since Motorola intend for you to take a and send photos without the intention of saving them, the phone having only 5Mb of memory adds weight to this theory and the fact the phones presents the option to send first, before saving.

Pictures

Images captured by the camera are saved here, along with any pictures received by an MMS message or received by Bluetooth.

Sounds

Ringtones are saved here, MP3 files are also stored here and the handset is capable of playing full length MP3 songs, but with only 5Mb of memory, you are limited to only one song, if that.

MotoMixer

Motorola’s ringtone creating application

Videos

Video clips captured with the camera can be played back ere, the phone saved in the 3gp container format

IM

Settings

Personalise

Settings like the home screen layout, which include the function of the home shortcut keys, and the left/right soft keys. The clock type can also be set here.

The main menu can be configured as either an icon grid view or a list view, and the menu order can be reordered.

There are 3 themes that can be set, Moto (Blue), Techo and Neon, themes includes the colour of the menus and the background wallpaper screen

Greeting message can be set when the phone turns on

Wallpapers that can be set, either from the built in images or a photo taken by the phones camera. Like in Windows, if an images does not match the screen resolution, you can set the scaling method to either Centre, Tile or Fit-to-screen

Screensavers are similar to wallpapers but are animated, and can be set to displayed after 1 or 2 minutes of inactivity, when the handset being open.

Ring Styles

Profiles can be set here, default ones to choose from are Loud, Soft, Vibrate, Vibrate and Ring and Silent. Pressing detail will let you customise the profile and set alert tones for various different features of the phone (Calls, IM, SMS, VoiceMail, Alarms, Data calls, etc) Ringtones are in MP3 or Midi format, and Motomixer created ringtones will also show up here.

Connection

Bluetooth settings, you can set up a handfree device and change settings like the phones Bluetooth name, set the device to be discoverable. External Sync can also be set for an external server, which allows contacts to be synchronised.

Call Divert

Call diverts can be set here

In-Call Setup

Initial Setup

Basic settings can be changed here, date and time, one touch dial, display settings like the backlight duration and backlight timeout. The device can be set back to factory default settings from here using the security code (default: either 5 or six zeros, 00000)

Phone Status

Battery meter showing how much power is remaining, also software and firmware information versions is displayed here.

Headset

Settings for auto answer after a few seconds, which can be changed, and the ability to enter voice dialling .

Car Settings

Settings for when a handsfree device are connected, and a car charger accessory

Network

View a list of available mobile networks and the bands the phone can connect to, when searching for networks, T-Mobile (Now EE) comes up in the list

Security

Configure PIN/PIN2 and the phones security codes. Call barring ca be set here.

Java Settings

Configure internet access settings for Java applications

Nec e616

Released in 2003, The e616 was one of the first generation of 3G capable phones for the Hutchinson 3 network in the UK.

NEC were not a commonly known manufacturer of handsets in the UK, the market previously dominated by Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and Siemens at the time, with Samsung and Sony (Who’s mobile division would merge with Ericsson). In Japan they were known for their i-Mode handsets

Introduction

Apologies for the poor image quality on some of these captures, since the only way to capture was using a camera pointed to the phone screen, which can yield in some weird effects on screen.

Bootup screen, there is a lot of 3 branding within the handsets firmware, it seems the handset was produced exclusively for Hutchinson 3G and was used in their international markets also.

Home Screen

The default home screen, the calendar can be set as the background, or the wallpaper can be displayed instead. The row of icons can be accessed by pressing the middle enter key, which acts as a shortcut bar or dock to access common phone functions. Items can be added here by pressing ‘Link this’ when you are in a menu.

There is also a task manager like function, which gives the impression that this is some sort of smartphone, perhaps Symbian based?

Main Menu

Menu scheme uses a grid like layout, shortcuts can be used by the number keypad. The quick menu is used to quickly access different phone functions without having to trawl through the main menu. Taskbar lets you select and reopen running background applications, a very smartphone like feature.

Messages

3Mail looks to be a remote email service provided by 3, to be an alternative to Blackberry push email that was offered at the time. Having email on your phone was still a high end feature that many phones were not capable of, and even the ones that did have severe restrictions in what emails could be displayed. Also many webmail email providers did not support third party POP3/IMAP clients, which these phones were classed as, so email would be part of the network provider.

Text messages can be composed and sent from here, the handset supports SMS and MMS Multimedia messages. There’s an option for a video message which is really a vieo clip attached to a multimedia message.

A full text editor is provided, with support for copy and paste and predictive text. An annoying feature is typing a message using the keypad, the phone makes DTMF sounds.

The phone also supports copy and paste, a feature that is rarely seen in feature phones.

Phonebook

Contacts can be created and saved to the phone memory or the USIM card

Settings

Handset Settings

Video Calls

One of the big appeals of 3G phones was the advent of video calling, where you and the recipient could see and speak to each other in glorious CIF resolution. Here you can change the picture quality and the camera orientation mode

Screen Settings

Set a greeting message and change the power on jingle

Network setup

Here you can change the network selection, choose if you want the device to connect to 3G exclusively, and any access points settings.

Security

Dial Lock – allows you to set a passcode that is entered via the keypad when the device is opened, when enabled you can only make emergency calls unless the code is entered

Side Key lock – prevents the side volume buttons from being pressed when the device is closed

Supplementary

Misc call settings, you can change the caller ID options, divers and waiting options.

Date and Time

Clear Settings

Changes settings back to their default factory values

Multimedia centre

Access to multimedia features of the phone,

Camera

Capturing picture using the external camera. Both the front and rear camera can be used however both are limited to CIF resolution which is a bit low for this class of phone. Typically phones of this era use VGA resolution camera. Different effects can be applied. Both still images and video clips can be captured.

Record Sound

Sound can be recorded, up to 60 seconds in length and saved as an amr file

Image Viewer

View images captured by the camera, or any images downloaded

Video Player

Videos captured by the camera or downloaded videos from three can be played here, Videos are stored in the MPEG4 format.

Music Player

Capable of playing the Midi ringtones, but can also play back MP3 encoded files, either on the built in phone memory or from the memory card, just be mindful of the 5Mb transfer limit. Music can be played though the headphones or through the built in speaker.

Sound Player

Same as the music player, but for the recorder voice clips stored on the device.

Toolbox

Calendar

To Do

Add, set and remove reminders, and specify when the phone should alert you

Alarm Clock

Up to five different alarms can be set, with the option to set the reoccurrence to a selected number of days.

Notes

Similar to the Windows notepad, a text editor that lets you save up to 9 separate documents. Text is composed similar to an SMS message.

Calculator

A calculator and a converter, the calculator is capable of simple sums, but scientific operations are not supported. The converter is cable to convert currency only, and has the option to specify the rate manually.

GPS and compass

Supposedly comes with a GPS feature built in, but I wasn’t able to get it calibrated, perhaps it’s dependant on the mobile network being functional?

Call Memo

Java

The phone has the ability to run Java J2ME applications that are published and downloaded by 3. Unfortunately there seems to be no way to load the Java applications over USB or Bluetooth using the PC Software, so there’s not much to do here. I tried copying the Jad and Jar files over manually using the USB connection below but it didn’t work, seems the only way is to use the built in browser and download the games via the 3G network

External Connection

Bluetooth

This phone supports Bluetooth however it is very limited compared to other handsets, there’s no file transfer, only dial up networking and audio headset is supported.

USB

The phone can connect to a Windows PC using a USB adaptor cable, and with the appropriate software installed. Here files can be transferred to and from the phone, and contacts can be synchronised using an external application

Synchronisation

You can Sync contacts, calendar and To do lists from an external server, similar to how you can sync with Outlook or Gmail, only back in these days you had to use the Three server.

File Manager

You can explore both the phone memory and the external memory card. Internally the device has 19Mb of available memory for use, and can support up to 128Mb of external memory, using the Sony Memory Stick Duo standard. You can also format the memory card, check its filesystem for errors and view the amount of space free for use.

Files can be copied or moved, or sent via the MMS if the file size is small enough, Bluetooth cannot be used to send or receive files.

Web browser?

When Three launched their 3G service in the UK, it was designed to be a walled garden where only 3 service could be accessed using the phones internal browser, and external web access was not supported. This meant it was not possible to browse WAP sites on the handset, the browser that ships with the phone is locked down to work with Three’s services only, and from the article below was supposed to be the Netfront browser.

ACCESS’ NetFront™ Microbrowser Selected for New NEC Handsets on Hutchinson 3G Network | ACCESS (access-company.com)

ntl CR2 EPG (2001 – Bromley)

Bromley areas (former Cable&Wireless) were running this guide up until 2002, where it was replaced by Bromley CR3

Not all customers in Bromley were running this version of software, ex-Videotron customers were stuck on CR1 software due to the poor network conditions that meant the area could not support two way communication, meaning no interactive or broadband support. They received a rebranded version of CR1 but without the Liberate browser.

Now and Next bar, surprisingly its transparent

Viewing program information

Main TV Guide home screen

Main TV guide EPG, channels can be filtered according to their genre, and programmes can be filtered by the day and time slot.

Subject search, similar to the A-Z listings, allows you to find a program based on its genre

Ordering PPV events

The settings area, where favourite channels can be managed, and the picture output preferences can be changed

Interactive home screen, since this was a web page loaded from the server, it could be updated independently from the EPG. Interactive services were non functional in ex-Videotron areas (parts of London)

BBCi home screen, looks similar to the Kingston version

TV Email, each customer could have a selected amount of email address to use, and could be accessed from the TV service.

TV Internet, was the main interactive portal for other services hosted on the ntl platform

See more interactive

Vs Telewest

Telewest software looks to be an earlier build from Dec 2000, whilst the ntl is a later build from Jun 2001. notable differences is the support of subtitles

Vs Cable & Wireless