|Who else remembers this hot air balloon sprite from the manual?|
|This produced some strange looks from the young 'uns in work!|
I've also been spending most of my weeknights simply lying on my couch with iTunes playing in the background and a Commodore Format in my hands. I've plugged a few gaps and now have an unbroken run up to issue 10, then issues 12 and 14 and have been absorbing every single page of each 100-page magazine. Currently I've just started the sixth edition and already have a huge list of games I'm gagging to find on eBay and play! It's also been interesting to read the technical stuff with a better understanding of them and take part in the fun exercises the monthly used to set its readers as they learned BASIC programming.
I've also had word of a small but very exciting writing opportunity which I'll fill you in on when I can.
So why have I been silent on the blog if the Commodore has been taking up so much of my time? Well here's why:
|Coded a simple little lottery program as my first one in decades!|
(FYI - they didn't win.)
Yup, those pesky CRT TVs never really did like having their pictures taken. For the Oink! book I'm hoping to write (see my other blog for information on that) I'd been searching for a good webcam for the Mac Mini at a decent price, with a mind to purchasing it with my February wage from the boring office job. I'd found one too, a great Logitek one on offer on Amazon and I thought it'd be the answer to this problem above too. However, while I waited I began thinking if this was really necessary.
I have an iPhone and the camera on it is superb (if it's good enough for National Geographic it's good enough for me) and indeed it's the camera I've always used for any photos on either blog, but when trying to capture an image on an old TV the set's refresh rate wasn't playing ball. This is true across the board with any camera, which professionals get around with ISO and shutter speed controls etc. (I may sound like I know what I'm talking about but that's only thanks to several Bing searches later), things which camera phones simply don't have to any great degree.
But I've been experimenting as the iPhone does have some great extra controls for live exposure settings (how much light the lens picks up) while taking a photo, and this can stop the flickering before I take a shot, though not the light and dark patches. I also tried the Burst Photos feature, taking dozens of shots in a few split seconds in quick succession from which to choose your favourite, but they still produced those patches on the screen. I even hooked up the 64 to the big screen LG HDTV I have thanks to the special cable I got with my computer but these old machines were really designed to be used on CRT. As such the result came out like it was too crisp; Everything that look like smooth circles and curves on the older set just looked jaggy and over-pixellated on the new one, which is fair enough as it's doing its job. But the iPhone's HDR mode, where the camera takes a few shots and pieces the best parts from each together automatically without you even noticing, produced some great shots!
By reading up it's all about the shutter speed though. These CRTs refresh half the horizontal lines of pixels at a time, flicking back and forward between the two sets of alternate lines so quickly our eyes can't see it, but the camera does. The incredibly fast shutter speed is picking up the updates and producing the light and dark patches. The HDR mode on the iPhone along with the live exposure is producing some great shots but I know they can be better. So an afternoon of researching has brought up some really powerful apps which I'm testing at the moment. With the basic settings already producing some really good results, these apps should be all I need to add without having to fork out for that expensive camera (and the Apple store in Belfast has already helped me with setting up my iPhone as the only device I'll need to record interviews over the internet for the book too). Which is great as that's more money to spend on all those bloody games these magazines keep telling me about!
So this week I'll get cracking with these and you'll then begin to see the start of some more posts of the quality that I want. Stay tuned folks.