Welcome to ClrHome
More Star Trek updates Nov 29
by ACagliano ClrHome Staff
I am pleased to announce the 10th consecutive day of substantial Star Trek progress. As of now, the planning phase is entirely complete and I am coding features. The framework of the program and its GUI is done. Now working on the battle loop and networking. Just a few fun facts before I go into features:

Pages: 41
Characters: 43,943
Lines: 2,083

As for features, there are a few. Not all are coded yet, but they will be available.

1. Defeating another player earns you battle points. Use these battle points to purchase equipment for your ship.

2. Upgrades. Upgrading a ship system increases its maximum health, to a max of 255. Upgrading the generator system increasing its max health; upgrading the unit itself increases its max power output. Upgrading weapons (phasers/photons) allows them to cause more damage. Upgrading the scrambler allows it to last longer. Upgrading the cloaking device allows you to do more things while cloaked that you would normally have to uncloak to do.

3. Locking. Press one key to lock on to a ship in the same 255 x 255 x 255 as you. Press it again to choose another. Locking is essential for firing weapons. The only thing that will work without it is the scrambler.

4. Ship has a Power Supply Drive. Every system that is in use drains power. The impulse drive and warp drive both drain power steadily while in use. Firing weapons costs power. Cloaking drains power at a steady rate. Shields drain power at a steady rate. Transporting costs power. Your generator is designed such that, at max power, your ship can function with all main systems online and shields raised, and not lose power. However, if you upgrade your weapons (more powerful weapons consume more power) and the cloak (the more powerful cloak costs more power), and have everything raised at once, without upgrading your generator, you will likely exhaust your power supply. Should you run out of power, all systems that require energy will fail until power is available, including your shields. A warning will display on your screen when power is getting low, so that you may cut back power usage by lowering your cloak, halting your ship, or doing some other action that reduces power usage. All of your main systems must always use the same amount of power to function, so cutting them back is not an option. However, you can cut back two systems, your Weapons and Sensors. Cutting back the power to weapons makes them less powerful (a weapon fired with 60% power to the system will deal only 60% of its max damage). Cutting back power to sensors decreases their range. You can control this in the "Power" menu. If the generator takes damage, it starts to put out less power, which can be problematic for you if the power supply is not keeping up with the base demands of the ship.
Minesweeper and Madness Nov 29
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
I've decided to enter two games into the pure-BASIC section of zContest this year, and both are essentially finished. I've posted about Absolute Madness before; it's my sequel to AbsIns, a TI-BASIC puzzle platformer. I've finished the level designing and capped it at 21 levels. That should be enough. (I don't really expect many people to beat the first two-thirds, honestly.) It also got a little intro cutscene today, and even if it's short and simple, it's the biggest effort I've ever spent on a game introduction of any sort. You can see it here.

My other planned entry, Minesweeper, could have been an update to my first (simpler) Minesweeper port, but it's really a complete rewrite. This time, it features flood-filling, a white-on-black theme, and the biggest effort I've spent on graphics for any game. Ever.
Four games at once, only better Nov 29
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Back when I released Simul, it was my best Axe game ever. It was my first Axe game ever, and it was cumbersome at best. To play the final stage, Stage IV (dubbed "fourplay" because—well, you'll see), you needed to stretch both thumb and index finger (on both hands) to false arrow keys buried in the middle of the keypad.

That's all changed. My entry for the extended-BASIC section of zContest 2011 is Simul 2: a complete rewrite of that multitasking game. Here's a screenshot.

So what's different? This time around, I focused on making the game playable. Every game uses two buttons and only two buttons, either the up and down arrows, left and right arrows, MODE (acting as up) and X,T,θ,n (acting as down), or ALPHA (acting as left) and STAT (acting as right). That way, four games can be played at once using only eight buttons that are a reasonable distance from one another. Only your thumbs play the games, like they were meant to do.

Another issue with the old version was that the game ended as soon as you died in any of the minigames, so even getting to Stage IV was nearly impossible, even at the slow speed. That's been changed too. In the new version, only your progress in the current stage is reset when you fail a game; you can keep playing, but your death count is tracking your progress all the while and leaves an impact on your final score. And yes, there are scores this time.

For those of you who have never played Simul before, it's essentially a game of multitasking. In Stage I, you switch among six minigames (Pong, Falldown, Avalanche, Jump, Tunnel, and Obstacles), playing each one for a few seconds before switching to the next. Your only goal is to keep alive in each minigame for six games in a row.

When you reach Stage II, you're presented with a different screen: one split into two halves, with each half controlling a game. Pass six more sets of games and you reach Stage III, where (as expected) you play three games at a time. The final stage is Stage IV, where you need only pass six more sets to win, leaving you in infinite mode.
A bit of news Nov 19
by ACagliano ClrHome Staff
It's been a while, hasn't it?

I've got a few announcements to make. First off, to all administrators, I decided to change the password to ClrHome's Twitter account. This was after no less than forty-one (41) login attempts. Yes, forty-one. Administrators only, contact me for the new password.

Second, I would like to welcome a new member, corvetta, who will be assisting us in the Public Relations area. We wish her luck, godspeed, and all that other nerdy stuff we say around here that means welcome. Welcome!

Um, well, because Deep Thought will staple me to a tree for posting a blog that's this short in the topic of news, I kind of need to write a bit more. On the personal level, my Legend of Zelda project has been indefinitely halted, and I am resuming progress on Star Trek Multiplayer (link). I hope to have a beta release out soon, but then again, you've all heard that from me before, haven't you.
Yet another major redesign Nov 11
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Yeah, I did it again after going sober and realizing how bad my design skills really were. And so I tried again, with a completely different paradigm for the new ClrHome site: less text, more stuff. It seems to be working pretty well; I like it, at least. It's dark, colorful, and shiny this time, instead of dark, colorful, and muddy (like the last attempt).

The blog also changed, as you can probably see right now, but I can't claim credit for this one. I still need to write my own custom blog display to match the current site theme, but until then, enjoy Blogger's awesome dynamic views! Really, it's amazing. It even almost conforms to W3C standards, but that might be because it uses so much JavaScript. I don't like that last bit, but until I make a replacement, it'll do.
Uploading programs to the BBify'r Nov 11
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
That's right—you can now upload your 8XP files directly to the BBify'r, and it'll detokenize it to the appropriate TokenIDE syntax. It'll even work with TNS-compiled Lua programs for the TI-Nspire series, but on one condition: that the code be unencrypted. Unfortunately, this is already outdated now that Nspire OS 3.0.2 rejects unencrypted TNS files.

Of course, what's the point of being able to open calculator files with the BBify'r if you're not going to prettify it with BBCode? I've finished the Lua and TI-BASIC replacement sheets, so the engine supports them now.
Rick or treat Oct 12
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
I'd give them the candy if I were you.

Level-making time Oct 11
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
The level editor's done. That leaves the rest of my time between now and SAT 2 exams almost entirely open for level design! I'm planning at least 32 or so. Is that a good number?
Madness updates Oct 5
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
For once I remembered to back up, and I took that opportunity to make a screenshot of my progress. Here it is, with boulders, bonuses, and half a future level!

Homescreen Image Maker Oct 2
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Here's yet another webapp I still haven't posted about until now. The Homescreen Image Maker, or "Homer" for short, takes plain text like you see on a calculator homescreen and generates a dynamic image with it. Its applications might be limited (especially since only someone deep in the TI calculator community would use it), but I've personally found it very useful for some of the new tutorials I'm working on.

So when would you use it? Say you had some text you want to show someone in the context of a calculator screen, but you're too lazy to make a screenshot. Well, just type it as it is into Homer, and it'll give you something like this:

The URL would be something like http://clrhome.org/homer/PROGRAM%3AK31337%0D%0A%3ALbl+A%0D%0A%3AClrHome%0D%0A%3ADisp+%22NIcK+DIsabatO%27s%22%2C%22/%3C-3133%2B+NuMber%22%2C%22GuessInG+PrOGraM%22%2C%22%22%2C%22CHOOse+a+nuMber.gif, which you could then easily (or not-so-easily, depending on how many weird characters your text has) modify.

The only major problem with this is that some special characters that have character values corresponding to something a browser or computer OS recognizes as a control character (anything less than 0x20, the space) would need to be put in manually. The biggest issue is with the "store" arrow, which is a %1C you must put in the URL yourself.
The "Absolutes" revived Oct 2
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Turns out I never did make those updates to AbsIns I had been planning, but I've decided it's for the better. It represents what I could do in late 2009 and early 2010, and I'll keep it as that.

Instead, I finally gave it a decent readme file and sent the final, final package off to ticalc, and created a ridiculously overcompensating project site, thereby ignoring perfectly grounded warnings from fellow calculator programmers that I've been spending more time designing individual websites for each of my programs than I did working on the programs themselves, thus committing a grievous sin against all that we stand for.

To redeem myself, I've finally started on my first major TI-BASIC project in nearly two years. Here's Absolute Madness, a pure-BASIC puzzle/action platform game (sound familiar?) for the TI-83 Plus series. It's essentially an AbsIns engine completely rewritten, with the added features of moving enemies, dimension swapping, and a death sequence—my first attempt at animation for graphics' sake in TI-BASIC.

Yes, dimension swapping, as in in the style of Darl181's Dimension Shift. In my defense, I had the idea before ever seeing his project (which is an awesome game that you should download, by the way).

And of course, since I have only a TI-83 Plus on which to work on, this will have full compatibility with the slower models, but this time I'll actually make a version for you TI-84 Plus users out there. (The screenshot is taken on a TI-83 Plus; click it to see the full power of 15 MHz calculators.) Hope this works out.
Legend of Zelda progress Sep 25
by ACagliano ClrHome Staff

Hello and thank you for your interest in the Legend of Zelda project. I hope you will enjoy this project when it is finished. Please visit out project page here. Feel free to post any suggestions, comments, or questions.

Currently, the game will be a TI Flash Application, compatible with the TI-83+, TI-84+, and TI-84+ Silver Edition. It may require up to two flash pages (32 kb). You will be able to visit most areas of a typical Legend of Zelda game, including the Lost Woods, Gerudo Desert, Lake Hylia, ect. There are seven dungeons, each with separate enemy classes, traps, and abilities. You will be able to collect many of the same items that you can in any other Legend of Zelda game. I did leave out a few, namely the boomerang, and a few others that I deemed unnecessary, or that would be too migraine-inducing to attempt to program. For a full list of what you can expect in this game, see our project page by clicking the link or the banner above.

Please follow this blog or the project page for updates, screenshots, and releases.
Wikipad Sep 18
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Here's another webapp for you calculator enthusiasts out there: Wikipad, "the online calculator keypad anyone can edit."

This one's been lurking for a while (mostly as a test to see just how much of a problem vandalism may be), but I've finally decided to throw the doors open completely. Wikipad is a wiki based off of the keys of a TI-83 Plus keypad—just click on any key on the page to display information about it! Unfortunately, this requires JavaScript, but unless you're trapped in the early 90s, that should definitely not be a problem.

To edit, it's really simple (perhaps too simple): just double-click any section you want to change, and that section will turn into a textbox. Do whatever you want with it. When you're finished, click anywhere else and it's saved immediately. This also means Wikipad will be very easy to vandalize, so please don't do that. I have logs.

So what's the difference between Wikipad and any other keyvalue table? If you just want to look up the key code of a particular key, Wikipad isn't the fastest way to do so; I've found Juju's getKeyr table a lot more suited to that task. Instead, I planned Wikipad as a user interface guideline—a tool that game and program developers could use to help decide on the best key for a certain purpose. Each key on Wikipad (every one on a TI-83 Plus except for the arrow keys, which are obvious) has a brief description of how the calculator's OS uses it, and a second for how games and programs generally use it. And again, it's all freely editable.
Back to work Sep 9
by Deep Thought ClrHome Staff
Now that school's started, I can start working on Contra again. (I don't completely understand this either.)

I've already cut the size down by nearly two kilobytes (from a high point of over 8 KB), and more rewriting is already underway. I won't decide on a next release date yet, because when I do make the next release, I want it to be something actually worth downloading.

And while I got absolutely nothing done on the actual Contra project over the summer, I did make quite a few updates to the Contra homepage, so follow it and check it out (if you're not there already)! Motivation is such a motivating force.
Zelda updates Sep 2
by ACagliano ClrHome Staff
My Legend of Zelda project has been given a complete overhaul. First off, it is being done in Z80, not Axe. Second, I have redone the mapping system. Instead of having one large main world map, it will be divided into smaller areas, with a separate map for each area. This will make the design and coding of the maps so much easier for me. Also, I have revised the enemy handling. While the enemy initial position will be on the tilemap, when a screen is loaded the positions of enemies will be loaded into an array and handled from there. There will be different enemy types, each with different health and weaknesses.
Political issues Sep 1
by ACagliano ClrHome Staff
While having my eye on the calculator community, and on the impending doom of the world in 2012, I have also been watching the political situation unfold in Washington D.C. with increasing concern. Our leaders, who we trust with the power to make important decisions for us, are no longer concerned with representing us. Rather, they are more concerned with defending their own interests. I mean this against all major political parties. Right now, the Republican Party are the major perpetrators, because ultimate control of the government is in their sight (I will explain), but whenever another party is in control, it is the others that are similarly guilty.

Let's discuss the financial crisis and the lack of a resolution. Recently, the US credit rating was downgraded for the first time. The stock market has taken massive losses, and the job market remains grim. Also, the economy is stagnating because people refuse to spend money. Those who have money are hoarding it, and those who can't afford it...well, you know. Currently, according to a recent study, 1% of this country owns 40% of the nation's wealth. Year after year, we see companies report tremendous sales. The humane thing to do is to give your workers a cut of the profit, because, after all, without them you have no workforce. But, this is not what occurs. Instead, workers are given ever-decreasing wages, and nickeled and dimed for taking a day off because of illness or family issues. Meanwhile, the CEO's of these companies are showing billions of dollars in profits. Ask yourself, as a human being...is that fair?

Education is also an issue. It may be surprising to note that our population is not entirely well educated, at least politically. Does anyone really know, or, if we're being honest, really care what "foreign policy" is? Yet, we blindly listen to arguments about what the best foreign policy strategy is. Then, do we vote on the basis of what we know to be true? No. We simply choose the best candidate from a multiple choice of epically wrong answers. This debacle is known as an election. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all about choices. But, for God sake, if you are making a choice that is going to have this profound an impact, get the damn facts right and decide on that, not because some power-hungry aristocrat tells you to. On a side note, our education system in America is so broken. Here, if you can afford to pay for higher education, you're in and if you can't, oh well, even if you have grades up in the stars. Ask yourself...is that fair, that only the wealthy can get an education, so that only they know how to manipulate the system. In Europe, there is a merit-based education system, where you get into higher education because you deserve it on the basis of the effort you put into your schooling. But, if money will always be a block, what incentive do those who can't afford higher education have to even try?

Now, let's talk about the political climate. This post will use the Republicans as an example, but, as I said, every party is guilty of it. President Obama has been trying to appoint people into government posts. This includes Supreme Court justices and cabinet advisors. Alan B. Krueger is one such advisor, according to the NY Times. He was Obama's pick to lead the Council of Economic Advisors. He is an economist who is well-studied on labor markets. He attributes our current economic condition to a lack of spending on the part of the lower and middle class. He proposed that businesses be given a temporary tax credit for hiring workers. Think of how many jobs that could create. He also proposed that the minimum wage be raised again. After calculating inflation and the cost of living, he arrived at roughly $18.00 per hour. Republicans in Congress blocked this nomination, as well as most of Obama's other appointments, and continue to pursue a spending-cuts-only approach to a problem that is clearly being caused by a lack of spending. Meanwhile, they refuse to consider removing the Bush tax cuts or raising taxes. In addition, Republicans now in control of both houses of Congress have redrawn the district maps. They have redistricted in such a way that two districts with Democratic candidates now have to fight over one seat and one district with a Republican candidate gets split into two districts, both of which choose a Republican candidate. Does this seem fair to you? Republicans are essentially rigging the game. They are banking on Obama's losing the presidential election in 2012, so that a Republican candidate gets in. Between the majority Republicans already have in Congress and the new Republicans that will finagle in because of redistricting, they will be able to fill the posts they have been blocking Obama from filling. Thus, Republicans will have absolute control of Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. All parties are guilty of this sort of politics. They spend more time pushing their own interests than they do actually fighting for the people. We need to become aware of this and to get these people OUT. We need representatives who will fight for us. I don't care what party they are from...as soon as they start playing party politics, vote them out. We have the power here, at least until we give it away.

Note to readers: I am not anti-Republican. Nor am I anti-Democratic. I am, however, anti-personal agenda. I am about the truth, and I will hold everyone accountable to the truth.

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