pirate sanity

finally found someone in the video games industry saying the sensible thing about software piracy:

For example, it is said that in Spain it is currently more difficult than in other nations to take effective legal measures…. I hear people say that, as the result, Nintendo’s market there has shrunk significantly due to rampant piracy. In fact, Nintendo DS software could not make it to the hit software sales chart in the country for sometime. However, when we launched the Nintendo DS software “Art Academy” in Europe this summer, which shows you how to draw pictures, it was ranked No. 1 on the software sales chart covering all the video game platforms in Spain. If one software can attract many people and can become a social topic, that software can sell regardless of piracy.

Satoru Iwata (Nintendo President) from Nintendo Conference Q & A Session – September 29, 2010 (my emphasis)

what a relief!

so, don’t keep claiming software pirates are killing games sales and bashing the homebrew scene in the process – just write better games!  (maybe you should start by getting inspiration from the cool stuff made for free by the homebrew people).


death of a(nother) land rover

those who know me will be amused and faintly relieved to hear that i’ve finally given up on being a Land Rover owner having killed another one.

this one had a slightly fiery end as i attempted to get the LPG system working properly.  i carefully followed the instructions given and twiddled the appropriate knob in the engine.  engine stalls.  engine can’t be re-started.  re-adjusted knob. still can’t start but can still hear and smell gas escaping.  eek!

managed to stop the gas smell by switching the system back to petrol but couldn’t be sure it wasn’t just reduced.   clearly i was a bit ill at the time because my next trick was to wave a lighter at it.  KIDS, DON’T DO THIS!!  small fireball and fire in the air filter.  no phone (sorry – no picture) and no fire extinguisher!

luckily that small fire went out after a minute or so.  presumably it really was just burning off some residual gas.  but again i couldn’t be sure so i ended up calling out the fire brigade on new years day.  and they weren’t sure either.  in the end we all agreed it was probably okay but i should stop fiddling.

this is more stress than i want to deal with.  this morning i arranged for it to be scrapped.  never again!


well, i’ve scanned over 200 barcodes now. but what have i learned?

  • you can get away with a lot of noise in the picture.
  • all those silly things that we try at supermarkets to get the scan to work are actually very sensible.
  • with my dodgy setup it’s only very slightly quicker than typing. but lots more geeky fun.
  • shiny things are bad.

geek goodness

last night was proper geek time for me. last year i hacked together an old webcam and a 35mm lens cap so that i could attach a second-hand zoom lens to the webcam. it kind of worked but the pictures were weird (see my little profile icon here) and it was hard to use.

say cheese

well, now i’ve found a use for it – as a barcode scanner!

i’ve got another webcam but it can’t produce a big enough image of a normal barcode. my zoom lens cam works well. mind you, the webcam isn’t great quality and the lens is old and dirty and i’ve not looked after either whilst sticking them together or since, so the pictures are a bit iffy.


so, i found zebra – a bit of FOSS software that can scan in barcodes. had to install a few devel packages on fedora 8 to get it to compile. then i had to modify the code to get it to talk to the second webcam, not the first.

it still refused – turns out the webcam only supports GREY or YUV420p formats but the code only supports RGB24. a quick bit of googling and wikipediaing and coding and we had it accepting YUV420p and reading the black and white data correctly. … and barcodes appeared!!

can you tell what it is yet?

another fix was required to the zebra scanner so that it includes the check digit in its output – the searches didn’t work without it.

EAN-13: 0702727136221
EAN-13: 5060067000844
EAN-13: 5060034578109
EAN-13: 5022366552943
EAN-13: 5055201800763

the next nice find on the net was barcodepedia. loverly. great idea. didn’t have many of the DVDs i scanned. plus it looks like i might have broken it by pestering it with searches. sorry about that.

5022366552943 – Ghost in the Shell [Region 2] on Barcodepedia.com
5023965343321 – Katakuri-ke no kôfuku on Barcodepedia.com
5023965347428 – Mou gaan dou on Barcodepedia.com
5023965350220 on Barcodepedia.com
5023965351227 on Barcodepedia.com

however, it did know about manufacturer codes, so even if it doesn’t know what DVD it is you can still find out who made it.

whilst looking at these extra details and trying it out on a book i saw that the barcode is actually the ISBN number. so i googled for an online ISBN search and was reminded to look at amazon.

and that made me think of just passing the barcode values to amazon in the first place – which works!

a little bit of scripting later and i can now point books and DVDs at my hacked up webcam and the titles from amazon pop up on the screen. 🙂

Tenchi Muyo! DVD Ultimate Collection (NTSC)
Wario Ware: Smooth Moves (Wii)
Azumanga Daioh – Vol. 1
Azumanga Daioh – Vol. 2
My Wrongs #8245-8249 & 117 [2002]
At The Height Of Summer [2001]
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State
Ghost In The Shell [1995]
The Happiness Of The Katakuris [2003]
Infernal Affairs [2004]
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2 Disc Edition) [2005]

next up – get more details from amazon and/or barcodepedia and save them to a CSV or XML file that gcstar can read.