MAME cabinetry

So every now and then I get the notion in my head that having a stand-up arcade cabinet running MAME would be a good idea. The notion has come again.

(I already have stand-ups of Millipede and Star Wars. If I were to buy another stand-up, it'd probably be Tempest, since vector screens are just intrinsically cooler hardware than raster.)

So, there are four paths one could take:

  1. Build one from scratch, using someone else's plans.
    Pro: the controls would be where I wanted them, and it would only cost a couple hundred bucks;
    Con: I don't have much woodworking experience, though I could probably borrow the tools.

  2. Buy some crappy game just for the cabinet, and gut it.
    Pro: somewhat easier, and about the same cost;
    Con: fitting a new controller configuration in might be harder than it would be when starting from scratch. Gutting a game is somewhat sacrilegious.

  3. Buy a pre-built cabinet I can put a Linux box in, e.g,: ArcadePC ($3000 without computer); or MassSystems ($1200); or X-Arcade ($1000, and I think it's a lame `mini'-cabinet.)
    Pro: Shit would Just Work;
    Con: Jesus, Mother of Fuck! That's a lot of money! Plus shipping!

  4. Decide I'd rather play video games lying down than standing up, and just get a controller and figure out how to get the computer to display on my TV.
    Pro: moderately easy.
    Con: extremly low coolness factor.

Of course the real problem here would be figuring out how to lay out the control panel so that it works for the widest variety of games. Games are always designed with specific controllers in mind, and the quality of play goes to hell if you're using the wrong controller. (How could you play Tempest without a spinner? Star Wars without a yoke? Marble Madness without that gigantic track ball? Q-Bert without the joystick being at 45°? Even Joust with a space bar and arrow keys is horrid.)

So I'm somewhat worried about ending up with a big mess of controllers that aren't quite right for any game.

[ LJ Poll 94463 ]

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Edison Carter, live from Iraq

Pentagon to Offer Combat Videophones

FORT DIX, N.J. (AP) -- The Pentagon plans to equip public affairs officers with two-way satellite video transmitters to provide on-the-spot visuals from combat zones that it says could counter hostile propaganda. The $27,000 Austrian-made videophone system will allow military field commanders to hold "near real-time" videoconferences with journalists who may be sitting anywhere on the planet, said Lt. Col. David Lamp, a spokesman for the U.S. Joint Forces Command.

[...] It's a rugged briefcase that cradles a laptop computer with video-editing and recording capacity and includes a built-in camera, keyboard and a pair of external collapsable satellite dish antennas. Television networks began using such equipment extensively in the past year for live reports that previously required bulky equipment.

[...] Using both antennas, Lamp said the device can send and receive live video transmissions over two simultaneous channels, at speeds of 128 kilobits per second -- about twice as fast as the videophones used in Afghanistan by television correspondents. The Scotty device uses satellite communications service of Inmarsat.

(I think this is it:

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"Cc" is the best name for a clone ever.

Cloned Cats Aren't Necessarily Copies

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Rainbow the cat is a typical calico with splotches of brown, tan and gold on white. Cc, her clone, has a striped gray coat over white. Rainbow is reserved. Cc is curious and playful. Rainbow is chunky. Cc is sleek. [...]

Cc's creation was funded by Genetic Savings & Clone, a company that hopes to make money from people's desires to duplicate their favorite pets. Last February, in the journal Nature, the A&M researchers published details of the project and DNA test results that showed cc was a clone. [...]

There is a demand from dog lovers, but scientists so far have been unable to clone a canine. In fact, cc's creation was the result of a dog lover, not a cat lover. University of Phoenix founder John Sperling wanted a duplicate of his collie mix, Missy. With his $3.7 million, Texas A&M launched the "Missyplicity" project over four years ago. Now, Missy is dead, euthanized last year because of an inoperable growth on her esophagus. Sperling has redirected his funding to the Sausalito, Calif.-based Genetic Savings & Clone, which he hopes will one day deliver a clone of Missy. [...]

As for cc, the Texas scientists say she has shown no signs of genetic defects. "She's been perfectly healthy and perfectly a cat ever since her birth," Kraemer said. "That's true of all our clones. You'd have to be told they were cloned in order to know" they weren't conceived the natural way.

Even so, cc has been protected by a sterile environment, a precaution to make sure she is healthy; visitors are not allowed to pet her. That will change gradually when she moves into her new home with Kraemer and his wife, Shirley. The Kraemers will introduce her slowly, first exposing her to people who have cats before letting her cavort with their other two felines. [...]

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fuck you, you fucking fucks!

Apparently every time I put more than $1000 on my credit card, Wells Fargo decides to cancel the card. I rent a car: my card gets cancelled. I leave the state: my card gets cancelled. I buy a video projector: my card gets cancelled.

Gaze into my crystal ball and witness my immediate future: watch as I go in to the bank, demand that they guarentee me that they will not do this to me again, they say "I'm sorry sir, there's nothing we can do" a lot; watch me close my account and open a new one at a different bank that cares equally little about service, and go through the whole thing all over again six months from now.

Do any of you know the magic words I can speak to these worthless pieces of banking shit to make them stop fucking with me? Is there a different kind of card I should have? "Credit limit" clearly has nothing to do with it, nor does the combo of "available funds" and "auto-payment." If I used the credit function of my ATM card, would that behave less badly? Or does the credit function on an ATM card also have the typical ATM $300/day limit?

"We don't care, we don't have to."

Update: Three transfers and one "let me talk to your supervisor" later, they put a "note in The System" (you can hear the Scare Capitals when they say it) that says, "never decline, never call." And maybe -- if a human is in the loop -- this will help, but often there is no human in the loop, it is a decision that Skynet, I mean, The System, made on its own. They also assured me that neither my credit card nor my ATM/debit card would be less susceptible to this nonsense than the other, though the debit card has a lower daily limit.

I am positively brimming over with hate.

I couldn't bring myself to actually close the account out of spite, because while that would be maximally inconvenient for me, I couldn't imagine it actually making things any better.

The best part was when they reminded me that the fine print in something I signed 14 years ago had a clause about how they're under no obligation to process any transaction at all for any reason. Sweet.

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pr0n star