A Birth Story – Meaghan O’Connell

A Birth Story by Meaghan O’Connell for Longreads via Marco Arment

In doing a little research for the next episode of The Max Frequency Podcast (recording very soon update: the episode is live), I came across this story on Marco’s blog. His enthusiasm for the story encouraged me to save it (although, not with Instapaper).

It’s long (save it), and I wanted to quote almost every part. Here’s one of the many sections that made me laugh out loud while reading it in bed at 1 AM last night…

In typical Meaghan style, it’s refreshingly humane, surprisingly informative, hilarious, and terrifying.

Having read Meaghan’s tale today, I realize that I glossed over Marco’s closing word of “terrifying.” As someone who is about to become a dad in—checks the calendar—37 days (give or take), I’m not sure this was a wise decision. I took multiple breaks in my reading; not due to its length, but due to the overwhelming emotional response of fear, anticipation, and joy that I had. But as strong as my response was, so to was my desire to continue reading. I could not stay away for long.

There were two bits I did want to quote:

We couldn’t see in there; couldn’t access it. This was what I hated most about pregnancy and what I wanted over with more than anything: the opacity of it all. I wanted him out where I could see him.

The entire pregnancy has felt like this to us. I feel even one more step removed since the kid is growing inside my wife’s womb. All I get is feeling the occasional kick. I have never been so grateful to be kicked in my life, but I want to see my daughter.

He didn’t have a name yet, because nothing had felt completely right, the way we thought it would. We wanted, or I wanted, a revelation; a name that was traditional, simple, strong, but that all of society had somehow forgotten; a name that we alone had unearthed. I wanted everyone to kick themselves, wishing they’d thought of it first. I wanted it to be hiding in plain sight.

This never happened.

We do have a name picked out, but it’s a secret to everybody. Landing on her name did feel like a revelation to me. Years of ideas and months of discussion coalesced into a lightbulb moment for our family. I’ll never forget the night we decided.

As thankful as I am that Meaghan shared her story, I hope ours is at least a little bit shorter. And if you too about to become a parent, maybe save this one for after you enter the club.

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – 2022 Notice

It is once again September and you know what that means. With it being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the fine folks at Relay FM are once again raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

It’s not even noon and they are nearing $45K (so they’ve been raising money for a week or so 🤫). You can help raise even more money by donating.

This year, you can even sign up to fundraise alongside Relay FM with all funds going to the same place and same overall goals. There are sweet looking incentives and donation rewards all around. But the greatest reward is helping put an end of childhood cancer.

As always, mark the Podcastathon in your calendar! This year it is on September 16, 2022 at 12:00 PM EST to 8:00 PM EST. Myke Hurley and Stephen Hackett will be together in person for this eight hour variety show.

With my own baby on the way, hearing Stephen share his family’s story once again about Josiah and discovering a brain tumor at six months of age, my heart swells in a way it never has before. Please considering donating.

Comparing The Last of Us Part I Gameplay to the Original

Here is 4K60 gameplay from the PS5 remake.

And here is the same portion of gameplay at 720p on the PS3.

Let’s not forget the PS4 remaster at 1080p either.

I find the most powerful element from this Part I footage to be that the game looks like I remember it. But when you go back thirteen years to the Cell processor and see what it actually looked like…The Last of Us in 2013 is a testament to the immersive “on the stick” design that Naughty Dog strives for.

Side Note: Listen with headphones if you can. Some of the 3D audio design comes through as well.

PlayStation Acquires Savage Game Studios

Welcoming Savage Game Studios + Expanding Our Community by Hermen Hulst for the PlayStation.Blog

As we assured you before with our plans to bring select titles to PC, our efforts beyond console in no way diminish our commitment to the PlayStation community, nor our passion to keep making amazing single-player, narrative-driven experiences…

Our mobile gaming efforts will be similarly additive, providing more ways for more people to engage with our content, and striving to reach new audiences unfamiliar with PlayStation and our games. Savage Game Studios is joining a newly created PlayStation Studios Mobile Division, which will operate independently from our console development and focus on innovative, on-the-go experiences based on new and existing PlayStation IP.

The PlayStation Studios shopping spree is not over yet. Savage Game Studios is the latest purchase with a focus on mobile games. Like Nixxes for PC ports, PlayStation now has a mobile-first development team. PlayStation (and parent company Sony) are investing in teams tailored for specific markets; freeing up their core development teams to keep cranking out those “amazing single-player, narrative-driven experiences.” Colin Moriarty and I spoke about this on The Max Frequency Podcast earlier this month.

They’re already working on a new unannounced AAA mobile live service action game. It’s too early to reveal more, but I’m so excited for when they’ll be able to.

Last year, Savage Game Studios secured $4.4 million to build up their two studios and were making a shooter for mobile. I wonder if that is the same game as mentioned above. PlayStation’s partnership with Backbone suddenly makes a lot more sense. Between this and a newfound emphasis on streaming games with their tiered PlayStation Plus subscription, PlayStation is looking toward mobile and live services far more aggressively this generation. Throw in all the TV shows and movies that PlayStation have in the works and you’ll start to see the posse of Sony Ponies expanding out on the entertainment frontier.

The Last of Us Devs Bet Big on Accessibility – Jen Glennon

The Last of Us devs bet big on accessibility — and made a better game by Jen Glennon for Inverse

“The technology and features of one game are often very easy to port over to another game,” says Schatz. “So some of our biggest tasks, like text-to-speech — we’ve done it now. So that investment in our future is now paying off in that way. We can put those features into The Last of Us Part I.”

The work put into accessibility in The Last of Us Part II has begun to reap benefits with subsequent Naughty Dog games. With The Last of Us Part I a week away, part of the press tour is promoting and discussing the near identical feature set between the two games. Some of the features even surpass Part II’s offerings, like the full audio descriptions during cutscenes.

This flag planted for accessibility has marked all Naughty Dog games going forward. Major regressions in these support features going forward would be a loss. It has also raised the bar for other developers. I’ve noticed other PlayStation Studios putting emphasis on their accessibility features. Microsoft has also led the way with first-party games and their accessibility controller.  I hope the trend continues.

I wonder what the feature slate will be for the Factions multiplayer game from Naughty Dog, considering its presumed online nature.

In Schatz and Gallant’s view, the most innovative games in the coming five to 10 years will likely take more of a less-is-more approach, refining a more personalized approach to interaction rather than focusing on flashy visuals or superfluous embellishments.

“We’ve reached a point in game design where everything is maximal. I think there’s a lot of innovation in the future in paring that down,” says Schatz. “Do we really need to use all these controls? What do we get out of a minimalist experience, where we’re just pressing one thing? I’m really looking forward to evolving toward more intentional design in all sorts of ways.”

This reminds me of Journey. Two buttons and two control sticks make up the control scheme for one of gaming’s absolute best.

Update: Not five minutes after pressing “publish,” PlayStation released an Accessibility trailer for Part I.

A dad took photos of his naked toddler for the doctor; Google flagged him as a criminal

A dad took photos of his naked toddler for the doctor. Google flagged him as a criminal” by Kashmir Hill for The New York Times (Apple News+ Link for The Seattle Times republication)

In December, Mark received an envelope in the mail from the San Francisco Police Department. It contained a letter informing him that he had been investigated as well as copies of the search warrants served on Google and his internet service provider. An investigator had asked for everything in Mark’s Google account: his internet searches, his location history, his messages and any document, photo and video he’d stored with the company.

Abby and I were already conscious of the consequences of sharing pictures of children. It’s something we’ve discussed with our own little girl on the way. An angle I never considered was a risk of being flagged for producing CSAM (Child Sexual Abuse Material).

I think back to Apple’s plan for assisting with finding CSAM on devices that they detailed and then delayed last year. John Gruber’s thoughts on this New York Times story do a good job explaining the two main methods companies use to flag CSAM—hashes against known material and AI to discover new material. Throw in to the mix server-side or on-device scanning, which was the crux of discussions surrounding Apple’s proposed method last year.

The on-device vs. on-server debate is legitimate and worth having. But I think it ought to be far less controversial than Google’s already-in-place system of trying to identify CSAM that isn’t in the NCMEC known database.

Now I am even more aware that the photos I take of my kid could harm them and myself. This is a difficult and delicate issue. I certainly will not by sharing photos via tele-medicine, if asked.

Mark did not remember this video and no longer had access to it, but he said it sounded like a private moment he would have been inspired to capture, not realizing it would ever be viewed or judged by anyone else.
“I can imagine it. We woke up one morning. It was a beautiful day with my wife and son, and I wanted to record the moment,” Mark said. “If only we slept with pajamas on, this all could have been avoided.”

Mixolumia Drops onto Switch on August 25, 2022

Yours truly two years ago…

Mixolumia is only on PC and Mac at the moment through itch.io. I haven’t tried rotating my screen, but I feel like the game was made for a “tate” mode. I think it’d be right at home on mobile and especially on Switch, which would be able to support all those features. Hopefully, davemakes considers those and other platforms for the future. Mixolumia is a visual puzzler treat that deserves to be as widely available as possible.

Finally.

I’ve been working with @MoonGlassGames to bring Mixolumia to Nintendo Switch very soon! And to really make it special, we’ve been working on a number of new features and improvements which I am thrilled to finally tell you about in the lead up to launch :)

davemakes on Twitter on August 8, 2022

The End of Better Call Saul

Breaking Bad and Leicas – Roden Issue 067, April 4, 2022 by Craig Mod

As Better Call Saul wraps up this evening, I figured it was finally time to share this excerpt from Craig Mod’s Roden newsletter.

All of that is a sort of rambling preamble to say: Better Call Saul feels like a miracle. It feels like Breaking Bad’s first three or four seasons were Gilligan’s warmup to excising all cruft from scripts. Saul is pure narrative, pure gold.

I enjoy when people come into something I love. Craig is right that his approach to skipping chunks of Breaking Bad would drive show purists insane. Heck, I rarely listen to music albums out of order.

But Craig’s recognition and appreciation of Better Call Saul is a testament to the prequel’s effectiveness. I am glad AMC let this odd-sounding spin-off be made and grow into a show that surpasses the original. I’m excited to see what Vince Gilligan and crew come up with next after stepping out from under this Breaking Bad clout.

After tonight, it will be Saul Gone. What has been a significant part of my life for the past decade comes to a close; just as a new chapter prepares itself to be written.

How ‘Better Call Saul’ Refined the Art of Television – The Wall Street Journal

How ‘Better Call Saul’ Refined the Art of Television by John Jurgensen for The Wall Street Journal (Apple News+ link)

The visual language of “Saul” begins with its writers. Their breakdowns of how scenes should look are more extensive than those in typical TV scripts. “A lot of people think writing is about dialogue, but for us it’s the spaces in between the dialogue that are the most important,” Mr. Gilligan says.

It is a treat to see actual pages from the script. The thought that has gone into lines, shapes, framing, and contrast is expected with a crew of this pedigree. Near 15 years after the premiere of Breaking Bad, everyone on crew is at the top of their game.

Better Call Saul is impeccable. Next Monday will be a de facto end of an era.

Also, I’m not sure how the article appears on The Wall Street Journal’s website, but the layout and animation in Apple News+ is slick.

“A Growing Individualistic Power” with Colin Moriarty

Colin Moriarty dives into his origins of writing walkthroughs and FAQs before the rise of video. Max and Colin then explore the history and development patterns behind Naughty Dog before the imminent release of The Last of Us Part I.

Download (38MB)

RSS FeedOvercastApple PodcastsSpotify

Welcome

Starting out with FAQs

The True Guide Era of IGN

Trophy Guides

Rising to Greatness and the Loss of Long-form Writing

What Happened to Part V of Rising to Greatness?

The Origins of The Last of Us Part I

PlayStation Studios’ Pattern

Factions 2

Wrap-Up


Max Frequency

Chapter Select @ChapterSelect

Max’s Twitter @MaxRoberts143

Last Stand Media

Colin’s Twitter @notaxation

Analogue Pocket openFPGA – How to Set Up and Woes

It’s been a long time since I whipped up a guide or tutorial of my own volition. Bore out of immense frustration over the course of five or so hours, I had to write this story and guide.

On Friday, July 29, 2022, Analogue released the 1.1 beta of Analogue OS for the Pocket. I’ve written my fair share about both the console and the software. This particular release was exciting, giving Pocket owners something. Analogue even broke signature silence and gave the public a development roadmap.

The crucial component of this update is openFPGA, Analogue’s copyrighted and trademarked name for their FPGA platform. The Pocket is finally open for FPGA developers to create or port their own cores1 for the Pocket hardware. This has been the promise before launch. Here’s what I said in my initial impressions:

The Pocket has uncashed checks. At launch, there are no third-party cores, major features are pending on AnalogueOS 1.1, and Analogue’s own promised core support via adapters. The future, like a modern console (or game) is contingent on software support. I’m confident it will be delivered. Heck, the jailbreak could be dropping any day now. It’s still early, but after two years of hype, I was hopeful for more at launch.

Turns out the “jailbreak” was also tied to AnalogueOS 1.1 via openFPGA.

Sometime Friday evening, three openFPGA cores for the Game Boy consoles were released by user spiritualized1997. It’s a rather snappy turnaround from the software release that day. This falls in line with Analogue mythos that FPGA engineer Kevin Horton aka Kevtris releases the Analogue cores under another name, letting users have the same experience while being able to use ROMs. Traditionally this happens much sooner for Analogue’s consoles, not seven months after launch.

I woke up Saturday morning, scrolled through my Twitter feed and saw the news. I was happy! My plans that morning were to work on some Chapter Select production. I decided to fit in adding the cores to my Pocket so it’d be all set up with my games and saves. I thought, “this won’t take long. Move some files to the SD card, boot, bada bing bada boom, new cores!”

That was at 6:00 AM. For three hours straight, I tried to load these cores. Then I kept trying on and off for about two more hours. From reddit to YouTube to developer documentation, I tried to solve my problem. All Analogue-provided instructions were short and lacking: reddit was more helpful, but nothing worked.

So what was my issue? I could not get the Pocket to enter the openFPGA menu. I would be prompted with a QR code that pointed to a “Getting Started with openFPGA” page on Analogue’s site. No feedback from system whatsoever. No detailed official instructions.

Perhaps it’s my career as a technical documentation writer, but this infuriated me. So I’m making the documentation. This process is simple. The troubleshooting should be easy to follow. Shouldn’t be too tough to surpass the current instructions out there.

Current AnalogueOS Version (Updated: 10/9/22)

Current openFPGA Cores (Updated: 10/9/22)

Here’s a table maintained by Josh Campbell of all the openFPGA cores for the Pocket. This table goes beyond my list below.

How to install openFPGA Cores on Analogue Pocket

  1. Make sure the Pocket is updated to at least version 1.1 beta.
  2. Download the latest software here. Place the .bin file on the root of your Pocket SD card.
  3. Eject the SD card from your computer and place it in the Pocket.
  4. Power on the Pocket and the console will load the firmware.
  5. After the Pocket installs the firmware, power the system down and eject the SD card.
  6. Pop the SD card in your computer. The file structure should look like this.
    1. Assets
    2. Cores
    3. GB Studio
    4. Memories
    5. Platforms
    6. Saves
    7. Settings
    8. System
  7. Download the ZIP file for the core/s you would like to use. Unzip them to a location on your computer.
  8. Inside the uncompressed folder, you will see three folders: “Assets”, “Cores”, and “Platforms”. These three folders will also be on the SD card, but will be blank at creation.
  9. Copy or move the files inside the uncompressed folder to the matching folders on the SD card, i.e. move the contents of the “Assets” folder on your computer to the “Assets” folder of the SD card.
  10. If you are adding the Game Boy cores, you will need to add the BIOS and your ROMs for the consoles.
  11. Take the BIOS and make sure the name is “ABBR_bios.bin” where “ABBR” is the abbreviation of the console:
  • Game Boy is “gb”
  • Game Bot Color is “gbc”
  • Game Boy Advance is “gba”
  1. Move the BIOS and ROMs to the respective core’s common folder. This is located inside Assets > common.
  2. Eject the SD card and pop it back into the Pocket. Select the openFPGA menu and select the core you would like to use.

How to Install the Image Library

The Pocket supports an image library that will show off art for selected games (as of this writing, it is only for physical games). Spiritualized1997 has also provided these files. You can check out their original reddit post here.

  1. Download the library ZIP from here (Update 9/17/22: The original host no longer has the file).
  2. Unzip the files.
  3. Insert the SD card into your computer.
  4. On the SD card, navigate to System > Library > Images
    1. If Library or Images are not present, that’s okay. We will just copy those files over from the uncompressed zip as well.
  5. Copy over the “GB,” “GBA,” and “GG” folders from the uncompressed “Library Image Set v1.0” zip to the “Images” folder we navigated to on the SD card.
  6. Eject the SD card and reinsert to the Pocket. Insert a cartridge and start it to see art.

Troubleshooting

Problem – I can’t get past the openFPGA QR code!

This is what tripped me up for hours. The solution I found was inside the “System” folder on the Pocket SD card. There are these .bin files located there. Two of them had a file size of zero bytes — “corelist_cache.bin” and “cores_cache.bin”. I deleted those .bin files to force the Pocket to make new ones. Upon boot, the files were recreated correctly and the openFPGA menu opened immediately.

Problem – Some of my ROMs are not listed in the openFPGA core! Where did they go?

I noticed a selection of games were missing from my GBA core. Turns out the ones that were MIA had the file extension “.GBA” not “.gba”. The Pocket is case-sensitive to the ROM file extensions. Fix that and the ROMs will appear.


It is great to see the Pocket cracked open now. It was not great to have these issues and no clear help. I’m hoping these instructions will assist you in tapping into the Pocket’s full potential. It is great to finally see Analogue cashing promised checks.


1. Cores is the term for hardware emulated computers or consoles. For example, the Pocket’s official cores at this time include the Game Boy line and the Sega Game Gear.