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Arcades are something of a relic from days past. You may occasionally catch one in your local mall, bowling alley, and amusement parks or other family attractions, but for the most part, they’ve gone the way of the dinosaur. Not only that but the arcades of today don’t tend to house the familiar games of yesteryear.
MAME, short for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, has seen fit to do its part in recreating the original arcade experience in the form of a multi-purpose emulation framework. An emulator is a software designed to mimic specific hardware. There are many out there that will imitate an arcade machine (as well as other gaming consoles) but MAME is hands-down the best for the job.
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The sole purpose MAME set out to accomplish was the preservation of old arcade titles. Most but not all arcade games operate on a similar hardwired processor chip setup. But there are others, like Dragon’s Lair, that ran on laserdiscs.
MAME will emulate the hardware that housed the games, including the machine’s memory, processors, or CPU (central processing unit). When you pair it up with an arcade game ROM (read-only memory) and the perfect sound, MAME will imitate the game for you. It serves as a perfect arcade machine emulator.
A ROM is essentially the storage software for the game you intend to play. MAME supports thousands of different ROMs so finding one for your nostalgia trip, should be a rather simple task.How To Turn Your Old Computer Into An Arcade Machine
You could just enjoy the games on your regular everyday computer, but that’s not the experience we’re going for in this article.The Legality Of It All
MAME is free and open for use to the public but does not come with any ROMs. The reason for this is that arcade games, including those with companies that may have have since closed, are still copyright protected.
This means that unless you have a physical copy of the game itself, the download and use of the ROM would be considered against the law.
For this project, we’re going to assume that you have legitimately purchased a physical copy of the game you plan to play. All you’re missing is the hardware to play it on. In this case, the use of both MAME and the ROM(s) are perfectly legal.The Right Computer & Monitor For The Job
The MAME website lists the minimum requirements for running MAME on a computer as:
Any MMX-capable AMD or Intel processor.
Windows 98 or later.
DirectX 5.0 or later.
A DirectDraw or Direct3D capable graphics card.
Any DirectSound compatible sound card.
Understand that the more powerful a computer is, the better it will be at handling the MAME processing requirements. Remember that MAME is attempting to emulate the behavior of the original hardware. This will require a lot of processing power.
The basic PC version of MAME runs a command-line system meaning you’ll need to type in commands to edit settings and play the ROMs. You can find ports of MAME that will run on machines with a Mac or Linux-based operating system. If you download the basic PC version of MAME, you’ll see that it’s a command-line system.
A monitor will be a necessity and most MAME enthusiasts prefer a cathode ray tube (CRT) TV to a computer monitor. This is because the older CRT models create a more true to heart arcade visual experience. Just make sure that whichever screen you choose, it is capable of connecting to your computer.Choosing Your Controls
The controls you choose for your arcade machine emulator will depend on the games you want to play. Racing game? Use a steering wheel and pedal combo. Games like Centipede? A trackball works best. You want to play Tempest? The original game used a dial-like rotary controller.
Then there is the standard combination of joysticks and buttons. Regardless, MAME will likely support it so long as you turn it on using a line command.
A prefabricated control panel will cost you more than buying the parts separately, but it will save you time when it comes to wiring and encoding your controls. Though, there are some MAME arcade machine fabricators that like the freedom to do it all themselves. Some will even include multiple control devices on a single machine. The choice is yours in the end.Using Arcade Controls
In order to use the controls, you’ll have to map them. MAME maps your arcade controls to specific keyboard keybinds by default. Each key of your keyboard is actually just a switch. You’ll want to replace the default switches with those of your controls.
An arcade joystick has switches that move in two, four, or eight directions. By mapping each direction of the joystick to a different key on the circuit board, you can program MAME to accept the input.
There are two kinds of switches used in arcade machines:
Leaf spring switches are considered the better of the two by many arcade enthusiasts. The reason being that the design provides a better feel when playing a game.
Microswitches tend to be on the stiffer side but are easier to find and require far less maintenance than leaf spring.Installing The Controls
This is the most difficult part of the entire arcade machine emulator project. You’ll be crimping or soldering the wires to the appropriate connectors that correspond to the controls. You can do this by linking the ground wire connectors in series to a common ground. You’ll also need to connect the keyboard encoder to your computer.
A keyboard encoder is what is used to connect your computer with the arcade controls. Since MAME gives each arcade control a corresponding keyboard key, you’ll have to use it to test out the controls and set them as you want them.
You can run the MAME program to test your controls once they’ve been wired. This process is slow as you’ll be determining which keystrokes are being simulated by the controls and then mapping them to the correct control settings in MAME.
This means that pushing the joystick right may correspond with the keystroke B. You would need to edit the settings in MAME to match that B should map to the player pushing right on the joystick. Repeat this process for every action.
A power strip or junction box will need to be installed inside your machine to plug in your various components. An exterior power switch is also nice to have to avoid the need to open the cabinet to turn the machine on.The Arcade Atmosphere
The lights and sounds of an arcade machine are what really bring it to life. The project wouldn’t be complete without a lit display and a solid sound system. Graphics are important but it’s the little things that bring out the project’s authenticity.
What you’ll need:
A light source, some plexiglass, and a marquee, for the arcade machine’s overhead display. The marquee is a translucent material with artwork on it that you can either do yourself or you can buy one premade.
Fluorescent light fixtures are a better choice than incandescents as they don’t generate a lot of heat, the bulbs last longer, and they can be found in different lengths.
In order to protect the artwork, the marquee will need to be sandwiched between the sheets of Plexiglas. Install the fluorescent light in the top of the cabinet and aim the light source in the direction of where the marquee will be. Tweak the fixture until everything fits perfectly as you see it.
The sound will depend on the type of monitor you chose. For TV sets, the default speakers should work just fine. A computer monitor will require a sound card installation that is compatible with your version of MAME. This, in addition to a few mounted speakers that will go inside the cabinet.Building The Cabinet
The purchase of an arcade machine cabinet can be made at various warehouses, auctions, and websites. Cabinet parts can also be purchased separately but all in all, the option will be costly. Not only expensive but there’s no guarantee that your MAME setup will fit inside a prefabricated arcade cabinet.
If you intend on building your own cabinet from scratch you should take into consideration the computer, monitor you’ve chosen, the type of controls for installation, on top of where you expect to put it in your home.
The only design limitations are contributed by the equipment used, available floor space, your budget, and your imagination. If you need help in the design of your cabinet there are plenty of DIY websites that can assist you.
To build your own arcade cabinet, you’re going to need:
Fiberboard or something similar to make the body.
Wood glue, screws, bolts, and brackets to hold it together.
A drill, a jigsaw, screwdriver, and other similar tools for the job. Door hinges, clasps, and a power switch are all optional components.
Enough room for wiring your game control panel. This is particularly important if you’re attempting to combine multiple control system setups.
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Your old desktop PC gave you years of reliable service, but eventually it couldn’t keep up with modern tasks and applications; so you went out and bought something newer and faster. Now you need to decide what to do with the old clunker.
Best of all, the software–FreeNAS–that will power this machine is exactly what its name describes: a free operating system for network-attached storage. And side from being free, FreeNAS is easy to install, configure, and run. You’ll find everything you need to know in this guide.Installing FreeNAS
Before you begin your FreeNAS installation, obtain a USB thumb drive with a capacity of at least 2GB. You’ll install FreeNAS to this drive and boot from it, because you can’t run the OS on the same drive that you’re using to share files from. Alternatively, you can buy a very small solid-state drive, install FreeNAS on that, and boot the server from it; but investing in such an SSD is an unnecessary expense (unless you’re worried that someone might remove the USB drive without realizing the consequences).
Once you have the necessary thumb drive, download the latest version of FreeNAS from the operating system’s official site, taking care to choose the right disc image (that is, .iso file): x86 if your machine is equipped with a 32-bit CPU, or x64 if it has a 64-bit processor. After downloading the .iso file, burn it to a blank CD and drop it into your server-to-be’s optical drive.
Now, power up the computer, tap the key that calls up its BIOS boot menu, and choose the option to have the machine boot from its optical drive instead of from its hard drive. If no such menu exists, you’ll have to enter the BIOS itself and change the boot order there.
Once all of FreeNAS’s FreeBSD-based Linux commands have done their work, you’ll see a simple installation screen that gives you four options to choose from. Select the first–the option to install or upgrade FreeNAS 8 to a hard drive or flash drive–and press Enter. Any storage media connected to your system will appear on the next screen. In that next screen, you’ll eventually want to select your flash drive as a target for the installation (the OS will create two partitions on the drive: one for the OS itself and one for future FreeNAS upgrades)–but don’t press anything yet.
While your system is rebooting, repeat the step where you chose which drive FreeNAS will boot from by default–but this time specify that you want it to boot from the thumb drive plugged into one of the system’s USB ports.Setting Up Your Storage
Assuming that your system works fine at the default settings–and it should, as long as it’s connected to your network via ethernet cable–you’ll receive an IP address that you can use to access FreeNAS’s primary settings. Type this IP address into the Web browser’s address bar on any system connected to your network and press Enter.
Next page: Set up shares, and configure your backups.Setting Up Shares
CIFS shares are the way to go if your office uses a blend of Mac, Linux, and Windows systems. If you have a Mac-only setup, you might be better served (no pun intended) by configuring the drive for AFP shares. In the spirit of inclusivity, we’ll walk through a CIFS setup.Backing Up
If you’d like to use your FreeNAS server as a host for automatic client PC backups, you can choose from any number of commercial and freeware applications to run on those clients. If you’re running Windows 7 Professional or higher, you can use the built-in Windows Backup and Restore tool (lower versions won’t allow you to back up over a network).
PCWorld Contributing Editor David Murphy loves finding new ways to use old systems, but his electric bill isn’t quite as thrilled about the practice.
Adding exquisite effects to your photos before uploading them on social networks has become the norm. With a good tool you can choose from hundreds of effects to make your photo completely out of this world. Sketch is a commonly used effect, and if you are looking to add this effect to your photos, then you are in the right place.
No, we are not going to turn your photos into sketches, but we will show you some awesome online tools that can do that. Below you will find three free tools that will let you add the sketch effect to your photos.1. Picture to People
If you want to convert your photos into sketches online, then this is the best tool. Although Picture to People is a fully-featured image manipulation tool, it offers a feature-rich photo to sketch converter as well. It doesn’t offer any pre-made sketch effects; you will have full control over what type of sketch you use. Apart from the standard black and white sketch, it can also add a colored sketch effect of your choosing.
The customization options it provides include overall style, stroke style, contour thickness and darkness, dark regions and smart strokes. With the default settings it gives a very pleasing result (as seen below). So yes, even newbies can use this tool without worrying about the complicated options.2. Pho.to
Pho.to is a great sketch effect adding tool that will let you add different types of pre-made sketch effects. It doesn’t offer any customization options like Picture to People, but you can choose from over fiffy different sketch effects.
Just select a sketch effect from the list, and upload your photo on the next page. You can upload photos from your PC, by using a URL or directly from Facebook.
Once the photo is uploaded, the sketch effect will be automatically be added after a short delay. By default, chúng tôi also adds their watermark on the photo, but you can remove it for free using the “Remove watermark” button on the left of the photo. You can also further edit the photo using chúng tôi which is a photo editing service offered by Pho.to.3. PhotoFunia
If the above-mentioned tools seem a bit too much and you are looking for something simple, then try Sketch effect by PhotoFunia. Although PhotoFunia is your one-stop place for all types of photo editing, we will only be using its Sketch effect. The process is simple: just upload your photo and crop it (if you want). As soon as you are done cropping, a black and white sketch effect will be applied. It can’t get much simpler than that now, can it?
It doesn’t offer any customization options, and there is no support for color in this effect. However, its fast and no-brainer process may make it the first choice for many. I must also say that the sketch effect is really good, and I think you may not even need any customization options at all (check the picture below).Conclusion
Turning your photos into sketch can make them look really cool. You can use any of the above-mentioned tools, and you should be able to convert your photos into sketch. I would recommend Picture to People if you want complete control. Although, the sketch effect provided by PhotoFunia is pleasing as well if you want something simple.
Karrar is drenched in technology and always fiddles with new tech opportunities. He has a bad habit of calling technology “Killer”, and doesn’t feel bad about spending too much time in front of the PC. If he is not writing about technology, you will find him spending quality time with his little family.
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What is Lifelong Advocates? 1. Provide Exceptional Onboarding Experience Keep it Simple
The onboarding process should be easy to understand and navigate. Avoid overwhelming new customers with too much information or too many options .Keep it simple and focused on essential features that will help customers achieve their goalsShow Value
Customers need to understand value of your product and how it can help them achieve their goals. Use onboarding process to showcase most important features and demonstrate how they can help customers get most out of your product.Provide Guidance
Provide clear guidance and instructions throughout onboarding process. Use visual aids like videos or screenshots to help customers understand how to use your product.Personalize Experience
Personalization is key to creating a great onboarding experience. Tailor onboarding process to specific needs and preferences of each customer. For example, you could offer different onboarding paths based on customer’s industry or job roleFollow up
Follow up with customers after onboarding process to ensure that they are getting value from your product. Use this opportunity to ask for feedback and address any concerns or issues.
By providing an exceptional onboarding experience, you can set stage for a long and successful relationship with your customers.
For example, Slack’s onboarding process is designed to get new users set up in less than five minutes. process includes a short video tutorial and a guided tour of platform’s key features.2. Offer Excellent Customer Support Be Responsive
Respond to customer inquiries and support requests promptly. Aim to reply to all inquiries within 24 hours, if not sooner. If a customer has a pressing issue, prioritize their request and try to resolve it as quickly as possible.Be Empathetic
Show empathy and understanding when communicating with customers. Acknowledge their concerns and frustrations and offer genuine support and solutions. A little empathy can go a long way in building trust and loyaltyOffer Multiple Channels
Provide multiple channels for customers to reach out for support, such as email, phone, live chat, and social media. This allows customers to choose channel that works best for them.Provide Resources
Offer a comprehensive knowledge base or FAQ section on your website to help customers find answers to common questions. This can save them time and reduce need for them to contact customer support.Continuously Improve
Use customer feedback to continuously improve your support processes and resources. Ask for feedback after each interaction and use this information to make improvements that will benefit all customers.
By offering excellent customer support, you can help customers feel confident in using your product and build a long-term relationship with them.
For example, Intercom offers 24/7 support through live chat, email, and phone. They also provide a comprehensive knowledge base that customers can access to find answers to common questions.3. Personalize Your Communications Use Customer Data
Use customer data to personalize your communications. For example, you could use their name, location, or purchase history to tailor your messages to their specific needs and interests.Segment Your Audience
Segment your audience into smaller groups based on demographics, behavior, or interests. This allows you to send targeted messages that are more relevant and engaging for each group.Use Personalized Recommendations
Use data and machine learning to make personalized recommendations based on customer behavior. For example, you could recommend new features or products based on their usage historyCustomize Your Messaging
Customize your messaging to match the customer’s stage in the customer journey. For example, you could send a welcome email to new customers, or a loyalty reward to long-term customers.Show Appreciation
Show customers that you appreciate their business by sending personalized thank-you messages, birthday greetings, or special offers.
For example, Netflix uses personalized recommendations to suggest new content to users based on their viewing history. This helps to keep customers engaged and coming back for more.4. Reward Loyalty Offer Discounts or Rewards
Offer loyal customers discounts, free upgrades, or other rewards for their continued business. For example, you could offer a discount on an annual subscription for customers who have been with you for a year or more.Create a Loyalty Program
Create a loyalty program that rewards customers for their ongoing support. This could include points that can be redeemed for rewards, exclusive access to new features, or special promotions.Provide Early Access
Give loyal customers early access to new features or products before they are released to general public. This can make them feel valued and provide a sense of exclusivityRecognize Achievements
Recognize customers for their achievements and milestones. For example, you could send a personalized message congratulating them on their one-year anniversary with your company.Ask for Feedback
Ask loyal customers for feedback on how you can improve your product or service. This shows that you value their opinion and are committed to providing best possible experience for them.
By rewarding loyalty, you can show customers that you value their ongoing support and are committed to their success.
For example, Dropbox rewards customers with extra storage space for referring new users. This not only helps to attract new customers but also rewards existing customers for their loyalty.5. Continuously Improve Your Product
Finally, it’s important to continuously improve your product to meet evolving needs of your customers. By listening to customer feedback and making improvements, you can create a product that customers love and are more likely to recommend to others.
For example, Airbnb regularly updates its platform based on customer feedback. They use customer reviews to identify areas for improvement and make changes that enhance user experience.Conclusion
Bosch buys HERE stake to turn cars into autonomous cartographers
Bosch is buying a stake in HERE, snapping up a 5-percent cut of the digital mapping company building high-definition cartography for tomorrow’s autonomous vehicles. HERE began life as Navteq, before being acquired by Nokia, rebranded, and then subsequently sold in late-2023 to a consortium of German automakers, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler AG.
Twelve months ago, it added Intel to that list, with the chip-maker taking a 15-percent stake. Now, it’s adding another owner to the heap. The car companies have agreed to sell a 5-percent stake in HERE to automotive parts supplier Bosch, in addition to collaborating on new mapping technology that would facilitate real-time updates – aka “self-healing” – of the map. That’s going to be essential if self-driving cars are to stay on course.
HERE already does that, using its existing traffic monitoring system. By receiving a few simple, anonymized metrics from vehicles – which can be as little as heading, speed, and location – it can figure out how traffic is flowing and where roadways may have diverged from existing maps. A deal with BMW, announced yesterday, will see the automaker not only be the first to use HERE’s Safety Services Suite of live road conditions, but feed data from its cars’ use of hazard and fog lights, emergency brakes and electronic stability control, and cameras into the cloud.
Bosch’s idea builds on that. By tapping into the Bosch-supplied radar and video sensors already installed in many vehicles, the so-called road signature could be fed back to HERE. “Bosch and HERE are exploring opportunities to utilize road signature in the maintenance of HERE HD Live Map, HERE’s map for automated vehicles,” the company said today, though it will also continue its separate projects with TomTom, Baidu, and others.
Still, it could have big implications for self-driving vehicles. While autonomous cars have no shortage of sensors for tracking what’s going on in the road around them, whether that be other traffic or pedestrians, they also need high-definition mapping data to pinpoint where they are in 3D space. Where traditional maps may have the basics of number of lanes and junctions, “HD maps” ramp up the degree of accuracy considerably, potentially including everything from the location of curbs to road camber and exactly where turning lanes begin and end.
Mapping all that out to begin with is a huge challenge, but then maintaining the accuracy of those maps is even more arduous. Unlike human drivers, who can usually improvise if the data on their navigation system doesn’t exactly match with what they’re seeing around them, autonomous cars will be far less flexible. That’s forced some imagination in ways to keep the maps up-to-date.
Turning cars themselves into roving cartographers is one of the more popular ideas. Modern vehicles are already bristling with sensors, used for features like adaptive cruise-control and lane-keeping assistance. Adapting the data from those to digital cartography is just one step further.
While it’s a significant part of the deal, Bosch isn’t just thinking about HERE’s value in driverless cars. The company is also looking at how high-definition indoor navigation mapping could streamline and automate how goods flow through production lines, or guide maintenance staff to problems in the sprawling facilities. Assuming all goes to plan, the acquisition is expected to close by the end of Q1 2023.
Mind-controlled zombie mice do well on Google News. So do headlines about flipping a “killer instinct” switch. That’s why press releases love phrases like that, and why you’ve probably seen headlines with nearly identical phrasing for the past day or so. Here’s the problem: they’re all pretty misleading.
On Thursday, neuroscientists at Yale University published a paper in the journal Cell showing how they could trigger a mouse’s predatory instincts with a clever genetic trick. Key word: instinct. They’re not engineering mice to be mindless killers, roaming cages in search of their next target. They’re prompting the mice to do something they already do in the wild: hunt. And yes, they did turn the mice into unusually efficient hunters, which I suppose you could argue counts as turning on their “killer instinct.” But it’s a totally natural instinct that wild mice have to have in order to survive—we just don’t normally observe it, because we see mice in cages chowing on food pellets.
That’s the whole reason that this group at Yale was studying predator behavior in the first place. Ivan de Araujo, the senior investigator on these experiments, mostly studies feeding behavior. He decided to look at predator instincts after realizing that cage feeding might not be natural. He’s quoted in the press release saying just that: “They have nothing else to do other than eat the pellets we throw in the cage,” he says. “I began to wonder how natural and relevant this behavior is.”
To be clear: this is a crucial question to ask. If an alien species were studying human feeding behavior, but all they ever looked at was how people ate at public events, we wouldn’t think their studies were all that relevant to our actual lives. So in an effort to look at a mouse’s hunting behavior, de Araujo began researching brain areas that control hunting and feeding. One part of the brain in particular—the central nucleus of the amygdala—was associated almost exclusively with hunting, so he looked there for more clues.
Killer mouse ponders cricket
A deadly mouse ponders its prey before murdering it in cold blood.
You start by genetically engineering mice to express an enzyme called Cre—only in the neurons that you want to study. Then you inject a virus into their brains that contains a light-sensitive protein, which can only be incorporated into the neurons that have the Cre enzyme. You end up with a very specific set of neurons that are activated when you insert a fiber optic light into the mouse’s brain. And if those neurons happen to control a physical process, like hunting or biting, the result looks a lot like mind control. You can use optogenetics to do other things, like implant false memories into a mouse’s brain or selectively erase them. It’s experiments like these that made optogenetics one of the breakthroughs of the decade in *Science * magazine.
To use optogenetics to activate a mouse’s predatory instinct is as simple as identifying a set of neurons that are sufficient to trigger the predatory behavior. This helps scientists understand how the brain controls hunting. It doesn’t make mice into zombies.
We should appreciate this study for the incredible precision with which the researchers executed their experiments and the scientific curiosity it took to notice how one brain area might differ from the others. We should be in awe of how powerful these techniques have become. Scientists can reach into a mouse brain and turn on only the neurons that they want to—that’s freaking ridiculous. But we shouldn’t blithely compare that feat to an episode of The Walking Dead.
Besides, the whole reason that zombies scare people is that they eat other humans and infect their victims. Unless fiber optic cables are infectious, I think the rest of the mouse world can still rest easy.
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