Scott Hanselman

Bringing the SpaceOrb game controller forward with an Arduino Bridge via The Orbotron 9001

May 28, '19 Comments [1] Posted in Gaming
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Thingotron brings your SpaceOrb back to lifeAlmost ten years ago I posted abut the SpaceTec SpaceOrb 360 Controller and that was 15 years after it came out. We are now 25 years into the legend of the SpaceOrb and I will continue to tell the tale. The SpaceOrb is one of a series of innovative "Spacemice" that offer more than just two degress of input freedom. In fact, they offer SIX.

"The puck or ball of a spacemouse can be moved along X, Y and Z axis as well as being twisted rotationally on each of those axis. (Roll, Pitch and Yaw)"

Vic Putz continues to carry a torch for the SpaceOrb, as do I, except he's actually doing something about it. A decade ago I bought an Arduino and an "OrbSheild" from Vic that sat on top and provided a realtime bridge between the RS-232 Serial Port and the modern USB "HID" (Hardware Input Devices) that are used today. The goal is to move behind unsigned device drivers and create a system-agnostic solution that would present an old device in a new driver-free way.

Vic has been working on a new version called the Orbotron 9000/9001 for the last few years and it's currently sold out at his little store. It acts as an interface for the SpaceOrb 360 and comes configured for that device, but should also work with the SpaceBall 5000, SpaceBall 4000FLX, and Magellan SpaceMouse. Code and plans on are GitHub, natch.

SpaceOrb

When you plug the SpaceOrb into the Orbotron 9001 then into your PC it shows up as a Game Controller!

The SpaceOrb as it presents inside Windows as a controller

There's several innovative "six degrees of freedom" games out there , like the "Overload" sequel to Decent on Steam, as well as Retrovirus, and NeonXSZ, as well as open source reimplementations of Descent like DXX Rebirth (give them some love!) and Forsaken.

Modern Xinput games are trickier, but you may have success with https://www.x360ce.com by mapping the orb buttons and axes to a gamepad.

Descent - DXX Re-birth

I'm still exploring this space, but I love that The Internet - with the help of the enterprising and patient - refused to let the good parts of history die, by making innovative and clean bridges between the past and the future.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Using the Steam Link app to stream PC Games directly to your iPhone or mobile device

May 16, '19 Comments [2] Posted in Gaming
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Steam Link on iOSI think that we, as an industry, are still figuring game streaming out. It's challenging to find that sweet spot between quality and frames per second, all while respecting the speed of light and the laws of physics.

That said, if you have a a rock solid 5Ghz wireless network, or better yet, a solid wired network, you can do some pretty cool stuff today.

You can use the Xbox app on Windows 10 to stream from your Xbox One to your PC. I use this to play on my Xbox while I walk on my treadmill in my garage. Works great even on my comparatively underpowered Surface Pro 3.

You can also do the opposite if you have a powerful PC. You can run the Xbox Wireless Display app and remote your PC to your Xbox.

I also have a Steam Link - it's odd to me that they discontinued this great little device - that I use to stream from my PC to my big TV. However, if you have a Raspberry Pi 3 or 3B+ running Stretch, you can try a beta of Steam Link and effectively make your own little Steam Link dedicated device. Bonus points if you 3D Print a replica case to make it look like a Steam Link.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install steamlink
steamlink

Today, however, Steam Link was released (after a rejection) to the Apple iOS App store so I had to try this out from my iPhone XS Max. I also have a Steam Controller, which, while weird (i.e. it's not an Xbox Controller) is the most configurable controller ever and it can emulate a mouse pretty well when needed. They released a new Firmware for the Steam Controller that enabled BLE support which allows it to be used as an MFi controller on an iOS device. You do need to memorize or write down the incantations to switch between original RF mode and BLE mode, though.

Aside: MFi is almost criminally neglected and a Apple has utterly dropped the ball and missed an opportunity to REALLY make iOS devices more than casual gaming devices. Only in the last few years have decent MFi Controllers been released and game support is still embarrassingly spotty. I've used my now-discontinued SteelSeries Stratus a handful of times.

You install the app, pair your controller with your iOS device/phone/tablet, then test your network. I'm using an Amplifi Mesh Network so I can control how my devices connect to the network, I can manage band selection, as well as Quality of Service (QoS) so I didn't have any trouble getting 55 Mb/s from my wired computer to my wireless iPhone.

Steaming bandwidth test successful up to 55 Mb/s

Steaming bandwidth test successful up to 55 Mb/s

The quality is up and down as it appears they are focused on maintaining a high framerate. Here's a captured local video of me playing Batman from my high end rig streaming to Steam Link on my iPhone.

What has been YOUR experience with Game Streaming?


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Xbox Avatar accessories for People with Diabetes! Sponsored by Nightscout and Konsole Kingz

March 14, '19 Comments [2] Posted in Diabetes | Gaming
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My Xbox user name is Glucose for a reason.

This is a passion project of mine. You've likely seen me blog about diabetes for many many years. You may have enjoyed my diabetes hacks like lighting up my keyboard keys to show me my blood sugar, or some of the early work Ben West and I did to bridge Dexcom's cloud with the NightScout open source diabetes management system.

Recently Xbox announced new avatars! They look amazing and the launch was great. They now have avatars in wheelchairs, ones with artificial limbs, and a wide variety of hair and skin tones. This is fantastic as it allows kids (and adults!) to be seen and be represented in their medium of choice, video games.

I was stoked and immediately searched the store for "diabetes." No results. No pumps, sensors, emotes, needles, nothing. So I decided to fix it.

NOW AVAILABLE: Go and buy the Nightscout Diabetes CGM avatar on the Xbox Store now!

I called two friends - my friends at the Nightscout Foundation, dedicated to open source and open data for people with diabetes, as well as my friends at Konsole Kingz, digital avatar creators extraordinaire with over 200 items in the Xbox store from kicks to jerseys and tattoos.

And we did it! We've added our first diabetes avatar top with some clever coding from Konsole Kingz, it is categorized as a top but gives your avatar not only a Nightscout T-Shirt with your choice of colors, but also a CGM (Continuous Glucose Meter) on your arm!

Miss USA has a CGMFor most diabetics, CGMs are the hardware implants we put in weekly to tell us our blood sugar with minimal finger sticks. They are the most outwardly obvious physical manifestation of our diabetes and we're constantly asked about them. In 2017, Miss USA contestant Krista Ferguson made news by showing her CGM rather than hiding it. This kind of visible representation matters to kids with diabetes - it tells them (and us) that we're OK.

You can find the Nightscout CGM accessory in a nuimber of ways. You can get it online at the Xbox Avatar shop, and when you've bought it, it'll be in the Purchased Tab of the Xbox Avatar Editor, under Closet | Tops.

You can even edit your Xbox Avatar on Windows 10 without an Xbox! Go pick up the Xbox Avatar Editor and install it (on both your PC and Xbox if you like) and you can experiment with shirt and logo color as well.

Consider this a beta release. We are working on improving resolution and quality, but what we really what to know is this - Do you want more Diabetes Xbox Avatar accessories? Insulin pumps on your belt? An emote to check your blood sugar with a finger stick?

Diabetes CGM on an Xbox avatar

If this idea is a good one and is as special to you and your family (and the gamers in your life with diabetes) please SHARE it. Share it on social media, tell your friends at the news. Profits from this avatar item will go to the Nightscout Foundation!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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How to stream PC games from Windows 10 to your Xbox One for free

March 12, '19 Comments [6] Posted in Gaming
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Xbox is ready for you to connect to wirelesslyI've been really enjoying my Xbox lately (when the family is asleep) as well as some fun Retrogaming on original consoles. Back in 2015 I showed how you can stream from your Xbox to any PC using the Xbox app from the Windows Store. You can pair your Xbox controller with any PC you've got around (either with the $20 Xbox Wireless Adapter or just with a micro-USB cable you likely have already). In fact, I often walk on the treadmill while streaming games from the Xbox to my little Surface Pro 3.

Then, a year later I did the inverse. I played PC games on my big screen using a SteamLink! Although they've been discontinued, they are out there and they work great. This little box lets you play PC games remotely on your large screens. I have a big PC in my office and I wanted to use the big TV in the living room. The game still runs on the PC but the video/audio and controls are all remoted to the Xbox. Plus, SteamLink only works with the Steam app running and is optimized for Steam games. It's a single task box and one more thing to plug into HDMI but it works well.

Fast-forward to today and I learned that Windows 10 can project its screen to an Xbox One AND you can use your Xbox One controller to control it (it's paired on the Xbox side) and play games or run apps. No extra equipment needed.

I installed the Xbox Wireless Display App on my Xbox One. Then on my PC, here's what I see upon pressing Win+P and clicking "Connect to Wireless Display."

Connected to Xbox One

Once I've duplicated, you can see here I'm writing this blog post wirelessly projected to the Xbox. It just worked. Took 5 min to do this.

If you're tech savvy, you may say, isn't this "just Miracast" and "hasn't this always been possible?" Yes and no. What's been updated is the Xbox Wireless Display App that you'll want to install and run on your Xbox. You may have been able to project your PC screen to various sticks and Miracast adapters, but this free app makes your Xbox a receiver for Miracast broadcasts (over wifi or LAN) and most importantly - now you can use your Xbox controller already paired to the Xbox to control the remote PC. You can use that control to play games or switch to mouse control mode with Start+Select and mouse around with your Xbox thumbsticks!

20190315_050720572_iOS

If I hit the menu button I can see how the controllers map to PC controls. No remote keyboard and mouse connected from the Xbox...yet. (and to be clear, no word if that will ever be supported but it'd be cool!)

Controller Mapping for PC to Xbox

To make sure you can do this, run DxDiag and save all information into "DxDiag.txt." Here's part of mine. There's nothing special about my machine. It's worth pointing out I have no Wifi adapter on this machine and it has an NVidia 1080 video card. Miracast is happening over the Wired LAN (local area network) in my house. This is Miracast over Infrastructure and it's in Windows 10 since version 1703 (March 2017).

------------------
System Information
------------------
Machine name: IRONHEART
Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i9-7900X CPU @ 3.30GHz (20 CPUs), ~3.3GHz
Memory: 32768MB RAM
DirectX Version: DirectX 12
User DPI Setting: 144 DPI (150 percent)
System DPI Setting: 144 DPI (150 percent)
Miracast: Available, with HDCP

When you've connected your PC to my Xbox and are streaming FROM my PC to your Xbox, you'll see this bar at the top of the PC side. There's three optimization settings for Gaming, Working, and Watching Videos. I assume these are balancing crispness/quality with framerate and latency changes.

Gaming, Working, Watching Videos

Now let's take it to the next level. I can run Steam Big Picture and here I am running Batman: Arkham Origins on my PC, but played on and controlled from my Xbox in the other room!

I like that I don't need the SteamLink. I find that this runs more reliably and more easily than my original set up. I like that I can switch the Xbox controller from controller mode to mouse mode. And most of all I like that this doesn't require any custom setup, extra work, or drivers. It just worked out of the box for me.

Your mileage may vary and I'm trying to figuire out why some people's video card drivers don't allow this and then end up with no "Connect to a Wireless Display" option in their Win+P menu. If you figure it out, please sound of in the comments.

Give it a try! I hope you enjoy it. I'm having a blast.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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How to convert an IMG file to an standard ISO easily with Linux on Windows 10

February 12, '19 Comments [10] Posted in Gaming | Musings
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Modded Goldstar 3DO for USBThe optical disc drive is giving out on my GoldStar 3DO machine. It's nearly 30 years old. I want to make sure that the kids and I can still play our 3DO discs. I ordered this fantastic USB mod for the 3DO from a fellow out of Belarus. It came and it's great. It includes a game/file selector app that you boot off of if you put it in the root of a FAT32 formatted USB drive.

However, when I cloned my collection of CD-ROMS I ended up with a bunch of IMG files, and this mod wants ISO files. I thought my cloner was going to give me ISOs. I did the obvious thing and googled for "how to convert an img file to an iso."

This plunged me into the hellscape that is CNET and Major Geeks download wrappers. Every useful application or utility out there is hidden on a page filled with Download Now buttons that aren't the button you want OR if you get the app you want, it's actually a Chrome Search hijacker. I just want to convert a damn IMG to an ISO. If you want to do this on Windows you're going to be installing a bunch of virus-laden trial ISO cracking crap.

Fortunately, Windows 10 can run Linux very nicely, thank you very much. Go install Ubuntu from the Windows Store and get set up ASAP.

I just installed ccd2iso inside Ubuntu on my Windows 10 machine.

scott@IRONHEART:~$ sudo apt install ccd2iso
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
ccd2iso
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 27 not upgraded.
Need to get 7406 B of archives.
After this operation, 26.6 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic/universe amd64 ccd2iso amd64 0.3-7 [7406 B]
Fetched 7406 B in 0s (21.0 kB/s)
Selecting previously unselected package ccd2iso.
(Reading database ... 61432 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../ccd2iso_0.3-7_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking ccd2iso (0.3-7) ...
Processing triggers for man-db (2.8.3-2ubuntu0.1) ...
Setting up ccd2iso (0.3-7) ...
scott@IRONHEART:~$ cd /mnt/c/Users/scott/Desktop/3do/

Then I cd (change directory) into my file system where my IMG backups are. Note that my C:\ drive on Windows is at /mnt/c so you can see me in a folder on my Desktop here. Then just run ccd2iso.

scott@IRONHEART:/mnt/c/Users/scott/Desktop/3do$ ccd2iso AloneInTheDark.img AloneInTheDark.iso
179500 sector written
Done.

Boom. Super fast and does the job and now I'm up and running! Regardless of why you got to this blog post and needed to convert an IMG to an ISO, I hope this helps and saves you some time!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.