Tag Archives: 2019

Software Bloat Betrays the Raspberry Pi Zero W

I purchased a Raspberry Pi Zero W several months ago with the intention that it would replace the DOS/Windows functionality of my old Pentium 233MMX computer with equivalent Linux based software, while using waaaay less electricity! I also thought it would be a good idea to use the $14 CAD Pi Zero W for programming my Arduino UNO rather than any of my other much more expensive computers, because short circuits happen man!

The use case for my old machine is very limited, given that it exists only to satisfy my nostalgia for the first PC I bought myself. Of course back then I used that machine for all my computing needs, where as now I have a modern desktop and a smart phone to handle my “real computing”. So here is what I have been using my Deskpro for:

DOS: Word Perfect 5.1, Impulse Tracker, QBasic
Windows: Rebirth, Audacity, WinAmp, Wordpad, Notepad, MS Paint

It runs all of those things very well, to a point – it does not like to multi task (WinAmp playback will “skip” when computer is busy) and it very much prefers to run at 800×600 in Windows rather than at 1024×768, due to the low-end graphics card. But honestly, it is a totally usable computer that is excellent for hobbyist audio and game production. The only downsides are its physical size, the amount of electricity it consumes, and it’s cumbersome connectivity to the outside world (which in practical terms is its single rear USB port, as I don’t have any other computers that can read Iomega Zip disks or 3.5″ floppy disks).

Let’s compare the specifications of the Raspberry Pi Zero to my Compaq Deskpro 4000 desktop…

Compaq Deskpro 4000
– Intel Pentium 233MHz CPU with MMX
– 96MB of 66MHz SDRAM
– S3 Virge GX 4MB SVGA graphics
– SoundBlaster 16 audio
– Windows 98 SE / DOS 6.22 / FreeDOS 2.0

Raspberry Pi Zero W
– ARM6 BCM2835 1,000MHz CPU
– VideoCore IV 64MB HDMI graphics
– Some audio codec for sound…
– Rasbian Lite (Debian 10 ARM)

Architecture differences aside, it’s pretty obvious that the ARM6 CPU performs much faster than the older Intel CPU that is clocked 4 times slower. If it could run the same software, this ARM CPU would be roughly equivalent to an Intel Pentium III 600MHz, which is impressive given that the surface area of the whole Pi Zero “motherboard” is smaller than that of just the P3 CPU!

I’ve been using GNU/Linux since 1998 and I have installed and configured countless flavors of both Linux and Windows in that time, so it’s not like I had crazy expectations when going into this project; I knew that my desired functionality was available via native GNU/Linux software and all of those functions worked well on much lesser hardware, so what could go wrong!

Well, after testing every light weight system for XWindows and huge amount of software, the following is what would run acceptably…

DOS Program => BASH Program
Imulse Tracker => MilkyTracker
Edit.com => Nano
Borland C => GCC
QBasic => BaCon

Windows Program => Xorg Program
Windows => WindowMaker (JUST WM!)
Windows Explorer => Xfe
Audacity => Audacity
MS Paint => MT Paint
Winamp => Audacious
Netscape => Dillo
DOS Prompt => Xterm
Notepad => Leafpad
Wordpad => Nothing – even Abiword sucked!

I was really sad that IceWM, JWM, and Fluxbox all had problems of some kind, be it IceWM’s memory leak that brought the system to its knees after a few minutes or just being CPU heavy in the way that LXDE’s Lxpanel program is. Likewise Schism Tracker, which is based on the actual source code of Impulse Tracker, was completely unusable. Thankfully MilkyTracker worked great, provided it was run from a TTY and the XWindows session was not running in the background. The full GNUStep suite of software ran like a dog with three broken legs (as did LXDE, Xfce, and Mate), but its WindowMaker window manager ran quite nicely.

The performance of Abiword and Gnumeric (spreadsheet) was thoroughly disappointing, because they are the best light weight Word/Excel replacements for GNU/Linux, yet they were both slow enough to be completely obnoxious to use. Even going from an empty document to one with a few lines or cells was laggy and annoying. The same can be said for Geany, Mousepad, and literally every other graphical text editor in the Debian repo. Of course, Nano was fine and while I don’t use Vi, Emacs, or the text editor in Midnight Commander, I assume they would perform perfectly fine when run from a TTY (and probably fine when run in a terminal emulator).

On the upside, plain old Xterm ran so much better than any other terminal emulator, which was great as it’s also able to be customized to look similar to the fancier programs. Using WindowMaker as a little weird, as its UI paradigm was unfamiliar to me, but it was hands down the fastest windowing system to load, move, resize, refresh, and close programs. And bless its heart, Xfe was quick and feature rich file explorer that was a pleasure to use, though even the Windows 98 SE version of Windows Explorer is faster and more polished. Yes, LXDE’s PCManFM does work on the Pi Zero W, but it’s slow in that, “man this fucking sucks!” kind of way which is just not acceptable for everyday use.

Compiling small C programs in DOS and GNU/Linux felt the same, which is important when using BaCon (BASIC to C converter) rather than QBasic, because ultimately it compiles C code. GCC is a little slow in general, but it wasn’t any slower than compiling C programs in DOS 6.22 or FreeDOS 2.0 on the old machine. I would imagine that compiling a very large project would favor the Pentium 233MMX due to the optimization of the Borland compiler and the speed of the IDE Compact Flash storage, but it would really depend on the project. I was just farting around with Ncurses games on the Pi similar demo games on the PC.

QEMU and DOSBox both ran Impulse Tracker like crap and I didn’t even bother trying to run Rebirth with Wine, because there’s no just way that wouldn’t have been a shit-show.

On the whole, using the Raspberry Pi Zero W as a replacement for my old Win98 PC sucked, a lot. So much so that it’s really not even worth doing.


Because GNU/Linux is bloated as all hell and the Pi requires so much “magic kruft” just to boot that it’s not really possible to slim the system down much further than what the Raspberry Pi Foundation has already done in Rasbian Lite. The Linux kernel is bloated. Most GNU software is bloated. Binary blob drivers that do weird shit (like use the GPU to run boot code!) that requires the system to be configured in a specific manner… It all culminates into a poorly performing system that is overly complicated and underwhelming to use.

It’s just not a nice experience, especially when compared to the simplicity of the PC BIOS and installing/using either DOS or Windows on a PC. Heck, even Slackware 7 is more usable on my old PC than the very best setup of GNU/Linux on the Pi Zero and using XWindows in Slackware 7 is right bloody awful compared to Windows 95, let alone Win98 SE!

The sad thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s entirely possible to make a simple, FAST, and useful desktop operating system for single core ARM6 CPUs with 512MB of RAM and a basic graphics adapter with OpenGL ES support. RISC OS Open would be a good example, were it not for the lack of hardware support that prevents it from working properly and the lack software that accomplishes the required tasks; At least the software that does work in RISC OS works very well and the OS itself boots instantly! And so it bloody well should! If the Pi Zero W wifi, bluetooth, gpio, and audio (it’s too quiet) were fully functional in RISC OS Open that would absolutely make for a perfect, fast desktop OS on the wee little computer.

The Raspberry Pi Zero hardware is no slouch, but the software they give you for it fucking sucks.

Sadly, the Pi Foundation doesn’t care. I’ve seen forum posts by their engineers that say the Pi Zero isn’t meant to be a desktop and it’s not much of a conspiracy theory to say that they do this to sell you a more expensive Pi. You know, a Pi that is fast enough to cover up a lot of the problems inherent to modern GNU/Linux software. Why would the Pi Foundation write excellent software for their cheapest product when they can slap together free stuff made by volunteers and call it day? Who needs to take pride in their work when there’s free labor to exploit! Cynical? God damned right, but I’m also not wrong.

The Pi Foundation could easily put together a GNU/Linux based OS image that instantly boots the Pi Zero to a form of BBC BASIC which is capable of using all the Pi’s GPIO, camera, and other functions, and comes with a usable desktop that runs a WYSIWYG text editor and the Dillo browser for Wikipedia and forum access. They just don’t and that’s a crying shame.

Alrighty, I suppose this concludes my grumpy ramblings about the couple of months I spent dicking around with my Raspberry Pi Zero W. I could say a lot more, delving into great detail about various aspects of the experience, but I don’t feel like it. Sorry. It’s just not worth my time and really, it’s not worth your time either. Maybe between now and the end of life of the Raspberry Pi Zero w in 2026 we will see a renewed effort by the Pi Foundation on the software front, allowing we mere mortals to get more out of the machines, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Until then, my interest in the Pi Zero will remain as something I can accidentally blow up when programming my $8 micro controller without breaking the bank.

I know this may seem like a pretty damning assessment of GNU/Linux itself and to be honest, it is. GNU/Linux peaked for me with Linux Mint 17.3 – everything after that is just worse in one way or another, be it regressive bugs, “change for the sake of change”, or outright unusable garbage in some instances. On the flip side, Windows 10 has improved tremendously, even to the point where I really don’t have any problems with it beyond it being ugly. That’s saying a lot, considering that I hated it a few years ago. As such, I basically use Windows 10 for everything other than audio recording, for which I still use Mint 17.3, because it “just works”. I have no desire to partake in the flavor of the month chasing, convoluted “that sounds cool, let’s do it” funk that has become of so many GNU/Linux distributions and the Linux kernel itself. I mean, you know it’s bad when it ends up being a better experience when using older GNU software in the latest version of Windows than it is when using the latest GNU software in the most up to date Linux distributions… I’m done, I no longer care; what I already have works just fine for me!

As for what I am going to do about using my old PC for nostalgia, I’m just not going to “do it” at all. The system took up way too much space at my desk and frankly I can just fire up a virtual machine from Windows when feel like using the old software.

My Journey to the Center of Euclid

I have reached the center of the galaxy in No Man’s Sky for the first time. From the game play mechanics perspective, the only reason to do so is if you want to jump through the center of the galaxy so you can magically pop out on the outer rim of a different galaxy. However, I don’t actually want to do that, because I would rather stick around in the starting galaxy and take part in the GOG multiplayer community (which happens to be near the center of the galaxy).

Being somewhat of a nerd, I decided to keep a travel log. Near the half way point I realized it would take two thirds of nine-ever if I kept stopping to smell the roses and to write down the addresses of the systems I passed though, which is why the log got a lot more boring near the end. Ah well, I am there, I did it, yay me!

Here are a few images, one at the core, one on my way to GOG Civilized Space, and one of me standing on the destination planet!

Now all I have to do is poke my imagination until it comes up with something fun to build. Hmmm… I guess I could also poke my nose over the neighbor’s fence and see what they’re up to too, now that I have neighbors. 🙂

Captain’s Log


– Started in The Moon system, 719,485 LY due east of the core.

– Traversed two black holes and decided I had best start a log in case I get destroyed at some point!

Beokayas System:
– Beokayas Prime (113C013F25B7) is a delightful world with beautiful weather, brownish-purple grass, blue-green water, and blues skies. No Sentinel activity to speak of either.

Musash-Yunn System:
– Found merchant on space station selling S-Class 24 Slot Rifle. Also had S-Class Upgrades for Scanner, Mining Beam, Blaze Javelin, Geo Cannon, and Pulse Spitter.
– Interesting empty planet Yisiternd V (4070040e76d0).

– Accidentally overloaded Geology Cannon on new rifle. My capital ship crew located my remains in a cave once occupied by some large mollusk type creatures. Thankfully my essence had earlier been transferred to a Korvax Convergence Cube and my crew felt compelled to source a carapace for me. I am now an honorary Korvax! The geology cannon was removed from my multi-tool, replaced by a blaze javelin it would seem… (I actually did kill myself with the Geo-cannon, while base building (twice!) in an earlier save file and decided it just wasn’t for me! lol…).

– My new exo-suit excels at communication, but is less robust in hazardous environments. Thankfully it has some measure of protection from radiation. (I removed all my weather protection items and downgraded to C-Class radiation protection, because it was just so easy nothing felt dangerous).

Eorgiy System:
– Landed Trade Outpost on moon Avok (3079040e76cc).
– Recruited Korvax Mining frigate. Decided it was a good time to build a fleet of quality vessels that need a chance to prove themselves (C-Class with as nice stats as possible).
– Took black hole, ended up in Edithos System (102c034f44a9).

Yubara VIII System:
– Landed on a strange planet, Hinnel Minor (11b8034f04a5). The scanner picked up as a “harsh blue globe”. Atmospheric turbulence caused light to absorbed such that all the world looked black and white, with dull red highlights on infrared sources. Excellent source of Activated Indium and Storm Crystals, despite the dreary weather.

Hapaye XIII System:
– Landed Trade Outpost on planet Ulompt Gamma (1079034ec4a1).
– Traversed black hole, ended up in Quanna System (10240294dfe0) on the other side of the galaxy! Considerably closer to the center, none the less.

Renushny System:
– Recruited Gek Science, Supply, and Merchant vessels.

Puolin V System:
– Last stop on a stretch of Kovakrun systems before using the portal to do some work back at New Vertiform City. I had been hoping trade our enormous bucket of rusty bolts for a smaller, newer S-Class frigate; I’d rather have less storage and nicer design as my home in space!


– Took portal from Fallen Earth to Gogus Proxima in the [GOG-87] – Omning Lidkorjah system. Visited several bases created by other travelers. Found the entry for this system in my discoveries log was out of order, ran diagnostic, but logging tool reports all OK.

– Portaled back to Puolin V system and set waypoint to [GOG-87] – Omning Lidkorjah system.

Prunnum System:
– Made a deal to take command of a very nice (Star Destroyer style) white A-Class, 32 Slot capital ship. It was much larger than the S-Class style I was hoping to find, but after considering the scrap value of our old ship (C-Class, 28 Slot) and the fact that I bailed out this ship’s hapless gunners by taking out some equally hapless pirates, the 83M Unit transaction was too good of a deal to pass up. Most likely will keep this capital ship a very long time.

– Recruited Supply vessel The Kunecer War-Spear

– Bit of a bleak system, but I decided to explore a little anyway. Was curious about how there may be ancient bones on the airless moon _, discovered upon excavation they were the remains of the ancestors of the biological horrors that currently lay their eggs on the surface. Need to tune the scanner to ignore them – gross!

– Landed on moon that supports minimal amount of life. Strange that such a large body orbits inside the ring of dust. I wonder if further study would show the rings consist largely of the casting and dander of the large worms who I suspect burrow deeply here… Found many crashed freighters; Again, is it the rings? Dust storms chipping paint. Time to move on from Caklephi Beta and this system as a whole.


– Entered black hole in Lolberg-Tianu system, ended up in Oevush system. 662,662 from the core!

Amkvabase System:
– Recruited Vy’keen C-Class combat vessel “The Dance of Air”. Comes equipped with tremendous cannons. Vy’keen rock!

Nanino System:
– Recruited Korvax combat vessel The Shield of the Abyss. Nifty red/blue paint job. Hope they don’t scuff it up too often… Also picked up the science vessel MV-3 Michig

Iquang System:
– 648,285 LY from the core, west side of galaxy. Jumped into black hole. Ended up in Daemonas system at 642,472 LY from the core on the east side of the galaxy.

Rumamaga-Enc System:
– 638,179 LY from core. Took black hole, ended up in Nukiha system on the NW side of the galaxy 631,531 LY from the core.

Eiyodate System:
– 607,485 LY from the core, encountered a large fleet of Vy’keen support ships. Recruited The Omen of the Horizon support ship.

Rivoik VII System:
– Single planet in this system is a beautiful tropical oasis, with blue skies, blue water, and deep reddish grass. Excellent place to get eaten by hungry and aggressive wildlife!
– 599,010 LY from core. Took black hole, ended up in Gakish-Oili III 593,593 LY from the core.

Gusuki-One System:
– 589,640 LY from the core. Took black hole, ended up in Geding-Nabru XVII system 582,951 from the core.

Shkennec System:
– Recruited GeK Mining (CS-3 Mitoi) and Combat (DSV-4 Atter) frigates. Had second thoughts about building an all Vy’keen combat force, just in case tempers run hot at some point.

Pajular-Enya II System:
– 570,707 LY from the core and I made an exception my reciting rule. Hired a B-Class Vy’keen mining vessel, as it had two +6 Industrial bonuses and uses only 8 tons of fuel per LY.
– Some nifty looking fighters and shuttles in this system.

Etsenn-Rumid System:
– 558,005 LY due west of core. Took black hole, ended up in Utioae-Ulph system 552,172 LY NE of the core.

– Landed on what looked like a nice planet to set up camp, Wesandov III, but it wasn’t long before I was swarmed by football sized crabs that would happily devour me, suit and all. I slept in my ship, thankfully they couldn’t eat that too.


Etsenn-Rumid System:
– Woke up refreshed. So many strange dreams since moving to this Korvax body… How many lives have I lived before? Have I? Do I? I don’t know… It’s a beautiful day!

– Waited for the fleet to catch up. Thankfully not problems traversing black holes. Dispatched two wings on missions.

– Non-Korvax entities aboard capital ship grew tired of eating rations since the cabin fire and subsequent ban of personal cooking equipment. Called upon Farmer stationed at New Vertiform City to setup and maintain a mess hall on capital ship. He was very eager to accept this new adventure! Armorer agreed to watch over plants in the city when off duty; I knew he liked flowers.

Baksanog XVII System:
– Landed on Ranc VIII (218e02b95310), as the scanner had some kind of malfunction, listing the planet planet as [REDACTED]. Worth investigating further. Found a dark, rainy world that is nice if you don’t mind the rain and you can find shelter during the occasionally deadly storm. Mined 1700 units of Dioxite (safely from a cut out that I made in the hill) while looking for some Activated Indium.
– Unable to locate any Activated Indium, but may return to Ranc VIII someday.

– Visisted Polo and Nada on the Anomoly. Got waypoint to black hole in Kodias III system 550,467 LY from the core. Warped there, traversed black hole, ended up in Lasdals-Olonq system 544,382 LY from the core. Not worth the repairs to hyperdrive upgrades, as that was only 2 jumps (with each jump only using 2% of my warp fuel).

Hidden Jem System:
– In my quest to find a heavily combat equipped science vessel, I found a Vy’keen system called Hidden Jem, due north of the galactic core. Not sure if that is a translation error, though I did find a mineral deep in a cave, on the one giant planet in this system, that a local indicated was called simply “Jem”. The planet, called Jewel of Nal (118001ab504c), appears to be an idyllic refuge for scientific minded Vy’keen. Lush blue grass and green skies, it truly is a hidden gem!

Vidius-Tish System:
– (212101ab804d) Found a dealer who sells all red versions of the Radiant Pillar in various qualities. Also sells a nice symmetric gull wing hauler in red. Wealthy system, so lots of nice models available.
– Station merchant had a slick looking S-Class Rifle (16 Slots).

Eakeni System:
– At 535,128 LY from the core, hired final science vessel for the fleet. Top notch Vy’keen explorers (+6 Exploration bonus). Was hoping to find a crew with more combat experience, but this crew and their ship are the best explorers in our fleet, so no complaints!


– Unable to relocate the Eakeni System. Restarted journey to the core at Vidius-Tish System 541,597 from the core

– Aebashim System puts me at 500,265 LY from the core. Stopped in the next system for tea, because it wasn’t at war and we all know that war and tea don’t mix.

Lolsboro System:
– You’d think that was name chosen by another traveler, but nope, it was generated by Atlas itself!

– System is 495,955 LY N from the core. Took blackhole (107902b2a049) and ended up in Inskyvi III system (1065004c4f9d) 489,814 LY S of the core. No damage taken!

– Next black hole jump, had to repair though.

– Doing a series of black hole jumps without documentation, but the gist is: Jump approx 2,000 LY to next black hole on scanner, take black hole, repair, repeat. Stopped in Gameaumon XVIII system 458,020 LY from the core to buy some wiring looms. Seems the combination of warp jumps and being stretched in black holes takes its toll on wiring. I feel fine though! Also purchased 2,173 units of Residual Goop, because “Goop + Poop = Gold” and that makes me happy.

Ugyuang System:
– Having now reached the Ugyuang system 343,945 LY from the core, I have to say that the two times I did a black hole jump and didn’t need to make repairs were both flukes! I’d look into buying better equipment if I didn’t already have the best Nanites can buy.

– Landed at space station to rest for the night. Almost at the halfway point from where I started!


Netiluy-lonq system:
– Did some more jumping today. Caught a signal for some salvageable scrap on Nisiylvan (105dfc2ee05f), a frozen planet in the Netiluy-lonq system. Located a component in perfect condition worth about 2.4MU. Not bad for wanting to stretch my legs! That said, traveling to the core goes a lot faster than thought it would when I just jump without taking a break.

Fokadamal System:
– 251,399 LY SW of the core. Nothing of interest to note.

Dagbokbe System:
– Less than 200K LY to go! Bought some Phosphorus here for a decent price.

Ifrosv System:
– 117,642 LY W of the core. Ran out of cobalt mirrors to repair the launch system recharger. Will check station for supplies, if none found, will leave broken.

Anooga System:
– 98,408 LY from the core, finally broke the 100K LY mark!

Arinqi II System:
– 44,287 LY from the core. The first system on my trip that was discovered by another traveler! Discovered by gjennings two years ago. I stopped here to use the black hole.

Hooey-Avr System:
– Two black holes later at 28,335 LY, and I am in a system discovered by Root Boy Slim only eight months ago. Looks like he was also just passing though. I decided to land on the purple planet of Urmipp to catch a breather. Aggressive sentinels abound, so I stayed on top of a high pillar of stone to avoid them, but one of the buggers found me anyway when I scanning the birds flying below.

Laftalli System:
– Reached 3,497 LY SE from the core, checked map and there aren’t ANY stars beyond 400 LY from here toward the core! Crazy! Had a good laugh out loud when I found a system on the edge of the core named. “I spent 60 euros on this”. Of course, I had to go there too.

I spent 60 euros on this System:
– Discovered by AxeWorld three years ago. He also discovered the planet, “Prepare for disappointment”.

– Defeated 4 pirates with my default pulse cannon, again. Sigh…

– Doesn’t seem to be anything of interest here. Visited Polo on the Anomaly to request coordinates for an Atlas Interface. Maybe that will help… Did some reading, figured out I need to reach a gateway system, which can be found using the Galactic Core bookmark on the galactic map.

Niquntain XVIII System:
– 3,000 LY from the core, I could now jump into the center if I wanted! How’s that for crazy, eh? I don’t actually want to travel there though, as that would send me off to another galaxy. Instead I wish to end this journey by beginning another in the [GoG-87] – Omning Lidkorjah system where other travelers have settled!

New Vertiform City – A No Man’s Sky Base

A reference to a classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, New Vertiform City is the first base that I build since restarting No Man’s Sky on GOG Galaxy. I wanted to make my home somewhere that was both useful and engaging, so I set out to find a good Electromagnetic Power Hotspot in the blistering hell of a planet with extremely radioactive wind storms.

Well that’ll do!

With an astonishing amount of unlimited power found, I put together a nifty little outpost with the following features…

Galactic Region: Umukait

System: The Moon (a late night naming error…)

  • F7f // Water (Yellow)
  • Vy’keen
  • Mathmatical (Scientific / Blue)
  • Conflict Level Destructive

Planet: Fallen Earth

  • Extreme Radioactivity
  • Frequent, long lasting storms
  • Minimal Sentinels
  • Silver, Uranium, Activated Copper, Gamma Root

City Functions

  • Mining Oyxgen (48Ku/day)
  • Mining Uranium (24Ku/day)
  • Harvesting Gamma Root (~50 Plants)
  • Crafting Liquid Explosives & Living Glass

City Amenities

  • Trade Terminal
  • Large and Medium Refiners
  • Roamer and Colossis Exocraft Terminals
  • Two Landing Pads
  • Antimater Harvester
  • Livestock Unit & Feeder

What’s Nearby

  • Storm Crystals
  • Ancient Bones
  • Large Oxygen patch and several Gamma Root patches
  • Trade Outpost (marked with beacon)
  • Ancient Data Structure
  • Water and Caves

For my purposes, those Uranium and Oxygen harvesters provide me with effectively an unlimited supply of several important resources. Also, the ability to make approx 12 million “Units” (currency) worth of crafted items every day (on top of being able to collect Storm Crystals and Ancient Bones!) is plenty to keep me happy. The game is too easy as it is, so I don’t see the point of ruining the experience by creating yet another Activated Indium mine that can max out one’s Units (4.2 billion) in few days. Nope, for me it’s about the journey, so I would rather set goals and work at them a little at time.

Anyhow, if you’re playing on GOG Galaxy (PC) and want to check it out, here is the portal address for the planet:

You can see here on the galactic map and translates into the following alpha-numeric values 2242013FD5C8. New Vertiform City is located at the coordinates -54, +162, which is pretty far away from the portal, so don’t forget you can call your ship or plop down an exo-craft terminal if you’re coming to visit.

Restarted No Man’s Sky on GOG Galaxy

After some initial horrible performance issues with the 2.0 Beyond update, which happened to be caused by the Steam client eating up a massive amount of CPU/Disk/Network resources rather than a problem with NMS itself, I decided to throw in the towel with Steam. I never liked it anyway, so no loss there! 🙂

Anyway, having played more than 200 hours on four different save files, 1 Survival Mode and 1 Normal Mode on both Steam and GOG, I decided it would be best for me to take some time off the game to reset my brain and come back to start a fresh game. Let me tell ya, it’s hard to keep all those different games straight when the world looks and feels identical in all of them! Also, I figured I would be less likely to encounter any issues if I did a completely clean installation using the GOG Galaxy program.

No Man’s Sky is as close to the perfect game for me as I am likely to ever get, so it would be a shame to spend all of that time playing it without ever encountering the creations of others or others encountering my own. As such, I decided to go “all in” on Normal Mode on GOG, simply playing the game the way Hello Games intended it, despite the sad reality that the game is disappointingly easy. “Take the good with the bad”, they say! The good is that I don’t have to do anything other than log in and enjoy the game and that’s OK with me – less work, more play! That said, I will keep my modified 1.77 version of the game installed and the repository for those “mods” around in case all hell breaks loose or I am driven insane by some of the annoying new features in version 2.0 of the game.

With all that said, I finally got all of the portal glyphs again and I am looking forward to taking part in the GOG Civilized Space project. Along the way I created a nifty base that I called, “New Vertiform City”, which I used to complete all the base related quests and to collect Storm Crystals, etc. I’ll create a post about it later, because it’s pretty nifty and it will be my main base for a good long time I bet.

See you in the great beyond!

(Pun intended, of course.)

My lowly A-Class fighter that can utterly wreck the hardest encounters in the game!
(I can beat them in the unmodified starter ship too…)

Hobbies: Creating vs. Playing and Being Entertained

I’ve been told many times that I am “too hard on myself” and that may be true, but either way, I can’t help feeling lazy and useless when I am playing a game or watching a show rather than using that time to create something. Be that creation a program, a blog post, or even a silly dollar-store-paint panting, there is something about doing those sorts of things that makes them feel inherently useful, even if the end product is totally useless.

That said though, sometimes I don’t even have the mental flux to soldier through a game of Bejeweled, let alone reach the focused head-space required to program or otherwise create anything useful. Yet when I take an objective view of on life, ya know what, it’s alright to loaf on the couch for an evening to catch up on The Orville and Murdoch Mysteries!

Life’s short, paint some happy little trees. Or don’t, cause that’s fine too! 🙂

A scene that was swimming around in my head…

$3 of paint on a piece of cardboard box primed with paint and drywall compound!

Raspberry Pi Zero & Arduino UNO in an old DVD Player Chassis

Well, it’s not really at all like prototype kids electronics computer station thing I made a render of in Blender last year, but it’s kind of cool and definitely helps my desk stay uncluttered, which is nice.

Nice and tidy Pi Zero and Arduino UNO setup

The keyboard is a particularly kick butt off-brand mechanical deal, with Cherry MX blue style switches and double-shot PBT keycaps built on a thick metal plate, that I bought on sale of less than $24 CAD. That was one hell of a deal considering that I paid about the same for my all plastic Microsoft ComfortCurve 2000, with its bendy chassis and rubber dome keys, in the early 2000s. Moving on, I also included a powered USB hub, a breadboard for electronics tinkering, and hand-made mount that allows the Pi Zero W to sit mostly inside the plastic front bezel, leaving it beyond the metal chassis for better Wifi reception. Speaking of Wifi, initially I only wanted the $6 CAD Pi Zero, but I wasn’t able to find one in stock, so I bought the $11 Pi Zero W instead. All things considered, I suppose it is a lot simpler to use Apt on the network rather than downloading packages to a USB stick on a different computer and installing them that way. All of these parts I attached with a handful of screws and some wire I pealed out of an Ethernet cable; Threading the wires through holes in the plastic/metal plates was both sturdy and cost effective! Don’t worry, there is a piece of silver coloured plastic between the bottom on the Pi and the metal frame it’s mounted upon.

Anyhow, my primary use for the machine is to play around with programming in the C language in a command line only world that hearkens back to the 8 Bit days, in a way. Having spent a year with my Commodore 64c, I decided that I prefer puttering around with Linux, C, Python, Lua, BASIC, and all that jazz rather than futzing with Assembly on the C64. I very much enjoy the combination of the “limited” Pi Zero, with its single core CPU and 512MB RAM, and the meager Arduino UNO, because the combo is not only crazy powerful for character graphics programming (Ncurses library), but I can accidentally blow up either of them when working on an electronics project without worrying too much about it. Always a little freaky plugging that Arduino into a computer! Finally, I love that the whole system uses less than 2 Watts of power under full load – it makes a whole lot more sense to do use it for command line based programming that my electricity sucking desktop, that’s for sure!

That said, I don’t really have any projects on the go with it at this time. I already have a bunch of other projects I am not doing as it is lol… Seriously, I need to find the passion to finish RocketTux, basically for the sake of doing so at this point… And with that said, I do have some crazy ideas which will no doubt show up on my GitHub page in due time. Think Commodore PET style games and software, only it’s Rasbian (Debian) Linux rather than Commodore BASIC…

Here are some more pictures of the setup.

This once was Daytech DVD-868V50 DVD player.

Powered USB Hub, Breadboard, and a plastic bottom with plenty of space for misc parts to dangle around!

I made a custom rear panel out of plastic. Could have done a better job with the Arduino hole…

This is a terrible picture. My main desktop keyboard is backlit, while the one for the Pi in front of it is not. Split screen command line thanks to Tmux.

$18.99 CAD / Month for World of Warcraft Classic? Hard Pass

Given that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of “buy to play” games for $60 or less, and countless “free to play” games, it makes no sense whatsoever to pay ~$200 CAD every year to play a 14 year old version of World of Warcraft.

When I read that Blizzard was set to begin hosting the original version of WoW this summer, I was mildly interested. Personally, I started playing WoW near the end of the Burning Crusade expansion and I have only ever dabbled here and there with the original version on private servers, so I can’t say that I am emotionally invested in World of Warcraft Classic. Furthermore, I haven’t subscribed to WoW in something like 9 years, because the game was changed into something I no longer enjoyed, nor I have played on a private server since… 2014?? Heck, I haven’t even had my single player Wrath of the Lich King era server emulator setup in at least two years, so I guess you could say I am “over” WoW (and Blizzard as a company to be frank). However, I figured I would give WoW Classic a whirl if the price was right.

Turns out, the price is wrong: The only way to play World of Warcraft Classic is by maintaining a subscription to the current version of the game.

I have no interest in playing the current version of the game and the 14 year of version of WoW isn’t worth paying $18.99 CAD / month, so the concept of World of Warcraft Classic is dead on the vine. What would I have been willing to pay for WoW Classic? I suppose I’d be fine with a one time purchase of $39.99 CAD.

I suspect Activision-Blizzard is hoping they will see a significant increase in subscribers, but I think it is more likely that the target audience, former players such as myself, just don’t give a fuck and will be quite content to pass on WoW Classic. It seems like an astonishing lack of insight on their part. I mean, there’s “cashing in on nostalgia” with impulse-buy priced mini-retro consoles, ads/shows featuring old pop culture references, and other such opportunism, but expecting people to maintain a full price subscription for a 14 year old game in today’s saturated gaming market is just plain stupid.

Playing Normal Mode Normally on Steam

Update 2019.07.23: The “Kicked back to Game Select” bug is still happening, so I am forced to either play the GoG version or play the Steam version in offline to avoid literally wasting my life playing the game. As a result, I am just going to continue playing the GoG version offline, because playing online is not worth the aggravation. I’ll reevaluate when the Beyond update has released.

When I started playing No Man’s Sky earlier this year, my first play through was in Normal Mode on Steam. I put in 62 hours noob’n it up until I reached a point where I thought perhaps I was selling my self short by playing in normal rather than survival mode, so I made a new game. After playing quite some time in Survival Mode on Steam, I encountered a bug that kicked me unexpectedly to the main menu, causing me to lose all progress since my last save point. That wasn’t very fun and it didn’t happen if I played with Steam in off-line mode, so I picked up the GoG version of the game, as it was on sale and it could be played without connecting to the Internet at all. I went on to play a while in Normal Mode on GoG only to find everything was too easy, which lead me to restarting on Survival Mode and going so far as to make a whack of game balance adjustments to make the game more what I was expecting. Here, have a graphic of my progress…

Anyway, after all the time I put into my off-line game, I find myself missing the opportunity to, at the very least, discover things out in the galaxy that other people have created. Sure the game itself has a crazy amount of stuff to discover, but I know from my time playing Star Wars Galaxies that there’s a special magic to coming across other player’s creations and I don’t want to miss out on that. As such, I have decided to put my game time into playing Normal Mode on Steam, where I may encounter other folks.

Why Normal Mode?
As far as multi-player on PC, Normal Mode on Steam in the Eulcid galaxy is where most of the action is. There’s even a cool map of the galaxy that is maintained by Hello Games, which makes it easier to know what’s going on and allows me to set some goals for what I’d like to see and do.

Why Normally, Without Mods?
Unwinding the mess of memories from playing four different save games is hard enough for this here old man, so I figured I would keep my Steam client as the default game, while my GoG version can be the one I mod. That way I can still enjoy the game the way it was intended to be played. As far as playing normally goes, I now have enough experience with the game to know how to keep Normal Mode feeling fun without having to adhere to any strict rules; “I’ma do what’s fun, yo!”, as the kids would say. 🙂

Where Am I?
That’s a good question! Despite playing over 60 hours on my first game, I have yet to finish all the quests and unlock all the base parts, vehicles, etc. so it might not shock you to learn that I also haven’t found any portals either. Noobs, eh? 🙂 I did make small bases on each of the planets of the system I started in, with my main base being on my starting planet, which I named Hondo Florrum. I’ll post again when I figure out where I am what I’m doing!

Edit: Here I am!

And after that monstrosity of a graphic, please take a moment to enjoy this beautiful vista taken on Hondo Florrum.

I Built A Castle! (in No Man’s Sky)

Earlier in the week I finished the Artemis Path on my shiny new GOG single player Survival Mode game and chose to go to the happy rainbows galaxy, Eissentam. I repaired my ship and set out into the void once more, but after an hour or two I realized that really, it just plumb doesn’t matter what galaxy one chooses to play in and I didn’t actually want to start over again in a new galaxy. I had bases in the starting galaxy that I liked, on planets I had barely explored, and I was in a decent region of space, with plenty more to do and see. So, I loaded up my last manual save, rewinding time back to before I completed the Atlas Path quest line. And then, I set out to build this castle on my main planet, because why not! 🙂

Ultimately, the game itself tells you that shit happens and there’s nothing you can do about it, so you may as well just forget about the state of the universe and enjoy the ride. It’s a pretty terrible story to be honest, full of tired tropes and incoherence, but the worst part is that it forces a narrative upon your character that may well be entirely the opposite of what you want for your character. Sigh, that’s video games for ya! The game itself is excellent at “facilitating the enjoyment of the experience” though and that just so happens to be how I define the purpose of games in general, so I am happy with it. Anyway… So, I figured I may as well just keep myself busy by taking the time to thoroughly explore the planets and to build whatever happens to tickle my fancy at the time.

The castle walls are made using the concrete wall parts, because I found them both easy to work with and affordable. I wasn’t really paying attention to the cost, but I started with 30 point something million and I still have more than 28 million left after buying a few inventories full of Ferrite Dust. I considered using the cuboid rooms, but they require significantly more Ferrite per block and I didn’t think they looked the part as well as the basic walls and wooden floors. The whole structure is put together using the standard snap-to-fit method. I made a “gallery of oddities” in the lower front section and placed a room for my Korvax scientist to live while he studies them. I made a manual landing pad area to avoid having the sky filled with NPC ships circling endlessly if I land on my normal pad (I discovered an issue where even if you have 6 base landing pads, the NPC ships will only ever use the last one your ship was parked at, so there’s no point in having more than one). I even added a few secret passageways, because what’s a castle without secret passageways! Oh, and I also have a garage for my two favorite vehicles, the Roamer and the Colossus.

You won’t be able to visit this base, as it’s offline. If the upcoming Beyond update is any good, I might build something similar on my Steam profile and open it to the public. We’ll see. None the less, here is the planet address:

Update: I replaced the landing pad with a garage for the bike, because even with the empty landing pad I had at least five ships circling loudly over the castle at all times and the only the solution I have found is to simply not use the base landing pad (which is a bummer).

Creating Challenge in No Man’s Sky

Also, Steam still sucks and I regret having signed up for it to purchase the game there at a discount. I am now happily playing No Man’s Sky using the GOG version of the game! (Completely off-line, because multi-player doesn’t interest me and neither does bloated, privacy invading software). Yeah I bought it on sale twice, so it’s like I paid full price for it, but that’s OK, because it’s awesome and worth it! Anyway…

No Man’s Sky is an amazing game, but it’s so easy even on Survival Mode. I just started playing the game in 2019 and from what I have read it used to be much harder than it is now. They’ve added so much convenience that they’ve undermined the challenge of the game beyond the first 20 minutes. Initially I figured that adhering to a personal challenge would be enough to satisfy my desires for how the game should feel, but it was still too easy. Next, I came up with the ill conceived idea of using the NMS Save File Editor to basically nerf every ship and Multi-Tool I found, but that was both a huge pain in the rear and it kinda sucked the fun out of finding new things. So I decided to just go ahead and “mod the game”, because it wouldn’t require any regular fiddling around, allowing me to “just play the game”.

As a result, I did some reading and learned how 99% of the “mods” to NMS are made: by editing existing values in the text files that ship with the game. It’s a bit more involved than that, but honestly that’s an apt description of the process. As a person who has done a “total conversion mod” on SuperTux 0.3.3 to create Rescue Girlies, which required loads of custom C++ and Squirrel programming, it does piss me off when I read bitchy comments from “modders” about how others are “using their mods” to No Man’s Sky when their mod was literally achieved by them opening a file, changing a “false” to “true”, and then saving the file. I’m sorry, but that’s not modding and you’ve got no right to complain about others making the same adjustments. Fucking people, man… Sigh…

Anyway (again), I made a GitHub repository to track the adjustments I make to the game play and to potentially host any real mods I may make for the game down the road. The No Man’s Sky blog page in the Game Mods menu has all the details of the changes I have made and why I made them.

Here, have a screenshot!