I've been thinking a lot about this MAME business.

Specifically, I've been thinking about how some games are qualitatively different when you don't have to worry about quarters.

Oh, sure, most of the classics (Pac-Man, Asteroids, Donkey Kong) knock you back to the beginning of the game when you run out of lives. And most fighting games knock you back to the beginning of the match. But beat-'em-ups, shooters, and generally any coop multiplayer game relies on coins for its basic challenge -- even the worst player can brute-force his way through Ninja Turtles with unlimited quarters.

So I've been wondering how to keep that original challenge factor when I finally get my Mac Mini up to snuff and can fire up MAME with the guys.

And today, I stumbled on a solution:

Instead of using quarters, take drinks.

Make it a drinking game. Every time you have to hit the Insert Coin button, take a drink.

Feel free to use that one.

(Happy birthday Mom!)

Words fail me.

Bush tells abortion foes, 'We will prevail'

33 years after Roe v. Wade ruling, abortion debate continues

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- President Bush told abortion opponents Monday that they are pursuing "a noble cause" and making a real difference in the campaign to recruit more Americans to stand on their side.

While it is of course totally unsurprising that Bush feels this way, I am beyond shocked that he would actually say it out loud and in public. What is even more terrifying is the prospect that people will accept his words unchallenged.

If Alito sails through his confirmation hearings now, like it certainly appears he will, it's going to send one hell of a message.

Alternately, this could be the smoking gun the Dems need to justify a filibuster.

Yeah, right. And maybe I'm a Chinese fighter pilot.

Edit 2012-06-04: Changed broken CNN link to a copy at archive.org, and added a quote for context.

I've managed to get a good range of emulators up and running, most notably MAME.

(Tangent: the wonderful thing about Bittorrent is that it's made so many things so much easier to find and download online. The bad thing is that they're now much harder to find individually; I was looking for a copy of Altered Beast and wound up downloading an entire 13GB torrent of every single MAME ROM. Fortunately, the download went screamin' fast and only took about a day; unfortunately, 2/3 of it is redundant -- generally speaking, every game comes in US, Japanese, and World versions, and many have multiple revisions -- and quite a few won't run at all. I guess there are tools which will only download specified files from a torrent rather than the whole thing; if anyone can recommend a good one for Mac, please drop me a line.)

And now we come to controllers. I've been using my good ol' PS2/USB adapter for years and it has served me well; however, I now have an abundance of 4-player games I can play through Sixtyforce and MAME. So that means I need more controllers.

I've already picked up a Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2, and it's proven thus far to be a fantastic damn controller. I'm currently scanning eBay for one of the original Cordless Rumblepads with the six face buttons, which I'd like for Genesis emulation and Street Fighter. (I'd also like someone besides Richard Bannister to release a Genesis emulator for Mac, as I hate him. But that's a Stream for another day.)

So that leaves one more controller I need to get. (Two, if I decide to go completely wireless, which I would like to do eventually -- a TV, a DVR, 4 game consoles -- I've got my GameCube, Dreamcast, NES, and PS2 currently connected --, and 3 computers make for a godawful jungle of wires that I would really, really like to thin out. Four if I go completely nuts and want to do a full 6-player game of the original X-Men arcade game -- vastly overkill in the vast majority of situations, but there were definitely times in college when there were four people playing a game and at least two waiting to play winner.) And I'm looking for suggestions. For all this MAME stuff, I think it'd be cool to get an arcade-style joystick: something wireless and in the $30 range; those $100 X-Arcade affairs are gorgeous but just a little bit too much for me, plus, jungle of wires.

It would appear that Pelican has a wireless arcade-style joystick out for around $30, but I can't find any reviews anywhere for it and I'm not about to buy one until I do. Pelican seems like a decent enough company, though; I spent today playing Dragon Quest 8 with one of their wireless controllers and it seems pretty solid, though a bit mushy in places -- I frequently find myself hitting Up or Down on the D-pad when I mean to hit Right. (Aside: I did not buy this controller and have no idea where it came from; it just showed up at my grandparents' house one day. My pet theory is that, like all the dishes, pots and pans, and silverware I owned in college, somebody left it at one of their rental houses when moving out.)

Anyhow, if you know of a good wireless arcade controller, or any kind of good wireless controller, have some general thoughts on Mac emulation, or just want to talk about how much you hate Richard Bannister, E-Mail me.

To: David Lazarus, The San Francisco Chronicle

I am curious as to the motivation behind your "Intel inside -- so what?" article: are you really as ignorant and intellectually lazy as you come across in it, or did you just want the attention of being the only guy in the press with a headline saying it's not a big deal?

The point of the article seems to be "Most people don't care how something works, just that it works." Well stop the presses, what a scoop!

But David, SOMEBODY has to worry about the "how" or nothing's going to get done.

So what "what" does this "how" lead to?

There is an ABUNDANCE of information online that can tell you exactly why the Intel switch is important, and what its long-term effects may be, and a competent reporter would probably have done some research rather than consult computer industry experts like the administrator of a San Francisco law firm, a flight attendant from England, or Officer Gary Constantine of the San Francisco Police Department.

But, failing that, I will do my best to explain why the Intel switch is relevant.

I'm going to start out with some extraordinarily basic background on the computer industry here, as your article makes you seem blissfully unaware of it.

Apple makes computers. Macintosh computers.

But most people don't use Macs.

Most people use Microsoft Windows, which runs on Intel (and compatible) hardware.

(Now, you may have already made a connection here: "Oh hey, Apple's going to be running on the same hardware as Windows!")

The MacOS is almost universally regarded as superior to Windows in terms of ease-of-use and security.

So why do people still use Windows?

Well, in-between talking to flight attendants, you might consider walking into a computer store where someone is buying a Windows machine and ask that person why he isn't buying a Mac. I can guarantee you that at some point in the conversation, he will tell you he is worried his programs won't run on a Mac.

This stereotype has dogged Apple for twenty years, and is largely unfair: anything the average user needs, be it Web, E-Mail, or Microsoft Office, will run on a Mac.

However, there ARE some power users whose programs DON'T have Mac versions: engineers who need AutoCAD, for example, or gamers. (And before you pooh-pooh gamers as a niche market, consider that they're the people who buy the most expensive computers -- with the possible exception of movie editors, who are already firmly in the Apple court.)

Now, why isn't there a Mac version of AutoCAD? Why aren't there Mac versions of many popular games? Well, it's largely because of the hassle of porting them to a new architecture.

You get that?

The hassle of porting them to a new architecture.

But with Macs switching to Intel, the MacOS is now running on the SAME architecture as Windows does.

Making it much, much easier for these developers to release their software on the Mac.

And even if they don't release their software for Mac, this makes it far easier for third-party developers to make software which will allow Windows programs to run on a Mac. Take Microsoft's VirtualPC, for example, which has heretofore run programs very slowly and lacked advanced hardware support because it's had to emulate Intel hardware -- that hurdle is now gone. Or take Cedega, a program for making Windows games run under Linux -- a Mac version was impossible on the PowerPC architecture, but many cite it as inevitable now that the MacOS runs on Intel architecture.

And then there are people who may want to dual-boot: to use the MacOS primarily but reboot to Windows when they need to use a program which is not available for Mac. While there are some technical hurdles to jump, it seems obvious that someone will find a way to run Windows and the MacOS on the same computer within a matter of months, if not weeks.

It is even probable that people will figure out how to run the MacOS on non-Apple computers, and, while Apple has said it will not provide support for such an installation, this is still a significant draw to many users.

So, given all this "how", David, we can answer your question of the "what": the Intel chips will almost certainly mean better compatibility between the MacOS and Windows. Which, if you recall, is the primary concern keeping people from buying Macs. Programs which previously ran only on Windows will run on Macs.

But what does this mean for the Apple faithful, the people who have been buying Apples for years and would buy them no matter whose chip was in the box?

You dismiss the idea that end-users won't be able to tell the difference between a PowerPC Mac and an Intel Mac as if it means the difference isn't important -- as if being able to transfer an entire platform to a completely different architecture with such a seamless transition that the average user can't tell the difference is something that doesn't even bear thinking about. That's simply absurd. That Apple has made this dramatic change but managed to make it in such a way that the average end-user won't even notice any change at all is nothing short of amazing.

So, in a way, your vapid, superficial article answers its own question: that Apple has made a fundamental change and you can't, for the life of you, tell that anything has changed at all IS the story here.

Have finally bitten the bullet and decided to switch over to blogging software. Site now runs on b2evolution. Ideally this should mean I update more often because now I don't have to worry about all that tedious mucking about in the archives. In practice? Well, we'll see.

All the old features should still be up, though at one point in the install I nuked my entire directory and had to restore, so please let me know if there are any missing pages, pictures, etc. which I've overlooked.

Also, while I cut my teeth on HTML, I'm new to this whole PHP thing, so, while I think the site looks pretty good, there are a lot of things I'd like to refine -- most notably, I'd like each month's archive page to have a different intro, like the old archive pages I made myself with my own two hands. So there's plenty of work to do yet.

Keep watching this space.