Raspberry Pi Adventures – Display and SD Card Issues

My students in Intro CS this year have decided they want to build a tabletop arcade game for their final project. They picked this because they had heard about the Raspberry Pi, and wanted to do something cool with it. I swear that I had no influence on them choosing this project (though my personal collection of arcade games may have influenced my willingness to allow them to do something of this scale).

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Artemis on iPads – before the app comes out

If you have not yet heard of Artemis, the fantastic Spaceship Bridge Simulation game by Thom Robertson, then you should check it out right now.

Chances are you’re here because you HAVE heard of it, though. According to the developer, an iOS app is in the works, but it still isn’t out. We had a need for an extra station at a party the other night, so I spent one of my days off figuring out a way to play Artemis using an iPad.

It turns out I’m not the only one to have struggled with this. Artemis forum member troy has posted a write-up of how he accomplished the same goal using some different equipment than me. My method is similar – the short of it is that you use a virtual machine or machines running Artemis, and connect to those from an iPad using some sort of remote desktop functionality.

My main desktop PC is an iMac, so I was looking for Mac-compatible solutions. Since Artemis is a Windows-only game, I decided to use VMware Fusion to run the game. I installed Windows 7 in a virtual machine using the (legal) free 30-day trial available here.

Then, rather than use Splashtop or one of the other for-pay apps, I decided to use a feature of VMWare Fusion (and, I believe VMware workstation) that lets you connect directly to a virtual monitor using VNC. In VMware Fusion, you set this up by going into the VM settings, choosing Advanced, and enabling Remote display over VNC.

 

I also set a different port number than the default 5900 (because I have screen sharing set up on my Mac). If you plan to run multiple instances of Artemis for use with iPads, you should set each of them to a unique port number. It’s very common to use the numbers after 5900.

Start up the VM, install Windows, install the VMware Tools, and install Artemis. Also, make sure to set the VM to use the network in Bridged mode. Next it’s time to test out the VNC connection.

From an iPad, you need a VNC app. The best value app I found for this purpose is called Remoter VNC (it happened to be free over Thanksgiving weekend – bonus for me!). I found other apps either had issues displaying colors, or weirdness involving clicking.

From within Remoter VNC, you need to add a new connection.

  1. Choose Manual Setup.
  2. Set the server type to VNC/ScreenSharing.
  3. Give the connection a name, such as “Artemis.”
  4. For the hostname, enter the IP address of the computer that’s running VMware Fusion. Please note you should NOT enter the IP address of the virtual machine itself. You can find your IP address using System Preferences.
  5. Make sure to enter the VNC port number to whatever you set it to in the VM settings.
  6. Enter the password you configured, if any, and Save.

You should now be able to connect to the VM using the Remoter app.

If all is well, tapping the screen on your iPad should result in a click on the VM. I was able to use the iMac as a view screen running the Wineskin version full screen while the VM was running in the background. There was a slight delay, so I’d only say this was appropriate for use by Communications, Science, or a Tactical map, but it was still pretty cool!

You could use this same technique to put Artemis on an Android tablet or smartphone, as long as you can find a decent VNC app.

Next on my to-do list: reverse engineering the Artemis network protocol to make a completely independent client…

Working with Dropbox from my Pogoplug

I had a bunch of large files backed up on my pogoplug that I wanted to get onto my iPad and iPhone. Long story short, I decided that the best way would be to use Dropbox. Unfortunately, you can’t install Dropbox on an ARM machine!

Luckily, I found this great script by andreafabrizi: Dropbox-Uploader. This is a simple bash script that only relies upon cURL being available on the system it’s running, which is available pretty much everywhere. The setup process was a little weird, but the first time you run the script, it guides you through the process. Now I’m able to put things in my Dropbox using a simple ssh connection to my pogoplug!

FreedomPop – Free 4G Internet

Yesterday, my Freedom Spot – Photon arrived in the mail, and I just thought I’d post a quick review.

FreedomPop is a new-ish service focused on providing free (as in beer) internet access anywhere in their coverage areas. No more hunting down coffeeshops or McDonalds – just bring your hotspot, and you’re good to go! They offer 500 MB free per month, with the ability to pay by the MB after that or upgrade to a bigger plan.

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