Generating Towns for Townscaper in Processing

I’ve been playing Oskar Stålberg’s Townscaper recently and enjoying seeing how the algorithms react to changes. While looking for information on how garden paths are calculated, I stumbled across Chris Love’s article on the Townscaper file format. Using that as a starting point, I decided to try building up town maps in processing using Perlin noise to determine height, color, and distance above waterline.

My first attempt iterated the map while incrementing a 1D vector in Perlin noise space to determine these attributes. This gave a nice wavy pattern; but, wasn’t quite what I was trying for.

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Integrating a Voltmeter with fischertechnik

I took a detour on the road to powered speakers and remixed the cassette lid I previously designed in order to hold a panel mount voltmeter from Adafruit. I set out with a few goals:

  • Blend reasonably well with fischertechnik parts without requiring modifications to those parts.
  • Have two connectors each for positive and ground, so the module can be chained with other modules.
  • Use connectors that work as well as possible with fischertechnik plugs.
Voltmeter from Adafruit in 3d printed lid for fischertechnik cassette bottom
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Designing a Lid for the fishertechnik Cassette Bottom

I’m working on adding a small powered speaker to a fischertechnik model and decided the simplest first pass would be an insert for the standard cassette that many of the older sets shipped with. I’d like to not alter the original part, so ideally, this will be a simple press-fit part which works very similarly to the stock cover. The first goal was to get a simple flat lid working.

3D printed lid for fischertechnik cassette bottom
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Weekly Review 2019-11-08

This is an experiment with trying the format of Tim Ferriss’s 5-Bullet Friday newsletters. At a minimum, I’ll hopefully gain some perspective on what I’ve been up to over time; ideally, it will also help others find interesting things.


Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman

Being a bit of a technophile, there are parts of this which are tough to absorb. That said, I also think that technology has taken society on some wrong turns along the way. Neil Postman gives a framework for thinking about how and why that happens. It’s a well thought out counterpoint to viewing all technological change as beneficial to humans.


The French Machine by Minitel Rose

I have fond memories of a PBS show from the 1980s which covered the Minitel system in France. At the time (and still many years later), it seemed far ahead of its time. I was trying to explain the fascination that episode engendered in me, went searching for the show, and instead found the RetroManCave episode on the Minitel. This led to further searching and, ultimately, the French electronic band Minitel Rose.


Men have become the tools of their tools.

Henry David Thoreau

I’m unsure if I’m more worried or reassured that concern about tools using humans predates computers by this much. Probably a little bit of each — we’ve survived previous problems; but, it’s unfortunate that we still build tools in ways that end up driving us. I am trying to consciously think about the computer based tools I use regularly and who is in the driver’s seat during each interaction.


Classic Computer, Modern IDE

Years ago, I spent a week in the wilderness of Utah.  The night sky was breathtaking; the days were spent in canyons mostly untouched by humans.  It was an amazing experience that I will always be grateful for.  However, by the end of the week, I was happy to return to modern conveniences.

Programming the IIGS on the IIGS feels like experiencing those canyons in Utah and, overall, very authentic. I’ve relived my early attempts in all their glory and frustration. Knowing the convenience of modern development environments, the second part has been bothering me more this time. I am accustomed to syntax highlighting, large screens, fast compile cycles, and all the other conveniences. Thankfully, there’s a solution for this:

With those three packages installed on my Mac, I can develop for the IIGS in Xcode and test in emulation.  This was a very straightforward installation process with one exception.  I did struggle a bit on Step 5 – Install ProFUSE. After some head scratching and overthinking the problem, I realized that from GitLab, I could simply select Repository -> Tags and then filter using the term profuse and a pkg file was provided.

With everything up and running, the function I wrote for the first lesson is formatted and highlighted as I would expect:

Additionally, compile/test cycles are dramatically shortened with this setup. Overall, I feel like this is a reasonable compromise between staying 100% authentic to the original experience and having modern conveniences.