OK. So I finally got some time again, and decided to do something about all the things I wanted to write about here on mameblog.com. Of course, since it has been a while since my last post, and that was about upgrading the packages, there is a bunch of new packages, so I'm going through another iteration of package upgrading.
But since I am also updating my romset, I thought I would share a little information about how I maintain my romset using the advscan utility. Way back I downloaded a complete romset (I think it was for version 0.70), and ever since, I have been using differential updates (one for each MAME version) and verifying with advscan. Let me explain how I apply one romset update at a time and check for any missing ROMs. Then I will give a few hints on how to fix it if it turns out some roms are bad.
On a non-MAME related note... Spiff's project for making what he calls the "Bob Clock" (check his site for the amusing backstory on that name) was profiled today on MAKE Magazine's blog:
Congrats, Mikkel. :)
A friend of mine sent me this link yesterday about an iPod running Linux which, in turn, can now run MAME. I've run iPodLinux on an older iPod for fun, but not one with a color screen worthy of MAME. I suspect my wife would spaz if I did this to her iPod Nano.
Yesterday evening, though, I came across an even more amusing link: an iPod Nano MAME Arcade. This has to be one of the most amusing and creative things I've seen recently.
So, I finally decided that it was time to upgrade the software on SpiffMAME. I really hope some day I can get everything up and running with the latest versions at the same time (including newest AdvanceMAME, romset, an updated Gentoo, and a stable configuration). If that ever happens, I think I will "freeze" the config (perhaps make an image onto a different partiton, so I can revert if bad things happen). But so far I struggle to get different things updated when I have the time.
After taking the computer out of my cabinet (I have the mother board, harddisk and power supply mounted on a piece of particle board - no PC cabinet), and hooking it up to my monitor, I discovered why the cabinet had taken so long to boot the last couple of times I started it up. Aparently there was a problem with my attempt to make LILO switch between maintenance mode and normal play. This resulted in a 60 sec timeout before the system started booting. This has been reverted back to a 5 sec timeout, until I come up with a better solution (perhaps something involving my new homemade keyboard controller).
When the system finally started up, there were a lot of errors. It turned out that there were errors on the filesystem (crosslinks), so the system was having a hard time even starting up. I assume (and hope) the errors were related to the system not being cleanly shut down (it has crashed on me a couple of times, most likely due to bad AdvanceMAME configuration etc).
After fixing the filesystem and rebooting, only one error appeared, related to some ALSA-library, so I hope this will be fixed by recompiling the ALSA subsystem (after I upgrade the kernel).
Right now I'm waiting for the emerge sync to finish. After that I can upgrade packages.
Then I will upgrade the kernel. The newest kernels support rotating the console on the framebuffer, which I want to experiment a bit with. It would be extremely cool with a readable console on a vertical monitor (avoiding the neck-breaking practice of using it).