Wednesday, September 27, 2017

VpnMentor's Feed on Internet Censorship...

Here's another post I'm writing because I keep getting asked about it. It's a quick plug for a site I have found to be pretty valuable.

vpnMentor maintains a regularly updated feed on events related to Internet censorship around the world.

What I particularly like is that there is both a feed for news events related to Internet censorship as well as another feed that provides advice and how-to tutorials for taking steps to protect your privacy and use VPNs to evade, say, Chinese filters.

If you're interested in the subject or want to learn how to better protect yourself online, check it out.


  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How to Setup a RetroPi Gaming Console...

Because I keep being asked to help folks turn a Raspberry Pi into a RetroPi gaming console, and haven't found any online tutorials I'm in love with, here is my own quick, no-nonsense, how-to guide...

  1. Buy a Raspberry Pi Kit, MicroSD Card, and Gaming Controller from Amazon.

  2. Download the free RetroPi software

  3. You will now need to move that RetroPi software onto the MicroSD card.  To do this on a PC, download the free Win32 Disk Imager software.  Now, insert the MicroSD card into your PC.  Install Win32DiskImager and run it.  Browse to find your RetroPi file (it will be named something like "retropie-4.2-rpi2_rpi3"), then choose your MicroSD card's drive letter as the "Device", then click "Write".

  4. When it's finished writing the disk image to the MicroSD card, remove the card from the PC, and insert it into your Raspberry Pi (there's a small slot on the side for it).  Now connect your Raspberry Pi to your monitor, keyboard, and game controller, and plug it in to power it on.  You will see a black Terminal screen loading the software.  Don't do anything.  Just give it a few minutes and let it run.  When it's finished, you should see this screen...

  5.  You will now be asked to configure your game controller.  Press each button on the game controller as requested.  For example, when it lists the "left button", hit the left arrow on the controller; when it lists the "A" button, hit "A" on the controller, etc.  Sometimes you will be asked to press the corresponding key when there isn't one, such as on the SNES-style pad. Just hold any button down for a few seconds in that case and it will skip that input.

  6. You will now find yourself in Emulation Station, and your RetroPi setup is done.  The screen will look similar to this...



  7. Even though your finished with setting up the RetroPi software, you don't have any games yet!  For acquiring games (a.k.a. - ROMs), I'm going to re-post this description from Pocket-lint.com, as it is both helpful and amusing...

  8. The emulators don't come with games pre-installed. You'll have to therefore find the games yourself.

    This is where it gets a bit dodgy when it comes to copyright.

    If you don't already own a game, downloading and installing a ROM on Retropie is 99.9 per cent of the time illegal. That's why we're not going to actively tell you to go and download classic SNES, NES, Mega Drive or other console games from the past. We will though point you to some online resources that might have them available for download and then you can decide whether you want to or not.

    One excellent site for ROM files is Emuparadise. It has a vast number of ROMs and ISO files for many of the consoles and computers supported by Retropie, including Super Nintendo, NES, N64 and many more, even PSOne games.

    Once you've downloaded ROMs onto your PC you need to transfer them onto the Raspberry Pi itself and you'll need a USB memory stick for that. It's actually a doddle to do and here's how:

    1. Insert a USB stick (formatted to FAT32) into a spare port on your PC or Mac.
    2. Create a folder on the stick called "retropie" (without the quotation marks).
    3. Remove the stick from your computer.
    4. Insert the stick into one of the spare ports on your Raspberry Pi and wait for a while. This is because Retropie is creating the correct folder system on the stick that it needs to recognise ROMs.
    5. Remove it from the Raspberry Pi.
    6. Insert it back into your computer's USB port and you'll see that there are are folders for all the major different console and computer types inside "retropie/roms/".
    7. Just add the relevant ROMs into the respective console or computer folder.
    8. Unplug the stick from your computer and plug it back into your Raspberry Pi.
    9. You'll need to wait for the Pi to recognise all of the ROMs and it can take quite a while depending on how many you have.
    10. Refresh EmulationStation by hitting "F4" on your keyboard or through the start menu.
    11. The games should be available under the logo for each console or computer.
    12. Bingo.

    We've actually found that this process can take a while to complete for the ROMs to be ready and playable. You might also find some ROMs just won't work. Not all the emulators are perfect and the older the games machine, the more likely they will work properly.

You're all finished.  Without needing the USB stick anymore, in the future, anytime you simply plug in your Raspberry Pi to power it on, it will automatically launch Emulation Station, displaying whatever gaming systems you have games for, and when you select one, it will list all of your games for you to actually play.

Enjoy  :-)