Retrotech Archives

Adding an old GPU increased my render speed by 24%

I’ve made an interesting discovery the other day about one of my render nodes: with identical GPUs, one appears to render faster than the other. I didn’t get it at first. But with a possible explanation in my head, I got the thinking and applied the same principle to my other node, and was able to increase its render speed by 24%!

How exciting is that?

It’s all about retro hardware, and how to make the most out of what you already have. Let me tell you what I discovered, and how I made use of an old AMD/ATI GPU in my setup that I never thought would work.

Read moreAdding an old GPU increased my render speed by 24%

How to fix “download was unsuccessful” on Kindle Keyboard and Kindle DX

This morning I got a notification from Amazon that Jerry’s new book had been released. I had pre-ordered it a few weeks ago and was eager to start reading it. Having a long journey across town from Miami Beach to Sunset ahead of me, Jerry’s Book of Sin would be a great accompaniment.

My trusty old Kindle Keyboard 3G was all charged up, I was ready to leave, but the book had not been downloaded. “Hm”, I thought, “this should have happened automatically”. Was I signed into the correct account?

Yes I was, and to my surprise, the book was showing up correctly under Archived Items. But when I tried to download it manually, all I got was an error message stating that “The download was unsuccessful. Please try again later”.

Several tries later, and without any luck, I remembered a solution that did the trick: fully rebooting my Kindle Keyboard. This trick also works on the DX and other models, even on Kindle Fire devices. Let me tell you how to do it. 

Read moreHow to fix “download was unsuccessful” on Kindle Keyboard and Kindle DX

Hotel Dusk: Room 215

When I owned a DS console many years ago, I remember playing a game called Hotel Dusk: Room 215. It was more like an interactive book than a classic adventure game. At times a little tedious, it had a super gripping storyline and I couldn’t forget.

In the story, protagonist Kyle Hyde, former NYPD detective, has left the force and is now a door-to-door salesman. He’s still trying to find out what happened to his former partner. When his employer sends him to Hotel Dusk in LA, he finds a host of characters that all tie together into a larger plot, which appears to be connected to the disappearance of Kyle’s former partner.

When I discovered the DesMuME emulator for the DS recently, I thought I’d try running the game on my Surface Pro – and it’s almost exactly like having a super sized DS, complete with stylus.

Since the game has it’s tricky moments, I’ve made list of questions I had while re-playing the mysteries of Hotel Dusk: Room 2015.

Read moreHotel Dusk: Room 215

How to setup the Xbox 360 controller for Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb on Windows

I’ve bought another classic retro title from GOG.com the other day: Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb (from 2003 I believe). I greatly enjoyed this game on the original Xbox and I had no idea that it had even been released for other platforms.

Turns out the game does support a (more or less) mappable Gamepad profile, but it was written many years before the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows was even invented, and as such not all buttons can be mapped.

Which means the gaming experience sucks – especially for a game with so many commands.

Luckily I found a very helpful forum post discussing these very issues, and of course someone cleverer than you and me has figured our how to get the Xbox controller to (mostly) work in this game. I did have some success following that post, but to make this thing work 100%, there are a couple of things we need to do.

I thought I’d share them in this article, in case you too would like to help Indy fight against the evil Nazis. 

Read moreHow to setup the Xbox 360 controller for Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb on Windows

How to run Might and Magic III (from GOG) on your Mac

I’ve recently discovered GOG.com, the service that provides “good old games” from yesteryear to retro connoisseurs like myself. Games that used to run well on DOS and other long forgotten platforms are getting a new lease on life by being packaged up to run on today’s technology.

Many games run on Windows, Mac and even Linux – but some are only available for single platforms, mostly Windows. The Might and Magic 6-pack is such an example, available for only $9.99 (a total bargain, considering it’s 7 games).

I remember getting “Isles of Terra” free with a computer magazine in the nineties. I’m not usually into role playing games, but having enjoyed Bard’s Tale III on my C64 many years before, I gave this one a shot and loved it – just like its sequels (Clouds of Xeen and Darkside of Xeen, together making up a whole new game called World of Xeen).

I wanted to find out if I’d still enjoyed this game today, so I tried installing it on my Mac using a Windows 7 VM with Parallels Desktop. However, it didn’t run well and the mouse is interpreted rather weirdly. That’s no surprise really, because it means I’m running an emulator inside another emulator. Of course things will go wrong!

Might and Magic is installed using the DOSbox emulator under Windows, and as soon as you click the launch icon, DOSbox is launched, and within it the actual game. Thing is, DOSbox is also available for Mac, several Linux flavours and some other exotic platforms – so I was wondering if I could somehow just run DOSbox on my Mac and launch the original files from within it.

To my surprise, it works great!

Let me show you how I did it in this article.

Read moreHow to run Might and Magic III (from GOG) on your Mac

If you can’t see your Kindle content on another device

I have several Amazon accounts: one in the US, one in the UK, and one ein Germany. Every now and again I de-register one of my Kindles from one account and register it with another one. Depends on what content I’d like to read and on which account it’s available.

The other day I switched my Kindle Fire from my German Amazon account back to my US account, my main account, containing all my my english content. To my surprise, the device registered fine, identified itself as “Jay’s Kindle”, but none of my content was showing up. Likewise, the device was not showing as registered on my web interface.

What was going on? Where was all my content? This had worked not too long ago!

I tried installing the Kindle iOS app on my iPhone and registered it too – only to find it behaved exactly the same way: no content, and the device was not showing itself on my Amazon account.

After getting in touch with Customer Service, I can now tell you what happened – and a neat trick of avoiding it, should it happen again. Interested? Read on!

Read moreIf you can’t see your Kindle content on another device

How to cure Kindle Fire sync issues

Back in 2011 I bought a first generation Kindle Fire in the US. It hadn’t been released anywhere else, and this device started the whole Kindle Tablet business for Amazon.

It’s still working, and I’m still using it as a “bedside” Kindle (my Kindle 3, or Kindle Keyboard, doesn’t have a backlight, so the Fire is my “reading in the dark” companion).

Trouble is, the Kindle Fire doesn’t always sync my books with other Kindle devices. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it does not – and I never really knew what to do about it.

Until some online research gave me the solution that I’d like to share with you. Just in case this happens to your device.

This fix may work with other (Android based) Kindle Fire devices too, but I’ve only tested it with a first generation Fire (serial starts with D01E, Firmware 6.4.3).

Read moreHow to cure Kindle Fire sync issues

How to use the Grappling Hook in XIII for GameCube

unknownI was playing XIII again the other day. The US GameCube version this time. I remember enjoying XIII on the original Xbox back in the day, as well as on PC.

Even today, there’s nothing quite like playing these old style shooters with blurry textures and blocky unsmoothed 3D objects.

That aside, I had a tough time making the Grappling Hook work, mainly because the controls on the GameCube version must be the most terrible in the history of console gaming. Sadly my copy did not come with an instruction booklet, but at $4.99 with free shipping I’m not complaining. I found no instructions on the internet either, I’m probably a lost cause and too late for the XIII party anyway.

For future generations, and my future self, here’s how the XIII GameCube control work (from what I could figure out).

Read moreHow to use the Grappling Hook in XIII for GameCube