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Philip Kendall
05 October 2016 @ 07:58 pm

The Unofficial Recreated ZX Spectrum FAQ

Introduction

What is the Recreated ZX Spectrum?

It’s a Bluetooth keyboard manufactured by Elite Systems in the form factor of the original 48K Spectrum.

What the Recreated ZX Spectrum isn’t?

Most crucially, it isn’t a Spectrum or even a Spectrum emulator – there’s no way you can play Spectrum games on it without connecting it to a phone, tablet or PC.

How was it originally meant to be used?

As originally sold, the Recreated ZX Spectrum was designed to be used with a companion app (available for both Android and iOS) produced by Elite Systems which contained the actual emulator. There was also a section on the Recreated ZX Spectrum web site which allowed games to be played via a JavaScript emulator.

However, Elite Systems pulled both the apps and the web page in mid-2016 for reasons which have not been made public.

As the apps have been pulled, is my keyboard now a brick?

No. If you already own the apps, they will continue to work. If you don’t own the apps, other software is now becoming compatible with the keyboard; see below for more details.

Game Mode and QWERTY Mode

What is “Game Mode” and “QWERTY Mode”?

The keyboard can run in two modes – one of these, “Game Mode”, is designed for actually playing Spectrum games and otherwise typing on the Spectrum, while “QWERTY Mode” is designed for use as a regular keyboard – although with some obvious limitations due to the fact that the keyboard has only 40 keys.

My keyboard says “locked” when I put it into QWERTY Mode. What can I do?

Unlocking QWERTY mode was another function of Elite Systems’ now pulled apps or web site. As of October 2016, the easiest way to unlock the keyboard is to access the archived copy of the Elite Systems website at archive.org.

Compatible software

What software can use the keyboard in QWERTY mode?

In QWERTY mode, the keyboard is “just another Bluetooth keyboard” so can be used with almost anything you like. However, it doesn’t work very well as a Spectrum input device in QWERTY Mode due to differences in the key handling, and it’s not the greatest thing for actually typing on though due to it being a rubber-key Spectrum.

What software can use the keyboard in Game Mode?

A number of Spectrum emulators now support the keyboard in Game Mode which makes it function pretty much as a real Spectrum keyboard would when typing into a Spectrum. As of October 2016, these include:

Emulator

Platforms

Version needed

Fuse

Linux, Windows, macOS

1.3

Retro Virtual Machine

macOS

1.0.3

Technical details

Where can I get technical details about the keyboard?

There are some notes plus links to further details at Zedcode’s “Notes on The Recreated ZX Spectrum bluetooth Keyboard”.

Is something wrong?

Please mail philip-rzxfaq@shadowmagic.org.uk and I’ll get it sorted.

Thanks

Richard Atkinson, Caroline Henderson and David Saphier for proof-reading the first version of this FAQ.

Version history

Version

Date

Notes

1.0

2016-10-05

Initial release

 
 
Philip Kendall
18 April 2016 @ 08:52 pm
In common with most of the western world, I own a television. In my case, this is a Samsung UE32H5500 "smart" television. In common with most (I imagine, anyway. I haven't done a survey) smart televisions, this has the ability to play MP3 files from a USB stick. However, when I put my MP3 collection onto a USB stick and stuck it in the back of my television, I was somewhat disappointed to discover that around 10% of my MP3 files were missing all their metadata.

Some further digging revealed that around 5% of my MP3 files are truly missing metadata - these were mostly ripped from some more "obscure" CDs like classical music, children's CDs and the like which have much lower coverage in the online databases. That's fine, don't have a problem with that. However, looking at the other 5% didn't show anything particularly odd about the files.

A brief digression into MP3 metadataCollapse )

As you may be able to guess at this point, a little bit of digging (with thanks to the id3 and id3v2 packages in Debian) revealed the issue: those 5% of files which did have metadata but were appearing as "unknown" on the TV had ID3 v2 metadata, but no ID3 v1 metadata (as an aside, this is how iTunes creates MP3 files. But this isn't iTunes's fault). Yep, Samsung released a product in 2013/2014 or so which couldn't handle the de facto universal MP3 metadata standard released in 1998 *sigh*.

Thankfully, this wasn't too hard to fix with the id3convert utility from libid3-tools - just run "id3convert -1 <filename.mp3>" for each of the offending files and they've now got ID3 v1 metadata which matches the ID3 v2 metadata (thanks to zub for the pointer). The only issue after that seemed to be some caching on the television side, but I got around that by moving the files around a bit; not quite sure what.
 
 
Philip Kendall
03 February 2016 @ 02:31 pm
So, David Cameron has negotiated a deal which would give "substantial change" to the UK's relationship with the EU. While it may come as a surprise to some, I'm actually pretty impressed with what Cameron has managed here. I've always believed that the job of a politician is, when given two bad options, to come up with a good one[1] - anyone can pick something from a list of options, but takes a lot more talent to create a new, better option.

When Cameron was (re-)elected in 2015, the situation he was faced with was pretty much two bad options: leaving the EU entirely, which while what the right-wing of the Tory party wanted, wasn't what Cameron wanted, or staying in the EU under the current terms, which would have made him deeply unpopular with a large proportion of the electorate. When Cameron announced that he was going to secure a "renegotiation" of the UK's relationship with the EU, I was skeptical to say the least. Cameron has now (probably) managed to come up with a third option which has at least a fighting chance of keeping the UK in the EU, and he deserves a non-trivial amount of respect for that.

Of course, it remains to be seen exactly what the final deal with the EU is and whether Cameron can sell that to the UK electorate.

  1. I'm unsure whether I made that description up or stole it from somewhere. If I did steal it from somewhere, then please let me know and I'll attribute it appropriately :-)

 
 
Philip Kendall
06 July 2015 @ 11:32 pm
In 2008, just before heading off on honeymoon, I purchased a little digital camera, the Canon Digital IXUS 70 (known as the PowerShot SD1000 in the USA. Don't ask me why Canon insist on having different names for the same camera). 7 years, a fair amount of abuse and just under 9000 photos later, the same camera gave up the ghost while we were recently in Ibiza ("Lens error: restart camera" and fairly terminal sounding clicky noises from the lens motor).

While I've joined the SLR crowd in the meantime, the "little camera" still has its uses (something I can stick in my pocket when we go out for the day and don't want to lug the SLR around, something the lovely wife can easily grab for snaps of the kids, something I can give to James without too much fear that he'll break it), so we went shopping for a replacement. The requirements were not too demanding: no bigger than the IXUS 70, at least as much zoomy goodness and at least as good image quality. A quick survey of the market revealed that there wasn't much difference between the manufacturers, so we went for a Digital IXUS 160 (also known as the PowerShot ELPH 160), nominally the successor of the IXUS 70. Better the devil you know, and all that. So, what's changed in the compact camera market in the past 7 years?

Read more...Collapse )

As you can probably guess from all that, I'm not actually that impressed with the IXUS 160 - it's made a number of significant regressions from the IXUS 70. On the other hand, it does cost half as much, and it's not like I was expecting miracles in this end of the market.
Tags:
 
 
 
 
Philip Kendall
01 August 2012 @ 11:17 pm
One Olympics-related story which is drifting slightly under the radar is the disqualification of eight women's badminton players for "not trying to win". To cut a slightly long story short, the players knew that a loss in round-robin play would give them an easier match in the knock-out stages, so they actively tried to lose.

What I think about this...Collapse )



 
 
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
 
 
Philip Kendall
02 February 2011 @ 09:41 pm
This week's Private Eye claims (in one of its "Number Crunching" sidebars): "1 in 248,832: probability of accidentally tapping in correct sequence of keys to access voicemails". A little bit of thought reveals that 248,832 is in fact 12^5 - the only way I can see this makes sense is if people have 5 "digit" voicemail PINs, in which "*" and "#" are also allowed. Does anyone actually have this kind of PIN for their voicemail, and if not, am I missing something obvious, or has Private Eye just got it wrong?
 
 
Current Mood: wondering
 
 
Philip Kendall
08 January 2011 @ 12:49 pm
Most board games (eg chess) are essentially symmetric, in that all players in the game are constrained by the same rules and have the same goal. While there may be some minor differences between players (eg the white player in chess moves first), these are either minor, averaged out by playing multiple games while swapping roles, or both. On the other hand, there are some board games which are explicitly asymmetric: Halatafl (Fox and Geese) is a older example, while the phenomenon is also seen in more modern games such as Scotland Yard, Space Hulk and Last Night on Earth.

Now, while I can think of asymmetric board games, I can't think of any fundamentally asymmetric sports: the closest I can come up with is some things like American football and real tennis where the rules are temporarily different for one player/team than the other, but nothing were the rules are permanently different for one team. Am I missing anything?




 
 
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
 
 
Philip Kendall
29 December 2010 @ 04:44 pm
If anybody reading this has any desire for any of the following Dungeons & Dragons novels and is willing to either pick them up or pay postage, let me know. Preference will be given to people I know, people picking things up and people taking away more than one item in approximately that order. Quality varies a bit, but all have sun-bleached spines and none would be described as pristine.


  • Dragonlance Elven Nations Trilogy

    • Firstborn



  • Dragonlance Heroes

    • The Legend of Huma (poor condition)

    • Stormblade

    • Weasel's Luck



  • Dragonlance Heroes II

    • Kaz the Minotaur

    • The Gates of Thorbardin

    • Galen Beknighted



  • Dragonlance Meetings Sextet

    • Kindred Spirits



  • Dragonlance Preludes

    • Darkness and Light

    • Kendermore

    • Brothers Majere



  • Dragonlance Preludes II

    • Riverwind the Plainsman

    • Flint the King

    • Tanis the Shadow Years



  • Forgotten Realms Cleric Quintet

    • Canticle

    • In Sylvan Shadows



 
 
Current Mood: organised
 
 
Philip Kendall
19 October 2010 @ 07:53 pm
The noble sport of cricket this summer was once again in the headlines for all the wrong reasons as three Pakistani bowlers were accused of spot-fixing. One proposal now being floated by the ICC is to use undercover agents to see if players are reporting approaches from bookmakers. What interests me here isn't so much that the proposal has been floated, but that it's been publicly announced. Naively, this would seem to me that it would reduce the prospect of this catching any cheats as they'll know there's a non-trivial chance it's a sting... on the other hand, it may actually be more effective at cutting down on any illegal activity.

I wonder how many actual agents they'll use, or if this is actually a bit of a bluff and the threat of "bookmakers" being ICC agents will be enough to have a significant effect without getting into any possibly ethically dubious areas.
 
 
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful