Nintendo DS Lite

I was doing some cleaning last month and came across my old Nintendo DS Lite. I bought it back in 2006 to play games like Pokémon HeartGold, Animal Crossing: Wild World, and Brain Age. If I remember correctly, I only played it regularly for two or three years — it ended up in the cabinet under our TV, which is where it was when I found it again.

I go through these cycles with video games, which I mentioned on Mastodon a few weeks ago. I’m currently in the stage where I’m declaring the DS Lite as the best game console ever made. It’s not, of course, but it is really good. Especially when you consider what all it’s capable of thanks to the homebrew community.

I mentioned the R4 Gold flash cartridge that I bought for it already. I’ve been using the setup mentioned in Anton Retro’s video on the subject. Although I’ve simplified it quite a bit — I’m only using Lameboy for Game Boy emulation and S8DS for Game Gear and Sega Master System emulation.

There are other emulators available for the Nintendo DS — notably jEnesisDS for Sega Genesis, nesDS for Nintendo Entertainment System, and SNEmulDS for Super Nintendo — but they don’t run all that well. It’s a much better experience to just try and find ports of the games you want to play for another system that the DS can run better.

In addition to emulation, though, the R4 cartridge is also able to load Nintendo DS ROMs. Now I can play all of the games I own without having to swap cartridges. The games run just as they were running off of the original cartridge — I haven’t found any downsides at all.

Most recently, I’ve been playing Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land, but I’ve also enjoyed the Newer Super Mario Bros. ROM hack quite a bit.

When I first bought the R4, I was planning to run Game Boy Advance games through it , too. But I had some trouble with the emulator available — GBARunner2. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get any games to run on it. Maybe this is more for DSi or 3DS owners, I guess.

Instead, I decided to get a flash cartridge specifically for Game Boy Advance games — the EZ-Flash Omega, which comes with a separate shell so it can sit flush inside the DS Lite. The shell itself doesn’t hold up as well as I would have liked — every time I pulled it out of my DS, the front and back of the shell got out of alignment and I had to wiggle it all back in place.

I used a bit of super glue to try and keep it together better, which worked, but now it doesn’t sit as nicely in the cartridge slot as it should. I have a replacement shell coming from a different vendor that I hope I’ll have better luck with.

This seems to be the best Game Boy Advance flash cartridge on the market, though. And it works flawlessly. You can even load games with add-ons that let you use save states and cheats. I’ve mostly spent my time playing Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure, but also plan to play the homebrew game Celeste Classic when I get a chance. And I’m sure I’ll end up playing a generation three Pokémon game as well.

I’ve had a lot of fun playing games on the DS Lite again. The hardware still feels good. It isn’t as capable as my Switch, of course, but I love how small it is by comparison. And even after sitting unused for all those years, the battery life is solid.

There have been a lot of new handheld emulation machines released over the past year or two. I follow a small number of gaming channels on YouTube and it seems like every few months one of them is reviewing a new one. Notably, there was the recent release of the Analogue Pocket — it’s such a slick piece of hardware.

I’m quite happy with my Nintendo DS Lite, though. It won’t run newer games and it’s emulation is basically limited to older, portable consoles. But that’s perfectly fine for me. I haven’t really paid attention to new games since the mid-2000s and access to the Game Boy Advance and DS catalog brings me just about as close to “modern” gaming as I need. At least until I get to the next step in the cycle of gaming.

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Mastodon

Mastodon

Mastodon is open source, distributed social networking software. It’s most similar to Twitter in terms of core functionality, but what sets it apart is the ability to setup your own instance or join one that fits your interests. Mastodon takes advantage of ActivityPub, allowing users on the service to follow others from separate instances.

And because ActivityPub isn’t Mastodon-specific, you can follow users from instances that aren’t even built on Mastodon. It’s compatible with Pixelfed, PeerTube, Pleroma, and more — as long as it uses ActivityPub, you can follow it through Mastodon, at least in my experience.

My first exposure to Mastodon was in 2018, but it was short-lived. I made the mistake of trying to rebuild the same social graph I had on Twitter and no one stuck around for very long — including me. It wasn’t until I started exploring Twitter alternatives earlier this year that I started using Mastodon as my primary social network.

I could have just revived my account on Mastodon.social, but one of the biggest draws for me was the ability to have my own instance. I setup LibertyNode.net in July, invited my wife and sister-in-law to join, and haven’t looked back.

If you’re interested in giving Mastodon a go, you could join one of the bigger instances like Mastodon.social or Mastodon.online. Alternatively, you could use Instances.social to try and find one that’s focused more on your interests.

Once you have an account, you’ll probably want some cool people to follow. Your instance’s profile directory as well as the local and federated feeds are a good place to start. Just keep in mind, because of the open source nature of the software and the ability for anyone to setup an instance, just like the web in general, there is some degree of unsavoriness. A good instance will be moderated regularly to prevent the most egregious content, but just a fair warning that some could slip through.

In terms of specific people to follow, though, I’d be more than happy to have you as a follower — you can find my personal account at @mike@libertynode.net and Initial Charge’s account at @initialcharge@libertynode.net. And here are some of the people I’ve especially enjoyed on Mastodon recently:

You shouldn’t feel stuck just following people that are native to ActivityPub, though. BirdsiteLive is self-host-able bridge between Twitter and Mastodon. I use this for a couple dozen people or so that don’t yet have a presence on an ActivityPub-compatible service.

You can use the main BirdsiteLive instance, but I would recommend looking for other, smaller instances that aren’t quite as saturated. Distributing your follows across multiple instances will help prevent Twitter from shutting it down through rate limiting or some other mechanism.

Mastodon for iPhone

Beyond that, there are a handful of other tools I use that interact with Mastodon:

  • The official Mastodon app for iOS — there are still some rough edges and missing features, but development has been rapid so far.
  • Metatext is a third-party client for iOS that’s more feature complete, but hasn’t seen as much active development recently.
  • Mastonaut is my favorite Mastodon client for macOS.
  • Mastodon-Twitter cross-poster automatically cross-posts your tweets to Mastodon or vice versa. This is what I use to mirror my Mastodon posts to my Twitter account.
  • Mastodon Autopost for WordPress will automatically post a link to your Mastodon account each time you publish. I don’t love it’s use of custom fields for storing information, but it works well.

As it stands now, there is some political polarization on the Mastodon and that may get worse if the upcoming Truth Social decides to federate. But that same polarization exists in many other aspects of our lives now, so it isn’t a unique problem. However, unlike other social networks, the distributed nature of Mastodon could help to prevent some of the more toxic behavior that the polarization leads to on Twitter, Facebook, and others.

Each instance can have its own policies regarding moderation and can decide what instances to federate with or not. This allows communities to setup a firewall from the type of behavior that they would like to discourage. And if you don’t like one instance’s policies, you can find another instance or even setup your own. I used Cloudron on Linode to install and manage Mastodon, it was a pretty easy process.

I haven’t needed to do any instance blocking on mine yet, but there’s only a few of us on it and we’ve only been using it since July. I’m glad the option is there if I ever need it.

I’m quite bullish on Mastodon and ActivityPub in general. I think it’s the kind of software that churches, bands, and any other group should take into consideration if they want to establish a place to congregate online. And I very well may be doing some of this myself.

There isn’t an Apple-focused Mastodon instance that I’m aware of and having something like that might encourage some of my Twitter buddies to give it a try. I can’t say for certain whether I’ll set one up, but it’s on my radar. And if anyone out there is interested in collaborating on something like this, let me know.

iPhone Home Screen


—November 22, 2021

The New AirPods


—October 27, 2021

The New MacBook Pro


—October 21, 2021

Shortcuts and iOS Upgrades


—September 23, 2021

Two


—September 14, 2021

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