Category Archives: Website News

New Website and Product

After many, many years (I’ve lost count at this point) of faithful service , I’ve finally refreshed the Synthetic Dreams website into something a little more modern and functional.  Take a look if you’ve got a moment, it’s built on Drupal (of course), and features a responsive design for those browsing on the go.

Additionally, after being in development for almost 2 years, I’ve finally finished emissary RT – an ODBC driver that allows you to access a whole slew of things, from your file system to DHCP and DNS.  The upshot of this is allowing you to use SQL (or the GUI in ODBC apps) to manipulate files and services in very powerful and automation-friendly ways.  You can check out the full details on the Synthetic Dreams site as well.


Quick Shoutout –

James Pearn at was nice enough to include SynthNet in his list of resources related to artificial intelligence.  Check out his site if you get a moment, it serves as a well laid-out directory of many neural network and other artificial intelligence projects going on around the world, as well as job listings.  Very cool site – thanks James!


Site Makeover

After finishing up phase 1 of SynthNet, I came to the conclusion that I really missed updating the blog.  When I get involved in a project, I tend to get wrapped up in it (more accurately – completely and ridiculously obsessed where it takes over my life) and other things drop off the radar.  However, I’ve decided I want to make a real effort to not get AS wrapped up in projects, and remember to give the blog some love.

New and Improved!

As I went to write my first article after recording the SynthNet video, I also noticed the blog was looking a little tired.  They’d also made a number of improvements in WordPress since when I first installed everything, so I decided to take the leap, get a shiny new template, and put some new life into it.  I think it’s definitely an improvement – hope you enjoy it!


Congratulations and Website Updates!

First off, big congratulations to @merman1974, the winner of the Synthetic Dreams Spooktacular Giveaway Contest! We got lots of turnout and made a number of cool, new retro-friends on Twitter.

Next, speaking of Twitter, some website news. I’ve cleaned some clutter off the front page a bit, and added a Twitter feed as well. I’m pretty active with my tweets these days, so I figured it would be nice to carry that over onto the website.

Thanks again everyone!

Win a Free PSX64 Interface and Help a Great Cause!

If you’ve been following along on the blog, you’ll know that I recently got a Twitter account. Yeah – I was definitely one of the hold outs. But – I wanted a place to post little tidbits that weren’t really blog worthy, but were interesting none-the-less, and Twitter is the perfect place for that. Plus, I’ve already met some pretty groovy people through it – and it’s a great place to get news out fast. However, Twitter is definitely a more-the-merrier kind of thing, so along that vein, presenting:

The Synthetic Dreams Spooktacular Giveaway!

First, the prize: we’ll be giving away a free PSX64 Interface, along with a copy of Shredz64 to the lucky winner. Additionally, we’ll be donating $50.00 to one of the charities below – to which is by choice of the winner.

Heart to Heart International – Disaster Response and Medical Aid
Global Links – Medical Aid and Health Education
Vitamin Angels – Nutrients for Infants and Children
Books for Africa – Literature and Education for Africa

Not only do you get to rock out to your favorite SID tunes Guitar Hero style and reinvigorate your old C64, Amiga, and Atari games with a Playstation controller – but you also get to help out those less fortunate who could really use a hand.

The Rules

The rules are simple! Follow me, @ToniWestbrook, on Twitter between now and Halloween (October 31st). Once you’re following me, send me a tweet saying you’d like to participate in the contest – and your name will be entered into the drawing! (And I’ll follow you back!)

You can even double your chances to win – after tweeting the above to me, if you then tweet to all your followers:

“RT: @ToniWestbrook Win a free PSX64 to play Guitar Hero on your Commodore 64 while helping those in need! Details:”

You’ll be entered twice!

Keep following along, and at midnight (EST) at October 31st, the winner will be announced.

More on the Charities

There are a lot of future scientists, doctors, and engineers waiting to soar, but they may never get the chance without food, medicine, or education. This blog, and Synthetic Dreams as a whole, is about letting people achieve their dreams – but before you can do that, you need your basic needs met – and sometimes you need a helping hand to meet them.

Each of the charities above has been verified with Charity Navigator.

Good Luck Everyone!

Follow Along On Twitter!

For those interested, I finally bit the bullet and created a Twitter account. Follow all the programming, retrocomputer, and engineering madness!


Shredz64 and PSX64 Updates

Due to quite a bit of interest and positive support, I’ve tried to kick my butt back in gear and start producing more PSX64 boards, as well as update Shredz64 a bit. We’ve been popping up in a few expos and meetups, including TNMOC’s Vintage Computer Festival 2010 at Bletchley Park, VCF East, SC3 Arcade Party, and most recently at the Commodore Computer Club.

It means a lot that people are still very interested in this work, so I’ve started by making the following updates:

  1. Updated the PSX64 firmware to fix a bug in macro recording, tighten up the analog joystick response, and increase sensitivity for precision game play when a non-Guitar controller is plugged in.
  2. Updated the Shredz64 webpage with a downloadable bonus track, the Stairway to Heaven Intro, by Nantco Bakker. This track appeared on very early versions of Shredz64, but was replaced with Edwin’s Dream. Now both tracks can be enjoyed.
  3. Since shipping varies wildly, and I tend to make boards as the need arises, I replaced the Paypal button on the order page with a link to the contact page. If you’re interested in ordering a PSX64, simply contact me with your shipping address, and I’ll quote you out the total price.

Thanks for your support everyone!

Website News – WordPress Update

I took an hour out last night and upgraded the site to WordPress 3.0. While outward appearance wise, nothing much should change, the admin interface is drastically different (and improved). If you’re running your own WordPress site and haven’t made the jump to 3.0 yet, don’t hesitate – it’s worth it.

Apology! News, and a New Code Viewer

First off, I want to apologize about the long hiatus away from the blog (looks like since August). The job took over a bit, plus I’ve been in the thick of developing a new commercial Blackberry game, doing some other projects, developing a raging Friday-night Oblivion addiction (such a good game), etc. I’ve been mentally keeping track of al the articles I want to write, so they’ll be coming soon.

Also, speaking of the new game – its coming along pretty nicely! More on that later.

I’ve also installed a better code viewer on the blog, and have converted (I believe) all the code segments over to use this. It’s a little easier to read, shows line numbers, and also has buttons for viewing the code in a popup window (plain text, easy for reading/copying), and printing. I think it will work out a lot better than the old one – I wasn’t a fan.

Additionally, I’ve created a “Blackberry” category, since there are multiple articles related to programming the Blackberry now available on the site.

Lastly, I hope to see all you North East gamers at this year’s Digital Overload LAN party. If you haven’t signed up, registration is still open for 12 more days. I’ve been going for a few years, and it’s always a ton of fun!

Until the 19th

Just a heads up, I’m wrapping up a large project at work and it’s uber crunch time, so I’ll be posting mainly on the weekends only until the 19th. Purchasing is ready to go for the PSX64, I just had to push it off a few days unfortunately – the button to purchase will be up by this weekend.

In the meantime, for you text adventure fans like myself, check out this absolutely awesome video featuring MC Frontalot , nerdcore rapper extraordinaire (And guest appearance by Steve Meretsky!). I figured it was most appropriate with all the Gruepal work going on. 🙂