In this inaugural edition of The Power Supply (A new developer interview series) we have the pleasure to interview one of the legendary developer's of the PlayStation Homebrew Community. A developer whom has contributed on a variety of projects and been a master of some of his own . Very well known in the PS3 scene, this dev is responsible for projects that include the AIO Homebrew known as multiMAN, or the popular ps3 plugin known as webMAN (not to be confused with a forked version called webMAN MOD by aldostools). Then later on the emergence of the sMAN plugin can be from only one person and that developer is of course @deank . The developer has graciously given us some time for a Q/A interview to kick of this new series. Dean will give us a bit of insight on himself, along with his development journey on the PS3 . Also, we have asked the developer if he still has plans for a multiMAN (PS4) release after a small hint in the past that suggested the developer at least was contemplating the idea , Also, does Dean have any immediate plans for future development on the PS3/4, We have these answers and more from himself in the discussion below, so lets dive into:.
Volume: I: featuring @deank
Let me introduce myself first – my name is Dean and the K comes from my last name, so I‘m usually registered as deank because „dean“ is almost always already taken.
What was the first programming language you learned & what inspired you to start? Do you still use it?
- deank: It was back in 1984 when I first sat infront of a computer - Apple ][ - so the first language was BASIC. A year later I started with 6502/65c02 assembler. No, I don‘t use these languages anymore.
How did you end up in the PlayStation scene?
- deank: In 2003 I bought a Playstation2 and used it mostly for watching movies using the great SMS media player application. Few years later on my birthday in 2006 the PS3 was launched and I got one just because it was the first Blu-ray player and supported AVCHD. As a movie fan I wanted to enjoy 1080p from the get-go.
Who are some of the other developers you worked with in the community and other projects you have followed?
- deank: My contacts during these 10 years were mostly with the developers of RetroArch, Rebug and Movian/Showtime but also with Aldo (@aldostools) and @Rogero (firmwares).
What has been your greatest challenge as a developer? Please provide an example if possible.
- deank: The greatest challenge – graphics and user-interface. But I believe I did well with multiMAN and mmOS.
You have gained a lot of experience coding on the platform, any advice for developing on the PS3 and any common mistake you seen new developers make on the platform?
- deank: Yes, with the PS3 I advanced my C language programming skills and learned to code in Cell/PowerPC assembler, but I don‘t have any suggestions to other developers – in my opinion coding is an art and each coder has their own approach and style.
What was the most aggravating thing you experience when developing on the PS3 compared to other platforms?
- deank: In the beginning it was very difficult to debug the execution of the code. Also the limited memory of the PS3 was always an issue.
You are the developer behind multiMAN app and webMAN/sMAN plugins, do any of these projects have hidden Easter eggs that have not been discovered? If so, can you disclose or provide us a hint to what those could be?
- deank:: No, there are no eggs in my apps (lol). Everything is optimized to be as small as possible and to run as fast as possible, so no need for extra “baggage”.
What is the most underrated feature in multiMAN & webMAN?
How long did it take to create mmOS (multiMAN's file manager) and have you ever considered making that into a standalone app?
- deank: Honestly, I have no idea. May be the feature to create and arrange game shortcuts on the mmOS desktop.
- deank: I believe mmOS was introduced in multiMAN/mmCM 4.0.0 and was a major update to the application. It took about a month to code it from scratch, test it, do all the graphics stuff and release it. It was the most interesting part in the whole mM coding experience I had. At one point I was thinking of releasing it as a separate application, but then dropped the idea, because its features were heavily intertwined with the mM core and it would have made future updates to both apps too much of a hassle.
Do you have any projects on the shelf (never finished) or projects on the horizon for the PS3 or other platforms?
- deank: I think I have finished everything that I have ever started, so nothing is sitting and waiting for a release.
Can you tell us more about your collaboration with Cobra Team (creators of the CobraUSB)?
- deank: Despite all the speculations and rumors through the years, there is actually nothing special or spicy about that. They needed a better game manager and I provided them with one (the best one at the time). Some of you may remember their original Cobra Manager – it was a really simple ISO/folder loader. Hence, by version 3.0.0 multiMAN became also mmCM – two separate applications sharing 99% of the code. mmCM had some specific functions like updating the Cobra USB flash/spi and could deal with the ISO loading. I never had access to any proprietary source code or internal know-how – I was provided with a compiled (.a) library to link against and a simple header (.h) file to import the Cobra functions in mmCM.
Were you happy to see when the Cobra USB files went Open Source and were you surprised by the move?
- deank: I was happy to see the proper release of Cobra by their own developer – yes.
You have worked on/with Cobra's payload both when it was the CobraUSB and post v7.00 (open sourced) that freed the payload of the device and was injected directly into firmware known as "Cobra CFW". How did the two experiences differ from each other from a development perspective?
- deank: Nothing in mmCM was changed after the payload became public, because mmCM only used high-level calls to the payload functions. Actually, everything in mmCM is just the same now (in 4.85.01) as it was in 3.x.x versions which required the USB dongle.
Another iconic project on the PS3 was Movian media center from developer Andreas Smas and we know you have contributed to the project in various ways and supported it even in your own project mM, but could you tell us more about your contributions in the Movian project and your thoughts on the project as a whole?
- deank: In my opinion, Movian is one of the greatest media center applications and not only for the PS3. I’m still using it daily on my Android/TV, PC, Raspberry Pi, Linux and MacOS. My contributions were very limited – just few things about Raspberry Pi hardware deinterlacing OMX filters and the proper processing of DVB subtitles. Some major changes in my Movian MOD are related mostly to the Android platform, but nothing fancy.
Prior to multiMAN (mM) and your work on the PS3 you were doing work on another project multiAVCHD. Can you tell us a bit more about that project and how/if it helped the development of multiMAN on the PS3.
- deank: As I mentioned earlier, the main reason I bought a PS3 was to use it as a Blu-ray/AVCHD player. It was my main (and only) test platform while developing multiAVCHD. Other than the “multi” part of the name of both apps (multiMAN / multiAVCHD) there is absolutely nothing in common and they are totally unrelated. multiAVCHD was coded in a pseudo language with a tool called CalcIT, while multiMAN is pure C/PowerPC assembler.
Did you ever considered making your own Custom Firmware (CFW) for the PS3 and have you ever made private builds for your own consumption/testing?
- deank: No, I was never interested in CFW development, plus there were a lot more of experienced people to deal with it. I also never had a firmware flasher, and although I bricked my PS3 couple of times during CEX/DEX conversion attempts I refrained myself of other risky firmware stuff.
What has been your favorite CFW types, and also your favorite CFW developers?
- deank: I always preferred plain/vanilla firmwares. The first one was by KMEAW, then I used ROGERO and finally HABIB (I’m still on 4.75 by him).
Most everyone knows of multiMAN and webMAN but can you tell us about some of the other tools and projects you have had a hand in on the PS3?
- deank: I don’t remember all of the things I’ve done, but the little tools I remember are: discBOOT, lastGAME, bdRESET, gameDATA, prepNTFS, Rebug Toolbox, BD Disc access (for Showtime/Movian), installPKG
So we have to ask, awhile back you showed us a new purchase of a PS4. Then a slight tease of the possibility of multiMAN on the PS4? So this leaves us with a few questions:
-- Do you still have a PS4?
deank: Yes, I have a PS4 on OFW 5.05 sitting in its box.-- Still plans/desire for development on the PS4 (such as multiMAN or even porting Movian on the PS4)
deank: I don’t believe mM for PS4 is really necessary, because of the fundamentally different way the backups are loaded. Having Movian for the PS4 will be a great thing, but it is out of my current plans and capabilities.-- Do you have any future plans for PS4 development?
deank: Well, I have the PS4 and who knows – may be some day I’ll find something interesting to do with it (besides games).
Overall, what can we expect to see from Dean(K) in the future?
- deank: I don’t have anything planned for now. From time to time I’m creating plugins for Movian (free and paid) but basically that’s all for the moment.
What are some of your all-time favorites in the following categories:
--Movie – Star Wars Episode IV & VI (New Hope & Return of the Jedi)
--Game – Uncharted
--Retro Console – PS3
-- Food – Vegan
-- Vehicle – BMW7
Who would play you in a movie of your life?
- deank: Matt Damon
Do you have any personal links (website / social media) or anyway for users to show their support for your work and projects?
Homebrew Projects by @deank
- multiMAN (PS3) - This is an AIO type homebrew for the PS3, its a file manager (mmOS) / FTP Server / Backup Manager and so much more. Additional information about this PS3 Homebrew can be found here. Also here is some of the add-on for multiMAN @ brewology (also add-ons can be found in multiMAN itself in the XMMB view of the app in Download section)
- webMAN (PS3) - When the PS3 obtain background plugin support (custom sprx) deank developer an AIO type plugin called webMAN that allowed many functions like Fan Control / Backup displaying/mouting from XMB directly / Always active Background FTP Support / Remote Access via connected network devices are just a few of the many features /
- sMAN (PS3) - this was also a plugin that built upon webMAN by providing an alternative UI.
Thank you @deank for your work and contributions to the community and also your time for this Interview. Also a thank you to the mod team here who also helped with forming some of these questions.
View Interview Archive here for a listing of future interviews if you are coming to v1 late:
The Power Supply (vol. I) Featuring a chat with developer deank (creator of multiMAN / webMAN & ...)
By STLcardsWS on Feb 9, 2020 at 3:51 PM
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