Archive for July, 2007

Apparently some people don’t know this…

July 27, 2007

If you call tech support, and you hear an awkward silence, it generally means means that the tech has hit the mute button and is making fun of you or cursing profusely about how stupid you are.

If you haven’t yet done anything stupid, they are probably just making fun of your name. Blame your parents. Ask them why they couldn’t have spent a little more time or thought ahead before giving you that ridiculous name.

And no, it is not acceptable to go by the name of Timmie as an adult. Especially with the “ie” spelling and when it is your official name on record. That’s just silly and uncalled-for.

I just thought I would take the time to let everyone know this universal helpdesk truth.

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Looking for a drag strip? Look elsewhere…

July 26, 2007

This place blows - incompetence runs rampant!

This place completely sucks. I have went out two weeks in a row, hoping to be able to run my new car, but no. Due to their incompetence, that has been impossible.

Last Wednesday, there was a bit of rain, and after taking forever to prepare the track, they realized that there was an issue with the timing equipment. They wasted our time for another couple of hours, and finally let us go, with promise of a rain check. All in all, I spent almost four hours sitting around and had to drive 20+ miles there and about 40 home. At least there were some cool people to meet.

Then yesterday, no rain to start with, but YET AGAIN, problems with the damn timing equipment. Note that I even called the track’s office to confirm that the equipment was fixed, then this. We sat around for an hour or so, they even stopped letting people in. The ridiculous part is that they made no announcement regarding why we all had to stick around with our thumbs up our butts. Finally, after about an hour, they started to have people running.

They finally made an announcement about the problem after the first set of cars had run and bikes started. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hear a single word. Did they do this on purpose, or are they just that incompetent? It really seems like a toss-up between the two.

I was able to get one run in. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get traction at all and ran a 14.5 at about 100.5 MPH. I was beaten by a mustang, but with traction, he wold have been toast (lower MPH). After coming around again, they let a lot of guys run again, right off, but they cut it right as I came up, next to a couple of other Hondas. The dildo that was calling the cars had already admitted to me that he thought they shouldn’t let any non-domestic cars out at the track. What a real douchebag.

Eventually, the rain started coming down, just before I would have been able to run again. They failed to make an announcement, YET AGAIN, and eventually I left without being able to figure out whether we were being given rain checks or not. I believe that some of the people that were initially held up at the gate didn’t even get to run once…

I will call today, and believe me, I will be getting a free ticket out. They will not hear the end of it from me if they try to deny me this. Is it too much to ask for a couple of decent runs, and that it shouldn’t have to take weeks upon weeks to be able to have them?

Ridiculous. If they give me enough crap, I’m going to the papers…

Don’t forget…

July 25, 2007

Don't forget to wash the butt!

[Click the image to buy the shirt!]

I Just Love DealExtreme’s Silly Little Gadgets…

July 20, 2007

Sure, it may take two or so weeks to get anything from DealExtreme, but they’ve got some great, silly shit!

Today I came across this great little Wiimote Keychain Whistle. By itself, it’s already awesome, and at $3 shipped, even I (as cheap as I am) am considering picking it up. The best part though is the Chinglish description which includes the following: Can be used to ask for help in urgent situations and prevent perverts.

I received and finally tested out my Wireless Wii Sensor Bar last weekend. Worked great, and the thing is super tiny, so it fit in my Wii travel bag quite nicely. I set it up at work and we turned a boring Saturday into a hell of a day! I converted both a PS3 fanboi and a XBox 360 owner into Wii fans, as by the end of the day, they were both exclaiming how they had to buy a Wii and get me to mod it!

I may pick up a GameCube Memory Card SD Adapter next, as the price is just too low to refuse! I really need to find a reason though, as it is mainly used to dump games and I have other methods which are easier.

This Light Gun is pretty bad ass, and they even have one with a laser sight!

And why in the hell would someone need a Wii Car Power Adapter? How would you like someone swinging their arms around in the passenger seat while you’re trying to drive? And do you want to be on the road with a soccer mom trying to calm down her kids while flailing their bodies around like mini-retards?

OK, I could see the necessity in some very rare cases… Like when I was at the track this Wednesday waiting for them to fix the electronics. We sat there for hours… ugh! But in that case, I would have needed an LCD in the trunk, etc, and the kind of custom wiring would negate the necessity of this part… But that’s the spirit of DealExtreme – useless crap for cheap!

There are all kinds of other crazy Wii gadgets, such as boxing gloves, steering wheels, golf clubs, fishing poles, cooking utencils and all kinds of weapons. Check out the rest of them here.

Tips for modding the Wii safely.

July 20, 2007

In response to a number of mod jobs that I have seen lately which haven’t gone so well, I decided it was time to make an addendum to other Wii Modchip Installation guides. The chip that will be covered here is the WiiKey, although others are quite similar, and the tips listed here would apply as well. This is a work in progress, but it touches on all of my main points. I will try and add pics later, if possible.

[Note that this guide does not address new Wiis that need have legs cut on the Panasonic chip on the Wii’s DVD drive. If you have one of those and don’t already know what you’re doing, find a local installer (or one to ship it to)]

First, what are my credentials? What makes me qualified to give this advice?

I do not have a PhD or even an AA in electronics or any related field (however I do have a MA in Communications, but that is beside the point). Hell, I didn’t even have real soldering experience before I modded my first Wii.

So how did I start and why should you listen? I researched (then researched some more, so you won’t have to) and found a number of tricks which I have worked into my method. There are a lot of resources out there, but I found the Wii hacking forum on gbatemp.net to be most useful. I then went out and bought the materials and found an old video card to test my soldering skills, practiced, and here was the result.

By the way, here are some install pics at gbatemp. Use them to get your creative juices flowing.

Materials:

Finding the correct materials is very important! Many people attempt the job with inadequate materials that they already have laying around the house, and they end up burning pads off of the Wii. When using the correct materials and with practice, there should be no excuse for this.

Most of the materials for installation can be found at your local Radio Shack. They sell some very thin 30awg wire there, and it comes in patriotic colors: red, white or blue. This works great. However, there are a few key items that make the difference between great and horrible mod jobs, and this isn’t really one of them.

Radio Shack sells a 15w soldering iron which is carried in local stores. Why is this better than the 30w one that you were going to use? The lower wattage makes you less likely to burn off a pad. It essentially gives you more time, allowing you to be more precise. With the $9 pricetag, there is no excuse not to pick one up. The flat end of the tip also is very helpful, but this will be discussed later.

The second item that helps things go smoothly is flux. Many people who do this for the first time have never heard of flux. I myself was one of them. What is it? It’s a white, pasty substance that acts as a catalyst for the soldering process. Using flux is kind of like primering something before you paint it – it’s just good practice, and the result will be better. I couldn’t find flux at my local Radio Shack (they were out), but I was able to find it at Home Depot. It came in a tube, and even came with some free solder (which was mighty thick). You’ll also need a toothpick for application, I don’t think they sell these at RadioShack though. You’re on your own on that one!

Another thing that will make sure that you have a clean modification is an Xacto blade. If you’re clumsy, or don’t care about the stickers on your Wii, and don’t mind if it is obvious that it has been tampered with, then skip this part.

And to make sure that you keep organized, and don’t end up with extra screws, etc, find yourself a cupcake pan (or other sorting device) to put all screws and pads in while you’re modding.

A little bit of double sided tape is recommended as well. You will also need some electrical tape.

The last thing should go without saying, but because some people insist on trying without it – it must be covered. You will need a TRIWING screwdriver. Don’t listen to your friend that says you can use a little phillips head. You might be able to do so, but your screws will look like crap, and you might end up having to drill them out (or if you’re a complete retard, burning through your Wii’s plastic – I wish I could find the thread about that guy). You will not be able to find this locally. And if you can, it won’t be worth the hassle. Many assume that that the bit set at Harbor Freight will work, but it will not. Although it includes triwing drivers, they are FAR too large. Just order it with your WiiKey. Or you can order it here, but note that it’ll take a couple of weeks to get.

Method:

Follow the instructions found elsewhere to take the Wii apart. I used this guide – it’s not the greatest, but it gets the job done. Google can help you find others.

My tip here is to use the Xacto blade to take off the stickers on the bottom and side of the Wii. However, if you don’t have a steady hand, you’ll have to weigh the possibility of scratching your Wii against having nice looking stickers. As long as you slide it underneath gently, it should be easy to remove them, and allow them to be re-affixed to the unit.

You don’t want to use the blade on the rubber feet. You will just end up cutting them and possibly the unit as well. Use your fingernails. The rubber parts are tough, they can take it. Just be gentle, dig under, and pull em up. This can hurt a bit if you’ve just cut your fingernails though (speaking from experience, of course). However, it’s still the best way.

Also, this is where your cupcake pan comes in handy. For each step, use a new hole. This keeps items in order and makes sure that they go back where they belong.

Once the unit is disassembled, and the drive removed, it’s time to ready the wires and chip.

First, figure out where you want to mount the chip. In my opinion, the best place is in the black pocket near where the ribbon cable connects. This picture shows what I am talking about. Once you have found that location, trim a piece of double sided tape, and use it to affix the chip there. Believe me, it is much easier to solder onto the chip after it has been affixed. Soldering something that weighs one gram or less is tough when it’s moving around!

Measure how long the wire will need to be (and give it a little bit of slack, just incase) and cut it. You can use scissors to do the cutting, as this stuff is quite thin. It will then need to be stripped. You want to strip the tiniest bit off of the wire as possible. Literally, you should only need to strip off about the thickness of your fingernail. If you strip off more, it will leave exposed wire that can potentially short out and screw things up. It is my belief that this is one of the reasons that a lot of installs mysteriously don’t work. This is especially important for the four connections on the DVD board that are extremely close to one another.

Next, bring out the flux! Use your toothpick to put a tiny bit of flux on each point that will be soldered. The points that need to be soldered for the WiiKey are covered in the installation manual here. You don’t want to smear it across the area, but rather have a dot on each point. If you get too much on there, or need to shape what you’ve put on, use the other side of the toothpick. Make sure you put it on all twelve points, six on the chip and six on the DVD board.

Once that is done, you can start heating the soldering iron. Be careful though, the stand that this iron comes with is crap. I personally used a cardboard box on my table just in case it slipped off.

While it’s warming, set your spool of solder so a point sticks up and out. This way, you can just put the iron against it without having to touch the solder or spool. Also make sure you have an available glob of flux (mine came in a tube, so I had to put out a little glob on my cardboard, others come in tubs, so it isn’t necessary).

Now that you’re ready, dip the tips of one of your wires lightly into the flux, and then put your soldering iron up to the solder that you have sticking out for your convenience. Burn up a little so it forms a tiny (yes, very tiny, you do not need very much) globe at the end of the soldering iron. This is why the flat tip of the recommended iron is best, it will hold the solder at the end.

At that point, you’re ready to hold the wire to the board, using your dot of flux as a reference, and then very briefly, put the solder on the tip of the iron to the point. There is no necessity of holding it there, the flux allows it to flow to exactly where it needs to be, and the solder joint is instantly made.

At that point, you’re done with your first point, repeat eleven times and you’re set! I recommend starting on the tiny points on the DVD board, but I can understand wanting to do the larger points on the WiiKey first. I personally start with the tiny point that sticks out and forms an L with the three other points, then move to the one next to it, and down the line.

I prefer to solder both ends of each wire before going onto the next, but this is personal preference. Some may find it easier to do all points either on the chip or the board, but care must be taken to not cross wires!

Once this is done, use a little bit of electrical tape between the smaller connections on the DVD board, if there is any exposed wire. You will need to cut very short pieces to fit in-between them. I call this method shingling. If you can’t see any exposed wire, you should be fine, but it couldn’t hurt.

Then put a bigger strip across your soldered points on both the chip and the board. This insulates them from further contact and also makes sure that they will not be moving.

You might think it’s time to put it all back together. Well it kinda is, but I’d recommend putting the battery back in the unit (the first thing that you take out when disassembling) and connecting it and making sure that it works. You may need to reconnect the faceplate, or otherwise use your fingernail to push in the power button. The unit will work fine in this state.

Allright! You should be good to go at this point! Put it back together, run the WiiKey setup DVD if you want to set it to be region free, and you will also need to reset your Everybody Votes Channel. For some reason, when you mod (I believe it is because you remove the small backup battery) it screws up this channel. Looks like bad design to me. No one has been able to fix it without a reset, unfortunately.

If you have any comments, please leave them! I know that this needs more pictures, and I’ll post some up one of these days when I get a chance.

And if you think this is all too much for you, check your local craigslist page to see if there are any modders. Or search on gbatemp.net for a local one. If you’re in Central Florida, I might even be able to help you out. Just leave a comment about it!

Trying to Finish Every Final Fantasy Installment…

July 19, 2007

I set a goal for myself a few years to try and finish every Final Fantasy game (at least the ones in the main series). I’ve got most of em down, but still have a few to go.

Here’s my progress so far:

Final Fantasy I – Beaten many many times, I have the game memorized. I need to play the modified GBA version one of these days.

Final Fantasy II – Completed on my PocketPC via emulator.

Final Fantasy III – Completed NES version on emulator, also just finishing on the DS.

Final Fantasy IV – Beaten many times on SNES as Final Fantasy II, will definitely play when it’s released on the DS!

Final Fantasy V – Beaten on emulator more than once.

Final Fantasy VI – Played many times on SNES/Emulator. Finally beat not too long ago.

Final Fantasy VII – Played the PC version many times, finally beat earlier this year. I actually started an epidemic at work and caused at least 5-6 people to play and beat the game!

Final Fantasy VIII – Only played partially on the PS1. I have the PC version and need to get to that one day.

Final Fantasy IX – Own the PS1 version, started it only briefly. Seems a bit odd, but I’ll have to get into it eventually.

Final Fantasy X – Played and beat. Great game! Can’t wait until they release it for a portable system, as I want to play it again, but don’t see myself playing it again in front of the TV. Maybe I’ll emulate it.

Final Fantasy X-2 – Bought this on half.com a while back and never touched it! It’s too bad, because now my PS2 is modded with a hard drive and HD Loader, and I could have gotten around buying it! Also note that this replaces XI, because I will not be playing the MMORPG. That was a really stupid move to give it a number in the series. They should have just called it FF Online or something…

Final Fantasy XII – Got it on my PS2 HDD, although the movies skip :(. There’s a really complicated fix for this, so maybe one day I’ll figure that out before I play it.

As for future installments… it’ll probably be a while. I don’t see myself buying a PS3 anytime soon. Not at least until it’s hackable, Blu-Ray media becomes a hell of a lot cheaper, and it falls dramatically in price.

I will be most definitely be playing through Crystal Chronicles on the Wii – both the GC version and the upcoming Wii releases. We’ll see how much time I have, and maybe I’ll expand the list further.

I don’t see myself ever completing EVERY Final Fantasy game, because I could not bear sitting through the crap game that is Mystic Quest on the SNES. I cannot believe I wasted my money on that game as a kid. Whoever set that one up seriously should be shot. They took everything that Final Fantasy is, threw it out the window, then picked up everything that sucked about other RPGs and put it right in. And then they took it down a notch and made it suck even harder.

So that’s about it. Wish me luck!

Autotrader… for modded cars!

July 18, 2007

http://modifiedcartrader.com

It’s just like autotrader (well, almost), but for modded cars. Who knew?