Thursday, August 25, 2016

Nyko Wand, Round 2.

Needless to say my first go-round with a Nyko Wand didn't go so smoothly. I chalked that up to having found it at the Goodwill outlet, assuming it was just used and worn out. After acquiring my second Nyko Wand from the outlet store (I'm a glutton for punishment I guess) I've decided that the first Nyko Wand I owned was either a terrible controller from the start, or it saw heavy abuse in it's day, before I mercifully put it out of its misery.

I'm not saying this other Nyko Wand is working wondrously, but at least it works, kind of. The thing looks like it's been sitting in the middle of a highway for a few summers, all ugly and pitiful, but as a Nintendo Wii remote it's a passable option. It works with the games I've tested it with but for some reason it absolutely refuses to work with Netflix. Whether this has something to do with the Netflix app or something within the controller's programming that shuts it off when things load to save on battery power I still don't fully know.

This Nyko Wand is hideous, it's dirty, it seemingly chews through batteries like hot dogs at a July 4th hot dog eating competition, but this one does work. The main feature that I adored about the purple one was that I could turn the controller off at-will by simply clicking the power button really quick, so I didn't need to wait the 3 minutes the official Wii remotes do to shut down. That feature seems to have been removed from this Nyko Wand, although maybe it only works with Netflix, and since this controller doesn't work with Netflix at all I can't see that feature in action, who knows.

This Nyko Wand isn't perfect but it works, coupled with the worn out looking Wii nunchuk I know exactly what I'll be using these things for that won't show off all of their battle scars. But that's for another article, at another time. Something I've been wanting for a while now that I finally found, and I have the perfect controllers to use with it!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My DIY LED Tester.

It never ceases to amaze me, the stuff I run across at the outlet store. Perhaps it's not so much the things I run across but maybe the ideas that deluge my mind when I find these items. Ideas of what they could be used for, outside of their already apparent purpose.

My spare parts box is overflowing with LEDs, something that I often find and even more often wonder why I continue to pick them up, considering I have no immediate use for them. I guess LEDs are always a useful thing to have around, just in case. With so many LEDs I needed a way to test them. It's cumbersome having to hold something to a AA or AAA battery, and 9 volts will almost certainly burn the LED out within seconds, so what is a man to do to make sure he preserves the LEDs but also makes sure they work?

The answer to that came in the form of some weird little contraption I found at the outlet store. I'm completely unsure of what this thing originally was but I found it almost as you see it, only needing some slight modifications. The LED was originally soldered to the resistor and straight to the battery post, which I changed out for a terminal for easy LED placement and removal.

It uses three small, watch style batteries, it already has an on/off switch and a resistor, so it was only a matter of adding the connecting terminal. After an extremely easy swap out the LED tester was ready to test LEDs of all shapes, sizes and colors.

Yep, this LED works.
Whatever it's original intended purpose was it's now my LED tester. It's not great, but it does the job. The only oversight I may have had was replacing the batteries, because those small batteries are often expensive. It works for now and maybe sometime in the future I'll find a better alternative.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Apple Mighty Mouse: The Wireless Connection

After finding the wired Mighty Mouse at the outlet store I ended up finding a wireless version too. Yes, that's right, I paid twenty cents for the first and slightly less for the wireless version, after taking out the dead batteries. I am as shocked as most that I found the wired version, let alone the wireless one.

However, there is a little bit of a funny story that goes along with this purchase. I've been conditioned to assume that all wireless mice need some sort of USB dongle to get them to work. I spent quite a while searching for some form of wireless dongle, to no avail. It was only once I came home and poured my goodies out onto my bed that I realized I had forgotten that I had the mouse in my bag when I paid for my items. I quickly went to work trying to find out just how much a wireless dongle would be to get this thing to work. Turns out all it needs is Bluetooth to connect to a computer.

After hooking up the only computer I have that has a built-in Bluetooth connection, I gave the mouse a test. The first thing I notices was just how heavy and unwieldy this thing is with two AA batteries. Couldn't Apple have sprung for a single AA or perhaps AAA batteries? Secondly the wireless Mighty Mouse takes forever to connect, which seems to be a common complaint about this mouse.

Another common complaint about the Might Mouse, both wired and wireless, is the mouse wheel, or in this case ball, didn't work at all, as where the wired version works quite well. I could occasionally get the wireless one to scroll upwards, but never could I get the mouse ball to scroll down, so I went to work on trying to find a way to fix that. After haphazardly skimming through some tutorials on how to clean the Might Mouse, I cracked the thing open and cleaned out the mechanisms that made the thing work, which were quite grimy indeed.

After throwing it back together the roller ball didn't work at all, even the occasional upward was no longer working. Upon opening the mouse again I found that the ribbon cable wasn't attached properly, and once it was the roller ball worked like new. This time the roller ball tracked very well with very good precision! I also found that the little plastic trim ring around the bottom was essentially broken off and would not snap back in place, as I had hoped. Welp, that's what I get for skimming through the tutorial.

After using the mouse for a while I find that it's just more trouble than it's worth to be a daily mouse, at least for me. The connection takes nearly 2 minutes after the computer has been booted (yes I boot tested the mouse), and it's heavy and harder to control because of the batteries, but otherwise it's a very nice mouse, albeit with fatal flaws.

Where I've grown slightly affectionate toward the wired version, I wholeheartedly can not use the wireless Might Mouse. I've read there may be a single AA version out there, and if I do find it I will pick it up, but I just can't see myself trading in the ability to easily glide across any surface with the lighter, wired version for stumbling across it with a heavy, battery loaded mouse simply for the convenience of it being wireless.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Pursuing an Oddity.

In the video game world it is a semi-well known fact that early versions of Tiger Woods 99 PGA Golf for the original Playstation hold a little bit of a secret. How the secret ended up on the game disc is still a bit of a mystery, yet once it was found by EA they quickly recalled the game and released a patched version. Now, Tiger Woods 99 is a sports title, the bane of many video game collector's existences, which means it's not rare by any means, but the copy with the hidden secret may be a little harder to find than the patched version.

The hidden secret is a file named ZZDUMMY.DAT, which can be watched if the game disc is placed inside a PC. Once the file is opened in a media player, the user will be greeted with the 1995 short film Jesus vs. Santa by the creators of South Park. This short was supposedly requested by FOX executives to pass around as a video Christmas card, in 1995. Again, how and why this file ended up on the game disc are still a bit of a mystery.

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

So now you may be asking yourself how can you tell the difference between the original Tiger Woods 99 with the secret, and the patched version. A few things to keep in mind are that the SLUS (00785) will never change, at least not between the two versions that I have. What does change is the ISBN and the UPC codes.

If you already own a copy, or run across one in the wild, you'll want to look for the ISBN:0-7845-1503-4 and UPC: 14633-07911. Another issue may be that, due to the used game market, the game may find its way into the wrong case, or it may have no case at all, so always be sure to check the disc as well. Just below the Tiger Woods 99 logo on the disc you will find copyright information followed by the code 791107, which slightly resembles the UPC code.

If for some extremely unfortunate turn of events your disc doesn't have a case, or any front art on the disc, you can pop it into a PC and look at the ZZDUMMY.DAT file to see whether or not your copy is patched. What you'll want to check is the date of the file; if you see Dec 20 1996 you've got the correct Tiger Woods 99.

I spent roughly $4 for both of my copies and to be honest I feel as though I spent $4 too much! It's not a rare game, it's probably not even a good game, but the video game oddity collector within myself wanted to own both the original and the patched version. This is nothing more than just one of those extremely weird oddities in the video game industry that made me want to own a game for no other reason than it's silly little history.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lesson Learned: DRM Failure.

After almost a year of searching for a PC copy of Skyrim I thought I had finally found it. I already own it for Xbox 360, but, as I've made abundantly clear, my 360 is a bit of a dead horse, so I needed to find another way to enjoy the world of Skyrim. I picked up a copy of Oblivion for PC years ago from the outlet store, so I figured "What could go wrong if I find a copy of Skyrim too?". Turns out the answer to that question is an unequivocal everything.

I should have learned my lesson four years ago when I bought a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV for PC from a flea market. I really wanted to try out LCPDFR, so I decided to spend $5 on what I could only assume to be a complete copy, as it was sealed in a bag for flea market booth security. Only after the whole installation process was I ever prompted to enter codes that I didn't receive with the game discs, which lead me to assume, at first, that I didn't need codes. Not only did it need a code, it also needed a unique and single use DRM code, meaning I couldn't play the game even if I had the codes. After finding out just how crazy the new DRM measures and codes are, I honestly looked into cracks, hacks and many other ways to allow me to play a game that I rightfully bought, and should rightfully be able to use. Not wanting to deal with all that stuff I've just let it sit in it's case, useless and abandoned for no good reason.

It's exceedingly rare that I find myself unable to play a used PC game that I've picked up from a thrift store, but then again it could be the fact that I'm not really interested in many newer games, which come with the stupid DRM setbacks. I come from a different era where you either bought the game because you wanted to, or you knew someone who had a cracked version and they shared it around the neighborhood. I completely understand that DRM, to an extent, is a necessary evil, but the fact remains that people who want to buy a game brand new will and others won't, no amount of DRM will stop those who won't buy it from cracking, hacking and stealing.

I love owning physical copies of games and I prefer to get them at my own pace, which is often times after they're well out of print and new copies are coveted like treasure. This is where thrift stores supply me with previously played copies of games that I want to own. I am paying for a physical copy of a game, I'm not cracking or hacking or stealing anything, these are previously used, physical copies of games I wish to play and own. What many people are finding out, and very few are saying, is that current DRM measures are a very fatal flaw in the whole PC game market.

Luckily for me I picked it up Skyrim from the Goodwill Outlet store so it's cheap enough that I can throw it away and not lose any sleep, but it's a physical copy of a game that I want to play. Clearly someone had already gotten their use out of the game and no longer wanted it, and it's just not fair that I own a game (two games now) that I can't use. All my life I've been told that as long as I bought an item through fair means I'm entitled to use it however, and whenever I want, which has been utterly destroyed by DRM.

From now on no more Games for Windows labeled games will be coming home with me. It seems that is a common sign of games that just won't work when I get them home. I haven't changed my mind on buying games brand new either, there are plenty of old video games I can still buy used and enjoy without having to deal with the insanity that is current DRM, so I'm not bothered by not having brand new games at all. I'll just stick with physical copies of old games that will allow me to play them without hassling me about stupid codes I don't have.

Monday, July 18, 2016

iFind the Darnedest Things!

Suffice it to say I've never personally seen the appeal that comes with Apple iFandom, nor have I ever really been a fan of their products. The very first Apple products I ever used were two keyboards I picked up from a Goodwill store for $1 each. One could say the results I've received from those keyboards could be because they were used, either way my feelings toward Apple and their products wasn't swayed in a more positive light by these insipid keyboards.

Recently I was surprised to find an Apple Mighty Mouse at the Goodwill outlet store. After weighing it and realizing I would only be paying twenty cents for the thing I figured I may as well, just to take a chance and see. As you may have seen my current mouse is an old Logitech, so I'm not really looking for expensive gaming mice anyway, just something that works. I know someday my Logitech is going to give up the ghost so another reason why I picked up the Mighty Mouse was as a backup for my current one.

After a quick cleaning I tested it and... well, it's a mouse. It works, feels and performs pretty much exactly like every other optical mouse I've ever had. The only gripe I may have is that the wheel, or perhaps roller ball (middle mouse/wheel), isn't exactly precise. I have read that many people don't like the roller ball either as that is usually the first thing to stop working on these mice. Mine seems to work just fine, it's just not very precise.

To be honest I'm not overly impressed with the Apple products I own, but I wouldn't say they're junk. Sure the keyboards have acted up since the day I bought them, but with a little work they function. Sure the mouse's roller ball isn't as precise as the wheel on my Logitech, but otherwise it works just as well as my Logitech. I don't feel as if Apple products are as bad as I wrote them off as being, nor are they superior, they just work as can be expected. I'm not converted, but I can say that I surely won't pass up a deal to have an Apple product as a backup, just in case it's needed.

"I may be able to get an iPhone without giving any money to Apple! I'll be living the dream." - Morris Moss the IT Crowd.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Syphon Filter 2: In Pieces

As a video game nerd I am willing to go through great lengths to find and obtain the video game goodness that I so desire. This includes, and lately has become almost exclusively limited to, the Goodwill outlet, which means such cases of finding and obtaining video game related items can range from fairly simple to fairly odd. A case that transcends from fairly odd to the completely bizarre is the case of myself piecing together Syphon Filter 2 for the Playstation.

What makes this case so weird is the ofttimes occurrence of the bin being caked in a substance that nobody is willing to deal with. I, however, will take a bargain at almost any cost; this includes the bin, and everything within, being covered in baby powder. Yes, that's right, someone had opened a bottle of baby powder and by the time I arrived at the bin it was completely covered, throughout.

The first thing I saw was a black bottom disc, usually indicating a Playstation game, peering out from under the white powder. It just so happened to be disc 2 of Syphon Filter 2, which is a dual disc game meaning it came in one of those weird, thick multi-disc cases. After that I located just the black, middle, part of the dual case, as well as disc 1. After that I found both the front and back inserts of the case (the cover art), which are more than a little sun baked, but still something I wasn't willing to pass up and allow them to stay in a baby powder grave. After sifting through for far too long I sadly couldn't find the manual, but otherwise I was only missing the clear parts where the discs go.

I find it extremely odd that the inserts weren't inside any actual parts of the case, they were just floating around the bin freely, hidden beneath a thin layer of perfume infused talcum powder. Once nearly the whole thing was secured within my purchase bag, I walked over to a bin filled with CDs, where I proceeded to evict said CDs and all their inserts from the cases and snap them securely to the black, dual case part. Everything was looking up, but I still really wished I had found the manual.

Once I got home I cleaned everything as much as possible and tossed it all together. Other than the sun faded front and back covers it looks quite good. There is still some baby powder in the crevasses of the games, but I'll take and clean that all up some other time. For now I'll just have to keep my eyes peeled for a Syphon Filter 2 manual, which may take a while but after seeing the things I've seen I know it's not an impossible feat.