July 31, 2009

Sysadmin day!

Once again it is time to thank our sysadmins that keep the internets running smoothly! Not that you should only thank them once a year.

Here is a blurb from sasadminday.com
"A sysadmin makes sure your network connection is safe, secure, open, and working. A sysadmin makes sure your computer is working in a healthy way on a healthy network. A sysadmin takes backups to guard against disaster both human and otherwise, holds the gates against security threats and crackers, and keeps the printers going no matter how many copies of the tax code someone from Accounting prints out."

So take some time to day to stop by and say thanks! Happy 10th annual sysadmin day!

Check out more here

July 30, 2009

Xbox USB Controller Mod

The xbox I got off of ebay had three controllers with it, however I recently noticed that one of them did not have the breakaway connector I needed to actually use it. So I looked online and found I could get one for $5, however, my cousin was only here for a few days and I wanted to play three person halo 2 matches. So like any resourceful modder I decided to change it to usb.

The basic design of the xbox uses a modified usb port to plug controllers in, with an extra yellow line that seems to be used for the light gun from what I have read. So there is nothing stopping you from changing a controller port to a standard usb port. This will not only let you use an xbox controller with a usb port, but also a keyboard if your dash will recognize it. You can see from the pictures I have drilled out the plug in the fourth port and glued a standard USB port inside. This looks quite nice from the exterior. Next I cut the breakaway end off the controller and connected a usb plug instead. No real brain work was necessary as you simply ignore the yellow wires and match the red black blue and green wires on the inside of the xbox and in the controller wire. After everything is connected, the controller can be plugged in and used like normal. You can get more information and pictures here on how to connect the usb wires.

As an added bonus you can now use the usb xbox controller with your computer as well. Check the links below for the drivers.
Mac Driver
Windows Driver

July 29, 2009

Halo 2 Killtrocity V2

One of the perks of having a modded xbox is that you can mod and play modded games. Halo 2 Killtrocity is a collection of modded halo 2 maps, however the interesting part is that this does not mean only the included maps have been changed, now you can also play on a few included campaign maps as well. Any one up for capture the flag on the large bridge level with tanks! Also to make matters even better, the weapons and vehicles have been altered as well. This ranges from simple skin changes to a gun the fires plasma grenades. (As a side note. I will never play with Norm on that map, I HATE STICKYS). But that is not all, ever want to use the hunter beam cannon, well now you can! There are a ton of vehicles changes as well, but you can find them out on your own. I must say I had a lot of fun playing with my cousin on these maps, however a large group would be even more fun, I guess I will have to start looking into XLink Kai.

Check out the video below to see what some of the changes look like. PLEASE NOTE that the music may not be to your taste (it is not mine) and you may want to mute it as there are no other sounds.

Read more here.

July 20, 2009

Hamburger Bed

I am greatly amused by this! I love it when people create something cool or weird out of common items.

Check out the website here.

July 19, 2009

XBOX Soft Mod

My friend Matt had soft modded an xbox he got during my last year at school, at first I though it was cool, but did not see any use, however I quickly started to love the ability to stream any media to the big CRT tv we had in the living room. After I graduated I started to miss that ability, as well as having something to play Halo 2 on from time to time. So I went on ebay and found a good deal for an first gen xbox with three controllers, the advanced av pack(s video + optical sound) and the DVD remote kit. All for $33, which is not a bad deal at all. Then after waiting a week for it to arive, stupid ups ground, I finaly got a chance to have some fun with new hardware.

Fist off I read up on the steps to soft mod an xbox, check it out the tutorial here. I had no problem getting my kernel version and using ndure to build a installer, then packing it up and for burning a disk with xboxhdm. However that was when my problems started to happen, first off I could not get the drive unlocked by hot swapping the drive, it ended up not being a swap issue, instead it was a bios problem with the dell model I was using. After a few hours of poking I finally realized I had to plug the drive in first for the bios to know that there was a drive attached then do a double hot swap to the xbox for unlocking then back to the computer. I only figured it out because the drive would only show up if I plugged it in before starting the computer.

After getting the drive hot swapped, I ran into my second problem, the install failed due to lack of space. I am still not sure what was up with this, however after using the restore option twice, I finally decided to try letting it fail and see what happens. This turned out to be fine as it still soft modded the drive, which started up fine, however it was lacking any applications other then the basic dashboard. This was fine as I was able to grab a copy of ConfigMagic and ftp it to the apps folder and then use it to get the EEPROM off the board. This was my main focus as after I got the EEPROM I could always unlock/lock a new hard drive at any time. After I had it backed up I was able to breath easy.

My next step with to change the drive to a 200Gb so I would have plenty of room for movies and other files. This also gave me a challenge as well, as I did not have a DVD drive in the PC I was using, which meant I could not use xboxhdm to format the drive. I was stuck for a bit till I could out that there is a much easier way to clone the drive by using Chimp (Read more Here). I did a test on a 10Gb drive first and it cloned it perfectly. Then I tried the 200Gb, sadly it took three tries, but after stalling and eventually returning to the main menu a few times, it finally moved on to the next menu and I was able to clone it. The nice feature of Chimp is that automatically formats the F partition with the extra space difference between the drives.

Now that I had my drive all set and the xbox soft modded all I needed to do was install XBMC as the dash, which was simple, and then move all my files over to the hard drive, which took the longest till of all. After that I was playing with the built in skins. Matt had the xTV skin that I liked, but I eventually decided on MediaStream as my favorite skin, and I think it is a little easier to use for my family as well.

All in all, a successful and useful mod, now I just need to mod the stock fan, as it is loud and annoying at times.