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User Journal

Journal: I give you 10

Journal by trmj
The Game.

On a completely unrelated note, for a better music recommender than last.fm (which has been pretty god-awful), try Pandora, made by the people who did the Music Genome Project.

Edited to clear up the difference in topics.
Wii

Journal: Senseless (or how to make a better wii sensor bar)

Journal by trmj
So a common complaint among Wii owners is that the sensor bar cable is too short. I covered this topic in my previous journal, so if you don't know what I'm talking about, reference that.

Pictures are now uploaded.

Getting right down to the details, here's what you need:
1) A whole bunch of resistors
2) A spare DC adapter that's at least 600mA
3) Some PC board
4) A soldering iron
5) Wires
6) A method of cutting the PC board
7) A multimeter
8) Six IR LEDs (transmitters, not receivers)

To start with, know what you're imitating. You can see a video of it in action or look at a more detailed picture, or if you have the tools you can take apart your sensor bar. Basically, that annoying wire is only for power and nothing more, which is why we can get rid of it without problem.

Before going to your local Radio Shack or what have you for supplies, check the power adapters you have. Find one with the correct amperage, and check the voltage to know what resistors to pick up. Remember those electrical engineering classes from middle school that you never figured you'd use? Yeah, me either. Luckily, Buffer took some of those classes in college. Bug him if you want to know about the resistors and circuit setup. That stuff is beyond me.

Now, these instructions are a basic guide, not a step by step howto. I will include some notes though, as to why we did what we did. These notes are important because you'll see some differences between your sensor bar and ours. The first of which is that we used 6 LEDs while the original uses 10. This is for two reasons: First, the LEDs we got are high intensity, so we don't need as many of them, and second, because finding a power adapter above 600mA that isn't in use by your router is kind of tough (the LEDs are 100mA each). The one we used was from an ancient computer speaker set by Cyber Acoustics.

Now then! Build your circuit. Remember, you want to power the LEDs without blowing them. This means lowering the voltage with the resistors down to a level that's safe for 6 LEDs to function. If you're sloppy with the solder, it's safe to have an extra 10ish volts. Solder isn't the best conductor, and will impede the flow a tad. You want to have the circuit have both a positive and negative lead on two sides, to power two sets of three LEDs.

Got that finished? Great! Hey, I said this was a guide, not a step by step. Quitcherbitchin. Now wire up three LEDs on a piece of PC board (you can cut these pieces in advance, look at the pictures of our finished product for an idea) and combine the positive leads to one side and the negative leads to another. Hook them up to one side of the circuit. At this point you can test and see if your device works at all by soldering on the power cable and plugging it in. Put your Wii in sensor bar sensitivity mode and point the wiimote at your IR setup. If you see a dot on the screen, you've done something right. If you see three dots, you're either holding the wiimote too close or your LEDs are too far apart. Check it against your original sensor bar for an idea of what it should look like.

If all works well, get the other LEDs mounted and wired. You can now use electrical tape to mount the setup or encase it in something nice, but all you need is a nearby outlet. No more having to string the sensor bar wire across the room just to shoot a bow in Zelda.
Nintendo

Journal: Playing with our Wiis 11

Journal by trmj
So a friend and I picked up a Wii at the midnight launch last night. We picked up the popular games, an extra wiimote and nunchuk, brought the whole lot home and dove right in. Almost 24 hours later, these are our first impressions of the system, the games, and the experience (in that order).

The console itself is heavy. Not something I've come to expect from Nintendo, with the 'cube and the 64 being so light. The overall look is very... Apple. ATi still has their sticker on the system, which I still say was the best marketing decision they ever made. The top opens nicely to hide controller slots for the classic controllers and/or GameCube controllers. Don't want your wires showing? Don't plug 'em in.

The only bother from the console itself is the length of the sensor bar cord. Having a projection TV means that the screen is on one side of the room, and the receiver, projector, and consoles all reside on the other. Our Wii is now hidden at the side of the couch, halfway between the screen and the rest of the setup. Even then, the sensor bar is not directly under the image, and it throws off the aim a bit.

When we powered up the system, the greeting was essentially, "Daddy, what's my name?" Yes, you name your Wii. I wanted to call it Richard, but in the end we went with something else. Enter the time and date, then it's off to the channel screen.

Now, at this point you may be asking, "I bought a game console, not a cable box!" You would be right in saying so, too. Think of channels as programs. You choose what channel (program) to run, and it runs it. Eventually you'll get your weather and news from your Wii, thus replacing the need for your favorite web portal (if you have the wireless internets, that is). For now, you can play your games, buy classic games, make a Mii, and send mail to other Wii owners or anybody with an email address.

Now, on to the games!

First up was Wii Sports. And excellent intro to the control system, we broke in the console with a two player boxing match, followed up by some good old baseball. For a rather low end game, the was excessively fun. The controls have you moving around, and swinging the bat is exactly that. you swing the wiimote like a bat, including stance, height of the swing, speed, and tilt of the bat. That game ended great, it was a 2-0 shutout for the Yankees (me) versus the Red Sox (him). When swinging the wiimote, it's hard to let it slip and go flying across the room. Neither of us has done so yet, and it seems you really have to just let it go for it to go flying. I'll still wear the wrist strap, though. More fun that way. A fun little feature is that the game uses the Mii avatar you made as your character ingame. Wii Sports Tennis is like ping pong +1.

Once we were familiar with the controls, it was on to Excite Truck. In this one, you hold the wiimote sideways and use it like a steering wheel. That's how you steer and adjust balance, the gas button is under your right thumb, and I suppose there's a brake button but who needs it? We're talking Excite Truck here, not Gran Turismo. What makes this game fun is the controls, plain and simple. Multiplayer is really lacking, but single player is a blast.

Next up was Rayman Raving Rabbids. Let me preface this by saying that I despise games compsed entirely of mini-games. As far as minigames go, it was more fun that WarioWare. The game has a great sense of humor. Would I play it if there was anything else to play? Nope. But that's because of the style, not the content. Just not my thing.

We quickly changed pace and landed in Hyrule, for the game everybody Nintendo fanboy has been creaming himself over for the past few years. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is OoT +1 in terms of terrain graphics. The character models are somewhat better, and (thank $deity) there's no Navi. Instead, you get a wise cracking creature of darkness bossing you around in a sadistically cute manner. After four hours of play, the first temple is down and I'm at the second pre-temple... area... thing. Play it and you'll understand.

An important note about Twilight Princess is the size of Hyrule Field. I was under the impression that the overworld was huge. Well, I'll put it bluntly: Hyrule Field is about the same size as my backyard. I live in the middle of Boston, and have no backyard. The field is frickin' tiny. It made me sad.

After getting our release from Zelda, it was onward and upward to Red Steel, the game that makes you wish you were a ninja. The graphics are marginally better than Max Payne. The story is so very linear that it's distracting. The controls are bulky and the game doesn't seem to like our projection screen. It may just be our setup, but the aim keeps jumping to the center of the screen and off to the sides, even after recalibrating it several times. The game has potential, but only in the same way replaying Half-Life 1 does. Also, this was the only game to crash on us when we made too many bullet holes in the walls.

Overall, the experience of the Wii is an amazing thing. More games need to come out like Wii Sports though, because that best utilizes the wiimote so far. The system has a new feature to Nintendo consoles called "loading time" that Sony gamers should be familiar with. The times are still lower than that of the competition, but they're there, and it's another thing to get used to from a Nintendo console. Flailing about with the sword in Zelda is extremely fun, and for the lazy you really only have to move your wrist slightly.

It should be noted that part of my Wii experience was waiting in line at the midnight release, playing the demo PS3 box. It crashed within 20 minutes and seems to have a feature called "Windows Media Player" for audio CD playback. Welcome to 8 years ago, guys.
User Journal

Journal: Ask you guys: Freezer fixes 10

Journal by trmj
So. I have a friend who has a nice shiney new Dell laptop. A few days ago, the power adapter starting making a high pitched tone while plugged into the wall, whether the lappy was plugged into it or not.

He mentioned this to me, and I told him to put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes, and it would work fine. In complete disbelief he ridiculed me and said that only works for batteries. When faced with his lappy powering down, he tried it, and sure enough it worked.

20 minutes in the freezer made his AC adapter work normally again for several hours, until it started making the tone again. Another 20 minutes in the freezer fixed it nicely. This has been an on and off process all weekend, and neither of us can figure out why this works.

Any ideas? Note: I originally found out that putting computer parts in the freezer fixes them when it revived two hard drive for me at different times. I didn't understand it then (nor did I have any clue why I even tried it), and I don't understand it now.
User Journal

Journal: What's your story? 10

Journal by trmj
Mine is the story of a boy who failed at life.

It wasn't as though he didn't try, but he was always told he wouldn't amount to anything, and he was the scapegoat for any familial problems. The middle child in every meaning of the term.

It got to the point when one day he looked through a window and saw a boy who wasn't there. There was simply nothing left, a lost look that had no destination, only places that didn't work anymore. It hurt just to breathe. He wasn't anybody, he wasn't even concious of existance anymore.

And he realized that the boy was a clean slate. Because there was nothing left, he could shape the boy into the only truely good person he could imagine, an amalgamation of the bits and pieces of good in those around him.

So he stopped being for years, and simply studied every person he came in contact with, every action that took place, and every word that was spoken. Everything meant something to somebody, but what? Was it good or bad, and how would he judge what is good or bad? Did he even have the right to be that judge?

He would have to be, and he set out to study what, happening around him, made others feel good or bad. He superficially imitated these feelings when put in similiar situations, and guaged reactions. He did good and he did bad and he helped and he let go.

And he learned.

Mine is the story of a boy who built a person starting at the age of 16.

It took over two years before the person, finally able to join society and be considered human by its creator, to be ready for a test run. And he did the first outgoing thing he had done in over two years: he spoke to somebody as a person, instead of just as a robot who spewed information when questioned.

The boy had done well, as this person seemed to enjoy talking and quickly considered himself a friend. And then in time a best friend. And a business partner. And a confidant. And in time the friendship drifted apart, but the lessons were plenty.

The person was constantly refined. The past never mattered, all that mattered was who the people around him were and what the choices laid before him were. The hardest thing he had done to date was to see precisely what those choices were: anything at all. It scared him to think that at any time, he could kill the person next to him. Or he could care for them. Or he could leave. Or he could stay. He could do anything at all, there was nothing stopping him but the consequences of his actions and the goal of becoming the person he wanted to be.

And who was the person he wanted to be? Somebody others could look to as an example of a good person. Somebody he would have looked up to had they been around when he needed it. He wanted to be the person he needed because he didn't want anybody to have to go through that alone ever again.

Mine is the story of a man who tried, and you're all part of this story. And I don't think I've thanked you all for playing your supporting roles so well.

Thank you.
User Journal

Journal: [BeSmitten] JohnD to tha 3

Journal by trmj

Poetics unravel
like the fall of a gavel
and truth shines clear
with the turn of a year

An ode to a friend
this greeting I send
is simply to say
Happy Birthday

User Journal

Journal: I am now a published journalist. 1

Journal by trmj
I frequent a few satire websites, and on occasion contribute. One of them, SlashNOT, decided to publish a book of their best stories.

They have a list of stories and authors available, along with a chance to buy something I helped (unknowingly at the time) write!

Oh, and as a side note, the articles are listed "in funniest to least funny order according to the scientifically accurate SlashNOT rating system--so you can stop reading when the book stops being funny, secure in the knowledge that you haven't missed a thing."
User Journal

Journal: Here's a question for everybody: 17

Journal by trmj

Can any of you tell me why we put so much faith in our doctors?

These are the same doctors who tell us that to diagnose a gluten intolerance, you should eat gluten and see if it hurts.

These are the same doctors who tell us that we're overweight and need to exercise, and that's why our legs hurt to the point of not being able to walk. For 3 years.

These are the same doctors who tell us that heart episodes are a mental thing and say we need to take tranquilizers.

These are the same doctors who told a friend in PA that even though she has appendicitis, she should let it go for the weekend and see if it goes away. Then, over the weekend, when she continually calls because the pain is worse, she's told to wait until Monday.

Praise Jeebus that wikipedia and merck.com have good information on diagnosing how bad the appendicitis is, I was able to convince her that she needed to go to the emergency room as soon as possible, and she's on the way there now.

Seriously though, why do we put any trust in these people any more? Do they learn ANYTHING in those 6 years of additional schooling? Three of the above examples are fairly common things!

I really don't know how I'm going to put much stock in what a primary care doctor has to say any more. I know if I need to go to the hospital, and I am beginning to think that that's the only time I'll bother.

User Journal

Journal: Take comfort in knowing.

Journal by trmj

You can only control two things: Attitude and pace.

The weather, other people, what's on tv, and everything else, you cannot control.

Pace:

Go a bit slower if you need to, there will be plenty of time to catch up. Take a break from the rest of the world and get something done that's been nagging at you.

Stride ahead of the rest, and be sure you finish with all the glory you deserve. The world is ripe for the picking, and it's not going to become yours all by itself.

Attitude:

Everything about you, from the way you dress to the actions you take are a reflection of your attitude. Emotion plays an almost insignificant part in attitude. You have 100% control of your attitude, some just need to learn how.

These are the only things in life you can control. Everything else is out of your power.

So take a break. Have a nice warm mug of hot chocolate. Because you can. Sip it and realize that the world can move as fast as it wants around you. Let it.

Because for this moment, the veil is lifted and you can see that nobody controls you but yourself.

Attitude and Pace.

User Journal

Journal: Back to the classics 15

Journal by trmj

I've started rereading some books. Starting with Ender's Game. The next one I go to will be Xenocide, by far my favorite of the series.

To be honest, they are really the only two which stand out. They are truely above the rest of the series, not only in literary style, but in the entire universe they construct, right down to the most basic physical aspects.

Very few books left an impression on me when I was growing up. Some short stories did. I read the entire Narnia series, yet retained nothing from it because most of it was used material. A short story read to me in 4th grade, however, remains vivid in my mind, a story about a boat with the name "EMIT LEVART" carved into it.

Most of my reading is grounded in philosophy, physics, and science.

What's your choice of genre? What stories leave their mark and why? What books do you want to go back and read again, knowing that you'll taqke more from them this time than you have previously?

User Journal

Journal: Better after lunch 5

Journal by trmj
Lunch was good. Freezing cold, but good. The Tom needs a scarf.

Got some chili and rice from a local Mexican place. The chili wasn't as good as last time, but the rice was spot-on (kinda hard to mess up rice though).

Got back to find a good laugh from RailGunner's reply here. A cookie was awarded.

The phones have calmed down. I am beginning to remember people's names. I still hate phones and the act of answering them, but it's easier now that I'm relaxed a bit.

2 more hours.

On another note, I completely skipped gushing over the concert Jenn and I went to on Monday night. Tally Hall is an amazing band. Their music is fun, they play the cutest song in the world, and they are by no means a studio band.

The second link up there will let you hear some of their music. Make no mistake, the quality of recording there is what you hear live. When the first song started, I thought it was a recording, the entire sound was perfect. Nope. It was live.

The guys in the band are great; they're the kind of people who would fit in around here. They even have clever swag! I got a "Don't not listen to Tally Hall" t-shirt for free, plus they're mailing Jenn and I t-shirts that aren't printed yet because we put up signs for them.

The one thing that's much different in the recording versus live though is the drums. In the recording, the drummer play the drums. Live, the drummer plays the songs. He's good. Like, really really good.

Anyway, they're coming back to Boston in January for another show. If you're not in Boston then check out their events page, they're touring all over the North East right now.

That is all!

"If I do not want others to quote me, I do not speak." -- Phil Wayne

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