trmj writes: The MMPA today announced a 20% cut in production of all retail product, citing December's poor weather in and around the Boston Harbor area for decreased supply availability. Sources close to the agency have stated that nearly 50% of their resources were negatively affected by the weather, and expect a sharp increase in retail prices during the coming months. The US Government has stepped in to help, and released $300,000 to assist during this troubling time.
trmj writes: It looks like Nortel needs to change the way they do things. Reported by Reuters (by way of Yahoo), "Nortel Networks Corp, North America's biggest telephone equipment maker, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, hoping to save a once high-flying business whose decade-long decline has accelerated with the global economic crisis." If it goes down, Canada will lose 32,000 employees. At this point, what could they do to save themselves? Their telephone systems obviously aren't doing a good enough job anymore.
trmj writes: "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.
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
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."
trmj writes: "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."