TideLog Archive for the “Gaming” Category

The release of Project CARS was huge, but there are a few niggling issues with it. As it uses a much improved version of the Madness engine found in Need For Speed SHIFT 1 & 2, the experience is massively improved, but as the game was mainly designed with wheel and pedal touting PC users, the controls on the console versions can seem a little touchy. Here’s some settings to help you get the most out of it:

At your driver dashboard, press your menu button (the one with the three lines), go to Options and Help in the menu that appears, then controls, and tab across to the configuration page. You’ll see lots of possibly scary looking sliders depending on your skill level! Don’t worry, use this guide to help:

Method 1:

Throttle Deadzone: 0%

Throttle Sensitivity: 30%

Brake Deadzone: 10%

Brake Sensitivity: 15%

Controller Filtering Sensitivity: 50% (you should try different values to see what you like best). A higher value means smoother (less twitchy) steering but it can cause input lag.

Steering Deadzone: 5-10% (it depends on how worn your left stick is, 5% seems fine to me, but experiment as your car may pull depending on stick wear)

Steering Sensitivity: 0

Speed Sensitivity: 60-65% (this setting allows for small corrections, it basically makes the wheel less sensitive, especially on the straights)

These settings should make the game much more playable, and the steering less twitchy. You may need to further adjust it for different types of cars, but have a play, you can’t break anything as there’s a “reset to defaults” option on the controller settings page 🙂 If that still doesn’t feel right, see below:

Method 2:

a. Set all sliders to 0. And I mean everything, throttle, brakes the lot.

b. Turn off advanced settings.

c. Then just turn speed sensitivity up to 80.

Method 2 works out the best way for me, method 1 felt like the controller didn’t centre coming off the steering, the car continued to drift slowly in the direction I’d come off when the stick was straight. The brakes were also too bitey and the steering was still too twitchy with some cars, especially the Karts, Method 2 has made me feel in control again!

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I thoroughly enjoyed Telltale’s comic style “The Walking Dead” choice based game. When the “Wolf Among Us” was announced I was eager to try it. The first episode was pretty good, so a few days ago I decided to buy the season pass.

Big mistake. Upon trying to download Ep2, the system was trying to make me pay £3.99 for the episode, when season pass holders shouldn’t have to pay. Looking on Telltale’s forums was a 3,000 page thread on the issue. Telltale were blaming Microsoft, yet Microsoft were adamant it is a bug in the API in the game, in other words, Telltale’s crap programming. Having done Xbox programming, I understand where the bug is.

When you select an episode for download, from the in game content page, the API is supposed to be told by the game whether or not the season pass is installed, it then hands the user over to the marketplace, if the check for a season pass registers as true, the download should show as free. For some reason the API wasn’t being told about the pass, so the episode was showing at full price.

Telltale then said users who had the pass were supposed to recieve a redeemable code to get the episode at no cost. I never recieved mine, yet lots of people on Telltale’s forums did. Telltale also said that they were putting out a game update in 48 hours. Four days later, the Xbox Live status is still red on the issue, the patch is still not out, and I still haven’t recieved my code. In the end I just re-contacted Microsoft an have obtained a refund for the pass.

Telltale, you should be ashamed. I bet you’ve had thousands of pounds from season passes, yet you can’t even fix a simple API bug like this. You’ve just lost my £10, and I won’t be continuing The Walking Dead Season 2. No more money from me, that’ll teach you to pass the blame. You can’t even make simple games like TWD and TWAU run smoothly, they lag like hell during some scenes, shows how much you really care about user experience.

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I’ve been following the free Xbox Live games with interest, and they’ve given me and friends something extra. The promotion runs until December, but you must stay a Gold subscriber to get them. They are free FOREVER (Unlike Playstation PSN+, they stop access to games if you cancel!). They’re not the newest games but there’s something for everyone.

Game 1 – Fable III

This was the kind of game that made me think, “Ah, no, not another medieval type game!”. Actually it turned out to be pretty good. My friend Jenny was the first one to try it as she likes role playing games. Playing as the Princess, Jenny had to try and bring Albion back to its former glory by gaining the support of each town’s followers, to overthrow the evil rulers of each, to become Queen of Albion, making everyone’s lives so much happier. As with modern Governments, you have to make decisions as the Queen, in the form of sacrifices, which make you popular with some people and not others, for example, if a big battle is coming up, do you increase taxes to make money to build your army, or do you ease tax and risk your army?

Overall a good game, one that Jenny keeps going back to!

Game 2 – Defense Grid

This game was fun at first, but quickly got annoying/difficult or boring. It’s a Command and Conquer-esque game where you build turrets to defeat aliens of differing sizes, shapes and strengths. You must defend military bases from waves of attacking aliens by positioning a range of tower-based weaponry, ranging from guns, flamethrowers, lasers, and powerful Tesla weapons, which are like the Tesla coils from Command & Conquer, they give out powerful electric shocks. The military bases are like mazes, some of them have an exit and an entrance, you must stop the aliens from stealing power cores, later levels are hard and have multiple entrances or exits. Weapons can be upgraded by getting XP points for killing aliens. I got bored after getting past story level 4, it was too hard, and annoying! Once you get over the complexity of later levels it gets old.

Game 3 – Assassin’s Creed II

This game was OK at first, it reminds me of Ninja Gaiden, but NG is a lot more fast-paced, and has more of a proper Japanese ninja feel to it, as it should, as that’s where ninjas originate. Assassin’s Creed is more of the same roof jumping, sword wielding stuff, but it’s just too slooooww, and mainly based in Italy in historical times. You have to do such tasks as hunting for feathers and paintings for Leonardo Da Vinci to decipher. It just got too monotonous for me, I gave up after the second chapter, it’s too much of an assassin-plus-Lara-Croft mix. Ninja Gaiden does the Japanese Ninja genre justice, Kana plays it a lot, she’s really quick! Assassin’s Creed is a slow snail-like wannabee.

Game 4 – Crackdown

As I kept reading in the reviews of this when I originally bought it three years ago, Crackdown is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. You play as an Agent, working with the Agency to crack down (hence the game name) on criminal gangs in Pacific City following the collapse of governments. There’s no storyline, you just have to take out gang bosses to get to the kingpin, while a game-show like voiceover man constantly gets on your nerves by saying things like, “There’s a race marker nearby, Agent! Put your foot down!”. Your abilities increase as you do races, collect orbs, and whack/smack and smash your way through the bosses and gangs. It gets old quick, as the gangs are CONSTANTLY (and I mean every second, almost) shooting a you, a lot of the bosses are protected by tons of guys constantly cowardly firing grenades and rockets at you. You die, a lot, in this, add to that if you even think of killing pedestrians, the Peacekeepers (the guys on your side) will start shooting you. The narrator then angrily says, “How many times do I have to tell you, Agent? DO NOT KILL innocent CIVILIANS!!”

A good laugh for a while, but nothing compared to Saints Row or GTA, where you can mindlessly blow stuff up and run it over!

Game 5 – Dead Rising 2 & Dead Rising Case Zero

This is the latest game in the free giveaway, but sadly it’s just another ZOOOOMMMBBIIIEEE game with absolutely NOOO BBBRRAAIINNSSS. For me the zombies in games crap got old and boring years ago. I still go back to Resident Evil 5 & Resident Evil: ORC, but Dead Rising is just another clone. You play as Chuck Greene, and his little daughter Katey, having to escape a zombie outbreak, using and combining different weapons to make them stronger.

Meh. If like me you’ve done all Resident Evil games, and Call of Duty, plus numerous other games with zombies, these games get old pretty quick. If however, you have a massive urge to eat human brains, and like dead stuff coming back to life, this is the game for you.

I’ll update when the next game comes along. These aren’t meant to be in depth reviews, just quick personal opinion.

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I saw this topic being discussed on Sony’s own forums the other day, and I had such a massive laugh! If the people who claimed to be PS3 repairers ACTUALLY knew anything about electronics, the world would be in serious danger! One guy posted about his cooling fan ramping up to full speed when he turned the console on, you should have seen the responses. They ranged from, “Ooh, your PSU is dying”, “You’re about to get the YLOD!” and most laughably, “Your CPU/GPU needs reballing!”

These people obviously don’t know as much as they claim, all those supposed causes are NOWHERE near the real cause. I’ll go into some real electronics knowledge to help people here. The fan ramping up on a PS3 or an Xbox is caused by the temperature diode being faulty.

In computers, the chip temperature is measured by a temperature sensor. Usually it’s a diode, mounted under the chip. On some standard PC motherboards, if you look in the middle of the CPU socket, you’ll see a blue lump on legs, this is the sensor diode.

    Types of diode

There are two types of temperature diode. A Negative Temperature Coefficient (NTC) diode is a diode whose resistance DECREASES as the temperature rises. So, when the chip is at full temperature, the resistance of the diode is at 0. The other type of diode is a Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC), where the resistance STARTS at 0 when the chip is COLD, and goes full when HOT.
The control chip uses this resistance value by converting it from a resistance value to a temperature value, to set the fan speed, and to shut down the system if it’s too hot by sending a signal to the chipset. The converted value is also used by temperature monitoring apps and software.

It is all the same in automotive scenarios, with the engine temperature and radiator cooling fan, the same ramp up symptom occurs due to temperature sensor failure.

    Failure

When the diodes fail, each type of diode fails in a certain way. An NTC diode normally fails stuck at 0 (zero) resistance, meaning the system thinks the chip is really hot (because the cold reading should be full resistance), when in fact it is still cold, so the fan will ramp up as soon as the system is started cold. It may also result in shutdowns, even though the chip isn’t hot because the fan is running full tilt.

A PTC diode starts cold at 0 anyway, so the system won’t panic at first. However, the controller will soon realise something is up when the CPU starts reporting high loads, but the temperature is still reading 0 instead of a higher value. The fan will not increase speed in this case, so the temperature will rise sharply, resulting in an eventual shutdown. This will cause solder damage if the problem isn’t fixed, but it doesn’t happen BECAUSE of solder damage!

See, nothing to do with YLOD, try going to electronics school, kiddies 😉 When you switch a PS3 on and the fan kicks up to full speed then down again, that’s the system running a sensor and fan control test 🙂 If the fan stays on full on cold start instead of slowing down, you have a sensor issue 😉

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UPDATE: All my development PS3’s have now died. I have become tired of keep reballing and soldering them, only for them to die again 6 months later. I have now given up on Sony altogether, and only focus on Xbox personally, so I can no longer assist with re-marry issues

This is something I’ve done about 4 times. If a PS3 stops reading discs, it’s either the laser head unit itself that’s failed (99%), the drive board has overheated and died (1%). If the drive board has failed, you can put another logic board of the same model drive on, but it won’t work straight off. Like the Xbox 360, the PS3’s drive is electronically “married” to the motherboard using software encryption. But, unlike the Xbox, you can’t just take the drive out of a PS3 and connect it to a SATA PC to dump the keys, as the PS3 has a non standard ribbon connection. There are also no solder methods for the PS3 that I’m aware of.

The PS3 Blu-Ray drive won’t work at all if straight swapped, it won’t read PS1/PS2 (on backwards-compatible consoles) or PS3 games, Blu-Ray movies, DVD discs, or even audio CD’s, whereas a straight-swapped Xbox drive will read DVD’s and audio CD’s until the drive key is flashed across via SATA. Fortunately the PS3 drive can be “married” to restore full functionality, but only under certain circumstances such as with supported firmware. Professional repair guys like me have a service mode “jig”, which is a special USB dongle that puts the console into Service mode, and automatically remarries the drive. You can do it with a PSP and a USB stick at home, here I’ll show you how:

NOTE: This does not work on Slim PS3’s. The Slim consoles have the drive control circuitry embedded into the main motherboard like the old PS2’s did, so if it stops reading discs and you’ve tried a new laser all to no avail, you’re out of luck, you’ll need a new whole motherboard.

1. Make sure your PS3 is on OFFICIAL Sony firmware v3.55. If you are on v3.56 DO NOT attempt the steps in my article, your console will BE STUCK in Service mode. The console doesn’t work very well in Service mode, games often lock and the console freezes running certain apps, if you get into Service Mode on v3.56 you CANNOT get out again.

2. Your PSP MUST be jailbroken, and running custom firmware. I have done it using v5.50-GEN-B and can confirm it works on both FAT and Slim PS3’s running v3.55 FW.

3. Download these files (they’re hosted on this blog so won’t expire):

a. PSPJig v1.00 – this file puts the console into factory mode.

b. PS3 OFW 3.55 – This is the official Sony V3.55 Firmware. Not added to blog yet as having trouble uploading it. Google for now 🙂

c. LV2Diag.self-get-out-factory-mode – This is the file we’ll use to get out of Factory Mode.

d. PS3 Remarry v3.55 – These are the files we’ll use to actually remarry the drive.

4. To keep this article short and to the point, I’ll assume you already have the correct firmwares on your PSP and PS3. To start off, take a blank FAT formatted USB pendrive (minimum 512MB), and extract the files from the remarry zip into the root of it. Then extract the v3.55 original firmware PUP file into the root as well. DON’T extract the firmware into a PS3/UPDATE structure like you would if you were updating the system software, it won’t work, the file needs to be in the root.

The structure of your pendrive should look like this:

  • Lv2diag.self
  • manufacturing_updater_for_reset.self
  • fdm_spu_module.self
  • PS3UPDAT.PUP
  • cfg/standalone.cfg (A folder named cfg with a standalone.cfg file inside it)
5. Then install PS3Jig onto your jailbroken PSP by copying the PS3Jig folder out of the zip into your PSP/GAME folder. Start your PSP and check that there’s a PS3Jig icon under the Games menu on the PSP XMB, it will be a PS3 icon as below:
ps3jig_1
Don’t run it, as you can’t exit out of it without pulling your battery, this will reset your PSP’s clock and date!
6. Next, connect your PSP to your PSP’s first left USB port, start PS3Jig on your PSP. DO NOT connect your USB drive with the remarry files yet. You will see a screen similar to this:
ps3jig_2
Note that you’ll only see the above message up to “USB Driver Started”. You won’t see the rest until you start your PS3 up.
7. Plug your PS3 into power, and switch on the rear switch so the power light is red.
8. Now switch on your PS3 using the touch sensitive power strip, then immediately afterwards press EJECT. Your PS3 will sit there for a few seconds, and then shut down. You’ll now see the rest of the above screenshot following the “USB Driver Started” section.
9. Now, switch on your PS3 using the power button. It will now boot to the XMB, and you should see “FACTORY SERVICE MODE” written in a red box at the bottom right of the screen. If you see this, you can switch off again.If not, repeat the process. It isn’t time sensitive, apart from pressing Power and Eject.
.
PS3-Factory-Service-Mode-screenshot
Your PS3 will stay in service mode as long as you want, even after turning the power off fully so don’t worry about it coming out, we need to manually force it out, which we’ll do later. Remove the USB lead of your PSP, and pull its battery to power off, we don’t need it again. You need to pull the battery as holding the power switch won’t switch off, it simply sleeps and comes back to PS3Jig.
10. Now, connect your USB remarry drive that we created in Step 4 to the FURTHEST RIGHT USB port, and power your PS3 back on. You’ll come to a screen similar to this:
Photo-0004
I recommend sticking a BD Movie disc in before you turn back on, as this will restore BD DRL license files, essentially they authorize the drive to the motherboard that it can play Blu Ray movies. There’s a BIG note here that I need you to read, see below:
a. If the ==DRIVE INIT== section at the top is GREEN, but all other sections are RED, the re-marry was SUCCESSFUL, but only the game disc, DVD and CD reads will work. Some people have reported that sticking a Blu Ray movie disc in DOES restore BD movie playback, but it still comes up NG and FAIL on the second section. You just need to play about. Boot back into the XMB still in Service mode, and see if a movie disc will play.
b. If you don’t put a BD disc in whilst doing this, don’t worry, you can do it again any time. The tool is a bit iffy on the success feedback, but you can’t do any damage, I tried different methods when I was learning the non-dongle way of doing remarries and never bricked anything.
c. The ==INSTALL SYSTEM SOFT== section will always be red, this is because the tool is set not to reinstall firmware. Some people use this method on downgraded consoles and end up with YLOD because of incorrect syscon hashes, so it is left off.
11. Finally, once you’re happy that everything works, turn everything off. In Service Mode, games won’t play very well, they often freeze, don’t worry about this, they’ll work in Normal mode, which we’re about to get the console back into. Delete everything off the USB drive, and put the LV2Diag.self file from the Exit-Service-Mode.zip into the root of it.
12. Connect it to the furthest right port of the PS3, power on, and it’ll do the power-on-beep-shutdown process again. Remove the USB drive, and power her on, you should now be back in Normal mode again, with drive functionality restored! Congratulations! Go get yourself a beer, enjoy those feelings of having achieved something brilliant, because it is great even after doing it for the 100th time for me!

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This is a guide on how to boot up your PlayStation 3 into Recovery Mode or PS3 Safe Mode, as it is called by Sony. It was introduced on PS3’s with the introduction of Firmware v2.50 or newer. The Recovery menu gives access to the factory setup options which can help fix many common PS3 system errors such as corrupted firmware data, corrupted system files or even force your PS3 to restore to a PS3 custom firmware. Pete, Kana and myself use this at Kitamura to recover bricked consoles, and after remarrying Blu-Ray Drives.

The menu has the following options: 1.Restart System, 2.Restore Default Settings, 3.Restore File System, 4.Rebuild Database, 5.Restore PS3 System and 6.System Update. Here’s a screenshot:

PS3-recovery-menu

Here’s what you need to do to boot your PS3 into Recovery Mode…

Step 1: Turn off your Playstation 3.

Step 2: Hold the Power button down. The system will turn on and turn off once again.

Step 3: Once the system has been shutdown, press and hold the Power button again until you hear 2 consecutive beeps.

Step 4: When you hear the 2 beeps take your finger off power button. You will be prompted to plug in your controller via USB and then press the PS button. The Recovery Menu will pop up.

Recovery Menu Features:

Restart System.
This option boots your system as normal without changing any settings or files.

Restore Default Settings.
Restores all settings to default on the PS3, Networking, time zone, video, etc. This does the same as the Restored Settings option under XMB > Settings > System Settings > Restore to Defaults on your console. This should not delete your game saves or other saved content, including your user login.

Restore File System.
This will rewrite the filesystem and files that the PS3 uses to boot. This feature will help if your PS3 firmware becomes corrupted or semi bricked. This should not Delete any of your saved data and settings.

Rebuild Database.
This can be a useful feature if you have lost files on your system for no apparent reason. Try using this feature to see if it can restore those files. This will also overwrite corrupted files within the database. This feature should not erase any of your saved data or settings. It works pretty much the same way as CheckDisk on Windows.

Restore PS3 System.
This will restore your system firmware to original including formatting the hard drive and deleting all of the data on the HDD, restoring all system settings to default. This will not take your system back to a previous Firmware release. Use this feature if your PS3 firmware become corrupted or semi bricked. This feature may require the ps3 update data inserted on a USB drive.

System Update.
This will allow the user to update their PS3 console with new firmware that is the same version or higher via a USB Flash drive or other portable media, this will not allow you to update via an internet connection. This can useful if your PS3 firmware become corrupted or semi brick to the point PS3 can not boot. You will need a USB Flash drive or portable media device with the correct firmware and in the correct file structure to complete the update.

This option is also really useful as it forces Custom Firmware to install, because for example say you were on v3.55 Original, and tried to update to v3.55-kmeaw Custom via the XMB, it would fail upon restarting after copying the update from the pendrive to HDD. You should ALWAYS use Recovery Mode to install custom, and to also revert back to Original firmware.

Happy Homebrewing!

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In the form of a Clevo M571TU. This thing is awesome! Greg bought it me as a Christmas present after I rebuilt a Toshiba Satellite A200 for him to replace his old Pentium 3 Inspiron. It’s a Core 2 Quad Q9000 mobile chip running at 2GHz, giving a total clock of 8GHz, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a 4B Intel Turbo Memory card, 500GB Seagate (GRRRR!) hard drive that has power save clicking and lag issues. The PCI-E graphics card is a nVidia GTX280M 1GB, to finish off there’s a Blu-Ray ROM & DVD-RW drive.

All that for the knockdown pure burglary price of £390 excluding shipping, used on eBay! This monster will run rings round High Street laptops in the £0 to £900 bracket for the next 6 years. PC World can keep their £300 dual core i3 and i5 laptops.

I just hope the graphics card holds out. It is a 55nm chip and also a standard MXM 2.1 PCI-E card, so is easier to replace than the old Uniwill I used to have. It runs really cool at idle, here’s a HWMonitor screenshot of all the voltages and temps with the system warmed up to idle temperatures:

Midori (Clevo M571TU) Idle Temps & Voltages

The graphics card only seems to get as hot as 64 degrees so it’s quite cool. The cooling system is massive, the CPU and GPU have their own fans and heatsinks, unlike the Uniwill P55IM that had a shared heatsink and single fan. The M571 GPU block is huge, it covers the whole of the top of the card and has twin heatpipes so I’m hoping it’ll be fine. nVidia eventually owned up, and this G92b chip is one of the late 2009 revised ones, so I’m not too worried.

Heat stress happens with BGA technology anyway, the heating and cooling is just the way science works, doesn’t matter whether it’s AMD/ATi or nVidia, it will eventually fail due to BGA technology’s flaws, the solder balls will break. If the industry actually socketed their GPU’s we wouldn’t see issues. I have never in my 17 years of computers seen a pass-through soldered CPU socket actually fail and come off a board, even though the board warps.

I don’t like the Seagate drive on this. It’s a ST9500420AS and is a piece of crap. It’s a 7200RPM one but it constantly tries to park its heads every few seconds even under load, causing clicking and lag as it unparks and starts waiting for requested sectors to come round. Forums are full of complaints about it, and now I hate Seagate even more. The drive refuses any permanent power management turn off commands using HDDScan, and if you temporarily disable it it comes back on when the drive is powered off and on again!

Other than that this system is solid. 17″ screen that does native 1920×1200, solid built body, solid keyboard (same as the one in my old Clevo M670SU that I loved) and equally solid performance. Clevo know how to build a high end notebook, and I still can’t believe I got a 2 year old gaming laptop for £390 which was £1,400 brand new!

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Destruction Derby 2 was one of the games I got with my Playstation 1 in 1998, it was also one of the games that got me hooked on smash-em-up car games, and racing games in general. Burnin’ Rubber on my Amstrad CPC464+ in 1992 was the first racing game I ever played.

Seeing as DD1 & 2 are classed as vintage, I don’t think Psygnosis will mind it being shared for free, as you can’t even buy it new anymore, so here are both games for PC. I’ve set both games up as standalone with an install of DOSBox, and zipped it up.

Download links

It’s hosted on my company server over at www.kitamuracomputers.net, CLICK HERE to download the RAR archive.

Usage

All you need to do is use WinRAR or a free alternative to extract the RAR. Then run either “Start Destruction Derby 1.bat”, or “Start Destruction Derby 2.bat”, and away you go! All save functionality works fine, you can save replays, save games and game configs just fine!

Enjoy these classic smash-em-ups!

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Greg sent me a link this morning to the DeviantArt page of *youronlydoll, and more specifically a picture of her cosplaying the new Shaundi from Saints Row: The Third! Check her out, she is absolutely smoking HOT!! Where would geeky guys like me be without equally geeky cosplaying and video game playing chicks??

Awwwww, she’s so hot in those silky pants and tiny tight top! Voluptuous busty girls with hourglass curves like hers look gorgeous in tight midriff tops, and what a gorgeous tight sexy midriff she has! I’d snort Loa dust off her tummy anyday, then lick the rest off 🙂

Boy I hope she does more! I left her a nice encouraging comment on DA (I’m called Tidosho there too, my Superman cosplay debuted there), so be sure to stop by her Gallery and say Hi! I just wish someone would cosplay the old Shaundi from SR2, with dreadlocks, she was so alluringly sexy! The new Shaundi is hot, but is like a regenerated version, and not quite the same sexy Loa dust snorting hippy-chick she once was.

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She’s due an upgrade in the graphics department, I’ve had the old Radeon HD4650 installed for 2 and a half years now, it still runs GTA and all my kind of games, but with detail turned down.

So, given that she’s been upgraded with a Core 2 Quad processor, I thought it good that she be equipped with a graphics card to take advantage of the better processor. I’ve found the MSI Radeon HD6870 HAWK 1GB to be perfect!

This awesome card’s specs are:

Cores: 1120
Core Clock: 930 MHz
Shader Clock:
Memory: 1GB
Memory Bit Rate: 256 Bit
Memory Type: GDDR5
Memory Clock: 4200 MHz

Lucy’s current 4650 only runs at 400MHz stock, and I’ve managed to get nearly 600MHz out of it from overclocking, so this new card will be awesome! The HAWK is factory overclocked to 930MHz from the Radeon 68xx reference clock of 900, some people have managed to get 1.17GHz out of it!! The newer HD6900 cards only run at 830MHz, and they’re £549!! They have faster memory clocks, and a lot more memory, but I’d rather have a higher core clock to start as the main core is what does all the work, and the faster it runs, the faster stuff gets done!

This card even has a set of voltage test points for electrical engineer guys like me who like to monitor voltages while the card is running, for overclock stability monitoring, stuff like that. It also has a switch to switch between Silent and Performance mode, which in turn reduces core clock from 900MHz to 930MHz, and fan speeds from Low to High respectively, and even on High it is quiet. The card has two BIOS’es , one for each mode, meaning you can overclock the Performance BIOS and still have the Silent mode stock for when you’re not gaming, which was the seller for me!

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Microsoft has confirmed a pair of small updates to its Xbox 360 gaming platform, one to launch today and the next tomorrow, designed to restore missing functionality and offer a cleaner look to player’s Gamercards.

Today’s update restores the ability to have a console load a game the instant it’s turned on – the so-called ‘boot to disc’ mode. In an earlier update, Microsoft had made the decision to remove this functionality in order to encourage use of its redesigned dashboard interface – which, incidentally, contains numerous adverts for downloadable content and streamable films. The option is there in System settings, and selectable, but still boots the dash if a disc is in the tray on power-up. This update fixes that.

The update, which is mandatory for all Xbox Live users, has gone live today and will download and install the next time an Xbox 360 is connected to Xbox Live.

The second update, due to go live on the company’s servers tomorrow, changes the appearance of the console’s Gamercards – personalised identification cards that contain player information such as reputation received from other players as a result of multiplayer gaming, the most recent games to be played, and a player’s Gamerscore.

While the layout of the Gamercards in general will be overhauled, the biggest change is the removal of the Gamerzone – a self-selected category that is supposed to represent the player’s gaming style, choices included ‘Underground,’ ‘Recreation,’ and ‘Family.’

A preview of the new Gamercards, along with additional details on both updates, is available on Microsoft’s Larry Hryb’s Major Nelson blog

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I just wanted to upgrade to the newest one, as it’s cooler, sexier, sleeker and more power efficient than even my ultra latest ’09 Elite, and has a bigger hard drive. My other excuse is that as I’m a repairer, obviously I need to study it and learn how it’s built, and now is the perfect time to do so. And, I need an excuse to get Kinect so Kassie and Mika will don their Lycra shorts and tops, and work out together on Kinect Fitness, because it’s really sweet watching two lady lovebirds keeping fit and having girly fun at the same time! I want an excuse to join in! We have a gym in our basement, but doing it in a virtual world, like the jogging on Wii, is much more pleasing!

The new S, or Slim as people are wrongly calling it (it isn’t slimmer, only shorter, so Xbox 360 Short is a better name) is not a whole new console. It is just a “reboot” or a refresh. The CPU, GPU, and eDRAM are on a single die, there’s a single large (less than whisper-quiet) fan keeping it cool, the power system has been overhauled, and there’s Wireless A/B/G/N wireless built in. The hard drive now lives in a compartment INSIDE the machine itself, with a panel that pops open at the touch of a button to remove or replace it. Note that you still can’t shove any size hard drive in like the PS3, but with 250GB to play with, even all my 35 games will fit and still have space. You can’t install games to the PS3’s HDD, unless you purchase them again and download them on PSN, which is pointless, takes ages, and is a waste if you already have the disc versions. Kinect also has a dedicated power port on the new S, older console owners will need a separate power adapter which comes with Kinect. Add to that Microsoft have dropped Memory Units, instead allowing you to use a standard USB Flash drive of any size instead, which is a nice, standard move. They’ve also added 2 more USB ports in place of the Memory Unit slots, taking the total number of USB ports to 5, compared to the PS3’s now pathetic 2, when it used to have 4, back when it was sort-of decent! Power and Eject are now touch sensitive, which is nice, as there’s no microswitches to wear out. The console also gives a nice gentle beep when ejecting, thanks to the inclusion of a piezo buzzer on the motherboard.

Other than that, your games will all still work, the dash is the same, and the console’s performance is no quicker or slower. If they had upgraded the speeds or hardware, developers would have had to rewrite everything, and this is not a new console, remember? Microsoft are looking to keep the 360 going for another 5 years, and Sony the PS3 for 10-15 years (how many more features it will lose I don’t know) before designing another.

The 360 S is great. It’s sexy, quiet (when games are run from the HDD, the optical drive is still noisy, but this is technically unavoidable due to the nature of optical drives), and is Microsoft’s way of saying, “Hey, we’ve learnt our lesson from the RRoD, and have improved.” And they have, massively. Using Pete’s S when he got it on launch I knew this was the upgrade for me. Sony can keep their pathetic featureless Blu-Ray player that takes ages loading games, I’m an Xbox man. And since I’ve never had trouble with MS consoles bar one 360 E74, and that my original Xbox 1 is modded, a nice 160GB HDD, is still going strong after 8 years, and has never had any faults, and otherwise still has stock parts, I’m proud of it!

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They’re always busy, but this year was even more so! Having so many family and friends has never been so fun! I love our new christmas present, Kassie sent Mika and me a brand new Samsung UN60C8000 60″ OLED 3D LCD TV, and it is the best TV I have ever seen! It isn’t available in the UK yet, only Japan and Australia, so it had quite a journey getting here, poor thing! What an amazing bit of kit, and it’s less than 4 inches thick!

Here’s our older 37″ BenQ HD TV in our “socialising” room, as Kassie calls it, in Birmingham, running one of Mika’s HD Japanese channels, streamed from upstairs . It looks smaller than it really is:

Our 37″ BenQ is being put in one of the guest bedrooms, the one Jill sleeps in when she visits, when the Sammy 60″ is in a permanent home replacing the BenQ. Our 50″ Sammy plasma has had pride of place in our main living room for as long as we’ve had it, and that is going in our main bedroom replacing another BenQ SK3731 37″ we have in there currently. My camera is knackered as you know, with the lens error, so I had to use a library image of the 60″ for now:

Monster, isn’t she? According to the web, it’s worth around $4,100, which makes that ¥333,558.73 in Yen. Kassie’s so nice to us all as a little family. Here’s an old shot of our bedroom, with Kassie’s guitar in the corner and our 37″ BenQ, and Blu-Ray player. The 50″ is going to feel huge in here:

We had Rikku and Jill (complete with her full Wii kit) over for Xmas dinner, and we all had a great time trying to beat Jill at Wii bowling, after 2 years none of us can beat a 10 year old girl, even her footie player mum!! I must be getting old, what’s wrong with me?? It’s just nice to spend time with those close to you, having drinks and getting merry, rolling around laughing throwing your arms about like a wild thing playing tennis or bowling, there’s not much that can replace that close bond. It’s what makes Christmas!

A friend of mine even bought me a PS3 Slim, which was a really nice gesture, but sadly, after 3 days it has gone back in its box, and the 360 sits in its place. I cannot stand a console that will only manage 720p on 99.99% of games, on a full-HD 60″ 3D TV, the aliasing is awful, even with the upscaler on low and off. It is quiet, but puts out more heat than my ’09 360 Elite, and is god-awful slow at loading most games. The only games I have that even try 1080p are Gran Turismo and FFXIII.

I’m sorry, but after Sony’s console started out having some kind of unique selling points, and has gone so pathetically featureless (you can’t even fully install games to the 320GB HDD as with the 360), and still has crap lasers, firmware and picture quality, I can see why the fanboys are so blissfully and arrogantly ignorant. They still continue to ridicule Microsoft, and the 360 “green tinge”? What? I’ve been repairing Xboxes since the first was released, and never seen this!  I had a PS fanboy accuse me of not knowing the facts when I told someone most games only do 720p, just look on the boxes of 99.9% of PS3 games. It winds me up! Look at your “beloved” PS3 and actually see how it has gone downhill….!

Let me help you out, girls:

1. Where is your backwards compatibility?

2. Where’s your Other OS? We still have it, in the form of JTAG-ging. It’s a hack, but we can still use Linux! Neh, neh, ne ne neh!

3. Where’s your ability to install games to the HDD FULLY, rather than just texture and mesh cache?

4. Where has your card-reader and hoardes of USB ports gone?

5 Where are your MASSIVE 25-50GB games on Blu-Ray? Most PS3 games are re-engineered ports of 360, that take up no more than 7.5GB!!

6. And your 1080p res on ALL games, rather than just a paltry two, and the XMB, after nearly 5 years? Even the games that say 1080p on the box (Like my GTA4 test a few posts ago on Greg’s Sony Bravia 32″ LCD) only go to 720p!!

7. The PS3 is supposed to be all HD and 3D, supporting HDMI, yet guess what cable STILL comes with it that has since the Playstation 1? A standard SD composite AV cable!!!!!

8. Why are your lasers still failing in droves, just like the PS1 and PS2, huh? And the Slim still suffering “no video”, “not reading discs” and “no power” issues? There’s loads creeping up on eBay, isn’t there?

Yeah, PS3 fanboys, you missed those points, didn’t you? I’m a console repairer, a re-ball vacuum rework technician to boot, 13 years time served, and I know my consoles intimately. Your console is the same as what comes out of the rear of a bovine. Utter hot, curly, sloppy, steaming shite!! And you defend it to the death, you sad children. PS3 stands for Pile of Shit 3, and follows the Pile Of Shit 2, and the Pile Of Shit 1. PS1, PS2 and PS3. Piles of featureless, fault ridden, somehow-well-selling piles of steaming crap. I had all 3 personally, and got sick of repairing them when Sony told me there was no design faults and that the fault wasn’t covered. I’ll give my new PS3 Slim six months before asking my friend if she kept the reciept because there’s a fault! In fact, I better ask her now…..

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I’ve been using my PS3 for the last few days, on two different full HD TV’s, one, Greg’s TV, a 32″ LCD Full HD Sony Bravia, and Kassie’s Samsung 50″ Full HD TV, and I’m far from impressed. GTA4 on PS3 is supposed to (according to the box) be able to do either 720p, or 1080i/p. It never did 1080, except at the XMB, on both TV’s, whereas the 360 does full 1080p straight away!

The aliasing on the PS3 was terrible, on all the games I tried (FIFA 09/10, Stuntman, GTA4) and they all only hit 720. I’ve now decided to sell the PS3, and stick with my 360. I repaired a Slim yesterday, and the fan in that is the nastiest thing I’ve seen since a laptop:

The fan is all plastic, tacky, and typical of Sony downgrading. The PS3 has gone downhill ever since its release, and here’s my full list of faults:

1. Features have been removed (cardreader, PS1/PS2 compatibility, Other OS) that made it better than the Xbox in terms of utilities.

2. The games don’t run at full 1080 when they are supposedly supposed to, and they look aliased and god awful.

3. The PS3 FAT had just as many faults, if not more than the original 360 (discs not reading, video not working, YLOD, RLOD , total failure of the PSU because it got too hot). The 360 has only ever suffered mainly RRoD faults, and the occasional DVD read error. Playstations have had laser failures since the brick Playstation 1, they still haven’t learnt how to manufacture a laser correctly. I’ve never once had to fix a 360 with failed PSU or no video without reason (E74)

4. The Slim PS3 is junk, the components are shrunk, the fan is noisy and cheap, and the games STILL DO NOT run at full 1080. The only thing that makes the PS3 somewhat if at all better than the 360 is that it has a BluRay drive, which is a con anyway, as the same games on 360 fit on DVD, nd they’re better quality!!

5. Firmware “updates” break features. Take for example a FW upgrade that caused people’s BD drives to not read discs? And the recent 3.5 update where 3D discs are choppy and out of sync? Yeah, nice, Sony. Not. They’re acting like they created 3D, which they did not.

I’m normally unbiased in my repair work, but here is my conclusion: Sony is JUNK, JUNK, JUUUUUUNNNNNKKKKK!!!! I’m so glad I gave up on them after my 3rd PS3 laser replacement. They’re still as damn bad, if not worse. An insult to the Japanese, and I love the Japs, as my lil lady is a Jap, and proud of it, Sony just mar their electronics industry. At least Microsoft offered a 5 year warranty, and the new 360 Slim is superior to the older consoles, and all the shite Sony have ever put out. My 8 year old Xbox 1 is still strong, modded, but with all original parts except HDD, so go figure….

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I found out yesterday about PSJailbreak, and another method using your iPhone that can jailbreak the PS3 allowing you to use homebrew software, and allowing backups of games to run from an external HDD.

Too bad I’d already updated from 3.42 to 3.50, and they don’t work with 3.50. Darn! Morale of the story: Don’t update firmware unless you really have to. Well, I couldn’t access Playstation Network or Store without doing it, but I’m still pissed…..

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