Zac's Pad

Tech, Toys, and Tidbits

CyrilLD over at XDA found the serial console header on the GW620! It’s the 5 contacts in a row underneath the SIM card. The center one is the TX pin. This is a 3.3v serial port, so you’ll need a level converter of some sort to connect it directly to a PC’s serial port, but most USB-Serial adapters already operate at 3.3v so they should work fine.

I’m now trying to build a kernel (based on the default LG sources) that will output to that port during boot. If I can get boot messages on that serial port, then I should be able to duplicate the settings on the 2.6.29 kernel and hopefully get enough info to figure out where it’s crashing. Finger’s crossed!

*cry*

Ok. So, I finished bringing the LG mods in to the 2.6.29 kernel and the beasty still won’t boot. it just sits there taunting me with a “Booting linux” prompt.

No error message, no console activity, no nothing. Just nothing.

Nothing.

Arg.

Worse, another hacker on XDA tried the same thing with the CodeAura tree (the one it looks like the orig LG code is based on) and he’s getting the same result.

Baffling. I gotta step away from this for a day or two or I may go nutty.

Ok – nuttier. πŸ˜‰

Gonna play some Torchlight.

To quote King Crimson: “Frustration will be my epitaph.”

<vent>

Sooo I’m trying to port the changes that LG made to the kernel (that let it run on the GW620 hardware) and it is being a serious pain in the arse.

We need kernel 2.6.29 in order to fully run Android 2.0. So, a porting I will go! Gah! I started by trying to use diff to merge the changes automatically in to the newer kernel. I tried a few different approaches, and they all failed badly. Either there were 100s of merge errors, or the code was uncompilable spaghetti at the end of the merge, or a combination of the two.

I’m now trying to bring just the required hardware drivers in to a stock 2.6.29 source tree, and even that is giving me an insane amount of grief. Arg!

Arg Arg Arg Arg.

</vent>

Edit: I have the video driver folded in to the new kernel now. Kernel still won’t boot though. There’s a few more Eve specific drivers I need to incorporate.

LG Just gave us access to the GW620’s open source code!

We should now be able to compile a more recent kernel for it, and hopefully get Android 2.0 working!  Wooohooo!

I’ve uploaded the source code here.  It’s open source, so I don’t think LG will mind.

Update:

Tolemac has made an Apps2SD image based on 1.0g that is way better than mine.  I highly recommend that anyone looking for an update check out his image at

Get it here

Cheers!

Features:

  • Pre-rooted with su/superuser.apk
  • sh replaced with bash (yay for tab-completion!)
  • full busybox setup. (cp/mv/less/grep and more!)
  • Terminfo set up for curses based apps
  • Nano pre-installed – nice to have a small/fast text editor on the command line.
  • Swapped out the Rogers bootup logo with something a little nicer stolen from (MyHangOutOnline) – minus the “It’s not Windows” line.
  • Auto mounts the 2nd partition of the SD card to /data/app if available (for apps2sd action!)

Instructions for installing firmware:

  1. Download the firmware (boot.img and system.img) and unzip it somewhere.
  2. Make a full nandroid backup of your phone! Really. Do it. Better safe than sorry. If you don’t make a backup and brick your phone then good luck recovering it with the LG software.
  3. Remove the battery from your phone
  4. Ensure it is NOT plugged in to USB
  5. Open the Keyboard
  6. Plug the phone in to USB, wait 2-3 seconds till the screen brightens slightly, and then hold down the space bar
  7. If you get the fastboot screen, proceed. Otherwise unplug and try the previous step again.
  8. At a command prompt type:

    cd <place where you unzipped the file in step 1>
    fastboot flash boot boot.img
    fastboot flash system system.img

  9. Unplug from USB
  10. Plug the battery back in, and hit the power button to boot up.

Now, you have an apps2sd rom installed, but your SD card is probably not set up for it. You’ll still get all the features of the firmware, but your apps will still be in the phone’s memory instead of the sd card.

There are a few ways to get your SD card set up properly. The one I used on OSX went something like this:

  1. Power off the phone, and remove the SD card
  2. Plug it in to a micro-sd USB reader.
  3. copy everything off the card in to a directory on your desktop
  4. use Disk Utility (in /Applications/Utilities) to delete the existing partition on the SD card and then create 2 new partitions. I have an 8gb sd, so I created the first partition as 6gb for data and the 2nd as 2gb for apps. Have Disk Utility format the first partition as FAT and the 2nd as Ext2.
  5. Copy everything from step 3 back on to the first partition
  6. Reinsert the SD card in to the phone and boot it up. The firmware should automatically detect the 2nd sd card partition and move all your apps over to it.
  7. You can verify it worked by doing an “adb shell mount” at a command line. The 2nd-to-last line of the output should read:

    /dev/block/mmcblk0p2 /data/app ext2 rw,noatime,nodiratime,errors=continue 0 0

If you are using Linux or windows you’ll have to follow a different process, but the results will be the same – an SD card with 2 partitions. The first partition is for data and must be formatted as FAT. The 2nd partition is for apps and must be formatted as ext2.

Here are some pages detailing SD card preparation:
This one looks like it does it all from the phone! Cool if it works!
Here’s another that works from the phone. This may be the best way to go – you boot the phone up with the nandroid recovery image and do all the partitioning from there. Sweet!

Google has many more how-tos to get the sd card set up.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Important note:  There’ve been a few reports of people being unable to boot their restored backups.  This is due to the version of unyaffs installed on the system.  It is very important that you use the patched version detailed here.

If you use the ‘stock’ version of unyaffs then permissions are not correctly extracted, and the backup of your system partition will be corrupted.  You may still be able to get around this by restoring the system.img from whatever firmware you’re using and then restoring the userdata.img from your backup.  YMMV.

Nandroid for the LG Eve GW620. Modified by Zacpod (www.zacpod.com) from Nandroid 2.0 I’ve modified Nandroid and the CM Recovery image to (Mostly) work on the Eve. So, we can now take backups of our devices. Yay! Unfortunately this will not work from Windows – you need to use MacOS or Linux. Windows just doesn’t have the tools required to make it work. It might work in Cygwin under windows, but I’ve not tested it. Here’s the tool! Disclaimer: This software is provided as is. I take absolutely no resposibility for anything that may break while it is in use. All I can say is that it works well for me. Your mileage may vary. Instuctions for use: Backup:

  1. Boot the device in to Fastboot mode. (e.g. power the device on and hit space within about 2-3 seconds)
  2. From a Linux root command prompt (#, not $) cd to the directory you unpacked this archive in to
  3. Type “fastboot boot everecovery01a.img” You may need to specify the full path to the android sdk. E.g. “/usr/android-sdk-linux/tools/fastboot boot everecovery01a.img”
  4. Wait while the recovery image boots on the device
  5. Type “./nandroideve01a.sh <backupname>” where <backupname> is the folder you want the img files to go to.
  6. Wait patiently, especially for the system and data partitions
  7. Study the output. Ensure there are no errors! I can’t stress this enough. If there are errors listed you probably do NOT have a valid backup.
  8. To verify your backup you can use the unyaffs command on the system.img and userdata.img and examine the results to ensure they match what’s on the device.

Restore prep:

  1. Boot the device in to Fastboot mode. (e.g. power the device on and hit space within about 2-3 seconds)
  2. From a Linux root command prompt (#, not $) cd to the directory you unpacked this archive in to
  3. Type “fastboot boot everecovery01a.img” You may need to specify the full path to the android sdk. E.g. “/usr/android-sdk-linux/tools/fastboot boot everecovery01a.img”
  4. Wait while the recovery image boots up
  5. Type “adb shell” to get to the phone’s command prompt. Again, you may need to specify the full path to the adb command if you haven’t put the sdk in to your $PATH
  6. From the devices command prompt: (Note: These commands are destructive. Make SURE you have a complete and valid backup of your device before executing!) We zero out the system and userdata partitions because simply restoring an image, even if you “fastboot erase” first, results in a corrupted filesystem
  7. Type “cat /dev/zero > /dev/mtd3” to erase the Cache partition (you’ll get an error about device full at this point. That’s ok, it just means the command finished.)
  8. Type “cat /dev/zero > /dev/mtd4” to erase the userdata partition (same error here as in the previous step. Ignore it.
  9. Type “cat /dev/zero > /dev/mtd6” to erase the cache partition (same error here as in the previous step. Ignore it.
  10. Type “exit” to get back to your Linux shell prompt
  11. Now you can do the restore!

Restore:

  1. Boot the device in to Fastboot mode. (e.g. power the device on and hit space within about 2-3 seconds)
  2. From a Linux root command prompt (#, not $) cd to the directory you specified as your <backupname> in backup step 5
  3. Type “fastboot flash boot boot.img” (specify sdk path as before if req’d)
  4. Type “fastboot flash system system.img”
  5. Type “fastboot flash userdata userdata.img”
  6. Done! Reboot, and you should have your system back!

Note: For steps 3, 4, and 5 of the recovery process. If you get a FAILED message when writing the img file, simply reboot in to fastboot mode and try again. Sometime fastboot can only write a few times before it needs a reset. Also, for any of these processes I find it easiest to take the battery out and leave it out till I’m done. Fastboot and the Recovery image will both happily work via USB power, and it makes the resets as simple as unplugging the USB cable.

A few of us over at XDA have been trying to root the Eve for a few weeks now, and we’ve finally done it! W00t!

This guide assumes you already have ADB access to your device. If you don’t you need to google for the android SDK and get yourself connected.

Let me know how this works for you all, or if anything is unclear. πŸ™‚

  1. Download this version of Superuser Whitelist and unpack it somewhere safe
  2. On the GW620 dial “3845#*620#” to get in to the secret menu
  3. Tap “Module Test” then tap “Stability Test” then tap “Enable Root Permission”
  4. Open a shell/command prompt/terminal. (cmd, or bash, or zsh, or whatever you use)
  5. Type “adb shell” (You may need to use “/path/to/android/sdk/tools/adb shell”)
  6. You should get a #. If you get a $ then something didn’t work. Shutdown the phone and PC and start again from 2)
  7. If you get a # then all is well. Type “exit” to return to your PCs command prompt.
  8. Type “adb remount” to remount the GW620’s file system as read-write so we can make changes.
  9. Type “cd /path/to/the/unzipped/superuser.zip”
  10. Type “adb shell cat /system/xbin/su > /system/xbin/su.original”
  11. Type “adb push bin/su /system/xbin/su”
  12. Type “adb push bin/su /system/bin/su” (You need this one too, as some apps look for it there. E.g. Quickboot)
  13. Type “adb shell chmod 4755 /system/xbin/su”
  14. Type “adb shell chmod 4755 /system/bin/su”
  15. Type “adb install bin/Superuser.apk”

Done. That’s it. You should now be able to run apps that require root. If an app needs root access a window will pop up on the phone asking for permission to use root.

After playing with this phone for almost a week now, I can say that I am very impressed. Not since the first time I played with a Palm Pro have I been so enamoured of a handheld computer. This little beauty is amazing! I know it’s not as slick as the Droid, but it fills a sweet spot in the market that I am smack dab in the middle of. It’s a tiny, powerful, android based smartphone with a full slide out querty keyboard – and it’s actually smaller than any other handheld I’ve ever owned. Plus, with a 3 year contract it only cost me $50 Canadian! Bonus!

To be fair, there are a few things I don’t like about it:

  1. The “LG IME” predictive text helper / software keyboard is horrible. Really, really, horrible. Turn it off as soon as you can. For the longest time I thought the space bar was broken because of the way the IME uses the first space to select the word, and the 2nd to actually insert a space. Sad, and on a full keyboard it’s completely pointless. But, it’s easy to turn off, and once it’s off the keyboard behaves the way a keyboard should. πŸ™‚
  2. It’s Android 1.5 instead of 1.6 or 2.0. It’s a small gripe, really, and I assume it’ll be fixed in the near future with an over-the-air software upgrade. Still, it would have been nice if this new device came installed with the current version of Android. Version 1.5 works fine, however, and most of the missing features are fairly minor.
  3. The battery. The battery lasts me all day from 8am to 8pm under fairly heavy use with wifi on. Barely. I’m sure I could save a tonne of power and add a few more hours on to that by turning wifi off, but why use my data-plan when I have wifi at home + work? Still, I’ve yet to actually run out of power, and since it comes with a handy USB cable, I can charge it from my laptop in a pinch.
  4. The home and back buttons are too sensitive. Maybe it’s just my big paws, but I often end up exiting the app I’m using by mistake. It’s happening less now than when I first got the device, but it’s still an issue.

That’s it. Everything else is awesome:

  1. The OS. Android is amazing! The number of apps, utilities, and games is astounding. Plus, as a bonus most of them are free! I’ll cover the highlights a little farther down.
  2. My phone has a command prompt, and I didn’t void my warranty to get it. Hear that apple?
  3. 5mp auto-focus camera with LED flash that can also take fairly high res video. It works well, and takes a waaay better pic than my Blackberry does. It’s not a dedicated digital camera, but it’s as close as I would expect to come in a PDA/Smartphone
  4. Size – this device is as small as I would want it to be. Small enough that it fits in the front pocket of my jeans without problem, but big enough that it doesn’t feel too cramped
  5. The keyboard is backlit! Awesome for working in the dark!
  6. Has a build in GPS/Compass/Accelerometer. This device knows where it is, and which way it’s pointed, which opens the door for some truly astounding apps – e.g. Google Sky.
  7. The touch screen. A LOT of people are complaining that it’s not a capacitive multi-touch. Phoey to them, I say. I think LG made the right call making this a resistive touchscreen. It means you can use a stylus, and sometimes that’s important. This device is small, and my fingers are big. When I’m RDP’d in to a server the start menu button is about the smallest thing I can reliably hit without a stylus of some sort.
  8. Wifi! Free data when I’m at home or at work. Cuts down on the data package requirements by a massive amount!
  9. Media – It plays DivX and MP4 movies. Sweet! I can watch some Connections or Red Dwarf while waiting for the bus.

Mostly what I’m using this device for is as a mobile internet device. I already have a Blackberry tethered to my hip for work, but I needed something that could get me online while I’m on the phone on the BB. E.g. Someone calls me. A server is having issues. I can be on a bus, or at a cafe, or anywhere – whip out the LG, open an RDP session to the server, and fix the problem. For me, the RDP client available for it is the killer app. But, as a bonus I get all kinds of other fun apps. Here’s a brief rundown of my favourite Android apps so far – in no particular order:

  1. wpToGo – I could be writing this blog entry on the Eve. The client is perfect. Small, tight, and does everything required for a quick post or edit.
  2. Touchdown – ActiveSync exchange synching for Android. It’s amazing! Miles beyond what the built in stuff does. Absolutely required if you have an exchange server you’d like to talk to.
  3. Google Maps – Duh. Never get lost again!
  4. Google Sky Map – Truly amazing. Lie on the beach, gaze up at the night sky, wonder what that star is? Hold your Eve up beside the star and there it is on the screen complete with constellations. The device can tell which way it’s pointed and where you are, so it’s totally effortless to find the star you’re looking at. Beautiful!
  5. Remote RDP – Remote Desktop in the palm of your hand. You can connect to your machine at home, or servers at work. Fantastic for more things than I can mention here. If you manage any servers at all this app is a must have.
  6. Samba Explorer – Browse and copy files off network shares on to your SD card.
  7. ShopSavvy – Scans barcodes with the camera and finds deals nearby. A killer app for any shopaholic.

Oh, and did I mention the games? There are a few really well done Tower Defence games, logic puzzles, bejewelled clones, and the like. However the killer for me are the emulators. NES, SNES, Sega, Commodore 64. Even ScummVM has been ported to run all those fantastic old LucasArts games! I have The Curse of Monkey Island in the palm of my hand!

Basically, I can not imagine a better deal. $50 for this phone is a total and complete steal. if you’re in Canada and in the market for a great smartphone on a budget the LG GW620 deserves serious consideration.

The short version: This laptop rocks. End of story. πŸ˜‰

The longer version: This is my first ever Mac, and I have to say I’m impressed. As a long-time PC geek, I’m finding it very easy to adapt to the Mac way of doing things. There are still a few things Ineed windows or Linux for, most notably Outlook and Xen Center, but for the most part I’ve been able to find OSX apps that suit all my needs. For the rest, VMWare Fusion fills the gap by letting me run my needed apps on my OSX desktop.

I bought the higher end 13.3″ MacBook at 2.4 ghz with the backlit keyboard, and it is totally worth the extra cash. The keyboard was a huge point of contention for me. Though the Mac keyboard is growing on me, I still miss the keyboard from my old Dell. The feel of the Apple KB is nice, but it’s keys are spaced far apart and it’s missing a few important keys as a result. No page up, no page down, no insert and no delete – it’s killing me right now, but I expect I’ll get used to it. The backlight is just plain sexy. It makes the machine a treat to use in bed.

Oh, and speaking of bed – this beauty has no vents on the bottom. You can toss it on a bed/couch/carpet/whatever and not have to worry about it roasting due to lack of airflow. It’s been a mystery to me for years why laptops insist on having vents on the bottom where they get blocked if you use the thing on the top of your lap. In all honesty, this was one of three main selling feature of this laptop for me. The other two being the trackpad and the ability to run OSX+Win7+Linux.

Ah, the trackpad. It is an absolute joy to use. Seriously. Working on any other laptop now feels cramped and counter-intuitive in comparison. The trackpad is HUGE, and the gestures are a joy to work with. The main thing preventing me from getting a Mac earlier was the continuing (retarded) decision to stick with a single mouse button. On the new-style pad removing the button and creating the two-finger right click-anywhere has totally resolved that issue for me, and then some!

The screen is lovely, with a bright led backlight, and a fairly decent viewing angle. The res is a little low (especially after playing with my boss’s thinkpad with it’s 1280×1050 res.) but I have no real complaints. It’s a screen, and it does it’s job admirably.

I should also mention that heat doesn’t seem to be an issue, even with the 2.4ghz proc. I’ve never seen it above 60 C, and usually it’s hovering around 49 with an almost completely silent fan. Compared to my Dell running around 79 this is a real treat!

For the most part, OSX is wonderful to work with. I’m especially loving the “Spaces” take on virtual desktops. I’ve used Virtual Desktops on almost every OS I’ve ever used, but Spaces totally nailed the experience. It’s flawless. I’m also loving having access to a bash prompt in a mature and friendly OS. (No offense to Linux… Linux rocks, and I use it on a regular basis, but it’s not something I’d install on my mom’s PC – yet. Soon, but not yet.)

I have a few minor complaints with OSX – mainly around the fact that OSX seems to think that “Connection failed” is a valid error message, where windows would say “Conection failed – unable to negotiate compatible encryption protocol.” I know the extra info might be confusing to some people, but when shit goes wrong I like to know why so I can fix it. But, there are 3rd party ways around OSXs insisting on treating me like I’m computer illiterate. GeekTool, for one, is saving my sanity. With it I’m able to have the system.log file always tailed on my desktop, so when I get a “Error” message, I just have to look at my desktop to know what the actual error message is.

There are a few must have apps for me already:

GeekTool. As mentioned above. It’s a keeper!

rEFIt. As a PC user, I absolutely must have rEFIt installed. This thing of beauty lets me triple boot between OSX, Linux, and WIndows with ease.

VMWare Fusion. Also mandatory, allowing me to boot those same OS’s virtually from their installed partitions – Impressive!

Ecto. Almost as good as Microsoft’s Live Writer. Almost. It does all that it should, and then some, and I feel no need to use Live Writer via VMWare instead of Ecto. It’s a lovely little app well deserving of it’s purchase price.

Remote Desktop Connection – I need this for work. Hard to admin a network if you can’t rdp to any servers.

Citrix Client – Same as above.

ZTerm or PuTTY – Both are just lovely for talking to switches etc on the console port.

MacSaber – Turn your MacBook in to a light saber. Do you need any other reason to download it?

That’s about it… There are lots of other must-have-apps for the mac, but those are the ones I use the most. You can find some other, more comprehensive lists here, here, here, and here.

If you found this article worthwhile then feel free to click one of my ads on the right to throw a googlequarter in my hat. πŸ™‚

I got married on Feb 27th to my lovely wife Pixy. A few weeks before the wedding we took a wedding band workshop at Devil’s Workshop to make each other’s bands. It was absolutely amazing! The instructor was friendly, patient, and very encouraging. She made sure we were all comfortable with what we were doing, and was an excellent teacher.

The workshop was quite comfortable and cozy, with enough space and tools for 2 couples to work on their creations.

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We started with 2 little bars of gold

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And after some bending

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and some soldering

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and some hammering, we ended up with a pair of rough rings.

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After that, it was all down to grinding, sanding, and polishing

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before we had the rings finished.

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If any of you are planning to get married, I’d highly recommend taking this workshop. The results are beautiful, and you end up with rings that are far more meaningful than something store-bought.

In fact, we had such a good time, that we’re thinking of going back for a silversmithing class… I, for one, would love some rock-climbing themed tie clip and cufflinks. πŸ™‚

I just got myself a new Aluminium Macbook. It’s my first ever Mac, after being a PC user for decades. I’ll write a review of it shortly, but so far I’m loving it!

Pixy and I have been playing a lot of Test Drive Unlimited recently, so we created this spreadsheet to help us make car buying decisions.  Enjoy!

The short version:  If you can afford it, go get this wheel right now!

The long version: This wheel is simply amazing.  The whole driving game experience is completely enhanced by it, to the point where my fiance has become totally hooked on Test Drive Unlimited.  (I’m writing this to the sounds of her brand new Ferrari screaming down the highway)

OVERVIEW:

The box contains the wheel, the pedals, the shifter, and the power supply.  The quality is simply amazing, with a very solid feel.  I should also mention the smell.  The wheel and shifter smell like new leather seats.  It’s a little distracting initially; I keep finding myself leaning forward to smell the wheel at the end of each race…

Getting everything hooked up was a snap, and the software installed easily.  I did have a small problem with it detecting the wheel initially, but it was solved simply by unplugging and re-plugging the wheel at the “Detected Game Controllers” screen, at which point the wheel appeared and allowed me to test/configure it.

THE FEEL OF THE WHEEL:

The first thing you’ll notice about the wheel is the leather, followed closely by the brushed steel.  The main unit is heavy, and solidly built.  It clamps securely to your desk, and if it were just a tad bigger it would feel like a real steering wheel.  The dual force feedback motors provide excellent responsiveness, and provide a very strong effect.  This wheel really lets you know when you fall off the road!

The leather feels fantastic on your hands, even after a few solid hours of driving.  The paddle shifters are very solid, are perfectly sensitive, and don’t flex at all. 

The wheel also has 2 thumb buttons on it.  I would have preferred a few more thumb buttons, but that’s a tiny complaint – and also the only one I can think of for the entire rig.

THE METAL OF THE PEDAL:

The pedals are superb.  Logitech really nailed the feel for your feet.  The gas has light resistance, so it’s easy to hold the pedal at any position.  The brakes are heavy, so you really feel like you’re stomping on the brakes.  The clutch is somewhere in the middle, and felt a lot like my old VWs clutch.

The pedal unit has a nifty carpet grabbing bar on the bottom that held the unit very securely to my floor.  There are also LRFs (Little Rubber Feet) attached that, I expect, would do the same on hardwood or tile.

THE THROB OF THE KNOB:

The shifter knob also has a lovely leather treatment.  The six speed H pattern makes it very easy to find the gear you’re looking for, and allows for fun tricks like skipping gears while shifting – something that no sequential setup can really match.  There is a sequential mode to the shifter, but if you’re going sequential you may as well use the paddles. 

There are also 8 other buttons on the shifter unit, plus an 8-way hat switch.  Loads of buttons for controlling whatever game you play – though again, I would have preferred if some of those buttons had been on the wheel itself.  Just a personal preference though.

THE GAMES:

I tested the wheel with three games.  In order of realism, they are:  Need For Speed Undercover, Test Drive Unlimited, and rFactor. 

I found Need For Speed a little too arcade focused for me.  It’s physics model (and plot) are too squarely aimed at console kiddies.  It’s not that the game is boring, or that it’s not fun.  It’s just weak compared to the other games I tested the wheel on.  The feedback effects were decent, but the realism of the wheel was hampered by the weak physics.  As a side note, I’m VERY glad EA is letting go of the NFS franchise.  Hopefully the new owners will drop all the cosmetic customization, leave the free roam, and otherwise return to the roots of the game.

rFactor, on the other hand, I found to be almost too realistic, though it did a great job of highlighting the strengths of the G25.  The force feedback effects were exquisite!  Hook up to a projector and you’d almost believe you were in the car!  I will admin, however, that I spent more time spinning out than I did driving. 

Test Drive Unlimited was just right.  A solid physics model about half way between arcade and simulation, and a HUGE variety of cars.  The wheel totally shines in this game.  You can immediately feel how a car handles.  You can feel if the steering is loose or tight.  You can feel how much traction your tires have, and (critically!) when they’re about to let go of the pavement.  I enjoyed the game so much, that I’m planning on writing a review of it in the near future.

CONCLUSION:

If you have the means, get this wheel.  You will NOT regret it. 

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

A few months ago I was tasked with cleaning and organizing one of our client’s cable racks.  After a quick site visit, I understood why…  This pic will explain more than words possibly could:
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What a nightmare! 

First things first.  I made a logical diagram of the various vlan connections, and documented any special ports that were in use.   Then the fun began.  All cables were disconnected.

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Then we reorganized the racks so that all the switches were on one side, and all the patch panels on the other.

Then we did a logical reorganization of the switches, so that all the servers and routers ports were on the same non-poe switches, and all the workstations would connecting to the poe ones.

After that, it was just a matter of cabling things up – neatly!

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Et Voila!  From chaos to order.  πŸ™‚

There are a few reasons you might want a serial port on your router. Maybe you’re a firmware hacker, or maybe you’re running a bleeding edge version of OpenWRT, or maybe you just want to watch the beastie boot up. Regardless of your reasons, here’s how you do it.

  1. First, you’ll need a 3.3v serial to USB converter. This is VERY important. If you just solder on a serial port to the router’s motherboard you will fry it as soon as you plug it in to your PC. PC serial ports output 5v, and the router can only handle 3.3v. Since you already need a voltage converter, you may as well get one that also converts to USB.
    I recommend the Pololu device: http://www.robotshop.ca/pololu-usb-to-serial-adapter.html
    The Pololu is currently out of stock, but this one (or any other USB -> 3.3v serial) should work just as well: http://www.robotshop.ca/sfe-ft232rl-usb-to-serial.html
  2. Crack open your router
    IMGP0087 
  3. Unplug the antenna leads, and pull the main router board out of the casing.
    IMGP0089 
  4. Solder some leads (I used some wires from an old ethernet cable I had laying around) from the Pololu to the motherboard serial points. I found it easiest to put the wires thru from the top, and solder on the back.
    IMGP0090
    IMGP0092 
  5. Attach a USB cable from the Pololu to your PCs USB port
  6. Plug the Antenna back in, replace the router’s motherboard in to the housing, cut a hole for the cable, and close it up.
  7. Install the serial driver if it’s not automagically detected by your OS
  8. Load up a terminal program, point it at your new serial port using 19200/8/n/1 settings
  9. Hit enter, and enjoy your new console!
  10. Clicky on one of the ads that interest you over on the right to throw me a googlequarter. πŸ™‚

I will be a reviewing the Logitech G25 force feedback wheel as soon as I get my grubby mitts on one!  I should be getting one this weekend!  Stay tuned!

Welcome to the start of my new site! Obviously, there’s not much here yet, but I’ll be adding whatever comes to mind in the future.

Many moons ago there was a racing game.  Not just any racing game, but a game featuring cars from the golden age of automobiles.  The newest car in the game was a 1973 Firebird, and the oldest was a 1932 Ford.

The game had a number of tracks, ranging from cluttered city streets, to small town main streets, to gravel and dirt country roads.  Basically, there was something for everyone. 

It featured a fairly realistic physics model, and was an amazing amount of fun to play.  The best part of the game, however, was tuning your rides.  There were thousands of aftermarket parts, licensed and realistically modeled, that you could install on your car.  Everything from Holly carbs, to glasspack mufflers, to cams, headers, and crankshafts.  These all combined with a physics model of the engine to give you an unprecedented amount of control over every aspect of your ride.

Plus, all the parts were part of a massive dynamic economy that tied everything together with part and car auctions.  The price of that high-end turbocharger you want is based on supply and demand, not some arbitrary dollar figure.

I actually had 3 separate 1965 Mustangs.  Each of them tuned, balanced, and tested (for hours!) to be perfectly controlled on a specific track type.  My offroad ‘stang could barely stay on an asphalt road, but was a joy to drive on the “Hazard Hollow” dirt track.  Conversely, the ‘stang I’d tuned for the road wouldn’t have made it around the first corner of the dirt track.  

Because of the vast number of parts available, I learned more about how engines worked than I ever thought I’d need to know.  It doesn’t take very many mid-race blown engines before you figure out that adding a turbo and nitrous to a 12.0 compression ratio rig is a BAD plan.

Added on to all that was an amazing group of people, racing clubs, and tuners, all happy to give advice, or go for a race at the drop of a hat.

There were problems with the game, such as lag, and a limit of 4 people per race, but those things were minor compared with the hours of joy the game brought me.

Sadly, in it’s infinite greed, Electronic Arts decided that the game wasn’t making enough profit, and cancelled it.  It was making profit, but not as much as the sims, so they shut it down.  Once the servers were gone, so was the game, and the community.   I haven’t paid for an EA game since.  They are the evil empire of gaming.

I recently found a brave group of folks trying to remake the game.  Check it out at
http://www.motorworldonline.net/