Get Your Fix

Well, apparantly I’m not updating my blog according to some people *ahem* Nick *ahem*. I guess it’s not ok for me to update, but not for others. Sorry about the crappy uptime of the site. My recommendation to all of you, never buy anything from U.S. Robotics, not matter how good the deal may be. You won’t get all of your rebates (if any apply) AND you’ll get some pos equipment. I swear, if I don’t have to manually restart this router from them every day, it’s a good day. Now, on to the real news…

I went home last weekend (19th through the 21st) to celebrate xmas with the fam, since I’m going home with Colleen over xmas. It was a good time. I took Friday off and headed up Thursday afternoon. Friday I finished up my holiday shopping, Saturday some relatives came over, and then Sunday I worked on my car a bit. Man, I wish I had a garage to tinker on the car in. Being out in a parking lot with slush and wind takes all the fun right out of everything. I finally got my cd player/radio working correctly in my car. For the last 6 months or so it kept flicking on and off while I’m driving down the road. Talk about annoying, you’re listening to a song, and all the sudden it turns off. However, sometimes the radio didn’t turn all the way off, it just flicked off, then came right back on. VERY annoying. Needless to say, I had done everything but play with the cd player (it’s a 10-disc player), and nothing seemed to have fixed it.

To preface this next part, I suppose you should know about my special 10-disc player and truck. Well, most people either have a car with a 10-disc (can stick it in the trunk), or have an extended cab or someplace to put it. Well, needless to say, in my stock, bare-bones, no-frills truck, there was (at the time) one place to put it…behind the seat. Talk about a pain in the rear. Everytime I wanted to change cd’s, I’d have to scoot the seat up, then tilt the seat forward, change the cd’s, then tilt and scoot the seat back. Yeah, that just wasn’t gonna do. Of course, engineering Aaron got hard at work fixing this problem. So, since my car has nothing but the basics (well, it had A/C, but then again, it didn’t have a radio, nor speakers when I got it), there was only 1 airbag (driver side) because the passenger airbag was optional. Nothing like putting a price on passenger safety ;). Well, that instead of sealing up that area where the airbag would be, they just didn’t put anything in it. Well, after screwing around a little bit, I found that you could actually pull the part of the dashboard off where the airbag would be. No screws were holding it in or anything. Talk about the ultimate place to stick a stash. Well, needless to say the compartment wasn’t deep enough for the 10-disc to fit. However, the only thing behind the compartment was the duct for the passenger side heater. Not like I have that many passengers anyways! So one weekend while I lived down in TN, I started hacking away at the duct and let me tell you fiberglass is one of THE WORST things to work with with simple tools (no injection molding or anything). Talk about itchy. I swear I had that crap on me for weeks. Anyways, I slowly whittled my way into the duct, and well, the 10-disc fits in there like a glove! You actually can’t just pull it straight out. You have to lift one side, and pull on just that one side to get it free, then the otherside (it is then attached to the frame, so it’s not gonna go flying out). Well, by giving it such a tight fit, the cables are the ones that are sacrificed. There’s sort of a support ridge running through the inside of the duct, and it is just above where the cable connect. Needless to say the cables do about a 90 degree turn RIGHT away.

Well, since this was the only part of the puzzle I had left on the radio mystery, I decided to rip it out, redo the cables, then stick her back in. Now, the real bitch of this problem was that when the car was just sitting, I could listen to the radio just fine without it turning on and off. That means, I’d have to rip it apart, and put it all back together to test the stupid thing. So, I unplugged the wires, replugged them back in, readjusted the angle that the wire was being fed to (made the wires go behind the cdplayer instead of on the side), reseated it, and then refastended it. Well, let me tell you how much better the 5.5 hour drive is with music, as opposed to without (damn thing didn’t work the whole way up to Detroit). Also, I was stuck in a traffic jam on 94 (they had closed the interstate because of an accident or something) for a good 30-45 minutes. I would’ve gone insane if I would’ve been forced to sit there in silence the whole time.

Well, NICK, I hope that helps your fix πŸ˜‰

Categorized as holiday

Xbox β€œProblems”

Happy Turkey Day! I hope ya’ll are having a good Thanksgiving with your families, etc. I’m at home (Champaign) playing with my new toys I got yesterday. Since Colleen is working tonight (double pay, so she’s excited), I decided against going home.

So yesterday I got both the wireless xbox adapter and my pronto remote. Since I didn’t have the laptop, Colleen took it to work, I decided to screw around with the xbox first. The pronto really needs to be setup with a program on the PC, so that’s the need for the laptop. And I wasn’t about to run up and down the stairs whenever I wanted to test something (eventhough that’s how things turned out in the end).

So, before I really started messing around with the adapter (I had already tried it and set it up just to be sure it worked), I wanted to try and put in a ATA100 IDE cable in the xbox instead of the ATA33 one it had. As I’m sure you can all sense, bad things were to ensue…So I open it up, and for whatever unholy reason, I decided to touch and giggle one of the solder points of the mod chip. This of course was the one that made the original mod difficult. Well, I put it all together and the xbox frags (on, off, on, off, on, flashing red and green) so I can’t use it. At about this point was the starting of the madness. This happened right after Colleen left, so around 7:30-8ish. So I open it back up and take a better look at it. Sure enough, when I had stripped the wire the first time, I had cut a little too deep and there was probably one strand of the wire that was still making contact. However, if I moved the wire the correct way, it would make contact and all was good. So, being the genius that I am, try to tape it in one of these correct orientations. Needless to say, once the tape was down, it didn’t work. So, in the process of removing the tape, I totally ripped the wire right off the solder point. ARG. Now, I have to drive back to work in order to get my solder/flux and soldering iron.

Before I begin with the rest of this, I should preface it a little…
The wire used is either 22 or 24 gauge (think as small as possible)
Let’s just say the original soldering of it didn’t go too smoothly and the trace is actually exposed (the wire in the trace is sticking up and the hole it was originally supposed to go in is, well, gone)
So, I’m already starting with barely anything, but I don’t have any wire sitting around to bypass this point (the d0 point) and either go straight to the chip the trace goes to or connect to the alternate d0 point on the back of the xbox motherboard. So, I sit down with it, and with my surprise, after only a few seconds of solder (not including tinning the soldering iron tip, since it’s brand new) I’m able to boot the xbox without it fragging. The mod chip is enabled, and I can easily get into the xbox. However, when the mod chip is disabled, it still frags (ARRRRG!!!). After searching the forums over at for awhile, I come to the conclusion that it’s still the d0 point. However, when I simply push on the solder job with a metal object it boots, so I’m really confused. What I didn’t notice (because the TV wasn’t on this whole time, just the receiver) was that when I pushed on it, it boots into the mod chip still, even with it disabled. This is when I started getting REALLY confused. However, since I’ve only played with the d0 point, it had to be that. Well, after a little more solder-play, I finally got it to boot both when the mod chip is on and off. Needless to say, I put electrical tape over the connection. The good news is when I stripped the wire this time, my knife was so dull, it barely got through the plastic, so the same problem shouldn’t occur again.

Oh, and you think the night’s over now, don’t you?! HA! Now that I got the xbox working properly (around 10ish), I wanted to actually start playing with it like I had originally planned. Well, xbox xlink works. I didn’t actually join any games, though, because there were so few people on it. Also, because they were all playing games I didn’t have (minus Halo, but all the games were filled). However, now that the xbox was connected, I wanted to get working what I had originally purchased and modded it to do, stream mp3’s off my server upstairs to my receiver and speakers. With Xbox Media Player (xbmp), you can “easily” stream music, movies, pictures, etc, off of typical windows shares (samba, or smb, shares), by simply connecting to them. There’s a howto in the xbmp guide. Well, needless to say, it wasn’t simple for my setup (of course). The machine that has all the mp3’s is a Windows 2003 server. I didn’t have a problem, when I shared out the files from my XP machine. Knowing darn well, the config file for xbmp was correct, I installed Ethereal, packet sniffing software, on my server to see what was going on. It kept saying that access was denied whenever the xbox tried to connect to the share (and it was hitting the correct share). Well, I decided to visit the xbmp forums. Sure enough, I’m not the only one having problems with xbmp connecting to Windows 2003 shares. After much scouring the forums, I found that because of win2k3’s advanced security features, by default it only accepts encrypted passwords. Of course, xbmp sends the passwords in plaintext instead of encrypted. So I have to disable it. Well, there’s a registry entry to disable it (I won’t give it here for reasons told later…), so of course I go and disable it. Since it’s a registry entry, it takes a restart to apply. So, reluctantly, I restart my server. When it boots back up, I head down stairs, get into xbmp, look at the network share, and HOLY COW!!! it works. I start streaming audio, it works great, so I start navigating through the various directories, when all the sudden I get the blank screen, no more directories (what happens when it can’t connect to a share). So, I head back upstairs and look at the registry entry. WHAT THE HELL?!?!!? I reverted back to the previous setting. I try it again, but again it reverts itself. Odd…something must be overwriting the setting after awhile. The only thing I can think of that doesn’t apply immediately until everything’s loaded is a group policy setting (GPO). Needless to say, in order to actually do this correctly, you need to modify in both the Domain Controller Security Policy and Domain Security Policy, the “Microsoft Network Server: Digitally Sign Communication (always) policy to be disabled. This entry can be found in Local Policies, Security Options. I tried manually changing the setting on my servers local policy, but I quickly found out that the GPO overrode the setting. This brings us up to 1:30am, doh!

Well, needless to say, I FINALLY got the xbox working like I want. I’m currently sitting on the floor with the laptop, getting ready to play with the pronto while listening to mp3’s from the xbox. I’m just glad that it works now. I’ll probably submit this to the xbmp website to incorporate in their guide from now on, because there was no nice and easy place to go to find this info…

Oh, and again, have a happy turkey day πŸ™‚

Categorized as holiday

Trip to Grand Rapids

Geez, and I wanted to be updating this site semi-daily. Oh well, so much for that. Where to start…

Went to the Howie Day concert on Friday. It was really good! There were two openers, Toby Lightman and Matt Nathanson. Both of which I highly recommend. Unfortunately, Toby doesn’t have an album out yet, but it should be sometime soon. Also, if you’re going to get one of Matt Nathanson’s albums, I recommend his newest one (Beneath These Fireworks) over his first. His voice has definitely matured on his second album. Talk about a funny guy too, it was a good time.

The plan was that Colleen and I were going to drive up on Thursday night to Detriot, but then neither of us got any sleep the night before, so we decided to drive up to Grand Rapids (where the concert was) on Friday, stick around for the concert and then drive to Detriot after that. However, when we got to Grand Rapids, we met up with my Aunt, and she invited us to stay the night. That was probably the more sane way of doing it, since the concert didn’t get out till after midnight EST.

The reason I didn’t get any sleep the night before was because we (Nick, Jason, and I) decided to move the servers out of our office and into a different room. Needless to say, this took a little longer than we expected. I came in around 9:15pm Weds night, and didn’t leave until 7:30am Thurs morning. I just went home for a shower, and then came back in till 3ish. Yeah, I’m glad we decided against driving up on Thrusday evening. It wouldn’t have gone well, especially since Colleen worked Weds night and then had training Thurs, so she didn’t get any sleep either.

Speaking of Jason, Jason Minard as started working at DIA now, since Nick has moved out of DS and into a permanent position at DIA. Things will be…different. In other things at work, I’ve been working a lot of getting various scripts working (inventory, logs, etc) to make my life easier. Batching processes is much easier than having to do remedial tasks one at a time. Automation is a great thing too. Slowly, but surely I’m making my mark here at DIA. Hopefully it’ll give me more leeway later on in my career. Speaking of work, I should probably get back to doing some instead of working on stuff from home πŸ™‚

Categorized as holiday

Happy Halloween

Happy (belated) Halloween! Last night we went over to Nick (co-worker) and Lori’s house and had a get-together of sorts. It was a good time, and it got us out of the house. I think I had my sugar fill for the next month though. Between the cookies, the lil’ smokies with bacon smothered in brown sugar, the cupcakes, and the Halloween candy, I’m done. It was a good time though.

I don’t know why, but I felt young there. The people that were there were around mid 20’s, but for some reason I felt as if I didn’t really fit in, age-wise. Maybe it’s because all these people are married or getting married in the near future and have houses, etc. Oh well, I’m in no rush πŸ™‚

Work has been slowing down, thankfully. Basketball season starts up on the 9th, so we’re trying to get ready for it. Nick is moving to a management/administration position in DIA, so he is leaving us DS consultants. So, now I’ll be working with Jason Minard, who is being moved over from a different dept. Also, Nick isn’t moving out of our hole in the wall office, so we’ve been deciding on what to do to make it bigger. Especially now since there’ll be him, Jason, myself, plus (at most) 4 students in the office at once. We’ve been given approval to move the rack containing the servers out of the office and to stick them into a different closet. I can’t wait for that to happen! Lots more space, AND it will actually be quiet in the office. No white background noise all the time.

Colleen and I went looking at a gym to join the other day. Most likely we’ll become members, especially since she gets about a 50% discount since she works at Cunningham Children’s Home. For $38 a month for the 2 of us, I think we can handle it. Plus, I know I’ll be over there a lot using it. Especially now that it’s starting to get cold (I greatly dislike running outside when it’s cold).

I think that’s about it. Have a great weekend…

Categorized as holiday