Saturday, January 27, 2007

Well, It Is Out Of Warranty

After years of dedicated service, my PS2 has decided to be persnickety about loading games. So what did I do? Opened the damn thing up and fixed it, of course!

When it died before the end section of "God of War" I was pissed, but figured it was the disc. Then, my Final Fantasy XII went tits up and at this point I ruled out coincidence. I mean, what's the odds of two discs being bad? Confirmation of the PS2 being the culprit came when I tested other discs in my collection.

After doing a quick search on Google, it turns out this is not an uncommon error. In fact, according to one site, it's not so much if the "disc read error" occurs, but when.

The error has to do with the vertical location of the lens relative to the disc (most of the time). There is a ratcheting cog in the drive assembly that will move the lens 1/32 of an inch at a time. Fortunately, it has a "reset" position that will drop the lens back to its lowest position if you need to start over.

You can see the cog in question on the left, here.

This turns out to be pretty time consuming. There were four different discs I needed to test with each new lens position (I did 1/8" at a time):

∙ Old PSOne discs
∙ DVDs (yeah, I have a progressive scan DVD player which is way better, but what the hell...)
∙ Blue PS2 discs (the older discs have a blue coating on the data side... at least I think it's only the older discs)
∙ Silver PS2 discs

Thanks to the fine people over at Arstechnia, I was able to get this thing going again. Took me about 30 minutes.

A note: Try, try as hard as you can not to pull out any ribbon cables by mistake. They are a huge pain in the ass to get re-inserted. Especially the drive eject button cable and the memory card/controller cable.

UPDATE: A friend just reminded me the difference between a normal person and a geek. When a warranty runs out, a normal person worries the device might break. A geek is just stoked that he* now gets to open the device.

* or she as the case may be.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Finally, A Smart Decision From This Guy

Kerry has decided not to run.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, won't make a second bid for the White House, sources familiar with Kerry's thinking said Wednesday.

A source close to Kerry and a Democratic operative who worked for him in 2004 said the four-term senator has decided to sit out the 2008 race, which already has drawn more than a dozen contenders from both parties.


I have to say that since 2004 this man has been a walking disaster for the Democratic party. I'm not the biggest fan of the Democrats (but I don't like the Republicans, either), however, I would like to give them a chance now that they have the reins. If this Botox-injected, Herman Munster lookalike threw his hat in the ring, that would have shown that the Democrats had a fundamental inability to learn from history. Of course the Republicans have no great skill there, either.

I think it will come down to Hillary or Obama for the Democrat nod. If it does turn out to be Hillary, the anti-war's leftist minds will implode in confusion. On the one hand we have a domestic social progressive, which is attractive to them. But on the other we have a woman who will probably be the most hawkish president to sit in office since Andrew Jackson.

One thing is for sure, the lead up to the Democratic Primary will be entertaining.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Balls On Some People...

This was unfortunate.
An American GI assigned to one of the harshest posts in Iraq had a simple request last week for a Wisconsin mattress company: send some floor mats to help ease the hardship of sleeping on the cold, bug-infested ground.

What he got, instead, was a swift kick from the company's Web site, which not only refused the request but added insult to injury with the admonition, "If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq."

Now granted, the Sgt. did manage to get mats from two different companies, but still... If you don't like the war or want to support it in any way, that's fine. I really don't care one way or the other. But once you act like you have an Asshole License, you should get called to the mat (heh).

One thing that stood out, is that the report goes out of its way to say that the proprietor of the company is Pakistani. So what? Are we all supposed to go "Ah, of course"? I've noticed this with not only FOX reports, but with the AP and Reuters as well. Am I supposed to feel outrage, or be sympathetic? Usually the media is much more direct when telling me what to think or feel about something.

Incidentally, the company is Not that I ever would order something like this online, but this company will be going on the list of places I will never shop at. Sounds like their customer service is horrific. Currently, it seems to be down. Can't imagine why.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Reality Impared Consumer

I think it says a sad thing about the intelligence of the US consumer when a company feels the need to add obvious disclaimers. You know, like the commercials where there are explosions, people falling out of windows, or clinging on top of speeding vehicles. When you look closely, you will always see small text at the bottom of the TV saying: Performed by a professional stunt person. Do not attempt. These are the broadcast equivalent of product disclaimers on toaster ovens that state it may not be in your best interest to toast that French bread pizza in the bath (or is that Freedom bread? I've woefully behind on the jingoism of the week).

While my fervent hope is that these are just the product of over cautious lawyers putting these in preemptively, there very well could be legions of people out there immolating or defenestrating themselves in imitation of a commercial. Personally, I don't see that as a bad thing. Just a good cleansing of the gene pool as far as I'm concerned.

I was watching the playoffs this afternoon (yay, Bears!), and a Ford Edge commercial was played. It's the one with the funky, fuzzy rock music with a Ford Edge skimming across the edge of buildings (get it?) on two wheels. Now, I'm thinking, "Hey, that's a clever tie-in to the name, and some decent FX to boot (they managed to paint in the shadows)". Never once did it enter my mind "I gotta try that!" But at the bottom of the screen in tiny letters was this:
Yes, this is fantasy. Cars cannot drive on buildings.

Kudos to Ford for injecting some humor into the disclaimer. However, the fact that they felt it necessary means that somewhere in America this thought rattled through the skulls of the cognitively challenged.
Cool! I gotta try that... Wait, what's that say at the bottom... Aaww!

Many of these disclaimers create much amusement for myself and my friends, but the fact that they exist strikes a subtle terror into my heart. Things like this make me fear for the future.