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Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going

Teh Blarg (this weblog) was designed to track all things technical I’ve done, with something personal sprinkled in every once in awhile. In general it’s filled with broad, summarized portions of my activities. I thought that this random day, I would summarize what I’ve done so far, and have a game plan for what I hope to accomplish by this time next year.

I used computers as a child, but I don’t remember them having a very large impact on me. Some of my favorite games when I was growing up include
NES: Contra, BattleToads, Tecmo Bowl, Tecmo Superbowl, Dragon Warrior
SNES: NBA Jam, Chrono Trigger
Arcade: Golden Axe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Metal Slug
PC: Wolfenstein 3D, Bomb, Scorched Earth
By no means are these true “classic” games (they’re not old enough), but they do inspire me to return to the classic genre of games from time to time.

In middle school I purchased a Nintendo 64, and played it heavily. I enjoyed games such as Wayne Gretzgy’s Hockey, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Goldeneye 007, and Bomberman 64. Looking back, I don’t think Nintendo 64 had many games that influenced me too heavily. I can’t even remember what happened to my 64.

During high school I worked as a “Computer Assistant”, which enabled me to tinker with computers on the hardware level, ridding my mentality that if something is opened it’s “destroyed”. During high school I built and customized PCs for friends and family. At this time my neighbor friend Troy had a mod-chipped Playstation, and I remember thinking that was a really BAD idea. Late in high school, my friend Eric let me borrow his old Playstation. As my first console hack, I used the swap trick to play my first burned game. I only vaguely remember it, but it involved using a paperclip to trick the system into thinking the top was closed, then starting with a regular CD, then popping in the burned CD at just the right time. The games I loved on the PSX were Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy 7.

After high school, my friend Eric gave me his Dreamcast. Little did he know that the Dreamcast was the easiest hackable console to date. There was seemingly no protection on the Dreamcast, it played nearly every backup flawlessly. This would have to be the first instance where I attained games not so I could play them, but just so I could have a LOT of games. I remember having friends when I was young who just had everything; they had the best and fastest computers that could play the latest games, or they had the newest consoles with all of the cool games that went with it. I recall being envious of them. I knew that the games weren’t worth what they cost to me–especially considering how little time I would put into them–but still I remember wishing that I were in that situation. Right after high school I was given the opportunity with that Dreamcast. I went through well over 2 100 pack spindles of CDs of games. I tested all of the games I burnt, but I played only 2 or 3, and only for a moderate amount of time. The only game I recall enjoying on the Dreamcast would have to be Soul Calibur.

Into college, of course, I had less time for games, or so the colleges would like you to believe. The truth is that I had more time for games than I would ever imagine. I took 14-18 credits, worked 20 hours as a call center employee (“Hi, what’s your computer problem? Have you rebooted? Ok, do that and call me back.”), and I still had the most free time to date in my life. I lived with my now parent-in-laws, in what they made to be a dorm-esque environment. I recall multiple instances where Pat (now father-in-law) would bring out the 5 player classic Bomberman on his NEC Turbografx. Every weekend a bunch of guys would gather and play PC games on the computer LAN we had setup at their house, or 4 player Xbox games (and the occasional outside activity). Memorable games from this period include:
Battlefield 1942: Desert Combat
Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Counter-Strike
Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne
Test Drive: Eve of Destruction
Unreal Tournament 2003

At some point I convinced Pat to let me get a modchip for his Xbox. Perhaps I used the Dreamcast as an example of what the Xbox could become as far as game selection, perhaps he didn’t entirely know what it would involve. I remember paying $50 from an online site for the chip, then driving up to Seattle (about 3 hours North of my house in Vancouver) to a friend’s house (shoutout to Hindra/Brunt if you’re out there somewhere) who I met and had been speaking with online. He opened the Xbox, soldered the chip onto the motherboard, installed the 120GB hard drive, then closed it up. He then proceeded to install the custom software onto the Xbox. It was completed and working within two hours and looked amazing. I’m still amazed he did this for me (FOR FREE!), and because he did, I will never charge for doing a modchip install or flashing for a friend. Since then, I filled, erased and refilled the Xbox hard drive with games about 3 times. Any why not? Except for time, there is absolutely nothing wasted when a game is transferred to the Xbox hard drive.

My senior year in college was by far the most active as far as modifying and tinkering goes. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure what got into me.

First, I bought a used PS2, along with a Fliptop for playing backups. After a couple screw-ups and fixes, that console is still sitting in my house with the case off, and it’s rarely used, except of course for Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero 2. This console was quickly turning into another Dreamcast for me in that I was burning games I KNEW I’d never play.

Shortly after completing the PS2, I decided to make my MAME cabinet, with illusions of grandeur. I conceived it as a machine that would play EVERY classic game ever conceived, with only the exception of those requiring special or proprietary controls. The MAME cabinet was by far the largest undertaking I’ve ever done. It’s still not completed, and if it stays as it is I don’t think I’d mind that one bit.

Somewhere in the middle of creating the MAME cabinet, I decided that I wanted to go mobile. I purchased a Gameboy Advance, with a flash cart. I remember that the GBA cart would only hold 2-3 games max, which simply wouldn’t do. Moreover, it was the first generation GBA, not the SP or the Micro; I went CHEAP. Not really being satisfied at the result, I resold both of those and purchased a Nintendo DS with a flash cart (M3 Perfect CF, with 1GB CF card). I got heavy use out of this mobile console, and used it almost exclusively for over 6 months.

Then came graduation and a job. After that, not only was there more expendable time, but there was more expendable income. I started out with a Gamecube, purchased from a friend who joined the military (shoutout Lenny/Katsuo). Herein I did my first solder-job. It involved opening the cube, and connecting a board to the bottom of the DVD drive. It was a great experience, and it made me kinda wish that I did the soldering on the Xbox and Mame cabinet. I also gave it a full-size-DVD case so it could play backups. There were a couple fun Gamecube games, but in general this console was passed up for me.

A few months later, I bought an Xbox 360 premium, and flashed it. After noticing how easy it was, I told all my friends they should get one too. I have since flashed 7 Xbox 360s.

Shortly after getting a 360, my friend (shoutout John/Talux) gave me his old semi-working Sega Saturn, with no games and no controllers and no power cord. I bought a game and a controller, and used the power cord from my old Playstation to test it. It indeed works. I haven’t yet proceeded, it’s still being debated.

Late 2006, the notion that you could play Playstation games on the PSP was introduced. Of course I had to have one. I found one cheap on Craig’s List, and purchased a 1GB card to ensure it would work. After getting some good use of it, I purchased a 4GB card, so I could fit as many games as possible on there.

In general now it sort of feels like I’ve reverted back to the Dreamcast days, where I attain for just the sake of having, rather than for playing. I was proud of my ability to resist the urge to mod the Sega Saturn. I’m mostly certain that I’d never play any Sega Saturn game at this point, so to mod it would only be for the ABILITY to play games.

So that’s what I’ve done so far. Within one year I’d like to have the following objectives completed:

  • Have a wii, modded.
  • Finish what I start, namely the functionality of the MAME cabinet.
  • Try Xbox Live, and Xbox Live arcade.
  • Only attain the games I’ll play.

I’d link all of the achievements in this post back to the original posts where the action occurred, but that would take way too much time. It’s all there, search freely or browse the category if you’re interested in getting more information.

Comments (9)

LinkedIn

I started a LinkedIn profile, which is a great idea, and will probably be great for future employment.

Any UP grads, I recommend it :), whether you already have a job or are currently looking.

Also updated my About page, and added a link to my LinkedIn profile.

Comments (4)

Uncle Ray?

My Brother’s wife is pregnant… with a due date around May 21st, 2006. Let’s see, why does that date ring a bell

So he won’t be coming to my wedding, but I’m very happy for him and his wife. Congratulations!

Comments (2)

I’m 22, woohoo

Yea, I turned 22. I kinda liked being 21 =\
Pictures.

Comments (1)

Donating Doughnuts

In an event I can describe as none other than “Donating Doughnuts to Cops”, I apparently have too much money so I decided it was time to do something stupid. I turned right at a red light which had it marked “No Turn On Red”, so I was given a ticket for a whopping $237.

GG ray.

Comments (3)


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