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WTF is a Totodile?

Posted 2010.03.17 22.34 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

So there’s this new game that just came out for the DS, called Pokemon. I don’t really get it. There’s these wild semi-magical beasties that you catch, squish them down into little balls, then release them now and then and force them to fight each other for entertainment and money.

Anyhow, it came with a pedometer that connects wirelessly to the game card, and I wanted to know how it worked.

Before I got out the magic screwdrivers and scalpel, I did play with it for a bit. I got a Totodile, and I named him Bungee. He defeated a bunch of other wild creatures. He can scratch and squirt water and glare menacingly.

But then I got bored and started prying things apart…

The cartridge casing looks black, but it’s transparent – you can shine light through it. The big chip is the ROM, it’s 1Gb (128MB). The smaller chip above that is a flash ram for the game saves, it’s 4Mb (512kB). At the top is the IR transceiver bit, below that is an oscillator. The chip on the right is some kind of microprocessor.

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Still Here… Still Sore.

Posted 2010.03.07 12.24 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Blink and it’s like four days passed… I’m still here, but the pain comes and goes. A friend has suggested that it might be what they call a ‘dry socket’… she had this when her wisdom teeth were removed. What happens is the gums don’t fully close where the tooth was, leaving a bit of the bone exposed. Then any time some food or whatever gets into the socket, it touches that exposed bone and causes pain. If it’s there for a long time it can lead to infection. So I have to talk to the dentist again this week and ask if this could be what I’m experiencing.

When something gets in there, the pain starts within a minute or so, then in about 10 or 15 minutes the pain has spread to include my ear, and then it continues to spread till it’s encompased the entire side of my head. Then it just stays like that, till I can get the bit of food out – which can take a long time, the only way to remove it is by doing lots and lots of rinsing with water.

It takes all the joy out of eating.

Anyhow, so I’ve been trying to keep my mind off that with other distractions. I don’t remember if I ever officially stated in the blob that I had no intentions of learning to do coding for the Nintendo DS, but I definately officially had no intentions to learn how to do coding for the Nintendo DS.

Unsurprisingly, 3 months later, I’m learning to do coding for the Nintendo DS. Nothing pretty or fancy – I’m no gamer, I’m terrible at playing games and have no interest in trying to make them. But simple things, exploring the technology and whatnot, making it do things, making stuff happen. That’s where I’m at.

Test Inputs Screenshot

So I wrote a simple utility that tests all the inputs (i.e. buttons and touchscreen) and does a few funky things, plays sounds and moves a ‘sprite’ around, utilizes the two screens, and so on and so forth. The screenshot makes it look very lame and boring, but I had lots of fun making it, and it kept my mind off the pain and hunger for a few days.

There’s already lots of other little utilities that do the same thing as this, but this one is mine and does things my way. Aside from doing the obvious, it also has some fun little things that it can do, by pressing the right keys.

It was also a good primer for moving on to try doing some other things with it. Maybe like graphics – I understand people enjoy graphics, these days.

So that’s about where it’s at, right now.

Cheers.

Full Contact Solitaire

Posted 2010.02.18 13.12 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Life On Drugs by Stephanie

So I was playing solitaire on my Nintendo DS, when I caught the DS cheating. I’d been suspicious of it for some time, but this time I definately caught it playing around with me, and then we got into an argument. It went something like this:

Me: Ooh, a red six. I can put that on the black seven!.
DS: No, that doesn’t go there.
Me: What do you mean? Red sixes go on black sevens.
DS: It’s not a six, it’s an eight, see?
Me: It was a six! You changed it!
DS: Hahaha!
Me: Well bugger it, I’m putting the red eight on the black seven anyways!
DS: You can’t that’s against the rules.
Me: Heck with your rules, you’re not the boss of me!
DS: I might not be the boss of you, but I am the boss of this game. So what I say goes!
Me: Well screw it then. I’m going to play some Star Trek. I hacked that so I am the boss there. You’re going to be the Klingons and I’m going to kick your ass all over the Gorath sector!
DS: Fuck.

That’s exactly how it went down. And I did kick its ass in Star Trek.

p.s. Yes I know I’m a geek.

Exciting World of Flash Carts

Posted 2010.01.20 13.13 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

A few weeks ago I posted about poking around inside a Nintendo DSi – I took mine apart and had a peek inside, and was looking for any info out there on hacks or mods for it. I was more thinking about hardware hacks, but most of the ‘hacking’ people have been doing appears to be in terms of running homebrew apps and games and stuff.

Anyhow, so eventually I learned about ‘Flash Carts’, although this isn’t actual news to anyone who’s been a gamer any time in the last 10 years I’m sure.

These things are neat though – one of the things I wanted to do with my DSi was to be able to copy some of my games onto an SD card and then I’d have my favorite games in there all the time. Most DS games are less than 64MB in size, and with a 4GB SD card you can fit a whole lot of games. But Nintendo doesn’t let you do that. For one thing you can’t copy the game data off the game card, and then even if you could, the DSi won’t run games from the SD card.

So back to the Flash Carts – in olden times, these were a dedicated cartridge that had a flashable memory chip (i.e. instead of a factory-burned ROM it was an EEPROM that could be burned, erased, rewritten, etc.) and with special hardware you could copy a game file onto it, or if it had lots of memory you could copy a few game files onto it.

Nowadays they have Flash Carts that themselves have a micro-SD slot, so you can put any size micro-SD card into it and have almost unlimited storage space. I got one of them, an “Acekard 2i” and a 4GB micro-SD card.

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Nintendo DSi

Posted 2009.12.31 20.50 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

As I usually spend New Years alone, it has become a bit of a tradition for me to buy myself a new toy that I can disassemble on the 31st of December. In the past, it has frequently been something in the Amateur Radio genre, but this year I opted to do a Nintendo DSi.

I’m not much of a gamer, and I pretty much suck at almost all video games. I’ve had a DS for a while but the only game I was really happy with was the crossword game. Then I gave my DS to my mum so she could play that brain age thing. Anyhow, so I decided to get the DSi so I could take it apart. I like electronic gizmos. I like taking them apart. I like hacking them or breaking them or just finding out how they work.

The DSi has been around for a while now – feels like a year or so. But there’s very, very little info out there about hacking it. Really there’s just one site that has no news, just aggregates info from gaming sites. I don’t want cheat codes or that sort of thing, I want to mess with the hardware. It’s got 256MB of Flash storage, 16MB of RAM, and a 32-bit ARM processor at 133MHz. With the built-in WiFi and dual screens and SDHC expansionality, there’s more than enough oomph in there to run Linux, among other things… (Remember the Zipit?)

There’s no info that I could find about the software – is the DSi operating system a complete customized Nintendo thing? Or maybe the GUI is Nintendo but there’s something else under the hood? The CPU is supposedly custom made for Nintendo so that might preclude it doing other things…

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