Custom Playstation DualShock 4 Thumb Sticks

I stumbled across this video the other day and thought this was a neat idea.

In the face of the first gen plastic peeling and tearing issues finding an alternative stick seemed like a great idea. Plus different colors would look cool. So I decided to go out and give this a shot myself. Below you’ll find instructions and photos to help you do this yourself as this video leaves out a little bit of information. Continue reading “Custom Playstation DualShock 4 Thumb Sticks”

My 10 Minutes With The Defiance Beta

Defiance BetaI might be breaking some kind of embargo by talking about this. If there was something telling me I couldn’t talk about this I apparently dropped it in the TL;DR bucket and clicked right past it. So if I have to take this down at some point, to my readers, I apologize in advance.

Take this whole thing with a grain of salt. I only made it about 10 minutes before deciding to quit playing. Now don’t read to far in to this. It was late and I had been unloading a pretty large quantity of housing goods at my new place so I was extremely tired. Even so the initial experience wasn’t one of wanting to stay up, despite being tired, to keep playing. First impressions are important. Thank goodness it’s a beta. So lets hit the key points.

The story pics up on a giant ship flying over the golden gate bridge. A fairly generic military, very UN peace keeper looking, officer barks some orders.  There are words exchanged, a brief reason for your non-military presence is given and then BAM! True to Sci-Fi, or should I say SyFy, we start the story in the same way as almost every other science fiction story ever. Waking in a flaming wreck with little idea where we’re at or what the state of things are.  That is probably the first fault I saw and sadly probably not one that can be remedied since it’s story and not a technical problem. I was bored right off the bat.

The first technical problem I noticed was the character animation. Mouths moved like poorly timed muppets and expression was no where to be found. It felt like something from the mid 90s. I have high hopes that this is just some polish that needs to be done and by launch we’ll have some characters to at least begin to care about.

Building your character is simplistic with only a very few number of options and there doesn’t seem to be enough options  to let you make a truly distinguishable character. Hopefully quickly in the game you’ll get some unique armor options and/or the ability to color and customize things to give your character a unique look. Obviously I didn’t make it far enough to see if this is the route they went.

Once you’re on the ground the game looks pretty good over all. You don’t get close up on faces like the initial cut scene so character interactions aren’t nearly as grating. There were some issues with the subtitling that was on by default. The text provided is white and one of the characters is also white and large in the foreground. That’s easy enough to fix so I presume we’ll see that corrected.

The final thing was just how dark some of the areas were and the enemies were and how tall the grass was. I found myself frequently just looking for the enemy title to pop up above where the enemy was and then aiming until the reticle turned red and firing. I wasn’t seeing enemies much unless I was almost on top of them. While it’s playable it’s certainly analogis to using a fly by instruments situation only in a first person shooter and it’s not very fun.

As you can see Defiance can still use some work. True to what a beta is it’s pretty rough but it looks like a ton of work still to be done for what is supposed to be an April 2nd release. Lets hope they are just toying with us by feeding us an old build so that when the full game hits we’ll all be surprised and impressed with what a giant leap they made in such a short period of time.

Rest assured this is just a first glimpse or a brief taste. I plan to put a good amount more time in to this in the hopes that the epic battle scenes depicted in the screen shots and promo material are enough to overcome the immediately apparent issues mentioned above. Keep an eye out for a more extensive look at the beta some time in the near future!

PlayStation 4’s Backward Compatibility

PS4 Press ConferenceAs I’m sure most of you who searched this post out have heard the backwards compatibility for PlayStation 4 is in question. While I don’t have any inside information I do have some observations based on my long time experience with technology. First is the fact that the PlayStation 4 is going to be x86 based. The PlayStation 3 is cell processor based so backwards compatibility must be impossible! To that I would say, sort of. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the 3rd party games were actually cross platform. That means despite there being a PS3 version there’s also an x86 PC version hanging out out there. This means it should be, mostly, trivial for developers to port their game back to the PS4 from their PC code. So it’s not likely we’ll see Sony first party games coming back on to the PS4 but we’ll almost certainly see third party titles coming back.

The other piece to the puzzle is that Sony now owns Gaikai. Certain podcasters and media have made comments to the effect that it’s impossible for Sony to run PS3 games over Gaikai citing things similar to the above processor difference but in order to support the Gaikai components that would be needed to make it happen. I’d like to remind those folks that Sony originally supported Linux on the PS3 and those PS3’s were used in things like super computer clusters. Much like the ones used on the back end of cloud services. I have a feeling part of the reason for that is that the PS3 is Linux based at it’s core and that it’s actually going to be quite easy for Sony to extend PlayStation 3 games into that sort of online cloud delivery environment.

I guess what I’m getting at is that even though you might not be able to play those PlayStation 3 games off your old disc’s on day one those games will come back around and make an appearance on the new console in some form.

The Gaming Appendix – Episode 1

This week marks a potentially historic day for the internet. Today I’m releasing the very first episode of “The Gaming Appendix” podcast who’s aim it is to talk about games past and what they turned out to be post patches, DLC and general reception. The first episode is actually covering more recent games Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and Halo 4 along with board games Settlers of Catan and Small World. Hit up the libsyn.com page for now to subscribe to the podcast. I plan to do it bi-monthly currently and will post when I work out the exact schedule.

The Gaming Appendix LibSyn Website

In case you want to give it a listen before subscribing here is a direct link to the mp3.

Listen Now!

What Happened To Down Time?

So PSN is down for maintenance today between, get this, 8am and 10pm. For those with a time telling deficiency thats slightly more than half a day through the middle of the day time and in to the evening.

Now I’ve been doing IT work for approx 14 years and never have I heard any one make the statement that it’s “ok” to take a network down during business hours or during peak times. NEVER. In this case I wager during the middle of the day probably isn’t peak but I’d guess 5pm-11pm when every one is off work and home from school is probably peak.  I guess I give them credit for doing it closer to the middle of the week but wouldn’t 3am-5pm have been a better time?

Yet lately both in this instance, and where I work, it seems to be increasingly more acceptable to take something down when ever you darn well feel like it. Did I miss something? Are we becoming so reliant on our network 24×7 that it no longer matters when it becomes unavailable because it has to happen some time eventually any way? Or is it that we’re increasingly bowing to what management wants? The symptom is obvious but what do you think the cause is?

The Full Tutorial: How To Upgrade The PS3’s Hard Drive

When I bought my Playstation 3 one of the most enticing things about the system was the ability to upgrade the hard drive with a standard laptop drive.  Having previously maxed out the hard drive on my Xbox and my refusal to pay though the nose Microsoft’s exorbitant prices, for commodity hardware wrapped in plastic, this is a key feature.  While I did pay up front to get a 120GB version which has lasted me the better part of a year I was with in 20GB or so of maxing it out.  Thanks due, in no small part, to the Playstation Plus program that keeps pumping my drive full of new games.  If I weren’t able to offload my video on to my home server I’d have been making this upgrade far sooner. Despite the ease with which you can swap the hardware the software end wasn’t quite as straight forward which is why I decided to write this. So lets get down to business.

  1. Backup your data! Use a second usb drive to make a backup through the backup utility. Move important saves to the cloud saves storage. If you lose your data it’s your own fault!
  2. Remove the old drive and install the new one. Unfortunately the person who made the video disabled embedding. Who knows why but the link to the video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sRkj89axOU
  3. Don’t power on your Playstation 3 yet! If you do you’ll get a message saying “The system software cannot be run correctly”. Don’t panic.
  4. Format a usb flash drive with a FAT32 file system.
  5. On the usb flash drive create a folder called PS3 and inside the PS3 folder create a folder called UPDATE.
  6. Download the latest version of PS3 firmware from here http://us.playstation.com/support/systemupdates/ps3/pc_update/index.htm
  7. What you will download is a file called PS3UPDAT.PUP. Put this file in the UPDATE folder on the usb flash drive.
  8. Take your usb flash drive from your PC and plug it in to your PS3.
  9. Connect a controller by cable.
  10. At the first screen warning press the PS button on the controller. You will now get another warning.
  11. Press and hold the ‘start’ and ‘select’ buttons at the same time briefly and you should launch in to the formatting and re-install process.
  12. Follow the prompts.
Once you’ve done all this you can then set about restoring your data, re-authorizing your accounts etc. One of the things a lot of us hope for is a performance increase in game load times and there is evidence that you can gain some of that via an SSD.  Toms Hardware has some information here http://www.tomshardware.com/news/playstation-ps3-ssd-upgrade-loading,11811.html  One of the thoughts was if a 7200 rpm drive would make a difference. While I’m sure it would I’d be concerned for heat issues with a drive that fast in such a small space. I think an SSD is the ideal situation at this point.

PSP a GO GO. Or, how to GOify your standard PSP.

PSP GoWhats a PSP love’n gamer to do these days? The Vita looks fantastic but is still several months out. The PSP GO is just kind of awkward but the standard PSP isn’t quite cloud ready. The cost of Memory Stick is kind of cost prohibitive and carting those UMDs around is a pain. If you are a Playstation Plus member you also have access to a pretty decent collection of free Mini’s that run on your PSP and quite a few discounted price full PSP games in digital form. So how do you throw out the UMDs and bolster your storage capacity with out breaking the bank? Continue reading “PSP a GO GO. Or, how to GOify your standard PSP.”

Epsilon & PlayStation Network Security Recommendations

Logo of the PlayStation NetworkImage via Wikipedia

I amongst the 70 million have been effected by the PlayStation Network hack that took place between April 17th and April 19th. While there isn’t much we can do right now there are some steps you may want to consider taking to protect your own security and financial well being. I’m sure some would like to think they are extreme but after the security breach with  Epsilon recently and now this there is no good reason to take chances.

I will state clearly I am not an information security professional. I have however been working in the Information Technology industry for 13(going on 14) years. I’ve suffered similar security breaches before and I’ve heard of them happening many times before. I am also a member of the US Military who under goes security briefings anually on protection of data and while deployed served my section as the Information Management Officer. While my primary role is not information security I have enough experience to know that the bottom line is that information security is every ones problem. What follows are some recommendations. Some vital, some, may be only if you are paranoid.

First and fore most purchases online can only be made if all the pieces of information line up. Your online account information(username & password), your card/account number, your PII or Personally Identifiable Information, and typically a physical marker for your card(that 3 digit number on the back). So your first line of defense against security breaches that have all ready taken place is to change as much of this information as possible.
The easiest of course is your username and password on sites that contain financial information. That’s Amazon, Ebay, Newegg and any other online retailers. Thats service sites like playstation, xbox, netflix, redbox etc. If you can change both your username and password then go for it. The absolute “must change” is your password.

While you can’t change where you live you can change your card number and the three digit code on the back. In other words go to your bank, talk to them, cancel your card and get a new one issued. While it isn’t a comfortable process it is a fairly easy one. Some banks will even let you do this process online. I mentioned briefly your address which you may be able to change through the post office box service at your local post office. Be sure to do some research before going this route because some services will not let you use P.O. Boxes as your personal address. Lastly, and most drematicly is to change your PII or personally identifiable information. This includes your name, social security number and other bits of information like your drivers license number. These are much harder to change. Changing your name will involve both the state and fedral government. Like wise changing your social security number(this is especially hard to do). I don’t recommend going to this length but if you are really that paranoid it can be done. I can’t outline here how to do it as the process will differ from state to state.

These changes should be more than enough to safe guard your security. When changing username and password ensure you use good security practices like long complicated passwords. If you can come up with something you can remember and don’t write it down. Change your passwords frequently, every couple of months at minimum. Last, keep an eye on your accounts. Know whats going on with them. If anything looks suspicious report it to your financial institution immediately.

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