Saturday, December 27, 2008

Canon camera Hacks

I was watching System on Revision3 (bunch of TechTV folks). The latest episode describes a simple method to hack into your Canon camera with some simple free files and scripts.

Why? So you have more control over everything your camera does...for example motion capture...or auto exposure bracketing. Stuff you would expect on a high end camera now available on your cheap camera.

The software is CHDK and simply installs onto a flash memory card you stick in your camera. The most simple hack I have ever isn't even permanent, remove the card/delete the software, and it is back to normal.

All you need to look at is the FAQ, it shows what cameras are included, where the software is for what camera, how to use it etc. The only even remotely technical part is you need to create a blank text file named "ver.req" put it into your SD card, start up the camera in view (not camera) mode, do a button sequence and view the firmware of your camera. There was only only one firmware listed for my A530 and that is the firmware version I had.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Europe cellphone and internet access

I recently made a quick trip to Spain. Internet was available at my hotel, ethernet, wifi, or they even had computers for business people to use. I didn't spend any time in the hotel so I didn't use those services.

But, I did buy an unlocked Quad-band cellphone from that I found at I got the Motorola V235. It was $80. I wanted something with basic internet capabilities and a camera. If my US cellphone carrier used SIM cards I would have gotten a better phone, but if you have read the rest of this blog, you know I am happy with my Sprint Touch.

Quad-band cellphones will work everywhere. (but maybe Japan?)...well everwhere I will be going.

Now to get a SIM card. I wanted it to be cheap to use, no monthly fee, and it had to roam everywhere I go.

I did a lot of searching...there are numerous European websites that discuss this, but it is hard to buy a European SIM card in the US. In addition, many of them use an Estonia phone number.

I found the SIM through I assume it is the same company...since they link to each other. I bought the Passport SIM card. They sell Passport lite, Passport, Passport PLUS, and the Explorer SIM card. The Passport cards initial price depends on the roaming and outgoing calls price, but they all have UK phone numbers. The Explorer has an Estonia phone number.

You may wonder why I keep mentioning the Estonia phone number cellphone provider Sprint has an international calling package for $4 a month and $0.05 a minute $0.05 PLUS $0.34 mobile charge per minute to the UK (outgoing calls on Ekit are $0.49 a minute) is about $1 to Estonia. The Passport SIM card has free incoming calls if they call the UK number (there is also an 800 number that can be used, but it charges your sim card).

So while I sat in a cafe on La Rambla having an espresso and a beer, my wife called me from the states...we chatted for about 5 minutes. My SIM card was charged nothing, her cell phone was charged a quarter $2.00. If I had called here using some other service that call would be around $5. You can see how it quickly adds up.

I am still working out some bugs. Apparently I can't text to a Sprint phone...I don't know why, but it is in the documentation. Also I apparently didn't set up the APN info correctly since I couldn't get the cellphone (or laptop) to access the internet.

As far as internet goes. This card included a data plan for $20 per megabyte in Spain you won't be surfing the web all afternoon.

You can get better deals if you get a SIM card that only works in that country with no just depends on your needs.

As a side note, the WWAN card/software I installed in my Dell blocked my tethering capability to my Sprint for now it is removed...but I am looking at getting a T-mobile or At&t data plan for my laptop.

UPDATE: Worked great in Milan Italy, but again I couldn't get the internet part to work in Italy, although it did work in the US. Now explain why I can receive a call in an Milan subway car running down the track, but I get a dropouts in my house in the middle of town in the US?
UPDATE: Got the bill from Sprint and realized I had misread the pricing...but still cheaper than the alternate and more convenient.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dell 5520 WWAN Card

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I bought a Dell 5520 Mobile Broadband card to fill that empty space in my M1330's belly.

So I got it, and popped it in. The Dell site had a few choices of drivers etc. for it...I chose the generic didn't work. So I looked at the device info and it said it was a Cingular version.

So I use the Cingular branded software. Now I figure it won't work for my purpose. I stuck in a Boost Mobile SIM card, but it wouldn't log into the network. So I picked up a throwaway T-Mobile phone and tried that (BTW you have to shut down the computer to change SIMs or they won't be recognized...that is probably why the card holder is behind the battery). It saw the card, but I needed to figure out what APN to use...
So the internets had the list. I set the account up for Sidekick (due to the data plan) and it connected but I couldn't get on the internet. Then I changed the account to Pay by day...changed the APN also. But still can't really surf the only wants to visit wap sites and show that data (I guess). I now have a European SIM card with a data plan...I will see how that works next week.

The following pictures show the various settings and connections I got. Overall it is a success because the WWAN card is not locked, and setting it up and connecting was straight forward...however I don't have an actual internet plan, so I couldn't surf.

Note...Create NEW or EDIT one you already have...but not the AT&T one.

All I had to edit was the APN code...every company uses a different European one uses "mobiledata"

Finally, note the connection, and the data in/out...I have no idea what was coming in...never saw anything.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You have to play a little bit....

I don't have an XBox 360 or a PS3...but I do like to relax with a bit of Guitar Hero or RockBand.

So when I am not mooching off friends...I get a bit of practice in at home...

For those doing the math on this, you may ask how?

On the side I have had a link for Frets On Fire, an open source GH replica. Within the forums you can find links to GH type song data.

There are also a ton of different mods to the basic software...and the original is so beta, some of the mods actually fix it.

My personal favorite mod is called Alarian (2.963 is the version I am using). It takes the basic FoF software, fixes, cleans, adds more visuals AND head to head with drums or base. (no vocals, and so far only head to head). Well now there are plenty of RB type song data out there so you have plenty to choose from...BTW you don't need to install anything else, this mod includes a well worked over version of FoF.

Of course now that you can play head to head with guitar against do you play the drums. I guess you could buy a set of RB drums...but at that point it might be easier just to get the XB360 and RB to have all the toys.

I happen to have a set of Roland electronic drums...that obviously are a billion times better than the RB or GHWT drums...but how can I use them?

That was my question ever since I first played RB at a friends house (I sucketh much on RB drums).

Of course some folks solved that problem...there are some hacked ways to use your real electronic drums with the Xbox/PS3 and RB...but I will be using my Rolands with my PC playing FoF.

This first thread looked like the answer...then I read a bit more and read this thread...which linked to this forum (Lord of the Rings online?) where some folks needed to use midi devices for something in the game...Well the Roland has MIDI out...and I had a standard USB to MIDI converter (mine is listed as E-MU XMidi 1X1).

So I downloaded the MIDI2Key linked in that last forum topic and unzipped it (v so far). No installation required, but you do need to modify the MIDI2Key.ini file in the folder (if none then rename one of the others in the folder to that).

That is really the only hard point...I took one of the example files and simply assigned a different key to each entry, ran the software, opened up Notepad on top and started hitting the drum heads. From that I could tell which entry matched which drum head...I then put letters to match the key commands already assigned in the fretsonfire.ini file...for example...

;tom2 -blue
;HH -green
;tom1 -yellow

player_2_key_drum1a = K_a
player_2_key_drum2a = K_e
player_2_key_drum3a = K_t
player_2_key_drum4a = K_u

It seems more complicated than it is.

But it works perfectly.

Obviously the FoF software is not a replacement for GH or RB...but the price is right.

There are screen shots available everywhere, and videos on Youtube.