Doesn't Not Compute

My log of experiences with GNU/Linux and computers in general.

Tag Archives: modding

Xbox Tweaking: Jedi Academy

Today’s post will be pretty useless for anybody that doesn’t have a modified Xbox that is NOT a 360, a copy of Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy for the Xbox, and said game backed-up to the hard drive of that Xbox. I won’t be describing how to modify the Xbox, as Xbox-scene can describe it quite thoroughly. πŸ˜‰

Some games that were released for the Xbox have configuration files, even though the final product was intended to be placed on non-changeable discs. :mrgreen: Since these games were also released for a certain computer operating system, and have known tweaks that can be done there, it seems logical that at least some of those tweaks can be used in the Xbox version.

And today I decided to try digging around in the configuration of Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy.Β  This game uses the Quake III: Team Arena engine, so theoretically it can use any of the tweaks the engine recognizes, right?

Well, not on the Xbox.  It seems that some things work, such as enabling the Frames Per Second display; others do not, such as trying to force the rendering mode to a less intensive method. I suppose those are hard-coded in the executable (default.xbe), and override the configuration file (base/default.cfg). 😦

The rest of this post containsΒ  what tweaks I’ve attempted alongside whether they worked or not. Expect this post to be updated from time to time, and don’t expect me to try anything that has to do with multiplayer ping and such. πŸ˜€

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Computer . . . I Just Can’t See What You’re Saying

A week or two ago, the finicky backlight in my IBM Thinkpad 600E finally failed, leaving me with an impossible-to-read screen. I searched around, and ordered a replacement from Hong Kong.

It finally arrived today. I opened the envelope, and TADAH — it was too long. Apparently the directions I read at the time were wrong on which way to measure the screen. (For the record, for this machine you measure the *height* of the screen, not the *width*.)

I decided to try hacking together a way to use the backlight anyway, since I didn’t want to wait another several weeks for another backlight to arrive (and I couldn’t send it back for my ordering the wrong part). It went well — the plastic that spreads the light didn’t crack much after I scored through it partway from both sides with a razorblade, and after soldering the CCFL backlight it worked perfectly.

Then I tried to carefully wrap some electrical tape around where the wires were soldered to the CCFL. Not carefully enough, it seems — when I was just finishing the second end’s tape, the light snapped. πŸ‘Ώ

I don’t want to rip the backlight out of my Dell’s old 1024×768 screen, even if it would fit, and I still don’t want to reorder, so this laptop is more-or-less out of commission for general usage as a laptop.

It uses an identical kernel configuration to the Dell Latitude C600 though, aside from the tricky sound. So, I suppose if I got another hard drive for it, and set the system up in the Latitude and transplant it into the Thinkpad, I could turn it into a practical torrent slave similar to what K. Mandla did with an even older machine. 😈 :mrgreen:

The LCD itself still works, though, so if I were to acquire one of those old-school “overhead projectors”, like this one on Wikipedia’s Overhead Projection article:

Overhead projector -- projects light through a transparent sheet with pictures, text, through a lense and onto a flat surface such as a wall.

I could make a cheapish video projector capable of 720p display. 😈 It would be noisy though, but perhaps it would be worth it. I should do some testing, though, as the LCD’s data ribbon plug only works with the Neomagic card in this laptop, and the card has only 2.5MB memory on it. Perhaps this info would help?

A tutorial from years ago on Tom’s Hardware can still be found on their site, here.

Here’s a video of one of these projectors in action. It was originally produced by Tom’s Hardware, and was available for download at the end of their article, but the download link is no longer functional. So, this is it from Youtube.

Sorry about the Flash, but I couldn’t find a way to embed it as HTML5 that WordPress.com would allow. 😦

Chuck’s Tandy 102 – A Retro Case Modding Experience

Today, I was looking for examples of how to paint laptops. So I went looking for information on paints that wouldn’t rub off, and while researching vinyl dye I came across this article. It wasn’t really what I was looking for, but it
opens up some interesting ideas for me. Possibly involving getting a Tandy 102 or similar machine myself. πŸ™‚

Chuck Miller's Tandy 102 before cleaning and case mod

The article is the story of the makeover of a Tandy 102, a member of the TRS-80 Model 100 laptop series released in 1983. It’s so old that in some ways it’s better than modern laptops — because its operating system loaded from ROM the moment you turned the machine on and could run for HOURS on cheap batteries. It had a full-size QWERTY keyboard, and had programs such as an address book, to-do list organizer, simple text editor, a terminal program, and a programming “language” (Microsoft BASIC).

It has the disadvantages of having only a 300 byte/sec dial-up modem, a 2.4 MHz processor, and a VERY small screen, but it only weighs about 3 lbs (~1.4 kg) and measures about 12″x8.5″x2″ (30cm by 21.5 cm by 5 cm). As for other advantages, I’ll just quote Chuck Miller:

. . . some people are probably asking, “Chuck, why in blue blazes are you working off a dinosaur computer like this one, instead of plunking down some serious coin and getting a modern laptop?”

Actually, there are plenty of personal reasons why I’m going this route. My 102 is bare bones and ready for work. There are no internal DVD programs or computer games to distract me from my work. If the power starts to run down, I can add another four AA batteries and I’m back at work (you can get about 20-25 hours of uninterrupted battery life from
four alkaline AA batteries). And it’s virtually theft-proof – as in, “Who the hell would steal THAT thing?”

Granted, it’s durable – but I wanted to see if there were some cosmetic customization techniques I could apply to it. I never heard of “case modding” before, but it’s the same spirit that turned a Lincoln Continental into the Batmobile – a little modification here and there, the right paint job and some extra gizmos, and voila.

So basically, this is the 1980’s version of a netbook — low-power and extremely portable. It cost US$1100 in 1983 though — which is US$2300-2400 adjusted for inflation to 2009 — so perhaps it was just a wee bit pricier than the modern netbook. :mrgreen:

Here’s the before and after pictures. Chuck asked not to load them to my blog, so these are links directly to the images on his server.

Tandy 102 after case mod

Chuck Miller's Tandy 102 after case mod

One word describes how much better it looks: “WOW.” Alternatively, “amazing” may be substituted. πŸ˜€

Go to http://www.chuckthewriter.com/tandy.html to read the whole process.

❗ There are a lot of images, but they’re not very big.

The above images and quoted text are from Chuck Miller, at chuckthewriter.com. Used with permission — thanks Chuck!