Saturday, April 14, 2007

God of War II (PS2)

- Finished in a bit under 17hrs on normal (I never had to switch to easy.
- Take the best parts of God of War 1, remove most of the really annoying frustrating parts, and a few new frustrating parts, and crank up the epic action a notch and you have gow2.
- Puzzles were enjoyable for the most part with a few not so obvious ones thrown in.
- There are still a few frustrating sequences where the timing is so tight it leaves no room for error.
- I found the amulet of fates a bit hard to trigger sometimes (L1 + R1). It's particularly frustrating when you have to active it under strict time constraints.
- 480p and wide screen support. Looked a bit better under ps2 vs ps3. PS3 was very sharp, ran and played perfectly smooth, but major jaggies. The gamma also seemed a bit blown out. Component on ps2 helps soften the edges a bit. Also no rumble on ps3 really sucks so I ended up playing the entire game on ps2.
- There is a psuedo hd mode:
As the game boots up, before even the White test "SCEA Presents" legal screen comes up. Hold down L1+L2+L3 (Thumbstick Button)+Square+Circle at the same time.
If you did it right, the Legal screen will appear in a shade of purple.
I tried this on ps3 (you have to hit that ps button really early in the boot process then hold down the above buttons. It really looked no different to me. I got the purple screen but the game still had lots of ugly jaggies.
- Camera overall seems improved, much fewer frustrating balance beam segments, no long confusing under water levels, no horribly frustrating vertical spikey columns.
- I found the boss fights really enjoyable, and that's a good thing since there are like twice as many now.
- Graphics are great again if not even a bit better. Levels and scale are as epic as ever.
- Soundtrack is good but seems to borrow heavily from the first game.
- Save and continue points are very well spaced apart.
- 3 way sex mini game isn't as good as the first one.
- I love the new grapple mechanic and makes for some really dramatic and exciting segments along with a few new puzzles.
- Overall I found combat a bit more enjoyable. It still has the same simplistic yet enjoyable combo system but defense becomes more important due to an item you obtain half way through the game.
- Cliff hanger ending. It's bad but not quite Halo 2 bad.
- 2 disc set. Second disk is a video dvd full of making of material.

Highly recommended. Sony really did save the best for last for the ps2.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Carnival of Gamers #23

Check out some of the great articles featured in this month's Carnival of gamers hosted at Gaming Nexus. To learn more about the Carnival of Gamers please visit

Nyko Dual Charger AC (PS3)

- $25 from gamestop
- Normally, you can only charge your ps3 controllers while the ps3 is on. Nobody wants to leave a $600 machine on just to charge a controller. Powered USB hubs didn't work. You could always plug it into a pc or if you were lucky a cable set top box to charge your controller.
- Now there is a safe convenient way to do it. The charger works just fine. The prongs collapse for easy travel though the ac adapter is a bit big.
- Charge up to two controllers at the same time.
- A bit pricey but you do get two usb cables.

Works just fine. It's up to you if you think it's worth the $25.

Monday, April 02, 2007


- Think of it as NAS but for hdtv OTA and qam.
- about the size of a VHS tape.
- Just drop this device anywhere on your wired network, split your cable signal or hook up two hdtv antennas (or mix and match). Now stream that mpeg2 TS over udp to any pc on your network. Watch it in VLC or save it.
- Very convenient to setup. NO pc to open up, no free PCI slot needed. No messy or difficult drivers to install. You have the flexibility to access the tuners over any PC on the network. Very expandable. If you need more tuners just drop in another HDHR (or 2 or 3). With one hdhr, impact on a 100mbps network is pretty minimum even with both tuners streaming at the same time (only about 30mbps used out of the 70mbps real world throughput you usually get out of a 100mbps network). You could always upgrade to a 1000mbps network backbone if you need additional bandwidth.
- Supports most of the popular pvr software out there.
- There are beta drivers in their forums for mapping qam to ota in MCE. Pretty cool trick since mce only supports ota hdtv.
- Overall, NOT for the tivo user. But if you are a pvr homebrew kind of user this thing is amazing.
- They even include full source code.
- Price isn't bad either. At $170 it's only a little more than a fusion 5 gold ($150) and you get two tuners!
- After a week of recording the thing has been rock solid and much more reliable than the fusion 5 gold.
- I've only tested hdhr with my own homebrew pvr software that I wrote. I have NOT tested this with MCE.
- TS recordings stream just fine from MCE to xbox 360 by mapping a network share and going to the videos menu item.
- Software included is a bit low level and requires a more technically savvy user. A pretty basic gui app is included to let you tune into stations, launch vlc to watch it, and check signal strength. There is also a CLI app which is very flexible.

hdhomerun_config discover
hdhomerun_config <id> get help
hdhomerun_config <id> get <item>
hdhomerun_config <id> set <item> <value>

hdhomerun_config <id> scan <tuner> [<filename>]
hdhomerun_config <id> save <tuner> <filename>

hdhomerun_config <id> upgrade <filename>

Supported configuration options:
/tuner<n>/channel <modulation>:<freq|ch> Get/set modulation and frequency
/tuner<n>/channelmap <channel map> Get/set channel to frequency map
/tuner<n>/filter 0x<nnnn>-0x<nnnn> [...] Get/set PID filter
/tuner<n>/program <program number> Get/set MPEG program filter
/tuner<n>/target <ip>:<port> Get/set target IP for tuner
/tuner<n>/status Display status of tuner
/tuner<n>/streaminfo Display stream info
/tuner<n>/debug Display debug info for tuner
/ir/target <ip>:<port> Get/set target IP for IR
/lineup/location <countrycode>:<postcode> Get/Set location for lineup
/lineup/location disabled Disable lineup server connection
/sys/version Display firmware version
/sys/copyright Display firmware copyright
/sys/debug Display debug info
Supported modulation types: 8vsb qam qam64 qam256
Supported channel maps: default us-bcast us-cable us-irc us-hrc

- here is a great post to help you understand the CLI app a bit better. (start at post #28)
- To stop a particular tuner from broadcasting you need to issue a /target none
- comes in really handy in analyzing TS streams.

Some general HDTV Playback Tips
- Splitters to playback high def mpeg2 TS files. You need this to be able to playback TS under the DX engine. This isn’t required for the VLC engine. Advantages of using the DX engine for playback are 1) I think powerdvd decoders look better. 2) DX takes advantage of DXVA acceleration provided you have a compliant DX9 video card and can greatly reduce cpu utilization. See for lots more info.
- Basically there are 3 different ones you can use: nero splitter that comes with nero vision, cyberlink splitter that comes with powerdvd 7 (I don’t think 6 has it), and hdtvpump: . So far I’ve only tested the cyberlink one and the nero one. The cyberlink seems to have a bug and reports the wrong duration on the file so I recommend the nero one. You only need 1 nero file( and regsvr32 it. Then up the filter merit and reboot to make sure it’s the splitter being used.
- I ran into a weird de-interlacing issue while trying to playback an HD TS file using the DX engine through svideo (I know svideo is only SD but hey it still looks better). To fix it I installed powerdvd7, latest ati drivers, reinstalled pvr 250 drivers (because they somehow got hosed in the process). In the ati control panel set to clone. In home theater under video set to clone overlay only in hometheater full screen mode. Set deinterlace to auto detect. After that the video looked really good.
- ac3: install ac3filter: , run config, check use spdif, apply. turn off dolby digital live in your mixer if you use a nf2 mb. That's it! true ac3 spdif 5.1 pass thru. You might also want to go to the system tab and uncheck mpeg audio.
- ProjectX: Handy utility to repair or convert ts streams to mpg, etc. Useful if you record using filter instead of program number and you need to repair the PAT/PMT in the TS. Just run projectx -tots myfile.ts.

other resources:

rcHDHR (1.08 - 8/13/08)
Complete source is included. I wrote this little application to make recording a bit easier and to simplify integration with other applications.

Command Line utility that wraps calls to hdhomerun_config so you can record with a single command line call.

Requires Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0.
Unzip to a directory of your choice. Open rcHDHR.exe.config in notepad.
hdhrconfig: make sure this points to where hdhomerun_config.exe is installed
pausems: number of milliseconds to pause between each call to hdhomerun.config
chmap: issue a channelmap command (default us-bcast us-cable us-irc us-hrc) or leave blank to skip
stopapp: this sends the ctrl c to hdomerun_config so it stop recording and closes nicely.
filterattempts: how many times to issue the filter command if one was passed in. 1 is usually fine.

rcHDHR deviceid tuner chtype channel program dursec port filename [filter]
rcHDHR kill (close all instances of hdhomerun_config by sending ctrl c)

deviceid: use FFFFFFFF if you only have one hdhomerun on the network otherwise use the unique device id (hdhomerun_config discover will display this)
tuner: either 0 or 1 to determine which tuner to use
chtype: modulation type for tuner (8vsb qam qam64 qam256)
channel: Channel number to tune in
program: program number to tune in
dursec: duration for the recording in seconds
port: unique port you want to receive the udp stream. Make sure these are different for each tuner. I use 5002 and 5004 for tuner 0 and 1.
filename: pass this in quotes if you have spaces
filter: optional. Tune using filter instead of program number. Make sure you also enclose this in quotes.

kill: if you issue the kill command (no other parameters are needed) it will loop through all running instances of hdhomerun_config and send a ctrl-c to stop that instance.

UPDATE: 1.01 (4/2/07)
- changed default pause to 3000ms
- When you pass a filter I now set the program first and then the filter.
- A log is always created in the same directory as rcCtrlC with the name rcHDHR.log. The log self trims so don't worry. It won't grow forever.

UPDATE: 1.02 (4/5/07)
- added much more detailed logging. Every set is followed by a get
- added the ability to set any channelmap (optional)
- added the ability to try the set filter command multiple times if you want to.

UPDATE: 1.03 (4/16/07)
- fixed a serious bug where you couldn't record beyond about an hour and 10 min.
- date/time is written to the console.

UPDATE: 1.04(2/28/08)
- in rcHDHR.exe.config I changed chtype to chtype0 and chtype1. This way you can specify qam for one tuner and 8vsb (atsc) for the other if you wish. Make sure you update your config if you are upgrading from an earlier verison.

UPDATE: 1.06 (3/26/08)
- skipped 1.05 (internal release only)
- chtype0 and chtype1 have been removed from the .config file. You now need to pass it as a command line argument. This makes a lot more sense if you have more than one HDHR.
- rebuilt using visual studio 2008 but still targeting the .net 2.0 framework.
- fixed a vista issue where it wasn't getting the proper ip address for setting target.

UPDATE: 11/3/09
- So I've now had 3 power supplies die on me over the past few years across two different HDHR's. Here are the signs to look for:
- The lights always look fine on the actual box so that is NOT an indicator.
- You get 0 byte recordings.
- Your symbol jumps from 0 to 100 back and forth constantly.
- Radio shack replacement power supplies are quite expensive. It's about $20-$30 once you get the proper size tip. You need 2.1A (rs one was 2.0A), 5v, tip positive.
- Open a support ticket with silicon dust and they are usually very good about shipping out a replacement.
- It's gotten so bad I suggest having a spare power supply on you at all times so you have less down time. I just now expect to replace the power supply once every year minimum. Silicondust really needs to find a new Chinese supplier for these things.

UPDATE: 1.08 (9/11/2011)
- added vchannel support for hdhomerun prime.
rcHDHR deviceid tuner vchannel dursec port filename
- there are 2 new app settings which are pretty obsolete. It was a work around for an earlier buggy version of the hdhr prime firmware. It's since been fixed. Just make sure they are in your rcHDHR.exe.config file (primegoodch, primetuneattempts)