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Friday, May 30, 2008

Synaptics T1004 based touchpad to PS2 port

I was having kind of a slow day here at the office so I thought I would start sorting through some old boxes of junk we had lying around and stumbled upon a few laptop touchpads cowering at the bottom of a box labeled ‘Misc Laptop Parts’ (fancy that). Remembering that some years ago I had read most touchpads use the PS2 protocol I rescued them from their cardboard prison and decided to see if I could make one work with my computer. I googled and googled but could not find any good pin out info for any of the touchpads I had, most people are recommending trying this with the Synaptics flavor of touchpad, I had one Synaptics and the rest were Apls. I figured I would follow the crowd and play with the Synaptics one and condemned the Apls pads back to their confining cardboard container. Synaptics does have some very informative information on their website by means of a PDF file containing more information than one could ever want to know about thouchpads but no pin outs at least not for the model I held in my eager little hands. This is not really a tutorial on how to do this mod I just wanted to share some of the info I had found, I figure if you are even thinking about attempting this mod you should have some knowledge of electronics, soldering and general tinkery about you, if not, buy a mouse. I gave up on finding the pin outs for my specific touchpad and decided to look into the controller chip on the damn thing. It would seem that Synaptics really only use 2 chips the T1002 and the T1004, the one I possessed was the T1004 and Synaptics are very tight lipped about the pin outs for this device. I broke out the old multi-meter and started to trace some of the tracks for this chip. After an hour or so, a few trial and error attempts, two cups of coffee and a cigarette I finally figured out the important bits, it is true that a picture speaks a thousand words so have a look at the picture (if you click on it it should enlarge) and it should give you a good start in doing this. Trace back tracks from the chip to a good point to attach your wires, remember though this doesn’t have to be the actual connector, mine had some nice gold test points on the PCB that I used. I stopped tracing tracks after I had the touchpad working so I don’t that the pin out info on the buttons, but to be honest you don’t really need the buttons, left click is just a tap on the pad and you can set right click to be a hot region somewhere on the touchpad (I used bottom right corner). So there you go, hope it helps someone and remember if you blow something up it isn’t my fault.

This is where I got the pin out info for the PS2 port

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Iron Man – Review

Ok folks, here we go my fist movie review, I beg of thee please be kind. Being true to what seems to be an interesting schizophrenic character trait of mine, you may find this review to be a little hypocritical after my last post condemning big budget Sci-Fi movies but I simply could not resist the draw of this one. All it took was one sneak peek trailer and I was hooked, consumed in a whirlwind of red and gold enthusiasm. I have to say for the record that I have been building myself up for this movie for some time now, almost to the point of not wanting to see it, I was scared, scared that Hollywood in its infinite cinematic wisdom would let me down as it has done so many times in the past. (can we say the 2003 rendition of Hulk, hell we can kill two birds with one stone here, two reviews in one it was awful, Ang Lee, the director of this comic book abomination together with the rest of the players should be loaded into a space ship, sent to the planet of ass kicking robots to have their asses perpetually kicked until the end of time.) Anyways back to Iron Man, so I here you ask was I disappointed? Well read on my friend.

The movie opens with our reluctant hero Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) giving a demonstration of his companies’ latest and greatest instrument of death, the Jericho. Stark is kidnapped post demonstration by a militia group hell bent on Stark recreating the Jericho for their own mischievous uses. Stark defiantly ignores his captor’s threats and constructs himself a suite of iron in an elaborate escape attempt. Upon returning to the so called civilized world Stark, rebels against his own company, secludes himself from society and improves upon his iron suite.

The movies ends (nobody get mad, I don’t consider this a spoiler because we all know how it’s going to end) with an all out battle involving Stark and his nemesis. Iron Man (Stark in his now fancy red and gold suite) is out gunned but still manages to come up trumps and save the day.

Well that’s the movie in a nut shell, so what did I think? The truth is its awesome, brilliant, stunning, standing on your seat shouting for more good. As I may have subtlety touched on earlier I was unsure of Hollywood’s ability to tell this tail well, well my fears were unfounded. This movie has everything I normally don’t like so much in Sci-Fi movies, big budget and an all star cast (Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow to name but a few) and yet they pulled it off in a stunning feat of visual entertainment. Robert Downey Jr. was perfect for the role, full of alcohol fueled cynicism and witty one liners. His supporting cast was equally as good, very well cast and very well acted. Unfortunately my favorite characters don’t get a mention in the credits, they are a couple of comical robots that assist Stark in his own private laboratory, as far as robots go they are not the smartest artificial intelligent machines in science fiction, in fact I think they share the same robotic gene pool as Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot from Mystery Science Theater 3000 but thankfully they inherited all the same endearing qualities as their afore mentioned mechanical compadres. As far as the story goes its exactly what you would expect, it’s not going to win any best script awards but come on people it’s a comic book movie, the age old battle of good versus evil, we know the story, we have seen it a thousand times with a thousand super heroes in a thousand cheesy super hero costumes but it doesn’t matter, it’s a good story damn it. Visually the movie is great, good CGI, believable (well almost believable) technology and some nice cars thrown in the mix all go a long way in making this one of the best comic book to big screen transitions I have seen. Bottom line is this is a good movie it gets my vote.

For all of you that skip straight to the bottom of a review to cut out all the waffle all the get the author’s yay or nay here you go. If you have not seen this movie yet stop reading about it, turn of your computer, put some clothes on, run as if you life depended on it to the nearest movie house, pay whatever extraordinary amount of money they ask for and sit on the edge of you seat for the next 126 minutes basking in the glory of this wonderful movie adaptation of a timeless comic book classic.

Check out Iron Man on IMDB

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Movie Reviews

I am going to try and start reviewing some of the movies I watch, please be nice as I have never written a movie review before. I will be the first to admit that I am a Sci-Fi fan as you could have probably guessed by reading any of my other posts (I guess I am saying that it is probably pretty obvious that I am a geek or a nerd or whatever you want to call me, not that I am saying that all nerds like nothing but Sci-Fi movies, well actually I am, come on admit it, yes you, you would much prefer to kick back, remote in one hand, a back issue of 2600 clutched tightly in the other, whilst watching a scantily clad female robot kick a little ass on a alien world not too far away from our very own sector). I am not ashamed of liking Sci-Fi movies and to be honest I prefer the low budget, straight to video kind. Why I hear you scream, well to be honest I am not sure but I think it’s because most of the big budget Sci-Fi movies tend to be a little full of themselves, lost in big name celebs and fancy CGI. I am by no means saying that the blockbuster Sci-Fi movies suck some of them are very good, I am just saying that I like a good, middle of the night airing, of some good old b movie Sci-Fi, after all the whole Sci-Fi genre was started with b movies (ever seen Plan 9 From Outer Space?). Sorry I digress, back to reviewing movies, I know there are many people reviewing movies out here in the vastness that is the metaverse but quite frankly I don’t really like most of them, they tend to be stuck up pompous pricks that miss the point of a good Sci-Fi flick. I will try and keep it a little more down to earth so to speak. I am not sure what movie will first fall victim to my delusions of grandeur as a want to be movie critic but I can assure you it will probably never will have known the glory of an opening night, nor heard the screams from the hordes of avid fans camped out for days outside the movie theater, but good or bad that poor little unknown 90 minutes of cinematic failure deserves a review from someone. I will probably throw in a few blockbusters too, just to keep everything nice and fair, we wouldn’t want them to feel left out now would we. So now I am off to free the clicker from the evil clutches of the sofa and pursue my first victim.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Windows automatic update fix Win XP

This is the solution to something that had been bothering me for some time now.

Here is the deal, you have just done a reinstall of Windows XP over the top of your existing install to fix whatever problem might be bugging you at the time (there are many names for this procedure, maintenance install, overlay install, dirty install, etc) and as if by magic all seems to be working just peachy until you hit that all important Windows Update button. The system springs into life frantically downloading update after update, listing them of one by one as if we are supposed to know or care what they do. Finally it starts installing them and as you wait with baited breath to find out if all your hard work has paid off, the computer reaches out its proverbial hand and politely slaps you across the face with an error message stating that it can’t install any of the updates.

Well stress no more because here is the answer.

Disclaimer: Please be careful, I have used this fix a lot and never had a problem but that doesn’t mean you won’t, I offer no warranty or guarantee on this fix. Use at your own risk if something goes wrong please feel free contact me, I will help if I can but I will not be held responsible for any mishaps or damage that this procedure may cause.

Ok so here we go.

Click the start menu and select ‘RUN
At the command prompt type ‘net stop wuauserv’ and press enter
After the service has stopped type ‘regsvr32 %windir%\system32\wups2.dll’ and press enter
A dialog box will popup saying that the file has been successfully registered, click ‘OK’ to close the box
Back at the command prompt type ‘net start wuauserv’ and press enter
You should get a message saying the service has started again
Close the command window and restart the computer
Run windows update

If all went well the updates should all take and you can stop holding your breath.

If you don’t like all that typing, download the file below, extract its contents, (it’s a rar file, you will need winrar or something similar) and run it. This will do everything listed above. Don’t forget to restart the computer after you have run the file.

Good luck

Thursday, May 22, 2008

IOGear USB Bluetooth Mod

This was a fun little project, I hate the idea of Bluetooth headsets, well let me rephrase that, I don’t hate the idea I think the idea is great I guess what I am saying is I hate the fashion trend of Bluetooth headsets. I think the whole thing is rather silly. So on a somewhat hypocritical note I joined the masses, laid my money down and procured myself a Bluetooth headset. (As a side note, did you know the name Bluetooth comes from a tenth century king of Denmark and Norway, King Harald Bluetooth. Who was renowned for unifying warring tribes in Denmark and Norway) Long story short I wanted to use it in conjunction with my VOIP soft phone so I could talk to my family over the pond in the UK without being tied to my desk. After setting it all up I was sadly disappointed in the range, I could walk no more than about five or six feet from my computer without static and everything breaking up. Not wanting to be defeated I had a quick look around the net for inspiration grabbed a few tools and the rest, not unlike King Harald himself, is history.

You can read all about this mod over at or click on the link below

To Blog or not to Blog

That is the question, whether it is noble in the mind to share every thought and whim with the world. What would the greats think of this new means of random, faceless communication? Who knows, who cares? Come to think of it who cares about reading blogs, is this some odd form of online voyeurism? Quite frankly I think yes, and the truth is the world loves it. There are blogs every where you go now, you cant throw a proverbial stone on the Internet without hitting some one's blog, there 2 cents, every one has an opinion, well we all know how that goes. Anyway I am sure I am not the first person to raise this particular point about blogs, there is surely an inconceivable amount of information about the social implications of blogs floating around in cyber space, most of it I am sure from people far more qualified than I to comment or analyze the situation.......But on a contradictory note, is that not the purpose of blogs, random people, random thoughts, a medium for anyone with the time and inclination to share there thoughts on anything and everything with the world.