I'm definitely looking forward to watching the next season of Boardwalk Empire with Savannah tonight! We start with episode 1 from season 3! The last episode from season 2 was quite crazy!! I wonder how things will play out now.

Attempting to put it off until the very last moment, I finally caved today and setup my own RSS reader. After reading many articles on which new RSS reader would take over for Google Reader, I managed to setup and install my own.

Leselys is a free to use application that is self-hosted. I have been opting for self-hosted apps wherever I can. It allows me to have all the control and I need not worry about if the service will be shutdown or not. Initially I had the install running on one of my servers. It was relatively easy and only required me to install MongoDB. However, I didn't like how it ran on a port and required me to modify my firewall and such. Fortunately there was a secondary option and that was to install it via Heroku.

I've never used Heroku before, but oddly enough I had done some research about it in the past 2-3 weeks or so just for fun. There's a Ruby gem you can install to easily get your application created, and deployed. The steps on the Lesely README made it really simple to get the application up and running. I first signed up for a Heroku account and then followed the very simple install instructions:

git clone git://github.com/socketubs/leselys.git
cd leselys
heroku create
heroku addons:add mongohq:sandbox
heroku addons:add redistogo:nano
heroku addons:add scheduler:standard
heroku addons:open scheduler
# Add "sh heroku.sh && leselys refresh heroku.ini" job every 10 minutes
# And "sh heroku.sh && leselys retention heroku.ini" job every day
git push heroku master

Literally I had the app up and running in 5 minutes. I created my own custom sub-domain for the app to run on and imported my XML file from Google Takeout. For some reason a couple of the feeds didn't import, however after troubleshooting I found out both of the feed URLs had changed (which likely was why they weren't updating in Google Reader).

Overall the application is decent however there's a few things which need to be fixed.

  • Renaming feeds - Sometimes for whatever reason RSS feeds are given really odd, long and obscure titles and it makes things look ugly.
  • Star or Favorite Stories - This would be useful to keep track of interesting stories.
  • Ordering feeds in list - Currently there doesn't seem to be any sort of rhyme or reason as to how the feeds are order in the sidebar listing. It would be nice to have the option to manually order them or at least sort them by alphabetical order.
  • Fix Add Feed box / UI Issue - There's a slight bug when clicking on the Add Feed Box, it appears as cut off and doesn't look good.

I've subscribed to the repository on GitHub so I can report and track issues. I would love to see these few items above get resolved!

Because I get really bored and am always looking for new projects or little hacks to do, I found myself looking into how to JTAG or RGH my Xbox. At first, I didn't really understand either hacks, but after doing a little research I figured it out. I knew that I would be able to store games and applications right on the hard drive and play them from there without the need to burn a DVD as with LT+ or DVD drive based hacks.

First let's define what each hack is and how it works.

JTAG

What the online gaming community has come to know as a "JTAG" is an Xbox that utilizes the SMC exploit. This exploit causes a re-boot into the 4532 kernel. This kernel was made famous by the KK exploit (King Kong), where a bug in the hypervisor was utilized to run unsigned code. The SMC exploit is a faster version of the KK exploit (as in, it boots faster), and allows for the running of unsigned code. The SMC exploit is limited to consoles running kernels prior to the summer 09 update (7371). It is also true that there are several patched CBs, which prevent the exploit. Due to the need for a console which has not been updated, they are naturally scarce and once demanded a high price. Credits go to robinsod, tmbinc, SeventhSon, Martin_sw, and Tiros.

RGH

The Reset Glitch Hack is a new type of method which allows the running of unsigned code. Explained by free60: "We found that by sending a tiny reset pulse to the processor while it is slowed down does not reset it but instead changes the way the code runs, it seems it's very efficient at making bootloaders memcmp functions always return "no differences". memcmp is often used to check the next bootloader SHA hash against a stored one, allowing it to run if they are the same. So we can put a bootloader that would fail hash check in NAND, glitch the previous one and that bootloader will run, allowing almost any code to run." This hack requires a "glitch chip", which will send the signal. These range from the original Coolrunner-II made by Digilent, the Matrix by Infinity Mod, Team-Xecuter Coolrunner, X360Glitch Chip by SoulHaven, and the Stinger by Maximus. These chips have an Xilink chip which is capable of sending the signal fast enough for the glitch to properly function. The benefits of the RGH is that it doesn't require a non-updated dashboard to run unsigned code, meaning you could run 2 or more NANDs, which allows you to run it as a retail with one, and run unsigned code with the other. It is also able to work on the Trinity motherboard (original slim motherboard), which the SMC exploit is not. Since this hack runs on almost any Xbox (some have CB_Bs, which don't allow the hack to run, and others have unglitchable CBs: 5772 and 6752; for now), which means that the only limiting factor is the number of Xboxs produced by Microsoft. Credits go to GliGli, Tiros, cOz, Razkar, tuxuser, and Ced2911

Ultimately, since they have the same outcome, they are theoretically the same value. However, I value the Reset Glitch higher than the SMC exploit, because of the ability to still run a retail dash on Xbox Live, without consequently causing the glitch to fail.

Source.

The process of completing the soldering and updating the NAND and such took all of about 4 hours for me. People who know what they're doing can probably do this all within under an hour. It took me a bit longer because I haven't done much with soldering. The software tools provided worked well and were quite easy to use.

J Runner

QSB

Nand-X QSB

TX Ultimate R-JTAG Kit

Once I had the unit RGH'd I got Xexmenu installed via downloading and burning an ISO to a CD. This allowed me to get the next piece of software, Dashlaunch and Freestyle installed. FreeStyle is a dashboard replacement for the default dashboard provided by Microsoft. It has a built-in FTP server which really helps with transferring files between your computer and Xbox.

Freestyle Dash

Freestyle Dash

Now, I can have all my games stored right on my hard drive -- which by the way, I have a 750GB SATA II 2.5" drive installed. Using these methods, allow you to by-pass the drive size restrictions (currently Microsoft only has a 320GB drive) and you can use up to a 2TB drive.

Freestyle dash is really nice, it works mostly just like the default Microsoft dashboard. You can download and customize the skin - I didn't do anything off the top, just altered a few of the colors and images. You can download cover art work for your games, there's even a really slick looking coverflow display mode you can choose, although I opted for a basic display of the games. The dashboard replacement also includes a tool that allows you to copy your games onto your Xbox so they can be played without a disk. A basic file manager also exists so you can copy, paste and move around files within your hard drive(s) or USB flash keys.

Overall, this hack has definitely paid for itself. The Team-Xecuter Ultimate R-JTAG kit cost about $60 including shipping and 3-4 hours of my time. I also spent about $15 on some flux and rosin core solder at my local Radio Shack. I no longer need to burn games. I can simply copy my purchased games to my Xbox hard drive and play them right from there. This is a really great hack for any Xbox owner and really for me, it extended the life of my Xbox 360 at least another 3-5 years.

Resources:

- [JTAG/RGH] Xbox 360 Ultimate Exploit Guide
- TX R-JTAG V1.0 - ULTIMATE KIT
- Xecuter R-JTAG Installation & Setup Guide
- Tutorial How To RGH Any Phat Xbox 360 On Current Dash Reset Glitch Hack May 2013
- How To Solder and Use Quick Solder Boards For Xbox 360 Reset Glitch Hack & Nandx Tips





Ooohhh man, this definitely reminds me of my first computer. A Packard Bell. For a while I thought this navigator application was the OS because that's what I saw when you booted up the computer. I didn't know Windows 95 was running "behind" it.

Packard Bell Wikipedia Article

I can't wait to play this game!

I finally managed to complete Eternal Sonata. After at least a year of playing it, setting it aside several times and picking it back up again, I finished a really good game. If there's one thing I could comment on about this game it would be the graphics. The design is absolutely amazing and landscapes and characters are quite well done. The characters themselves are done in cell-shading, but the landscapes are beyond beautiful.

The game plays mostly like any other RPG, however there's a few twists with how the battle system works. During battles you can move your character around on the battle field closer or farther from the enemies. Most of the time (except for in the beginning) you have a limited amount of time to decide on what you're going to do. The time limit is generally between 0 to 5 seconds. Once the time is up it's the next characters turn. This was new for me as I'm used to turn based games with no time limits. This new type forces you to be quick about your choices and even think ahead on the next characters move.

The story revolves around Fredrick Chopin, the famous pianist and a world he dreams up while on his deathbed. The game also includes cut scenes which educate the user on Chopin's real life and pieces of music he wrote. I enjoyed the storyline and found it quite interesting in how they intermingled Chopin's life into their own storyline.

Overall I did enjoy the game, the only frustrating parts I found were the incredibly long cut scenes. I felt like 75% of the game was cut scenes and movies while the other 25% was actual game play. Other then that, I quite enjoyed this game. It was a nice break from shoot em' up games like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor.

Made with by Jimmy B.