Category Archives: Journal

MS Defense

I had my Masters Defense yesterday and to my great delight, I passed! It involved a 30 minute presentation followed by an hour of questions from a panel of 3 professors. Now I just need to make a few edits to my thesis and I’ll have completed my MS degree! 8) Oh yeah, and I posted the slides from my defense presentation here.

Load / Save Wii Games From Hard Drive

I hate optical media. I hate its sensitivity to scratches, I hate its loud loading noises, I hate sorting through stacks of discs.

I’ve now found an excellent (albeit somewhat complicated) hack that allows me to save/load my Wii games to/from an external USB hard drive! The final results look a little something like this. I’ve worked off of the guides found here and here and am using a WD Passport hard drive. This was especially difficult for me because, despite the fact I already had the Homebrew Channel installed, I had the Wii system menu 4.0 installed (latest as of the time of this post). Alright, enough yapping… here’s how you can duplicate my results.

First, we need to trick your Wii into thinking it’s running an older version of the Nintendo software. This overcomes the fact that we’re running system version 4.0! We’ll also install “The Homebrew Channel” at the same time.

  1. Copy the contents of to a FAT formated SD card.
  2. Insert the SD card into your Wii and click on the system icon (lower left corner).
  3. Navigate to “Data Management” –> “Channels” –> “SD Card” and wait a moment.
  4. Agree to load “boot.dol” to execute the LoadMii environment.
  5. Select “DowngraderIOS35.dol” and run it by pressing “A” on the WiiMote. Choose “Downgrade IOS35” and then let it go. After it’s done, select “exit”.
  6. Now select “WAD Manager.dol” and, using default settings (e.g. run as IOS250), install “IOS35.wad”. When it’s finished, hit the “Home” button to exit.
  7. Run “WAD Manager.dol” again, but this time select “IOS35” when prompted and install “CIOSv7.wad”. After that’s installed, hit the “Home” button to quit.
  8. Next, run “WAD Manager.dol” one last time. This time, select “IOS249” for the IOS version and install both “IOS36.wad” and “HBC.wad”.
  9. Finally, restart your Wii and you’ll see a new link to “The Homebrew Channel”!

Now that we have “The Homebrew Channel” and the necessary IOS files, we can install the USB loader.

  1. Delete everything from your SD card and extract the contents of to it.
  2. Insert the SD card into your Wii and launch “The Homebrew Channel”.
  3. Execute the “cIOS36” application and follow the installation instructions.
    1. Be sure to use the “Internet Installation” option to get the very latest custom IOS files.
    2. If you have any problems with this step, it’s probably because you’re using the Nintendo System Menu 3.4 or later. Make sure you’ve successfully completed phase one of this tutorial!
  4. Restart “The Homebrew Channel” and execute the “WADman” program. Using this tool, install the “USB Loader-USBF VForwarder.wad” file.
  5. You should now have a “USB Loader” channel in your Wii System Menu. This is how you save/load game discs.

Alrighty… we’re done hacking the Wii! Now we just need to get the USB hard drive ready for use.

  1. Install the Wii Backup File System manager from here.
  2. Plug the hard drive into your PC.
  3. Right click on “My Computer” and select “Manage”.
  4. Click on the “Disk Management” option on the left
  5. When your disk drives have loaded, right click on the drive to be read by the Wii and choose “Delete Volume”.
  6. Now right click on the disk drive to be used and click “New”.
  7. Be sure to assign a drive letter to your drive, and to choose NOT TO FORMAT the drive when you create your new partition.
  8. Using “WBFS Manager”, select the correct drive and click “Format”.
  9. Now plug the USB drive into your Wii and start playing around with the “USB Loader”!

I hope you find this tutorial useful! I’ve been waiting for a good Wii game saver/loader for a while now, so I’m really excited about this tool. If you have any questions or problems, just leave a comment!

PS: I’m providing this information so you can run games that you OWN from a hard drive. If I find out that any of you are using this to pirate games, I’ll personally find where you live and leave a sack of flaming dog poop on your doorstep!

Color Wiimotes

I was doing some random internet reading earlier this weekend (as I’m often prone to do) and stumbled upon an interesting technique that model car hobbyist use to dye plastic components. It occurred to me, if one can permanently dye plastic car pieces… what else might he be able to color-ify? My answer… a Wiimote! Here’s what I did.

  1. Remove the four screws from under the Wii remote battery cover.
  2. Carefully unsnap the front and back plates, being sure not to break off the tabs on the top.
  3. Set aside the Wii controller mainboard, rubber button stoppers, and metal battery contacts.
  4. In a large pot (that you DON’T use for cooking) heat 8 cups of water to a boil.
  5. Mix in 8 fl oz of Rit liquid t-shirt dye (color of your choice).
  6. Turn heat source down to medium and mix liquid dye thoroughly.
  7. Add plastic Wii controller pieces to dye and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
    1. Be careful not to splash… the dye will stain everything it touches!
    2. Continue to mix non-stop… don’t let the pieces settle or you’ll get uneven colors.
    3. Always wear rubber gloves when working with the dye… it’s not good for your skin and will make you multi-colored for a long time.
  8. After the five minutes are up, remove the plastic pieces and wash them thoroughly in cold water.
    1. Don’t forget all of the pieces!
    2. 6 buttons, 1 trigger, 1 d-pad, 3 large shell pieces, 1 wrist-strap.
  9. Dry all the components and reassemble the wiimote.
  10. Enjoy your new, uniquely colored controller!

The above photos are of a Wii Remote Controller I dyed earlier this evening. What do you think?

Note: The various wiimote pieces are made of different types of plastic that take on different shades of color. The front plate will be the lightest, followed by the back plate and batter cover. The buttons and trigger will be slightly darker than the back plate. The D-pad will be the darkest by far.

{Grad Life} ∩ {Sleep} = ø

My research group just recently sent an IC out for fabrication… here are a few of the more interesting stats:

  • Size: ~2.5 x ~2.5 mm
  • Technology: 90 nm
  • Components: ~2.86 million transistors
  • Team: 2 lead designers, 1 pad designer, 1 undergrad, & 1 advisor
  • Sleep: 5 total hours between Wed. morning and Mon. afternoon

All I have to say is, thank goodness this is over… it’s been quite an experience, but I certainly don’t regret the fact that I’ll never be going through this again. 🙂

NC Highlands Trip

I was playing around with a Microsoft Research tool (Microsoft ICE) and decided to run a few photos through it from my trip to Highlands, NC. I’m pretty impressed with the results… which you can see in the sweet Silverlight application I’ve embedded below. You can click and drag to explore the scene and use the scroll-wheel to zoom in/out.

PS: My whole photo collection from the Highlands trip is posted here. I’ve also posted my four favorite shots in the “Photography” album here.

Firefox Passwords

Some security websites (such as PayPal & Bank of America) have special flags embedded in their pages that tell Firefox to not save their passwords. I recently came across a method that overrides these flags and allows Firefox to save passwords for any and all websites. Note: Only do this on computers that you and only you have access to!

  1. Navigate to your Firefox components installation directory. (Usually located: C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\components\)
  2. Open the following file with wordpad: nsLoginManager.js
  3. Search for the following block of code:

    _isAutocompleteDisabled : function (element) {
    if (element && element.hasAttribute("autocomplete") &&
    element.getAttribute("autocomplete").toLowerCase() == "off")
    return true;
    return false;

  4. Change the line that currently says “return true;” to say “return false;”
  5. The block of text should now look like this:

    _isAutocompleteDisabled : function (element) {
    if (element && element.hasAttribute("autocomplete") &&
    element.getAttribute("autocomplete").toLowerCase() == "off")
    return false;
    return false;

  6. Save your changes and restart Firefox.

There you go, Firefox should offer to remember all passwords, regardless of their security level. Remember… only do this on your personal computer! PS: If you’re not currently using Firefox… for heaven’s sake… why not!?!? Get Firefox

Facebook ToS

The following two statements were recently added to the Facebook Terms of Service. Does this bother anyone else?

You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.

What does this mean? Anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later. Also:

The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.

So, when you delete your account, a whole lot of data is retained… indefinitely. Wonderful.

Source: Consumerist

Biden and the RIAA

Remember last August when I wrote about Joe Biden’s close ties with the MPAA and the RIAA? Well, it looks like old habits die hard.

Among the men appointed to the Department of Justice are:

So much for “bringing the integrity, depth of experience and tenacity that the Department of Justice demands in these uncertain times.”

Source: Gizmodo, CNET

Apple’s Business Strategy

Tim Cook (Steve Job’s temporary replacement) sez:

  • iPhone has seen terrific rating from customers. Software is the key ingredient, and we believe that we are years ahead of our competitors. […] We view iPhone as primarily a software platform, which is different from our competitors. We don’t mind competition, but if others rip off our intellectual property, we will go after them.

Is this guy really arrogant enough to believe that the iPhone’s software is years ahead? Granted, it is good, but it’s not revolutionary. As an example, Microsoft developed a system very similar to Mobile Safari, called Deepfish, long before Apple did. Plus, iPhone doesn’t even have Copy & Paste yet!

I’d normally support respecting patent law, but this quote is in response to a question regarding how the iPhone will remain competitive. Suing the other guy is a really sleazy way to “stay ahead”. Plus, Apple has a history of patenting arbitrary crap. For example: they have patented multi-touch screens, lanyards, and mobile solar cells… even though they didn’t invent ANY of them! This is called patent trolling, and it’s a roadblock to progress.

Source: Engadget

Circuit City Liquidation

As most everyone should know by now, Circuit City has gone out of business and the stores are being liquidated. If you’re one of the many people who see the phrase “Liquidation Sale” and assume you’re in for some bargains… think again. Most of the items “on sale” at Circuit City have been artificially jacked-up in price and then “discounted” back down to values still more expensive than many competitor’s prices.

This is just another sad example of how the consumer electronics industry is screwing people who don’t know any better. Here’s a little tip, before you ever go to a physical store to purchase anything electronic, do yourself a favor and visit Newegg first. They generally have the best prices available anywhere, and most items have extensive user reviews. Don’t let yourself get hustled by the big-name stores.

Some examples of Circuit City liquidation “bargains”:

  • 50-inch Panasonic plasma TV: Circuit City: $1,800, Elsewhere: $1,365
  • HP All-in-One Printer: Circuit City: $270, Elsewhere: $141
  • Garmin GPS: Circuit City: $225, Elsewhere: $141

Source: Consumer Reports