Street Fighter II Turbo (Super Nintendo Version)

It was supposed to be a big deal when this game first came out, with several touted improvements over the original SNES version of Street Fighter II. The first time I encountered the game was at a store called Videots located at what is now the 280 Metro Center in Colma. One of my high school classmates worked there and he was able to grant us a sneak peak of the Japanese version of the game. I remember riding in a tiny little Toyota Paseo after school to get there. Later, when the game was released in the U.S., my father would take us to the Wherehouse on Van Ness Avenue to rent it. Interestingly, this was one of the first SNES games I encountered that no longer had a slot for the cartridge lock (i.e. you could still pull out the game when the SNES was on). Finally, my mother bought me the Japanese version of the game, which is the one I used to record the video above.

Back to the so-called improvements, though. Yes, the voices were now all there, and the animation was smoother, but otherwise it seemed like the same old stuff. The music was the same. The graphics were the same. There were also still some flaws, like the music fading out too quickly after a round (different from the arcade). Maybe it was because I wasn’t really a fan of Champion Edition or Hyper Fighting in the arcade, having spent less time on these newer versions than I did on the original World Warrior. If I recall correctly, the game retailed for $79.99 due to its increased memory requirements (20 megabits, huge for the time). Looking back on it now, it was definitely not worth that price.

Regardless of everything I’ve said, this game is still a precious memory from adolescence, and something I enjoyed at the time (never underestimate the teenager’s ability at denial). After all, as a high school kid, owning a $79.99 game is no small deal. 🙂 As always, hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

Winbond

Winbond
Winbond chip on hard drive PCB

Just another random chip photo passing by on the slideshow. This was the PCB on my first multi-gigabyte hard drive, a 2-gig Seagate Medalist (ST32122A). If memory serves, it came with the Pentium 166 I acquired shortly after the start of my second semester in college (the good old 386 was no longer cutting it).

Googling the numbers on the chip reveal that this is a “high speed CMOS static RAM” chip, though I couldn’t find any further information as to what it was used for. Since it’s a CMOS chip (and there is a battery-looking thing on the PCB) I would guess that it stored drive parameters and that it was programmed at the factory. Most likely the different capacity drives in the same line shared the same PCB, and they just programmed this chip as appropriate. It could also be cache memory, but that guess is just a stab in the dark.

Update: Based on the Wikipedia entries for SRAM and CMOS, it looks like this was probably the cache.

Nexus 7 (2013) – Marshmallow Manual Install

TL;DR – go straight to the step-by-step summary

With all the news regarding the recent release of Android 6.0 “Marshmallow”, I decided to give it a try ahead of the OTA. The last time I attempted to flash my own update was Lollipop for the Nexus 10, and it was a bit convoluted trying to find a single source of instructions for doing so. This time was a similar story, which is why I’m making my own guide for future reference.

The first thing I did was to make sure that I had backups of anything on the device that I wanted to keep, since the update procedure includes a step to unlock the bootloader, which deletes everything. I just dragged anything I wanted to keep into a folder on my computer.

Next, I downloaded the official factory image from Google, from the the Factory Images for Nexus Devices page. In my case, I scrolled down to the “razor” for Nexus 7 [2013] (Wi-Fi) section and downloaded version 6.0. The filename is razor-mra58k-factory-300dc903.tgz.

"razor" for Nexus 7 [2013] (Wi-Fi)
Download the appropriate image, then verify

Next, I verified the MD5 checksum using a program that was already installed on my computer, WinMD5.

Comparing checksums with WinMD5
Looks like they match

Knowing that the image came in correctly, the next thing I did was download the tools that do the actual flashing. This is the part that was slightly confusing for me. There is a bunch of stuff to download and I was wary of downloading more than I needed. After some trial and error, I downloaded installer_r24.3.4-windows.exe from Google’s Android SDK Tools page. Running the installer, I was informed that I was missing Java. I downloaded and installed jre-8u60-windows-x64.exe from Oracle and was able to successfully install the tools in a folder on my desktop. I didn’t test it but I think if I was already running the Java Runtime Environment from Java.com, it would have satisfied the prerequisite.

At the end of the tools installation the Android SDK Manager opens up and you can choose what packages to install. I unchecked everything and selected Tools -> Android SDK Platform-tools and Extras -> Google USB Driver (scroll to the bottom to select this one), then clicked the Install 2 packages… button.

Android SDK Manager
Scroll to the bottom to select the Google USB Driver

Once installation is done, you can close the Android SDK Manager.

At this point it’s time to do some stuff on the actual device. First, enable USB debugging. Go to Settings -> About tablet, then tap on Build number 7 times. A message pops up indicating that you are now a developer. Go back to Settings, then the newly available Developer options, then enable USB debugging.

Android Developer Options
Android System settings – before and after

Now we can plug the device into the computer. When I did this on my Windows 7 PC, a bubble popped up indicating driver installation. This was no doubt the Google USB Driver – I guess the USB debugging sets the device into another mode, making the device appear to Windows to be different than the one that normally connects. Wait a little bit for the drivers to install and update.

The tablet will confirm whether it’s OK to allow USB debugging. Tap OK to continue.

Now the instructions on the Factory Images for Nexus Devices page start to make sense to us non-developers. In step 2, it is implied that the device should be in USB debugging mode. In step 3, it is also implied that the platform-tools are installed, with its location entered into the system path. Since I don’t have it in the path, I can instead go to the Android SDK Tools folder on my desktop, go inside the platform-tools folder (where adb.exe is located), and open a command prompt.

Per step 3, enter the following command: adb reboot bootloader. The device will reboot, and Windows will play the device-disconnected sound. For the Nexus 7, a giant green arrow with the word “Start” inside of it appears at the top of the screen, the green android robot appears in the middle, and some device information appears on the bottom. This is fastboot mode. At the very bottom the LOCK STATE is indicated, and it should show as locked. Now we can proceed with step 4 and type fastboot oem unlock. This is the step that deletes everything on the device. Follow the instructions displayed on the device to proceed.

C:\Users\Jonathan\Desktop\androidsdk\platform-tools>fastboot oem unlock
...
(bootloader) Unlocking bootloader...
(bootloader) erasing userdata...
(bootloader) erasing userdata done
(bootloader) erasing cache...
(bootloader) erasing cache done
(bootloader) Unlocking bootloader done!
OKAY [ 24.835s]
finished. total time: 24.839s

The device returns to fastboot mode and now displays unlocked as the lock state. We are almost ready to flash Marshmallow to the device. Going back to the image file we downloaded earlier, razor-mra58k-factory-300dc903.tgz, extract the contents of the razor-mra58k folder inside the archive to the platform-tools folder. There should be a total of 5 files:

bootloader-flo-flo-04.05.img
flash-all.bat
flash-all.sh
flash-base.sh
image-razor-mra58k.zip

Now comes the part that was slightly nerve-wracking, actually flashing the files to the device. Google has kindly prepared a batch file that does all the work for you, so all you have to do is run it: flash-all.bat. I ran it from the same command prompt but you could also simply double-click on it once it’s in the platform-tools folder.

In my case, it took 99.029 seconds for the operation to complete. There were some scary messages like “archive does not contain ‘boot.sig'” but googling around it seems that these messages are inconsequential. There’s also a part in the beginning where the new bootloader is written which causes the device to be removed/added in Windows (you’ll hear the sounds). When the operation finishes, you’ll hear the Windows device-removal sound once more before the tablet reboots. The little green robot will make a short appearance before the new OS boots up for the first time.

For the record, below is the output from running flash-all. Note that there is an exit command inside the batch file, so if you want to save the output you’ll have to CTRL-C out of the batch file at the end (or edit flash-all beforehand):

C:\Users\Jonathan\Desktop\androidsdk\platform-tools>flash-all
sending 'bootloader' (3911 KB)...
OKAY [  0.136s]
writing 'bootloader'...
OKAY [  1.292s]
finished. total time: 1.436s
rebooting into bootloader...
OKAY [  0.009s]
finished. total time: 0.011s
< waiting for device >
archive does not contain 'boot.sig'
archive does not contain 'recovery.sig'
archive does not contain 'system.sig'
archive does not contain 'vendor.img'
Creating filesystem with parameters:
    Size: 28856791040
    Block size: 4096
    Blocks per group: 32768
    Inodes per group: 8192
    Inode size: 256
    Journal blocks: 32768
    Label:
    Blocks: 7045115
    Block groups: 215
    Reserved block group size: 1024
Created filesystem with 11/1761280 inodes and 154578/7045115 blocks
Creating filesystem with parameters:
    Size: 587202560
    Block size: 4096
    Blocks per group: 32768
    Inodes per group: 7168
    Inode size: 256
    Journal blocks: 2240
    Label:
    Blocks: 143360
    Block groups: 5
    Reserved block group size: 39
Created filesystem with 11/35840 inodes and 4616/143360 blocks
--------------------------------------------
Bootloader Version...: FLO-04.05
Baseband Version.....: none
Serial Number........: 12345678
--------------------------------------------
checking product...
OKAY [  0.004s]
checking version-bootloader...
OKAY [  0.008s]
sending 'boot' (7448 KB)...
OKAY [  0.248s]
writing 'boot'...
OKAY [  0.361s]
sending 'recovery' (8194 KB)...
OKAY [  0.280s]
writing 'recovery'...
OKAY [  0.332s]
erasing 'system'...
OKAY [  1.163s]
sending 'system' (839465 KB)...
OKAY [ 26.968s]
writing 'system'...
OKAY [ 39.823s]
erasing 'userdata'...
OKAY [ 17.992s]
sending 'userdata' (139085 KB)...
OKAY [  4.485s]
writing 'userdata'...
OKAY [  5.968s]
erasing 'cache'...
OKAY [  0.455s]
sending 'cache' (10984 KB)...
OKAY [  0.362s]
writing 'cache'...
OKAY [  0.503s]
rebooting...

finished. total time: 99.029s
Press any key to exit...

Per Google’s instructions, we now do one more thing before playing with our new device: lock the bootloader. For some reason, there’s no skipping the wifi selection on the tablet so there’s no way (that I know of) to put the device into USB debugging to run adb reboot bootloader to bring fastboot mode up again. Instead, we have to use the manual method: power off the tablet, hold volume down, then power it back up. Once fastboot mode appears (it should still say unlocked under LOCK STATE), go back to the command prompt and type fastboot oem lock, then fastboot reboot. The device reboots, and now we’re done!

In summary, here are the steps I used to update my Nexus 7 2013 to Android 6.0 “Marshmallow”:

  1. Back up device.
  2. Download factory image from Factory Images for Nexus Devices.
  3. Verify MD5 checksum.
  4. Download and install Java (not necessary if already installed).
  5. Download and install installer_r24.3.4-windows.exe from Android SDK Tools; the Android SDK Manager opens at the end.
  6. From Android SDK Manager, install only Android SDK Platform-tools and Google USB Driver. OK to close once installation is done.
  7. Enable Developer options on device: tap Build number in Settings -> About tablet 7 times.
  8. Enable USB debugging on device: Settings -> Developer options -> USB debugging.
  9. Connect device to PC via USB.
  10. From command prompt, run adb reboot bootloader from platform-tools folder.
  11. After device reboots into fastboot mode, run fastboot oem unlock from the same command prompt.
  12. Extract bootloader-flo-flo-04.05.img, flash-all.bat, flash-all.sh, flash-base.sh, and image-razor-mra58k.zip from razor-mra58k-factory-300dc903.tgz into platform-tools folder.
  13. From same command prompt, run flash-all.bat, wait for commands to run, then for Android to boot up for the first time (the colorful animation seems to go on forever, but I believe just the fact that it appears means that it worked).
  14. At welcome screen, power off device, hold volume down, then power back up to reach fastboot mode.
  15. Back at command prompt, run fastbook oem lock, then fastboot reboot.
  16. Enjoy Marshmallow!

8-Bit ISA 14.4 Modem

8-Bit ISA Modem
Oh 1.3 megapixel Sony CyberShot, I want to say I miss you…

The first modem I ever got was a 2400 baud. I can barely remember lines of text appearing one at a time, from left to right, when dialing into a BBS. Later on, my cousin’s friend’s wife (or maybe girlfriend) lent me her external 14,400 baud that connected via serial port, and it (either the modem or the fact that an older woman lent me her modem) was like the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I have a vague recollection of acquiring the modem above from Costco, or maybe Price Club. It was amazing to finally have my own. I can’t remember if it was an upgrade to a 2400 or 9600.

Googling the 1442F Rev A on the PCB reveals that this is a modem from Best Data, but at the same time I found another image with 1442F Rev A on the PCB that looks nothing like this one. I remember having the manual somewhere and it is indeed Best Data (and may have had a yellow-colored cover), and if I ever find it I’ll confirm. Until then, hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post!

Update: after making this post I googled around some more, and found a photo of the manuals included with the modem. The cover is indeed yellow! The other manual was for a program called Quicklink II. I would not have remembered using this program had I not seen the manual. In later years, I always used Telix. Good night!

Hong Kong Market PS3 Super Slim – Box

After settling in to our new place in Hong Kong, one of the first things I did was go to the electronics store Fortress to check out their TVs. Coincidentally we lived near Fortress Hill, and the Fortress at Fortress Hill had the LG television that I had been looking for – at an unmarked and substantially lower price! I ordered it on the spot, then proceeded to buy the PS3 to go with it. This was my third PS3 and my first super slim, and despite having no TV yet I was excited to bring it home. I replaced the hard drive with a 7200RPM 500GB one, then hooked it up to my new computer monitor with HDMI so I could update the firmware and download my games. Like the previous post, good times.

One interesting thing to note is that although the specs on both the box and the actual hardware (well, the outside anyway) state 220-240V, the console actually works on 110V as well. This has been tested and confirmed, and if one is still in doubt, one can open up the console to look at the internal power supply which should state 100-240V on it somewhere. I didn’t do this for the super slim (I did for my now-dead fat model though), but I’m not going back to HK any time soon so I didn’t mind taking the slight risk to confirm.

Lastly, I have to say that Sony’s packaging has always appealed to me. They really know how to make a product attractive. Enjoy the museum post!

Box - PS3 Super Slim - HK Version
Another Dual Shock 3 controller for my collection…
Box - PS3 Super Slim - HK Version
Look at all those cool peripherals!
Box - PS3 Super Slim - HK Version
Left side of the box
Box - PS3 Super Slim - HK Version
Right side of the box…
Box - PS3 Super Slim - HK Version
Looks like I got a fresh one, just a couple of days after the date on the label
Box - PS3 Super Slim - HK Version
Still no HDMI cable…
Box - PS3 Super Slim - HK Version
Everything is made in China now, even the box
Box - PS3 Super Slim - HK Version
HK5 and CECH-4012B yes, but 220-240V? I think not

Fiendish Freddy’s Big Top O’ Fun

My cousin NVG used to find games in the bargain bin and share them with us, and Fiendish Freddy was one of those games. We played it on the 386 – the only thing I remember is the opening music of the game playing on the internal PC speaker. Good times.

Fiendish Freddy Box Cover
Fiendish Freddy’s Big Top O’ Fun
Fiendish Freddy Box Description
Copyright 1989 – we got it a few years later
Fiendish Freddy System Requirements
I’ve always loved reading system requirements for some reason

One last thing to add: JC just saw this post and asked me what a Tandy was. haha. Took me a second to answer her with two words: “Radio Shack”. Good night.

The Legendary Import

This might be my first non-Scotch whisky post: Crown Royal, a Canadian whisky. We got it for $19.99+tax from Target, and it came in a nice box with the bottle inside of a drawstring bag (not pictured). When I used to live with a bunch of Korean guys in school, they would often mention that Crown Royal was a big part of Korean clubbing. While I’m too old for that now (plus I no longer know any Koreans), I finally tried it at home and it’s quite smooth and enjoyable. Definitely would recommend for $19.99. Enjoy!

Crown Royal Box - Front

Crown Royal Box - Back

Crown Royal Bottle - Front

Crown Royal Bottle - Back