I’ve just caught up with the disturbing news that Gateway have included code in their latest firmware which bricks 3DS consoles if their code has been modified. The company has implied that they’ve done this in response to the people cloning their cards and using modified binaries of Gateway code.

This is completely unacceptable behaviour – destroying expensive hardware in a fit of pique is  far beyond any idea of a reasonable response and Gateway should face the consequences of their actions.

For that reason I call on all resellers to remove the Gateway 3DS from sale and return their stock for refund citing safety concerns. If you’re currently promoting the Gateway 3DS card in any way, including but not limited to reviews of the card, advertising places to buy the card, tutorials on how to use the card etc, please consider removing links which could potentially lead to purchases. Please stop promoting this company in any way.

I fully understand that you may be reluctant to do anything which may impact on your ability to make a living but the fact is that these cards are dangerous and will lead to the destruction of expensive hardware. The actions of this company are indefensible and I will not condone any justification for not protecting consumers from such unethical actions regardless of the ethics of their own behaviour.

I find the statements from the gaming press that users cannot force Gateway to be held responsible due to the legality of the devices to be completely reprehensible. Journalists should be seeking ways to help the victims of this unethical company, not rubbing salt in the wounds. I’m looking at you, Eurogamer, The Escapist, MCVUK and Nintendo Everything to name but a few.

I recently picked up a Diligent CoolRunner-II™ Starter Board to help with a little project I have in mind to repurpose an old PassMe board I have from the early days of DS Homebrew. Unfortunately when I installed the Xilinx Labtools and tried to obtain a license the Xilinx License Manager (xlcm.exe) decided to crash on me.

After a bit of googling I found out that Xilinx don’t support Windows 8 (what’s that about? It’s really annoying) and although there were several workarounds listed none of them seemed to apply to my installation. I managed to fix it eventually though so I’ve documented the process in case it might be useful to others.

  1. Rename <install location>\Xilinx\14.7\LabTools\LabTools\lib\nt64\libportability.dll to libportability.dll.orig
  2. Rename <install location>\Xilinx\14.7\LabTools\common\lib\nt64\libportability.dll to libportability.dll.orig
  3. Copy <install location>\Xilinx\14.7\LabTools\LabTools\lib\nt64\libportabilityNOSH.dll to <install location>\Xilinx\14.7\LabTools\LabTools\lib\nt64\libportability.dll
  4. Copy <install location>\Xilinx\14.7\LabTools\LabTools\lib\nt64\libportabilityNOSH.dll to <install location>\Xilinx\14.7\LabTools\common\lib\nt64\libportability.dll

Hey presto – working Xilinx License Manager. I hope someone else finds this useful.

To all my internet friends.

You may know that I am a supporter of ORG , the Open Rights Group, which aims to promote and preserve rights on the internet and provide sensible information to politicians, parliament and journalists about technology. ORG relies on its supporters and we’re having a recruitment drive to fund a Legal Officer to allow ORG to intervene in legal cases.

If you are concerned why people are being arrested for being foolish on Twitter, or worried about the Government’s plans to ‘spy’ on the whole internet, these are typical of the areas where ORG is fighting for your rights. You can find out more at the campaign page, or grab me online in one of the many IRC channels I hang around in if you want to chat to about what ORG does and why I’m a supporter.

You’ll get a free copy of Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross’s new book – the Rapture of the Nerds. Cory and Charles are both ORG supporters and so is Neil Gaiman: here’s why. Your support will really make a difference. The target is 300 new supporters to fund a full-time Legal Officer. Please be one of them!

If you join me in supporting ORG (it’s only £5 a month) using this link then I’m in with a chance of winning a Raspberry Pi or a MaKey MaKey:

https://www.edirectdebit.com/openrightsgroup/?ref=Dave_Murphy

I’d really like you to join, because this stuff is going to affect our digital life for years to come.

Yesterday I got involved in a slightly disturbing argument on facebook prompted by a rather misleading image that’s been doing the rounds. I assume it’s a response to the Dear Religion image on the left which I found kind of amusing but does imply that all religious people are anti science. Personally I’ve met some religious people who are quite open minded in other ways so, it seems to me, they’re not all hopeless creationists.

 

The image that started the argument was this one that claims the rover which just landed on Mars cost $100billion – a number that can be refuted with a simple google search which hardly qualifies as in depth research. An article on Space News about the Mars Science Lab  cites the cradle to grave cost of the mission as $2.5 billion or, to put it another way, this image claims the mission is costing some 40 times more than it actually does.

What angers and appalls me most about this particular image and the resulting discussion isn’t so much the lack of accuracy as the wilful ignorance and lack of perspective that goes into creating and sharing this kind of misinformation. I was asked if I thought it would have been kinder to spend that money on sick, hungry and deprived people which led me to do a little research.

According to the fast food global industry guide the global market for fast food was worth $252.9 billion in 2011, or some hundred times the cost of the Mars Science Lab. Even worse, that figure is for a single year and the mars mission is amortised over 8 years so it’s more like 800 times the cost. I have no idea how to begin placing a value on the benefits that the space program brings to society or the horrible costs the fast food industry brings to the table in terms of health problems and environmental damage.

I also took a look at some figures for purchasing power parity gross domestic product of the 10 largest economies of the world and plugged a few figures into a spreadsheet to try and put the numbers into some sort of perspective. Averaging out the numbers shows that Curiosity cost the population of the 10 largest economies approximately $0.70 per person and apparently the fast food industry takes around $70 per person per year.

Here’s the spreadsheet – play with the numbers, form your own conclusion. I’m just going to finish off with another amusing image.

What the fuck is wrong with you people?

This post is going to be a bit of a departure from the usual subjects I cover here but does have some relation so, bear with me if you can.

First some background that I’ve talked about a bit in the various online communities I participate in around the net but never really found the nerve to share in a more concrete form. It’s obviously much easier to be honest in the transient world of IRC and other domains of instant but fleeting methods of communication. I almost said electronic communication but really I’d have to include all forms of social contact with conversation as the key element.

As far back as I can remember I’ve had a much easier time dealing with machines and processes than I have with other human beings. As a child I would be more often found engrossed in a book, constructing things from Lego and later Meccano, drawing or dismantling something to find out what was inside. I always preferred solitary activities and never really felt comfortable with praise or criticism – engaging in social activities always left me feeling like an alien in a world that made no sense. If you’re a Douglas Adams fan it may help to know that the HitchHiker’s Guide character I most identify with is Wonko The Sane.

The path I’ve followed through life has mostly been influenced by a coping strategy which led me to mostly do and say what others seem to expect from me. Family members, Teachers, friends, community and the depiction of society at large in the world’s media have all influenced me to attempt to conform to an ideal that I could usually manage for some period of time until something caused me to look where I was heading and decide that actually, that’s a completely insane place to be going. Ultimately that path led through several countries, a few suicide attempts and eventually being sectioned under the mental health act after a psychotic break. There’s a long and convoluted story in there but the details aren’t that important – I might do some writing on those details in the future but dwelling on actual events and memories seems to lead to a place where I fear inducing psychosis again.

After many more encounters with the British healthcare system than I care to remember I was eventually diagnosed with Dysthymia which appears to be an illness where the primary state of being is clinical depression, punctuated by bouts of a further slide into the black depths of despair. Engaging with the “experts” has been, for me, an increasing source of frustration and anger which has basically just made me feel that I’m an experimental subject. The process appears to have been “let’s slap a label on here and treat the label then see what happens”.

Recently I started counselling which, although quite heavily subsidised, I’ve had to pay for out of my own pocket. Maybe that’s a good thing in a way since the desire to obtain as much value for that money as possible can be a powerful motivator. Some people might see that statement as a justification for the privatisation of the NHS but I think those people would be suffering from the current neo-liberal delusion that seems to be prevalent right now. I won’t expand on that opinion much right now though, there’s a point to this post that I’m trying to get to.

The current British government is attempting to reduce the welfare bill in this country through a process that has been subjected to increasing criticism. Anyone prepared to put in some research time will find that the evidence relating to their Work Capability Assessment points overwhelmingly to that process causing real quantifiable harm to people with mental health conditions who are subjected to it. They’ve just started that process on me and it’s already led to a quite noticeable deterioration in my mental health. If you’re a user of the devkitPro toolchains or a participant in the many online communities I belong to then you may have noticed a serious reduction in my activity. That’s symptomatic of another impending double depression triggered by stress.

The biggest problem for me is that, from where I’m sitting, society at large is deeply broken and populated by pockets of people operating under a group consensus of shared delusions. Most of them seem to be attempting to force other groups into accepting their particular delusion whatever label it might have and that activity is a blight on society. It’s like a cancer spreading across humanity and it’s destroying people.

Experiencing psychosis and being declared unfit for work gave me the opportunity to take stock and fill my time with unpaid voluntary activities that have brought value to society that no conventional employment could possibly have created. I’ve put endless hours into the research, programming work and project management that resulted in what devkitPro toolchains are right now. I’ve studied economics and psychology, helped people to learn how to program and gradually built up my own personal reality bubble where I honestly believe I’ve made a positive difference to tens of thousands of lives. What I really, really want to do is find a way to get paid for the “work” I do every single day and not have that “work” prevent me from spending time with people I love and respect. The very, very last thing that is likely to help me is to be placed in a sausage machine that seems designed to force people to either conform to a particular ideal of productivity or die.

In an article by the BBC, Professor Harrington was quoted as follows :-

While people had been let down by the system, he challenged campaigners who had called for it to be scrapped entirely to come up with an alternative.

“What are you going to put in its place? Tell me why, how you are going to make it better.”

Personally, I wouldn’t put anything in its place. What I would do is challenge what I see as delusions and try to imagine what a society that cared equally for all its citizens would look like. Such a society might be based around principles of education, opportunity and freedom.

But maybe I’m just crazy …

So anyway, just some food for thought. I’m sure you have your own opinions and ideas about society’s problems. Join the conversation on Twitter, write your own blog post, have your say in the comments here but be warned, ad hominem attacks will not be published.

P.S. This post has taken me most of the day and making the decision to click the publish button has felt like putting a gun to my head and pulling the trigger. I might have to go lie down for a while.

So you thought the average gamer was a teenage boy with a predilection for large fake cartoon breasts? Think again, here are some surprising statistics from a recent report issued by the Entertainment Software Association

ESA 2012 report.
ESA 2011 report.

  • The average gamer age is 30, although in the 2011 report this was 37. It’s not specified if a large group of younger gamers has turned up or if gamers die early due to a lack of healthy diet and exercise :p
  • 53% of gamers are male, 47% female.
  • Women 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (30%) than boys age 17 or younger (18%).
  • 62% of gamers play games with others, either in-person or online.
  • The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 35.

After my recent experience with a broken Kindle I felt the need to write to congratulate you on the best customer service experience I’ve ever had. I was so sad when I pulled my Kindle from my knapsack, toggled the power switch to wake it up and was greeted with a collection of random lines – the worst had happened, the screen was cracked.

After a little search around the Amazon website I quickly found the Kindle troubleshooting guide and ended up facing a page where I could place a call to Amazon customer service. With trepidation I hit the call me button and answered the phone which rang barely seconds later. Was this going to cost me nearly the price of a new Kindle to get a repair? I’d previously had the terrible experience of a broken Palm TX screen which wasn’t covered by the manufacturer warranty – in the end I bought a cheap(ish) screen from china and repaired the thing myself.

As it turned out I needn’t have worried at all – the service rep asked a few questions about dropping and liquid which were expected and then shipped me a new kindle … at no charge. The only condition was that I shipped back the broken Kindle within 30 days or I would be charged the price of a new Kindle – I was sent a link to a shipping label for the return which I had to print & click another link to arrange for a courier pickup. None of this cost me a single penny.

Well done Amazon, you made my day.

I’ve just finished updating dslink with the changes from latest libnds and added a save file exploit for Bravissi Mots, the French version of Classic Word Games. If anyone knows of any more language versions of his game please let me know, it looks like the same file will work for all versions if the id code and checksums are updated.

We now have audio working with this method which only leaves the microphone to sort out and we’ll have all the features available that we have for DS mode homebrew.

To get audio working in your homebrew you’ll need to be using the latest devkitARM/libnds/default arm7.

dslink
dslink
dslink.tar.bz2
Version: 1.0.2
183.8 KiB
26791 Downloads
Details...

Yesterday proved to be a rather interesting day in the world of DSi homebrew with another two means of running code in DSi mode released to the world.

First my CycloDS iEvolution card sample turned up although I had to wait until quite late in the afternoon for the firmware to be released on their website. What surprised me most about the card was that it makes use of the Cooking Coach savegame exploit I released back in 2009 and later used to bootstrap a wifi loader ( see dsi mode homebrew ).  Team Cyclops have taken a somewhat novel approach to distributing the card. I quote here from their announcement.

In order to meet compliance with universal copyright laws, we have taken a completely legal approach for our iEvolution product. Competing products are distributed with content which contains illegally distributed partial ROM images (required for booting on DSi). iEvolution is distributed in a completely blank state and does not contain any illegal content.

What this means is that the card is basically a useless lump of plastic until you obtain ROM dumps for two games which you feed to a utility that constructs an update file for the card. Whether or not this is legal is rather debatable given that most users will in all likelihood obtain the dumps from an illegal source rather than buying the games and dumping them for their own personal use. The interoperability clauses in the US DMCA, the UK CPDA and the European EUCD obviously don’t apply to a card which provides the means to run illegally distributed “backups” so unfortunately this whole setup is still very dodgy as far as the law goes. Right now it’s quite difficult to make the argument that it’s primarily intended to run homebrew since currently the communication between arm7 and arm9 fails in DSi mode – this may be libnds related but I’ll know more when I’ve had a chance to figure out why.

Shortly after Team Cyclops released the firmware and tools for their card YellowStar made an announcement over on hackmii.com of a DSiWare savegame exploit which allows us to boot code from the internal SD card on the DSi. Unfortunately if you’re european and weren’t quick off the mark this avenue of running homebrew is no longer available. Nintendo pulled Sudoku from the European store within 24 hours of the hack’s release. I’m told it’s still currently available for US DSi owners but I can’t confirm this. If you’re American and Sudoku is still available for you then buy it quick – 200 points for DSi mode homebrew is a bargain ;o) UPDATE: Sorry, US people are out of luck now as well.

For DS/DSi related homebrew programming questions visit the devkitPro forums or our friendly IRC channels on blitzed.org.

I’ve updated the dslink tarball with savegame exploits for the french, german and italian versions of Cooking Coach and recompiled the loader with the latest libraries. All the european language versions – spanish, french, german & italian – work on my UK DSi so I assume that the UK version will also work on all EU DSi consoles.

dslink
dslink
dslink.tar.bz2
Version: 1.0.2
View post
183.8 KiB
26791 Downloads
Details...

For those of you who bought a Datel/Codejunkies DSi Action Replay it’s possible to use this to write the savegame exploit by using this save game converter to convert the RAW saves from the dslink archive into files compatible with the ARDSi.

  • For source format, select “RAW”.
  • For target format, select “Action Replay DSi”
  • For size, select “8 Kilo-Bytes – 64 Kilo-Bits”

As usual, please don’t rehost the archive but link to this post. Have fun.