Tag Archives: ps3

Trying to quieten down my loud PS3

My PS3 is a vacuum cleaner.  It’s whining and whurring fan is SOO LOUD at times that we can’t even hear the dialogue on the screen.

One of Little Miss 9’s friends thought someone was using a hairdryer, but it was the PS3.   Friends who come over think it sounds like a vacuum cleaner!  Everytime the PS3 fan goes up one notch, it sounds like it’s about to take off.  I think I’ve counted up to five fan levels – the loudest and fastest one is really scary – even my Wifey thinks it’s about to explode and gets so frustrated when watching DVDs that at times we’ve just given up!

Anyway, it’s already had the YLOD once, been fixed about a year ago and it’s out of warranty now, so I decided – why not take it apart and clean it up?  Surely this would help.  So I found some instructions online and a few nights ago, set out to take it apart.

The first step is to rip off the Warranty Void sticker.  Oh well.  it’s already out of warranty anyway!

I’m not sure why the top cover is translucent.  It’s not like there’s anything to look at underneath.  But under the top cover was the first signs of dust.

I saw quite a bit of dust built up around the card readers.  Makes sense since I usually see lots of dust on the outside in this area.

The blu-ray drive came off quite easily and there wasn’t much dust around there.

But after removing the bottom part of the external case, this is where I spotted more dust and the gigantic “vacuum cleaner” fan.

I couldn’t believe the size of the heatsink, fins and fan for the PS3.  Most of the bulk of these old PS3’s is just the cooling system.

After I took the fan off, I could see more caked up dust on the heatsink and the fins…  not good.

I gave it all a good vacuum, but I didn’t go any further.  I wasn’t sure whether removing the heatsink and applying more thermal compound would help or not.

So I put back together.  The only difficulty I ran into was putting the top cover back on.  Seems like you have to ensure you line up the card readers with the slots in the case correctly to get it to snap on OK.

The real test was turning it back on.  Yep – success the PS3 did turn back on!  (Thank goodness – as I forgot to backup my save game data).

Was it quieter?  Hmmm…  a little.   It seemed to go up 2 to 3 fan levels but not up to tornado setting.  But it was still audible and annoying.  I think I’ll still get a new PS3 slim and sell this original 60GB one.  Surely someone will want it for parts?   (Or run it in a liquid cooled or very air-conditioned environment?)

Found some info about my first generation heatsink versus the new third generation heatsinks here – http://www.joystiq.com/2008/04/25/ps3s-third-gen-heatsink-reduces-size-complexity-boosts-effici/.    After seeing (and hearing) a new PS3 slim in action, which I guess has the new third generation heatsink combined with more efficient power usage, it seems that the loud fan is more of an issue for the original models.

I followed most of these instructions on iFixIt – http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/PlayStation-3-Teardown/1260/1

Here’s another site with step by step instructions – http://www.ps3news.com/forums/ps3-guides-tutorials/how-fully-disassemble-your-ps3-console-99047.html

Daughter buys Father FarmVille Cash

One thing that surprised me last Christmas was that Little Miss 11 actually bought presents for each member of our family with her own money.   And without us knowing!

We were around the Christmas tree on Christmas morning, and Little Miss 11 hands me a present.  I thought, OK, Wifey must have gone out with her to buy me a present, or perhaps Wifey bought a present for Little Miss 11 to give to me.

I quickly unwrapped it and saw a FIFA 2010 game and a FarmVille Cash Card of $10!!!  I was very happy but both Wifey and I were surprised – HOW and WHEN did she buy these?!?!?

We have started giving Little Miss 11 a bit of freedom nowadays when we go shopping, as long as she’s with Little Miss 9, has her mobile and only for short periods at a time.  I’m guessing that when we were out shopping one day, she must have sneaked into EB Games and bought these things!

As a parent, and knowing what little pocket money we give the kids (and not regularly as well), this was an extra special present as it’s a significant chunk of the total amount of money that she has.  And to get gaming stuff – very thoughtful indeed!  I started trying to think back to wonder at what age did I start buying my parents presents with my own money… hmm…  I can’t remember!

Unfortunately, the most disturbing aspect of this story for me is Little Miss 11 buying her parent virtual money with her real money.  It seems like throwing your money away…    But I was super happy in a geeky way – I plugged it into FarmVille then sat down with her to try to decide what new building or decoration I could buy with it.

But the priceless present – I will always remember the proud smile on her face when I unwrapped the gift and realised she bought it by herself with her own money.   Ahhh – definitely one of the perks of grown up kids 🙂

Sharing your media around the house

I have CDs in mp3 format and videos that I have now centralised onto a massive hard drive at home.   And I want to be able to listen and view these around my house at home.   Like on my TV, on my home stereo, on my portable iPod docking speakers.

Simple request?  I think so.

Simple answer?  Not really.

I’m started drawing up this list of solutions as it may help others out there in the same position as me.

—– 

Scenario 1: Video stored on Server, Controlled by iPhone, Viewed on iPhone

Use Air Video.  Best thing about this is that Air Video will transcode media on the fly so that it will “just work” on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

Scenario 2:Video stored on Server, Controlled by PS3, Viewed on PS3

Use PS3 Media Server.  Best thing about this is that PS3 Media Server will transcode media on the fly so that it will “just work” on the PS3.  PS3 Media Server is what is referred to as a DLNA Server – which means devices that support the DLNA protocol (like the PS3 and XBOX360) will be able to talk to it.

Scenario 3: Video stored on Server, Controlled by family member’s PC, Viewed on family member’s PC

I’m not sure what’s best here at the moment.  Just use folder sharing?  This seems a bit “backward”!  I’m still looking for a really easy to use, nice looking DLNA client program for the Mac.  Might try XBMC (Xbox Media Center – a piece of software that was originally designed to turn an old XBOX into a Media Center, but now exists on many different platforms).

Scenario 4: Music stored on Server, Controlled by Server, Listen on Home Stereo

Use iTunes on Server, output to Airport Express speaker connected to Home Stereo

Scenario 5: Music stored on Server, Controlled by iPhone, Listen on Home Stereo (practically the same as above)

Use iTunes on Server, output to Airport Express speaker connected to Home Stereo, use Apple Remote on iPhone to control iTunes on server

Scenario 6: Music stored on Server, Controlled by PS3, Listen on PS3

Use PS3 Media Server running on Server, PS3 automatically recognises PS3 Media Server.

Scenario 7: Music stored on Server, Controlled by iPhone, Listen on iPhone (or speakers with iPhone dock)

Not sure.  Airfoil nearly gets there but due to no multi-tasking, you can’t run the Remote application and the Airfoil application at the same time on the iPhone.  Other third party solutions include Dot.tunes and Orb. 

Scenario 8: Music stored on Server, Controlled by family member’s PC, Listen on family member’s PC

Use iTunes on Server, use iTunes on other PC, setup with iTunes Home Sharing

—–

So it seems you still need a few different bits of software to achieve what really should be simple. 

Running a half Apple setup at home, iTunes is a good fit.  However, additional things to make it all work include Air Video, Airfoil and PS3 Media Server.   However, I’m now running THREE different media server applications – iTunes, Air Video and PS3 Media Server.  This is ridiculous!  It would best if I only had to run one.  Why can’t iTunes do it all?  

There also seems to be much overlap between Air Video and PS3 Media Server too – they both do transcoding and make media libraries easily accessible via other devices – these guys should join forces or something. 

Also, it seems really restricted and limiting that I can access my iTunes libraries on other family member’s PCs, but I can’t on my own iPhone at home.   Apple – are you listening?  You really need to expand Home Sharing to iPhones and iPod Touches.  I would love to have the gigabytes of music on my server natively accessible to my iPhone at home.  It would make my iPod docking speakers a true media extension for my home.

The day when it all just works simply without the user having to figure out which application to use for what purpose – that’ll be the day when technology really starts helping us instead of users being slaves.

Related Links

PS3 Media Server: http://code.google.com/p/ps3mediaserver/

Air Video: http://www.inmethod.com/

Airfoil: http://www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/

XBMC: http://xbmc.org/

40 days of no PS3

Gosh it almost sounds like some passage out of the bible.

Today marks the 40th day of no PS3 for me.  No, not self enforced or inflicted, but because my PS3 had died with the Yellow Light of Death back in January.

The whole family has sooooo missed it.  No Beatles Rockband or Guitar Hero.  More saddening is I just recently bought Assassin’s Creed 2 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, and have had hardly any play time on it.    And it makes watching DVDs really cumbersome as the PS3 was our only media player!  I eventually had to hook up the MacBook Pro to the TV through VGA to watch stuff.

But the good news – I rang Sony yet again today to chase up the repair status, and was told some good news – it’s on its way to me!  Woohoo!!

My PS3 has died with YLOD

Oh dear…

My PS3 has suddenly died with what is known as the YLOD – Yellow Light of Death.  I wasn’t home, but apparently it was working in the morning, but when Wifey and the kids tried to watch a movie in the afternoon, it just wouldn’t turn on.   Pressing the on button at the front made the power light go to green momentarily, then go to orange, then flash red afterwards.

We’ve tried turning it on/off via the Power button at the back with no success either.   I also found heaps of posts online, but with no real definitive home fix.    It seems that the PS3 does a check of hardware when it starts up, and if anything is not quite right, it will shut down.   With no indication of what is wrong at all.    Couldn’t they implement some 4 LED system to report startup problems like on Dell computers?

I thought YLOD’s was something that happened to the “other” people, whoever “they” are, but my original PS3 60GB decided to join in the fun.  Being our DVD player, our Blu-Ray player, and media player (watching shows through the SD card slot and USB HDD) – we’re going to miss it for a while 😦

So I spent 2 hours last night trying to find the receipt.  Unfortunately, with moving house and getting rid of our filing cabinet, it was nowhere to be found.  And so I started phoning around today.  The good news is that I did purchase extended warranty from Harvey Norman for it, and it’s still under warranty until June this year! 

  • Rang Harvey Norman Warranty Claims, spoke to someone helpful and got my Invoice number, but they said they need the Product Code and Sony’s reference number
  • Rang the actual Harvey Norman store, spoke to someone who seemed in a really good mood, and they gave me the Product Code, Supplier Code, Batch Number and Serial Number
  • Rang Sony, punched my way through heaps of voice menus of some really enthusiastic Aussie gaming dude, spoke to someone and they said they needed the Extended Warranty Claim Number first
  • Rang Harvey Normal Warranty Claims again and using the Invoice Number, Product Code and Serial Number, they gave me the Extended Warranty Claim Number
  • They put me through back to Sony and they gave me a Booking Reference Number and will send out instructions for me to send my PS3 back to Sony

It’s almost like a computer adventure game from the 90s!  Luckily the hold times weren’t too long and everyone was quite helpful on the line.

Bad news is that it will take approximately 2-3 working weeks to fix (since it’s one of the first generation ones) and they will wipe my Hard Drive which contains all my save games.

And I haven’t backed any of them up.

And the game that’s in there at the moment will take possibly another 1 week to send back.

Oh well, better than having to fork out for a new PS3.  I’m glad to see the Extended Warranty actually being used for a change!

Beatles Rockband Fever

Something I never anticipated 2 weeks ago..  that Miss 8 and Miss 10 would suddenly know and be singing Beatles songs all the time.. in the car, at home, even confessing that they had Beatles songs stuck in their heads at school!

Yep, we bought Beatles Rockband and have been having a blast!  I just love how the songs are accessible to the kids, unlike Guitar Hero Metallica 🙂    OK, there are some really trippy ones, but in general, Beatles songs are catchy, have a great feel and have easy to pick up “happy” melodies.  

The kids’ favourites now include Yellow Submarine, Do You Want To Know A Secret, Eight Days A Week, Here Comes the Sun and I Saw Her Standing There.  And since we finished the whole game on the weekend with the help of some hardcore friends (and got the Day Tripper achievement!), they now know a decent proportion of Beatles songs!

Who would’ve thought…

Guitar Hero World Tour!

I finally bit the bullet, drove out to JB Hifi and bought Guitar Hero World Tour.  $288 seems like a lot of money for one game.   It’s nearly the price of a Wii…  nearly…   but someone at work tipped the scales when she described ho

Anyways, brought it home, the kids were excited, wifey was excited, I was excited!

Our 7yo helped me unpack it and put it together.  One of the first bits of paper I saw inside the box was this:

The green warning note!
The green warning note!

I thought, “Hah!  They must be experiencing lots of problems with peripherals!”

We were all ready to play!  But the first thing the kids wanted to do was plaster the supplied stickers all over the gear.   Then we all took rounds of playing the drums, guitar and singing – it felt like quite an achievement when we did get through a whole song!  It does require some persistence from the kids to try hard to get us all through a song.  Luckily my old GH3 Les Paul guitar works with the game too so we had a complete 4 player band.

When it came around for me to try the new GH WT guitar – uh oh..   the strumming action only worked going down and not up!  The kids hadn’t noticed this before me because they always strum down whereas I strum alternately.  And then it started doing another weird thing – if I strummed up, then it would continually go up.  This was only noticed in the menu screens.

A few googles later, it seems many other people have similar problems with the strum switch.  I’ll first try to call JB Hifi tomorrow, otherwise, it might be a couple of weeks before we can rock out all 4 people at once 😦

The guitar with a faulty strum switch
The guitar with a faulty strum switch

How to share PC media to a PS3

One thing that’s great about the PS3 is that it is now DLNA compatible.  What this basically means is that the PS3 is able to play videos, music and display photos from computers or other devices that are DLNA compatible too.

For me, this means that I can store a whole stack of videos, music and photos on my PC, but be able to view them through the PS3 onto the big TV.   And if you have a wireless network at home, this can be all done without wires between the PC and the PS3/TV.

There are several ways of achieving this through DLNA, but I’ll explain how my home system is set up.

First you need a computer or device that stores the media.  For me, this is my home laptop.

But a laptop by itself doesn’t do much.  You need to install and run a program on your PC that will talk with the PS3.  For me, I’m using Windows Media Player 11.   Once you’ve installed it, run it.  It should look something like this:

Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player

Next you have to “allow” the PS3 to connect to Windows Media Player.  Make sure that the PS3 is on and it’s connected on the network successfully.   In Windows Media Player, select the Library -> Media Sharing option.    You’ll see a list of devices that are visible to your PC.   Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a way for Windows Media Player to show you which one is the PS3.  I had to “find” out which one it is by trial and error.

Media Sharing dialog box
Media Sharing dialog box

Note that you can change the “name” of your PC that the PS3 sees by clicking the “Settings” button.

Media Sharing - Default Options dialog box
Media Sharing - Default Options dialog box

Once you have done this, it’s time to check that the PS3 can see the PC.  For me, the PS3 automatically discovers the PC, but if this is not working, on the PS3 you can choose the “Search for media servers” option.

PS3 Searching for Media Servers
PS3 Searching for Media Servers

Notice how my PC Windows Media Player is discovered as “Dell Laptop” as was configured above.   Then you can navigate to the media on it like any other PS3 menu.   I normally browse by folders as my that’s how I organise my video files.

PS3 browsing Folders
PS3 browsing Folders

Now that we know the PS3 can see the PC, it’s time to let Windows Media Player know about the files you have to share.    On the Library toolbar, select “Add To Library”.   Alternately, press F3, or click the File menu and choose “Add To Library”.  You’ll need to select the location where you media files are.

Add To Library dialog box
Add To Library dialog box

And then you’re done! Here’s an example of what the So You Think You Can Dance Canada folder looks like for browsing:

PS3 showing thumbnails of videos
PS3 showing thumbnails of videos

Sometimes I find I have to restart the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service in Windows to get the connection or new media files to be added correctly, but it mostly works with no problems.   Once in a while, I also find video playback a bit choppy, but after checking CPU usage on the laptop, restarting the service and stopping any network hungry apps, it’s all OK.

But overall, it’s one way, and a way that works for me, to share videos from the PC (where they are stored) to the PS3 (where the big screen TV is located).

To Tivo or not to Tivo?

Tivo Logo

Some exciting news today – it is the official release date for the Tivo in Australia.

So what does that mean?  Aren’t there boxes out there that record TV already?

Yes there are.  But the thing about Tivo is not what it does (record TV), but the way it lets you do it.  It’s a paradigm shift.

The old VCRs (Video Cassette Recorders) and most of the PVRs (Personal Video Recorders – really a DVR) – out there now are basically dumb.  You, the viewer, need to know what show is coming up, what time it is, what channel it is on.  Then you can program the VCR/PVR to record that channel at the right time.

Sure, some are a bit smarter – they may show you a little of the TV guide, but in Australia, the TV networks don’t make proper use of the EPG (Electronic Program Guide) capabilities of DTV.  Some may allow you to configure a periodic recording – for example, record the same show every day at the same time, or each week.

These are not the same as a smart recorder – for example, a HTPC (Home Theatre PC), MythTV or Tivo type solution.  These recorders are different in the following ways:

* You select what to record by browsing the TV guide and choosing the program – no need to program the time or channel
* It allows you to record shows based on keywords – for example, record any program that stars Harrison Ford or has the word “Dance” in its title or description

These type of recorders are an example of technology assisting you rather than controlling you.

Three years ago, I started my attempt to get/build a smart recorder.   I evaluated importing a Tivo from the US and modifying it for Australia.  However, it seems that the US had moved on version 2 boxes.   I decided to resurrect my Linux project by using an old PC, installing Ubuntu (a Linux OS) and putting MythTV on it.  I bought a cheap DVICO Dual HDTV Tuner card.  For me, it took me HOURS to sort through Linux installation problems with my wireless card, video card and TV tuner.  Then setting up the EPG to read from a “free” EPG server in Australia.

But when it worked, it was magic – the entire TV guide was shown and colour coded by genre.  I could just click on a show and decide to record once, record each week, record anytime that show comes on, etc.  I had Formula 1 races, all the rally shows, episodes of Bob the Builder for the kids, ABC’s Compass every Sunday, Australian Idol, any program with the word “dance” as a keyword in it taping automatically.  In fact, it recorded too much TV for me to watch!  Unfortunately, my PC died (motherboard capacitors popped) and I couldn’t be bothered to start again.  Especially since it took hours to get it going.

What the Tivo does is bring that type of interface and usability to the mass market.  No Operating Software or hardware to install or tinker with.

Any downsides?

* If you’ve set up a MythTV box, then you probably don’t want to go to Tivo.  And you already know why.  For others – MythTV, being a custom application solution developed by a worldwide community has lots of extra functionality like automatic ad detection and removal, automatic recompression into other formats, remote controllable via a web browser (eg. tell MythTV to record a show from work), server/client architecture, plugins for web, DVDs, music, games (eg. MAME), etc.   I believe there are even plugins to get the closed captions and search on that.

* It won’t automatically detect and skip ads (see above).

* If you have a wireless network, then you have to fork out extra for the wireless card.  Of course, if you’re building your own HTPC, then you’ll have to buy all the hardware anyway.

* From the information I’ve read, the Tivo is fixed to using channel 7’s EPG.  The good news is that it’s legit.  However, I’m wondering if it will have as much information on each show as some of the community run EPG’s out there or ICE.

* May need to pay for upgrades to the firmware.  I hope not – but it’s a possibility.

So will I be rushing out to buy a Tivo today?  Hmmm…  I do know that I now have less free time than I used to, so I don’t really have the time to set up a MythTV box again.

But I’ll have to consult our household financial manager first 🙂

For more information, read:
Tivo home page – http://www.tivo.com.au
The Australian Tivo FAQ – http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/115698,the-australian-tivo-faq–what-it-does-will-it-skip-ads-when-it-launches-will-it-work-with-foxtel.aspx

Alternatives that I am also considering:
PlayTV on the PS3 – http://playstation.about.com/od/hardwareandaccessories/a/PlayTVPS3.htm
DViCO TVIX 5130 – http://www.cnet.com.au/dvdpvr/pvr/0,239035858,339283113,00.htm
Beyonwiz DP-S1 – http://www.cnet.com.au/dvdpvr/pvr/0,239035858,339279087,00.htm
Topfield TF7000HDPVRt – http://www.cnet.com.au/dvdpvr/pvr/0,239035858,339272283,00.htm

HTPC software alternatives I am also considering:
MythTV – http://www.mythtv.org/
Mythbuntu – http://www.mythbuntu.org/
MediaPortal – http://www.team-mediaportal.com/

Other resources:
Vista & XP Media Center Support Community – http://www.xpmediacentre.com.au/
The Green Button – http://thegreenbutton.com/default.aspx
Comparison of PVR software packages – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_PVR_software_packages