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November 2, 2004

Hacker by Nature

Once when I was about 7 years old, I took apart an electronic keyboard to see how it worked. It was in the shape of a monster (Pac-Man?) head and when you pressed the teeth you could play a tinny-sounding, yet somehow pleasant, scale. Then, after I put it back together, I was disappointed to find it no longer worked. I seem to recall Mom shaking her head, no doubt aware of the fact that this was probably only the start of my taking things apart and putting them back together and having them not work. 23 years later; still doing it! Put me in a room with a screwdriver and any fully functioning household appliance, sooner or later you will have a non-functioning household appliance... plus some mysterious "extra" bits strewn not-so-reassuringly about... And me looking sheepish... Latest victim; the Playstation 2 I got from my Brother in August. To be fair, I did eventually get the thing working again, but it was rough going for a while there. My logic(?) for this one went something like; Why should I spend $60 to send my Playstation away to get it "chipped" (modified to play cd "backups" of games) when I could do the work myself with an $8.99 soldering iron from Radio Shack? In retrospect, I still think this was a valid question. It's only the premise, "could do the work myself," that perhaps needed some work. I tend to skip over stuff like that when there is dismantling to be done, with the Playstation sitting right there in front of me and the screwdriver already in hand- OH MY GOD, LET'S GET STARTED! The screwing and unscrewing wasn't really a problem, it was the soldering that ended up being more troublesome. The procedure involves setting various wires *exactly* into position, then melting them in place with a hot iron and some soft silver-based adhesive metal. This is impossible on the microscopic scale of the Playstation innards, but apparently some people can do it so I was pretty determined to prove I could too. Everything went fine. Out of 18 wires that needed to be soldered I got them all nailed down without incident. Well, except for this guy; The wire on top there has gone and ripped the pin from the CD/DVD controller right off the mainboard- you can tell, all the pins on that big chip should look the same, but that one looks like its missing... Because it is... missing... Keep in mind also that the chip in the picture is actually the size of a dime, with the little pins being approximately as far apart as the ridges around the edge of the dime... Small! Well, I'm sure that one little wire won't matter, let's just fire up the unit and see what happens! "Click" Brief pause. "FZZT!" Oh. Hmm. Dear me. To make a long story short I ended up; - Purchasing a refurbished PS2 from Gamestop (after cashing in my penny jar, yes, I am 12 years old, not 30). - Sending the refurbished unit out to get it properly "chipped" like I should have in the first place - Subsequently fixing the broken PS2 after posting my problem to a message board and finding out how to reattach the pin - Selling my original, now fixed, PS2 on EBay to make up for having to buy the new one And the worst part is, I've learned absolutely nothing from all this and will probably do it again to the next vaguely tempting appliance/toy. Hmm... I think my Nintendo Gamecube just hid itself under the couch... "Heeeeeeeere little Gamecube, Daddy's not going to hurt you!" Okay, now that's just creepy.

3 Comments

hmmm, did you just call the gamecube your baby? i think your kitties might get offended. i can see it now: trying to explain to the kids that the reason their speak and spell isn't working is because daddy wanted to make it work better....

Hmmm...

This from the guy who left his toilet in a non-flushing state of repair for months on end!

You don't understand; the toilet does not go "beep" or "boop" and light up when you press a button...