Thursday, January 4, 2007

Usability, a wii-diculously large response, and GameCube modding

Happy New Year! Sleep is for the weak, so let's get back to business.

Have you ever found a new piece of software that sounds like it's the perfect match for your needs, only to get bogged down by bad documentation or a horrendous interface? Many people will quickly discard programs out of frustration caused by avoidable usability issues. Read about ways software developers can avoid disenfranchising potential users in my Free Software Magazine entry How usability inhibits good software.

The Wii-diculous video has gotten frighteningly popular; over 300,000 views on YouTube so far! I figured I'd get a few thousand hits... Ed, Chris and I are very pleasantly surprised by its success. We're currently planning a follow-up...

Reading over the comments on my entry about learning Ruby on Rails and using generated CRUD forms, I found a nice suggestion; phpMyEdit. It's an "instant MySQL Table Editor and PHP code generator." Thanks to Niraj for pointing it out! I'll take a look at it in the coming weeks.

I've been researching ways to mod my used GameCube... ultimately, I'd like to replicate the functionality that I have with my modded Xbox w/ XBMC; the ability to use home brew (network media player, emulators, Linux) and to play backups.

It looks to me like the easiest solution is to use a XenoGC 2.0 modchip ($15), buy a Gamebit screwdriver (about $8), and a replacement case (around $30) or top (around $20) so I can use full-size DVDs. Also, I should get a GameCube Broadband Adapter, which runs about $20 off eBay (unless I can find it locally).

I've learned a few things... Full-size DVDs apparently reduce the lifespan of the optical drive motor, but the exact amount is up in the air. Also, you can "make" your own Gamebit screwdriver by melting a pen for each screw, but I'd rather just buy the right tool rather than ruining a bunch of pens. Playback of backups is affected by the type of media; adjusting the potentiometer may resolve some skipping issues. Finally, while it's theoretically possible to hack an IDE hard drive into a GC, it's a square peg in a round hole.

However, the more I look at the GameCube homebrew scene, the more I'm second guessing whether or not I should do this. My GameCube is working just fine as a game playing device, and I don't mind having both a GameCube and an Xbox. I can't afford to replace it if I screw up. Oh well...

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