Sunday December 14th, 2003 - 13:59

The words "Hey, we should mod my xbox" don't seem like they should be that harmful, but let me tell you it is quite an ordeal we've had up to this point.

Let me start by saying that I own an xbox, and it is modified to play movies and all sorts of other things for my viewing or listening pleasure.

I did, however, take the pansy way out of this which is going to my friend Scott's house and having him do most of the dirty work and using the resources that he had previously gathered for such things.

It's worth noting that Scott works at Microsoft.

Anyway. Having the right tool for the job is indeed a big deal. I learned this awhile ago when messing with cars, and seeing how many crazy things my dad had, and then I'd need to do something and he'd give me a little box of wacky tools and it would only take me maybe three minutes to do such-and-such and I'd think to myself, "Gee. Maybe dad isn't just collecting obscure automotive tools".

Of course at this point I could be perceived by one not in the know as one who collects obscure automotive tools as I have begged borrowed and stolen a small collection of The Right Tools For The Job. Which consists of a pair of vice-grips, an SAE ratchet set, and a hammer. You need nothing else.

Upon cracking the fragile plastic lid on Joshua's xboxy goodness, I proceeded to gut the thing as if I knew what I was doing.

Thankfully, I *did* know what I was doing.

There are many methods of modifying ones xbox, and we chose to take the Cheap Bastard route which consists of soldering a few points on the motherboard and reflashing the onboard BIOS, rather than buying a third party mod-chip and installing it in thirty seconds.

I had Joshua solder the points on the motherboard because I didn't really want to be the proud owner of a broken xbox since I hadn't done much soldering since I was in the ninth grade and skipping electronics class and I must say that he did a very good job.

Of course that was two days ago.

After reading countless websites (Scott, of course, is in Japan and completely unable to give me any help at this point) on what to do and deciding that all the tutorials are insane and useless, we gave up for the night.

Yesterday, we got a fresh start and re-assembled the box, ready for some hot software action.

At this point Scott had popped online for a bit live via satellite from Japan (thank christ) and gave me a quick rundown of what I should be doing. With newfound direction I made a brief list and set out to finsh the task at hand.

I probably spent about 3 hours (not including driving to the videogame store so Joshua could rent a game we needed to get at the BIOS, and a memory card) trying to get the damn thing working. With various versions of all sorts of nonsense.

Scott's directions were inaccurate in that he mentioned that I need to get my xbox back to the from-factory installation in order to copy some stuff to Joshua's. My box has a mod-chip in it, thankfully, so I could just flash one of the BIOSes without killing the thing.

And boy was it a good thing I had the chip. Because I hosed the BIOS on the chip. If I enable it, I can't get the damn thing to turn on at all. It just reboots itself and twitches its little green eye at me. I think I see hatred in its little green eye.

"Why have you killed me?", it asks.

I will probably have to wait for Scott to come back from Japanamania to come and rescue the poor thing.

Eventually we got the combination of software right and we got to the point where we could flash the new BIOS.

And . . .

The points aren't soldered properly.

Defeated, we decided to turn in for the night. It was pushing half past midnight, and it happened to be the birthday of Joshua's younger brother, who had just turned 21 and was calling to see if they could please go out and get drunk now?

I explained to Joshua that the tip on our hello-kitty Radioshack soldering iron probably just wasn't up to what we were trying to put it through, and suggested we convene until tomorrow.

Now that I have the software bit sorted out, all that I need to do is get the damn points done properly. Well and fix my own xbox, but I have no idea where to even begin with that.

The moral of the story is this:

The right tool for the job is a must.


People who write tutorials and post them online are usually crack monkeys.

Perhaps when I finally fix all this, I will write my own concise tutorial, and forget to post it online.

Probably not.

For now, I am going to the local electronics store (whatever they call it in Seattle) and hunting down a new soldering iron that is fit for the task at hand. I will conquer the xbox or I will die trying. That is my promise.

I'm not touching the damn thing with the soldering iron, though. Like I really need *two* broken xboxes to represent how cool I am.


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