Fixing my New 3DS …

So, the title there says New 3DS, which is is the “New 3DS” but it’s also New, in the sense that I bought it at the start of January.  It’s like 3 or 4 weeks old.  Then I broke it on accident.  It’s taken me years to get around to saving the money to buy one of these, not so much because I don’t have the money, but because I wanted to know it was at a point in it’s console life cycle that it was worth buying.  If it has been say, $50 cheaper, I’d have bought one years ago.  Also, unlike all of my previous Nintendo based hand helds, I wanted to wait to get the “improved version”.  I have a Game Boy, a Game Boy Advanced, a Nintendo DS, but they were all the first gen models.  I didn’t care for the 3D gimmick, so I passed on the 3DS.  Well now they have the horribly branded “New 3DS” and in my case, it’s the XL version, because I like having a big honking screen.

I’ve played it pretty regularly since buying it.  This is kind of the problem with my argument of “waiting for the right moment”.  My track record with Nintendo hand helds has always been amazing.  I measure this by one real metric, how many games do I finish on them?  I’m pretty sure I’ve completed every game I own for Nintendo’s handhelds since the Game Boy, and I own a lot.  Contrast this with say, Steam, where I’ve beaten like 20% of my 1000+ game Steam Library.

On a side note story, that’s related here, the water out of the faucet at work is awful, there’s crap floating in it and it’s scummy and possibly not healthy (probably is for legal reasons though).  So in order to make my coffee each morning, I carry a metal water bottle with water from home, usually in my lunch box.

Anyway, a week or so ago, I put my 3DS in my bag I carry and went off to work.  On this particular day, I didn’t bring a lunch, so I just had my laptop bag and no lunch box.  I stuck my water bottle in the side pocket of my bag and drove off to work.  Upon arrival I found the bottom of my bag was wet and the top of the water bottle was not fully attached.  Incidentally, the water bottle was also empty.

I headed into the office to assess the damage here.  Headphones, some notes, the bottom of the bag and my 3DS were all wet.  Bummer.  I took everything that was damp and strung it around to dry out for a while and went about my day.  Later, as things were drying I tested the 3DS.  This was my fatal mistake, it turned on, but the cursor on the bottom of the screen was flipping constantly (due to water inside making an electrical contact) and when I tried to turn if off I got a cryptic message flashed up about “There is some kind of problem something something) before it turned off, for good.

I set it out to dry some more, hoping this would correct the issue.  It still didn’t turn on some time later, so I set about opening it up.  I’d already removed the back cover and battery, now it was time to crack open the case.  It turns out it’s a pretty simple task thankfully, there’s maybe 8 small screws holding the case shut. You’ll also need to remove any SD cards.

Side not to anyone trying to do this, there are two small ribbon cables along the top edge of the system that come off with the back cover.  These operate the shoulder buttons.  To actually remove the cover, you must lift the top edge gently a bit, so they the whole thing can slide down and over the headphone jack, then the cover rolls/flips towards the upper side of the 3DS, minding these cables along the way.  The cables can be removed and may even pop off, this is ok so long as they don’t get damaged.  They ultimately need to be removed anyway, using some small pliers or a screw driver, to remove the black square from the main part of the 3DS.  These connectors are designed to be removed and reinserted easily.

After removing the cover, I had a nice view of the inside of the 3DS.

On the plus side, once inside, things were not as bad as they might seem.  The way the handheld sits in my bag, only one end of it got any sort of water (the left end shown above).  On the minus side, there was a lot of water, like I had to get paper towels and dry it up all over inside, including removing the face buttons.  To get to the underside water, I had to also remove that board on the left side, it has 5 screws, 4 in the central area, and one near the bottom ribbon cable.

Once everything was dried, I reassemble it and tried to turn it on again, with no success.  So I opened it up again for a deeper inspection.  This was when I found what I should have noticed originally, the painfully obvious blown out components on the board.

Nothing else inside seemed to be damaged at all and all of the moisture was on this end of the console.  So I figured I’d look into replacing this power board (the batter connects to this board).  I figure spending $50 on a new board would be better than $200 on a new 3DS.  Fortunately, these boards can be found all over online, and even more fortunately, it only cost me around $15 to order one, a real deal non knockoff one too.

A week later, I had the new power board, time to swap.  It’s pretty straight forward as well, I removed all of the screws first.  Next there are two small ribbon cables that attach to the board, the one broad orange one and another smaller one at the top for the secondary nubbin that is on the New 3DS models.  The large orange one was simple, since the new board came with a new ribbon cable, potentially damaging the old one wasn’t a problem.  I was still careful to slide it out of the end on the main part of the 3DS.  After removing it, the gray bar is able to flip up so the new cable can be slid in and aligned, then the gray bar snaps back down to secure it.

The second smaller cable was a bit trickier, but due to it’s small size, I was able to flip the bar piece holding it down up using a small screw driver.  Once these cables were swapped, the new board gets screwed in.  Carefully reattach the two cables on the case cover for the ribbon cables, there is a natural orientation to these when the cover is attached, though it’s slightly twisted around with it removed.  Once everything was reassembled and screwed down, I reinserted the battery for the moment of truth of powering the system back on.

Which was successful!

I’m not saying this will fix any broken 3DS, there’s all sorts of other issues that could come up, especially with water.  This is more just how I was troubleshooting and fixed mine.



Sometimes it Just Takes a Reset to Clean up Your Phone

wp_ss_20161101_0007I’m not sure what it is about mobile operating systems, they just don’t always clean up after themselves and seem to be awful about eating up their limited space sometimes.  I can only assume that there is some sort of glitch and a large batch of updates or temporary files don’t get deleted properly.  In Windows or Linux on “real” computer, It’s the sort of thing that I’d easily track down and delete on my own.  Mobile operating systems tend to be locked down way more preventing users from poking around in the system files, or anywhere beyond the basic documents folders really.

A while ago, my wife kept having issues with her Kindle Fire tablet filling up with space.  Even after cleaning off Photos and Videos, which she had quite a few of, there still was never quite enough space.  It’s only 8gig to start with, which isn’t much, so choices for apps and such have to be carefully weighed.  Eventually in frustration I did a factory reset and voila, problem solved.  The “System” block went from close to 6 gig down to somewhere around 3-4 gig, considerably more manageable to be sure.

I had a similar experience on my Windows Phone recently as well.  It kept filling up despite my effort to prune more and more apps.  Eventually it stopped taking screen shots and it had tons of weird freeze ups.  Once again, in desperation, I did a reset.  Now it’s floating around 5 gig of space used (of 8 gig) and I’ve reloaded most of the apps I had previously needed to prune.

It also runs much more smoothly.

This isn’t a process to be taken lightly however.  In my case, I keep most of my data backed up through One Drive or Amazon to my NAS, and Apps can easily be redownloaded (often automatically).  Probably the biggest hurdle I had with my phone was dealing with my 2 Factor Authentication App.  It doesn’t back up or sync since that would be a security issue, and I have a ton of services running through it.  In many cases I simply changed the 2 Factor Auth to run through SMS instead of the App, in others it was easiest just to temporarily disable it.

This all needed to be done before hand.  Many services won’t let you easily disable or change your 2 factor settings without the current codes, for good reason.  If you wipe out your authenticator, you’ll have no way to get those codes.  I had to deal with this first hand after the SD card I was using crapped out on me, taking my authenticator with it.  In at least one case I had to call into support and talk to a person to recover my account.

My suggestion, from doing this some in the past with other devices, start making a list of Apps you want to reinstall.  Then remove them.  This lets you actively track if there is anything like an Authenticator that may need to be dealt with.  After you can’t uninstall anymore apps, start checking whats left, photo galleries, Email, SMS, Call logs, checking for loose ends as you go.

It can be a pain but doing a factory refresh on an ailing space strained device can really help out to clear the cruft that seems to build up around the edges.

Pentax K-3

I’ve recently upgraded my DSLR and have had a bit to play around with it and get a feel for it. I went for an upgrade over my old Pentax K-7 to a Pentax K-3.

  • I already have lenses so I saved money by buying Body Only
  • I like my K-7, it just got worn out
  • The K3 has a build in flash unlike the K-3II, so when my wife uses it she doesn’t have to fight with an external flash
  • It’s not the newest K-1, which means it costs less, though is still nice

I mentioned my K-7 became “worn out”. I have no other way to describe it. I noticed around the end of last year it started taking extremely washed out photos when using the flash. I’m taking nothing but white screen if it was anything up close. I figured there was a sensor or something going bad and looked into several avenues to get suggestions on it to possibly get it repaired. This whole exercise ended up being completely futile. Every forum and even the camera shop I tried basically tried to give me photography advice or tell me how “using the flash isn’t a good idea”.

Yeah, I get that. I get all that exposure and shutter speed and f-stops and blah blah blah and no, the flash isn’t always great but not every photo needs a tripod and a set up, sometimes it’s just a photo of a moment and not a piece of art or some bull shit like that.

There is something wrong with the camera. Even when I tried to replicate the settings on a fresh photo of an older photo for comparison that there is obviously something wrong, I got nowhere. So I gave up and upgraded instead. chances are the repair would have been more than I wanted to pay anyway. The camera still sort of works, on a tripod, with freakishly long exposure times and things are still kind of yellow. The best suggestion I ever got was that it’s not stopping down properly.

This new camera works so much smoother and better. It also lacks several of the nitpicky problems that plagued my K-7 since day one. I always chocked those up to it being a pretty early model of DSLR in it’s class especially. It did real full HD video, it had higher mega pixels than comparable cameras at the time and it’s the only one (at the time) that was weather sealed. The K-7 was pretty nice, but mine had issues, and I have no idea how prolific they were, if at all. For one, it lost the date any time the battery was removed. Not a huge issue. More of an issue, it would over heat when recording video for more than around 20 minutes. I always chocked that up to new tech and the weather sealed body being poor for ventilation. Third, half the time when using the live view to take photos, it would snap, then show “Battery Depleted” even when full. I don’t use Live view a lot but sometimes it’s convenient for getting funny angles where I’m holding the camera over my head.

The K-3 has none of these problems. I’ve done all of these things and had zero issues. The video is the best part, I spend last weekend recording a ton of video for my wife’s home business and had no over heating at all, after hours or recording, some single segments being 10-15 minutes long. I’m seriously considering using it in place of my DVC80 Video Camera this year for a show I record each year. Upgrading to HD from SD would be really nice. My only issue is I wasn’t able to get Premier to accept the video, but that is probably a settings issue somewhere.

Anyway, not much directly to say about I otherwise, aside from it’s a nice upgrade from my K-3. The Dual memory card slots will be nice and the interface all around is more refined and easier to use. Here’s a few photos I’ve taken with it, just for kicks. Nothing amazing or anything.

Figma Indiana Jones

Saber Struggle

Sinister... Five?


A new phone wasn’t my only unexpected purchase on Black Friday, I also picked up a FitBit.  I’ve been interested in the FitBit for a while now, I just never could bring myself to drop the money on one.  It’s not even that it’s too expensive, I have just had better things to blow my cash on.  I got roped into going to Walmart on Thanksgiving by my family, semi against my will.  While wandering around waiting for some arbitrary time of day when people could start grabbing and buying the stacks of goods sitting around the store, I noticed they had FitBits for $70, which is $30 less than normal.  I also had extra money in my personal budget so I decided I’d pick one up.  Thankfully, my Walmart is tiny and, while busy, it’s nowhere near the mob the larger stores get.

Semi Ironicly, over the summer there was a bundle for $150 that included a Lumia 635 and a FitBit.  I ALMOST ordered it.  At this point, I’ve saved $40 not ordering it.  I never would have expected a better deal but hey, patience works out.

Using the FitBit has spurred me to pick up my previous two Fitness tracking apps, Endomondo and MyFitnessPal.  Endomondo tracks workouts pretty well and MyFitnessPal is good for tracking food intake.  What’s best is they all three sync together sublimely.  Fitbit pulls the activity just by wearing it and pumps it into Endomondo automatically anytime it thinks you’ve done a workout”.  MyFitnessPro pushes food data to and from Fitbit while also pulling Calories burned from Endomondo.

None of it is a perfect exact measurement, calories burned are subjective to effort and whatnot and I’m sure there are some false steps in the Fitbit.  The food measurements and logging aren’t exact with MyFitnessPal either, I often forget to log drinks for example.  I’ve compensated for this a bit by lowering my “goal” for MyFitnessPal.  I want to stick to around 2000 calories but I have it set for closer to 1600.

It’s not meant to be exact though.  Just tracking things helps give an awareness of just how much is eaten, which helps more than anything.  Knowing I’m “500 calories from my desired max” after lunch, even with the buffer and exercise, reminds me I don’t need that afternoon snack or that soda while I’m out at lunch.

The Fitbit itself is just a glorified Pedometer.  It’s the peripheral apps and syncing that make it worthwhile.  The automatic workout tracking and syncing makes my whole process simpler for example.  It has a sleep tracking mechanism, which is neat as well, though I haven’t slept enough nights to have any good insights.  It also “gamifies” the workout experience with achievements and badges and cool graphs and charts and numbers.

The real purpose of all of this is more motivation to continue than anything.  It’s working pretty well so far, hell I have already looked into the matching scale, which is surprisingly cheap.  I figure I need to make sure I stick with this a bit first since most of the time I get motivated to better my fitness I end up stopping after a month or so.

Goodbye Lumia 520, Hello Lumia 635

nokia_lumia_635_blanco_libreI’ve been in Phone Hell the last week or so.  It all started with Blizzcon.  At kind of the last minute, I decided to get the virtual ticket for Blizzcon.  Unfortunately, there is no support fro the live streams on Windows phone, so I swapped my SIM card into my old Galaxy S3, problem solved (solved-ish, Blizz still had capacity issues).  Later I swapped my SIM card back since my S3 has audio issues on phone calls.  This was when my problems started…

For no explainable reason, my Lumia 520 stopped keeping powered.  It could be fully charged or even on the charger, laying on my desk and it would just randomly power off.  It happened constantly making the phone unreliable and unusable.  When this happened it also wouldn’t easily turn back on, I often had to open the phone and remove the battery.  Other times, simply pressing power would fix it.  i ordered a fresh battery which solved nothing.  I did a factory reset which fixed nothing.  Eventually I did a check and the phone is still under warranty, so off to Microsoft it went.

This left me stranded on my GS3, which isn’t a bad phone and I do like Android, except it’s damaged and the audio doesn’t work for calls.  This means I have to try to get my wife (whom 99% of my calls are to/from) to call my work phone, which is “ok” to do but possibly frowned upon if done too much.  Also getting her to remember this and juggle two phone numbers for me (for texting vs calling) is kind of a nightmare.

On Black Friday, I found that the Lumia 635, which is the spiritual successor tot he 520 was on sale for $40.  I went ahead and bit the bullet and just ordered one.  I don’t know if they will even actually fix my 520 yet an this GS3 is simply not usable.

Honestly just needing a new phone wasn’t my only reason for ordering the 635, it really wasn’t even a huge factor.  The 635 has a slightly better processor, possibly a mildly better camera (the 520 has an AWFUL camera), and it has the new “sensor core” technology which gives more functionality to some apps.  It was kind of a no brainer upgrade really.  Migrating to it was also an extremely painless experience.

Initial Set Up

After receiving the phone, I have been pretty impressed with moving to it from my old phone.  The initial couple of screens are some “Welcome to Windows Phone” screens, but after putting in  my Microsoft account, the phone automatically downloaded all my data and settings including setting up and downloading all my apps.  It even synced my old Alarm settings, which seems trivial but it’s still pretty impressive.

The biggest hassle, aside from waiting for the downloads, was rearranging the home screen.  I spent a lot of time fiddling with my 520 home screen getting it just right, and now it seems I may have to do it again.

This was hindered a bit by needing some system updates.  Oddly, out of the box, the phone was “up to date”.  I knew this wasn’t the case because the newer versions of Windows Phone 8.1 add support for folders on the home screen, which wasn’t active on this phone.  I had to re-enable the “Preview for Developers” app which tells Microsoft you are a WP dev and want/need the latest updates.  In reality, it’s just a secret backdoor end around designed by Microsoft to get around the slow carrier updates.  Technically I’ve made a simple app with the Touch Developer App, so I’m kind of sort of not really a “WP Developer”.  Several system updates later, my folder functionality was restored and the home screen was in an acceptable state.

The Phone Itself

The Phone itself is pretty decent.  It’s a bit larger and has a different feel from the 520, but it still feels pretty solid.  I imagine part of this is that it’s definitely heavier than the 520.  The back feels possibly a bit cheaper, it’s definitely more plastickey than the 520.  Not necessarily cheap, just not quite as nice.  The back also fits on a lot more solidly than the 520, which seems like a good thing, but my (probably mistaken) belief has been that the looser back on the 520 actually protects the phone from drop damage since the back flies off if dropped dissipating the falling energy.

WP_20141202_07_55_33_ProA few quick tests shots with the camera siggest it’s definitely better than the 520 camera.  If/when I get my 520 back I may do some side by sides, for now I just have one sample from the 635.  Still no flash, still no front facing camera.  I don’t really need either since I find the flash tends to wash everything out and make too many hard shadows, especially with a phone camera, and I don’t really do selfies or video calls so no need for a front camera.  Oddly, there is an app pre loaded called Limia Selfie, not so useful without a front facing camera.

There also isn’t a hardware camera button, which I know is a big complaint but it seems to be policy going forward on Windows Phones.  I honestly never really used the hardware button on my 520, so I don’t really care that it’s gone.  I can see where it was convenient though.

Wrap Up

I don’t have much else to say about the phone just yet.  I have not used it too much, though it seems to be about the same as the 520 experience.  I am having some configuration issues with getting my email working but I also haven’t really looked into that much yet.  I also can’t find the Pinterest App at all, which I know I had on my 520, but seems non existent in the store and my app history.