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Monday, June 30, 2008

Free Money. What is Microsoft Live thinking?

Already spent your tax rebate check? Or, perhaps you did not receive one? Well, Microsoft’s Live search is giving your to earn $750 through eBay by giving between 10%-35% off on any eBay item purchased as a Buy-It-Now (BIN) using PayPal’s checkout. This has been going on for about 10 days now, but if this is not old news to you then you need to check it out.

This is the kind of deal that comes around once a year. Free money. Here is how it works.

Take a second to consider a product you might be looking for. Let’s use the Canon Powershot G9 as an example. Go to Microsoft’s search engine at “Live.com” and enter in the search for “Cheap Powershot G9”. In your search results, you get the below set of ads. (Note: You can use many different search terms that will return similar results.)

Live.com Powershot G9 25% discount on eBay / Paypal

Take note of the item that says "Buy Powershot is. You may get 25% off with PayPal if eligible" with the Live Search Cashback logo. Now go ahead and click on that ad. When you get to eBay, you will see the logo at the top for the Microsoft cashback with a '25%' flag on it. (Or the current discount).

Microsoft Cashback logo on the eBay site with 25% off

Now you can tune your search on eBay for whatever you want. For example, I changed the search to "Powershot G9" in the search criteria. Then I went ahead and clicked on one of the Powershot G9 items listed in the available auctions. The logo for Microsoft cashback should still be there.

Then you click on the "Buy Now" button (don't worry, you have to commit on the next page) and you can see your Microsoft Cashback award. On the item I picked, that's $107.50 or a pretty hefty discount as you can see in the image below.

Yep, that's a Powershot G9 for 25% off thanks to Live.com

Yep, that's 25% off for absolutely nothing. I actually think Microsoft's Live.com marketing team has absolutely lost their mind. If they think they are going to buy my search preference for a lousy 25%, they are absolutely out of their mind. However, what they will not do is stop Ashley or myself from fully taking advantage of the offer. And I will continue to use Google for all of my search needs. :-)

What's the offer? A discount at the set rate (it changes over time -- as high as 35%, as low as 10% and 35% hasn't been seen since days 1 & 2) for a maximum value of $250 and 3 individual items for $750 in free money from our friends at Microsoft. Nice.

Want to make it better? eBay has several June / July coupons for 10% off or free shipping on up to three items -- they stack on top of the deal. Sweet!

The greatest part, I had been waiting awhile to buy several new items. The Sony STR-DA5300ES that retails for $1699 -- $700 new. A set of JBL HTi8 speakers -- try $150. A Tamron SP AF28-75mm F/2.8 LD Aspherical lens -- $250. My first L series Canon lens, the EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM -- $400. And finally, the Dell 24" Widescreen LCD Monitor E248WFP for $300.

An awesome June shopping spree -- guaranteeing the fact that there are many more posts ahead for July. Brace yourself.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rebel XTi – Gone with the Wind.

Not literally, but over the past few weeks I have had several people ask me what I am doing with two different cameras – the Canon Rebel XTi and the Canon Rebel XSi.

Was I starting a camera collection? Did I break my other camera? Why did I need two relatively similar DSLR cameras?

The short answer is that I do not have two cameras anymore. It would be unnecessary in my opinion to have two camera bodies that are so similar to each other. Now if I had a Canon EOS 5D or similar, I could see myself keeping a more entry / lighter model around like the XSi.

Sold my Canon Rebel XTi on eBay

As is the case with most of my obsolete technology items, I dropped the Rebel XTi on eBay with my standard $.99 starting (to reduce eBay costs) bid and let the market determine what the price would be for my camera. I included everything that came with the camera, the Rebel XTi body, the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, all the original accessories and paper work and I even through in the Camera Armor protector since it does not fit the new Rebel XSi model.

After a week on eBay, the entire package fetched $500 – or if you remember from my post back in February – only $10 less than I originally paid for my XTi (minus the Camera Armor) accessory. I was pretty impressed with the outcome since the XTi is now the “older” model. If I applied that to my purchase of the XSi, I only ended up spending $250 for the newer model out of pocket.

It was a sad goodbye to the XTi in some ways, as it was the first DSLR camera that I purchased. It has captured some great moments in London, Paris as well as a lot of family events. While the camera was great to me, I am not sad to see that EF-S 18-55 lens go – I am hoping the IS model that came with the XSi is far superior.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Motorola RAZR Modding, Software, and Troubleshooting Guide

Since the introduction of my first post on the Motorola RAZR or MotoRAZR mobile phone on my blog, it has not only become insanely popular – but it has also become a little bit of an obsession for me. The need to have a good source for free software to modify and customize Motorola RAZR and other phones was huge. In fact, to date I have posted 70 times in regards to the Motorola RAZR and the experiences I have had with my V3.

While the posts will be sure to continue, in order to make them easier to find, I am creating an index or place where you can find all the content I have produced for the Motorola RAZR lines of phones. You can find the entire index by area arranged below. The primary focus is around software and modifications that you can download for free off of the Internet, but there are also some guides for the Motorola Phone Tools or MPT for short.

The areas include:
Drivers
Software
Motorola Phone Tools V5 How-To Guides

Be sure to bookmark this page, as it will be updated anytime there is new content available for the Motorola RAZR cellular phones. And, as always if you have a questions – or problem that has not been solved, go ahead and contact me via email and I will see what I can do to help!

If you find these guides helpful – please let me know either with a comment or a link from your blog, Facebook, or MySpace pages! Lastly, have I missed any tutorials or guides that you would like to see? Please let me know with a comment or email!

Computer and USB Drivers:
USB Drivers for your Motorola phone. In most cases, in order to modify your Motorola RAZR phone you need to establish connectivity from your computer. What is even better? With these drivers you can charge your Motorola RAZR (or similar) mobile phone from your PC or laptop whether you are at home or on the road – eliminating the need for the easy-to-forget charger.

Below is the list of the free Motorola drivers that will establish immediate connectivity to your PC and allow you to even charge your phone when you plug it in. While some software packages such as P2K Commander also include drivers, I highly recommend installing the below ones first! Of course, remember that a USB with a mini-USB connector is required for using.

Software Installations:
There is a lot of free software out there for the Motorola RAZR phone. In addition, a very popular “for sale” tool is called “MPT”, short for Motorola Phone Tools. While it retails for $49.95 (which most feel is a rip-off), you can get it for less than $5 (even for $3 with USB cable off of Amazon.com. So, you can purchase the excellent purchase Motorola Phone Tools by Clicking Here.. In addition, you may want to try out the software versions below:


Motorola Phone Tools V5 How-To Guides
MPT is short for "Motorola Phone Tools" -- MPT is generally what those of us with a lot of experience the phone tools software call it. This section covers the various guides that are available for the MPT V5.0, which is the latest release by Motorola / Avanquest. The software while fully functional is a little clunky, but with a little help -- you can complete most tasks on it with ease and is the first to support Microsoft's Outlook 2007. Over time, these guides will cover the entire MPT v5 application.

Guides are generally compatible with the following phones:
a1000
c650
e398
e550
e770v
e815
e1000
e1070
v220
v235
v262
v265
v300
v325
v360
V360v
v365
v525
v550
v550e
v540/v551
v557
v600
v620
v635
v710
t710
v975
v980
RAZR V3
RAZR V3c
RAZR V3i
RAZR V3t
RAZR V3e
RAZR V3x
RIZR Z3
SLVR L6
SLVR L7
SLVR L7e
ROKR e1
3G
PEBL U6
Motorola A1200
Motorola A1600
Motorola A630
Motorola A732
Motorola A780
Motorola A835
Motorola A845
Motorola A910
Motorola A920
Motorola A925
Motorola C390
Motorola C698
Motorola DC600
Motorola E1000
Motorola E1060
Motorola E1070
Motorola E1120
Motorola E2
Motorola E398
Motorola E550
Motorola E680
Motorola E690
Motorola E770v
Motorola E790
Motorola E8
Motorola E815
Motorola E825
Motorola E895
Motorola Em30
Motorola K1
Motorola K1c
Motorola K3
Motorola L2
Motorola L6
Motorola L7
Motorola L7c
Motorola L7e
Motorola L7r
Motorola L9
Motorola M990
Motorola Maxx
Motorola ROKR_E1
Motorola ROKR_E6
Motorola U6
Motorola U9
Motorola v1100
Motorola V1150
Motorola V176
Motorola V195
Motorola V235
Motorola V280
Motorola V3
Motorola V300
Motorola V323i
Motorola V330
Motorola V360
Motorola V361
Motorola V3c
Motorola V3i
Motorola V3x
Motorola v3xx
Motorola V400p
Motorola V500
Motorola V501
Motorola V505
Motorola V525
Motorola V535
Motorola V540
Motorola v545
Motorola V547
Motorola v550
Motorola V551
Motorola V555
Motorola V557
Motorola V560
Motorola V6
Motorola V600
Motorola V620
Motorola V635
Motorola V710
Motorola V750
Motorola V750g
Motorola V8
Motorola V8 LUX
Motorola V80
Motorola V9
Motorola V950
Motorola V9m
Motorola V9mS
Motorola VA76r
Motorola Ve
Motorola VU30
Motorola W205
Motorola W208
Motorola W209
Motorola W215
Motorola W218
Motorola W220
Motorola W360
Motorola W375
Motorola W380
Motorola W385
Motorola W385m
Motorola W385re
Motorola W395
Motorola W510
Motorola W755
Motorola W760r
Motorola Z3
Motorola Z6
Motorola Z6c
Motorola Z6M
Motorola Z6tv
Motorola Z6v
Motorola Z9
Motorola ZN5
RAZR2 V8 LUX
RAZR2 V9
ROKR E8
RAZR2 V9m
RAZR V3e
RAZR V3a
ROKR Z6m
RAZR2 V8
MOTO Z6c
MOTO Z9
W510
ROKR Z6
W490
V325i
W315
Maxx Ve
RIZR Z3
RAZR V3xx
RIZR Z6tv
L6
V323i
W755
V197
W385
PEBL
SLVR L7c
V266
V235
V262
V265
RAZR V3t
V365
V325
V195
KRZR
V276
V361
E815
ROKR E1
V260
RAZR V3r
V323
V360
SLVR L7
RAZR V3C
RAZR V3
RAZR V3i
RAZR V3m
KRZR K1m

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Nintendo Wii: How to Repair the DVD Drive (Guide)

When I purchased the broken Nintendo Wii on eBay, I knew that there was a problem with the DVD player / drive. In fact, the exact description from the auction read "Does not take in CDs. You can hear the motor, but it does not take in CDs." I figured the Nintendo would need a complete DVD player replacement.

However, after taking apart the Nintendo Wii -- I was able to fix the "jammed" or "noisy" Wii DVD drive in just 10 minutes. Since that point in time, the DVD player has worked flawlessly and I was able to play several games of Rayman's Raving Rabids before reselling it back on eBay again for a handsome profit.

How did I do it you ask? Well, that is where the tutorial comes in. In the guide below, I will take you through the process of troubleshooting your Nintendo Wii's DVD drive.

This post is one of several on how to fix problems with your Nintendo Wii. To see the entire list, click here for the Nintendo Wii Repair Guide.


First let me describe the type of problems that I was seeing. First, when I turned on the Nintendo Wii, it powered up without any issues. It took me to the Wii home screen where I could see the Wii Channels. I could get into the setup screens, change settings. There was not a real problem with the Nintendo Wii unit. However, when I tried to insert a game disc into the DVD slot, it would not insert. I would hear the motor turn and it sounded. I little additional shove of the DVD did not free it up. The DVD mechanism appeared to be completely frozen, neither inserting nor ejecting the disks.

Now, onto the tutorial.

1. You first need to follow my Nintendo Wii Tear down guide, found here.

2. Next, you need to unscrew the DVD drive from the Nintendo Wii by following my DVD drive replacement guide through step 4, found here. Set the DVD drive on its side next to the Wii, leaving it still attached to the Nintendo Wii, as per the picture below. You will need to connect the power to your Wii.

Nintendo Wii DVD Drive Repair: Set the DVD drive on its side next to the Wii, leaving it still attached to the Nintendo Wii, as per the picture below.  You will need to connect the power to your Wii.

2. Now, familiarize yourself with the DVD drive. First, look on the outside of the DVD drive at the white plastic pieces. Each one is a lever that helps to control the loading and ejecting mechanism. Gently pull or move each lever a couple of times to see if the DVD drive loading mechanism frees up.
Nintendo Wii DVD Drive Repair: Now, familiarize yourself with the DVD drive.  First, look on the outside of the DVD drive at the white plastic pieces.  Each one is a lever that helps to control the loading and ejecting mechanism.  Gently pull or move each lever a couple of times to see if the DVD drive loading mechanism frees up.

3. Now look on the other side of the DVD drive and notice the long white plastic mechanism where the arrows are in the picture below. You should be able to slide the mechanism towards the back of the DVD drive and it should snap back. Also, you can see if you can turn the white wheels (with teeth) with your fingers.
Nintendo Wii DVD Drive Repair: Now look on the other side of the DVD drive and notice the long white plastic mechanism where the arrows are in the picture below.  You should be able to slide the mechanism towards the back of the DVD drive and it should snap back.  Also, you can see if you can turn the white wheels (with teeth) with your fingers.

4. Now for the fun part. Power the Nintendo Wii on by using something to press the button tab where the button would normally be. The Wii powers up as normal. Then place the game disk inside the DVD drive to start the loading motor. While the motor is loading, move a couple of the mechanisms on both sides (try several different ones) to see if loading mechanism frees up. It may take a couple of tries.
Nintendo Wii DVD Repair: Now for the fun part.  Power the Nintendo Wii on by using something to press the button tab where the button would normally be.  The Wii powers up as normal.  Then place the game disk inside the DVD drive to start the loading motor.  While the motor is loading, move a couple of the mechanisms on both sides (try several different ones) to see if loading mechanism frees up.  It may take a couple of tries.

5. In my case, it took three tries of attempted loading and then like magic, the DVD drive clicked and the game loaded in smoothly.
Nintendo Wii DVD Drive Repair: In my case, it took three tries of attempted loading and then like magic, the DVD drive clicked and the game loaded in smoothly.

6. Repeat the eject and loading of the DVD from the Nintendo Wii 10 times to make sure it was not a fluke or if there are further issues with your Wii.
Nintendo DVD Drive Repair: Repeat the eject and loading of the DVD from the Nintendo Wii 10 times to make sure it was not a fluke or if there are further issues with your Wii.

And with a little luck, you have repaired your Nintendo Wii DVD drive without having to replace it! Good luck, and let me know with a comment if it works for you!

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nintendo Wii: How to Replace the DVD Drive Player

The most common hardware problem (an opportunity for modders with mod chips for the d2ms, d2a, d2b, d2c, and d2c2 drives) that you find on the Nintendo Wii gaming console has to do with the DVD drive. In almost every case, it boils down to a couple of things:

  • The DVD drive is making noises, will not eject or accept DVD disks, or does not function at all.
  • You want to pull out the drive to install a modchip like the Wasabi that is compatible with D2MS, D2B, D2C, and D2C2 drives.

This guide will take you through the steps to carefully remove the DVD drive and replace it so that you can have a functioning Nintendo Wii. First things first though, if you do need a replacement DVD Drive, you can find them on eBay generally for under $100. If you need to know what version of the drive your Wii currently is, you can check on this site, by clicking here. By entering your serial number, they will determine what version of the DVD player and chip you have. For instance, the DVD hardware version of the one used in this guide was a relatively new one, GC2-D2C.

This post is one of several on how to fix problems with your Nintendo Wii. To see the entire list, click here for the Nintendo Wii Repair Guide.


Now, let's get started with the DVD drive tear down and replacement guide!

1. You need to open up your Nintendo Wii console to access the DVD drive. Follow the instructions in my Nintendo Wii Tear Down guide, found here.

2. There are 4 small Phillips screws that anchor the DVD drive into the Nintendo Wii console. First, remove the two highlighted in the image below found towards the rear of the case where you see arrows in the picture below.
Wii DVD Drive Replacement: There are 4 small Phillips screws that anchor the DVD drive into the Nintendo Wii console.  First, remove the two highlighted in the image below found towards the rear of the case where you see arrows in the picture below.

3. Next up are two more difficult screws. These ones are found towards the front of the DVD drive on your Wii Console, recessed into two holes about 1/2" deep. If you have a small Phillip screwdriver with a magnetic tip, this is optimal for this task. Alternatively, you can remove them while the Wii is upside down so the screws do not fall down inside the Wii's DVD drive.
Wii DVD Drive Replacement: Next up are two more difficult screws.  These ones are found towards the front of the DVD drive on your Wii Console, recessed into two holes about 1/2 inch deep.  If you have a small Phillip screwdriver with a magnetic tip, this is optimal for this task.  Alternatively, you can remove them while the Wii is upside down so the screws do not fall down inside the Wii's DVD drive.

4. Now with the screws removed, the DVD drive is ready to be removed from the Nintendo Wii. Since there are two cables -- a power and data cable that connects the DVD drive to the Wii, you will need to carefully rotate the DVD drive to the right and set it to the side as pictured below. This will allow you operating room to detach the cables without damaging the Wii.
Wii DVD Drive Replacement: Now with the screws removed, the DVD drive is ready to be removed from the Nintendo Wii.  Since there are two cables -- a power and data cable that connects the DVD drive to the Wii, you will need to carefully rotate the DVD drive to the right and set it to the side as pictured below.  This will allow you operating room to detach the cables without damaging the Wii.

5. Now start with the data cable (the brown / beige colored one) removal. The cable is connected to data cable by a clip that needs to be released by flipping the plastic clip up. Be careful and apply light pressure and not break the clip or data cable as they are difficult to replace. Slide out the cable from the clip to free it. (See picture below)

6. With the data cable and clip removed, now remove the power plug from the socket by lightly prying on the plug. Do not pull on the wires or you can ruin the cables on plug. Once the power cable is removed, the DVD drive can be removed from the Nintendo Wii.
Wii DVD Replacement: With the data cable and clip removed, now remove the power plug from the socket by lightly prying on the plug.  Do not pull on the wires or you can ruin the cables on plug.  Once the power cable is removed, the DVD drive can be removed from the Nintendo Wii.

Now you have removed the DVD drive from the Wii, you can apply your chip modification or simply replace it with a new one that you gave received. To reinstall it, simply follow the instructions in reverse. Remember two additional key items:

1. The data cable is the most difficult to get back in. Start with it first by placing the drive on the side and slide it in evenly. Then attach the clip.

2. When putting in the recessed screws you need to either a) use a magnetic screwdriver to not lose the screws or b) find small tweezers to put through the opening for the DVD player to hold the screws in place if you do not have a magnetic screwdriver.

And with that, you have successfully replaced the Nintendo Wii DVD player with a replacement drive!

Wii DVD Drive / Player Models include:
GC2-D2B
GC2-DMS
GC2-D2C
GC2-D2C2
GC2R-D2A

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nintendo Wii: How to Replace the Internal Fan

As your Nintendo Wii ages with use, one of the more common repairs that you may need to do would include replacing the internal fan. Fortunately, once you are able to take apart your Nintendo Wii console, the fan replacement is a rather easy tasks.

Nintendo Wii Fan Replacement Guide

Here are a few reasons on why you may need to replace the fan:

  • Fan has become noisy with either loud humming or clicking sounds
  • Fan has stopped working, causing your Nintendo Wii to overheat or turn off
  • Need to install a higher powered fan because your Nintendo Wii is in a location with poor air circulation.


This post is one of several on how to fix problems with your Nintendo Wii. To see the entire list, click here for the Nintendo Wii Repair Guide.


In this tutorial, I will take you through the steps to replace the internal fan on the Nintendo Wii. If you need a replacement fan for you Wii, I would recommend going to Amazon to pick one up. As of the latest update to this post there is an aftermarket fan by Whisper that you can purchase for $4.99. More are sure to come on to the market. Click here to purchase a Wii Replacment Fan from Amazon

Here is the step-by-step guide:

1. Disconnect all power, audio / visual, and sensor bar cables from your Nintendo Wii.

2. Follow my step-by-step guide on taking apart your Nintendo Wii by clicking here. You can skip the last step for removing the heat shield from the Nintendo Wii DVD.

3. Orient yourself to the Nintendo Wii console and the area around the fan on the back of the unit. Here you will be removing three items, one power cable -- that provides the power to the fan and two additional screws indicated by the arrows in this picture.

Orient yourself to the Nintendo Wii console and the area around the fan on the back of the unit. Here you will be removing three items, one power cable -- that provides the power to the fan and two additional screws indicated by the arrows in this picture.

4. Use a flat-head, screwdriver, fingernails, or a pry tool to separate the power cable from the outlet. Do not pull on the cables to disconnect as you could damage the connectors.
Use a flat-head, screwdriver, fingernails, or a pry tool to separate the power cable from th eoutlet. Do not pull on the cables to disconnect as you could damage the connectors.

5. Using a Phillips screwdriver, remove both of the screws on either side of the Nintendo Wii.
Using a phillips screwdriver, remove both of the screws on either side of the Nintendo Wii.

6. Slide out the fan to complete the removal of the internal fan on your Nintendo Wii.
Slide out the fan to complete the removal of the internal fan on your Nintendo Wii.

With the fan removed, you now can insert the replacement fan into the Nintendo Wii. To install, reverse the process above in order to install and connect the fan to your Nintendo Wii. Once you complete the process, you are set with your replacement fan.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Chuck E. Cheese & Birthdays

Kids love Chuck E. Cheese. Really love it. In fact so much, my three year old Nephew Ryan wanted to have his birthday party there. So on Saturday, June 14th we headed into Ventura to hold his 3rd birthday party at the Chuck E. Cheese there. It had been 6 years since my last visit to Chuck E. Cheese for my niece's birthday party.

Ryan Wilke's 3rd Birthday Party at Chuck E. Cheese
For many of those without children, Chuck E. Cheese represents utter chaos. Children running crazy, misbehaving, and a lot of parents not keeping a close eye on their kids. However, for kids -- a lot of freedom, games to play, and pretty much free roam on a restaurant.

And for me, Chuck E. Cheese is a relatively fun place. I love carnival games, video games, and especially the basketball game. In fact, I am pretty darn good at Super Shot Basketball -- in classic mode -- if I might say so myself. I have scored over 100 points in a game at Dave & Busters and scored twice in the 60's range during this visit to Chuck E. Cheese. My niece especially was happy -- my shots ended up winning her a couple hundred extra tickets to buy fun stuff.

In all, it was a crazy but fun time at Chuck E. Cheese. Once every few years is definitely plenty for me.

On a side note, I found their beer policy to be odd -- not to mention the fact they even offer it. Chuck E. Cheese will limit you to 1 drink (beer or wine) per hour and they take your drivers license from you for about 5 minutes if you are sitting down while they verify you in the back. Seems like a rampant opportunity for ID theft. Crazy.

Here are a few additional pictures from the festivities:

All the kids and family get ready for cake and the show.All the kids and family get ready for cake and the show.

My niece, Megan takes a ride on the helicopter.My niece, Megan takes a ride on the helicopter.

My brother-in-law David watches as his son (my nephew) plays a video game.My brother-in-law David watches as his son (my nephew) plays a video game.

My nephew, Ryan celebrating his 3rd birthday loves the space ship!My nephew, Ryan celebrating his 3rd birthday loves the space ship!

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Nintendo Wii Tear Down Guide

Need to take apart your Nintendo Wii to perform maintenance? Or perhaps you are just curious as to what it takes to disassemble your Nintendo Wii? Maybe you are even considering putting in a mod chip on your Nintendo Wii and need to take it apart to see what you are in for.

Nintendo Wii Tear Down Guide
Regardless of your particular reason, this is the Nintendo Wii Tear Down and Dis-assembly guide. With it, you will be able to easily take apart your Nintendo Wii Gaming Console in less than 10 minutes. From there, the choice is yours in terms of what you want to do with it: Clean the fan, replace the DVD drive, or even try out a mod chip. Rather than paying $19.95 as some Internet sites want to charge you, you can find the details on this process here in this post!

This post is one of several on how to fix problems with your Nintendo Wii. To see the entire list, click here for the Nintendo Wii Repair Guide.


Without further introductions, let's get to taking apart that Nintendo Wii Game System! First, there are the requirements. You will need two items -- a precision Phillips screwdriver set and a security tri-wing screwdriver (read how to get one here). With those in hands as well as this easy-to-use tutorial, you will disassemble your Nintendo Wii Console in no time. Of course, please make sure that all cables, including power cables are disconnected from your Nintendo Wii before starting.

Here is the step-by-step guide:

1. Stand up your Nintendo Wii console vertically so that the panels that cover the Nintendo GameCube controller and memory ports.
Stand up your Nintendo Wii console vertically so that the panels that cover the Nintendo GameCube controller and memory ports.

2. Gently rotate the panels covering the Nintendo GameCube ports on your Wii beyond 90 degrees until the pop out their holders. They should remove easily from the Nintendo Wii without too much force.
Gently rotate the panels covering the Nintendo GameCube ports on your Wii beyond 90 degrees until the pop out their holders.  They should remove easily from the Nintendo Wii without too much force.

3. Take your precision Phillips screw driver and remove the three screws that anchor in the covering for the GameCube ports. Keep track of the screws as one of these three are longer than the other, the one that is closest to the front of the Nintendo Wii. I have found it easiest to put all of the parts from the same panels in a small baggy in order to make sure they are not mixed up or lost.
Take your precision Phillips screw driver and remove the three screws that anchor in the covering for the GameCube ports.  Keep track of the screws as one of these three are longer than the other, the one that is closest to the front of the Nintendo Wii.  I have found it easiest to put all of the parts from the same panels in a small baggy in order to make sure they are not mixed up or lost.

4. Gently lifting from the same side you removed the screws from, rotate the black cover upwards enabling it to disengage from the two sides and the bottom. Set it aside.
Gently lifting from the same side you removed the screws from, rotate the black cover upwards enabling it to disengage from the two sides and the bottom.  Set it aside.

5. Removing the black plastic cover will unveil 4 additional screws -- 2 Phillips and 2 Triwing screws. Remove these four to complete the tear down for this side.
Removing the black plastic cover will unveil 4 additional screws -- 2 Phillips and  2 Triwing screws.  Remove these four to complete the tear down for this side.

6. A close up view of this Tri-Wing screw on your Nintendo Wii removed in the previous step.
A close up view of this Tri-Wing screw on your Nintendo Wii removed in the previous step.

7. Now turn your Nintendo Wii over and remove the visible Phillips screw that holds the battery in place.
Now turn your Nintendo Wii over and remove the visible Phillips screw that holds the battery in place.

8. There will be a total of 5 screws that you will need to remove from your Nintendo Wii on this side. Three are underneath plastic covers, one underneath the left front foot (the only one left when the batter is removed), and one underneath the battery cover. They are a mix of Tri-Wing and Philips. Be sure to keep track of which screws go on which holes on the Nintendo Wii!
There will be a total of 5 screws that you will need to remove from your Nintendo Wii on this side.  Three are underneath plastic covers, one underneath the left front  foot (when facing it standing on end), and one underneath the battery cover.  They are a mix of Tri-Wing and Philips. Be sure to keep track of which screws go on which holes on the Nintendo Wii!

9. Technique for removing the plastic sticker covers over the screw holes. Use a very small flat-head screw driver to lift the sticker and expose the screws on your Nintendo Wii.
Technique for removing the plastic sticker covers over the screw holes.  Use a very small flat-head screw driver to lift the sticker and expose the screws on your Nintendo Wii.

10. The last screw hole that is underneath the rubber foot. Use the same technique with the flat head screwdriver to remove the rubber foot from the Nintendo Wii.
The last screw hole that is underneath the rubber foot. Use the same technique with the flat head screwdriver to remove the rubber foot from the Nintendo Wii.

11. Now turn the Nintendo Wii so the bottom is facing up. Toward the front, there are two more plastic covers that need to be removed to expose two more triwing screws. Remove the covers and remove the two screws.
Now turn the Nintendo Wii so the bottom is facing up.  Toward the front, there are two more plastic covers that need to be removed to expose two more triwing screws.  Remove the covers and remove the two screws.

12. Still on the bottom, the two rubber feed on the back are concealing the final two screws that this guide requires for removal on the Nintendo Wii. Remove the rubber feet and the two final triwing screws are deep inside the holes. Unscrew them.
Still on the bottom, the two rubber feed on the back are concealing the final two screws that this guide requires for removal on the Nintendo Wii.  Remove the rubber feet and the two final triwing screws are deep inside the holes.  Unscrew them.

13. With all of the screws removed, you can now separate the faceplate on the Nintendo Wii. Pull the faceplate forward gently to separate. However, be careful as there is a power cable connected to the Nintendo Wii.
With all of the screws removed, you can now separate the faceplate on the Nintendo Wii.  Pull the faceplate forward gently to separate.  However, be careful as there is a power cable connected to the Nintendo Wii.

14. Gently use a screwdriver or other pry tool to separate the power connectors for the faceplate on the Nintendo Wii. Do not pull on the cables as they could disconnect from the connector. Remove the faceplate and set it to the side.
Gently use a screwdriver or other pry tool to separate the power connectors for the faceplate on the Nintendo Wii.  Do not pull on the cables as they could disconnect from the connector.  Remove the faceplate and set it to the side.

15. Now flip the Nintendo Wii so that it is setting horizontal resting on the two remaining bottom feet. From the back, lift upwards to separate the outer cover to the Nintendo Wii.
Now flip the Nintendo Wii so that it is setting horizontal resting on the two remaining bottom feet.  From the back, lift upwards to separate the outer cover to the Nintendo Wii.

16. Set the cover to the side to expose the internals of the Nintendo Wii including the DVD-ROM cover.
Set the cover to the side to expose the internals of the Nintendo Wii including the DVD-ROM cover.

17. To expose the entire inside of the Nintendo Wii, lift on the metal heat shield that is a covering over the Nintendo Wii DVD player. It should release with a light pull.
To expose the entire inside of the Nintendo Wii, lift on the metal covering over the Nintendo Wii DVD player.  It should release with a light pull.

Congratulations, you have correctly disassembled your Nintendo Wii. You can not pursue the activity of your choice whether it is a cleaning or a part replacement. In order to re-assemble your gaming console, simply follow these instructions in reverse.

Did you have an easy time with this Nintendo Wii Tear Down Guide? If so, please let me know with a comment!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

How to Repair the Wii Sensor Bar's Cable / Wire

Your cat chewed through it. Your snapped it moving furniture. Your vacuum cleaner mangled it. You accidentally cut it with scissors.

What am I talking about?

Several of the reasons I have heard that you may need to repair the cord on your Nintendo Wii's sensor bar / wire. The funny part? Cats have seemed to be the biggest culprits so far in chewing through the sensor bar cable.

The good news, is that it is a pretty easy situation to fix. The only difficult part? You have two choices -- the soldering solution, or what I call the poor man's solution. The latter is for those of you who either do not have a soldering iron, or do not feel comfortable with one -- you can still make do. The only difference is that it is not quite as clean, and may not have the same longevity. Still, in the end -- your Wii's sensor bar and its wire will be back in order.

This post is one of several on how to fix problems with your Nintendo Wii. To see the entire list, click here for the Nintendo Wii Repair Guide.


First, let's cover the soldering fix for your Wii's Sensor Bar cable. For this procedure, you'll need a soldering iron, soldering wire, match or heating gun, and a nice set of needle nose pliers with wire cutters on them.

1. Find the location on the cable where the damage occurred. About 1/2" on each side of the damage, cut the cables with your needle nose pliers to cleanly cut the two sides of the cable.

2. Slip a shrink fit tube over one side of the cable to be used later to cover and protect your solder.

3. Carefully strip off approximately 1" in of the outside jacket from the cable on each side.

4. Remove the paper and expose the two inner wires that connect the Wii's Sensor Bar.

5. These two inner wires are coated with their own insulation that needs to be removed. In order to remove it, you can "burn" away 1/2" to 3/4" of it using a match, lighter, or a heat gun. This will expose the metal wires that you will need to solder.

6. Make a solder connection for each of the two wires with their respective matching side. If you are new to soldering, some prefer to twist the wires lightly together to create a better connection.

7. Wrap each newly joined wire with a single layer of electrical tape to keep the two wires from touch and shorting out.

8. Finally, slide the shrink tube over the soldered area and heat with a heat gun or blow dryer to shrink and tighten the connection.


Now for the optional "poor man's solution":

1. Find the location on the cable where the damage occurred. About 1/2" on each side of the damage, cut the cables with your needle nose pliers to cleanly cut the two sides of the cable.

2. Slip a shrink fit tube over one side of the cable to be used later to cover and protect your solder.

3. Carefully strip off approximately 1 1/2" in of the outside jacket from the cable on each side.

4. Remove the paper and expose the two inner wires that connect the Wii's Sensor Bar.

5. These two inner wires are coated with their own insulation that needs to be removed. In order to remove it, you can "burn" away 1/2" to 3/4" of it using a match, lighter, or a heat gun. This will expose the metal wires that you will need to solder.

6. Now instead of soldering the connection between the two wires, line the wires up and intertwine them by twisting to make a solid connection.

7. Wrap each newly joined wire with a single layer of electrical tape to keep the two wires from touch and shorting out.

8. Finally, slide the shrink tube over the soldered area and heat with a heat gun or blow dryer to shrink and tighten the connection.


Now plug your Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar back in and you should be back in business. Congratulation, you have completed the repair of your Nintendo Wii's Sensor Bar Cable!

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wii Sensor Bar Tear Down and Repair Guide

With my recent purchase of a "broken" Nintendo Wii from eBay, I have taken the opportunity to disassemble the various components. As part of that effort, I am posting about each experience, to help you out in the case you need information on how to repair your Wii.


Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar Tear Down and Repair Guide with Picutres
In this post, I will be be covering the tear down of the Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar. The Sensor Bar itself, is an infrared device (IR) that detects and determines the movements you make with your Nintendo Wii Remote. It is a critical component of the Nintendo Wii and required for most games.



This post is one of several on how to fix problems with your Nintendo Wii. To see the entire list, click here for the Nintendo Wii Repair Guide.


As part of this guide, you will see how to take apart, disassemble, and repair a Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar. Some common reasons that you may need to open your Wii Sensor Bar include:

  1. Clean our dust or debris that has built up over time on the sensors or the components in the sensor bar.
  2. The Sensor Bar has been dropped or fallen and the covers over the senor components have popped out and need to be reinserted.
  3. The senor covers are cracked or need to be replaced.
  4. The senor strips and cables need to be replaced.

The only requirement that you need to complete this tutorial is a Tri-Wing screwdriver. Once you have your triwing (3-prong screwdriver), you are ready to go.

1. Remove the three small tri-wing screws from the back of the Nintendo Wii Sensor bar, as you can see in the picture below.

Remove the three small tri-wing screws from the back of the Nintendo Wii Sensor bar, as you can see in the picture below.

2. Now with the first three screws removed, there are two additional tri-wing screws on the Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar that are hidden. These are underneath the two adhesive, rubber tabs that are on each side of the Wii Sensor Bar. As you can see from the picture below, you need to carefully lift up both the adhesive and the rubber on the outer most edges to expose the screw. Once they are exposed, removed both screws for a total of five. All five screws are the same length, so there is no need to keep track of which screws can from which holes.

Now with the first three screws removed, there are two additional tri-wing screws on the Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar that are hidden. These are underneath the two adhesive, rubber tabs that are on each side of the Wii Sensor Bar. As you can see from the picture below, you need to carefully lift up both the adhesive and the rubber on the outer most edges to expose the screw. Once they are exposed, removed both screws for a total of five. All five screws are the same length, so there is no need to keep track of which screws can from which holes.
3. Lift up to remove the cover from the Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar to expose the internal areas. The sides are lightly clipped so it is best to lift gently from the center creating a little bend for the tabs to disconnect.

Lift up to remove the cover from the Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar to expose the internal areas. The sides are lightly clipped so it is best to lift gently from the center creating a little bend for the tabs to disconnect.
4. With the internals of the Wii Sensor Bar exposed, you can remove the two covers (one on the left side, the other on the right side from the sensor bar. To do this, lift from the outer most side upwards and the tab that is connect to the center will release, freeing the cover. The sensor bar strip with the sensor will need to move a little as you create the angle to correctly release the covers.

With the internals of the Wii Sensor Bar exposed, you can remove the two covers (one on the left side, the other on the right side from the sensor bar. To do this, lift from the outer most side upwards and the tab that is connect to the center will release, freeing the cover. The sensor bar strip with the sensor will need to move a little as you create the angle to correctly release the covers.
5. Now remove the center black plastic piece from the sensor bar. This is a simple lifting of the piece that is held in place by the two round pieces in the center that it sets on. Simply lift it straight up to remove from the sensor bar.

Now remove the center black plastic piece from the sensor bar. This is a simple lifting of the piece that is held in place by the two round pieces in the center that it sets on. Simply lift it straight up to remove from the sensor bar.
6. Lastly, lift out the senor bar strip and the cable from the sensor bar to complete the tear down of the Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar. Remember the the cable has a knot in it (odd) to hold the cable correctly in place and that the senor bar cable goes underneath the sensor bar strip when reassembling.

Lastly, lift out the senor bar strip and the cable from the sensor bar to complete the tear down of the Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar. Remember the the cable has a knot in it (odd) to hold the cable correctly in place and that the senor bar cable goes underneath the sensor bar strip when reassembling.Congratulations, you have now completed the tear down of your Nintendo Wii Sensor Bar. Now you can perform any of the activities you desire. To reassemble, simply follow the above instructions in reverse order to complete the job.

Did this work for you? Did I miss a step? Let me know with a comment below.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Galaxy NAS: First Impressions and Issues

It has been a few weeks since I installed and setup my Galaxy MGB-RAID PRO NAS device on my home network. Since that time I have had the opportunity to consistently use the drive as I intended and can accurately report on my experiences with it.

Galaxy 3500MGB-RAID Pro GIGA-NAS my recent purchase

First, let’s talk about my installation and first use experience. After I assembled the device and plugged it in, the light on the front of the NAS server turned on and I assumed the device was powering up. After about 30 seconds with no lights or hard drive activity – I began wondering if I had assembled the device improperly. I tried to access the server via the setup utility, but no connectivity was able to be established.

Fortunately, all I needed to do was unplug the power from the NAS, plug it back in and I heard the familiar sound of hard drives spinning up. We were in business.

Over the next couple of minutes I proceeded through the basic setup of the NAS. First I assigned the network information I desired like the IP address, some other basic settings. Then, I setup the disk storage subsystem into the desired state – 2 500GB drives in a RAID 1 configuration to give me a great combination of storage and redundancy.

Once everything was configured, I rebooted.

For some reason after that first reboot, the network settings were lost, fortunately the storage configuration remained. All of a sudden, I began to question my purchase – did I make the right decision by going the cheap route? I went ahead and entered the configuration information again – wondering if it was just a case of me not saving the settings. Once more, I reboot the NAS device – good news, the settings saved and the NAS was up and ready to be found on the network.

Connectivity from Windows Vista was a cinch. Just peering into my network settings, Vista recognized the device “Hanscom-NAS” to which I was able to connect and quickly setup a mapped drive to.

Now for the first big test – to copying all the files, movies, music, and videos to my NAS device; all the ones that I had been previously storing on my second hard drive. I fired up ROBOCOPY (which I had to change my usage of – more here) and started the copy of about 150,000 files to the NAS device.

The copying was looking fine when about 20 minutes in and 70% completed I started seeing the same error message scroll across the screen:

It looked like the copying started to fail. I tried to connect to the shared storage via Windows Vista, but I could not connect. I quick visit to the web based configuration panel and I could access the control panel. When I went to the storage information page, there was a funky message.

I assumed the device was having an issue, so I rebooted it. After the reboot, the NAS was fine and the majority of the data that had copied was fine.

The errors appear to have occurred with larges numbers of tiny files were being copied between the computer and the NAS device. I actually experienced this issue two other times, with copies exceeding over 100,000 files – by rebooting and restarting, it appears to have resolved the issue. The only guess I have is that perhaps due to the differences in the file systems and the high rate of copying, the NAS device gets out of sync with the desktop when large numbers of small files are copied, causing the issue where the device locks up or the storage is non-responsive.

Definitely not the best first use experience. Had I written this article immediately afterwards, I would have been relatively disappointed – and concerned about the stability of my data on the NAS.

The good news is that after the first use experience, things seemed to really stabilize. In the last several weeks, I have not had any additional issues using the Galaxy MGB-RAID Pro NAS server. My usage has continued to be rather heavy including copying / verifying 300,000 files each day as well as using it for storage for music streaming. I have not had to reboot or tinker with any of the settings put in place during the first use.

Performance is good, exactly what I need.

The Galaxy MGB-RAID Pro NAS may be a device that you consider “green” and environmentally friendly to some extent. While no configuration exists for it, the hard drives and the system will go to sleep after being left idle for a pre-determined amount of time. It is not particularly noticeable other than the occasional sound of the drives spinning up on a first use basis.

The NAS is also fairly quiet, in that whatever little fan noise exists is barely audible or noticeable amidst the hum of the other computers in the room. This is common knock on other NAS devices and the Galaxy is fairly exceptional in this regard.

In summing up my experience thus far, the Galaxy NAS is exactly what I hoped for, even considering the rough start. For $300 (including hard drive purchases), I was able to get RAID 1 storage capability of 500GB (1TB RAW) that performs well and is reliable, includes optional ports for USB and a gigabit Ethernet connection. It is hard to ask much more from a device, especially at that price point.

I have not used either the print server or USB connectivity yet, but over time I hope to move my LaserJet 3050 and other devices to the Galaxy. We will see how that goes.

Are you thinking of the Galaxy NAS or have an experience with it? Let me know with a comment.

Update: My MGB Raid Pro just died after only 13 months. Click here to read more.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Keep Your Laptop Batteries Charged!

I lug two extended batteries for my Lenovo Thinkpad T61 wherever I go. However I realized in the past couple of weeks that if I do not keep them both charged – they are pretty much useless.

On a recent trip through Chicago I burned through my primary battery while relaxing on the large 747 that we were taking en route from Los Angeles. As the battery approached the 20% mark, I decided it was time to change it out for my spare and shut down my machine to get some more work done.

Surprise, that battery only had 18% left. Looks like I was ending my work for that plane trip. Apparently I had previously swapped out my battery for the spare some time ago and forgot to re-charge the used one. Bummer.

Once I landed, I ended up spending the majority of the time between connections at Chicago O’Hare tethered to a power outlet station to try to get enough juice into one of the batteries in order to continue using it on a flight.

Needless to say, I need a better system for making sure that both batteries are always charged on my laptop. Especially for long flights!

After just a little bit of thought, I added a weekly recurring reminder to my Microsoft Outlook reminding me to change the batteries out on my laptop. Perhaps a little redundant, but at least it works.

Perhaps you have a better idea? Let me know with a comment below.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lakers Finally Beat Celtics (Thanks Refs)

The Lakers are going to give a game away at some point if they do not stop this nonsensical play at the end of playoffs. While not as inexplicable as Kobe Bryant's shot early in the clock at the end of Game 4 against the Spurs, what was Lamar Odom thinking trying to dunk in the last 10 seconds of the game?

Why? Why? Why? I keep re-watching the sequence over and over again. The Celtics had given up, just let the clock run out. If this end of game craziness does not stop, someone will cost the Lakers a game.

I will stay away from the officiating in this game other than to say the Lakers benefitted from home court advantage.

Some observations from the game:

  • Lakers make it a series at 1-2. Is anyone surprised? I was a little nervous when the Lakers were off balance in the 3rd quarter. It did feel lucky to come out with the win with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom playing awful. Luckily Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were equally as awful.
  • Phil Jackson - What a Game 3 adjustment by Phil Jackson. The decision to put Kobe Bryant on Rajon Rondo for defensive was simply genius. Not only did it create a bad cross matchup for the Celtics on the defensive end, but Kobe was free to roam and double team on defense due to Rajon's lack of confidence shooting the ball. The result, Rajon was off the floor at the end of the game and there was interior penetration.
  • Traveling Calls -- More than I have seen in a long time in ANY NBA game. I guess Vladimir Radmanovic's 5-step trip around the world in Game 2 raised some eyebrows. Everyone knows you could call about 10 traveling violations in a game. I think we had 5 in this one.
  • Luke Walton - the guy can definitely pass and hit the occassional three. However, nobody misses more easy buckets than Luke. That was again the case tonight, a couple of easy layup misses. Even worse, Often times (in the 2nd quarter tonight) he decides that with 6 seconds left on the clock that he needs to take the shot. Rarely does he convert.
  • Kendrick Perkins -- I was surprised was he not T'd up with a technical foul in the 2nd quarter after he screamed in Kobe Bryant's face? Great he had a dunk, but in almost any other game that would be a technical foul for taunting.
  • PJ Brown -- The guy you love, if he's on your team. The guy you hate if he is not. He is always mixing it up, and tonight was no exception when he mixed it up with Jordan Farmar. Amazing how some guys always end up in the mix.
  • Sasha Vujacic -- Great performance and converting on the shots. Man has this guy turned it around from last year. With each playoff performance, I am more impressed.
  • Defense on Kobe the last 2 minutes. I thought trapping was a great strategy by the Celtics to get the ball out of Kobe's hand. Then Sasha hit the three and then Doc Rivers went back to 1x1 with Ray Allen. Fortunately, neither were effective.
  • Pau Gasol & Lamar Odom; the Lakers need you both. If these do not play better in the rest of the games, the Lakers cannot win.
  • Rajon Rondo -- hopefully you did not take too much offense to the "get him a wheelchair" chants from the crowd when you were injured. I bet you understand though.

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Test Drive: Harmony 880 Universal Remote

Last time I checked in, I had just opened up my new Logitech Harmony 880 and letting the lithium battery charge up. I could hardly wait for it to charge before trying it, having contemplated the purchase for such a long time.

Logitech Harmony 880 Universal Remote product photo
Once it had charged up, it was time to begin the setup and initial test drive.

I did very little research before buying the Harmony 880. I bought it based on a friend's recommendation and the general "buzz" factor on FatWallet. As I looked at the instructions (rare for me), I noticed that most of the programming appeared to be done on the computer through the software that comes with the universal remote.

After the standard installation of the software, I was ready to begin the programming. The first thing I noticed was that I did not have to have the Harmony Remote plugged in via the USB cable that is included. You can program the software independent of the remote being plugged in. You just need to connect it when you want to download your settings.

The first step was setting up all the devices I have. Through a fairly easy process, I quickly added the devices to the software and confirmed that all 7 components were added to the configuration.

All my electronic devices are added on the Harmony Remote software

Now it was time for the fun part, the programming. Since my setup was a little more complex due the presence of the Psyclone PSC01 and the various settings, I was anxious to get started.

The Harmony software had some great preset options like "Watch a DVD", "Listen to CDs", and "Watch PVR" that help you configure the things you want to control. I think the presets are nice, but a better starting descriptions would be a nice add. For example, how many people know what a PVR is? Of course you can change them later.

Choosing which activities to add to my Harmony 880 Remote

The Harmony asks me which devices are required to perform the action. I choose the Sony Receiver, Sony Television, Psyclone Audio / Video switch and Motorola DVR. The wizard walks you through the configuration of each item until you complete the activity.

Harmony software completes activity configuration

After completing the activities I needed, it was time to download the configuration to the Harmony 880 controller. I just plugged it and in less than a minute, the Harmony 880 was ready to go.

Harmony 880 Remote Control is updated and ready for use
But would it work?

I walked into the family room, started up the remote and clicked on the "Watch TV" activity that I added. The remote accepted the command and I waited for the Harmony 880 to do its magic. After a moment for it to start, everything turned on and went to the exact settings. Try "Play DVD", worked again. Great news, we were in business.

And the successes continued. Thus far, through several days of use, I have been able to put the myriad of remotes I had sitting in the family room away. In addition to the remotes being easy for Ashley to use, she also loves the uncluttered coffee table. I am very satisfied with my purchase -- I should have made it sooner. A huge plus is that with the Harmony's DVR friendly controls, it also has the great fast forward and replay features that are all so important!

Overall, only one issue that I have with it that I cannot say is the fault of the Harmony 880 remote. For one of my devices I have a split audio / video setting for two different channels to deal with a different in input types. The problem? I cannot control it with the remote. Either remote -- the Sony remote or the Logitech Harmony 880 cannot handle splitting the channel. The limitation is on the Sony side, since the Harmony can mimic all the commands. I am trying to find a macro to perform the action, but no luck so far.

Other than that, I am finally fully setup with a single remote.

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