Saturday, March 22, 2008

How Not to Buy Dance Pads

I wanted to play StepMania the free, open-source, awesome dancing rhythm game for the PC. In order to do so properly, I needed a dance pad (playing with a keyboard doesn't count). Here's where things start to get complicated.

Instant Gratification

When I get an idea into my head, I like to act on it right at that moment. That's why the first thing I did was drive to some brick-and-mortar stores. I went to Fry's, Best Buy, and Walmart, hoping they would have dance pads - and I was right - just none that were compatible with the PC. So I go home and order from Amazon. I order a cheap Red Octane PlayStation 2 dance pad, and I also order a PlayStation 2 to USB converter.

The Worst Present Ever

You know that feeling you got when you were a kid right before Christmas? Anticipation mixed with anger over why you can't have your present now. That's how I feel whenever I'm waiting for a delivery. Of course, none of it matters when the day finally comes and you're holding the package in your hands, ready to rip it open. That moment, is the best moment of all - except of course, when you get clothes instead of an xbox360, or in my case, the thing doesn't work.

I plug the dance pad into the PS2 to USB adapter and plug that into my PC. I configure the inputs in StepMania and then use the pad to navigate to and start a song. So far so good. When I'm trying to play the song though, I find I'm missing all the left-right and up-down jump steps. Thinking it's a problem with my dance pad, I try to smooth it out, but no luck, it's still broken (or so I thought - more on this later).

Two for the Price of Two

After waiting for a week for my dance pad, only to find that it doesn't work, I get a little angry. I'm not the best decision maker when I'm angry, so in hindsight, driving back to BestBuy and buying another dance pad may not have been the best decision. But anyway, that's what I did.

Faulty Diagnostics

So I'm back home with my new dance pad ready to play some StepMania and what happens? The dance pad I just bought doesn't work either. It has the same exact problem. Since I had bought a different brand and the bug was too similar to be a coincidence, it can only mean one thing. It wasn't the dance pads that were faulty, it was the converter!

After the euphoria of my great revelation wears off, I'm even more upset. This means I bought an extra dance pad that I don't need, and the worst part is I have to order another adapter (since no conventional stores seem to have it), which means another week of agonizing waiting! By this point, I'm ready to give up, I don't even want to play StepMania anymore.

Google is Your Friend

Just for kicks, I do some searching, not really expecting a solution to my problems. How wrong I was to underestimate the power of the internet. StepMania has a wiki, that wiki has a page devoted to all the different USB converters, the one I purchased is on there with a comment talking about my exact problem and a very simple fix.

The fix?

Press the Up, Start, and Select buttons for 3 seconds to put it in multistep mode. -o-

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cop Avoidance Device

My friend Kevin Chiu got me this cop avoidance device (i.e., radar detector), seeing as how I've had problems with them in the past. It's too early to tell if it actually works...