Arcade Update

It has been a while since I posted anything about the arcade machine and for good reason.  It has been a while since I have done anything with the arcade machine.  Last Friday, Aimee and I had a little party for some friends and Chris and I were playing King of Fighters on the arcade machine when he made a comment that the screen was fuzzy and that I should replace it with a new LCD screen.  This got me thinking.  The next day I opened the case and found the VGA port on the board but there were other cables connected to it.  I disconnected those cables and attached a 19″ LCD to the system but nothing ever displayed on the screen.  I pulled the mainboard from the machine and moved it to my workbench for further analysis.  After a few hours of messing with mainboard jumpers I found out how to change the output mode from NTSC to VGA.  I tested it on the monitor and it worked but I could not do anything as the mainboard was not connected to the coin ops.  I put the board back into the machine and setup the LCD close to the machine and did a full test of games and found that it did look a lot better.  The monitor that was in the arcade machine must have been 25-30 years old so it was due for a replacement.The next step was to price out a good monitor.  I wanted to get something rather large as it is a decent sized arcade machine.  The problem, however, is that my budget is not large.  I finally found a Sceptre 23″ LCD with a low resolution for a very fair price.  Normally I would be ashamed to buy a large monitor with a low resolution.  I always buy the monitors with the highest resolution.  In this case it is actually better as the machine will not output in a high resolution and the further away I get from a LCD’s native resolution, the worse the monitor looks.

The next step was to remove the old monitor from the machine.  Once a number of boards and glass was removed from the front of the machine, Ian and I were able to remove the old monitor.  I then measured the case and the new LCD monitor and went to Home Depot to get several boards.  I also got poster boards and cut them to size around the monitor so that it would be framed within the machine.

On Friday, Chris and I built a frame for the LCD with the boards and then covered the boards with a thin packing material for cushioning and to resist slippage.  My measurements were correct and the LCD fit perfectly in the system.  We then put the newly cut bezels in front of it and connected the new screen.

I have to say that even I was impressed.  You cannot tell that the screen is a replacement screen as it fits so perfectly in the system and the colors are perfect.  The screen is very bright (300 cd/m2) and it has a good contrast ratio (1000:1).  Both Chris and I are very happy with the latest modification to the system and I have been showing it to everyone who stops by.  A special thanks goes to Chris for his ideas and help installing everything.

So what is next?  Well…There have been a few items that I have never gotten to with the system.  I still need to add a new vent to the top of the system and a fan or two to the bottom to increase air flow.  I also have a broken A button on the player 1 console so I need to fix that as well.  There are also a number of nicks and scratches that I want to paint.  I would also like to do some customizations to the main menu screen so that the games are displayed in a better order.  In the next year or so I may replace the sound system and I am thinking of adding some side art too.

The arcade project is an ongoing one but the nice thing is that I can still use it as I slowly upgrade things.  It is a lot of fun.

750 GB Drives

Seagate just announced the release of their 750 GB hard drive.  They also state that I should see 1 TB drives by the end of the year.  There is a SATA and an ATA (PATA) version for sale.  The drive is 7200 RPM and it has a 16 MB cache.  I am a hard drive fanatic so I am excited about the announcement and I may pick up one of those terabyte drives in December. 

New Equipment

We got some new equipment for the classroom.  I am missing hard drives on the parts because they were taken from a company but the servers do POST correctly which means they work.   I will be searching ebay for some good deals on SCSI hard drives.  Preferably some hot swappable hard drives.  I need about 10 and I would like 20 so that I can set up RAID 5 on some of the machines.
Here are some pictures of them.  Chris helped me with the setup.
NewEquipment5 NewEquipment4 NewEquipment3 NewEquipment2 NewEquipment1

Emerging Technologies, RFID, VoIP, Wireless, SOA, and EAI

I am busy writing things lately. I am working on a professional statement and on writing an article on emerging technology for Certification magazine.

I am compiling a list of technologies that those in IT should be aware of. So far I have the following:

  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
  • VoIP (Voice over IP)
  • Wireless 802.11n
  • SOA (Service Oriented Architecture)
  • EAI (Enterprise Application Integration)

I will be adding a few more before the article is done. If you have a suggestion, just comment or email me. When I was choosing technologies, I found myself looking a lot at wireless. I know wireless is big but I also have been doing a lot of research into wireless technologies lately and that may cause me to have a bias towards it so I want to focus on technologies around the board, networking, programming, security, etc. I am looking at a security component right now.

The article is still fairly general though so everything is subject to change. I should have it written this week or next week. The professional statement needs to be done sometime this week at best. That one is giving me trouble because I do not have a frame of reference for the paper. 

CWNA

I am studying to take the CWNA (Certified Wireless Network Administrator) exam.  I plan on taking it in 3 weeks and I have been studying for 2 so far.  I usually spend a little more time on a certification but I am teaching a computer hardware course in 3 weeks and I want to have this certification behind me so I can concentrate on the class.  I found an online study group which has not worked out well so far but I hope to have more communication in the future.  Until then I will continue to read white papers and my books and talk with people on forums.

Here is a quite from someone who recently took the exam. 
" Let me share my progress to passing the CWNA exam. 2.5 yrs of I.T. training, college courses, and labs, including a 6 month security class. CompTia A+, Cisco CCNA, Microsoft MCSA/MCSE, THEN CWNA. And yes, it was hard, I saw questions on the exam that I have never even remotely seen anything like it. I was answering questions on RC4…which made me wonder if I had gotten a CWSP exam by accident. No matter, I have my CWNA now, and plan on taking CWSP within 1-2 months."

I hope I can say the same thing soon.  I guess I will see.  I will take it again if I fail and study harder.  It is my goal and I will see it through. 

Apple monitors

As some of you know, I bought an Apple Cinema HD 23" widescreen monitor about 6 months ago.  I still love the beautiful picture and high resolution it offers.  Here is another interesting thing about Apple monitors that I found on Engadget. 
 
Unknown to many Apple retail store customers, especially those dialing AppleCare for help with the matter, at the manager’s discretion any retail store is able to replace displays, laptops, or iMacs with even a single dead pixel, regardless of location. Even displays that exhibit dead pixels within the “normal” range can be replaced free of charge if the customer deems the so-called “pixel anomaly” unacceptable.
I still highly recommed these displays to anyone.  I would have liked to get the 30" display but both the price and the fact that I would need a new video card with dual-link DVI stopped me from purchasing it.  BTW: I use the display with my PC without problems.