Cronus Zen + Logitech Driving Force GT + PS5 + Gran Turismo 7 = FUN

2022-07-30 17:40 - Gaming

I'm trying to use a Cronus Zen device, to enable my existing wheel controller (Logitech Driving Force GT, originally for a PS3 — stinks that it only works with the PS3) to work with my freshly acquired PS5. I've seen at least one Reddit post that says "Logitech G27 fully operational on PS5 thanks to a Cronus Zen". But not specifically how. There's documentation for using a PS5, and using a wheel (on a PS4), but not one official document for both. Here I'm recording the steps I used to get my wheel working on the PS5, to play Gran Turismo 7.

  1. Start by updating the firmware (archive) of the Zen.
  2. Plug in the rear Micro USB port to PC (minimum Windows 10).
  3. Run cmupdatetool (archive) (11.2.0), to latest firmware (2.1.0-beta35). (This appears to be an online process which will break once their servers go down?)
  4. Disconnect USB.
  5. Now I think we need to combine PS4 Wheel Mode (archive) and (for PS5:) PS4 Specialty (archive) mode.
  6. Connect side Mini USB port to PC. (My Mini port seemed flaky. Took more force to fully insert than expected, then it worked well.)
  7. Open Zen Studio (archive) (1.2.1-beta.105).

I'm using the recommended Hori Mini Pad so I'm using those instructions (archive).

  1. Set the PS5 console settings as per that documentation.
  2. Continue with connect by USB (archive).
  3. I still have Zen Studio open; Click Tools > Zen Operational Mode. In the dialog select "Wheel Mode".
  4. In the device tab check "Enable PS4 Specialty" and ensure "Emulator Output Protocol" is "AUTO".
  5. Still in device tab click the "Reset Device" (not "Factory Reset" on the left!)> button.
  6. Disconnect all USB.
  7. Connect the Hori Mini Pad to the A1 port on the left (when looking at the screen) of the Zen.
  8. Connect the wheel to the A3 port, the left of the two on the front of the Zen.
  9. Connect the PS5 to the (rear) Micro USB port on the Zen. (I used a rear USB port on the PS5, because it was convenient.)

At least one place said there should be no PS5 controllers paired, but I kept mine paired and it works great!

The Real Estate Scam

2022-07-23 09:59 - General

On Thursday I closed the sale of my Manhattan Co-Op apartment. Going in, I had been estimating losing ten percent to all the fees and taxes. I thought that was a high estimate, but I set that expectation to keep myself comfortable. What actually ended up happening?

Seller's agent fee3%
Buyer's agent fee3%
Co-Op "flip tax"2%
State and city real estate taxes1.8%
Attorney's fees0.5%
(Building's) Managing agent fee0.1%

Ouch. I'm especially upset by the huge broker/agent fees. It's a total racket. There are "once percent" seller agents, which with hindsight I wish I had selected. I only made 37.5% over twelve years on the "investment" (but your home is not an investment!). Losing over 10% of the higher number (14.4% of the lower) stinks.

Yes, there's an extra 0.1% that rounded down out of the line items, the total was calculated independently.

New York Temperature Archive

2022-07-20 16:01 - General

Years ago, in my second apartment in Brooklyn, I set up some temperature sensors with my home server in order to enable thermostat-like functionality. I logged the data and eventually expanded the window for how long the data is stored. I've moved out of New York, and it doesn't make sense to continue collecting the same data set.

Graph of environmental data

So I've saved the data and made a static archive of it. At first I had only temperature. Later I added humidity and barometric pressure. Click on the headers to remove the lines, somewhat necessary to make reading a graph over a large time window practical.

Turns out I "only" saved ten years of data. Automatically rotated out by RRDTool. The "temp_out" graph is probably the most generally interesting. Based on the time window, that's always just outside my apartment in Chelsea. The summer peaks are pretty consistent, but the winter troughs are clearly higher (~never below 20 F) than before that (usually below 15 or 10 F). Hmm.

End of an Era (In Manhattan)

2022-07-10 13:40 - General

I bought my current home in 2010. I know it was June 24th, because it's written on the certificate I got as part of the closing. That makes just over twelve years ago. In those twelve years I've been lucky enough to work "in tech" making good money. And I've maintained a rather low cost of living. So I've saved up a healthy nest egg.

Last Friday, the 8th, was my last day at Google. I've retired. Wednesday, the 13th, is my last day in this apartment: I'm moving out. The sale of my apartment is closing on the 21st.

I've lived in Manhattan for twelve years. Worked for Google a bit more than that. Both of these are over. Life is changing for me. I stuck with a day job for a long time because the certainty was comfortable, but I'm all options and certainty for a while.

Super short term, I'm moving in with Mom again. Just until the summer is over, then I'm heading to Maryland: Mom's childhood home. It needs a bit of taking care of, and just right in time for me needing somewhere to live, too. So I expect to live there for a while, take care of and improve the place for whenever it gets sold. Then who knows?

Weekend Repair: USB Power Strip

2022-02-13 12:48 - Making

I had to do laundry, and I was out of funds so I had to trek to the basement to recharge my laundry card. While there, I passed the electronics recycling bin. I spotted a nifty looking two-outlet four-USB power strip. Sometimes people toss things that are perfectly working. This one was not.

The USB power strip while still open, just after replacing the fuse.

But it looked pretty nice, so I took the time to look into it. First I tried the USB ports, nothing. A little dot on the front looked like a status light, not lit. Then I tried the AC outlets: those also didn't work. At this point, it was time to open it up. There were two visible screws on the bottom, but that wasn't enough. There were two more screws, under two of the four rubber feet. Then some plastic clips holding the base on, and I was in. I found a much larger and more complicated circuit board to run the USB ports than I'd expect, and one smaller one.

The smaller board was directly connected to the AC input, one leg via the switch. Once I flipped it out, I found what not only looked clearly like a fuse but also was labeled "F1" on the board. And it was blown. I couldn't see what its original ratings were — this was a little glass fuse, the ratings are normally stamped on the metal ends. I ended up putting an 8 amp fuse in to replace it, from what I already had on hand. Which was a bare fuse, no leads like the original had. So I took some short wires, soldered it in, and covered everything in shrink wrap (like the original) to be safe. You'll have to look close at the picture to see it: it's at the bottom/right of the picture. A large black blob is the original shrink wrapped board. The smaller and closer black blob is the new shrink wrapped fuse, with little green wires leading back to the board.

Once I put the fuse in and closed it up: everything works fine! And of course, the status light is an awful bright blue thing. The hole for it is small enough, but tons of light leaks around the USB ports.

Repair by Damage

2021-10-12 15:57 - General

My "repaired" mouse.

I really like my Logitech MX Master mouse. It's just got one weird feature, a "gesture" button accessible by your thumb. It's wrapped in soft/flexible rubbery plastic. This tends, over time, to get stuck. This holds the gesture button down, and while the gesture button is held, the mouse behaves differently. It stops moving the cursor, so moving the mouse can do a different thing.

I've never wanted these other things (a replacement for Alt-Tab on Windows, at least). I have gotten the button stuck before. Then, I managed to pry a bit and get the plastic un-stuck, and the mouse worked again. More recently it happened again, and I couldn't. I took a look at a disassembly guide online, and I thought I might be able to pry this flexible plastic out of the way. Nope! I ended up breaking it. But this had the side effect of making the stuck-down plastic no longer exist, where it used to bump into the button. So technically, I repaired this mouse by damaging it. It's working again, so good enough for now!

Webcam Tripod Extension Mount

2021-09-09 18:08 - Making

My hastily-made extension arm to mount a webcam on a tripod, at a distance.

As mentioned earlier, I've been streaming my video game play online. To improve the stream, I've added a webcam to show my face. I've got a (probably?) unusual setup, in that I'm just sitting on my couch, looking at my TV, as I always have while video gaming. No good spot to put the camera. My first try just twist-tied the camera onto the tripod, then aggressively cropped that, to keep just the part that's my face. This moves the camera much closer to me while keeping the legs further away, because they need to be given the furniture layout!

It's a tiny piece of wood, drilled and tapped for quarter-twenty, to attach to the tripod. A matching hole is drilled in a bit of "angle iron" (aluminum, actually) I already had lying around. At the front is a 3D print I quickly threw together which (thankfully on the first try!) friction-fits around the angle and the camera's own mounting knob.

My streaming setup is pretty cobbled together, like this. Which is absolutely fine for now!

2021 Family Vacation

2021-08-23 20:33 - General

The whole family, end of vacation.

Last week I was on vacation. Four generations of my family: my nephews (3 and 9), my sister and I, our Mom, and her Mom. We went to Virginia Beach. I didn't take any pictures until this one at the end, because I know how to use the timer on my phone's camera.

We spent lots of time on the beach, and I got quite sunburned (then paid even more attention to sunscreen and time-in-sun). We went to an aquarium and spent some time on jetskis and ziplines, and tried to relax.

I'm a Streamer Now

2021-07-28 23:33 - Gaming

In addition to all the normal kind of video entertainment available online these days, it's become not unusual for video game players to broadcast or "stream" their gameplay online, for anyone out there to watch live.

In late 2018 I got into Magic: The Gathering, a trading card game (for lack of a better term). But it also, at that time, had a rather new official online computer game equivalent. In the computer version you could collect (most easily buy, with real world dollars) the same exact cards that you would (buy and) collect in the physical world. I started watching a video game streamer as a result at the time, as a way to better learn the surprisingly deep strategy of the game.

Afterwards I started slowly branching out to watch a little bit more. There's a lot of people streaming their game play, and lots of them are very entertaining and pleasant to watch. The pandemic escalated this for me: I don't want complete silence but I also don't really want to be playing music all the time either. I've been watching a lot of game streams in the background while working. It's always something to keep it from being quiet, and then it's a gentle and easy way to relax or fill otherwise dead time (i.e. waiting for something).

I'd heard of the phenomenon years before, and always idly thought it would be a fun thing to do. Since I started watching more, I started thinking about it yet more. About nine months ago I truly started acting on the impulse, acquiring the hardware to let me record (and/or live stream) my video game play.

But it was easy to come up with excuses. I want to use my powerful desktop CPU to do the real time video encoding, but I can't see the TV when I'm sitting in front of it. I want a good microphone to talk into, and a camera to show my face. (Not all streamers show their face, but in my limited experience, the better ones definitely do.) I want good lighting for that, I want so many little things. For those nine months I kept delaying and not making progress.

On this past Sunday, the 25th, I finally put it all behind me. Gave up on the face cam for now, got a cheap but effective headset for a good-enough microphone that's easy to put near my mouth (for decent quality audio without excess noise). Decided to use my laptop to run the stream. Good enough for now!

I've already hit my first milestone, on my fourth day streaming (and only for an hour or two each day), my first viewer showed up and even chatted with me! Sadly right at the end of the time I had, but it's still fun and exciting! I'll have to keep streaming and see where this goes.