Bad Windows advice

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. That would be because sites like Answers.microsoft.com are shit. Really shitty advice. While it is temping to follow some of the advice they list, be warned that there tends to never be a reflective diagnosis of what will happen as a result of this advice.

From the link:

Quote

I found a solution to my problem when Windows would search for updates, but then when it started downloading it would stay at 0% forever. I started by stopping the Windows Update service (in my case the service proved to be frozen so I restarted my computer and disabled the service before it starts) and the Application Experience service. After that I went to the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder and pressed ctrl+a and shift+delete to empty its contents. Mine contained more than 70,000 files so it took a while. I started Application Experience and enabled Windows Update. I let it check for updates and try to download them. It worked perfectly.

Do not worry about deleting important windows files in this case. The contents of SoftwareDistribution is used as a cache and data for Windows Update. When Windows Update starts again it rebuilds the cache repopulating it with up-to-date versions of the files and chewing up a ton of harddisk space again.

Many folks will be familiar with making sure to cross reference information to see the full scope of a change before applying it, but let me tell you what happens here in the quoted case:
Prior Windows Update history is removed. You will need to wait for a scan to re-check what is installed and give an accurate list of what updates are still needed. So you go from updating being stuck from installing, to the following error: “WSUS clients fail with WARNING: SyncServerUpdatesInternal failed: 0x80244010. Congratulations! A bad scenario got even worse. Thanks answers.unvalidated_shit.microsoft.com.

Now enter the TechNet article. Luckily these are a bit more inflective than the answers site, because the TechNet article is more based on how something works, instead of someone blasting blind solutions and getting upvotes. Notice how this gives information on what happens when you go ahead and blast away “C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution”. Short hand is, after a few queries, the machine *should* rebuild the installed updates then be able to install the pending ones.

I wanted to share this rant as I have seen lots of people fall info the answers site trap. Especially when people give up but instead of saying ‘I don’t know why that is broken’, they return with ‘You need to reinstall the OS’. I’m guessing you could imagine that is not practical in many situations. Also full disclaimer, I may have fallen for seemingly innocuous advice late in the morning, that turns an issue into a full blown bad news scenario.

ServerFault / StackExchange is somewhat better than Answers, but they also have their fair share of really shitty advice. Hopefully this story and cross-reference helps you avoid some BS and maybe explain to some trigger-happy colleagues , why the 1st solution pitched online, may not be the best one. Also of course you have factoring in how you ask the question, quality of results and resolution. It might make me a bad person for saying so, but so be it. Answers.microsoft.com is a dangerous and shitty site.

Occasional drafts

No not the military type, but the writing ones. I occasionally write things to paper or digital document before sharing them, but here on the forums, is more a less free-form. I do jump back and edit with note if something changed heavily from original post.

Congratulations on another Friday. The more recent hubbub about security and computers was the shadowbrokers follow-up leak about some windows exploits, especially the smb file sharing ones. If anything is referenced and more commonly learned from this, I hope that ‘when only some people have access to exploits, they will also be used by others’. Even before these leaks dropped, I fathom other persons than the NSA had access to these exploits. Please keep that in mind when there is an attempt to engineer a backdoor into a protocol. By doing such a thing, it would still be an exploit. Remember that people using this stuff in the wild, don’t tend to share that information freely. That would cut into their market share and prevent them from making lots of money, doing seemingly unknown methods to reach a goal.

Relaxing a little bit, if you enjoy playing Castlevania-type games, I would suggest trying Hollow Knight. It’s a platformer with hand-drawn art and an atmospheric, creepy and interesting world to explore. Between power ups and world exploration, you should have a good time. Especially since some zones are worth re-visiting as you gain new abilities. My friend suggested this one and I am pretty impressed with it. I’m about 4 zones in so far and am around of 11 hours of play.

Jumping back to security stuff… if you don’t have an active patch policy, enforce one asap instead of waiting for approval. I’ve been there and seen the political attempts to defer updates (especially for OS’) but seriously just ask for forgiveness if there is an issue, because you cannot really justify the negligence of letting it slide anymore. Particularly for anything you have with open-facing internet ports and accepted routes in your firewall.

Hopefully you had a happy 4/20 yesterday. Or as I recently learned, Lima bean respect day.

Original 8-bit NES

Backstory here is that I came into ownership of my original NES console from my younger cousins. At first boot I could not load any carts and took to researching the ‘flashing red power light’. Turns out the 72 pin adapter goes bad over time and they tend to need replacement to avoid the flashing red light syndrome.

I picked up a replacement adapter from a local retro video game store, maybe 2 years ago now. To paint a scenario I forgot about the extent of fiddling with carts you have to do, even with the replacement 72-pin installed. Let me pause here to say this is an original NES with the tray system, not the revised top-loader NES. I can get most games booted but it does take a few minutes sometimes to do so. I am actually looking to resolve this by modding my tray and 72-pin with a Blinking Light Win. This device looks to be a fixed position tray with a holder in place for the back of the 72 pin adapter. For you PC build nerds, it looks like ISA card connections on the carts and the inside of the NES.
Here is a replacement guide if you go to replace the 72 pin adapter on an original NES with the OEM-like part.

I will update once I install the Blinking Light Win mod, as I have about a dozen carts and some are especially picky to load.
Jumping back to current tense, my next rival was playing on an HDTV. Luckily I have the original power supply and those coax boxes to get video output and audio. Once you make sure the TV is set to cable and the switch on the back of the console is set to either channel 03 or 04, change to the same channel on your TV and you should have video when booting up a game.
However you will likely see quite a bit of line noise on your screen and the colors will look funky or blurred. Here you have the option of running RCA cables instead of the Coax box from your NES. Yellow is your video and Red is the mono audio. In the case of a Samsung TV, my component video input also works for standard Yellow, Red, White RCA connects, if you plug the Yellow video signal into the Green component input. Doing this will remove the rolling noise from your NES and make playing a much cleaner video experience.

Speaking of HDTVs, if you want to play Lightgun games (Duck Hunt), you are out of luck there. I have seen some cool modifications with external hardware to reproduce the white detection block that the gun looks for to register a hit, but the TL;DR is that HDTVs draw the screen at once, instead of sequentially by pixel for that frame to be detected by the zapper guns, versus CRTs. That linked Hack A Day article is fresh with the solution and hardware used.
As for me, I have a small display that might meet the crt requirement. I have to repair it and try that out.

Over the last week or so, I hooked the NES back up to come to these observations and jot them down. Thanks to a friend who ordered an AVS from RetroUSB, I learned about this console that will output directly over HDMI. Upon checking this out I also put an order in for one. In the mean time, I’m kicking it on original hardware and looking to remedy the great cart loading struggle. I also learned how bad I am at original Mario 1. It comes back to you after a couple hours, but wow games were brutal hard in the 80s and 90s with limited lives, no continue, jump timings and the like.

If you want to go through time reading up on older consoles, have fun on the RetroRGB site. It’s like a library for consoles, how they work and what the modding scene is up to. It’s safe to say, once I have an AVS in my hands, I will share my experience with it. I did read the 1st generation of the AVS had a loose power connection, that should be since fixed in the later iterations. Do note the ordering link is for reservations on the next batch with no solid ship date established.

Welcome back to this NES thread. As of this weekend, I have replaced my 72-pin adapter and OEM cartridge tray with a Blinking Light Win. As linked in the post above, this 72-pin adapter and modified tray replaces the stock one and does in fact, resolve issues with the blinking light issue when you go to load a game. That being said, you just insert the cart, but no longer push down. I ordered direct from the ArcadeWorks site and have a current model that resolved an initial release issue I saw mentioned, about tight cart removal from the tray. For point of reference, this was once a kickstarter project with very good details about the device (at the link).

As an added benefit my console is now also Region-Free due to this adapter. I am pausing here to say, before I installed this mod, I dissected all my carts and cleaned them (the connection pins) with 90% isopropyl alcohol and Q-tips. This helped with the most fussy carts, but I certainly still had blinking light issues and some games gave me a fight to load up. I mentioned the region-locking to now be disabled with this device and that is due to bypassing the 10NES (or Checking Integrated Circuit / CIC) chip. According to some research, this device is related to the flashing light issues on the console due to bad connections between the chip in the carts and on the console. I’ll count that as a snarky comment about drm-like devices causing more consumer harm than benefit. Especially over time.

Hopefully that doesn’t read too much like a wall of text. If you want to ignore the description and backstory… the Blinking Light Win is a great modification to your original NES, that does not remove any functionality that you should want or need. Highly recommended. Especially if you want to play NES games without input lag from emulation. That’s why I’m on the original hardware. Now you’re playing with power! (and increased console reliability)

Also this weekend I received a 2nd toy. An Everdrive N8 NES from Krikzz showed up. I can now play ROMs from an SDCard inserted into the top of this cartridge. Thanks to a Smokemonster Rompack, I also was able to enjoy plenty of homebrew and debug applications, as well as hacked roms, fan translations and such.

Starting out, I’ll link the FAQ on their forums and condense my process here.
Grab an SD Card. Since you are dealing with NES, 16 GB or less should be fine. 64 GB can work but it’s overkill for that entire library.
Format your SD Card with the highest block size available. This should help avoid eventual fragmentation. SDFormatter works on Windows and OS X.
Once you format your card, copy all your contents in one batch. (once again relating to avoiding fragmentation)
Most important to be on your SD card, is the extracted contents of OS folder named EDFC. This contains the mappers, and eventual quicksave files (if you turn this on in the device options on your console),
+ MicroSD Cards in an SD Card adapter work fine. This is what I’m doing with a 16 GB PNY card.
Once your files are done copying, dismount your SD card and pop that into your N8. Boot your NES with the Everdrive installed.

Now that you should be running, you will see a directory list. ‘B’ is select; ‘A’ is back / cancel; ‘Select’ is options; ‘Right’ goes to the next page of file list; ‘Left goes to previous page. Pick your game, press B, then press B again to load. Briefly after you should see the game running and be playing glitch and lag free. So far I saw some sprite issues on Castlevania VS (edit: The VS games are mostly not finished yet) but playable, and The Immortal does a weird vertical sync issue. Other than that I tested a few dozen games and saw no issues.

First things I loaded up were the Tools and Service Test Carts from the Smokemonster collection. 240p Test Suite 240pee v0.15 is straight up amazing. Lots of diagnostic options and calibration tools. Slick interface too. Jumping through the other utilities was nice, particularly being able to test for input lag on my button presses and to see how slow I am. The Hacked Rom collection is pretty funny. I got to play Mario 1 with weed coming out instead of mushrooms.

I want to explore the Homebrew folder next, having seen the diagnostic carts section. I might try to join the homebrew nes scene and make some content. So much enjoyment for my NES. Someday I should receive an AVS to play on cleaner color output, but for now I’m still quite enchanted running composite (RCA Red and Yellow connectors) to a Samsung LCD.
Speaking of HDTVs, I turned off most all of the enhancement features of the TV. They made the colors sharper, but the filters were applying weird color variances while playing. I have seen people mentioning ‘Game Mode’ on some TVs also accomplishes the same. You don’t want brightness adjusting to try and optimize your display while playing a game. You might at first, but after platforming for a bit you will wonder what is going on and how to fix it.

In case I didn’t make it clear, the Everdrive N8 is also excellent. Once again, I bought this direct from their site, as to avoid cloned models and shitty bugs.
If you would like some hacked roms to play with, roll on over to RomHacking.net.

Happy 8-bit adventures! :bunny: