Switching from phpBB3 to bbPress

After a long hiatus, lasting almost a year, I’ve decided to go back to this website and start doing something productive.

First of, I’ve done a major clean up on the blog part of the website, removing nearly 500 blog posts, which were more or less about nothing. Back when I started this WordPress blog I did an import of my old, old LiveJournal blog, which was really the ramblings of a teenager turning into an adult. Not really something I’m interested in having on-line any more, so it was unpublished, meaning that if you should so desire, I can go back to reading it myself and see how much I’ve changed in almost 15 years.

What I’ve left on the blog is some more technical posts, about playing around with Ubuntu, modding an Xbox 360 and rooting an Android phone. I’m pretty sure that is the direction this blog will go for now.

Getting back to the actual theme of this post, I’ve been looking at integrating my forum with the WordPress blog for a long time, but I haven’t really found a good solution of merging my phpBB3 forum with the blog, so I have the same user database and more importantly, the same look and feel.

However now it seems that I’ve finally found something that will satisfy my need and that is migrating the old forum into a bbPress forum. bbPress is essentially nothing more than a plugin for WordPress and thus will share the same user database and it integrates into the administration module of WordPress. This means that all changes I should desire to do to the forum, can be done on the fly directly from the blog, which is really appealing to me.

Unfortunately, there are some backsides to migrating from phpBB to bbPress. Mainly it’ll mean that none of the attachments (pictures, files etc.) from the old forum will transfer over to the new forum. This will be a loss as there is a lot of great things on the forum now that I’d like to save if I could. Also all the user settings and the different user permissions won’t transfer and will have to be fixed manually by hand.

This means that I’ll have my work cut out to fix this, but the fact that I’ll only have to manage one administration module, one CSS file etc. just outweighs the bad things about migrating.

The work with migrating the forums will commence during my summer holiday, which is already ongoing, but I haven’t picked a time when I actually will start doing it. Take this as a heads up, as I will be closing down the old forum during the migration progress and replace the forum with a dummy page telling you to login here, where you should get access to all your old posts and so on.

I won’t start before I’ve made a dummy forum, where I will start to work on migrating the new layout into bbPress as well, so it all becomes nice and uniform.

Stay safe and happy in the sun.

Preparing to play with an Xbox 360

I made a deal with one of my friends as I bought my new HTC One X. It was a rather simple deal really, I would give him the old HTC Desire HD and he would give me his old Xbox 360 Arcade, as he just got a new Xbox 360 Slim 4GB for doing a show somewhere during the Beep 2011 conference in Copenhagen.

It’s been 3 to 4 months since we did the swap and I have yet to actually get the console, as we keep forgetting it, so I’ve been reading up on what I need to do to actually use the console like I want to.

HDD replacement:

The thing with the Xbox 360 Arcade, is that it only has 256MB of memory on an internal flashcard, which you can’t change. You could splash your money on an official HDD from Microsoft, but that is an expensive solution.

I really want a 320GB HDD, as I will probably fill up it rather quickly with anything from games, demos, music and what not. It seems that it’s not possible to get one for the old Xbox 360 Phat consoles here in Denmark, so I’m going to make one myself. This means that I need to buy a 320GB HDD, I’m going to buy a Western Digital Scorpio Black 320GB or to be even more technical a WD3200BEKT. It’s priced at around DKK 400 ($66) and then you’ll need a casing for the HDD, to make it fit on top of the Xbox 360, which is priced at around DKK 120 ($20).

The trick is that you have to flash the firmware on the Western Digital HDD, so that it matches the security bit Microsoft wants to have so that the Xbox 360 will recognise the drive. This is done by following this great guide by InsaneNutter at Digiex, which means that you’ll have a nice 320GB HDD to put into the Xbox 360. This means I’ll be able to play newer games, which you couldn’t due to the measly 256MB of memory on the Xbox 360 Arcade before.

To sum up the difference between doing it yourself and buying a real Microsoft HDD:

320GB Hard Drive HDD for Xbox 360 with shipping to Denmark – DKK800 / $132

320GB Western Digital Scorpio Black 7200 RPM – DKK400 / $66
Xbox 360 Hard Drive Casing Grey – DKK120 / $20

Total: DKK520 / $86
Difference: DKK280 / $46

There is also an added bonus to doing this swap myself, as the original Microsoft HDD is only running at 5.400 RPM and the Scorpio Black is a 7.200 RPM HDD. You could actually splash the money for a Western Digital VelociRaptor drive running at 10.000 RPM, but they are really expensive over here so it’s not an option. I myself have chosen to go for the Scorpio Black as opposed to the Scorpio Blue, which is running at 5.400 RPM, as it’s actually cheaper.

After this change I’ll be able to run the newer games on the Xbox 360 Arcade. But that does not mean that I’m done fiddling with the Xbox, as I want to do some more changes to it before it’s running as I want it to.

Replacing the stock fan:

Many people who’ve had the pleasure of playing around with an Xbox 360 knows that it tends to be a noisy beast. The worst sinner here is the DVD-drive, but it’s not one that you just can change to a normal low-noise variant. But we can do something about the general noise problem with the stock fans inside the Xbox 360. It’s a special made unit, with two fans melded together and it’s running at an amazing 0.8 cubic meters per minute and at 41 db(A) which is loud.

I’m going to swap it out, as I have another hack where I have to go into the Xbox any way, with a Talismoon Whisperfan with nice green LED-lights. According to the manufacturer it’s running at 1.3 cubic meters per minute and at a lower 38 db(A), which is a bit quieter: The new Talismoon Whisper Xbox 360 Replacement Fan moves 58% more air than the original, yet is 7% quieter.

The Whisper Fan is not very expensive, sitting at DKK 140 / $23, so it’s a cheap and painless swap for a lot more airflow and a little less noise. The guide I’ve found to do this swap is this one from 2008 at ExtremeTech. It seems easy enough to follow if you have a little technical know-how and the right tools and as mentioned before I have another hack I want to do where I need to open it up any way.

Installing an xk3y:

Console games are expensive, yes it’s true, and you can save a little money if you have a tainted conciousness or if you simply just want to put your original games onto a HDD, with this little mod-chip, the xk3y. The xk3y is a so-called optical drive emulator, which have the ability to spoof your own DVD-drive. The install procedure is rather complex, so if you don’t have the technical know-how to open a console/computer, connecting your Xbox 360 DVD-drive to your computer an getting the DVD-key from it and so on, that you might want to think about getting someone to do it for you.

The xk3y sits at DKK 800 / $132 and the tools you need varies depending on which optical drive there is in the Xbox 360 or if you have a Phat or Slim console. As I have (or will have) a Phat console, I’ll need a V2 Toolkit for Xbox Phat, to open it op. The price for one of those is DKK 100 / $16.

Now, the installation of this, as I mentioned, varies a lot depending on which drive you have inside the Xbox, but at the official xk3y forums, you can find a very good video guide made by OzModChips, which will tell you have to install the chip itself.

I’m not certain what I’ll find inside the Xbox 360 Arcade when I actually open it up, but from there I’ll have to find out how to extract the key from the DVD-drive to put it on the xk3y SD-card, so it can emulate my drive.

That is what I’m waiting to do the Xbox 360 Arcade when I finally manage to get it with me (maybe we should drink less will playing World Cup 2010) and I will do some updates, with pictures and such when I actually open up the beast and start customising it.

Rooting and custom Firmware on the HTC Desire HD

Doing anything below will void your warranty.
Any damage to your phone due to any of this is your own responsibility, not mine nor the ROM developers.
Don’t venture into flashing of ROMS if you don’t know what you’re doing.

After HTC decided to push Android version 2.3.7 with HTC Sense 3.5 to my HTC Desire HD, I’ve had major problems with my phone. I do know that I could have just decided not to update, but I like being on the ‘cutting edge’ of it all (so much at the cutting edge as you can be with an older version of the Android OS).

The thing is that it seems HTC Sense 3.5 uses way to much of the precious hardware of my phone for it to work properly, at least if we look at the stock version of Android 2.3.7 and HTC Sense 3.5. That is why I decided to venture into rooting and flashing a custom firmware on my phone.

First of I had to found out how to root the phone and as it is there is no way to permanently root Android 2.3.7 on the HTC Desire HD. Luckily there is something called The Advanced Ace Hack Kit, which allows you to do a temporary root and downgrade the system to 2.3.5 where we get to do a permanent root.

It also installs Fastboot, which is a protocol used to update the flash filesystem via USB, and ClockworkMod Recovery, which replaces the stock recovery console and gives you more options.

It is the latter that is important when you want to install custom ROMS on your phone. It’s actually rather simple going on from here, now it’s just a matter of making a NANDroid backup of your phone from ClockworkMod Recovery and then find the ROM you’d like to experiment with. For the Desire HD I was looking around on the XDA Developers forum and found a few ROMS I’d try out.

Also the andrdcndy blog had a nice list of ROMS to check out.

I decided on trying out IceColdSandwich by LorD ClockaN for my first go, as it was an Android 4.0.3 ROM without HTC Sense. I really wanted to try something new after 1½ year of HTC Sense, so stock Android it was.

I started out with IceColdSandwich 5.5 and it was actually running pretty good. Some people have issues with the camera on the Desire HD with this ROM, but mine seemed to function as it should. I had maybe 1 crash on 5.5, but when update 6.0 came out my phone really started suffering with loads of random crashes, especially when I was on the phone with someone. Also after updating from 5.5 to 6.0 I started having camera issues and the fix provided didn’t help me out. Update 6.1 didn’t really make it better for me, so I started looking around to try something new (again).

Actually I liked IceColdSandwich a lot, but the random crashes was annoying and I really did change from the stock 2.3.7, with Sense 3.5 due to performance problems. Also the fact that there was no Danish T9 was a hassle when most of the communication you do on the phone is in Danish. A random keyboard crash when pressing the buttons L and I after each other didn’t help the impression and you actually do this a lot when writing Danish. Lastly sending and receiving MMS wasn’t possible on the stock messaging app, which meant I didn’t received a nice picture of my two nieces, which my sister sent.

This meant that I took a closer look at CyanogenMod, which is said to be one of the more stable ROM releases. Currently I’m on CyanogenMod 7.1.0 and everything is just running great out of the box. It’s built on Android 2.3.7, but without HTC Sense, which means I get great performance.

So far, I can’t really say anything bad about CyanogenMod, as it just works. No random crashes at all and after installing the the different Google Apps (gapps), which you can find here, it started out being just as I wanted it. It even automatically installed all my apps from the market without any other interaction from me than asking.

If you click the CyanogenMod logo below, you can see two screenshots from the ‘About phone’ part in the settings menu and see these from my phone for the two above mentioned ROMS.

I might return to the blog with more updates as I experiment with custom ROMS.