Gaming Music

Rock Band instruments

Am planning on trading these away soon and the messaging system of the trade site in question doesn’t support attachments, but it does support linking to URLs, so might as well host them here.

Xbox 360 Wireless Fender Stratocaster Replica
Xbox 360 Wireless Fender Precision Bass Replica

Custom drawstring bags for Eclipse player races

I like tabletop gaming as much as videogaming, and but one of the biggest blockers behind being able to play the more in-depth ones I own (especially the most weighty in my collection, Eclipse) is time spent trying to teach or look up rule minutiae.

And aside from knowing the rules, I also don’t expect that everyone around the table has read (or would even want to read) the entire rulebook of every game cover-to-cover. But if so, they’re often missing out on thoughtfully composed flavor text or art that would make the game more enjoyable if only it was in a more easily shared format.

So when I read on /r/boardgames and BoardGameGeek that there was a 10-items-for-$20-total-including-shipping sale on ArtsCow (and eventually sister company CowCow, or if you want it, a non-referral link to ArtsCow again) it wasn’t difficult to think up what I’d make:


Solder your Microsoft Wireless Gaming Receiver to fix it when Device Manager stops recognizing it.

Microsoft Wireless Gaming Receiver

You’ve tried everything on .

You’ve rebooted your machine, tried every USB port and an independently-powered USB hub, you’ve put fresh batteries in your controller, you’ve uninstalled and reinstalled drivers, you’ve tried some other forum posters’ descriptions of “clean booting” or unplugging every other USB device and all manner of other last-ditch voodoo, and you STILL can’t get Windows to recognize your Microsoft Wireless Gaming Receiver or the Xbox 360 controllers you’re trying to use.

You’re cursing Microsoft for discontinuing the product, for not supporting Xbox One controllers on the PC (at least not yet), and for leaving you to hunt for a 3rd-party knockoff whose drivers don’t look like potential malware.

Don’t blame Windows for this one.  Blame the hardware designers.

Full credit goes to for showing me the solution to this one (featured image above is from his site as well). To summarize in case his site & all its instructional photos goes down:

  1. Bust it open & unscrew both screws inside
  2. Flip over the circuit board and put a multimeter across the fuse labeled F1 to verify it’s blown out
  3.  If that’s your problem right there, fix it with your soldering iron.

If you want to be proper about it, you could replace the fuse with another fuse instead of just closing the circuit.  Sounds great at only ~50 cents, but chances are shipping & handling absolutely kills the deal for you.  Might as well replace the whole unit for that kind of cash. Either’s going to force you to wait for it to get from the seller to you.

Or you could just do a lazy, ugly job of soldering over it, and hope the thing won’t burn your house down.  Following that other blogger’s instructions I was able to fix two of these devices in about as much time as it would’ve taken to choose & buy “new” (*cough* counterfeit *cough*) ones online.  Had I (or anyone else searchable) known this fix existed when the first one broke, I would’ve soldered it then.

Sure beats paying between $10 to $20 and waiting for shipping (during the holiday season, no less!).  Especially because I don’t plan on using these controllers much longer after Valve starts selling the controllers they’re already publicly testing.

Steam Controller

Do want.

[Edit] Wasn’t expecting that image of the Steam controller prototype to still feel so far away almost one year after originally posting it at the end of this page.
Thankfully Valve have been good about getting in-home streaming working, so I’ve found myself happily making use of both of my wireless transmitters.
If you’d like to get one yourself, post below about your successes/failures finding a legitimate Microsoft one or a 3rd-party clone, such as Wireless Pc Usb Gaming Receiver for Xbox 360/xbox360

Photography & modeling

Making your fire spinner look good (or ugly)

One of the first things I had to get over when shooting fire spinners (or having photos taken of me fire spinning) was that no matter how a shot’s taken, there’s a nonzero chance the subject is going to look…odd.  They might look angry and frustrated, they might look different than how I normally remember them, or at worst they might look downright ugly.

Photography & modeling

Easiest way I’ve found to learn to shoot fire

I haven’t got a ton of experience under my belt photographing people literally playing with fire, but there’s one type that has been unquestionably the easiest so far: fire breathers.  Specifically plural, because individual breathers are about as unpredictable (certainly fun to watch and get shots of, but unpredictable) as anyone else with a prop on the burn field.


Hello world!

Site’s been down for a bit while transitioning to a better host.  Apologies if you’ve been looking for any of the content here on the WordPress installation; I was placing higher priority on zero downtime for mail instead.

Time to go about fixing broken images and links and such…

This also seems like a good time and place for legal disclaimers regarding future content:

Nicolas Winocur is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Gaming Music

Rock Band songlist

For anyone planning on joining us for Rock Band, the list of songs we already have, along with their difficulty ratings per-instrument and overall difficulty for the band:

Other songs we already have, but which would require swapping away from the Rock Band 3 disc to play:

  • The Beatles Rock Band (listed at the bottom of the above-linked PDF, and would require swapping to the Beatles Rock Band disc)
  • DJ Hero songs, both playable from DJ Hero 2 disc: DJ hero 1 songs and DJ hero 2 songs
  • Lips songs: anything listed as on-disc in the US release at this wikipedia page

If you can think of an artist or song you’d like to try and it’s not in those lists, comment on recommendations below.  The Rock Band Song Finder or this similar wikipedia list can help for seeing if something is available for purchase.


“Hotness x Beatdown 2” submission

My friends and I regularly challenge each other to making short playlists as a way of finding new music & introducing each other to artists we’ve never heard of.


Mouse poll rate in Ubuntu

(note the following article is ported from an older site of mine, and may no longer apply to newer distributions of Ubuntu)

Mice manufacturers may advertise high-end mice by tossing around DPI numbers as high as 5700 these days, but as long as you’ve got something that can do 800-1600DPI, poll rate is more important. Unfortunately it seems Ubuntu (Karmic 64bit, 2.6.31-19 kernel) had mine set to automatic or default, which is less than the 1000Hz my good old Logitech G5 supports. Read on for the fix.


Microsoft Sidewinder Strategic Commander in Windows 7 64-bit

Because Shattered Horizon was free on Steam the weekend I originally wrote this article and its movement system in zero-gravity space is more full-3D than most FPS games, I wanted to bust out the old Microsoft Strategic Commander. Unfortunately it hasn’t been supported since Windows XP, and I’m on Windows 7. Read on for how to get it working.