Connecting a PS2 to an HDMI TV

This past week I had an incredible urge to play the original Katamari Damacy videogame on my old Playstation 2. Unfortunately, the PS2 does not play well with modern HD TVs, as the allowable video modes for the PS2 are often not supported.  If you try and plug in a PS2 to a new TV, even using the more advanced component cables, you probably won’t get anything.

Fortunately, you can buy a cool PS2 to HDMI converter these days, such as the one shown below, for only about $16.

Unfortunately, the instructions that come with the converter are a little misleading and incomplete, and there doesn’t seem to be an online resource that includes all the info you need to set it up properly. Even though it isn’t hard, there are a few pitfalls: it took me a few tries to figure out exactly what I needed to do in order to get it to work.

I thought I would post the instructions here, both for anyone who wants a one stop explainer as well as for myself, so I don’t forget!

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RIP Fluff, 2011-2018

Losing a beloved animal friend is always hard, but it is even harder when they are taken from you too soon.  Last night, unexpectedly, our beloved kitty Fluff passed away at the age of 6.

Fluff in December.

He apparently passed very quickly, and without any warning signs. He had just had a vet checkup the week before, and even the morning he passed he was energetic and happy.  It seems likely that the cause of his death was a congenital heart or brain defect that caught up with him suddenly.

It is impossible to truly convey in words what a special kitty Fluff was.  He was a perpetual kitten, looking for and giving love to whomever he could.

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Posted in Animals, Personal | 5 Comments

Fred Saberhagen’s Swords Trilogy

At the end of 2017, we were treated to the news that Amazon was planning a new series based on Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings series. The response on the internet seemed to be a bit of a collective groan, as the last Hobbit movie just came out four years ago, and the last of the epic Lord of the Rings movies was only 15 years ago.  Many, including myself, asked: aren’t there any other epic fantasy series that could be adapted instead?

Of course there are many. One example that I think would have a lot of promise for an incredible screen adaptation is Fred Saberhagen’s Book of Swords trilogy, which I finished reading a week ago.

The trilogy, called first Swords here, first appeared over 1983-1984; of course I came across it after I finished reading Saberhagen’s Berserker and became curious about his other works.

The series is a lot of fun! There are some things I think are lacking, which I discuss in this post, but overall it is an enjoyable and intriguing read.

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Non-Stop, by Brian Aldiss

I often come across classic books to read through unexpected, even surprising, avenues. An example of this is Non-Stop (1958), by Brian Aldiss, which I just finished reading the other day and enjoyed immensely.

I only learned about Non-Stop because it ended up being the inspiration for the very first science fiction role-playing game, Metamorphosis Alpha, a classic in its own right.  (I discussed Metamorphosis Alpha in a recent blog post.)  It is a magnificent and unusual science fiction novel, and well-worth reading. Some thoughts follow.

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Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker

They are intelligent machines the size of a small moon, packed with enough weaponry to cauterize the surface of countless planets and destroy any defenders. They bear the scars of countless battles, which they have always won.  They were built millennia ago by one alien empire to eradicate the other — the doomsday weapons followed their programming to the letter and eliminated both.  They have one purpose: the extermination of all life.

And now they have come across the human civilization, spread across the cosmos. Humanity calls them “Berserkers.”

Such is the overarching premise of the Berserker series of books, by Fred Saberhagen; the first of these, simply titled Berserker, I finished reading recently.  Saberhagen eventually either wrote or contributed to 17 books, the last appearing in 2005.  I don’t know if I’ll read all of them, but I really enjoyed the first. Some thoughts follow.

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Spoiler-filled The Last Jedi thoughts and open discussion thread (updated)

When I saw The Force Awakens two years ago, I needed a place to share my thoughts without sharing Star Wars spoilers all over the internet, and my blog turned out to be the perfect place to do it. The same problem arises for The Last Jedi which, on a whim, I went and saw super-late on opening night Thursday. My only twitter comment:

This response also seemed appropriate:

So, below the fold I’ll share more specific, COMPLETELY SPOILER-LADEN, thoughts on the newest Star Wars movie!  You can also use the comments to share your own thoughts. Though don’t be a jerk.

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Posted in Entertainment, Personal, Science fiction | 29 Comments

Keepers of the Flame: The vintage RPGs that still survive and thrive

I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately, investigating (and buying) copies and components of those classic pen-and-paper role-playing games that I played or always wanted to play. Along the way, I’ve learned that quite a few of these early RPGs still have dedicated communities and fan followings that keep them alive — “keeping the flame burning,” so to speak.  I thought it would be fun to talk about a few of these in a short post!

Dawn Patrol, aka Fight in the Skies (TSR, 1975).  Fight in the Skies did not start as a role-playing game, and spent years being distributed by its designer, Mike Carr.  Inspired by the 1966 movie The Blue Max, Fight in the Skies is a World War I air combat boardgame, in which players dogfight over the European countryside.  The first professionally published version — the 4th edition already! — game out in a limited run in 1972. But the game had caught the attention of Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, and when he founded his gaming company TSR, he reached a publishing agreement with Carr. This 5th edition came out in 1976.


I was born in 1971, and missed the early history of the game; I personally didn’t come across it until the 7th edition came out in 1982, when it had been renamed Dawn Patrol.  I still have my copy, in excellent condition, with the cover pictured above.

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Posted in Entertainment, Fantasy fiction, role-playing games, Science fiction | 1 Comment