A Gamer’s Opinion of New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)

Every now and then I’ll mention a game in this blog. I have no intention of regularly posting game reviews. For one, I don’t play enough games (or the same ones often enough) to make it a habit to discuss games very often. Yet, every once in a while I have an opinion about a game that I think is worth sharing with my audience (however small and infrequent it may be).

Based on the content posted here my assumption is that most visitors are geeks. These are probably people that like fiddling around with technology and many of you play at least some video games.

Last week I received a copy of New Super Mario Bros 2 for 3DS, which I bought from Amazon. I’ve had a 3DS for a little while and every now and then I take the time to play a game or two. Much of the reason I still enjoy playing Nintendo games is the sense of nostalgia the games, especially the Mario games, create.

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iPod touch (4th Gen) Unable to Join Network

The Short Version: My wife’s iPod touch (4th gen) may have a hardware failure. We’ll send it to Apple for repair. None of the various troubleshooting steps I’ve tried have made any difference (see full post for details).

A couple of months ago my wife’s iPod touch was damaged so she replaced it with a new one (both were 4th generation models). I don’t think she used it very much until a few weeks ago when she was unable to connect to the secure wifi network at our house. That evening I fiddled around with it for about thirty minutes but wasn’t able to make it connect.

Last night she tried to use it again, so once again I tried to get it connected to the network. I’ve had to troubleshoot some iPod issue before so this wasn’t an entirely new experience (and I’ve also been using an iPhone for several years).

Nothing worked. Absolutely nothing would make the device connect to the network. And it’s not just a problem with our network. I tried others wifi networks (even attempted to tether it to my iPhone) but it refused to connect.

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Solo Cup WiFi Signal Extender

OK, this one isn’t a solution that I’m positive is really making much of a difference but it’s worth mentioning. Ever since my Airport Extreme Base Station partially bit the dust due to a power surge I’ve been using an inexpensive ASUS wireless router at home. Signal coverage isn’t as good as it was with the Apple device but it covers most of the house, at least to some degree.

Last night I experienced issues with Xbox Live. The cause may have been an issue with my ISP or the Live service. I wasn’t sure but I decided to attempt to extend the wifi signal a bit.

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5000mAh Extended Battery for Nintendo 3DS

In the above photo the size of the replacement, extended battery is shown next to the 3DS.

The Short Version: I purchased a 5000mAh Li-on Extended Battery for the Nintendo 3DS for about $20 via Amazon. It significantly increased the charge capacity of the device. I found the larger bulk of the entire system to be an acceptable trade-off for the extra play time this battery provides.

This week I decided it was time to replace the factory battery in my Nintendo 3DS. It wasn’t because it failed to maintain a charge but simply because it didn’t last as long as I would prefer. Now, I wasn’t draining the battery from playing games. In fact, most of the time I drained it simply by leaving it in stand-by but not on the charger. However, I also wanted to upgrade the battery because I thought I might begin playing the system more frequently and that it would be nice to not feel tethered to a power cable when I’m at home.

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Apple Thunderbolt Cable (Using an iMac as an External Display for a MacBook Pro)

I finally dropped the cash for an Apple Thunderbolt cable. It’s not every day that I decide to spend $50 for one cable but it does add some functionality that I will find useful. In my case I purchased it so I could use my iMac as an external display with my MacBook Pro.

From time to time I need to be able to do some work that is more efficient when using two displays. This occasional setup will also save me the trouble of needing to setup a spare monitor somewhere else in the house (such as the dining room table).

Note that I’m connecting from a MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt to an iMac (also with Thunderbolt). If you’re trying to mix Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort connections it probably won’t work though I haven’t tested this extensively.

There isn’t much more to write about the cable. It costs $50 and seems to work with my gear. I didn’t notice any problems involving flickering, refresh oddities, or graphic artifacts.

To use the iMac as an external display just hit Command + F2 to set it to Target Display Mode.

One note, for those using gfxCardStatus you will need to make sure you’re MacBook Pro is using “Discrete” graphics. It will not work with the integrated graphics, just as the Mini DisplayPort adapters also won’t work in that mode.

Updated 07/18/2013: This setup works fine though I haven’t really used it, or the cable, since this post. I’ve been very disappointed with the implementation of Thunderbolt in general. Thunderbolt devices are still prohibitively expensive and I’m frustrated that there doesn’t appear to be any kind of USB 3.0 adapter available short of some very expensive docks (many of which have bad reviews).

Monoprice 5000mAh External Battery Pack

I’ve given up on trying to find a durable iPhone battery pack. The Monoprice case didn’t work out (not a surprise) nor did the mophie Juice Pack (this was a surprise). However, I still have a need to conveniently recharge my phone away from an electrical outlet, especially while traveling.

This time I chose a solution that I thought would be more elegant in its utility.

Late last week I purchased a Monoprice 5000mAh External Battery Pack. It includes two USB charging ports (one for 1 Amp devices and another for those that need 2.1 Amp) for output and can be recharged via a micro-USB port. The cost was reasonable at just under $30.

Now, I haven’t had any problems with the inexpensive cables I’ve purchased from Monoprice. However, the devices are often hit-and-miss. So far, this one seems to be a winner but having owned this item for less than a week isn’t enough time to really know yet.

The elegance of this package is that I can use it with almost any small device that can be charged via USB. Combined with a few UPS backups, a CPAP battery, and a solar battery at home I now have one more emergency power source in the event that I ever need it.

It also fits easily into my laptop bag. It’s not tiny. It’s larger than the iPhone but it does fit into a pocket well enough that one can connect the charging cable from the iPhone to the battery back and carry it around.

I’ve used it several times this week to keep my phone charged at times when I was using the phone more frequently than usual.

Updated 11/17/2012: This continues to be a good solution for charging my iPhone without having to use a wall charger or when one isn’t available. I’ve used it several times to charge other devices including a couple of different Android devices, my wife’s Sharp FX, and a mifi device.