Using a PS3 Bluetooth Controller with a Mac

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The Short Version: Download and install a program named PS3Controller. Enable Bluetooth. The pairing code for PS3 controllers is “0000”. I had to connect via USB first to make it work. Read the entire post for additional issues. Note that I’ve only gone through this process using OS X Lion.

See an additional update regarding Mountain Lion and Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga at the end of this post.

A while back I managed to get the PS2 version of Shadow of the Colossus working in an emulator for Windows. Using a different driver, not referenced to in this post, I was able to use the PS3 controller (at the time I was only able to get it work via USB).

Recently, I decided see if I could get a PS3 controller working in OS X Lion in order to use it with several different console emulators. This turned out to be relatively simple using a piece of software named PS3Contoller.

One benefit to using this driver is that it supports Bluetooth, which is the wireless protocol used by the PS3 controllers. I did have some issues getting it to connect when working in the OS X Bluetooth system preference. When I plugged the controller in the red LEDs flashed continuously but it wasn’t detected as a Bluetooth device. However, if I had the controller connected via USB and then hit the PS button while the Mac was looking for devices, it usually found it (the controller stops flashing once it connects).

The pairing code for PS3 controllers is the standard “0000”.

Note that in my case I had to connect it via USB first. Otherwise, it didn’t seem to detect it. In addition, it seems that each time I wanted to use the controller after shutting down the Mac or putting it into stand-by, I had to reconnect it via the Bluetooth system preference. However, once it was connected it stayed connected throughout that session of use.

If you’re planning to set this up within Bluetooth range of the PS3 then I recommend that you flip the power switch on the back to the OFF position. Otherwise, the PS3 will turn on when you hit the PS button on the controller.

I was able to have two PS3 controllers connected via Bluetooth at the same time. However, I wasn’t able to get Sixtyforce to detect two PS3 controllers at the same time (though I could connect a GameStop USB controller and a PS3 controller and use both for different players). I suspect that the ability to use two PS3 controllers for different players is determined by the program and not the driver.

Updated 09/30/2012: I recently purchased a new 13″ MacBook Pro. It came with a free upgrade to Mountain Lion, which I installed. Since this was a new system it hasn’t had any of the drivers/software installed that I’ve mentioned in this post.

It’s possible that Mountain Lion has built-in support for a PS3 controller, but I haven’t tested it with other software. However, I do know that I don’t need to install any software to use a PS3 controller (wired) with Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. The game detects the controller and works with it perfectly.

Shadow of the Colossus (Or How To Freak Yourself Out By Playing A Video Game)

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I consider Shadow of the Colossus to be a great and unique video game. There’s not much to it. Your character has a horse, a sword, a bow and arrow, and the ability to climb things. His task is to kill several colossi.

The size and speed of the various creatures vary with many requiring different methods of attack.

But if you have this game, especially the new PS3 version (it was originally released on the PS2), and you don’t mind being freaked out or feeling like you’re stuck on the edge of your seat, wait until 9 pm to play the game with the lights off.

There are few games that can actually make me feel tense. This is one of them. When the subject of video games as art is raised this game is almost always referenced. It has a unique atmosphere that I haven’t seen duplicated.

Its simplicity only enhances the atmosphere. Yes, there are other games that have characters fighting against monolithic creatures, but I think it’s even more unnerving because in Shadow of Colossus it’s only your character against the colossus. There are no other distractions.

Embedded below is a video of the fifth colossus in the game. Skip ahead to 3:55 for the creepy parts.

Downloading Update Data…

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I may begin a new category for computer/device screens that I absolutely can’t stand to encounter. This week’s addition belongs to the PS3 and represents one of the reasons I lost interest in using the console on a regular basis: updates. Constant freakin’ updates. Even when I was using the system every other day I’d have a system update or a game update each time I touched loaded something that I hadn’t used for a a week.

It’s not just that there are so many updates. Obviously, that’s a problem with many other devices (ex: iOS Apps). It’s the amount of time required to apply the updates. Hell, my Xbox 360 often has a new update for a game that I haven’t played in a while, but it rarely takes more than a minute to download and apply the update. PS3 updates are usually agonizingly slow with multiple stages and even little network tricks often don’t make a significant difference.

Faster PS3 Downloads (via a Mac Proxy and Disabling UPnP)

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Like many PS3 users, I’ve been frustrated by horribly slow PS3 downloads since I purchased the console (firmware and game updates included). I’ve tried setting a local IP and using DNS servers other than my ISP’s. I also tried turning off the option to search for media servers. None of that seemed to make a difference. I’ve made two changes recently that appear to have improved download speeds. Unfortunately, I implemented them without properly testing them individually so I don’t know if only one change or both is what made the difference.

The first change I made was to implement one of the standard suggestions found in forums, which is to setup a local proxy server and have the PS3 connect through it. Since I use a Mac I downloaded SquidMan (a Squid GUI), which will also download and install Squid itself (the proxy server software). I did have only the proxy setup at first and it didn’t seem faster but that wasn’t for very long so I can’t state that it didn’t help – perhaps it took a little while for the PS3 connection to really get moving through the proxy. When I configured the proxy server I set it up to only accept connections from a local IP address assigned to the PS3.

The second change I made, when setting up the PS3 again after installing a working hard drive, was to turn off the option to enable UPnP (only in the PS3 network settings, not in my router). Perhaps the PS3 detects UPnP as working in situations where it really isn’t and thus the connection is slower than expected?

Again, I don’t know which option (or if was a combination of the two) made the difference but downloads have been significantly faster. It’s worth noting that this seems to have been the solution to my problem, but each network configuration is different so you may or may not benefit from these changes. Please feel free to leave a comment to let me know if it does work for you.

Updated 06/28/2011: I had a request via comment to include more information about the setup of SquidMan. I’m not planning to add a complete guide or screenshots but I am including a few notes that may be critical in setting this up.

I left out one critical piece of information, most likely because it’s how my gear has been configured for a long time. Your Mac will need to use a static IP address configured for the active interface. For example, if it’s connected via ethernet then the port will need to have an appropriate IP setup. By appropriate I mean one that’s in the local subnet and isn’t in use elsewhere.

For example, if your router is configured with 192.168.1.1 then you could assign 192.168.1.2 to the Mac. For a home network the subnet mask will usually be 255.255.255.0.

It may be a good idea to also assign a static IP to the PS3. Continuing the example, it could be assigned 192.168.1.3. You can usually use higher numbers that might be easier to remember. Most residential routers I’ve had won’t use IP addresses below 100 (and sometimes 200) for DHCP assignments so manually assigning an IP address above 1 and below 100 is often safe (again, this depends on your network and additional gear).

If you don’t assign a static IP to the Mac but enter it’s DHCP address into the PS3 proxy settings, then it will quit working the next time the Mac receives a new DHCP address.

My setup of SquidMan isn’t very customized. I went through the standard installation and allowed it to automatically install Squid. I’ve set SquidMan to automatically start Squid on launch, it uses HTTP Port 8080 (which may have been the default), and under the Clients tab it’s configured to only provide proxy services for the PS3’s IP address.

Sony | PS3 Internet Connection Settings (advanced settings)

Updated 07/12/2011: I had another request via comment. This time I was asked if I could recommend Windows software that would do the same. I couldn’t find a Windows GUI for Squid but I did find a couple of resources that might be useful for someone needing a basic a proxy server in Windows. I haven’t had a need to run a proxy under Windows (at least not since the days when Windows 98 was still new) so I’m not familiar with any of the current options. I’ve listed two resources that may be useful, but I haven’t tried either so I really don’t know how well they’ll work.

Updated 08/18/2011: I rarely even turn the PS3 on so I decided to remove the proxy server software and not setup another one.

A Bad PS3 (Hard Drive)

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For the past several months I’ve had various problems with my Playstation 3. On a regular basis it would show corrupt file and disk warnings and then spend several minutes restoring the file system. I’ve tried formatting the drive but while downloading updates or trying to launch or play a game it would freeze. I followed several suggestions from various forums that recommended using the built-in recovery tools for the PS3.

Finally, I decided to put the original hard drive in it and remove the 250 GB drive I had installed. The original drive has worked perfectly since. The larger drive passed one scan test using a third-party program but showed a bad sector after scanning it with chkdsk in Windows 7. For now I’m just going to leave the original drive installed – I use the PS3 so infrequently these days I’m not sure if I’ll need a larger drive anyway.

Updated 07/12/2011: Based on my experience I’m left to conclude that either the PS3 file system is not capable of marking bad sectors and ignoring them, or the implementation is very poor. Essentially, this may mean that it doesn’t matter whether or not you run chkdsk in Windows. When the drive is re-inserted it will be formatted by the PS3. Since the marking of bad sectors appears to be a file system task then the information collected in Windows (or another OS using similar utilities) may simply be lost or ignored and the PS3 will continue to access the bad sector.

The 250 GB drive I was using only had one sector detected as bad, but it was enough to cause numerous problems when installed in the PS3.

IR Repeater and Mixing and Matching HDMI Sources for Multiple TVs

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I summarized all of my issues with sending HDMI signals to two different TVs from multiple sources and getting the DirecTV remote working. The page includes my latest solution, which also provides the ability to control all connected devices from either room.

Read: Sending (and Controlling) Multiple HDMI Sources to Two TVs in Different Locations

Playing Heavy Rain and anticipating ModNation Racers

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Last week I received a copy of Heavy Rain via GameFly. I finally sat down to put in some hours with Heavy Rain last Sunday. So far it’s lived up to my expectations and I don’t think it’s been over-hyped. One of the reasons I decided to own a PS3 (aside from its obvious BluRay capability) is because the platform tends to be host to some very unique games. That’s not to say there aren’t any for the Xbox 360, but it’s hard to find games that fall into the same realm as Shadow of the Colossus or Little Big Planet. After playing about four hours of Heavy Rain I’m convinced the game belongs in the same company of artistic games. I won’t go into lengthy details but I do recommend that, if you’re interested, to read the various reviews available.

ModNation Racers releases later this week. I’ve already reserved a copy. Overall, reviews have been positive but there have been some very negative, and very consistent, comments regarding long load times in the game. Hopefully, those issues will be resolved prior to its release.