Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Play Japanese Super Famicon Games on Super Nintendo (SNES)

For Christmas this year, my younger brother gave me a Super Nintendo (SNES) game system! Well, that exclamation point probably should be an asterisk because it was the SNES I bought in high school in 1994, which he borrowed some years ago and recently remembered it was mine. Regardless, I'm thrilled to have it back! (Now that exclamation point is deserved.)

Coincidentally, on the day after I started reading Super Mario, by Jeff Ryan (link), I received a package of three SNES games from Japan (ordered for me on eBay by my older brother). These games include Super Mario Kart, which was my favorite game back in the day.

Here's the problem: it turns out that Japanese SNES games (technically Super Famicon games) don't fit into American Super Nintendo game systems; there are a couple of tabs inside that match channels on the SNES cartridges, which the Japanese versions don't have.

Channels on SNES (top) are absent in Super Famicon cartridge (bottom)

A quick search yielded many instructions on how to disassemble the Super Nintendo and remove the tabs (like this: link), but I didn't want to possibly mess up my treasured game system from high school! Instead, I decided to experiment on the Japanese Super Famicon cartridges. Spoiler: it worked!

Materials needed:

  • Super Famicon game cartridge
  • SNES game cartridge (as reference)
  • Sharpie marker
  • Drill with 3/16" bit
  • Diagonal pliers (wire cutters)
  • Round file (approx. 3/16")

How to Play Japanese Super Famicon Games on Super Nintendo (SNES)

  1. Use a Sharpie marker to mark where the channels should be on the Super Famicon cartridge, using the Super Nintendo (SNES) cartridge as a guide.
    NOTE: The Super Famicon cartridge has an existing hole inside the marked area. This will be useful in step three.

    Marked Super Famicon cartridge on top of SNES cartridge

  2. Use a drill with a 3/16" drill bit to drill holes from the bottom of the Super Famicon cartridge to the depth of the SNES channel.
    In other words, hold the Super Famicon cartridge upside down on a workbench and drill a hole in the cartridge plastic, not going much deeper than the SNES channel does.

    Drill holes in the marked spots from previous step.

  3. Use diagonal pliers to snip the thin plastic between the hole just drilled and the hole that existed in the Super Famicon cartridge.
    NOTE: Don't worry if it looks ugly right now, we'll clean it up in a later step.

    Diagonal pliers (cutters) clear away the plastic

    It's ugly right now, but it will get cleaned up later.
  4. Use the drill and bit to carefully continue the channel so it's as long as on the SNES.

    The drill and bit are used to make the channel longer
  5. Use a round file (approx. 3/16") to clear out and clean up channels on both sides.

    File used to clean up channels
  6. Enjoy your Super Famicon cartridges in your SNES (without having to damage the SNES!)

    Super Famicon Cartridge fits perfectly in SNES

    Characters at top read (in Katakana): Mario Ka-to
    (Sorry for the picture-of-a-TV black line)

    This says: 1 Pureiya- Ge-mu

    My quick test run (as the turtle) shows more Japanese characters!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Trial of Your Faith

his entry is part of my general conference application series.
Trial of Your Faith, by Neil L. Andersen
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

My recent change of office space at work came with an unforeseen difficulty: smelly fish. It turns out that the person I now share a space with eats fish almost every day. This wouldn't be a problem if it were the delicious-smelling fried fish that I love, but because it smells more of the raw sewage variety, it's becoming a bit of a trial.

Today—the second day in my new office (and the second day of smelly fish)—the smell was so bad that I had to leave to find relief elsewhere! Not knowing where to hide, I took my Ensign magazine, found a couch, and coincidentally read Elder Andersen's talk on trials.

There I sat, feeling bad for myself because I was evicted from my office by horrible fish smells, reading of real trials of faith.

I have a hard time reading or hearing about trials of faith, probably because my active imagination takes over and I start to feel what I imagine it would be like to have a child die, have someone I love get terribly injured, or any number of trying scenarios. Yes, there can be comfort found in hearing how others faith did not falter, but I'm apparently so weak that until my hard trials come (and I hope they don't!), I don't want to even imagine them.

Once I got past the scary specifics of a hard trial recounted by Elder Andersen, I felt ready to get to the meat of his message (providing the "meat" wasn't disgusting fish carcass). Here's something that stood out to me because of its seemingly obvious ridiculousness:

When faced with a trial of faith—whatever you do, you don’t step away from the Church! Distancing yourself from the kingdom of God during a trial of faith is like leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view.

Leaving security in the face of a tornado sounds silly—and the following picture carries a bit of silliness with it—but too often when things start to take a turn for the worse, I actually find myself wondering if I should pray, do my best in helping others, or if I should take a break from things I know are right in a misguided attempt at finding comfort, or at least pleasure.

Now, if you're my wife (or someone else who genuinely cares for me personally), the preceding paragraph might sound scary. You might want to yell (or calmly tell me) that choosing to abandon faith, covenants, and security in a time of trial is a ridiculous idea. In fact, it would be like "leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view."

Now I've done it; I imagined myself making the terrible decisions of leaving the security of the Church in facing a hard trial. I think a more appropriate [scary] picture is in order:

I liked Elder Andersen's concluding words:

With faith come trials of faith, bringing increased faith. The Lord’s comforting assurance to the Prophet Joseph Smith is the very same promise He makes to you in your trial of faith: "Hold on . . . , fear not . . . , for God shall be with you forever and ever."

I don't like trials, but I could probably use some growth. Who knows, maybe as time passes my trial of lunchtime fish smelling will turn into me liking fish. (GULP) But I just hope the fish trial will go away!

In seriousness, I'm grateful for the strength that comes from faith, duty, and keeping of covenants in every situation, especially in trials.

And there's nothing fishy about faith!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Temple Standard

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Temple Standard, by Scott D. Whiting
Of the Seventy

My team at work was moved to new offices today. As part of the move, I packed all of my office belongings into boxes and began the task of finding places for everything in my new office. I quickly realized that I've accumulated a lot of unneeded papers and magazines! This move was a great opportunity to review the things that had been stored, get rid of some and properly file others, and resolve to not let clutter into my new, clean workspace.

As I sorted the piles of things, I thought of how I've been letting too many piles accumulate at home. My desk and other conspicuous places now have stacks of papers and magazines that need to be addressed. My office move makes me want to finally go through these piles at home.

After reviewing Elder Whiting's talk, I'm thinking that I might need to clean up even more personal clutter in my life. In his talk, he shared the story of touring a temple under renovation and observing feedback given on finding grit on a wall and a misaligned piece of glass in an interior leaded-glass window. These observations were given with under the reason that such are "not temple standard."

Later, after the renovations were complete, Elder Whiting toured the temple again and saw that the concerns had, indeed, been addressed, but that both would have been covered by something by design (wallpaper and a potted plant, respectively). Here are the questions that arose in his mind:

Why would walls with a little grit and a window with a little asymmetry require additional work and even replacement when few human hands or eyes would ever know? Why was a contractor held to such high standards?

His answer came upon seeing the familiar inscription on the outside of temples: Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord."

As I think of cleaning my office space, my living space, and my personal life, I wonder, "How clean is clean? Am I clean enough, or do I need to do more?" I try to live a temple standard, but I'm sure my life has some grit and a misaligned piece of glass or two. Here is reassuring counsel from Elder Whiting:

Gratefully, the temple standard that we are asked to meet is not that of perfection, although we are striving for it, but rather that we are keeping the commandments and doing our best to live as disciples of Jesus Christ.

My wife's family (me included) at the Jordan River Temple in December.

I would like to say that I'm doing just fine, but I think that this time of office changes and cleaning (and reviewing Elder Whiting's talk) will help me to take a look inside of myself and see if I can get rid of some of the grit from the walls and make sure that all the pieces of my leaded-glass inside are properly aligned, metaphorically speaking, of course.

Friday, January 4, 2013

What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul?, by Robert C. Gay
Of the Seventy

I remember hearing that there is a magic in three. I was told that some unnamed study found that when people do something three times, it is easier to keep it as a habit. I was told this with regard to missionary work and helping people come to church or come back to church.

The story was that if they either came to church for three weeks, or stayed away from church for three weeks, then it would be easier to keep the habit. The secret, I was told, was to help people come for three weeks and see how wonderful church is. Conversely, if they stayed away for three weeks, it would be hard to get them back.

This Sunday marks the third Sunday since we've been to our home ward, and I long to return; it really feels like I'm on the edge of slipping away if I don't get back to church! Let me explain: we flew to Utah for a family reunion over the Christmas holiday and were gone for two Sundays. To make things worse, we drove three hours to the airport and flew to Utah on a Sunday! We tried to keep the Sabbath feeling like the Sabbath, but it was hard because of the stress of travelling cross-country with four children. The second Sunday we only attended sacrament meeting because there were cases of strep throat going around the extended family, and we wanted to limit others' exposure to us, and our exposure to additional potential illnesses.

So this Sunday is the pivotal third Sunday. Will we return to church? Or will we slip away and ignore the pull back to church?

We'll be there early on Sunday, ready to serve!

As I reviewed Elder Gay's talk, I thought of our recent experience with being away from church. I can feel a void in my life because of our absence, and I know that no amount of extra sleep, trips to the beach, shopping, or yard work I might substitute for Sabbath observance could replace what I personally feel comes from the work and worship of Sundays.

Elder Gay shared a few moving stories, but the piece that stood out to me was something that stood out to him on a recent trip he took to Nicaragua. There he say a plaque in a modest home that read:

My testimony is my most precious possession.

He concluded his talk by saying that this is true with him, that his "testimony is [his] soul's treasure."

While we may not have a plaque like the one he described in our home (yet!), I hope to live so that the plaque in my heart (I'm speaking figuratively, not of atherosclerosis) reads:

I'll see you at church this Sunday! Then come the next two Sundays, too, because THREE!