Dragon Age: Inquistion – done!

So after a wonderful 150 hours, my first playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquistion and the 3 single player DLCs – Jaws of Hakkon, Descent and Trespasser – is done.

As to be expected from Bioware and especially from this franchise, the storytelling was superb. I laughed, cried and definitely clapped out loud in delight through the whole epic storyline. It really has been a wonderful gaming experience.

Dragon Age: Inquisition - my Dual Wield Human Rogue from my Normal playthrough

Dragon Age: Inquisition – my Dual Wield Human Rogue for my Normal playthrough

I still need to complete my Hard and Nightmare playthroughs and pick up some missing achievements…so I will definitely be returning to Thedas in the near future.

If you haven’t heard about Dragon Age: Inquisition, which garnered over 130 Game of the Year awards in 2014, here’s a little preview.

Robin of Sherwood: Knights of the Apocalypse

I loved Robin of Sherwood when I was growing up. The dashing hero (always Michael Praed for me) and the mix of pagan elements was a draw.

So the cast of Robin of Sherwood are re-uniting for a crowd-funded audio production. The script is adapted from a screenplay by Robin of Sherwood creator, Richard “Kip” Carpenter, whom passed away in 2012.

Any additional funds raised will go to the charities, the British Red Cross and the Sherwood Forest Trust.

WHOLOCK – Sherlock meets The Doctor video

If you are a fan of Stephen Moffat and his current playthings, namely Sherlock and Doctor Who, then this video is right up your street.

Created by John Smith, the five minute video is a sneaky peek at what might happen if Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor were to ever cross paths. The editing is very well done and must have been a labour of love. There is an accompanying video showing how the VFX were achieved.

Hat tip to the lovely @bonniegrrl for her original tweet on this.

Also, remember that Sherlock Season 3 starts on New Year’s Day. Can’t wait!

How to fix a ASUS X5EA flickering screen

Recently, my trusty ASUS X5EA laptop has been suffering from a flickering screen. The flickering screen was happening under both Windows and Ubuntu, which meant that it had to be a hardware problem, as opposed to a driver or OS issue. My initial guess was that the screen cable was getting pinched somewhere.

Tools used:

  • small philips head screwdriver
  • small flat head screwdriver
  • electrical tape
  • scissors
  • a pair of tweezers

Before starting to take the ASUS X5AE apart, I removed the battery. Also, as a precaution, I removed the RAM, hard drive, DVD drive and the wireless card. To do so required removing covers and numerous small screws on the base of the laptop. A good tip when you remove a screw is to place it on a table or piece of cardboard in the same location you removed it from. Do not assume that all the screws are the same length.

You don’t need to remove these items to get to the screen and screen cable but they are delicate components that you do not want to inadvertantly damage.

Asus X5EA motherboard

Then I flipped the laptop over and removed the hinge brackets. This done by opening up the laptop and then gently pressing the hinges upwards with your thumbs. Do not force them or be too heavy handed. Once the hinges are removed you can see the yellow coated screen cable running down to the motherboard in the right hand cavity.


If the cable is noticeably pinched at this point, ease it away from the pinch point. I decided to wrap mine with a small cut of electrical tape to prevent further pinching, as you can see in the image below. Also, I used another bit of electrical tape to keep it clear of the hinge. I had to use a small set of tweezers to help position the slivers of electrical tape.

asus 5xea hinge with screen cable

This was most likely the root cause of my flickering screen. I could have stopped here but I have an innate desire to tinker and take things apart, so I carried on. If you think that this is your root cause, gently ease the cable into a clear position, replace the hinge and then replace your hardware. You can boot the laptop up without replacing all the screws to check that the problem has been fixed. If your flickering still persists, you can carry on with the procedure described below.

Next, I removed the six circular rubber seals around the edge of the ASUS X5EA’s screen. Then I gently removed the screws underneath, again paying attention to where each screw originated from. Once the screws are removed the facia of the screen can be pulled off. This was the most troublesome part. The facia is clipped down all around the frame and I didn’t want to break any of the clips. Occasionally I had to use a small flat headed screw driver to ease the process.

Once the facia was off, I could remove the next set of screws to lift the LED screen away from the cover. Having done so, I eased the screen out and gently placed it on top of the keyboard. This exposed the cable connection to the back of the screen, which I could then check to ensure that the cable was seated fully.

asus 5xea back of screen

Satisfied that the cable was attached securely, I screwed the screen back into the frame, replaced the RAM, hard drive, DVD drive and battery and checked to see that the ASUS X5EA booted up correctly.

asus 5xea screen on with facia off

Satisfied that everything was in working order, I reattached the facia of the screen and then proceeded to replace all the screws on the screen and the rubber seals. Then I flipped the laptop over and replaced all the screws and covers.

I’ve been using the ASUS X5EA for a few hours each evening for the last couple of weeks and I haven’t seen any sign of flickering on the screen. All in all, the whole procedure took under an hour.

As always, please be aware that opening up your laptop will invalidate your warranty and you do so at your own risk. As with all hardware fixes, your mileage may vary.

Star Wars Cross Stitch – May The Force Be With You

Currently, I am going through the process of moving house. When my stress levels rise, I find that a good distraction is to create or craft something. In addition, one of my good friends, @psmorrison, had a birthday coming up and I think it is nice to give gifts that have taken time to find or make.

Surfing through Etsy, always a dangerous past time on my wallet, I found this lovely little Star Wars cross stitch pattern from pixelpowerdesign.

After a few nights, voila….

May the Force Be With You Cross Stitch

Celebrating geekdom

Buzzfeed has a brought together a series of quotes celebrating geekdom, from people like Simon Pegg, David Tennant and Joss Whedon. My favourites include:

“Nerd. One who’s unbridled passion for something, or things, defines who they are as person , without fear of other people’s judgement.” ~ Zachary Levi

“Geek On – because your judgement is not my problem.” ~ thegezzell

“Saying ‘I notice you’re a nerd’ is like saying ‘hey I notice that you’d rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you’d be thoughtful rather than vapid, that you believe that there are things matter more than the arrest record of Lindsey Lohan.'” ~ John Green

Check out the full list of quotes on Buzzfeed.

Dragon Age Inquisition trailer

The first Dragon Age Inquisition trailer was shown during E3.

I love this series of games and this trailer shows glimpses of the next chapter in the engaging storyline, building on Dragon Age: Origins, Awakening and Dragon Age II. 

The trailer features the Dragon Age II characters of Varric, Morrigan and Cassandra.

The game is slated to launch Autumn 2014.

Replacing a Nexus 4 screen

Recently I had the misfortune to drop my Nexus 4 onto a bare concrete floor, smashing the lower left corner. Having purchased the handset directly from Google, I had limited options for finding a repairer to replace the Nexus 4 screen.

A quick search online showed that third parties, such as Carphone Warehouse, were charging in the region of £140 and would want to see the handset first and then would need it for two weeks.

Deciding that the time and cost implications were too high, I opted to replace the Nexus 4 screen myself.

I ordered the a replacement Nexus 4 screen from LG.  The part cost 73€ or £62 plus around 10€ for shipping.  I ordered in the afternoon on a Friday, and despite shipping from Portugal, the part was delivered by 9am on the Monday.

The only other equipment I needed to purchase was a T5 screwdriver bit, which I picked up for £5 at Maplin.

The rest of tools I already had – a good small Philips head screwdriver, a small flat-headed screwdriver, a hairdryer and an old credit card.

I followed the procedure in this excellent Youtube video, which I found to be informative and accurate. I had to use the hairdryer (on its lowest setting) to ease the adhesive on the battery and the usb cable ribbon. The whole exercise took around 20 minutes to complete.

Also, my thanks to @Dragonsclaws, whose advice was most appreciated.  His most important tip was not to try and turn the small screws quickly, as this can chew up the heads which would render them useless.  A lot of pressure and turning slowly is the best way to undo them without damaging the screw head.

Overall, as well as being quick and cheaper than the alternatives, it was interesting to open up the Nexus 4.  Having taken it apart I will definitely look to extend the life of the handset by changing components, such as the battery, myself.

Disclaimer: Opening up your Nexus 4 may invalidate your warranty with Google, proceed at your own risk.  As always, YMMV.

Space Oddity

David Bowie’s Space Oddity has been performed by Commander Chris Hadfield, in the best location currently known to man – the International Space Station!

The video broke last night and has gone viral today.  I picked it up on a tweet from Professor Brian Cox, at which time it only had 301 views.  Today there are over 1 million.

Did the human race really do this? Wonderful! @Cmdr_Hadfield ‘s Space Oddity: http://youtu.be/KaOC9danxNo

On May 12, 2013, after handing over command of the ISS before returning home, Cmdr Chris Hadfield (CSA) released the music video in which he performs both the lyrics and guitar to Space Oddity.  The audio and visual quality is excellent considering the environment it was shot in.