I put together a zipfile with all the mcboot/esr files + software needed + tutorials, updated as of 9/22/08 with all the files arranged and ready for install. This will allow you to play patched games without needing a modchip or swap discs. You'll also be able to connect a hard drive to your PS2 to play games off a hard drive via hdloader.
All you need from here is:
1. a ps2 memory card (which you should have)
2. a usb flash drive (which you or your friend should have/borrow one)
3. codebreaker or gameshark disc (which most people don't have)
But you can buy one. I think it's worth it to play burned PS2 games.
I had a hard time following the other tutorials so put together one that worked for me. I also arranged everything in folders so they are ready to go for transfer to a USB.
All folders/files are setup for McBoot 1.7, ESR 9b, USA version, hdloader, ULE/Ulaunch, etc. Everything is ready, simply copy the /USB1 folder contents to a USB and follow the tutorial. Then clear the USB drive and copy /USB2 folder contents and follow the tutorial. No finding files, moving or renaming files needed, the main ones needed are all there!!
where you can get it:
Links removed due to copyright violation
I wish this existed when I started out messing with all this cause it can be very confusing. Personally it's good to learn the hard way because you understand the renaming process, etc. But this way gets it up and running fast.
Feedback is welcome, I'm a noob just trying to help other noobs out. Feel free to improve this guys if you see I'm missing something to make it better.