Monthly Archives: November 2014

November in Review

The Site

It was actually a pretty busy month here, traffic-wise.  You might think that odd, given that I spent nearly a week without a functioning computer and, thus, put up very little in the way gaming posts.  But Google seemed to take a shine to me this month, making November the month highest average daily page views this year.  It would have had the most page views as well, if it had 31 days.  That was all mostly thanks to people searching for Warlords of Draenor related topics, as you can see by the “most viewed posts” section below.

On the WordPress.com front, they continue to annoy me in various ways.  They broke a couple of things badly early in the month, but have since fixed them.  And they do persist in trying to push their new “improved” editing interface.  It is dumbed down and not very responsive to boot, so I remain with the old one and pray that they won’t make the new one mandatory.  And, just in case I forgot who I was, they put my portrait in one of the navigation menus.  I guess if you use multiple accounts that might be helpful, but it just wastes space for me.

WACircleSquare

Also, what is it with putting rectilinear avatar pictures into circles?  Google+ is big on this as well.  I made a square portrait with a white space around it so the horns on my helm would appear to be escaping the picture, but putting it in a circle ruins the effect.  I will be glad when this fad passes.

One Year Ago

TorilMUD, measured through its lineage via Sojourn MUD, hit the 20 year mark.  So I was playing that before there was any sort of Warcraft.

Time was running out on Warhammer Online, but they were going to give people a last chance to see the place… for free.  A pity I couldn’t get my account to work.

There was a scathing quote of the day about what “social gaming” had come to mean.

The Tears of Veeshan expansion launched in EverQuest II while we said farewell to EverQuest: Macintosh Edition.  Meanwhile, EverQuest veteran Aradune was back in play talking about a new MMO he had planned.

The Rubicon expansion for EVE Online went live, complete with lots of stats.  The update did not save us from the node crash at E-YJ8G.  Big fleet battles, with thousand of drones in play, were taxing the servers beyond their limits.  Meanwhile, there was the Long Guy Fawkes Day… another node crash, but only after 6 hours of crushing TiDi… and we were headed back to Curse again.

EVE Online community site EVE Bloggers found a new home at last.

BlizzCon rolled around, generating much excitement for WoW players with the Warlords of Draenor announcement, though few thought it would take a year for them to ship it.  I was already back and binging on the game, but the rest of the instance group came back as well after the announcement… and we basically did what we should have done a few years back, we got out the old group and picked up where we left off.

I was dropping bombs in War Thunder.

And, after having read Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire at its 20th anniversary, I got around to reading the other two books in the series.  The title of that post is a spoiler.

Five Years Ago

I was writing about how I had not changed the blog format since I started.  Sound familiar?

Our Thanksgiving entertainment was Rock Band 2.  While I was really bad at it, it was a lot of fun.  The next year we played Super Mario Bros. Wii, which I was also really bad at, but which isn’t nearly as much fun.  However, the kids liked it.  I rode along in a bubble most of the time.

And while Tech Crunch was exposing the odious practices favored by Mark Pinkus to get FarmVille and Mafia Wars profitable, the New York Times was gushing over this wonderful new virtual goods market, which I summarized and provided links to here.

I managed to get some playtime in with the original Torchlight, though there were some problems.  It turns out that if you bought the game from the wrong vendor, you could be a while waiting for patches.

The first LEGO Harry Potter game was announced, which I had anticipated would come to pass almost two years before it was announced.

Warhammer Online announced that levels 1-10 were going to be free, making me wonder if they were just going to breed a mass of level 1 twinks.  I think that is what the end result was.

In EVE Online, PLEX was off to a booming start.  The price of a PLEX has risen some since then (~300 million then, over 900 million ISK now).  Meanwhile, the first Hulkageddon was on and even I noticed something was amiss.  Eventually somebody pointed me in the right direction in the comments.

I wondered if fishing was really the secret ingredient for MMO success.

I got all nostalgic for Star Trek because of Star Trek Online’s impending release.

World of Warcraft and EverQuest II both hit their five year anniversaries.  Then I had the temerity to say that there were things that EQII didn’t do very well in my opinion.

On the WoW end of things, somebody was suing because they felt the game wasn’t easy enough.

Then there were Mr. T Mohawk grenades and a 24 slot Portable Hole, outrages both along with the $10 vanity pets.  And I was complaining about not getting the Headless Horseman’s mount during Hallow’s End.  Again, sound familiar?

I wrote a very short post about Pilgrim’s Bounty which went on to become the most viewed post on the site November of five years ago.

And the instance group started in with Ragefire Chasm, Wailing Caverns and Deadmines on the RP-PVP server.  Actual PVP occurred since we had to walk to the Deadmines.  We get called griefers for daring to engage in PVP on a PVP server.

New Linking Blogs

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogrolls, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in November

Search Terms of the Month

nobody likes to carol with yoda
[Because he’s all “With boughs of holly the halls be decked, yes! Hmmm?”]

photo tiger playing bagpipes
[I could find dogs playing, but no tigers]

tube tv vertical punctuation
[I prefer Zero Punctuation]

EVE Online

After coming off of a busy October, with deployments down south, I tapered off my time in New Eden a bit for the Warlords of Draenor launch.  It just so happened that we finished up our first post-Phoebe deployment just in time.  Phoebe has made travel more tedious in null, which both sides in the CFC vs N3/BL conflict of the moment have been trying to take advantage of.  Lots of talk about the CFC being forced to move between fronts via gates, but no mention of the Reavers reinforcing structures and knocking down towers in Querious while N3 is busy in Delve.

EverQuest II

I actually spent some time in post-cataclysm Norrath for the 10 year anniversary.  I didn’t adventure or even ear a single experience point to my knowledge.  But I did play around with housing and the new Isle of Refuge prestige house/zone we were given as an anniversary present.

Pokemon

Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire launched.  My daughter and I got our copies right on launch day thanks to oppressed workers in Amazon’s Fernley, Nevada shipping facility.  With this and Warlords of Draenor, I was wondering who would win out for play time.  WoW seems to have won for the most part.  The new Pokemon is good.  I am about 10 hours into it.  But the draw of WoW is stronger.  Gotta check up on my garrison!

Total War: Rome II

I managed to miss every Friday night game in November.  I was really tired this month, so it was tough to stay up past… 9pm.  It must be some urge to hibernate now that we have a bit of cold weather. (Cold for coastal California anyway.)

World of Warcraft

Big expansion launch.  Lots of players back in the game.  A beautiful new set of zones to play in.  Plenty of orc bad guys leading us on a merry chase.  But a lot of people are already level 100 in Warlords of Draenor.  Even with some down days and a meandering pace where I try to see it all, my first character in is already closing in on level 99.  I hope Blizzard has a game plan for dealing with most everybody at level cap in two months, or it is going to be a long 700+ days until the next expansion.

Coming Up

It will be December shortly, which will mean all sorts of end of the year, what in the hell happened sorts of posts.  I have some predictions to score and all that. (Plus more to write.)

CCP will be springing yet another new expansion on us in the form of Rhea.  Coming December 9th.  That will mean the end of skill point loss, the start of tier 3 destroyers, new wormhole space, and a bunch of things I have already forgotten.  I don’t know how things feel at CCP, but it is exhausting just keeping up with the changes on the outside.

We are in the midst of the Steam Holiday Sale, and I have purchased nothing so far.  And why do the Steam sales, summer and winter, seem to be coming earlier and earlier?

And, having been given a clean slate when it comes to… well… all the software on my computer, it will be time to decide what gets installed again.

Another Busy Night for Blizzard

I don’t know if it is a continuation of the Warlords of Draenor surge, the Blizzard store sale (where I am tempted to finally pick up StarCraft II for $10), or just an evening where everybody wants to play online games, but I ran into a new type of queue.

Battle.net queue

Battle.net queue

Fortunately, Blizzard was smart enough to not make Battle.net the gatekeeper for their games.  You can click on the “go offline” option at the bottom of that alert (not shown) and then bring up World of Warcraft and log in the old fashioned way.  Going that route I was able to get into game.  Unfortunately, there were other issues.  I seemed to be okay in my garrison, but when I flew out to the Spires of Arak to pick up where I left of question (but not fishing), Vikund got stuck for a couple minutes just trying to summon his mount.

He looks like he has an evil plan...

He looks like he has an evil plan…

It was then that I looked at the network status and saw the ping time was exceeding 2K ms.  As I was writing this Blizzard CS reported that there was a DDoS attack under way.

It looks like a night to play something else.

 

Black Friday for SBUs

Today looked like the day I would be able to really test the reformed computer.  Over the last couple of days there had been much hurffing on Jabber about a big fight coming today.  After taking LBGI-2, N3 had been pushing on the Y-2ANO, the gateway system between Delve and Fountain to the point that there was the potential for a final timer fight.

Losing that system would have been annoying, so the call was out for maximum pilots.

More than 1,200 pilots showed up.  Eight fleets were out roaming space.  And there was preciously little fighting going on.

N3 declined to show up, the numbers stacked against them.  So a few of the fleets went to Fountain and began cleaning up SBUs, reinforcing hostile staging towers, and basically pushing back on a lot of N3s work.  Such is the way of sovereignty warfare.

I ended up in Papusa’s Tengu fleet, flying a Scimitar.  We sat around while everybody else started the long drive to Fountain.  It felt a bit like we were being left behind.  We proceeded about the northern front to knock off hostile SBUs that had been dropped in some of our systems in the north and generally act as a deterrent to anybody who thought perhaps the cat was away.  A 250 ship Tengu fleet is a force to be reckoned with.

After about four hours of that, we arrived back in our starting system and felt like the lucky ones.  The fleets that headed off to Fountain from Deklein were still busying shooting structures while we were done for the time being.  I did not get a chance to test my computer setup against an epic scale space battle, but that was probably a good thing.  I spent quite a bit of time during the fleet just trying to get the fresh install of EVE Online configured the way I like it.  So many check boxes and settings.

I did get to start building up my screen shot library again.  Here are some pictures from our day out.

 

Stability

I think we’re there.

I was actually standing in the aisle at Fry’s pondering what RAM to purchase when I decided against buying it.  I realized at that moment that I needed to account for everything that was drawing power directly from the power supply that went south on Sunday afternoon.

And, it turns out, that was the right move.  I pulled out the nVidia GTX650 ti and ran with the on-board video for a while.  I had to turn down some of the video settings in World of Warcraft, but otherwise it seemed to run fine.  I then dug out my old video card, the nVidia GTS 450 that I originally put in the system back when I built it, because I never throw any of this stuff away, and it ran find as well.

I brought Vikund back to Stormwind and had him flight flight paths up and down the Eastern Kingdoms, loading up textures and pallets along the way, and everything seemed to go okay.

Vikund on a blood elf mount

Vikund flying down from the northern island to Booty Bay

The video card seemed to be the weak link.  I pushed my luck and loaded up the empty RAM slots to give myself as much memory as I could manage, ending up with 12GB running.  I had 18GB on the old motherboard, because it had some triple interleave scheme for RAM, so I had to buy and install them in groups of three.  However, that idea seemed to fall by the wayside about as quickly as the processor socket on the old motherboard… which seemed to be about 30 minutes after I purchased it.  So I have one extra 2GB and one extra 4GB DDR3 DIMM.  I’ll put them in a static bag in the closet next to the processor I pried out of the old motherboard, in the spot left by the now active video card.  I may need one of the other some day.  Or they may just sit there like those 256K SIMMs I have from 1987.  Anyway, things ran well for the afternoon.  The system was stable.

And that is about all you can ask most days of the week.

Granted, I just about had a heart attack a few hours later.  I left the system idle in my office while we were cleaning up the house for Thanksgiving, and when I came back the system was powered down.  Obscenities were uttered as I just knew I had missed something.  Then I powered the system up and it turned out to have just gone to sleep.  I hadn’t changed the power saver settings.

So it is just down to downloading and installing software.  And updates.  I am not sure I will ever see the end of updates from Microsoft.  I was well past the 300 mark this afternoon, but this evening they found 177 more hidden away.

WindowsUpdate

Life in the Windows lane I guess.

I think the biggest short term pain will be recreating my iTunes library.  All my playlists are gone.  I had a lot of playlists.  And a lot of songs ripped from CDs.  We still have the CDs, so it will be back to ripping.

But the basic games I play regularly, those are all set.  EVE Online and World of Warcraft are running.  I am even back up on GSF coms, thanks to their newbie friendly guides.  I should be in for fleet ops on Friday.

So the uncertainty seems to be past.  Now it is just a very long list of tasks.  But that I can handle.  I am good at that.  It is the uncertainty… a couple hundred dollars in and not being sure that anything I bought up to that point was a good idea or was going to solve the problem in the end… that gets me down.

The Fault in Our Hardware

On Sunday afternoon I knew I had a dead power supply.  So I replaced that.

That evening I was pretty sure I had a toasted motherboard as well.

Doing research on Monday I figured out that my old Intel Core i7-950 required a socket no longer readily available.  So I headed on down to Fry’s for a new motherboard and processor.  I ended up with a Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H and an Intel Core i5-4590 3.3GHz Processor, both of which were on sale at the moment.  Not sure if that i5 was a step down from the older i7.  My hope was that it was at least on par with four years of updates.

It Also Gets HBO

All of this is junk now…

Then I spent Monday afternoon and evening putting everything back together, only to be stuck for an hour trying to get the system to boot.  I was worried how Windows 7 might behave with new hardware under it, so I got out the install DVD and tried to update it or, if I had to, install a fresh copy of the OS.  Only after tinkering with that did I discover my next problem.

My system had two 1TB drives in a RAID 1 configuration, which is essentially two drives mirroring the same data, so if a drive goes bad you still have everything.  I mean, what are the odds of both fucking drives dying at once?

The odds are greater than zero it seems, as I found that neither drive would spin.

This is where my heart begins to sink and I start feeling sick to my stomach.  Up until this point it was all just a technical issue.

I have external drives hooked up and key data backed up elsewhere.   All of our digital pictures from the last 15 years are copied to multiple drives.  But a lot of my files were not backed up.  I had not, for example, moved screen shots or notes in Notepad ++ or any number of other things off the main drives for a while.  All of that is gone.  Lots of data, lots of images, lots of notes and knowledge.  I had full installs of Warhammer Online, City of Heroes, and Star Wars Galaxies.  Not that those are all that useful, but I won’t be getting those back.

And don’t get me started about my iTunes library.

That means everything had to start from scratch again.  There will, no doubt, be a blog post about what games I choose to install again and which games I let fall by the wayside.

I went out again and bought a 240GB SSD and a 1TB drive.  No more redundancy, but at least a faster boot time.

I got the operating system installed, then the drivers for the various devices on the motherboard, and then started loading the updates.  So many updates.

I got browsers install, but with the data loss all my bookmarks and whatever stored passwords I had are gone, so it is pretty much up to my memory at this point.  For example, I bought Microsoft Office online and should be able to install it again… only I cannot remember the account I created for that.  That is in a saved email somewhere, gone.

I am happy now that Trillian, which I use for IM, saves your settings at their site.  I was able to get up on IM quickly enough.

Eventually I got to the point where I thought I could install a couple of games.  I chose the two on my active list, EVE Online and World of Warcraft.  WoW has a new expansion running and our guild is back and online a lot, including Gaff, who returned to WoW, while there are two CFC deployments going on in EVE and constant pings for fleets.

However, I noticed a new problem.  The system, which comes up fine and appears to run well, restarts without warning every so often.  This happens rather quickly if I run WoW, I cannot, as a measure of time, harvest garrison resources before the system begins to chunk, giving me less than a minute’s warning that it is going down.   But this restart also happens with EVE or if I just leave the system sitting idle, it just takes longer.

At this point I have replaced everything except the video card, the RAM, and the case itself.  I suspect there is an issue with the RAM.  When I first loaded up the motherboard it indicated a fault initializing until I swapped around a couple of the sticks.  So it is off to Fry’s again at some point today to buy another pair of DIMMs.  But if that doesn’t solve the problem, then I am hosed.  I don’t know what I will do then.  I will have blown my discretionary budget on a bunch of parts that do not add up to a whole.

Computer Down

After a morning of playing around in Draenor, I went off to do other things, leaving my computer sitting idle.

I came back a while later to find it off and unable to power up.  I figured it was probably the power supply, as the whole thing had been making some odd, high pitched noises when I started up that morning.

I ran down to Fry’s and picked up a new power supply, took the old one out, blew out all the dust bunnies while I was there, installed the new one and… nothing.

Well, not nothing.

The unit starts to power up.  The fan on power supply starts to spin for a second, and then everything stops, save two LED on the motherboard.

Motherboard lights...

Motherboard lights… yellow and green

I have been digging around to find out what that might mean for a Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R motherboard, but haven’t had any luck.  I opened a ticket with Gigabyte, but I do not expect they will get back to me quickly during a holiday week.

I have pulled everything out, pared down the motherboard to the bare minimums, and no change in behavior.  Then I put everything back, piece by piece again, and still no luck.  The power supply looks good (I went out and got a second one just to make sure it wasn’t the first one I bought) and various components such as RAM or the video card or the various fans have no effect on the status, so I am at a loss as to what to try next at the moment.  This is, of course, made more difficult by not being able to use my computer to look things up.

I hate to chuck the lot, but I am not sure I can pare this down to what needs to be replaced.  Just a new motherboard seems like a possibility, but then I thought just a new power supply was all I would need a few hours back.

Anyway, there will likely be a dearth of posts as there won’t be much video game playing while I work on this.  Not the way I wanted to start a week’s vacation.