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News Archive for Year of 2008

 

11/12/08 - Friday: "The Nerve"

Seriously? I've been playing some more RTS games and once again (no real surprise here) people stack 2v2 games to the two best players vs. the two worst players. It's basically an instant-win, padding their stats while "griefing" other players. This is a trend that has been going on for some time now, and it's just as annoying as the first time. If you are going to play a game, you shouldn't only play when the odds are in your favor, try a fair team with one bad player and one good player vs. another team of the same for a change. I know a lot of people play "fair", but there are always those few that motivate me to host my own games just so I can keep things balanced.

Honestly, I find myself purposely avoiding these people, but there are times when they are the only people online to play with. And that's when it becomes a serious issue for me.

My solution: Don't make stats available to other players until after a game starts. Sure, you'd still have unbalanced teams, but at least people can't get away with it at will. The only other solution I can think of is forcibly making teams balanced by rank/stats before the game lets you start playing. That seems like a more heavy-handed approach, but would be more effective.

Of course, this only really matters to you when you're on the losing side...

 

11/6/08 - Thursday: "Interactive Mirror"

Words can barely describe how amazingly cool this little setup is, but there is an awesome "touch-screen" mirror that you can check out on this guy's blog. You can even play games on it. The only drawback I can find? How can a mirror display "black"?

Mirror Snapshot (Watch on YouTube)

 

10/29/08 - Wednesday: "Windows 7"

A demonstration in Los Angeles has shown some user-interface elements of Windows 7, the next version of Windows, due to release in a year or so. Comments made during an interview by BBC News included Microsoft's hope for a better reception than Vista, and pushing computers further by offering options for PC's that are already available on other devices like iPhones, but haven't yet made it in the PC world. During the demonstration, one of the key features, the "multi-touch" screen, failed to work reliably. You can read the full article here. There is also a YouTube video of the demonstration here.

 

10/24/08 - Friday: "Smart and Free"

If you generally keep good care of your computer, but haven't defragmented your hard disks for a while due to Windows' Disk Defragmenter being so barbaric, check out Smart Defrag. This free utility runs "in the background" on Windows PCs, using little RAM, and you can continue working as it is going. (Side note: It seems like it might have stopped one of my games during defragmentation of its directory, but it didn't freeze the computer and I managed to use it again fine as soon as it had finished with the game directory. If doing something important while this is running, I would save often, just in case.)

Overall, I'd say this is a very good way to defragment your drives. I defragmented all of mine! Did I mention, it's freeware? If you're looking for similar helpful utilities, check out my software links as well.

 

10/19/08 - Sunday: "Dilemmas"

I just deleted a YouTube video I recently made in case somebody would have had a problem with it. I wasn't sure if my use of content in the video would be considered "Fair Use" under US copyright law if somebody had pursued me on it, and I really don't need to be dealing with those kinds of issues right now. I may upload the video again without the content I was worried about, as the vast majority of the content was in fact Fair Use. Luckily, I hadn't gotten many views. Partly unluckily though, as my other videos have done as poorly. Maybe it's just part of getting better.

 

9/24/08 - Wednesday: "Just Killed Three Spiders"

If you've spent some time in my house during the summer, you might know we get a few bugs and spiders and whatnot from time to time. I believe this mostly has to do with the fact that it is a decently old house, and has many cracks and holes where such creatures can find their way inside.

Before taking my shower this morning, I found a moth in my bathroom and promptly eradicated it. After my shower, I was surprised to find a 2-3 cm spider (diameter) camping on the floor just outside the combo bathtub/shower. After killing it, and applying deodorant (to myself, not the late predator), I found another two hiding behind our mini-trashcan. Unless they were all after the moth, I have no idea what they were doing there except to disturb my morning hygiene rituals. Each spider was a different size, starting with the 2-3 cm, to a 1 cm, to a 0.5 cm one. All different colors, so I assume all different species.

All squished.

Let this be a lesson to any other potential arachnid and/or insectoid trespassers: Keep off my turf! You have been warned.

 

7/6/08 - Sunday: "WoW Rant: MultiBoxing"

"Multiboxing is a term used to denote one user playing multiple accounts simultaneously. This can be done using one or more machines. Solutions exist for both the PC and Mac. There are also solutions for using both PC and Mac at the same time."

- http://www.wowwiki.com/Multiboxing

First of all, I want all you to know this isn't really a personal attack to any specific multiboxer, but more of an "AOE" grunt towards multiboxers in general, just because it's been ticking me off lately and quite frankly I'm surprised it is even allowed in WoW (i.e. not against the rules) according to Blizzard employees. (check out this multibox thread for yourself)

I've been seeing more and more people doing this - it's not uncommon to see at least one group of 5 characters in a battleground per day, four of which are following one of them around, all doing the same thing.

I'm not sure that I get why people do this. Is this all a big power scheme? I mean, is this the end-game for power-players? Because if this is about power it makes me sick that somebody has to get so many characters to buff themselves up. Any single "normal" player doesn't stand a chance against a well-played 5-character team.

Do these guys only play with the odds in their favor? I doubt that could be very satisfying for someone like me knowing that your odds are basically 5:1. Not to mention... I really don't like seeing /follow trains everywhere.

Let's look at this from another angle. What if you tried something like that in Counter-strike? I mean, it would most likely be seen as hacking, or at the very least as throwing the game mechanics out of balance, and messing up the tactical flow of combat. Odds are you would get booted/banned for this sort of thing from almost every server with an admin present. It kinda does some of the same stuff to a Battleground "game" in WoW, in my opinion.

And you could go ahead and call me "jealous" since I wish I had a toon that powerful... cuz most multiboxers would. But that is oversimplifying the problem. After all, even players who don't call themselves power-gamers love to play an exceptionally powerful character from time to time.

This isn't all just because I wish I could multibox (although I admit I'd like to try it, if only briefly, to see what all the fuss is about). It also comes down to real-life riches (such as affording 5 accounts on a continuous basis) translating over to a game. This is a big issue for me with MMO's, such as MMO's where you buy the biggest and best items with RL cash. Some of these are actually quite popular and I say that's fine, as long as everyone knows going in what they are getting into when they get the game. As for me, I'll be playing the better, subscription-based games. I mean, the "success" of Guild Wars was based off of the assumption that monthly fees are terrible, but how much more would you end up paying if you keep buying the new, best item in a pay-per-item-based game each month?

When you have a subscription-based game that suddenly becomes an pay-per-item game (and with multiboxing, WoW is getting closer to doing this), then a line has been crossed that is never supposed to be crossed. The imaginative aspect - the escapist nature of games - dies. Not only that, but any realism simulated by the game fades into our actual reality of who has the best car, biggest wallet, etc. Suddenly you aren't one of the best <insert class here> on your server, because there's someone else with 5 "toons" doing 5x what you are, and never having to wait for groups like you had to. And they can usually heal themselves a ton to boot. Now not only do the people with the most money and time have more to invest in the game in the first place, now they get to do it with entire groups of characters - an unfair advantage to say the least.

Am I just jealous because I don't have a lot of money, a better computer, can't afford as many accounts as them, and/or aren't smart enough to multibox? Nope. That's got little to do with any of this (and I've already seen links to plenty of multibox tips and tricks). There are people who brought up legitimate concerns about how this could relate to how people's internet is worse than others', or how someone has a slower computer than someone else. However, this is the part of computer games that could never really be helped, and assuming everyone meets the minimum system requirements, it really doesn't make THAT much of a difference if someone else has a really superb system or connection. We're talking around a 10% difference, not the 500% or so that multiboxing can do.

In my opinion this is hardly any different than botting. You are hitting a button that makes 5 characters do the same thing? Is that really any different from setting up a script that just "does it all with the push of a button"? If you say no, you are probably already on the multibox bandwagon and I don't know why you'd still be reading this rant.

It's almost as if somebody is playing a board game, and some guy slips someone some RL cash that puts the guy way in the lead. Of course, it isn't exactly like that, because with multiboxing itself, the person actually does have to work at it to make it work, as well as pay for all the accounts. Granted, it still isn't gonna be as hard as levelling all 4-5 characters individually, and it isn't going to be as hard to gear out all the characters either.

I guess it's more difficult for me as a rogue as I don't have any AOE attacks, so if I run into a group of these guys, I'm pretty much done for. (And I have, and I did... um... get done for...)

All of that said, I have nothing against someone who has multiple accounts and plays them all individually. Then they are doing more or less the same "work" per character that anyone else is. But this multiboxing thing needs to go.

Okay, there, I've said it! Now I guess I can get back to avoiding these /follow trains...

 

6/3/08 - Tuesday: "A Temporary Solution"

I got a Game Boy Advance SP quite a few years ago, and it had been working fine until today. I hadn't use it a whole lot until this year when I planned to order a new game. Well, after playing for a few days, I noticed that - apparently out of nowhere - some dumb speck was on my screen. I tried cleaning it with no results. I finally came across this article on Nintendo's site which explains that I somehow got some dust inside the screen between screen layers. What? Yes, apparently it was either there during manufacturing, or there was a "leak" in the seal of my screen, and some stupid dust got in.

So, an area on my screen was covered by an annoying white speck larger than a pixel in diameter. What to do? I read a few sites about taking it apart and cleaning it out, but I figure I'd probably screw it up since I can't even figure out how to properly open the screen. Instead, I took a more general option - if it doesn't work, hit it.

I found that you can at least somewhat correct the issue (if it is near the center of the screen), by tilting the screen and tapping it fairly roughly (not too hard or you could damage it). When the screen bounces back there will be a brief moment that there is a gap and gravity can bring the particle to another edge of the screen.

So in the end, I've got a scratch inside my screen where the spec was from trying to rub it out, and a big dust speck near the edge of my screen - at least it isn't one big nasty speck in the middle, but it's now two smaller (and only slightly less annoying) specks.

My advice: don't try rubbing "dust" off your SP screen too hard, because if it's inside of the screen - you could scratch the screen. Actually better advice would be to skip getting an SP and get a DS, since from what I read they have a replacable screen option (at least for the top piece of the screen).

 

5/29/08 - Thursday: "WoW-tastic"

I feel somewhat special, because I've been playing World of Warcraft off and on, and I'm finally about to hit level 70 (the current cap level). I'm right around level 69 and a half. Why not just hit 70 already? Well, probably because as I was playing today my prepaid subscription ran out. (Bummer! I know.)

Since I've got final tests coming up, I figure I won't renew my subscription or play again until after I'm done with classes. Then it will only take about another day, and I'll finally "cap out".

I'd be lying if I said my progress in WoW doesn't feel rewarding, even if it is "just a game".

On a side note, there's a WoW machinima contest I read about on the WoW website about a week ago. I think it would be cool to participate, except I have no idea how to custom animate Blizzard models - which I would just have to do if I were to participate.

 

4/1/08 - Tuesday: "They Think They're Funny - April Fools"

Wow, it's that time again, April Fools has struck the internet like a rapist down a dark alley. Watch out for what you read online today, as it's a popular place to surprise unsuspecting people with crazy jokes. (As if you didn't know that already.)

One such joke is Google's "Gmail Custom Time" that theoretically allows users to send messages in the past. It would work by time-stamping messages hours before they were actually delivered. I can't say I'm an expert on G-mail, but wouldn't people's e-mail clients automatically time-stamp the correct received time? Anyway, another retarded April Fools joke.

I'd love to ask you all to post jokes, but as I still haven't got a comment system up yet, I guess the best I could have you all do is e-mail me or send a comment on my feedback form.

Me? Well, I don't make such jokes... or do I? Muhahahaha...

 

3/29/08 - Saturday: "Yes... Awesomeness"

I found a few newer comics that are just awesomeness, and some of them I even read some time ago, but they are so cool that when I updated my links page, I linked to them too!

They are: LegendaryFrog comic by Joseph Blanchette, Earth Song by Lady Yates, and Looking for Group by Ryan Sohmer and Lar deSouza. I seriously recommend that you check all of these out!

 

3/25/08 - Tuesday: "New Site Design"

Wow, my site has looked quite different for some time, until today when I finally sat down and finished making changes that have been in the works for a while. Hopefully I'm not the only person who thinks the look of this site has improved!

If you'd like to compare to the old design I had been using for a long time, I've taken a screenshot you can check out:

ScreenShot

(Click for full size.)

The change comes with a new Lightfire logo I've created specifically for the site, in preparation of it potentially becoming a full-on business sometime in the next few years! (Key word: potentially)

 

3/9/08 - Friday: "Fun in Ordon Ranch"

It's been a while since I pulled out my GameCube, but I'm glad I did. I was hanging around Ordon Ranch and realized you can have some more fun with the goats than I originally thought...

(For anyone who doesn't know - the above video clip is from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.)

 

2/22/08 - Friday: "Meh"

Well, EVE didn't hold my attention very long. In fact, I probably only played it a total of 20 hours this last month. I'm not planning on putting anymore time into it either. I suppose Tabula Rasa would have been a better choice, but whatever. It all costs money, so I think when I manage to save up some more I can then start thinking about spending more on games.

I've played some Warcraft 3 the past few weeks, and that almost has me thinking WoW, but I remember that the last few times I played WoW it also didn't last very long. I suppose that I will never play WoW again, and just forget the new expansion - it doesn't really interest me. If I had a lot of friends who played WoW on the same server, then I'd probably join again in a heartbeat, but I don't think that's happening.

So basically, until Stargate Worlds is released, I suppose TR is the only MMO I'm even slightly interested in.

Things have been a little rough lately, but I figure I'll tell you that sometime in the next year or two I hope to completely revamp my site. If not, maybe I'll start a new site. At the moment, that is all sort of up in the air.

 

2/1/08 - Friday: "Can't Decide"

Currently, I think I'm tired of WoW, SWG has been pretty much over for about two years... So, since I've just been playing a lot of Counter-Strike: Source, and some Oblivion, I'm feeling like jumping back into some MMO gaming for a while. I had basically taken a break from MMO's for about 2-3 months to avoid subscription fees and save myself some time, as well as the fact that I was gone for Christmas break. But now, I think I'm ready to get back in the game.

The problem is, I can't decide between EVE and Tabula Rasa. They are both sci-fi, but TR is more like a shooter, whereas EVE is a lot slower and you have significantly less control over combat actions and maneuvers. But EVE is a bit deeper, whereas TR is pretty much just one thing: action, and lots of it.

While I like action, and I'm not a big fan of boring floating around in space, it just seems like EVE has some more to offer as far as depth. Since it's older, it has a more established economy as well as clan systems, etc. Therefore, I can't decide! Do I want action, or depth? Too bad I can't have both.

Of course, they both cost the same for a monthly subscription, or at least so close to the same that cost difference is negligible. No doubt I'll come to a decision within the next day, but either way, I'm sure I'll at least regret part of that decision.

In the mean time, I'll be waiting for the next best MMO to release. Whatever that may be. I've got my sights set on Stargate Worlds, but Age of Conan seems to hold some promise as well.

 

1/29/08 - Tuesday: "Say Goodbye to Dreamweaver Templates"

Something I discovered not long ago is that you can actually re-create essential pieces of a page using PHP. This enables you to use the same pieces of code - say for example: a navigation menu - over and over again throughout your web site instead of updating it from scratch every time.

The code to do this is relatively simple, as I managed to learn how to do it in a matter of minutes from W3Schools.

If you know HTML and just a little bit about coding, it should be a bit of a breeze. Just check out the tutorial for yourself, and remember to add ".php" as the file extension on any file names you use any PHP functions on.

(Please note: PHP will not work unless it is supported by your web site's server. Most popular web servers these days provide PHP functionality for free.)

 

- End of 2008 Archive -