On a friend’s recommendation I purchased Tom Clancy’s The Division, that some people are calling a “Loot Shooter”.
I’d been wary of The Division due to a few reviews I’d read of it. Fortunately, all of the problems I read about are gone!
Zero latency issues. The game crashes occasionally, but I’ve come to expect that from Ubisoft, so it doesn’t phase me.
The tutorial missions no longer have any of the snafus that were present at launch.
Most of the enemies in the game take a believable amount of bullets to eliminate. Only the elite enemies take more, AS THEY SHOULD! If they took the same amount of damage to eliminate then they wouldn’t be elite enemies would they?
I’ve just tasted the end-game content and it is definitely the most exciting part of the game. The mix of PVE and PVP is amazing and tons of fun. Continue reading →
One of the gifts I asked for and received for Christmas was some new RAM for my computer.
RAM is what your computer uses when it’s actually running programs. More RAM means your programs will run smoother and you’ll be able to run more of them (with some limitations).
I wanted the extra RAM to help with issues I’ve had in the past when I’m running programs in the background while playing a game. Things like Skype, my recording software for streaming, or just leaving Chrome open with a guide to the game.
In the past these things have slowed the game down a little bit, but not so much anymore!
I upgraded from 8GB of RAM to 24GB. I should be able to run three times as many programs, right?
Turns out that’s not the case. My current operating system, Windows 7, throttles the RAM my computer can use at 16GB.
Windows 10, however, lets me use up to 128GB of RAM. Far more than I will ever need.
And as you may have heard, Windows is offering a free downloadable upgrade to Windows 10 on all Windows 7 and 8 machines.
I’ve been reluctant to go through with the upgrade for a number of reasons.
First, bad reviews. Most of the reviews of Windows 10 are bad. That’s par for the course when a new operating system comes out though.
My dad has tried Windows 10 out and he hasn’t noticed any serious problems which was encouraging.
Second, detailed reviews that talk about the increased bloat of the operating system and annoying default features that spy on your computer for Microsoft.
The operating system bloat shouldn’t be a problem. Even if Windows 10 uses a whole 1GB more of RAM then Windows 7 I’ll still be 7GB up on what I previously had.
The spying is annoying, but since I can turn it off I’m not too concerned about it.
My third and final concern is whether all my programs will continue to run on Windows 10.
Most, if not all, of my games will continue to work on Windows 10 according to this community list.
I’d be shocked if Microsoft Office and Google Chrome didn’t transfer over fine.
That leaves just my streaming software.
While the upgrade was initially to get more use out of the streaming software, I haven’t seriously touched the stuff in about a year. Maybe it’s not so big a deal if it doesn’t work?
Anyways, I’ll be making a jump into Windows 10 tonight. If I don’t update the blog next week it’s probably because Windows 10 caused my computer to go up in flames and burn down my house.
Dorrowsan is a city with about 30,000 people living it. The city is a single structure made entirely out of magical ice. The ice doesn’t melt despite high ambient temperatures and does not chip when attacked with a non-magical weapon. It does melt when an everlasting torch is put next to it, even though such a torch is just an illusory flame that produces no heat.
The fortress’s temperature is a comfortable 72˚F (22˚C) with a slight wind in larger rooms. Sunlight penetrates the walls illuminating every room, hall, and passageway, but one cannot see through the ice into other rooms. Food, furniture, and items can be produced at will if the person doing so is in a calm state of mind. In combat a Concentration check is required of DC 15+how many rounds the combat has lasted. The created things all have a look similar to the ice and will melt if taken from the fortress.
Obviously such a paradise would attract many people, but the city is run like a mystical cult with many odd organizational principles and rituals. The societal classes are split into colors with White being on the bottom going through Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple to the highest Black. To get into the city you must give up your possessions and wear a robe according to your color. If you wish to have your items returned you are given a tattoo that signifies that you are never to enter the city again. One is upgraded from each color for doing something considered exceptional for their current ranking and downgraded for doing something dishonorable. The society’s rules are vaguely Japanese in structure.
The different ranks don’t have any significant responsibilities as the fortress provides enough that no real work is needed. Each rank simply has a level of control over lower ranks. Hence if a Yellow wanted a Red to help him make a table with their minds then the Red would have to help or risk demotion.
Dorrowsan exports a few magical items in exchange for commodities that can’t be produced by the fortress. The imports are mostly good food and other luxuries such as blankets that the fortress is incapable of making from ice.
An odd thing happens in Dorrowsan at sunrise that seriously disturbs foreigners. All of the people wake up, go outside of the fortress, and stand in what would look like a military parade. They then simultaneously empty their bowels and pee. The excrement is quickly burned by the people before they retreat to the fortress. This is done every day in silence and when mentioned to the residents of the city the event is always denied.
The leader of the city is titled The Great Lump. Prior to the events of the Second Alliance War, The Great Lump was a fire giant priest named Chirrigar. The people of Dorrowsan, instead of being unnerved by the identity of their ruler were honored to have such a wise and strong protector. The ice in the Dorrowsan shrank and retreated to accommodate space for whatever he did. Chirrigar’s scepter gave him this power and allowed him to see through the walls. The scpeter counts as a +4 Flaming Burst Mace. The scepter can also be used to control the people in the city who wear the robes or have the tattoos, but only when the sun shines its brightest, sunrise. He maintained the morning ritual as a cruel joke upon his subjects.
Chirrigar was walking through the desert after his tribe had been wiped out by a blue dragon when he found the scepter. He went to the dragon’s cave and slew it, taking its hoard he spread the word to humans of his new city he had seen in a divine vision. He went to the site of the city northwest of the desert and planted a large piece of quartz he had found in the dragon’s cave. It grew and grew and took on the shape that Dorrowsan has today.
Dorrowsan initially joined the Xorians in the Second Alliance War. Chirrigar used the scepter to physically move the icy city towards Dalleer. Upon reaching the city he challenged the Alliance to single combat. The Alliance would send forth a champion to fight the Great Lump. The winner would gain control of both Dalleer and Dorrowsan. Hektor of Lakatia represented the Alliance and defeated Chirrigar by beheading him.
The scepter that controlled the city was given to Kig Yupington. He moved the city east to Jipangu to train with other new recruits to the Alliance.
One time while I was playing League of Legends with my friends one of our opponents asked us an interesting question, “Which League of Legends summoner spell would you rather have in real life, Teleport or Flash?”
There are a few different summoner spells in League of Legends, but Teleport or Flash are probably the best two.
What do they do? They move your champion a long distance for Teleport and a short distance for Flash.
When you calculate what the distances in League of Legends would be in real life, the distance of a Teleport spell is 227 meters (745 feet) and 4.25 meters (14 feet) for Flash.
As you can see in the picture, Flash is instantaneous but Teleport takes a little bit of time to cast. 3.5 seconds to be exact.
Teleport has an additional restriction of where it can be used, but we’ll ignore that for this thought experiment.
Both spells can only be used every five minutes.
So which would you use?
A lot of my friends first chose Teleport, but later changed their minds. It just doesn’t go far enough. 227m is only a little more than a city block. I can’t even get to the grocery store, let alone the lab where I work.
Sure I could use it every five minutes, but that doesn’t really shorten my commute by much because it only helps a block at a time. My commute takes 10-15 minutes. Teleport might shorten it by a minute or two at most.
It could be useful for vertical distances. My lab work is split into two different spaces, one in the basement and one on the third floor. With Teleport I could go instantly between the two spaces instead of trudging up the stairs or taking the scary shakey elevator.
But should I do that? Walking up three flights of stairs all the time is actually a pretty good easy of working exercise into my day. I don’t necessarily want it to go away.
Then we have Flash. One of the first things pointed out to us by the opponent who gave us this question was how Flash could be used to avoid car accidents.
Teleport takes 3.5 seconds to cast, Flash is instant. So if you’re about to be in a car accident you can just use Flash to get away, but Teleport would take too long to cast for you to react.
Flash could also be used to go up or down a flight of stairs. I could use Flash to get on my roof without having to get the ladder out.
I probably still wouldn’t want to use Flash to go up the stairs every time I use stairs for the same reason I shouldn’t be using Teleport for that. Stairs are free exercise, man!
But the car accident reason convinced me that Flash was probably the better choice.
While letting myself into my lab a woman approached me and said, “Hi!”
She had just graduated UC Davis and was looking around all the buildings she hadn’t been in much.
She was a Landscape Architecture major (didn’t even know you could major in that). My building is for biological sciences, so its understandable that she had probably never set foot in it before.
My lab’s building, Briggs Hall, is interesting from an architecture perspective (but maybe not landscape architecture).
The building was built in 1971 when there were a lot of campus demonstrations (still are! Pepper Spray Cop was at UC Davis).
A method of cutting down on demonstrations was giving students no places to gather indoors. Thus Briggs Hall’s layout is amazing confusing and even I get lost in it after working in the building for several years.
Briggs also doesn’t have any staircases inside. All of the stairs are on the exterior of the building. Don’t ask me what lunatic decided that was a good idea for a four story building.
Anyways, the recently graduated student asked if there was anything interesting in Briggs.
I showed her my lab. She glanced around in it, but not being a biologist she didn’t really understand anything in the lab.
I showed her the -80°C (-112°F) freezer which she did like as summer is starting in Davis.
I also showed her my favorite part of Briggs, the back exit by the police station.
The back exit is where all the old equipment is put that no one wants anymore. These are the pieces that are too big to just throw in the trash.
There’s old computers, old centrifuges, old heating blocks, old incubators. Tons of cool science equipment.
It’s this sort of industrial wasteland and NO ONE EVER GOES THERE.
My lab is super peaceful, but if something ever got too stressful and I needed to go outside, this is where I’d go.
Why does industrial junk calm me down? I had an air filter going in my room constantly when I was a kid. That constant hum while I slept made me associate industrial hums and old appliances with peaceful rest.
So now places like this always calm me down.
Course, the graduated student didn’t get any of that business. Shook her hand and congratulated her on graduating after I showed her the junk pile before going back inside to my lab.
We have something called a “gel doc printer” at my work. It’s purpose is self-evident. It prints documents of our gel pictures.
Gel doc printers are used infrequently and often labs share them. Ours is shared between… probably five different labs? Maybe more.
Taking pictures of gels is important in science. Gels are how we visualize DNA and proteins.
A digital copy is good enough for your own records, but you need a printed copy in case someone claims your digital copy is edited. The gel doc printer provides that physical copy.
Our printer is shared and an issue comes up that when the printer breaks we don’t know whose responsibility it is to fix it.
Usually the breaks are fixed easily. A reboot of the printer or the computer will suffice. Not this time!
This time the printer has refused to print any and all images despite the computer recognizing it as a printer that is plugged in and printing test pages.
I delved into it and realized the printer’s driver’s were outdated. Normally this would be an easy problem to fix. Not so!
You see, the computer the printer is attached to runs Windows XP which is no longer supported by Microsoft.
An unsupported operating system can easily be hacked which means this computer can no longer be connected to the internet. If it was, hackers would have an easy access point to UC Davis’s systems.
What that means is I couldn’t just download an update to the drivers like usual. I had to download the update on my laptop and then move it over to the printer computer with my USB drive.
So I downloaded the drivers and moved them over to the computer. “But wait! You need the driver install program.”
Okay. I get that and move it over. “But wait! You need .Net Framework 4 to use the driver install program!”
Okay… I get that and move it over. “BUT WAIT! You need Windows Service Pack 3 to install .Net Framework 4!”
Okaayyyy… Move that on over. And that one finally installs!
Moving backwards, the .Net Framework 4 installed as well. Along with the patch I got for that.
Then the driver install program laughed at me and said it needed access to the internet after all. I tried installing the drivers on my own, but no luck there.
I researched more on the problem. The printer is able to print out the very first part of all the images. Then it disconnects from the computer, reconnects, and decides the print job is complete.
I found absolutely nothing on how to fix that problem. There were some suggestions that it was a problem with the connection to the computer, but switching the USB port used by the printer changed nothing.
Maybe a new USB cable would do the trick, but I’m unsure if those are available for printers this old or whether it would fix the problem.
For now, all the images are put on USB sticks and printed on different computers.
I did a little bit more work on setting up my Twitch channel and I think it is close to its “final form.”
Twitch has these things called panels that hang out below the video of a channel.
Normally you’re just watching the channel or using the chat and not paying attention to what else is on the page. But what if you want to know a little bit more about this streamer?
That’s what the panels are for.
I added a little bit of basic bio info, some Disney Channel level interview questions, my computer specs, and a list of what games I play.
What’s next for the channel? Well, one of my friends keeps bugging me to wear silly hats while I stream, so that’s probably something I should do.
I still have a random frame dropping issue that I need to deal with. The easiest way to fix that is unfortunately just dropping the quality of the stream slightly.
That sounds bad, but having slightly less detail on the video is probably better than a huge ten minute section of my video having 1 frame per second.
Which brings up another issue, my internet speed. Bad news on that front as well.
There are only two significant internet providers in Davis, Comcast and AT&T. I use AT&T currently and I’ll be damned if I sign up for Comcast ever. That company is run by Satan.
But I already have the fastest upload speed available to me with AT&T. There is no way for me to boost my streaming quality except signing up for the better upload speeds offered by Comcast.
That’s just not happening. One of my friends posts a Comcast horror story every couple months. The most recent one was this guy who spent a year arguing with them on the phone for an erroneous $2000 charge. Comcast ended up calling the guy’s work and getting him fired because he wouldn’t pay their bogus charges.
Just… Not gonna get involved with a company like that.
Back to the stream! The internet speed thing means I can’t stream my League of Legends games. League of Legends eats up to much of my bandwith. If I stream at the same time the video quality will be reduced and my League game suffers some lag problems as well where I can’t react as fast to stuff in the game.
This is fine. I can get by without streaming League, but it creates another issue.
I’ve been wanting to stream my Sunday hangouts with my friends. We get together to play D&D and some video games nearly every Sunday.
The video game we play most often is League. We play at least one game every Sunday.
So if I’m streaming on Sundays, there’s gonna be this random gap in the stream when I leave to play League.
And this is also very strange for a Twitch channel. I imagine a viewer being like, “You’ve stopped streaming so you can play League of Legends? The most popular game on Twitch?”
Another option I’ve considered is throwing a switch to reduce stream quality while I’m playing League of Legends on Sunday. That’s probably a good compromise. I wish AT&T just offered better internet speeds though.
The final thing I’d like to do for the stream is to establish a weekday night where I stream every week on that night. Even if its just for half an hour I’d like to have some consistency. I think that’s the best way to build a fan base. Along with wearing funny hats.
I got a program called HearthstoneTracker to generate some statistics on my Hearthstone matches.
Do I win more against a certain type of class? Do I win more when I’m playing a certain class? Which matchups are favorable for which class? Which class have I been playing against the most lately? Do I win more often going first or second? Am I making enough money in Arena for it to be worthwhile?
Hearthstone Tracker collects the data that I can then use to answer those questions. It even has graphs!
It’s a small download and it runs in a separate window while you play Hearthstone. You can minimize the window or even have the program stored in the tray if taskbar space is precious to you.
The program may collect a lot of statistics but it has a few issues.
Originally the program collected stats through a screen capture system. This is fine if you always keep the game open, but I like to do other things while I play (like writing blog posts).
I created a workaround for that through a little bit of window feng shui.
The program developer has since come up with a way to grab data from the stream going on to the internet or something.
And somehow that method is even worse. I don’t know how it manages to get the length of a game wrong every single time, but it does. There’s an option to manually enter the times along with changing which class you played, which class you played against, how many turns the game took, etc. But who wants to do that manually? That’s why I got the program in the first place!
Other than that it performs fine. It detects who won and who you were playing against. Ultimately that’s all that matters.
The Tracker also has a neat feature after you finish an Arena run. You can manually enter your rewards and it keeps a running total at the bottom of the application.
I’ve tested HearthstoneTracker against other tracking applications out there, Track-o-bot and HearthStats, and I found HearthstoneTracker to be the best one. If you’re interested in something that will keep track for you, I’d definitely recommend the little program!