(Almost) September Update

Well, if I’m not going to post as often as I normally did (due to work and other obligations), then I’ll at least try to update once a month. ;)

Anyway…

Mysterium – The return trip from Spokane was uneventful, though delayed a day due to the illness. There was a three hour layover in the Seattle airport and used that time to catch up on work (once I found someplace that gave me *wired* access for the VPN connection – yay!). As one of the ‘staff’ I’ve been involved in post-con discussion, though nothing major (from my end) that needs worrying about just yet.

Hoboken – Hot, humid, and recently raining again due to the remnants of hurricane season. *sigh* Things at least began to get cooler a couple days ago, and I’m enjoying what walking time I can get in.

There was also that little thing about the plane/heli crash on the Hudson corridor a couple weeks ago. One of the piers here was pressed into service by the NTSB for the following week, which was interesting – until I saw the mobile coroner’s office on-site. Gah.

Eve Online – My character is currently waiting 4 weeks, while two skills for a special mining ship get trained. In the interim, I decided to make lemonade out of lemons, use the (semi-useless) time card from the Atari box (called a GTC) and convert it into in-game currency for purchasing said ship. :) I’ve also been following the EBank crisis; Thankfully I was too new to have done anything with them, but its been very interesting – as someone who works for the Financial Sector – to watch a virtual bank attempt to struggle out of a crisis similar to the one RL banks are facing today.

During this interim, Steam has given me an opportunity to do a little ‘side experiment’ which is turning out pretty well. More on that later.

—–

That’s about it for now. Busy, as usual. :)

–TSK

Mysterium

As one of the group helping with Mysterium this year (and this is possibly my only chance to visit Spokane in awhile), I’m finishing plans to go. As things stand so far – and despite that I’m traveling from US/Eastern/NJ – it’s been pleasantly cheaper than my insane two-week jaunt last year.

Flight – $420 (EWR to GEG)
Hotel – $320 (4 nights, applied a discount code to Travelocity which nuked the fees and taxes)

May still add a car to that (since my flight out is 5 AM on Monday!), I’ve got time to consider that at least. :)

But comparing to last year, I spent nearly $700 on a round-trip to Branson, MO (I stayed at my father’s house). Plus the hellish cost of parking at EWR for five days ($90 I think). So I still think I’m doing well over last year.

My only gripe so far is the flight; Newark to Spokane requires flying to Seattle first, which I consider a waste. After all, the same model plane is being used for the leg from Seattle to Spokane; If it were a small ‘hopper’ jet like the ones used at Branson, I’d understand, but why not direct? *sigh* Ah well, can’t have everything.

Anyway, so far, so good…

/salute
–TSK

Two Anniversaries

This weekend, for most, marks one year since the MO:UL@Gametap shutdown. The past week I’ve been drawn more to this same (Easter) weekend two years ago.

That was the first time that I did a successful village takeover in Travian (this was on a server before the Gold system – or even a US server – existed). Wandering back to that game, I realize I still have good memories of Travian too, despite my problem with playing any type of MMO. I earned another new group of friends, and also had a chance to show to myself that I again can step up and lead (first within the local alliance, and then within the meta-alliance at endgame level). I just wish I can participate more in such things without getting so overboard about it; Not just in money, but in time…

Still, despite that, I did have fun. I got to see the Eder D’Uru project in SL for the first time, and am very impressed how far they’ve gotten. In particular, the heek table; I remember the original, which was coded in Telador and was functional shortly before the island was shutdown for other uses. One great quote on CyanChat regarding the project – can’t remember who at this point, sorry – mentioned how much respect they had for Cyan’s work, after having to use SL’s scripting system (a ‘joy’ that I experienced quite a bit myself ;-).

The meeting in There was mostly to chat; I didn’t mind, since it was still a chance to relax and meet folks I’ve not spoken to as far back as Mysterium 08. Plus, I was desperately in need of sleep by that point.

In all, a good weekend. And one where we, as a community, were able to come together despite how scattered we are right now. To repeat my toast earlier in CC:

*raises mug* To the Community.

[*One* community, I may now add – ‘fah uru’ I believe, which if so is fitting…]

/salute
–TSK

Pics Link

Current location of images I’ve made public (and easily reachable):

http://sungak.net/zenpic/

For those on the main page (*waves at Dad*) its under ‘Misc’ in my links area (top of left sidebar).

TODO: Need to move the old Telador archive there (from its old location, that is not easily found by search robots), and do some minor cleanup of what I already moved into the image browser. Also need to create a watermark that the software will integrate into viewed images. And good grief, get a current pic of my SL avatar up there!

I also need to archive and shutdown the IC site (T_S_Journal), as I specified a while ago there. But I just spent last night going over the Medicare-related docs and forms that came in for my mother, and my head is reeling a bit.

–TSK

Yep, I’m Still Alive…

… And can ya guess what I’ve been playing lately? ;-)

Actually, it really was Portal until a short while ago. I made the mistake of downloading the demo of Bejeweled Twist (which, a few days later, I unlocked for the full version). I now have versions of the regular HL games that work with my current monitor resolution; And with steam’s version of the Blue Shift hi-def pack enabled, even third-party mods look nicer. It’s made me wonder why I didn’t get involved with Steam sooner.

Much like Uru, actually….

I’ve heard the news of course – Seemed like every other MystBlogs post talked about it for the weekend. And I first got word of it myself last Sat, through an announcement sent through the Steam community group ‘Uru Rocks.’ Still letting the news sit with me, and seeing what followup news comes from Cyan. I may post a response via an article to GoMe, or contribute to someone else’s ‘reaction request.’ Dunno yet, but whatever I eventually say it will be mirrored here.

The more interesting news is that I’ve begun to poke about with the Mysterium Committee, to see if I can help in any capacity. More on that once I get acclimated to the idea of helping others in larger scales again (something I stopped doing when I initially got disillusioned with Second Life – mid-2006 I think).

Work, of course, has been ‘interesting’ (Financial Sector, remember?). I’m half-tempted to tear down my earlier ‘relax’ post, since that looks rather lame now, but I still have my job – which, unnervingly, means something right now. 2009 is on-track to be even more interesting (which I’ll have to stop discussing now, as we once again hit my personal ‘ethics’ line which I refuse to cross).

*sigh* Ah well, I suppose we’ll just have to see what the future brings us all, eh? Lets hope its for the better…

/salute
–TSK

Full Circle

[This is a local re-post of an article submitted for the October GoMe Newsletter. They’ll be pleased to note that I’ll be submitting items for the next couple months, in part inspired by ‘recent discussions’ within the community. Stay tuned, and hunker down…]

—–=====—–

For the first time in three years, I stopped by NYC during 9/11 this past week. The event meant a lot to me, as I lost co-workers (who were also good friends). But, it also drastically shaped who I was, and how I would eventually find – and interact with – the overall Myst and Uru communities.

I have always had problems with losing people – I made very few friends when I was young, and changes I made to my life since then have caused me to want to actually do something as a ‘personal rememberance’ for those losses. That is, in part, why I now work late at night (as of Dec 2001).

Despite my starting Uru via the Ubisoft ‘Accounting Error,’ my first full introduction to their community was actually with the launch of Until Uru. As part of that, I joined my first ‘external’ forum at Guild of Greeters (since their shard was the first I heard about). About six months later, that was followed by Uru Obsession, due to the ‘Pats Parade. Active involvement through other forums has grown and shrunk over time, as well as (nowadays) through MystBlogs.

And with that, I discovered friendship through community – something that was new to me, being in prior groups that were normally devisive. We’ve had our own issues of course, but overall its been much better than some of the groups I’ve been with. I’ve also experienced loss within this community, which I’ve used as a force for keeping things alive in my own way. Either through Second Life(tm) or external events (like local game conventions – including, currently, a LARP), I’ve continued to promote Uru and its potential both as a game itself and its unique community.

So, here we are, full circle. MO:UL, our second attempt, is gone, and we’re into a Second Interregnum. We are awaiting yet another attempt at rebirth. And, most of all to me, we’ve lost community members that we all care about, and who will not see that rebirth. That, again, has re-charted my own course; I am not as interested in MO:RE as I am the community as a whole, and will foster that as much as possible.

–TSK

Going Forward…

I woke up this afternoon to one of my ‘forward looking’ dream-images (some of which, over the years, have come true to varying degrees). This time, it was a series of weblog posts about various things in the Myst community, but nothing at all related to Uru itself.

This makes me wonder if I really am at a new state in my life, regarding Uru. I’ve said to several people now two possibly conflicting statements:

1) Uru *can* work, but it needs some dire work to get there. This is the essence of my old ‘Response to Rand’s Letter‘ post on the Ubi forums, and even five and a half years later I stick by that.

2) With MO:UL’s closure, I’m not going to participate (other than Guard appearances for stuff like the ‘Pats Parade) on any successor. My #1 gripe at the Ubi Shutdown was that we never got any real chance to see Uru stand on its feet in a ‘paid’ format, and that’s all I ever wanted. I’m not going to get into what happened with MO:UL that made it not survive – plenty of discussion there already! – as that is not the point to me. I got to finally see it as a paid service, and as the cliche goes ‘my work is done.’

Now, I want to stress that this does not mean I don’t like Uru, and don’t want it to survive. Go back and re-read my first statement, including the Ubi post, as well as various forum posts over the years. I care, end of story. If you think otherwise – again, spend a couple days and read through my posts on UO and GOG forums, as well as here on the weblog. Then come to me with a good (and non-flaming!) argument, and I’ll listen.

But, as of last year, my focus has shifted (possibly because of the first Interregnum via UU). To me, the community itself matters more than what venue(s) we seek together. Its what drives me today as a whole – even outside that community. I still talk about Uru, and evangelize about it (though to a MUCH lesser extent than I used to). My main talking point now is its extensive and friendly community; Though not without its detractors (who constantly remind me of Prokofy) I think we do better than most groups.

And that’s something I can really rally around, until the end of time if needed.

–TSK

Much Fun /w Upgrades…

Lots of things in the last couple days:

-> Upgrade both my sites to WP 1.6.1; Unfortunately that also required I switch off of Fantastico and onto something called ‘Simple Scripts,’ but the interface does not look *too* bad and I guess I’ll just have to watch and see…

-> The two notebooks had their HDDs swapped. Now the HP has the Sager’s 7200 RPM disk, which makes it much snappier but also quite a bit hotter (I still have a 40 gig lying around from the Slug that, if faster than 4800 rpm, may become the ‘final’ disk here). The other downside was that I cannot find the HP notebook’s XP media disk. So…

-> The HP now is running Debian. Also, very good response, snappy boot time, and looking good – other than wireless (WTF is Etch doing on 2.6.18 still?). *sigh* I downloaded the ‘lenny’ netinstall ISO and will try that next.

-> The Sager is pretty much a write-off at this point, due to a combo of its weight and the lack of a even-close-to-modern video card. Again, I’m willing to part it out, for anyone interested, or sell the unit as a whole. It *will* play Uru TPOTS/CC just fine. It just barely (today) will do SL, but it should be OK with There.com as well.

/salute
–TSK

MA to NJ, and Mysterium After Action Report

Yeah, I’m a week late in posting this, but still not quite back into work due to being away nearly 2 weeks…

So, the drive back to NJ was about 4.5 hours this time. Again, I was tired (Sunday night I was up later than expected, even if I didn’t actually eat anything at The Melting Pot). Left around 5:30 for an arrival time around 10:30 (I actually stopped by my desk at work around 10:00 to say hi and let folks know I was actually back). If I try that kind of driving again, I’m going to change the leaving time so that I hit the approach to NY around 10:00 instead of 08:00 so that I don’t need to invoke detours on the Nav…

Myterium itself was cool, if a bit unstructured. Friday was more-or-less that way out of necessity, since folks tend to wander in during the day. Signups occurred then, mostly for Tomb once that was announced. And I ended up missing Robert’s presentation since I did not know where it was being held (got to at least meet him though, however brief that was).

Saturday morning/afternoon was dominated by the various field trips, which again was dominated by Tomb but other things were going on. I just stayed at the hotel for the day, and had a late lunch at the mall next door. The evening’s marker hunt looked interesting, but I did not participate since I’m not into geocaching (which it was related to). The ‘What would Atrus do?’ segment though was absolutely hilarious, and would be interested in trying that next time…

Sunday. That morning was the memorial vid for Wolfie. Before that, I had tried multiple times to write something in his book, but could not work myself up to do it. I eventually did, early Sunday when no one was in yet, but had to practice the wording somewhat earlier in the morning. The video itself was extremely moving – no clue how Eleri got through making it, but thank you. I wanted to say something but I was too choked up, and disappeared to my room for an hour or so afterward to get myself back in one piece.

The rest of Sunday was finishing various things up – like the Heek games – and Closing. I’m used to actual conventions where they have these ‘set in stone’ setups laid out and you sign for events (which you then arrive at the time specified!). This was more of a free-for-all, mega meet-and-greet, which I had no issues with (That was essentially explained as much during Closing, which devolved more into a Debriefing). :) I’m tracking down a few things in order to followup on suggestions that were discussed.

/salute, and Thank y’all for having me,
–TSK

Travel Update 2 – MO to MA

So, the flight home from MO to NJ was delayed a bit from Memphis last Thurs, but otherwise was a nice enough trip. And I had some ironically amusing fun with the Newark Airport long-term lots (since it was the first time I left the car there). But the week was fun, things worked out, and that’s what matters.

As for Boston, I left Hoboken by car at 8 AM Fri morning and arrived at the hotel a bit after 2 PM. The actual travel time (per the car) was supposed to be under 4 hours, but I needed to stop regularly to stay awake. ;) I learned a lot more about car travel in doing this, so it was definitely a good idea. I expect the trip home to be quicker, whenever that starts (sometime tonight I hope).

Mysterium has been great; It’s my first one and I’m now interested in going to more as my life permits. Wolfie’s memorial video/music/etc just finished playing a little while ago, so need some time before saying anything more about this weekend (twas a bit more touching than I had expected – very well done). Probably tonight…

/salute
–TSK