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

Itinerary (or: How Nuts will I *really* be the Next Two Weeks)

Well, my vacation will start this evening, with Dexcon 2008. In reality things really will start tomorrow (where I will stay at a nearby hotel this time, cashing in on HHonors VIP points). This convention ends on Sunday, July 20.

However, I’ll be going home Sat night as I’m flying to my father’s house in MO. This will mark the second time I’ve been able to make it down there, the first being in Dec as my original plans were deep-sixed from a company re-org. With luck, I’ll make the connecting flight at Denver (and yes, per a comment on UO I am beginning to think we should consider a Mysterium there one year). More worrisome is my first experience with the Newark Airport parking lots; My father says that security is not a huge issue, but distance may (can be a mile or more of walking). We’ll see, since I don’t mind walking too much.

My return flight is on Thu 7/24 where I’ll likely be home around midnight. That gives me enough time to clean up, rest, and re-prep for a 3 AM train ride to Boston on Sat.

That’s *The Plan* anyway. Keep your eyes open through the next week and a half, to see how well things fit (oh and yes I SHALL rant as needed!)…

/salute
–TSK

OK, What’s Next?

Anyone who’s been a die-hard fan of ‘West Wing’ should recognize that quote: It’s from President Bartlett, of course, said an uncountable number of times.

I bring it up because it’s what I’ve been thinking all weekend. What, really, is next for us all?

Cyan has not said anything yet, that I’ve seen as of now anyway. Most feel that this to them is the end, and perhaps also a beginning. I don’t know; I’m personally not fond of speculation when there’s no information at all to speculate on. It’s something I learned the hard way during my busier time in SL, and has helped me keep my head in times of stress at work.

The community as a whole is en-route to another diaspora, a course to what I’ll term Interregnum II (like SuperGram, I just won’t say its the end either; I’ve invested and even sacrificed too much – far, far too much – to just think that its been for naught). A large portion of the group are looking at the two virtual worlds, Second Life and There. I still intend to help with that (a welcome guide tailored for the community), as the writing exercise will do me good in more ways than one. Another portion is looking at the more traditional MMOs – of those, Guild Wars and Eve Online appear to be at the top. I can’t comment on either as I’m not interested in spending any more money right now; That’s going to RL endeavors now, such as my health, and the health of my mother.

For my own plans, they have not changed. I’ve had my final fun at the Parade. I spent time yesterday finishing Prime for what may be the last time, and I now have every spark except two: K’Veer and Myst. Other than some final, quiet meanderings, I’d like to quietly fade out. I’ve been retired from virtual worlds and other Massive environments, and have no intent of getting back into them now (though I still like to poke my head in from time to time). For me, there’s still new things ahead of me in the Real World, challenges that I know I can meet now.

All because of the power of community. Because its not just about one person changing many; It’s also about many inspiring one. :)

Shorah B’shemtee, and best of luck of all of you.
/salute
–TSK

Final Hurrah I (3/7-8) – Informal Invitation

I will be spending some time this weekend in the Cavern, both for grabbing personal video and seeing what I had missed this past year. This is an informal invitation to follow along, help out, and generally have a good time. :) My KI number is 131567 for those wanting to track.

For this weekend, I will be starting sometime around 8 PM Fri Cavern Time (MST, or GMT-7 I believe) with a walk through the *original* 2005 Parade route (the one in the City); This started at the stairs near the Kadish Museum doors (the stairwell over by the hollowed ‘tree’). From there I will get the remaining markers needed to gain access to marker quests. This will only be a couple hours or so, since I’ll need to get some sleep before the Sat meeting.

This should probably resume around 10 AM Sat (Cavern), with a visit to GZ and other public City locations prior to the meeting. After the Guard meeting I may continue to wander around, probably to complete the Prime ages (yeah, leave me alone, I know ;) – My other avatar, Alan, did that so I *do* have a full-grown tree in a Relto). No set time when I’ll stop, but most likely after the main meeting in TeamSpeak.

If I can get There to work, I’ll be spending the evening with them. Afterward I will spend the overnight continuing my MO wanderings, finishing Prime and attending a Pod Tour if one exists.

The rest of my ‘Final Hurrah’ will continue after the Parade, *very* early the morning of the 15th, Cavern time. That will concentrate on the ‘true’ 2007 content, other than the Garden Age puzzles (I’ve done one, it was OK but tedious) and the remaining Sparks. Hopefully I’ll finally get my Watcher’s Jacket before this is over. :)

MystBlogs readers are welcome and encouraged to post a link to this entry on forums (I don’t have the time, and in fact my home PC’s been off the past two days!); Again, this is a very informal thing I’m doing and is for my own ‘farewell’ to the fun that was MO. If an actual video comes out of this, all’s the better…

/salute
–TSK

Tired

About 14 hours ago, I finally heard about what will probably be termed the ‘Second Shutdown’ for Uru Live. I had planned to spend time here venting about that, but I’m too drained emotionally to consider it. Probably for the best; There’s enough of that going around already.

Even right now, at what’s probably the lowest ebb for the community, I still feel that this could work. However, it’s now probably best done from a ‘ground-up’ re-write to fix the scalability/network factor, and that’s probably something that Cyan should best shelve for now if they want to continue to be solvent.

Perhaps the Writers and Maintainers can work it out instead; If so I plan to keep an eye on that, finally get Blender fired up again, and do something with those Ahra shells (I may consider a change of venue though, closer to the link-in point if possible – I finally want a permanent home for my old Memorial Gardens from Second Life).

Again, my hat’s off to you Rand; Despite everything that’s occurred, you’ve persevered and tried – Thank You. My original answer to your 2004 post back at the Ubi forums is still valid: This concept is a very unique one, and should be kept alive in some form – even if that means letting the community give it a try now.

As to my own future with Uru, I already had more permanent plans to step back from all this before the announcement; Not because of anything the community has done, but because of unrelated personal matters that I need to pursue. Most of these are things I never would have considered doing if it was not for y’all, so don’t think I’m leaving because of disappointment – nope, it’s because you’ve all helped me grow as a human, and you should be proud of that.

I will remain to be more of an ambassador from the Cavern, its ideals, and what it can do for people. Otherwise, my last act (for now!) will be a semi-quiet affair: One last march, one last gathering, and quietly walk away.

From that point on, I will probably be more involved with Second Life, as that was always my personal ‘Plan B,’ and already have a group of friends there. I may also take a peek now and then into There, but it’s less likely. No other MMOs, however – sorry.

But while we await the end, let’s enjoy the final trip, and argue later. Have Fun all…

/salute
–TSK

There is only ONE Guard…

[And, in theory, I’m currently captain of it – well, what’s left of it anyway.]

I see that the (at times) heated discussion regarding what Uru / Myst Online was, is, and will be has spilled over to MystBlogs.

As to what my opinions are about the whole thing – I don’t have any (that I intend to directly disclose anyway). I took the ‘Honor’ in the old Honor Guard rather seriously, and always felt it was a community construct, connecting the players to common causes despite their expected differences (and regardless of the cause – as long as it was non-IC or relatively so).

I still feel that way, so it’s not in my best interest to discuss my feelings about the current discussion – other than to be a bit miffed about placing folks in this ‘old guard/new guard’ pigeonhole (gives my old role here a bad name ;) ).

I’m going to be very frank though – I really started getting deeply involved with Uru when Pepsi died (damn, it still chokes me up when I think about that). I realized then that I could care a lot about someone I almost never knew, despite seeing the occasional post on a forum here and there. In that respect I ‘got’ the community bug big time, and dedicated myself to promote this rather odd, supposedly dead game that just won’t die.

My ‘Alan Kiesler’ avatar/account in SL is a prime example of that dedication – a lot of what I did back then was geared toward showing folks there the uniqueness of the Myst/Uru experience in general, and getting another network of friends in the process (back then I was hedging my bets in case the UU experiment failed to take off). And my dedication and duty as an Honor Guard – and later Color Guard Captain – was another.

Right now (with enough of a ‘heads up’ via PM/email), if any community/guild/Cyantist pointed me in a direction you wanted me to appear in the Cavern, for any community-minded reason, I’ll be there (barring work obligations of course). And if you REALLY give me enough time, I may be able to drum up an actual group under the ‘Guard’ banner for better coverage. However, regular Cavern visits are just not possible anymore for me and my rather weird and wild schedule; My time is best served nowadays ‘offline,’ here in weblogs, forums, and (hopefully again) Age Building tools.

I care about the people in Uru – ALL OF THEM – and will stand watch no matter what happens over time.

/salute
–TSK

Recap of 2007 / What Kept Me From MOUL Recently

Various discussions on the MystOnline forum has prompted a good point from SuperGram, which I wanted to address more publicly here, regarding my own absence the past several months (and why I’ll be scarce for a couple more). It’s going to end up being a recap of my activities for 2007, after the last St Pats Parade (which was around when the DST Hell ended and the next round of work stuff began).

So, in no major order, what was happening with me in ’07:

The DST Hell: Already mentioned in past posts for the year, it was no small feat in making sure that 1200+ hosts across two continents were ready for the DST changes – in eight weeks. ‘Nuff Said.

Travian Hell/Bitterness: My one major tactical mistake of the year (long-term) was getting involved with the browser MMO Travian. Short-term, it was fun, and really cool – I got to interact with a bunch of really nice folks and I hope, one day, to meet some of them RL. But this reminded me of my old personal promise, which was never to get involved in a combat-oriented MMO again (Diablo II was the last one – if you could count it as such – and 9/11 ended that).

As Travian approached its endgame (as they play instances in 10-12 month ’rounds’), involvement increased dramatically. It ended up beginning to affect my life enough that my boss noticed, and asked me to cut back on whatever I was doing; I did one better and quit, after realizing that I got caught into ‘addiction’ mode again, which is easy for me to do in this sub-genre. This realization of course left me bitter about both that game specifically (for additional reasons I won’t go into) and computer gaming in general.

I’m currently on a a forced detox from online environments to get me out of that state of mind (really, you don’t want me in-cavern just now); I should (hopefully) re-appear with regularity sometime next month. The fact that I’m following and posting on Uru/MOUL forums again is a good sign that I’m ready to re-dedicate some time to this.

Work & RegNMS Hell: I’ve posted before about RegNMS too; Though as an individual wanting the markets to do well, I’m happy about this change, as someone having to deal with its infrastructure changes I’m not at all pleased about it (mostly because that every growth calculation I ever used in the past 7-10 years got tossed out the window in the course of ONE MONTH).

Work & Moving Datacenters: In mid-Dec, we had the pleasure of ending a 16-month datacenter move and shutdown project. The fact that every server that I was given to move did so without major incident was an extra plus for me, but costed me my sanity for awhile (dropping Travian, above, helped with that tremendously). The main upside of the whole thing is that I have a desk again (after 6 years on 3rd shift – nearly half my time with the company – this is a big thing to me). The long-term downside is that I have to commute again, but with a fair amount of Uru/MOUL work being done through forum and other outside stuff, it should not affect things going forward.

Personal Health: 2007 was the year that I really started dabbling with trying to get something akin to ‘in shape’ again. I’m not looking to lose any major weight (I like being 180 lbs, as I didn’t feel drunk for a week after donating blood – like what happened when I was 140 lbs). Instead, I am more interested in getting back the strength and stamina that I had back when I started work – preferably at my current weight.

To that end, I’ve devoted more of my time dabbling with various types of exercise; Right now I’m having fun with a place called Tiger Shulman’s (despite their website being my initials getting me annoyed), and doing their routines instead of traditional exercise (which I did first half of the year) has more forcefully sparked other areas of my health to be looked at. I had my first physical in nearly two decades, just a couple months ago; Ended up that I’m very short on D3 (no surprise since I get very little real light) and the doctor has wholeheartedly endorsed what I’m doing now. I’m also working again on dealing with my acne, which is just plain annoying.

My Mother’s Health: Not the least by any stretch, but as I have financial responsibilities to my mother (who has no health insurance atm – she’ll hopefully have MediCare next year) that has taken some of my time last year – and will continue to do so for now. The distance between here and her house is problematic at times (read: traffic getting worse), which is making me re-think when I visit.

—–

These are the primary factors that I’ve been away, and will determine how much time I’ll be on in the future. I do intend to re-allocate time for MOUL again, that’s a given; It’s just the amount of that time actually in-cavern will likely be smaller.

/salute
–TSK

The Next PC – Considerations

As I mentioned previously, I’m in the middle of working on my next PC. I’ve been using a Shuttle SN25P for about 1.5 years and its beginning to show some problems (most of which are probably due to the single-core Athlon 3500+).

The most telling thing about my recent Myst Online experience is this screenshot from Task Manager, showing a typical stroll in the City:

Shuttle CPU performance with MOUL

Many of those plateaus of 100% CPU correspond to my stuttering and hanging while moving around. Network monitor on the other tab was basically 0-1% (despite the upgrade to my new Gigabit Gaming Router, which has increased my download speeds nearly 5x). Graphics also does not appear to be an issue – I have a 7800 GT and was able to resize the MOUL screen multiple times during my travels with no appreciable affect (turning off shadows was the only help, but that’s a known problem ;) ).

Anyway, other than the above mentioned router (which apparently I should have replaced LONG ago), I’ve so far picked up the following items:

CASE: CoolerMaster Cosmos 1000 (NewEgg Reviews)

Since I’m ditching my SFF craze with this new build, I have to start totally from scratch (SFF systems like the Shuttle tend to be bought as ‘barebone’ cases with a custom case, PSU, and mainboard). Admittedly going all the way to a full tower case is a bit extreme, but this allows me more room to work in and much more flexibility than I’ve had for so long.

PSU: Semi-Generic, single 12V rail, modular plugs, 750W

I took what I could get here, since getting a single 12V rail *and* modular plugs was rather hard to find. It appears to be working.

CPU: Intel Q6600 Quad-Core, 2.4 ghz, G0 Stepping

Going straight to Quad may sound like overkill, but as I mentioned before (and again confirmed by NewEgg reviews) it was the best price-point while still being relatively future-proof. It should get even cheaper now with Penryn coming out. Oh, and apparently its a dream for overclocking (don’t normally care about that, but it gives me the option if I wanted to). The G0 version is smaller wattage; Even though its minor, it will add up over time both in cooling cost and electric costs in general.

GPU: My existing 7800 GT

After getting a couple apps that could query the video card in depth, I learned that it has a 256-bit memory bus. Between that and 256 meg of video mem, I should be fine. A new cooler from Zalman is awaiting the card though. ;)

MAINBOARD: Gigabyte GA-P35-DS4 (Currently in DOA Return)

I’ve been discussing P35 v X38 chipsets with Craig; He bought a gaming insanity via X38 (Northbridge on his was already waterblocked, which fit in with his cooling system). I’m wanting to do medium-duty stuff so P35 should fit me well while still being about 70% the cost of his board.

Unfortunately it was DOA. I just dropped it off for NewEgg’s RMA process, and we’ll see how that turns out.

MEMORY: 4 Gig of A-Data memory, two sticks

‘Nuff Said. I know that WinXP won’t see all of it, and Vista I want nothing to do with, so I’m probably going to dual-boot with something like NexentaOS or perhaps Solaris 10 x64 itself. Still thinking about that (and Apple should really consider releasing OS-X for use on an ‘ordinary’ PC – Leopard doesn’t look too bad, and its desktop is much more evolved than Sun’s).

HDD: Um, well…

I already have several disks of various sizes and SATA I/II compatibility (none of them larger than 320 gig, and those aren’t even fully used). However, just about all of them hold some data or other from prior systems which I never finished migrating. Again, I’m still working out what to do here while the mainboard is out for RMA (more accurately, I’m putting off a massive number of data shifts to free up a SATA-II disk :p ).

COOLING: Currently, Air (emphasis on silence, and low heat) with the possibility of water later

I would like to be able to have this system running 24/7 in my bedroom, even in the summer. To that end I’m working toward both ultra-quiet and low power. This has toned down some of my purchases above – in particular the motherboard, but the CPU and Video is also a consideration. Craig has an nVidia 8800 GTS with a waterblock on it (after CPU and Northbridge); Nearly ALL of the heat transferred to his cooling tower (in another room!) is from the 8800, and it gets HOT. I’m not interested in that, thanks.

The CPU cooler is currently the stock Intel one; I don’t like how its attached (it may have contributed to my RMA) so am looking at 3rd party coolers for the silence market. Water is possible to me (Craig had just the CPU and North chip on water at first – no appreciable heat) and given the right price I’ll go for it.

OK, this has gotten long enough. I’ve got about 2-3 weeks before its imperative to get this system up and running stable before the next Season of MO:UL. By then I should have a better idea what I’m going to do, and will post an update.

–TSK

Re-Returning – And an Apology

*wave*

First of all, I’d like to apologize to various folks both in MystBlogs and in Myst/Uru in general. It’s been a horrifically busy few months, and I’ve not been that out-of-touch in some time.

Anyway, there’s lots to talk about what I’ve been doing during that time, but it summarizes to:

-> Travian Endgame in S1.com, and my eventual leaving it due to work having a chat regarding my performance during that time. :p It was probably for the best anyway.

-> Work is, as usual, insane. We’ve steadily been getting rid of the old site next door to home, and enough stuff was moved that I finally have a desk again at the newer datacenter up north. :) I’m down to two major systems to move, and one of them will go this week (I hope).

-> Trying something new in the fitness front, namely this. A bit over the top perhaps, but it’s helped quite a bit. Unfortunately the increased social contact has gotten me more colds than I used to have, but oh well.

-> And, unfortunately, looking for the ‘next PC.’ I’ve my roommate to blame for that; He finally got a game he could not play on his old P4 (Dirt), and went off to do a complete rebuild of his PC’s innards (including his first PCI-e 16x card). Amusingly, we may end up with very similar systems this time around – I picked the ‘winning’ processor (Intel Q6600) and he decided to go straight to X38 chipset using an Asus RoG Mainboard. I’m still debating sticking to the older P35 (and therefore an MSI LanParty board), but I have to admit he’s got a winning combo (other than his decision to buy Vista -ICK!!!).

Looking forward to see what will happen for the MO:UL season closer. Probably will not be able to login until Friday anyway, but we’ll see.

/salute
–TSK

Three Years in Second Life

The evening of this past friday (6/29) marked exactly three years since I registered the ‘Alan Kiesler’ account in Second Life. Though officially I left the Orientation island today (7/2) due to a bad crash and RL stuff, I logged in that night to hop around my old haunts.

Upon reaching the ‘Myst Online’ island sim (the GameTap sponsored replacement for Telador, btw), I found a group of folks playing ‘Heek (sort of – no less buggy there than it is in MO:UL ;) ). It was really cool to be able to walk in for the first time in a LONG while and just talk about Uru – especially while in SL, since that kind of ‘bridging’ is what I like to do best.

Imagine my surprise then, when I find out one of the folks at the table is Brad’li from the UO forum. He’s not been able to login to GameTap or MO:UL since it left the new beta, so I find it slightly ironic to learn that it was my own pics that got him over to SL as an alternative; My main calling in SL was (and still is) promoting Uru.

I ended up spending the next half-hour or so helping with the expected gaps in detailed documentation that SL is well-known for, as well as a small amount of L$ to start out with (which brings up the economy questions Gwyn brought up recently, but that’s a different rant).

I’m always happy to run across cool life coincidences like this, so it was particularly fitting to have one in SL at the 3-year mark.

–TSK