Another Year, Another Post

Well, 2012 was interesting to say the least.

The biggest thing?  A late storm named Sandy was a real head-cracker over here, unfortunately – a visit to Hoboken today showed that some places are still rebuilding.

The second biggest?  I got to shut down a 65 TB disk array that I helped bring online 6.5 years ago.  Somewhat bittersweet actually, but its work so that’s all I’m saying.

In the ‘fun’ list is a new game – Guild Wars 2, an MMO.  While I had promised myself that I’d never go back to online gaming after Eve, overall I’m glad that I poked my nose into this one; It’s certainly casual friendly – with the right friends anyway.  The only problem I’m having now is not directly game related – Certain class play styles are not very good for my damaged wrists, so I’m experimenting with most of them to see what will work safely.  At the moment I’ve found two, which is good.

My next personal project will be the next PC.  Stats will go up once I’ve got it stable, but I already have the parts here.  Hopefully I’ll have things working this week.

Update – Fall 2012

So, It’s just over a year since last major update, where Irene was about to visit.  Well, I ended up sleeping through it.  *chuckle*  The only major aftermath was a couple of mice that decided to snoop around my PC down here in the basement, but I did not know about that until I came back from a Labor Day vacation.  Argh.

Anyway, the rest of 2011 was reasonable, but ‘Snowtober’ (a major snowfall around Halloween) was interesting, to say the least.  I was on-call during that too, and ended up on two different conference calls from home.  Thankfully (and despite so many trees around the house) the Internet link has stayed up.

This year has been an interesting one so far, mostly around work.  I’ve been extremely busy, and yet I’m also very happy about it (due to some of the projects I’m finally able to take care of).  There’s been some down moments, as always, but I promised not to make this site about work, and that’s all I’ll say about it for now.

Of course, it is also a few days to 9/11 again.  I’m beginning to detect the tension that happens around this time, but it’s not nearly as bad as last year.  And someone, earlier this year, gave me some suggestions about how to cope with that – suggestions that really have helped.

Overall, an interesting year.  And I’ve not even mentioned Eve Online yet (in short? – I finally left it).  Probably in a later post…


Painless, Pt 2

Well, deciding to move the wordpress site back to my web ‘root’ (where it should have been in the first place) has been a bit of a pain after all. Despite making all kinds of redirect setups, MystBlogs does not seem to syndicate the site anymore. And of course I’m finding a lot of external and internal linking that needs correcting (as the fresh import has changed the post URL structure). Not a big deal yet, I’m working through all that.

One nice thing so far is how few plugins I need now, in comparison to what I used to have. This new ‘Jetpack’ thing that WP included in the install has served a number of my needs, though I’ve disabled about half the features anyway. :p Three ‘quickie’ plugins used to modify comment/trackback etc behavior ended up in Core. So at minimum I’ve only needed to add in Bad Behavior so far (Akismet spam protection also came installed).

One new thing I did add is something to manage the Redirect Hell I’m in now.  It’s probably going to end up part of my main plugin list, until things cool down in a year or so.  I’m hoping Google etc will re-scan the site and re-hash everything in the new format soonish.


Well that was painless

Removal/Archive (tarballs) of all non-personal web data – Done.
Export of old site to WXML – Done.
Complete re-install from scratch – Done (including removal of /weblog, with symlink).
Re-import of old post etc data from old site – Done.
Minor copies over – Done.

Still need to get brand new plugins and install them from scratch too. But so far looks good.

Heck of a thing to do, but I honestly cannot trust the old site data after the hack attempt last Dec (that also took out Mysterium at the time).

I still need to sit down and do export/archives of any lingering MySQL databases – there are far too many at this point.

EDIT – Looks like I’ve lost my Links in the import.  Not a huge loss, will work on that later.

EDIT #2 – And now a RewriteRule to remove /weblog altogether (so that MystBlogs et al can see me, I think).  Mostly there, still need to track down a couple plugins.


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.


Upgrades, Part 2

Two good pieces of news in the notebook front:

-> Pulled out the 40 gig from its little case (the one I’ve been using to make it my Debian Slug disk) and looked up the part number on Toshiba’s site. It’s a 5400 RPM, and is the same size as the old Sager and HP disks. I can live with the 100 Meg/sec spec as given, that’s more than I’ll normally draw in most instances, other than installs. The 16 Meg buffer is a *very* nice plus though!

-> Debian ‘lenny 2’ installed just as beautifully as Etch did, with the added bonus of a working wireless card (after getting the firmware setup of course – for which a link to the appropriate instructions was included in the ‘dmesg’ boot sequence). That is a first for me and Linux, and doubly pleased when I discovered that in Linux, I had more hotspots mapped out and with better strengths than in WinXP (most locked though, good move in an apartment building ;) ).

So, new plans:

1) Put 40 gig disk in HP, re-install ‘Lenny 2′ and get wireless up again.

2) 60 gig disk goes in the external case (which is USB-2 and FireWire), re-format with ext3 and FAT16 partitions. Probably 40/20, respectively.

3) Drop a VirtualBox Guest OS (WinXP) on the external disk. See if I can get the old Half-Life games running on it, plus a couple other things that are needed for work (and is only in, or works better with, Windows – like the Exchange webmail, that is a damn sight better to use in IE).

The eventual goal – if this all works – is to look into converting the desktop to Linux, or a Linux/WinXP dual-boot (the latter by dropping in a new SATA disk just for Linux). It will be nice to finally use all 4G of the current system’s memory; It can hold 8G IIRC but I’d have to consider a dual-boot with Vista instead of XP to make that upgrade a more viable reality.

The only major issues I see in the games department are Oblivion (’nuff said) and perhaps Uru (though the CC variant I believe will run on Wine OK). Hence the sad need for a dual-boot – I don’t know if even a Quad-Core will be able to run something like Oblivion in a VM well.


PS – As so the NSLU2 ‘Slug’ body, its been put away again. Once I’m happy with Linux on the HP, it can sit on the table when not ‘on duty’ and be used as the long-duration login system. Lord, I did not realize how much I depended on UNIX console access until I actually tried a system without one…

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 as well.


Findings on Recent SL Issues (1.20 v 1.19 & earlier)

Well, purely by accident I’ve discovered a primary factor in my high-CPU usage. It was unbelievably simple – Dual Monitors.

Last Friday I caved in and bought a 24″ monitor as an upgrade to my two existing LCD workhorses – a Dell 20″ widescreen and a Dell 19″ – which were still doing OK but had intermittent problems due to age (and both had flaws when I got them anyway). Getting to the store in question that evening is another story, but I’ll just say it took 4x longer than it should have (at least I had fun dealing with the car’s nav again)…

As for this monitor, other than two stuck pixels it appears to be running happily (which is more than I could say for the two its replacing anyway). I’ll give it another week before going for the rebate that went with it.

So, of course, the first thing I did after calibrating it for my use was to fire up Second Life. The first couple of tries was problematic, as I was still tweaking the monitor for my eyes. But when I was *really* ready, I fired up the Task Manager and started recording CPU history.

Result? Originally, I was using an average of 25-30% CPU when in background (TaskMan or some other app displaying) and over 40% CPU when it was active. This is on a Quad-Core, so it was spread amongst the various cores, but this does not sound right to me; Upgrading the video card did not help either. But dropping back to one monitor dropped the CPU use to reasonable levels – 9-10% idle and 20% or so in foreground – despite having *more* screen space available. This is now directly on-par with Craig’s system, which is using the same CPU, monitor size, and class of video card (he has an original 8800 series). So, scratch one problem; However, this is an issue that Michi Lumin has been talking about since 2005 – I’d have thought this was fixed by now!

As for memory, it appears that a couple issue IDs on LL’s P-Jira summaries this (I will update this post with the IDs later). One discussed the OpenGL Vertex Buffers (which apparently is buggy atm); That should be turned off. The second outlined a memory leak related to high amounts of memory set aside for video card pre-buffering; The workaround (as presented by Nicholaz) was to keep the card memory setting (in the ‘Advanced’ submenu) to 256 or less. This makes rezzing and texture resolving slower, but I can go for very long amounts of time without crashing again.

So, for now, I’ve got SL working again to a point that I could be a regular again – *if* I’m willing to be a regular again. Like dealing with MO:RE and the Age Building stuff, I now have RL things in priority, so my online time is rather throttled nowadays. We shall see… ;-)


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,

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…