Mysterium Travel Woes – Driving Trip

Well, I’m having a slight problem, as mentioned on UO. The hotel is not actually in Boston directly, but Burlington (which is a suburb outside the normal local subway, aka the T). It is slightly available via a bus (350/351) which could be possible but that only takes me to Burlington Mall and from there I need to find a way to cross Rt 93.

I am now considering a suggestion from my father – drive from NJ. At first that sounded a but nuts to me, since I’m not certain how much sleep I’m going to get prior to the drive (my flight lands home at 11 PM on Thursday!). But I suppose if I get some extra sleep Thu morning and a quick nap before the drive, I may be able to depart around 5 AM and be there in time for Friday Reg. I’m staying until ‘Monday’ anyway, so I can leave around 00:30 (during my ‘normal’ work hours) for a nice drive home.

As a side note, the only reason I’m actually considering this is the fact that I have Nav in my car. That allows me to punch in the destination and go without worries…

Anyway, I’m effectively setting this as the plan now, so anyone interested in how a Prius works can take a look over the weekend. :)

/salute
–TSK

Travel Update 1 – Dexcon / Flight to MO

*waves from Springfield, MO*

Well, though Dexcon was not the full weekend for me, it was still pretty good.

I didn’t really *play* anything official (other than James’ LARP module). I did, however, get back into the ‘Avatar System’ LARP that pervades the Double Exposure convention system. We’ll see how that turns out; I had fun, and got ideas for their IC forum.

As for today’s flight, I’m tired, annoyed, amused, but happy. First a major portion of the route I intended to take to the airport was closed. Then a whiny kid in the row behind me (though I was able to book the exit row – woot!). And lastly a plane-swap, as the one I intended to take on the 2nd leg was broken and going to the hangar for repairs.

I’m not sure it that bodes well for the week, but I had a little fun with the 2nd flight so no worries.

–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

Popping my Head Up

I had no intent of not writing a RSS-able entry in the past two months; In fact I’ve been tweaking away at the site now and then, its just not in areas that will be noticed much by sites like MystBlogs. :p

Anyway, the obligatory ‘what’s been going on since April’ post:

-> The Slug (NSLU2-Debian), he be toast again (shortly after my last post, ironically). I’m fed up with the rather convoluted way that I have to connect to it, so I’m looking at just getting the smallest entry-PC you can get (about $200 at MicroCenter) and dump Debian on it. Maybe dual-boot it with OpenSolaris. :)

-> New video card: nVidia 8800 GT from Palit. Despite the iffy reviews that came out of NewEgg, its looking good so far. Only problem now is that I no longer have any inhibitions to add mods for Oblivion…

-> Continuing the overclock: I’m up to 3.0 Ghz on the Q6600 (that’s 375×8) and stable; Rolling back the HSF to the stock one helped with that, as well as replacement exhaust fans on the case. I will update the PC page at some point, but in most respects now my system specs match Craig’s.

-> Back on SL, heavily: After two months in There, of all things a golf tourney in SL gets me involved again. I’m fiddling with sailing a bit more too, and exploring why the durn Viewers like to crash so much (I think that’s been mostly solved as of yesterday – more testing to do).

-> planning for vacation and Mysterium: I had planned to goto Boston for Mysterium before I heard about Wolfie’s death. Now I will definitely be there, perhaps trying to make a ‘boffer safe’ Riven dagger as a demo (need materials from James – perhaps while at DexCon – or visit an appropriate store). Making a sheath for this could get complicated…

-> My health: Don’t worry, good news here. :) I’ve been experimenting with something called ‘colloidal silver’ (which, according to the FDA, I’m not allowed to explain what it does – I’m NOT kidding!). Things are progressing well, and I may bring samples of the stuff as well as the generator I use to make it.

-> Blue Belt: Last and definitely not least, I earned my Blue Belt at Tiger’s (around late April). This was despite the sore wrist going into the testing period, but I just dealt with it and endured. I really should start getting pics for this…

*Reviews the above* Ya know, even if the new MO were available today, I still don’t think I could join atm. It’s just too busy in my life. We’ll see once the servers are up again.

/salute
–TSK

Sheesh (Fun /w Comment Spam)

Ya know, It was an ideal life about one – or even two – years ago, when I started this site up. I just wanted someplace to quietly rant about things, in my own way, and to otherwise get my mind off work.

To that end, I wanted a way to prevent any major monitoring and/or admin work with the comment system. [I don’t believe in removing comments altogether, but I’ve thought about it multiple times!] Various methods were in place over time, but two are still in place for about a year now – Bad Behavior and (currently) Akismet (the latter *only* because I happen to have a WP account from the original LL weblog requiring a login – that got me a free API key in the deal).

Up until this week, I only had 30 comments tracked by Akismet as spam – not bad for a semi-known site. But in the past week, thanks to the prior post (and the mentioning of two little words) I’ve been inundated with another 18 comment spams over three days. This is impressive only because this is *after* Bad Behavior is preventing bots from even reaching here in the first place! And checking past articles related to Akismet, it appears to be due to their lagging behind (and in some cases, its also placing valid posts into its moderation queue).

So, I’m looking pretty hard at another service – Defensio – which, amusingly, Akismet’s own weblog introduced with a smile and a wave just this past winter. I’m also in the process of enabling OpenID and related referrals on my site, so that I can post to other sites without any major issues (Gwyneth’s site is a good example, actually). For WP that’s actually relatively simple – a couple of plugins – and off to the races. Will post on that later.

/salute
–TSK

Heading to the Modern (WebLog) World / Migration Guide

Just spent the last two hours doing many upgrades on the main site:

-> WordPress 2.3.x (I’d give 2.5 a whirl but Fantastico is not allowing that yet). Removing the two offending lines per the upgrade note fixed the issue of my earlier attempt.

-> Upgrade and/or removal of a bunch of the existing plugins/widgets (the most notable of which were Bad Behavior and Akismet).

-> Upgrade the theme (blog.txt) from 1.1 to 4.01. Again, latest can’t be grabbed due to WP 2.5 incompatibilities (though the idea of having gravitar support irks me – as the theme selection suggests, I prefer simple). One plus is that this version of the theme now can be done in three-column format, which I’m taking advantage of; With a few other tweaks, it now nicely fits the entire width of my old 19″ LCD with no bottom scrollbar (and still readable!).

I suppose the T_S_Journal should have the same treatment done, but I’m still debating its takedown. A peek at the UruBlogs page (my first look in about five months), shows that it has focused back to ‘external’ content *salutes to Whilyam and Tweek* and that is swaying me back to maintaining it again. I’m also an immediate fan of Tweek’s ‘markup’ for KI images and will be using that if needed.

—–

Oh, side note: I’m finally planning out the ‘guide’ for SL that I mentioned in the MOUL forum, and that some folks had approved on. The big thing that I wanted to have was something similar to Wikipedia’s NPOV (or as close to it as possible), so I’m crafting a notecard to drop on certain residents asking if its OK to include their weblog or other links on my document. This will probably include a couple established sites that are critical of the ‘Labs and have reasonable arguments.

Also – at some point – I hope to include There.com and the MMOs that most have interests in – but either with external help or lots of personal free time. I will track down a new plugin for external contact in a little bit (probably within the hour of this post) so that anyone curious can ask directly.

–TSK

Snow? What Snow? :P

It’s been snowing pretty good tonight, probably the worst I’ve seen this winter (hopefully making it the last one too). Current reports are saying that it’s not going to end until 1 AM Sat (EST), which will include a layer of ice too (argh!).

But the main reason I’m posting, is because of the rather novel way one of the apartment porters is clearing the light, fluffy snow: A high-powered leafblower. :) Works amazingly well too.

The only problem with that is he’s right under my window, keeping me awake. Oh well, at least its Friday.

/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

Brrr…

It’s been a bone-chilling, mind-numbing couple nights (with the ‘wind chill’ numbers in the single digits F) and I’m finding myself happy that tonight, it’s actually going to be slightly above freezing. Sheesh.

Anyway, I’ve been following the discussion on the MO forum that was sparked by Whilyam’s initial post (which I originally read on his weblog via MystBlogs). I will probably weigh in (both here and there) shortly Real Soon Now, as I’m now finding both extremes to be rather tiring.

Whatever I end up writing, the more expansive (and possibly meandering) version will appear here.

–TSK

New PC – Update

I have finally gotten PSP9 back on the PC, and after some pic shrinkage I can post the new PC:

The new desk layout – The Cosmos case is down on the right, and the pic helps to show its size but he’s still a bit of a beast compared to the old Shuttle (sitting between the chair and left monitor!). You can also see the new router sitting on the wood frame just left of the Cosmos – with the exception of the corporate web-VPN only working for one of us at a time, it’s been a beautiful treat.

Main interior shot – basic system, nothing fancy really. Classic (read – no LEDs!) fans, even on the video cooler. That was not as easy as I’d like, unfortunately. *sigh*

Secondary interior shot – The CPU fan really is not spinning, even with the system on and idle. It’s one of those ‘thermistor’ models; You can see the wire circling around the fins. This was originally an asset, but I’m not liking this anymore, and will probably go get a normal version of this fan in the next few days (reason coming up).

—–=====—–

HDDs – All five of my prior SATA disks are now up and in service in some form on the new system. Only the first two (a 500 and 320) are doing anything major right now, but disks 2-4 do have small swap/temp slices that I stuck various files on for load-balancing in games. ;) The smallest disk (a 120) has been placed in an external chassis for anything ‘big’ I need to deal with elsewhere (and my thumbdrive won’t cut it).

The hardest part was something I didn’t really need to do – running a DoD-style wipe of the old disks prior to bringing them in service. After MUCH searching around I eventually found eraser, which uses a system I’m happy with and is also free.

—–=====—–

CPU: For the very first time (really!) I’m overclocking the CPU. Currently, it’s bumped from 2.4 to 2.66 and 55-57C at idle (very slight, but proving the reviews that say the Q6600 can do this in its sleep – even on air). I had it running on 2.8 for awhile, but the ‘heat’ stress test of Prime95 ramped the core temps at 78C, and very noticeable heat out the back. Fan is not spinning nearly as fast as advertised based on temp ranges, so my need for a ‘normal’ one if I want to try 2.8 again.

Settings for this motherboard (Gigabyte P35-DS4 Rev 2):
-> Default (2.4 Ghz): 300 FSB, 8x
-> 2.66 Ghz: 333 FSB, 8x
-> 2.8 Ghz: 350 FSB, 8x

These were done manually, overriding Gigabyte’s in-built system on the BIOS as it was not working. No voltage changes were needed that I know of, and I’m not willing to push past 2.8 since that should be just fine for now, thanks. ;)

—–=====—–

OK, going back to my prior post – why make such a fuss over an nLite CD?

Primary reason is simple – minimal memory use at boot for the most needed features. That means (with Ghost 9, Defender and the sound control daemons running) about 240 Meg.

Next reason was the ability to boot just from the CD (integrating needed drivers for this mainboard’s RAID controllers), selecting a partition, and having a system that I can do basic operations with work (including a web-based VPN) within 40 minutes. Of course, I also have Ghost, but this also allowed a bit of customization built-in as well (saving an untold number of hours on both initial install and any emergency re-install *knock plastic*).

So far, the only mistakes in the ‘final’ CD were:

1) Removing XP’s calculator (thinking my handheld ones will do fine). NOT!
2) My choice of certain ‘modules’ which pre-installed apps for me. So far I’ve since removed a freeware VM product (don’t ask, it sucked), an IRC client (again, sucked) and the original Bittorrent (only because I was not happy about the DNA daemon running all the time – probably replace with uTorrent for a revision of this CD). I also shutdown the auto-start for YIM – lord that’s annoying.

With this PC, I’m revising my list of ‘payware’ in use (to make up for the cost of the hardware). I’ve re-added GameDrive (now absorbed for good into VirtualDrive), tossed out SecureCRT (putty has matured well enough at this point), and am contemplating an upgrade for PaintShop Pro. OpenOffice is next up for install (I’ve not installed M$ Office in YEARS on the home PCs).

That’s pretty much it; Last up for this little saga is how SL, Oblivion, and GT/MOUL are on the poor thing.

/salute
–TSK