Birthday Present!

Sly bought me a Secret Labs Titan chair for my birthday and I’m quite happy with it so far. Very comfortable, it was easy to put together and it will recline back to almost vertical if I really wanted to. Also comes with a cool pillow that will allow me to lay my head back instead of it rolling forward giving me whiplash and shocking me awake.

The chair comes with a three year warranty which the company will extend by two years if you’re willing to do a little ‘advertising’ for them through social media. See below:

CSS formatting sucks so if you want to read my message, you’ll need to highlight it with your mouse.

I don’t feel too badly about stumping for Secretlabs; seems like a good trade off for a few extra years of warranty. If the chair makes it to the 5 year mark (and it should based on the construction I witnessed as I put it together) I would probably consider purchasing a brand new one.

My previous chair was a Leap version 2 I purchased from a guy that did office renos. I’m pretty sure he resold the old chairs he scavenged to make some money on the side, not that I’m complaining. I had that chair for over 10 years and it served me well. This new chair is already making my spine do things it hasn’t done in a while and I’m quite happy with the new-found levels of support.

I would definitely suggest anyone that spends a significant amount of time in front of a computer to get something similar. You have to spend a good chunk of change on a good chair that will support your body while you destroy it from inactivity.

My Lime Addiction

No, not the fruit, the scooter company. If you’re in a larger American city (LA, Austin, Dallas, etc) you’ve already seen the bright green electric scooters littering your walkways. Here’s a quick video used as a tutorial to teach new users how to properly park your scooter at the end of a ride.

Hey, can I park it here? No? What about here? Yeah!

Lime started a pilot program in Calgary on the second week of July. The city gave them the latitude to have these devices out on the streets for people to use and to charge same people 30 cents a minute for the opportunity.

So these scooters have pretty good batteries and will last almost a full day but they eventually require recharging. Enter the Juicers!

I’ve signed up as a ‘Juicer’, a contracted employee of Lime that is tasked with gathering, charging and ‘serving’ a number of Lime scooters each day. I was provided with a couple of chargers to use in my activities and will charge an empty scooter to full in about six hours. Then I find a location out on the street to serve, or drop off, the scooter. For that sequence of activities (harvest, charge, serve) i receive a payment of $5.25 CDN for each scooter charged.

Why? Why am I doing this? What is the possible reasoning behind someone who is doing fine financially wanting to run around being a ‘Juicer’? In the rain, tonight, I asked myself that question a couple of times.

It’s tough to explain but people who actually know me will probably understand: it’s about the quest rewards! I’ve always been a big fan of Role Playing Games (RPGs) going all the way back to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Sitting around a table, rolling dice that are desperately trying to kill me and killing the (dragon, kobold colony, Orc infestation) before receiving a reward for all my hard work. +5 Vorpal Sword!

I like the small work/small reward of the ‘Gig’ economy. I like that I can make an extra $10.50 per night doing about 30 minutes (max!) combined of work. Pays for my morning coffee addiction!

The other question I get asked all the time is how much electricity am I paying for to charge these scooters? I asked one of the electronic engineers in my lab for a suggestion as to how much electricity is consumed and his suggestion was about 8 cents per scooter per night. I haven’t gotten my first full electricity bill to confirm this yet but I don’t have any reason to think it’s much more than that.

I’m going to continue doing this until they take the scooters off the road in November. I might still be interested in continuing in the spring but who knows? As long as I continue to get that mini-rush of quest complete, I’ll probably continue the activity indefinitely. I’ll update if that changes.

How to make the most of the Steam Controller: a comprehensive guide | PC Gamer

More often than not, I like using this space for storing links I might be interested in for future reference. It helps if I think the occasional visitor might also be interested.

Sly bought me a Steam Link and Controller for Xmas and I haven’t really gotten into messing around with it yet. There’s so many configuration options that it boggles the mind and can easily confuse the neophyte, such as myself. This guide does a good job of guiding you through most of the options available and setting up a very basic control scheme for most games.

I’m pretty big on alternate modes of control: I have a Logitech G27 Wheel and Pedals for my Farming Simulator fix and a SAITEK (Now Logitech) X-56 HOTAS setup for Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen.

G920 Image Copyright
Logitech G920 Wheel. Image Copyright

I eventually bought the wheel because controlling a tractor or other piece of wheeled machinery felt really bad with the M&K. There’s very few things I can’t stand more than having to tap a key repeatedly to get a vehicle to follow a simple arc. With the wheel, I just have to give it a turn and the tractor follows the exact arc I’m looking for. It really added to the realism of the sim and I enjoyed that.

The HOTAS was a different story: I’ve been pledged to Star Citizen for a few years now and it’s only back in October when I felt a need to dive into the Alpha and fly around a bit. Now THAT felt like crap. I left it but felt a need to do some space flying so bought Elite: Dangerous during a Steam Sale. I felt the same way about the Mouse and Keyboard control scheme for E:D so I did a bit of research and purchased the HOTAS.

X56 H.O.T.A.S. Image Copyright
The SAITEK (Now Logitech) X-56 Rhino HOTAS. Image Copyright

Both of these decisions have been good ones, if a bit costly.  Neither of the controllers are cheap but I’ve definitely gotten value out of the wheel (purchased in October of 2015 and had hundreds of hours put on it) but I can’t imagine playing these games without them.

So back to my new control mechanism. When used in conjunction with the Steam Link, you can sit in front of your big screen TV and enjoy some gaming with a decent controller. Now, it would take a great deal of effort on someone’s part to get me to admit that the control that is achieved with a mouse and keyboard is matched by that of a controller.  Maybe I’m old (school) but I’m still of the mind that if you’d like to shoot a baddie in the head, you need the fine control offered by a mouse. I’m going to give this a go with a couple of games directly on my computer first to get the hang of it but then who knows? Maybe I’ll be gaming from the comfort of my couch while enjoying a fine level of control and will have to eat some crow?

If you’re a PC gamer on the fence about buying a Steam Controller, give the article below a read and see if it would fill a niche in your controller arsenal.

Source: How to make the most of the Steam Controller: a comprehensive guide | PC Gamer

How Gamers Killed Ultima Online’s Virtual Ecology  – YouTube

I’ve been playing MMO’s since Everquest (EQ) but I never got into Ultima Online (UO). It had a huge following and lasted a very long time.

This video talks to Richard Garriot about how they anticipated their players interacting with the world and how they had to create sharding or instancing in order to keep the ecology working on each shard.

Apparently, humans enter an ecology and kill everything they possibly can, regardless of if there are rewards or resources that can be gained. Who would have thought it?

Short, interesting watch for those of us into MMOs.

Shadow of War: Hitting Me Right in the Feels

Here’s one of the TV spots they released today. It made me laugh and think, “Wow, that’s really cool!”.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor was a great game. Open world, really interesting sword combat and set in Middle Earth you were tasked with partnering with Celebrimbor (you’ll only know him if you’re deep into the Tolkein mythos) to try to destroy Sauron. Let’s just leave it there for now.

The game itself was great and had a really interesting game element: as you spent time going through the game you would eventually have to fight war chiefs/bosses that are more difficult than your average orc. If they won or you were beating them so bad that fleeing was the only way to survive, they would remember who you were and jeer at you if they met you somewhere else in the game later on. This was a nice touch and added a bit of personality to the game.

Another mechanic allowed you to dominate an orc and he would join your clan and you could call on him to fight for and with you at your order.

The next iteration of the game, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, will be releasing later this year. They’ve dropped a couple of TV spots that shows an extra aspect to the relationship mechanic in the game: if you save a dominated/befriend orc from a death-blow they will remember that and may  ‘appear’ when you’re about to receive a deathblow yourself and will save your bacon. Again, a great idea that I’d really like to see before release.


Fallout 4: Survival Mode Activate!

When fixes to the Survival difficulty were announced earlier this year, I stopped playing Fallout. I was playing on Very Hard but the game play seemed so lacklustre. I was walking around, shooting things in the face, doing quests and making the Railroad proud but I wasn’t really feeling challenged. Add to that the fact that the previous version of Survival difficulty just created bullet sponges out of the NPCs, my experience wasn’t as interesting as it could be. These new changes have really gotten me excited and I started a new play through on Friday.

This new mode has changed much:

Eating and drinking are requirements, not options. Not complying will make you sick.
Illnesses and diseases decrease S.P.E.C.I.A.L(Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Agility, Luck) stats and are severe.
Sleeping is now a need. As you gain more fatigue from staying awake, you lose action points and the ability to sprint or attack many targets in VATS. Fatigue also makes you more susceptible to illness
Carrying capacity has been almost halved. Do you pick up the pipe revolver from that corpse or the wood and aluminium she was carrying? Choices, choices!
Ammo has weight. No more pack-horse 3000 cartridges for your mini-gun around any more
No fast travel. You want to go somewhere? You’re walking the entire journey, no short cuts.
Sleep to save. No auto or quick-saving 1 !

That last one is a real bitch, no other way to say it. If you want to save your game, you have to find a bed of some type (sleeping bag, dirty mattress, full bed) and sleep for a while. Your game will be saved when you wake up. Each of those types of beds has different efficiency: sleeping bags will only net you 3 or so hours of effective sleep where a nice bed will let you sleep as much as you like. And you need 7-8 hours sleeping to allow for the other 16 in a day to be productive. Don’t sleep enough over the course of a few days? You’re going to get insomnia and it will lower your stats.

Some of the systems also push against each other: need to use a stim pack? You’ll become thirsty immediately after. Want to get rid of your radiation with a Rad Away? It’s going to lower your immune system and you’ll be more likely to catch an illness.

All of these changes have created a different feel to the game; I’ve been more deliberate, more selective, in deciding to attack a roaming group of mods. Whereas the previous iteration of Survival would have had me dive-rolling into the middle of the group, shooting them all in the face one by one and the maybe, just maybe, popping a healing stim pack or two one or two well placed NPC shots can end a player’s session.

Now I run through the following process for each humanoid encounter: How many in the group? Are any of them on a patrol that I might be able to sneak behind and take out in a stealthy way? Once that’s done, how do I go about killing the ones that remain? Should I set up a couple of mines and lure the NPCs back through the field? Get as far back and high as possible and start picking them off from distance? Whatever I choose, I need to be decisive and correct in all my actions otherwise I’m dead and staring at the reload screen and contemplating the long walk back to where I died.

And I love it. I absolutely love it. There’s a real thrill to the game now and decisions have consequences. No longer can you Rambo through the game carrying five hundred pounds of gear, running and tumbling like there’s no tomorrow. Don’t want to sleep? Don’t have to but you’re going to get insomnia and your stats will suffer and, possibly, could kill you. Don’t have enough water on you for a journey between two towns? Will you drink from the pond you just passed and possibly get parasites or do you suffer through the lowered stats until you can find purified water or get to where you’re going?

I’ve only spent about a dozen hours with it so far and I’ve barely gone out into the now more dangerous Boston area wasteland. It’s not perfect (I’m still not completely sure what is making me sick occasionally even when I’m doing everything right) but I’m definitely having more fun than I was with the old Survival mode.

If you’re still playing it’s time to start a new character, or if you’ve quit playing, I recommend coming back to give Survival Mode a try. At the very least you’ll get a glimpse into what trying to survive in a Post-Nuclear wasteland might be like.

And you’ll get sucked right back into the game again, just like I did. Video to follow.

  1. There is a mod that allows you to autosave at will. Sort of cheating but some people don’t have it in them to go completely without quick save.