Moving Old PC, Building New PC

I drove back to the old house after work Wednesday to pick up some things to improve my camping experience in the new house, and while I was there I unplugged my PC and a monitor and threw it into the car. (Not literally. But close, because it’s still frickin’ hot as hell, and after less than a half hour of moving around in the old house, sweat was pouring off of me in rivers and I felt like I could barely stand up from the weight of all the humidity pressing down on me. It’s possible I’m not in the greatest of shape.)

I wasn’t planning to bring over the PC, but circumstances forced my hand. I sat down in the sweltering computer room to log into Guild Wars 2 so I could get my Living Story Season 3 episode unlocked, and of course the launcher launched into a game update which looked like it would take hours. I watched the progress bar for a few seconds, sighed, said to hell with it, shut down the computer, and commenced ripping out cables. Now that I’ve moved my PC, there’s definitely no going back to the old house.

Of course, as I think I mentioned before, I don’t have any tables or desks or anything at the new house yet, so I had to setup the PC on the floor. It’s not ideal. It would be tolerable for playing controller games but naturally I forgot to bring over my controller. So I tried to play LotRO*, continuing my feeble efforts to try to see the whole game before they shut it down, but it was not fun. Too much contortion was required to access a mouse and keyboard. I turned in one quest, picked up a few others, killed one mob, and logged off.

But at least I got the GW2 Living Story thingy unlocked, which was the whole point of moving the PC in the first place. Maybe someday I will actually play it. I haven’t finished the Heart of Thorns story yet and while I know it’s not required to play the Living Story, it feels like it would be cheating to skip it.

The new gaming PC, by the way, sits partially assembled on a kitchen counter. I don’t have nearly as much patience for putting together PCs as I used to, so I only work on it in small chunks. The latest obstacle is that I can’t quite puzzle out from the rather obtuse MSI motherboard manual which SATA connectors I should be using for the SSD and spinny hard drive. There are 6 connectors and while it seems fairly intuitive to use 1 and 2, the manual seems to imply, with a series of unintelligable illustrations, that some connectors support some SATA features while others don’t. Trial and error would normally be my friend here, but because the SATA connectors are hard to get to (being on the edge of the motherboard, jammed up against the hard drive bays), I want to make sure I get it right on the first try. I’m probably overthinking it.

The new case for the new gaming PC is like nothing else I’ve seen before, by the way. I spent a little extra on a "gaming" case (which basically just means it’s slightly more interesting to look at than a plain rectangular box, and also it has like 17 fans built in). It’s the first case I’ve ever seen where the power supply is below the motherboard instead of above it. I think I like it.

* It seems like every time I try to play LotRO, I have to sit through a half hour of game updates, and by the time they are done, I have moved on to something else and don’t want to play anymore.

Unscheduled Move and Stranger Things

I don’t remember if I’ve written about this before, so here’s a quick backstory: The lease expires for the house I’m renting at the end of August, so I bought a new house. The closing for the new house was in June, which was about two months earlier than I planned for, so I’m currently living in a stressful chaotic limbo between two houses.

I had planned to put off moving until closer to the end of my lease expiration, but when quite a few consecutive days of 95+ degree heat rolled through my un-air-conditioned rental house, complete with 219% humidity that felt like wearing clothes made out of a boiling wet sponge, my dog and I bailed out early and moved to the new place for good on Monday.

By "move" I mean basically that I threw down an air mattress and put some food in the refrigerator. Otherwise the new house is still empty of anything resembling real furniture. It does have air conditioning and Internet, though, so that makes it a perfectly acceptable living space in my book.

Unfortunately I haven’t moved my old PC yet (there is no table on which to put it anyway), so the only computer at the new house is a MacBook Air, which so far is doing very little but serving up Netflix content. I probably won’t get around to bringing over the old PC until the weekend. (Assuming I come up with a table on which to put it.) Not having a PC puts a huge damper on playing any kind of games, in case you didn’t know. (Previously, it was the heat putting a huge damper on playing games, because I had to huddle in the one room that had a portable A/C unit running full blast, which was usually the bedroom, not the computer room.)

I said "old" PC up there because I have, in fact, ordered parts to build a new gaming PC. All of the parts have been at the new house for weeks. I have deliberately left them there as a carrot to help motivate me to get through the horrifying upheaval of moving, so that at the end of it, I’ll have a shiny new gaming PC to play with. I’ve even ordered a new monitor.

Speaking of Netflix, I’ve been watching Stranger Things, but I don’t think I like it as much as everyone else does. I mean, it’s cool to see the 1980s aestetic*, but as a story, I find it a bit lacking in originality. It feels like they just lifted plotlines and characters from The Goonies and Firestarter, then mixed in a little Starman and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. They clearly used 1980s-style cameras to film the show, as it has that same sort of lens flare-heavy look that was common back then. Not to mention the soundtrack which was instantly recognizable to me as heavily influenced by 1980s era Tangerine Dream***, who coincidentally scored Firestarter.

Anyway, to me, Stranger Things is more of a vehicle for the producers/directors/whoever to compile and collect and namedrop 1980s stuff than it is a compelling story. But if it lets me sing along with "Coke is it!" commercials again, how bad can it be?

* I believe the show is set in 1983, but I wonder about the historical accuracy of what’s portrayed. Winona Ryder’s character uses a rotary phone, but I feel like rotary phones were well out the door by then. I have seen and touched rotary phones in my lifetime, but I have no memory of having any in any house I lived in, or making any actual phone calls on a rotary phone, and my childhood memories begin around 1977. Rotary phones were more likely to be in your grandparents houses in 1983. You certainly didn’t go out and buy a new rotary phone in 1983. I mean, my first modem was a 300 baud modem for a TRS-80 and that was somewhere around 1983-84.**

** The implication being, of course, that the modem, not having a handset cradle, relied on the DTMF signals from Touch-Tone phones to operate. I guess I need to explain that because it’s probably not as obvious to readers as it seems to me. This link contains a picture of that modem along with some very cool TRS-80 history: https://blog.adafruit.com/2015/03/05/mostly-true-tales-the-radio-shack-trs-80-modem-i/

*** I just learned that Edgar Froese, founder of Tangerine Dream, died in 2015. Sad face. :( My early forays into electronic music composition (started in the 1980s, coincidentally) were heavily influenced by Tangerine Dream.

Snap Judgment – Riders of Icarus

Welcome to another installment of Snap Judgment, where I fully evaluate every nuance of a game after playing it for less than an hour.

I downloaded and installed the latest malware … I mean, Asian import MMORPG … Riders of Icarus. I kid, I kid. But it asked me to reboot to finish the installation, which makes me wonder just what kind of rootkit it put on my system. Not to mention the extremely suspicious Nexon anti-cheat monitoring software that runs in the background. But I guess that’s the standard for Asian games now, because ArcheAge had one, and I think Blade and Soul, and maybe some others I can’t remember. I assume they’re all capturing my passwords and sending them to China, and not doing anything to prevent cheating.

Icarus itself is the most average an MMORPG could possibly be. The graphics are average, the sounds are average, the animations are average, the classes are average, the cut scenes are average, the story is average, the combat is average. If I had to give a nod to one thing I’d say the music was pretty good.

While I personally find the concept of flying whales pretty cool, there wasn’t nearly enough of that in the first 45 minutes to make me want to continue playing. Everything about the initial experience was … completely average, well-trodden MMORPG territory. Nothing in there made this game stand out from any other fantasy MMORPG.

Anyway, check out the video, so you don’t have to bother installing it.

Egad Turbine

Turbine is refocusing on free-to-play mobile games??

For the last couple of months I’ve been trying to force myself (unsuccessfully) to play LotRO with the sole intention of leveling my 51 Hobbit Hunter (my only character over level 20-something) through Mines of Moria and the rest of the story content I keep hearing so much about. I’ve been trying to do this because I–like I’m sure a lot of other LotRO players–worry that Turbine isn’t going to renew their Tolkien license in 2017 and the game is going to shutter. I didn’t think that was likely to happen, but it was a possibility.

Well now it seems my fears are more than just fears. If Turbine’s announcement doesn’t just scream out “LotRO is going to end in 2017” I don’t know what would. Surely they’re not going to bother renewing what I imagine is a very expensive license just to keep a game running in maintenance mode? Unless maybe one of these new mobile games is going to be a Lord of the Rings-themed game.

To me, Turbine is always going to be the company that brought us Asheron’s Call, which was my first MMORPG. Oh man.. are they going to shutter Asheron’s Call too?? Surely they’ll be able to afford to keep that running. Even if I never play it, it’s comforting to know that I could play it.

Well, I guess the lesson here is to redouble my efforts to level my LotRO character as fast as possible.