Skip to content

I’ve Mended Something, Redux

October 22, 2016

I don’t have good luck with PS3s.  It’s surprising, because that generation was known for Xbox 360s exploding and PS3s were considered to be fairly stable, but I’ve had the drives go out in both a 60GB launch model and a 120GB slim model.

I’m not even THAT heavy of a gamer.

Anyway.  So, back in 2012 I had two unusable PS3s, and I elected to replace the BD-ROM drive in the 60GB model and leave the slim as the system for playing downloaded games only… which means that I’ve been putting a lot of miles on the 60GB and not so many on the slim and I’m starting to worry about whether the 60GB will survive for long enough to finish up the PS3 backlog.  It has been crashing a LOT, which made finishing up Mortal Kombat’s story mode a pain in the arse because I would get a victory, the system would try to load a cutscene and crash, and the game wouldn’t have saved the victory so I’d have to fight it all over again.

So, I ordered a replacement drive unit off Amazon from a company called Nextec Direct, and it arrived just as I got sucked back into MMOs.  So, it’s been sitting in its mailing envelope for nearly three months now, until I decided that I really needed to get the dang thing installed.

I’ve never taken apart a Slim PS3 before, so I was looking for how-to videos online and getting rather flustered by the number of model variants Sony made.  It’s always a little nervewracking getting up to your elbows in a new piece of electronics.

Then, I figured I would take the new drive out of its box and look at it to see if that helped me decide how to go about things, and I was impressed by the fact that Nextec had included a T8 torx driver, and then I noticed a slip of paper UNDER the drive that had a URL for install instructions, and going to that took me through a very simple “what are you doing / what did you buy from us” wizard, and that got me to an almost ridiculously-competent video which walked me through the exact model of PS3 and pointed out all the bits where there were hidden screws and fragile cables and at the end of it I had a fully-functional slim PS3 again.

So, I get a nice sense of self-sufficiency for fixing something, and now I need to get cracking on that backlog again.


On the Benefits of Lacking Shame

October 21, 2016

I’ve been employed in the tech industry for the better part of the last three decades, so you might imagine that I work with a whole lotta nerds – and, to be fair, I do.

Some of them are kind of on the diet nerd end of the scale, the sorts of folks who fly their nerd flag with their Wal-Mart Captain America T-Shirt, but there are definitely a few alpha nerds around here, and a couple of them know me well enough to know that my boring office drone act is 100% tatamae and 0% honne.  I swear, when I decide to finally call it quits with my current employer, I am going to deck my cube out in ponies and maids and watch heads explode.  This will presumably be followed by my boss bringing a box over for me.

Anyway, so I was browsing Lifehacker and in a state of temporary toy lust for this thing, just because the notion of a tube amplifier is so delightfully geeky, and I showed it to one of these alphas, whose dismissive response was a half-sneered “It won’t make your Girls’ Generation sound any better.”

I think I rather managed to shock him when I showed him what I actually had on my phone.


At any rate, he wandered off muttering something about it being impossible to troll me.  I think that’s one in the W column for me.

(And, no, I didn’t wind up buying a new desktop amplifier.)

Deep Thoughts on Bumper Stickers

October 19, 2016

Note: This post needs a ton of editing, but I’m going to throw it up so I can look at it later, cringe, and turn it into proper English.  If you see this notice, be ye warned.

It probably wasn’t conveyed very well in the last post, but one of my favorite things to mentally catalog are the bumper stickers that people put on their cars.  It seems like a pretty uniquely American thing – or at least I’ve never seen it in Japan and didn’t see it in the UK – and it always impresses me how much people choose to convey with a few bits of vinyl.

I will, at this point, set aside the stick-figure families of the world, whichever quirky variant has been chosen, because those are borderline annoying.  Likewise, political bumper stickers during election season just kind of fade into the noise.  I AM always impressed by someone who’s still displaying a political bumper sticker for the losing side months and years after the election.  It’s a beautifully passive-aggressive way to get a point across.

Mind you, if you’re still flying the flag of the WINNING side years later, that has always struck me as a little tacky.  But I digress.

What I DO love are the bumper stickers that are designed to be very meaningful to a particular in-group and to be fairly meaningless outside that group, and that’s a fascination that started for me a couple of decades ago when I saw a pair of co-workers bond over an “Easy Does It” sticker – the sort of thing that had always sort of faded into the background noise as a fairly banal saying to stick to the back of your car.  When they saw my confusion, they explained that it was an AA sticker, so if you saw it stuck to some guy’s car, you knew that he’d been through the same rough patch you’d been through.

It was an eye opener to be sure.  Up until that point, the only symbolism I’d understood was the Ichthys symbol and all of its variants – living in Oregon, which is a fairly liberal state, you see a lot of Darwin fish, and Truth Fish eating Darwin Fish, and FSM-fishes and the like.

So now, when I see a bumper sticker that just doesn’t seem to make sense, I am compelled to try to figure out what it means and who would find it meaningful.  It’s a kind of modern-day symbolism, and it’s even more interesting when it’s a group that doesn’t have any particular REASON to be obscure but is using slightly-obfuscated symbols to indicate their membership in the group only to other members of the group.

For example, seeing a HE>i sticker on a car instead of an Ichthys, or a ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ sticker instead of an “I’m the NRA, and I vote!”, when neither of these are particularly controversial views, even in Oregon.  We’re 70% Christian and we have a LOT of hunters and target-shooting enthusiasts.

There’s probably a decent thesis paper in there somewhere.  I am long since out of college.  If you have stumbled across this as a grad student in desperate need of something to write about, feel free to take the idea and run with it.

Likewise, while I’m not terribly fond of tarting up the back of your car with little white Apple logos, I get a kick from any car where the driver has dug up a vintage six-color “Apple Computer” sticker as a way to point out their corporate fandom while setting themselves apart from the iPod crowd.

On the other side of things, I have been somewhat embarrassed by accidentally flying the colors of a subculture and having very confusing conversations as a result, like when I stuck a shoshinsha mark on the back of my car as an “I love Japanese things”  sort of message and found out that it had been co-opted by people who were into tuning import cars and I was unintentionally projecting the image that I was, I dunno, into drifting or something.  I stick to just a university alumni sticker and a Dutch Brothers logo sticker now, which are fairly hard to misinterpret.🙂


The Most Honest Man in the World

October 19, 2016

Part of my evening commute during the week is picking my wife up from school.  She both takes classes from and works at the local community college, which is in a fairly rural part of the county, so sometimes I see some moderately-terrifying bumper stickers on the cars and trucks out there.

The most disturbing was a “14-88” bumper sticker in Fraktur, which made me very glad when it didn’t turn into the college driveway.  But, I digress.

Tonight’s was, well, less disturbing.  Simply put, I was behind the Honda Civic of the world’s most honest man, and fortunately we were both stopped at the same stoplight so I could take a photo without breaking any laws.


Unknown Honda Civic driver, I salute you.

Also you need to replace a taillight.



I Beat WoW

October 18, 2016


Well, obviously I didn’t BEAT WoW, but I did get to level cap, which took almost exactly a month.

I could have done it much more quickly, but there is just something irresistible about going back to old content and stomping raids, even if I have zero nostalgia for the days when the raids were current content.

Getting from 100 to 110 was a very different experience from my path to 100, because one of the big changes Blizzard made for the Legion expansion was to dramatically reduce dungeon XP.  If you want to get to 110, you are going to be running quests.  (Or doing PVP)

There’s a lot of player power locked behind the questlines, as well.  One of the neater features of this expansion are “Order Halls”, which are little pieces of the world carved out for, and accessible to, only members of the class you’re playing.  They’re very busy places, and it’s pretty neat to be seeing dozens of versions of what you once were / what you could have been / what you still could be run past you.  Every one also comes with its own questline, gated by levels and reputation and quest completions, and they’re all designed with enough annoying time sinks to ensure that you will be working on the quests for several weeks.

So, it was a big change for me.  Less “get four other players, follow them through a dungeon keeping the bars full, get loot, repeat” and MUCH more “go kill ten harpies, because harpies need killing”.

I lucked out in one very important aspect of timing, however.  Last week was what Blizzard calls “timewalking”, where you and four other people get scaled back to make you effectively level 70 and then tossed into a level 70 dungeon.  As you get loot in the dungeon, it’s actually loot for your character at their “real” level, so I got to very quickly gear up after reaching level 110, well past what normal dungeons would provide.  In theory, I’m already at the gear level to start running Legion Heroic dungeons – in practice, I should probably wait until I’ve run them all at normal difficulty.

So, basically, in my “pancake batter” MMO model, I’m past the long slow drip of batter from the mixing bowl and on the griddle where it all spreads out and cooks.   This is also right about the point where stuff can either still be fresh and exciting, or where I realize that I’ve seen everything, am only logging on to make the numbers bigger and should probably log off again until there’s another expansion.  So far, I haven’t reached that last point.

WoW: Legion, some early thoughts:

October 10, 2016


After completing my Artifact weapon quest the other night, I wasn’t really feeling in the mood to dive straight into questing, so I went and cleared out a few old raid zones instead.  Wrath of the Lich King’s Icecrown Citadel was particularly neat and I look forward to trying it again on Heroic while I try to finish the meta-achievement for the mount.  Likewise, Ulduar was a fun zone after getting past the first boss fight, and it turns out that I can skip that event in future if I decide to go back and try for the 1.3% chance mount drop.

Karazhan was… less fun, though mostly because I didn’t do it Back In The Day and I spent most of the time getting lost before hitting the chess event and being stymied.  Sadly, there’s no way to faceroll that at 100.

So, after spending a night beating down old 25-man raids, tonight was when I decided to start Legion’s single-player questing content in earnest.


I mean, obviously it will get better as I gear up, but I went in with an equipment level of barely over 640 which makes one-on-one fights against overland quest mobs into drawn out affairs – and if I pull three or so by mistake, it takes a significant effort to stay alive.

And, lest there be any confusion here, I’m loving it.

It’s an awful lot of Kill Ten Rats, Only The Rats Are Eight-Foot-Tall Demons, but there’s no snoozing through the fights.  I got up to level 102 through solo questing, managed to get my equipment level to 682 in the process, queued for a random dungeon (Halls of Valor is where I got put), and once again got smacked silly by a challenge level I simply wasn’t expecting.  We made it through the instance with no wipes and not many deaths, I got a couple of upgrades, and it felt like I’d actually learned how to heal over the last few weeks.

If it starts getting to me, expect some rants here about how-are-mere-mortals-supposed-to-do-this, but for now there will be none of that.

It’s Over, Burn It All Down

October 10, 2016

I try to limit the number of message boards that I maintain posting accounts on, because history has shown that I am not able to maintain a level head when it comes to arguing on the internet.

Basically, I am this guy.

This is particularly important when it comes to NeoGAF, because it takes months to get your account verified in the first place and then I would blow it and get banned in the first day.  I read it primarily because it is full of teens-and-twenty-somethings raging against the unfairness of the world, and I revel in their confrontations with cold, uncaring reality.

Also it alerts me to sales and the like.  But mostly it’s the watching the millennial train-wreck that keeps drawing me back.

Hey, I have a good decade before I can sit on my porch with a dog and shout at kids to get off my lawn.  Also I need a porch.  I do have a lawn, at least.

But I digress.

Anyway, while it’s normally good fun, there are times when even I can no longer harvest joy from the misfortune of others, when I simply have to look at the world and sink into a fugue of despair for the future.

I need to share one of these with you now.


Now, I’m not a Car Guy by any means.  When I go to do anything – change a headlamp, refill fluids, really any basic car maintenance – I spend a few minutes with the manual or watching YouTube videos, because I’m convinced that anything I do has the real potential to make the car explode.  I blame it on growing up on a steady diet of ’70s cop dramas.

But even I can put on a bloody spare.