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| Episode The First: Hot Enough To Blister Skin (32 comments )|
by: mikeomando (19) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 1
Posted 76 months ago ( edited 76 months ago ) in category My other blogs
Dossier: Deep background.
Me? I like PC video games. Mostly first person shooters, mostly single player, currently looking for a new religious experience from the gaming world. Is there a console in my future? Probably. Should I branch into new genres? Probably. Is it time to upgrade my box? Probably. What exactly am I running right now? I canít just give that up on the first date, Iím not that kind of person, itís not that I donít like you, itís more of a self-imposed set of personal moral values.
Plus, Iím embarrassed. I run what I can afford, is the short answer. I like building my own PCs, Iíve built my last 4, and what Iím running is at least a year old, is the longer but still delightfully evasive answer. The next one's going to have an Intel logo down deep in its soul, is the only thing I'm pretty sure of right at this moment.
Most important part of a PC? The part that swings the sledgehammer, baby. Iím not trying to disrespect any video cards here, Iím just saying that in a caged ninja death match between me and a video card, even one that sits 4 slots wide and spits exhaust hot enough to blister skin, donít bet against the foot stomp. Never bet against the foot stomp. Favorite PC games? The Half-Life series, from start to finish and all the add-on packs; The F.E.A.R series, Far Cry, I dug Prey, Painkiller was sweeet; The Suffering, Serious Sam all flavors; and tons Iím forgetting off the top of my head. Tons. Will I cheat to finish a game? Sure, if itís completely ridiculous. How about using a walkthrough? Yep. How do I know when a game is good? When I get some odd repetitive motion strain from being drawn in to play too long. Favorite current movie? Children of Men. Check it out if you get the chance, itís solid, it's sci-fi, it rocks.
The Secret Weapon.
Well, letís just stop for a moment. If I tell you what the secret weapon is, it isnít exactly a secret, now is it? On the other hand, why should there be a tease paragraph like this, just to rub it in? What kind of a guy rubs it in? Every kind of guy Iíve ever met is what, and most of the women too. But I choose to digress. Okay, hereís the deal: I have an 18-year-old nephew who games pretty hard, which means instead of sleep (if his parents let him get away with it). His mom got up at 3 in the A.M and organized the line at an unnamed chain store so he could get a Nintendo Wii for Christmas. Sheís good like that. Heís a WoWer, if thatís what you call people who are obsessed with the world of World of Warcraft. If thatís not what you call them, I totally call dibs on that. He puts in his time, is what Iím trying to say, putting it in the best possible light, and failing, for the most part.
Heís put in his time on The PS2, Gamecube, and PC. And if I pry at him for like 15 minutes about some game, heíll sometimes look up through me like Iím not even there, and sullenly mumble something just loud enough for me to hear and itíll be something like: ďThat game is slamming. Now leave me alone.Ē And heíll mean it. Both parts. But they still say the kid likes me. So I made him my secret weapon, until he reads this.
His learned criticism on junk food is solid. His take on movies bats about 70%, in my opinion, but itís that very difference of opinion that I hope the Constitution continues to allow in these difficult times. On video games, on the other hand, if he says God of War is a great game (and he does), and he wants a copy of Spore the day it comes out, he may be useful as an asset. If he can be controlled. I remember vaguely how well I could be controlled when I was 18, so maybe he wonít be able to contribute much. But what he does contribute? ďItís slamming. Now leave me alone.Ē
Stuff I learned the hard way:
If you slap power to a modern motherboard without properly securing the processor heat sink, you can smell the electrical version of the smell of money burning. Sometimes the smell of money burning is sweet and memorable. Sometimes - like this particular time - the smell is memorable, but not so sweet. It taught me to be careful enough to check everything twice before applying power. It happened long enough ago that itís been a pretty useful experience. Once I got the remnants of that smell out of my work area.
How do you get to be Ďgood with computersí? I can tell you the path I walked, but I have to say in advance that I donít think you should follow my path. You should find your own. I got to be Ďgood with computersí by taking every problem personally. If it didnít work the way itís supposed to, you start hassling people until they finally hook you up with someone who is either good enough to fix the problem, or honest enough to admit that it is a bug, and theyíre going to have to spend money to fix it. I would go to sleep thinking about a problem, then wake up the next day and think about it some more. I tried to remember every slick work around, every easy fix, and then when someone would ask me about a problem, it started to seem like I had seen it before and could remember a fix that would only take a couple of minutes.
The other side of this particular coin is shiny, too. Too shiny. The other side of this particular coin is the fact that if you take every computer problem seriously, COMPUTERS WILL BREAK YOUR HEART. We all have run into some problem that hits you when youíre already under pressure, or looks like something simple and then when you canít fix it right away, somebody thinks youíre a moron. Somebody who you think is important thinks youíre a moron. Getting your heart broken is an unfortunate part of moving from innocence to experience. Hey, I donít make the rules. I just try to get away with breaking them. That almost never works, by the way. Just in case you wanted to know.
ĎGood with computersí means something entirely new in this modern maturing internet world. If you keep off the bleeding edge, for example, you can usually find that someone, somewhere, has already figured out how to fix the problem you are having. Sometimes I love working with a hive mind. Sometimes, not so much.
Hey, how about a little technical content all up in here? Sure, I could review a game thatís already out, but theyíve all been reviewed. I donít have access to games that arenít out yet. Itís just not fair, this version of reality. Not fair at all.
So I hit the Local Fill-In-The-Retailer-Blank and copped myself an OCZ 1 GB Roadster USB Drive. I have been needing one of these for the longest time, and Iím not ashamed to admit that I bought it and sent in a rebate form to get the price down. I also admit that the rebate check hasnít shown up yet, but I can be a patient man (until Iím pushed beyond the level of human endurance). Just an aside: I know that this is a G rated article, or itís supposed to be, but there is just something so sexual about inserting a little thumb drive into a computer port and exchanging the most potent life force known to worker bees everywhere: Information.
So I jam this little beauty right where youíd think a USB device should go, and my XP Pro computer recognizes it and weíre off to the races. OCZ makes some nice stuff. The rebate was the icing on the cake. Or it will be when the rebate check shows up. Iím just sayiníÖ My main problem with this device is that itís so small. The USB port contains all of the electro-beef, and it flips into a plastic cover that is only a little larger than the port itself. It has a tiny hole for attachment to a key chain, or its lanyard/carry strap which is included in the package. Let me put you wise: I was unable to attach the lanyard/carry strap to the tiny hole on the cover of the OCZ Roadster USB Drive. Itís not because Iím fumble-fingered, either. These meat stubs have been fishing little dropped parts out of cramped spaces for years. That hole is too small to be useful, and if you strain the plastic itíll just break. You want to know the data transfer rate? Thatís somebody elseís job. I move data on a USB storage device because itís less wasteful than burning a CD or a DVD for one-time transfer. It takes some time to read and write all USB drives, but it usually isnít like the difference between 10 seconds and 2 hours. I just want the data to be there when I get back to it. Is that too much to ask? Not if you have an OCZ Roadster, assuming you can find a way to keep track of the teeny-weeny device itself. Maybe I could epoxy it to my TV remote control, along with my car keys and the phone number that delivers the sacramental pizza. Thereís a lot to be said for keeping frequently used tools handy.
Final score: Electrodynamics: 8 out of 10.
Ergotronic considerations: 5 out of 10. Until I lose the little booger. Which I probably will. Then the ergo score will drop to 2 out of 10.
The Take-Home Message:
Iíll probably write another column next week about this really cool alternate universe Iíve been thinking about creating from the careful manipulation of pure energy. And Popsicle sticks. It doesnít pay much, but a hobby can be a wonderful thing. If I actually got my own FiringSquad column, I would want it to be the kind of on-line community where I could spout thinly-veiled paranoid half-truths, and learned readers might write in and explain just exactly how wrong I really am. Which always seems to turn out to be just a little more wrong than I thought I was. Itís a conundrum. I love the idea of a column that turns into a decent conversation between the writer and readers. Unarmed readers.
In summary, my whole trip involves looking at things both from the technical side and the ergonomic side with a little humor thrown in. Just enough to pay the Ďlectric bill. Thatís all Iím asking. Does that come off as kind of needy? So be it.
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