Category Archives: Miscellany

Verdict

It was a bad stick of RAM.

No, seriously.

In retrospect, a kinda “duh” moment. I mean, I had never before knew that bad RAM could make your PC just hard shutdown and (presumably) burn a graphics card. At the same time, I did get Furmark and a CPU tester to run for 15+ minutes using my 560ti card without a crash for a while there, with all temps being normal. Plus, I replaced the PSU and the PC booted up (before crashing later). All that was really left was a RAM issue.

I declined the $30 labor costs to install new RAM, but went ahead and spent $60ish to get the Microcenter guys to remove my liquid cooler on the CPU and install a mid-line fan. I’m a parsimonious miser for most things, but even I have my limits – possibly squirting liquid coolant all over my machine or having to disassemble my own rig to prevent that, is one of the lines.

As mentioned though, the 970 card is definitely still dead. I just submitted an RMA request and we’ll see what they say. It’s within the 2-year warranty period, but I’m a “worst-case scenario” kind of guy when it comes to corporations. I’m guessing this will be a 2-3 week process, at best.

In the meantime… well, WoW works perfectly fine with the 560ti. And isn’t crashing anymore. Which has allowed me to convert all but 100k or so of my in-game gold into $180 Blizzard credit.

So yeah. There’s that.

Famine

I haven’t been able to play games this week, for reasons unrelated to the move.

The issue started when I booted up WoW. I was able to play for about 5-10 minutes – enough time to try purchasing more WoW Tokens – but then the game froze for a moment, recovered, then after another 5 minutes my PC just reset. Immediately afterwards, I heard the fans on my GTX 970 turn on full blast but there was no monitor signal. About a minute later, the PC sounds like it is functioning okay, but again, no monitor signal. I reboot and the PC turns on fine.

“Weird,” I think. Turn on WoW again, and the PC resets again after 5 minutes. Again, the 970 fans kick into high gear. This time though, resetting the PC does not bring the monitor back up.

I moved the 970 card to another slot, I used a different DVI port, I unplug the PC from my UPS to plug directly into the wall outlet, and so on. Plugging the monitor cable directly into the motherboard slot, e.g. the integrated graphics card, works however. I eventually dig out my old 560ti card, and that also works. Okay, great. Maybe the 970 card died?

I run Furmark to stress the 560ti card to reproduce the error. Temps stabilize around 70c. I ran a CPU stress, and they are within acceptable limits as well. Boot up WoW, play for another 10 minutes, and hard reset yet again. “Okay, not playing WoW, gotcha.” I turn the PC back on, start filling out a RMA request for the 970 card, and my PC hard resets while inside a browser. As of today, the monitor will display nothing no matter what card or slot the cord is plugged in.

Now, the primary culprit is currently suspected to be the PSU. According to a coworker, the 12V “bridge” which powers graphics cards often goes out first. I ended up inadvertently ordering two PSUs – one was 500W, which is not likely enough to power the rig, but Amazon wouldn’t let me cancel the order – and they should be arriving soon. I’ll have to cross my fingers regarding the GTX 970 card still being functional. It is technically within the 2-year warranty/RMA period, but I’m expecting some potential pushback should the card be fried when there were PSU issues afoot.

Of course, it might be something else entirely. Maybe the motherboard.

I don’t consider myself to be particularly tech savvy as much as software savvy. Replacing the PSU is going to be the most complicated PC-related task I have completed since I installed the GTX 970 card in the first place. Prior to that, the most complicated task was installing a new SSD. It is not so much the physical actions that worry me, but rather than possibility (and repercussions) of failure. “Oops, I bricked the $300 video card.”

In any case, we’ll see how it goes. I dive into the case Thursday night.

Edit: I spent a little over 2 hours last night replacing the PSU. GTX 970 card still is not working. Moved the entire computer to a different outlet, same deal. Swapped in the 560ti card and everything booted up fine. Then I went for the test: logging into WoW. About 10 minutes in, power shutdown. Plugged monitor into integrated video slot, left the machine idle for a bit. Power cut off again.

At this point, I am at a loss. The rig is old – I bought it around 5 years ago or so – but I no longer have any idea what could be wrong. I’m going to try and take it to a Microcenter near me for diagnosis this weekend. Depending on the verdict… I dunno. Maybe I “cut” losses and go back to gaming laptop like I did in my computer prior to this one. Maybe I try to save what I got.

All I can say for the moment is that I feel lost. Everyone has a thing that keeps them centered when the rest of life gets weird. Sometimes it’s a person, sometimes it’s a game, sometimes it’s a phone. Mine is a functioning computer. Or perhaps a personalized virtual space, if I want to be more specific. I don’t have that for the moment, and it sucks.

Player Housing, IRL

Closed on a house today. First-time meatspace homeowner.

Posts will continue as they more or less have been for the past month or so, e.g. kinda slowly. With all the heavy lifting out of the way though, all that’s left is the… heavy lifting.

Just kidding, I hired movers.

Back-end Expansions

Over the holidays, I declined to purchase either the Heart of Thorns (GW2) nor the Heavensward (FFXIV) expansions, despite them being on sale for $25 and $10 respectively.

In the case of FFXIV, the decision was easy: the expansion’s content is locked at the very end of the base game’s storyline (which is mandatory). While I am going to give the MMO another shot this year, I would be dozens and dozens of hours out from even getting a whiff of the new content, so there isn’t a particular reason to buy-in now.

With GW2, the consider was basically the same, but slightly more strategic. I already have a level 80 Elementalist, so I could technically start into the new endgame content right away. However, I’m 99% sure I’d want to be playing my Necro instead, who just hit level 36. But more than that, we already know Arenanet is working on GW2’s next expansion, and that it’s extremely likely (based on Heart of Thorn’s release) that it will end up including HoT in its purchase price.

In both cases, it was kind of clear that there wasn’t much of a point in buying the expansion without already having an endgame character. Some stuff works earlier on, such as new classes, but for the most part all the new content is back-loaded. Which… makes sense, of course. “Expansion.”

At the same time, as someone who has purchased the base games already, such expansions hold zero immediate appeal to me. If they had immediate appeal, I’d have bought them and felt an obligation to start playing right away. GW2 offers a level 80 boost with Heart of Thorns, so there is at least that, but I’m not even particularly asking for insta-endgame characters here. Just… something. New starting zones or other low-level content, basically.

Hell, I remember Diablo 2’s expansion back in the day added entirely new items to the loot tables across the entire base game. That was actually an instance where I kicked myself for not buying the expansion right away, as I pretty much cleared the normal game and only installed the expansion later (despite my being late to the Diablo party generally). On the other hand, that sounds like a few mobile games I know, where “VIP” status allows you to get loot the plebs never see. Hmm.

End of Year: 2016 Edition

There are many who will argue that 2016 was the worst year ever, and I am inclined to agree. At least, I would, until I start looking at my own personal life, in which case things have been largely fantastic. Part of the slowdown in the past two months, for example, was because I was shopping around for a house. I’m technically in contract, but we’ll see how it goes.

Looking back at the New Years Resolutions (of sorts) from 2015, I had:

  • Actually playing FFXIV for real this time. [Completed]
  • Maybe, potentially sticking my toe back in GW2. Briefly. [Yep]
  • Oh, yeah, I bought GTA 5, didn’t I? [I did, and I beat it too.]
  • Being more excited than I probably should be about Overwatch. [100%]
  • Spending a WoW token and immediately regretting it. [No regrets]
  • Being amazing. [Of course]

I completed my foray into FFXIV fairly early on in the year, and am tempted to give it another go – especially given that I’ve done this spontaneous “Yearly Attempt” deal for ESO and GW2 recently. Perhaps a melee class would be better suited to my “actually press buttons” playstyle? Plus… I feel kinda guilty for finally deleting FFXIII’s 60+GB install, despite the fact that I technically already own FFXIII-2 and Lightning Returns. Final Fantasy used to be my jam, you know?

Anyway, my goals for 2017 can mostly be summed up with:

  • Give FF14 another shot.
  • Play through some of those PS3 games I bought four years ago.
  • Resist playing WoW until the WoW Token -> Blizzard balance goes Live.
  • Clear at least 30 games from my Steam backlog.

That is basically it. See you folks on the other side of 2016.

 

About That TitanFall 2

Have you ever been in the mood to play a particular game, but couldn’t for whatever reason, and then nothing else you happen to play in the meantime can measure up?

As it turns out, I was going through that with Battlefield 1, which is slated to be delivered this coming Saturday. Tried booting up some unplayed Steam games, but those went nowhere. Then I tried a few rounds of Overwatch. Which was kinda close, but not quite the same itch.

So I ended up buying Titanfall 2 at the last minute of the sale:

titanfall2_sale

Absolutely an impulse buy.

Yep, even though I explicitly said $28 was too high, that I was worried about it not lasting, etc etc etc. I wanted to play a new FPS right now, and not wait until Saturday to do so. So I am. It technically cost a bit more to purchase direct from Origin ($34 after tax), but I wanted to be able to download it overnight. Which it did successfully (cough cough). Impressions to follow.

Home is Where My PC Is

And that’s moving today. Around three miles away, but still.

It’s a relatively inconvenient time though, with all the discounts and pre-expansion patches and such.

I was very, very tempted to pop the first of my nine WoW Tokens (purchased over a year ago) on Monday to ensure I wasn’t holding onto goods that would be deprecated. Then I thought through it rationally. “Okay… so I’d be spending a Token worth X amount to save… what? More than X amount?” A year of “lost” Garrison revenue has led me to believe price inflation would have rendered me non-competitive anyway, assuming I even had the time to spend dicking around the AH at the moment. Which I don’t.

Still, I will be in Legion. I haven’t decided if it will be right at the start, or later on like with Draenor.

Meanwhile, the Guild Wars 2 expansion is currently selling for $25 for another week or so. Although my attempts to get back into GW2 earlier this year didn’t go particularly well, I feel that part of that was due to the lack of buy-in. Not necessarily in forcing the feeling of investment per se, but knowing that next to none of the content I had access to would be new. Want to try the Revenant? Nope. See new zone? Denied. Living Story? Sorry, that’ll be a few thousand gems.

On the other hand, half off something I don’t ultimately end up using is 100% wasted. So we’ll see.

The last deal I wanted to mention was that current Humble Bundle in which they are selling Battleborn for basically $15. That’s gotta sting, yeah? From $60 to $15 in 2.5 months. I was tempted to pick it up… for Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel, not for Battleborn. On the other hand, I’ve mainlined Borderlands 2 to the degree that I’m not even sure I want to play that type of game anymore.

Hmm. Perhaps this move hasn’t impacted my purchasing decisions as much as I thought it has.

Smart Move, Nintendo

Have you seen this adorable thing?

NES_Mini.jpg

Of course you have.

Whoever walked into that Nintendo exec meeting with that in their pocket better have gotten a raise.

I’m not going to go over the details of what games it includes and all that – once again, there are a million different blog posts about it – but I did want to briefly comment on my reaction to it. Namely, it’s brilliant. And what is especially brilliant about it is the fact that it costs $60.

See, you can get a Raspberry Pi 3 for $30-$35 and potentially create your own emulator that plays all the games. But between the Pi 3 itself, some kind of enclosure for it, the microSD card, the controller, and all the steps necessary for piracy… well, let’s just say there is a point at which it’s better to just go legit. And, shit, how much would people pay for a tiny nonfunctional NES on their shelf in the first place? The fact that it plays actual games is probably a bonus.

We’ll see this holiday season whether or not the internet hype over the device translates into actual dollars. I hope it does… because I’m hoping for a SNES version later. Can you imagine? Super Metroid, FF6, Chrono Trigger, A Link to the Past, Secret of Mana, Mario Kart, and so on.

Then it will be on like Donkey Kong (Country).

Vita Not (Yet)

So, I was all set to get the Vita – in time for the vacation I am currently on – but I get a message from the seller telling me that they have not yet sent the item because the Vita is not turning on. Which, on the one hand, I appreciate; getting a broken item and then possibly having to fight them for a refund would consume a rather annoying amount of time. However, the verdict on whether or not they could repair the Vita did not come until yesterday, so I have missed all the auctions I could have been bidding on instead. Heavy sigh.

PayPal refund secured, I am once again faced with the delimma.

Money is quite fungible, so I could certainly move it around and perhaps pick up some Steam games. Or perhaps put it towards the purchase of a new phone, which has been an issue for quite some time. Or I could continue on my present path and get the Vita (plus all those other things too, if I’m honest).

I dunno. I’m currently typing this on a tablet at the beach. I’ll worry about this later.

 

Vita’d

I just bought a Playstation Vita and I don’t know why.

…okay, maybe I know why:

PSVitaDeal

A bargain at twi… pretty much that price. Or less.

The amount of both hem and especially haw I was engaging in was truly ridiculous. As you all know, I dislike decisions generally, much less ones with deadlines. In this case, it was the $15 that eBay was giving everyone for making a purchase over $75, as long as it done by 8pm EST on Friday. On top of that, I am heading on vacation the week of the 4th, so it’s entirely possible that the Vita doesn’t make it to me before I leave.

Want to know what pushed me over that final edge? It was this:

PSVita16gb

Still criminally overpriced.

Even on eBay, the 16gb Vita memory cards are still $25 used, and $35 new. My auction includes two of them, and along with the 8gb one (a $20 “value”) brings the Vita price itself down to ~$75. Or $55 if you buy memory cards from Amazon. So… pretty close to what I spent on the PSP.

Of course, the continued existence of my PSP triggered some intense buyer’s remorse. Simply put, I don’t play much else than my PC games these days. Or since college, really. It took games like The Last of Us and Journey to convince me to get on the PS3 bandwagon, and I have yet to finish anything else on the system. Red Dead Redemption? Years worth of PS+ freebies? Nope. Similarly, not much progress has been made on the PSP front since buying it just about two years ago. Booted up Legend of Dragoon and some SNES classics for fun, and that was about it.

The really embarrassing thing about this purchase is that I don’t even know what games I have for it. Sony’s website is about one of the most egregiously useless pieces of website garbage I have seen in quite some time. This isn’t like Steam or GoG or even Origin where you can see a nice listing of all your games. Nope, it’s just pages and pages of unsortable nonsense. I have apparently accumulated 269 individual titles (free DLC counts as a title) from over three years of PS+, and the only way for me to actually tell which are Vita-playable will be to Ctrl-F and create a spreadsheet.

So, in essence, I had to have bought the Vita to figure out what games I own. Pelosi would be proud.

Having said all that, there are a few factors that make this less of an insane impulse buy. The first is that my PSP has a weirdly distorted screen thing going on, which dampened my enthusiasm after the initial vacation impetus for its purchase faded away. The second is that my living arrangements will be altering a bit in the coming months, which may or may not impact my PC usage. Finally, it was such a pain in the ass to actually play games on the PSP, and so I’m hoping that’s less of an issue this time around with the Vita.

In any case, I suppose we will see how this… plays out.