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Today PAX wrapped up. I had an even better time at this one than the first. The big difference was the folks from Gamers With Jobs... or as we're known, the Goodjers. In 2007 I spent a lot of time and attention trying to spot them amongst the crowd. Know what? It's just too big. Too many people. This time around I took a more relaxed attitude. I got in line for the keynote speech, I watched the Gabe & Tycho Q&A session, I wandered the Expo hall and accumulated swag. I didn't end up running into anyone from GWJ until I was killing time at the PC freeplay area and ran into Tamren, Docbadwrench, and Creatureparade. We sat for a bit and played PC games until just before the meet-n-greet (we call them "slap & tickles").

Word is, it was the biggest GWJ meet-up to date. Informal counts put the number around 50. Now while the barwas noisy and seating arrangement was not ideal, I had a really good time (until the live music started). With numbers and contacts set up Friday night, we made arrangements for Saturday morning. First was Munchkin at 10am and then on a whim we decided to join the Team Fortress 2 tournament. So 6 of us signed up as "Team Abomination". We kicked ass the first round but got knocked out the second round by a much better team. Ah well! We're consoled that we survived the first round at least.

I then wandered the floor some more, got some time in the console free-play room on Batman: Arhkam Asylum. Then for the Saturday night might-up, some of the GWJ folks got together at a bar and we sat around shooting the shit. I turned out to be the only non-local there! We drank and talked until about 9pm when we decided to head back to the center to see if we could get into the concert. Which we did. And which FUCKING ROCKED. I mean, my knees are an absolute wreck today from all the standing we did, but I had a blast. First Freezepop (who, honestly, we're just so loud that it made the actual melody hard to hear), then a duo of comedic musicians named Paul & Storm who were hilarious and good songwriters to boot. Finally Jonathan Coulton came on, playing favorites like Still Alive (this crowd ate that up, naturally), Re: Your Brains (it was an experience to see/hear thousands of people sing the chorus while dangling their hands out above their heads like zombies), and Skullcrusher Mountain. His "final song" (he joked that it was his last song until he fake leaves the stage to return for an encore) was a strange mix of his tune "Fancy Pants", then he "left" and came back to sing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" with the crowd enthusiastically shouting the "Ba ba ba!" every refrain. When we thought this was it and started heading out, the crowd was shoting his name so he came back and did a "second" encore. This time he played TMBG's immortal classic "Birdhouse in Your Soul"... and flubbed the lyrics!

The panels this year were all very popular and crowded. To get into them, you had to make a serious time investment by waiting in line. I put my time in for the keynote and Wil Wheaton's one-man panel on Sunday. And he rocked the house. It was a great talk plus Q&A session and this was totally his crowd. Next year I won't be surprised if he gets his panel moved to the main theater. After Wil Wheaton wrapped up, I rejoined the Goodjers for my first game of Dominion (I lost). PAX 2009 was wrapped up with a hipster mexican dinner with Cory "Demiurge" Banks and friends.

While my vacation isn't over, my visit to PAX was. I had so much fun this year I want to thank everyone who made it great.

(Updated Monday, September 21, 2009 1:08 PM)

Valve screws TF2 players
A few months back, Valve introduced the poorly-thought-out system of random weapon unlocks in TF2. Previous to that, you'd earn weapon unlocks by playing and getting achievements. Their random system involved a percent chance of getting a random weapon unlock every 25 minutes or so. A few people discovered that this timer would count down even if you were only idling on a server, so you didn't even have to play.

A player by the nick of Drunken_F00l discovered that you'd even get unlocks if you pretended to idle, so he wrote a program that made Valve think your game was idling. I initially didn't use it for several weeks after hearing about it because it sounded hinky. But since so many were using it without consequence, and because Valve never said word one about it, I started using it. Since the weapon unlocks were random, it was not uncommon to find a duplicate of a weapon you already had. In those instances, I'd delete one of them (it may have been the original or the duplicate).

Today, after knowing about this for 3 months, Valve decided the idle program was cheating and made the author shut it down. They then deleted all "illegal" items gathered by this "cheating". And yes, this included weapons that were duplicates. In the case of duplicates, if the original unlock had been deleted by the player, the player is left with nothing. They've now punished their most enthusiastic players by leaving them with less than they started with.

The end result is that despite having 13 milestones, the meta-achievements that unlock items, the assholes at Valve have left me with 1 single solitary unlock. An unlock I don't even use or like. All of this because of Valve's fuck up and they were too busy planning this punishment to even ask Drunken_F00l not to run or distribute his program.

Way to go, morons at Valve. Have you been taking customer relations lessons from the fucking RIAA?

(Updated Monday, April 11, 2011 1:30 PM)
Permalink   Filed under: Rant, Games, Personal

Finally Home
Finally an end to an awful weekend.

It's been years since Georgia opened their new Atlanta aquarium and my wife and I often talked about going. This Memorial Day weekend we finally made the trip. First problem was encountered about 10 minutes before we got to the hotel in Atlanta. My wife realized she'd lost her wallet. She was pretty sure that she'd left it in a gas station bathroom... 120 miles back. And the receipt we had from them didn't have a phone number on it. So we had to travel almost two hours back, not even sure if we'd find it when we got their. Fortunately! we did; someone had turned it in and it was waiting behind the counter when we got there.

The next day we got to the aquarium around 2pm and found a mob. A line so long to get in, we weren't sure it would be worth the wait. Then we discovered that the tickets being sold would only let us in at 4pm anyway. We finally decided to buy the tickets (at a kiosk, which had a shorter wait) and then tried to find a place to eat. The burger joint near the aquarium was clearly swamped. The mall near the hotel was closed because it was Sunday. When we finally got into the aquarium, it was nice but crazy crowded.

Today on the way home, with pouring rain coming down, the wipers in the van stopped working. This had been an intermittent problem for years now but the garage was never able to track it down. So we stopped and called AAA. We waited about 45 minutes for a very nice tow truck driver who tried to help as much as he could. He offered to try replacing the wiper switch, but then we discovered that we had to drive through the mob at the Lowe's Motor Speedway, as the race had just been declared a wash out. Then we finally get to the auto parts store about an hour later, only to discover that they did not actually have that part. They'd looked up the wrong part. The rain was light enough at that point that I decided to just buy some Rain-X and see how well it'd work even with the wipers not working.

So I applied it, started the car... and the wipers were working again. Soooo frustrating. Finally we got home without further incident.

It's been said in legends that some day Atlanta will sink under the ocean due to the size of its Delta hub. I say that day can't come soon enough!

Permalink   Filed under: Rant, Personal

Hardware hates me
Two weeks ago, the application drive in my main machine got corrupted. In the process of checkdisking it, the OS drive got problems as well. I ended up losing the data on the OS drive, which meant a couple weeks of save games. I got a new SATA drive to replace them.

On Monday I got to a trade show in Chicago to discover that my laptop drive was damaged. Checkdisk could not get past 43% on checking file data. I had to swap in my old small drive which I'd replaced in September.

A couple days ago the on-board network in my main machine just up and died. It actually shut down my computer. Until today I was running it with a USB wireless adapter.

Today I picked up a PCI network card. I installed it and now my computer won't boot. The fans spin and that's it. Removed it, same thing. It does not react to the power or reset buttons.

It seems that my very presence has now become harmful to hardware. And I am very fucking pissed about it.

Permalink   Filed under: Rant, Technology, Personal
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