A Reintroduction…

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to reintroduce the all new and redesigned CastleRain Web Design & Computer Services!

CastleRain Web Design & Computer ServicesClick Image to Visit Site

I offer the same mobile friendly web design services, and have added my computer skills as well.  All in a brand new, pretty website!  Granted, this is NOT a business.  Just a hobby that I do to make extra money on the side.  It has no relation to either of my current places of employment.  I’m a low cost Evil Genius.  At least until I find and breed flying monkeys 😈

Who pays for that?

Dork TeamMore and more, I find that anyone can jump into the Computer Tech Support field.  You don’t have to have a brain at all.  Worse is people have no clue of this when they hire these people to come to their homes and setup their new computers or fix their problems.  So as I mentioned before, they have to call someone else with actual knowledge to get their job done.  I feel I should get the pay for the work they aren’t doing and I am.  I won’t mention what over priced tech service was used, but let’s just say they are incredibly popular by their name alone.  It would appear to be clear that good marketing outdoes actual skill or talent.  That and the Human Resources that hired these people should really have some knowledge of technology as well.  This way the prospective employee can be tested for his or her knowledge instead of simply hiring based on paper certificates.

Here’s a call I took today:

[Me] Thank you for calling ____, this is _____.  How may I help you?

[Customer]  Yes, I have the Dork Team here and they are setting up my new computer.  The tech needs help setting up the email.

[Me]  Sure I can help with that.

[Customer]  OK, here’s the tech.

[Field Tech]  Hello, which do I choose for your service?  IMAP or Exchange?

[Me]  Are you using the email app that is included with Windows 8.1?

[Field Tech]  Yes.

[Me]  Our service uses POP3 and won’t work in the included app.  You’ll need to download an email program that supports POP3 like Windows Live Mail or Thunderbird.

[Field Tech]  What’s Thunderbird?

[Me]  It’s a third party email client made by the same folks who make Firefox.

[Field Tech]  OK Thanks.  (click)

To make things worse, the customer called back a few minutes later sounding angry at me.

[Me] Thank you for calling ____, this is _____.  How may I help you?

[Customer]  Yes, I just talked to you and in the past I’ve use Windows Live Mail.  The tech doesn’t know what Thunderbird is and neither do I.

[Me]  I offered up Windows Live Mail and Thunderbird as suggestions.  You can use Windows Live Mail.  All you need to do is download it.  I’m sorry if the tech got fixated on the word Thunderbird.  That wasn’t my intention.

[Customer]  OK then can you start again and leave out that word?

[Me]  Sure, that’s not a problem.  First the tech will have to download Windows Live Mail, install it and then we can set it up.

[Customer]  OK Thank you.  (I can hear the [Field Tech] in the background being all pissy.  “I know I have to download it.”)

[Customer]  OK Thank you.  (click)

Now I don’t expect the customer to know any of this.  It’s pretty much a matter of trial and error as it is just to get them to tell me over the phone the name of the icon they’ve been clicking on for email.  However when a customer is paying between $75 to $150 per hour for a tech who is supposed to be trained and qualified to handle this in their home.  He or she should know the ins and outs of the more popular email programs at the very least!  IF the person is any kind of tech at all, they wouldn’t need to call me for anything other than usernames and passwords.  They should be familiar with basic email setups and be able to make use of company websites to quickly look up things they may be fuzzy on.  Rather than eat up time on hold waiting.  If they must constantly call someone else for help they need more training before costing the customer more money by wasting their time.

Where have all the Good Games Gone?

Johnny Awesome QuestionI think my days of being a PC gamer are numbered.  I go for days now without playing any games.  Even my old favorites.  In a way that’s good of course, but when I’m tired of practicing or there’s nothing I want to watch in the house or I’ve exhausted my Netflix selections.  I would still like to play a game.  In less than 2 months, I have exhausted the fun that was Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.  I think will finally stay quit of World of Warcraft as well.  Haven’t even given it much thought since I quit it this last time.  I just don’t miss it anymore.  At least I certainly won’t miss the cavalcade of whiny American teenagers and immature 20ish douchebags.  I said this before and it still holds true today.  I miss European servers.  Nicer crowd there.  More helpful and friendly.  USA is “pwn”, “nub” and all the anal jokes one can stomach.  My idea of a good game seems to have lived during the late 90’s early 2000’s era.

Whatever happened to a good old First-Person Shooter game?

To me, a shooter was early Halo, Quake and Unreal Tournament.  Spawn, grab a gun and pray for the best.  You were only as good as your aim and your luck in finding a good weapon.  Now it’s all stats, ranking, leveling and achievements.  It’s like they want to make shooters into MMO’s.  Yuck.  I don’t want any of that.  Just let me blow your head off or get in a crotchshot.  Then let me teabag you for a moment and move on.

I’m the Guns of the Navarone! ~ Samuel L. Jackson (anyone who has played on my UT server has heard my toon say that)

Modern Looks vs Good Play

Newer games are not visually appealing to me.  The advanced graphics actually hurt my eyes and give me a headache.  No idea why.  Sure World of Warcraft, Runes of Magic, Unreal Tournament and Carmageddon looked cartoonish.  Yet I loved the simplicity and bright happy colors.  Never liked top down games like Diablo III (only diablo I played, thankfully it was free)

Free to Play is a joke and a scam!

Almost all new MMO games are Free to Play or F2P.  Most other MMO’s are switching F2P.  Although I’ve already learned my lesson there.  To the tune of $1100.00…  There’s no longer a level playing field when you play these games.  They draw in so many people by saying it’s free.  But in order to succeed you need to buy things with real money.  In order to be competitive, you need to spend a lot of money.  If you think I’ve spent a lot on these games, I know people who have spent 2 and 3 times the amount I have.  All in the name of competition.  Just because they had to be on top.  Don’t pity me, I learned my lesson.  Pity them for spending more money on a game than their own family.  But even games that only have you pay for the game and not monthly fees also have ways of squeezing extra money out of you.  Character slots, inventory expansions and the like.  I will never again fall for this nonsense.  I took a peek at Neverwinter.  Right off I knew it would try to bankrupt me.  Lasted about 20 minutes before I uninstalled it.

I would be happy to play a subscription game.  The playing field is level then.  But there are so few.   Even fewer that I would even enjoy based on the previous statements made here.  WoW has pandas and I never liked the whole Asian feel to any game.  Not a fan of martial arts.  Hate the music.  The whole speaking of wisdom and honor relentlessly is nauseating.  Plus, I want to have casual and enjoyable experience.  Not where the competition level is insane.

Install crap so you can play crap.

As mentioned before, you have to now have Steam, Gameloft, Blizzard App or one of many others installed on your computer just to play the game.  This means there can be between 1, 2, 3 or more apps running on your PC just so you can play your various favorite games.  Why?  Why does there need to be multiple programs running to play games?  You generally will only play one game at a time.  Remember I think like the average customer.  The guy or girl who blindly clicks next and installs anything and everything that pops up.  So don’t go all geek on me and say, “You can close them when they aren’t needed.”.  Yes, you and I can.  But frankly no one should have too.  Even though I’ve conceded to Steam, I find it incredibly annoying that while I’m playing, some alert is covering a corner of my game.  Or a friend trying to share something with me, and of course I get distracted, stop and talk to them.  Which is fine, but then I lose interest in the game.  Honestly I don’t feel that including advertising, instant messaging and sharing inside my game.  I play the game to escape this kind of thing.  Not to further envelope myself in it.

“I bet you hate to see me go, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching me leave.” ~ Johnny Awesome

I’m thankful for the releases of Thief and Carmageddon: Reincarnation.  However, I’m also hesitant that I won’t enjoy them like the older versions. Which I still play on occasion…

EDIT: Found this video shortly after posting this blog.  Pretty much sums up why I finally quit World of Warcraft.

Though the ONLY point I disagree on is the flying mounts.  Even on a flying mount, you can spend up to 40 minutes traveling from one place to the next.  Imagine doing that on the ground… Yikes.

Television, Games and Books

Television, Games and BooksExactly what is it that makes one person determine that what another person chooses to do, is a “waste of time”.  Or even a “waste of money”.  Seems a bit sanctimonious to me.  I’ve had this conversation before on several occasions with different people over the years.  It came up again not long ago.  What I choose to do with my personal time, seems to irritate others for whatever reason.  From my point of view, they seem incredibly narrow minded about what I do in the first place.  They also ignore the fact that I have been changing my routines as well.  Plus biding my time saving money up for things that will change my routines even more.  Still, they insist that what I do is meaningless and unhealthy.  As you can imagine, it’s a bit annoying when you consider what their argument is of what I “should be doing instead”.

Phrases I’ve heard include:

  • All you do is sit and play games.
  • You’re wasting your life away.
  • What’s so great about video games?
  • It’s a waste of money.

Just to name a few.  Generally speaking, when I ask what they think I should be doing, these are the following replies:

  • Read a book.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Ride a bike.

Again just to name a few.  Though with some, I generally answer with a question upon observing what they normally do.  “What should I do?  Sit and watch television for countless hours like you?”

Television…  Talk about your waste of time and money.  I find so very little of what is on television entertaining to begin with.  On top of the fact that it’s nearly 40% commercials.  Repeated and for some reason louder than the shows.  Reality TV?  What a joke.  Go outside and look around.  The human race is one giant reality show these days it seems.  We could put up web cams all over and make a channel called, “The Biggest Douchebag!”.  But that’s a rant for another day.  Exactly what is the health value in sitting and watching that for hours?  Plus, with games, I’m being interactive.  It’s a two way communication to make different things happen.  Not sitting in an easy chair where the only thing I can do is change channels to waste time realizing I’m paying to much for nothing at all.  In the past two years, I’ve spent on average, $20 per month on games.

Nationwide, the average pay TV bill (excluding internet and phone service) was $86 in 2011 and is expected to reach $123 by 2015.  ~ Forbes

So even if you add my Netflix package in at $19 per month, I’ve still got the upper hand and I’m commercial free.  *coughsoblowmecough*

Go for walks?  I do in the summer as much as I can.  At least an hour a day.  Some days up to three hours.  Even some days when it’s raining, as long as it’s a light rain.  However, right now it’s winter.  Cold as fuck.  Not a lot of sidewalks.  Risk of busting my ass, or breaking a leg.  Did I mention it was cold as fuck out?  I’m hoping to have an Exercise Bike for next winter.  That will hopefully keep me losing weight.  Rather than only losing weight in the summer and then gaining it back in the winter.

Reading books.  Just not my thing really.  I’ve been over this before.  Time and again.  Though that’s not to say I don’t read at all.  I just don’t sit for hours and read books.  Sure I could imagine it all.  But I prefer particle effects (video games) and CGI (movies).  Plus movies don’t take as long.  I’m sure someone out there can read a whole book in around two hours.  Most can’t though.  Also, complain about the cost of movies all you want.  I’ve been to the book store recently.  A new book on average costs around the same price as a movie ticket.  I’ve seen some books as high as $27 though.  Or if you are a technophile.  Your average reading device (because most won’t buy just an e-reader, they got to have a Nook or Kindle), is $130 plus books between $3 and $15.  And you know damn well you’ll want a newer Nook or Kindle in the next year, so you’re still spending more than me on a yearly basis to read.  Whereas I will simply read articles and blogs on the web.  Cost?  Not a damned thing.  But this is only comparing books to video games.  How much did I spend on movies this past year?  Oh yeah, not a damned thing outside of my Netflix subscription.  Plus, books aren’t exactly a form of exercise either.

While I’m making this the last thing, it’s really the biggest thing these people fail to notice before they open their mouths about my being a gamer.  Video games are not the only thing I do.  Look around your screen right now.  This is my website.  I write here.  Regularly.  The pretty pictures and graphics you see?  I did most of that.  Did you notice in the picture for this article, the computer?  That’s my actual rig.  Notice it has a TV for a screen?  Not only is it huge, but it serves as a…. (dramatic pause) TV!!  I watch movies on it.  I have a surround sound speaker system.  It’s also my music center.  It’s my workstation for my job and my other job of Web Designing.  In the last 15 months, I’ve built over 100 websites.  Some of them are mine.  Such as:

Denver Fowler Dot NetCastleRainCastleRain Web DesignCastleRain (my URL shortener)

I love designing websites.  I find it almost as fun as playing video games.

Also, if you bothered to read my website you’d also know that I want to make new friends.  When I do, I’ll get away from the computer more.  You’d also know I want to get back into playing music.  Again, less computer, more exercise.

So the next time when someone wants to rag on me by saying “All you do is play video games.”, I will have to answer with, “You don’t know much about me, do you.”.

Computers, Gaming & Dating (and other disasters)

Computers Gaming & DatingOK so the title was a bit of a stretch.  Wasn’t even a good movie.  Though it’s been something of a couple of weeks of saying to myself, “WTF Mate?”.  So herein lies the the happenings that is my life.  That is outside of the fact that it finally stopped raining/snowing for the past 3 weeks.  It was enough to drive a person without a car insane from being trapped indoors!

“Crazy!?!?!  I was crazy once!  They put in a room! The room was round. The round room had worms. Those worms drove me crazy!  Crazy!?!?!  I was crazy once!”


Normally I build myself a new computer every two years to keep up with the latest tech.  Not so much the fastest and the best, but the newest.  This helps keep my repair skills up to speed by knowing the ins and outs of the workings in general.  Though this time around I waited three years for obvious reasons.  Though my only saving grace; since I’m still paying on a boat-load of medical bills, is I have serious amounts of vacation time built up.  Well… had serious vacation time.  Between not having money to go anywhere.  Not having anyone to cover my shifts if I were to go.  Then there’s the, no way to get there issue.  So being my boss owns not only an internet service, but a computer parts sales and distribution company.  No money had to physically exchange hands.  Just print off a pay stub or two and electronically move the funds from one company to the other.  Basically he paid me in parts 🙂  It’s a shame I can’t do the same for my medical bills and other debts, but in time they’ll get paid off.

Now if I could do something with the computer that’s been in my living room for three months now waiting to be picked up.  Hint, hint.  Though I keep making sure it’s up to date every month.  Cause I’m a nice guy like that 🙂


So yeah.  Much like smoking, games are sometimes hard to quit.  At least I successfully quit smoking!!  Again, I reexamined different games available to me.  I still have a hard time wanting to deal with third party programs running just to play a game.  But it seems even World of Warcraft will be doing that nonsense soon.  These developers just don’t understand that if you play a lot of games, you’ll have a bunch of these programs running all at once eating up resources and possibly conflicting with one another.  But I’ll digress to just say, yes.  Yes I’m back to playing WoW.  What’s more the very reason I quit is the reason I decided to give it another shot.  (and get re-hooked)

The Timeless Isle.  Turns out it’s shared loot.  Plus you get all sorts of assistance from area buffs, to drops that power your playing and even guardians that fight with and for you.  You don’t have to party up, you don’t need the latest gear and to sweeten the deal… They just drop the perfect armor.  There are no stats on it until you open it on the appropriate character.  Then it has just the right stats for your class.  And if you hang on to it, there’s even a bonus that can drop to upgrade it before you open it!  Perfect for a soloist such as myself.

Though I am pissed that for the fourth year in a row, I didn’t get the The Horseman’s Reins during the Hallow’s End Event.

The same reasons keep bringing me back.  One, it’s not a free2play game.  The mechanics are far simpler.  So are the skills.  Plus…  I actually prefer the graphics of WoW over the “gorgeous graphics” found in games such as Rift, Guild Wars 2 and others.  They are much brighter, more cheerful and don’t give me a damned headache.  I play Rift and within an hour my head is killing me.  Guild Wars 2 isn’t much better.  Maybe it’s my aging eyes.  If I could find a game similar in mechanics and looks, I’d be happy to try it.  So long as it doesn’t need to muck up my system with unwanted crapware.


Yes, that is Captain Jean-Luc Picard doing /facepalm

It’s been one disappointment after another.  The short and sweet of it, any time a woman says she’s a “tiger in bed”.  All I have to do, is share this link with her, and she’ll never talk to me again.  (The most recent one blocked me lmao!)  Which weeds out the pussy cats from the real tigers 😈

You know, I put in my profile “As well as a bit of a freak.”.  It’s not like I hide that fact.  Though I think the real thing is, people don’t read!  OR they read too much into what is said.  Either way, weeds out the pussy cats.  Good SexPerhaps it was the image in the post and she didn’t read anything, and just freaked out.  Though my money is on the fact she didn’t read my whole profile.  Which also would explain why she wanted to meet me when I live over an hour away from her and I don’t have a car. :/

Anywho… Life goes on.

With that, I’ll leave this with a song that got stuck in my head when I mentioned the link about my tattoos.

Backups, they’re not just for Geeks anymore!

Doctor WhoBy now the number of computers I’ve repaired are in the high hundreds and might be over a thousand.  I’ve been fixing computers since before I joined the Navy in 1994 and it’s been my career ever since.  Though sometimes when I’m helping someone with their computer, I feel like I’m Doctor Who and using my Sonic Screwdriver, I have to pull a miracle out of thin air to help someone before they lose all their data forever.

Just last night, I helped a friend recover her digital photos from a computer that Microsoft themselves deemed unable to be saved.  After a bit of mucking about, turns out her hard drive had started to become corrupt and the system would not boot up no matter what option was chosen.  So instead I downloaded a Linux Live CD.  Booted to it instead of using the internal hard drive.  Then using a USB Flash Drive managed to copy her photos and documents.  Managing to save them, as thankfully part of the hard drive still functioned, but with much frustration.

Of course I rambled on about how backups would’ve saved her all of this headache.

There are lots of online backup and cloud services out there.  Many offer some sort of free account option that gives you between 2 to 5 gigabytes of storage.  SugarySync, Carbonite, Dropbox, Mozy, just to name a few. These could be lifesavers to many of you out there.  Especially since I don’t know many people these days who even have actual hardcover, book style photo albums anymore.  Meaning, many of today’s shutterbugs don’t have hard copy photos in photo albums like we did as kids.  Thanks to digital cameras and smartphones, almost all images are digital and never make it to print.  Any time they want to show you a picture, it’s on their phone, tablet or have you come to their computer to show you.  They don’t print out photos.  I do on occasion, but even then, I do the same thing.  Trick is, I can show you any picture or document I have on any device I have because I use SugarSync.  Not only does it backup my files, but it shares them across all my devices.

Like this:

SugarSync Cloud Backups, Syncing & Sharing

The mindset of, ” I don’t care how it works, I just want it to work the way I want it to work.” is a bunch of rubbish.  You either learn to take better care of your personal files on your computer, tablet or smartphone.  Or accept that your memories may one day be wiped out forever.  This also goes for keeping your Anti-virus and Malware scanners up to date and scan regularly.  Otherwise when it dies, there may be a time when I or one of my colleagues have to give you that look as if someone in your family died because you just lost all your bookmarks, digital photos, important documents and your music collection all because you didn’t take a few minutes to care if your files were saved elsewhere…  Not to mention the possibility of a big repair bill.  It’s your device, they are your files.  It’s your responsibility to ensure they are safe.  Not Mr. Tech, and certainly not Doctor Who.

Now you could simply pay a monthly fee and have all your files backed up and shared across your devices.  However, in the long run you could spend hundreds to thousands of dollars over several years to backup your entire music collection, your enormous collection of self photos that all include your right arm {ahem Bethany}, your Nobel Prize thesis on ending world hunger, or if you’re like me you have your entire DVD/Blu-ray collection in digital form so you don’t have to have 5 bookshelves full of movies.  (Instead they’re all in boxes in the closet for safe keeping.)

I’m a thrifty person.  I manage to back everything up using the following tools.  This way I don’t have to pay a recurring fee to keep my files safe.  I don’t expect anyone to mimic what I do fully, but if you just do one or two of these, you’ll thank me later if your device goes boom (or poof if it lets out the magic smoke).  I’ve been doing much of this same method for almost a decade now.  I know I saved a lot on monthly charges by doing these few things.

SugarSyncSugarSync Free (5GB) – As I mentioned before, I use this to backup my Pictures, Documents and other miscellaneous files that I have.  I actually have 6GB of free space because I did some things they asked me to do and got an extra bit of space for free.  I don’t have an extensive photo collection, perhaps just under 2GB of photos, less than half a gigabyte of documents and another gigabyte of other nominal stuff.  Since they are under the 5GB limit, I use just the free service offered by SugarSync.  Unfortunately I can’t save my music this way as I have nearly 8GB of music.  So I use my smartphone as a backup drive for my music.  I’ll tell you more about that in a bit.

SugarSync allows me to not only backup my files, but I can view them on my PC, my Laptop and my Smartphone.  So if I want to show someone a photo of my kids, I can just open SugarSync and in a few seconds any photo I have is available to me.  I can even send links to other folks for them to view the photos on their own computer, tablet or phone.

Micro SD CardMicro SDHC Memory Card ($23.75 for my Android)  – So I grabbed me a 32GB SD card from Amazon and I’ve been moving it from Smartphone to Smartphone as I’ve replaced them.  Either because I’ve upgraded to a new phone, new cellphone service provider or because I dropped my phone down the staircase in front of my apartment.  In any case the SD card survived and I have my entire music library saved to it.  This does two things.  One it’s another place to keep my music files in case my hard drive craps out or my apartment burns down.  Two because I can use my Android as an MP3 player while I go for my daily walks.  I’ll never understand why anyone with a smartphone would also have a separate MP3 player these days.  I can only think it’s because they overlooked the fact you can do that or because they like wasting money.  It certainly is an inexpensive backup plan for my music 🙂

PowerArchiver Backups PowerArchiver ($22.95) – Actually I only paid $19.95 because I bought it in 2005. Almost 10 years of this amazing product.  It’s a lot like WinZip, only it’s faster, cheaper, you get lifetime upgrades.  Plus it’s most invaluable when it comes to doing my monthly backups.  Once a month I backup my entire computer.  Sure I could make an image of my entire computer, but when I say I backup my whole computer, I don’t actually do that.  I backup all my personal files.  I don’t actually like making an image of my computer as I’d be keeping all the driver updates, endless junk files that got created when installing and uninstalling software and more.   That’s like keeping a copy of all the dust in your house.   Just icky.  PowerArchiver allows me to create nifty files that I walk through a fairly simple wizard to create.  Once created I just double click the resulting file each month and it automatically backs up whatever I previously asked to backup originally.  Including new files or changed files.  I even have it slap on a date to the resulting .zip file.

Example: Documents.pbs (the PowerArchiver backup file) created Documents_10-01-2013.zipx file on October first.  It did all the work for me, and only took a few minutes.  I do that for each file.  I can even have PowerArchiver schedule to do this automatically, but I don’t, as the less software I leave running the better my PC performs.  Since I do this once a month, it’s just as simple for me to double click those few files myself.  Then copy the end result to my external hard drive.

External Hard DriveExternal Hard Drive (2TB – $100) – The most expensive component, and it does come with a couple of really low risk issues.  While I can backup all my files, photos, music and my entire DVD/Blu-ray libarary… I also run the risk of losing it all if there is a fire and I don’t manage to grab it on my way out.  (providing I’m home when it happens of course)  Also, it can suffer from disc failure as well.  Whether it be magnetic corruption, mechanical failure or what-have-you.  However, that’s only a risk of loss if the original data was previously lost on my PC.  Even then only a partial loss as my music is on my phone.  My photos and documents are backed up to other devices and the cloud.  So honestly the only real risk is losing my movies as that is the only place they are stored.  Well, that isn’t true either, I could just rip them again from the hard copies in the closet.  Provided I ever want to be that bored doing it.

USB Flash Drive USB Flash Drive (32GB – $23.99) – This little gem stays in my pocket.  If my house burns down, I’ll likely grab my pants and it will be in there.  It has my most important files, backups of all my websites, and copies of all the software I use.  This comes in handy when I do tech work on site and their internet either isn’t working or so slow I would want to tear my own eyes out waiting for a download.  I keep it up to date when I have a few minutes to kill.

As you can see, none of my backup methods are actually hard, nor are they very time consuming.  A little bit of preparation and preventative maintenance, I should never have to worry about losing things that are digitally important to me.  Granted, that doesn’t account for theft of physical items as we well know.

If I may quote the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant – my favorite!) from the episode “School Reunion“.  Only I’ll replace the word “physics” with the word “backups”.

Right, backups! Backups, eh? Backups, backups, backups, backups, backups, backups. Backups! Hope you’re getting all this down.

~ The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant)

Words to live by.

PC Gamers Getting Boned by BSware!!

Fuck DRM and Unnecessary Bullshit Software!Having played the same old games for the past five plus years, I was completely obvious that the world of PC gaming had gone to the dogs.  It’s no wonder I was simply happy doing what I was doing.  Replaying Thief: Deadly Shadows until my eyes bled.  Taking my frustrations out on the hookers in Grand Theft Auto IV.  Mucking about in World of Warcraft.  I was bored, but I was happier doing that over what I’ve been doing lately.  Such as trying to find a new game to play.  Talk about frustrating as hell!

Let me back up a bit so you know where I’m going with this.  Before now, I had played nothing but the previous games I mentioned, plus a bunch of others including Runes of Magic, Last Chaos, Unreal Tournament, Unreal Tournament 2004 and that’s about as new as my games got.  All I needed to play them was just the games.  No unnecessary extras unless I deemed them necessary.  Including Curse, an addon manager for Runes of Magic and World of Warcraft.  For the longest time I updated the addons manually to keep the unnecessary software off my computers keeping resources free and my computers running smooth and clean.  Only the online games themselves had their own built-in updating mechanisms which is all any game should ever need.  For any standalone (single player), offline games I had/have, patches can be downloaded manually and installed by the user with minimal effort.  So patches were easy and covered.

I’m incredibly aware of DRM (Digital Rights Management) and all the bologna that goes with it via the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and how for the longest time buying MP3 music was a pain in the ass.  Until they backed off on the music part and now you can buy MP3’s via Amazon and others and play them on all the devices you like.  Working for an Internet Service I see DRM just about daily.

I also know very well about the battle against Software Piracy.  It’s been raging on for many years now.  I understand that software publishers don’t want to lose revenue over stolen games.  I can also deal with needing the CD inserted to play a game or online activation to play a standalone game.  That inconvenience is more than enough for any end user.

But forcing the end user to install third party software just to be able play a game is outlandish.  They cover it all up with terms and actions such as download management, automatic updates, social media inclusion, in-game web browsing (seriously??), and in-game forums (like chat wasn’t enough?).  But what they are really doing, is keeping your software in check.  Keeping you honest.  Not allowing for any third party modifications.  (Side note, I realize only stand alone games should be modified as modifying online games would likely give the player an unfair advantage, e.g. cheating.)

So the past 2 weeks or so since I quit WoW, I’ve been trying to find new games to play.  When I realized that most new games include some nonsense extra software I don’t agree with.  Even some old games I used to play before now require things I don’t want or need running on my computer.  I don’t agree with these things being forced upon me or anyone else.  The image above shows just some of the shit I’ve run into just wanting to play a game.  Though I also refuse to run out and buy a console.  I’m not in a position to throw down hundreds of dollars on a console and then buy another couple hundred dollars in games.

One, I don’t want social networking in my games.  I don’t like Facebook.  Never have and never will.  This image pretty much portraits how I see Facebook, and to me it’s useless.  I only use it once a day at most, because that’s the only method I have for several people.  Sure there’s a Facebook link on my site, again, so other Facebook junkies can find me.  But I don’t want Facebook anywhere near my games.  Or any other social media for that fact.  Having other players in an online game is the only online social networking I’d ever want.  Other than that, I’d rather go out in real life with real humans who don’t have their brains saturated in social networking nonsense.

Two, unless my game is an MMO (online for those who don’t know the acronym MMO), I don’t want it automatically installing anything that isn’t pertinent to the game itself.  Even then, good programmers will make an updater in the games “launcher”.  Such as World of Warcraft and Guild Wars (2).  Runes of Magic used to be fine, but now they have some GameForge bullshit that now gets crammed down their players throats.

Three, any standalone (single player) game should never require an active internet connection.  With the exception of a one time activation.  Now I know you can put Steam in offline mode, but Steam shouldn’t even be necessary unless that was your preferred method to obtain the game in the first place.  Games sold in the store such as Skyrim and the up coming Thief 4, should not require another software just to play it by yourself.  Me, I can’t stand Steam and to have to be forced into using it to play my games is complete and utter bullshit.

This just means that me and people like me will likely just not spend our money on such games.  We like our games to be DRM and bullshit free.  Or at least keep the DRM to a simple activation or CD check.  In all honesty, these required extra software packages are likely collecting data and forcing advertising on you as well.  Not too mention the possibility of their databases being hacked and your account being compromised.  Offline games should never have to endure such a fate.  Ever.  It’s just another thing no one should have to put up with just to enjoy the things they spend their money on.  And honestly, it seems that this kind of thing would promote piracy, not prevent it.  Much like when I watch a movie and have to suffer watching two or more warnings about piracy.  I often think to myself, if I had stolen the movie from the internet, the person who uploaded it would’ve likely been nice enough to cut that crap out for me.  It sucks to feel like the MPAA is accusing you of doing wrong when you’re not.  Pirated games won’t have DRM on them.   Though I’m not promoting piracy by any means.   Just comparing why folks would.  I’ll stick to my DRM free or minimal DRM and Indie games.

App Madness Continues!

App MadnessSeems that the need for apps on different platforms is just going out of control from where I sit.  I talked about this before.  Apps being on all different flavors of smartphones from Android, to iPhone, to Crackberry.  With tablet versions of each for the respective mobile OS.  Then the need to support old and new versions of each OS as they update every few months unlike a computer OS.  Although, that seems to be changing as well with Windows and OS X doing more frequent updates than they used too.

With all the different OS options a developer has to deal with, it’s amazing they have time to make improvements.  It seems they would end up spending all their time patching issues rather than developing new software.

If this type of thing hasn’t already proven itself a bad idea with the load of different Linux flavors out on the market today; with their different install methods and variations of how they present things to the end user… It’s a wonder they gain ground at all.  To the average Joe, that’s just confusing.

Granted, installing apps on a mobile device is just tap and done usually.  Thus the wide spread popularity.  It’s easy to use.  (knock, knock, knock Mr. Penguin)

And speaking of Linux, the boys and girls at Ubuntu have decided to throw their hat in the ring.  Making their own Mobile OS.  Also, the folks at the Mozilla camp are poising to release Firefox OS.  Both will of course have app stores.  So developers will have to learn the new OS’s if they want to grab a slice of that audience for their wares.

Oh and of course we can’t forget that great new Operating System all my customers hate… Windows 8…  Now you have desktop programs and Metro apps!!  Yippee!  You can have Internet Exploiter as an app, and Skype as an app.   I guess having the desktop programs wasn’t enough.  Now we have 2 of each installed on the same PC.  You know Ma and Pa kettle haven’t a clue they only need the one.  And it’s likely they won’t share info between two.  Did you know favorites in Internet Exploiter Desktop are not available in Internet Exploiter for Metro?  So I’m told anyways.  I don’t use it.  Still not a Metro fan.

Oh and let’s not forget your TV, Media device and Blu-Ray player has apps too!

Question that I see is…. When do app developers finally say enough of this nonsense!?!??  There are so many platforms they have to write the same software for over and over.  It’s freaking delusional that they have to put up with this so their fans can have their software.  How about a little cross platform love?  Or a few less damned platforms…  I’m glad I’m not an app developer.  As a Web Designer, it’s hard enough to make sure that my sites look good on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Exploiter, Opera and Safari web browsers.  Although I’ve considered developing for Android apps, but then my audience would only get the one platform.  I don’t have the time, patients or money to learn iPhone, Crackberry, Metro, Chrome, Ubuntu, Firefox OS and all the others…

It’s Nuckin’ Futs!!

Windows 8 vs Mountain Lion vs Ubuntu 12.10

Mostly I’ve debated the world of computing between Microsoft Windows, which is what I use normally.  Against Apple’s Mac and their OS X operating system.  I’ve made references to Linux from time to time, but never made it part of my ideas in whole or in any large part.  Now that Mountain Lion is out, and Windows 8 has graced us with it’s presence like that annoying uncle who thinks he’s overly cool, but no one likes him…. Sorry got off track there…

The question is, “Is it time to reevaluate my beef with Mac?  Or should I consider moving toward an open source horizon?”.

Last year, I actually purchased a MacBook Pro with OS X Snow Leopard, and got a free upgrade to Lion.  While at first I was rather impressed, the more I used it, the more I got frustrated at having to buy replacement software for stuff I use for free on a Windows based computer.  Plus, the fact I paid over 3 times as much for it, when a simple $400 Windows laptop would’ve done just fine.  I sold the MacBook Pro, bought a big screen TV, a laptop and still had $200 I put into the bank and a big comfy smile on my face.

As a tech though, I must keep up with the latest versions of Windows, Mac and I dabble in Linux.  The more I saw of Windows 8, the less I liked it.  I even got really angry with it and it’s forcing Metro down my throat.  It was like removing me from my home and forcing me to live with others who don’t get along with.

So now I actually have Windows 8 installed on my laptop.  It’s OK.  It’s not nearly as sweet as Windows 7 is.  My opinion still is Windows 7 is by far the best OS ever made.  However, unlike Windows XP, it won’t last (or should I say be supported) forever.

If it weren’t for Classic Shell, my life with Windows 8 would be morbid.  Of the various utilities that have been created to alleviate the misery that is Metro and it’s damnation to the desktop, workstation and PC gamer communities, it’s free, open source and works like it should.  A huge thanks the developers who make it.  Is it perfect?  Pretty damned close.  Although, you do get a brief disheartening as you quickly see Metro flash up during boot.  Not a deal breaker by any means.

Then there’s Linux.  Still struggling for a decent share computing world via desktop, laptop, smart phones and all the other wonderful devices it is on.  Closest to world domination is that it is the core of Android phones, but not so much the desktop market.  Mostly because as I’ve mentioned before, they have no standardization.  As nice as Linux is, if you download software, you have to choose which Linux distro you are installing it on.  Or you have to compile it yourself if your distro of choice isn’t on the list.  Or possibly it won’t work at all on your beloved subdivision of Linux.  That makes Linux even more frustrating than Mac in many ways.  However, there are things that it can do that Mac cannot.  By far, the most popular and satisfying variant of Linux is Ubuntu.  It’s layout is unique, easy to use for the most part and has a decently large library of software for just about any need.  You hardly need to go outside of their store to get anything you desire.  Still, it’s not every Joe Computeruser’s cup of coffee.  But it’s getting closer than ever before.

I could drag this article out more by making long comparison lists of what is good and bad about each OS.  Not really feeling up to it.  So I’ll give the short and sweet of it.

Windows 8 vs Ubuntu

Here’s where I could simply take my PC that I built for roughly $1000; that plays all the top games available, it does 3D Blu-ray to my 32 inch TV that I use as a monitor and change it to Ubuntu for the grand total of $0.  Ubuntu is free!  However, there’s no 3D Blu-ray software yet.  I can play regular Blu-ray’s via VLC.  It’s clunky, but it works.  All my games… well those I can get to work via Wine would be alright, a bit buggy perhaps.  Others I would lose out on playing or I’d have to play the handful of visually stunning games that are made for Linux.  Most of them however, are shooters.  Only shooters I play are the old Unreal Tournament games.  Not an Army/Marine kind of guy.  Plus, again, I’d have to find replacements to all the software I use, although most work on Linux too, so that’s actually a half-assed plus.

Ubuntu vs Mac OS X Mountain Lion

As for moving to either of these, I’d have virtually the same exact issues as far as software goes.  Mac, I’ve already purchased some software replacements, and I made sure they all had lifetime upgrades free.  Software is covered really, I’d have to deal with the old frustrations I had before.  Plus, Mac finally got Blu-ray software, but I don’t think it does 3D yet.  You have to buy a USB Blu-ray player, because you can’t buy it when you buy the Mac as an internal drive.  Which is dumb as hell.  Plus, then I’d be paying well over twice as much for the Mac hardware.  Starting at $2499 for something I already have basically is financial suicide.  Sure I could go iMac, but that’s all integrated, and not very user upgradable.  Actually they frown on user upgrades.  If I wanted to have an integrated computer, I’d just keep my laptop.

Mac vs Windows

I’ve already compared Mac’s to PC’s.  Repeatedly.  The horse isn’t moving anymore.

My Conclusion

Though, as disheartened as I am over Windows 8.  I think I’ll wait to jump ship on the Windows based PC for now.  I’ll just hang on to my beloved Windows 7 as long as I can on my desktop and leave the Windows 8 and whatever future holds for Microsoft Windows in general to my poor laptop (or whatever I replace it with in the future).  Who knows, maybe Microsoft will redeem themselves.  However, this time I kind of doubt it.  Maybe it’s me.  Maybe it’s time I let go of computers.  I just don’t want too.  They still hold a world of wonder, excitement and creativity to me.  I’m not ready to do that just yet.

Infected Apples

Just as I predicted, Apples across the globe are becoming infected by malware at an alarming rate because of the mass mindset that is the Apple owner.  The “My Mac does not need antivirus, it’s a Mac!” syndrome.

As I’ve said, “Security is still something most Mac users take for granted.  They don’t understand that prevention is better than patching a known problem.”.

I also said, “As I’ve said before, Macs have viruses too.  And with the current growth rate, the bullseye is only getting bigger on Apple’s flagship product.  My personal opinion is if you have a Mac and don’t think you need an antivirus software, you’re an idiot.”.

If you think that your Mac laptop/desktop is safe, think again! The (misplaced) confidence of Mac users, about the security of its operating system may backfire, as happened again, recently in the case of the  BackDoor.Flashback.39, also known simply as Flashback Trojan. More than 600,000 Mac machines have been affected and with no appropriate guidelines from Apple on how to counter that or stay safe, the count may be on the rise. It is said that the infection rates are comparable to the Conficker botnet, which infected many Windows machines.

Source and read more @ The Windows Club

This is one of those times when “I told ya so!”, makes me feel so evil and good at the same time 🙂

The mindset Mac owners have will be their undoing {evil laugh}

This is not by far the first virus for Macs and it certainly won’t be the last.  However, I wonder what this will do for Apple’s growth rate on the market.  I’m also curious when the iPads and iPhones will be struck next.  Even though my phone is a Droid, I use antivirus.  Not because there are known issues, but to prevent having issues.  It’s called thinking ahead.

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{dŭm'ăs-ə-fō'bē-ə} The Fear of Stupid People.

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