19 July 2014, Darrell @ 9:31 am

As I did my kitchen counter tops, I purchased extra pieces of granite to make a sideboard. Now I’m shopping for the 2 base cabinets to make the sideboard.

Here’s what I need: 2 36″ wide base cabinets, Shaker style in a dark finish – Usually called Havana as it turns out. Each cabinet with drawer[s] above and two slide out shelves below behind double doors. This is a standard cabinet layout, and 36″ wide is a standard size. (more…)

15 June 2014, Darrell @ 10:21 am


My friend is hard of hearing. He has problems with dialog especially when there is background music in movies. He saw “Her” when it was at the movies and got the gist of the plot, but did not really hear the dialog. I rented the movie and we watched it with subtitles and this time he got it. He was able to “see” it all. (more…)

27 November 2013, Darrell @ 9:47 pm
Sale in Wow

Sale in Wow

All of the battle chest with all but Pandaria for $5 and then Pandaria for another $10. It might as well be free.

It seems to me that this not so much a sale as a desperation move to avoid going to free to play. All the other games have gone F2P. So why not Wow? They appear to be clinging to the teat of those $15 / mo subscriptions, while all the other companies are doing just fine with F2P or Freemium.

Perfect World has always been F2P and has made so much money that they bought their own game studio – Cryptic Studios. There is clearly plenty of money in F2P, but Blizzard apparently cannot yet bring itself to cut the cord and go there. Once the cost of the entire game is $15, it would seem that it might as well be free. Uh Oh? What about all those physical boxes on store shelves? Seriously, are they going to bring the price back up to $25 / $40 where it used to be after the holidays?

I have never seen details of the economics of F2P mmo games on the PC. There have been some articles about F2P games on mobile, but those use a different model, since you do Pay to Get Ahead with those games. With MMOs you cannot pay to get ahead or play better. But many companies are making great MMO games, far better than and more modern than Wow, and they are using a F2P model. Consider Tera, Guild Wars 2, Rift, Neverwinter, etc. etc. All released as F2P or converted to F2P. And all with much more modern graphics, more efficient game play style and many other advantages. (more…)

16 November 2013, Darrell @ 7:46 pm
The Nightmare Tower

The Nightmare Tower

The recent content for Guild Wars 2 is not well balanced to be fun for any but the strongest players. Here’s an example.

The first installment of the Tower of Nightmares spawned an evil tower in Kessex Hills and some recurring events around the tower and in other places. It was ok if you were with a very large group and were above level 40. Kessex Hills is a 15-25 area. But for one thing, you can’t play that area until you are about 35, and if you go near any of the new content at less than 40, you are instantly dead. I’m talking with Green [Masterwork] equipment, not just white or blue armor.

These events were so scary that it was very fitting that they occurred during Halloween.

So in early November, the second installment is up for this content. The Nightmares Within. (more…)

2 November 2013, Darrell @ 9:25 pm
Kaetlin Stormcaller

Kaetlin Stormcaller

Guild Wars 2 was developed with new ideas like eliminating the Holy Trinity, no backtracking to quest givers, everybody is a healer and so forth. But one thing they haven’t eliminated is “Grinding”. By Grinding I mean repetitive game play that is the most efficient way to move forward in the game.

I’ve played 6 characters from level 1 to level 40′s and recently started one – an Elementalist. When I reached level 17, I wanted to level to 20 to wear armor that I’d crafted so it seemed that Grinding Champions in Queensdale was the most efficient way to level quickly. I kept track of the progress and here are those results.

This is not a complete description of champion grinding in Queensdale. The GW2 forums or wiki will provide better descriptions. It’s an overview of what’s required to level in this way, with examples and my observations about how GW2 really does seem to include a lot of Grinding. (more…)

2 November 2013, Darrell @ 8:33 am


The last update from WordPress.Org has left us all with less trust in WordPress. They released 3.7 with a nasty bug that caused images in the “Visual” display of the edit post windows to be displayed wrong. Easy issue to test for.

They have now fixed the bug with a 3.7.1 update.

We all trust WordPress.org a little less this week.

- ww

25 September 2013, Darrell @ 8:38 am
Asura Mesmer

Asura Mesmer

Guild Wars 2 is hard to play. Compared with World of Warcraft, or Tera, both of which I love and do not complain about.

The reason appears to be that ArenaNet is designing the game for the end-game players. For example, the recent update notes stated that they have upped the health of the champions [bosses] and reduced the time required to kill them. These are the events that show up in all areas, including low level areas and that you can do once per day, per account to get mid level loot and exp.

I think the problem is that the “Down-leveling” math is not fair and they are compensating in other parts of the game rather than fixing “Down-leveling”.

The ArenaNet folks are not happy with any criticism on their forums, so I need to post this here. (more…)

17 September 2013, Darrell @ 5:17 am
CMS_Levels of Abstraction_1_1

Level 0

Over the past 15 years or so we have seen several levels of abstraction develop in the evolution of tools for the web. At this point, there are WYSIWYG website builders that model the page and it’s high level elements and allow building of entire websites. Among these site builders are SquareSpace, Weebly, and several others. There are also other tools such as Joomla, Drupal and other CMS schemes that solve more flexible problems.
However, as far as I can determine, none of these CMS schemes to date solve what I am calling here, for lack of a better name, “The Agency Problem”.

There is a natural extension to the abstraction that we have thus far reached that does solve this “Agency Problem”. It occurs to me that this problem is of sufficient generality that it deserves consideration as the next level of abstraction for CMS systems to solve. In this paper, I’ll present my take on the levels of abstraction in the technology of building websites and present a scheme which solves “The Agency Problem”. (more…)

15 August 2013, Darrell @ 8:28 am
Defender - Champions Online

Defender – Champions Online

So you want to be a Super Hero? Well there are a few choices out there. Here are three, and my choice for Best of Breed. All these are Free to Play, so you can easily try them all.

Marvel Heroes is of course based on the Marvel Universe. But I’d give it a pass. It’s a pretty game, but only 2.5 D [Dimensions] in this age of 3 Dimensions.

DC Universe Online is a very pretty 3D game and is a very good choice. But it has a complicated overloaded control scheme that I didn’t like.

Champions Online is a full 3D experience in a new Superhero world. Cell shaded, with Roll-Your-Own heroes and Costumes, it’s a great game if you want to be social, or if you don’t. Brought to you by Cryptic Studios which is owned now by Perfect World. (more…)

17 July 2013, Darrell @ 4:29 am

Video Netcast on Tablet

In early 2011, I made a media PC to watch netcasts on my TV. At the time the system was connected to a plasma display and was running at 1440 resolution. Also at the time, it was perfectly able to play the netcasts from the Twit.tv network, as well as other videos.

Currently the jetway atom PC is connected to my new TV which is full HD and it has been upgraded to Linux Mint 14. Also I’ve noticed that it will no longer play live broadcasts or recorded shows from this site. So what has changed? (more…)

3 June 2013, Darrell @ 11:05 pm
Your SSD

Your SSD

After upgrading my system with a shiny new SSD, the HD light was blinking like a heart beat every second or so, and that concerned me. SSD’s have a limited lifetime, for writes, so it occurred to me that Windows might be burning up my SSD by continually writing to it.

After checking around a little on the web, I found the SysInternals windows utilities on the Microsoft techweb site. At first I tried DiskMon, which showed disk activity,  but didn’t show which files were being accessed. Then I found Process Monitor, which showed which files were being written and  by how much. (more…)

22 May 2013, Darrell @ 9:40 am
Logitech Receiver on Case

Logitech Receiver on Case

Mouse Glitches? Keyboard Dropouts?

Don’t put the Logitech Receiver on the computer case. (more…)

20 May 2013, Darrell @ 8:00 pm

I finally got around to installing the AeroCool Coolpanel III in the gaming machine. I purchased this back when I got the battle chair machine.

CoolPanel III

CoolPanel III

The coolpanel 3 has a media card reader, 3 channel fan controller/ temperature display, audio ports, USB ports and ESATA port. At this point I’m using the USB media card reader and temperature display. The rest of the functions don’t make sense in my current system. There are no more USB connectors on the MB and there are USB ports on the top and front of the case. The temp display is way cool tho and I really needed that media card reader.


- Windy

20 May 2013, Darrell @ 7:51 pm
Samsung 840 250GB SSD

Samsung 840 250GB SSD

The SSD arrived today!

The first problem was that I neglected to order the package with the 2.5″ > 3.5″ HD bracket. So mounting the drive was an issue. I had taped the Laptop drive during my testing using a cardboard platform, so after not finding any bracket when calling around to places in town, I did the same, and then ordered some brackets from NewEgg. (more…)

20 May 2013, Darrell @ 7:31 pm

The Problem

Samsung 840 250GB SSD

Samsung 840 250GB SSD

You may have noticed that prices for SSDs have come down quite a bit in the last year or so. And the sizes are now quite reasonable. A 250GB SSD will set you back about $200 and a 500GB SSD is about $350. So, I’ve decided that it’s time to begin migrating my computers to SSD system drives.

Casper 6.0 is among the tools I’ve had for sometime to migrate disks, so I gave that a try.

The test machine is an Alienware Aurora R2, circa 2008, with 8GB memory and a 1TB HD, running, Win7 x64. Only 180GB of the 1TB HD is used. As a test target before the SSD arrives, the migration target is a 320GB SATA Laptop drive.


2 March 2013, Darrell @ 11:21 am
Corel VS Box

Corel VS Box

Corel Video Studio Pro X5 is a great and inexpensive video editing suite for editing and burning both DVDs and BluRay disks.

I’ve been capturing game play footage from video games and wanted to make BluRay disks of that footage to remember and share what it’s like to play some of these games. I captured the game footage with Fraps  as full screen on my 1600×900 monitor with sound. Fraps allows you to define a hot key to start and end your video capture, so at anytime while you are playing the game,  you can start recording video. Corel VS made it easy to edit the videos, adjust clips, make short video backgrounds for the menus, and then burn the BluRay disks.

While I am making BluRay disks from video game footage, you can use any HD footage from your vacation, kids or whatever. The process is the same.

There are a ton of options, transitions, effects and other things in Corel Video Studio. I don’t use any of those, although I have used the titles. They are easy to apply if you want to use them, and there are tutorials on the Corel site and YouTube to give you more help. (more…)

2 September 2012, Darrell @ 8:04 am

42″ Plasma TV

The Old TV

For about 10 years I’ve had a Fujitsu 42″ Plasma TV and it has been great. I understand that Fujitsu invented plasma technology and back when I bought this TV it was very expensive. The Best. $6000 plus $1400 for a three year extended warranty. The warranty was well spent since the TV died in about 6 months and again at 3 years when it was replaced by a refurbished unit.The plasma TV finally died. On the morning of 31 August the TV would no longer boot. It had worked fine the night before. When it last worked the plasma screen was still bright, showing none of the darkening that plasmas were rumored to show after 10 years. But oh how TVs have changed. (more…)

18 July 2012, Darrell @ 12:25 pm

Zbox ID80

After getting the Alienware machine, I found myself with an extra 20″ monitor and noticed that the Blue Diamond box was getting a little long in the tooth. It has been running Ubuntu 10 and while it works, it’s very slow. Time for an upgrade.

The Zotac Zbox ID80 plus was about $300 from newegg, and while they have versions that are with and without HDD and memory, the one I got had 2GB of ram and a 320GB HD. I didn’t really need the HD since I had one of that size, but the price really tossed that in for almost free. I did get 4GB of RAM for it for an additional $21. (more…)

5 November 2011, Darrell @ 8:45 am

Level 23 Priest

The Problem
Wow classes are not balanced for PVE soloing. I’m not suggesting that they aren’t balanced for other efforts or that they should be changed, but as we all know, some classes have a real problem soloing in PVE.

Some Background
I’m not a whiner, and I’ve been playing MMOs for over 5 years, so I have some experience beyond Wow. Here in Wow, in the past few months, I have played all the classes and studied the wiki guides.
Let’s look at the biggest example you are all familiar with: The Priest. The priest is the squishiest of the classes. I’m sure it’s possible to solo the priest in PVE. I’ve gotten a priest up to level 20, but it’s no fun. It’s a lot of work to solo a priest. The mental and input “load” is very high. Many different skills are required and everything needs to go just right to take down mobs, even if you are a few levels higher than they are. And if two mobs run you at the same time, forget it. You are in for a long walk from the graveyard. (more…)

30 August 2011, Darrell @ 6:28 am

Death Knight Night Elf at 61

Once you level at least one character in your account to level 55, you can create Death Knight class characters of any Race on any Realm. Death Knights start at level 55, so all the drudgery of getting to level 55 is eliminated, but there are other problems to deal with. There are many notable experiences and problems for a Death Knight:

  • While you start at level 55, you have only 20 silver in your bank.
  • The starting quest chain is a tight story line, which is exciting and engaging. While it is not as rich with cinematics and dialog as the Undead quest chain in the Silverpine forest, it leads you through a story that places you in the world and fills in your back story.
  • You will find yourself at level 58 with an updated weapon and some new armor pieces when the quest chain ends.
  • The story ends differently for Horde and Alliance based on your race. But I’ll not spoil your experience by telling you the end.
  • Your only starting profession is First Aid and it is leveled for you to about level 200, so you can built quite nice bandages should you need them. (more…)
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