Last Friday, I ordered a RAM upgrade for my gaming rig. I built it about two years ago and thought I was styling at 8 gigs, but since I had opted to buy an upgrade for my wife’s Mac mini, I figured that I could use another 8 gigs to bring me to 16. I ordered both of our upgrades off of Amazon, since I had a gift card that needed burning. I expected it on Tuesday, but they delivered it on Saturday morning, to my surprise and elation. I did what anyone would do; I installed the RAM, ran CMOS and saved the new memory configuration and then rebooted it.
When the machine came back up with a listing of 16 gigs and launched into Windows, I was pretty confident that I wasn’t going to have any troubles. Unfortunately, after about ten minutes of use and the launch of various programs that I start up every day, I was met with the following BSOD:
Close, but this is from Windows XP. Also, mine specified different files.
It dumped out into the BSOD and then came to a halt, long enough for me to get down the specific STOP code, which I was partially familiar with. I did what any good tech would do… I rebooted into safe mode and started working on it. I ran the various checks and utilities, I reset the page file size to reflect the new RAM total (for the record, take your pagefile off of system-managed, and set it to 1.5 times your physical RAM). And then I rebooted again into normal mode. I got a different BSOD complaining about IRQ not being equal, which kind of raises the ol’ eyebrow. At this point, I was getting a little concerned and feeling my frustration level rise. What if Amazon shipped me out some bad hardware?
3 of the 4 DIMMs failed a majority of the tests.
I downloaded Memtest86 at Josh‘s recommendation, and I find out that there’s a forked project called Memtest86+, which will now allow me to use a flash drive to install it and use it to boot up in. I run it, go to sleep that night and wake up to the screen you see at the right. Yeah, that’s a fuckton of errors, folks. Covering addresses for three (that’s right, THREE) of the four DIMMs that Amazon shipped me. They failed six of the ten total tests per pass, on three separate passes. I was absolutely livid over this. Because, it’s not like I went over to a brick-and-mortar and picked up bad hardware that I can drive and return to in order to get a replacement or a refund… I have to RMA this box of DIMMs back to Amazon and wait for them to receive it via UPS Ground, first.
Also, it was well after 2am on Sunday morning, so I was screwed until Fry’s opened up at 9am. I took out the RAM, put in the original DIMMs, rebooted.. and Windows worked like a champ. No errors or BSODs. At least I had a working machine to play with until the sun came up over the horizon. Which I did, because nothing alleviates frustration than tearing others a new asshole on Tribes for hours on end.
I was at Fry’s only two minutes after they unlocked the doors. Now, under normal circumstances, flagging some poor working schleb over there is kind of a crap shoot during their prime hours. They usually ignore me unless I stare someone down, or go to the desk and ask for assistance. However, when you’re the first person in the store, it’s like you’re a celebrity. I was walking through various departments to get to the computer component area and sales staff were all over me, asking me if I needed help. I guess they were all looking for that first commission of the day or something.
So, I made it to the right area. I was looking at the DIMM prices for the one I wanted, and within ten seconds, I had one on me asking me if I needed help. The thing about Fry’s is, never ask these guys for advice. Never. If you go in knowing exactly what you want, take down the Fry’s PLU number and then say, “I want one of ######.” They’ll go right to their computer, print out your little receipt so you can take it to the cage in customer service and buy it. If you don’t know what you want, then call a friend on your cell, look it up on Wikipedia, Google for it, do anything except ask these chuckleheads for advice. They don’t know shit about shit, other than making a sale. They will smell your lack of confidence and jump on you like a starving man at a free all-you-can-eat buffet. Anyway… I got the DIMMs and picked up a couple of cans of compressed air to I could clean out the case, then left the store to return home.
Don’t get me started on the bitterant, either. That shit is nasty.
The old set of RAM, the original 8GB I had installed.
I replace the RAM again, go through the whole thing. I clean out the case, which desperately needed it. As soon as I bring up the computer, I get a BIOS checksum error. I go into the CMOS, save the new memory configuration and reboot. Same thing, checksum error. It’s Award BIOS, I use my laptop to find out how to correct it, and it turns out that I never activated the backup recovery option when I installed it. To make matters worse, I’m running Revision 3 and the site says they’re up to Revision 11. Another RAM swap back to the original, I download the new Rev and apply it using the Windows flash utility. I restart the machine, the computer gives me ten short beeps and it shuts down. I restart it again and launch into CMOS, this time it seems to load fine. Save the config, restart.. ten short beeps and it shut down on its own.
I try restarting it, and it comes up, but it freaks out over the configuration. So I just reset the whole thing, delete it and flash it back to default. I don’t bother to save any of the old configuration files. It comes up again, this time with the full Gigabyte full-screen advertisement about the board. I jump into CMOS and reset the boot order, all the normal stuff. Get rid of the quick-load screen, I want to see POST, damn it! Finally, I got it back in order, I shut it down after I confirm it can load into Win7 without difficulty. I put back in the new RAM, just to be sure, and the same thing happens again. BSOD in Windows.
The package the new RAM arrived in.
Now, I’m thinking I have two bad sets of RAM and I’m about ready to drive back to Fry’s and replace it with a new set. Something in the back of my head tells me to try it one more time. I let it reboot, and I get three short beeps and then it shut downs. I go down the hall to let my wife know that I might be heading out to buy a new motherboard when I hear the Windows 7 startup sound chime in. While I was out of the room, it turned itself on and successfully started up.
I think it heard me.
It was running fine, now. I logged in and started doing some stress-testing, using HeavyLoad and DXDiag. HeavyLoad managed to get me to 75% RAM utilization and 100% CPU before I stopped it. DXDiag ran the little floating box test and I had no problems, there. I sat back in my chair, completely flabbergasted by the sudden development. Then again, given my long history with Windows, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Last week, Star Trek Online held their second anniversary event. As I did with the previous year’s anniversary event, I was there waiting in line for the events to begin along with what seemed like everyone else on the game. This year, however, with the release of the new Free2Play portion of the game, the crowds to even get onto the server were so large that it took more than a few minutes to actually get to the character select screen. Once you were in, though, you could earn the new class of ship, the Odyssey-class, through a mission pickup right outside of Admiral Quinn’s office, from an NPC. As soon as the NPC popped for the event, the crowd swarmed this guy and suddenly everyone was off running that mission to test out the newest class to hit the game.
… this is not a recommended class for Tactical or Science officers.
My Odyssey-class USS Bonhomme Richard, with full Borg gear (in-game screenshot).
I want to make one thing clear; there are several different “original” classes of ship within Star Trek Online. Most of them are variations on the canonical classes, such as the Thunderchild-class (redress of the Akira-class), the Bellerophon-class (redress of the Intrepid-class), and then there are several truly original classes that have no basis whatsoever, such as the Avenger-class and the Dervish-class. My reactions to the 100% original classes has not been positive. In fact, although I did use the Dervish for my Tactical Admiral for many months, I only used it because of the benefits rather than the design. I personally think the Dervish (and the variants) design is lacking in many ways, and honestly believe that Cryptic needs to hire someone who knows Trek a little better before trying to strike out on their own.
The new Odyssey-class is not a Cryptic design. They opened up a contest a little under a year ago where players like you and me could submit designs for this new class. The winner was Adam Ihle, which was, quite frankly, the best-looking design out of the others that were submitted to Cryptic. If you take a look at the link, you’ll see the ones that came in second, third, and fourth… and all I can say is, if they had gone with any of the others… blech. I think they made the right choice, but Odyssey isn’t without its problems.
I’m going to quote from the website regarding the design and the canonical information they’ve disclosed, so far:
The Odyssey class is the largest vessel ever created by Starfleet. Its massive size makes it very resilient, but its turn rate is reduced by the bulk of the vessel. The Odyssey’s unique split saucer pylon reduces subspace turbulence which allows higher warp speeds and increases the duration the ship can maintain Slipstream Drive. The Odyssey is designed as an extreme long-range vessel, and can operate for long periods of time away from support. Because of this, it is the most versatile cruiser ever developed by the Starfleet Corps of Engineers and features a Universal Lieutenant Commander Bridge Offer Station that can by operated by any Bridge Officer class.
— Stephen D’Angelo, Executive Producer, Star Trek Online.
Click for a closer look at the Odyssey-class design...
Again, I want to stress that this is not a Cryptic design. But the explanation for the various design choices are nothing short of bullshit. Okay, granted, Star Trek itself is fictional, but there’s a certain standard of keeping to the established explanations for How Things Work within the universe. Over time, you have a large number of references to pull from, and I often think that Cryptic is either too lazy to use them or just phones in some of the explanations for why a ship looks like that.
The split-saucer pylon, which is more commonly referred to as the “neck,” is a design element borrowed from an earlier design of the Oberth-class frigate. The Oberth-class was shown in the form of the USS Grissom from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. This class also uses the same concept, which is kind of cool since its a stylish departure from the normal solid neck look of the Galaxy, Excelsior, Sovereign, and of course, the original Constitution-class starships.
My problem is with the explanation for why this element is used. I quote from the blog excerpt above, “The Odyssey’s unique[sic] split saucer pylon reduces subspace turbulence which allows higher warp speeds and increases the duration the ship can maintain Slipstream Drive.”
Okay, first of all, what a crock of shit. That’s like saying that the Space Shuttle’s wings make it easier for it to fly in space. It doesn’t. You don’t determine higher warp speeds based on the design of the ship, you base it on the ability of the warp coil to sustain a higher energy output to allow a ship to enter the subspace interfold layer at a higher rate. You could form a subspace field around a brick and as long as the coils generating the field are solid, you can hit higher warp speeds, no problem. I think Cryptic needs a lesson in Trek’s mechanics before they approve drivel like this.
… as my engineering admiral… the ship is a match made in heaven.
Bonhomme Richard packs a punch in combat.
My Trekkie (or Trekker) rant notwithstanding, within the game itself, there are a few hazards I’ve run into with the class during combat. First of all, this is not a recommended class for Tactical or Science officers. Tactical officers need maneuverability and DPS. Science officers get maneuverability from the smaller classes like the Nebula and Intrepid-classes. The Odyssey is the aforementioned brick: it doesn’t turn on a dime, but it has a really tough hull and can tank like no other class on STO right now. It does come with a Universal Lieutenant Commander bridge officer station, which makes it usable by Tactical or Science, but the fact that the only Commander-level station is for Engineering seals the deal for me. I’m only going to use this with my Engineering officer. I can’t justify switching off my other characters to use this class because there’s just too much of a sacrifice to required abilities within combat and flight.
Playing as my engineering admiral, however, the ship is a match made in heaven. Even though the cruiser lacks the swift handling of the Sovereign-class, this is easily corrected with a Rare (blue) or Very Rare (purple) RCS Accelerator console. Double them up, if you need to. Once I installed that console, I found that I could turn as quickly as I could while helming my Sovereign or Galaxy-X vessels. The only drawback to the Odyssey as an engineer is the loss of the extra tactical slot from my Sovereign-class ship. Otherwise, it’s still a four-fore and four-aft weapon ship, four ship devices, and a four/three/two on consoles. It carries +10 to both Shield Power and Aux Power, with a maximum warp of 9.996 (faster than any other ship on the game), and the new Advanced Slipstream Drive will blow past the normal Vice Admiral Slipstream by nearly 30% (Warp 28.00). The duration of the ASD is also increased; you can fly the entire length of a sector without having to cool down, but once you hit the edge, there’s a two minute cooldown period before you can use it again. With the addition of the Borg warp drive, the max warp still hits 14.00, so there’s no advantage there. But for Aegis, MACO, and Omega users, you will see a big increase in warp speed.
Additionally, what makes this class even more of a tank is the additional hull points on top of the standard. A stock Odyssey comes with around forty-five thousand hull points, but when you add on all your bonuses? Well, I’m rolling around in STFs with fifty-six thousand-plus hull points. I’m going toe-to-toe with Tactical Cubes and can hang in a firefight for much longer, especially with all my health buffs and abilities.
I’ve pretty much decided to switch to this class permanently for my engineer. What I’m looking forward to the most is Cryptic’s class variants for Odyssey, because right now, there’s only one skin available. But the size of the class provides a big opportunity for Cryptic to make a little money by selling off more ship costumes for it. I’m very curious to see where they go from here.
And I’m still waiting for my damn Ambassador-class!
Link: Star Trek Online
This week I went to the dentist to get my first check-up in quite some time. My family dentist, who was in his seventies, decided to hang up his shingle a few years ago. Between that and trying to work out a way to visit the dentist on my busy schedule and somehow overcoming my tendency to procrastinate, I finally got around to making an appointment and heading in. Unfortunately, the news from my new dentist was not pleasing. Thus, I will be out of commission for a few weeks as I undergo a series of appointments over the course of the next two to two and half weeks where I will lose my wisdom teeth among other corrective procedures to bring things into a healthy state.
What this means is that the WTF Show will be on a short break until after my last procedure. I apologize to my listeners, but this is necessary. Better I be out for a short time than offline forever, which is where things were headed had I not gone in. But feel free to use this post as the weekly WTF Show post, at the very least… I can respond in text, if not on the air.
Also, don’t forget to head to Japan-A-Radio’s subscribe link and become a subscriber today! JAR needs your support, now more than ever!
Around the same time that I was running through Maison Ikkoku, the previously-mentioned Ken Lau introduced me to another series that had piqued my interest. Maison Ikkoku was a rather bittersweet story and so I guess he felt that since I was really liking it, he should try to pour on another, but much much shorter series with equal parts bitter and sweet, romance and comedy. What resulted for me was this experience that I’ll always look back at and remember how awesome this show was. I invite you to come back with me as we take a look at Video Girl Ai (Den’ei Shoujo). (more…)
“You know, there are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy: ‘With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.’ Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.”
— Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The Drumhead.” Written by Jeri Taylor.
We need to put a stop to SOPA and PIPA. (image lifted from gas2.org)
Wednesday, many freedom-loving and liberty-conscious sites went black. It was a voluntary blackout in protest of Congress putting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) on their domestic legislative agendas. Sites that joined the blackout included Wikipedia, Reddit, and the entire Cheezburger network. Google posted a large, attention-grabbing banner on their front page, and urged visitors to sign a petition that would be sent to Congress on their behalf. Also, this blog went black to stand in solidarity with the other thousands of sites that did the same. Not that anyone missed much; to be honest, this blog is so low-traffic. But if even one person who visited managed to contact their congressional representatives on the issue, then going dark for those twenty-four hours was entirely worth it. Besides, it gave me a chance to use the time to perform upgrades and design changes without the need to down my site. Let’s face it, even in the face of crushing legislation, I’m still always going to be a system administrator at heart.
Should you have been avoiding all news and press yesterday and the day before, and you still don’t know what SOPA and PIPA are, allow me to educate you with this awesome video from AmericanCensorship.org:
PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.
By the way, my favorite part of the above video is when they use Justin Bieber as the pawn of evil under the “Entertainment Industry” umbrella. Priceless. Also, I want to post another video, this time The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart manages to deftly present the SOPA/PIPA issue with the usual comedic flair.
I did my part by reaching out to my Congressman and both Senators on Wednesday and Thursday. I called my congressman’s office here in the city, and I emailed both senators and have been posting on their Facebook walls and tweeting in reply to their accounts. Thankfully, my congressman has been against SOPA since Day One. Unfortunately, both my Senators are being asshats and apparently ignoring the outcry of their constituents in continuing to support PIPA. What’s appalling is that in spite of the protests and calls, emails, tweets, and other methods of expressing their displeasure, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) is not only ignoring us, but fast-tracking the bill for a Senate vote. As of this writing, the tally is 41-59 in favor of passing PIPA.
The unfortunate part of this equation is that while I did nothing to lift a finger to help re-elect Senator Dianne “The RIAA/MPAA’s Puppet” Feinstein, I did vote for and contribute money to Senator Barbara Boxer’s campaign. Now, I’ve always disliked Feinstein; her politics and mine have only had a passing familiarity at best. Boxer, on the other hand, up until now, we’ve been in lockstep for the most part, which is why I wanted to do all I could to help her get reelected in 2010. I’m regretting that right now, especially since she’s gone quiet on the issue at a time when we need our legislature to sit up and listen to the people they claim to represent.
I’m not wanting to draw a line in the sand on this one, but it seems to me that this is just another chip away at the freedom of expression that’s supposed to be protected in the Bill of Rights. In fact, I was withholding my precious free time and financial support for the Obama/Biden campaign in 2012 until I read that he was finally coming down on the right side of the issue. I’ve already signed up to volunteer again for his re-elect. If Boxer votes to pass PIPA, I will actively campaign against her in 2016 and push for a primary challenger at the nominating convention in Sacramento. Not that I have any political clout whatsoever, but this is one of those issues that I feel will have lasting and possibly irreparable consequences against what it means to be an American, and more concretely, affects my ability to thrive in this industry as I have been doing so since 1997.
Both bills threaten the way business is conducted in my industry. If a startup begins to remote threaten another, more-established business’ sales, they can sue under PIPA or SOPA to shut down their website… with NO due process. This would not only hinder any new business’ chances, but the entire market will adjust to a point where investing in any startups in the tech industry become riskier than it was before the bill’s passage. This means less startups, less jobs, and should I ever need one… I could possibly be screwed. So, while I want to keep pursuing this as a high-minded issue, there’s a real hit to my bottom line, here. I’ve worked for seven different startups in the last thirteen years; some have failed, some were successful, some were bought-out. These bills could really sink a startup before it even has a chance to let the free market decide what to do with it, and that’s a real shame for everyone.
Imagine if Facebook were sued out of existence by mySpace using PIPA? I know it sounds crazy, but under that bill, it would be easy to make it happen.
This is one of those times where if you don’t care now, you will care very much later, if it becomes law. And then, all that’ll stand between the net you know now and the net the Entertainment Industry wants… is the Supreme Court.
“A man once said this, ‘Decisions are made by those who show up.'”
— The West Wing, “What Kind of Day Has It Been.” Written by Aaron Sorkin.