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But WTF is it?   
03:46pm 01/08/2014
 
mood: annoyed
I hate it when I see somebody mention an application or product that will apparently produce miracles, but when I visit their web site all I see is a lot of gushing about how great it is and lots about recent updates and not a damned thing about what the product does. Really... is the market already saturated, so you don't need any more customers?

Still not sure what it is. If the front page and the FAQ page don't enlighten me, I'm afraid I've just run out of patience.
 
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One of my favorite Urban Fantasy authors   
02:36pm 01/08/2014
  seanan_mcguire, one of my favorite Urban Fantasy authors, is apparently on LJ. (I've been reading her October Daye series.)

Perhaps the "Top Journals" stuff that appears on the front page isn't entirely useless after all...
 
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Another infrequent update   
02:13pm 01/08/2014
  Playing Payday 2 these days.

Deb still using the Mac. I'd been using Starr's old black Mac but finally tried to get the Thinkpad fixed, failed, bought a used one (in pretty good condition!) on eBay, swapped a few parts around (the webcam was broken and there was no Bluetooth and mine had 8GB RAM), got a SSD drive (dropped the damn thing 5 minutes into a trip to Fallon and nuked the hard drive), and generally have managed to migrate back to it. The black Mac is sitting alone running some maintenance tasks on a power supply (and an old battery), I gave the good one to Deb. (So she now has a black battery for her white Mac. How... diverse!)

Actually the replacement Thinkpad had a few differences, including an i3 (better!) instead of the Phenom and a different style top cover, but I'm using the old battery (extra capacity and almost new) and I now have 3 power supplies. So it's not a real powerhouse but it holds its own for ordinary tasks and runs Windows 7 just fine and I've got my old drive set up as an external for now. Plus I have spare parts, up to and including a working spare display. Theoretically, from what I've seen, I should be able to upgrade to an i7, but it's only a 2-core part (I thought all i7s were 4-core with hyperthreading? WTF?) but again, the i3 seems fine.

I find that I cannot post replies on my friends' journals. How annoying.
 
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The Unspoken Truth about Managing Geeks   
10:53am 01/08/2014
  This.  
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Life just keeps going on   
03:01pm 10/03/2014
  Let's see.

I did fix the MacBook because my daughter needed a laptop. Did cost about $400 as predicted. Still worth it. Ended up being an upgrade, too; the old one was a Core Duo, but the new one is a Core 2 Duo. I can run Lion on it, but no further, but I can also upgrade the RAM to 4GB (it can really only use about 3.3GB). I expect to upgrade the RAM first, then the OS.

Starr gave me her old black MacBook about 2 years ago. I was using the Lenovo almost as a desktop -- better performance for my games than my old P4 desktop -- so I used the Mac as my primary laptop. When I upgraded my desktop I switched over and gave the Mac to Silkensteel. ...Then the Lenovo died, and I still hope to fix it, but I got the BlackMac back from Silkensteel (she wasn't using it anyway) and breathed life back into it. Same upgrade comments as Deb's MacBook except that I didn't have to break it and upgrade the motherboard. :)

I got an iPhone. Not because I wanted an iPhone, but because my old Blackberry wasn't cutting it, I needed something newer, and one of my favorite overstock/refurb/whatever discount sites (IceMonkey, in case you're interested) was selling these for $100. (All the Android phones they sell -- ALL of them that I've seen, or very nearly -- are for the Verizon network. I'm on AT&T at the moment (via Red Pocket), so the iPhone 3GS 8GB was the first that showed up that I could use.) Works OK, has issues with the charging cables (I guess I could buy a real Apple charger but for now I have a real Apple charge cable and my MacBook and that USUALLY works) and battery life, and it's a bit old, but it does the job. Helped fill the gap wonderfully between losing the Lenovo and getting the BlackMac back. I got one for my daughter a few months later when they carried it again, though she got the 16GB model. We're both happier.

I don't like AT&T as a company, I'm only on their network because I ended up on Red Pocket when T-Mobile pissed me off enough to leave them. And then a mere few months later T-Mobile started doing some really good stuff. They could have kept me as a customer with a lot less work, but here we are. Fortunately I did NOT swear never to go back, as I really like some of what they're doing, and I just may consider looking at their offerings again. Once the sting wears off. Meantime Red Pocket is serving my needs and my daughter's. Mostly.

Right pinky: Nearly 100% use in the finger, except the strength. I don't notice except on rare occasions. The muscle used to ache once in a while, probably because I was using it and (mostly subconsciously) occasionally deliberately exercising it, but that's stopped too. I still do that, though.

But strong or not, I've got my finger back.

Playing Borderlands 2 these days. Doing my usual trick, which is to play it forever until I either completely burn out (hasn't happened yet) or something else comes along and I jump ship. My friend The Bob might have lured me into Sanctum 2 if he'd told me about that $4 sale before it ended. I'm still giving him a hard time about that... My daughter gave me this after she got back from SacAnime this year.

Gotta run.
 
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Happy birthday, Kayre!   
06:23pm 07/01/2014
  And many more.  
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Getting a Teamspeak 3 server running on my CentOS 4.5 hosting service   
12:54pm 20/05/2013
 
mood: accomplished
I'm just posting these notes here for reference.

First, I used 3.0.6.1 because it works, where a later version (2.0.7.2, I think) doesn't.

Have to create the user via the panel. Useradd isn't included.

http://forum.teamspeak.com/showthread.php/67834-How-To-install-TeamSpeak-3-0-0-Server-CentOS

Oh look, it doesn't run.

http://forum.teamspeak.com/showthread.php/68827-Failed-to-register-local-accounting-service

Oh look, I can't mount on /dev/shm.

http://psocha.co.uk/post/19695604323/install-teamspeak-3-on-centos-5-5

Hah! It works, and persists when I reboot. Yay me!
 
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E-PARASITE: The Great Firewall of America   
02:11pm 01/11/2011
  I'm going to sign this petition as soon as I can figure out whether I have an account, or if I haven't, sign up for one. (I think I already have one though.)

Please do the same.

White House Petition Against E-PARASITE/SOPA

"Should the Obama administration go against its own State Department, it will serve to undermine Clinton's long term efforts in pushing internet freedom around the globe. That would be quite a legacy to leave: to contradict one's own Secretary of State who is pushing for greater internet freedom, and impose a system of censorship on the US. Please tell the White House not to take such a drastic measure."
 
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Beginner's Guide to Killing Floor (pt. 3)   
02:58pm 09/08/2011
  Continuing to talk about the specific perks.

The Sharpshooter, or "Sharp", specializes in long-range weaponry and headshots. OK, I stole that line directly from the wiki, I admit it.

As I've mentioned, this is a good perk to start any game with because he gets a headshot bonus with the pistol and because he's the only perk that can level using the pistol. He also gets extra headshot bonuses on the sniper rifles and the crossbow. A high-level Sharp with a crossbow at normal difficulties can single-shot a Scrake and two-shot a Fleshpound. His weapons are the pistol, the Handcannon, the lever-action rifle, the M14EBR sniper rifle, and the compound crossbow.

The 9mm pistol (Beretta M9A1) is one of the two basic weapons that every class spawns with. It's a semi-automatic handgun with a medium rate of fire, decent magazine size and cheap ammo. Unlike most weapons it cannot be dropped during normal play -- unless you have two, in which case you can drop one. The iron sights are very basic but it's a fairly accurate weapon in close-to-medium range. Not unlike with the Commando's Bullpup, I recommend that you carefully line up your shots and pick off the specimens at medium range. It's surprisingly effective.

The only way to drop a single 9mm pistol is to die while using it. Unlike the knife, however, another player can pick it up and carry two. Having two pistols will not increase your ammo capacity, however, and while your rate of fire will go up you will lose accuracy (and you won't be able to use the iron sights). On the other hand dual 9mms make a decent backup weapon for in-your-face emergency defense, so pick what works for you. If you find yourself needing the accuracy more than the rate-of-fire you can always drop one and pick it up again later.

The 9mm comes with a flashlight that can be toggled with alt-fire. Dual 9mms are one of the few weapons that a Sharpshooter can carry along side the Crossbow.

The Handcannon, on the other hand, is a Desert Eagle .50 AE (50 caliber) handgun. It has a much slower rate of fire, more expensive ammo, and a smaller clip than the 9mm. It is also more powerful, being able to reliably single-shot a crawler and can penetrate multiple clots with a single headshot.

Like the 9mm you can carry dual handcannons. Also like the 9mm your rate-of-fire goes up and your accuracy goes down, with no change in capacity. In my experience it's worse with the Handcannon because of its higher recoil. It is also -- single or dual -- one of a few weapons that the Sharpshooter can carry along side a crossbow.

Between the choices above, in descending order of preference, I would carry: a single Handcannon; dual 9mms, dual Handcannons; or a single 9mm. I rarely carry dual Handcannons unless I pick one up at random, or happen to notice a new player join between waves who doesn't have time to visit the Trader. (So I'll buy an extra and drop it for him when I see him.) Dual 9mms are a balance between accuracy and killing power, and if I have dual Handcannons, well, I can always drop one. A single 9mm is default and is still useful.

The lever-action rifle is a semi-automatic rifle (Winchester Model 94). It has a decent rate of fire, decent damage, and is the cheapest primary weapon in KF. It's fairly easy to make headshots at medium-to-long range and the iron sights are easy to use. A high-level Sharp can take out a Scrake with only a few headshots (3 to 5 rounds depending on difficulty). Unfortunately you can't carry one along side a Crossbow or it would be my first choice, hands down. Reload is fairly slow, one round at a time, but unlike a magazine reload it can be interrupted partway through. Like the shotgun, you should reload obsessively every chance you get. Reload time gets a boost from the Sharpshooter perk.

The M14EBR is a high-accuracy, high-firing-rate semi-automatic sniper rifle with a laser sight (enable using alt-fire). It is less powerful per shot than the lever-action but has a higher damage-per-second and a magazine reload.

I personally dislike the sight on this weapon, I feel it obscures too much of the target. I prefer the lever-action rifle and tend to use the M14 only when faced with a high volume of specimens, or when I run out of lever-action ammo. I also shoot from the hip a lot.

The compound crossbow is a very high-accuracy, high-powered, low-speed weapon for the Sharpshooter, though it's an amazing weapon for any perk. On higher difficulties the off-perk multiplier drops considerably but is still worth having. It has the second-most expensive ammo of any weapon (only the L.A.W. rockets cost more) and the total capacity is 35 bolts. As mentioned before, a high-level Sharp can single-shot a Scrake and two-shot a Fleshpound, though it depends on the difficulty level (and it helps considerably to have a clear shot at an unraged specimen). It's also a very heavy weapon; the Sharpshooter can only carry dual 9mms, single or dual Handcannon, SCARMK17, MAC10, MP7M or the M79 Grenade launcher. That seems like a large list until you realize that most of them are very expensive off-perk, the MP7M and MAC10 have low capacity, the MAC10 is cheap but has high recoil, and of that list only the pistols get the Sharpshooter's headshot bonus. You could also carry one of the Berserker's blade weapons (Katana, Fire Axe, or Machete).

One thing to note is that a high-level Support Specialist, with his extra carrying capacity, can usually carry a Crossbow plus most any other assault weapon.
 
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Beginner's Guide to Killing Floor (pt. 2)   
10:20pm 08/08/2011
  Here's some perk-specific advice.

I've already talked about going Sharp or Zerk on the first wave after you join. Going Zerk means using your knife; if it's several waves into the game you might want to avoid that. (Unless you're a high-level Zerk, but this is supposed to be a beginner's guide, yes?)

Medic: I have very little advice for Medics, as I've never played one. In general: try not to be a Battle Medic; your job is to keep your teammates healed. Fight when you have to, duck behind the other players when you can. Keep track of them, keep them healthy. You don't level your perk by killing -- you level your perk by healing.

The Medic gets a faster recharge on his syringe, more injection potency, better armour (starting level 1), faster movement (starting level 2), plus discounts on armour and a substantial discount on the MP7M "medic gun". Those all increase with his level. At level 5 he spawns with armour, at level 6 with an MP7M.


Support Specialist: Don't let the extra welding ability go to your head. But you need welding points to level. There's a way to do this.
- Join a solo game on an easy setting.
- Kill off all but a very few clots. One or two should be enough.
- Run through a door with them chasing you, but you need enough distance to start welding.
- Close the door and start welding it.
- While continuing to weld the door, put a brick on your "fire" button.
- The clots will continue to damage the door, you will continue to repair it. Check to make sure you're keeping it welded. If they're doing too much damage, unweld it, kill some clots, and try again at another door.
- Go to bed.
Next morning you'll have all the welding points you need to get to the next level. Maybe several next levels.

I actually bound the spacebar as a second "fire" key and used two old hard drives (one to balance, one as the weight) to hold the key down, but you can use whatever works for you.

After that you'll only need shotgun kill points to level, and you won't feel such a strong need to weld every damned door in sight.

All shotguns are 100% miss from point blank range. If there's a Scrake or Fleshpound in your face, either try to backpedal or crouch and aim for the head.

The shotgun is surprisingly effective, especially with the Support's penetration bonus. Reload obsessively whenever you don't need to fire continuously. Try to position yourself to hit several specimens at once, or use your sidearm for the small stuff if you can, to conserve ammo.

The hunting shotgun is a real sleeper. It's too slow to be useful for general shooting unless your other shotgun is out of ammo. But it's good against larger specimens, and the alt-fire, which fires both barrels, is particularly effective.

My favorite Scrake strategy for Support: backpedal while hitting him with slow fire from the other shotgun (careful to aim for the head!), keeping a distance of about 20 or 30 feet, until he rages. Instantly switch to the hunting shotgun, aim for the head (of course) and shoot with the alternate fire. If you did it right he should die instantly and you will be unscratched.

The AA12 is an awesome automatic shotgun with a drum of 20 shells. It does less damage per shot than the other two shotguns but has the best accuracy and the highest damage-per-second. If you do it right you can take out a Fleshpound without reloading. However, it has a long reload time and you can only carry up to 80 shells total.

The Support Specialist welds faster (starting level 1), gets more grenade damage (starting level 1) and more shotgun damage and penetration, can carry more shotgun and grenade ammo (starting level 1), can carry extra weight (starting level 1), and gets discounts on shotgun weapons. At level 5 he spawns with a pump-action shotgun and at level 6 he spawns with a hunting shotgun.


The Commando's weapons are the Bullpup, the AK-47, and the SCARMK17. He can see Stalkers and the Patriarch when they're invisible, and he can see specimens' health bars. To level he needs to get kills with his perk's weapons and Stalker kills.

Commando is a mixed bag. I'm told that at higher difficulty settings he's not even considered worth playing. However, he's good at rapid fire, he can spot things others can't easily see, and the SCAR can be very useful in his hands. He's a good mid-weight perk and probably the easiest perk to play.

While his weapons can fire rapidly, in general I highly recommend ammo conservation. If you're holding the firing key down and there's not either a horde or a tough specimen in front of you, you're throwing away ammo. Short bursts aimed at the head are best.

Bullpup is one of my favorite weapons! It's lightweight and not very powerful, but it has a low recoil and is very accurate. I like it very much for use against small specimens. Use the iron sights, aim for the neck, and stroke the trigger. It will pull up and headshot the specimen. Aim at the next specimen and repeat. If you set it to semi-auto mode it will handle the short bursts for you but for myself, I find it easy to control the trigger well enough that I don't bother. Once you get the technique down you can quickly snipe hordes of specimens very efficiently at medium range. If too many get up close, switch to automatic and just hold it down against the recoil. I find the iron sights to work well in most conditions. In spite of its lesser damage, in later waves I may keep it in favor of the AK-47 simply because it's so easy to use. It's also a great backup weapon for other classes.

The AK-47 is the Russian weapon we've all come to know and love. As compared to the Bullpup it has a slower firing rate, less ammo, more recoil, and in my opinion a crappier sight; however, it does a lot more damage. If I feel my team is a bit weak I may keep it in favor of the Bullpup in later waves due to its better fire-power.

The SCARMK17 is a thing of wonder. It has a very nice scope, does more damage than either the Bullpup or AK, has a higher rate of fire, weighs less and is more accurate. But it also costs more, has more recoil and a smaller magazine.

The best thing about the SCAR is that you can use alt-fire to set it to semi-automatic, which gives you a single round per trigger pull, sight in with the scope and rapidly single- or two-shot most small specimens. As with the Bullpup you can clean up large amounts of specimens, but at slightly longer range as well. It basically turns your Commando into a half-decent sniper for the little stuff.

The SCAR is light enough to make it one of the few weapons the Sharp can carry along side of the rather heavy crossbow. For myself, I've tried it and I prefer the Handcannon.

A high-level Commando can take out a Scrake solo but it's very expensive, and will cost at least one magazine if not more. And then he'll have to reload. Against a Fleshpound he's better off supporting another, more appropriate class, or ganging up on it with other players. If there's a decent Sharp or Commando or Zerk available I'll report Scrakes and Fleshpounds as I'm running away, and only engage it directly if I have no choice. However, I can be very effective at supporting him by wiping out the little stuff while he takes on the big guy.

The Commando gets extra damage and discounts on his perk's weapons, increased magazine size (starting level 1) and increased reload speed. These increase with level. He can see cloaked specimens and (starting level 1) can see all specimens' healths. At level 5 he spawns with a Bullpup and at level 6 he spawns with an AK-47.
 
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Beginner's Guide to Killing Floor (pt 1)   
09:14pm 08/08/2011
  So you just got the Killing Floor and you want to go right online and try it out. You're badass, join a server in Hard mode. No, Suicide. No, screw it, Hell on Earth.

Don't.

Seriously. Nothing screams "n00b!" like a level 0 player...except a level 0 player on high difficulty. Some servers won't even accept players if they're not level 5 or above. Even if you really are as good as you think, the lower level perks don't have the sheer power required to survive. The server will adjust for the number of players -- and you'll die early and end up killing the rest of your team.

My advice: play solo and level all your perks at least to level 1 (except Medic). I got mine all to level 2 (except Medic). Now, I'm an old guy and it takes me longer to learn stuff, so maybe you don't need level 2, but it won't hurt. By the end of level 2 in solo I was able to reach the Patriarch wave on a Long game before I died, and I had a pretty good idea how the game worked. Still lots to learn, but I was obviously no longer a n00b.

The reason not to bother playing Medic in solo mode is because the only way to level Medic is to heal other players. So you simply can't do it. That's OK, healing your teammates will level your Medic perk even if you're not playing Medic.

Now, here's some more specific advice, even when you're playing Solo.

First, start out as a Sharpshooter for the first wave. When you get a perk to level 5 that will change but for now, do it, no matter what you're leveling. See, you start with a pistol and a knife. The Sharp levels by getting headshots with pistol, handcannon, either sniper rifle, and crossbow. Since Sharp is the only perk that can level with a pistol, it makes sense. He also gets a headshot bonus, which no other perk gets, so even at level 0 he can kill more easily.

Exception: If you want to level your Berserker you can use the knife. I recommend the Sharpshooter but starting with Zerk works too.

Once you reach level 5 on a perk you'll spawn with a weapon, except Medic, which spawns with armor. If you want to level a different perk, that's OK. Spawn as your level 5 or 6, then switch perks at the end of the wave and sell the weapon. Or wait a few waves until you've gained more money, whatever works for you.

When you do that, switch perks first and then sell; buying a perk-appropriate weapon gets you a discount, but it also lowers the return when you sell. If you sell as another perk you should get the base value. Of course, you get less for selling a gun than it'll cost you to buy. But get the best price by selling it off-perk.

If you have several level 5 and level 6 perks you should probably start with the one that has the most expensive weapon. Check weapons prices at the Killing Floor Wiki. Of course, balance that against other needs of the moment.

While you're at the Wiki, read a lot. There's a lot of good information there. Some of it contradicts some of what I've learned, but it's good information. And it's possible some of what I've learned is wrong.

Now you've leveled some or most of your perks and you're ready to go live. I find using the mic better than stopping to type, but it's not everybody's cup of tea. Still, if you have a microphone, consider using it.

Here are some things to know that will help keep you and your squad alive.

Rule #1: Don't get trapped! It's easy to let yourself get cornered and suddenly find there are more specimens in your face than you thought. No time to reload, you empty one gun... then another... and suddenly you either need to switch to the knife or reload, and there's no time. Boom, your squad is wiped out.

As you play the maps you'll learn what the best and worst places are, but in general, you want everything to come at you in one direction as much as possible. You also don't want to get trapped by your own cleverly welded door; try to keep an escape route.

Rule #2: aim for the head on every shot you can. There are exceptions (e.g. explosives) but most weapons give a headshot bonus. Hitting the head means a fast kill with less ammo, and a successful headshot is instantly disabling for most specimens even if you don't kill them outright. Even the Scrake and the Husk can be stunned sometimes.

Welding. There are exceptions, and even more if you have a good team that knows how to handle things, but generally speaking you shouldn't weld without a specific strategy. "Stuff will come through and I don't want it to" isn't a strategy. Let the experienced players make those decisions, see what works and what gets you killed, and remember -- the more that backs up behind a door, the more you'll have to kill all at once when it breaks down. Also remember: if you're running from the Patriarch and try to duck through a building, just to discover that the far door is welded and he's right on top of you... you are not going to be happy. You're going to be dead. The irony will be especially delicious if you're the one who welded the door that got you killed.

While your perk is at a low level, avoid Hard and above.

Scrakes are nasty fellows. There are two ways of dealing with them generally:
1) If you're by yourself (and you're not a Zerk with an axe or katana, or a level 5 Sharp with a crossbow): first, kill the other stuff around him as much as possible, while keeping your distance. Second, start shooting him a bit at a time, but not enough to rage him. Try to do it with a weaker weapon. Again, continue to keep your distance. Third... eventually he will rage. At that point switch to your most powerful weapon and let loose.

If you don't have that luxury -- say, a firebug with only a flamethrower -- then try to reload just before he's ready to rage so you can empty the thing on him.

2) You're with a group. There's either a Berserker or a high-level Sharpshooter with a crossbow, or both.

Well, a level 5 or 6 Sharpshooter can kill a Scrake with a single headshot of the crossbow. But here's the trick: he needs a clean shot. Here's what you need to do:
- Don't rage the Scrake. That means, don't shoot him, and stay out of reach.
- Don't obscure him with a lot of smoke if you can help it. Though if there's time and a lot of smaller specimens a 'nade can clear them quickly. But keep the grenades to a minimum.
- Don't obscure him with fire. Again, use your judgement, but you need to give the Sharp room to work.
- Keep the little stuff off the Sharp. Don't focus on the Scrake, trust the Sharp: instead, make sure the Sharp isn't under attack.
Just keep the Sharp safe and stay out of the way.

A level 6 Sharpshooter with a level-action rifle can still kill a Scrake with three headshots. He just has to nail them. If he's sloppy it might take 5 or 6 but it's still a good bet.

If there's a Zerk the answer is pretty much the same. The difference is that the Zerk will need to go right into the Scrake's face and engage him directly, usually with a katana. Here's the thing: he can keep the Scrake stunned, but only if you don't rage the Scrake by shooting at him. If you aren't a class and level and equipped to take out the Scrake almost instantly, just don't even try. Instead, like for the Sharp, you need to keep him clear of other dangers. Even more so because unlike the Sharp, he can't turn and run -- if he stops hitting the Scrake for even a second the Scrake will attack. The best two things you can do are kill incoming specimens and give him health if he gets injured.

Even a low-level Zerk can take a Scrake with a katana, though it will take him longer.

Fleshpounds: same as above but even moreso. It takes multiple headshots but with good clean shots and a steady hand a level 6 Sharp can do it in two crossbow shots.

If you're unwilling to let somebody else get the glory of the kill (or leveling points, or the bounty) of the more dangerous specimens, by all means try to take them on yourself. But if you get yourself or your team killed, your teammates won't thank you. Remember that this is a co-operative game. Especially on higher difficulty settings, focus your efforts on your perk's strengths and support your teammates. You'll really appreciate this when you're the one with the crossbow.

If you're a low-level player on a server with a bunch of high-level players, listen to their suggestions and try to be helpful. Stay with the rest of the team. Pick off the little stuff and let them take on the big stuff. Try to heal them as much as you can without getting in the way. Unless they're total jerks they'll respect you more for rational behavior than for going "Rambo" and getting yourself killed. (And if they're total jerks, your best bet is to just leave the server. Don't bother with a parting comment, nobody will care. Just find another server with friendlier people.)

And if you run out of ammo, well, chances are it'll be at the end of a wave. Ask if anybody has a spare gun but otherwise just try to stay out of the way and heal people. If somebody drops a gun, great, you're back in the game; if not, try to survive, you get a cash bonus at the end of the wave. Wading in with a knife and a bad attitude is a last-resort ploy.
 
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Update   
02:21pm 08/08/2011
  My mother-in-law's '96 Ford Taurus, while still running pretty well, finally was not worth fixing to pass smog. So I picked up a 2005 Ford Focus from the nearest Carmax. The good news is that the local credit union was willing to front the money (as was Carmax, though at a higher rate). The bad news is that I had to pull $1600 out of my ass. (Though Carmax would have covered all of it, I'd pay less on the lower rate in the long run.)

Between that and the arm-through-the-window accident I had last year, plus catching up on my dental work, it's been a rough year for paying off my credit card.

Fortunately a) the dental work is about caught up, b) the hospital and ambulance and doctor (oh my!) bills are almost paid off.

Ah well. Here are some pictures, courtesy of Carmax:

Jeff's Ford Focus

Oh, the accident? Looks like I haven't talked about it here. During the move-out from Davis, I sat down in a wooden chair which collapsed under me. A few photos here. I got a cut in my right forearm, not very long and not very deep, but it obviously needed stitches. I wasn't going to drive myself because I knew I'd get halfway there and start getting woozy from the shock. Next time I'm going to call a cab... the ambulance drive alone was something like $1600. Total bill was around $4000 and my medical insurance has a $6000 deductible. Feh.

It cut a muscle, causing me to lose grip control of my right pinkie (I could open it but not close it very well). The orthopaedist said (after discussing the possibility of muscle vs. tendon and the operation required to find out) that while muscles won't take sutures, it may try to grow back. It wants to grow back.

Here it is a year later and... guess what? I have about 90% of the function back. It's a bit weak and has some trouble at a couple positions but it's more than recovered enough for my normal use.

I did NOT ask the doctor if I would be able to play the piano. Tempting though it was.
 
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Laptop woes update   
11:49am 07/03/2011
 
mood: calm
Previously I mentioned I'd dropped my MacBook and broken it. Currently it's supplementing my entertainment system, letting me play content I normally wouldn't be able to, though these days DVD players have gotten pretty clever.

I had an opportunity to get a 40% discount on a Lenovo, so I did. Triple-core Phenom 1.9 GHz, 4GB RAM, 500 GB hard drive, Wifi b/g/n, and I got the optional Bluetooth and webcam and upgraded to Windows 7 Pro x64. That includes promotional free upgrades from 2 GB and 250 GB. $801 out the door. I'm typing on it now.

Last time I was in Davis I tripped over a laptop repair place that does Macs, so I stopped in, described the problem and asked prices. Depending on exactly what died, anything from $75 to perhaps $400. I'm thinking I should wait a few months to pay my credit card down some more and then get it fixed, it's probably worth it.
 
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Update   
02:09pm 07/01/2011
  Currently living with our older daughter in East Sacramento (Rosemont). Things are eh. OK, not great, not terrible, just sort of muddling through right now. OTOH the stress of living in our place in Davis is gone, so there's a big improvement.

During a moment of carelessness I managed to very cleverly knock my MacBook onto the floor and break the display. Attempts to come up with an exact diagnosis caused a short on the motherboard (the voltage inverter that drives the backlight) and made the display 99% unusable instead of 50%. The thing was almost 4 years old and the battery was still giving me 80%, in spite of the swelling. Just a good solid computer that I screwed up. Hell, I'd been bringing it to work every day for 3 years in a backpack and didn't manage to break it, or even damage either power supply's magsafe connector.

Chances are repair will require replacing both the display and the motherboard. At that point the cost will probably put it into the "might as well replace it" range, unless I want to try to pick up used parts and fix it myself. I might do that someday (though seriously my track record on fixing laptops isn't very good, especially recently).

So when I got an offer for a discount through Borders Rewards for 40% off a Lenovo laptop I checked it out. Lenovo was also offering free upgrades for RAM and hard drive. For $800 out the door I ended up with a 15.6" display, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, AMD Phenom II triple-core 1.9 GHz processor, webcam, bluetooth, Windows 7 Pro x64 over a stock Thinkpad Edge 15. (I did NOT add $15 to turn the case red.)

My Christmas present to myself.

The MacBook still works, integrated display notwithstanding. I've hooked it into my entertainment center where it's letting me play stuff I'd otherwise have to do on my computer screen. Like a TV show that I only have in PAL format right now.

Off the anti-depressants, still on beta blockers for lone atrial fibrillation, recent trauma to the right arm due to an abrupt limb/window co-location. The window lost but it made sure the arm knew it had been in a fight.
 
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Hello again   
06:12pm 21/07/2010
 
mood: melancholy
Haven't been using the account much lately but I don't want it to go away, so mostly I'm posting to make sure it's not considered "inactive".

Mostly these days I'm on OkCupid.

For those who are friended to me and not to Silkensteel, I think there's one major event worth bringing up to date: Silkensteel and I are breaking up. Current plan is to finish moving out first week of August.
 
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California Capital Airshow   
01:14pm 11/09/2009
 
mood: busy
Featuring the USAF Thunderbirds. Mather Airport (near Sacramento) Sept. 12 and 13th 9am to 5pm. I will be at the Precision Flight Controls booth Sunday morning handing out flyers. No, that's not a deliberate pun.
 
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How the government uses dirty data to legislate morality   
08:20pm 10/04/2009
  So what's a standard deviation?  
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Too scary and weird for school officials   
08:16pm 04/04/2009
  http://thefourthvine.livejournal.com/102417.html

"...my nephew's project, alone among all of them, was not displayed. After much back and forth with various people, my sister learned that apparently some people were uncomfortable with his conclusions. Specifically the part where he said that what he really learned from this project was that some people don't want to be called boys or girls, and that those people need an "other" option. (And also that they tend to prefer blue to green.)"
 
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Some cool videos   
10:24am 21/03/2009
 
mood: amused
http://www.wimp.com/niceinvention/
http://www.wimp.com/funcommercial/
http://www.wimp.com/wantfly/

Thanks to my friend Lakelady.
 
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Is your cat plotting to kill you?   
07:33am 28/02/2009
 
mood: silly
Is your cat plotting to kill you?
 
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