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Archive for November, 2007

The Monitor Curse continues

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

It’s BACK and it only took 10 days to appear.

Corner of my 10 day old Samsung SyncMaster 226BW Monitor.jpg
Check out the scratch crack at the top right of my new monitor case. The curse’s power is growing faster than I anticipated. Just so we are clear, I did not harm this monitor in any way shape or form. I took it out of the box, set it up on my desk, plugged it in and left it ALONE. It’s not like I grabbed it and threw it up against the wall in a drunken rage like those trashy day time soap operas. I digress. I’m heading off to work and then BAM, it hit me like Britney Spears and an unwanted pregnancy. Right away I knew what it was…TheKyle Monitor Curse in physical form. At that point I did the only thing I knew to do – stare it down. I took a step back, gathered my energy and focused intently at it. After a minute of two or virtually no movement I knew I was beat. My frail human body failed me, again.

Hopefully my stare down weakened him but only time will tell.

You’re probably thinking about now, well it was there when he bought and he just missed it. Wrong again my lonely friend (why else would you read this?). This piece of slightly attractive technology was packed like all other modern electronics in that it was decorated with many pointless stickers trying to (re)educate you on its cool features. Take a hint genius, I already bought the damn thing so why do you feel its necessary to remind me of the product specs and features? My point to all of this nonsense is I distinctly remember having to remove a sticker from the top right corner. The very same place where the crack lives.

So face on you and all disbelievers out there and especially those of you named Martin.

Team Fortress 2 Review

Friday, November 9th, 2007

For the past month Kyle and I have been busy playing our newest multiplayer obsession, Team Fortress 2. If you’re not familiar with Team Fortress you can go to one of those professional reviewers who waste a paragraph on introduction because they’re paid by the word. I’m not paid by the word, so to hell with history and to hell with introductions. Most likely you’re like me and don’t give a shit what came before now, you just know that now is better than then and you want now right now. That doesn’t make much sense but neither does writing a game review for a blog that doesn’t have any substantial membership. In fact, I’m not completely convinced my audience will ever expand beyond the creeping ceiling spider that keeps me company at night.

Anyway, is Team Fortress 2 cool? Yes, it is. It’s so cool it could practically shit ice cream. Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let’s go in depth. Team Fortress 2 is a multiplayer first person shooter where two teams blow each other up. But you probably know that already. What makes TF2 (official acronym) so great is that it supports so many different play styles. If you’re like me and your hand-eye coordination is rapidly going the way of Aleutian Canada Goose, you’ll be happy to know that TF2 allows even the most clumsy players to score high on the leader boards. Sure, the twitching 12-year-old Redbull drinkers can grab a Scout and go nuts, but what matters most here in teamwork. Which, for a genre that is dominated by little kids calling each other “fags” is a pretty phenomenal accomplishment.

What I like to do is grab a Medic and heal Kyle while he blasts everyone to pieces with his Soldier. The Soldier is like a slightly above average B student. He’s all around OK at everything with no crippling overt weakness, kind of like the man your mother was forced to marry when she looked in the mirror and realized she wasn’t getting any prettier. While the Medic heals the Soldier, he gets points for whoever the Soldier kills. And thus, I’m able to share in the victory even though I suck at first person shooters. That isn’t to say that being a Medic is easy, it’s just different. And in a sea of mediocre WW2 shooters, different can only be good.

There are tons of other classes to try out, each supporting a different role and play style. The spy, for instance, skulks around in the darkness and stabs people in the back. It’s not particularly fun for me because I don’t have any patience, but for those who like Splinter Cell games it must be a wet dream.

Was Team Fortress 2 worth the decade long wait? Probably not, but what we get is a fantastic game that is polished out the ass for an affordable price. So go try it out. And if you see us on the battlefield, make sure to shoot us.

Overall: 4 out of 5.

Good: Extremely polished, perfectly balanced, many different play styles supported, teamwork is encouraged, great art direction.

Bad: Only six initial maps, game play is very similar to the original.

Fire Update

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Its been almost a week since the fire and I thought I’d wrap up a few items.

  1. I’m totally fine nothing of mine burned, water didnt reach my unit and the smoke has cleared. You can still smell smoke the moment you step into the hallway.
  2. HOA started the clean up efforts right away with patching the affected common areas. They also left heat lamps to help dry out the water soaked walls and the carpet as well as left Portable air filters and giant air circulators (not sure the actual name) on pretty much 247 to help remove the smell.
  3. I’ve heard a rumor the HOA will be inspecting all units to ensure the gas fire places are safe. I haven’t heard official word from the HOA but I think its a great idea.

Fire Repair 1 Fire Repair 2 Fire Repair 3 Fire Repair 4 Fire Repair 5 Fire Repair 6

New Monitor

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

So it’s official, this morning I woke up and face the music – I killed another monitor.

This one, my 19 inch Viewsonic A90f+ died a horrible death. First the image lost its sharpness on the outside edges. That went on for about a week, no big deal but very annoying. Next came the death blow when the screen would randomly shift and jump around. It’s hard to describe but the screen would just move left or right for no reason which combined with the blurry edges gave me terrible headaches. So I put it on my dead monitor list.

I’ve lost count but the list has no less than 5 other monitors.

I know I have a bad habit of breaking monitors and the worst part is it extends to all aspects of my life. I’ve killed 2 monitors that I didn’t even own; one was my best friend’s and the other from work. Well actually it didn’t break the monitor it just decided to stop working when I was near by. Yep that’s right, anytime I got within close proximity the screen would shut off. I know it doesn’t make sense so I went so far as to test it. And sure enough it knew when I was less than 3 feet away it would shut down. I think I must have damned it in a previous life or something. That monitor ended up going to another employee and I got a new and bigger one.

Anyways, I went out and bought me a new 22inch flat widescreen monitor from Samsung. It’s a 226bw and it’s really slick. You can switch between HDMI and analog inputs with a touch of the button so I can easily hook up multiple computers. Even better it has 2ms refresh rate which means no ghost images for those intense first person games and it’s got a ultra high resolution. Right now it’s set to 1680 by 1050, which translate to an impressive amount of desktop real estate.

I fully anticipate buying a new monitor in the near future. I’ll be happy if this one lasts me a year. And no I didn’t buy the warranty because with my luck it would break the day after expiration.

1680×1050 screenshot

Fire – 2 doors down!

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

At about 1:20am I awoke to the sound of a two stroke engine type engine turning over right outside my main condo door which was powering a large fan blowing down the hallway to the. My bed is about thirty feet away and behind two walls but the sound was so loud it felt like it was inches away from my head.
I knew something was up because not a moment after I heard the engine cranking over I could smell smoke. Keep in mind about a week and half ago I was helping my parents and friends evacuate their homes due to the approaching Witch Creek fires (San Diego) so I knew the smell and taste of fire.

As fast as I could I got dressed and then grabbed my maglight flash light and ran to my balcony. I immediately looked right and could see fire ambers and smoke blowing out of the unit at the end.

A firefighter outside on the court yard on ground floor by the pool shined a light on me and said “there’s a fire two units over be ready to leave”.

I grabbed my iPhone and called my parents. They didnt pick up so I kept calling. The third time I left a frantic message because time was wasting. Something to the effect of a “fire is in the building and I may have to come home, I gotta go.”

I ran back inside my unit and started to collect my irreplaceableness . Two weeks ago I wouldn’t know what to save but thanks to the Witch fire – I know better now. I limited myself to only what I could carry in my arms and what I could stuff into my backpack.

  • legal and financial papers
  • keys
  • iPhone
  • Camera (birthday gifts from parents – thanks)
  • 4 Sata Hard Drives from my main server computer
    • I can eject them like an old school VHS tape player very cool.
    • I then powered on my other computers that contain non critical data and started an emergency upload to my FTP servers and shell accounts.
  • Priceless pictures in frames (non digital versions)
  • A few items from my childhood and college years
  • Contacts lenses and eye glasses
  • My favorite flip flops (its a San Diego thing)
  • My favorite 3 pair of Oakley sunglasses (again a SD thing)
    • Gascan
    • Polarized Five 3.0
    • Juliet

I know this seems like alot of stuff but its really not and it took about 3 minutes to collect. But I also kept in mind that its only stuff and I can buy anything but my life.

I then picked everything up, exited my unit, walked through the halls and then took the stairs down to my car on the ground floor and loaded it up.

On my way down the stairs and through the halls, I counted 4 different firefighters on various levels running towards the my unit with hoses and equipment.

Once my car was loaded up I tried to drive it out to a safe distance away from the fire but the garage gate was blocked by a hook and ladder firetruck which was fully extended to the roof the building. I took a second to scan the street and came to the conclusion if I really needed to I could get my car out by driving with two wheels on the sidewalk the the other two on the street but the situation didn’t call for it. At least not at that time. So I parked my car back in its spot and walked outside to the street by the fire truck to get an assement of the situation.

After about 10 minutes of watching the building and hearing the firefighters talk to eachother from the radio in the truck I found out the fire wasnt a big deal. In fact it was out.

Apparently the resident had the gas fireplace on all night long and turned it off right before bed. She could still smell smoke and when she took a closer inspection of the fireplace she noticed surrounding area felt very warm to the touch. Thats when she called 911.

I later came to find out after talking to her and the firemen that a small smoldering fire inside the walls started as a result of bad installation of the gas fireplace. Apparent the exit pipes weren’t properly secured and two of the pipes had divided leaving an opening for the smoke / gas fire to escape where it shouldn’t. Because of that insecure pluming it was only a matter of time until something worse happened.

When the firemen went to investigate they used infer-red hand held monitor devices and detected heat in excess of 175 degrees in and around the walls surrounding the fireplace. So they took an axe to the wall (which is pretty cool if you think about it, getting paid to bust shit open) to take a peak and due to the sudden rush of fresh oxygen they inadvertently caused a small fire to flare into a large fire. On second thought they probably knew it would happen.

Once the firefighters got enough access to the fire they turned on the hoses and that was it.

It only took them a few seconds to put it out. I know this because after watching firefighters save houses on TV last week I noticed that once a fire has water thrown on to it the smoke goes from black to white which is exactly what happened here. And then nothing.

I then took a few more minutes to talk to people in the building whom I recongized on the street and then decided it was safe and proceeded back to my unit on the third floor. As I made my way back up the stairs I called my parents house, no answer again so I left a message saying I’m alright.

When I got back to my unit I went out to the balcony and look to the right with my flashlight on and was amazed at what I saw. It was the inside the unit with exposed wire, frame, dry wall, studs, and carpet only 35 feet away.

At about that time I got a phone call from my friend who lives about 2 streets downing asking what was up. So I gave him the skinny and promptly hung up.

I then noticed it, and I dont think I could ever forget it, I’m talking about the smell. ohh its terrible in fact smoke was still lingering and causing me to cough so I drank a bunch of water. I then realized the firefighters probably are worse off then me so I got a few bottled waters together and walked down to the unit.

I offered them to each man, I counted 8 but they all said no. At that point I could see the entire unit and all the damage both caused by the fire and the firefighters. So I whipped out my camera and took these shots.

Fire Pic 1 Fire Pic 2 Fire Pic 3 Fire Pic 4 Fire Pic 5 Fire Damage

Overall the Pacific Beach Fire Department did a great job in knocking down the fire. They also took the time to ensure the fire was completely out by tearing up a good portion of roof and walls surrounding the affected areas. They even entered each unit on the 3rd floor to ensure no other threat was present.

The good news is I’m safe the bad news is the unit was destroyed and there is water every where including the units on the floors directly below.

We’ll its 4 in the morning and the firemen are about ready to leave.

I need to go down to my car and bring my stuff back and hook up my main computer. I’m also need to turn my air filter to high to help with the smell and its probably a good idea if I spray a off a whole can of Lysol. After that I’m gonna take a shower and try to get some rest.

Tomorrow is gonna be an interesting day.

I apologize for the terrible grammar and spelling but I think it accurately represent the situation given my lack or sleep and stresses brought on a result of the fire. I will not edit the entry.