It’s Christmas day and what does Houston wake up to? SNOW! Gobs and gobs of fluffy white stuff. The weathermen can’t really explain it and everyone I talk to says it hasn’t snowed in 20 years. It’s actually a bunch of snow (for TX). Probably about an inch or two. Enough to cover the ground and to warrent 3 snowmen (and a few snow balls). Everyone is freaking out. The entire neighborhood forgot about their presents and are out in their front yards playing with this mystery white stuff.

And on a personal note. Merry Christmas everybody. I hope everyone is enjoying themselves. We’re getting ready to have some breakfast and open some present.

Take care everybody.

Matt out.

Matt’s 4th Annual Birthday Post

Yep, it’s that time of year again. Another year come and gone and I’ve lived almost a quarter-century. You guys know that my birthday has never been a big deal to me. For years I typically stayed in and had pizza and watched Kevin Smith movies. As I get older I realize that birthdays, especially mine, as just another day on the calendar. Only on this particular Monday I get to choose where we go out to eat. Other than that, life pretty much continues uninterrupted.

Actually, I’m having a rather nice birthday. Lauren surprised the hell out of me and got me an authentic Red Sox jersey and a framed Ted Williams photo. My parents also sent me a “Red Sox – World Series Champions” hoodie and a copy of the NESN DVD “Faith Rewarded: 86 years in the making”. It was a very themed Birthday 🙂

Plans for this week are still rather unknown. I have no idea what days I’m working, which ones I get off, and what I’m doing on any of those afore-mentioned days. I think Christmas eve and Christmas day will be spent at Lauren’s Parents house. Apparently there are two rounds of presents. One the night before from the family and one the next day from the extended family who are coming over for lunch.

Other than that, not a lot is going on. I’m getting some money together for a new system. NewEgg finally credited my account for the refund from the graphics card fiasco. I should have about $750 when it’s all said and done. That should be enough for the bare essentials: mobo, CPU, graphics and PS. The rest can wait. I might try and squeak out a DVD burner too if there’s anything left over.

I’ve also got a few weddings coming up. Two in January and one in February.

I’ll be posting again before Christmas, but just in case…

I hope everyone has a merry Christmas and a great New Year. Drink some nog, watch some DVDs, play some video games. Kick back and relax and enjoy the time with your families. May none of you get the gift of sox (unless they’re Red) and may all your presents be geeky. Take care. I miss everybody. Cheers.

Program stuffage

First off, comments are turned off. Unless you’re a TypeKey account holder. In which case you can comment till you’re blue in the face, provided you can find the login box… which doesn’t exist. I didn’t do this because I’m in favor of their system. I’m not. I think it’s retarded. I think I should be able to make my own database of people who are allowed to comment and not rely on theirs. No, this was more of a last ditch effort to say myself from the insanity that has exploded on my comments over the past two days. Maybe, in some bizarre world, turning off comments for a few days will help. I’ve gotten, over 2 days, over 2000 comment spams. Luckily, I turned on comment moderation when I rebuilt the journal last week, so you, the reader, never actually got to see any of them. That I’m thankful for.

I won’t go into a long diatribe about how I need to change my journal system and how I’d like to do this or that, change this, have a feature that does something, etc. It’s pointless. No authoring system is 100% perfect, customizable and secure at the same time.

Instead, lets focus on other thing.

In gaming news, WE’RE NUMBER 1!!!!!!!!

That’s right. The Texas Combat Crew is back on top baby. After a long hard night of fighting, TCC beat =VoD= and reclaimed our number one spot on the CTF ladder. We’re also currently #2 in Conquest and #2 in CTF in a whole other tournament system. We’re challenging for number one in both this week.

Also, just a quick thought. Since I’m not a programmer, I can’t make useful things. Heaven knows I’d like to. Maybe you guys can help. You’re good at this sort of thing. I have four ideas for programs, three of which are easy. The forth is probably not possible but it would be nice. I won’t bore you with three of the four because they’re Battlefield related and no one gives a crap about that except me. I will mention this one though:

Idea: A small program that emails you every time a specified file is updated. It could be used for logs of some sort. The program would check the file for updates/changes. If it’s a text file, it’s contents could be emailed to you, if it’s not a text file, then a notification that its been changed could be emailed instead.

Anyone want to take on the challenge?

Oh, almost forgot, Chris and I are going to try and work on a Win amp skin. Cool huh? I’ll let you know more later as it gets closer.

Matt out.

I hate you XFX.

Top 10 things that piss me off. Shitty tech support is number 2. Directly behind shitty drivers. I think it might have just become number 1.

This is just a warning/rant. To all of you who are thinking about getting a new graphics card, avoid the XFX 6600GT (AGP) like the black plague.

Two weeks ago I ordered one from NewEgg. During installation it became clear that there was something wrong with the card. The first time the computer booted with the new hardware it seemed fine. Windows found the hardware and I installed the latest drivers from Nvidia. I rebooted and things got weird. I was seeing “artifacts” on the screen. Little discolored left-over pixels. I had seen that before and figured it was driver issue. I upgraded DirectX to 9.0c as well as my Detonator drivers to the newer beta drivers that allegedly support the 6600 series better. This time I rebooted and nothing came back up. Once Windows started to load I got nothing, just a blank screen. I rebooted in safe mode, which thankfully worked, and uninstalled the drivers. Now I was back to “working” but incorrectly. I fired up Half-Life 2 to test the card out. Crash. The system hung hard when the game was starting it’s graphics engine. Reboot, this time again to a blank screen. After about 3 more hours of fooling with it I give up. I had double and triple checked everything from start to finish, the hardware itself, everything. That’s when I noticed that the heatsink/fan on the video card wasn’t actually attached to the chip on the card. It was attached to the board by 4 plastic locking screws and nothing else. The thermal pad/paste underneath was also not making contact. At this point I figured it was a factory defect and sent it back.

At least, that’s what I thought until last night. Last night I received the replacement card from NewEgg. I made sure to follow the horribly written, mangled English instructions step-by-step to make sure it wasn’t something I was doing. It was almost deja-vu. First boot was fine, drivers installed without a problem. I go to fire up a game and the system crashes. Reboot and I get nothing.

This time I’m angry. I called XFX tech support. I get walked through the first round of “moron questions”. “Did you install the card correctly?”, “Did you connect the power connector?”, “Did you install the drivers?”. I answer YES to everything and eventually get tired of the run around.

“Listen, just tell me if there’s any known issues with the card and my particular motherboard or power supply, I’m not a retard, I’ve done this sort of thing before.”

“Sir, I’m merely trying to determine if the problem is our card or your computer”

“Let me save you some time… it’s not me. My system is rock solid and has been since the day I built it. Your card is rated for a minimum 300W power supply. I have a 500W Antec TruePower. The power to the card is on its own separate power line and I’ve disconnected everything non-essential that could be drawing power.”

“Well, how old is the power supply?”

“Listen, it’s not the newest in the world, but up until 15 minutes ago it was running fine, and since you don’t have your tech support phone number in any of this brilliant documentation, I reinstalled my old video card so I could online and get the number to call you. Trust me, it’s not the power supply.”

“Do you have another power supply you could use to test?”

This went on for another twenty minutes, ending up with this…

“You know what, you’ve been the most unhelpful tech support person I’ve ever called, I’d like to speak to a manger”

*Gives me mangers extension but says he’s gone for the night* “Well, I’m sorry your upset, but I’m not sales, what would you like me to do? I can only have you return the card and we can test it here and send you a replacement”

“You know what, I just don’t care any more. I’m returning the card for a refund and I’m not going to buy anything from you again. I’m going to tell everyone I know to stay as far away from your products as possible. This is the SECOND card to fail. You realize that? This isn’t the first time your card has failed. TWO of them are complete crap. I’m willing to bet the rest of your product line also has problems.”

“I’m not sales, you’re not hurting me by getting a refund.”

“You’re right, not by getting a refund… but I will be calling your manager tomorrow.”


So, there you have it folks. Rude tech support from hell and shitty product to match. I wanted to believe that a 6600GT AGP would be the perfect card for me. It was at a decent price point, it’s AGP and not PCI-Express, and it’s not the power/resource hog of it’s bigger 6800 brothers. I was wrong. Shame on me for going “mid-range”. It’ll never happen again. I bought a 4600 for $400 when they were brand new and I’m going to do the same with the $6800. I’m going to wait for a deal on one, buy it, and upgrade the whole system. I done with messing around with sketchy companies just to save a few bucks. Screw you XFX, and the horse you rode in on.

Been busy

Sorry about the lack of updates there guys. Been sorta busy around here. There was Thanksgiving, then the pageant, then Christmas shopping, etc. You the idea. When I’m not super busy there’s obviously a game or two that’s been soaking up my free time. Our Battlefield clan is on a roll. We’re number 2 on the SquadGame ladder and we just took number 2 on the Team Warefare ladder. We’re going to challenge for number 1 on both ladders this week.

I’ve also decided to join the TCC Tank Division and give a little 2 on 2 tank action a try. Oh, btw, we’re only #3 on that ladder.

And as if Battlefield wasn’t enough, killing people with toilets in HL2DM is probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Seriously, you guys have got to try this.

My biggest (and only) complaint about HL2DM is that there’s only two official maps. How can you “release” a game with only two maps? Not to mention that after releasing the SDK this week, the first thing everyone did was convert all the old maps. That goes for CS as well. No, I’m sorry, playing cs_rats all over again is NOT acceptable. What part of “new engine” don’t you map makers get? You can set things on fire, have things float in water, make movable objects, have realistic glass and metal. Playing dm_iceworld or cs_assault with all the old textures simply isn’t going to fly any more fellas. I beg the map community to make just a handful of good maps again.

I would, but I fired up “Hammer”, the level editor, and it looked like a scary combination of 3DStudio Max and Auto-CAD. I’ll see if my wife can make sense of any of it, I know I sure as hell can’t.

Other than that there’s not a lot going on. Lauren and I are going to be doing the holiday decoration thing tonight and I’m going to try and finish up my Christmas shopping on Monday. I’m also considering a new CPU and mobo with the left-over from my bonus this year. If I can get all my shopping done for under $250, I’ll be golden. I haven’t done anything nice for myself in a while.

Changing gears, I’d also like to send a big fat “screw you” to the city of Houston, it’s crappy roads and it’s even crappier drivers. In the space of 2 days, I now have THREE new holes, cracks and/or chips in my windshield. It’s ridiculous. I can’t drive anywhere without some sort of debris hitting my car. I’m either behind a dump truck without a cover on it, a beat up old pickup truck that have lawn and landscaping debris in the back of it, or someone coming back from shopping somewhere with so much stuff in their pickup bed that they of course forgot to tie down.

Lastly, I’m working on a few icons for Chris. I’ve gotten the sketches done, now I’ve just got to find time to scan them into Adobe Illustrator and color them. They’re gonna look slick.

I’m out.