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12.11.2011

Why am I always overencumbered in Skyrim?


You’re playing along  in Skyrim, minding your own business, when you pick up a spoon and suddenly you get a message that you’re carrying too much weight and can’t fast-travel until you drop items.
So, you probably drop some axes and armor, and eat all the cheese in your inventory to make weight, and then run back to town to drop off all those books and sell all the weapons and armor.  30 minutes later, it happens again.  Why does it seem you can’t drop enough gear?

Enter your inventory, scroll down to MISC.  Look in there.  Are you carrying some Dragon Bone and Dragon Scale?  Every time you kill a dragon you get a bunch of this stuff…and you probably did a “take all” and didn’t think about it again.  Well it’s HEAVY.  See:
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2011-12-11_00002
Every dragon drops multiple pieces.  You’re probably carrying around like 100lbs of dead dragon that you forgot about because it’s buried in the MISC group.   So go dump that at home, or sell it, so you can travel light again.
If I’m stuck in the field, I usually down whatever potions I can, because they’re like a half-pound each.  Then put any heavy weapons or armor in my sidekick’s inventory until we get back to town.  Also, cheese wheels and some large meat items can be 2lb each…so they can add up.


Other tips from elderscrolls.wikia.com:
  • Walking forward and using a melee power attack (charge) while encumbered helps the player gain additional ground, making for easier travel while encumbered. Also using the Whirlwind Sprint Shout in combination with power attacks will work even faster.
  • Normally, fast-traveling is disabled while encumbered. However, on a horse, this does not apply, making for easier trips back to sell carried goods, especially in towns which allow horses inside the walls.
  • Another option is to dump all heavy equipment into a corpse and reanimate it using a spell, staff or power, such as the resurrection power gained by The Ritual Stone. The player can then fast travel to any destination and the corpse follows. If the time it took is enough for the spell to run its course, the corpse will 'die' again upon reaching the destination, and the player can loot its body for all the equipment they gave it initially.
  • Followers and Spouses can be used as pack mules.
  • Using the Beast Form power allows the player to disregard encumbrance and move quickly, as well as adding the benefits of a large stamina pool and high sprint speed.

12.07.2011

How can I find my home computer’s IP address for VNC/Remote Desktop?


You’re at school, work, a friends house and you need a file from your home computer.  Now you have remote desktop, or a VNC server set up on that machine, but you can’t remember your IP address.  Maybe, your IP address is dynamic and has changed since you last checked.
Want a quick way to find out what it is?   Install Dropbox on the home computer.  (You probably already have)
Log into www.dropbox.com and click on the Account tab.
Click on My Computers
Dropbox - Account - Simplify your life - Google Chrome_2011-12-07_13-27-08
Find your home PC or Mac in the list.
Hover over the “info” icon.
The current IP address is displayed.
Dropbox
If Dropbox.com is listing that it hasn’t connected to the other machine in a while and you don’t think the IP address is current do this:
Create a small text file.  Enter some text in it.  Put it in the dropbox on the remote machine.  It will push the text file to the home computer and the IP address will update on the web.
Now just use the IP address you recovered to connect to the home machine with your favorite remote computing client.

11.18.2011

Fix for AlienWare M11x display dimming and not returning to full brightness

 

I noticed this problem on my M11xR1 and have heard of other Alienware owners having the same problem.  Your display goes dim when the laptop sleeps or is idle, then when you touch the trackpad or keys, it doesn’t go back to full brightness unless you use the brightness function keys.   Here is how you fix it.

Launch the Alienware Command Center application.

Start menu_2011-11-16_09-47-20

Click on Alien Fusion.  (these are the Alienware custom power management profiles)

Greenshot_2011-11-16_09-50-12

 

Find the Power Plan you are currently using and click “Quick Settings”.

Greenshot_2011-11-16_09-52-05

 

Under the Quick Settings turn “Auto Dim” to “Off”.

Greenshot_2011-11-16_09-52-32

If you still want your display to go off after a set period of time, you can set that up under Windows Power Management instead of in the Alienware Command Center.

11.16.2011

How to sync Skyrim save games across 2 computers


Skyrim doesn’t support Steam Cloud sync of save games.
Dropbox doesn’t support syncing multiple folders.  You can try to make symbolic links work to get your Skyrim saves working via Dropbox, but I think I found a better solution. I'm using Windows Live Mesh to handle the Dropbox-like duties.  This has the added benefit of not eating up your Dropbox user quota.

Here is my method.  I tested it tonight and it's working great so far.

Sign up for a Windows Live account.  You probably already have one.
Install Windows Live Mesh: http://explore.live.com/windows-live-mesh
Sign into Live Mesh
Set up a new Sync Folder
Greenshot_2011-11-16_15-46-24

You want to sync C:\Users\YourUsername\Documents\My Games\Skyrim\Saves\
Greenshot_2011-11-16_15-47-06

Set the folder to sync your save files to SkyDrive storage.

Greenshot_2011-11-16_15-47-35

Now go install Live Mesh on the other computer and sign in.
Your synced folder should already show up there, you just need to click on it and enable sync to the second machine.  It will ask where to put the files.  You will need to show it the save folder on the second machine. 
Now it should look like this on both machines.Greenshot_2011-11-16_17-07-40




11.09.2011

Cyborg R.A.T. 7 Review


Several months ago I tried upgrading from my trusty Logitech MX-518 to a Razer Imperator mouse.  I like the feel of the Razer, but it just wasn't the same as the 518, and I didn't feel the Imperiator at $100 was really that much better than the 518 (or it's replacement the G500) at around $50.  I ended up taking the Razer back and sticking with the Logitech.

I was still considering a move up from the Logitech. While looking at some of the options I remembered that I had had played with a Cyborg R.A.T. 9 during PAX East 2011. I kind of liked the concept, but didn't really have time during a crowded booth demo to really get a feel for all the adjustments on the mouse.  Last weekend I bit the bullet and got myself a R.A.T. 7.

Form




The R.A.T. mice come in several models from 3-9, the numbers of buttons and adjustments available increase with the higher models.  I picked the 7, because I really don't need the wireless capability of the 9,
and I really don't use much more than 3-5 buttons.  

The RAT7 has a good feel in your hand.  It's weighty, but not too heavy if you remove the extra weights. I think the best way to summarize this whole mouse is that it feels solid. The glides on the bottom are very nice, so even though it may be a medium to heavy mouse, it slides across the desk like it's been buttered.  

The mouse has a braided very flexible and very long cable.  No issues there.  The front two buttons have the low wide profile you see on most gaming mice.  They are very quick, responsive, and a little clicky.

The RAT7 looks scary at first, but I urge you before you judge by it's robotic look, put your hand on it.  It just feels great. The plastic has a silky finish, almost like suede.  The open areas are all spots where your hand doesn't touch, so while they look weird, they don't affect the feel of the mouse on your palm.  

Customization  
The RAT may feel a little odd the first time you play with it, but you have to start customizing it to really get it just how you like it.  The RAT7 ships with 3 palm rests, a tall and short normal rest, and a short rest with a textured top.  



The palm rest clips to a sliding rail.  You can squeeze a small trigger on the side to adjust it forward or back to fit your hand.  


The RA7 includes 3 pinkie rests, one that features a guard/glide to keep your finger off the desk, and two normal shaped ones (one smooth, one textured).  These are removable using an allen wrench tool that is stored in the back of the mouse. 
 


 You can also adjust the thumb buttons section of the mouse forward or backward using this tool so that the sniper and thumb buttons are always comfortable.  If you don't like the weight of the mouse, you can add or remove weights from a small canister stored in the core of the mouse. 




Sensitivity
The RAT is a laser mouse with very high DPI.  You can argue which mouse has the highest DPI, but there isn't much point in that. Most players tune it somewhere between high and medium and leave it there.  The RAT has a sensitivity toggle behind the wheel.  There are small LED's built into the ridge near the left button to show you the current setting.  If you want to tune the settings, you can change them in the software to different thresholds.  In the software you can also download or design game profiles. Once saved you can toggle profiles using a button up near the left button.
There is a handy red sniper button under your thumbtip.  Holding this button reduces your set DPI by a percentage to allow find adjustments while precision shooting.  I set mine to drop my DPI to 25% of it's normal setting.  I've been using this feature in Monday Night Combat to adjust my aim using the Gunner's deployed mode.  

So far I'm loving this mouse, like the feel, like the features.  The software is easy to use, and the mouse will work fine w/o it.  The accessories are nice.  I only have 2 gripes thus far.
1.  I sometimes feel like the mouse is tipsy from front to back.  When I put weight on the palm rest, sometimes I feel like I'm tipping the front of the mouse up.  I'm going to experiment with the weights and how far back the rest is sitting and see if that helps.  It may just be I'm not used to it yet.  
2.  I wish it came with a little travel case or bag.  I love this mouse and  wish it had a little tin or something to carry it in my laptop bag.  The box for the accessories is nice, maybe they should include space in there for the mouse too.



11.03.2011

Gaming on a Budget–Time Travel Gaming

I find one of the key benefits of PC gaming is how quickly AAA titles drop in price once something new is released.  To a certain degree the same is true of computer hardware.  PC gaming can be incredibly expensive if you are obsessed with having the latest cutting edge graphics card and multicore CPU.  If you’re willing to give up a few of the bells and whistles, you can be a PC gamer on a shoestring budget.

PC’s are out of date as soon as you buy them.  Cutting edge commands a hefty price tag.  When I build my PC’s I try to build using the thing that was last year’s mainstream to top-end part.  For example, my current gaming PC is built on a socket 775 Core 2 Quad CPU.  It was originally built on a Core 2 Duo.  Since the 2nd generation of i7’s are out now, I was able to scoop up a chip that was  $500 for around $75 used.  I can still play the latest titles and I didn’t have to drop a grand on new CPU’s, motherboards, GPU’s.  When I pick out a video card, I check Tom’s Hardware’s monthly video card round up and shoot for something around $150.  I upgrade maybe once every year or year and a half.  I can’t run the latest titles will all the settings on high, but I can usually run high detail with a few things turned down.  (Running on a smaller monitor will also let you get more performance from a medium grade video card)

Game publishers on PC have to support a broad amount of hardware.  They write games to be backwards compatible with crappy office computers and out of date video cards, and they have to support future video cards that aren’t even on the market yet.  This means if you buy a top tier game, and you’re running last year’s high end CPU/GPU, chances are you’re going to be able to get good performance. 

Now think about games like Crysis.  When it came out, it has video modes that wouldn’t even run on current graphics hardware.  They were planning ahead.  Now it’s been out for years, and you can run it on most laptop integrated graphics.  This is the key.  Your computer, built on last year’s top-end hardware (which you scooped up at bargain price), is way more powerful than the computers that were out 1 or 2 years ago.  So it’s time to go shopping for great games from a few years back.  They’re still going to look good, and your “medium” video card should be able to run them with all the settings cranked up. 

So, the core idea here is that game developers are cranking out more games than you will ever be able to play through.  Even if you buy some of the great releases when they’re new, chances are you missed out on a ton of good games too.  Since PC games drop in value really fast, you can now scoop up all the games you missed on the cheap. 

I tend to run out and grab a few hot titles each year when they launch, but I live for games that are on sale on Steam or Amazon.  Bioshock was a huge favorite of mine, and I got it for $10 on a weekend steam sale months after it was released. 

Try to keep a list of games, things friends recommend, ones you wish you could buy, but they’re too expensive.  Keep this list. Go back to it from time to time and check prices.  Steam has a wishlist feature for this.  Watch Steam daily sales.  Join a site like Goozex or GameTZ and trade for the games you want.  Just remember to be looking for games that are 6 months to a year old to find the best deals.  I try to watch store shelves and endcaps for deals on games for $5-10.  I scoop those games up and keep a backlog on my bookshelf, when I get bored, I pull one of those games out.  Generally I’m just trying to live a year out of sync with the rest of the gaming world.  (bonus, all the patches are released by then)

Here is a handy link to games on Steam that are under $10 and have a Metascore of 90 or more.  http://store.steampowered.com/search/?price=0%2C10&metascore=90&snr=1_7_7_230_152

11.01.2011

Runnur Tech Strap Review

I helped write a guest review over at Restless Tech for the Runnur Tech Strap.

It's one of those skinny ultralight backpack straps.   I put it through the amusement park vacation torture test and really liked it.  It does everything you need from a fanny pack, without making you feel quite as lame.
I used it to haul my ID, cards, cash, keys, phone, P&S camera, and a water bottle.  It was really handy when you need to be mobile, in a crowd, and have your hands free for wrangling kids.  It's not the most fashionable accessory, but it keeps you cool, and isn't weirder looking than a messenger bag or backpack, but it's way lighter.


Super MNC Beta

Yesterday Uber Entertainment posted a link for registration to the Beta of Super MNC on their Twitter:

Uber Entertainment
Super Halloween from Uber Entertainment. Super MNC Beta signups are here! http://www.supermnc.com/beta/

10.31.2011

Currently Playing

An update on a few titles I've been playing as of late.

Darksiders - picked up at Best Buy on clearance.  Was a lot of fun at first, but I just got bored about an hour into it.  I'll probably get past this mental block at some point.  It's a good game, and runs great on my current PC.  Scratches the God of War / Legend of Zelda itch. 

Fallout New Vegas - I've been playing off and on since Christmas...I keep coming back to it.  I'm probably 20 some hours into this one.  Minecraft came along and ruined my life.  I will eventually get back and finish this.  I've met with Mr House, and now have veered off on side missions before I finish the main plot line. Many of my Fallout 3 gripes seem fixed in NV.  I still have an occasional crash, but they're not very frequent.  Wish my save files synced correctly between desktop & laptop. 

Minecraft - Have a small server with a handful of friends.  Still having fun with it.  Can't upgrade the server to 1.9 until they get the CPU usage bug fixed.  I'm looking forward to the retail release. 

Atom Zombie Smasher - I got this in a humble bundle, lots of fun, but frustratingly difficult.  Good arcade-style game when you have 5 minutes to burn. 

Batman: Arkham City - This has been excellent so far.  It's nearly a perfect game.  Most of the gripes of backtracking or weird controls from Arkham Asylum are fixed, and the new open city is really fun to explore.  Story and sound are great.  I'm playing through on XBox 360.  I'm up through the Wonder City.  We will see where it goes from here.  I strongly recommend you pick this one up if. 


6.03.2011

Hardware Review - Razer Imperator vs Logitech MX-518

 
Last week I picked up a Razer Imperator to replace my aging gaming mouse. I was hoping that for the $80 price tag the Razer mouse would be quite a move up from my Logitech MX 518. I figured that the Razer ergonomics, laser sensor and higher DPI would all edge out over a 3+ year old 518.
Photo Jun 03, 9 50 42 AM
The Imperator has a really comfortable shape, a little more aggressive than the domed shape of the 518. Razer really has done their homework because their mouse shape is comfortable, and allows for really fast gliding movement.  My Logitech mouse is comfortable on the hand, but is a more conventional shape, more like other Logitech and Microsoft mice.  Both mice have the same number of buttons (R, L, Mouse Wheel, Fwd, Back, and 2 resolution buttons).  While I felt like the Razer mouse was more comfortable to hold, I didn’t like the slick texture of the thumb and pinkie area. I felt like the Razer was always just a little too slick in my hand. After more than a half hour of use, you get a little perspiration on your hand and your thumb starts to slip. The 518 has a matte finish and I've never had issues with grip. The Imperator has a very large scroll wheel and large front buttons that feel great under your fingers and respond well in games.  I like the scroll wheel on the razor a lot.  It’s wider and a better textured than most, and it’s really easy to roll through weapon choices with it.  I’d love to see more manufacturers add this style wheel to their designs.  
Photo Jun 03, 9 49 06 AMPhoto Jun 03, 9 48 47 AM
After about 4 days of using the Razer, I've decided to take it back. It was a matter of personal preference. if you're looking for your first gaming mouse, I wouldn't hesitate to pick it up. The issue I had is that it doesn't feel like $80 worth of upgrade over my trusty MX 518. I'm no professional gamer, so it's not noticably faster for me. It doesn't have more buttons, and the MX 518 still feels more natural to me. I paid $60ish for the 518 several years ago.  I have worn it out under warranty and had it replaced once for free, and it's still a great mouse. When the 518 wears out, I'll probably look into a mouse with more buttons and adjustable weights, and it’ll probably be a Logitech or Razer. 
My recommendation, if you're moving up from the mouse that came with your computer, look at Razer. Having the high DPI laser sensor and the comfortable surface is great.  You probably won’t have my weird grip preferences because the Razer feels great in comparison with cheap packaged mice.  I’ve just developed a weird affinity for the feel of my 518.  If you're looking to stay on a budget, watch for a $40-$50 deal or some kind of rebate offer on the Logitech gaming-series mice. They don't have all the glowing lights and macro writing software, but they are great products.



2.12.2011

30 days to PAX

It’s only 30 days until The Penny Arcade Expo East in Boston.  Not time to pack, but time to start the pre-trip checks.  Here are random thoughts.

  • Start a PAX e-mail folder, keep your receipts and confirmations there. 
  • Monitor the @Official_PAX twitter, or the PA news page, when they say tickets are getting low, time to check your receipts again to make sure you ordered the right number and everything went through.
  • Verify your hotel & airline reservations are on the right dates. Also a good time to start putting your itinerary into your phone calendar or gcal or outlook.
  • Check with your airline and figure out what your baggage allowance is, and if you will have to pay for additional checked bags.  Checked bags can cost $30-50 each way, so you may want to be packed in just carry-on luggage. Sometimes the fees are cheaper if you book the bags in advance instead of the day of the flight.
  • Make sure your time off requests are approved at work.
  • Print any vital documents, tickets, receipts, or reservation info to PDF, stick it in your Dropbox or e-mail, if you need it on the trip, you can find somewhere to print it out or pull it up on a phone or laptop.  (or I suppose you can be boring and print it out now and carry it with you)
  • Register for community events on the forums. Activities like the Pre-PAX Breakfast, Dinner, Pub Crawl, Mystery Tour, and other parties will start popping up.
  • Start the PAX Pile somewhere in your house.  This is where you start accumulating things like your handheld games, cartridges, card decks, travel entertainment, books, cameras, batteries, memory cards, etc.
  • Get on Google Maps, look up your hotel and the convention center . Pull up street view and get an idea of your surroundings.
  • If you need any travel funds, now is the time to trade in games, or sell old hardware on ebay.
  • Get some contact info cards ordered. Try Jakprints, Moo Myminicards, or any number of business card printers.
  • Get your travel bag, suitcase, backpack, or Indiana Jones satchel out of storage and put it with the start of your PAX Pile.

1.11.2011

Fallout New Vegas - Beating the RobCo Nightkin

So, did you head out of Novac to RobCo to take care of the ghoul problem? Did you go down to the basement and get killed by Nightkin? I did.

Before you go downstairs, do yourself a favor, hop on the highway near Novac and head toward Vegas. Go to the 188 Trading Post and recruit Veronica first. Then head back to RobCo.
With her help you should be able to handle most of the NightKin.