Monday, September 20, 2010

bought StarCraft 2, video card trouble, MULE

Of course, the Friday night I pick up StarCraft 2, Battle.net decides to go down for a few hours of maintenance/upgrades. Which means that I couldn't log in, preventing me from playing the game I just bought. Oh technology, why must you be so ugly?

But I haven't come to you to write about the annoyances of StarCraft 2, have I? No wait, I have one more complaint -- my video card is prone to overheating! Indeed, after being off for so long (20 or so days, while I was away on vacation), my computer started overheating at the mere hint of doing something GPU intensive. I also coincidentally upgraded my ATI (now AMD) drivers, so that may also have played a part in this near disaster. With some careful rebooting (as my machine would also freeze randomly), I was able to install a handy tweaker application, ATI Tray Tools for my Radeon HD4870 X2, mercifully allowing me to manually control the card's powerful fan, which I now leave blowing at a much higher speed than was previously required, in order to keep the GPU temperature between 40 and 60 degrees C, as the card appears to die (and pull the system down with it) with anything much higher than 70 C.

Ok, but I was here to talk about StarCraft 2, the game, and what can I say that you weren't already expecting? The single player campaign is a blast with the choose-your-path missions, customizing of your army, and hefty array of achievements. Definitely hours of fun, with lots of replay value. Well, maybe once I get tired of multiplayer... ah yes, the multiplayer. I've only played a handful of games, though I did practice a bit to get familiar with the new maps. I haven't much to comment on, although I'm trying to concentrate on maintaining the basics -- lots of drones, constant spawning of larvae, with Roaches and Hydras comprising the core of my army, 'lings at scout points. I'm doing okay with a record of slightly higher than 50%, but it's well too early to tell what my plateau ranking will be.

I caught a bad cold this weekend, the likes of which knocked me out for much of Saturday and all of Sunday. Today was better but I plan on sleeping early-ish. Well, maybe just a few more rounds of SC2.

Actually, I've also finally gotten around to fiddling with Planet MULE, which is a faithful reproduction of the classic Ozark (EA published) M.U.L.E., a game I'd struggled with as a young boy, never quite understanding the economics involved. I've only played against the computer (a tough, merciless opponent if there ever was one), being the friendless, introverted type.... ah well, some things never change!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back from an east coast trip

So I am back from my 20 days driving with the girlfriend through Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont. A different route from last time in March, Maine exposing us to Mount Desert Island and the gorgeous Acadia National Park. We spent six days on the island, with many of those hours shopping or strolling in Bar Harbor's many shops and cafes and restaurants. The star of course was the park proper, an immaculate fairy-tale of a park, verdant with vivid greens and blues, breathtaking views from the mountain and the surrounds.

Jordan Pond, with "The Bubbles"
Provincetown and Cape Cod, well, we saw more of the same as last time, only under a much warmer sun. The water remained chilling however and my swims were brief, shoulder-shakingly, teeth-chatteringly cold. We managed to see Yarmouth and Wood's Hole but mistakingly assumed we could just drive to the ferry dock to go to Martha's Vineyard (apparently one has to take a shuttle from Yarmouth) so instead we visited the aquarium and the WHOI Science Exhibit Center. Our stay in Cape Cod was cut short a day by Hurricane Earl, the beach-side motel resort being evacuated due to fears of flooding.

Taking refuge inland, we still saw plenty of wind and rain in Cambridge, as I had to navigate to the Sheraton Commander hotel, our only lodging option on a
Friday night of a Labour Day weekend, booked minutes before we arrived. It was our most expensive but also yards nicer sleep, the bed a luxurious heap of threads and soft pillows and billowy sheets. I would have given a greater resistance than normal against getting out of bed in the morning but I was anxious to see Cambridge, which we'd missed doing last time we were in Boston. The town and much of Harvard's grounds can be walked in a day, which is what we did, taking many photos. Speaking of which, we took over 2000 photos combined over the whole trip but I've yet to get through uploading them to flickr. Soon enough, soon enough.
Atop Cadillac Mountain

I haven't much else to add. Vermont was warmer and greener, and my likening Burlington to a more scenic Guelph still applies: a quiet university town with lots of greenery and concentrated niches of culture, Burlington having the advantage of mountains and Lake Champlain. Distance from friends and family aside, I could see myself living there... although I do love Toronto so.

So I am back, and, a week after my return I think I am finally all here. Of course, much of that return has gone into the recent acquisition of StarCraft 2, but I'll save that talk for another day.