Category Archives: Uncategorized

Origin and Battlefield 3 Suck

This is actually a really old post that I meant to write a long time ago, but I kind of simultaneously stopped playing Battlefield 3, and Origin seemed to improve itself (in addition to the fact that I didn’t actually have a blog when this issue presented itself). As such, I more or less indefinitely shelved this post, but recent developments frustrated me and prompted me to decide to actually post it. First, the old/original problem(s):

Basically, I was having issues with both Origin and Battlefield 3 in some manner or another. At first Origin worked fine enough, but Battlefield 3 was just bugged beyond being playable. The major issue I had with BF3, other than some random bugs, was that my character would start spinning uncontrollably whenever I did some keystrokes, like changing the volume, which was sometimes necessary as I started a game and realized the volume was too quiet or loud. Anytime I change my volume, or a few other commands, my character would just spin in circles, and there was no way to stop it, forcing me to quit the game. Added with the fact that it took a few minutes to connect to any server/game, and it was a frustrating experience having to quit out and start over all the time. After looking in the forums I found that a lot of people were having the same issue. Luckily, a solution was to be had, and some laptops had functions to control things like the volume, and they usually had some interaction with an “Fn” key, commonly found on Acer laptops (which mine was). The solution was to go to your processes and close “lmanager.exe.” That would fix the issue, but that also shut down all Fn key-related commands, so I could no longer change the volume… It was annoying that tons of people were having the issue I was having, but that the developers never figured out an actual solution, although the cause and issue were known.

So I begrudgingly kept playing BF3, albeit without volume control, but then Origin itself had to start having issues (for those of you don’t know, Origin is a program you have to open in order to play Battlefield 3, just like Steam, if you are familiar with Steam). Origin started having an issue in that I just simply couldn’t click on anything, meaning that when I opened Origin, I couldn’t click on Battlefield 3 to start playing the game itself. It was as if there was an invisible layer on top of the Origin window that made me clicking on anything impossible, although it was all there. Because this happened while I was trying to reinstall Battlefield 3 due to a lot of server connection issues I was getting, it meant that BF3 wasn’t installed while the Origin bug reared its ugly head, and I couldn’t click on the option in Origin to download it again. I tried restarting my computer, and that didn’t help. I eventually reinstalled Origin itself, and it worked long enough for me to reinstall BF3 before becoming unclickable again. I could at least right click on the Origin icon in my taskbar and start BF3 that way, but the inability to use Origin itself got on my nerves. This eventually seemed to get patched after a month or two.

I then ended up taking a break because I got fed up with the game’s other bugs I was having, and I came back a few months later. More issues. Now Battlefield 3 would just crash after every 5 or so minutes of playing. I looked on the forums, and there was a post with 99 pages (which is about 2,000 comments) of people complaining about the same issue. Each page in a forum thread can have 20 posts, and there were 99 pages in a forum thread specifically talking about this issue, and the thread had maxed out – nor more comments could be made in it. I unfortunately can’t find the thread anymore, which is a shame because it was almost comical how long it was, and I can only assume that the thread was deleted. Regardless, if you google for “battlefield 3 keeps crashing,” you still get plenty of results to illustrate my point. It was astounding that there was a thread in the game’s support section that had maxed out, and yet there was no response from the developers that I saw, and no solution presented itself that actually worked. I kind of lost respect for DICE as a developer at that point, which has made me terribly hesitant to buy any more of their games. There were some solutions that others posted, but nothing worked for me, so I again just stopped playing (although I didn’t even really start this time).

A few months passed, and I again decided to try playing BF3 again. This time I kept getting kicked out of games because of PunkBuster, which is an anti-cheating program, although I never cheat in games (I don’t really see the point). It seemed that PunkBuster wasn’t installed or set up right, and the game figured I was cheating. I tried messing with the setting, but it seemed that the only solution was to actually download PunkBuster, which I did, and it luckily did solve that issue. I was able to log in and play for a solid half an hour. I unlocked some attachments for the M249, which was my favorite gun, and as it goes, I again took another break for a little.

I came back after a couple months, ready to rock-and-roll with my M249, but all my unlocks were locked again. It seems that the server had no memory of me ever using it, although I definitely had. I tried contacting support, but they were worthless. Trying to get a hold of DICE just got me forwarded to EA’s general support (EA is the publisher of Battlefield 3). They seemed to just ignore actually reading what my issue was, and went through the typical questions asking if my internet connection was fine, or maybe it was a latency issue due to my internet provider, or maybe my cache was bad and needed to be cleared. While these are all generally good IT steps, the fact that the server lost my progress was nothing I could cause, influence, or change. The guy did not help me at all, but he did end up giving me some coupon for like 15% off the Origin store though (although I ended up giving it away because I just didn’t feel like buying anything through Origin). So I started playing the M249 again and got some of my old unlocks, but at this point, my patience with Battlefield 3 had gotten at about as thin as it would.

I played BF3 off and on (luckily without many more hitches), and I continuously considered buying BF4, but after all the issues I have had with BF3, I just couldn’t pull the trigger on that purchase. DICE seems to always have buggy games that only get good after a few years, but I most notably didn’t want to buy Battlefield 4 because DICE, among other developers/publishers, have got into the bad habit of forcing you to buy season passes because they sell you the base game, but a bunch, if not all of the expansions like new maps have to be paid for. That always rubbed me the wrong way, especially because it can leave you on desolated serves if everyone ends up playing on maps you didn’t buy. I am fine with cosmetic DLCs, or at least DLC content that doesn’t create exclusivity, but that is absolutely what you don’t get with the Battlefield franchise.

Note that I also had purchased the first Titanfall in the past, which I also played from time to time, without any real issues. Titanfall 2 just came out recently, and one of the things that attracted me to it was that they said that they would never charge for more map packs or any other actual game changers. I bought it about a month ago when it was on sale, and I have been having a blast with it. I actually just ended up uninstalling Battlefield 3 without any hesitation as I am now a bigger fan of Titanfall’s developer, Respawn. I also haven’t had any major issues playing Titanfall 2, and it has been fun, so I will just let that be my shooter of choice for now instead of the Battlefield franchise.

With all that being said, now to the new issue:

This post has been mostly anti-BF3, although Origin had its issues at one point. Regardless, after a few months, the only Origin issue seemed to get patched out, and then an entirely new version of Origin made things even smoother. However, about a week ago, I came home after drinking a bit, and I just wanted to play a few games of Titanfall 2, but Origin just wouldn’t work. It kept showing up in the taskbar, but with no options if I clicked on it. I would close the process, but every time I tried opening it, I would get the same issue in that it would only show an icon on my taskbar and not actually let me play the game. This happened whether I started Origin or Titanfall 2, and in either case, Origin would start, but then it wouldn’t continue farther than only Origin appearing in my taskbar. I ended up looking on some forums and some people recommended clearing my Origin cache, which I did, although it didn’t help. I eventually reinstalled Origin, and that luckily solved this issue.

Like I mentioned, I mostly just forgot about this post, but this recent run-in with Origin rekindled my memory, and I felt like letting all my frustration about Battlefield 3 and Origin out. I don’t even play Battlefield anymore, and I don’t plan on buying one unless they get rid of the season passes like Titanfall 2 did. I can’t say I have really had any serious issue with Titanfall 2 luckily (knock on wood), and Origin has largely behaved for the past year or so. Let’s just hope that this one issue I just had was the only I will have for a while.

Review of Working at Frys (It sucked)

 A Review of Working At Fry’s Electronics

fry_s_electronics-svg

I have worked at many places over the years: fast food, electronics retail, construction/labor, restaurants, and in offices, just to name the biggest ones. Most places are fine, but one place stuck out as being the most vile of places to work at, and that is Fry’s Electronics. I have wanted to write about this for a long time, ever since I quit, and I guess I am finally getting around to it.

As it goes, I had moved to Chicago in the year of 2008 to go to University at DeVry University (which was another terrible experience, but that is best saved for another time). I was going to university, I had an apartment, and I needed money in order to pay for my apartment, food, etc.

I found a job at a Fry’s Electronics in Downer’s Grove, which wasn’t far away from my house, which was pretty convenient. It was also an electronics store, which I had worked at before, so I was well suited for the job. I remember the first odd thing about working there was before I even started, and I had to go get a drug test. I have never needed a drug test for any other job in my life before. Lucking I wasn’t doing heroine at the time (I mean, I still don’t, but I wasn’t then either), so my drug test came back clean. It was weird though because I had an interview with another person with the same time, and we both went together to the clinic for the drug test. She was joking that my drug test came back positive though because my results took 2 weeks longer than hers did, but it worked out in the end.

I finally started working at Fry’s, and there was immediately some odd things about working there. For starters, it’s an electronics store, so you would think they would have modern computers, but no, the store ran on some terrible point of sales system that looked like you were working with MS DOS. OK, maybe they just don’t want employees surfing the internet or playing solitaire, fair enough. But wait, what are all these screeching sounds I am always hearing? Oh, it’s dot matrix printers. I was born in 1990, so I was 18 at the time, and while I grew up with Windows 95, I had never even seen a dot matrix printer before in my life because everyone else was at least up to the 90s in their technology/printers, but apparently not a giant electronics store…

We were also all forced to wear button up shirts and ties, which was totally overkill for being a simple electronics store. They demanded white button-up shirts, and since I was a poor college student, I could only really afford one. Since I had to face product (i.e. pulling boxes forward after customers removed the most front ones so the shelves looked nice), and since there was a lot of dust on the shelves, the cuffs of my sleeves ended up turning gray from collecting so much dust, even after washing the shirt. C’est la vie.

The clock-in and clock-out system was really annoying too. I will admit that I should have just come earlier, and I was just kind of “meh” about the whole situation since I was a college student. Regardless, the way the clock-in system worked was that everyone had a card you had to swipe (or maybe it was a PIN on the card, I can’t quite recall) when you wanted to clock in and out, but you only had a +-5 minute window to clock in. I typically started work at noon, so I could clock in between 11:55 or 12:05. I usually aimed to get to work at noon exactly, but if there was any sort of traffic for any reason, and it pushed me to more than 5 minutes late, I would have to get a manager to approve my clock-in. I would understand if someone was drastically late, but having to get a manager just because I was 6 or 7 minutes late shouldn’t have been necessary every time. At one point I did try to come much earlier, but they absolutely would not let you clock in early, so I was just sitting around for 15 minutes, wasting my day and not even getting paid for it, before I could finally clock in at 11:55. That prompted me to aim for being “on time”, which sometimes didn’t work out right. There were also clocking out issues, but I will come back to that later. First I would like to mention some other questionable things about Fry’s.

One thing that always struck me as odd was that none of the model numbers from the laptops seemed to exist. I don’t have any actual examples on me, but I always liked to compare the laptops they sold just for my own enjoyment. Sometimes one caught my eye, and I would want to look it up online (not that I would be able to afford it, being a college student and all). I could never find any laptop I looked up though. As somewhat of an example, my current laptop is an Aspire v5-591g-70s6. If I look that up, I can see some actual websites with it.

laptop

Fry’s always had …some other model number though, and while there would be similar model numbers, a lot of the ones I was looking up that we had just simply didn’t seem to exist. I even looked at driver pages from manufacturers, and they usually wouldn’t have the model family listed, which was really odd. The best that I could figure was that these were all experimental models of some sort, and the manufacturers were testing new waters, or these were all failed models, which is why they went to Fry’s. I say this because I remember my manager getting all excited a few times about a bunch of computer peripherals like mice or webcams that we were going to get in that the manufacturers were selling for pennies on the dollar, obviously just to unload some product that didn’t sell well at all anywhere else.

An actual terrible things they did was reselling broken/defective products. They have an actual shrink wrapping machine behind the returns area, so when a customer returns something that could be shrink wrapped to look new (like if it came in a box), 95% of the time they would do just that and put it back on the shelf. If didn’t matter if it was actually broken or not. I worked in the computer peripherals department, where mice, keyboard, and components like graphics and sound cards were sold. I once saw the exact same graphics card go through returns at least 3 times. I knew it was the same one because it had a crease on one of the corners, and I even saw them shrink wrapping it up once. It was obviously defective, but they wouldn’t send it back to the manufacturer, they just kept boxing it up, hoping to sell it to another customer (presumably with hopes that one of them simply wouldn’t return it). I saw this happen with lots of things, so even if something looks new and unopened at Fry’s, it may very well have already passed through several hands, so buyers beware.

I really disliked my supervisor. He was weaselly, and he was buddies with the store owner, so any complaint against him fell on deaf ears. I was the pest person in my department (computer peripherals), and I know this because the place looked like a tornado came through before I started working there, and I organized and faced everything like nobody’s business. I worked very closely with the guys in the laptop department (since we were right next to each other, which is also why I was always looking up laptop models), and they all lamented on how things looked so much better since I worked there and they needed me because it was easier to up-sell peripherals for laptops they sold when they could easily find what they wanted to sell the customers. Our supervisor (the weaselly guy supervised both departments) obviously saw that, and heard praises about me, but never thanked me, but he wanted me to be there as much as possible.

Before I can explain what he did when I say “wanted me there,” I first need to explain how they organize the store, which brings me to the “clocking out” issue I mentioned at the beginning. I didn’t have many days to work due to school, so I worked Fridays and Saturday for 11 hours each. I worked from noon until 5, had an hour lunch, and then worked from 6 to 11, which is when my shift got out. Did I ever get out at 11 though? Absolutely not. It would range, and sometimes, if we were lucky/fast, we could get out at midnight, but sometimes we wouldn’t get out till 3 in the morning. I would average it at 1 in the morning. The reason for this is that every single item in the store had a sticker with the price on it. Most electronics stores have all the product lined up in the correct spot, with only 1 price tag on the shelf in front of everything, but not Fry’s. Theoretically, that wouldn’t be a problem it we just had to put a sticker on everything once when it came in. But Fry’s had to change the prices on hundreds of products every single night though. That meant that once the store closed, we would all be given sheets and sheets of new product stickers (printed with the lovely dot matrix printers), and we all had to walk around, finding each and every single product and putting stickers on it. The price changes wouldn’t even be anything amazing, like half-off or anything. Most times, prices would shift from $10.98 to $10.89 or some asinine change like that, sometimes a little up, sometimes a little down. I don’t even understand why they did that. Economics is about supply vs demand, and while I could see a noticeable change in prices encouraging people to buy more or less of an item, I hardly doubt the 10 cent differences made much of a difference in buying behavior. Coupled with all the hours it took the dozens of employees to do this, and I bet that any potential gains due to price changes would be dwarfed by the labor costs. The only thing that I could see it making sense with was for doing inventory, because we always had 1 sticker for each item (according to our MS DOS like system’s inventory), so any leftover stickers meant something was misplaced or stolen. I don’t see why they had to do it every night though, and this was really annoying because nobody was allowed to leave the store until everyone was finished. Yes, we were literally locked inside the store until this was done, every night. Once the store closed at 11, the main door would of course be locked, and the only way out of the building was through a fire escape door, which would naturally set off alarms if you opened it. The entire store needed to be done first, and then we would all clock out at the machine, and then assemble by one of the fire escapes near the front door. A supervisor would then override the alarm for a few minutes so we could leave. We would then have to step outside, and wait by the door for a few minutes until the alarm armed itself again, which meant that we all had to stand by the door in sub-zero temperatures a few times in the winter. So yes, there were issues clocking out due to literally being locked inside the store until a completely stupid and time-consuming task was done every night.

Revisiting what I said about the supervisor wanting me to be there: at some point the store obviously got in trouble for making people stay so late in the evening. It seemed to be based on the fact that Illinois has labor laws where you can’t work for 5 or 6 hours straight without a break, or something to that effect. I was getting really fed up with being locked in after 11 every evening, but things got much better when Fry’s started monitoring it severely after getting in trouble somehow. My manager would get a notice that I had been working since 6, and since I would have to legally take a break, I was actually sent home at exactly 11. It was amazing, and all the other flaws about working there didn’t bother me very much anymore. All good things must come to an end though, and that only lasted a week or two until my supervisor (without asking me beforehand) just decided to, quite smugly, tell me that he had change my schedule. My new schedule went something like noon until 4, with an hour break, and then 5 until 9, again then an hour break, and then from 10 to “11,” or something to that effect. Basically, he ensured that I had 2 breaks instead of one, so that I would still be able to “legally” be locked in the store without breaking the consecutive-hour law. I was legitimately the best employee in the computer peripherals department, and I was now pissed.

I went on the first of my now 2 breaks for the day, and brooded on my couch at my house (since I lived close enough, I usually just went home for lunch). I recall sitting there, debating whether or not to go back to that hell. I pulled out a quarter and decided to flip it. Heads, I go back, tails, I just don’t go back. I flipped the coin.

Heads.

Damn. But I mean, it was pretty bad working there, being stuck in there. Let’s try it another time. I flipped the coin again.

Heads.

Really?! No way! That place sucks! And I want to just punch the supervisor in his smug face. Let’s try this one more time, one last flip.

Heads.

Argh! It sucks there, working till around 1 in the morning is just terrible. I don’t want to show him that he can push me around like that. One more flip!

Tails!

Ha! See Bridger? It was destiny that you don’t go back!

At least that’s what I tried to tell myself. I simply just didn’t go back. I didn’t even feel like they deserved a phone call or anything, I just didn’t go back. I didn’t feel too good about that because I always try to leave bridges intact and not burn them. I have always left previous jobs on good terms, always with plenty of notice, and so on. In fact, the only times I usually have ever quit a job was because I was moving, or going back to high school or something. Fry’s Electronics was just terrible, they did some shady things with returns, and their lock-ins at the end of the night were total bullshit.

I quit my job, and started looking for another one. I had never got my previous check, because just hadn’t been able to come by and grab it (you had to come in and get it from the counter). I also needed my last paycheck, which would have been a little smaller since I quit. In any case though, I needed 2 paychecks from them still. I went back after the second/last one should have been available, but they didn’t seem to have it. They also didn’t seem to have the previous one. The lady handing out the checks, who I had seen on a very regular basis to get my checks, seemed to have no file or information on me, and conveniently didn’t seem to recognize me. That was frustrating. Fry’s skimped out on paying me for the past 2 weeks, and while I should have pursued it, it wasn’t really that much money (they didn’t pay well, just about minimum wage, and I only finally got a very small token raise a couple weeks before quitting, and I only worked 20+ hours a week), and more importantly, I just wanted nothing more to do with Fry’s. Good job Fry’s, your company sucks, and you swindled me out of 2 weeks of pay, and I was so annoyed with your company that it was worth it to more me to just not pursue it and not have to do anything more with you.

I never did end up finding another job, I had quit school, and I had run out of money, so I did have to move back home to my dad’s place in Wyoming. Maybe the 3 heads I got should have been a sign, but I just couldn’t take working there anymore. I did end up moving to Chicago again after a few months at home, so it all worked out in the end for me personally. Fry’s was the worst place I have ever worked, and I would never recommend working there, let alone even purchasing stuff from them.

Things I hate about Mac

I have been a long time Windows user (since Windows 98), but I have also used Linux for a period before I decided to just stick with Windows. I started working at my current company about 3 years ago, and when I first started, we used Windows, and it was glorious. Then our boss decided that everyone would shift to Mac and OSX, and I ran into so many annoyances. I and my colleague would often complain to him, sometimes earnestly, and sometimes in jest, but I was motivated to note down all the things that pestered me, and without further ado, here they are, mostly in order that I came across the issue (I haven’t taken many screenshot because they aren’t really fitting, or they would have contained private information, so I apologize for the boring text):

  1. I don’t like the default option that you can only left-click. Right clicking is so helpful and practically necessary, I don’t even see why they offer that as an option. Additionally, the reversed/backwards scrolling is also annoying, but what irks me most about it is that it’s called “natural scrolling”, and you have to uncheck it, implying that you aren’t doing things normally. I guess in the framework of Macs, it’s not normal, but most other people scroll the other way, which would make Mac’s way abnormal. I grant that both of these were easy to google and fix though, so they aren’t that pressing of issues.
  2. I can’t use F5 anymore to refresh my browser. I know there’s some other command, but having to memorize all these new commands is bothersome, especially since they can differ between every program/browser.
  3. In a similar vein, there are no standard “Home” or “End” buttons. I do a lot of writing, and those are so helpful to rapidly move around documents to immediately bring me to the beginning or end of a line of text. Holding CTRL while using the arrow keys to move through words at a time is also helpful (as opposed to just using arrow keys and only moving characters at a time), but that doesn’t seem to work in OSX either. I was led to believe that it’s a positive aspect from Apple because they allow developers to determine what each button does in their program instead of having OSX decide it for them. I understand the argument, but then that means I need to find out rapid navigation keys for every individual program instead of having just 1 universal shortcut. I personally really dislike that and would rather have 1 shortcut I have to remember that works across all my programs.
  4. If I save something new to my desktop, it usually goes in the top-right corner, and then works its way down as I add more files, and then it starts filling up the column to the left if that column gets filled up with documents and files. That’s fine, and how any desktop does and should work, but the thing is that I like to move my icons to certain areas on my desktop so that I can visually separate chunks of documents based on their purpose. The problem lies in the fact that my computer has a habit of just randomly moving a file from my designated spot on the desktop back to the default location, starting in the top-right. I lost a few files like this because I knew that I only left documents intended for the recycling bin in the top-right, so when it was time to do a little desktop cleaning, I would delete all files in the top-right, which sometimes included files I needed to keep. This really threw me off until I started noticing how my files were roaming on their own. I could retrieve my files from the bin, but the lost productivity (because I had redone a few documents since they had “disappeared”) was unnecessary, and ever since then, I have had to be vigilant about what I delete, lest something important that moved of its own volition gets deleted.
  5. By default, you can’t edit .docx files in Pages (the Mac equivalent of Word) and you need to export the file first. In Open Office (a free version of Word), if I open a .docx file, I have to save it as a .doc file, and then I am working in the .doc file and can just delete the .docx file. In Pages though, the original .docx file get protected by Pages, so I can’t delete the original and unnecessary .docx files until Pages is completely closed down. Since I worked in literally dozens of documents at the same time at that point, that would mean I would have to close every document, delete the file, and then reopen everything. Funnily enough though, you can still change the file name of the .docx though (even though it’s “protected”), so instead, my solution was to name all resaved .docx files as something like “delete.docx” or “delete233444.docx” (I had a lot of files like this on my computer). At the end of the day when I finally would close down Pages, I would then have to round up all “delete” documents that were cluttering everything up and finally delete them. It was super annoying and a stupid function of Pages.
  6. While on the topic of Pages, holy crap it took forever to start! Like literally minutes, sometimes up to 10. It was ridiculous. The same with my co-worker. We thought Pages just sucked, and that Microsoft Word would be quicker (which we eventually got because our boss finally cracked and bought a license after we complained about the previous issue so much), but nope, Word took forever as well. There seemed to be a marginal improvement, but still, when you are waiting 5 minutes for a program to start that is necessary before you can proceed, you lose a lot of productivity. I don’t get why people say that Macs are so much quicker than a Windows PC. If the hardware is terrible (which was the case in a Mac minis), then it is just going to be slow no matter what, which it was in our case. The Macs themselves also took a good 10 or 15 minutes just to turn on the damn things every morning.
  7. This note was written a long time ago, so the details are fuzzy, but basically, all .avi videos were trying to open in QuickTime or iTunes or something like that, and it was, you guessed it, super slow. I had VLC and I wanted all .avi files to open in that, so when I right clicked on a .avi file and told it to “always open with” VLC, I thought it would do that for all .avi files like Windows does. Nope, it literally only changed it for that one file. Why else would someone want to change the default program for a file other than the fact that the other option is a better choice for that file type? Who only needs one file to open in a different program than all other files of that type?
    It was eventually possible to change it, but I had to dig through a couple menus before I got what I needed.
  8. This one was definitely a bug, and it seemed to subside after a while, but I remember this happening for at least a year or so. Normal function is that if you click on a program in the Dock in OSX, it brings all unminimized instances of that program to the front. Great, a little different than windows, but whatever. The bug I was experiencing was that clicking on a program would bring forward all windows of that program (like it should), but it would sometimes bring another program to the front too, sometimes on top of the program that I intended to have open. This results in my having to minimize windows to get to what I wanted.
    An example of this was that I had the file info (properties) for a file open on my right monitor. I needed to look up something about it, so I clicked on Chrome to bring it forward so I could google something. Chrome came to the front on my left monitor as it should have, but then all my dozens of word documents came to the front on the right screen (covering my file info window). Since the file info / properties didn’t actually have a program for me to click on in my dock, I had no other choice than minimizing all my word documents. Another example is when I had TextEdit files open, and I then clicked on Chrome, but it would cover my TextEdit files with Word. So I would then click on TextEdit in the dock to bring them to the front again, but that would bring other programs in front of my Chrome window… It was a nightmare.
  9. I am going to chalk this one up to a bug as well, but it was annoying. In short, a bunch of programs like Word, Excel, Skype and Filezilla were opening when I turned on my computer in the morning (which probably contributed to the frozen-pizza-cooking-length startup times). I checked everything I could: I unchecked them in the dock, I looked through the program settings, and I looked somewhere else (that I forget at the time of writing this), but nothing helped, and 3 or 4 stubborn programs started no matter what I tried. Like I said, they eventually stopped starting, but it was completely arbitrary.
  10. Some programs, notably ones that play audio, don’t seem to close if I click on the red X, but just minimize instead. If I wanted to minimize a program, I would have clicked on the minimize button. I wanted to close the program however, which is why I clicked on the button to close it. Now I have to additionally right click on the program in the dock and close it that way. Stupid.
  11. Programs keep changing which monitor they open on. Why on Earth can’t it be consistent?! It shouldn’t be a surprise as to which monitor a program opens on when I start it. It’s not a big deal to move the program to the other window, but I generally like to have a very organized workspace, and that just messes with my flow. This was happening for just about every program, but it seems that it now just does it to Word for some reason.
  12. When I click on the clock/calendar in Windows in the taskbar in the corner of the screen, a little calendar pops up that I can skim through. This is super helpful when I just need to look at a few weeks in either direction, whether that is for planning something or investigating the timings of customers trial periods. In Mac, you can’t just simply look at a calendar with one click . I have to either click on the clock and go to the preferences, where I can at least see the current month, but sometimes I want to see the previous or next month, or I can open the calendar app, but that’s a whole app that needs to start, and it takes a while. Instead I just got into the habit of leaving google calendar open (since we use it for work), and I would always just go to that tab in Chrome.
  13. Sometimes, if I open a new document like in Word or TextEdit, the window opens behind all other windows, which is just stupid because then I have to click on the button in the dock again or move everything around. Word doesn’t do this to me anymore luckily, but TextEdit still does, and I didn’t necessarily want to bring all my TextEdit files to the front by clicking on it in the dock.
  14. Sometimes I can’t put files in certain spots on my desktop, it’s as if there was an invisible icon there already occupying that space. I could put the file anywhere around the desired spot, but not there. I like to organize my desktop visually, and this made it frustrating as I sometimes had to shape groups of documents very weirdly, like a poorly played game of Tetris. It usually seemed that a restart would do the trick, but that usually had to wait till the next day since I didn’t want to spend 20 minutes restarting my computer.
  15. The fact that we can’t update any software in OSX (or OSX itself for that matter) without an admin password is super annoying. All sorts of apps were wanting to update, but I couldn’t let any of them update without getting my boss, so every day for weeks at a time I would have to close or ignore all the messages about updating. Our boss would then update my/our computer(s), but then some apps would want to get updated after a few days and the cycle would continue.
    It was similar with installed/downloaded programs. Every time I installed a program (actually my boss, since it required a password), it always asked me if I trusted the source or something like that when I opened it, and that it wouldn’t recommend me opening it. Because I needed it and purposely clicked on the program, I would have to choose to open it anyways or something like that. Almost every downloaded program would do that to me the first time I opened it, and it was super annoying. The solution is to have an admin move the file out of the correct folder and then back in again (or something like that), and then I could open programs without confirming that I wanted to open it. Of course though, moving the program as necessary required an admin password, so if I didn’t remember to have my boss do that as a program was installed, I would have to deal with it until I managed to catch him at some later date.
  16. I really hate how I can’t really seem to edit many settings in Mac. I can’t recall the exact issues I was having, but they should have been small options I wanted to change, or small UX changes or stuff like that. Tangential, I now dislike how people always say they “can’t get things to work right in windows, and everything just works fine in OSX.” Back to my problem: when I was trying to make changes that I wanted, I ended up googling how to do things. In forums, it seemed that about 90% of the responses either basically said it couldn’t be done with others docilely saying “oh well,” or there was a super complicated command line code or it was necessary to use a 3rd party program. In windows, I can almost always make the changes I want. It might require a few setting changes, but it usually was possible without requiring a 3rd party program. I feel like people who complain about windows being too complex just happen to be OK with the ~2 ways you can customize your OSX experience.
  17. I also started experiencing issues where clicking on a program in the dock would not only bring all open windows to the front (as I wanted), but it would also bring up all minimized windows of the program and bring them to the front as well (which I didn’t want and wasn’t normal behavior). This was annoying because I would usually have between 5-10 Chrome windows open (each with 5-30 tabs, I know, it’s a lot). Each window had designated purposes, but ones that weren’t immediately needed were usually minimized, and I didn’t need them popping up in my face every 10th time I clicked on the Chrome icon.
  18. Our office ultimately entirely switched to Macs (we still had some people on Windows). We started using the network server because we were told to not save locally, but on the unified network server instead. Screw that. I did and still do keep a ton of documents on my computer locally. The issue is that files just seem to disappear on the server. They aren’t really gone, but one or 2 people won’t be able to see certain files or folders, and it usually requires them restarting their computer. It was really weird and just lame, and we were always restarting our computers in order to see files that should be there on the server. After a Mac update about a year later, the problem stopped, but that was a frustrating first year of working on the server.
  19. If I copy a bunch of files into another folder, and there are a couple copies of some files already in the destination folder (maybe because I copied them there earlier), in windows, I can click “skip” for this file, and then it still copies all the other files. In mac, I can “Stop” the entire transfer of files, and then manually unselect the first file that Mac already found in there, and then copy everything else over, which is annoying because if there is another file that is already there, I have to repeat the process. Or, I can “keep both” but I don’t want double files in the destination folder, or I can “replace” the file in the destination folder, but I don’t want to necessarily do that either, because I might have made changes to the one in the destination folder. I just wish that I could copy all of the files, except for the ones that are already there (by skipping files that are already there), and I could then determine if I need to keep the file in the original or destination folder and then act accordingly.
  20. Sometimes I want to just move a file from our server onto my desktop to edit it quickly (because half the time, trying to open and/or edit things on the server is worthless because it appears to be blank (word documents) or it just doesn’t open at all (certain raw video files)). Once it’s saved locally, I can then easily work on it. The issue is that I usually have lots of documents open, and when I drag and drop a file onto my desktop it gets copied to my desktop, but the location where I physically “drop” it onto my desktop isn’t where it gets saved to on my desktop. Instead, it goes somewhere else on my desktop, and I then have to move every fucking window that I have open around, trying to play some childish game of hide and seek with my file. Here’s an idea, if I drop the file right “here,” drop the file right there! Now all my windows are all over the place because I had to play Where’s Waldo with a file.
  21. Our USB headsets were sometimes crackling for no reason. It wasn’t just mine that was doing that, but everyone in my office was experiencing this at the time. Sometime unplugging them and replugging them in solved it. Other times, just waiting solved it for no reason. It’s as if the audio driver goes out after inactivity or something. This thankfully stopped after a while (I guess the driver got fixed), but another issue arose later with headphones which I will get to later.
  22. Trying to find specific files based on file type is a pain in the butt in OSX. As an example, I want to find all the “.wav” files in a folder. I first navigate to the folder that I want to search in, then I enter “.wav” into the search bar, and then I get the results for every file across my entire computer. Not what I wanted, because I am usually searching for things on the server, so these results couldn’t ever give me what I wanted. That just seems so stupid that if I navigate to a specific folder and then search, it doesn’t search in that folder. I would understand if the search searched across all files on the computer if you searched at the default Finder screen, but otherwise…
    OK, whatever, I will just change the “search location” to “this folder” instead of “my entire computer.” It should do what I want now, right? Wrong. It finds some of the files, but not everything. After searching extensively online, it seems that I have to add specific search parameters to look at file types since you can’t search for file types easily.
    OK, so I have to click on the +, go to the dropdown, change it to “other”, then click on “filename”, and then I type in .wav again. I search, but, it still doesn’t find all the files, and I know they are there because I can manually look for them and see the right there. I decide to forget it, because trying any further to use a simple search function to make my workflow faster is actually just slowing me down. I now just manually scour these folders and command click the several dozen files I need from the many different folders and copy/move them as needed. Awesome Mac, once again, great job…
  23. Sometime I right click on the desktop and create a new folder. I start typing so I can name the folder, since it looks like it’s selected. Oh wait, my other window I was previously working in is still active for some stupid reason even though I clicked on the desktop. Now I have written, or even overwritten something in another document or website. I can usually command+Z (CTRL+Z) my way out of it, but it’s screwed me over on a couple occasions because I was writing somewhere that wasn’t reversible.
  24. Sometimes I need to delete a folder on the server after I have copied it elsewhere. I try to delete the folder, but sometimes it tells me that one of the files in the folder is in use, although it isn’t because I know these folders haven’t been touched for days or weeks. What I usually try is to just go in the folder and delete the one problem file, and that usually gets successfully deleted. I should then be able to delete the folder since the problem file isn’t in there anymore, right? Guess again. I can still not delete the folder because the file(s) that were deleted are still “in use.” Granted, the file was there, but I deleted the file without any problems, so it’s gone now and definitely not in use in any program, but the message persists that the file is in use and is preventing me from deleting the folder. Stupid.
    I aptly rename folders like these to some iteration of “delete” to remind myself later (so I don’t get confused why that folder is there, since it shouldn’t be) to delete it. You would not believe how many files and folders I have renamed to something like “delete” on the server…
    error-blanked
    Note that there is no .wav file in the “delete” folder, but that is the error message I get while trying to delete the folder.
  1. One thing I actually really like about Mac is the file explorer (Finder) has the dropdowns on the side so I can expand multiple folders without actually having to go into them (as seen on the left side of the above picture). This allows me to easily move things around in different folders at the same level.
    However, sometimes, this just doesn’t work for no discernible reason. It is consistent that the same sets of folders are always expandable with the arrows or not, but I don’t understand why they are that way. The arrows just aren’t there even though they are for other folders in similar levels within the folder structure.
    folders
    See how all of these folder do not have the arrow, so I have to open them all up in separate windows if I want to easily move files between them, unlike the previous photo.
  1. I keep a lot of .txt documents because they are no frills and easy to work with to keep notes in. At some point, all of my .txt documents became very large. I had them all for about a year in a specific arrangement on my right monitor so that my screen was divided into 6 different sections, allowing me to always have an easy overview into 6 different sets of notes when I clicked on TextEdit to bring them all to the front (as long as another window didn’t decide to come to the front in front of them…). One day they suddenly all almost doubled in size so they now overlapped each other and some went off the screen, destroying the beautiful Feng Shui I had created with my .txt files. Despite me resizing them down to my desired size, they all reverted to their large state the next day when I turned on my computer again, meaning I had to resize them every fucking day so I could see all the .txt documents that I want at the same time.
    It proceeded to do this for about a year until the Yosemite update. After that update, they didn’t get so big after each restart, but they all did get slightly bigger, so they still overlapped, still forcing me to resize them every morning. This went on for about another half a year before they finally started resuming to stay in the same dimension and position that I had dictated the day before.
  2. At some point, my computer started randomly restarting. It didn’t do it too often, but enough to tick me off since it also took about 5-10 minutes for my computer to turn on. After logging in, it still took another few minutes before everything was loaded. This, in conjunction with any unsaved changes to documents I was working on, got frustrating enough that I was eventually granted a new computer. Whoever said macs are quick is full of crap because it wasn’t until I got my new computer, which has a solid state hard drive, that I had a computer that wasn’t total garbage. It really seemed to come down to the fact that not having a solid state drive was just making my mac slow as hell (and other ones in our office are still slow, so I wasn’t an isolated case). I also recently bought a new gaming laptop that has a solid state drive, and it’s also lightning fast. Macs aren’t inherently better, and our garbage hardware in our Macs drove me up the wall. After getting the new Mac, I didn’t experience too many new issues (and I will admit quite a few old issues cleared up, although not all). That was all until…
  3. Starting about half a year ago, my computer always has max volume when I turn on the computer, although I always turn it down to like 5% because I like listening to my music really quietly while at work so I can still hear coworkers if necessary. Since I have a headset, I would usually put it on and then put on some music to work to in order to HAVE MY MAC FUCKING BLOW OUT MY EARDRUMS! Holy shit Mac, thanks for trying to destroy my hearing and simultaneously giving me tinnitus. It did that every day for a few months. Then there was an update that seemed to fix that… for a few days. Then it resumed and still does it to this day. I usually remember to turn down the sound first thing in the morning, but every now and then I forget and get surprised with a chorus of ear gouging screeches from my headset. Yay…
  4. A couple of times my printing queue for the network printer got “paused” for some reason, likely because our printer was temporarily jammed. I then couldn’t ever print again until I “unpaused” the printing queue, which shouldn’t have been a big deal, but I couldn’t unpause it without an admin password. Seriously, why? I couldn’t immediately get a hold of an admin (as I previously mentioned, he could be hard to get a hold of). Since I couldn’t unpause my printing queue, and I needed to print something that day, I had to send slightly confidential documents to a coworker to print for a few days until I could get an admin to come enter their password. That was unnecessarily lame.
  5. A new issue that luckily wasn’t on my computer, but a coworker’s since she uses the wireless magic mac mouse. I use a wired mouse because I like having wired mice and keyboard so I simply don’t have to worry about connecting or batteries dying, and also because they have less signal latency (gotta wreck noobs in online games). Anyways, her mouse somehow got unpaired with her computer. It should have been an easy fix. I should have been able to repair things by navigating the preferences, but alas, you cannot do that on mac without a mouse. Unlike windows, where I can completely navigate with keyboard commands (even by just hitting Tab to go to the next clickable object in the window), OSX does not seem to function that way in every window. I could open the preferences, and even get to the Mouse options via keyboard commands, but in order to click on the button to set up a Bluetooth mouse, you need to have… a mouse! I tried tabbing through the buttons, but that didn’t work. After some googling, forums said that you had to click on the button with a mouse, which is completely asinine because we were in the process of trying to get a mouse connected. Great Catch-22. So I had to unplug and bring over my corded mouse in order to set up a wireless mouse. It was lucky that we had some corded mice in the office, but if someone in a similar situation didn’t have another mouse, they would be SOL.
  6. The last gripe (and this one really is minor) that I have is the message that network accounts are not available. When I turn on my computer, it loads really quick (since I now have a solid state drive). So quick in fact that I get to the login screen before my computer has successfully connected to the network. I then start typing in my username, hit Tab, and then start entering my password. At some point, a little red bubble pops up next to the username field, and it has a helpful little bubble that pops up telling me that “Network accounts are currently unavailable.” Thanks for the info, but I am ungrateful that this message interrupts me entering my username/password. When the message pops up, it usually just erases any part of my password that I had already written, so I only end up with the last 4 or so characters of my password in the field. That is just annoying because if I am not paying attention, I enter my username, then part of my password, then the message pops up (and what it actually does is selects my entire password so if I write one character it deletes all the selected parts), so I then type in the last few characters. I hit Enter, and then the system thinks for a few seconds before telling me that my password is incorrect. I then have to retype my password. One time when the message popped up, it even selected the username field instead of the password field, so I ended up typing my password in the viewable username field. Nobody was watching, but in a different situation, that could have been bad. I admit it’s a minor issue, and it could be solved by waiting another 10 seconds for the message to pop up before I start typing anything (the message does go away practically immediately because my computer does then connect to the network, but the initial appearance just messes with my groove), but I shouldn’t have to wait because the message popup shouldn’t mess with me entering my username/password…

In the end though, OSX is just another operating system with its pros and cons, but coming from a Windows environment I found these cons to be the most annoying. Not to say that windows doesn’t have any either. I struggle with my touchpad driver after every monthly update. I also have issues with my desktop icons always going to the default position, which I hate. There are other minor issues too, just like Mac, but these things annoyed me the most while I worked with Macs for the last (almost) 3 years.

What really is bad though are the mac fanboys. They just won’t get off their high-horse. They say it’s the best, most fastest, virus-free operating system out there. Best is subjective, and to me, it’s not. It’s definitely not faster either, it’s all about the hardware, and my initial experience has been pretty terrible. People also claim that Mac hardware can run Windows faster than a PC can. That is such a BS point since it’s all about the hardware, and people usually are comparing a $2000 iMac to some $400 laptop, and while Macs are overly expensive, an overpriced iMac is still going to have better hardware than the cheapest laptop possible. There are viruses for Macs as well, and they are not some paragon of invulnerability in a digital world. There are more targets with Windows, and hackers have focused on Windows for the longest time, but now that Macs are becoming more prominent, so are digital attacks in some way or another, just as antivirus is recommended for OSX.

To sum it up, Macs have their issue or difference that annoy me as a Windows user. Windows also has it’s issue, but it’s what I prefer at the end of the day. If you want a Mac because you simply prefer it, that’s fine. But if someone tells me that lovely OSX and “completely seamless ecosystem” is better than my choice in Windows because of some stupid reasons like the fact that you can sync your iMac to your iPhone (newsflash: you can do that with Windows apps too if you want to), or because Macs are faster (we went over this already), or something like that, I am likely going to imagine me shoving that MacBook of yours where the sun don’t shine.

A Deleted Game Save

I downloaded a Game Boy Color emulator on my phone a while ago. The only game I have really been playing is Dragon Warrior Monster 2, which is the sequel to my favorite childhood game.

dwm2gbc_cobi_front

Like any good RPG, it takes dozens of hours to complete, but since it was on my phone, it was easy to put in a little time here, a little there, and before you knew it, I was the majority of the way through the game. The game is similar to Pokemon in that you go out and collect monsters and use them in combat. My team of monsters was decent for the point I was at in the game, even if I still wasn’t quite at the end. I had somewhere around 20 or so hours of gametime, if I recall correctly. I then started getting really busy with other things, and I found myself just not having time for the game anymore, so I simply stopped playing for a few months and took a short hiatus.

I then wanted to play my game again about a week ago. I started the emulator, started the game, and then when I went to continue my game, the save I was prompted to load only had 5 hours of gametime, and a very old team. Essentially, it seems that my save had reverted to a previous version, and I had no idea why.

I tried to investigate what the cause, and potential solution, was, but nothing came out. I made reddit posts asking for advice. I even contacted the developer who just gave me a really lazy and unhelpful reply. I tried using 5 or so different data recovery programs to find old saves that hadn’t been overwritten yet, but there was no such luck.

As best I can figure out, it seems that My OldBoy! (the name of the emulator) stores the game save files in the same folder as the game file itself… while it is still on the internal SD card. At one point (apparently when I had about 5 hours of gametime), I decided to move everything over to my external SD card. I deleted the old stuff off the internal card, and I thought things would continue fine. However, it appears that while the emulator will load the save file from the same folder as the game on an SD card just fine, it refuses to save to the external SD card, and it saves the new game files on the internal memory in the program folders for the emulator. That means that all subsequent saves were still being saved on the internal card, and not on the external SD card where I moved everything. That would have been OK if it would have stayed there. The part that baffles me is that that data just disappeared. Luckily I had made a “backup” on my external card at the 5 hour mark, but I definitely never went in an deleted any .sav files after my initial migration, after which I played for at least another dozen hours or so. The best that I can think of is that either through a My GameBoy! Update, or when my phone upgraded from Android 5 to 6, that somehow got deleted, deleting my progress.

I don’t usually lose much progress on RPG games, with the last significant loss I can remember being back when I played Final Fantasy VIII, and I was right before the final boss, and my friend overwrote my file. That game was much more linear though, so while I lost more total hours, it was easy, although time consuming, to get back to the point that I was originally at. On the other hand, I had worked on my team in Dragon Warrior Monsters 2, training my monsters and breeding them to get them to the strength that they were at when I temporarily stopped playing. I had planned out breeding lines and skill progression, and I tried to get monsters that had stats that complemented their roles (like having my healer have high magic and defense). I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to see that all my progress was lost.

I had invested dozens of hours into that save, and now they were gone. While it obviously cannot compare to having a real pet(s), these were more or less unique monsters with their exact skills, behaviors, and stats that I had worked on and raised them with, and their existence had been wiped away in some baffling mistake. The monsters that I had, and had worked on, had actually existed at one point, and while they weren’t ever going to interact with anyone else but with me, it is sad to know that I will never see the monsters that I had raised again.

The emulator luckily has a fast forward function, so I started working on getting back to where I was before at 2x speed, but it will never be the same. I will catch different monsters, with different skills. They will be bred differently, and the monsters that I end up with will never be like the team that I had before. There were procedurally generated keys (that open portals to procedurally generated worlds) that I had that will be different. It’s like I went back in a time machine, and due to a butterfly effect, the entire course of future has been altered (at least within this game), and while I could long for the way that it was in another timeline, that is… well… not in the past, but still lost. It’s not like there is even a memorial or anything of my old team of monsters. They were just bits of data, and they are just gone. Simply erased from this universe except for the memories that I alone have in my head.

The only way I can properly carry on their memory is to focus on an even better team, and beat the game with my new team, but I will still miss the old companions I had, and I will just have to continue with what I had, and now have again.

team

Harley

Our dog was just put down earlier today yesterday (since I wasn’t quite composed enough to finish writing this yesterday) and I wanted to write about it somehow. I wasn’t sure how, so I figured I would write some sort of memoir of her, and I decided I would write it from her perspective. Since my interactions with Harley were limited to events including, well, me, I will obviously play a major role in the narrative. Some details are fuzzy, and I obviously wasn’t there for her whole life, but I will do the best that I can recall.

Harley

12-14-07 220

I was living at a home in the mountains. There were a few other dogs there, and while things were OK, I always hoped to go somewhere where I would be more in the center of attention because there was just too many other dogs and not enough people to watch after us. I didn’t know it, but I was living at an interim home until somewhere else was found for me (although it was a nice place I must say).

I was playing with the others one day, rolling around and nipping each other, when a loud, unfamiliar boxed apparatus came up the road. Four people climbed out of their car: a fully grown man and woman, and 2 younger looking boys, probably teenagers. I, along with the other dogs, had to investigate, and we greeted them friendly enough and even played with them a little. It appeared that these new people liked me, and they continued talking with my previous owner for a while.

I wasn’t sure what was happening, but it was obvious that something big was about to happen. My previous owner seemed a little sad, and kept petting me in particular. I liked the attention, as all dogs do, but there was still something amiss. I was further confused when my previous owner helped get me into the vehicle the other 4 came in. The other 4 new people got in the car with me, and I sat in the back with the 2 teenage guys. The doors closed, and we drove off. I was frightened; I didn’t know what was going on, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t see the old place anymore.

I came to learn the names of the new people I was with. The fully grown man was named Wesley, the female; Jamie, and the 2 teenagers were called Bridger and Carson, and they were to be my new family for the rest of my life.

We arrived at their house, our house, and I was taken inside. I was still young, but I learned to love them and they loved me. Most of my life consisted of waiting for them during the day to show up in the evenings. It was kind of boring waiting at home while they were gone. I would usually just walk around and sleep during the day, waiting for them to come home. I knew the sound of their vehicle coming up the road, and I would always be waiting impatiently by the door for when they came in. It was the apex of my day since I didn’t do much else other than wait around for them. They would briefly greet me before shuffling past to put down stuff that they brought home. I would want to interact with them even more, but they would usually scold me away. That hurt a little bit since I had been eagerly waiting for them all day, but they seemed stressed, so I would try and leave them alone. They would usually come over and pet me or play with me later though, and that was always worth it, even if we only spent an hour or so together.

I don’t know where they went everyday, but they all seemed to leave for most of the day for a few days in a row, and then they would stay home a couple days. Those days on the weekend were some of my most favorite times. We would go around and go hiking up in the mountains and forests around our house if it was summer. In winter we would often play outside. They would often make balls out of the snow everywhere and throw it for me. I would try and find the balls they threw, but once it hit the ground, I really struggled to find the balls. I think I saw other dogs having this issue though, so I didn’t feel so bad.

My name was Harley, and I was a red heeler / Australian shepher. I was a medium sized dog with short hair that had a light brownish/red hue mixed with splotches of whites. My tail was snipped off when I was younger (before I ever joined the Cummings family), so it didn’t show much. What was left of my tail slightly resembled a balled up fist hanging off my behind, and when I got excited, my nub of a tail would wiggle back and forth. It was actually kind of cute. I had a leaner physique, although I did manage to get a little rounder in my later years, but nothing abnormal.
12-14-07 222

I had some other quirks about me that were endearing, and my family found funny. For one, I always ran at a slight angle. I would run in a straight line per say, but my body would be simply titled about 15% or so to the side, almost as if I was drifting like a car.

Another thing set me apart how how much I loved having air blown into my face. If you blew air in my face, I loved it and would try to bite the air. I also learned the sound that the cheap pumps that sometimes come with balloons made, and if I heard someone play with one, I would come running in hopes that you would pump air in my face. The most revered object though was the air compressor. Since Dad was a carpenter and foreman, he had many tools, including an air compressor in the garage. The air compressor made a very loud and distinct sound after getting turned on as it was compressing air, and I couldn’t resist. If I heard that device get turned on, I would run to the garage door and beg and whine. I had to get in, I wanted, no, needed someone to spray my face with it. It was truly ecstasy.
Nov. & Dec 2006 301

Along with the loud compressor, I also loved loud noises, even if they were from dangerous sources like fireworks or guns. There was one time that we were all hiking near our house, and the boys were shooting some guns for fun at targets. They had to hold me back since I wanted to bite the source of the gunshots. That was particularly scary since one time I actually got away from whoever was holding me, and the person shooting the gun didn’t see, so as they were shooting rapidly (since it was a semi-automatic .22), I ran up and tried to bite the barrel. Luckily nothing happened other than some panicked yelling and the discontinuation of shooting for that day. Most dogs get freaked out by loud sounds like that or by fireworks, but not me. I also loved fireworks, and since fireworks were mostly legal where where lived, the rest of my family would often by them for fun. If there were any fireworks that made loud pops or booms, I always wanted to investigate it. Similarly to how I managed to escape my restraints with the gun incident, a similar thing happened when someone threw an M-80, which is like a tiny dynamite. I ran up to the M-80, whose wick was about out, and it exploded in my face. That hurt for a few days, and my ears definitely hurt, which caused me to shake my head around a bit. We almost went to the vet over it, but I luckily got better after a few days. I never quite learned though and I would still try to check out fireworks and gunshots.

There always has to be a yang for every ying, and while there were some odd things that I loved, there was also a couple things I didn’t like. While these dislikes aren’t unusual for dogs, I was never a fan of getting my paws touched. Some dogs don’t seem to care, but I would always pull my paws away if someone touched them. On the topic of paws, I never really liked stepping anymore than paw-deep into water. In short, I was not a swimmer dog, and I definitely didn’t like submerging myself in water, which was a shame, because there were many beautiful creeks and lakes around where I used to live, but I would never really enjoy going any further than my ankles in any body of water.

I managed to get some nicknames over time as well. I still always reacted to Harley, but I learned that “Nater” and “Squirrel” were also ways of addressing me. I don’t know why they chose to call me that, but they simply did, and it seemed to catch on. Bridger particularly liked to call for me by yelling “Squirrel!” across the house when he got home in the evenings, and I would always bolt across the house to greet him at the door (if I wasn’t already there, because his old Jeep could be heard from half a mile away).

Life more or less carried along as it would for a dog; I ate, pooped, wanted to play, and enjoyed going out for walks, although I was not a fan of the water.

One of my earliest memories was when I was still young, and I would often go into Bridger’s room while he was absorbed on his computer. I particularly like Bridger’s room because he would let me lay on his bed while he was in there. I don’t know why, maybe I got too excited, or maybe I was getting too comfortable, but while I was laying on his bed one evening, I accidentally started peeing. Bridger eventually noticed and rightfully kicked me out of the room for the night. I don’t know why I couldn’t hold it in while laying on his bed, as I didn’t really have issues otherwise, but I made the same mistakes again, and I was sadly never allowed on Bridger’s bed again.

I was young though, and maybe it was because I was separated too early before I went to the first home I lived at before I joined the Cummings’ house, but I liked to suck on a teddy bear I had. I would sometimes just take my teddy bear to a corner, lay down on my stomach, put the teddy bear between my fore-legs, and slightly cross my legs to keep the teddy bear in place, and then I would suck on the teddy bear. And I don’t mean like lightly nibble on it. I would full on envelope the teddy bear with my mouth, and just suck on it, letting my doggy drool saturate the entire teddy bear, and sometimes the ground underneath. I would even make movement like I was choking, but I was just sucking on that teddy bear like nobody’s business. Eventually someone would take it from me and let it dry, because it did get kind of nasty after being completely saturated in doggy-drool. After a while though, someone eventually threw it out for good, and I was never given another stuffed animal again.

Otherwise, I always happily played fetch and sometimes tug of war. I remember one time when Carson and Bridger got a giant Frisbee that was about a meter wide. They were throwing it between each other with me attempting to get it, much like monkey-in-the-middle. After a while, one of them messed up and I managed to bite the edge of it, and I didn’t let go. Carson and Bridger even picked me up off the ground by lifting up the Frisbee, but I didn’t want to let go of this amazingly huge Frisbee. I would also enjoy just simply playing and wrestling around. Bridger would sometimes make a roaring sound and lift his arms up in the air, and I would drop the front part of my body on the ground with my butt still sticking up, ready to pounce or run, and I would usually take off and run through the house or yard before coming back to him, and he would try and catch me as I ran by. Sometimes we would connect, and we would roughhouse and I would sometime lightly bite his arms as he kept trying to touch the side of my face. It was a silly, but simple and fun game we played.

DSC00472

Other times I would play with Luke, the dog from up the street. He was also part of the Cummings family since he was with Jeff, who was Dad’s brother. We had enough fun together as well, and Luke was pretty fun, although a bit more energetic than I at some times.

I would do other dog things as well when I was younger like trying to bury bones that I was given. If I was in the house, as was often the case in winters, I would try and bury bones I received in the house. I never actually dug a hole in the ground, but I would always try and find a place for my bone with the bone still in my mouth by rubbing my nose on the carpet, looking for a place where it moved and I could therefore dig a hole. The carpet never really moved to the side like dirt though, so I just kept rubbing my nose on the carpet until my nose became raw and bled, so I was eventually no longer given bones either in order to prevent that.

june 2008-2 135A few years passed at the cumming house, and we had a couple new additions to the Cummings family: Pierce, and then Wesley (junior). Dad and Mom had a couple children, and I was very attentive with them. I was always a very gentle dog, and I always treated the kids very well, and they were also fun to play with. Since I was a red heeler, I was a dog bred for herding, and when the kids would run (or even the adults for that matter) I would often try to nip at their heels and herd them around. It was sometimes funny to eventually get all of the independently running humans to converge into one running group since I herded them to do so. Since I was a herding dog, I was also really compelled to herd wildlife that was sometimes around us. One time we drove by an elk refuge, and the others pointed out the elks to me. It took a minute before I saw them, but I couldn’t stop whining and shaking with anticipation. I just had to get out of the car and herd them, but the others never let me. Another time we were driving through the canyon, and we pulled over to observe some mountain goats on the mountain. Again, it took a few seconds before I spotted them, but once I did, you can bet I was just shaking to get out of the car and do my calling and herd those goats, but alas, my family was responsible and wouldn’t let me out of the car.

Bridger didn’t come home so often anymore. I guess as he got older, he was staying at other friends’ houses. There was one evening though when he was at home with us when he found out that his mom died, the first thing he wanted to do was go out on a walk with me, and I was glad to go out with him. I didn’t really understand the implications of what the death of his mom meant, but Bridger was unhappy, and I calmly went out with him. We went out for a long walk at night along the road to the forest, and when Bridger just sat on the side of the road, I came up and sat by him, hoping to comfort him, and he held me real close. I would like to think that I helped cheer Bridger up a little bit by just being there for him when he was unhappy.

Bridger left a little later though, and I was to understand that he moved away to go to a place called “University,” and I wouldn’t see him very much after that.

While he was gone, we got another addition to the Cummings family: Oakley. Oakley was a little shit. She was some young puppy who was just too damn hyper and was always up to no good. Mom and Dad had to set up fences around our property to keep him in, so what did he do? He dug underneath the fence and kept getting out. He also chewed on everything, including the bench to Bridger’s piano, which really upset Bridger. Oakley just wouldn’t ever improve his behavior or listen, so he was eventually returned. I, on the other hand, was very calm and well mannered, and I always listened to orders.

We also got a cat named Ash after a while. She was an outdoor cat, so Bridger didn’t see too much of her (which is why he doesn’t have so much to write about Ash… for now).

We eventually got a duck too: Duck (yes, the duck’s name was Duck). The duck was cool, and we would sometimes play together. Sometimes Dad would even say things like “Get the duck Harley” and I would playfully bite the duck’s neck. Dad would then say things like “Get Harley, Duck”, and the duck would proceed to lightly jab me with its beak. It was all in good fun.
DSC04980

Carson also eventually left, and I was to understand that he was on something called a “mission.” I didn’t see either of them for many years, and I definitely missed them.

After many years of living in Wyoming, everyone else started packing. Something big was going on. There was a decision to move, and everyone needed to go somewhere. The rest of my family was moving to Arizona for work, but they weren’t able to take me. That is why I went with Jamie to visit Bridger a few hours away, where I guess he had been living for the most part the past couple of years. Since Bridger was visiting the Midwest, he then took me further to Iowa, a place we have visited before, so I wasn’t so worried about it. It was a stressful drive though because we also went with Ash, and Ash didn’t take the ride so well. He was supposed to be given some pills to make him drowsy and sleep, but they didn’t work so well, so he just kept meowing. Furthermore, the fabric cage he was in didn’t resist claws so well, so he eventually clawed his way out of the travel cage. Bridger would pull over and push him back in the cage and duct tape it closed again, but it eventually became too much, so Bridger just let the cat roam free in his Jeep, and things actually got much better then because Ash simply cuddled up with me, and we rode the 15 or so hour drive to Iowa in relative peace.

Ash went to a different house, and I went to Mom’s Dad’s house, where I lived for about a year or so before Dad, Mom, Pierce and Wesley came to visit me again and brought me to their new house in Iowa, since the recently moved here as well. I don’t know why they were gone so long, but I was just happy to see them again, although I still hadn’t seen Bridger or Carson for a while, and I was missing them.

We then got another addition to the family. Kya is a smaller dog that now lives with the Cummings, but since Bridger hasn’t actually met her yet, he can’t really comment on her, but pictures of us seem to make it look like we get along with each other well enough.

I was happy with the new dog and most of my family again, but I sure did miss Bridger and Carson, and I wish I could have seen them again.

Bridger did sometimes try talking to me via Skype, and while he managed to see me, I never quite got the concept of people on screens it seemed, so I never really got to see Bridger via the laptop that Dad was always hovering in front of my face. But I am sure I could always hear him yelling “Squirrel!”, I just couldn’t pin down that his voice was coming from the laptop whenever he called.

All good things must come to an end though, and I recently started feeling quite sick. I would go days without eating, I would sometimes vomit, and I would also go days without getting up correctly. Dad and Mom were going to take me to the vet for something called a “one way trip”, but I managed to get up and walk around, so got some painkillers to help me instead though.

A few days passed, but I wasn’t faring much better. I was taken to the vet again, and I got to learn what a one way trip really was. The vet did something to me, and I started to get sleepy. My eyes slowly closed, and it would be the last time I ever closed my eyes.

I am sure that when Bridger next visits the USA, he will come to see where I am buried in the forest.


I wish I could have seen Harley once more. She was such a cool dog….

I always wished I could have taken her with me when I moved away from home, but I just was never in a position to watch over her, and I don’t think my dad and the others would have wanted to give her up anyways.

She was hurting lately, so I just hope she isn’t suffering anymore, and that she is in a better place. I wish I could have run, or even cuddled with her just one last time.

Nov. & Dec 2006 210       I am holding Harley on the right

The EVE Online Can Can

Very much inspired by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHxR92jezck, I decided to make a video to the Can Can theme using EVE Online sound effects. A lot of time actually went into making this, since I had to get so many small clips all compiled together. On top of that, I tried to have it escalate throughout the video, and I attempted to match the pitch of sound effects to the actual note a bit (I even had sheet music open so I could compare the notes with the song and sound effects). I then used some sound effects to change the pitch for some sound effects. There is always more that I could have done of course, but after so much time, I am satisfied enough to release it as is.

 

Trump’s San Francisco speech – Trump comes out

In a shocking revelation during today’s republican address in San Francisco, Trump reveals that his elevated level of misogyny is actually due to his preference of Chinese men.

Just a little something I thought would be funny, so I threw it together. I could have spent much more time fleshing it out, but I had already invested so many hours, so I decided to release this in its current state.

I hope it gives you a chuckle!

Han Solo Wallpaper

After watching Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, I was struck with such grief that I had to make a wallpaper in honor of our late scruffy-looking nerf herder

han solo wallpaper

You should also be able to download it via http://i.imgur.com/hWcOYV6.jpg

Hopefully it helps you in your mourning phase, as it has me.

Vitoc, Liberation and Revenge (unabridged)

I decided I would write a short story for the Pod and Planet Fiction Contest YC117. This was to be an EVE Online inspired story, and I opted to write one that centered on Galdir, a Minmatar slave, and I attempted to follow the lore as much as possible. The submitted stories were allowed to have 5000 words at maximum, which I went well over, so you can find the abridged version that I submitted to the contest here. The following is the unabridged version of what I originally wrote.

I decided to write a story only a few evenings ago, so I didn’t get as much time to work on it as I hoped, and as such, I’m not pleased with the end result as there was much more I wanted to put into it, and I didn’t quite have time to just make the story flow very well. Regardless, I will post it here for you all to read, so without further ado, please find the EVE Online inspired short story that I wrote below:

 

Vitoc, Liberation and Revenge

Galdir was awakened by the piercing siren ringing through the complex. 5:25 in the morning. It was the same thing every morning, every day, as it had been for many years now. He and his brethren would wake up to tend to the mining facility that they were bound to. Enslaved to since he was born.

Galdir sat up in his bed, careful not to rap his head on the bunk that was just above him where another of his tribe members lay. His hand still hurt where briefly got the outer edge of his palm below his pinky trapped in some gears he was working on yesterday. It wasn’t too bad though, he had experienced worse, and seen even more drastic accidents.

The other slaves were slowly shuffling out of their beds in the dimly lit room they were in. A mild amber glow came from the one overhead light which provided just enough light for them to not bump into each other. Most people were without shirts, some only in tattered underwear, as they filed to stand before their bunks.

Within a couple minutes, 19 able-bodied men were lined up in front of their bunks, waiting for the slave inspector to come in at 5:30 who would make sure everyone was there and grant them access to the bathrooms for 5 minutes before being ushered back into their room to get dressed for their day of forced labor. There was 5 bunks with 2 beds each on each side of the room, which would have meant 20 people should have been there. 20 people if Auls wouldn’t have died a few days prior. It was a shame because Galdir liked him. They had grown up together in this hellhole and had mutually supported each other when the occasion demanded it, but that one crutch of his was now gone, flayed apart by the slaver hounds that circled the camp when he decided he had enough and would run away.

The inspector entered at 5:30 sharp in his usual perfectly ironed uniform to perform a quick count while the 2 armed guards with cloaks covering their bodies and hoods darkening their faces stood at the inside of the doorway. The inspector had a habit of slicking back his hair as he was halfway through the count which he failed to do today as he noticed they were one short. He took a moment to recall the reason before continuing. It almost looked as if he smirked in Galdir’s direction when he recalled Auls had died, as knew that Auls and Galdir were close. It didn’t Bother Galdir that much though; he was used to the perverse satisfaction that the slavers got when they had to kill a slave, as he had seen many of his brethren, both friend and simple acquaintances, die of natural causes and from the occasional hand of slavers or slaver hounds.

Galdir kept his chin high as his group was allowed to go to the bathrooms to relieve themselves. They brisked past the 2 guards by the door, and proceeded past other random guards to the bathroom facility down the hall. They would be granted 4 minutes and 30 seconds before they had to go back to their room so the next group could come in. When Galdir was young, there was less structure, more people slept in the same room, and they were allowed to freely go to the bathroom, as long as everyone was ready to head out by 6am. Due to increasing riots and rebellions on other planets, as well as on Tuomuta III, the planet where they were, the Amarrian empire had generally focused on splitting slaves into smaller, more manageable groups that couldn’t contact other groups very well which would hopefully reduce the slaves’ ability to coordinate another uprising.

Galdir and the others went into the bathroom and took care of business. Galdir finished peeing on the urinal wall with the others and went to the sinks to wash his face. Water of a questionable color slowly dribbled out of the faucets, but it’s what they had so he splashed some on his face and glanced at the polished metal which acted as a mirror since real mirrors could be broken and used as a weapon. The face that looked back at him was a haggard one, but it wasn’t as hopeless as the others around him.

The polished metal reflected a decently tall man who looked to be in his late 30s due to the hardships he had endured, even though Galdir was only 25. Pale skin that was marked with scars from accidents or the occasional slaver punishment were scattered across his face and body. He had a few scars going across his face: one right above his eyebrows and the other starting from his left ear and going down across his lips to end on the right side of his chin. The lines used to be tribal tattoos, but the slavers on Tuomuta III tried to discourage that, and as such, his face was branded with a hot iron to remove the scars which resulted in 2 large scars running across his face. It still made him smirk that a little bit of the black tattoo could be seen in a couple spots on his face nest to the scars, but he couldn’t dwell on that too long as the siren ringed again and he had to move out of the bathroom with the rest of his group and head back to their sleeping quarters so the next group could freshen up.

As Gladir and the others dressed themselves in their room, they quietly conversed about their upcoming day. It was usually the same small talk: how the weather would be (not that it would matter since they would all be underground), how hopefully nobody would get hurt, and how much they were looking forward to their daily Vitoc supplement.

The Amarr have had been many different attempts at controlling their slaves, ranging from simple beatings, to slave-collars which inject certain chemicals into the bearer depending on what the controller remotely decided, to the Vitoxin. All of the Minmatar slaves on Tuomuta III had been subjugated with the Vitoxin method which meant that they were all injected with a virus which would continuously produce Vitoxin in their system. If they didn’t get a daily dose of Vitoc, then they would start experiencing a range of symptoms within 24 hours ranging from confusion and hallucinations, to weakness, seizures, coma, organ failure, and ultimately, death. It wasn’t a pleasant way to die, experiencing almost every medical complication possible within 24 hours, and Gladir had seen first-hand how that went for other slaves who decided they would rebel and refuse the Vitoc, only to watch them suffer as their bodies shut down in the most painful way they could experience. Even when they then begged for the Vitoc, the slavers would usually let them languish and go through the motions of extreme discomfort, pain, and agonizing death to show the other slaves what would happen if they fought back and no longer received the relief the Vitoc brought. And like Gladir’s late friend Auls, others who tried to flee were expertly hunted down and flayed by the slaver hounds that stalked at the edge of the complex they lived in. It was a hopeless situation to be ensnared in.

They could also talk about the Minmatar rebellion which had happened 126 years ago, but it had turned into a topic that merited no new discussion, so it was largely not discussed anymore as it almost made them disappointed that they were still enslaved. In fact, it almost made some of them bitter towards the rest of the Matari that some Minmatar were free again after centuries of enslavement, whereas they were all still stuck on Tuomuta III, working every day in the mines to retrieve various metals for the Amarr empire.

6:00. A siren with a different pitch ensued and all the doors opened and everyone shuffled outside to stand in the courtyard and line up in fashion similar to a military assembly. The multiple housing buildings, each with about 10 sleeping rooms, stood behind them, while multiple trains waited on the platforms in front of them, ready to brisk them off to the mines where they would be working. Trains were used instead of cars so that in the event of a takeover, the trains would still be stuck on a 1 way track, whereas a vehicle could go other places and aid in their escape. Above the train platforms was a building which housed the Amarrian slavers and guards. At each corners of the complex stood a guard tower with at least 1 Amarrian sniper in each tower at all times, ready to use their lasers in the event of an unruly occurrence. In front of the building above the platforms, facing the courtyard and the slaves was a balcony were the Overseer for the complex would come out in his perfectly clean and ironed robe and address the slaves. The Overseer would greet them, much like a father would a son, and would reference to some holy Amarrian texts every morning. He always mentioned something about the holy relationship between the Amarrians and the slaves, and how they must be repressed until they come to terms with the Amarrian faith and convert, although Gladir had only ever seen a handful of people claim to convert, but he had also never heard of them again. The Overseer would always end his speech by asking if the slaves were willing to work for the Amarrian empire in their divinly decreed role, and roughly 800 men responded to the overseer with a unanimous “Yes!” To not agree would mean that you would be held back while the others went to the mines and never heard from again. It was only men in this complex because women were kept in a different complex where they worked on other things like water extraction and treatment, biofuel engineering and other finished products. That was until the Amarrian determined that they wanted another generation of slaves and would force men and women form different camps to copulate.

After their forced agreement to give their day to the Amarr again, the slaves would board the trains and head off to the mines which were about 20 minutes away. After eating breakfast on the train, most of the slaves would get into light protective armor and grab some mining laser which was used to cut through the rocks and metal in the mines. The lasers themselves emitted a strong electromagnetic pulse, but not nearly as strong as the lasers that the guards wielded. To compound that problem, all guards had special armor which had built in electromagnetic resistances, so shooting their guards with their lasers would have a paltry effect, and any slaves who shot on the guards would just get slaughtered in the process. Galdir knew this. He had seen it happen firsthand many years ago, but luckily he had been spared.

Galdir didn’t actually use a mining laser. He was part of the Sebiestor tribe, which have always had an affinity for electronics and tinkering with mechanical parts. As such, he and other historical Sebiestor on Tuomuta III were typically used to repair broken mining lasers or other equipment used in the mines. As such, when a revolt broke out many years ago, many actual miners were killed or severely beaten, while Galdir and other mechanics were mostly spared. It always gave Galdir some satisfaction knowing that the few slavers that did die were because he had tampered with some fellow miners’ lasers in order to cause higher output which resulted in enough incoming EM pulses that a couple guards perished.

Most of the other slaves simply used lasers in the mines and got chunks of rocks and metals which were deposited in waiting hover carts that would be used to shuttle the materials to a train where it would later be shuttled to a spaceport. Galdir and some of the other mechanics would mostly be on call, going to miners who had defective lasers or other drilling equipment and repairing them. To complicate things, the Amarr didn’t give the best of materials to the mechanics for repairs, if they got the right parts at all. That led to a lot of jury rigging being performed when necessary. Sometimes it was hard to figure out what was done in the past, and therefore, what exactly to fix, but there was an art to it that almost made it a puzzle that Galdir almost took satisfaction out completing. Galdir’s day would be occupied by running back and forth patching up defective equipment, lest him and the person with the broken tool would get punished. The work was hard and exhausting, but doable and punishments were luckily rarely needed, although that was more due to the fear of not getting their daily Vitoc supplement if they acted out. Lunch would take place around 1:00pm, and the slaves would be permitted to pause and eat a ration that was provided in their suits. The guards would switch posts during lunch as well, ending the first shift and starting the second one with a fresh set of guard. After the new guards were in place, the slaves would get back to work for another 7 hours until 8:00pm.

The guards would herd the slaves back onto the train where they were counted to ensure nobody was hiding in the mines or had tried to make a run for it, which would only have meant that the slaver hounds would sleep with a fuller belly that night. After all the slaves were accounted for, the train would make its journey back to the complex.

Every few days, after the materials train had been filled up, it would take off and go to a spaceport where the fruits of the slaves’ labor would be launched to an orbiting customs office. They were told that a hauler would come and take the goods to the Ducia Foundry Mining Outpost that orbited above the planet, where it would be processed further and shipped elsewhere within the Empire.

After arriving back at the complex, all of the slaves would line up in the central courtyard to be counted once more and to then receive another short speech from the Overseer. He would thank them for their devotion to the faith and wish that they could all be spiritually enlightened as the Amarr, but he would also explain that this was a holy role and relationship that the Minmatar were part of.

With no lack of rolling eyes, the sermon would end and all the slaves would need to go back to their rooms to await their turn to go to the bathrooms again. As Galdir stood in his room with the other 18 men, he couldn’t help but notice, even after showering, how the room always smelt of sweat, oil and frustration. Frustration at being stuck in this place. Frustration that other Minmatar were free, while they were still destined to toil away until they got too weak to work in the mines. The Injured, weak and old were always sent somewhere else. The Overseer said they would work at other complexes that had less demanding tasks, but they had their doubts. The slaver hounds had to have some form of regular nourishment…

8:45. Their door opened and they were allowed 5 minutes to go to the bathroom and shower. The shower was adjacent to the toilets, and it was a large, simple tiled room with shower heads every few feet. They would wash off the sweat and dirt and watch it flow into the one drain in the center of the room. They may have gotten more clean, but the frustration at their eternal position persisted.

Galdir glanced at the polished metal on his way out and noticed there was a dark smudge on his cheek. Probably grease, but it didn’t matter. He tried to rub it off on the sleeve of his tattered shirt, but he wouldn’t be sure if his face was in fact clean until the next morning when he could look at the polished metal again. The slaves would then go back to their room where a cart of food was waiting. They each removed one tray and would silently eat on their beds. The food was largely tasteless, and of an odd consistency like tapioca pudding. They weren’t sure what it was they were eating, but it didn’t really matter because they didn’t have much for comparison as it was all they knew. Eating was just a means to an end for them and they knew no luxury.

Despite the bland dinner, the excitement in the room was high. Soon they would get it. Soon the food cart would be retrieved and the doctor would be by to give them a shot of Vitoc. That was the highlight of the day for any slave on Tuomuta III. They needed the Vitoc to live, otherwise the Vitoxin within them would kill them in a most painful way, and Galdir and the others knew that. But that somehow didn’t matter to them, they were almost happy to work all day just to be rewarded with their daily Vitoc. The pleasure, the euphoria it brought them was so immense that they couldn’t describe it. It was such an incredible high that even some of the less than devote Amarrians sometimes wished they could just try the Vitoc once after seeing the state it put their slaves in. Some of the slaves would stand, but most would sit or lay on their beds and zone out, lost in their daily nirvana, their solace from the living hell they normally inhabited. Their bliss would last for an hour or 2, and the lights in all the sleeping quarters would usually be off by the time their high ended, signaling the end of the night where most would drift off to a fitful, but much needed sleep in order to work another day.

This was the daily life of Galdir, the others in his room, his complex, and countless other slaves to the Empire on Tuomuta III and across the Amarrian Empire, which held so many systems and slaves in New Eden.

The whole galaxy did not belong to the Amarr though. Elsewhere was the Gallente Federation, the Caldari State, and the Minmatar Republic, among other groups and individuals.

The Minmatar Republic had been gaining momentum ever since the Minmatar Rebellion, and they were always struggling to liberate more slaves and return them to their ancestral lands and deliver them from bondage. In YC107, one particular contingent of the Minmatar Republic’s Republic Fleet came into control of a leaked prototype of Insorum, a cure to Vitoxin which would rid the body of the virus that creates the toxin, the threat of death, and the need for Vitoc. It had been tricky liberating slaves in the past that were affected with Vitoxin because once the supply of Vitoc dried up, the slaves would suffer greatly before shortly dieing. That limited the Republic Fleet to attacking locations that were known to use other methods of control that they could counter once they had liberated the slaves. Since some of the Capsuleers among the Republic Fleet had managed to obtain a small batch of the new Insorum prototype which they had stored in Pator, the home system of the Matari, they made the bold decision to liberate a colony that was employing Vitoxin to control the slaves. As fate would have it, they decided to launch a surprise raid on Tuomuta III due to it’s relative closeness to their staging point and the weaker defenses on the planet since there was only 1 mining station in the whole system. A fleet embarked consisting of several Rifters class frigates, some Thrasher class destroyers used to perform orbital bombardment, and a scattering of Rupture class cruisers, Cyclone class battle cruisers, and even some Typhoon Fleet Issue battleships, along with other drop ships carrying the various tanks and infantry that would be used on the surface.

The fleet departed from Rens in secrecy and made the few jumps necessary in order to reach the Tuomuta system.

For the people on Tuomuta III, it was just like any other night. The thrum of the generators could be heard, and the occasional guard made his rounds through the hallways as the slaves slept in their sleeping chambers.

The battle started in space, near the Ducia Foundry Mining Outpost as the larger Republic Fleet surprised the Amarrians in system with their larger numbers. Any hope of quick resistance quickly faltered as the Minmatar managed to outnumber the Amarrians. At some point in the battle, it was clear what the outcome would be and even before the liberation fleet had managed to land on the planet, an emergency code was sent down to all of the complexes.

Galdir was always a lighter sleeper, and tonight it would save him and the others in his room as he was awakened by the muffled screams that he still managed to hear in his room. He glanced around. The lights were still off, so unless there was a power failure, it was still the middle of the night and something was amiss. Due to the screams, he rightfully figured it was the latter. He jumped down out of his bed and, despite the absolute darkness, woke up the others in his immediate vicinity since he knew the room like the back of his hand. His plan went about as far as waking up the others though, and they were now all awake, frightened, and unsure of what to do. They couldn’t barricade the doorway because their bunks were fastened to the ground. By this time, the rest of the men in the room were awake and somehow a plan was devised to at least use their blankets and pillows, as well as unneeded clothing to make a barricade that they could push on from behind with the hopes that if explosives or something very destructive was used, the makeshift barricade would at least protect them somewhat.

Then they felt it. Massive explosions that knocked them to their knees and made their teeth rattle. Some fell to the ground, others stood more solid, but everyone desperately tried to keep pushing on the barricaded door in order to hold whatever unknown terror that was on the other side of the door at bay. After a brief few minutes, the largest explosions petered off, but there was still much noise to be heard as cannons and gunfire rang out in and around the complex. The tension subsided with the explosions, but just as Galdir and the others started to relax, the door was thrust open from outside. 19 strong men immediately pushed back and slammed the door shut on whoever just tried entering. The door was pushed on again, but it was stopped by their collective effort this time. There was no sound immediately outside the door from their would-be guest, but gunfire and cannon fire could still be heard through the muffled door. Galdir and others were in total disarray as they stood pushing against the cushioned door, blind, scared, and unsure of what was happening at all. It eventually got much quieter, save for the occasional gun shot that could be heard. The slaves trapped in the room were still not sure of what that was though as the gun shot sounded more explosive and less like electromagnetic pulses that they were used to hearing. They held fast against the door, pushing back whatever inevitable fate awaited them outside.

After what felt like an eternity later, they heard muffled footsteps in the hallways, going through the halls and speaking a language unknown to them, yelling out what sounded like shouts or commands. They would then say that they were there to help free them in the Amarrian language they were familiar with. Galdir and the others let out utters of disbelief, wondering what was happening right now as it was all too surreal. What was the other language the strangers on the other side of the door were using? Where they really freeing them, and why did that have an accent?

They rationalized that they really had no choice, and that they would have to come out sometime or later. The oldest among them volunteered to step out in the hallway to see what was happening. Galdir and the others pressed their ears as close as possible to the door after he stepped out, and they were elated to find out that the men on the other side were indeed Minmatar, and they were there to free them, but everyone had to move quickly before a larger Amarrian backup fleet managed to reach them in the same system.

They thrust the door open and poured out and gazed in wonder at the Minmatar troopers in the hallway. Their saviors. They looked similar to them in many respects, but more fit and still different since the ones who had been in slavery longer still looked more malnourished and were the products of a longer slavery sentence.

They, as well as some other recently liberated slaved, made their way to the door, and the smell of charred flesh assailed their nostrils as they hastily made their way out. Galdir could see the remains of some of his fellow slaves, burned with electromagnetic waves as the Amarrian guards attempted to kill off the slaves instead of letting them be liberated. There were also the occasional corpses of their previous captors leaking blood from bullet holes since the Minmatar militia still used primitive projectile weaponry that fired metal slugs instead of lasers. Galdir arrived at the courtyard and looked at the dim yellow sun with a new zeal as he realized he would never have to see this planet’s sun again. He would finally escape from this barren planet that he had been confided to his whole life. The Minmatar boarded some armored personal transports that were waiting to whisk them outside of the complex so they could rendezvous with the orbital drop ships that were waiting to take them and the rest of the planet-side military back up to the fleet that was in position above the planet.

The slaves were loaded into the dropships and launched into space where they boarded the battle cruisers and cruisers orbiting above. The freed slaves were so caught up in their rescue that they forgot about their Vitoxin and the necessary Vitoc. After the initial excitement winded down though, the reality came back in a very stark comparison to the elevated mood they were just experiencing. The Vitoc is not only Euphoric and practically addictive, but it is also necessary for their continued survival. Their concerns quickly elevated to mass panic and the slaves were screaming out in the Amarrian language they were born with, but most of the Matari troops and personnel on the ships didn’t understand them and some Amarrian-Matari translators needed to step in and explain to them that they didn’t need to worry. They knew they were infected with the Vitoxin, and they had a cure for them back in Matar which was a short 10 jumps away.

A cure? What would that bring? Would that mean that they wouldn’t ever need Vitoc again and they could live normally? …did that mean that they would never get to experience Vitoc again? The questions burned strongly in their minds, but asking questions to the translators just yielded more questions and further frustration. The freed slaves contended themselves to waiting and seeing what fate bestowed upon them.

The fleet arrived at Matar in the Pator system, the ancestral homeland of the Matari People, after narrowly dodging a couple Amarr patrols sent out to intercept them. Drop ships were sent down with the freed slaves to an internment camp set up to take in recently liberated slaves. Everyone lined up and told the attendants their name and their family history as far as they could remember, and the attendants attempted to track down where they would ultimately be delivered. In the mean time, they were granted beds in windowed rooms, and allowed free reign to the bathrooms and showers which was a totally foreign concept to them. So foreign that they still ended up waiting untill someone came by to check up on them, and after being asked if they could use the bathroom, the personnel told them that they could go whenever and they could stop asking. They took as quick of a shower as possible since that was what they were forced to doing their whole life, and again, the personnel told them that they could stay in there much longer if they wanted to enjoy the warm water, which was also something none of them had ever experienced. It was starting to get later in the day by that time, and Galdir and the other were getting anxious.

What about the Vitoxin? They didn’t want to die, and answers were hard to come by in the internment camp, especially since there was a language barrier. Galdir asked one of the translators what was going to happen to their cure when an intercom announcement rang out asking for all the freemen from Tuomuta III to report to the medical facility.

Confused, Galdir and the others managed to make their way to the medical facility where they went through a routine medical checkup. Unlike a normal checkup though, a special medical team was present this time. This team had a box full of injections and would inject every Matar in the neck that had the Vitoxin. The Team had to explain that they would all need to remain in the area so they could be monitored for the next few hours, as the normal effects of Vitoxin would normally start to kick in if things didn’t work absolutely perfect. What they failed to tell them was their their Insorum was just a prototype that they had managed to obtain, but they figured Galdir and the others would be better off not knowing, and they hoped against all hope that the cure would be completely successful.

But it was indeed a prototype, and it didn’t work correctly for everyone. After about 24 hours since their last Vitoc supplement, they started to have complications. It wasn’t as bad as if they hadn’t taken the Vitoc, but it didn’t work out 100 percent. Some of them still experienced tiredness, confusion and hallucinations. Other experienced shortness of breath or panic attacks. A couple people would eventually later die due to the Insorum simply not working very well for them, but most of them fared OK in the end. Galdir was one of the ones who experienced a sharp shortness of breath which would continue through the rest of his life as his lungs had developed some scarring, but it was manageable with the occasional break. In the moment when they were experiencing these complications though, panic ensued, and a small riot almost happened if it weren’t for the other Minmatar troopers that were called in and forced them to remain in an orderly fashion in the room, lest they be shot. Several hours passed as Galdir and the others were forced to remain in the medical wing under supervision while the medical team dealt with the more serious complications that arose. It did seem apparent to most of them after a while that, despite their minor ailments, they were not fully succumbing to the Vitoxin. That also meant that they would no longer get the Vitoc, which brought them such joy. The realization that they were free from the Vitoxin was bittersweet as it signaled the end of their daily Vitoc and the state of nirvana it put them in.

They remained in the internment camp for a few days as they were monitored and them deemed fit enough to go to a reintegration center where they would stay and get some further education, and most importantly, learn to speak Matari since they were used to speaking the language of their previous Amarrian enslavers.

Life went fairly smoothly, if awkwardly for about half a year as the freemen got used to the grasps of a new language and a new way of life, where they were allowed to do what they pleased for the most part. Not being told what to do was a foreign concept to them though, and they still usually asked others for permission to use the bathroom or to take showers. They were always fascinated about the food, which was nothing spectacular by Matari standards, but it was a world apart from what they had eaten their whole lives in servitude so that every meal was a new savory experience for them. After many month of adjusting and learning the basics of the language, Galdir and the others slowly parted as they went to their ancestral tribal lands which had housing for them. As Gladir was part of the Sebiestor tribe, he and other Sebiestors went to the arid Mikramurka continent in the northern arctic region of Matar. Despite Matar being a much more temperate planet than the barren Tuomuta III they were used to living on, being so far north was a cold unlike anything they were familiar with, and they were constantly bundled in heavy coats.

Life proceeded, but Galdir was not satisfied with his life. It was cold, and he felt awkward going to the bathroom, showering, eating, or any myriad of other activities without permission since he was used to asking for permission all of the time his entire life. He was given a job doing minor repairs on the water extraction plants in the town he resided in, but he always managed to annoy his supervisors with requests to eat or relieve himself. It didn’t make things easier that Galdir still had minor breathing issues due to the scars in his lungs as a result of the prototype Insorum, and he sometimes needed to take a brake and catch his breath: something he was always afraid of getting punished for even though he never was. His difficulty with the language also made it hard to talk to other Sebiestors, so his social life mostly consisted of talking with the few other Sebiestors that he came back with. Having to work to get money was also a foreign concept to him. What was this ISK, and why did he get it for working? Why did he need to give it to somebody for him to sleep in a room or to eat food? The entire concept confused him, and like many other people in dire situations, he made the ill-managed mistake of spending too much of his ISK on spirits and other frivolous purchases and not enough on other more necessary things. He was also unhappy that everyone was just happily living their lives on this planet, isolated from danger and anguish while so many other brethren were still trapped in slavery, suffering what he was suffering less than a year ago.

Galdir’s dissatisfaction with his environment, his “empathy-less” brethren in Mikramurka, and with himself, his hatred of having to deal with ISK and making poor decisions with ISK, and most importantly, his desire to free other brethren would lead Galdir to join the Republic Fleet as a mechanic.

Galdir proceeded to go through basic training, which he excelled in, despite his lacking, but rapidly improving language skills. The whole atmosphere was more what Galdir was used to: being told when to eat, when to work, and how long to take in the shower. He reveled that he did not need to worry about paying for his bed at the barracks, where he shared a room with other men again, which was a sharp contrast to the loneliness he felt in his place in Mikramurka. Galdir finished basic training after a few months with the others that signed on with him and he was granted the rank of Nation Warrior in the Republic Fleet as he was inaugurated on one of the many military bases on Matar. He would rapidly rise in prestige as his superiors realized he was actually quite brilliant with his hands, and could repair about anything thrown at him. It wasn’t long before Galdir was put in a unit that operated on a Rifter that actively patrolled Minmatar controlled space where Galdir would perform repairs on the ship, both typical repairs and repairs in the midst of combat when parts started to overheat or components were damaged or the hull integrity was compromised. There was a certain determined directness that Galdir had while working on the ships that made the others admire him and his dedication and effectiveness.

On one of their many patrols, the Rifter that Galdir operated on was in a small fleet consisting of a few other Rifters and 2 Cyclone class battle cruisers. They were patrolling through the Molden Heath region when they encountered an Amarrian slaver convoy consisting of 3 Tormentor class frigates and 1 Maller class cruiser. Without hesitation, the Minmatar fleet engaged the Amarrians and managed to beat their smaller convoy, rapidly destroying one of the Tormenters and the Maller. The two remaining Tormentors were damaged and made a hasty flight away into the Great Wildland. The 3 remaining Rifters, 1 of which Galdir was on board, pursued them with the intent of eliminating them. After a few jumps, the fleeing Tormenters made a last stand in B-VIP9 and engaged one of the Rifters: the one that Galdir was manning. The incoming damage was almost too much to take, and Galdir was reminded again of the heat the electromagnetic lasers could expel as their lasers smashed into their Rifter. Their shields dropped almost instantly, but luckily the armor did a better job of protecting them against EM pulses. Galdir attempted to manage the heat that the Autocannons were expelling, but their Capsuleer who controlled most function was pushing them to the extreme. Their Afterburner was also putting out more power than it should and the heat made the inside of the Rifter like an oven, causing Galdir to struggle to keep his breath in the environment that got rapidly more stuffy. Galdir and the few other crew members were frantically trying to handle all of the heat that all the modules of the ships were exerting when the Afterburner gave out do to the stress it kept receiving. One of the other Tormentors exploded which was a godsend in part because the rapidly depleting armor would stand for a little longer, and their Capsuleer let off of the heat on the Autocannons so that they were operating under normal temperature now. As the Rifters quickly chewed through the last tormentor, Galdir let out a sigh of relief as he had managed to live another day, largely due to the way he handles the ship’s internal components during the engagement.

Their ship was badly damaged though, and the warp core itself had taken damage in the process. As they were in the Great Wildlands, the nomadic Thukker tribe was sure to be around in one of their caravans. They requested for help in the system-wide communication channel, and after a few hours of sending SOS signals, a group of Thukkers came to their aid. They had a small fleet consisting of a random assortment of ships, but they managed to aid them and brought them back to the N-DQ0D IV – Trust Partners Trading Post in the N-DQ0D system, which the Thukker’s controlled.

While they were docked in the space station, Galdir conversed with the other Thukker there and learned how they were also occasionally staging small scale raids against the Amarr. They were working on assembling a fleet that would “ignite the skies above the Amarr and liberate all of their brethren”, which despite the audacity of the claim, was a rhetoric that resonated very well with Galdir. As the repairs to the Rifter were nearing completion, Galdir inquired if there was a way he could work with the Thukker task force he was hearing about, and they agreed that they could use his mechanical prowess on some of their ships, especially considering how he managed to keep that Rifter together in that last fight. His previous crew sadly departed without him and left him behind as they flew back to join the rest of the Republic Fleet.

Galdir would then spend the next year rapidly rising through the internal ranks of the Thukker Tribe’s militia and working on cruisers, battleships, carriers, and ultimately he was called upon to take part on the engineering team for their newest Ragnarok. Galdir was unsure what a Ragnarok was when he was asked to join it, and the Thukker tribal leaders informed him that the Minmatar Elders, thought by many to just be fictitious, were in fact real, and together with part of the Minmatar Republic and the Thukker Tribe, the Elders had been assembling a fleet that would launch the largest attack on the Amarr to date with the intent of freeing as many slave as possible. To this end, they had constructed their own fleet of capital ships, including a few ships that were so big in scope they would be considered Titans. The Ragnarok was one of these ships, and measuring at several miles long, it was a ship of such magnitude that Galdir hadn’t ever seen the likes of it before. He had heard that the Amarrian Empire contained a few Avatars, and this was the Minmatar response to those chips.

When Galdir was finally taken to the Ragnarok that he was going to be part of, he didn’t even understand what he was seeing at first. The ship was so massive that he assumed it to be a very oddly shaped space station at first, but on their approach, his companions explained to him that this entire thing was the ship. Galdir couldn’t believe it as it was just so big. Miles long; it would take hours to walk the length of it. There was so many windows, it almost seemed as if the ship itself was part of space, complete with its own set of start scattered across the hull. From going from a cramped room of 20 men, Galdir found it ahrd to believe that he would now be a part of the largest ship he had ever seen, so big that it was more of a flying city than spaceship.

The Ragnaroks and the rest of the Elder Fleet had been constructed in secret with funds siphoned off from public projects, but it was necessary in order to spring a surprise attack of this magnitude, they were just waiting for the right opportunity to strike.

That opportunity would come shortly in YC110 when Otro Gariushi, the CEO of the Caldari based Ishukone corporation would develop a full scale and effective Insorum and subsequently gave it to the Minmatar Elders for free.

The timing was perfect, and the various cells and elements of the joint Minmatar-Thukker fleet would assemble and lead an attack on CONCORD in the Yulai system as a testament to their new found combat prowess and to shut down the DED defense systems that CONCORD utilized.

Galdir was not part of that attack though. Galdir was prepared with one of the other armadas that was preparing to jump into Jarizza: a system deeper under Amarrian control, and home to countless slaves. Galdir had only made a few cynosural jumps before, and it always made him feel nauseous afterwards. He and the rest of the thousands of other crew members on the Ragnarok prepared themselves. Hearts raced and knuckles turned white as they were about to jump into the most important battle of their lives.

“All hands, prepare for Cyno jump.”

——————

The Elder fleet would later assault the Halturzhan planet in Jarizza, where countless amounts of Minmatar from the Starkmanir tribe were recently discovered. Many slaves would be liberated and treated with a fully effective Insorum while the Elder fleet would engage 2 other systems and rampage all the way until Sarum Prime, where the Amarr rallied for one last stand with the help of the Jamyl Sarum, who had just revealed herself, and her superweapon she had on her Abaddon. Jamyl would use this superweapon to eliminate the majority of the Elder fleet, and Galdir with them, in one fell swoop while the rest of the fleet retreated back to Minmatar controlled space, where the Amarr couldn’t pursue due to CONCORD’s systems being back online by that time.

Galdir had no regrets. He died a free man, and managed to save many others in the process, even if some of them died along with him. Many of the recently liberated slaves would die in the destruction of the fleet, but the ramifications for the Minmatar Republic would be great as even more Minmatar were freed, and many more would be in the coming years.

One of the last things going through Gladir’s mind was how much he wished he could have just had 1 more dose of Vitoc before he died.

 

 

Sources that I used:

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Minmatar

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Thukker_Tribe

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Elder_Fleet

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Sebiestor_tribe

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Slavery

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Jamyl_Sarum

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Otro_Gariushi

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Year_YC107

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Slaver_hound_(lore)

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Matar

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Starkmanir

https://evetravel.wordpress.com/lore-survival-guide/

http://freebooted.blogspot.de/2012/02/mark726s-eve-lore-survival-guide_15.html

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/The_Vitoc_Problem

http://freebooted.blogspot.de/2012/02/mark726s-eve-lore-survival-guide_13.html

http://freebooted.blogspot.de/2012/02/mark726s-eve-lore-survival-guide_12.html

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Minmatar_Rebellion

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Year_YC110#The_Minmatar_Fleet

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Thukker_Tribe

http://evemaps.dotlan.net/system/Pator/celestials

http://evemaps.dotlan.net/system/Tuomuta/celestials

http://evemaps.dotlan.net/map/Great_Wildlands

http://evemaps.dotlan.net/system/N-DQ0D

http://evemaps.dotlan.net/route/Rens:Tuomuta:Pator

http://evemaps.dotlan.net/system/Pator/IV

http://www.eveplanets.com/eve/planet/set?planets_set=Barren

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/New_Eden_crew_guidelines

http://fantasynamegenerators.com/eve-minmatar-names.php#.VkoV-HarTtS

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Planetary_interaction

http://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/118289/which-ship-in-eve-is-the-most-suited-for-supporting-a-dust-514-merc

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Amarrian_language

https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Titans

 

Hello world!

Welcome to my Blog. After many years of dragging my feet, I figured I would finally get around to starting a blog. I will follow up in a few days with an article that I am working on for a writing contest in EVE online, I will hopefully follow up with somewhat more of a regular blogging schedule.