World of Tanks Update 11/22/14

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The grind goes on, gloriously.

I’ve been concentrating on the M48 Patton event, and driving the Lee, M4, Easy 8, and the T20.     This is for a couple of reasons :

  • Somehow it’s fun to drive these tanks “for a limited time”.
  • Earning rewards is always good, even when meager.
  • I’m advancing them up the list to pass the VK 4502B.

Remember how much I hate that tank ?     Apparently, it’s gotten an upgrade and it is now considered overpowered.     You know, sometime I think life just hates me.     I will hold onto my hatred of the tank and keep it close to my heart anyway.    This means I must push it off the list of top tanks.

Moving them up.

Moving them up.   The M4, Lee, and JP4 are all working on passing 370 matches.

I’ve elited the Marder II, which I’ll clearly keep.    The crew is a bit XP’d up because the Jagdtiger 8.8 has used them for premium matches.    For the moment it’s off my list as I have plenty of tanking goals to pursue.    I’ve also purchased an absolute ton of tanks, and have a single open slot left at the moment – only because I sold one of my Chi-Ha tanks.

Aced the M4.   This was a fun match !

Aced the M4. This was a fun match !

Total matches are now over 18,000.     I’m not going to commemorate that number, but instead it’s more interesting to see what tanks end up as my “most/least” driven.

I’m trying to keep things more in perspective nowadays, and one of those is on the cost of premium accounts.     At the $50 gold package level, and 240 gold/dollar, premium costs less than $10 a month.    So I went ahead and bought premium, and I’ve been playing steadily for the last week.      If I get bored and quit, then it’s not worth it, but I can always justify blowing another $10.

See you on the battlefield.

Losing is hard

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When playing a PvP game, you have to be prepared to lose.   Looks like that’s what’s happening to me in City Domination.

Burbank has me and one other serious player in it.    Amahoser.    Silent Bob, who refuses to communicate and recently declared war on Doc Burbank.     I am watching square after square fall to him and there’s not a lot I can do about it.      I can only assume that I’ll end up with a few squares around my workplace and that’ll be it – depending, of course, on the obvious factors.

The "Blue Guns" are him, pushing into my territory.

The “Blue Guns” are him, pushing into my territory.

In the meantime, my ownership of Santa Clarita is unchallenged, along with the 5 freeway down to the 170.   Past that point and I’m being challenged by Amahoser.    So I’m not exactly being completely squeezed out of the game – just out of the area I care about the most, naturally.

Most people playing the game end up bored and quitting.    So will he quit first, or will I ?   I suspect the war will play out until that point.    You can’t exactly have diplomacy with no communication.     I still have one more trick up my sleeve which I’ll try out this week, but it’s success is uncertain and dependent on how much time I want to dedicate to the game.    If you collect enough “5 missions”, you can really smack an opponent around, and that’s what I hope to do to this guy.    The large rewards quickly fill up your inventory, so you can immediately attack an area in force, regardless of how many men are defending.   The 5 missions take a minimum of 48 hours to be ready, and up to around 108, probably to prevent exactly what I’d like to do – have them all ready at exactly the same time.

Then again, I don’t want to fall down the rabbit hole of gaming.    I have a feeling this guy is about 21 years old and unemployed, or a student.     He must have gotten sick of me for whatever reason, and he’s willing to drive around to wherever and smack me down.  I can’t dedicate that kind of time to the game, so I’m expecting to lose.

Either that, the blitz will work out, or I’ll outlast him.    But it’s a bit less fun now, seeing my beloved city slowly slipping out from under my control.

A Return to Tanks

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With a kick-ass new PC, I found myself playing World of Tanks once again.

My newest tank

My newest tank

Given that they were on sale, I purchased the well-known Marder 38T and the lesser-known Stug III-B.      I like the Marder and will try to elite it sometime soon.

I went ahead and spent the money for a premium account and have a whole gaggle of vehicles that I’m working on.

  • Lee, M4, and Easy 8 because of the M48 On-track event, along with padding their match count.
  • KV-5 and my brand-new Jagdtiger 8.8 for credits.
  • M44, M18 Hellcat, and the T20 trying to elite.
  • Also eliting the AMX AC 46, and the Churchill I.

I’m expectedly worse at the game having not played in a long while, and my efficiency rating has dropped to 922.    I think I’m doing well again, but my win rating is sliding.    Still, I’m having fun with the game and that’s what’s most important – and the more you win, the more fun it is, so don’t worry readers, I’m not falling off that cliff.

Hellcat has 10k of the 42k needed for the next vehicle, and so it’s the closest to eliting.    The AC 46 is probably still the farthest – haven’t gotten that final engine upgrade yet.    Also hoarding the credits in anticipation of the next sale, whenever that happens, for new tanks or for equipment.     I think I’ll be a bit smarter and stop buying new tank slots, instead, it’s time to sell some of them once I hit the limit.   Still have 5 empty slots.

Finally, I have Abrams medal 1st class.

Finally, I have Abrams medal 1st class.

One perk of buying the new PC was a free code for premium time, the JT 8.8 TD, and some gold.    I also picked up 1000 gold on a promotion for the Overwolf community tool, which was not something I found interesting at all.     With all that gold, it was not hard to decide to buy premium, given that I’m happily playing once again.    We’ll see if that lasts all the way to December 13th or so.    I still have enough to train some crewmen and move around equipment modules, thankfully.

Managed the new High Caliber medal first in the Lee, which amused me.

Managed the new High Caliber medal first in the Lee, which amused me.

There are a whole gaggle of new medals which I’m enjoying earning – I get so many that I’m sure anyone who’s kept playing is bored with them.     Nice to get a medal recognizing when you earn 4 or 5 kills as well – that’s not an everyday occurence for me.

4502B still in the top 20

4502B still in the top 20

At some point I’m sure I’ll push the thing out, but that’s not likely to happen for a long time yet.     I’m not giving up, however….

Tech Support Post Mortem

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Hopefully I have it all licked now.     System issues with the new PC build were :

  1. There were no SATA Data Cables.     They should have been in there with the motherboard.   I bought some to solve this one, however :
  2. Could not connect all three drives – DVD, SSD, HDD.     Careful connecting and reconnecting of drives results in discovering only one cable works with the DVD drive.   No idea why that should be so, but it is very consistent.   Problem solved.
  3. SSD will not permit Windows 7 to be installed.    The true experts at Sevenforums.com are even stumped.    It’s probably something like the size of the drive (500 megs) therefore exceeding some obscure limit.
  4. Using Hybrid Sleep, I would sleep the computer before going to bed.     Every single day I’d try to wake it, but it’s had a crash of some type overnight.
  5. Leaving the PC 100% on (only physically powering off the monitor) also results in the same crash.
  6. Perhaps this is a service pack issue.    Install SP1 to try and troubleshoot.
  7. Wake up Saturday morning to find the graphics card has failed.     Fight and fight with the system before finally figuring it out – it only boots consistently with the MSI card out.     Next time I think I’ll just remove the graphics card first; I have a miserably basic Geforce 8800 GS that barely plays games, but is great for troubleshooting.
  8. Discover the MSI card claims to need 500W.   I bought a 450W PSU.     Replacing with a 750W power supply results in the same errors, but I keep it anyway because of all the build issues.
  9. You have to watch out for Newegg nowadays.    They used to be a no-hassle shop, but those days seem to be over.    15% restocking fees and unreturnable items are not fun in the slightest.     What really chaps my hide is the stupid SSD.      What good is it if the OS isn’t installed ?
  10. With the defective MSI card removed, the PC boots successfully.   Now, what exactly is the problem with sleep?      Disabled Hybrid Sleep and the PC sleeps OK, but it behaves weird.     I can wake it up, and I know it’s awake because the fans spin and the HDD is grinding away.   But the screen stays black.     Well somehow, the monitor I have does not recognize that Windows is back on.   Powering it off and on will remove the black screen and finish waking the PC.

I am not sure I’m going to build my next PC; I’m getting too old for this shit.      I have kids and a wife who do not take well to the process of troubleshooting, and the taking up of 40 hours + of obsessive determination to make things work takes its toll on the family.

Time to process RMA’s and play some games.

Troubleshooting For ….. Life ?

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I had a good week with the new PC.   Got things set up and played around with various tools.

This looks awesome.

This looks awesome.

World of Tanks runs with all the graphics options set to high, and looks amazing.     I’ve been playing many matches and I find it fun again – the main drag on the game is the dearth of HD skins available which makes it much less fun to see an enemy (or friendly) tank in the game.

Libreoffice is working fine instead of MS Office for a home install.   I have a good amount of work compatibility, and I don’t use any of the recent features they’ve installed in the thing anyway.     100% Free doesn’t hurt either.    Calc is keeping my budget just fine, and Writer works for opening and (reading or printing) word docs.

There’s one issue I’m still trying to figure out.      You can put a Windows 7 PC in sleep mode, and it should wake up later.     I have managed to get sleep mode “working” on the computer, in that I tested it, it works, no problem, as long as I just leave it alone for 10 minutes or so.      But my usual method is to leave it in sleep mode when at work or overnight.

The PC will always have crashed and restarted if I do this.

OK – what could be the trouble ?      Service Pack 1 is an obvious first step, so I broke down and tried to install it yesterday.    It all went without a hitch, then I slept the computer last night and couldn’t get it to boot outside of safe mode this morning.   Instant panic.    I tried many things, and nothing worked.   I resigned myself to reinstall Windows one more time, after being certain that the problem must be SP1.

As a first step to reinstalling windows, I disabled Secure Boot within the BIOS and found that it managed to boot.    Hooray !     My sense is that whatever is going wrong in sleep mode, is outside of Windows – Hardware issue, and perhaps BIOS.     I guess I’ll keep putting it to sleep and see if “Secure Boot Disabled” does the trick.

 

Battle Of The SSD vs Win 7. SSD loses.

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Hmmm.  I cannot get the partition and formatting information correct for the SSD.    This is preventing me from installing Win7 on the new machine.

OK – what about installing it on the other HDD ?     It does work….. but you still can’t format the SSD.

Another possibility – is this just a bug with Microsoft’s partitioning software ?     EASEUS is a software that supposedly partitions drives.     And after a quick installation, it successfully formatted the drive.    It was weird about it though – I got progress bars on the screen, and they immediately ran to 40%.   Then they stayed there……. and when I next looked it was finished.

Thank you to whoever it was that posted about this one, and presumably he’s right.   EASEUS is partitioning software without a critical bug – Microsoft’s version of partitioning hangs when GPT has been used on the drive.     You would think, reformatting the drive and wiping out partitions would solve that problem, right ?    That’s supposed to make the drive just like new.    Apparently, that’s not the case for Windows, and it sees the GPT information and chokes.

About a minute after running EASEUS the partition is fixed; rebooted to DVD again, restarted the Windows 7 installer, and deleted the entire HDD partition and windows install.    And attempted to install again on the SSD, and it’s now “Expanding Windows Files”.

I’m not out of the woods yet.    Many other internet denizens did *something* to get this far with their SSD’s but got errors afterwards.    *Crosses fingers*

Not yet.

Not yet.

Fatal mistake – perhaps.   Maybe the right thing to do was to disconnect the HDD  from the SATA cable; what the installer did was create a 100MB recovery partition, on the HDD.   Then it tried to install on the SSD.    Eventually I got the error shown.

OK – without the HDD then.   Reinstalled Windows on the HDD.    Tried to get EASEUS to reformat the SSD again, and it didn’t want to do it.   Jumped back and forth, and without being sure why it worked, I eventually got the SSD formatted again.

I went for it.   I got a new error.   “Setup was unable to create a new system partition”.   Argh.

I can’t return the SSD, Newegg will not accept it.   Thanks a lot guys.     They will replace it, but really, I expect to have the same problem no matter what.    So maybe, all these circumstances, mean it’s time for me to actually install Linux.    Ubuntu is the flavor I’m most familiar with, and apparently a good one for gaming.      So why not – let’s try this out.

Will I Install Windows, or Not ?

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These boxes will be turned into a PC !

These boxes will be turned into a PC !

The MSI GTX 970 suddenly appeared in the Newegg store – the final piece of the PC puzzle, at least from an ordering perspective.     (Last week I gave up on the Case question and bought a nice black box like I always do, no blinky lights.)  I plugged my cart into the website, and waited for the components to roll in.    The SSD came last – Halloween night.    And Saturday morning, 11/1, I started to troubleshoot the strange hardware problem I experienced.

CPU and Memory installed

CPU and Memory installed

The motherboard H97M-Plus has support for six SATA III connections at 6 GB/S each.   Four of them are enabled by default.    First thing I did was simply plug in the three components and boot up the PC.    Two were recognized – DVD and HDD; the SSD was not.     I started a support case with ASUS.   They confirmed that yes, I was supposed to have 2 SATA III cables included in with Mobo, but they weren’t there.   Not a disaster – I bought three cables at Fry’s on Halloween, 6.99 each instead of the more likely couple of bucks online.

The hardest piece to lay hands on.

The hardest piece to lay hands on.

After fruitless web searching for more information or others with the same problems, I moved on to careful troubleshooting.    The ASUS rep gave me the right clue : have you tried one component at a time ?    Well, no I hadn’t.   Lazy troubleshooting produced the information that :

  1. All the cables worked.
  2. All the ports worked
  3. All the devices worked
  4. Everything together, did not work.

I decided to start with the slightly foreign item.     What if the cables were bad ?   Carefully plugging each cable, to one component, produced a surprising result.   One cable only works with the DVD, if the DVD is in SATA position 1.    So we’ll go with that.     From there, I verified that SATA 2-4 each work, with each disk, with each cable.    And with SATA 2 holding the SSD and SATA 3 holding the HDD all devices are recognized.

I could have sworn I did that at some point earlier, but oh well.

Next, time to boot up the Windows 7 installation DVD, thinking I’m home free.   I immediately get an error.    “Windows cannot be installed to this disk.    error: 0×80070057.

Hmmm.    What's this about ?

Hmmm. What’s this about ?

I found out that a common problem people are having is installing Windows 7 to SSD’s.   No idea why, but I’m anything but alone.     What I’ve found is that the guy with the problem tends to post, then finds a solution, then disappears.    OK then, let’s try and solve this one myself.

Many fruitless google searches were conducted, although I did get introduced to the excellent Windows 7 tool DISKPART.   You can use this command prompt based tool to create, format, set as system, or even repair partitions on your system.

Advice I got from various sources included :

  • “Maybe your hardware is bad”.    Nope.   Far too many people with the exact same problem as me, installing Win7 on an SSD.
  • “Disable UEFI”.    I think this might have worked a couple of years back, but UEFI and the BIOS are joined at the hip on my system.    The best I can tell, is that UEFI is a GUI-based version of BIOS and it actually looks pretty slick.
  • “Set your drive to be a MBR drive and reinstall”.    Well, I think this is going in the right direction, but all by itself it didn’t work.
  • “Format the drive first using Diskpart”.     While I successfully got it set to be a MBR drive, I could not get it to format no matter what I did.
Command prompt, how I miss thee.

Command prompt, how I miss thee.

At this point, I’m trying to decide whether to give up, or just sit on the problem.      6 hours of work is certainly a long time to go without any solution popping up.

First leg of railroad

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The Base to Dark Forest railroad is now complete.

Humble beginnings

Humble beginnings

The material for the path when in the forest needed to be considered, and I selected Andesite because of the nice look, yet gray.      I also needed to cross mesa and desert, and after not being able to come up with a good material I realized sand and clay just looks fine all by itself.    And with that, it was a matter of flattening out the path and digging tunnels (two), and laying the track.

End of the line.    Approximately 3000 blocks.

End of the line. Approximately 3000 blocks.

Desert temple.

Desert temple.

I plan to do something with the temple, not quite sure what.     I’m ringing it with cacti first along all the land approaches, and I might make a boat dock at the entrance in the screenshot.

Tunnel at sunset.

Tunnel at sunset.

It turned out that I had to have a tunnel here – as I dug along the top of this mountain, I exposed a skeleton spawner.     I looted it and torched it off, so it’s now safe.    But not wanting it to be seen when riding, I realized I had to go farther down.

Crazy clay sculpture

Crazy clay sculpture

I went over this massive mesa because the tunnel would have been very long.

I went over this massive mesa because the tunnel would have been very long.

The view from atop the mesa.

The view from atop the mesa.

And almost back home.

And almost back home.

I also ended up with an overflow chest of hardened clay, and half-full chest of dark oak.    Now, time to expand the maps.

Something for every interest

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I did find a nether fortress, and fought my first blazes.    A bit hard, and a bit difficult – it was hard to just get one at a time.      But I got tired of the nether, collected up all the loot and went back to the overworld.    All I really need to do is collect netherrack anyway, and smelt it into nether bricks.   Then I can make nether blocks.    I do also need to harvest quartz.    I have a fair amount of all of that.

Next activity – cutting a road through more mesa, on towards the roofed forest.    This gave me a pretty good collection of various clays and sands.     And when I reached the border with the forest, I created a new bolt hole.     Nothing takes longer than cutting paths through roofed forest – with the exception of paths through jungle, or clear cutting either one.

New Bolt Hole.   I like the dark oak doors, pretty cool.

New Bolt Hole. I like the dark oak doors, pretty cool.

Cutting through the forest.

Cutting through the forest.

There’s a plains fairly close past the forest, so I’m trying to finish the path through there and then head back with the loot.    My Dark Oak chest is pretty empty.

I found out that War Worlds is still going – the developer Dean has backtracked on shutting it down.     But I’d rather play a game with very little bugs like City Domination.    I am *this close* to the top 25 for individual players, a mere 6k points, which I can probably acquire by Monday.

And this is a pretty high rank in the game.

And this is a pretty high rank in the game.

Moving in on the Warner Brothers studios.    I'll try to take Disney next.

Moving in on the Warner Brothers studios. I’ll try to take Disney next.

Having finally ordered a GTX 970 and other required computer parts, I’m now waiting for the stuff to get here and create a new monster for me.     So plenty of things going on, even if it’s all very short notes and not my more enjoyed long-form blogging.

Constucting the Nether Portal Chamber

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I started improving my roadway system but it’s not much at the moment.

I have a three-wide cut and path through the small part of the Mesa leading southward.

I have a three-wide cut and path through the small part of the Mesa leading southward.

But the Nether Portal is complete.

I got some inspiration wandering through branch mines, and looking at how striking the white diorite veins were.   So I decided to make a Diorite Portal.

Step 1.  Construct the portal way underground.

Step 1. Construct the portal way underground.

Step 2.   Even out the area and square it off with polished diorite.

Step 2. Even out the area and square it off with polished diorite.

Step 3, was to make the entrance and walk in be impressive.

I filled in this area and the outside entrance to the mine(s).    And I put a little door into the one cavern.

I filled in this area and the outside entrance to the mine(s). And I put a little door into the one cavern.

Add a diorite pathway to the portal.    Filled in the cavern with sandstone for the effect of descending into the desert depths.

Add a diorite pathway to the portal. Filled in the cavern with sandstone for the effect of descending into the desert depths.

Sandstone gives way to "stone"

Sandstone gives way to “stone”

Pathway increased to double wide near the end

Pathway increased to double wide near the end

And the Chamber Of The Portal

And the Chamber Of The Portal

The portal leads to a medium sized cavern in the Nether, populated by a bunch of zombie pigmen and one ghast.    After several tries, I managed to bat one of his fireballs back to him and kill him, after he set a lot of fires and blasted a lot of netherack.     Thankfully, I didn’t hurt any zombie pigmen.

After building a cobblestone barrier around the portal, putting in a chest and a crafting table, I started making a pathway through the nether.

Rude little shelter.   It'll do.

Rude little shelter. It’ll do.

What I saw when first stepping out of the portal.

What I saw when first stepping out of the portal.

Now, to explore and find a nether fortress.

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