Bastard IT

Google+ Plans, Pains & Possibilities…

Ever since I joined Gmail about 10 years ago I’ve been in love with Google’s services and keen to get as many of my family and friends to use them as possible as it makes my life easier and I’m lazy like that. I hardly use Office any more as Docs does what I need, Drive has pushed aside Dropbox for me and Calendar is sublime! Still, not every product Google has is great; WordPress outshines Blogger by a country mile and Flickr is in a whole different league to the painfully limited and frankly pug-ugly Picasa and it is in these areas I find myself pining for a better Google, a more integrated Google, a Google that provides me with everything in one place. I’m lazy you see, did I mention that?

I finally thought Google+ was it. Sure it’s taken me a while to get started with it due to the fact they wouldn’t let my HeadBurro Antfarm profile use it until very recently but now I’m in there I’m really liking it. I’ve even got my real self up there with my real name and everything! Go me!

But now I’ve hit another brick wall and I’m wondering if anyone reading this could help me with it. Can Google+ be used to share resources between family members? Before you ask me what the hell I’m on about, let me explain, first in words and then with a quick pencil sketch.

I have a Google account. My wife has a Google account. We use both mainly for emailing our own friends and family with some G+ing from me. We also have a joint Google account that we use to coordinate our family lives by supplying its email address when dealing with household bills and the like, as well as both using the same calendar to set up days out/medical visits/school holidays, etc. If the good lady taps “Dentist Visit” into the calendar on her phone it pops up on my phone as we both have access to this joint calendar and that is so useful I can’t contemplate not having it in my life. On top of that, this joint Google account provides us both with the perfect store for our family snaps as we can both upload them to the shared Picasa direct from our phones rather than all of mine going to my Picasa and all of hers going to hers. And that brings me to what I want to know. Is there any way we can share a calendar & Picasa account if our shared Google account moves to a Google+ profiled account?

Still confused? Well take a look at the diagram below and hopefully all will become clear. We currently do the one at the top but is there any way of doing the one at the bottom in Google? I hope so because I just want this shit to be easy and G+ seems to be making it harder.

Google+ Plan

I’ll have a Jelly Bean, please…

I don’t know what is delaying Samsung from rolling out the Jelly Bean update for its S2 phone over here in Blighty, but considering it has been bollocking about with since at least October last year and started rolling it in Feb this year to parts of the I didn’t even know had phone networks, I’d certainly like to bloody well know!

I’d also like to know why Samsung don’t have a simple page I can find out more about their updates. Why do I have to search and wade through rumours, gossip & possible leaks on Google just to find out when, or even if, they are going to release one? I don’t mind waiting (well, not much) if the company making me wait actually bothers to talks to me about it!

This is my second Samsung phone, the first was a pre-smart phone slider and I hated it with all my frigging heart. I promised I would never, ever, EVER go back to Samsung but the S2 saw me break that promise and whilst I’ve really enjoyed having a powerful & slim Android phone, I can honestly say that I wish I’d have gone for the Nexus 4. It will have to have be a damn good reason for me to ever get another Samsung after this bullshit.

Thoughts on games, fingers & fun

As expected I’ve not been in-world much over xmas & new year. After three months of being crazy busy at work and running the very demanding Steal Head story I needed a long break awayfrom SL, Steelhead, the Ning, this blog, writing, the lot. I’ve picked up my laptop or phone (on which I’m writing this very post) a few times but nothing has come; it’s as if my brain simply does not want to think about anything and, frankly, that’s fine with me.

As part of this annual “shut down” I’ve been unfaithful to SL again and bought some other games to play. Last xmas it was the rather wonderful Borderlands & Portal as well as the just OK Ghostbusters & Mirror’s Edge. This year it’s been the disappointing Black Ops, too-hard-to-move Deep Space & a bit dull Amnesia. On balance I’d have to say that last year’s choices won and, for me at least, there is a common factor linking the failure of a majority of these titles to hold my attention past longer than a few plays (hell, in some cases past the first hour) and that is their controls.

Let me explain. Whilst I’ve never owned a console (nary a NES, SNES, PS, Wii or XBox has passed my front door) I have friends who have bought each and every console ever released so naturally I’ve therefore played on most of them and to to a man, jack, dog the thing they all have in common is that I’m utterly, utterly, UTTERLY! crap at using their controllers. Really I am, I don’t know why, I just am. There seems to be too many buttons to press all over the bloody things, too many directions to move too many joysticks and d-pads in at once. It’s like asking a new born foal to rub its tummy and pat its head whilst trampolining through a war zone. Even the simplest of FPSers or driving games or beat-em-eps  has me wildly jabbing, squeezing, and occasionally dropping the ergonomically designed mind-fuckers like some kind of drunk vicar unsuccessfully juggling triplets at a christening.

No, not for me the A-B-C L-R Thumb D-Pad dance. I play like I type… with two fingers. Throw a mouse in there and I have all I need to happily play a shooty shooty game like Left 4 Dead on my PC until I pass out from lack of sleep/food/water. But if you go much beyond that then I’m fooked and it’s in this regard that the above mentioned games let me down – they seem to assume I have an extra hand and at least one more eye than I actually have. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the biggest offenders seem to be console ports or that chief amongst them are Microsoft’s XBox games, after all the game play is all based around the perfectly designed handsets and not a long, flat QWERTY keyboard.

The straw that broke the camel’s back (not to mention had the camel ranting at the computer like a camel who’d grown up with navvies) was Dead Space. I’d come to expect that MickeySoft’s games would have at least three screens of mappable keys (movement, actions, interactions) and it would be an enormous ballache trying to remap them so my cack-handed hands could cope, but when faced with the fact I simply couldn’t remap all the keys, only some of them, my ballache took on an almost mythic quality that would have made God punch a kitten. The death knell for this particular title came down to two bastard things – the movement was locked to keys instead of mouse, and simple gun firing had been complicated with a frustrating two-stage aim-then-fire affair that proved to be messy, slow and counter-intuitive. I’ve no way of knowing whether it works any better on the XBox and frankly I don’t care as I don’t have one – it doesn’t work on a PC and that’s all that matters to me.

I don’t know… maybe I should get an XBox controller for my PC and try it, but when a game like Left 4 Dead (and its even more amazing sequel) manages to work using just my two hands and single pair of eyes I sort of think fuck it, why bother? Either they make the controls more intuitive (or at the very least fully mappable) or I’ll just not bother.

Now if you excuse me, I’m off to play Left 4 Dead 2, a game that removes the need to think about the controls and lets me, well, play the game. Grab a shottie & some ammo and meet me down in New Orleans – we’ve got some zombies that need a damn good talking to 🙂

Stuck in limbo… again!

If you are wondering why I’m in-world a lot at the moment, then wonder no more… I’ve been ghosted for the last three days. I’ve put a ticket in, but only being a mere Premium I’ve heard fuck all :-/

SL on hold again.

Right. We’ve all been here before so I’m not going to bore you with details, suffice to say SL is once again proving to be a total twat and I’m just not enjoying the misery of trying to log in only to see grey boxes everywhere. I’m not logging back in for a bit and I’m not blogging about it either – the whole bubblefuck can can fall off a very steep fucking cliff for all I care. I’ll stick to Left 4 Dead 2 for now because at least that fucking well works and is fun.

Any RP I’m involved in, well consider me on hold. Email me if you want to otherwise I’ll try again in August.

All the diodes down my left side…

I have a snazzy computer. OK, it’s not a shit-hot gaming machine, but it didn’t cost me £2,000 so I never expected it to be. But still, way back in December 09 when I had the Great Graphics Card Balls Up (had to buy a new card, it didn’t fit in my PC or on my motherboard and I ended up buying a whole new PC in kit form and building it myself) I expected great things from it.

Well I’ve only had great-ish things from it.

It plays games wonderfully but it still finds SL a grind at times and a couple of weekends ago things came to a dramatic head when it simply refused to play ball during the Bay City 2nd Anniversary and I missed the Parade.

I think I’ve fixed it – I’ve certainly had no problems since Osprey’s advice, but in case anyone is looking for help with a similar issue, here’s what I did:

1) Cleared the cache. 4 times. Result: On relog things back to normal but not for long.

2) Defrag HD. Twice. Result: None.

3) Added 2Gb memory to take total to 4Gb. Result: None I can see so far but not tested much yet.

4) Switched on multi-threading in the SL client prefs (this was Os’ advice and it helps SL cope with multiple programs running on the computer). Result: This seems to have cracked it and I’ve had no problems since.

All in all it’s been hard to tell what worked as I was doing everything at the same time (bar adding the memory – that came a few days after and the system was running OK by then) but if you’re having problems, try the multi-threading thing out. Note, this is different from multi-threading on nVidia graphics cards which is about linking cards together.

What the bloody flip?

I like to check my blog stats. It a mixture of vanity & masochism; the former as I like to see how many people are reading my work and linking to it, the latter because the answer to both is “not many”. Still, my blog gets between 20 & 100 hits a day. Until today. Suddenly today I’ve had over 250 hits. How bloody odd! Look…
Blog Hits Gone Mad 001

There’s a curious piece of CSS code from CNN listed in the ‘Referrer’ box – I took a looksee but couldn’t make head nor tail of it – I wonder if that is artificially driving my hit spike upwards?

A workaround for the snapshot to postcard issue

I came into SL last night to help Enjah out with the 2010 show – it was good to be back, but the first hour was still a minefield of annoying techy issues that pissed me right off, but I remained calm and did not re-spit my dummy out and in the end I had a good night.

Along the way I got an IM from Mari who told me about Torley’s workaround for the snapshot issue that had pissed me off so royally the week before. The issue is that I couldn’t send snapshots via email anymore (saving to disk did work but as I don’t use that system it’s not an idea alternative for me, more an emergency plan B). It turned out this is one of those ancient issues that had rumbled on in the Jira for a while but seems to have become much worse in the latest server roll out. Torley suggests reducing the size of your snapshot (he explains more here in the Jira). For a few months I’ve been taking my shots at 2880 x 1618 & 80% quality giving me a file size of around 500Kb to 1Mb (1Mb being the cut off limit when emailing out as I do – I email out to Snapzilla and that in turn emails the shot to Flickr – I’ve edited the postcard XML file so it automatically has the correct email address in the To: field). This *had* been working fine but on Torley’s suggestion I dropped the size to 1440 x 809 & 80% quality (giving me a file size of 300Kb to 500Kb) and it worked again.

Now obviously the fact that I should be able too send the larger shots (and until two weeks ago could!) means that this is only a workaround for an error I really hope the Linden’s fix toot sweet, but at least it means I (and you if you have been similarly blighted) can send postcards again! TY Mari & Torley 🙂

Coming back to the same old gubbins…

Well, I’ve missed SL these last 2 or 3 days. My wee head has been full of (other than snot I should say) storylines for HBA & Ryne and I’d like to get back to writing them. I’m less angry about the snapshot error (please vote on the Jira here) and therefore thinking about returning.

That was until I started reading up on the blogs.

Lindens gone & Viewer 2.0 being less that optimal. yay.

Maybe I’ll stay out here a bit longer, huh? See what happens before I come out from under the duvet?

But then this *is* SL – it’s never perfect and always frustrating and it’s the only show in town so what choice do I have?

Argh! Who am I kidding? I love it! Yes SL is a big bag of gold nugets & shit, but at least there’s some gold, eh?

Righto then, see you this weekend for the Nova Albion Parade (which will lag like a bastard, crash many of us out several times, not allow group chat and deny any snapshot uploads but which will also be fun), ok?

I’m dropping SL for a bit.

I’m not leaving. I’m just not enjoying my time in-world right now so I’m taking a holiday. Chief annoyance is the inability to take snapshots (I think it’s this error on the Jira). I don’t build or script in SL, I write stories and take pictures. Work is so busy I don’t have the time or energy for the former and SL is so fucking borked I can’t do the later so what is the point of being there? When I can talk to my friends via email & twitter, etc. then the reason I use SL is for a creative outlet, and SL itself won’t let me. I’m off to play simple pleasure hit games like Bioshock & Left 4 Dead until someone fixes SL. If you want me, you know how to get me.