Elite dangerous: Great mechanics but little content

I quit a lot of games early with plenty of unplayed content because the core mechanics suck. The game may be unbalanced, or the UI has flaw(s) I can’t get over, or the player may be punished for things that were not their fault. Elite Dangerous is unusual in that it has the opposite problem: great mechanics, but very shallow content?

In terms of mechanics, Elite Dangerous has the best controls I’ve ever seen in a space fighter game. The level of remapping is overwhelming at first but somehow all works together to support any way you want to play. The user interface is crazy complex for a game, yet provides almost all the information you need when you need it. The galaxy interface, at first sight, blew me away with how much information there was.

But as I said earlier, where’s the content? A computer cannot generate new or meaningful content; it can only randomly do the same thing different ways. So once I’ve killed X pirate ships I’ve killed all of them. Once I’ve seen a few galaxies, I’ve seen them all. Once I’ve visited the 4 or 5 different types of space stations, they are no longer interesting to look at. Like someone on Reddit said, the content is a mile wide but an inch deep.

While you can see other players fly around in a system they might as well be AI controlled. Besides rare text chat and trying to attack someone for no reward you have no interaction with other players. You cannot fly together, you cannot fight together, and even if you could you wouldn’t want to because there are no challenges that require this or systems in place to support doing so.

Just off the top of my head things that are missing:
Unique content, besides giving a few planets (such as Earth) a special texture
Quest progression. All missions are one-shot, at most giving you the choice between supporting one of two identical factions.
Meaningful interaction with other players
In-depth reward system. There’s no unique or special loot.
Meaningful differentiation between factions
Meaningful impact of rank and reputation
Capital ships
Planets and stars are just obstacles
Large scale combat

The launch trailer is actually a lie, as you can’t do the important things it shows, including large scale combat, working with other ships, multiplayer, or capital ships. Maybe they should have spent that money on level designers instead.


The nanny from hell

At the start of 2014 I was looking for a nanny. One nanny replied to my job ad
“My required salary is $15 an hour”
then replied immediately after
“My required salary is $20 an hour”

My gut told me “Do not reply to this person” but I ignored it. On the phone, she said that she now wanted $16 an hour. In person, $18 an hour. Two weeks later, after she had already been hired, she told me she made a mistake in her math and for the hours I was giving she required $20 an hour. At the time my wife was dying, the alternate person I was going to hire was also $20 an hour, and she was very nice to my son. So I just gave her the raise.

Two weeks later, she lost my son. I get a call from the neighbor that my son was at his house, and “Did you send him here?” I had not – the nanny was upstairs getting his jacket and my son ran out of the house. I do not blame her for that. What I do blame her for is after I retrieve my son, we are all in the front yard and I walk into the house. Instead of watching him automatically as I expected, the nanny followed me into the house. After a few moments inside the house I asked her “Why are you following me? Where is my son?” I go outside and he is nowhere to be seen. Rather than helping look or call out to him, the nanny is standing there on my porch like a deer in the headlights. A lady at the end of the street waved me down and told me “There’s a kid running around in the street over here. Is he yours?”

That night I call the nanny to fire her. She knows where my son goes to school, where I live, etc. so rather than tell her the truth I tell her I just have decided to watch my son by myself from now on, and I will pay her two weeks severance even though I do not have to. She calls me back with a 20 minute sob story about how she has 3 kids to raise, and turned down another job to take mine, and how she is being punished for doing the right thing. So for perhaps the first time in my life I relent after making a decision.

We have a big fight the next day, partly because she was mad I sent her home early that day. She didn’t want to leave because she wanted her hours. I basically kicked her out of the house. I explain to her I was mad that she lost my son. Rather than accepting responsibility, she blames me. She said my son does not listen to her when I am home, which means that I am watching him instead of her, meaning that if I walk into the house and leave him outside with her it’s still my fault if he runs away. She claims the fact that he ran away in front of her was not a fact, but my opinion.

A few days later I have to take my son to urgent care and tell her to come in a couple of hours later. Again the nanny raises a scene, demanding pay for the missing hours. I refuse, but offer to let her clean the floor if she would like work those hours. She refuses to do that, and does not come in that day.

I was already so angry with her that I could not look her in the eye when she was home. Another few days later the nanny asks for her second raise.
1. Change from hourly to salary so that she basically starts getting paid for the time she does not work
2. Plus 5 Paid vacation days each year
3. Plus 3 Paid holidays each year

We discuss it a few days. From the first day she considered it a done-deal and in fact started leaving early assuming she would get paid for that time. But when she asks me to start pay part of her gas to get to the job site, I reach the limit of my patience. I reply with an angry email. I give her notice. For the sake of her 3 kids, and also to try to forestall revenge on me through my son, I offer to pay her out through March if she doesn’t get another job before then.


X Rebirth sucks

I hate to be the first one to say this but X Rebirth sucks. I’ve been a fan of the X series from the beginning and have for the last month waited for X Rebirth almost painfully. I even preordered the game, something I almost never do since I prefer to wait for reviews.

30 seconds: Try to setup joystick from the settings menu – obviously something is wrong. For example, I cannot bind the fire button and it starts unbound.
5 minutes: Start new campaign, cutscene – horrible writing and voice acting!
6 minutes: Some chick who talks to you like a jerk boards your ship without player permission. She walks to the cockpit and sits down. Who is this person? Why would I let someone I don’t know, who talks like a jerk, just board my ship like that? How does she know the layout of my ship, or automatically gain entry to the cockpit through a handprint access panel that was not set to her?
6 minutes 30 seconds: Booted out of dialog with chick while I was messing with the settings. Stuck in the back of my ship. No way to reenter – Handprint access panel does not work. Restart campaign. This is literally the fastest I’ve ever encountered a no-progress situation in a game.
10 minutes: Tried to fly with a joystick, realized it will never work because you cannot bind the controls for pitch / yaw at the same time as strafe. Even though the menu says joystick / gamepad it’s obviously gamepad only and was never tested with a joystick.
11 minutes: Using the mouse, how do I get rid of this annoying “Press space…” message at the bottom of my screen?
15 minutes: Despite Egosoft’s claim to dumb down the game to make it controllable with a gamepad, you still have layers of menus. The layout is actually worse than the original game as well. It’s not worth going into why, but it’s quite obvious if you actually try it.
20 minutes: After 10 minutes of flying around, I kill 2 drones. I’m supposed to control my freighter somehow, but no idea what to press. The help says to press 2-2 or something like that, but after doing so you still have another menu with no idea what to hit beyond there.
25 minutes: Alt-F4 in frustration, write this post.

I’ll let them patch for a year or so and see what it’s like then.


Apache and Apache Tomcat are different things!

Apache and Apache Tomcat are technologies that both serve webpages, have features in common, and have a name in common. But they are DIFFERENT FUCKING things and NOWHERE is this fucking clear until I ran across a post where someone else discovered this too. So I would do a general search on how to do something, and the webpage would be talking about Apache and not Apache Tomcat, and I would be confused out of my fucking mind. Especially since some sites talking about Tomcat would shorten it to “Apache” and some sites talking about “Apache” I thought were talking about Tomcat. So the website would say to add settings to a text file that doesn’t exist, or to create a file and the changes would not work. I wasted a LOT of damn hours because of this.

It would be like if I made a hamburger restaurant named “McDonalds BurgerKing” that had a similar layout and menu, but be a different restaurant and use different names of items with different ingredients, and never explain this to anyone.


Eclipse (on Windows) is terrible.

[3:04:22 PM] kevinjenkins1974: I have to restart Eclipse because the UI degrades every time I debug. At first I can no longer use the search function. Then copy/paste no longer works. Then the function keys no longer work. Then it randomly crashes and switches the UI to debug mode with no code every 10 seconds. This all happens in about 5 minutes after I debug
[3:04:42 PM] kevinjenkins1974: I can’t believe large companies use it
[3:05:04 PM] Dustin McCartney: *shrug*. Me either. It is huge at IBM, Google, SAP, etc.
[3:05:49 PM] kevinjenkins1974: another thing is suppose I have an html file and make an edit. I reload in my browser. Would you expect A: My changes are visible B: my changes are not visible ?
[3:05:51 PM] Dustin McCartney: …part of that might be Eclipse on Windows though… maybe. Many of these tools and such don’t quite work right on Windows.
[3:06:23 PM] kevinjenkins1974: There’s a ‘clean and publish’ button for the server. So I press that. Would you expect the changes are now visible?
[3:06:37 PM] kevinjenkins1974: There’s a ‘clean’ for the solutoin, I press that. Changes are now visible?
[3:06:48 PM] kevinjenkins1974: Shutdown and restart eclipse. Changes are now visible?
[3:06:54 PM] kevinjenkins1974: If you said no to every question, youd’ be right
[3:07:22 PM] kevinjenkins1974: I can either A: Delete all files from my harddrive, restart eclipse, now it is visible. Or B: Press F5 in project explorer to reload files into eclipse’s cache
[3:07:34 PM] kevinjenkins1974: Now why it does not do this automatically is a real question
[3:08:28 PM] kevinjenkins1974: Half the reason for my headache with ehcache.xml is I’d make a change and eclipse would not refresh or I’d forget to refresh. Then it would use my old settings at random, and drive me crazy wondering what I am doing wrong
[3:09:58 PM] kevinjenkins1974: I think you are probably right about Windows. I think they use it on Linux only, and have some build tool to automatically port to Windows. But nobody checks it and nobody cares, so it’s half-assed and doesn’t work right
[3:11:54 PM] Dustin McCartney: LOL.


Simple comparison of 7 JSON libraries for C++

I needed a JSON library for C++. Despite the large number of them on the internet, only one was suitable. My requirement was that it can both read and write (many can only read) and that it does not have external dependencies, including STL.

I really liked this because it is the easiest to use and only has one cpp file. But it relies on STL

Kind of large, but includes a VS2010 project so you can verify it compiles on Windows. Does not rely on STL. That is what I ended up using.

Documented, but uses STL

Documented, but through kind of usesless auto documentation
Even though they include a Visual Studio solution, it didn’t build.

Only reads, cannot write

Relies on STL

Not sophisticated enough


Passmark new computer

New computer:
Processor: INTEL, Core™ i7-3770K Quad-Core 3.5 – 3.9GHz TB, HD Graphics 4000, LGA1155, 8MB L3 Cache, 22nm
Memory: CRUCIAL, 8GB (2 x 4GB) Ballistix Tactical Tracer w/ LEDs PC3-14900 DDR3 1866MHz CL9 (9-9-9-27) 1.5V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC
Video card: ASUS, GTX680-DC2T-2GD5, GeForce® GTX 680 1201MHz, 2GB GDDR5 6008MHz, PCIe x16 SLI, 2x DVI + HDMI + DP, Retail
Motherboard: ASUS, P8Z77-V LX, LGA1155, Intel® Z77, DDR3-2400 (O.C) 32GB /4, PCIe x16, SATA 3Gb/s RAID 5 /4, 6Gb/s /2, HDMI + DVI + VGA, USB 3.0 /4, HDA, GbLAN, ATX, Retail

Passmark rating is 4518.6


Passmark PerformanceTest 8 results

Old computer:
Processor: AMD PHENOM X4 9950 BLACK EDITION 120W
Memory: CR DMNT 2X2 GB TWIN 8500 MEMORY (later I upgrade to 8 GB)
Video card: AMD Radeon 6970, upgrade from original dual EVGA NVIDIA GTX 280

Passmark rating is 1864.9


Dark souls: Why you should never put points into Strength, Dexterity, or Resistance

I’ve been playing Dark Souls and brought up a character to about level 60, specializing in strength, vitality, and endurance. My character is gimped and now I have to reroll.

The reason is that every weapon in the game is effective. The tradeoff is between size and speed basically. Furthermore, you can use every weapon without specializing in a primary attribute anyway just by upgrading it to lightning or fire, which removes stat scaling.

If your primary attribute is strength or dexterity, slightly increased damage for those weapon types is all it is good for. If you specialize in faith or intelligence instead, you get the slightly increased damage too, and CAN USE MAGIC WHICH PUTS THE GAME IN EASY MODE.

1. Most enemies are vulnerable at range.
2. You are at risk in close
3. Weapon primary attributes are evenly distributed among the types of weapons available.
4. Strength and dexterity provide no other benefit

Conclusion: You’d be foolish to specialize in strength or dexterity because you can no longer effectively use magic but still have access to the same weapons

Resistance is just a useless stat, when compared to the same attribute point in vitality, endurance, intelligence, or faith


Dumbell only workout

The only equipment I have is adjustable dumbells, a tree with a low branch for pullups, and a fitness ball. This is what I do on a typical workout:

Start with lateral and front deltoid raises, sometimes combined
Bench press or Chest fly
Biceps Curl
Kneeling one arm row
Upright row, sometimes continue into a shoulder press
Sometimes triceps extensions
Wrist twist
Arnold press, usually replacing one set of shoulder press
Shoulder shrugs

On off-days I may do
Side / front plank, passball
Ab rollouts on the ball
Back extensions

For legs I do interval training sprints and ride a mountain bike. If I use weights it is with deadlifts and lunges. However, the weights are too light so I usually have to go to the gym to really work my legs.