Mash Enter Key! The Words and Thoughts of William McMahon

28Jan/130

Tales from a make-shift HVAC guy

Posted by William

I'm cheap, I've come to acknowledge this fact so I'll do just about anything to save a buck, or stop myself from paying someone 100+$ an hour to come fix something I own.  Last week was the coldest week so far this winter and our heating decided to die.  So in true form, I promised Stephanie I'd do some research and if that doesn't pan out I'll call a HVAC guy.  This is the tale of that successful journey.  Hopefully it can help someone else troubleshoot their own HVAC issue, even those, like myself, with absolutely no HVAC experience.

Filed under: DIY Continue reading
10Jan/130

Cisco’s DHCP-Smart-Relay

Posted by William

I've previously talked about configuring DHCP using VLAN's and subnets, but what if your primary address of the SVI (or subinterface) isn't in the same subnet as the DHCP pool?  DHCP-Smart-Relay can help.

4Sep/120

Tracking down Spam

Posted by William

Getting Spam listed on RBL's (Real-time Black List) is one of the trickest things a network administrator can deal with.  Recently I had this nightmare, but I was able to deal with it.

Filed under: Other Continue reading
30Aug/120

Segregated guest connections

Posted by William

Sometimes you need a quick solution to get your guests on your network.  Whether it's through a wired or a WiFi connection.  You don't want your guests to have access to your internal network.  I'll show you how you can make a segregated guest network while still using the same copper in your LAN.

Filed under: Other Continue reading
29May/120

Plug and Play DHCP using VLANs

Posted by William

It's been a while since I've done DHCP configuration let alone a DHCP configuration using various subnets and VLANs.  So for this little project, I took my time to fully understand what is going on and how I should implement a solution.  My goal was to setup a system where you could essentially plug a device into a port and based on that ports VLAN it will be assigned an IP, automatically, within that VLANs subnets.

Sounds a bit complicated, but it's actually quite a simple solution.  It doesn't take that long to setup either with the help of Cisco IOS and Windows DHCP Server.

24May/120

Tracing the Network from the Comfort of your Chair

Posted by William

Starting a new network administrator position can be quite difficult, especially if the company lacks proper, up to date or detailed network documentation.  It's the administrators job to understand the network and more importantly understand what each port of your switches and routers connect to for quick troubleshooting when needed.

I've devised my own strategy to documenting the network without having to leave the comfort of my chair.  I'm sure it's been done before, but I'll post my findings in hopes to help other administrators.

21Jul/110

Everything in Moderation

Posted by William

What I’ve learned about going without Internet

Moving sucks, carrying large boxes, disassembling and re-assembling furniture, countless nights of fast food and most importantly no cable or Internet connection. When you plan to move you should always schedule your Internet connection to be moved well in advance, and I did... I timed it perfectly!! The second day in my new house the folks from TekSavvy would be around to install my wonderful outlet to the world. However, when that day came there was no door bell or friendly Teksavvy employee at my door. I called, waited in an extremely long hold line, and spoke with the representative. It turns out I got screwed, my order was “placed”, but soon thereafter cancelled and I was never told. Instead I had to wait an extra 7 more business days for them to come by to install the Internet in my new town-home.

So what have I learned living over two weeks without Internet?

I work, play and live on the Internet.

Primarily, I work from home... I VPN to my office to save myself the commute and the midnight drive. Having to go into work is a big negative, especially when commutes in Toronto are sometimes over 2 hours long!! Luckily my new home is closer to my workplace so it’s actually been really convenient. So overall, not having Internet for work hasn’t been that bad. It’s given me a chance to reconnect with some of my coworkers and mingle in a professional environment.

I thought I would miss my Steam connection, but to be honest I don’t. I’ve discovered some games that I have installed and can play in offline mode; such as Arma 2 and Fallout New Vegas. I’m sure if the new Deus Ex came out this week I would miss my Internet, only because it will be difficult to download it. I’m a singleplayer gamer; the only time I do play online is when I’m cooping with Nick or sharing a unique multiplayer experience, but to me multiplayer is gimmicky... that’s right I said it. I would be happy as a pig in shit if I just played singleplayer games for the rest of my life. I can still download singleplayer mods by tethering my phone or using some fools wifi connection in my neighbourhood that they failed to lock. I’ve been spending lots of time on my Playstation 3, watching movies and playing Super Nintendo. I’m an only child so being isolated from the mass gaming community does not phase me.

Living on the Internet is a different story... and to cope I have been tethering my Android phone to my netbook. It’s allowed me to check my email, communicate with the Podcast 17 crew, and do important things like online banking. Plus since I’m going into the office for work I can still spend a little time on my email and RSS during lunch and down time. I haven’t really noticed a difference in my productivity in regards to my Internet life.

So what have I learned? I can actually live without Internet for long durations. You might be saying to yourself that you could never do it or that it would be very difficult, but you might surprise yourself! I suggest that everyone tries it at least once... spend two weeks away -- don’t go on the Internet AT ALL... just the essentials, banking, email etc. I’ve found that I’ve been much more productive at home and social with Stephanie, getting lots of sleeping and just feeling great about life. I don’t get upset if I have to bring the car to the shop or pick up groceries because I’m not rushing home to refresh Reddit a million times.

So what have I learned? Everything in moderation and living without mass communication isn’t such a bad thing.

Maybe I’m just getting old.

Filed under: Lifestyle No Comments
26Mar/110

Revenge of the Titans – Review

Posted by William

revenge

"Revenge" of the Titans is a name that suggested there was once a race of Titans and now, due to external circumstances, they seek revenge.  Which suggests that there was an earlier game called "Titans", or... "Birth of the Titans"... or... Attack of the Titans.  In fact, after further investigation I've found that Puppy Games actually created a game called Titan Attack which was sort of a space invaders clone.  Whatever the case - Revenge of the Titans ROCKS!

If you ever looking to play a balanced mix of Real Time Strategy and Tower Defence then you've certainly found it.  I picked Revenge of the Titans up when the Humble Indie Bundle Part 2 was out; I didn't pay too much attention to Revenge of the Titans at that time, but once it was released on Steam I was able to get it free of charge!!  Unfortunately, the Humble Indie Bundle is no longer going on, but Revenge of the Titans is still well worth the price!

It has a very unique art style, sort of cell shading meets Tron meets; I dunno Saturday morning cartoon; I've never seen anything like it and it really functions well.  The functionality of the game is also pretty unique, from what I can tell it auto generates levels based on how well you are doing, how much money you have, how much defences you have up.  Which makes for an almost unique experience every time you play through the campaign.  You can even "tone down" the level by selecting an easier one after death.  This will generate a new level with easier mobs for you to fight against.  As with most RTS's and Tower Defence games there are plently of upgrades to be had... and you certainly can't get them all in one play through.  There are plenty of options at your finger tips and many ways to complete your objectives.

Revenge of the Titans is hard, you won't breeze through your first play through with ease.  In fact many of my friends have restarted their first play through to choose different upgrades.  The game allows you to back track through levels in case you want to make a different decision on which upgrade you have at your disposal.  Personally, I got up to the Titan world before I had to... result to extreme measures - yea I cheated by editing the hex values in the process; but I still loved it!  In fact this game is so adaptive, that it almost detected that I was cheating making the game EXTREMELY hard, bosses almost indestructible and things flying across the screen at lightning speed.  Never have I seen a game be so adaptive.

There are other modes of the game too including Endless and survival game mode.  Unfortunately, the only thing it is missing is a multiplayer mode or coop.  Maybe in "Return of the Titans" or "Titans: The Tightening".

I fear there were some balance issues too that I recognized before I started cheating.  At times I felt it quite difficult to actually win a level being very frustrated towards the end.  It is my opinion that a game, even Super Meat Boy, should be completable in the first run.  Maybe, now that I'm older I just suck at video games... can that happen?  Does age truely bring about poor video game skills... boy I hope not.  Back on topic though, Revenge of the Titans is certainly something that I hope to play on my off times.  I'm glad Steam reminded me of it!!  Thanks Puppy Games!

Filed under: Games, Reviews No Comments
21Mar/110

Dragon Age 2 – Review Stage 3 & 4

Posted by William

Dragon-Age-2

I'll try to keep this short as I've already talked in great lengths regarding Dragon Age 2. I've just finished Dragon Age 2 and in short I was very disappointed, but before I go into my conclusion let's talk a little about Stage 3. If you recall from my first Dragon Age 2 review I described Stage 3 as "The Breaking Point". This should be the point in the game that breaks up the game play, as by now it's usually very repetitive. In Dragon Age 2's case, I was very much looking forward to Stage 3 in hopes that it would finally break up the repetition of Kirkwall. For me Stage 3 begun during the Qunari revolution, but sadly, after the end of that Act, I was back in Kirkwall doing the same old shit in different piles.

The Act after the Qunari revolution was so short that I believe they could have filled in some new area, or areas to spice up the final moments of the game. Instead, by this point, I was so fed up with still being in Kirkwall I rushed through a lot of my quests. I completed Dragon Age 2 just over 40 hours, but if I spent more time in Act 3 I easily could have brought that closer to 50.

All my criticism aside, the conclusion of Dragon Age 2 -- Stage 4, was quite good. I enjoyed much of what Dragon Age 2 had to offer in the last hour when everything came together in the end. The thing I enjoyed the most was the much needed variety in enemies... finally we were able to see some new models and monsters in the flavour of sub-bosses. These created really interesting characters as the events I weaved unfolded before me.

It is apparent how much thought was put into the branching story arcs in this game. Almost every decision you make throughout your journey as "The Champion" affects the ending of Dragon Age 2; this should bring some comfort to die hard Bioware RPGers. For me, however, I can't see myself replaying Dragon Age 2 any time soon... unless of course I am bedridden or suffer from amnesia.

Sadly, I stick with my earlier score, a 3/10 -- but that's primarily because I made a promise to myself that if Kirkwall returned I would score it a 3/10. In all honesty, I should score it better than that because of the well structured ending. Dragon Age 2 is nothing like its original and has certainly left a bad flavour in my mouth. Furthermore, I have lost a little respect and trust for Bioware and, if possible, EA.

Filed under: Games, Reviews No Comments
17Mar/110

Dragon Age 2 – Review Stage 2

Posted by William

Dragon-Age-2

In Stage 1 of my Dragon Age 2 Review I was pretty hard on how story driven it was.  I also left you with a question -- "Can a video game have too much story?".  As I entered, what I believe to be, Stage 2 I had a little more hope.

After about the 8 hour mark things started to pick up a little bit.  There was less boring running around Kirkwall and more action and gameplay.  By this time I have established a pretty good relationship with all my characters and picked my primary party.  I had a lot of fun completing the quests and running through the dungeons.  The quests though, and the story, were still bland and pointless.  There were plenty of times I would just drone out aimlessly clicking responses; some quests are great, but most are lacking a key point of interest to follow.  The Qunari storyline, which reaches its apex at the end of Act 2, is particularly boring and bland.  This still left me with the feeling of unimportance I felt after Stage 1 - What is my purpose? What am I trying to accomplish? Is there some sort of dilemma I am working out?  Why the hell do I care about my in-game character?

Eventually you gain enough money to venture into the Deep Roads -- a planned expedition from the start of the game.  This, I would say, is the most exciting part of Dragon Age 2 thus far.  New areas, some new enemies and a simple quest structure.  At the end I felt we were really reaching a main story plot, but to my disappointment it fizzled out like every other interesting part of this game.

There were some pretty strong rumours that EA was pushing Bioware to release Dragon Age 2 as quickly as possible -- to ride on the coat tails of Dragon Age 1.  If these rumours are true I can really see the negative effect EA is having on Bioware.  Dragon Age 2 is a "recycled game" and it is extremely apparent after returning from the Deep Roads.  You're back in Kirkwall, picking up the same quests, raiding the same dungeons with no new content. I don't want to spoil it too much but unless you like watching reruns you probably won't enjoy Dragon Age 2 after hour 12-15.

My good friend mentioned that Dragon Age 2 "always has the same wallpaper".  In other Bioware games you explored galaxies and entire planets!!  I fear that this is the new trend in-game development, release a game with limited content the pump out as much DLC including "new areas" as possible. Bioware and EA are pretty big advocates for DLC -- so are other big development companies.  After experiencing the "three years after Deep Roads" I vowed that if it ever happened again I would give Dragon Age 2 a 3/10.  Guess what.... It happens again, not once but twice.  So even before I get into Stage 3 and Stage 4 of this review I have already given Dragon Age 2 a 3/10.  Personally, I don't know who to blame... Bioware for producing this shit or EA, allegedly, starting it.  I'm really loosing my patience with this game - if it wasn't for this review I would have moved on to bigger and much better things.  I think I'll take a break from Dragon Age 2 tonight; cool myself off.

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