Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Purchasing Experience from iBuyPower.com

This was the case I ordered.
This post is to serve as a review of my first purchase from I Buy Power, the eSports high-end PC gaming machine builder company.

My previous PC died after what must have been a power surge. The current place I live in has questionable wiring, particularly in what seems to be the room where all of our most expensive electronics rest. The silver lining to all of this is that I've been thinking of getting a super-charged computer for a while, and this setback just happened to align over Thanksgiving 2013 - leaving my searching online for Black Friday deals.

I had been recommended iBuyPower from a number of friends and acquaintances. I liked the prospect of tweaking a build and then letting someone else take care of the assembly. I haven't built a computer in around 10 years at this point, and can no longer afford the time to learn how new-fangled bits click together, though I hear that it has become easier in recent years.

D-DAY: The Black Friday deals were great. Initially tempted by a build with an SSD, I ended up foregoing the extra expense and finishing up around the $1200 mark. Still pretty hefty for a PC. Not the most expensive, for sure, but quite enough for me.

D+3: The company request that you add your shipping address to your credit card account, if you want it shipped elsewhere. This was the case for me, and was the first real hurdle after getting my head around which components I wanted in my new build. The bank let me down and there seemed to be serious problems getting my shipping address added to my account. After three days of back and forth with the iBuyPower sales rep, we agreed to change my shipping address to my billing address. It was going to add a little time to me collecting it, but at least the process would start moving forward.

Moments after, my sales rep contacted me to let me know that the free engraving I had opted for would not be possible with the case I had selected. This was no big deal to me, and originally I had found it hard to resist the offer, though I could not think of anything worth engraving.
In the days prior, I'd read stories of cases getting tossed about in shipping, causing parts to break. iBuyPower offer customers a premium packing service that fills the case with foam in an effort to reduce this risk. I asked if I could add this to my order, and my sales rep threw it in for free. That was neat.

About two hours after this call, I received an email alert stating:
Your order is being forwarded to our inventory queue - Please note that it may take several days before this process begins.
'Fine by me!' I figured. All I had to do now was anxiously refresh the page every few hours, hoping upon hope that I'd see a shipping update. Typical turnaround time as stated on the site, from order to shipping, is 5-10 days. At this stage, my order is five business days old.

D+8: Email update: Parts Gathering: Beginning. The inventory department has begun gathering the parts for my build. Expected turnaround is 'some days'.

D+10: Email update: Parts Gathering: Completed. The computer has moved to the assembly department. Depending on complexity, it may take a day or two before reaching Quality Control. The next expected update is that the computer has been assembled.

At this stage, in terms of 'business days', I am expecting shipping before the end of the week.

Four hours after gathering has completed, I receive an update my machine has been assembled and will now enter Quality Control. This phase tests the hardware for faults, installs Windows and necessary drivers. Things are looking good!

D+11: Quality Control is completed, and the build is moving to burn-in tests. These are 'grueling stress tests' that ensure the computer can take the strain of intensive use, I assume. Next step is shipping, so it looks promising for tomorrow. Fingers still crossed. Crossing toes just to be sure, too.

Burn-in was a short process, for sure! Just one hour later, and the machine has moved to the shipping dept. It will ship either today or tomorrow.

Five hours later, and my FedEx tracking number is emailed to me. ETA: Thursday by 8pm, in two days' time.

D+13: FedEx deliver on schedule, and the machine is in my hands. The box it comes in is massive.

Setup is a little complicated. The protective packaging I opted for is difficult to remove, and it is not always clear if it is caught on a piece of circuitry or not, due to the way it is installed. It's a plastic bag filled with two chemicals that solidify upon mixing, which allows it to get right into the hollows of the case to protect things like ram and graphics cards from getting knocked around in transit.

On boot, the computer is untouched, and I register my Windows 7 serial (marked on the side of the case with a product sticker). All is well.
In the flesh.
All in all, the experience was positive. The system that obstructs shipping to other addresses is awkward, but it wasn't a total catastrophe for me. All in all, the process took 8-9 business days, excluding shipping. I will update this post if anything noteworthy happens, but as it stands, it's a pretty neat piece of kit.

January 5, 2014: It's been several weeks since I posted this, and the computer continues to run like a dream.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Write or Die is great fun for terrifying yourself into 5+ minutes of work

The timer signalling when your session ends is a blessing. That said, I didn't look at it once.


Okay I guess I have to start writing so here I am, fudging out word after word after word in the grim hope that by the end of the next five minutes, I will have succeeded in clawing together five hundred silly little words, all in a row. Or a paragraph, at least. If I don't keep a steady stream of words going, my words will start to eat themselves. I am using Write Or Die.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Not even close

Okay, so this might be easier to put out if I don't try to make it into something. Apologies if it makes little sense.

As he was, so he shall be


Tuesday July 14 2009 - I think that's the first Giant Bombcast I listened to. It was about California Extreme, and I had just returned home from a year in Paris. In my final few weeks there, I was reading up on Jeff Gerstmann, and found out that the whole Gamespot thing had happened, and that Giant Bomb was a new site he had founded with a bunch of other ex-Gamespot staffers, including one Ryan Davis. I had no idea who Ryan Davis was.

Today that seems like such an alien idea.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hotline Miami 2's beautiful opening music

At E3 I was lucky enough to get a first look at Dennaton's upcoming sequel, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. If you played the first, you'll know how important and effective the use of music was in the game.

Here's the first thing you'll hear when you launch it later this year:


Like it? Love it?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Review A Great Game Day: Silent Hill 2

Unsettling barely comes close.


There is a dearth of available games to play. There are fewer good games, and the list narrows when we consider 'great'. Silent Hill 2 is one of the few that I consider to be of such a quality that it can stand beside the greats of any other art form or entertainment medium.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Video Game Club - Episode 0

A few weeks ago, Rob Manuel, Adam Rosenberg, Scott Nichols and myself got together to talk about video games. We're thinking of turning it into 'a thing', and are in the middle of ruminating on how best to work it.

For our first installment, we discussed Cardboard Computer's Kentucky Route Zero.

You can (and should) watch us do so at this lovely YouTube link:


Monday, January 21, 2013

Very Funny: TBS, King of the Nerds, and Nerdsploitation

Hard to believe, but none of them are warriors

Reality television is not my cup of tea. I remember being hooked on successive seasons of Big Brother in my younger years, marveling at how the show's producers had found such unusual personalities among the throng of attention-starved applicants. As my life has progressed and I have found less and less time for television, good and bad, it is safe to say that reality shows have fallen off my radar. What I have caught of recent output in the genre has seemed relatively innocuous fare amounting to nothing much more dangerous than a favorite comfort food: fine in small doses, but possibly not the best foundation for a life perspective.

When I first saw the trailer for TBS' new reality show King of the Nerds, it sounded immediate alarm bells in my head. Despite this reaction, I felt compelled to check it out, especially given that TBS has garnered its fair share of bad press among nerd communities of late, with a wonderful article that compared how The Big Bang Theory uses nerds as its punchlines, while NBC's Community is a more inclusive and generally embracing affair. With King of the Nerds, I considered that perhaps TBS was looking to to make amends. To boldly go where no TBS series had gone before.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Porpentine's Big Chaos Game Jam: Streamy

I don't know where this originates, but it's so evocative and I don't know why.


Last weekend, Porpentine announced that she was launching a game jam specifically focusing on games created in Twine. One of my goals for 2013 was to take part in a game jam. As soon as I saw the news, I knew I had to start planning for Big Chaos Game Jam.

As a crusader for freedom of expression, her focus for the jam was straightforward and simple: DO WHATEVER YOU WANT AND HAVE FUN. I must confess that I can find this sort of freedom to be at times paralyzing. Without anywhere to start, where do I begin?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Game Jam Game

I had this vague impression that I might want to take part in a game jam in 2013.


I wound up figuring out how to crudely use Twine a few weeks ago, and then a Twine game jam was announced yesterday and the deadline was tonight. So I sat down for a few hours, and I threw an experience together.

I call it Streamy.

This is a bookending sentence that makes that above link seem somehow more enticing.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Nordschleife

I will drive it for real. One day. 

In Reality Is Broken, Jane McGonigal describes games as 'unnecessary obstacles'. Challenges to be overcome that serve little to no practical purpose. I disagree on the subject of them being unnecessary, but I cannot ignore that they have frequently served as obstacles in my life. Obstacles blocking the path to picking up my guitar. Obstacles to taking care of household chores. Obstacles to playing other games.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How I Made My First Game


I have heard it mentioned before that there are writers whose primary goal in covering a subject matter is to learn enough about it before they inevitably try it themselves. Akin to distance learning, through talking to the right people and discussing the right subjects, eventually one can garner enough knowledge with which to tackle a task first-hand. While I am willing to believe that these types exist, I do not consider myself to be one of them.

I made a few games

Isn't it cool how this image has so much promise, but you can't tell what it's about? I know, I know.

That title is no lie, no sirree. Inspired by having heard a whole load of press about it, I decided to finally investigate the text-adventure creator Twine, and I created a swathe of increasingly-complicated click-through text adventure games.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Jeff Gerstmann on the radio

Jeff Gerstmann on the phone to WCCO this Monday morning talking about Call of Duty Black Ops 2.



I think he does a great job of explaining what a first-person shooter is to those who might not be familiar with the term. It's interesting to hear Jeff discuss the game in these terms, facing out from the games industry.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Sidebar: Meet Alex Peake of Primer Labs


Greetings all, and the indie game train makes another stop for this week's Sunday Sidebar. This week I spoke to Alex Peake, who is the leader of Primer Labs, a company working on frankly fascinating piece of software that is part-game, part-teacher, and full of potential. Alex is a vibrant member of the ethical hacking community, and even works on the game at a well-known hackerspace in San Francisco. If you've ever wanted to be inspired by hacktivism, and the hacker community at large, this might be the place to begin. If you're particularly fortunate, you'll decide to try out Code Hero, and be the next person to hack the planet!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sega Master System: Before Rosetta Stone...


In 1991, I received my first home console, the Sega Master System. It was a piece of technology that stupefied and enthralled me for a whole variety of different and banal reasons. However, it wasn’t the console proper that left an indelible mark upon me: it was the instruction manuals that came with its games.