The State of the Geek – Gaming

As you might imagine, I haven’t had much time to properly game for a while. :-)

The issue is mainly one of time. I’m usually up early to help get Lucas ready for school/daycare, and in the evening, by the time I’ve gotten Lucas to bed I’m ready to go to bed myself. So, needless to say, getting really involved in games usually doesn’t happen.

At this point, there are three games I’m playing relatively heavily: Overwatch on my PS4, Vainglory on my iPad, and Team Fortress 2 on my PC.

Overwatch is getting the most playtime by far, as it’s so easy to start a game on Quick Play and go for a few rounds. As most rounds last at most 10-15 minutes, I don’t need to invest a great deal of time. My current mains are Reaper, Widowmaker, D.Va, Ana, and Mercy, depending on the role the team needs. Admittedly I’m not that great as a sniper (which is the type of character Ana and Widowmaker are), but I find it fun nonetheless. I’ve admittedly considered trying competitive play, but I simply can’t guarantee the time for it. It’s just a nice bit of diversion.

Team Fortress 2 is the same way, but I have to admit I only play if my friend Sinc and his usual fire team are playing. Otherwise, I stick to Overwatch if I want to play a team shooter.

As far as Vainglory goes, I like the concept of MOBAs, and this one is simple enough for me where I don’t feel lost trying to play it. Not only that, it’s nice to be able to play it when I’m in bed or the living room. I haven’t even tried playing true multiplayer yet, though, as I’m not that confident in my gameplay abilities just yet. Still, it makes for a nice little diversion.

Other than those, the only games I’ve been playing have been Pinball Arcade (especially now that both the original and remastered Doctor Who tables are available), and DOOM. DOOM has been vexing me, simply because I’m stuck in this one particular section. It’s not that I don’t know what to do; I just keep getting killed before I can finish killing all of the enemies in the area. I’ve also tried Heroes of the Storm, but I think I need more practice in tutorials because I get lost so easily. :-/

In addition, Injustice 2 will be out in a few months so I’ll be hitting that one then, if only for the Story Mode. Unlike Mortal Kombat, I can only do well enough in Injustice that I can finish single player mode. If I even try that one multiplayer, I’d be smeared all over the pavement. I also considered Mass Effect: Andromeda, but I simply don’t have the time to devote to a game of that length of complexity.

Ah, well. When Lucas gets older, I’ll have more time to play, plus will have the joy of introducing him to gaming. For now, though, I’ll just keep getting my games in when I can, like I have been doing. :-)

The State of the Geek – IT

It’s been an interesting change for me the past few months, as far as my personal IT stuff is concerned.

It’s really no big secret that the services for my domains were hosted on my own personal servers, and that the servers were located at my house. I was able to run everything locally because I had a business-class internet connection at the house, and as such had the ability to pay for static IP addresses. It admittedly wasn’t the cheapest solution, but I went with it because I could deal with issues locally and I had been running things that way for something like fifteen years.

Of course, the fact that I was facing unemployment meant that I couldn’t really afford to run things that way anymore. So, I had to look for a solution, even if it was only a temporary one. I ended up moving all of my services to a cloud-hosted VPS, and we migrated the home connection to a residential-based one.

In retrospect, while I had originally considered this a temporary move, I kind of wish I had done it sooner.

The VPS isn’t quite as powerful, RAM and storage wise, as the virtual machines running on my virtual host server at home, but it’s compensated by the fact that it uses SSD storage and is on a much faster pipe. In addition, running the server off-site meant that my servers aren’t affected when there’s a power outage at the house (the local Comcast node doesn’t have redundant power, so even though the local servers were on battery backups they lost internet connectivity), and our personal web browsing and streaming aren’t affected when the servers are uploading backups to my backup provider.

Moreover, even with paying for the lowest tier of internet service and a monthly fee for the VPS, our total bill is less than half what we were paying before, and we have faster internet speeds to boot. This doesn’t even account for the fact that I don’t pay for a cable modem rental anymore, as I’m using a cable modem I purchased from Amazon instead of a forced rental from Comcast Business. We also have power savings because the servers are now shut down.

At this point, it’s unlikely I’ll be powering the local servers back on unless there’s a demand for them, and I don’t see that happening in the immediate future. As much as I enjoyed running stuff locally the past fifteen years, this arrangement is more cost-effective and practical. We’ll see how things go, but right now, I’m happy. :-)

The State of the Geek – Professional

I know I had mentioned that I would start posting the State of the Geek posts last night. Unfortunately, real life prevented me from getting time to actually post anything. It’s a relatively slow Saturday, so I’ve got a bit of time now. :-)

So, during the year I had been working as a contractor to Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. The job was a little different to what I was used to; in this case, as opposed to focusing more on systems, I was a network administrator. The department I worked for was the Enterprise Group Shared Labs, which was essentially server space for research and development. We had servers that was as old as my IT career next to hardware that hadn’t even been publicly announced yet. I was the network admin for the labs out in Palo Alto; fortunately, the nature of my job was that it was very uncommon for there to be someone on-site, as all of the equipment was accessible and configurable over the network. I also worked on some side Linux admin work, like helping set up the R&D IT department’s company-wide GitHub Enterprise environment and proposing an on-demand cloud backup solution, complete with a proof-of-concept system.

I rather enjoyed the work, even if I was a little outside of my comfort zone doing network administration. On the other hand, there were a couple of warning signs, like the fact that our contracts hadn’t been extended, and the backup solution had been abandoned. I took them with a grain of salt, though.

Unfortunately, the warning signs were there for a reason. As a result of the divestiture of HPE’s Enterprise Services division, budgets were cut dramatically, and we were informed in a conference call in September that EGSL was being moved to be under a different division, and that the department was being decimated. All of the contractors like myself were going to be let go, along with several full-time employees. When the smoke cleared, EGSL went from close to thirty employees to under ten.

The only bright side was that our contracts expired at the end of October, and it was made clear that our primary jobs at that point would be to find new jobs. :-)

Fortunately, the staffing agency that got me the job at HPE got me a new contract-to-hire gig. My new employer provides telecom services for inmates in jails and prisons. This time, I’m back within my comfort zone, doing Windows server administration.

That’s not the only good thing about this job. This time, I’m not expected to do any actual user support, as there’s an actual help desk that provides user IT support. In addition, the commute is less than half what my HPE commute was, so I get to spend a little more time with Lucas in the morning and evening. :-)

Overall, I’m doing pretty well. Once I go to full-time, it’ll be nice to have benefits and vacation time. Also, the chances of me having to do any travel for business is pretty small, so I won’t have to worry about that.

So, as they say, one door closed, and another one opened. I’ll miss working for HPE, but I think I’ll do okay at this job, for now. :-)

The State of the Geek

It’s been more than a little while since I last posted on here. I should do something about that.

I have to admit, there have been a couple of changes since the last time I wrote something for this site. Rather than put it all here in a too-long and overly boring (even for me) post, I figured I’d write a few separate pieces under a State of the Geek heading. That way I’m more inclined to get it all done and posted. :-)

The first post will probably go up tomorrow evening, time permitting, and I plan to have the others done in the following days. I don’t anticipate there being more than three or four posts, all told.

I’ll be back on here tomorrow, with some info on how my professional life has been going. :-)