Access Denied

It’s quite interesting to note that I am no longer allowed access to www.abovetopsecret.com because the content is categorized as, “Alternative Spirituality/Belief;Newsgroups/Forums.” ATS members exchange and debate their Above top Secret approved ideas and theories on a variety of “alternative topics”, including UFOs and extraterrestrial life, political scandals, New World Order, the 2012 phenomenon, cryptozoology, and secret societies. (source). So the content is already considered by some “questionable material.”

At my previous employer it seemed to be a weekly occurrence that a favored web site of mine would suddenly end up on the ‘Access Denied’ list. While I have no idea who maintained this filter, it became rather frustrating. Many times I would frequent forum based web sites, for example QRZ.com and MercuryCougar.net. Both of these sites I use specifically for the forums. Oddly enough neither ever made the list. But the forums for the game I helped develop was put on the list. To this day I have no reason why. Could it be because the word, ‘terror’ was in the domain name?

I am sure my time perusing the web site, Godlike Productions while at work is limited and will most likely end up on the “Access Denied’ list in the coming month(s). Why? The content is similar to that of ATS and presented in a forum and probably more loose in terms of moderation. Yet as of this posting, I still have complete access to it.

While not too surprising I can access ATS via the IP address (67.228.0.162), although I am sure this too is against policy and it would probably be advisable if I didn’t. Too bad to see more and more of my frequently visited sites being on the ‘Access Denied’ list. Guess that is why it’s called work.

The 6th Thought: Let it Go!

I don’t think a day ever passes that somebody does not take a cheap shot at another in a hobby related Internet forum. I am sure I can call myself on this in years past supporting a game I helped in developing since I was the big, bad “Forum Nazi” and rather quick to bring the hammer down on threads and forum goers. Personally, I saw nothing wrong with removing or editing questionable content or applying a ban to an individual for questionable actions.

Actions like this of a moderator are usually met in protest with shouts of “freedom of speech” and being able to express their thoughts without any sort of repercussion. I must disagree, if you participate in a forum, you have no rights to act like a complete ass and ignore guidelines set in place.

I am moving away from my original point, that is the fact that it’s amazing to see amateur radio operators taking shots at each other continuously. One of those “hot button” topics is contesting. There seems to be no middle ground, you either like it or hate it. There is a subculture to contesting, those who participate in CW as opposed to SSB. Guess there is something special being a CW contester as opposed to a SSB contester, still haven’t figured that one out.

I just find the animosity difficult to swallow on a daily basis. Right now, some might be thinking, “If you don’t like it, don’t read the forums.” You are exactly right! There are those ridiculous topics I usually end up avoiding because they don’t provide any useful information and nothing is ever resolved.

As I mentioned I am sure every hobby is similar in this way, sure we are licensed by the FCC, but we must govern ourselves. I am still appalled at the attitudes of some amateurs who feel they are high and mighty and above everyone else. Conversely, there are some real great individuals who always prove timely and sensible information relevant to any discussion. For those individuals I thank them.

Of course my complaining about it is no better than those partaking in these arguments, but why these ongoing arguments continue on a weekly (monthly) basis is just mind boggling.

Forums vs IRC

It was two weeks ago yesterday I had my knee operated on. Since that day I have made two follow up trips to the doctor’s office, this past Monday was to get the stitches removed. Unfortunately, I am not experiencing more pain than I had prior to surgery on a daily basis. Of course if I were to twist wrong prior to my surgery my knee would usually give out or cause a terrible amount of pain.

Since the operation I have been on pain medication, as well as ice therapy and a movement machine that helped bend my knee. Physical therapy starts today, which is a good thing as the road to recovery is starting. There is a good chance I have been on my leg too much, which might account for some of the pain, but I have a sense that the pain is left over from surgery.

Since the femoral block and all other medication has worn off I have no feeling on the right side of my knee, I have a shooting pain, possibly from the common peroneal nerve, that starts at the lower, outside portion of my knee, down across my shin and into my toes. I continue to experience an intense stabbing (hundreds of needles, like when a limb falls asleep, but worse) pain across all five toes. I’m sorry, but this is painful, yet the doctor has said if this is a result of surgery I will be the first one to suffer from it in the 20 years he has been doing it.

So my next appointment is three weeks from today, hopefully the pain will be gone by that time, but if its not, then I expect something to be done. Hell, I don’t care if they have to cut the knee open again, I cannot go on living with the pain I am suffering on a daily basis. I might even call and request more pain medication, something stronger than the Norco I am using now, which doesn’t seem to have much effect, but the Percocet seemed to work better. I am no doctor, nor do I ever play one, but since the misdiagnosed ACL tear by two physicians, I am beginning to wonder if there is more wrong than meets the eye.

Forum Goers

I guess it goes without saying, on the Internet you can be anything or anyone you want to be. Behind an alias/screen name you can take on an entirely new persona. I should know after spend 10+ years going by “Oswald” while being involved with a development team creating an online FPS. I am sure my online persona contrasts my who I am in real life.

After spending a decade or so with online activity such as IRC [Internet Relay Chat], ICQ, MSN, as well as the worst offender, forums I have come to the realization people are all the same, regardless of the genre, activity or hobby that brings them together.

Online gaming has a negative connotation attached to it to begin with. Game associated deaths usually make the headlines, just ask Rockstar or id Software. It has happened in the past, but that is a story for another day. Gaming seems to be associated with kids, usually of the immature type. But my generation grew up with some of the first consoles and PC video games, so it is not surprising those “kids” are 30-somethings now.

I thought amateur radio was a cut above when it came to the individuals involved, at least that is how I always pictured with. Then again, I was living vicariously though my father in the 70’s and early 80’s when he was heavily involved. Everyone I met was cordial and there seemed to be a commeradie that I rarely saw growing up. Even sports teams I was on there was always competition and tempers flaring.

Forums seem to be the work of the devil, regardless of what it is centered around. It was for the game I was involved with and is also seen in amateur radio, as well as the resotration of my Mercury Cougar. The harsh reality is people are assholes! There are those who seem to think the forum is their “bitch box” and use it as such.

Gamers feel they are usually owed something or know better than those behind the game. Amateur radio seem some “troll” topics as well radio modification, band usage and of course those amateurs who are “know code” or “no code” hams. The commonality is the activity of the individual behind these rants. While their percentage is in the minority they usually cause the most headaches and trouble.

These people definitely ruin the enjoyment and “fun factor” for those involved in a community. Yeah, I already hear some of you saying, “So what? You don’t like it, don’t read it or move onto something more substantial.” You are right, but the fact remains I have lost a bit of respect for those who attempt to ruin that enjoyment. It usually is uncalled for and not necessary, but try convincing those individuals. You can’t.

Oswald Rant: FAQ U and your readme.txt

You know the adage that men don’t need instructions to put something together. I think Tim “The Toolman” Taylor made that popular in the television show, Home Improvement. Unfortunately, it looks as if that has carried over to gaming. Surprising? Not really. Uhhhhh???? How often to you deselect ‘Read the readme file now’ when installing a game? Sometimes? Always? Never? Yeah, you should have stopped at ALWAYS! Why? Because we think we know it all and don’t need some pointless gibberish telling us what to do.

The same can be said for a FAQ or ‘Frequently Asked Questions.’ What is the point of having a FAQ if people head straight to the forums or IRC to get an answer for a common problem or irregularity in a game or mod. Something which the developers are fully aware of, but which the player cannot figure out. A simple double click on the readme.txt or a visit to the nearest FAQ would have saved the pain and embarrassment of making an idiot out of yourself in the forums or on IRC.

I can remember my first trip to the Action Quake 2 Forums. Being new to the world of online gaming, I had never posted before. To be honest, I don’t think I even posted under an alias. That is how green I was. So, the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do” is relevant in this case. I proceed to post a simple message, asking nicely how to configure the zoom/unzoom alias for the SSG3000 sniper rifle. By the responses, you think I poured blood into a pool of sharks. These predators were circling, just waiting for the kill. Needless to say, I was hesitant to make another appearance in that forum for some time. But some good did come out of that.

One post, while not directly answering my question, told me to consult the readme.txt file for many of the basics of the game, along with reading over the FAQ, which was found on the web site. A second response told me to go through the first two pages of posts, being they were the most recent, on the off chance someone else had already asked a similar question. Two of the most relevant pieces of advice to live by today before making an ass of yourself in any forum.

Just how important is the information contained in the readme.txt and the FAQ? If the developers took time to write it, consider it somewhat valuable. It will save you from becoming frustrated and pissed off because you are unable to accomplish a simple step to get the mod or game up and running. Many development teams ask that you take a few minutes to get acquainted with the FAQ, if you are confronted with a problem before asking a question.

Just as an example, I decided to scroll through the readme.txt file which was made available for the most recent release of Urban Terror: Beta 1.2. This file gives the player a quick overview of the mod, up to this point and also discusses the changes which have occurred. This version also notes an important changes to key bindings. Something that is quite important if you bind your keys from the console as opposed to the menu. Finally, they list all the bug fixes and give a revision history of the beta versions.

As for the FAQ, being I am the moderator at the Urban Terror Forums, this is an invaluable document, which if were a book would have dog eared pages because I reference the same information, day after day. As long as people are aware and acknowledge these documents exist, then that is all the developer can ask for. Regardless of how the question is answered, these two documents provide much information which could be important to game play. So next time, take a few minutes to examine these files and then jump into the action.