Friday, November 14, 2014

Wolfenstein: The New Order - profile sharing bugs

How to reproduce:

  1. Play the game logged in into Steam account A;
  2. Start new game on the same computer logged in into Steam account B to which the game is granted under Steam Family Sharing;
  3. Oops...
  • Expected result: progress, perks and collectibles are separate for Steam account B, they are also preserved for Steam account A;
  • Actual result:
    • Progress is reset for account A;
    • Perks are reset for account A;
    • Collectibles are *not* reset for account B;
    • Steam account B gets stats and ranking where existing stats and ranking for account A is a base to which personal stats of account B are added;
    • Steam account B gets *some* achievements based on above stats calculation.
At the same time, starting the game on a different computer while logged in into Steam account B yields an empty list of everything (no perks, no collectibles, no stats) *but* erroneous world and friends rank obtained before.

Fallout for Steam account A owner: [at least] can't selectively play game chapters even though the game was already completed.

Lesson: different players must play on different computers, or get really sophisticated about backing up game data, taking risks of likewise sophisticated screwups.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cox: Some Thinking Required

TL;DR: if you're an Internet provider, you really gotta have your diagnostic and escalation procedures established and available. Otherwise people will say "you suck".

Above is my connectivity since this morning (normal speed is 50Mbps down with ping in low teens). At this speed, *nothing* works. That is, unless you're willing to stare at the screen for a few minutes. No matter which SpeedTest server I go to, I get the same speed. Looks like throttling.

Home network is fine. According to Cox reps, account is in good standing, and no throttling is activated.

Calling Cox. After 30 minutes on hold, "We gotta make sure your cable modem is connected directly to the computer". Really? In 2014? When it is next to impossible to find a house *without* WiFi? When it is well known that connecting a Windows computer directly to Internet is a bad idea?

Long story short, four Cox reps I was talking to

  • made me reboot equipment multiple times (each of them);
  • failed to realize that the previous person has gone through the "standard process" already;
  • failed to understand and/or acknowledge that the problem can't be resolved by the book (for the simple reason it is *not* in the book);
  • failed to offer me a way to confirm or deny the assertion that the problem is somewhere in Cox network;
  • failed to offer a reasonable way to escalate the problem (one guy just lied to me that he will connect me level 2 support, and simply dumped me onto the next rep from the pool (after fiddling with my equipment for several minutes while keeping me on hold).
As a result, I've spent 90 minutes on hold and talking, with the ultimate solution offered being a service visit.

...on Saturday.

I was about to say that I can't wait until Google Fiber gets here, but then remembered that their customer service is even worse.

UPDATE (6 hours later): It gets worse by the hour:

My only hope is that I'm not the only affected and that either other people will finally notice, or whatever is causing this will finally collapse and cause an outage that *can* be reported and fixed "by the book".

UPDATE (8 hours later): It's still crumbling down, hopefully it'll go beyond the pale and back by the morning:

And when the sun came back

...but now I have to spend more time on hold to *cancel* that service appointment.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Google Tools: Dumber and Dumber

Annoyance of the day: New and Updated Google Maps: My Places.

It used to be an awesome tool. Then, in July 2013, they broke it without a warning (incidentally, that happened the day I departed for a month long trip, right after I spent about two months planning the trip to a minute detail. I found myself on the road with no access to trip plans and maps whatsoever - soured it quite a bit).

They promised to bring it back.

More than a year later, they keep trying to reintroduce the "new and improved" My Maps, but it is still multitude of order times slower on the desktop, is missing critical features, and, unlike the previous implementation, is *not* integrated with Maps.

This is not the only case - other Google tools keep losing features as time goes (not to mention products that are just killed, sometimes despite vehement protests from their users, with the only notable exception that won't die despite general contempt).

While I was advocating using Google tools when they were in their prime, I have to admit now that I can't and won't do that anymore. The only reasons to keep using them now is "they suck less than alternatives", and the moment a viable replacement shows up - I'll be the first to jump off this bandwagon.

And, once again, this is a stark warning that nobody escapes the fate. Just as people, companies are born, grow up, mature, then outgrow themselves, wither, and die. Google is no exception.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Today, my venerable Dell U2410 decided that it's time to go south, flickered the backlight a few times, and shut it off for good. As miracles happen, a friend of mine loaned me an LG 27EA83R-D. New and shiny, out of the box, installed, connected, turned on, the image is sharp and nice, everything's peachy.

...until just a *little* bit later.


What a PITA.

Thing is, there were features in that Dell that I took for granted, not even realizing they're there, that make a night and day difference in day to day work.

First of all, there must be a special circle in hell for industrial designers that put sensor switches out of sight, with markings that are barely visible in bright daylight, forget home office at night. An attempt to change settings is an exercise in futility.

Second - imagine my surprise when after waking up from DPMS sleep, I found all the windows, carefully placed on the screen, hurled at random at the other screen. Reason? 27EA83R-D simply drops off the face of Earth when it goes to DPMS sleep. And tells Windows about it. Windows is ever happy to rearrange your windows for you.

Third, the corollary of the second - it's a good thing my always-on, critical-hardware-controlling devices were plugged into my *other* (also Dell) monitor that understands that it is impolite to shut off USB power just when the monitor goes to sleep (and that, by the way, used to happen after just one minute of inactivity). Because LG doesn't, and thinks it's just fine to shut *everything* off.

Oh well.

Understand me right, I'm not bashing LG - they made their design decisions, and I didn't vote with my dollars this time, so I can't really complain. It is just to remind you that the devil is in the details, and looking at the pretty picture on Internet and a better price is not necessarily going to get you the result you hoped for.