I now officially ignore all Fallout 4 defense settlement and kidnap quests

December 17, 2016

The last two straws:

1. I went from Sanctuary to a location just south of the entry to Far Harbor to loot Mahkra Fishery. It has the biggest stash of aluminum in the game I have ever found. It also had a small fortune in raider gear off of raiders and some decent fights with Synths. There is also a settlement right close where I can sell excess gear or upgrade it (has two merchants available). I had LITERALLY gotten to the front door when the game then wanted me to drop everything and go defend Hangman’s Alley. This is the settlement just north of Diamond City. The game expected me to hike nearly to the middle of the map for a ten second fight. I decided that I was no longer willing to have my plans for missions be tossed aside again. If I was in the middle of a quest, I was NOT going to set it aside. I later got the message that my settlers had lost the fight. Guess what? I didn’t CARE anymore. Unless I was in the local area or traveling to do another quest, I am now officially ignoring these notices. Suck it up helpless settlers, but it is time for you to grow up.
2. I have had maybe a half-dozen Kidnapping at Sanctuary quests. One came from Preston (though I never recalled seeing it until it failed). The rest were given to me by random NPCs. Once the dialog starts, one can ask for more details – and then you can either do the quest, pay a ransom, or tell the NPC tough luck. The missions have become BORING repetition (often reusing the same locations) and seemed like I was getting another one each time I went to Sanctuary. This time I heard an NPC try to engage me in the “please let me” dialog – and I simply ran away. If there is an attempt to start the dialog, I will back away until I am out of range. I might consider it for locations where I am still exploring, but NOT for anything around places like Sanctuary. I know that area like my backyard. From now on, requests from NPCs for help are officially to be ignored. It appears I can keep them from my quest log. I may also do the trick of telling Preston to go be at the most remove settlement available so he can’t spam radiant quests either.

I can mod the game, but am leery of breaking something else. An earlier version a mod to fix the radiant quests ended up breaking Minuteman quests. I have also looked into a way to look under the hood of the game to: (a) change the number of radiant quests that can be active (the default is 3; I would go to 1) and (b) change the odds of generating a radiant quest (I recall the default odds are 25%; dropping to 10% can make it more tolerable).

Again, these silly quests can be fun once in a while. I like to test my defenses sometimes (and collect loot after a 10 second fight) and rescuing a kidnapped settler is some easy and quick XP.

Where Bethesda blew it was constantly spamming these TIME-LIMITED quests and expecting players to drop everything to complete them. Then, repeating them and again and again…

Why Ubuntu is still not going to enter the mainstream

December 4, 2016

I had an older Dell Optiplex 755 that used Windows XP. Decided to try it with Ubuntu to have a current operating system.

The install was smooth. Cool.

Then I went to Dell’s site to grab the latest BIOS. It downloaded. Great!

Then it wouldn’t launch. At all. The default application was called Archive Manager and it couldn’t figure out what to do with it. The Software Install software was also totally lost.

It is a SIMPLE EXE FILE that any version of Windows can use with a single click. It looks like I needed to add other utilities that could hopefully open this file. Would these be simple to locate, download, and run? Nope. It would involve typing in command prompts and wading through Ubuntu documentation.

So a full install of Ubuntu can’t even manage a simple BIOS update downloaded from Dell. Right…

OK, let’s start the deletion process. It is obvious an ‘operating system’ that can’t manage to download and install an EXE file for an BIOS update is NOT ready.

Yo, Linux Fanboys, why not make this USABLE by having the basic functionality that has been part of Windows since basically forever. If I wanted to much around with command prompts, I can go back to DOS.

What does it good for doctors to discuss tests if they blow off the results?

November 26, 2016

For years I refused to get a prostate level test (TSA) due to the evidence that it does more harm than good. I had a PCP that kept encouraging me to do it and I would pointedly refuse. I insisted it go into the medical that patient REFUSED prostate level test.

Anyhow, I had some routine labs ordered and was troubled to see that a TSA test was included in the lab orders. Worse, I looked look at older orders and discovered that I was getting the tests as part pf my regular lab orders.

So, I had the discussion with the PCP with the on the test and REFUSED it. This was supposed to be logged in my charts. Then I learn that my wishes were ignored and I was both getting the testing and being billed my share of the costs.

Now I have to scan all lab orders to ensure that my wishes are followed — despite a discussion with the doctor and having it noted in my records.

I ask: What does it do to “talk about talk about tests and procedures with your doctor) if they simply blow off what you tell them?

Let’s make hospital discharge instruction more clear.

November 22, 2016

I just noticed in my own discharge that the instructions for medications were written in “doc-speak”.

I read that I was to take a medication BID. The acronym wasn’t spelled out and the average patient has NO IDEA what BID means.

Nor can the patients be blamed. It turns out the mystery acronym is for the Latin phrase “bis in die”, which means “twice a day”.

If a patient is supposed to take a pill “twice a day”, then the discharge instructions should say it.

True, the information for using it twice a day is also there if one looks, but it is confusing as it mixes patient views and pharmacist info. One also has to wade through pages of updates and unneeded info. What the patient wants is ONE PAGE with the important stuff, like when they take their meds.

A working knowledge of medical Latin phrases (and their acronyms) shouldn’t be required of patients.

There have been discussions for years now on how to make discharge instructions more clear. It appears we have more work to do.

Here is the full reference: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6954

Something that needs to be fixed in Fallout 4 is the settlement attacks

July 17, 2016

I love the game and am trying an Ironman run. However, there is one frustrating aspect to it that really needs to be fixed.

I have lots of settlements. I try to keep their defenses high, but still get notices that they are being attacked. The issue is that I then need to rush off and defend them as there is timer before the mission fails.

The problem is that I may be on the other side of the map. I may be embroiled in some long mission, and perhaps overloaded and unable to run. Worse, as an Ironman player, we don’t use fast-travel. This is considered cheating, as you can miss all the potentially dangerous encounters between locations. Ironman players walk/run to each location in the game.

So, twice now recently I get a notice of a settlement being attacked. Once was clear across the other side of the map in my most far-flung settlement location. I headed out as soon as I saw the notice (dropped my current quest) and still saw a failure notice before I could trudge in power armor all that distance (through enemy territory for part of it). So, I had to reload a saved game and fast-travel to have a 30 second fight with some super mutants. All of the enemies, locations, loot, and XP I had encountered along the way while trying to walk over was gone now, of course. Immersion in the game was lost.

Next I had to rush off to defend a location already bristling with turrets. I got there to have a fight that lasted maybe five seconds with some robots. I gathered up loot from the fallen mechs and then headed back to my main base at Sanctuary.

A similar situation exists when you get missions to rescue NPCs. Take too long and the mission fails.

Again, this just ruins the exploration and quest-driven aspects of the game. I shouldn’t be expected to go from my main base all the way to a quest location on the other side of the map — and then turn around to go back because some farm near Sanctuary is being hit by a couple of raiders.

Here are my proposed fixes. Either one will work, though the first one is preferable:

1. Remove all timers from the settlement defense and hostage rescue missions. Let us get to them just like any other mission in the game. This lets me finish up quests I am on at the time.
2. If we simply must have a sense of urgency on some missions, then add a countdown timer. Give the player feedback on how long they have to do the settlement defense or NPC hostage rescue mission. Get rid of the drop everything to do it now or risk failing it aspects. Also, allow enough time to go to the mission location WITHOUT having to resort to fast-traveling and having to abandon missions they are already on.

This should be a simple patch. Someone may have done one or both of these with a mod.

One other change would be to offer clear guidance on a level of settlement defenses where NOBODY will attack. If I need to maintain 2X food and water in defense, well OK. I can do that. If I need 3X to stop all attacks, well I can go nuts on defenses. The issue I have is that settlements with high defenses still seem to be targeted. Tell me how much is enough and I will put it in. I do want my little NPCs to be safe.

One option would be to pop in a simple settlement attack risk calculator into the HUD that looked at assets cs. defenses. That is admittedly a tad complicated, since it gets into HUD redesign. Or, just have some NPC dialog that talks about how they can see their strong defenses on their base should keep attacks from happening. Have them worry aloud if they see defense ratings below the full safety measure. The player then gets feedback on whether to keep adding defenses.

Or, to be really simple, Bethesda could simply patch in a “no attacks on is defense is X times food + water” functionality. Then, tell everyone what it is so we can exceed it (post it to the forums).

Again, great game, but judging from other player comments, I am not the only one who finds these seeming random settlement attacks annoying.

Melanoma: The Sequel

July 2, 2016

Nearly two years ago I had a Stage IIB melanoma removed from the rear right side of my neck. A few weeks I noticed a tiny dark spot near my right side-burn. I had it removed and tested and the melanoma was back.

A PET scan and two MRIs later it is in both lungs (one tumor each), my second left lateral rib, and a 10 mm nodule on the left side of my brain in the language centers.

For genetics geeks, it is a C-KIT mutation, which is apparently kind of rare. BRAF would have been expected — and lots easier to treat.

I was scheduled for brain surgery on Tuesday of this last week (26th), but it was delayed until genetic typing could be finished. It was determine a risky procedure (a real thread the needle approach path with no margin for error) and the thought was it might not be worth the risk if it was a BRAF. A couple of newer drugs can tried on a BRAF with decent odds of effectiveness.

Now we may have to revisit whether getting the one in the brain into a sample jar is a desirable option.

My oncologist is trying to arrange a consult with MD Anderson. He wants to explore any possibility of C-KIT melanoma in the brain having higher drug resistance due to their location. It is actually reassuring to me that he keeps up his homework.

Two drugs targeting C-KIT are available, though the side affects are worse than BRAF treatments and the effectiveness is reportedly lower. Other options include radiation, though it will be high-dose since melanomas have noteworthy radiation tolerances. As for prognosis, it is obviously going to be a rough few months whatever happens.

On the plus side, other than some fatigue I have no symptoms. A steroid I am taking to help with some edema around the brain nodule sometimes helps with the fatigue — and other times it drops me into a worse bout.

My record so far was seeing four different doctors in the same day and two pharmacy stops. Quite impressive!

I am trying to get as much work done as possible, though admit that it is between doctor visits and tests and fatigue spells.

Work is FUN! Any day I can swipe my badge or log in from the home office is a GOOD DAY. I am also getting to see some amazingly cool tech long the way.

I will update from time to time.

New humanoid subspecies discovered: Craiglistus Flakeus

April 17, 2016

I am encountering a new subspecies of humanoid lately. I call them Craiglistus Flakeus. Here are a few of their characteristics:

1. They make appointments to come see items listed for sale, then don’t show up. They don’t email or call to cancel either. They don’t care if you spend hours of your time on a weekend or evening after work waiting on them.
2. As a variant of the above, they offer a low-ball price in exchange for “coming right over”. Then they don’t show up, or want to come by at a later date and get the same discount.
3. They show up and waste a half-hour of your time playing with the item offered for sale, then want to negotiate a lower price, and then leave if you decline. Oh, and they can see you are busy (because you TELL THEM so), but keep wasting your time anyway. They are “The Thing that Wouldn’t Leave” for any classic SNL fans (back when it was funny).
3. They cannot (or will not) actually read the ads. You state the price is firm and they want to haggle. They ask questions on details covered in the ads.
5. They bring along guests. I have had whole families show up to look at an item and completely crowd my small home office. The best is when people are waiting in the car (like kids) and they get tired of waiting and wander back.
6. They cannot bring the correct amount of cash. They show up expecting the seller can make change.
7. They show up with less cash than the asking price — then ask if you can accept what they have in hand for the item.
8. They agree to buy the item, then start looking around to see if there are items you can bundle in (like keyboards, mice, even monitors).
9. They are prone to profanity-filled email rants to complete strangers if you disagree with their offer or other perceived slights.
10. They want to touch stuff in your home office. Again the key word here is HOME — as in they are in part of your HOME.

Anyhow, maybe others have encountered this new subspecies of humanoid life-form.

Video card makers need to offer ready access to replacement fans

February 7, 2016

The video card hardware that makes the image itself seldom fails. However, the cooling fans have bearings that wear out. Once the fan fails, the card overheats and can’t be used.

One would think it would be easy to get replacement fans to keep otherwise working cards in operation. Nope. It is often a nightmare.

It involves poring over eBay and the like and HOPING to get an exact match. Even if you order the same make/model fan, it may arrive as not the same exact replacement. It takes weeks to get the fans in (they usually come from China) and I just had one arrive that was DOA.

I am looking at four video cards on the shelf where I am trying to find replacement cooling fans. Without new fans, these cards are electronic scrap. This is a waste of perfectly good hardware!

My view is that responsible video card companies should stock replacement fans for their products. Make it easy and convenient for the customer to keep their card in service.

BIOS update to Biostar K8M800 Micro AM2 bricked the motherboard

September 27, 2015

I had a weird issue where CPUs were shown as running too hot, so I figured a BIOS update might be worth a try.

It was this BIOS: 8M80M724.BS update CPU micro code. (Beta) 524288 2008-07-24

Installed using their motherboard’s BIOS update tool. The update went smoothly, but the motherboard was a brick afterward.

Be wary.

I was able to find a replacement BIOS CHIP from eBay for $14.03. It has to be shipped from the Netherlands. I will try to post an update once it arrives.

The board itself isn’t really worth it, but I use it to test AGP video cards.

UPDATE: The first BIOS shipped to me didn’t work. To their credit, the seller sent me another one. This one works. It takes forever to get stuff from the Netherlands, but it was nice to see the MB work again. Kudos to the seller!

Finally, a fix for the BROKEN Windows Update version 7.6.7600.320!

September 19, 2015

Windows Update has a bug where once the latest version is installed (7.6.7600.320) all sort of problems may develop. Basically, it is broken for a lot of users. After two weeks of trying everything I could find on the Internet, I may have finally gotten a solution.

Here is a way I found to fix it if Windows 7 ever needs to be reinstalled.

1. Do a clean installation from the DVD. Set Windows Update to the Recommended settings.

2. Reboot a couple of times

3. Install the Windows Update Patch: Windows6.1-KB3050265

4. Reboot a couple of times

5. Wait a bit then run Windows Update. It should now work. Download all of the updates and install them (or let Windows do it when you shut down).

6. If you run into issues with .Net 4.5.2, then install it manually using the file: NPD452-KB2901907-x86-x64-AIIOS-ENU

7. Roboot.

8. If Windows Update starts acting up (taking too long to check for updates), then run MicrosoftFixit50123

Doing all of these things in this order fixed Microsoft Update 7.6.7600.320 on a Dell Optiplex 740 with Windows 7 Professional.