Trigger Happy

Tag: Co-Optimus

Announcing XBL Accept

by on Aug.28, 2009, under gaming, tech

XBL Accept is a command line program that runs on most Linux distros. It might run anywhere you can run python but I'm not much of a python programmer so I can't be sure. Basically, all this tiny app does is connect to Xbox Live and it accepts any pending friend requests. This is perfect for groups who want to be able to meet up but don't want to add everyone to their personal list. The usual problem with group gamertags is that someone has to keep an eye on it to accept friend requests. Those days are over! Just run this from a startup script on a Linux server and forget about it. We're using it over at Co-Optimus for a few gamertags.

XBL Accept is a modification of XBL Status by Chris Hollec. All credit should be directed his way for now. I honestly did not do much to his program in order to get this up and running. If you'd like to contribute to either project, let me know!

Hit the link below, check out the README for prerequisites and instructions on how to run it. If you have any questions, reply to this post for now. Maybe I'll set up a page in the future.

xblaccept-0.0.1

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Borderlands... Can't Wait

by on Jul.24, 2009, under gaming

Just give it to me! This game looks fantastic. Releases Oct 20th on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. More info at Co-Optimus and the Borderlands website. My only beef is you can't go online with splitscreen! It should still be a ton of fun though.

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Open DNS Reviewed

by on Jul.24, 2009, under tech

I've tried alternate DNS services in the past but I've never had much luck with them. They never had anything substantial to offer other than being "better" than your ISP which was a marginal improvement at best. Recently I had an issue with www.co-optimus.com not resolving properly and RoadRunner kept sending me to their search page. I've had it happen on other sites too but it was never a major issue. Finally, I asked if anyone else was having that problem and nobody did, but Nick (bapenguin) suggested I should try Open DNS. Reluctantly, I did. And I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did it fix my DNS problems, it also introduced me to several DNS features I've never seen offered before.

DNS Resolution: As the primary service Open DNS offers, they do a fantastic job. I've yet to run into the issues I had with RoadRunner's DNS servers. The Open DNS servers are quick (<15ms), and have yet to fail on me.

Dynamic IP service: I've been using DynDns.org for longer than I can remember so it took a leap of faith for me to switch my router from using DynDns.org to Open DNS's DNS-O-Matic. To my surprise (again) DNS-O-Matic is capable of updating all kinds of third party services with your IP. Since my router is always on, I have yet to change IPs since we moved so I can't really vouch for its reliability, but it always responds right away when my router reboots and says no update needed. The fact that it updates so many other services is a huge bonus and I plan on taking a good look at the list to see what else I've been missing.

Domain and Category Content Filtering: With Open DNS, you can set up content filtering in three ways. The first is a level system where "none" disables filtering, "minimal" prevents you from visiting known phishing sites, "low" and "moderate" block adult/porn and illegal activity sites, and "high" blocks time wasting sites (social networking, music, videos, etc). You can also use the "custom" level to pick and choose from 52 categories. If there are specific domains you want to blacklist or whitelist, you can do that too. Using this method, I've blocked a few ad networks that I don't care for. The only problem I've had with this is I can't get Last.fm to work while blocking doubleclick.net. I'm sure that would be an issue with any ad blocking method so I can't blame Open DNS for that. However, it would be nice to set exclusions so doubleclick.net would not be blocked while visiting Last.fm. From a DNS server standpoint, that would be difficult.

Shortcuts: I personally don't see much of a point in using shortcuts but I could see how they might be handy. Basically, I can set up a shortcut to go to my blog by typing "blog" in the address bar and hitting enter. You can also set up advanced shortcuts where you could type "wikipedia internet" and it would search wikipedia for "internet." That, I could see being more useful.

Stats: Open DNS keeps track of all your requests, if you desire, so you can see graphs of requests on your network. You can see a list of all the domains you've requested and how many times you've requested them. This could be a very handy feature for some people but personally, its not too exciting.

Ease of Use: The initial setup can be daunting if you're not a network guru. This is not something a novice should set up on their own because it could really mess up your network. However, they do have pretty good guides for people who take the time to understand what they're doing. Once everything is set up, nobody needs to know its even there. It works just like before, just safer, and more reliable. If you need a hand, feel free to ask me!

There are a few other features to play with but these are the features that stand out and can be pretty useful. Overall, Open DNS provides safe, secure, and dependable browsing. I hope they stick around because I really don't want to switch back to RoadRunner's crappy DNS servers.

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Who says I'm too old to game?

by on Jun.17, 2009, under gaming, IRL

Last weekend Erika and I were playing Halo 3 and we got matched up with a couple teenagers who obviously play way too much. I'll give it to them, they were good, but they were also snotty little *$#&-tards. They had the audacity to say we're too old to be playing video games. I asked what they would be doing when they're our age and they quickly backed off. Huh, funny how that works.

That brings up an interesting trend though. When I was their age, the thought of an adult playing video games was pretty alien. Playing games like Action Quake or Counter Strike as a teen I came across a few older gentlemen but they just got more respect even if they sucked at the game. Now days there are certainly more 25+ gamers but we're also surrounded be even more teens. And apparently they don't share the same respect I held for my elders back then since every time age comes up in-game, we get ridiculed by someone. I don't get it.

Anyway, this seems to have sprung a bunch of sites focused on finding older and/or mature gamers to join up with. I'd like to touch on a few that I think are pretty neat.

Co-Optimus: By far my favorite gaming site at the moment. The whole focus of this site is co-op gaming. There is no age requirement but I think the co-op focus tends to attract more considerate and friendly gamers. The news coverage is superb and covers only the games I'm interested in (hint: co-op). The only news you'll see about a non-co-op game is news that the developers dropped co-op or it should have had co-op. The reviews are mostly co-op-centric giving a score on the co-op aspects of the game but also touching on single player and multiplayer aspects as well. One of the best features of the site is the database which helps you search for co-op games and shows a breakdown of each games' co-op capabilities. It also helps you match up with other members that have the same games (requires you to add each of your games though). With 2,500+ members (its a pretty new site), there's plenty of co-op to be had but its definitely a more intimate community than the next two sites.

The Older Gamers: This one is mostly a community site but also hosts a few guilds/clans. You must be 25+ to join and as a result, nearly everyone is friendly and considerate. There's no emphasis on co-op gaming although there are plenty of people looking for co-op partners. There are user reviews and blogs in addition to the staff reviews, previews, and general news. I don't keep up with their news quite as much but they're pretty thorough. With 30,000+ members, there are a TON of opportunities to meet people here.

2Old2Play: This site I just joined so I probably can't shine light on everything they have to offer but its definitely an interesting site. Again, this one has a 25+ age requirement so you'll find mostly considerate and friendly gamers here. The first thing I noticed after joining is they have a google map of players! Its not quite as cool as I had hoped but its a start. You can search by username, gamertag, or pick a clan from the drop down and you'll see a pinpoint on the map of results. Of course this only works if the users put their zip code in their profile. What would be nice is if you could search by zip or state and find people in your area or at least your time zone. They seem to have a more clan-centric and competitive view here, there are a TON of clans and it looks pretty easy to get recruited in a clan. Personally, I don't have the time to devote to a clan anymore but for other (single) adults, this might be a pretty handy site to hook up with a clan. They host and advertise tournaments and LAN parties all over the US. They also host user reviews and blogs (everyone gets a blog) which seem to be utilized quite a bit. 2Old2Play's roster has almost 18,000 members.

Well those are all the notable sites I've found. I had a few others on my list but I disqualified them for either being empty, out of date, or poorly constructed sites. I'm a member on all three sites now with the username "smurphster" on each so look me up if you join them.

Happy gaming!

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1st post!

by on May.25, 2009, under IRL

I guess the normal thing to do is to introduce myself and give my brief history. Well I'm not normal. And that's the basis of this site. It's just a hobby, an outlet for me to purge my thoughts, and probably not very informative. I don't expect anyone to read this.

To give you some satisfaction from my first post, I will explain what you'll find here. I'll be posting a lot about gaming, technology, linux, open source software, and probably a bit about my life and being a daddy. I don't pretend to be an expert at any of those topics but I like to think I have something of interest to say.

I can't make my first post without giving a nod to Co-Optimus. Some of the guys on the forums there inspired me to start blogging again and fixing up this goofy site. If you're a gamer who enjoys co-op gaming and have never heard of that site, hop on over there, you won't regret it. They cover only co-op games for all platforms and do a damn fine job.

Have a great Memorial day!

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