Accepting Trump is President does not mean you have to ignore that he is a terrible person.

Here’s the thing… yes I have a lot of negativity about Trump being president, but I do accept that Trump is the president. I do… but just because I accept he is the president, it does not mean he represents me. He may represent America on the international stage, and our government at the highest level, but he does not represent my moral values or the ethics my family instilled upon me growing up. He does not represent my ideological values that I have gained from a lifetime of growth and development.

I condemn his open bigotry. I condemn his hateful comments about Muslims. I condemn his hateful comments about Hispanics. I condemn his hateful comments about Women. I condemn him for mocking a disabled man. I condemn him for pandering to white supremacists purely for the sake of votes, for welcoming them directly into his administration, and even having one write his inauguration speech. I condemn him for running a campaign based on openly and unabashedly lying to Americans. I condemn him because he instructs his staff to brazenly lie to people over and over again until the entire point is lost and people move on. I condemn him for basing his campaign around dividing the American people against one another to his own advantage. I condemn his inability to admit personal fault in even the slightest way as a form of personal growth. At the core, I condemn him as a human being who does not represent even a sliver of a percent of the best of what an American can, and should, be.

Accepting that he is my President doesn’t mean I have to root for his success. If he somehow made America a better place, I would be thrilled… however Trump’s concept of “better” is directly the opposite of mine and anyone I hold dear to me. I don’t want him to succeed in banning Muslims or Hispanics from the country. I don’t want him to succeed in building a titanic wall along the border. I don’t want him to succeed in unwinding key parts of healthcare reform that protects people against bullshit “pre-existing conditions” clauses or 5000% drug price increases based purely for profit. I don’t want him to succeed in filling his administration with opportunists who are looking for personal gain over the best interests of Americans. I want him to fail at these things, because I think America will be a far, far worse for the wear if he succeeds at all of this.

Razer Blade woes round 2, the Amazoning

So if you aren’t familiar with my pain trying to buy a Razer Blade from the Razer Store, I suggest reading it… it’s a hilarious good time of a comedy of errors.

(Note, only reason any of the below really matters is I want this thing sorted and ready before I fly to Tokyo early AM Thursday.)

After giving up on the Razer store, I move on to Amazon.com once I learn in the 11th hour, Friday morning, that they carry them. I quickly placed an order at 1pm PST with next-day shipping for 9.99 (god bless Prime!)

At 2:30 PM on Sunday I get notification it has shipped, this gets me really excited, since I bought next-day shipping! However I look on Amazon.coma and it still shows an estimated delivery date of Tuesday. What?

screenshot-2016-11-06-22-26-54

I check the UPS tracking number on UPS’s site instead of amazons to see what it shows for comparison.. it shows it as a 2-day package with delivery due Wesdnesday.

screenshot-2016-11-06-22-31-32

WHAT?!

I figure I may as well call Amazon and see what happens, so at 8pm Sunday I give them a ring. A very nice lady tried to help me and offers to call UPS and see what she can do. She puts me on hold, while checking with UPS, but I end up being able to overhear the conversation plain as day. Their UPS agent informs her that only a label had been made, but there had been no movement on the package itself and they had not yet taken possession of it. They are anticipating actually having the package Monday morning.

THEN WHY DID THEY TELL ME IT SHIPPED?!

She also said that “the shipping had been ordered for 2 day, so a wed delivery is the correct estimate.” Her only suggestion for expediting it was to contact the Amazon shipping department at the warehouse in question and have them manually change it to next day (for a tuesday delivery) by creating a new label before UPS takes possession of it. If that wasn’t done in time, she said, there was nothing UPS could do about it as 2-day shipping was already locked on that label and can’t be changed once possession is taken.

She comes back to me and relays some of this (minus the part about Amazon buying a 2 day label) and was nice enough to offer to try to contact shipping herself and fix this for me, but they are closed till tomorrow and she is not in until 2pm EST. I asked if she could hand this off to someone who will be in sooner, and she said she would offer to try but that realistically the only way she is certain this will be reliably followed up on is if she does so herself once she is in. (Which logic would tell the astute reader is going to be too late to change things.)

Reluctantly, I tell her I guess we’ll just let things lie where they are right now, and I’ll wait to hear from her sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Considering I paid amazon for next day shipping on an in-stock item on 1pm on a Friday afternoon.. I’m a little peeved!

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(Amazon’s shipping reliability is getting consistently more and more unreliable… -_- I’ve had over 11 credits to my account for delayed shipments in the last 12 months.)

 

UPDATE- Monday 1:30pm PST: So, no call yet from Amazon following up on the issue, but I got an urge while relaying this story to a friend to check the UPS tracking number just to see if anything changed before I published this post. Lo and behold, it looks like Amazon managed to fix it before UPS took possession! The Expected delivery has changed from “By end of day Wednesday” to “Early Tuesday”!

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I’m going to withhold my elation and celebration until it is actually in my hands, but things are starting to look promising!

The comedy of errors that is the Razer Store.

So, for many months now I’ve been extolling the virtues of the killer combo that is a Razer Blade paired with a Razer Core. I know of 3 colleagues I talked into the pair, plus many more whom I’ve planted the seed in and may or may not have pulled the trigger without me knowing. It’s a great setup, especially if you want to move away from having “too many computers” and, like me, have a core gaming desktop as well as a day to day laptop.

In August, my MacBook Pro’s video card started to give out. It’s 4 years old, so it’s understandable and no hard feelings. After much research I decided to take my own advice and buy the recently released New Blade from Razer and pair it with a Core with a 1080 inside. About the start of September, I went to pull the trigger and that’s where the fun began. What follows is a timeline of the absolute comedy of errors that began that is so ridiculous I can’t even be mad… and only just laugh at this story. It’s a long read, but that’s because it’s a meticulously detailed timeline of events for maximum impact and reliability. I promise you it’s worth the read.

Sept. 5th – I finally decided to pull the trigger and to order a Core and Blade combo to replace my desktop and aging (and literally melting) MacBook Pro laptop all in one go. First tried to go online to the special Partner store, since as a employee of a game studio partnered with Razer, I am able to get a few minimal but none the less nice discounts. Unfortunately, the promotion they are running for $100 off a Core when purchasing a New Blade is not offered on the Partner store. Also, no New Blade’s are listed on the store either, only the legacy ones. (As I learned later there is a 3 month lag for new products on the partner store. Lame, but I can rationalize the reasoning on that to some degree and no major complaints). 

I then went to the regular store url/login with my personal account. The promotional bundle was offered, but the New Blades were currently listed on back-order with no date for future availability. The only option is to sign up to be notified when on sale… so I signed up and eagerly wait!

Sept. 21st (ish) – I receive an email stating the New Blades will once again be shipping in October, and are preorder-able on Oct 2nd at 9 am PST. I set an alarm to remind myself to hop on immediately at that time and preorder one, just in case.

Oct. 2 – I hop out of bed bright and early in my hotel room at Twitchcon and ordered my New Blade and Core together at 9:02 AM just as it unlocked. The Core is listed to ship on Oct 14th, and Blade Pro is listed on back-order until Oct 28th. Remember this. 😉

While ordering, I found code online for a free $49 messenger bag if ordering a Blade. I put the code in, because I love free stuff! The order form accepted the code and confirmed the free bag. 6 hours later, the order confirmation was emailed to me (seems kind of long? Was a bit worried something went wrong up until then due to demand or something.)

I also discover at this time that the $100 off discount was not applied. Apparently you don’t get it automatically? The discount appears to be emailed as a promo code as part of the order confirmation email, once your order has been processed and subsequently confirmed. Instructions state it must be applied separately to a different Core order to be claimed?!

Oct. 4th – After chatting options with a friend at Razer for advice, I reached out to Support to find out how to get the $100 credit applied to my order. unfortunately, the support form is limited to 550 characters only. No email, no phone. Very hard to explain most problems in so few words but I managed it. The Support form gave me an auto email to expect a reply in up to 1-2 business days, as to be expected. Later in the same day, I received an unrelated email stating the following: 

“Thank you for ordering from the RazerStore. As indicated during checkout, one or more of the products you ordered is currently unavailable and cannot be shipped. You will receive an email notification when your order has been shipped.

Estimated shipping period

Razer Basic Messenger Bag: null”

Looking farther down email, there is an additional section: 

“note:The item(s) in your order will only ship once all item(s) are ready for shipment.”

Wait, does this mean that even if the core and blade are ready to ship, the whole order will be held for this mystery bag with a “null” ship date? In paranoia, I open second support ticket, asking about this issue in detail.

Oct. 5th – Support has replied to my first ticket. They explained that they are unable to apply the promotional credit, and that if I want to get the $100 off of my Core, I must cancel my order and start over by ordering the blade first, wait for the confirmation email with code, then use that code to order a core separately.

“Hi, J.

Thank you for contacting RazerStore.com

We are sorry that we are unable to add promotional code in any order that has already been placed.

https://store.razerzone.com/DRHM/store?Action=DisplayHelpPage&SiteID=razerusa&Locale=en_US

At this time, we can cancel your order and allow you to submit a new order. Please let us know if you want us to attempt a cancellation.

If we attempt the cancellation, you will be notified by email that the cancellation was successful. If unsuccessful, your order will ship as originally placed.

Hoping to hear from you for your decision.

Thank you for your time and understanding.

Sincerely,

Team RazerStore.com

Later that day, the other ticket is replied to saying that they cannot confirm for sure if the order status of the messenger bag would hold up the rest of the order or not. I’m told that it should not have actually been made available and is indefinitely out of stock and no longer officially offered as a promotion. Additionally, they are unable to make any changes or adjustments to my orders promotional codes and that if I wanted to cancel the order and start over they were happy to do so.

I responded to the first email confirming that yes, I would like to cancel the order and start over, in that case. (Especially in light of all the above nonsense). They respond they have “requested” a cancellation, and stressed this is not actually confirmation it has been canceled. Was told I need to wait for a cancellation confirmation email before it’s *actually* canceled. The confirmation eventually came about two days later. Why on earth does that need to happen or take so long? Who knows. I then tried to make two new orders. First I ordered the New Blade, in HD (not the QHD+) with a 1TB HD.

However, the order form rejected my billing address confirmation, telling me I needed to enter a “valid value” for State and country, highlighting them in red. Note: These are pre-filled drop downs, not text. I simply picked the options that applied (CA, US). It kept rejecting them over and over again, until I hard-refreshed the page, wiping out the form entirely and starting over.

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Oct. 6th – Still no order confirmation the following morning. Without it, I can’t order the Core, and I’m also becoming worried that I may slip back into a further batch of Blades. On a whim, I decided to check my order history, out of idle curiosity. It actually showed duplicate entries for every order! There were 12 line items for 3 simply orders, each repeated 4 times. This is really weird and confusing, and obviously a bug of some kind. Also still showed my recent order as “In Process” a whole day later.

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Later that day, roughly 26 hours after the initial order, I finally get my order confirmation with a discount code for the core. (Irony… the discount code looks to be the SAME as the one from the first ever order.. It’s apparently not a unique code? Either that or it’s keyed to my email or something and the same for just me. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have waited!) I order a Core it using this code, getting my nice $100 discount. Again however, I experience the EXACT SAME bug with the state/country drop down! I hard refresh once more, and this fixes it. I think it’s possibly related to chrome’s automatic filling of known address info at this point. At this time, it’s important to note for reasons below that the Razer Core still has a shipping date of October 14th and the New Blade is Oct 28th. Sounds good to me!

Oct. 15th – Still no shipping confirmation for my Core, which was due out the day before. I begin checking the order status page daily because I am an impatient nerd who wants his shiny toys! The store site still says it’s shipping Oct. 14th when I checked on the 15th, and 16th, and I believe I looked again on the 17th (my notes are fuzzy there). My order confirmation also says the 14th still, I checked to make sure I wasn’t crazy.

Oct. 18th – I check the order status, still no updates! However, the Core listing in the Store *now* says “back ordered, ships from 10/28”.  I was given zero emails or heads up about this new delay however. A silent stealth update to the site? Not great customer service experience. Totally understanding things happen, but an email/update would really have been nice.

Oct. 19 – A New Blade Pro has just been announced. Shit. Do I still want a New Blade, or do I want the Pro? Is a pro better for my needs? Does the Pro even need a Core with it’s sexy new gpu? It the Pro too big in size for my needs though? I almost have buyers remorse before I even have the product. I don’t know what to do. The New blade doesn’t ship for another week. Also I now know details about the rumored MacBook Pro refresh coming next week. It might be a better solution and at this rate will arrive sooner .Maybe it’s better to cancel and wait and see how reviews pan out? I reach out to cancel my Blade order (even though it risks missing out on another back-order window) to wait and see the right options for me, since this is no small investment. Definitely lots of sudden decision making to be made.

I am told by support that because I used the discount code for the Core, I have to cancel the Core order also. Fair enough, that makes total sense to me, so I cancel both orders. I am again told the order cancellation has been requested, but not confirmed, until I receive such an email.

Oct. 20th – The email confirmation that my Blade order was successfully canceled arrives. (but I failed to notice there was not one about my core).

Oct. 24th – 4 emails came in at the exact same time together (3:39AM) in one batch with identical time stamps.

  1. Shipping confirmation of Core stating it has just gone out.
  2. Email stating they were unable to successfully cancel my core order (duh?).
  3. Email stating they have put in a request to issue a return order for my core as a courtesy due to my existing cancellation request. (Wow thanks!)
  4. Email confirming the cancellation request and accepting my return order, with return instructions and a mailing address. (With the implied instructions that I need to pay the cost of shipping myself to return it to the listed address in Hong Kong, to get the refund.)

Then, at 9:30 am that same morning my core arrives at my office suddenly!

Yeah. That happened.

I run the numbers on FedEx and UPS to estimate shipping costs to return the core for my refund. Retail costs for a one-off shipment of this size and weight come back at $300 and $250 respectively. Totally impractical to do in order to get a refund on a $400 order! Both return-related emails come from “do not email this address” accounts so following up on this hurdle is now difficult for me.

Well, I guess I’ll just sit on this Core for now… I may still end up with a blade, and in THEORY it’s supposed to work with any USB C laptop, including that plan B mac.

Oct. 27th – After reading initial reviews on the Pro, it seems it really isn’t the laptop for me. Additionally I am not satisfied with the details on the new MacBook Pro so I went ahead and placed a fresh order for the New Blade, in the HD 1TB model. Since I’m stuck with this Core that I can’t really return easily, I figured why not. I placed the order, and as expected, I was told it is still on back-order, due to ship on October 28th (the next day) as before.

Oct. 29th – Checking to see if my Blade has shipped yet, I now see that the QHD+ model is currently shipping as of the day before, as is expected, but that the HD model that I had ordered now reads “Available for Pre-order. Ships from 11th November, 2016.” It would appear it has slipped 2 weeks… sadly for me this is the day after I leave for Japan for a week so it leaves me without the laptop for my travels. 🙁

Nov. 2nd – On a whim, I’m not sure why, I felt the urge to check the pre-order status of the laptop again. It now reads the following: “Available for Pre-order. Ships from 28th November, 2016.” Well, guess we had ourselves yet another stealth slip it would seem… *sigh*

screenshot-2016-11-03-16-41-09

Nov. 4th – I woke up to the following email:

Hi.

Thank you for your order of Razer Blade with FHD – 1TB.

Order number: ****************

We regret to inform you that due to unexpected shipment delays, we can ship the product only from November 28, 2016

Our bad. We are sorry.

We do have ready stock of the upgraded Razer Blade QHD 512GB or Razer Blade QHD 1TB, and would like to give you priority to purchase it. In addition, we will offer you a Free Gift of a Razer Blade Armor Caseif you wish to take up the offer.

To take up the offer to upgrade,

  1.       Please make the purchase within the next 5 business days

http://www.razerzone.com/store/razer-blade

  • Provide us the new order number so we may cancel the old order.
  • Once your new Razer Blade QHD 512GB or Razer Blade QHD 1TBhas shipped, you will receive an email with your tracking information.
  1.       Instructions to redeem Free Gift of a Razer Blade Armor Casewill follow 7 days after your order ships.

Should you choose to continue to wait for your Razer Blade with FHD – 1TB, we will go ahead to keep you in our waiting list.

Once again, our sincere apologies. We value your business and appreciate your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

Team RazerStore

Well, at least you guys emailed me this time I guess… Though 2 days late. I then went to the store to look up the listing for shits and giggles. The order page for the 1TB HD Blade no longer has a “preorder/shipping 28th” status. The purchase button has now been replaced with a “notify me” button, and the release date has been replaced with “Register your interest”.

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Oooookaaaaay. Let’s just say at this point I have zero fucking confidence that this thing is actually shipping Nov 28th.

After sharing this story around with some friends, I learn from one of them they had a very similar experience and ended up buying theirs on Amazon.com. Wait what?! I look and lo and behold Amazon has them currently in stock!! I just ordered it there, right now, with overnight shipping for an additional $9, and requested to cancel the previous order via the Razer store once and for all.

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JEEZE!!!

Any one of these things, or even two, is likely a minor annoyance, but the combined force of this ridiculousness is beyond ludicrous. C’mon Razer 🙁 Just ditch Digital River as your store vendor already and do this in house. I know you could do so better at this if you  just put a vested ownership into the experience!

EDIT- 11/6/16:  Just got the shipping confirmation from Amazon.com! The laptop HAS shipped. a Razer Blade DOES physically exist with my name on it and is en-route! It was set for next day delivery, and due to ship out Monday, so there is even a chance it may arrive tomorrow!

EDIT 2 – 11/7/16: So everything wasn’t *quite* as sunshine and rainbows as the last update seemed. For the next stage in the saga, check out part two of this adventure!

The DMV should not be this hard to deal with in 2016

You might think that by the year 2016 some of the more backwards and bureaucratic aspects of dealing with the CA DMV would have evolved. You would be wrong.
So the first week of April I got a notice in the mail (at my current address.. I updated it when I moved) from the CA DMV that my drivers license expires in June and the instructions on how to renew it online. I then thought to myself “my car registration is due in May as well, might as well do both at once!” This is a rare instance of being a proactive adult in my life and I’m rather proud of it.
 
I hop online, renew my ID and my registration both in one transaction, and pay all the various associated fees. A few weeks later the shiny new ID card shows up, in the mail, but no sign of my registration paperwork or new sticker. After a more than a month goes by and now its the renewal date for my registration, I call in to find out just what exactly is up. I’m told there is a 2 hour hold time, and naturally opt for the “Call me back later” option.
 
I get the call back, and after giving my info the agent on the phone, she informs me that the renewal was sent to the wrong address, not the one I just gave her “Weird” I say “I updated it at the same time I updated my ID back when I moved in February, all at once”. I’m told it apparently didn’t “take” for the registration part, and am advised to do it again online, and that once it’s in the system to call back and they will resend me my sticker and paperwork. I ask if I can just change it with her over the phone and she says the system does not allow for that.
 

I hop off the phone and go online and do so..  but it took a few days and another phone call to the DMV get it done. When you update the car’s registered address, you have to include not only the license plate number and VIN, but also the “Effective of” date of your current registration. Since I had paid my renewal in April and we were now past my renewal date of May 20th, it was now in the system as a given day sometime in May 2016, not the 2015 on my old paperwork that I was mistakenly referencing. I didn’t think about that at first and it wasn’t until i began to randomly try various dates in a week long window around the date stamp on my email receipt for my renewal that I finally got it to accept the update submission.

I then decided to wait a week or two, because lord knows government systems are probably slow to share info among themselves…  and call back in today. After putting my number in the queue and getting a call back, I explain my situation to someone and ask to have the sticker resent to me. He asks for my my address again, which I give. I’m then asked for a possible previous address I may have had… oh boy.. here we go.  I give my previous address, but I’m told that’s not on file either. I then offer up my address before THAT, my first one in LA and where I lived when I bought the car in 2014. He says THAT is the one on file.

Flabbergasted, I ask how this can be. I updated my contact info when I moved in Nov 2014, and again in Feb 2016. Clearly it worked because my ID contact info was mailed to the right place! He informs me that online updates do not work for leased vehicles. What?!? I ask why is it the system behaves as though it works then, and why it does not give me any error telling me this.. (also for the record, you online profile for the CA DMV does not reference your address to verify what’s on file. This is by design, I’ve been told.)

He then tells me I can *only* update the address by coming into a local DMV branch in person, (if you live in CA you know what THAT entails, if not, just look at the pic below!) and that I have to fill out a change of address form by hand to do so. After which, I’ll have to fill out another form for a duplicate registration copy, which requires a $50 fee.
customers_waiting_outside_dmv_LA_CA

Seriously… I did everything they told me to do in the way in which they told me to do it (proactively I might add!) and now I have to pay a fee for a second copy because *they* gave me bad instructions.

In 2016, I can’t believe dealing with the DMV is still this convoluted and archaic. The only relief is the fact that my registration IS up to date, I just don’t have the piece of paper to go in my car and a shiny new sticker to go with it.

UPDATE! @ 4:50pm 6/9/16

Whomever said complaining about something on twitter doesn’t fix it clearly underestimates the CA DMV!

So I emailed the address in question with my email and phone number. Just now, about 15 minutes ago, and *exceptionally* nice lady called me and asked to hear my story. I ran her through the whole shebang, and she was super apologetic and asked if I would be willing to fill out the PDF of the change of address form and email it to her. Once I did, she would process it within the next business day and have the new registration in my mailbox within the next 7 business days.

Wow! The CA DMV is NOT whom I expected this kind of personal touch from! The systems and processes may still be a little convoluted and janky, but at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!

The (not so insane) case for omitting Punkbuster in Battlefield 1

The early 2000s were a dark time in the FPS world. In the days of old, cheating was rampant, as anyone from the original Counter-Strike days can tell you. There is a saying in the anti-cheat world: “Build a better mousetrap, and they will build a better mouse.” The problem, however, was that for a many number of years, no one was even building mouse traps.

Enter Punkbuster, a creation of a coalition of angry gaming community people who were tired of the rampant cheating. At the time time, it was a godsend. You, the run-of-the-mill server administrator, could drop this module into your game server, tweak a few settings, and now the mice had a mousetrap to contend it. Was it perfect? No. Was it infallible? Nope. Did it at least help? You betcha!

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The mice evolved, and so did the mouse trap. Over time the storied tug of war of hacks vs. anti-cheat escalated as they always do, but this option held back the great unwashed masses of many an offender. There were false positives, there were people who would steal others GUIDs (Global Unique ID) and get them banned for fun, and there were other headaches… but it was an opt-in system. A game server admin could elect to turn on or off any part of the system at will, (or the whole system entirely). The cost benefit analysis was up to the server admin and their community to agree upon, so there were few surprises and consequences were manageable.

This brings us today… 2016. A far, far cry from the early 2000s. These days, first party anti-cheat systems are on the rise… and they are quite impressive pieces of technology. Blizzard’s “Warden”, Valve’s “VAC”, and so on, have set the standard for first party solutions. These systems outclass Punkbuster in many ways, especially in the false positive category, but most importantly, they are in house. The studio using them, also controls them. This is key! Accountability of the actions (and results) of these systems lie within the same walls as the platform on which they operate. It’s quite easy for Blizzard to go “oh crap, something went sideways for this guy, let’s reverse this ban.” or, as has happened before here at Riot, for a player to be banned for botting, only for our support staff to see clear evidence of an account compromise during that time frame and go “yeah it’s plain as day this wasn’t you” and reverse the ban during account recovery.

So, let me explain why this whole thing is in my head, and why I think Punkbuster has no place in Battlefield 1…

ea-origin-logo

In 2011, when Battlefield 3 came out (and repeated again with BF4 in 2013), DICE made the curious move to incorporate Punkbuster into the game as a required component. If a Battlefield 3(or 4) server is publicly accessible (meaning, not flagged to private and locked out to most folks), PB *must* be enabled on the server. No exceptions. This wasn’t, to the best of my knowledge, common before now. Some other studios had indeed bundled PB with their game’s dedicated servers, sure, but a forced-on implementation was a new one, at least from my understanding. Now, to be sure, it helped. It kept the game a lot saner than it could have been, that’s for sure!

Now, BF3 was one of the first major EA releases to come out in 2011 after the launch of Origin, and as such, was only available on that platform. One of the side effects of this was that your GUID tracked within Battlefield (and consequently PB) is keyed off of your Origin ID. No longer a hash of your computer hardware and game-specific username, this new format essentially “follows” your Origin account wherever it may be logged in, regardless of the computer in question.

For a while, when Origin was new, it was a bit behind in some technical areas. Having been around the team during that time, some really tough decisions had to be made about what was required for launch and what could be added down the road. This is a common decision making process at any studio and tech company, to ensure something was there for players in time for some key milestones and dependencies. This meant account security was a bit hit or miss for the first two years due to a lack of 2 Factor Authentication, for example. As a result, in late 2013 or early 2014 (my memory is hazy) there was a rash of account compromises in bulk that were seemingly part of some form of data breach. I, like many people, had my account compromised by (what at least appeared to be) a conglomerate of Russian hackers.  This went unnoticed by me for a few months, as no new releases came out to garner my attention and warrant logging into Origin. Then, along comes Dragon Age: Inquisition, (SUCH a good game by the way!) and I tried to log in. Uh oh! I went through the account recovery process, turned on the newly established 2FA, and life was good.

Then recently, in a wave of nostalgia with friends, I fired up Battlefield 3. Imagine my shock when I find out that every server I connect to instantly kicks me. Reading through the logs on a server I had control over, I come to find out my GUID is on the Punkbuster master ban list, and was added to it in early 2014! This ban extends to not only BF3, but *ANY* game that leverage Punkbuster who’s authentication methods stem from Origin. (IE all Dice games).

I have a string a documentation proving my account was compromised, Origin willingly acknowledges this issue. Punkbuster? Not a care is given to this. If one tries to appeal to Origin, they response is always the same “We have no control or authority over Punkbuster and all concerns on that need to be addressed to Even Balance.” On the Punkbuster side, any appeals to Even Balance fall on deaf ears. “We have no ownership over account security for Origin. Our only concern is that your GUID was linked to cheating, and placed on the master ban list. All decisions are final and irreversible.”

DICE_EA_Logo_Black

So, this brings me to the point of this post: EA/Origin, by way of DICE, has turned over the keys to the kingdom for account bans for a subset of games to Punkbuster, a community controlled system. This third party, with no accountability or liability to EA, has the ability to say “you are hereby banned from all Origin games using PB” (which is this case is all DICE titles), because We Say So.

How is it, that a multi-million dollar publisher thinks it is a player-friendly, pro-consumer policy to say “you know what, let’s allow this other company whom we have no influence over to unilaterally ban our players, with no avenue for recourse by them or even ourselves.” Seriously. How does this make sense to anyone? If Battlefield 1 decides to ship with Punkbuster support, my account will be locked out of playing in any public online servers because of an account compromise that was beyond my control. Why on earth would I pay money for that experience?

Cheating is bad. It needs to be guarded against… but why can’t Dice/EA/Origin, make an in-house solution instead? One that they can have oversight on? Blizzard does it. Valve does it. Riot does it. Tons of studios do it. You are telling me EA thinks this is a better plan? Please.

Edit – 5/17/16 @ 10:23am: Curiously enough, when I woke up this morning I discovered my GUID was no longer on the master ban list. How it was removed I do not know, and I while I am grateful I can play again, it doesn’t really change how I feel about this situation, or the intent behind my post. Still, I am grateful to whomever looked me up and removed it.

The wrong way to recruit

Recruiters really baffle me. I’ve gotten some silly reach-outs before, but this one takes the cake and I felt compelled to share it. First off, let me link you to my linked-in. I’ll be here when you get back.

Now then, I hope you have at least some sense of what my background is? I mean, you probably didn’t dive too deep, but you skimmed it at least yeah?

Now today, I get the following email in all it’s glory:

J!
I came across your LinkedIn and I’m crossing my fingers you’ve got an interest in talking to me
I’ve got an opportunity with a SICKKKKK (unprofessional, I know, but really, it’s that exciting) company in Culver City that’s looking for a Network Gameplay Engineer to join their team ASAP.
They’re creating the software that HTC, Sony, and Oculus Rift hardware will be capable of using as well as some hardware to compete with it. Full integration of the varied VR platforms. Cool. Stuff. Man. Debut coming at the end of the year with all their hard work. THIS IS THE FUTURE.
If virtual reality is your thing -AND HOW COULD IT NOT BE- let me know a good time to contact you and I look forward to hearing from you! ( or if I can’t convince you, got any friends??
Now, first off, I have zero issue with the tone or levity. It’s a refreshing change of pace from a two para run-on sentence of industry buzzwords and corporate speak. (Though it does seem a bit over the top and forced after a bit.. maybe dial it back some?) However, I have to ask… WHAT ON EARTH ABOUT MY PROFILE SAYS NETWORK ENGINEER TO YOU?
Now, I’m not a stupid man (contrary to what some of my posts may lead you to believe). I know recruiters don’t actually read whole profiles. I know they are paid, or graded, or in some cases job-gated even, by the number of return emails/calls they field in a given week. And THAT is my complaint. How is that practical? That’s not how you build talent. That’s not how you curate an award winning, convention challenging team. That’s how you stock a puppy mill…
If you have 50% less recruiters, spend 50% more time focusing on key leads, stop scatter shot approaches, and maybe, I don’t know.. give it a honest personal touch… maybe, just maybe, you’ll find the ideal candidate faster than you imagined.. and maybe if you do that enough, you’ll build a team you never thought possible.

People are talent.. not cogs.

/Rant.

Fail Mail

I have had countless issues with the USPS. When I order something online, and they send me a tracking#.. if it is a USPS number I more or less immediately assume I have a 50/50 chance of ever actually getting the item at all. It’s so bad, that I try to make sure I always have it shipped to the office instead. We have a full scale mail room and loading dock, and the postage to here is delivered via direct truck from the local facility. At least then you can remove most of the “human factor” that screws me over on the delivery aspect.

The most common problem I’ve had was at my old Apartment I recently moved from. We had a gate on the side of the house, about 4 feet tall. Outside the gate was the bank of mailboxes (the usual small kind). Past the gate was a foot path with the doors to our units. Now, that gate was only chest high and had no lock on it. It was clearly not “secure”. Yet without fail, if a package came to our address, 90% of the time the status would update “unable to deliver” and after two attempts we’d have to go to the post office to get it.. where invariably they would take forever to even find the package, sometimes requiring 2 trips to get it. We’d always be told the same reason “the carrier couldn’t access our unit to securely deliver it.”

B.S.

Move forward to a few weeks ago: I ordered something on Amazon, and due to a series of unrelated events, the default delivery address of my office got “un-defaulted”. I didn’t realize this (my fault) and the package was addressed to my apartment. I realized after the fact and immediately understood this was going to be an adventure.. I did not, however, learn just how adventurous.

The package was out for delivery on the 25th. Mid day, I got a notification that it “could not be delivered as addressed.” So I reached out to Amazon chat support, to look into it for me. The agent spoke to the USPS and was informed “the address was illegible.” Now, I don’t know if you have ever ordered something on Amazon.com, but those labels are pretty crisp. Laser printed, big font, and the address is usually in more than one place.

He said he had given them the correct address, (and I tried to change it, but USPS wouldn’t allow it) and that it was rescheduled for delivery the following day, Friday the 26th. Naturally… it didn’t arrive Friday. Or Saturday. Or Monday. As a matter of fact the status remained time stamped on the 25th with “rescheduled for delivery on the following day” for a week. At that point, last wednesday the 2nd, I contacted Amazon again. They offered to re-ship the order to my office and just wash their hands and mine of the whole ordeal, and I happily agreed. I even got a $10 credit for not getting my guaranteed 2 day prime delivery. (I love you Amazon Customer Service!)

Fast forward to today, and SUDDENLY the tracking is updated. This is where it gets interesting:

Screenshot 2016-03-07 11.15.12

Somehow, the package went off the radar entirely (from the USPS facility in my zip code), then magically appeared again 11 days later at a facility 15 miles away east of downtown. Um, okay?

Now, it’s back at a DIFFERENT facility in another zip code (albeit the zip code adjacent to the previous, where my apt sits on the street dividing them.) In theory it’s back out for delivery as well… but oh, did I mention that during all this radio silence I moved about 4 blocks down the street?

Yeah it’s a good thing Amazon replaced this package cause I’m never gonna see it.