Dec 27, 2011

Fixing "Blindsighted" in Skyrim

Good heavens. Skyrim is full of as many glitches as it is guards who have taken an arrow to the knee!  The latest 'discovery' is during the Blindsighted mission where you finally face off against Mercer Frey.  In some circumstances, he never shows up at the 'final' showdown!  He speaks for a moment, but is not there and the player cannot move anywhere.  Enter the console yet again.

I have heard of two ways to make this work: 1) Bring Mercer to where you are, 2) go to where he is and follow him until he gets to where he is supposed to be.

As for (1), I did not try that.  I read too many people having no luck with it.

As for (2), here is what you need to do:  Once you enter the room where Mercer says something about getting the drop on him, your character is frozen. Sorta.

  1. Press the tilde (~) to open the console and type: epc 
  2. Press ENTER. This will free you up to move freely.
  3. Type: player.moveto 00022651
  4. Press ENTER (the game will load to where Mercer is in the world)
  5. Follow Mercer until he he gets to the right room *OR* until he suddenly disappears from you
  6. *IF* he disappears from you while you are following him, type: player.moveto 00022651 and press ENTER.  This should teleport you back to the room with him and the other NPCs and start the dialogue.  Be sure to get to where he can see you so the auto-conversation can take place.  Once it does, finish out the scene as you wish.
This is one of the most ridiculous glitches out there.  How he goes from one cut scene to being totally removed from the quest area is beyond me.  That has got to be some kind of scripting glitch.  In any case, the fix above worked for me multiple times.  I repeated the steps a couple times from older save games just to be sure it worked.  NOTE: You may have to fight several things along the way.  One "option" is to put yourself into "god" mode until you get back on task.  I don't generally suggest going into "god" mode because it is too far down the cheating path, but since the is a glitch in the game, I see no problem using it to avoid getting killed while chasing doofus around the map.

Keywords: Mercer Frey, Blindsighted, "get the drop on me", glitch, bug, Thieves Guild

Review: Need for Speed The Run

One of the video games I received for Christmas this year: Need for Speed-The Run.  I had seen several previews, videos, etc for the game, and being a fan of the NFS franchise, I had to put it on my Christmas wish list.  I got the Limited Edition, which gives access to a bonus set of cars and Challenge Tracks that the "regular" edition doesn't.  I put regular in quotes because I have yet to see an edition with the words "limited edition" printed on the box.  I digress.

The game has three modes, basically: The Run Storyline, Challenge Mode, and Multiplayer.  I'll start with Multiplayer because, well, I haven't used it yet.  It connects to EA's AUTOLOG system for game matches.  You race against your friends. As I understand it, you can jump into games at any point - no more of the Autolog lobby.  I'll play with that and let you know.

The Run Storyline is the main game.  You play a scruffy nerfherder named Jack.  You have to race across the country in order to win a boatload of money to pay off the mob.  It's Rat Race meets Cannonball Run meets... I dunno.  During the game, there are cut scenes and screenshots featuring various characters that really have no bearing on the game at all.  In the midst of your racing across the country, you are tossed into these weird mini games where on-screen prompts show you when to hit the space bar, arrow keys, enter key, whatever.  During one scene, you jump from building to building, avoiding helicopter gunfire.

The mini games, to me, are a waste.  I came to race, not play some loosely constructed story.  I know, many people like having a backstory to go with their racing. I am not one of those.  I came to race my car.  And, HOLY SMOKES do you race!  Now, this is not the "simulation" style that many NFS games are known for.  This is arcade racing.  If you slide off a mountain while driving through Colorado's beautifully-rendered high country, you get a RESET to try again from your last checkpoint. You get 4 or 5 (I can't remember just now) resets per section before you have to start the section over from the beginning.  Let me tell ya, it can get VERY frustrating: To be on the last leg of a section only to miss a turn with no resets left will have you screaming at the monitor.  I kept running into/off of obstacles that caused resets on some levels but not on others.  It was hard to figure out where I could scrape some paint and where I had to stay between the lines.  This especially held true where my car would slip off the road into a patch of grass only to have the screen go black and the dreaded "RESET" appear. The other area to watch are telephone poles.  In some areas, you can blast right through them, while in others, they are as solid as a building.  And, you have no idea which is which until you run head-on into a pole.

The handling is pure arcade, and once you get the feel for controls, you can drive any of the cars because they all drive the same.  At least, it felt that way to me.  Some people have posted that they hate this and that it is unrealistic.  LOL, "unrealistic."  It's a GAME, people. Of course it isn't realistic.  Would you realistically be driving half these cars in your life, ever? Nope. Anyway, there are sports cars, exotics, and racers.  It doesn't matter.  Hop in and drive.

The biggest complaint I have about the game: I can't enjoy the views.  You race from San Francisco to New York via Las Vegas, Colorado, Chicago, Cleveland, and other locales that fly by at 240+ mph and you don't get to enjoy the nuances that make those places what they are.  I would love a free-roam mode where you could grab a car and just drive around.  Ah well, this *IS* an arcade racer, after all.  I will say, though, that driving through the subway is one of the coolest sections of all - sightseeing or not!

The game progresses through 10 levels.  You have meet certain goals to continue: beat 8 racers, beat 6 time trials, whatever.  You cannot progress without beating the goals, and it only takes a few tries to beat the goals.  A couple levels are harder than others, but once you've "Beat 6 Racers" once, you've done it a hundred times.  I did not realize this was how the game was played.  I was hoping you started off the race and then tried to beat everyone to the end - open-ended style: that is, whatever position you were in at the end of each leg, that's the position you started the next one.  I think that would have added so much more to the game. They didn't ask me.

You eventually win the race - because you have no choice, really.  Oh, wait, is that spoiler? Of course not - you eventually (hopefully) win any racing game, right?

Challenge Modes are unlocked as you progress through the story.  Each Challenge features several tracks/goals for you to beat.  You get to race the same locales you did in the story mode, but with different tracks, different goals, etc.  You can also try to best your Autolog pals.

The game is a lot of fun, and can be extremely frustrating.  For me, that's what I like about it most - figuring out just what's going on. Now, I think I'll go back and play through the story and locales with some sightseeing in mind.  Who cares if I win or not.  I want to see some sights.

Dec 19, 2011

Response to "Ten tech items you won't be needing"

The LA Times published an article (see end of this response for link) about the 10 tech items you won't need anymore. Like the last one of these responses I did, let's take a look:

1. Flip Cam - I half-agree with this. Pocket cameras are still a lot cheaper than an iPod, cell phone, etc.  The pocket cameras also tend to be a whole lot easier (in my experience) to pull the video from the device into one's computer for editing.  On the other hand, nearly every other device you buy has a built-in video camera, so why bother carrying around another piece of equipment. See, half agree...

2. Portable DVD player - One day, this will be true. Not any time soon, however. Why not?  because there are many families that bought as many DVDs for their kids as possible and, dang it, we are going to watch those in the car if it kills us!  I am one of them. Of course, Shan's van has built-in DVD players, so we don't need a separate portable one.  Okay, I'll give them this one.

3. Flash drives - BZZT! Wrong answer.  People still need a way to access their files when the "cloud" is not available.  The evolution of portable media dictates that SOMETHING will replace flash drives, but it will still be something people can carry on their person.

4. GPS for your car - BZZT! Wrong answer.  I can use the GPS in my car in more places than my phone because of cellular data coverage, or more specifically the lack thereof.  With my in-car GPS, I can find my location, get directions and route my course without worrying about dropped signals or getting a call while trying to navigate (which on many carriers will kick one out of the GPS app).

5. Small digital cameras - They are talking the small-form point-and-shoot.  I have to agree.  Cell phones now boast 8 megapixels, which is still more than most people would ever actually use anyway.  The only thing holding me back here is that small point-and-shoots are coming with better and better optical zooms - something that our cell phones just can't handle.  But, I certainly see the demise of those little cameras in the future.  Now, pro-level or pro-sumer level cameras?  Those will be around a long time, well, relatively speaking.

6. FAX Machine - BZZT!  The fax still can be one of the most secure ways to send a document - encrypted, secluded, direct.  Now, the machine itself may go, I suppose.  With unified communication systems, we can have fax-to-desktop, thus eliminating the physical machine.  I dunno, maybe I'm a half-and-half guy on this one after all.

7. Netbooks - Yeap. These are going, going, gone.  Now that you get a case, a keyboard, a stylus, and maybe even a mouse for your tablet, who needs a netbook?

8. CD player - Yeap. Gone.  Convert your CDs and (GASP!) records over to digital and kiss the physical CD players goodbye.  Oh, never mind the deterioration of your MP3 files. That's just a normal part of data corruption.  Besides, you can always download the songs again or convert them from CD.. wait, no more CD players? Oh. Nevermind. You're just outta luck.

9. Voice recorders - Are these even still around? Wow. I thought these were already dead and gone.

10. PDA - Palms? What?  Like voice recorders, I thought PDA's were already a thing of the past. Well, they are now for sure.

The original article can be found here:

Dec 18, 2011

Why LIVE.COM should be taken to the BBB

After MONTHS of trying to get an account issue resolved, all Microsoft's LIVE.COM support will give me are automated, useless replies.  I need to talk to a human. We tried using XBO support, but when it came down to fixing the actual problem (an errant email address entered when signing up), they couldn't do anything because LIVE.COM has no actual LIVE people for support. Ironic, no?

Anyway, here is the latest reply, which is totally useless because GMAIF.COM (notice the problem there?) is a squatted domain, and efforts to contact  THEM have come up empty as well....


Unfortunately, we could not verify your ownership of using the information you provided. Your account recovery request with issue number xxxxxxxx has been closed.

In keeping with Microsoft's commitment to protecting online privacy, Windows Live takes account security seriously. Passing the account recovery process can be difficult. Please reconsider your originally submitted information, as well as provide any additional information when submitting a new account recovery request.

Here are some suggestions to assist you in submitting a new request:
  • Answer questions using the information you used when you created the account or last updated it.
  • Submit the recovery request from a computer you frequently use for Windows Live services.
  • Answer as many questions as you can and be as precise as possible.
  • For questions with multiple answers, such as email subjects and contacts, provide as many answers as you can.
  • If you have difficulty remembering email subjects or contacts, try reaching out to family, friends, or business contacts to verify.
Ready? Click here to submit a new Windows Live account recovery request.

Please do not reply to this message. Replies to this message are routed to an unmonitored mailbox.

Thank you,
Windows Live

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

Dec 15, 2011

Why I don't like the new GMail

I've switched to the new GMail because, well, they will eventually force me to anyway, so I figured I had better jump on it so I can support the folks at work.

First of all, let me make this clear: I hate the new GMail.  There. I said it. Now, brass tacks time:

For starters, I had to switch to "compact view" so that I wouldn't have a bunch of wasted space on my screen.  One of the things I liked most about GMail was the simple, clean interface. No frills, no nonsense. Bye-bye.  Now, we have views with more white space between messages than the actual length of the messages themselves.  Luckily, GMail must have known some people didn't care for all that "breathing room" and gave us an option that is close to the original layout (though not exactly).

I hate CHAT. I don't use it. I want to be able to turn the dumb thing off.  Again, it is a matter or screen real estate.  I'd rather have my label list down the side than have that dumb chat gizmo there, or anywhere.  Users should be allowed to turn that off.

I hate cute little icons where words work perfectly well.  maybe it is because I like to write and enjoy reading.  Maybe it is part of the whole 'streamlined' thing I enjoy.  Whatever the reason, I *HATE* stupid little icons that are supposed to represent the tasks I want to perform.  See them up there?  The irony is that you have to hover over them so that a TEXT BOX will appear to tell you just what you are supposed to do with them. Stupid.  I like my words. I like menu systems.  One of peeves with Office 2007 was the whole "icons on ribbons" thing. UGH.  Show me the words that tell me what I want to know, what I need to do.  I think cutesy little icons just waste space and waste time because I have to now figure out what each one does or means or represents.  have we fallen so far as a society that we can't have actual WORDS anymore!?  Soon, our writings (electronic or otherwise) will revert back to cave drawings - icons that show and tell our life stories.  instead of Facebook, we'll have.. Imagebook or Iconbook or Cavecarvings or some other wordless means of "communicating."  Supposedly, a picture's worth a thousand words.  In this case, it barely even covers one.

I am not a fan of the whole 'theme' thing. I never have been.  I like certain things neat and clean, no frou frou. Email is one.  i want my email to be...(GASP! SHOCK AND AWE!) **EMAIL**  I don't want little dancing smiley faces in my emails, I don't want a pink background with falling hearts from the sky.  I don't really even like the 'desktop' background I have in mine right now, but it was the easiest to look at for more than 5 minutes.

I know Google isn't switching it back, and that's fine.  Since we switched to Google Apps for our corporate mail system, I have to take what they give me - a certain drawback to going to "the cloud."  It is a drawback that no one talks about until after the fact. 

Oh, I know, in the scheme of life, this is petty and small and doesn't amount to a grain of rice for a starving child (go to to help with that, though!!), but I am free to express myself.  And for that, I am eternally grateful to people like my Father, Grandfather, Uncle, and the other millions of people who have served in our military so that I *can* say what I feel.  The sacrifices made by those folks in uniform amount to much more than email interfaces, cloud computing, and even food on the table.  They served (and serve) OUR country for all the good, all the bad, all the freedoms, and all the choices we have as Americans.  I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, knowing full well that my petty rant is nothing but a grain of sand in the scheme of life.

Dec 12, 2011

Dungeons and Dragons Dichotomy

I recently took part in a discussion about playing "Skyrim" which involved a young college student (female), a high school student (male), and myself.  We talked for a good while about various game-playing adventures, glitches, and general mayhem we've each taken part in while playing the game.  Then, a comment (made by the female college student) out of the blue: "Yeah, he and his friends are all playing D&D. (Dorks!)"  (I put "Dorks" in parentheses because I cannot remember the exact word used, but that was general gist).

And, thus enters the dichotomy: It is apparently COOL to play Skyrim, but DORKY to play Dungeons and Dragons.  Until this comment came out of the college student's mouth, I hadn't really separated the two.  I mean, aren't they basically one in the same?  There are dungeons, dragons, magic, swords, and sorcery in both games, right?  So, what, then *IS* the difference?

I'm going with perception. Perhaps, D&D as seen as VERY 'old school nerdy.'  Or maybe the fact that there is a group of people playing rather than a single person playing.  Maybe it is the whole experience of D&D: sitting around a table, rolling dice, acting things out.  I don't know.  I played D&D as a 5th Grader and played off-and-on through my freshman year in college.  I don't know how most people play the game, but everyone I ever played with really never "slipped" into our character modes.  It was very much like we were simply acting on behalf of the imaginary people we had written on paper.  In a way, it was much like playing "Skyrim" on the computer.

Perhaps the perceived "dorkiness" of D&D comes from the fact that is is all (er, okay, mostly) pencil and paper and dice.  I mean, there are no cool graphics, no multi-voiced character actors as NPCs (unless you are playing with a very talented pool of people), and no sound effects (refer to previous parenthetical comment) when playing ye olde pen-and-paper D&D.  You have a group of people sitting around a table, talking, rolling dice, drinking sodas (or whatever), and (GASP) interacting with each other!  Yeap, truly old school stuff.

I don't really have a solid answer so much as a very puzzling question: Why is playing "Skyrim" COOLER than playing D&D?  Hmm... Thoughts, comments?

Dec 11, 2011

Skyrim: Markarth Guard Glitch SOLVED (UPDATED!)

So, I finished off one of the missions in Skyrim (where you have to raid an underground prison) and afterward, the Markarth guards always told me to "HALT!" and no matter what I tried to do, they attacked.  Paying the fine didn't work, taking me to jail just stuck the game in some weird loop, etc.

This fix worked for me, but I had to do it TWICE.  You may need to do it more than once as well.  I think it has to do with the particular hex code for certain guards (male/female).

Here is the Markarth Guard fix:
  1. Walk up to a guard
  2. When the guard says, "You've committed crimes against Markarth," DO NOT choose any options.
  3. With the dialog waiting, press the tilde key (~) to open the command console.
  4. Click on the guard's HEAD (note: must be HEAD!) and you will see a hex code on the screen.
  5. Type: paycrimegold and hit enter.
  6. You will be teleported to a new, random location in Markarth.
  7. Press the tilde (~) key again (this will exit the command console).
  8. IF YOU ARE ATTACKED, keep looking around for a guard to question you then repeat the steps above.
  9. UPDATE NOTE: If this doesn't stop some guards from attacking on spot, try this:
    1. Press the tilde key
    2. Type: setstage MS02 250 and hit enter
    3. This should set the game to the "Thonar has granted me pardon" though no actual on-screen message will appear.
Like I said, I had to do this TWICE (once on a female guard and once on a male guard) before they stopped attacking me all the time.

Hope this helps someone out there.  I found the original info on Neoseeker or some other forum, but it did not say anything about possibly doing it more than once.

**Disclaimer: there a LOT of things you can do inside the command console. What you do in there is on your own head, not mine!