As I sit here, reviewing the past posts of my blog (although, they may be few, most of them are long), I notice that I do an awful lot of time telling you guys why things are bad, and not why they are good or how they are good. This is a blog post that I have been meaning to do for quite a while, but have been sleeping just about every day for the last two weeks due to a severe sinus infection that I just couldn’t shake. As I write this post, I’m going to put something in parenthesis after each sentence that has or requires something that I take for granted daily that has allowed me to do whatever was mentioned in the aforementioned sentence. The first one is going to be the ability to write on my blog to let out my frustrations. (I have a fairly beastly computer that allows me to do whatever I want on it without giving it much thought, as well as the ability to understand the web to be able to set up and configure my blog without paying someone to do it for me).
I left work (a part-time job that both brings in some steady income, as well as being a part of my therapeutic recovery, which is a HUGE help to my daily life) about a month ago I had just left work after working a 9 hour shift to cover gaps from our staff being unreliable. It was a late weekday and I needed to craft Valentine’s card boxes for both of my sons’ which were needed the next day. It was late and stores were closing up. Where I work, we don’t carry duct tape, which is what I needed. I travelled a mere few blocks with relative ease. (Thanks to my 2012 Cruze and 2007 Commander). I go through the store and gather what I need. (Thanks to being in decent health, despite stomach problems and depression. My physical movements are alive and well). They ended up having multiple colors of tape so I grabbed some black, and pink and went to the cashier. As I stand in line at the cashier, there is one woman in front of me. Approximately my age, carrying a toddler in one arm and clinging on to a slightly older boy with the other. Both of whom, you could tell, were sick and very congested. She is discussing with the clerk about how she is going to pay for the medicines that she has on the counter because she doesn’t have enough on her. The total is a mere eight dollars, and some change. She then goes out to her car to scavenge the seats for change to acquire enough to be able to purchase the items. I buy my items, and as I gather them up to walk out, I slide the cashier a ten dollar bill and tell him to give her what she needs and not to mention anything about me. I didn’t do it for the recognition, I did it to pay-it-forward. The cashier thanked me on her behalf and I went home to my family. (A house that I am able to work on and add an addition to with very little help thanks to the knowledge I gleaned from working with my father – additionally, I house that I own and can afford to pay for thanks to my knowledge to work for myself, as well as my part-time job).
Why tell you this? Why is this important? You see, in that moment, I realized, as low as I EVER got in life, and as poor as I ever considered myself, not ONCE have I EVER had to scavenge for change to buy medicine for my sick family or myself. Not ONCE have I had to worry about not being able to buy clothes, shoes, or food. Not once have I had to worry about utility bills being shut off from lack of payment (except when I forget to pay a bill 😛 ). Not once has one of my animals needed to suffer because I couldn’t buy food or give them the “maintenance” in which they need. This moment was the time where I realized the small victories that I have been focusing on (which is still helping with my anxiety/depression) are just a tiny piece of what my life is blessed with. My perception of my own life was, and probably continues to be, jaded. I wasn’t looking at all the things in parenthesis as victories. I was considering them necessities, which they aren’t. It’s surprising how much this single incident has changed my perspective on my day to day thought process. I’m more optimistic and thankful for the things I have.
Now, why tell you about paying-it-forward? Simply because that is, and always has been, how I try to lead my life. When I can positively affect someone’s life, why shouldn’t I? When I can help someone when they are down, why shouldn’t I? There will be a time when I need someone to blindly help me out, and I know that when that time comes, that person or those people will be there for me. Whether you call it paying it forward, what goes around – comes around, or just plain karma, think about how someone has it worse than you. Going through the fast-food restaurant? Pay for the car behind you. Guy in front of you a couple dollars short? Hand him some to cover it. Random acts of kindness are something that everyone in this world should embrace. It would build a foundational system that allows us to rely on each other, rather than fear each other. It would build a foundation that would improve the quality of living for many people in the world. It would improve the humanity morale worldwide.
Having said all that, I’m not your boss, or your parent, so obviously you don’t have to do what I say. There is nothing binding you to my train of thought, and to those of you that disagree, you are welcome to it. I just ask that you consider not letting “The Chain of Love” end with you. (For the country music haters – deal with it 😛 )
Well, there we have it. A whole year that set out to hate me, tear me down limb from limb, tear my family apart, as well as distance myself from anyone that cared or could help me, has been defeated. It wails in despair and is in my rear-view mirror as I drive along the road ahead. I look into 2016 to bring great happiness and prosperity in my life, and I will have it no other way.
So, maybe wording it like that is a bit……melodramatic, but I want the point to be clear that 2015 was incredibly difficult to me and those around me. I was tested, prodded, poked, and even forced into situations that tested me physically, socially, mentally, spiritually, and even digitally (an area that usually doesn’t attack me, so to speak) and it was exhausting. I am glad that it’s over and 2016 can bring in a new era of nothing but positive things. I won’t have it any other way. This is not going to be a post about how terrible things are, because THEY AREN’T. The last month, while stressful, was amazing and I am ready for what 2016 will bring to me and I say “bring it on!”.
My mental state is the best it’s been in YEARS. I am seeing things so much more clearly than I ever have before. I am remembering things from my childhood that I have long repressed to protect myself from it. I am staring my past in the eye, facing it face to face, and I’m not blinking. It can back down. It can be the bottom of the totem pole this year. I’m not budging.
It’s crazy to think that just months ago, I was an absolute mess. I couldn’t hold anything together, and now, here I am as about as positive as I have been in years, if not my entire life. The psychiatric help and therapy that I have been receiving has been amazing, and has really shown me a lot. It has guided me down the right path. As I sit here and reflect on the past year, and all the trauma it brought forward to me and my family, I can honestly say, “meh”. I came out on top. I came out a better and more resilient individual. I am ready for WHATEVER lies in store for me ahead.
To those that I have shared my stories of trials and tribulations with, in further detail than I have on here, due to discussing your life, or your anxieties or whatever the case may have been. I am here to tell you that it can be done. It WILL be done. Do what we have talked about. Focus on the positives. Focus on the “victories”. Focus on YOU. If you need to talk, I’m here for you. I will advocate for you and I will help you push through the darkness.
A more Paronity-esque (long and detailed 😛 ) post will come shortly with details since my last post, but I just wanted to get this out there first thing in the year so that you guys know that I AM READY.
@2016: Give me your best shot. Give me your worst. I have the strength, beliefs, and support I need to withstand anything. Have at it.
Been a crazy couple of months, to say the least. This could be another long one. Hang onto your hats. We have made some fantastic progress in getting our children the assistance they need, my mental health is getting tremendously better, I have a menial part time job to get me out of the house, I’m still working for myself as a means of income, GSN shut down our Altis Life server, and a new community picked it up, GSN also removed our TeamSpeak in favor of Discord which we are still vetting, ARMACon is going to start getting some development time to finally get that project usable for communities, and lastly, I’m going to go back to school to finally get my last couple of credits to get my bachelors. Are you ready for all of that. I’m not sure that I am…….
As many of you know, my children are a large (HUGE) part of my life and they are an adopted sibling group that we fostered for before we adopted them. They have been with us between 5-6 years now and they have a lot of behavior and developmental issues. We have been from therapist to therapist and none have been able to identify the root cause, or provide a plan that would help get their brains “straight”. Well, we have two HUGE steps of progress here. The first is the my oldest is seeing a new therapist. This new guy got more done in a single session, than his last therapist got done in 5 years. I’m not even exaggerating. My wife and I met him first without our son to see if we felt that he and my son would be a good fit, and if he could help my son. During our 45 minute screening, it was like a weight had been lifted from our shoulders. This therapist understood. Finally! Someone that sees what we see and knows what we are dealing with! My son, of course, hates the therapy because they talk about deep stuff and the trauma (keep that word in your mind, it will get used again later) that he endured before he came to our house, but he is a different child when he sees him consistently. Part two, is that over the last couple weeks, we have seen a major uphill climb in abusive behavior and utter rage out of the other 3 (youngest). My wife has been doing research for hours on end and we keep coming up with dead ends. We kept getting excited, then it would prove to not be the case for our children. We have been through them all: Anger Overload, Opposition Defiant Disorder, ADHD/ADD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Bi-Polar, and one that told us that it was the way we we’re raising them (IE: Blamed Us <.<). Well, after seeing the children’s pediatrician (who is a brilliant doctor and really is digging deep to help with this case), she said the root cause is simple one word. (I hinted above, do you know what it is? :D) Trauma…… That’s it. The trigger to all their anger, all their rage, all their physical attacks on one another is because they suffered trauma when their brains were developing. This has made their Amygdala (the part of your brain responsible for emotion), 2,3 or even 4 times larger (or at least, more active) than it should be. This is why the littlest thing blows them into such rage. Their brains are producing more chemicals than they should be, and they literally have ZERO control over it.
Great, we know what the issue is, how do we fix it? That’s a tricky question and the answer (as you might have guessed) is a tricky, complicated, and long process, BUT THERE IS A PROCESS. We have been referred to a therapist that does family meetings so that the children are surrounded by their siblings and their family and are in a familiar environment. My wife has met with him and explained our children and their behaviors and he was intrigued by the case and thinks that he can help us get on a path to success. This therapist is one of the only ones in my area that can do this work, so if this doesn’t help us, we are going to have to travel quite some distance to get the help we need. We are in a holding pattern now to see when we will see him and get the process started, but we are highly optimistic. We have been given TONS of literature and books to read about this field and we are educating ourselves, so that we can too understand the process.
I have been seeing a new therapist and Psychiatrist for several months now, and I can honestly say this is the best I have (mentally) felt in months, if not years. I mean, I have finger nails. I have bitten and gnawed at my finger nails due to nervousness/anxiety for as long as I can remember. I think the last time I had finger nails was 15 years ago. They think my issues all stem from PTSD from a car accident I had several years ago (coupled with the fact that I’m naturally anxious). Things have been going awesome in the regard. I’m not lethargic all day long. I like spending time with my kids. I have a normal sleep pattern again, and most importantly, I can be there for my family when they need me. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but I can see the tree-line.
Part of the success from up above is due to my therapist recommending I get out of my house more. My office is in the basement of my house and has no natural sunlight coming in and they say that is very bad for you, emotionally/mentally. I figured the best way to ensure that I do it, was to get a part time job, so I applied at the local grocery store and was hired within a week or so. They have trained me in every part of the store (due to me understanding their software, scanners, and shipment processes due to past careers), and I am already making a name for myself there. They like me, they are nice people to work with, and it’s not a terribly difficult job to do. It’s mildly annoying because it’s boring, and my brain wants to think, but it’s helping my health, and that is more important, any day.
Moving onto GSN. We decided to drop our Altis Life server and our TeamSpeak server. The dropping of Altis was not something we took lightly, but was something that had to happen to keep the home feel that GSN has brought to its members, as well as the close knit community to go with it. Altis was the poison in the water supply for GSN and we had to cut it off. With it, went several admins, staff, and community members, but we are still kicking and now are back to about the size and staff we want to be at. You can read the long drawn out posts about “Shutting Down of Altis“, as well as “What we did with our Altis files” if you want the full details and reasoning behind everything we do. We try to be as transparent as possible. We chose to use Discord over TeamSpeak due to it having a plethora of features that TeamSpeak lacks, and lets face it, TeamSpeak hasn’t really changed in like 15 years. It’s about time we get a new solution that can come in and modernize this space. Discord has the ability to do that and I am excited to see where it goes from here. Their dev team is really responsive and they have been hard at work cranking out bug fixes and features fairly quickly.
Oh, ARMACon, how I have let thee get put on the back burner for so long (thanks Altis Life)….. No longer! ARMACon will become my new focus in my spare time now and will finally get that train rolling in the right direction. There is a TON of work that needs done to it before it’s ready for the public to use, but I hope to change that in the next couple of weeks, so be on the lookout for that. I will also be working on merging Esseker and A3Wasteland to make a custom map for GSN to host as well, but that shouldn’t take me too long, but I have sworn off ANY ARMA 3 coding for at least two weeks to give myself a break.
Last but not least, I am finally going to re-enroll in my online classes to get my bachelors degree again. I am only a few credits away from getting it, but life got in the way before and I had to put it on hold. Now that I am working for myself, I should be able to find time to get the classes completed and get my bachelors finally. I am excited for that to start so that I can get one more check-box off my list.
As I did last time, on minor victory as well, I officially own my Jeep. As of last month it is paid in full and I have the title. Woohoo!
I think that about does it for now. Thanks for reading.
If you are down, just think of your life and why you put one foot in front of the next. Do not let the actions of your past dictate the decisions of your future. Keep your head held high and keep on chugging on. There will be an end to that tunnel, and you will make it there. You just have to believe.
Oh, where to begin. Since last personal post (skipping the hating on ViLayer), things really haven’t gotten much better in many aspects. Let’s just dive right in, shall we? I think we will start small and go from there. Then we will throw in some minor victories as well.
As many (or some) of you know, I purchased a new keyboard and mouse because I had a run-in of the liquid type with my old ones. I purchased a Ryos MK Pro keyboard and a Kone XTD Laser mouse. I was super pumped because I had my eyes on the MK Pro for quite some time and the mouse I was trying just to give it a whirl. When I first got the products, I was in LOVE. They are rock solid, well built, and the software that comes to manage, manipulate, and program them is actually really well done. I was very excited that this purchase had worked out so well. Well, 3 months in and they have both shown a defect in some way and I am in the process of fighting with their support to replace them. I opened a support ticket to them for the mouse and they got back to me in 2 days. I find that to be a little too long, but I can let it go. They e-mailed a few times to make sure I wasn’t being stupid and there was an issue (the issue is that a button just flat out stopped working). They offered to RMA the product and replace it (with no option for advanced replacement, I might add – which I was mildly upset at, but oh well). The VERY NEXT DAY my keyboard starts to have an LED not light up (it’s a per key illumination keyboard). While not a big deal, I paid a lot of money for these things and they should work as intended. I opened a support ticket and waited 5 days with no reply. I decided to tweet at them, and after one more day they replied asking for my e-mail address so they could find it. After that, they admitted that they couldn’t find my support request and that I needed to submit another one. At this point, I’m starting to get a little frustrated, but I want to LOVE these products so bad that I’m going to let it go. I open another support ticket to them and tweet at them with a screenshot confirming I did. I got a reply back 2 days later again and they asked for my info so they can open the RMA process. I gave them that info 5 days ago and I still don’t have an RMA slip or any type of reply, AGAIN. I’m running out of patience here.
Next, a couple of the long term opportunities fell through and I didn’t get them (I’m thinking because of my last manager whispering in their ear a little too heavy), but things are still moving along on the consulting and side job front. I’m bringing in money to pay the bills and feed the family and things are great for that. The issue is that I’m not fantastic with time management all the time, so it’s something that I have to really work at, but things are going well and I’m learning and growing as I go. There are a couple of new opportunities on the radar as well that I just started the interviewing process for, so we will see where they take us. Here’s hoping!
Next, my oldest son plays minecraft a lot and enjoys doing so. He plays the Pokemon mod that is fairly popular on it. He earned 20 dollars for his birthday or something (I don’t really remember what for) and he wanted me to purchase him some in-game items. I agreed and logged him in and all that so that he could purchase the items. After he was done, I was sure to log him out and make sure it didn’t keep me logged in so that he couldn’t bill me more without my permission (which he has done in the past). Well, I neglected to think about the password manager. He figured out how to use it and by the time I caught him (by seeing the paypal e-mails), he had amassed $416 dollars in virtual Pokemon items on a server. I don’t think I’ve ever yelled at my child so bad in my life. We are making him “work” around the house at a rate of minimum wage to pay it off (even though I called Paypal and disputed the charges saying they weren’t authorized and got my money back). I think it’s important that he learns that money comes from work, not from the heavens magically.
Next, let’s move onto some of the GSN related stuff that has been causing me some stress as well. Usually working on GSN material and admining the stuff over there is a stress relief and helps me calm down. It’s still work to most people, but for me it helps and I enjoy doing it. That is until Bohemia Interactive decided that they didn’t like the way that we were running our server and told us that if we didn’t change it immediately, they would pursue legal actions. I went back and forth about what they were fighting for was none of their concern and they needed to mind their own business and that we would oblige by their rules, but anything else was our decision and not theirs. I eventually decided that it was better for our community to knuckle under and let them “win”. My logic behind this was that I wanted to respect the ARMA community and not shit on anyone. I have ZERO respect for BI now (not that I had much before), but I still want GSN to have a positive note in the ARMA community since that is where we primarily reside right now. We reached and agreement with them and are working on other means of funding our operations and opening our donator ranks to GSN wide perks, and not just tied to a particular game. This will most likely be better for us anyway.
Next, my two youngest boys decided that it would be hilarious to throw things at their walls until there was hold all through them (and these were exterior walls). After they had the holds there, they thought it would be even more fun to fill up water balloons and throw them in said holes. My oldest son comes down to my office and says “There is water leaking from the roof on the front porch, come quick”. Now, you wouldn’t know this, but there is absolutely ZERO plumbing in the front of my house, so what the hell was causing this water was unbeknownst to me at the time and was I in for a surprise when I found it. So of course, I had to tear out all the drywall and insulation and replace it so that it didn’t mold, so my boys room has <some> walls right now…..
Next, I’m seeing a new doctor to try to figure out why my brain is so difficult to work with. Seriously though, I’m still having a ton of anxiety and panic issues that are also causing turmoil in my stomach as well. He is optimistic that we will be able to find a solution that works for me, and didn’t want my past history from my doctors because he believes in starting from scratch, which I think I am in agreement with. The largest issue is the medicine he wants to try is $390 for 30 pills….. Who can afford that? I know I can’t. Especially right now. We are working on a way to get the funding for it, and they are willing to provide me samples for a month or two (while we make sure the medicine even works), so we will see where that takes us.
This last week has been a fun one because my dryer decided that it didn’t want to dry anymore. It still tumbles and turns on, but never warms up. The high heat fuse is shot, or the element is gone. I have a guy coming to look at it to see if we can figure out what the issue is without having to spend too much money on getting it fixed. A house of 6 without a dryer is quite the task to complete. I have taken rope that I have and run clothes lines all over the house and we just have clothes drying freely everywhere. Makes for a fun trip from room to room.
Next, let’s move to last week. My wife is driving my car (yes – the same car that had $7K damage done to it by a pizza driver) was hit by lightening (and yes, while she was moving). The HUD lit up like a Christmas tree, but the car did keep moving. She called me frantic, asking what to do and I calmed her down and assured here that there was likely no immediate damage (I figured it took out the battery, alternator, or both), but that she would make it home just fine. Sure enough, I was right. Two days later, as I’m driving it down the road, I notice that it goes into “low power mode”, which <apparently> was someones intelligent idea to make the car run as long as possible by turning off features of the car. Even safety features. So, here I am driving down a windy road and I lose traction control, power steering, radio, window controls, anti-lock brakes, and air bags (or so it told me). I did manage to make it off the hill and to the mechanic and by the time I got it there, the battery was down to 7.1 volts….. They have looked at it and as I suspected it DID take out the alternator, which is a whopping $670.60 for the part and labor. Additionally, they had for the part to come in before they can test anything else since they need it to test the ECM, and other components since cars actually “talk” now rather than just sending an on or off signal to various parts. If the ECM is shot, we are looking at closer to $2k in damage. My insurance WILL cover it, but only under my comprehensive, which currently has a $1K deductible. I guess we will see on Tuesday, which way we go, but the crap just keeps on getting piled…..
I’ve been leaning pretty heavily on music to help me through these times (as most do). I found myself listening to this song the other day and I think it describe my feelings perfectly.
The lyrics are spot on and I love the way the video is done. The color is coming back as he moves through it. Right now, my world is very black and white, and I’m just waiting for the day that it starts to be seen in color again.
Now, to the small victories. Due to my current situation, I was able to get some medical assistance that has GREATLY reduced the cost of me seeing the doctors (of which I was paying out of pocket for), and is helping with prescriptions (but not the one I need, unfortunately). Additionally, my oldest has started seeing a new therapist since his last one went crazy, and I think we found a GREAT one here. I feel that we got more accomplished in a single session with him, than we did in 5 years of the old one. He recognized that my wife and I have a lot of experience in dealing with these types of children and gave us a lot of tips and ideas to use. He also gave us some names and books to read to which my wife has been reading and they have been truly eye opening. They are spot on when it comes to my kids behaviors and EVERYONE the kids have been to see before this was wrong and not even close. We are very excited to have made this transition and look forward to seeing this grow.
I think that about takes care of the last couple of months. Being a religious individual, I truly believe that I will come out on top of this battle and that I am being put through this to make me a stronger human being. “What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger”. I WILL be victorious over all of these negative aspects in my life and I will come out on the other side and be able to look back and laugh. That day will come. I KNOW it will. It’s just hard to see it that way all the time, but I’m trying.
To those that generally read my blog posts over the last couple years (which isn’t a ton of posts since I don’t post much, but hope to start doing more regularly) You would be familiar with my opinions and feelings towards Hypernia Gamerservers as well as HostDime/Surpass web servers. Both of these companies have shown time and time again that they can’t handle the customers they have and don’t usually know what they are doing.
Today, we have another company to add to that list. ViLayer. While I think I still hold them to a higher level of respect than Hypernia (which isn’t hard to do), this company clearly has SEVERAL issues in how it operates its servers and its support infrastructure. As I have mentioned in my other posts, when you have a product or service to sell, you need to be able to support it. 9 times out of 10, the support you provide will make or break your relationship with a customer. You can have a mediocre product, but as long as your support kicks ass, the customer will continue to come back for it and continue to use your services, because you have shown that they matter and that you care. The issue with ViLayer is that they have less than mediocre services, as well as absolutely garbage customer support. Let’s dive in, shall we?
1.) Let’s take a look at their control panels which are hosted on different “layers” than their game server so that when ones goes down, the whole system isn’t effected. More often then not, we log into a system that simply says “Status: Uknown”. This is as much information as we can get. There is absolutely no where in the control panel that we can go to help determine if anything has happened or has caused an issue. Additionally, there is nothing we can do to fix it. Since we at GSN Gaming have AMPLE admin experience and typically manage our own servers, this is frustrating to us and makes it so that we are helpless. This issue was last seen yesterday AND today again…. Yea – two days in a row. We are at OVER 15 hours of downtime in two days, and are still fighting to get adequate support.
2.) When we see the issue above we open a “high priority” help ticket to the support staff. It always takes a MINIMUM of 5 hours to get a response from these guys and that is on a good day. We have gone 12+ and even up to 24 hours without an initial reply and when we do get a reply, it’s a trivial, broad, and unacceptable reply such as:
Very sorry about this the server is down due to a large DDOS we could offer to move you to a more protected location if you wanted? If you have any other queries or issues don’t hesitate to get in touch.
So, it took you 5 hours to realize the box was under attack and let us know about it? Your solution is to move the box somewhere else rather than to mitigate the attacks or implement null routing of large DDoS attacks? Hysterical…. That was today’s reply, let’s take a look at yesterdays:
I’m sorry that you are having problems with your Server, I have informed our server staff who will be checking the node and hope to have it resolved shortly. The server may have to be restarted to get this working and online.
We are sorry for any inconvenience caused and hope to have this resolved as soon as possible, if you have any further problems or find the Server is not up in 24 hours time please reply back on this ticket so we can can investigate further.
As for the delays,
When you create a support ticket, this ticket is added to our support ticket queue.
Each ticket has a time stamp and we go off of these timestamps to work with the oldest ticket first.
Thus allowing us to work with tickets in the order we receive them.
When a client submits a ticket and then creates a multiple tickets, multiple responses, or “bumps” the ticket before staff has a chance to respond, this actually pushes the ticket the end of our ticket queue.
This causes delays in us responding to tickets and can cause clients to wait over 24 hours for a response.
We ask that you please allow support to respond to your ticket before creating a new ticket or making a response. This will prevent any delays and will allow us to respond in a timely manner.
If you have any other queries or issues don’t hesitate to get in touch.
So, it took you 10.5 hours to give us a reply about our server which is completely offline for unknown reasons, and your excuse is that IT IS OUR FAULT that we bumped the ticket? Come on…. At least try to come up with something a little more intelligent. Now, don’t get me wrong, being in support management and a senior level support engineer for the largest software companies in the world, I understand the concept of bumping tickets, but 5 hours is MORE than ample time to respond to a help ticket, especially high priority ones. If it’s not, you need to hire more staff…..
4.)The support staff has absolutely no idea what they are doing and what the end issue is. They are merely a liaison between the customer and the people that “know what they are doing”. (I put that in quotes, because I can’t be confident that they know anything either). The replies we get from them, when they finally come, offer little to know explanation as well as no remorse, sympathy, or guidance on how the issue can be addressed next time. Most times, it just comes back on and they don’t offer the explanation. In the case of the ticket yesterday, I specifically asked for the reason for the down time, and their response was to close the ticket out. That’s right, without saying a damn word or replying to my question, the closed the ticket. I mean wow….. How do these companies stay in business?
5.) Their SLA is laughably tight enough to ensure that you can’t hold them accountable for anything and is worded in a way that makes NOTHING their fault. They are not obligated to assist or support you in any way for just about anything. Additionally, unlike most SLA’s, there are no ETA’s on support replies and how long support replies should take. I can only assume this is because they are understaffed and can’t guarantee a time, which is asinine.
6.) They don’t know when they are having a DDoS attack or not. If the down time is due to a DDoS attack, you should be able top determine that instantly and handle it effectively. There is no science to prevent and mitigate DDoS attacks that is 100% effective and I get that (having a BS in Computer Systems and Network Security), but you CAN make it so that other customers aren’t effected quite easily by null-routing the IP That is under attack, and by not putting so many games servers on the same IP’s. Most hosts worth a grain of salt will actually PRE-EMPTIVELY report DDoS attacks to you to let you know that you will see down time. In fact, NFO usually knows, has an update about it, and a plan in place by the time I can even open a ticket. If I still do open a ticket, I get a reply within 5-10 minutes tops. Additionally, they make sure we are good and follow up after the attack is completed and subsided.
That all being said, at the end of the day we use ViLayer because they are one of the “approved” hosts to host the KOTH mission for ARMA 3. It was the first one we tried and our server has a great deal of popularity because we have a huge team of diligent admins, so we don’t want to switch to another host.
In summation, if you want a server that might work some of the time and you can’t get any support, than ViLayer is the host for you. If you want server that will work and when they don’t work you get the best support in the industry, go with NFO Servers. It won’t be a decision you regret.
So, as you might remember from my last post, I started this year off to a bang. I mean, technically, December 25th isn’t this year, but close enough to couple it in with it so I’m going to go ahead and do that. Losing my Aunt on Christmas morning has taken a HUGE toll on that side of my family. She was truly the glue that held that side of the family together. That includes my own father and my brother. I don’t hardly ever talk to them any more because they just doesn’t do much of anything or with anyone. We all just kinda co-exist without really being a family all because we are short one person. We could always count on her to come up with something to do to make sure we got together as a family several times per year, including birthdays, anniversaries, and more. We haven’t had a single one this year. It’s been a rough ride so far, but life goes on and she is where she has longed to be, so it is bitter sweet. Still missed, and never forgotten.
As I touched on in my last post as well, I was let go/walked away from IBM at the very beginning of January and things have been a roller coaster since, although not entirely job related. I am still currently unemployed (officially), but I am making money doing free-lance work, so it’s good for now but it’s a little more stressful on that front since it doesn’t include insurance and all that stuff that comes with salaried employment. I still feel like that was the correct decision and if I could go back, I wouldn’t have waited as long as I did. Man was that place draining the life out of me. My kids and wife both notice a SIGNIFICANT improvement in my moral and typical day to day attitude so that one was also bitter sweet, because I’m doing better personally, but funds are tight and things are crumbling down around me.
Fast forward to February 5th. MY 2012 Chevy Cruze was hit while parked next to my house by a pizza delivery driver that didn’t have insurance, couldn’t prove she owned the car, did know what a registration was, and the tags one it were for a different car. She somehow managed to do just over 7,000 (yes, that’s seven THOUSAND) dollars in damage to my car and I don’t have full uninsured motorist on my coverage so for me to get it fixed through them, it’s going to cost me my deductible which is like 1k, not to mention it will make my insurance premium go up. My theory here was to go after the pizza shop (it’s a mom and pop shop), since they should have checked that their driver had insurance before they were allowed to drive for them. They hit me on the clock, while making a delivery, so I think that holds them responsible. I can get lawyers to agree with me, but none that will actually take the case (probably because it’s not worth enough money). Needless to say, it’s been rough having a family of 6 with a single vehicle. We are struggling to make it work, but it’s difficult.
To add to that, I’m having some stomach issues that won’t allow me to leave the house for too much in a single sitting. As soon as I get too far away from home, I get extremely nauseated and have sorts of panic about it. I am seeking assistance in trying to get it under control, but it’s difficult to be so helpless sometimes. How can I be a father and a husband if I can barely get out of my house? I have faith that I will make it out of this, it’s just hard to bear with right now.
Let’s put some more on top, and say that the kids therapist (which has been helping them for over 5 years) finally decided that she wants to blame all of my adopted kids behavior issues on me and my wife….. She literally told us that she was going to call CPS because they are not fit to be in our household. My wife (being an ex-caseworker), went ahead and called CPS before she did and they laughed. This was a relief to know that we were right, but we still have to deal with it and make sure our house is in tip top shape. They tend to target foster parents and adopted parents so we don’t want to give them any ammo. We are currently looking for new help for them to get them the help they need.
Next, let’s skip to last week where I was in a fender bender that was completely my fault. It wasn’t a huge deal as no one was hurt and I actually knew the people I hit, but it’s just another straw of hay on the back…..
To top it all off, everything around me has it out for me. Just in the last month I have had to replace/repair the stove, dryer, garbage disposal, computer mouse and keyboard, as well as a tire on my actively working vehicle.
On a positive note, I have a couple of job opportunities that are in the same area that I Was in before that are paying SIGNIFICANTLY more than I was before. To top that off they are understanding that I will be a remote employee for the first couple months while I try to figure out this whole traveling thing and even after that, they only want me to travel about 4 hours away (by train) ones every 3 months. They are going to give me insurance, 3 weeks paid vacation and a huge raise over what I was doing before. I have been hoping and praying non-stop for this job to come through, because this could be the thing we need to start getting our lives on track and to stop feeling like we are failing at every turn. I need something to go right, and I need it to happen soon. I’m getting to my wits end.
So, the last couple months of work have not been easy to deal with. I have had to overcome a lot of unjustified negative criticism. It has been a difficult ride and has not been one that I would look forward to ever going through again. I was getting positive feedback from everyone except my new direct manager, and her opinion is the only one that matters. They had HR eating our of their hand as well, so there was no one that I could turn to for assistance. I had considered filing a claim with the labor advisory board, but I figured it’s just not worth the effort. I hope me leaving provides a wake up call and the rest of my team members don’t have to deal with what I had to.
The decision to walk away from IBM was a difficult one to make as I needed to make sure I can provide for my family and ensure that we have everything we need. After many discussions with my wife and crunching numbers, we decided that it was possible for me to do so and that we would let the fate of it rely on my new reports willingness to assist me in getting “better” in her eyes. I sent a very thought out and detailed email about what I was confused on, how I needed assistance in understanding what her thoughts on my shortcomings were, as well as how I need some guidance on how to fix the things she thinks are wrong. This e-mail went completely un-acknowledged for over two weeks. This was an indication to me that this process was a one way street and that no matter what I did, I would be left without a job pretty soon and that I should walk away with anything I could. It’s a shame, because I truly loved what I was doing at IBM.
So, fast forward to today. I thought I was going to be stressed about not having an income, and not being able to rely on my job, but contrary to that, I feel AMAZING. From the moment that I decided to walk away, I felt an immediate and overwhelming relief on my entire body. I am genuinely happier, less stressed, and more importantly, able to be the man I want to be for my family instead of worrying about every little thing I do being under unjustified scrutiny. This has probably been the best decision that I have made to date, and I truly was dreading this day. Man, was I wrong. The stress from my situation was literally killing me, and my health has improved tremendously in just the week and half I have been without a job.
Furthermore, I have several side jobs lined up in the work that will actually pay me more than I was making before. I get to control when I work, and where, as well as be with my family any time I want without the worry of having to work on a critical issue.
Finally, on a serious note, I would like to take this opportunity to send a blessing, prayer, and dedication to my Aunt Georgia. This woman was a tremendous part of my life and is largely responsible for me being the man I am today. She was always a second mother to me and I could rely on her for anything. She pushed me more than any other family member to get me on the right path of education, religion, and morality in general. I lost her to the open arms of Jesus on Christmas morning. It was an odd time to have, but since she was a devout christian, I know that she would not have had it happen any other way, and I know she is where she belongs and has long yearned to be.
I dedicate my work, time, and this post to your memory Georgia. You will be missed! <3
Whoa! Has it really been months again? I keep forgetting this blog is even here. Ha! I have been maintaining my busy-ness as always and am still working on a ton of things that I hope to be pushing through soon. Many of these are the same that I have posted about before, so they will just be updates from the last time.
So, first off Christmas approaches. This is always a crazy time of year with the four kids. They create both amazing and stressful moments that take a lot of effort and work to get right. We have been going everywhere and buying entire department stores worth of stuff (or so it feels like at times). We are looking forward to it and we are starting to wind down and come to an end. Most of the craziness is past and now we can start to get ready to enjoy it.
Altis Life is still staying a strong server in the GSNGaming listing of servers. Its population has died down a bit since launch, but we still hold a decent amount of users that keep coming back due to the open administration and maturity that GSN has come to expect on its servers. We have a lot of great people playing on it now and providing some great role-play. We have several members of the community also providing some great feature requests as well as helping to squash out all the bugs that get so easily created when working with the ARMA engine. The scripting and designing of ARMA is some of the “strangest” that I have had to work with in my personal and professional career. It’s starting to sink in and I can definitely do it much quicker now than I could before, but it still has some nuances that are hard to overcome.
GSN has been running a KOTH server that is also quite popular among our community members. This one is hosted by Vilayer, and I can easily tell you that this will be the last server we get from them. Their services are flakey at best, and their support is second to everyone. It takes 24+ hours, pokes, and tweets, to get them to even reply to the ticket… Never again.
ARMACon is making ever so slow progress. It is happening, just not nearly at the rate that I had hoped it would, but a part of this blame lies on my work at IBM taking up a ton of my time. It is slowly coming along and I have a couple people that I have pushed a version to and they reported some bugs, which I have not gone back to fix yet. Hopefully the New Year will bring some new development on it. Heres hoping!
I have been putting a ton of time into my IBM work as of late. More so than I ever have before. What has it gotten me? Nothing. In fact, they seem to think I’ve been doing less which was a real blow to the stomach. I mean, I have put the cases and their customers ahead of my own health and appointments at times, and the thanks is to blindly think I do nothing. I mean, come on. We will see how the next month goes, but I have never been more dissatisfied in a position before. It’s a real shame honestly, I actually really like what I do. Well, I did….
Lastly, Paronicon seems to have gotten a bump in usage and interest based on posts to our forums and the traffic to the site. Not sure where it came from or why, but it has poked me to maybe push one more release of it out before I give it up for good. Dedicated and managed servers are a thing of the past now, and no new game is ever going to give them to us, so it’s of no use to anyone any more. ARMACon will be the new focus of that time.
Until next time. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
So, the last time I wrote, I talked about how ARMA III was taking up a good bit of my time and over at GSNGaming we have shifted our efforts over to it fully. We have dropped support for the battlefield series for the time being since the game is just so broken. This sucks, because we have so many members that are AWESOME to play it with, but we were paying a lot of money to have servers that just constantly sit empty, so this was the clear decision.
We searched around for some of the best Altis Life servers around and started seeing what people wanted and liked. We have experience being admins of many servers, and a lot of people are just looking for good admins that don’t abuse their power. We have that taken care of because those are the beliefs that GSN is built on.
Almost exactly a month ago, we launched our initial version of Altis Life. We took the core mod and made some tweaks and enhancements to it to fit our needs and to give it a little bit of custom flair. Things have been going very well with it and we have been pushing out as many bug fixes and features as possible. We also built auto-admin tools around it to make sure our admins can all manage the server and the players effectively and efficiently. We have a custom support system built around it as well. We also automated the entire donation process. There is no manual intervention to donate and then get your donator perks. It all happens automatically and instantaneously. In just a months time, we have taken the rank of our server from ~700 (where you start out nowadays), to 44th in the world, which it currently sits at the time of this post. You can check out the details of our server and you can check out the changelog. We have acquired a pretty good following so far and are looking forward to adding more features in the future. We might even look into opening another server or two. Who knows.
Next up we have ArmaCon. The last post said a week or two until the BETA, but that clearly hasn’t happened. I am being too damn picky about the tool and am afraid to launch it with too many bugs. The good news is that it is coming along nicely and the feature set keeps growing. I welcome any feedback that you have for it in any way possible. Feel free to reach out and let me know. It will be out for people to use soon enough. I can assure you, the wait will be well worth it. Until next time, frag on!
Just in case that wasn’t obvious, it’s Arma III (note how there are three of them in the title – I’m so clever….). Anywho, I have been getting back into the swing of Arma III and it has been taking a lot of my spare time recently. All of us over at GSNGaming have been spending a lot of time playing Wasteland and Altis life.
Wasteland has a very simple objective. Kill people and survive. It’s a modified version of TDM, honestly. The only difference is that there are 3 factions. BluFor and OpFor are both team based, while independent is a FFA slot. You can kill any player you want when you are Independent. While on BluFor and OpFor your goal is to work together as a team to take out the other team and the independents along the way. We have our very own Wasteland server that we usually play on that has been modified a bit to our liking. It has more weapons available and it tuned to give you some good fire fights.
Altis is a “life mod” in the sense that its a role playing game that takes on the aspects of daily living. You need to earn money to buy stuff, which you can then use to make more money, become a rebel and kill cops, or just do some drug trafficking. There are some servers out there that are doing really well with this mod, but many of them are suffering from childish admins, bad cops, or just poor management. After trying many of them out there, we have decided to try to run one ourselves. With our mature admins and our custom in-house admin tools, I think we can really make some amazing life servers. We are working on the admin tools, and the automation of the donators, whitelisting, and banning right now. We are going to be starting with a vanilla mod and then build out from there. We want to take every precaution we can to ensure that we keep it as efficient and fast as possible.
Next up, we have ArmaCon. Since all Call of Duty games now suck, and aren’t providing hostable dedicated server support and thus defeating the purpose of working on Paronicon, I am finally shifting my efforts over. ArmaCon is coming along nicely and is about a week or so out from having a BETA-able version for people to work with. You can keep track of the status updates on the gsn forums, or on twitter. We are looking for BETA testers to help make it the best tool we can, so please let me know if you want to see anything or have any feedback. It is all welcome.