GameStop, Nvidia, and Activision Stock Stuff

It still feels weird, watching various gaming and tech companies rise and fall via share price. I’ve actually gone so far as to create an account over at marketwatch.com this morning, where I’m slowly accumulating a list of companies I feel like monitoring.

This came about because both GameStop and Nvidia are in my headlines this morning for taking some manner of fall or another. According to my little watchlist ol’ Activision Blizzard is in the club too.

GameStop’s, though, is the most severe. They seem to have stopped looking for a buyer for the business and as a result their stock price is down somewhere around 25% overnight. It’s sad to watch, in a way, as I have some fairly fond memories of using GameStop, say, around 2012. We’ll see though, it’s not like they’ve gone out of business just yet. Maybe they’ll get their hands on a CEO and find some way to secure their market.

Nvidia seems like less of an issue to me. Their stock is down due to lower than expected sales during the holiday season. I get it, but the whole shares dropping because we made less than expected is a general pet peeve. Their 2018 Gross and Net Income are both up year over year since 2014. Like, a lot. Net income in 2014 was 630M and 2018 was 3B, with a B. Of course, people are people, I guess. It does look like 2018 over was a very flat year for them, quarter to quarter not much has changed. Makes sense though, I’ve been trying to delay major computer upgrades hoping prices would come back down. Maybe this year will be the year.

That’s another thing though. See, everyone talks about Q4 sales, holiday sales, and I get it, traditionally a lot of product moves during that time period. As a consumer, though, the holidays aren’t where it’s at for me. Yeah, some extra spending happens, but I simply don’t spend what some of my coworkers do on the holidays.

Maybe that’s just me though. In a wonderful show of shareholder confidence, AMD, the company I usually buy from, is also down due to Nvidia’s report. Neither case is really a big deal, I don’t think. Especially not compared to the drop they both experienced back in September.

Activision Blizzard is also down a little bit because an analyst changed their opinion of the stock from “outperform” to “perform.” So, y’know, whatever.

Unfortunately this sort of odd analysis doesn’t apply to everyone I watch. Both Valve and Epic Games are private, which means none of these numbers are collected in a nice handy place for me to look at. Apparently Koch Media has decided that Metro Exodus will be an Epic Games exclusive for it’s first year. I’m sure some money changed hands, as it seems to be doing a lot lately with Epic Games. I’m assuming that’s mostly Fortnite money being used to launch the EG Store.

I’ve seen people criticizing the EG Store for it’s use of exclusives as well. I’m admittedly not a fan of having a bunch of exclusive storefronts, and have expressed sentiments against them in the past. Valve needs some competition though, and this may in fact be required to establish themselves. Not that I think they will stop when they’ve done so.

On that note, I’m going to fade back into the swirling thoughts of capitalists and proletariats from which I came and get some “real” work done. Y’all take care.

Not A Warframe Post

I mean, all I did was grind faction standing. Rank 4 of 5, seven days of max to finish.

In other news, my brother is working on spinning up a YouTube and Twitch channel that would feature primarily him but also include me. I’ll make sure to have a post about it once it’s fully operational.

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Also, my new Pi Zero boards finally arrived. I knew they were small, but man are they small! That’s it laying on a gift card. It’s so… tiny.

Honestly I’ll most likely switch my Retropie install over to the Zero and get my 3 back so I can resume working with Python. I’ve been letting the kids play old SNES titles on it. I have a massive library of games in the basement by my hardware is a little worse for wear these days. Ironically it’s my youngest who has taken to these games more than the others, he was literally jumping up and down playing Super Mario World last night.

My wife also got her first bad review from someone who bought rabbits. People are weird sometimes. She continually insisted that she got ripped off, for reasons that had been communicated to her, on a very large purchase that my wife had very steeply discounted. We’re talking 75-80% off range. We’ve sold individual rabbits for what she paid for eight.

Either way, my coworker isn’t here so I’m pulling double duty and need to go get on it.

Y’all stay safe and if you’re eatin’ turkey tomorrow good luck.

Raspberry Pi, Python, and the New WordPress Editor

I felt like I needed to  break up this flow of gaming related stuff with something a little different.

I was recently gifted with a Raspberry Pi 3 kit.For anyone not familiar with it, it’s essentially a small circuit board slightly bigger than a typical credit card or ID card. It’s a really tiny PC that runs off of a microSD card and 5v power supply. They’re a sort of hobbyist control board for wide variety of things due to the reasonable power of the cpu and it’s fairly low cost. This little critter packs a quad core 64bit 1.2 GHz CPU among many other things.

This particular model also has onboard Wi-Fi and onboard Bluetooth, something my model 2 didn’t have. It costs a whole $35 USD, aproximately 31 Euro, though I looked at some of the UK retailers and it looked like it was running around 37 Euro in price.

It typically runs on some form of linux OS, with Raspbian being among the most common. I’m personally not super familiar with linux, but it’s at least usable. The Pi part of it’s name comes from the fact that it’s expected/default programming language is Python.

Now, I’ve done my fair share of coding, my rather palty AAS degree is just that , with an additional certificate in Java. Most of my recent practical application is Visual Basic, both standalone and Excel integrated. I don’t really do it full time though, just the odd project here and there.

Python, on the other hand, is a different kind of beast. It’s mostly a syntax thing. It’s got a few significant differences from what i’m used to. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it before to long though.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with it at the moment. I’ve got a few ideas but I’m currently using it as a learning device. I’ll probably pick up a couple of the much smaller and reduced Pi Zero units soon, as they’re only $5-10 each. At that point I’d be using the Pi 3 for R&D and moving to the Zero for a “deployment” style test. If all else fails I’ll have a few interesting toys laying around and still have spent less than I typically do on a game.

I’m also writing this with the rather infuriating new WordPress editor. I don’t know if it will have a significant impact on how the end result looks, but it really needs some changes or at least the ability to turn some things off. Currently my largest problem is that when I backspace a word, it jumps over the space and places my cursor at the end of the previous word. This leads to constantly editing word jumbles likethis. I backspaced to the beginning of the word for a reason. I fail to see what function this serves. It’s apparently a bug and I’m not the first to report it either.

Otherwise I think I like the basic idea. We’ll see if I still feel that way going forward.

Y’all stay safe out there.

Thrustmaster T.16000M

All this overtime I’ve been doing finally produced something of value to me. I’ve been eyeballing a throttle/stick combo for a while. At $112USD, around 99Eur, this is about the least expensive “good” one I’ve seen. The Saitek X52 is the most common competitor but it’s somewhat more expensive.

Condition-wise this one was new in box. Yeah, that top left box corner was a little crushed, but if that was enough to damage this item then I’d have a lot to say about Thrustmaster’s packaging. We actually drop test our packaging where I work and I assume most manufacturers do the same.

Unboxing and setup was extraordinarily easy, such is the way of peripherals now. Just plug it in, let Windows sort it out, then get going. I did install the manufacturer’s software as well, I just haven’t needed it yet.

Rebinding all my controls for Elite was a small nightmare, but I think I’ve got it sorted. I have way more buttons than I can actually reach or use effectively, but I’ve got everything I need and after several hours of play started getting used to it.

I did manage to launch the first time with both roll inverted and pitch not, which was frustrating and amusing to use, but that was a quick and easy fix.

As it stands right now my main complaints are relying on the rubber feet to hold them still during use is probably not the best idea. I kept having issues with both of them drifting during use. The do, however, come with threaded holes to mount them with, I simply have nothing to mount them to, at the moment.

I especially struggled with the throttle. After using it for several hours what started as nice fluid movement quickly became halting jerks as applying enough force get it moving resulted in a very sudden and quick shift. The recommended fixes I’ve seen are tension adjustment and application of dialectric grease to the rails. The rails are super easy to reach from the top, so I’ll likely grab some grease at some point, but I’ll start by doing a tension adjustment this afternoon and see if that loosens it up enough to get back to fluid movement.

One of the largest differences between this and my previous flight stick is that my throttle doesn’t have a detent in it. Before I used a “center throttle is 0” method, where forward of center was forward thrust and back of center was reverse thrust. Now I’m using all the way back is 0 thrust and big left toggle axis on the back toggles reverse on/off. Having a quick and easy way to slam my ship into “park” makes docking so much easier. I can just… stop… on command, a feature I never knew I wanted.

I am also enjoying the rather physical nature of the separate throttle. It’s weirdly satisfying to push that thing all the way forward. Watching me dock was extremely amusing though. For the first few hours I was trying to make the small movements I’m used to on a little slider. The adjustments I’m used to are much larger movements on the new throttle.

All in all, I like it. It’s a nice step up form the inexpensive little all-in-one sticks I’ve used up till now.

I’ve got work to go do, so y’all take care, and remember to make sure your joystick axes are properly inverted, or not.

Technical Difficulties

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This just hasn’t been a good week for my computer. I came home earlier this week to find my programmable button mouse non-functional. It wasn’t that old, so I don’t know if it just gave up the ghost or if the kids/critters damaged it and I don’t reckon it matters really because the truth isn’t going to alter the fact that it’s not working.

So I grabbed an old gaming mouse I had set to the side because the scroll wheel no longer worked properly. It’s mildly annoying to use, but it works, right?

Then thursday night I finally managed to get all three(!) of us on GW2 at the same time. It was the first time we’d all been on and I had really wanted to get a screenshot of all of us. That was unfortunately not meant to be, it seems. Shortly after getting on and headed towards Kessex Hills to grind some leather my power flickered from an ongoing storm and this turns off the computer.

Now, I love my computer, but it doesn’t have an SSD and it hasn’t been wiped in a long time, so starting it up and getting everything rolling takes a good 5-10 minutes at least.

I eventually managed to get back in and we wandered around while my brother was afk and did some events, and my dang computer locked up. Honestly I think it’s a video driver issue, it’s really rare but it happens sometimes. I noticed a “new drivers available” notification during the previous restart so, yeah.

Anyway, by the time I got back on my coworker had already logged off. We piddled around then went to do my level 40 personal story quest. During the first stage the laser on my backup mouse quit. Not really a surprise, it was old and worn out, but talk about timing.

So I acquired the $10 Walmart mouse we use on the laptop and powered through. Guess I’m in the market for new peripherals. I’ve got an idea of what I want to try, but right now I have to choose between that and expansion(s) for GW2 and I really don’t want to be the odd man out for content. I can live with a cheap mouse for a little while, at least the scroll wheel works properly on this one.

My PC

Part of PC gaming is this infinitely configurable box of components that allow it to do what it does. The advantage of consoles is that they’re extremely compatible. It’s safe to assume that made for a console will run just as well on any given machine. The downside being that they’re very alike. A PS4 is a PS4 is a PS4.

The natural disadvantage of the PC is it’s hard to gauge what’s going to run well and what isn’t, especially on a budget. A decent amount of time must be spent considering the power vs cost of each component in addition to overall compatibility. Websites like PC Part Picker and Game Debate make this easier, but it’s still an ordeal even for the knowledgeable.

The last thing before we get down to brass tacks. The vast majority of this build is not actually mine. Credit for the build goes to my wife, who spent a great deal of time poking through discard piles, overstock, and making back room deals. All I did was come along and add a hard drive and change the GPU.

Motherboard – ASUS P6T SE

 

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Stock image from ASUS

This is the build’s original motherboard, and it shows. Overall I’ve liked it and it’s held up well.  My only real complaint is the placement of the sata ports, particularly the two next to the memory slots, are awkward. They cables have to be removed in order to remove sticks. Not an operation issue, but troubleshooting bad memory it gets old.

It’s been through a lot of rough times though. Only half of the USB ports are still usable. The others have broken through various applied forces. This is number one on the list for my next big upgrade.

CPU – Intel Core i7 950

One of the now weaker points, this particular series of chip is almost 10 years old now.  It’s a quad core 3ghz cpu. It has served me quite well, but struggles with cpu heavy operations like trying to run a modded minecraft server and playing the game at the same time.

I’ll replace this along with the motherboard in my next big upgrade.

Memory DDR3 – 10G

Not much to say here.  It’s just cheap memory.  Slow but functional.

GPU – AMD Radeon R9 380

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Stock image from Sapphire Tech

I don’t change GPUs often, so I have a hard time really comparing these things.  This has been a good card so far. I picked it up for around $200 a couple years ago. Only real complaint has been that is only has one HDMI port.  It replaced a much older sapphire nitro card. It was an efficiency model that didn’t even need fans.

HDD – 4 Standard HDD in varying sizes.

I don’t have an SSD in this computer yet. It’s on the list for the next major upgrade if I can afford it.

PSU – APEVIA ATX-CB700W

Fairly standard PSU, not modular. I’m not super impressed with it, but it’s cheap.  Lasts about a year.

Case – DIYPC Alnitak-BK Black

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Stock image from DIY PC

I’m quite fond of this case, but blue is kinda my thing. I’m not really invested in it. It was cheap and functional.

That usb/sound board on the front came loose after a year or so though. It’s still usable, but it’s hanging out the side of the case. It’s also a bit small, but I don’t have room in the desk for a larger case. My wife insists that the case goes inside the desk.

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The whole bugger in place.

So this is my workspace. That joystick normally sits on that front left corner of the desk when I’m not using it, but I was playing Elite for tomorrows post while I cleaned and fleshed this out. It’s not normally this clean, I promise.

I’m sure I’ll revisit this around January/February when I start looking at options for an upgrade