Thoughts on a Recently Departed Neighbor

A year, maybe more ago, I set out to walk Paul through the neighborhood. It was, as Houston usually is, a hot day, but the sun was coming down.

By the walking path, I saw a man playing catch with a young girl, presumably his daughter. He saw me approaching, and the two concluded their game of catch. They began walking back home, and as I went down the path, I heard him holler, “put a shirt on, freak!” in parting.

It bothered me at the time, and I wondered what spurred him to act. Perhaps a mixture of insecurity over his own dad bod, coupled with a desire to protect his daughter. I laughed to myself, wondering whether he exhibited similar reactions towards the topless men whose glossy images adorned the front of men’s magazines, or if he flipped the channel anytime a topless man appeared on his television set.

Perhaps he didn’t recognize me as living just a few doors down, but I knew where he lived, and the name of his business. Some type of neighborly behavior, I thought. In my growing racial consciousness, I wondered: how might he have behaved if I were white, like him?

Better yet, if I were a woman and not a man?

I moved past the incident, but recently, I noticed great activity at his home. At first, a yard sign proclaiming the property was FOR RENT, with a local telephone number drawn in black marker. Then, the weeping willow on his property was pruned back, and the FOR RENT sign was replaced by a FOR SALE sign. I saw him in his driveway with a new commercial vehicle the other night, a tall white affair with a vinyl sign on the side.

I found his Facebook profile today, and wanted to share a couple of extracts from his few public posts:

Gadsden flag.svg
By Lexicon, VikrumOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1440653

^ The inconsistency displayed is remarkable

I had him pegged as a conservative, so this recent discovery served as happy validation of my intuition. I won’t miss having him around in this neighborhood, but who can say what new faces will take his family’s place?

A Personal Epiphany (of sorts) During Day 2 of the New Iron Banner / Long Live the Sweaty

A brief background of my Destiny career:
One of 2,109 DTR50 Trials of Osiris players (globally, both systems, as of October 15, 2015). Control is my most-played playlist, with 1,124 games. My Hunter is my present main, and was my first class. I’ve been a semi-competitive FPS gamer, starting with Command & Conquer Renegade and Counter-Strike 1.5. I started playing Destiny on Cyber Monday 2014. My stats, by playlist

By the time that The Trials of Osiris started on May 22, 2015, I’d logged between 210 and 250 hours in the Crucible. The introduction of ToO and Elimination was exciting, because it provided possibilities for intensely competitive gameplay. PullRequest and I decided that we’d shoot for a DestinyTracker True Skill rating of 50 in Trials of Osiris.

During that grind to ToO DTR50, I had the privilege of playing with other serious PvP players, but we also ran into every cheap mechanic out there. Quick revive, Blink / Slide-shotgun, double Firebolt, head-glitch, Swarm grenade Super glitch, Final Round Efrideet’s Spear … You name it, we’d seen it. Chances are that you have, too. I’m proud to say that we’ve overcome most of the cheap tactics through strategic gameplay, earning the right to teabag back those who teabagged us.

As I grew prouder of my rising stats, I did things to protect them. I switched predominately to running a high-armor Warlock Voidwalker build, and clung to The Ram for protection against the Thorn’s deadly 2-shot KO. To maximize my personal killing potential, I ran The Last Word and Her Benevolence (Shortgaze, Hidden Hand, Unflinching, and Snapshot). I tried out two different input adapters: the MayFlash MultiMax Shooter and the Xim4 (the latter, I use today).

At the drop of 2.0, we felt the Crucible out anew. The maps were fresh and more detailed. The nerf to Final Round and various weapon balance modifications put a smile on my face, after I’d accepted that The Last Word was nothing like the gun it once was.

Things began to take a turn last week with the introduction of the Eirene RR4 with Luck in the Chamber. I encountered it in a few Skirmish matches. When the dust settled, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth. I couldn’t quite pin it until tonight.

I started the day having just reached Rank 2 with the Iron Banner. I played a couple of Iron Banner matches earlier in the evening, with NDS_TaLoN and some of his friends. Upon completing my 19th King’s Fall raid with PullRequest, zachvice, and some of willmanning’s crew, I decided to wrap up the night with a bit more Iron Banner. I entered matchmaking with a fireteam of six, invited by duckyisbeast who I’d met a few months into Y1.

Word broke earlier in the day of a game-breaking Hunter Nightstalker Quiver glitch. This, coupled with the arguably OP Titan Sunbreaker Super, made for some real asshattery. I started as a Hunter Gunslinger, and wound up raining arrows on a couple of particularly testy teams. We ended up with a W-L record of 4-3. By the end of those seven matches, I felt burnt out. It didn’t feel right to retaliate against exploiters with exploits of my own.

My frustration with Destiny today lies in a couple of places. On the one hand, you have the small proportion of the population that relies on the cheap trick to get the job done. Thing is, most non-casual players are advantage players. We’re going to do what it takes to get the win, even if someone else thinks it’s unfair. Queue the trite expression: all is fair in love and in war.

On the other hand, you’ve got Bungie. They’ve built a terrific game, but one gets the feeling that they’re not entirely sure what to do with it. Blunders like the universal Black Spindle downgrade hint at this, though the Crucible Radio talk with Jon Weisnewski suggest that the architects remain hard at work. I am cautiously optimistic that the introduction of micro transactions through Eververse Trading could translate into Bungie-backed real-money tournaments, further enriching the game at its highest level. We have the technology, and the hype machine stands at the ready.

Given that I can’t tell other people how to play the game, and don’t have any pull over at Bungie, the best that I can do is to change my own approach to the Crucible. I know that we can expect a relatively quick hotfix to address the Hunter Nightstalker Quiver glitch, and countless rounds of game balances to come. By the tail end of Year 2, the game’s nine subclasses will reach closer to parity.

Until then, Crucible aficionados have their place at /r/CruciblePlaybook and /r/DestinySweatyLFG. Because in a sweaty, you’ll at least get a fair fight, even if it’s one-sided.

More

My Destiny Xim4 Setup

a rant on Logitech and an experience with US customer service

Some computer users have stories about hardware and the companies behind them that were very dear to them. I want to tell you my story with Logitech mice.

It started back in middle school. I began playing more first-person shooters on the PC, and I was having quite some fun with them. I knew that my hardware was important, and I invested time into researching the best. This was just about the time that optical mice were stepping onto the scene. I’d already seen improvement to my gaming with an early switch to optical by way of a cheap Samsung mouse.

I’m not sure how Logitech came into the picture for me, but the first Logitech mouse that I seriously considered buying was a Logitech MX310. It was attractively-priced and seemed to hit all the right buttons. But the one that I really wanted was its more-refined big brother, the Logitech MX500.

So it happened that the first Logitech mouse that I owned was a Logitech MX500. I remember getting it from my schoolmate, Justin, when we met up on the first day of school in the eighth grade. He brought it back from the US for me, packed in his suitcase. I had spent hours examining it from the product page, seen it at local computer stores, and it was finally mine.

Logitech then released another neat mouse, the MX518. I got a blue one, and with it, my first hard plastic mousepad, a Ratzpad GS. The MX518 felt alright in hand, but I wasn’t too fond of the glossy shell. I used it faithfully, retiring the MX500 for some time. I recall the MX518 developed issues – it was ultimately tossed out.

I wound up bringing the MX500 with me to college. That same year, my brother started boarding school. Having grown up with the Logitech MX500, it was only natural that he got a Logitech G5. His Logitech G5 was replaced free-of-charge for a Logitech G500 in December 2010. The Logitech G5 had developed a common cord issue.

At roughly the same time, my Logitech MX500 developed a soft failure of the left mouse button switch. I called Logitech on December 2, 2010 to see if they might be able to do something about it, even though I’d never had a proof of purchase. By then, my MX500 had been with me for over five years. Customer service at the time would not offer me a replacement for the discontinued MX500, but they offered me something just as good: 50% off on the G500. I asked if this 50% discount could be applied to other mousing products. Informed that I could use it on a different Logitech mouse, I opted for the G700. Just like that, I had placed an order for a Logitech G700.

I couldn’t be happier. The Logitech G700 featured a bevy of buttons and switches across its body, few of which I ever used until recently. Wireless performance was stellar, though the battery life was fairly short. I loved the familiar shape, a slight evolution over the Logitech MX500 which had captured my heart as a teenager. And who could knock that stellar mouse wheel, with the ability to alternate between modes? When people asked for recommendations on mice, I was quick to suggest the Logitech G700.

Then my Logitech G700 experienced a failure with the middle mouse button. I noticed it in earnest on September 12, 2015, the same day that I upgraded my workstation. The tactile switch behind the mouse wheel gave out, causing the mouse to send middle mouse button presses even when I hadn’t pressed the button. I might be left-clicking, only to find the universal scroll icon taking the place of my regular cursor. As a temporary fix, I unbound the middle mouse button for regular desktop use.

After identifying the problem with my mouse, I began to investigate. I found a terrific blog post by hybridsix on familab https://familab.org/2014/01/logitech-g700-middle-mouse-button-repair/ showing the problem, and a DIY fix that required tearing the mouse down and replacing the tactile switch with a new one. I made a note of this blog post for future reference.

On September 21, 2015, I made a post in the Logitech G Customer Care thread in /r/LogitechG to introduce the issue that I was experiencing. /u/LogitechG_Christina responded that same day, suggesting that I might want to try Logitech’s support team.

I made an account on Logitech’s website, and registered my G700 there.

I made my first call to Logitech on September 22, 2015. Spoke with David, who filed my information under case 01149327. He asked me about some basic troubleshooting steps, which I’d already performed. Told me that he could not offer me anything, because my Logitech G700 was no longer covered under the three-year warranty. I received an email from Logitech advising me of the case number. I laughed a bit upon reading the case subject line: Middle button is stock

Called again on September 24, 2015, asking to revisit case with the agent. Provided additional details: the initial order placed through Logitech US, how the last time that I called was to replace my aging and failing MX500. After a long (30 minutes!) time spent on phone, I was informed again that nothing could be done as the product was out of warranty. Requested escalation. Connected to Dale, a supervisor. After going through my case facts with Dale, I was told the same thing. Asked if anyone else could help. Given another phone number to try, for US corporate.

Called Logitech US’s corporate number: 510-795-8500. The operator forwarded my call over to the escalation department, where I spoke with John. John said that technical support used to offer a discount on out-of-warranty products, but this was no longer the case. Promotional emails and the discounted products page on their website are the only source of discounts now. He said that they couldn’t offer me the deal that I’d gotten in the past, because their systems were no longer equipped to handle them. No resolution; told me that this was the end of the line for contact by phone. I asked John what type of claims were successfully escalated, but he wouldn’t divulge any information.

I fumed for a bit and did some research on the issue, trying to gain a better understanding of it. What I’ve observed is that Logitech continues to handle most issues covered under warranty well. They ought to be lauded for that much. However, I’m certain that the defect rate has gone up considerably since the advent of more complex mouse wheels. These same mouse wheels ostensibly necessitated the move away from micro-switches to tactile switches. (see my notes on Logitech [G] mice and failing middle mouse button tactile switch)

I reasoned that Logitech’s present focus is geared more towards new product sales than it is on customer loyalty. This is reflected through their About Us page (Logitech US), which is written with investors in mind. The bit about product quality is relegated to The Logitech Story page (Logitech US), which offers that they have “[become] the worldwide leader in computer mice.”

I have no doubt in my mind that Logitech makes good mice. They know that they’ve got good mousing products, and that the average user won’t mind purchasing a newer mouse with fancier technology every few years.

What I know is that I once received fantastic after-sales support from Logitech, back in December 2010, and that after-sales support has since taken a hit. It doesn’t feel like the same company. My recent support calls were handled by international call centers. At the end of the day, I still need a mouse. Maybe I’ll go back to basics. Who knows. I really dig the driving philosophy of ZOWIE GEAR:

ZOWIE GEAR is an innovative manufacturer of competitive gaming gear, founded late 2008 with a mission to develop the best competitive gaming gear available.
We are not limited by shareholders telling us what we can or cannot do. We are a free-minded company consisting of experienced and creative individuals, united in ZOWIE on a common ground; our passion for gaming. No boundaries. No compromises. Just gaming.

ZOWIE GEAR has no ambition to become the biggest manufacturer of competitive gaming gear. We just want to be the best. If we can develop products that will increase a gamers performance by just 1%, we will do it. This is our mentality.

Now, to stay in Logitech’s camp, or GTFO? The writing on the wall from Logitech as of today is clear: the Logitech loyalist is no more important than the first-time buyer. It seems asinine to reward Logitech’s cutting corners with repeat business, even if it comes about once every four to five years.