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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Two Weeks into the AH: Flipping Amulets (and other goods)


A large warehouse of gems and other components ready to craft and sell.

Another week goes by in the AH and I've at least doubled my asset values (at around 75M). It makes any gold farming in D3 seem rather trivial at the rate which gold is gained from flipping items. (I had to split up my time between D3, programming, and other FB apps, as well as checking the newsfeed manually, since the undocumented RSS feed that gave me daily digests of friends' status messages over the last two years was taken offline.)

In addition to gem selling, I've resorted to flipping amulets this week because of several traits that make it unique. First, the caps for attributes go much higher than usual, and second, they can also be fitted onto followers and have no class restrictions. The first reason makes them valuable as key attributes approach their max values on ilvl63. There are occasions where some valuable amulets are auctioned off for under 100k, and sold for much more.

Note on image above: It doesn't look like I have made a lot compared to last week, but keep in mind: I do have 220+ more Perfect Square gems ready to craft or sell (in case a high point rises in the market) and filled all my slots with valuable gems and TOS, which values to at least 15M+ here. There's also five Star and Flawless Star gems being put on auction in the RMAH as well as a 160+ STR and VIT Depth Diggers.

What to go for in the GAH (Amulets): Anything with two of the following attributes:

  • Gold Find > 30%
  • Crit Chance > 7%
  • Crit Damage > 66%
  • Attack Speed > 6%
  • Any Main Attribute > 303
  • Magic Find > 40%
  • Resist All > 60

Note on Flipping (in detail): Best to research the lowest cost of an item with those attributes before starting to make your bids/buyouts. You may want to keep track of how much you paid, and how much you listed the item as, so you can decrease its if it fails to sell, as long as you break even.

If you want to flip Legendaries, keep in mind some items are slightly more profitable to sell on the RMAH. Stormshields with good stats (at least 200 STR and 100 VIT) tended to sell well at 1-2 bucks profit a piece - and they were bought at 1mil or less. Block percent was irrelevant. You could try this for gems for a nice profit (as high as 70% ROI at the time of writing), but they sell a lot slower, and you need more of them before you can put them on the market.

Friday, December 28, 2012

McDonalds Grilled Onion Cheddar

Drawn in from the sale being a 'Grilled Onion Cheese Sandwich' for a dollar, I decided to get one today instead of the usual McChicken. I wasn't impressed with the sandwich - it was a bit small, but tasted good.

Not a grilled cheese sandwich, it's "grilled onion" with white cheddar (a new thing) as well as a beef patty. Guess I missed the time when they had the Cheddar Bacon Onion Sandwich with chicken, which would've been more than decent.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Snow Village at Lincoln Center

Introduced to the Snow Village at the Lincoln Center - one of the more nicer finds in Stockton. It's quite the display and took a while to look at, better than driving around and looking around for Christmas light displays. There's also a scavenger hunt checklist while you're looking around.

Where and When? Look around the Lincoln Center in Stockton - the display occupies an entire store front display and the lights are on between 5:30pm and 10pm., up until January 6, so you still got some time. Full brochure here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas: Loads of Presents and Bags


In years past it used to be mostly presents...

Following the family get-together is Christmas... and opening presents. Most of the time, it's what I requested on my wishlist (I could request for one or more gifts totaling up to $50, but had to gift another family member's wishlist) but there's always a few surprises.

It seems like this year there's less presents and more bags... guess wrapping them was too much work. Also noted this Christmas: There were fewer games (I didn't see any console games out this year).

Loot Received includes:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Everything's Better with Brie

At the yearly family Christmas get-together, this is what I always have on my plate. Crisp bread with sweet almonds filled with brie cheese in the center.

The introduction to this a couple of years ago is what eventually got me to trying various cheeses from Costco - I simply didn't like the limitation of either Cheddar, Provolone, Pepper Jack, or Swiss at the UC, and I wanted something new. They're a bit expensive (some upwards of $10 per pound), but it's worth it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

One Week into the AH: Diablo 3 Auction House Tips


This gem commodity looks like a good sell - better produce them before the selling price goes down. (Today's deal: Perfect Square Rubies - between 5-7PM PST producing 28k gold per gem produced)

I've heard from one of my friends that he was able to sell off $600 worth of gear after quitting. Wanting to try the same, I got my copy in December. I realized a lot has changed in seven months since the AH was first available - gold is a lot less and you can't profit from gems. Still, I manage to find ways to profit from this economy, despite the fact that making good money here is nonexistent at this time (at least until PvP comes out). Within two weeks (one was spent building up my character to 60), I have approximately 36 million gold in assets. Most of it was not from gold farming.

My Tips for Profiting and getting the most out of the D3AH (updated Jan 2013):

  • Find cheap legendary items with good stats (under 1M) and sell them back on the RMAH. You should research the average price on both the RMAH and the Gold AH beforehand. For anything less than 1M, selling for two dollars is sufficient enough to cover the costs (this equates to > 3M gold at the time of writing). They don't sell often, but when they do they pay well.

  • Upgrading your gear: Typically the three most important attributes that you want will give you cheaper costs than you expect. The highest stats are typically (but not always) the most expensive. Something like 20% less stats could be much cheaper. It took under 5M in gold total to upgrade my Barb to 96k dps, while still being able to survive Inferno, only one item bought was 1M.

  • Basic Stuff on Auctions: The auction runs on a proxy bidding system - only the second highest bid is displayed. If you place a bid, and it doesn't beat the other person's max bid, it will show your bid, since the system automatically bids for them in 5% increments (up to their max bet). If you win the auction, the cost is what the second highest bidder put down (the difference between your max bet and the actual price is given back to you via a refund).

  • Pinning Auctions: When you place a bid, whether you win or not, it will be pinned in the 'active auctions' category (even if you don't win) so you have a chance to bid again closer to the auction end time.

  • Bid Sniping: Place a large bid (up to what you want to spend) seconds before the auction ends). You'll want a watch with a second hand to do this. A well timed snipe almost guarantees an instant win. If not, you at least raised the cost of the item for the person who won. Tip: Copy your max bid to the clipboard and paste it in to bid faster. There is a few second delay before your bid is actually placed. (Note: The time before auction ends doesn't refresh on your bids until you scroll down, and in results until you search again or flip through pages)

  • Mass Bidding: If you see a lot of extremely cheap items with a few hours left to go and are not planning to be on the auction house at the time it ends (like 2AM-7AM) don't be afraid to put a larger bid on those items. (ex. if the item is worth 1M and the cost is below 500k, place 500k bids on all cheap items that end during that time). If they don't win, you'll get your gold back.

  • How Selling Works: If you want to list an item, for equipment the suggested bid cost is the sell price of the item, with the buyout left blank. For commodities, it is the value of the Last 10 Trades (this can be manipulated - see below) and is your sell price. They last for 36 hours either way, and the item is returned to you (or for commodities, what you didn't sell, as well as gold for what sold).

  • Bid or Buyout? You have two options for selling items: You can either set a decent buyout price, or have the people build up the price for you via bids (it is recommended you start your bid at the price you originally paid for it, plus 20%). This avoids the 'too high, didn't sell' situation.

  • Flipping Items: It is very possible to flip items for a substantial profit, especially when it comes to amulets (and rings). Anything with a 45% gold find should sell for at least 500k, and even more with a good crit chance/dmg. However, you can only have ten auctions active at one time, so you'll need to do a tradeoff between high profits and faster selling. My strat would be to keep two items selling above 1M, seven in the 300k-1M range, and one for something else (like gems or TOS). There was one instance where I bought a 3M amulet with a good crit chance / dmg for 3M and proceeded to sell it for 5M.

  • Flipping Gems: This is faster than item flipping, but although profits are significantly lower per gem sold and makes up for quantity, you'll have to spend a lot of time clicking to craft each one (if you have a laptop, you can read some articles to pass the time while you're crafting away with your other hand). Input the prices of all grades of a gem color you're interested into a gem calculator of your choice and TOS costs (mine above was built from scratch). Buy gems and craft them up to the level where the most percent profit can be made. If there's any higher grade gem with a -17% or lower profit and a higher level gem has over 4% profit, buy that grade instead as it saves the time used to craft that gem, (if the estimated price is below -15% profit, buy as many as the AH will allow, but read the footnote below)

  • Commodity Supply and Demand: The supply and demand system works a bit differently for commodities at the AH. The 'Price per Unit' is the maximum amount of gold you will pay for a single item. The reason why the supply of trades goes up is because if gems are bought faster than they are listed, eventually the buying price will be higher as supply runs out, based on what people list their gems as. (Some testing with buyout values indicate most of the time less than 3000 perfect square gems of a single color are in the market at one time, and less than 1k gems with a grade of Star or higher are being sold.) The only reason why prices goes down is that people want get their gems sold first, and they try to price competitively. When two or more people are in a price war, the selling price for a gem can go down quite a bit (for a Perfect Star Ruby, 6.8 mil -> 6.5 mil)

    (The 'price wars' are more prevalent when it comes to plans in the RMAH, as there is a huge price difference between the GAH and RMAH when you do the conversion, typically in the millions for a single plan. The most I've gotten out of one trade was 22 million gold profit from selling a Demon's Skin Plan for 15 bucks... after buying it for 32 mil.)

    • Example: 100 P Square Ruby gems are selling for 40k. 50 others list for 45k, 20 for 50k, and 10 for 60k. The avg last trades are 40k.
    • Without doing any additional research, people will usually craft P Squares and list for 40k (at a 1k profit per gem made), although most guides indicate you can't make such a profit, with a large enough stockpile of gold you can on average make more gold per hour from crafting than you can with gold farming.
    • Suppose no new gems were listed and 100 people buy gems. Price per unit (PPU) is raised to 45k. Last 10 trades remain the same.
    • 5 more people buy it and the PPU is still 40k... but the avg last 10 trades is now up to 42.5k for future gems. People may sell for a higher price as a result.
    • 52 others buy and the price is raised to 50k (avg at 48k). At this point the profit margin is 30% for each gem made and now the market floods with gems from buyers hoping to get a profit.
    • The average sell price gradually drops as people are pricing their gems lower than the average in order to get theirs sold first. Others may pull out their original offer and price it down to below their average too, especially when selling large amounts. The average price goes down to 35k or so (at this point they are losing money from these sales)
    • Some people buy these gems seeing the costs are lower than usual)
    • The cycle repeats.

  • How price manipulation works: In the above example, if they are selling on average at 75k, and a few people plop them down at 30k, and two are sold, then the average becomes 66k. Unsuspecting sellers who didn't do the research may sell at the new price, bringing the price down faster than usual. In markets where people are accustomed to buying in bulk (like Tome of Secrets). more may be required to bring down prices, and the lower average price needs to be kept down constantly or the commodity price will go back up to normal prices. Conversely, others can be tricked into buying bulk at regular price thinking it was a good buy), which can raise the price up, at which point sellers can profit.

    Price manipulation has been typically seen on Tome of Secrets and Flawless Square gems (by setting a extremely cheap price (such as 100 or less than 50% of the current trade price) to reduce the average trade price - this can be seen when you query the price for buying a gem/TOS and it has a large price variance between the average cost and the estimated cost. They are rarely seen in Perfect and Radiant Square gems and almost never seen in grades higher than that due to the fact that they are much more expensive (they are crafted by players for a substantial cost and do not drop in the game) and are resistant to dropping below the production cost of the gem (cost to buy flawless squares + TOS + crafting fee + 20%) for obvious reasons.

  • Quantity or Quality? When crafting gems, analyze your percent profits, and sell the gem quality that clearly has a higher margin of profit. If the difference is small, it would be better to sell off the highest grade gem you can afford. However, the selling rate for gems drop off dramatically (it takes around 2-3 minutes on average to sell a Flawless Star Gem, 10-15 mins for a Perfect Star Gem, and around 2 hours for a Radiant Star Gem) so you'll need to find a balance between the two.

    People don't typically buy gems higher than Flawless Square in bulk because there is no profit from crafting at that point, so people usually buy one to socket it with their character. As a result, it would generally be better to sell a Flawless Star Gem at 8% profit rather than 9 Radiant Square Gems at 10% profit. After that point (like Perfect Stars), players are a lot less willing to pay the extra 6 million for a marginal increase in stats (+4 of a main stat) and instead go buy some better gear with this (I, in my opinion, would rather get a IK Eternal Reign for 10M than a Radiant Star.) However, with the future introduction of the next tier Marquise Gems (with a base crafting cost of 85 million, minimum, if you bought all the materials to craft one at current market prices after the 1.0.7 preview post), gem stats might increase dramatically.

    If you don't have a large stockpile of cash, resort to the JIT (just in time) strategy by buying gems as you finish up your order, unless you know the price of a crafting material will increase greatly. Else you might end up with a huge stockpile of gems you can't sell (I had 200 Perfect Square Topaz gems ready to sell, and then the market dropped to the point where I was going to lose money if I sold it at that price...), and had to do a bit of gold farming to get more gold for other ventures and to craft them into higher grade gems.

Good luck in the markets, and remember it might take a bit of time to build up a huge fortune, but you'll get there.

Footnotes:

  • Price Per Unit (PPU) refers to the upper bound that you will pay for each unit when you click the search button.
  • Buying commodities in bulk warning: When you buy a commodity, you will buy out the lowest priced commodity currently on the market. If the estimated cost is higher than what you will buy it for, then the transaction will fail. Note that the support site / game does not cover 'in between cases', so if you buy enough of a particular item so that at least a few items bought go over the estimated cost, you will buyout as many commodities that were below the estimated cost, the remaining gold will be refunded to you, and you will be disconnected in most cases.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Winter Board

It's been two years since I first started posting about this game. Although I am obligated to create weekly tips, the number of people even looking at the tips page for each board have tapered significantly (at most 50 viewers/week) and I'm busy playing D3 nowadays, so there won't be much this week.

I'm releasing a DIY set your own frogatar to something other than the three provided, this should help you out a bit. It should be on the very bottom. (Note: Fixed as of 12/19. Watch your coin counts - you will be unable to participate in the Top 50 boards if you run out.)

Strategy: Fruit is easy to get, provided you know where to leave gaps at. The right side is guaranteed to have fruit there if the curves are short. No double gaps here, so either try to gap on both sides, or attempt lots of curve clears. Your choice.

Spirit Turtle has been released, making your curve clears slightly easier at the expense of points for fruit / gaps. I got the extra time up to 5 minutes at one point.

Recommended Powers: Curly Fries, Epic Fruit, Sun Frog, Timelord, Spirit Eagle.

Pink Frog: The frogatar was released almost two months later on February 14 as the Froget-Me-Not and is unlocked using this link. Asked on the Facebook page on December 13 for opinions on whether or not people want a new frogatar. So far no new frogatars have been released, but up to eight will appear on the selection screen and extended stats were added, so they're getting somewhere.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hungry Hungry H... wait, what?

Went shopping at Target to buy gifts (for relatives) this Christmas and stumbled upon this, really Zynga? You're selling Hungry Hungry Hippos with the 'Farmville' brand? It's not based off the original game, it's exactly the same game, save a few color and head changes.

There's two other games I noticed, a Monopoly game based off of Cityville, and Words with Friends. But they are original in a way in both the layout and rule changes. But Farmville... this is completely unrelated. Except for the Farm Cash.

Speaking of that, isn't the sequel being played more nowadays?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

D3: Three days in the AH

3 days in and getting some profits from the the D3 Auction House... one thing of note today was buying and reselling Encrusted Hooves... back to a merchant. I noticed that the cost of buying that commodity was less than the price of selling to the merchant, so I decided to take advantage of this and bought as many as I could afford (and as many as they had left). Instant 30k profit within a minute. (For people who put it on the AH and were expecting to make more money off selling this commodity at that rate... I have no words for you.)

I similarly take advantage of the fluctuating prices of gems which varies from 160 to 300ish for Amethyst. Again profiting at 112 per gem (or more).

3 days, that's approx 1.2m in profits so far. Got three more weeks before results are tallied up. (to compare, I can get around 100k gold in one 20-30 minute run.)

Reef Madness

This post is a day late from its original release, but my excuse is that I currently have finals this week. As well as taking advantages of gem prices in D3 that I'll go in more detail on another post.

It looks like a 90 degree flip of an older board (Splish Splash) but the curves are longer so the balls won't move as fast by the time you can gap, and the configuration was changed slightly so that you can consistently do a gap (or double gap).

Strategy: Fruit is easy to get, gaps are a bit harder, but if you doble gap right, you're in for some good points.

Recommended Powers: Gapple Sauce, Epic Fruit, x3, Timelord, Spirit Eagle. You could also use Baco Bouquet - it has been tested to give huge amount of bonus time (2:32 for a eagle) but you're relying on your luck that enough time balls will pop up.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Diablo 3: 60 and Climbing


Defeating Diablo might mean beating the game to some, and even more to people who hit 60, but it's far from over.

3 Week Gold Challenge: Raise as much money as possible (by this, meaning actual cash as well as gold) via equipment and commodity sales as well as loot drops in three weeks. 1 dollar will covert to 3.4 million gold based on current conversion rates.

There was almost no way to do something like this after one playthrough, so the last week was spent bringing up a character to lvl 60.

Notes:

  • The campaign can by any means be called 'short' - it takes approximately 8-10 hours to complete at MP-2 if you're just completing the main objectives. (Note: There are achievements for completing each Act in less than 1 hour.)
  • Leveling up here is quite quick (approximating 30 minutes with the proper skills, up to lvl 50, at which point you need to be on Hell difficulty to level up effectively)
  • MP-2 is quite manageable with normal gear, after that point you should overgear via auction house.
  • Was xp farming at the rate of 740k EXP / hour on Nightmare difficulty. and approx 2.75M xp/hr peak at Hell.

Current Strat I'm Using:

Note: It might not be the most effective, but works for me.

  • Start game in normal mode (no MP), go up to lvl 10 or something.
  • Accumulate enough gold to overgear via auction house (using Flawless Square gems for sockets)
  • Play at MP-5, adjusting as necessary to get though the game by Lvl 30 or so. (If I'm doing a lot of overkill on enemies, MP is raised). Reduced to Normal after hitting 50 before Hell dif, and back up to MP-2 onwards.
  • Accumulate as many subtle essence via blacksmith (by breaking it down) and sell via auction house (this sells for around 700 each at time of writing, far more than selling inferior magic items alone. If it's rare and has good stats, sell via AH.)
  • My Barbarian Build for XP: here (Prior to inferno)
    • 1. Frenzy + Sidearm to build up rage quickly (and has high dps, with Sidearm more so)
    • 2. Rend + Ravage - used to take out standard mobs quickly. Note its total damage is 700% weapon dmg over 5 seconds, and MP level as well and dps was prioritized so it can take out common mobs on its own.
    • 3. Sprint + Marathon - to get from one enemy to the next faster.
    • 4. Revenge + Vengeance - to build up fury + regen health faster between mobs
    • 5. Battle Rage + Maurader's Rage for the dmg bonus. (Latter swapped with War Cry in Inferno)
    • 6. Ignore Pain + Ignorance is Bliss, since damage taken is quite high in some places.
    • Passives to increase atk, def, and regens rage.

Results:

The challenge concluded on January 6, 2013, raising over 110 million gold in the process, and not killing a single creature in the last week, relying entirely on gem and item flipping. The most successful sale was Depth Diggers (bought at 12M, sold at 36M - 9.99 USD before fees and converted.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

(Sea) Turtles Board


Silly Eagle, you're not a spirit turtle. (Placeholder image, waiting for Spirit Turtle to arrive)

Can someone tell me how it matches up? (notices turtles) Oh, right, the release of the Spirit sea turtle (also appears in several places on the board). Wonder what it does...

Strategy: This is hard to gap effectively since there's little room to gap on top, and they roll slower towards the bottom, making it less effective. Even more so to curve clear since the second curve will almost always get in the way. Use a Spirit Eagle and focus on the fruit.

I had a very hard time getting a 10m here, relying on a lucky 2:08 et for the eagle. Let's see how well the turtle performs - hopefully it releases this week.

Recommended Powers: Gapple Sauce, Epic Fruit, x3, Timelord, Spirit Eagle. Use Combo Corn if you have it, it helps a lot when it comes to gaps.

If Spirit Turtle is available, use Curvy Fries, Timelord, Epic Fruit, and Inferno Frog. Five hot frog shots every ten seconds can take out a curve pretty quickly.

Sea Turtle: Coming out of the deep, it is rumored that it can instantly fire hot frog shots after consuming a fruit as well as doubling your speed bonus.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Near-Finals Week Treats


This is actually sweeter than it looks.

Who sets aside a box of treats (more specifically, cookies and pastries, one per person). My professor for my grad class does. He offers the box to everyone, and only one person comes up. Then slowly, another person gets up and grabs one, and another...

Sugar to keep awake during class, he says. In reality, I'll need this stuff to keep awake at night while studying before finals, that's more important.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Excel VBA Macros: Borders and Formatting

Borders seem very complicated when you record a macro for borders, do any kind of text of text formatting, etc., and look at it in Visual Basic. There are a few ways to simplify this.

Border Formatting Example

You record a macro, make a selection, and set borders. You immediately get something like this:
    Selection.Borders(xlDiagonalDown).LineStyle = xlNone
    Selection.Borders(xlDiagonalUp).LineStyle = xlNone
    With Selection.Borders(xlEdgeLeft)
        .LineStyle = xlContinuous
        .ColorIndex = 0
        .TintAndShade = 0
        .Weight = xlMedium
    End With
    With Selection.Borders(xlEdgeTop)
        .LineStyle = xlContinuous
        .ColorIndex = 0
        .TintAndShade = 0
        .Weight = xlMedium
    End With
    ...

Need a TL;DR? Essentially it is

  1. Removing any diagonal borders through the cell, and
  2. replacing each border with a medium size black line.

The details are:

  • .Borders(Direction) indicate which border you want changed.
    • xlDiagonalDown affects the line from the top-left to bottom-right of each cell selected.
    • xlDiagonalUp affects the line from the bottom-left to top-right of each cell selected.
    • xlEdgeLeft, xlEdgeRight, xlEdgeUp, and xlEdgeDown affects the left, right, top, and bottom borders of your selection. That means it treats your selection as a box, and the sides are what the code affects, see the above image for details.
    • xlInsideVertical and xlInsideHorizontal affects all the other vertical and horizontal lines (respectively) in your selection that the above didn't cover.
    • If you don't specify a direction, then all
  • The parameters you can set for borders are:
    • .LineStyle controls the line style. See the top for details.
    • .Weight controls how thick the line will be.
    • .Color controls the color of the line. You can use RGB format.
    • .TintAndShade controls tint and shade, but they can be ignored if you're using RGB values.

You don't have to stick to just the current selection, it can be modified so that you can change the borders for any cell without having to select it (and there are some good uses for this), so you could substitute Selection with stuff like:

    With Worksheets("Sheet1").Cells(6, 1)              ' This way you can use variables when accessing. 
       .Borders(xlEdgeBottom).LineStyle = xlContinous
    End With

- OR -

    With [D2].Borders(xlEdgeTop)
       .LineStyle = xlContinous
       .Color = RGB (255,0,0)
    End With

Text Formatting

The same can be done with Selection.Font (the parameters above work on this as well). I am listing only important values.

  • .Color controls the color of the test (use RGB)
  • .PatternColor controls the color of the background (use RGB)
  • .HorizontalAlignment controls text horizontal alignment (equal to xlLeft, xlRight, or xlCenter)
  • .HorizontalAlignment controls text horizontal alignment (equal to xlTop, xlCenter, or xlBottom)
  • .WrapText = (true to wrap)
  • .ShrinkToFit = (true to apply)
  • .Orientation = (what angle to rotate it by)
  • .AddIndent = (true to indent)
  • .IndentLevel to determine how far to indent (whole numbers only)
  • .MergeCells to merge or remove the merge on the affected cell(s). To not do anything with the cells structure, don't include it.
  • .Name = (font name, enclosed in quotes)
  • .Size = (font size)
  • .Strikethrough = (True to make it strikethrough)
  • .Superscript = (True to make it superscript)
  • .Subscript = (True to make it subscript)
  • .OutlineFont = (True to put an outline on text, but it apparently does nothing)
  • .Shadow = (True to put a shadow on text, but it apparently does nothing)

Friday, November 30, 2012

The UOP Banquet Sounds of Service


Each item, save music instruments, are raffled off.

This banquet - not like any other. Unlike last year, it has more interclub students than new members (at least 2:1). It occurs in Grace Covell, but in a different room. (At first sight - it was a dark room, yule log, was it really a nice party going on? Nope, it was actually in another room.)

Good to see there was another historian - it seems like they must have dSLRs, but I was dissuaded in the past to carry one due to its large weight - a hybrid like the Sony DSC RX-100 would suit my needs perfectly - provided I can afford it, of course.

Events:

  • Two icebreakers (or minigames) - Song Poncho (exactly the same as the event last year as a family competition, including the word) and Ipod Wars (guess the song)
  • Song played associated with each new member (that was their favorite song) - note it was planned (but wasn't done) last year's banquet.
  • Chicken Platters - despite the wording, they're exactly the same as every other chicken dish in past UOP Banquets.
  • The raffles - the violins were just for show, but tickets were buyable for everything else at a quarter per ticket.
  • The piano was played... by a Sac Student.

Note: I will be unable to make it to the next day's event (Santa's Gift of Service), due to lack of transportation options* and as such the related blog post will be unavailable.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Clockwork Board


Beetle runs like Clockwork here.

It's like a remade version of Major Mouthful. Only the curves are slightly shorter, and you can't use the same technique for double gapping like in the previous island. With gapple sauce, however, you can get more per double gap. And score much higher than you usually would (My PB here is nearing 15 million.)

Ginger Up is now available, where the only thing it does is... well, prevent the hot frog meter from going down, but that's about it. (Note: Just because the hot frog meter doesn't go down doesn't mean the speed of your balls won't either.)

Strategy: A medium sized gap near the end of the curve (or two, if you're fast) should do the trick. Do double tapping after that point, for up to 250k per double gap. Make sure that the curve is two layers deep before gapping, or your gap shot bonus will decrease significantly. Fruit shouldn't be a main goal here - there's at least two spots where you have to go through two layers of balls to get to it.

Recommended Powers: x3, Time, Warp Ball, Gapple Sauce, Spirit Beetle. You may sub Warp Ball for Wild Shot if it works for you.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Shopping - including Costco


When it comes to hard drives, Costco apparently sells out 30 minutes before the store officially opened.

Black Friday sales start today. No lines like last year at least in Stockton (I heard about the 'no camping' rule until 10pm), but to compensate stores opened really early. By that, meaning some stores started their sales as early at 8PM - in which waiting lines formed inside the store to get that 100 dollar TV (see note at bottom). Black Friday sales just went from starting overnight... to last night.

I've also gotten Diablo 3 in an attempt to cover the costs. (Note: it's tough but possible to sell your in-game items for real cash) I'll have to try that during Winter Break though. Just a a few weeks away...

TV Recommendations: I typically use Vizio and Sony - more expensive, but also better in picture quality. You might find extremely cheap HDTVs during the sale, but they lack slightly in a few areas.

Additional Hard Drives: Costco had them at 3TB for $100, selling out very quickly due to 'overwhelming demand'. They actually opened before the advertised 9am date - and others got to them first. It's good to see that space isn't an issue anymore (note) - with this many drives the only major issue would be running out of drive letters to mount a drive at. I don't need all the space - redundancy is more of my interest. Placing them in a RAID 1 config would be a much better use for them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Board


Not called the 'Stump' board.

The Thanksgiving Board takes a new twist - you've got one curve that around the outside (with a difficult gap possible at the end). On the other one it wraps around itself once making it a double gap. The question of 'how' to reach 10M can leave many people stumped.

There's three additional food items available, but you don't really need to make use of any of them. And there's the new message center, but the daily gifts are typically the least bought items.

Strategy: You need to setup two small gaps near the end of the board. Wait for the balls to come up on the first curve and double tap for max points. It is recommended you get Gapple Sauce (if you don't have any, refill using the Gapper's Delight bundle.)

Recommended Powers: x3, Time, Warp Ball, Gapple Sauce, Spirit Beetle.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Last Hostess Package


No Twinkies here - guess they sold out quickly.

News spread fast that Hostess was shutting down and won't be selling any more of their goods on the 16th. It wasn't too important for me... until KY mentioned she never had a Twinkie before, and never will, so I put a slight priority to secure as many Hostess foods as possible, and if I found one, to send it over to her... somehow. (I did have a Twinkie once).

I finally made it over to a store that might be selling it on the 20th, four days later. They were right. Shelves of their products were emptied quickly.

I was unable to find Twinkies (the labels suggested they didn't have them in the first place) but I did find a few doughnuts. I considered it close enough, bought the last package, and took an image of the last Hostess product I could ever buy (and eat).

In the Past: There was a Hostess store years back that I visited once, before it was torn down to make way for a new shopping center in the late 2000s.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Davis Turkey Trot: Road Running Through the Rain


Circling round Rainbow City Park (5K path)

Months ago, after volunteering for a 5K race in Elk Grove, I thought - why can't I be one of the runners? It would be much cooler.

However recently I couldn't find any 5K that Capital Division was actively volunteering in. (Note I started practicing running the 5K in July, and all 5Ks they were doing was before this.). I did some research and noticed that Davis CKI was doing this as volunteer work last year (and also considered an interclub), so I chose the Turkey Trot as a run.

As it's an hour away, the question is why? Well, what wouldn't be a better way to impress friends by making record time? Walking up to the booth, signing in, and saying 'as a runner'. lol. The run was months away, so there was no indication that Davis was doing that this year... yet. (at least on their calendar)

October DCM indicated that their next DCM was on the 17th... which was the day of the event. Was there any other volunteer event going on that involved this event for those who weren't going to the DCM? Um... no.* That really cut off my main motivation for going to this race. Though there were other options, like 5K locally, I didn't sense the enjoyment of running back and forth along a downtown road, so I stuck to Davis for the run. And then a few day forecast predicted rain. I was advised to back down for an hours drive, but I didn't train 3 months just for nothing.

Results: 5K Cleared in 32:27.

Based on my performance over the past few weeks coming in at around 38-40 minutes in training runs, I realized that even friends might not be impressed if they saw me finish in that time frame (as I would fall less than the 80th percentile of runners in my age range). In reality, I managed to do better than expected, placing in the top 37% of runners, crossing the finish at 32 and a half minutes - it was also my personal best. I had improved a lot since I started my first (unmeasured) 5k at UOP back in April last year, where I finished in around the 48 minute mark.

Overall, I consider this a good practice run, and keep will on training until Capital Division actually happens to for another 5K, at a race where it really matters. I was not the only one in this race, as another member from Capital - Bobby Miyashiro - was also in this and finished it in 23, but whether I can beat that - only future runs will tell.

Playlist: My playlist was adapted to sunny conditions. But it's raining hard, so I can't just plug in that playlist containing Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex and some other songs. I had to change my playlist. So I set my iPod on Shuffle and the following songs came up, which seemed appropriate:

Eric Redd - Breathe (Albert Castillo Clean Radio Mix)
AN-2 - Road Through The Rain
Skrillex - Rock N' Roll (Will Take You to the Mountain)
Natasha Bedingfield - These Words (Ford Radio Mix)
The Chemical Brothers - Under the Influence
Rob Dougan - Clubbed To Death
The Prodigy - One Love (Edit)
Kesha - We R Who We R
Celldweller - The Last Firstborn

Thursday, November 15, 2012

LOOT: The Guide


The only difference between an easy game and Nintendo Hard is the quality of your loot.

This guide covers LOOT The Game on Armor Games. As in, I don't know what came first - was there an animation or something?

Objective: Get to the front of the train and take out Wooly. You have to attack the train cars (as well as turrets) in order to advance. Did I forget to mention, survive? Pick up loot and upgrade your elephant (must be dragged quickly in realtime).

Strategy: Three types of weapons are present in this game (looks not matter much):

  • Swords deal large amounts of damage up front, but you need to get within melee range. Effective against blue shields.
  • Guns have constant dps and hits their target instantly. Effective against orange shields.
  • Wands do burst damage and fire off tons of projectiles but they take a while to reach its target. Effective against green shields.

Loot can increase any of these attributes (the higher quality an item is the more attributes it has):

  • Damage controls how much base dps that weapon can do. You'll obviously want a weapon with higher dps.
  • Armor reduces the damage you would normally take. An elephant with 200 armor will reduce incoming damage by 200. This is effective for survival early on, but gets useless later.
  • Strength increases sword damage by a percentage.
  • Dexterity increases gun damage by a percentage.
  • Intelligence increases wand damage by a percentage.
  • Health increases overall health by a percentage. It is mandatory to have at least two decent pieces of equipment that increases this attribute. Without any bonuses, launchers will one shot you late game (and they're almost undodgable with eight of them onscreen)
  • Gold Drops increases how much gold appears. It's used for item slots (as if you need them) and especially quick healing.
  • Rare Item Drops increases the frequency and quality of rare items. Your goal is to get the most legendary items equipped.

You'll want to focus on dodging stuff while getting items that have upgrades in this order: Rare Drops, Dexterity (or STR or INT, depending on what weapon you have equipped) - this is VERY IMPORTANT for high dps, Health, and then a Weapon Upgrade. Once properly upgraded you can take down cars in a matter of seconds. Get going. A playthrough can be seen using this link.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gold Mine Board

Now for a real change in board design. Despite the (internal) name of the board, there is no gold present here (unless you perceive the base under the frog as one), and balls are essentially rolling on rails. Curve clears are hard due to the tunnels on both ends (since hot frog explosions can't get balls into tunnels) but it's still short enough that two hot frog shots will clear a curve when it rolls out again.

You'll want to resort to gaps and Gapple Sauce for this one... providing you stocked up on it the week prior. Don't worry, you have until this Wednesday or so before they're no longer buyable. (This includes Pyro Popcorn, but you shouldn't be using it for any decent high score.)

Despite the tunnels suggesting they can pack quite a few balls in there before they come out, the tunnels' length are actually two balls long - they teleport to the other side of the tunnel with no explanation.

Note: Next week's board post will be delayed until November 23.

Strategy: Double tap on both ends, but be aware that the balls must be almost near the second tunnel on either side before fruit spawns. Double gaps are possible, but both gaps must be small to receive the full double gap value.

Recommended Powers: x3, Time, Epic Fruit, Gapple Sauce, Spirit Eagle. You may also use Spirit Beetle if you want.

Gapple Sauce recommended, but they will disappear sometime this week - stock up on it. Else, use Combo Corn (if you have it) or Candy Lei, the former won't give you any single balls.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Arkandian Explorer: Through the Unfinished Dungeon


So many floors, even this map is unfinished.

A playthrough of Arkandian Explorer shows a few new challenges and a few additional features, however most of the game mechanics remain the same from the previous game.

Things changed:

  • Sockets available on some items, either find gems or use Disenchanters to get them off items (more likely to drop the more you use it, and increases Mysticism still as well)
  • New armor/weapons to craft. (Potions, however, remain the same) Don't worry about limited resources, you can buy them now.
  • Auto-attack buttons
  • Additional repeatable dungeons to unlock additional crafting blueprints and spells. (the Mapping spell was never found)
  • Wall/furniture for house not buyable - you need to take them from exploring dungeons.

Note the following:

  • Repeatable dungeons can only be repeated a finite amount of times, with the exception of the Unfinished Dungeon and prison (the latter being more expensive).
  • The campaign maps usually use this set of random maps as well.
  • If there is a quest chest (grey), the mission will end once you leave - use that to your advantage, especially with the Alchemist's dungeon - the last 10 unlocks (bottom row) are only hair dyes, so you can loot for stuff there without collecting the quest chest repeatedly and you're good.
  • Custom Shoes can be used to boost bargaining skill, with at most 20 gold per chance to raise it.
  • Artistry and Salvaging can be rapidly increased by using one item and crafting repeatedly. (this is actually explained in the tips)
  • Use sneak on Vault 13 (get mana potions if you need to) to get past enemies, and sledgehammers to get to chests easier. You may need two trips.
  • The Mapping spell can't be found anywhere (at least not in any tactical battles or quests) and as a result you can't use it.
  • The last alchemy recipe can't be unlocked on its own - it is called 'Exclusive Hair Dye' and you must guess it. Hint: Pink Hair Dye from Revenant.
  • The Unfinished Dungeon stops at 100 floors and has a quest chest there - it's 1GP.

Crafting Recipes: Download JPG (2.25 MB). Due to popular demand for this, I have decided to put this up. Regardless of whether or not the craft is successful, it will be saved in your recipes list for later use.

Unfinished: Due to having a lot of jobs queued up, the image was released before I perfected it - the image will be updated and made neater when I get the time to do it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Disassembling a Toshiba Portege Z385

I'm in this situation: Got an assignment to turn in later in the afternoon, fire up the monitor (connected via HDMI)... and there's no signal. Try the laptop, it won't power on. No lights, nothing. Check the power source. Hm... no problems here. So now what? Disassemble it and figure out what's going on.

My hope was to remove the hard drive that might be inside and use it as an external HDD, but it was a mSATA, something I don't have. I eventually fixed the issue (there was a break somewhere between the outlet and the laptop charger connector), but at least I learned something about it.

I know it voids warranties (and it's near the three month exchange period for Costco) but hey, it was time critical and I was very unwilling to return anything for repairs that has any kind of sensitive information on it.

Notes on it:

  • The middle screw to open it is a Torx Security screw, and I didn't have a Torx Tx6 with me, so I used a screwdriver to pry it open. It didn't work, but it broke the center of the screw, which meant my normal Torx screwdrivers could get it loose.
  • The laptop won't turn on if the (flat) battery is removed, even if it's provided with AC power.
  • The RAM is only 4GB one slot, which means that 2GB is onboard, you can expand up to 10GB, not 16GB as originally expected.
  • Even if I had access to the SSD, I don't currently have the equipment to get data off of it. Might consider getting a mSATA adapter if I needed to get data out in the future.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hot Springs Board


Guess I've become the board namer.*

Hot Springs: Where it's not just the frog, it's also the birds watching you play. And they also mentioned a few surprises coming within the next few weeks. The first? You've got two additional frogatars to choose from, including the new Blue Frog.

The board's very similar (if not exactly) like the volcanic Pretzel of Doom except two fruit locations were moved so as to make it easily accessible (previously you had to go through two layers of balls in some situations).

No new other features this week, but Here's a link for 10k coins (valid only within a few days of publishing this post).

Don't worry if you can't score as many points as before compared to previous boards - this board is by far the most difficult to score and high scores on the leaderboard will typically be lower than usual as a result.

Strategy: Gap on top left or top right, or double tap on bottom left or right. use Gapple Sauce, or Candy Lei if you have trouble with the gaps. (Note: Gapple Sauce will no longer be available for purchase on the 16th, so stock up if you need to.)

Or, clear ALL the curves! I'm relying on the much needed extra time - and the last 20 games recorded on PSSS shows solid performance with Curvy Fries. Don't fire blindly - use your head and rely on combos to push balls back, since they'll come out pretty quickly if you don't. You'll need three hot frog shots after a curve clear in order to clear it again (two if you're lucky, but don't count on it since the game only checks for curve clears once a second, and there's a good possibility you won't get it.)

Recommended Powers:

  • Gaps: The typical x3, Time, Epic Fruit, Gapple Sauce and your choice of either Beetle or Eagle.
  • Curve Clears: Hot Frog, Time, Epic Fruit, Curly Fries, Spirit Eagle.

Frogatars: Combination of Frog + Avatar. As of right now, you can choose one of two other frog styles to use in the game in place of your 'basic' frog. Your selection will be shown on friend's leaderboards. There is currently only a visual difference between using one frogatar and another, though future ones may have additional hidden powers associated with using them, so be on the lookout.*

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Renovated Jackson Rancheria


The entrance looks new... you can tell by the balloons.

I've decided to head over to Jackson Rancheria - heard their renovations were complete and they've got free promotions, so why not see the reopening? Only problem: I didn't come to Jackson before and I have no clue what was renovated and what wasn't. I know however there was one because there was balloons at the front entrance and they also said that in newspapers.

What I think was renovated: Most likely the lobby of the hotel, high limit room (they said it), a new roof near a new main entrance (they removed the old front entrance). New changes make it look par compared to the others I've previously seen.

Note on Jackson: A few years back, several seniors from my graduating class went over to Jackson Rancheria with a teacher. That's when the age limit was 18 and over. Not so today. Also, the promotional gifts (not available anymore) are random and if you happen to get a t-shirt, it's only available in extra large.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Popcap Zuma Swag Package

A month ago, I got word that Popcap really enjoyed my blog and its content and were going to send me a package of Zuma related goodness. It was in my PO Box yesterday when I went to check. For a little package it was quite large - it barely fit in the PO box, and had a hard time getting it out. I asked for someone on the other end to give it a push.


I guess little things come in big packages. (Wait, isn't that the other way around?)

You can see the true scale when I take it back to my workspace. (For reference, monitors are 21.5 inches diagonal.)

What do we have here? Gotta lay this one out...

  • Popcap Shirt (rare loot)
  • Zuma T-Shirt
  • Stickers
  • Limited Edition Lunchbox (with Zuma's Revenge)
  • Popcap Microfiber Cloth
  • One EA Water Bottle
  • Two 'wooden' USB Drives (actual wood on the outside, thought one of them was a rubber stamp)
  • Green Chuzzle (you can squeeze it and it squeaks :P)

I wonder if they're going to make any official apparel for the 'Blitz' series of games, or if they'll make a actual fuzzy werefrog. :P

Giveaways: I don't intend to do any physical giveaways here (it's quite hard to do so) - but what I CAN do is hand out virtual goods. I'm still waiting for approval for food and powers, but at this time, on my FB profile are coin posts over the past week (in packs of 4000) to give you a total of around half a million coins by the end of the week, if you decide to add (msg me about either zuma blitz or this post when you add to avoid getting flagged as spam).

Thank you, Popcap Tara, for all the goodies! :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Board

Welcome to a new week - have a Happy Halloween (or as they call it, Hoppy Halloween!)

Your frog turns into a Werefrog automatically this week if it isn't a spirit animal, by popular vote from the users. (Otherwise, it would be a Drac or a Skelefrog coming out of the coffin).

Two additional food items are only available this week, the Sticky Apple which slows down the curve a bit, and Combo Corn which increases those Combo bonuses by 15%. You wish you could stack this with Candy Lei, but no, it's also a food item. Unlike last week, there aren't any free samples, you'll have to buy them before you can try them out. (I suggest you don't.)

You can, however, pick up a game of Plants vs. Zombies for free this week using this link.

Other than that, whether you're trick or treating with a awesome costume or braving the hurricane on the East Coast... maybe without power... be careful out there.

Strategy: Gap / Double tap on the bottom right hand side of the board, or on the top of the curve goes far enough. Grabbing fruits is necessary for those high scores.

Recommended Powers: The typical x3, Time, Epic Fruit, Spirit Eagle, and your choice of either Gapple Sauce or Candy Lei.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sharing More Coins Per ZB Post

Note: Solved by daily gifts and message center, which give you 4k per gift received (once per friend, per day).

Previously, people had a much easier time grabbing mojo though conventional methods (mainly through fortune cookies, which through a trick allowed players to collect hundreds of thousands of mojo from a single person), allowing people with just a few friends to play quite a bit with that extra mojo. Now, coins gained are only based off of leveling up and feeds, and top players were mainly determined by those who could collect the most - which meant having to join groups and add tons of fellow players for both competition and coin sharing.

Unfortunately not everyone is comfortable adding tons of strangers in order get lots of coins. Even more are not comfortable about the near requirement of using third party programs to collect bonuses for them.

Solution? More coins shared in fewer posts - it won't have much effect for those with hundreds of Zuma friends, but for players who are only comfortable with a small amount Zuma players on their friend lists, this should even the odds a bit.

Effect: Greatly increases the amount of coins you can share to others per post. You get no additional coins from doing the below steps.

1. Fire up Fiddler, make sure you disable FB Secure Browsing

2. Enter the following, somewhere between the OnBeforeResponse Brackets...

        if(oSession.uriContains("/facebook/zumablitz/ajax.php")
            && oSession.GetRequestBodyAsString().Contains("getZumaSpinResults"))
        {
            oSession.utilSetResponseBody('{"response":{"payoutColumn":10,"consecutiveDays":1}}');
        }

This will make the game think you got 1 million coins per spin (and this is the only payout that allows you to share 4000 coins compared to 1000). However the server will know your true coin total, and will reset to that amount when you refresh.

3. (Optional) Enter somewhere between the OnBeforeRequest Brackets...

         if (oSession.uriContains("/dailyspin.xml")) {
            oSession.url = "bchantech.dreamcrafter.com/zumablitz/custom/dailyspin.xml";
        }

Not required, but prevents spamming others with feeds saying 'I just won ONE MILLION free coins', because you didn't. It connects to my server to get a replacement string file, so if you are unable to load the game, you can omit these lines.

4. Clear browser cache.

5. Start Zuma Blitz (from bookmarks, not via a collect feed). - and keep Fiddler open while the game is running to share extra coins for your spins.

Endless Zero Week


Yes, they are collectible. (Provided you're a friend, of course)

I'm starting to not like how Network Solutions are holding up these days... It has went from 99 percent reliability to almost zero. Can't access FTP at all (to upload leaderboard updates and whatnot), both Zuma Blitz and business material on that site (as well as almost all of the images on this blog) are offline. They haven't even reported on this issue either. Yep, screwed on that end.

I've decided to switch over to Dropbox for (makeshift) image hosting purposes. They're way more reliable than this - share public links, 10GB/day bandwidth to support those images... that's enough to support 10k pageviews a day, a limit I will reach in... what, maybe a month and a half?

Go get a Dropbox - 2GB of free storage (and probably much more than that), access anywhere you have an internet connection, syncs to computers, upload practically anything, with complete control over your files. One major step ahead if I forgot my flash drive for any reason or need to share something quick.

Onto the Zuma Blitz stuff. It's a new week and with that Halloween board and the Werefrog, we're supposed to be getting high scores right away. Not in the groups we aren't. We're busy sharing our coins using that new zero scoring technique.

Many people got bored and went for playing regular games after about 100 posts (100k coins shared total) - what's your highest? (I personally stopped at 40 and decided to go for sharing 4k daily spin coin posts instead.)

Zero Scoring Technique: (above) A coin sharing technique in which a player purposesly loses without scoring any points, done at the start of a week when the scores reset. Even though the score still reads 'No Score' it is still considered (at least by the game) to be a new high score and a 1000 coin post to be shared. If you've got the extra lives...

Update: Can no longer be done as of Nov 15, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Platter Board - Just Like Switchback Snap


Layout seem familiar?

Looks like we're into a whole new set of graphic designs for old boards. Now they've got shadows casting on the balls themselves.

The speed of the balls here aren't going to cut you any slack, making it a true 90 degree nightmare. Except for the newly introduced Blue Velvet Cake, which its extra fireball during Hot Frog can give you an edge. Pick up three of them with this link.

Strategy: Use the same two gap technique as on the Crab Board - align it bottom / left or top / right. Your choice. Or...

Recommended Powers: Either of the following strategies will work:

  • Gaps: x3, Time, Speed Ball, Spirit Beetle, Gapple Sauce. You could sub Speed Ball with Epic Fruit.
  • Fruit: x3, Time, Epic Fruit, Spirit Eagle, Gapple Sauce. A combination of gaps and fruit makes the best scoring option.
  • Third Option - All out. x3, Time, Epic Fruit, Spirit Eagle, Curly Fries. Your job: Try to clear as many curves as possible, and collect fruit as fast as possible too. Example video

Requesting Supplies: Using any of the above strategies could cost a considerable amount of coins for any casual player (65k a game average). If in the very unlikely event ZB gave you enough coins to play through a certain strategy mentioned above, which would you go for?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Popcornopolis


2-3 servings of it

First batch of Popcornpolis Popcorn bought from Costco. After trying it today and a year back, I've decided to buy some (at 4 bucks for a 4-11oz package).

Where to buy: There's not very many places around to buy them at, but Roseville Galleria might have some, as well as Costco, but only if they're doing a demonstration - when they're there, pick them up while you can, since they'll most likely disappear when they're gone.

At Costco, they typically offer these flavors: Zebra Chocolate, Caramel Corn, Kettle Corn, Cheddar Cheese, Pecan Caramel, and Cinnamon Bun.

Note: They're extremely good, and they're addicting to eat as well, but don't get too carried away with eating it. Its saturated fat is quite high in one serving (which is an ounce) at 25%, and there are 11 servings in a sizable container at Costco.

Update: You can still buy them at Costco as a small 12-pack and normal-size 4 pack (13.49 last I checked), you just lose the option to select your flavors (locked at Kettle Corn, Cheddar Cheese, Zebra, and Caramel Corn).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Creating separate Post Excerpts and Full Post Content

Sometimes there are occasions where you want the a blog excerpt to be different than just the beginning of a post when users browse through archives. This post explains how to do just that.

I discovered how to do this while trying to find ways to hide certain content on a blog post, and also because I didn't like the way some articles read 'post after the break' like you were reading it from a RSS reader and the same text showing up on the post itself. Having only excerpts prevents people casually scrolling through the blog and reading all the content in one go, and instead clicking 'read more' if interested - this allows me to see what types of posts people are reading, and what to post more of.

1. Insert the following code at the beginning of the post:

 <span id="customexcerpt">Enter Post Summary Here</span>

<!-- more -->

<style type="text/css">
#erhide {display:none;}
</style>

2. Change the 'Enter Post Summary Here' with what you want your excerpt to say.

3. Insert the rest of your post data after that.

You are set - the post summary will be different than the rest of your post.

Although this will make the data hidden from both the actual post and a RSS reader (if you set the RSS feed display to Full, at least on Blogger), if one were to copy the entire post it would also display the hidden excerpt data. Therefore it's recommended that it's used for images or for coherent posts.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fry's Gangnam Style Ads

Found this in Roseville Fry's today - they've gotten more creative with their ads, combining it with Gangnam Style (complete with the music video playing on a laptop). Yes, this is for bundle sales.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

GSKA @ Montbleu

Video jobs take place far and wide - GSKA is one of them. Doing a filming job over at the Montbleu Casino, on the balcony (where all the spotlights and other equipment are at).

Quite the most unusual theater arrangement I've seen so far - instead of the usual seat arrangement, there's a bunch of tables for seating, as well as a bar on each side.

Also introduced to the Pro3 Soundboard as well.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Covered with Knowledge (and tags)

Sometimes knowledge is superior in most areas, and it's what everybody seeks. That's what Fall 2012 in Concepts is about. Not about these topics, though.

I found two additional people from UOP CKI that keeps my own spirit up, and I'm happy to welcome Darshini and Nhi Phan to this group. Both people approved of this image. This is also one of the few images which I am tagged in.

Tags: These days, I value each image tag someone posts of me greatly (that is not from a game friend), because they don't happen very often. Without the large number of image appearances (less than 250, which is the lowest of any photographer or other major CKI member/officer), anyone can either deny I wasn't at an event and/or be unable to remember who I am in the future, especially newer members - therefore I will look around in friend's (and non-friends) albums and tag myself in there (provided they have tagged at least one other person).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

When Things Change (CKI-Wise)


When the CKI Flyers layout looks like Pac-Man.

In my viewpoint, things change dramatically after the time when I would (normally) graduate. During my freshman year, The UC was completed, changing the dining option (previously a buffet style, it was now pay as you go). At the same time, the library back at my old college was being renovated as well.

Now, not only did they change UOP as well (by including a new staircase in McCaffery and an additional lounge area), but things also changed back at CKI:

  • My original graduating class is completely gone at UOP CKI (although I did managed to find some people from my grad class still around at UOP itself).
  • Some of the classic events like the Dixon Corn Maze Social doesn't occur this year. (It's been demoted to a club-only event, it is only mentioned on the Davis CKI Newsletter)
  • The Turkey Trot event (previously done last year) gets replaced by a DCM in Nevada. So... I have to make a tough decision of which 5K I should participate in.
    • Stockton is closer, but costs more and it's more for competition and measuring performance on the field (as it's on trails which I am used to)
    • Davis Turkey Trot is cheaper and allows for exploration, but removes most of my reason to go without CKI present at the event.

Sometimes tough choices have to be made, and there are times when you do something, not because you know friends who are going to be there, either holding the signs up or watching you from the stands... but as a personal interest, for self-satisfaction.

A final decision was made to head over to Davis for the run, however only close friends (and viewers of this blog) will only know about this - I want my appearance there to be a surprise (as in running, not volunteering), just in case Davis CKI happens to be present.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

San Francisco Fleet Week 2012

#193E: Get on a boat. (Goal completed - USS Makin Island - more like a ship though)

Fleet Week - A week of festivities and music, including Air Shows (featuring Blue Angels), and Ship Tours (for free). If you haven't gotten a chance to see any ships close up, be prepared to be amazed by them. I was impressed by the impressive size of this carrier and its aircraft (from what I've seen from pictures).


View from USS Makin Island, looking towards the SF Harbor

A few miles north is Pier 39 and (if you're up for it) Marina Park. Though you can technically see these air shows anywhere, they offer the best views (with the latter giving you a full 360 view without obstructions). If you can't make it to either, you should get as high as possible (like a parking structure or walkway).

Blue Angels performing stunts

Considerations when Attending: (next year)

  • See the ships first, then the air show - they're larger than you think. But be prepared to walk quite a bit (at least a few miles).
  • If you're not from SF, it's better off to use the BART system and walk over to the piers than driving there - it cheaper than finding a parking space and it gets rather crowded, and this year was no exception to this rule. Be prepared for delays either way.

    (It was 6pm that day after the main events in San Francisco when the main BART gates on the Embarcadero were temporarily closed due to overcrowding on the platform. When they opened, everyone rushed down in order to get aboard the trains. There was also at least one newscaster on the scene. I know - I was there.)


First time here, are BART stations normally this busy?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Expanding Your Horizons: The Volunteer Side


The EYH Earthquake Structure Test.

I've heard of the Expanding Your Horizons events from my science teacher back during my high school years, and they still have them today. No interest because they were for girls only. However, I had the chance to see what it was like being on the volunteer side.

Basically, girls from across schools in various regions (including Downey High) attend this conference to interact with things geared more towards mathematics and engineering, with professors doing most of the teaching.

Volunteer and CKI Tasks

We, however, were presented with this for the day:

  • Serve food
  • Move boxes and supplies to various locations
  • Take down signs and tables when event is over
  • Event Icebreaker - Bang (at a point where I had to react quickly several times in a row and eliminate various people, including Annie Yu (with the reason for her was "Nothing personal, just trust issues.")
  • Watch other experiments.
  • DCM - Victoria Silva failed a name check - apparently she still doesn't know me after being in various events together for the past year.
  • DCM Minigame - find your 'partner' via guessing your character from asking yes/no questions. Found my pair (which was Huijie) but she apparently did not know this.*

But as a side bonus, CKI events always has fellowship afterwards. Which of course happened to be Sushi Buffet and a sushi-eating contest (record at 16). Good stuff - haven't been here for at least two years.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Balls do not work that way!

These are quite a few anomalies on Kroakatoa in which balls observed on the new island seem to break the rules compared to the other island.

Example: You fire two shots in quick succession. In Classic Zuma Blitz, your second shot will (almost always) go cleanly go through the first (assuming you made a match) and if the second matches, you're guaranteed a double tap gap shot score. However on Kroakatoa they can do one of three actions:

  • Your first shot makes a match, and the second ball passes through creating a gap shot. Everyone's happy.
  • (lower left four panes) The first shot (yellow) lands, but the second ball (red) lands in place before the first ball goes in all the way to trigger a match. Balls not cleared and you don't get any points.
  • (entire right half) The first shot (purple) triggers a match, but the second ball (red) doesn't trigger a gap shot. Instead, it behaves as if the fired purple ball still existed, sticks to the nearby set of balls, and rolls them all back with a combo. That's quite a loss of points there.

Both instances elicits a wtf from the beetle in question (as well as lower scores). Keep these cases in mind and fire a bit slower.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Project: ZB Advanced Extended Stats

Previously there was a Top 200 leaderboard made because the person who made the leaderboards discontinued it, before another person picked it up. Now, we have another program designed to help the needs of the users simply because Zuma Blitz didn't provide it yet.

Enter a program called Advanced Extended Stats for Zuma Blitz: A project that was made because people didn't know how well they did or where their points came from.

Description: Allows you to see your performance history in Zuma Bltz. At the time of writing, the game only gave you your score at the end of the game (as well as your friend's scores and level only), this program will give you a lot more than this. Can also give you board records, average board scores, etc.

This program can also get high scores of other people, even though you aren't friends with them - but only if they are also using this program to record their scores.

Implementation: As of November 4, the program is now available for the general public for use. Access it using this link. FB logins are not present at this time, but it might be in the future to display personalized stats.

Purpose: Another attempt to bring back the Top 200 leaderboard. It's a bit more complicated to use though, but at least players are not pulled in automatically - they instead must choose to op-in into this one.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stockton is Magnificent


The (somewhat) hidden mural painted last year

Stockton is Magnificent: One of the city-wide events in Stockton (the one in California) designed to turn the city's public image around. For the past few years, it's been hit with bad news - the city went bankrupt, the city was listed as one of the most miserable, etc. It was time to change that.

Filled with tons of booths centered around Miracle Mile, an art competition, stores on Miracle Mile trying to promote the festival, music (two stages) and a flash mob (I don't think I saw it this year though).

Mural Location: Look around for Baskin Robbins - It's to the right of it in an alley.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Physical" Network Models

Here's a literal definition of a "Physical" Network Model: When you're working on wiring in a networking lab with hundreds of wired connections and have bits and pieces left over. You then use the remains to create stuff. And either sell them or leave them there for others to see.

Tips: When dealing with a bunch of Ethernet wires, best to label each wire and test them before mounting them on a rack - If you don't do this and something goes wrong you're gonna have a bad time.

Design: This would normally fall under the 'Designed' category, but I didn't make it. Credit this to P. Miller and V. Tachkov instead.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

100 Million? Nope

Woke up to this. Even though the goal was to save as much as possible this week, screw the no power rules, we still have competition at the 100M mark.

Score Differences: The few million point difference might be huge to most people, but on this level this accounts to either a few extra matches (gap shots) or an extra time ball.

Update: Though I have climbed up to 2nd place, as of Sept 29 my top 5 now has a minimum score of 150 million.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Suitcase Board

Volcano Bob's erupting. Get packed up and get your best powers ready on this board, we're about to break a few scoreboards with some careful planning.

For the first time since May 2011, they have finally come up with a new board and design that takes advantage of the larger screen size. That means longer curves and huge amounts of points.

If you are using the old version of Zuma Blitz, the proper title of the board is "Journey to Kroakatoa", and the spawn locations of fruit are slightly different.

Current High Scores: 173 million (powers, ongoing), 36 million (no powers) on this board.

No Powers Challenge: In order to allow players to collect tons of coins from feeds and not worry about coin shortages, all major groups adhere to the No Power Week, where no powers, no food, and no monuments are used in games. It might be hard, but an experienced player will score quite well on this board (at least 10M+).

Tips: Get Fruit / x3 / Timelord as well as Candy Lei. Get one ball at the end of both curves and the rest near the start of the each curve. It's pretty easy to keep them down, and the Spirit Beetle can really tear up the board with its constant 1.5-2M double gaps once it's properly set up.

Additional note: The 1-2M strat here no longer works as of Oct 1, 2012, so if you were not on the top of the leaderboard and relied on this strat heavily you will no longer be able to beat your previous score.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

U-Lofts

The University Lofts (aka University Plaza Waterfront Hotel) is part of the Sheraton Hotel, one of the new hotels on the skyline built a few years ago next to the Stockton Arena. It was quite impressive, noting it as one of the most modern hotels I've seen here. Since then, it has changed owners quite a few times before it was split between hotel use, condos, and University Housing. I got the chance to see what it was like to live on one of these 'apartments'.

The glass windows and huge common area make it look spacious and perfect for parties, as well as providing nice views outside (they're located on the top floors, though you're paying more to get a room the higher up you go), but the bedrooms themselves have yet to be improved space-wise.

Its official site is here.

Pros:

  • You're near downtown.
  • Large common area, fully furnished.
  • All appliances and utilities available (electricity, water, tv, washer/dryer, etc.) without having to buy them / pay for services.
  • Weekly cleaning service (though they will not clean your sheets if you brought yours)
  • Free shuttles to UOP.
  • Rooms cost less overall than a UOP dorm room when living there for a school year (this includes the penthouse room, but not if you are the only one in it)

Cons:

  • Internet connections appear to be wireless only. (This may or may not be a good thing for some people)
  • Feels like too many bathrooms (four total for an apartment that houses five people).
  • Bedrooms quite as cramped as dorm rooms and you get less space to put your stuff in (you also lack a dresser), except if you happen to live in that one room with a huge closet.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Someone Else's Reunion

Here's to another reunion... of 1972.

Actually, that's not my reunion. It was my dad's reunion (he was taking pictures during his high school years). I actually made the 24-minute slideshow for the reunion, and many of the people there liked it.

Goofs: I saw the DJ (from David Allyn Kraham's Gypsy Express Co.) from my high school prom back during my senior year. He spoke to someone named Valerie for the prom this year - I immediately answered with Valerie Kong. That wasn't right.*