November 5, 2009

Hope everyone had an awesome Hallowe’een. A few of my friends and I went on a haunted walk in downtown Ottawa, and I learned a couple of facts that I might have been better off not knowing. And I’ll share some with you! How generous, right? One thing that I never knew before was that when Ottawa (or Bytown) was first being settled, what is now the downtown area was used as a huge cemetery with massive graves dug for those with diseases like cholera. As recently as 40 years ago when the National Arts Centre (NAC) was built bodies had been found emerging in the rain and also where they were to lay the foundation of the new building. The solution was to lay down more dirt and to put a huge stone gazeebo over top. PHEW.

The L4D Group: Louis, Hunter & Zoey


Happy Thanksgiving to all of you Canadians who read this blog, and a Happy Columbus Day to all of you Americans:)

(Scribblenauts hat… not really turkey-ish, but close?)

Last weekend a LAN I helped to organize, Battle Royale III took place at Carleton University. It was a blast, a lot of work, tiring (24 hours long + set-up/clean-up) and a great way to meet a bunch of new gamers- like UKM from the Uber Melons. It is always a neat experience meeting gamers in person after you have seen them around on the internetz. I was also pretty psyched that my Rock Band team made semi-finals, and my PC team won a game of Counter-Strike:Source, although none of us had played in ages.

I actually missed out on the first five hours of the LAN, as I was out and about with two other organizers buying about $900 more of great prizes, when we learned that our budget was actually in the green! I’m a fan of shopping, but not when it means missing out on a LAN! We ended up picking up a lot of great stuff such as an XBOX 360, Racing wheel for the XBOX, about 30 usb thumbdrives, and a Rock Band 2 set.

It is a little bitter-sweet now to have the event in the past… every week this summer I would meet up with the other organizers to brainstorm on how to make the LAN great, and I spent a lot of my free time contacting sponsors (ended up wrangling EA, Valve, Bawls, G4 Canada, and SteelSeries!) and coordinating details for the LAN. It was a really exciting day, and I’m sad that it is over now. I am looking to being more of a participant, though, at the next LAN 🙂

pinkNINJA la photographeuse 😀 want to see more? Click here !

(How to open blocked ports to play steam games at the end of the post)

I was really excited about the residence that I chose in Lyon, because the website said that it would have unlimited adsl internet. I was really looking forward to playing euro TF2 gathers with an amazing ping. When I arrived, though, the internet wasn’t working at all! The first night was very difficult sans internet.

I’m proud to say that I am almost certain that I was the only person to arrive with their own cat5/ethernet cord! You definitely learn a lot from going to LAN parties! When the internet finally did work, Steam still wouldn’t load for me. A week later, it miraculously let me login and use steam friends, which was nice, because I really missed all of my gaming friends. I wanted to say hello to them over ventrilo, but I wasn’t able to reach any servers- the American one I used to frequent or even the European one used for gathers. I went to a couple of websites to check which ports I had open, and the only was essentially 80, which is used for surfing the web.

I got the phone number of the network admin, and he answered my first phone call and gave me his email address, but it didn’t work at all when I tried to contact him to ask him to open a few ports for my MAC address. I tried to call him again to clarify his email address, but he started ignoring my calls, which left me without many options.

When I first arrived I tried connecting to my canadian university’s vpn through the Cisco vpn client, but the port to run that program was blocked, too. One of my friends told me about the VPN service Perfect Privacy, but it was a bit too pricey for my tastes.

I did some searching, and I came across Strong VPN and it has been really great. I checked out a couple of cheaper VPN services, but they would take days to answer my questions, whereas I would receive a response from Strong VPN within minutes. I am paying $45 for 3 months (no set-up fee special). I have been able to play TF2 again, and it felt absolutely amazing to play it for the first time in almost 2 weeks; I definitely felt a surge of adrenaline pumping through my veins; it’s funny how you lose that sensation when you play it everyday. I have to play with a ping of 100 which is not ideal, but it’s better than no gaming at all. I am happy to be getting better download speeds for torrents when running the VPN.

I would definitely recommend paying for a VPN service if you are also a gamer or geek who wants ultimate internet freedom; there are tons of VPN companies out there, so check around, and see which one offers servers located near you 🙂