Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another year Done

My busiest semester yet is over and another crazy one is on it's way but before it comes I hope to get a bunch of stuff updated on this site, so look for new content soon and the announcement of LAN-O-THON v4.5.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Whew, after months of planning and two days of settinging up LAN-o-thon fianllay happened. Thanks to all those who came! We had some interesting challenges this time around like the visit from the campus the campus fire marshal and the head of resident building maintenance and the hl2dm tournament server crashing but we pushed forward and had a decent event. The tf2 action was awesome and every one had a great time playing it.

Our next event will be late febuary. I will post the date once it is finalized

Friday, October 26, 2007


RHA LAN-O-THON v4.0 will be October 26, 2007 at 7:00 pm at the University of South Florida (Tampa Campus). It's the 9th largest university in the US and you've probably never heard of it

It's going to be a 50 seat BYOC. USF Students Only and those who live on-campus have priority.

Games we will be hosting servers and tournaments for-
-> Counter-Strike: Source
-> Half-Life 2: Deathmatch
-> Day of Defeat Source
-> Team Fortress 2

We will be providing at least 25 temporary Steam accounts with the above games for the event.

This is a social event, so feel free to just to play WOW, surf the internet or just hang out but a computer is required to enter.

We are interested in having other games at this event but we are limited by man power. If you would like to manage a server for another game, please message me and we can work something out.

Registration has finally started!! So head over and Sign Up.

The process is a little different this year because with more people, comes a need for better planning. Our registration form this year is collecting more info so we can prepare better event. We are interested in finding out what games people want to play and such. This time around we are trying to take security seriously, so again this year, we will be signing computers in and out of the building but we will have a better system and as another defense, we are only allowing people who bring a computer to enter.

See you there!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

LAN Party Friday!

Wow, the LAN Party is this week. I've been working hard getting everything ready to go. I got a bunch of temporary accounts from valve this week so any guests who don't own Team Fortress 2 or any of Valves other multiplayer games will be able to play them free and legally. This ought to be a great event! See you there!

ps. Early registration ends Wed!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Sorry for the lack of updates, my life has gotten really really busy. Architecture, as predicated, has consumed my life and now, I have almost zero free time. I'm still going to make LAN-O-THON v4.0 a great event, I'm devoting every spare moment this week getting ready for it.

This past week our box of goodies from Alienware arrived and earlier this week, more stuff should be arriving. I post pictures soon.

Please sign up early as it will make check-in for the event go a lot faster for everyone. We need help setting up on the 25th so if you're available stop by the RHA office around 1pm or Cypress E later in the night.

See you there!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Registration Starts

Last week, Sign Up for the LAN Party Started. So if you want a seat saved for you, GO! before they are gone.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Weekly Update 9/3/07

LAN-O-THON v4.0 News
In the mail Friday, I got our first box of goodies. The nice people over at Vroom Foods, who make FOOSH™- Energy Mints and BUZZ BITES™ - Chocolate Energy Chews sent us a bunch of samples to give out. Everyone is going to a sample of the BUZZ BITES in their goodies bag and you'll also have a chance to win more in the raffle and other events.

In the next week, I hope to launch the official registration for LAN-O-THON v4.0. This year we are doing things a bit differently. After last years large number of no-shows, a different system was needed. On our site soon, there will be a registration form in PDF format that you will need to print out, fill out and drop off at a yet to be determined location.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Orange box is finished.

In an interview posted on the web today, Gabe Newell himself said that all thee games were done. The Half-life 2: Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal box will be released on Steam October 10th at 12:01 (Pacific time). I quoted some of my favorite parts:

Game Informer: So how are things going with the development of the Orange Box?

Gabe Newell: Good. We ship to retailers on October 9. October 10 at 12:01 we let it go on Steam, and it’ll probably show up at retailers Europe on the 12th.

GI: Are all three of the games pretty much finished?

Newell: Yep.

GI: So you’re just bug testing, and everything is in its final phase?

Newell: Yes.

GI: Will it be available separately on Steam?

Newell: We’re going to announce specific stuff. But we’re probably going to have a bunch since there are no shelf-space issues on Steam, so we’ll have a bunch of different offerings. All the multiplayer products, all the single player products…So we’ll just try to figure out the most popular ways that people will want to buy it.

GI: Obviously, with Episode Two, I don’t want to get any spoilers out there. The tone seems to be, at least with what we’ve seen of the trailers, a lot darker. Like, this could be the Empire Strikes Back of the Half-Life trilogy. Do you think that’s safe to say?

Newell: Yes. I think that we tried to make it darker and also have more of an epic feel so that’s translated into the settings and some of the events that have happened. It’s got to be dark before it gets better! (laughs) That’s the rule of trilogies. This is the middle act. This is where all of the problems get worse. The depth of your problems becomes much clearer before everything gets resolved in the third act.

GI: To you have a target date for Episode Three?

Newell: No, we don’t have a target date.

GI: That’s probably a safe answer. (laughs)

Newell: If we did, would it matter? (laughs) Have we done right yet?

GI: No. (laughs)

Newell: I think a target date is when people can start yelling at us with more ammo. (laughs)

[Read More]

A new video of HL2.2 was posted online ****contains spoilers****.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

How to: Setup a Dedicated FreeBSD Web Server

Ok, you may be asking- Why Use FreeBSD instead of one of the many Linux distros like Ubuntu or Fedora? Well, these distros are great for desktop use but they are not as reliable, stable or as fast as FreeBSD is in the server environment. The only downside to FreeBSD is that it doesn't have the snazzy installers the others have and at first glance, it can be a little daunting to install but don't worry this guide attempts to make it easier. I use FreeBSD because it's what my web hosting company uses on their servers. I like to test my web applications on my own server before making them live on the web and I like it loose software license, it allows virtually unrestricted re-use and modification of the source code for any purpose, Apple's OSX was derived from it.

Step 1
This point is where I found that this FreeBSD Install Guide over at was far better than what I was writing. So use it! (It's like they read my mind... scary!). I still plan on making a video version though.) The guide takes the long way to install but it will give you the best results. You'll come to love the command line.

Friday, August 24, 2007

USF Architecture is Sweeeeet!

I just finished touring what will be my studio space for this semester and it looks great. By the number of desks, there should be around 16 students in the class, a great number compared to some of my past classes. I also took a peak in some of the other rooms. The wood shop looks cool with a bunch of different tools and next door, the computer lab is brand new with big monitors and fast computers. I can't wait for class to start!

Meet the Soilder

Valve has released another one of their great promo video's for Team fortress 2.

There's also an HD Version

New Address!

If you're a frequent visitor you may have noticed our domain name changed. the blog now has a more official sounding address of and the main site for the event registration is keep in mind that I'm cheap and this address redircts back to the old address of I'm giving google apps a try and having gmailfor our domains email. The DNS record is still updating so email won't be working for another 24 hours.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Weekly Update 8/18/07

While I was away, I got two more offers for sponsorships. I don't have anything to confirm yet though. I started work on some ads again. Hopefully I will have some ready to post soon after classes start.

I'm still working on more site content... I know I'm slow.

The LAN Party Initiative
I setup a group on the steam community for our group, check it out

Friday, August 17, 2007

It's good to be Home

After traveling for two weeks, It's nice to be in my own bed. My trip was great. I visited Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Hallstatt, and Salzburg in Austria, Munich, Germany, and flew out of Zürich, Switzerland. I also quickly visited New York City during our 8 hour layover at JFK. I am working on getting some pic posted and working on a Weekly LAN Party Update.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Steam- Update News

Weekly Update 7/28/07

Ok this has to be my slowest week yet. Honestly I've done squat. Well I did a few small things- I got the logout button working on my new site. I played around with phpbb3. attempted to install ubuntu. (microsofts vm'07 hates it, got a different vm to try). I help my cousin move. (I'm still tired from that). I went to the gym. I got a slurpee. (Where would I be without those delicious smooth frozen caffeinated drinks?) and I'm going to sleep.....


O wait! I can't sleep!!!!!!!!! I have to pack for my vacation!!!!! My family is spending 2 weeks in Europe!!!!!!! (Ok. If I keep this up, exclamation points are going to be an endangered specie) I leave next week. If they have internet I'll post some pictures. We're going to Budapest, Viennia, München, Zurich and a bunch of cities in between. Btw, On my Birthday, I'll be in München ( probably without internet) so thank-you in advance for all of you who will write on my facebook page.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Game server Memberships

As you may know,The LAN Party Initiative is sponsoring a couple of game servers. To fund these, I'm selling 4 levels of memberships- Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Bronze $3 for 3 months
Reserved Slot on one server

Silver $3/month
Reserved Slot on both servers
Immunity from the crazy admins
ability to kick nonmembers
ability to play sounds.

Gold $6/month
Everything above and ...
Temp ban players
Manage maps
trigger map votes
ability to hard restart the server.

Platinum $12/month
Ability to permanently ban users
Full Mani-Admin tools
(below- one server only)
Have rcon access
Have root server access
Ftp access to add maps

If I sell out of reserved slots, I will buy more slots for the server.

Buy for three months and save 11.11% (aka. silver for 3 months = $8)

Please paypal the money to and include the membership level you want, your gamer handle and steam id in the message box. If you don't know your steam id, see the link below. Please

allow me at least 12 hours to set up your account.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Suprise Revealed

I have been hyping this surprise for quite a while now. With a little luck and a lowball ebay bid
I am the proud owner of 4 Chauvet Intimidator 2.0, a USB to dmx adapter and plenty of cable. Below is a quick demo by one of the lights.

This video is a better demo.

One more quick demo. This is one features a possible scene from my LAN Party light show.

See this page for more info on the lights.

Weekly Steam Message

Friday, July 20 2007

Last month, we announced the Steam Community, which will let you connect with friends and other gamers, create and join groups, and organize matches. We're adding the final polish now and are right on target to launch the beta version at the end of the month. More details on the way.

A note to owners of Half-Life 2 and Episode 1: If you buy the boxed retail version of The Orange Box, you can simply hand-off the games you already own to a friend. Or, you can give away the games within Steam. When you install the Orange Box, Steam will identify the duplicate games and let you send them as gifts to a friend, which will enable them to download the games from Steam for free.

THQ joined Steam this week, kicking things off with three great games: Company of Heroes (widely regarded as one of the best RTS's ever made), Titan Quest (RPG) + the Immortal Throne expansion, and Full Spectrum Warrior + the Ten Hammers expansion. You can read more about the starting line-up.

If you're looking for a cool indie game to play this weekend, check out Gish, the 2005 Independent Games Festival Grand Prize winner. It's a platformer set in subterranean sewers. You play as a ball of tar. Enough said.

Weekly Update 7/22/07

Sorry for being a few days late with this update. I spent the the weekend up in north Georgia helping to celebrate my maternal grandparents 50th Anniversary.

My grandmother wanted a BIG party at her house but that meant that there was a lot of work to do to get everything clean and setup. I spent most of the party directing cars were to park. (It got me out of some of the say hello to this person who hasn't seen you since you were an infant talk). Overall the party went well and every one had a lot of fun but now I'm exhausted.

I did get to escape for about an hour after the party to go visit my paternal grandparents lake cabin and go for a boat ride to have a nice break.

Now back to LAN Party news....

I have a new sponsor to announce.... GIGABYTE (Thermal Division) . They are donating one of their mid tower GZ-X1 chassis for us to giveaway. I don't now what it will be prize for yet, but I can't wait to give it away!

I'm going to start my FreeBSD Install article this week. I've been playing around with some different configs using Microsoft's free Virtual PC 2007. It's a great free way to try out different operating systems and such. I've was running a couple of virtual pc's running all week. I have my plan nailed down. I'm going to do a video walk through because I'm lazy and sick of writing long articles. I may transcribe it later in to a nice text article. It is going to be a multi part thing so expect How to do a basic install and get a gui installed

The LAN Party Initiative
I have our Counter-Strike: Source Server setup and ready to go. (Click here to play) If you don't own the game, you can buy it over here. I also setup a stats site for you to see how you rank against everyone else. Im still crafting a nice motd (the front screen you see when you connect) for the server. I still plan on setting up a HL2: Deathmatch server once they come off backorder. I'm going to be on playing the server Monday night if anyone would care to join me.

MCD Portal
My web software is one step closer to being done. I finished the ACL and login system. I'm going to start on the log out page and the user admin panel.

I'm going to post a picture showing off my LAN Party secret I've been talking about soon.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New CS:S Server for us!

Tonight I ordered a Counter-Strike: Source for our group. I hope to have it setup and ready go by tomorrow afternoon. I hope to see you all on it!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Weekly Update 7/13/07

I got an interesting email out of the blue from a company interesting in sposnoring our event. I'll let you know how it pans out.

The LAN Party Initiative
I'm still planning on getting a Counter-Strike: Source and a Half-life2: Deathmatch server for our group. East coast Source servers are still backorder at Consider supporting the group by shopping online using these links. To raise addtional funds I'm going to sell reserved slots for $3 dollars (good for a spot on each server) or add $3 dollars more and get some admin privileges such as setting the map rotation. Discuss this more over here

I've started work on my freeBSD article. I'm trying a few different things out to see what works the best. My box is a little slow installing it so its going to take a little while.

MCD Portal (the CMS I'm writing)
The CMS I'm writing is looking great. I got the registration and login forms done, sessions and user/group data inheritance works. A lot of the code is a mess but I'll work on it later. Next is applying the Acl info from the user session info.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Crazy Guy Video

This has to be the most absurd adaptation of gaming to real life. This guy loved his third-person game perspective so much he created a rig to experience it in real life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Installing FreeBSD

Well I started to install a fresh copy on my webserver but I forgot to install a few parts and so now I'm starting over again. FreeBSD is fairly easy to install. Not windows easy but easy enough. It's getting all of the extra modules installed is the hard part. By default, the only things FreeBSD installs is the command line. This is great for servers and advanced users but makes its hard for Windows users to transition. For ease of configuring my new server, I'll have it install a GUI which I can later disable when I'm done. Since FreeBSD 's command line default, its the installer is not as pretty as some of the Linux's but prettiness doesn't affect it's function.

So now I'm onto attempt #2.
I'm currently waiting on my machine to finish installing the list of ports I want. Ports are software that are in a master list of software available for FreeBSD and makes it easy to find any software you want to install. Hopefully I'll post chapter 1 of my install article tomorrow.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Teaser Pic #2

Ok here's a little bit more revealing picture. Next week's pic should give it away completely.
Start your guessing. If you're a good at google you'll get close to the answer quickly.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Weekly Update 7/6/07

I haven't heard back from any more companies on sponsorships. I did follow up with a guy from thermaltake so hopefully I'll have banners up soon for them. I'll post another picture of my LAN Party surprise tomorrow.

The LAN Party Initiative
I'm going to get a Counter-Strike: Source and a Half-life2: Deathmatch server for our group soon. East coast Source servers are still backorder at These server cost money to run so consider using these options to support it. To raise addtional funds I'm going to sell reserved slots for $3 dollars (good for a spot on each server) or add $3 dollars more and get some admin privileges such as setting the map rotation. Discuss this more over here

I bought a hard drive to setup freebsd on so this week I'll start working on my server guide.

MCD Portal (the CMS I'm writing)

The CMS I'm writing is coming right along. I got the display block system setup and now I'm starting work on the first module- Users which is probably the most critical as it controls user registration, login and who has access to what and I started laying out the database setup for it. The first subcomponent I'm have to tackle is the ACL (access control list). the ACL is the bit of code that detrimes whether not a user has permission to access a component and will allow me to grant indivual users the rights to somethings like add news articles but not others like delete those articles. I've never used such an advanced ACL setup like this but I'm using the ACL componet of the Zend Framework so going to be fairly easy I hope. My goal is to have a working site by the end of July. The next module is news and then search and then I would like to work on recreating all that ALP can do using my new cms.

My parents family room remodeling project is getting closer to being done. The walls were painted and the floor got tiled this week but we are still waiting on the trim, finish electrical and windows to replace the old ones. I can't wait to be done baby sitting this project so I can work on other things.

My dad took off work today so he could finally clean and prep the sailboat he bought used a few months ago. He's been so busy that we've haven't gone sailing on yet and it's just been sitting in storage so I'm glad the boat's getting one step closer to being sailable. The picture left is the only picture of the boat I have at the moment. Its from the sales listing so I have no idea who the guy on the boat is. I'll try and remember to take a new picture tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Source Engine and Steam Client Update

Source Engine
  • Fixed VAC icon not showing up in server browser
  • Fixed the Buy Favorites button not working
  • Enhanced sv_pure's output
  • Fixed delay when disconnecting from a server
  • Fixed a rare crash in Day of Defeat: Source
  • Made demos record screenshot and jpeg commands
  • Added the cvar cl_playback_screenshots to control whether or not the screenshot and jpeg commands are replayed while playing back a demo
  • Fixed the Add/Remove/Edit/Import buttons in the dedicated server's Bans page

Steam Client
  • Added a "Go Offline" option in the File menu, which will let Steam run without an Internet connection
  • Fixed localization of "English" in language dropdown for Dutch and Norwegian languages
  • Fixed the ATI Hardware Promotion not being accepted on 64bit versions of Windows
  • Fixed the mouse wheel not scrolling when the cursor is over a flash image


Monday, July 2, 2007

Teaser pic

A week and a half ago I hinted that I had a surprise for the LAN Party and when I was writing the (very lame) weekly update and last week I forgot to post the teaser pic I promised so here it is.

A few hints: It was one of those low ball bids I didn't expect win on ebay and people will want to borrow it for their own events.

Stay tuned for a better pic next week.

Help support The LAN Party Initiative

I want to rent game server to run CS:S and HL2DM so all of you to play against each other all semester long but my funds have run out so now I'm starting a fundraiser.

All you have to do is use the links below when you go shopping online. It doesn't cost you anything but I'll make a small commission off of your purchase. Use these links when you're buying your text books this fall or buying computer parts. If you shop at a company that I haven't listed, leave a comment and I'll look to see If I can get a link for it.

Other Options
  • Make a Donation via Paypal (see the "Donate Now" button in the right hand column)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Weekly Update 7/1/07

Ok I now I'm late but not much happened this week. I spent a good bit of time supervising our remodeling project. the drywall is up and is going to be painted tomorrow. Last night, I finally started working on my CMS (Content management system) using the new Zend Framework and the SWAT Application system as a template system. I want a block driven template system and thats what Swat is all about and is much better than Smarty. I probably will butcher the integration of the two since they both try to do some of the same things but it should work.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Late night Steam Fix

I found this problem in the steam forum....

When i open steam there is a box that says updating steam and it is stuck at nothing. What do i do?

Your internet connection is messed up. Steam can get a connection but can't transfer data. Make sure your firewall isn't blocking some of Steams ports or that somewhere else on your network is like your router or ISP.

I see this problem when I'm connecting to a captive portal like pay wifi. Steam sees that there is internet access but it can't connect until I open Firefox and login into the wifi.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Weekly Update 6/23/07

This week I launched my new LAN Party Initiative. I still have a lot of work to do to get things set up but it will be ready to launch by the time classes start back. Join this Facebook group for more information. I'm Already impressed with how many people join the group. It's going to be a great fall semester. (that and me being run over by the SACD work load)

I posted my article- How to: Make a LAN Cable but it still needs one more editing pass. I also need to add a section on the differnet types of cat5 cable and which ones are best for patch cables. I'm not a very good writer and I get tired of proof reading after a while. I still need to post the video version too. The next article "How to: Install pFsense" is on hold until version 1.2 comes out of beta and "How to Setup a web server" is also on hold until I get a new hard drive for my server box. So my article for this next week will be either budgeting or event layout. Also I want to start posting reviews of HL2:DM maps so I may start a couple this week.

As far as sponsorships go, I don't have any new information. Still waiting to hear back from companies.

In other news, this blog is finally in the yahoo search results. After yahoo failed to crawl my site automatically (they have something against Google's blogger app. All the other search engines picked it up on their own), I manually submitted it 2 week ago and finally it's showing up. Over 60% of my blog hits come from Google so it's good that I can get some from yahoo too.

I also got a surprise planned for LAN-O-THONv4.0. It will help shed light on our event. I'll post a teaser pic next week.

Intel wants fair and balanced online gaming

Intel just caught Player 1 cheating at Quake 3.
(Credit: Tom Krazit/CNET
SANTA CLARA, Calif.--There's always one guy who seems a little too good at mowing down players in a Quake 3 session. Intel thinks future PC gamers might be interested in technology that helps level the playing field.

The company showed off a research project into "anti-cheat technology" during its Research@Intel Day at Intel headquarters. The idea is that Intel and the PC gaming industry would build technology into gaming rigs that could detect when common cheats--such as "aimbots" that handle targeting while the player just holds down the trigger--are used in an online gaming session, said Travis Schluessler, a researcher at Intel.

Cheats such as aimbots or "wall hacks" that expose players lying in wait send data to online gaming servers in unnatural patterns that could be detected by other PCs connected to the same server, Schluessler said. PCs equipped with this technology would notify a server that someone in the game is using a cheat, and then the game administrator could set a policy of kicking the cheat offline or some high-tech method of saying "nyeh, nyeh, cheater cheater," shaming the cheater and warning other gamers not to enter into sessions with that particular player.

Intel is still working out the details; don't expect to find this in a high-end gaming PC anytime soon. This also being Intel, there's more practical business-related implications for the technology as well, such as click-fraud detection. But with the amount of money that serious PC gamers spend on their rigs and software, there could be a market among those who don't want to see their investments ruined by cheaters.


Screens of the upcoming Steam Community

Searching the web this week, I found some one who took a picture of what the new Steam Community from Gabe Newell keynote speech at Showdown LAN.

The control panel
Gabe Newell gave a presentation at the Showdown LAN event the other day (thanks Greg), which seems to have focused on the Steam Community. Fortunately for us someone had a camera, but don’t get too excited: there’s nothing particularly remarkable yet. There are surprises, like global voice support handled by Steam itself and support for external games, but otherwise it’s what you might expect from a post-Xbox Live community system.

Gabe’s release estimate is this summer July, before the launch of Team Fortress 2 and the Orange Box.

Gabe’s slides

The “Steam Identity”

Create Profile and Home page

Control Panel

Public versus private
Real-time status
Revamped all the communications function to make it easier to play with your friends

Find a friend
See who’s online or playing
Invite Friends to chat or play
Join a friend’s game


Instant Messaging, integrated voice (finally), and chat rooms

Works with non-Steam games


Join or create new groups

Scheduling/Organizing tournaments and matches


Thursday, June 21, 2007

The LAN Party Initiative

No we're not going to strand you on a haunted island in the middle of the Pacific that's only accessible by submarine, rather This group is meant to promote LAN Parties at USF.

If you have no idea what a LAN party is have a look at

This Initiative has three objectives
#1 To get new LAN Parties started at USF and to help these events by providing some of the necessary supplies.
#2 To Advertise these Events
#3 For People to have fun!

Part 1
This Initiative is to get people to start their own small LAN Parties in their own dorms. To help you out, I'm going to set up a system where you can borrow some of my collection of supplies like extension cords, power strips, switches/routers and LAN cables to make it easier to do.

Part 2
To advertise these events. Please see the discussion board to find upcoming events or post your own. When a new event is posted, I will send out a message to all the group members to let them know about it. So invite your friends to join this group so they can get these updates too.

Part 3
Everyone needs a break from their school work and these events make for a nice diversion. I love LAN Parties and I have gotten my friends hooked so hopefully you will go out on a limb and try one too. Since we can't have a LAN Party every night, I've set up some game servers so that we can play against each other any time.

Play on our Counter-Strike: Source Server:

Check your rank at our new Stats Server...

Coming Soon- Our Half-life 2: Deathmatch Server.

Help support these servers by using these links when you go shopping online-

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

VALVe Planning Major Update for Steam

This summer Valve will ship a major update to its online gaming platform Steam, introducing an advanced set of community features to more than 13 million gamers around the world.

Beginning in July, Steam users can set up their own personal Steam pages and profiles, create and join groups, schedule games with friends, review who they've played with, see how well everyone played, chat with groups, chat via voice, and more. These new community services and features can be used with all Steam games, which include new releases and classic titles from leading publishers and independent developers.

Free of charge, the new community features will be accessible via the Steam desktop client and via the web.

"Our community has given us great direction on the ways they want to see Steam evolve," said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. "Adding these new community features to make it easier to connect with other gamers is something we've wanted to see on Steam for a long time and this latest update is just the start. We've got a long list of items that we're working on to make it easier for gamers to connect and play games on Steam."

This upgrade marks the largest extension to the Steam platform since its first commercial release in March 2004. In its three year history, Steam has defined the next generation online gaming platform delivering hundreds of games to millions of users with services such as Guest Passes, Automatic Updates, Free Weekends, and allowing gamers to access their games from any PC.

For more information, please visit
[Planet Half-life]

It's cool VALVe is adding some new features to Steam. I can't wait to create my own profile and have another way to advertise my LAN Parties. Hopefully VALVe will be able to implement the upgrades without screwing it up and creating another community backlash.

A Fish in a Coffee Pot

My fish tried to stage a jail break so I had to find a place to put him till I could buy a new bowl. It just by happened that the spare coffee pot was about the right size. This is starting to sound like something from a Dr. Seuss book. It's hard to see the break in the little picture but the break is on the very front towards the bottom.

(Ok, I fess up, my fish ain't smart enough to do it on his own, I broke the bowl while I was cleaning it)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How to: Make a LAN Cable

[Its late and I'm going to bed even though I still need to edit this one more time so please excuse any errors.]

LAN cables are used to link computers together to form a network. This network is a core component of a LAN Party and LAN cables are a key ingredient in it. These cables can also called network cables, cat5 cables and other names so don't get confused.

Why make my Own?
Simple, It's cheaper. For example to buy 100 10ft cables would cost about $175 but you can make them yourself for about $100. At a LAN Party where budgets are tight this can be a great money saver. Another benefit is that you can custom size the cables for your needs so they fit "just right" and you don't have messy piles of extra cable around.

Getting Started
First you are going to need a few tools to get started:
From left to right: standard wire cutters, cable stripper for standard UTP cable, crimper for RJ45 plugs, basic CAT5e cable tester (optional). You can buy most of these at your local hardware store but it may be cheaper to buy them from a company like, a site that sells these sort of things for dirt cheap.

And some supplies

From left to right: Cat5e cable and RJ45 Connectors/Plugs.
You can also buy most of these at your local hardware store but it may be cheaper to buy them (especially the plugs) from a company like a site that sells these sort of things for dirt cheap. Ensure that the plugs match the the type of cable you're crimping. For example, stranded cable needs plugs designed for it and solid core cable needs a different type for it.

Step #1 Cut to Length

Measure out the length of the cord you want to make. Add 2 inches extra for when you strip and trim the ends before crimping it. Cut the cord using your standard wire cutters.

Step #2 Strip the Ends

The next step is to strip an inch of insulation off each end. Start by by placing the the cable in the correct spot in the wire stripper for cat 5 and spin it around few times to get a nice clean cut. If its your first time using you it, you may need to adjust the blade so that is cuts cleanly through the outer sheath without damaging twisted pairs inside. To adjust it, take a screw driver and tighten or loosen screw at tip. Its good idea to test it on a spare piece until you get the blade set right. It is better to set it too shallow than to have it cut too far and cause damage. Give the end a little twist to free insulation and then slide it off. Repeat on the other end.
Step #3 Get the Wires in Order.

There are 4 twisted pairs in a Cat5e cable, each a different color: orange, green, blue, and brown. Each pair has a solid color wire and a white wire often with a matching stripe. For example the orange pair is made up of a orange wire and a white of orange wire. It is important to keep track of which white wire belongs with each solid wire because it is hard to tell the white wire apart if things get confused. The final order of the individual wires should be white of orange, orange, white of green, blue, white of blue, green, white of brown, brown. This may sound confusing but there is an easy way of doing things.
Hold the end of the cable in your hand and bend the orange pair to the left and the brown pair to the right. Then bend green pair to the bottom and blue to the top

Then untwist each pair and smooth them out so you can start lining the wires up in the correct order. Get each pair in the right order looking from the top: white of orange should below orange; white of blue should be to the right of blue; white of brown should be above brown and white of green should be to the left of green.

Bend white of green upwards so that it sits between the orange and blue wires and then bend the green upward so that it is between white of blue and white of brown.

then gently slide the wires together so they are all parallel to each other and smooth them out

Step #4 Trim

Once the wires are in the right order, You need to trim off the excess so when crimp the cable all the individual wires are siting correctly. When your trimming you want to make sure that not only the outer sheath extends as far as possible in to the connector but that individual wires do to. First just get all of the wires even by snipping off just the wires that hang past the shortest one. then test fit the connector by sliding the row of wires into the connector (tab side down, gold side up) making sure to keep the wires flat and in order.

Then trim the excess until the outer coating can't be slid in any further. (in the picture left the wires are too long and need to be trimmed)

For the first few times it will take trial and error to get the wires in the connector correctly and get the length right, but after a while you'll get the hang of it.

Step #5 Crimp

Once the wires are all in the connector correctly (make sure you triple check the color order) insert the wire with the connector on it in to your crimper and firmly press the cable in the connector while squeezing the crimper.

Use a fair amount of pressure and hold it for a few seconds to make sure you get a really good crimp. Then give the wire a little tug to make sure the crimp is tight. If the connector comes off cut of the end and start over.

Step #6 Test

Once you get both ends crimped its time to cross your fingers and test it. for the first round i use a cheap tester I got off of eBay. You just plug in both ends and turn the tester on. On my tester both lights on each channel should light up to signal a good cable. After that I test it by connecting it to my laptop and switch to see if I can load a web page or two. If fails one these the only option is to start over.

All Done! You should now have cables that you made yourself.

Have a question? Did I leave something out? That's what the comment box is for.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bloatware on new PC's

This is a great video showing just how bad this problem is


Cool Case Mod Pics

Thats insane!
my regular morning surfing of the web, I came across some case mod pics that knocked my socks off. Have a look at some of the insane mods. i'm seriously thinking about hosting one of these at our event just to see what the crazy students at USF can come up with.

View More....

Orange box gets a release date.

Yesterday, during a pre-E3 press event held at Electronic Arts' Los Angeles offices, members of Valve Software revealed the official launch date for the highly-anticipated Half-Life 2 game compilation, The Orange Box. The big day is October 9th.

This is exciting news for just about any gamer because The Orange Box includes a little something for everyone: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, the unique physics-based first-person puzzle game Portal, and the long-awaited Team Fortress 2. The Orange Box is scheduled to ship simultaneously on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

I'm glad to see that valve set a date for the release of this fantastic set of games. I can't wait to play them at our LAN Party. Please Valve don't suddenly decide to delay it again and ruin our LAN Party plans

Weekly Update

Ok this week I finally spent some time to type up an email to send to companies who only list an email address for sponsorship request. I kinda like the Email thing because it gives me a chance to explain all about are event in a little bit more detail than some of the web forms on some of the other sites. So yesterday I sent out about 5 emails to these remaining companies on my list and one company was quick to bite- Velocity Micro. I glad they came on board for our LAN Party. If you had to pick a company to buy your custom computer from, they should be at the top of your list. If you don't believe me have a look at this Super in depth review by [H]ardOCP and you'll see why they're so good.

In other news, I'm still really grateful for electricity because a day in Florida without it is $%^#!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Electricity is Great!

The reason I didn't have electricity
My home in Orlando is under going some renovations and today the electrical contractor upgraded our electrical panel, meter and weather head (that part where the powerline from the street comes to the house) but it meant that power was disconnected for seven hours. Seven hours without air conditioning during the middle of summer in Florida is loads of fun. I knew that today was the day but I still stayed up too late last night and planned to sleep in but I woke at 8:38 to the sound of my uninterrupted power supplies beeping that the power was out and had to get up and shut down all of my machines (and stop that insane beeping noise). The upgrades took only a few hours to install but then I had to wait for the city's inspector to check off on it. The inspector came an hour late but he said everything great and called OUC (our power company) to grant them permission to reconnect the power. OUC was like an hour and a half late but finally it all got done, the master switch was flicked and the air conditioner never felt better when it kicked on.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New addtion to the LAN Party Guide

I had some free time today to work on a new article titled LAN Party Nourishment and it covers LAN Party food, drinks and the best ways to go about providing for a hungry horde of gamers. The article still needs some pictures and such which I'll add when I find the ones I want.

The next article is going to be how to make your own LAN Cables and I'm going to try doing a video post to so have a look out for that in the coming week.

Steam Update

Valve just released a major update for Source servers. They final made official a new feature called "Pure Servers" that prevent files that were not download from Steam from loading. This will help close several loop holes that have allowed some players to gain an advantage like using custom skins and textures. For server admins, they were kind enough to keep this update in beta for the few months so we could test and work out any bugs with 3rd party plugins.

Updates to the Source Engine are now available. Previously this was in Beta, behind srcds0407. Please run hldsupdatetool to receive this update. The specific changes include:

Pure Servers:
Servers can now force the client to match the server's files, by becoming a pure server. When a server enables sv_pure, clients who connect and play on the server cannot gain an advantage by modifying the game content. For more information about Pure Servers, click here:

Source Engine:
- In-game server browser only shows human players in the player counts column. Bots column now shows number of bots instead of a "some bots" or "no bots" icon
- Fixed servers with bots reporting incorrect number of bots when
sv_master_legacy_mode is set to 0
- Fixed a server performance problem with queued packets
- Increased the maximum rate to 1 megabyte
- Added a findflags console command, which can list all cvars with a specified flag. For example: 'findflags server_can_execute' will find all console variables and commands marked with FCVAR_SERVER_CAN_EXECUTE
- Cheat protected many cvars and commands
- Removed cl_restrict_server_commands to prevent clients from being redirected
- Fixed user names reported as "unconnected" when greater than 32k players had connected to the server
- Fixed a client crash during authentication
- Fixed a crash when mashing the ~ key on disconnect
- Fixed a bug with sv_minrate and sv_maxrate not applying properly on the client
- Fixed the free roaming camera in SourceTV demos
- Fixed cl_language archiving itself and not updating correctly when the language changed
- Fixed a voice recording bug that could cause voice dropouts
- Fixed a rare crash when spectating in Counter-Strike: Source

We'd also ask that everyone please set sv_master_legacy_mode 0 again and report any problems.

Like most major Valve updates, yesterdays had a few bugs but they fixed most of them today.

Source Engine
- Fixed a client crash
- Fixed sv_allow_wait_commands restricting the server using wait
- Fixed a crash in "soundlist" command
- Reallowed fps_max value of 0 (= unrestricted fps)
- Fixed exploit that showed spectator radar when not a spectator
- Fixed a crash playing back demo files recorded with the previously-released engine
- Client forwards server commands it doesn't understand back to the server
- Allow servers to execute chooseteam in Counter-Strike: Source
- Allow servers to execute retry
- sv_pure 1 now allows custom spray decals by default
- Fixed "Has Users Playing" checkbox not using the new change where we only display human players in the players tab, so you'd see servers with 0 players (they actually had only bots) listed

LAN Party Nourishment

One of mans most basic needs is food and to keep your LAN Party guests alive and gaming a little of this vital ingredient is necessary. There are many options to choose from like brussel sprouts and apple juice but I'm going to list some I that feel will be better received.

This is a LAN Party staple. Unless all your friends are allergic to it (how sad that would be) this is your best bet. A few thing to keep in mind..

  • Get a variety of toppings, not every one like pepperoni or cheese, I like getting 40% cheese, 40% pepperoni and 20% sausage.
  • Negotiate a good deal before hand. If you have a large order, don't be shy asking for discount. Also look out for 2 for 1 sales and other deals.
  • Place your order before hand so your large order isn't delayed and the place has a chance to prepare.
  • Considering picking it up. The delivery tip on a large order can be expensive and you can save a nice chunk of change this way.
  • Have a table set up with plates, napkins and space to put the pizza because there nothing worse than the mayhem caused by trying to hold back a pack of hungry gamers.
Other food items
  • Chips
  • Nachos
  • Candy
  • Cookies
  • Hot dogs
  • Hamburgers


At a LAN Party, Caffeine is the name of the game. Bawls is a common favorite and best of all they are often willing to send some free for your event and they can also give you some good deals if you want to buy more.

Sodas like Mountain Dew that are high caffeine are popular but other flavors can be a hit as well. I try to have a nice variety for people to choice from.

At my Events I prefer to use cans that are pre-chilled in the refrigerator or in ice. Cans may be a little bit more expensive at the store but they make up for it in convenience because you don't need to buy cups and ice like you would for 2 liter bottles and left overs don't go stale and can be reused at your next event.

While name brand soda may be preferred by your guests, if you're footing the cost of the refreshments, an off brand may be a better choice. one of my favorites is Publix's own brand (Publix is a grocery store in the South East) soda. Walmart's brand comes in second in my opinion to many other brand because they are too eager to use less quality ingredients just to keep their costs down while still making a nice profit.

At the end of a long night some people will be ready for sleep and as weird as it may sound, they may like something other than caffeine so it is a good idea to keep some bottle water, lemonaid, Gatorade or similar drinks around.

If your LAN Party goes over night, while old school, coffee is popular choice. Couple this with a truckload of donuts and all your guests will be happy. Nothing like caffeine and sugar to start off the day right.

To prevent some craziness, some sort of plan needs to be decided on before hand to establish a fair way of distributing the food and drinks. At a small event, its fine to spread out the available food and allow your guests to take what they want but at a larger event a better system is needed. You don't want to have three people eat all of the food for your 50 guests.

I like to use a ticket system kinda like the county fair. Guests can buy tickets for say 50 cents each and trade these in for food. This keeps those who are handing the food from dealing with the cash and it helps keep some of it from disappearing. For an event where food is covered in the cost of admission, you can give each guest a set of food tickets when they check-in. For those who want even more, offer them the opportunity to buy additional tickets.

Consider distributing the food over the course of the event. Offer pizza at different times so that as people come and go from their games, they can get food without having to give up winning a round to get some before it runs out. At my last event, we ordered pizza to have ready at 8pm and at 11pm to split things up.

Other Considerations
I haven't had to deal with this personally but some locations have a set food service company you have to use instead of selling your own food which could cost your guests more than they are willing to pay. So to prevent 5 Dollar Soda check if your location does something like this check to see if they have a "Buy Out" price where you can then sell your own concessions at what ever price you want.

The Side Effects-

Make sure you have lots of trash cans around. The bigger the better. Gamers are lazy and don't like getting up so place them in convenient locations like at the end of the rows of tables. Consider getting a large rolling garbage can that you can roll around the room so you get the room clean without making the gamers get up. Make sure you check the garage cans regularly and empty them when their full to keep the mess down.

The inevitable outcome from drinking a dozens soda's is an urgent trip to bathroom. Make sure restrooms are marked and that they are visible even in the dark. (when the lights go down, the confusion goes up). Consider putting a light over signs to spare someone the embarrassment of asking where the bathroom is.

Did I leave something out? That's what the comment box is for.

Continue on to ...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Valve Sponsors Showdown LAN

Special Gabe Newell keynote. Free game from Valve. Exclusive play-test. Only for Showdown Attendees!

You read correctly! We are extremely proud to announce Gabe Newell as our first ever Showdown LAN keynote speaker. Gabe will be on site on Saturday to give a presentation about Valve’s contribution to the multiplayer arena and introduce Left4Dead, their next multiplayer shooter.

Immediately following the keynote, Showdown attendees will get some exclusive hands-on time with Left4Dead at the Valve booth between 1pm and 6pm. If you haven’t put this together yet – this is the FIRST TIME Left4Dead will be play-tested in public and YOU get to be first to play it.

It doesn’t end there! Valve will also be giving all LAN attendees one copy of Half Life 2 AND one copy of Half Life 2 Episode 1. Consider your admission fee paid for!

Free Games. Gabe Newell. First ever public play-test of Left4Dead. San Jose Showdown 2007 rocks. Indy, get ready for even more!

It is nice to see Valve giving back to the LAN Party community and even better, they are finally shairing their new game with the public. Since I love Valve's games, I wish we could land a deal like this but alas, we're to small to get this sort of attention. Maybe one day... I can dream, right?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Weekly Update

Not much to mention this week. I did some digging on the web and found one more company- Patriot Memory that sponsors LAN Parties and submitted our event to them so hopefully we will have one more company supporting us. Have a look at my LAN Party Sponsorship list for all of the companies we have/will apply to.

I did find out this week that yahoo hasn't indexed this blog at all. I guess yahoo has a thing against blogger after Google bought it. Right now, 60% of my traffic comes from Google searches. This site comes up for some crazy search. I should post that list one day....

I got into the SACD

Well for those who haven't heard yet, I got accepted into the Masters of Architecture program at USF's School of Architecture and Community Design. I turned in my letter and signed up for classes. I had to wait almost three months to hear anything. Its nice to know that my dream is one step closer to coming true.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Weekly Update

Not much LAN Party news this week. I'm still waiting to hear back from a bunch of companies and I found a few more to email to ask for sponsorships.
I had a fun week at the beach but I'm glad to be back. I can only handle so many days with my whole extended family (15 people total). At least I wasn't without internet. It just by happens that the hotel in Ormond Beach we stayed at is in the same Bright House network as our house in Orlando so we just brought our Cable modem and Wireless router with us and had our own private wifi spot all week.
Yet I couldn't go a week with out fixing someones computer, in this case my uncle's laptop (which is faster than mine). It was an easy fix and I got a free dinner out of it.
On Thursday my family built an awesome sandcastle-

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Radeon Owners Get Free Valve Games

Just in from Valve:

Valve just announced that for a limited time that all ATI owners can download a free copy of Half-Life 2: Lost Coast and Half-Life 2: Deathmatch through Steam. The software will automatically check to see if you qualify. If you already have an ATI Video Card you download the free games here

In related news, Shacknews says:

Steam will be included with the ATI Catalyst driver and software suit until early 2008 and ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT owners will, upon release, receive Team Fortress 2, Portal, and Half-Life 2: Episode Two through Valve's content delivery application.

I haven't had a chance to test any of this but it is great to see ATI and Valve working out a great deal to give out my favorite LAN party game. In my opinion, ATI's plans to bundle Steam with their drivers is good and bad. It will make it easier for new gamers to get their free games but for the rest of us, it will just bloat our drivers. I hope they made it an optional download that can be triggered from the driver installer.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I Want to host one!

I've been going to LAN Parties for a while now and I want to host one, Ok? Now what?

Hosting a LAN Party is a ton of fun. Its nice to meet gamers just like and make new friends. You will learn a lot about computers, networking, marketing, people skills and more, some of which you can learn how to do in this guide.

The bad news? Hosting a LAN Party is lot of work.

If your planning a LAN Party be prepared to:

  • Get stressed Out
  • Put your own money into it.
  • Not make any money from it.
  • Work more than you play.
  • Deal with crazy people.
Truthfully, Its a LOT of work but for me, the rewards out way all of this. I find it fun to make new friends, help people fix their computers and see everyone else having fun. What you get out of it could be different.

Size is Everything.
A lot of what you have to do to host a LAN Party depends on the size. A small party can be quick and easy but a major event could take months of planning. They do all have somethings in common, they all need tables, chairs, extension cords, power strips and some networking equipment. If you are new at the whole LAN Party thing, I suggest you start small and slowing increase the size of your event. Below is a summery of what it take to put on each size event.

Garage LAN Party (3+)
A Garage LAN Party is one that you host in your house/apartment/dorm room for a few friends. It doesn't take much time to setup and don't require much preplanning. Guests don't expect much either. Messy cords and lack of organization are normal. Everyone is here just to hang out and have fun. The cost is minimal because nothing big has to be bought, you only need a couple of extension cords and power strips. The network is simple and is probably already in place a small switch may be the only item needed. Tables and chairs can be moved from other rooms for people to use. Food and drinks may be as simple as everyone chipping in some money to get a pizza delivered. Cost- each event: $0, one-time: $80- $150.

Small LAN Party (10+)
While bigger than a garage LAN Party, this still a small event, you'll probably have a few new people coming. You will have to do some planning before the event to get everything going and a few volunteers to help with check in. If you have a friend that can help you, you'll do even better. You will need to keep some form order to keep thing under control. You will need to have a bigger space to host this party. If your house/ apartment is small you may have to see if you can checkout a community room or the like (See the Location Guide). With more guests comes the need for more you have equipment you have to buy and setup. Table and chairs may needed to be rented to giver every one a space. Electrical circuits need to be looked at to make sure they aren't overloaded (See the Electrical Guide) . The network also needs to be setup beforehand, you need a nice table switch and a router that can handle the extra load (See the Network Guide). You need to plan food and drinks to fuel your guests gaming. Charging a small fee for this isn't unreasonable. A registration system and a wavier is a good idea to prevent any legal problems. With 10+ people, you're more like to get a sponsor that will send some free swag for you give out. (Don't expect any hardware). Cost- each event: $100, one-time: $150- $300.

Medium LAN Party (50+)
A medium size event needs to one or two dedicated people to plan and organize it and several volunteers to help at the event. Guests expect a lot from an event of this size and you need to be prepared. First you need to decided on a budget to keep costs from getting out of control. Then you need to pick a location to rent (See Location Guide) along with tables and chairs. Electrical requirements soon become your primary concern and must be calculated and if the location can't provide enough, a generator may need to be rented (See the Electrical Guide). The network must be carefully planned in order make sure it can handle the number guests your planning for. You will need to have multiple switches, servers and other network equipment to keep the gaming going(See the Network Guide). Food and drinks need to be bought and a distribution system decided on (See Food/Drink Guide). Advertising needs to start early in order to fill all of the seats. You will need registration system and volunteers trained to run it. With so many guests you need to consider taking security measures like making sure computers are labeled with their owners information and checked in and out of the room to keep items from getting stolen. However a benefit of this many guests means more companies may be willing to sponsor your event and you may even get some hardware for prizes. Cost- each event: $300-$500, one-time: $500- $800.

Large LAN Party (100+)
A LAN Party of this size is outside of the scope of this guide and anyone in their right mind would already have the experience and know how to put one on.

A Little About Me
If you've already read the introduction to this blog you probably already know all of this. I am a student in the Masters of Architecture Program at the University of South Florida and I am a Co-chair of an Event put on by the USF he Residence Hall Association called LAN-O-THON.
I have been a fan of LAN Parties for many years but it wasn't until I got to USF did I get into organizing any. Over my last two years there, I have hosted more than 8 events ranging from 3 people all the way to 150 (however, the BYOC was only 30 seats). For our next event, I'm planning to have a BYOC of 50+ seats.

My favorite LAN party is one where I can have fun and hang out and play a few games. Do I want to play computer games for 10 hours straight- NO! I like to play a little, chat a little, help a little. I'm not fond of LAN parties where the main attraction is one big tournament where you wait for hours till its your turn to compete.

So for LAN-O-THON v4.0 I want the event first and foremost to be a fun event to hang out and have fun. I will be hosting several tournaments (to be discussed in a future article) to challenge and entertain people through out the night but it won't take over the event. There will be multiple game servers going for a variety of games. I hope with 50 people in attendance that we will be able to sustain game play on several servers all night long. I want to attract as many people as possible to attend so there has to be something for everyone.

But Don't take my word for It
I suggest you read more than just my site before running off and organizing your first event. So have a look at some of these other guides.
  • Toms Hardware LAN How To: Part One, Two, and Three
  • Guide (The networking part is outdated.
Did I leave something out? That's what the comment box is for.

Continue on to Location, Location, Location