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-