“Wow, I’ve never seen that happen before” is generally something you never want to hear uttered from an auto mechanic. That said at this point my wife’s vehicle is fixed and ready to go and seems to have no negative impact. Apparently on the Pontiac Torrent there are two different sizes of bolts that can be used to attach the tensioner. Quite simply when they replaced that part they used the wrong one, and as we were driving Sunday the vibration and force sheared the bolt off completely causing the serpentine belt to shread, and at the same time stopping the flow of motion to both the water pump and the alternator.
The good folks at Hibdon were more than willing to fix the problem, and after getting the vehicle towed there yesterday morning they had already fixed everything by mid day. It is one one of those “honest mistake” type situations, and I don’t fault them for it… especially since they are also the ones responsible for making it right. It was a grand inconvenience but thankfully my wife really had nowhere that she needed to go yesterday. I cringe when I think how much worse this could have gone had the bolt sheared and she lost power to major systems while out on the highway with no place to really pull to the side of the road. We were likely saved by the fact that it happened so close to our home and we did not drive it long enough to cause a radiator boil over.
Steam In Home Streaming
One of the problems with having multiple machines is that ultimately the game you happen to want to play is not installed on the machine you are sitting at. Yes I realize this is a first world problem, as I am extremely lucky to be able to have both a nice gaming laptop and gaming desktop, but this is something I have tried to deal with for some time. I’ve tried gaming over various versions of remote desktop, and none of them work well enough to offer a passable experience. I am not sure who mentioned it first, but the other day I said something about steam logging you out when you tried to log in a second machine. Apparently this has not been the case for some time. What happens now is that you see all of the games available installed from all of the machines you happen to be logged into on your network. The cool thing about this is instead of the play button you now see a Stream button as shown above.
Last night I decided to try this out, and I had some mixed results. This all started because I decided that I wanted to play catch up on True Blood which meant needing to hang out downstairs with my laptop. True Blood is one of those shows where about halfway through the third season it went off the rails and I stopped caring about it. That said at the same time I felt like after spending that much time watching it… I felt committed to seeing it through to the end. Like if I stopped my choice to watch it in the first place would have somehow been invalidated. Sadly this is how I end up feeling about most television, and why I am still watching Bleach after all these episodes… when essentially every season is EXACTLY THE SAME. All that aside the game I wanted to play last night was not installed on my laptop, so it was either steam streaming or a 10 gig download over wifi.
Impressive but Still Beta
I have to say that the actual game play was rather impressive. The game I was streaming was not exactly fast paced and action oriented… in that I was playing Divinity: Original Sin. There was a minor input lag, but I seriously might be the only one who actually would have noticed it. For example I refuse to use a wireless mouse because I can feel the slight hesitation of the wireless lag… whereas none of the rest of the world seems to be able to. The biggest thing I noticed is that it felt like I was watching YouTube video. Since you are in essense streaming video across your network, there was a certain measure of blurring and artifacting of the screen. This was most noticeable when confronted with large areas of a dark color, but it was not bad enough to be anything more than an annoyance.
The deal breaker for me however was that every time I tried to alt+tab out of the game to check something… the stream would crash out, and in a game where saving your progress is important this meant that a couple of times last night I lost a bunch of progress. Alt+tabbing is something that is just habitual at this point, and I have done it before I even realize I did it. So all of the problems I had with Skyrim apply here, in that either I have to force myself to NEVER alt tab… or I have to deal with the consequences of my actions. As a result I decided to just simply deal with installing yet another game in two places. Unfortunately since Divinity: Original Sin does not use the steamworks cloud save functionality… this also means I will be manually copying saved games between the two machines each time I decide to switch systems.
Steam in home streaming is of course still very much a beta product, and hopefully they will fix the alt+tab thing. When they do I can see myself using it quite a bit more often, especially as my laptop ages. What this really gives you is the ability to play games using the full horse power of your gaming machine, while on another machine that simply acts as a viewer and input device. I’ve even seen video of someone playing games at full frame rate using a chromebook with linux side loaded onto it. If they ever get internet streaming working, and manageable lag wise… this means there might be a time when you could play all the games on your home machine from your tablet while travelling. What I would love to see is for this to work in a more universal fashion, so I could play the games from my PS4 while sitting at my PC or versa vicea. I don’t think we are anywhere near there yet, but it gives me hope that maybe at some point we will be.
Over the weekend there was a point where my wife needed to get out of the house and do anything. She had been sitting in the house for over 72 hours at that point, and just needed to see something other than the walls around her. While we didn’t really have much in the way of errands to run, I decided to co-opt the trip and run around and visit a few pawn shops. I’ve always loved going to pawn shops, because you really never know what you might find there. Since I hate paying full price for anything, they are a smorgasbord of potentially awesome things for cheap. One of the various ones we went to had a bunch of their Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 games for as low as $5 a piece. I picked up used copies of Tekken 6, The Simpsons Game, Metal Gear Solid 4, Heavy Rain and a copy of Fallout 3: Game of the Year edition.
One of the things I have always been curious about is playing Fallout or Elder Scrolls on a console, so for $5 I could not pass the the chance to see “how the other half lived”. When we got home I had this grand idea of testing out all of the games… but never actually made it past Fallout 3. I booted up the game and spent the next three hours playing it before I realized how much time had passed. This is one of those games that I can play over and over and never quite get bored of it, and I always thought it was the ability to modify it that made it so intriguing to me. Playing on a console I have no modding at all available, so I realize it really was the game itself. I am completely happy to wander around with wastes with nothing but a pistol, dispensing justice.
Last night after we finished our walk I went back upstairs to cool down, and made the mistake of turning on the television and continuing the journey into the wastes. Next thing I know it is 12:30 and I am scrambling to get back to Megaton extremely encumbered, but at the same time completely unwilling to drop any of my plunder. This will be interesting to say the least. One of the “mods” I always install when playing the PC game is something that removes encumbrance, because I absolutely hate playing the inventory management simulation that is a Bethesda game. That said at this point I feel committed to seeing just how well the Fallout 3 experience translates to a console. Additionally it has been a really long time since I have played Fallout 3, as more recently I tend to play New Vegas when I get the fallout itch. It is amazing just how much more I like Three Dog, than Mister New Vegas.
#SteamStreaming #Fallout3 #PS3