It seems like if I don’t give myself a challenge to finish a game, I just start a ton of games and then never finish them. So I’m giving myself a challenge to make my way through a couple of games this month!
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
I love Marvel’s Spider-Man. Along with the Batman: Arkham series, they seem to be games that really do superheroes correctly. Since I recently got a PS5, it’s time to experience Miles’ story. I also love that it’s a bit of a shorter game, so it should be easier to get through this month.
Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space
Season two of Telltale’s Sam & Max season, now dubbed “Beyond Time and Space,” was remastered last year, so it’s time to play through it again. I have played it before, but that was back when it originally came out. It’s been long enough that I expect this to fell very similar to a first playthrough.
The Zelda-sized hole in this list
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom comes out in just a couple weeks. There are a few good reasons I didn’t include it on this list. First, I expect it will be a long game and I highly doubt I would get through it by the end of the month. Second, I have a vacation coming up at the start of next month. It involves some very long flights, and with the extreme time zone differences between my home and destination I need to be awake for much of those flights as part of adjusting to those differences. I plan on Tears of the Kingdom being a big part of making those flights feel a lot shorter.
After taking a year off (mostly because I was completely addicted to my first time through the Mass Effect universe in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition this time a year ago), it’s time to do Four in February again! This is a challenge to beat four video games during the month of February, as the name implies. There aren’t really rules beyond that: it can be games I’ve never played before, games I’ve already started, or anything else really!
02/26/2023 – Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling beat! Mission accomplished!
While my post wasn’t until 02/27/2023, I got to the end credits a few hours earlier and was wrapping up some side quests.
02/19/2023 – Doom (2016) and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy beat!
02/08/2023 – Far Cry 6 beat!
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling is an indie game that draws heavy inspiration from Paper Mario – particularly the first two entries in the series that were turn-based RPGs with QTEs to get bonuses on attacks and defense. While the Paper Mario series may have moved on from this style of gameplay, with entries on the Wii and later introducing new gameplay styles for each entry, it’s clear there are fans that didn’t move on, including some that eventually said, “we’ll do it ourselves!”
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Fun fact: the only Uncharted game I’ve played is Uncharted 4, but I loved it and I fully expect to love The Lost Legacy as well. I recently purchased the Legacy of Thieves collection on PC, so it’ll be great to experience the game for the first time on the best version of the game. Even better, it looks like the game is only 8-10 hours to complete, so it should be a nice easy one to squeeze into the shortest month of the year!
Doom, any of the Doom games really, is one of my gaming blind-spots. I’ve never played any of them, but they are so critically acclaimed it feels like I must play them! It seems like there’s no better spot to start than the 2016 iteration and if I like it then I could move on to Doom Eternal on Game Pass if I want to.
Far Cry 6
Is Far Cry 6 more or less the same game as Far Cry 3, 4, and 5 before it? It sure sounds like it. Is that a problem for me? Not at all – I’ve loved my time on a tropical island, in an Eastern mountain-covered nation, and in nutjob Montana, so I’m looking forward to my time in not-Cuba too. Enough time has passed since I played Far Cry 5 that I think I won’t burn out on the open world before the end, especially if I can exercise enough restraint to not do all the map checkboxes.
Will I be able to complete these games in just a single month? Especially when a couple of them are pretty long? Only time will tell! Updates on my progress will be posted as I beat each game, and you can follow along as I will try to stream my progress on Twitch if I feel like it.
I seem to have gotten into the habit of upgrading my server and website configurations every other year. My last server migration blog post was in 2018 and saw me upgrade from Ubuntu 16.04 to Ubuntu 18.04, with updated versions of PHP and a better database and things like that. I didn’t do a post about my 2020 server upgrade, but that was a big one. I switched to a mostly Docker based setup, with Nginx just reverse-proxying all the containers.
My 2020 setup had some enormous flaws though. I had no backup plan – as in, I wasn’t doing any automated backups. As you might expect, I wasn’t doing regular manual backups either. I wasn’t good on backups before the Docker-based setup either, but now it was so much easier to update the software I was running, but that would also have made it easier for a botched update to take everything down. I did make one thing a little easier: I moved a couple of WordPress sites onto a single WordPress multi-site installation. While it is certainly more complex to have a multi-site installation, it also meant I only needed to go to one spot to update themes and plugins which made it a lot easier to remember to do!
My goal with my 2022 upgrade was to make my setup much more robust. I wanted automatic backups, and I wanted to have the entire setup running within Docker so that if I wanted to move to a different provider, I could just spin up a new VPS, install Docker, restore the backups, and update the DNS for my domains. No manually setting up Nginx configurations, or anything like that. Importantly, with the automated backups I would be able to restore my setup with less than 24 hours of data loss if I had to move providers through no fault of my own.
For my most recent server migration I moved to Hetzner and their new US-based AMD-powered servers. The good part is that I’ve now got 4GB of RAM instead of my old 2GB, and it’s a little less per month. The bad part is that, as a Europe-based provider, they bill in Euros. While the credit card I use has no foreign transaction fee, the currency conversion means that my bill is never quite the same from month to month. They also only had servers in Virginia at the time I signed up, so I have higher latency than I had before when I was using a Vultr server in Seattle, though they’ve added an Oregon datacenter since then. (Maybe it’s time to do another server migration!)
The Software I Use
Now let’s get into the software I use:
For an RSS reader, I replaced Tiny Tiny RSS with FreshRSS. While it seems things have improved in recent years, the primary developer of TT-RSS was known for being a little hostile towards people asking questions or suggesting improvements. FreshRSS just seemed to have a better community, and it’s a lot simpler to set up too. I pair this with a private RSS-Bridge instance to get RSS feeds for sites that don’t bother to use RSS anymore (boo).
I’m using Offen Docker Volume Backup to automatically backup all my Docker volumes daily, weekly, and monthly both locally on the server and to S3-compatible storage. This container also manages removing the old backups to keep the storage from getting out of hand. It feels good to finally have everything backed up in a robust manner.
For website analytics, I replaced Matomo with Plausible Analytics. Matomo is trying to be a full replacement for Google Analytics, but that’s just more information than I need or even really want. Plausible focuses mostly on page views, which is all I really care about with my personal site.
Of course, WordPress, which powers this very blog, is still the same. In fact, it was one of the easiest things to move to the new server, as there were almost no changes to the configuration. I’ve been using WordPress consistently since early 2011, and off-and-on since probably 2006, so while I’ve considered moving to a static site generator, I like the familiar security blanket feeling that WordPress provides.
I use a neat little tool called Your Spotify to keep track of my Spofify listening habits. It’s like having my own version of Spotify’s annual summary whenever I want it!
I added a single-user Mastodon instance at the end of October thanks to the Birdsite’s new owner starting shenanigans immediately – that’s been a bit of an ordeal with its ever-increasing disk usage, though just this week I migrated it to using S3-compatible storage for its media storage and that has solved things, though I won’t fully call it solved until I’ve given it a week or two. Follow me on Mastodon!
I use Portainer to view logs and clear out old images and stuff more easily.
I’m running Uptime Kuma on a separate VPS with a separate hosting company to monitor everything and let me know via Discord if anything stops working. It’s really a very polished tool and is easy to use while having tons of configuration options.
Finally, I use Watchtower in notification-only mode to let me know when a container has an update available. I don’t have it set to automatically update so that I have the chance to read the release notes and make sure there’s nothing I must do besides pulling the new image and restarting the containers.
Overall, I’m incredibly happy with how this server migration has turned out and I don’t foresee any major changes to my configuration in 2024 as things finally just work. I love how good this setup is in comparison to my old one!
It snuck up on me, but it’s February, and that means it’s time for Four in February again! The goal is to beat four video games in the month of February. This year I want to take advantage of the different platforms and/or storefronts I have games on. So, I’m going to pick one of the free games I’ve claimed on the Epic Games Store, one from Xbox Game Pass for PC, and two from Steam.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair
Epic Games Store
I’ve put about an hour into this game so far, but it’s time to actually complete it. By all accounts, it’s a competent 2.5D platformer, and it’s been quite some time since I’ve completed a 2D platformer. Time to revisit this genre and enjoy the level design that always shines in this genre!
Xbox Game Pass
I once played through the campaign of the original Halo: Combat Evolved on a pirated copy for PC back in my freshman year of college. Now, it’s time to play through a legitimate copy! I don’t know for sure which Halo game I’m going to do from the Master Chief Collection yet, but it’ll probably be Combat Evolved so I don’t have to worry about missing any lore.
UPDATE: I completed Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary at approximately 12:45am on Feb 21st! That still leaves me 2 games to complete in roughly one week though.
Sam & Max Save the World
For my money, the Sam and Max games are some of the greatest to ever come out of Telltale Games. Recently, a remastered version of the first “season” of the series was released by some former Telltale games staff (and it looks like they plan to remaster the other seasons as well). Though there is a minor controversy about some jokes in the game being changed and one character’s voice actor being replaced, I’m glad this remaster exists because the original versions were well on their way to becoming unplayable on modern systems due to their age.
UPDATE: I completed Sam & Max Save the World Remastered on Feb 14th! That means I’m only… checks calculator… half the speed I should be in this challenge having completed no other games yet. Oops.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
For some reason, I didn’t really get into Shadow of the Tomb Raider when I first purchased it despite loving the first two in this trilogy. So, I’m going to give it another shot!
Those are the four games I’m going to try to complete in February! Due to how long it’s been since I last attempted each of them, I’m going to be starting over on all of them (except Sam & Max – I’ve already done the first of the five episodes, and that was recently so I remember the events well).
Maybe I’ll even stream some of my gameplay! Or maybe not! If I do, it’ll be over at twitch.tv/lazyrivr.
An annual tradition started by Mike Suszek while he was at the now-defunt Joystiq, Four in February is a challenge to just complete four video games during the month of February.
I’ve attempted it a couple of times before and came close. I’ve decided to try it again, because lately I’ve been starting a lot of games, but never finishing any. Check out my picks below! I also plan on streaming some of my attempt: I don’t know if I’ll be streaming on Twitch, YouTube, or Mixer (or even all three simultaneously), but you can follow me on those platforms to find out.
I picked up Marvel’s Spider-Man on Black Friday, but I just haven’t gotten more than a couple hours into it yet. It’s not that the game is un-enjoyable – it’s very good from what I’ve played so far! I just haven’t made the time for it yet, so that’s what I’m going to do – make the time to play it through in February. If I speed through it quickly enough, I might even try to do the DLCs as well!
Update (Feb 2): I was right about it being very good! So good, that I completed the main story over the weekend! One game down, three to go. My progress will likely slow during the week, due to work, but I hope to get an hour or so of Pokemon in each night.
In what is a recurring theme for my Four in February picks, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is another one I just haven’t gotten to. By all accounts, it’s a beautiful, important, and well-acted game. The Game Awards trailer for Hellblade II was disturbingly great too. I can’t wait to put on my headphones for this one.
I got The Outer Worlds free with my CPU when I built my new computer (I should write about that!), but I’ve only put an hour or so into it. I was worried about putting an Obsidian-developed RPG in my list, as they can take a while, but then I saw it’s actually a fairly short one – only about 12-15 hours or so! So it’s time to give this a proper go!
I bought Pokemon Sword on launch day, and I got Pokemon Shield for Christmas, but I’m only a couple gyms into Sword, and I haven’t even started Shield. I tend to start a new Pokemon game very excitedly, but then rarely actually complete it, so it’s time to change that. I don’t know if I’ll just continue my Sword save, or if I’ll start a new save file on Shield, but either way I want to get through it. This will be a good one to play in bed on my Switch, so I can just tackle it a little at a time.
I recently finished moving this website to a new server. I didn’t change the server provider or anything like that, but I wanted to take advantage of some new stuff. Here’s why I did it, and some of the difficulties I encountered.
Why did I do a server migration?
I wanted to upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 to take advantage of newer PHP and nginx versions. I could have attempted to upgrade from 16.04 to 18.04 in place, but there were a lot of changes between those LTS versions, including how networking is handled. It seemed like the risk was just a little too high. I opted instead to build the system out on a new server, and then move all the website data to the new server. This had a few additional advantages as well:
I could switch from MySQL to MariaDB, a community developed version of MySQL that has gained support from several major tech companies. It also supposedly runs faster in some situations.
I could simplify my nginx configuration files. For each of my sites, my nginx configuration files are almost identical. Pretty much the only different parts are the server_name, paths to the ssl_certificate and ssl-certificate_key and the root for the website’s files. In building out a new server, I could move almost all of the configuration into snippets, making it easy to make changes to all of the sites at once. This will be useful in the future when some things change (like a newer PHP version).
I could entirely remove the andy-bell.com files. For a while I’ve been redirecting andy-bell.com to andy-bell.com, but I was doing so using a WordPress redirection plugin. Since andy-bell.com was literally just cloned from a backup of andy-bell.com, everything’s the same except new stuff. I took the opportunity to just nuke the old files and do the redirect from andy-bell.com to andy-bell.com solely in nginx. This also saved some time, since I wouldn’t need to move the files or database for andy-bell.com.
I use acme.sh for my SSL certificates. I was able to slightly improve things as I re-provisioned all the certs on the new server. (I just issued new certs on the new server so I wouldn’t have to move all the old ones over, plus now they will all renew on the same day, which will help me keep track of it better.)
Moving to the new server
It turned out to not be too difficult. Once I got the new server set up with nginx, PHP, and MariaDB, it wasn’t very hard to move all the old files over (I zipped them up on the old server, moved them straight from one server to the other, then unzipped them). Moving the databases wasn’t much harder. The only issue I had with the databases was one particularly large database that I had trouble with due to the file size. It was actually surprisingly smooth. To help ensure the move from one server to another moved quickly, as soon as I knew I wanted to move servers I changed the TTL (Time to Live) on my DNS settings to 5 minutes, so that it wouldn’t take too long for the DNS changes to propagate. Then 48 hours after I completed the move I turned the TTL back to the default setting!
I’m pretty pleased with the server performance, and I’m happy to be running on the latest Ubuntu LTS release. This should help keep things moving quickly and smoothly for years to come!
(Note: those Vultr links are affiliate links, because I really do like Vultr. If you use either of those links, and are active on Vultr for 30+ days with more than $10 in payments, then I’ll get a $10 credit, which is enough for 2 months of hosting for this site, not including tax.)
An annual tradition started by the now-defunt Joystiq, Four in February is a challenge to finally play a few of those games that we all just have lying around collecting (virtual) dust. The goal is to complete four games during the month of February.
I attempted it last year and came close. I successfully completed three games: Rise of The Tomb Raider, Far Cry 4, and Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People. I think I would have met the goal, had I not been sick for almost a week! I’m going to give it a try again this year. Check out my picks below! I also plan on streaming as much of my attempt as I can, so I’ll update the information below with archives of the streams as well!
Yeah, season 3 just came out. I’m a season behind, which is all the more reason to fire up season 2 and play it! I “enjoyed” season 1 (as much as you can enjoy a story like that), so I don’t know why I haven’t gotten around to playing season 2 yet. I recently picked it up when it was free through Twitch Prime though, so there’s no more excuses. It’s time to enter this tough and depressing world again.
This is a short one. I’ve heard it only takes one sitting to complete, but I’ve also heard nothing but good things about it. This is one that’s been sitting in my library for quite some time, but I just haven’t taken the time to play it. I’m going to finally fix that.
I’ve actually played about 4 hours of Darksiders II before, but then I just never came back to it. I remember thinking that it scratched the same sort of itch that the Legend of Zelda series did for me, so I think it’s time to give it another go. I’ll be starting over since I don’t really remember anything about the story or how to play the game, plus I’ll be playing on the newer Deathinitive Edition as it will hopefully be a little more compatible with Windows 10 than the older version. This one’s my long pick, as I expect it will take up to two weeks to complete.
That is why Undertale is my final pick for Four in February. I attended AGDQ 2017 a few weeks ago and was in the room for the Undertale run; the finale of the marathon. It looked pretty good, but when you’re skipping so much stuff, you don’t get a good sense of the story. So it’s time to play this game. I don’t even own it yet; I’m going to buy it specifically for this.
I haven’t been playing very many video games lately. Sure, I got sucked into Fallout 4 for about 40 hours, but then a whole lot of nothing. It’s time to break out of that. It’s time to actually play a few of the (very) many games that are lying untouched in my library.
4 in February is a yearly event, started by (the now defunct) Joystiq, challenging people to complete four unplayed video games during the month of February. The idea isn’t to go buy four new games, but to make it through four that you already have, but haven’t gotten around to.
With that in mind, it’s time to tackle a little of my backlog. Here’s my 4 in February.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Conveniently, Rise of the Tomb Raider makes its way onto PC on January 28th, just a few days before the start of February. Given just how much I love the Tomb Raider reboot (I’ve played through it twice), it’s no surprise that I want this one on my list to beat in February.
It’ll be very nice to look at as well – this Christmas I upgraded my PC with a new GTX 970, and that’s the card for the recommended spec!
That wasn’t quite as long as I expected. It only took about 12 hours to complete, and I powered through it in just 3 days. I streamed the whole thing – check out the recordings to the left!
Just Cause 2
Just Cause 3 just came out, but I think I’m going to wait for that to go on a better sale. In the meantime, Just Cause 2 is languishing in my Steam library, not even 2 hours played. I don’t remember much from the brief time I’ve already spent with the game, just that I think it was fun, and that it sure looks like it’ll be a lot more fun when I dedicate a proper amount of time to it.
Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People
Remember that great website HomestarRunner.com? The one that’s showing signs of coming back to life? Well, back in 2008 they partnered with Telltale Games to make a series of point-and-click adventures! This was back before Telltale’s games were basically just dialog trees and tough moral choices – they were legit point-and-clicks. I did play most of the first episode at one point, but there’s no way I remember how to do it at this point. It’s broken into 5 episodes, so I think I’ll just play one all the way through each night till I finish it.
Time Gentlemen, Please!
This is actually a sequel to the studio’s previous game Ben There, Dan That, but I won’t play that one first unless I’m making really good time on the others during the month. It’s an absurd comedy point-and-click adventure game, but most importantly it’s kinda short. It’s only about 6 hours long according to user submissions at How Long to Beat. With two big AAA games in my lineup this month, I’ll need a shorter one to serve as a palate cleanser.
So there it is. The four games I’ll be trying to tackle in February. I think I have a good mix, even though two of them are point-and-click adventures. I’ve got a little snack-sized game, an episodic game with easy stopping points, a sandbox mayhem generator, and an epic action adventure. I’ll probably be streaming my time with these games when I can on my Twitch channel (or maybe YouTube instead). We’ll see how I did on March 1st!
The premiere of my short film Quality Time is tonight! Watch the trailer below, and below that is the when and where!
Michael can’t stand his roommate, though the issue is almost entirely in Michael’s head. One morning, a chemical emergency happens, trapping them both in one room for about six hours, and trapping Michael in what he sees as his own personal hell. During their hours together, he must (try to) learn to put up with John. In the end, he learns nothing, because it’s more funny that way.
See Quality Time and 19 other short films produced in the last several months!
I’m making a little trip to Home Depot this weekend. I need some lighting. Sure, I could borrow some from the school, and I still might, but I’d like to have a few on hand for myself. So I’ve been doing some research on what I’ll need to buy. Here are some of the resources I found:
This video is the basic idea I want. It also reminded me of some important things I would probably have forgotten (like extension cords).
This video is a response to the previous one. It’s a little different and gave me a couple other ideas.
I’m undecided about whether I’m going to buy some stands online (depends on the price and whatnot), or if I’ll make one DIY style. I almost want to do the DIY method just because it’s fun to build things!
I’ll be posting about my shopping trip toward the start of next week and sharing everything I picked up!