Monthly Archives: February 2011

Server 2008 R2 – Free for Students

Don’t want to drop the money on a Windows 7 license and have a .edu email address? For sometime you have been able to get the latest and greatest Microsoft Server operating system, here:

Next up, you can enable the full desktop experience by following the steps in this photo gallery:;get-photo-roto

For a long time, this was a great money saving idea but you had to run without an antivirus.  The latest version of the awesome, free Microsoft Security Essentials installs just fine in Server 2008 R2 (tested myself!), visit this address from the server itself after you have installed the OS:

Now you are set!  Given it has the same “kernel” as Windows 7, you’ll be able install video drivers and games without issue.  This wasn’t true for Server 2003.

Enjoy 🙂


Interesting Notes about Investing

A couple years ago I picked up a discarded “First Book on Investing” published in the ripe year of 1994. Some things have undoubtedly changed since then (interest rates! Wow!) but many basics then are still essential basics to understand now.

When you get dividends you have to pay taxes on them, even if they are reinvested. If you had couple hundred thousand saved up and mutual funds this could be quite a burden and is one of the reasons that tax deferred accounts like 401ks and special funds like Roth IRAs are so magical. When looking at retirement investing, these types of investments cannot be overlooked or undervalued. For medium term investing there are mutual funds built to avoid taxes as well.

The management fee of a fund comes off the top. So if the management fee is 1% and the fund makes 5% in the real world, it will be reported as 4%. If it loses 5% in the real world, it will be reported as losing 6%. It’s easy to make money as a fund manager, obviously.

Any fund you invest in should have no “load” or “exit” fees, these are bunk. There are plenty of really low cost funds out there that perform well. We reviewed our investments and discover one that had a 3% load fee. Every time we put money in, they took 3% off the top! Its pretty hard to earn that back, especially in todays world of low interest rates.

It is also worthwhile to see if you can take loans against your investments (not 401k, but the medium term ones) and how much they might cost. It could be a good alternative against a home equity loan (which is really just another way to leverage an investment…)

Finally, the early 90’s had crazy interest rates. 9% interest on a CD? I can only imagine how much it must have cost to borrow money!


Team Fortress 2 Server is up!

It was brought to my attention that there is a “tick rate” for a TF2 server – this manages how often the “world” updates on the server.  By default the server checks the world state about thirty times per second, “33 tick.”  That is when the server doles out damage to players, etc.  The higher the tick rate the more accurate the server is in managing player actions.  “66tick” is the higher option and I used the code from this forum post.

Only the best for the LAN 🙂

For my sanity:

Useful commands:

  • rcon say “HEY YO I HAVE TEH RCONZ”
  • rcon changelevel <mapname> // will force a level change.
  • rcon maps * // will show you all maps installed on the server
  • rcon sv_alltalk 0/1 // setting this to 1 will allow everyone to talk to each other using both text and voice including spectators
  • rcon mp_timelimit X // sets the timelimit of the current map to X. If a round ends with <=5 minutes to go the map ends. (unless maxrounds or winlimit is reached first)
  • rcon mp_winlimit X // a team must win X rounds to end the map. (unless timelimit or maxrounds is reached first)
  • rcon mp_maxrounds X // map ends when X rounds have been reached (unless winlimit or timelimit is reached first)
  • rcon mp_scrambleteams // will randomise the teams. Useful for pugs when no captains step up. May not randomise very well. Run it a few times if the teams remain unbalanced.
  • rcon mp_restartgame X // restarts game in X seconds.
  • rcon mp_tournament 1 // turns tournament mode on. There are a few changes to the server to make it easier for tournament play. This will be explained for ozfc2, where tournament mode will be required. Stops the map from changing at the end of a match, and allows clans to muck around and reset the server themselves without rcon using the tournament interface.
  • **rcon tf_weapon_criticals 0 // turns crits off (defaults to 1 to turn them back on)
  • **rcon mp_friendlyfire 1 // turns friendlyfire on; 0 for off (defaults to off)
  • **rcon mp_disable_respawn_times 0 // turns respawn times off, 1 for on (defaults to on)

** Please note commands marked with * change the behaviour of the game as valve intended it. It will change the server to be marked as custom until these commands are removed. The server will no longer appear in the standard server browser and will only be accessable by IP or the Custom tab. These commands shouldnt be used unless you know what you’re doing and you have a reason to do it. Typical reasons are turning crits off for a pug.

Kicking, Banning and Unbanning:

  • rcon users // shows list of users including userid
  • rcon kick “X” // kicks by player name. Bit hard to do if the player has a wankername
  • rcon kickid userid/uniqueid “message” // kicks player; userid = first 2/3 digits in ‘rcon users’, uniqueid = steam id
  • rcon banid minutes userid/uniqueid [kick] // bans the player for minutes. see kickid for id details. kick is an optional param, if used it will also kick the player. Use 0 minutes for permanent
  • rcon unbanid X // unbans the id
  • rcon addip minutes X // bans IP address for minutes specified. Use 0 minutes for permanent
  • rcon removeip X // removes IP ban


SSD – Locked, Loaded and Stupid Fast

I bought an Intel branded Solid State Disk (SSD) last fall when the hard drive in my server died and the blog lost nearly a months worth of entries. SSDs are much more reliable in the fact that they are not mechanical; instead they are like a big thumb drive but much faster and built with more expensive (reliable) components.

Luckily, I was able to recover the entirety of the blog off of the fallen Raptor hard drive that it had lived on before.  I got the server up and running with just one hard drive – and then I got lazy.  Finally, after talking about some future spending plans it came about that there was going to be something like a voluntary spending freeze on my main PC (hello 1080p projector!) and I determined that the best way to use the SSD that I already had in the basement was the boot drive for my main rig.

It is only the boot drive because it is only 40GB and even less actually usable.  Back in the day I tried to live on a 36GB raptor and found it impossible.  The difference now is that I am shoving everything except the operating system and applications like Chrome and Office off onto the larger, normal hard drive that I have had in the PC for some time.  No games on the SSD either, given that many games are approaching 10GB+ each installed these days.

Now my PC boots up crazy fast and applications launch almost instantaneously.  Even after installing 7 and Office along with a few other apps there is still over 20GB (50%) left available on the drive.  Before optimization, that was more like 13GB.  Important optimizations:

  • Move your page file.  The “System Managed” page file is usually the same as your installed ram.  In my case this was 4GB – over 10% of my drive set aside for some worst case scenario!
  • Change your system restore percentage.  By default its 3%, minimum is 1%.  This is your safety net for things like Windows Updates gone bad, so you should leave it on but keep it to a minimum.
  • Drag and drop space hogs out of your user “library.”  This is folders like “My Videos”, “My Downloads”, etc.  You can just grab them and “move them” in windows explorer to a different hard drive.  Windows 7 takes care of moving the contents – but you won’t see anything different in your library as it also takes care of doing some nifty redirection.  It looks the same to you, but now those folders are taking up cheap space on your secondary hard drive.

At this point I am more impressed with my hard drive upgrade than my video card upgrade which was substantially more costly.  It feels like I got a whole new PC!  Review sites have been saying it for some time now, but having done it myself now I am really a believer.

— Nat