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Epic Fail: The Journal of a Homeless Gamer
Book 5: Life online

This is my journal I wrote during the time I was homeless. It is broken up by week for easier reading. Feel free to read it on the web or download the complete .pdf version and print it for reading offline.

Week 227

Day 1583 - 10/31 - One trick, a few treats

Today was actually kind of ok. I rested before class but figured I wouldn't be able to sleep, so I never fully settled. I probably would have if I did, as I was very close to falling asleep for 15 minutes of the one hour I had between moving and class. It seems the power strip in class decided to play a trick on me. About 30 minutes after class started my system started really slowing down. I noticed the plug had no 'receiving power' light. I looked to see if it got unplugged or something and it turns out there are switches on each plug of the power strip. I've never seen that. Mine was off. I shut down and let it charge for about 5 minutes before leaving so I could have some more charge. I had enough time I did about 15 minutes of podcasting before it was down to 8% power. (I really wish I had the money to upgrade. Not only to avoid full system death, but so I could have a system with a battery that lasts more than effectively 30 minutes.)

At the restaurant I played games for a short bit, but mostly watched shows. I thought about doing my online game but decided to pass, choosing to instead edit the morning's podcasting recording I'd done.

All in all I suppose the day was ok. Class was ok. I got to watch shows and play games. (Though the restaurant bandwidth is still total crap. I emailed the guy to again tell that.) And I have quite a bit of candy left, so I even had a few treats for me. The system had no issues today and no weirdness, so that seems like a blessing with all the recent bad trouble.

But now I am not visited by trick-or-treaters. I am hiding for the night. Alone. Sad. And as much as I do not want this to be how my life is I seem unable to change it. So, at least for now, this is what it must be.

Day 1584 - 11/1 - Feel like someone else

Today was a bit sad. I tried to sleep in at school. There was a 3 hour window I could have, but I wasn't sleepy. I rested for 30 minutes, but I was no closer to sleeping then when I started. I probably got 7 hours sleep last night, so it's probably fine. I did my podcast since I couldn't sleep. There were a few non-responsive times while at the coffee shop, but the system was fine at the restaurant. I am still very concerned it may completely fail soon and I'd be left with no system.

Despite feeling good about finishing and posting my podcast early I felt a bit sad all day. But more so than that, from the moment I left my night time hiding spot I've felt out of place. Not like my usual feelings, but something far greater. The only way to describe it is I've felt like this is not my life. Like I should be in an apartment laughing and snuggling with my sweetie, or at a job somewhere, or in a different city where I've never been, or even in a different state. And it wasn't a light, 'gee, I wish,' kind of feeling, but a really serious, 'this is not my life, what is happening?' kind of feeling. It's almost as if my consciousness was willingly moved from my body to watch someone else's life as a sort of observer. I look out at this life with odd curiosity, watching this body go through these routines and motions and they seem so foreign, so strange, so very opposite and different from my life elsewhere.

I don't know how to describe it. It's new. But a few times in my life I've felt an overwhelming feeling of being in the wrong place, or something is not the right or wrong decision that I'm about to make. Today I don't feel like I belong here at all. Not that I shouldn't be alive, but like I'm in a hotel visiting somewhere, and I wonder why I haven't left and gone back home yet, where my regular life is waiting for me.

Day 1585 - 11/2 - Sad and bad day

Today has been bad and sad. It's mid evening now at work and I'm running all kinds of backups. For nearly 2 hours my system was non-responsive. I kept stopping stuff, well trying to, then restarting, and it kept going non-responsive in less than 5 minutes. In the morning before it was doing that it had done not one, but two, DOS style disk checks. So, I'm preparing to see if Windows can create a recovery file on my backup disk and if I can restore from that to my secondary drive. Someone that replied to my sad post has a point though; even though I'm past my one year coverage I should go ahead and see if they can fix my issues and at least send a copy of Windows to install from (so I can swap out the main disk for the second one that came with the system.) I suppose there is no harm in trying. The worst they would do is say no, leaving me exactly where I am now.

I wish I had the money to just replace the system and be done with it and stop worrying. But I don't. What is more worrisome is will this happen again? Is this a fluke that the system is dying after only 1.65 years? Or will this short lifespan continue? Normally I only have that much in the budget for system upgrades over about 3 years. Lasting half as long is terrible.

But it seems over the last 5 years it has been a repeated cycle. Usually it's car stuff. This year it may be my system. I've never in my life lost so much over such a short time as I have since I've been homeless. And it seems if I want to try and stay somewhat sane and have these things, I have no better choice.

Day 1586 - 11/3 - Sad day, ok day, hopeful day

Today started off kind of sad. Within minutes of starting up the system started doing its non-responsive times. It was tolerable though, and I avoided it by watching shows online. It didn't seem to interrupt them if I kept them maximized. I also managed to record one of the events on my phone, which caught all of the main problems, so I can show that to the tech support people if need be.

The tech support people sent back a reply to my request to get the laptop fixed. In it they said to update this, that, and the other driver. My replies on those was basically, 'uh, the most recent drivers were all over a year old when I bought my system back in February of 2011. If I could update them they are far newer drivers than what is on the site.' I remain hopeful though, as the last line of the email said if those didn't work we could set up an RMA. Hopefully that means I can send in my system and they will swap it out for either a new one of that type, or what I'm hoping for more, they say they can't replace it and offer me some choices on current models at very cheap prices. I guess time will tell.

I felt pretty lonely and sad today. I think that is worry about my system more than anything. I also didn't feel like playing games at all. I think that is due to the fact that if I do send my system away it could be weeks before it gets back. I can still do regular web stuff on my netbook, and my site stuff and podcasts can be run off the SSD if I get an external housing. (Which is like $25.) So I wouldn't be out everything if I did send it away, I just couldn't game. It would be sad, but I'd rather be out a system for a few weeks than possibly forever.

All I can do is the same thing as always... wait and see if I have any real options. And if I do, can I afford any of them.

Day 1587 - 11/4 - Late assignment is ok to be late

Today was a depressed day for me. It's been harder and harder for me lately to stay emotionally ok feeling what with all of my constant sads about my being homeless, a nowhere job that's barely any hours, and no friends I can see in person. And recently the restaurant bandwidth, one of the only positive constants in my life, has gone to poo, and on top of that my system seems to be more and more rapidly failing.

I've had an almost impossible time feeling happy and good about things. I've had an assignment for class coming up for a few weeks now and I haven't been able to motivate to get into a good space emotionally to do it. It's due tomorrow and I was going to try today, but I just couldn't. The professor is being super nice though and I'll have until the end of Tuesday to finish. And she said if my other stuff is on time it wouldn't even matter in terms of points lost even if she didn't give me the extra time.

The replies to tech support are continuing. They seem focused on the possibility of a bad drive, just like I was, so I again impressed upon them that backup times on the SSD and USB are also seriously affected. I'm still hopeful for a replacement and they seem understandably hesitant to rush to that.

But, it makes me think back on things. It makes me wonder why it had to be something I couldn't solve. What is Fate showing me? That my skills don't matter? That trusting my instincts and knowledge is a mistake? That I just can't have things that help me feel normal and happy? I don't understand. And while I remain hopeful they will help with a replacement I can't help but wonder why it seems I can't hang on to, or rebuild, anything in my life. While my use of the system is different from others, it seems like about a 1.65 year life span is unusually short. And, like everything else in my life, it feels like I am being punished or kept in a bad and sad place for reasons I don't understand.

Day 1588 - 11/5 - The void approaches

Today may be the start of a major victory. After a few more emails to tech support they are convinced I should RMA the system. So yay for possible victory. Yay for possibly a fixed system. I am still concerned they will not see the issues, claim its fine, and send it back weeks from now just as it is. But, I did get a video capture of the issues, so hopefully that will convince them it's bad, or whatever tests they run show as bad. Every test I've run it has shown fine, I think because the system is either working fine or doing nothing at all. Thus, any test being run would have to already be active before and then during the event. Since the system just fully locks and just about stops doing anything and some things seem to run fine once fully in memory I have my doubts they will find anything wrong by tests. I guess time will tell though.

Tomorrow I'll keep the system as-is. I'll run backups and in the later portion of the evening swap the SSD out for the basic hard drive. Wednesday early afternoon after class I'll take the system to the shipping place. That way I have lots of time tomorrow to prepare everything, and if I forget something I have time to remember and add that in. Oh, and although it could take weeks for them to test the system the place they told me to send it is right across the bay, maybe 20 miles away, so shipping time should just be a few days.

It seems this week may be ending on a fairly positive note for a change.

Day 1589 - 11/6 - Back that thang up

Today has been a mix of happy and sad so far. I am actually happy the system has had three or four non-responsive periods in the past 2 hours, as that increases the chances the techs will see the issues. But I'm sad for a few reasons. Mostly I'm sad because I saw a few lines in the RMA email indicating that the facility I'm sending it to will basically just do a free exam of the system. (Which is at least something, as most places around here would charge $150 for that.) One line states that systems out of the coverage period are subject to repair costs. That can easily get up to a few hundred very quickly. Also, it implies they may just say, 'Sorry. Your system is dying. We are sending it back.' And that would be the end of that. And, of course, the reality of my life these past few years makes me sad that I will be sending away my gaming system and that will be the end of my PC gaming until I can get a new one.

The day is still mostly ahead of me. There is still a bit of backing up to do, moving a few things to the netbook, and getting the system ready for the RMA. While I still remain hopeful, the reality of basic selfishness and greed makes me worried they will want far too much money to fix the problems.

Week 228

Day 1590 - 11/7 - Sad start, happy end

Today had a pretty sad start. I again thought I wasn't tired enough to nap at school after my morning move, and then I was pretty zonked out for 15 minutes, so I guess I should have tried to sleep earlier. (There was a lot of construction noise, then skaters, so that would have been tough to sleep through.)

Class was pretty ok. It was nearly all review for a test Wednesday. I'll study some but it's open notes, so it will really just be 'do I know the procedure for this? Yes/no. If no, look it up in the notes.' It shouldn't be a problem.

Tomorrow I think I'll sleep in at school with no alarm for the first time in I don't know how long. We are rapidly approaching the weekend, and I don't sleep at school on the weekends now, and I think Monday and Tuesday are holidays, so I won't get a chance to sleep in then. I'll have to get caught up as much as I can Thursday and Friday.

After class I had the very sad duty of going to send my system away for the RMA check. The shipping was free, they covered it, but the stupid box was $25. That's pretty overpriced for a box with foam in it. It should get there Monday. The next step was to go get an external housing for my SSD so I could continue to use it as my main disk. It was pretty cheap at half what I expected it to cost, so that was great. Like the old homeless days I didn't have much to do, so I wound up wandering in the store for about half an hour. It was very sad to think I've no gaming system now, and may not see my system again.

I remembered I should get my oil changed, so I finally did that. After, since I'd mostly set up the netbook last night, I did some podcasting. The external housing worked fine, so that shouldn't be an issue. Though when I set up the laptop last night I couldn't get a signal from the desk I normally sit at. I'd forgotten how weak its wireless was. I'll have to do more tests to see if I can see the signal. If not there is really almost no point in going to the restaurant with my netbook. In a quick test it saw school ok, and food is much cheaper there.

In the afternoon I got quite a surprise when I checked my email. There was an email reply from the RMA people saying they don't cover swapping out a system for a new model, and my system shouldn't cost anything for repairs because according to their records it's covered until the 19th of this month. Whuuuutttt? I don't know how it's covered, as I got it mid February 2011, and the sticker on the back says it has one year coverage, but I'm not going to argue or do anything to change their mind. (They didn't ask for a receipt I don't think.) So now I'm super excited at the possibility they must replace the damaged stuff. I won't hold my breath, or even believe it until the system is back in my hands. But with the coverage past when it was supposed to expire, and it going in 12 days before they think it expires, that's got to be a message from Fate to never give up trying and accept what seems to be a position of failure, and to instead just go ahead and try.

In the evening I watched a video of a friend's podcast, which was ok. A friend in chat told me she likes a game I mentioned on my last podcast, so that made me smile to think I made her happy, if even just for a little bit.

I'm still getting used to the limitations of the netbook, and I'm so very exhausted, but it seems today may have ended on a hopeful note.

Day 1591 - 11/8 - Forgotten day

Today was ok. I've actually forgotten most of what I did. I know I tried to sleep in for a bit. I think after I was planning to do more testing at school, but it was getting updates and that took nearly all the bandwidth. I couldn't do anything else. I went to see Wreck-It Ralph, which started more than 30 minutes late for some reason. And after, I think I just spent the rest of the day trying to test the netbook at the restaurant. So far the tests seem to be revealing it can do low res YouTube ok because it buffers the video, but things with smaller buffers, like Hulu, really can't run well at all even at lower settings. It was jerky no matter what I tried. I'll do more tests tomorrow. Who knows, maybe it was just a symptom of bad bandwidth at the restaurant, but it seems more likely that the netbook can barely handle modern web sites, and for the most part can't handle running videos that aren't on DVD.

Well, my life is what it is and I just have to try and adapt as best as I can. I still remain hopeful I'll get my system back all fixed up, but for some reason I still feel like it is more likely I'll never see it again.

Day 1592 - 11/9 - Long day

Today was long and slow. And it was mostly forgetful. I didn't sleep in at school because I wanted to finish the podcast. I didn't need to really, but still dealing with unknown quantities I figured it was better to have it ready than not. I guess it was ok that I decided to do it because I discovered the netbook wireless is too weak to see the place I normally upload it from. (I normally do it from outside a store while it's closed.) It did, however, connect to the school fireside room just fine. And it even transferred the files at what seemed like a faster speed than the normal place. I may spend more time at school again since the restaurant speeds are poo. Though I can't game from school, as it's firewalled, so we'll see how I feel when my gaming system is back. More tests do also seem to indicate it can really only handle YouTube well. Many websites are tough for it as well. They drag and scroll extremely slowly.

My weekends without my gaming system are going to get extremely boring extremely quickly, especially with not even being able to watch most of my videos.

I guess though there isn't anything I can do about it, and my system should get fixed for free, so I suppose things should be back to homeless normal quickly enough. It would be nice to think my life will be back to true normal someday - to have a shower, a bed, a kitchen, my desktop, my home theater stuff - but as my memories of such times fade more and more, the possibility of that happening seems to fade along with the memories.

Day 1593 - 11/10 - Pop it out

Today was really pretty uninteresting. I didn't sleep in at school, though I probably should have since it will be closed Monday and, I think, Tuesday. Ever since not having my car this past time I've felt weird about sleeping in at school, particularly on the weekends.

Really the only thing of interest today was that I discovered if I 'pop out' a video player from the Hulu site it's much smaller than the default size in the web page, but it can run smoothly if I keep it at 7" or smaller. The default size on this system is maybe 10", which makes it jerky and unwatchable. At the smaller popped out size though it's smooth and fine.

That was really it. My day was really boring. I only had a few hours of shows to watch and that was really it. I studied a bit for my test and then had nothing else to do. I expect tomorrow will be more of the same. And, I suppose, many days following until my laptop is back.

Day 1594 - 11/11 - The prisoner

Today was slow and strange feeling. I watched a few shows and studied a bit, but that was it. Mostly I felt like a prisoner. Once upon a time going out to a restaurant was a big deal. It was like, 'Woah. Where should I/we go? What kind of food do I/we want? When should I/we go?' And all the sights and sounds of the restaurant would be memorable for a while. But now it is a place. A place I must be as there are no better choices. And, I must be out, weather I want to be or not. The size of the cage doesn't matter. It may be the world, a set of parking lots, a set of restaurants, or a single restaurant. It doesn't matter. Where I go is limited. What I can do right now, even more so. Even in the best of times I am going somewhere because I must be somewhere. I may choose a movie. I may choose to go to spend time at school, either resting or hanging out. I may choose to go to a restaurant. But none are really a choice because this life I live, the places I can go, the way I do the things that I do are not the ways and places I would choose if I had my choice of everything. I am a prisoner, and my jailer is the world itself.

Day 1595 - 11/12 - By candlelight

Today was sad and a bit frustrating. I went to do my friend's online work and I had most of the info, but not all. Apparently the file I saved her online work info in did not get transferred to the netbook, so I had to wait for her to email that over. What's worse though is that even in the pizza place the netbook couldn't really connect right. I tried to watch a video and it kept disconnecting, or connecting at such a slow speed it was pausing every other second. I simply gave up and went back to the coffee shop. But, then I'd gotten the info from my friend to do her online work, so I did that and then it was time to do laundry and go to work.

It's getting colder at night (though oddly during the day it was almost warm enough to drop down to just one shirt layer.) As I took off my house shirt, my T-shirt, and my undershirt to swap them out for clean stuff I thought back to when I was in a home. In a home just the house shirt would have really been enough to keep me warm. And if it wasn't I'd light between two to five little tea lights. Since I have awesome night vision I usually don't have any light on at night, and it reminded me how cool just one or two tea lights can be in the chilly times. Five is downright blinding and not so fun, but sometimes necessary when it's very cold. But since they are so small and have their own holder I never really worried about anything catching on fire. They would last usually about 4 hours, so I would often time it so they were done just before or shortly after I went to bed. Lights bug me when trying to sleep, but tonight I was reminded of those few nights where I was snuggled in bed watching the last of the candlelight burn out as I listened to the gentle rain on the roof.

Day 1596 - 11/13 - Waiting

Today officially begins waiting to hear something on the laptop. Yesterday was a holiday, and though they got it Friday I doubt it was actually opened, so I expect maybe today they will actually open it and take a look at it. It would be nice to hear something before Friday on what's wrong, as it will probably take a few days to fix, but I guess all I can do is wait as it is out of my hands.

It's later morning, just after 10. I am outside of the restaurant readying the close of this week. I at least got some extra sleep at school, about 1.5 hours. There kept being construction like noises, like sheets of plastic being slapped around, or steel pipes being dropped, so it kept interrupting me and finally I just couldn't fall back to sleep again.

Nothing really much to look forward to today. I expect I'll hang out at the restaurant all day and watch videos in the small 7" size. It's not great, but I suppose in a way it's not so terrible either. I could go to school and check out a system and watch it at 15", but I don't know. In a way it can sometimes be more distracting there. Like last time there was a guy who was constantly tapping his hands and feet the entire like 3 hours I was there. I thought about requesting a spot change it was so bad.

Well, things are what they are. As always I will try to change them (look for jobs, study for my test, etc.), but, as always, it seems I am mostly waiting for things beyond my control.

Comments and stuff Copyright E. Stryker 2008-2013
Pictures for Epic Fail are taken by me. :)

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