At work, I have taken it upon myself to try and spearhead various initiatives within our Customer Success team that act to push forward how we work and what we work on, as iteratively as possible, taking into account various feedback channels and measurements, and involving anyone who is interested either in reporting something that could use optimization or helping to optimize something that needs help.

We use a threaded discussion system called P2 to do most of our asynchronous communication at work, as we are a globally-distributed company. I have teammates around the world, and we need to collaborate and work with each other “overnight” (which is a relative term, as is, say “summer,” or even “Thursday”).

For each P2, we have a small sidebar image, tagline, and site icon that’s generally chosen by the person who starts that P2. Here’s what I chose for the Quality project P2:

The sidebar from the P2 in question, including a still image from the movie "Tron: Legacy," and the logo of Garlond Ironworks from Final Fantasy XIV. More details are below in the post text.

I felt like sharing why I went with these things, because I don’t ever choose anything for no reason, though I am known for occasionally doing so out of whimsy.

The sidebar header is a moment from Tron: Legacy, as the film heads into its climactic scene, and the main characters are on the run. Flynn explicitly takes a moment to stop, head to the deck of the solar sailer, close his eyes, and find calm.

As he leaves to do so, he says:

“The old man’s gonna knock on the sky; listen to the sound.”

“Knock on the sky; listen to the sound” is apparently a somewhat old Zen saying. Sometimes, calming your mind and opening it to what is around you is the way to find inspiration, insight, or guidance that might be in front of you. It’s challenging to do this when you are running from thing to thing, or very frustrated, or distracted—but that’s maybe when you need to do it the most.

The site icon is the logo of Garlond Ironworks, a group of scientists who study various ways to use machines in the world of Final Fantasy XIV. The motto of Garlond Ironworks is:

“Freedom through technology.”

They intentionally do not study or manufacture anything that can be used for tyranny’s gain. It is a gathering of intelligent people who wish to utilize and study technology for purposes of lifting up all people.

Now, I don’t remotely pretend to view the work I do on supporting customers or improving internal things as being relevant to that ethical quandary specifically, but it does serve to remind me of two things: that ingenuity can come from a variety of sources and from all sorts of people, and that we have a choice regarding whether to further technology to good or evil ends. (The former is definitely why I chose to use it in this specific context.)

The desktop wallpaper for Final Fantasy XIV patch 4.2, "Rise of a New Sun," with artwork depicting the members of Garlond Ironworks.

For too many years, I failed to be this kind of example to my children.

I didn’t deal with stress appropriately.

I didn’t deal with my emotions in an intelligent or healthy manner.

I spoke about toxicity without fully seeing it in myself.

The world needs more kindness.

For a time, I had thought that finding what I’d figured was a more correct “alignment” had finally configured things in the right places.

I was wrong for longer than I would like to admit. It caused problems to which I was blind in my ignorance. I ended up needing some help.

I fully believe people can change. You may not be able to lead them to it, and they have to want to change, and it can be a ton of hard work over a long time, but we can change.

I had to change; I’m still changing. And learning.

Maybe it never stops.

You can change, too.

❤️

It’s been a while since I changed the look of this site, and I had a desire to get away from the wasted screen space of my previous theme on a desktop browser, so today, I flipped my theme over to the understated and clean Velox.

There’s a lot to like, and it adds a few things that I really appreciate, such as a time-to-read and a progress bar for people reading single articles. It’s also block-editor-friendly.

At the same time, I’m also going to try something (yet again) that I have attempted previously for my writing: I’m going to split my content a bit between two of my sites and see how that goes in terms of focusing audience.

This site will continue to host my writing on life things, events work, general technology topics, work and remote work, and customer support and success.

My guides, resources, and other writing on games and video games will start to be published over on my streaming homepage, located at backlogathon.tv. I’m not going to move anything from this site over there to start, but instead will begin writing there, with a possible focus on Final Fantasy XIV and Destiny 2.

I will probably write about various games here on this site when they are significant enough that they have entered my general attention, or have been super-significant. I owe this site a post regarding FFXIV at some point, for example.

To be perfectly honest, I have been planning to write this for some time, but there are a couple of other posts that have been floating around for a bit in the past week that I thought would make good reference points for how I feel about cryptocurrency in general.

It’s well-known at this point that the computation necessary both to generate and to process cryptocurrency and its transactions consumes enough electricity to power a decently-sized nation. And that—while not the sole reason by far—cryptocurrency mining has begun to price computer components beyond the reach of many individuals, as we approach the second year of GPU shortages and are now hearing that storage space will soon be used for a new type of cryptocurrency.

On September 1st, 2020, GitLab announced that their free CI offering was being restricted in response to “usage.” Two months later, TravisCI announced that a similar restriction in response to “significant abuse.”

Concurrently with these pricing changes, the market capitalization of mineable cryptocurrencies has exploded.

These events are related: As the market capitalization of cryptocurrency surged from $190 billion in January of 2020 to $2 trillion in April of 2021, it’s become profitable for bad actors to make a full time job of attacking the free tiers of platform-as-a-service providers.

–Colin Chartier at layerci.com

Crypto mining is beginning to encroach upon services that many people in technology use for their own projects (for legitimate purposes). It’s beginning to become a literal menace for systems folks:

Cryptocurrency problems are more subtle than outright abuse, too. The integrity and trust of the entire software industry has sharply declined due to cryptocurrency. It sets up perverse incentives for new projects, where developers are no longer trying to convince you to use their software because it’s good, but because they think that if they can convince you it will make them rich.

[…]

Any technology which is not an (alleged) currency and which incorporates blockchain anyway would always work better without it.

[…]

That’s what cryptocurrency is all about: not novel technology, not empowerment, but making money. It has failed as an actual currency outside of some isolated examples of failed national economies. No, cryptocurrency is not a currency at all: it’s an investment vehicle. A tool for making the rich richer. And that’s putting it nicely; in reality it has a lot more in common with a Ponzi scheme than a genuine investment. What “value” does solving fake math problems actually provide to anyone?

[…]

And those few failed economies whose people are desperately using cryptocurrency to keep the wheel of their fates spinning? Those make for a good headline, but how about the rural communities whose tax dollars subsidized the power plants which the miners have flocked to? People who are suffering blackouts as their power is siphoned into computing SHA-256 as fast as possible while dumping an entire country worth of COâ‚‚ into the atmosphere? No, cryptocurrency does not help failed states. It exploits them.

–Drew DeVault

(In response to the request from his post, I disclose that I at no point have owned any cryptocurrency.)

As the discussions regarding cryptocurrency continue, I can only conclude that both mining it and support it via using it (or trading in it) is explicitly unethical and immoral. It accomplishes nothing it theoretically sets out to do:

  • It does not provide for freedom from fiat currency, as its value is explicitly pegged to a fiat currency—or another cryptocurrency that is pegged to one.
  • It does not have a substantive use other than as a speculative “investment” that does not actually have a value as a tangible object, in the way that, say, futures or precious metals do. And this investment will only go up in value if current crypto holders convince new fools to start going in on cryptocurrency as well, further perpetuating the cycle.

Instead:

  • It is generating tremendous amounts of environmental waste, in the form of ridiculous energy usage and e-waste from discarded components used for mining.
  • It is well-known that it is being used significantly for transactions that are essentially money laundering or other criminal activity.
  • It is contributing to an ongoing crisis in the consumer availability of semiconductor-containing equipment and products.

Cryptocurrency takes and takes and takes, and provides nothing of value back into any economy or ecosystem, other than enriching people who are modern-day carnival barkers, shouting from their stalls for hapless “investors” to try their luck.

In the face of our contemporary climate crisis, the perpetuation of cryptocurrency is—at best—irresponsible; I now argue consistently that it is unethical and immoral. We have a responsibility to future generations to tackle the problems of climate change, poverty, and inequality, both of which cryptocurrency can only worsen significantly.

It’s past time cryptocurrency was not only regulated, but made illegal to produce or use.

For many players, this is going to feel like the end of an era. Comparing four-digit DCI numbers at events was something of a badge of honor—a way to show how long you’ve been a part of the community. We’re feeling a bit nostalgic over here as well, which is part of the reason we’re giving you 30-days to check out your history and rave about your winning record against your friends (or that one time you beat Luis Scott-Vargas at a MagicFest side event).

A little piece of Magic history is going away—but the future is bright and more connected across platforms.

Future in-store play and esports events, as well as other play opportunities, will require players to have a valid Wizards Account which works with the Magic: The Gathering Companion app and the upcoming new event tool for local game stores. If you already play Magic: The Gathering Arena, you already have a Wizards Account. Some Magic esports events, including events such as Grand Prix at MagicFests, will continue to use your DCI number through 2021.

Wizards of the Coast, “Sunsetting Planeswalker Points

I haven’t played organized Magic: The Gathering in over twenty years, but this is definitely the end of an era. Your DCI number was your identity in competitive Magic.

My number’s so old that Wizards support couldn’t help me retrieve it—they needed an exact date and location where I would have played in a sanctioned event, and I can’t remember what I did last week, so I certainly can’t remember when I played over two decades ago.

They’re apparently switching to using app-based checkin, utilizing the web accounts you now use for logging in to MTG Arena, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see rankings start to use ranked play information on Arena as well down the line.

I’ve started playing MTG Arena with the most recent set release, and should talk more about that soon. It’s been a lot of fun, and fascinating to see the changes that have been made to the game since I’ve been away.

As a career support person, I wanted to take a few minutes out of my lunch break today to mention that the support posts on the @BungieHelp Twitter account yesterday were really good and an example of How I Would Have Done It that sadly, I don’t see very often.

For the unaware, Destiny 2 has a “weekly reset” cadence, where every Tuesday at a specific time, certain cycles in the game reset intentionally and events tend to come and go. (There is also a smaller daily reset.) Patches always coincide with this reset time, and yesterday’s reset included the 2.7.1 update.

There was a bit of a problem with the update.

The problem was discovered within 30 minutes of the patch distribution and service availability, and 35 minutes after that, Bungie took the entire game down to prevent further problems from happening.

The very next tweet was one hour later, and contained the following information:

Let’s talk about why this tweet is good stuff from a support standpoint. It runs what is essentially the Support Playbook in my opinion. It:

  • States the current status or progress of the issue (“we think we’ve found it; give us a bit”),
  • Gives a general forecast for what to expect (“game’s going to be down for a while as we figure out how to fix it”), and
  • Provides a timeline for follow-up information (“we’ll talk to you again in about an hour”).

True to their word, Bungie continued to update players on a regular cadence:

Each one of these tweets follows the same pattern, which is IMO essential to a good support interaction, whether over Twitter or another medium such as email or ticketing systems:

  • State the problem
  • Give an update on progress if possible
  • Tell the client/customer when they will hear from you next
  • Execute on what you have promised

This is actually quite difficult to do on Twitter effectively due to the character limit.

The full solution for the problem was detailed in the next update:

And then this update doesn’t promise a further update, as the problem is identified and the fix is underway, with an ETA for service resumption—and presumably, everyone is heads-down planning for the eventual response that will be needed when everything is back up:

There was a follow-up tweet when the service was brought back online, which ended up being less than 20 minutes later than their initial estimate. Pretty good. :)

The icing on the cake, though, is this tweet, which is pretty fantastic:

It’s a super-concise list of exactly how the rollback affects players and what they can expect when they log back in. (“Silver” is the paid microtransaction currency in Destiny 2.)

If you work in support, take a look at your own interactions and look for these patterns. Are you informing clients or customers in a timely fashion, giving them information as available and verified, and providing estimates for when they will hear from you next? If not, consider updating your handbook or processes for support interactions in an emergency response or disaster recovery situation.

Kudos to the Bungie player support team for this series of interactions; I was quite impressed to see them throughout the afternoon and evening, and remarked as such to friends as the situation was going on. I can only imagine what the disaster recovery process was like behind-the-scenes, but it appears to have been very effective, as at least in my estimation, the speed of this issue ID and data recovery operation was impressive for what I can only assume is a very large database.

I very recently put together a Drop CTRL mechanical keyboard, which I find I quite love—but it of course has some drawbacks.

It’s not fully QMK-compliant, which is kind of a bummer, but even if it were, it turns out that configuring LEDs on a keyboard using QMK is a bit of a beast. I usually use a solid-color layout, but just setting that up using QMK turned out to be something of an ordeal.

Let’s just say that I’m not 100% down with configuring my keyboard with a text file.

Thankfully, in my research on this over the past week, I found a rather new firmware for the Drop CTRL that solves a bunch of problems I’d had with it.

Enter endgame.

This is the function layer, which is a complete godsend. Even better, when holding the layer function key, the available modified keys light up differently from the remaining keys on the board.

It’s really, really cool to be able to change LED color on the fly using just a key combination on the board. The stated goals of this firmware branch are really great, and I’m hoping to keep an eye on it for a while and see how much work is done.

You can find this specific firmware in the QMK Github repository here if you are interested in checking it out for yourself.

Planning to work towards earning the title “Savior” in Destiny 2? Here’s your guide to the triumphs necessary to claim the Seal and equip the title before it expires at the end of the Season of Dawn.

14 total Triumphs are necessary to complete the Seal. I’ve reordered them slightly below to group them by theme/location.

Obtaining the Triumphs

The Season of Dawn Collections Badge

You’ll need the following to complete this one:

  • The Global Resonance triumph, which is also included in this Seal. It drops the Timeswept Shell Ghost shell.
  • The Crucible Quests “Stronger Together” and “Fire Breather.”
  • The Gambit Quests “Tear It Up” and “Spitting Distance.”
  • The Vanguard Quests “Duty Driven” and “Shoot Fast, Tread Lightly.”
  • Collecting a full set of the seasonal armor. You receive this automatically if you have the premium track on the Season Pass.
  • Obtaining all three seasonal exotic weapons: Symmetry, Devil’s Ruin, and Bastion.
  • Acquiring one of each weapon available as a reward from the Sundial activity.

The most time-consuming bits of this will be the seasonal ritual quests, which require engaging with all three major playlist activities, and in half of them, using specific weapons to earn the ritual weapons for the season.

As long as you are engaging with the seasonal exotic quests as they appear during the season, you should receive the rest of this more or less naturally. You’ll need to make sure you pull at least one of each weapon from the Sundial activity.

EDZ Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the EDZ Obelisk to 10.

Tangled Shore Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the Tangled Shore Obelisk to 10.

Mars Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the Mars Obelisk to 10.

Nessus Resonance: Increase the Resonance Rank of the Nessus Obelisk to 10.

Global Resonance: Increase the total Resonance Rank of all Obelisks to 40.

These will require engaging with the seasonal activity nodes on each of the four selected planets. To increase the Resonance Rank of the Obelisks, you’ll need to run weekly bounties that can be found at each Obelisk, or receive drops from running playlist activities, the Sundial, or the Menagerie.

The Tangled Shore and Mars Obelisks are available in the game now. EDZ and Nessus receive their Obelisks on 17 December.

Race Through Time: Complete the Sundial within a set amount of time. (Checkbox indicates this is for Niruul specifically.)

Inotam’s Ruin: Defeat Inotam, Oblivion’s Triune, within the Sundial.

Flayer Slayer: Defeat each of the Psion Flayers found within the Sundial (3).

I received the time trial triumph after my first run of the Sundial, so I have no idea how quickly you need to complete the activity. It’s possible this just requires not failing at any given section of the activity. If you are cycling it often enough, these should happen for you automatically.

Over time, Flayers are being added to the Sundial. It’s not obvious at this point whether they are being added to a rotation, or replacing each other. To be safe, I’d recommend running the Sundial as soon as you can when one is added, to ensure you receive the completions.

Ozletc is being added on 17 December, and Tazaroc on 24 December. Inotam is being added on 4 February.

Legendary Psion: Defeat Inotam, Oblivion’s Triune, on Legend difficulty or higher.

Legend Sundial is not available until 7 January, and Inotam is not being added until 4 February. It’s somewhat likely that running Sundial on Legend will require a pre-made fireteam, meaning this may not be possible to do solo.

Undefeatable: Complete a run of the Sundial without dying.

The hardest part of doing this at the time of this post is surviving the “cages” Niruul places on you during the boss fight. They require other players to shoot them to prevent you from dying. This would be significantly easier with a pre-made fireteam.

Saintly Savior: Save Saint-14 from the Infinite Forest.

The seasonal schedule indicates this will likely be completable starting on 17 December. This is a story progression quest found within Season 9.

Link Repair: Repair each of the fractured links found on the Tower Obelisk.

It’s unclear when this will be added to the game.

Torch-Bearer: Complete the Empyrean Restoration effort and light the beacon.

Empyrean Restoration is an event or quest on the seasonal calendar, and it’s scheduled to be released on 4 February. You won’t be able to complete this until then.

Devil’s Ruin: Travel to Twilight Gap and collect the materials required to repair Devil’s Ruin.

The Devil’s Ruin quest is scheduled to open on 7 January.

Bastion: Acquire the Exotic fusion rifle Bastion.

The Bastion quest is scheduled to open on 28 January.

A Chronological List

Here’s what you can do when, if you want to start getting ahead.

  • Immediately
    • Begin increasing the Resonance Rank of the Tangled Shore and Mars Obelisks.
    • Finish the first steps in the Saint-14 Quest, which are available from Osiris.
    • Begin work on the Crucible, Vanguard, and Gambit seasonal quests and ritual weapon quests.
    • Run Sundial and collect each of the four weapons available. Defeat Niruul. Attempt to do so quickly to receive the time trial Triumph.
  • 17 December
    • Complete the Saint-14 rescue quest.
    • Begin increasing the Resonance Rank of the EDZ and Nessus Obelisks.
    • Defeat Ozletc in the Sundial activity.
    • Run the Sundial and collect the four remaining weapons now available.
  • 24 December
    • Run the Sundial and defeat Tazaroc.
  • 7 January
    • Complete the quest to obtain Devil’s Ruin.
  • 28 January
    • Complete the quest to obtain Bastion.
  • 4 February
    • Complete a run of the Sundial at Legend or higher, defeating Inotam.
    • Begin the Empyrean Restoration event/quest.
  • Unknown
    • Perform quest steps necessary to complete/fix the Tower Obelisk.

The earliest possible date to complete the title is likely 4 February, and the Season of Dawn concludes on 9 March. You must complete all necessary Triumphs before the weekly reset on 9 March.

I’ll have a more detailed post on the assembly of this thing once I have the final parts put together, but I’ve sourced myself the bits necessary for a ten-key-less mechanical keyboard (otherwise known as a TKL keyboard).

The keycaps showed up today:

And along with them, one hundred Cherry MX Blue switches:

I’ve been using mechanical keyboards for a while now, starting with a Model M I scrounged from the campus IT department I then used through college and grad school, then a Unicomp reproduction hard-wired to Dvorak (which was not a great idea), then most recently a Logitech Orion using their Romer-G custom switches, and a Corsair K70 mk.2 that uses MX Browns.

I have liked both the Romer-G and the MX Brown switches, but I’ve been wanted to go to something with a defined click again for a while. The K70 can be ordered with MX Blues, but there was a lot of appeal to finding myself a “standard” keyboard that can take various keycaps and be reconfigured at will.

The plate/board I’ll be using is the Drop CTRL, which I ordered without switches or keys so I could just use my own. I ended up not saving anything more than about $20 doing it this way, but in the end, I’ll have caps I wanted, the switches I wanted, and a keyboard that doesn’t require soldering work to swap out switches down the line if I want to test another brand or line.

The CTRL is the only part that hasn’t yet arrived. I’m hoping it’s here before the end of the week.