Software Overview

In the next series of posts, I intend to discuss some of the software programs (these days called ‘apps’) I have used in the past or continue to use regularly, if not daily. I will group them by type or purpose and write separate posts for each group.

These are the groups I’ve decided upon, at least for now:

  • Security
  • Browsers
  • Mail
  • Productivity
  • Photo Management
  • Utility
  • Communication

Most people use software in each of these groups, but some of what I have encountered and use (or used) for specific purposes might be new to the reader.

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Goal Accomplished: Win with all DLC Civs

Yesterday I won with the final civ of the downloadable-content (DLC) civs. It happened to be Poland (Jadwiga). A few weeks ago, I bought all the DLC on special and that presented a new challenge – win a game with each of the new (to me) civs.

In an earlier post, I mentioned I had bought Nubia (Amanitore) quite a while ago and already played and won a game (Culture) with that civ, so that left six civs from the DLC group.

Macedon (Alexander) was the first one and it turned out to be a pretty overpowered civ for a Domination victory. It took me just 321 turns on Standard Pace to clean up the map (Pangaea). With cities never incurring war weariness, you can be at war almost perpetually.

With the other four, I ended up winning through Science. Even though I tried for other victory types, especially a Religious victory with Poland, but apparently my general style of play leads more often than not to me choosing Science.

Just for the record the rest of the DLC are:

  • Persia (Cyrus)
  • Indonesia (Gitarja)
  • Khmer (Jayavarman VII)
  • Australia (John Curtin)

 

Networking Lessons

Establishing a home network using a router can be complicated, even intimidating.

Many years ago, when I first used a laptop for work, I decided we needed a router so I could use the laptop at home. Since then, I have used three different routers (D-Link, Cisco and Linksys).

It has been quite a while since I bought and installed the first one, but as I recall, the initial setup was a bit tricky. Once set up, what made using it very user friendly was a program called Network Magic (name changes over time – Pure Network Magic, then Cisco Network Magic) that came with the installation disk of D-Link. Cisco Connect was its successor and it took a little adjustment, but worked ok. The current system, Linksys Smart-Wifi, was least user-friendly to set up, and its many features have sometimes created some confusion in ongoing use.

For example, recently after buying the new laptop, I discovered the “Priorities” feature that allows you to set up priorities for bandwidth use for each connected device (including iPads, guest laptops, cellphones, etc., and we have a number of devices connected at any given time.) I decided to give my new laptop highest priority and desktop computer second highest priority and started using the feature. When I noticed we had very slow download and upload speeds, I thought something was wrong with the IP modem or their throttling. I eventually figured out when I set up the priority feature, I had inadvertently radically limited the bandwidth for each! Needless to say, as soon as I discovered that problem, I quickly disabled the feature and have never used it again.

We are paying for higher speed internet access allowing 100MB, so we have never really had any issues with bandwidth sharing even when we have several devices in use simultaneously. I don’t ever anticipate using the “Priority” feature again.

Other Devices

I’ve discussed the PCs and laptops as my primary computing devices already. In addition, my wife and I use other devices that technically are computers. We each have a smartphone (same brand and model for minimizing confusion). In addition, I use an old iPad (2nd generation that is maxed out at IOS 9 latest and therefore cannot use the most recent IOS 12), and my wife uses an iPad Mini that just updated to IOS 12.

For years we resisted getting smart phones, because we did not feel the need to have the features they provide when we had two computers for those things. We had basic cellphones. When the batteries were near dead on those old phones, we finally succumbed to the new age and bought Samsung Galaxy 6 phones (not the most current at the time even), but their size was more appealing than the Galaxy 7.

My challenge is to be well enough versed in all the operating systems to do trouble-shooting when necessary.

Civ VI Sale

This past Thursday the Civ franchise announced a 67% off sale on Civ VI just for this weekend. That is about as good as it gets, so I recommended my son take the plunge and get it now for his daughter. Firaxis, owner of the games, finally is providing a Deluxe version, a little higher cost, but includes all the downloadable content (DLC) released to this point and probably all future DLC. I anticipate they will buy the Deluxe version.

As a result, I decided to buy all the DLC I don’t have yet at 33% off, so I will be able to play multiplayer games with anyone who wants to use one of those civs.
Side benefit challenge: I now have several more civs to learn and play, once again with the goal of winning a game with each one.

Civ V and Civ VI

As I wrote in the earlier gaming overview post, my motivation in recent years for sophisticated computer gaming has come as a part of interacting with my grandsons. In October 2015, my introduction to 4X (“eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate”) strategy games began with the acquisition of Civilization V, then available in its final expansion version with a package deal to get all previously released content. My youngest grandson was deep into the game and convinced me it would be a good one for my interests, and of course he was looking for someone to play multiplayer with as his brother was still resisting buying it.

Since then I’ve logged many hours of playing that game, setting as a goal to win at least one game using each of the forty-three civilizations/leaders. Sometime along the way, I did accomplish that. Youngest grandson liked the Shoshone (Pocatello), so whenever we played multiplayer he would choose that civilization. Oldest grandson, after he finally bought it, tended to prefer Germany (Bismarck), I think at least in part because he was studying German in school, but also because of its unique units and powers. I never settled on just one civ. I was not enamored with the Domination victory option; I tended to prefer the Diplomacy, or more often, Science victory options. That meant I often played as Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar), Korea (Sejong), or Poland (Casimir III).

Early on, after learning the basics playing in multiplayer mode with a lot of help from my experienced grandson, I played quite a lot on my own to get better at it so I would not hold them back. While doing so, I began to thoroughly enjoy all aspects of the game, not the least being all the history learned, by reading the Civ V Wiki and in game information.

When we played in multiplayer mode we played as a team most of the time, but as we all became better players, we eventually played every man for himself. Only once did I win a game with both grandsons playing every man for himself!

I had enjoyed Civ V so much, I watched in eager anticipation for the release of Civ VI, which came in October 2016. In fact, I ended up buying it on the pre-release deal so I could get the Aztec civ immediately upon release. Those who did not buy pre-release, had to wait a few months to get the Aztec civ, although it was free then for them.

After playing Civ VI for a while on my own, I convinced the boys to buy it as well so we could play in multiplayer mode. This time I was ahead in knowledge of the new game.

It is quite different in several ways from Civ V. At first, I did not like the graphics look at all. I have since gotten used to it, but still would prefer a different basic look. The original version of Civ VI needed some work, and I and the grandsons did not like it as much as we did Civ V. Even so, I kept playing the game and again set the goal to win a game with each civ. I did so with the civs that came with the original game before the first expansion release.

In February of this year, the first expansion, Rise and Fall, was released and it had several significant improvements, especially in diplomacy. Several new civs were added at that time, so I had a new goal to win with each of them (accomplished). In the process I have decided the Zulu (Shaka) civ, followed by the Mapuche (Lautaro) are my favorites to play. I now like Civ VI more than I did at the beginning, especially after the Rise and Fall expansion and the Spring 2018 update that had more improvements, although I am looking forward to the next expansion. I have read nothing about it yet, which probably means it will be quite a while before it is released. The first expansion was released well over a year after the original version, so if they are on that kind of schedule, it will be spring or summer 2019.

So far, I have bought only one of the individually available downloadable content civilizations – Nubia. I probably would not have even done that, but youngest grandson had read up on it and liked its capabilities, so he bought it. When we first tried to play together after he bought it, we learned to play a multiplayer game using Nubia, all human players had to have it installed, so I succumbed and bought it. In principle, I do not like the idea of having to pay for each new civ so tend to avoid almost all downloadable content. Maybe the next expansion version will be offered as a package deal to get all the civs released to date.  We shall see.

Even as I wait for the next iteration, I continue to play Civ VI Rise and Fall. While I definitely prefer Science, and most of my wins are in Science, I have won at least one game with each victory condition. I find Religion the most difficult and have only tried to win using that as my aim a few times, winning just once. Fairly early in the mid-game, one usually needs to pick a victory condition to pursue. Simultaneously trying for both Culture and Science has not worked out well for me, so Science tends to be my choice.

As far as map configurations go, I’ve tried most but tend to prefer Pangaea, Continents, and Fractal, unless I am playing as a civ that excels in naval operations, such as Norway, when Island Plates is the best choice. Occasionally I will use Shuffle and let the map be random just for variety. I have won at least one game on each primary map type, as well as each map size. On size, I tend to almost always play Standard now.

Except for the goals of winning with each civ, each map type and size, in Civ VI I have generally not been actively pursuing the Steam Achievements. I just take them as they come. In Civ V, I was actively working at getting all the achievements, but only unlocked less than half of the 286 possible. Ironically, I have already unlocked 55% in Civ VI, but almost certainly more will be added to the current 191 possible as new civs become available.

Minecraft

The first time I played Minecraft, one grandson had me play on their laptop using another person’s login. He coached me on how to do various things including how to get through the first day and night in survival mode. Soon the other grandson asked to open the game up to the LAN and he joined the game. As a result, I learned quickly how the game can become a multiplayer game almost instantly. From that simple beginning I was hooked, and immediately downloaded, installed and bought my own Minecraft login. (Mojang, the creator of Minecraft, establishes a permanent login after you purchase the game. You can then download the game and install it on as many computers as you wish.)

Not long after that first experience, the older of the two grandsons established his own server using MCHosting as the platform for it. That meant all three of us could play online together no matter where we were. I don’t recall the exact timing, but probably within a year I decided to use the same hosting service and created my own server so I could learn more about that aspect of gaming and technology.

I, in turn, introduced Minecraft to my son and his daughter and they quickly decided they wanted it as well, so they both got their own login accounts and off we went. I now had two households in different states to play Minecraft with and several times all five of us were playing on one or another of our servers from three different states hundreds of miles apart.

My son tried a different hosting service when he set up his server (GGServers) and it had quite a bit lower monthly fee, so I decided to add a second server for myself and explore the two hosting services to see which one I liked best never intending to keep more than one server for very long. Eventually I settled on keeping the MCHosting because it was a little better overall and generally had less lag. I attributed that to my server location being at their Chicago hub while the GGServers server was in Montreal, much farther away.

As the grandsons have grown – one in second year of college, the other a high school senior – we have done less gaming together, but I still have some fun gaming with my son and granddaughter, who is in middle school and continues to enjoy several games. She, of course, does most of her gaming with her friends, which is appropriate.

As a result of the lower demand for it, I have discontinued having my own server. We now mostly play when we are in the same location and LAN works just fine.

I, on the other hand, continue to thoroughly enjoy playing Minecraft in single player mode, trying out new things and building new structures. Each major Minecraft update adds more features to explore and the latest version, officially called Update Aquatic (1.13.1), is no exception, with all the water features and creatures.