Tales of Terror III: The Haunting Of Brickhold Manor

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The Haunting Of Brickhold Manor

They laughed and giggled as they pushed through the front door. It was dark outside and it was darker inside even with the moonlight coming in through the large front window.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” laughed Nancy. “What is this place, anyway?”
Ted grabbed Nancy by the waist. “Oh, it’s the old Brickhold Manor,” he said. “Old lady Brickhold died years back and the place has just been sitting here ever since.” 

Nancy looked around the dilapidated living room. “It’s spooky,” she said, shrugging off Ted’s attempt to nuzzle her neck. 

“Yeah it is,” he agreed. “Look, there’s still a couch,” he said, giving her a playful push onto the couch. 

“Ew,” she said. “There’s probably black mold in here.” 

“We’ll worry about that later,” said Ted, sliding his hand up her leg, reaching for her skirt. 

She started to push his hand down. “Did you hear that?” she asked. 

“Hear what?” 

“It sounded like a moan, almost.” 

“Maybe that was you?” he asked. 

“I’m pretty sure it wasn’t,” she said. “Listen!” 

Now Ted heard the noise. It sounded like, “Oooooooh, you will die,” and trailed off.

“Did you hear it?” asked Nancy.
“Yeah. It’s just the house settling.” 

“I’m pretty sure houses don’t threaten when they settle!” 

At that moment the front door slammed shut. 

Nancy jumped off the couch from underneath Ted and lunged at the door, trying to pull it open. 

“I can’t open it,” she gasped. 

“Maybe you’re not tugging hard enough?” 

“Then you try it!” 

Ted grasped the door handle and pulled. It wouldn’t move, but it didn’t look like anything was blocking it. He tried again and pulled with everything you had. The door opened a fraction of an inch. 

“Ha! I think I got it,” he said. 

The door slammed shut again, ripping itself from his grasp. 

“We gotta get out of here!” 

Ted made a dash for the stairs that led to the upper story, but he felt something grab him and pull him back.

“You can’t go upstairs,” cried Nancy, holding onto the back of his shirt. “Think of something else!” 

Ted looked around and saw an old wooden end table with a mildewed doily on it. 

“I got it!” He grabbed the table and hurled it out the front window. “Okay, out you go!” 

Nancy jumped out the window onto the dead bushes below it. She got a little cut on her leg which she wouldn’t have gotten had she been wearing jeans instead of, you know, kind of slutty with that mini skirt. Ted jumped out after her. They got back to their feet and ran down the street. 

Eventually, they made their way to a twenty-four clinic. Nancy got a Band-Aid for her leg. They asked about some kind of inoculation for black mold on account of almost having done it on a potentially moldy couch, but they were told there wasn’t an inoculation for that.And they never returned to the house again.

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Tales of Terror II: The House On Millcreek Lane

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The House On Millcreek Lane

The sporty white convertible wound its way down the dark road. Most of the streetlights were out but occasionally a pool of dim light covered the road and dimly lit objects on the side.

“Wait! Stop the car,” yelled out Penny.

Chad hit the brakes and came to a stop. “What? What’s the matter?” he asked, turning down the stereo.

Penny pointed off the road. “Look at that house!” She was leaning halfway out of the car with her arm outstretched.

The house was dimly lit and shrouded by tall trees. It sat by itself. If the architect had tried to design the front of a house to look like a sad, old, entity he had succeeded. Its siding mottled by moss, mold, and peeling paint. Dark windows stared back at the car.

“Oh, yeah,” said Chad. “My dad said this place has been abandoned forever.

“We should totally spend the night here,” said Penny. “Maybe we’ll see ghosts or something. Think of the crazy young adult sex party we could have!”

Pam spoke up from the back seat. “For reals? You’d rather stay in a musty old house than hit the party at the beach?”

“With the rest of the group waiting for us?” asked Chad.

“And the beer?” added Mitka.

“And the music with the dancin’” added Pam, wriggling her hips.

“And the beer?” piped in Mitka, halfway on the floor.

“And besides, we can have sex on the beach,” said Chad.

“Somebody’s bringing vodka?” asked Mitka, slumped over the transmission hump.

Penny frowned slightly and sat back down. “Yeah, you’re right. Let’s go to the bonfire beach party!”

The stereo music was turned way up and Chad took off down the street.

And they all had a really nice time.

Except, it must be said, for Mitka who had a little too much drink and started spinning in circles letting his arms fly out and then bringing them back close to his body feeling himself slow down and speed up. Then he threw up. But he threw up in the water so it didn’t bother anyone except for a crab and some small fish.

 

The End

Tales of Terror I: The Night Creature

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The Night Creature

The trees swayed in the night, branches silhouetted against the full moon. Impenetrable darkness permeated the woods past the line of trees separating the open field from the gloom beyond. They stood like guardians.

A figure came stumbling from the darkness. A woman. She caught herself from falling and, spotting her car, ran towards it. She was wearing jeans and sneakers and a light jacket which is the sensible sort of thing to wear when on a hike in the woods. She glanced behind her, looking for signs of pursuit. The crack and snaps of dry brush in the woods spurred her on.

She reached for the closest door, the door handle springing out as she neared and unlocking when it sensed the key fob within range. She yanked the door open, dove onto the back seat, and closed the door behind her. She looked out the rear window and saw the lumbering creature. It was headed right for the car. She didn’t think she could get to the front seat before the hideous monster was upon.

“Start the car!” she cried. Dashboard lights lit up, as did the accent lighting which traveled in light pipes around the doors and center console.

The creature grabbed for a door but the handles had retracted once the car was started.

“Go to the nearest police station!” she commanded.

The car whirred off at speed, electric motors using the full amount of torque available. Brenda looked out the window again and saw the creature running towards her but falling behind. She took out her cell phone and recorded the monster as it fell away into darkness.

“Call 9-1-1,” she said.

After a few seconds, a voice came through the car speakers.

“Emergency services,” it said in a soothing voice. “What is the nature of your emergency?”

“I was hiking in Pikes Park,” said Brenda, still looking out the window. “I was attacked by some kind of animal. Or monster. Or creature.”

“I’ve got your GPS coordinates. Were you alone?”

“No, I was with my boyfriend, Sam. I think the creature killed him!” she cried.

“A SWAT team is en route,” said the voice. “Please stay calm and in your vehicle.”

Brenda nodded, even though no one could see her. Probably. She heard a helicopter pass overhead.
The speakers spoke again. “The SWAT team is on site. I’m being advised that the IR cameras have picked up a heat signature. They don’t know what it is, but they will dispatch it with prejudice.”

Flashing lights in the distance were, Brenda decided, the muzzle flashes of automatic weapons fire. They came in a burst and then fizzled out.

“I’m patching the SWAT commander through to you, ma’am.”

“Hello,” said a new, gruff, voice. “This is Commander Keegan. We have taken care of the threat and we will be looking for your friend. I suggest you go home, or to family or a friend’s house, so you won’t be alone. I’m sure you’ve had quite the ordeal.”

“Oh, I have,” moaned Brenda.

“Rest easy. You are in no danger. We’ll have an officer follow up with you in a couple of days. Keegan out.”

Brenda’s car drove her to her parent’s house, where they fussed over her. But she was busy posting her video, which came out nicely (thanks to modern optics, light sensors, and auto-stabilization) and updated her Twitter feed with her experience.
Hashtag: Terror!

The End

 

If I Were In Charge


Apple had their WWDC keynote yesterday. Unlike most of the Internet, I don’t have much to cry over. Evidently, the world is split into three groups: the people who hate Apple and take dumps over anything they do, people who love Apple who take dumps over everything that they do, and the people who neither hate nor love Apple and think some of their products are pretty neat.

I’m part of the third group. I have a MacBook Pro from 2012 and I like it just fine. I have a Mac Mini and, for a while, it was my favorite purchase because it did exactly what I bought it for and never complained. I really wanted a Mac Pro because I love the design but, unfortunately, it was too much computer for anything that I would need it for and I wasn’t crazy enough to spend the copious amounts of money for something I couldn’t fully utilize.

Yesterday I noted to a friend of mine that there was nothing new on the Mini front. He told me that I should just consider it dead because it’s going nowhere. I can’t disagree, really. I mean, the last ‘refresh’ was the first time I’d seen a company downgrade a product and act proud about it.

The Mini’s main claim to fame is that (hold on for a surprise here) it’s small. A bonus feature is that it isn’t an All-In-One design so it’s cheaper than an iMac and you can buy whatever monitor you like. These days, though, there are plenty of smaller desktop computers running around and just about all of them are far more powerful than the Mini.

So, yeah, there’s not a lot of justification for keeping the Mini around if it can’t compete.

But… We know Apple is working on a new Mac Pro because the current one has a design flaw (that being it can’t, supposedly, be upgraded very much due to thermal constraints). So now they have a really nice design that will be discontinued.

But… Yesterday it was announced that there was official support for adding graphic cards via Thunderbolt.

So, what I would do, were I in charge of Apple, is take the current Mac Pro case, remove the two completely unnecessary workstation grade video cards, put in a proper medium to high-powered CPU with a just capable built-in video solution. If people want a better video card, they can now get one and add it in with a Thunderbolt enclosure.

Sell that as the new Mini. Or, since there’s a Mac Pro, iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, and now, an iMac Pro, why not brand it a Mini Pro? I would also keep the memory upgradable and put the CPU in a socket. Since it’s easy to get to the internal of the Mac Pro case, it would be negligible to upgrade the memory and CPU. This would also keep the masses… let’s say ‘less unhappy’ since most people just enjoy pooping their diapers over anything, anyway.

 

Ain’t No Way But The Hard Way


Back in the old days playing games was a lot easier. A game was either ‘sucky’, ‘all right’, or ‘awesome!’. Maybe even ‘rad’. That was pretty much it. With the advent of The Internet, though, complaining about things have reached new levels. Epic levels, even. And once one person uses a particular reason to complain about it, well, then everyone else in the world jumps on that same reason. Sometimes for no reason.

Maybe someone is playing a game and it runs like crap on their machine. Right away the problem is “it’s not optimized!”. No mention is ever made of what it’s not optimized for. Is it not optimized for a particular processor? Video card? Speed? It doesn’t matter; it’s just not optimized. Even if it runs fine for other people.

Or something ‘breaks immersion.’ People play 2D overhead games will complain about ‘breaking immersion.’ I guess they’re so into the game, they somehow think they’re in the game and then something reminds them that they are not, in fact, actually in the game. This is considered bad, but I actually think it’s good; if you’re that easily lost then maybe you need some sort of anchor to bring you back. Maybe it’s just something I don’t understand because I started playing video games when this was a spaceship:

Defender2600ShipIt takes a bit of imagination, sure, but it wasn’t enough to make me believe I was in a different world flying a spaceship. Now, some of the VR stuff I can imagine having an ‘immersion’ factor but for most other things I’m, like, ‘who cares?’

 

Long Roads Never Traveled


Lately I’ve been feeling the urge to go out and do what some people might call “picture takin’.” For some folks it’s probably kind of easy; they go out with a camera and take pictures. For me, it’s a process.

I look at Google Maps for a while. Most of the time the name of a town strikes me as interesting so I do a quick search on the Texas State Historical Association website to find out a little bit about the town. Then I try and do a ‘street view’ to see if there’s anything that I find interesting.

After that, I do some calculating about what’s nearby, how far the trip will take, and other assorted things. When all that is done I say, “All right, next weekend that’s the plan!”

And then I don’t go.

As I said, I’ve been feeling the itch so the chances of me doing something increases, slightly. While I was looking at the latest idea I realized that it would be way too easy to get enormously fat by visiting all the restaurants and road-side BBQ places, but it’s also really tempting.

 

Prologueing The Evitable


Had I managed to finish the 2016 NaNoWriMo thing, this would have been the proglogue to the story. It’s a rough draft. The first draft, in fact. Probably the only draft. But I don’t have anything else to talk about at the moment so… here ya go!

Billy! The Prologue

The old hands framed the wooden bowl full of dark and still water. With a smile and a nod, the old man picked up a quill, dabbed it into the little stone bowl full of ink, and wrote down a final line on a sheet of parchment paper set off to the side of the bowl. He felt pleased, happy even, that the life he had just seen in the bowl would be a happy one. He had no idea when, or where, those events would unfold; those were not part of his gift.

No, his place was to view and document. He rolled up the parchment, tied it with a bit of tendon and then slipped it into a clay jar, which he plugged with a wooden disc. The jar he placed beside other jars in a box. His job for the day was done, then.

With difficulty, the ancient figure hobbled to the entrance of his cave and sat down on a large rock set beside the opening. He looked out in the bright sunlight to the miles of green field and forest out before him.

The old man enjoyed his divining. Certainly, some times, what he saw wasn’t very pleasant. It was hard seeing what man could do to other men. Most of the time, though, they were pleasant little encounters. Moments that show what most people can be like when they put their minds to it. Sometimes it’s just disturbing, such as the time he had experimented with different herbs to see the affects on his visions and he ended looking at the back of a head peering into a bowl, which showed a figure leaning over a bowl, and so on, until the elder thought he could see his own bald spot. He had to go lay down for a while after that one.

Perhaps, in the future, his scrolls would be found and scholars would pore over them looking for wisdom in their own lives through the lives of others. He hoped so. He thought so. He felt his gift, his work, would benefit many people.

Forget About Reality ‘Cause Nothing Is The Norm

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I’m not a good reviewer of things. That’s why you don’t see a lot of reviews on this blog. I’m not even sure when the last one was and if it was a proper review or not. I tend to think it had something to do with frozen breakfast foods. But, yeah, if you’re here for that kind of thing you’re probably not going to find it. Actually, I have no idea why you’re reading this. I mean, I know why my mom reads ’em, but I’ve got no clue about the rest of you. And I know you’re all out there. I can smell ya.

Anyway… Sometimes I want to review things but I don’t really know how to go about it. I know what I like (usually). I know what I don’t like (usually). And sometimes that changes. Like, almost immediately. I’m mercurial that way.

I mention this because I feel like I should be reviewing these virtual reality things that I play with so other people can get a feel for what they are and what they do. And then I feel like I don’t want to get screenshots together or make little movies or whatever the cool kids on YouTube are doing these days. But, like I said a moment ago, I got mercury in my veins (I’m not crazy) so how I feel at the beginning of a review may be far different than how I feel at the end of it.

Maybe I could just sort of mention things, you know, casually like. So, I was totally playing Duo the other night. It was pretty cool. It’s like Breakout (old folks) or Arkanoid (less older folks) where you hold these two shields and bounce balls into the bricks, which come up from the floor in humorous shapes. It’s pretty fun, even though I punched a wall and got both my hands caught in the ceiling fan (which I swear I turned off) on account of trying to keep the balls from getting past me. But they did get past me, and I’m not sure how or why.

Yeah. That wasn’t too bad. I just watched the video for the game and now I’m kind of annoyed. It shows a woman playing the game (I assume she’s the developer) and she’s barely moving. I’ve got no room in my bedroom but I still move all over the place trying to keep the balls in check (you can  think of your own dirty double entendre) and she’s barely moving her arms. Shenanigans, I say!

Or I could mention Rescuties VR and how I thought it was about catching cute babes that people throw at you but is, in fact, about catching cute (open to interpretation) babies that people chuck at you. And then you have to throw the babies to someone else, or, you know, just toss ’em in an ambulance. It’s an entertaining game and I’ve only gotten to level 2 because, for some reason, I’m deathly afraid of pitching a baby into an ambulance on account of things like walls. And ceiling fans. And expensive monitors. Stuff. It’s not just babies that get tossed your way, either. There’s also corgis and cats and muffins (or cupcakes?) and life preservers. A bunch of junk, really.

I reckon I’ll have to give it some thought.

 

‘Cause We Are Living In A Virtual World

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You might not think that strapping two LCD screens to your face would make much of a difference, but it really does. It’s the difference between looking at three dimensional images translated into two dimensions and looking at something in three dimensions.

Let’s look at Lucky’s Tale for a moment. Lucky’s Tale is a Mario 64 type of platform game. It could be done in 2D and be an OK kind of game. With VR, though, it is better. It’s like someone took a gymnasium and filled it with sets and you get to control a robotic fox while floating around the action. More than that, though, it allows the player to do things that playing on a 2D screen may not allow.

 

For instance, there were times when I saw a place I thought I could get to, but it wasn’t on the path. Generally, that means a secret might be hidden there. This particular location could have resulted in falling and losing a life so I wasn’t sure it was worth the effort. To find out, all I had to do was stand up and peek over the edge. It turned out there was nothing there, so there wasn’t any reason to go. Another time I had a look behind me to see where I’d been and found a secret present in a spot that I wouldn’t have seen had I not looked back. In fact, I think the biggest problem I had was playing it as a two-dimensional game most of the time and not really taking the time to look around me.

Sometimes it nifty just to be able to look at things. When I play a game on a monitor there are times when I want to see something and try and crane my head around to view it. This is useless as I’m looking at a 2D representation of a 3D world. No matter how hard I smoosh my face up against the monitor, I won’t be able to look out the canopy of a spaceship and see what the back end looks like. But I could do that in Eve: Valkyrie. It’s like being on a stage where the back wall has a window and a picture of New York City placed behind it and being in a building with a real window where you can see the city.

It’s also helpful, sometimes. Docking with a space station in Elite: Dangerous can be, well, dangerous. The stations are huge with a relatively narrow slot that has to be flown through. Stations also rotate. There can also be other ships coming and going from that slot. On a 2D screen you are, for the most part, limited to looking out straight ahead. Judging distance can be difficult. Looking to see if another ship is coming up underneath you could be impossible. But being in a 3D space, where you have a better judgement of scale and the ability to look down (in some cockpits there are windows below you) changes everything.

Even the worst games tend to be a little better for the VR experience. One that I found is a slot machine game. You hit a button to spin the wheel. And that’s about it. But the wheel is suspended in the air above a city and you’re on a rooftop in a hot tub. It sounds ridiculous because it is, but it’s also kind of relaxing in a way. If you were brave enough to sit in a bathtub with expensive VR goggles on your head the illusion would be complete.

What brings everything closer to a “holodeck” experience is motion tracked controllers. You can see your “hands” in front of you. You can pick things up, throw them, or drop them.

There’s a fishing game where you pick up your reel, move your arm back and flick forwards to cast your line. You have to use your other hand to reel in a fish. Then you reach out and grab the fish. At that point you can toss it back in the water, or open your box (by dropping your pole, grabbing the lid and pulling up), drop in the fish, and then close up the box. Pick up the pole again and you’re ready for another fish. It’s pretty amazing when you’re doing it.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems, though. For one, staying in front of the sensors can be an issue if you have a lot of things around. Not being able to grab that fish you dropped on the floor because the sensor isn’t pointed that far down can be frustrating. As can be getting tangled in the headset cable when you’re turning around trying to shoot undead cowboys before they eat your brains. Or accidently punching your monitor because you didn’t know you were that close to your desk. The most painful experience I’ve had so far, though, was while playing The Climb, a mountain climbing game, was trying to reach up for a grip and having the ceiling fan whack my knuckles. It was, coincidently, the same moment a bird of some kind was startled out if its nest by my groping on-screen hand which caused a moment of pure confusion. It was a level of realism I was quite ready for.

It’s not all games, though. There are educational programs out there that let you explore places like the Grand Canyon. And human anatomy. And probably other things. IKEA also has a room decorating program. The applications for VR, if done right, are near limitless.

The biggest problem that I see (besides having my hands hit by ceiling fans) is that most things are extremely short. A lot of games don’t seem to be worth the asking price because they don’t last long and don’t have a lot of replay ability. But it’s a new(ish) technology and people are still getting their feet wet. With time, there should be some truly remarkable programs out there that really take advantage of what the platform has to offer.

The Thin Line Between Love and Hate

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I haven’t made a secret that life has been, well, kind of a bitch lately. With the tires and rims being stolen off my car being a sort of pinnacle to reach. Well, wait. Let’s go back in time a bit. Cue the Wavy Way Back Machine!

There’s a kid sitting in a movie theater watching Star Wars for the first time. Then it gets to the part with flying through the trench. And this kid thinks to himself, “Gosh!” How awesome would it be to be able to fly a spaceship? Through a mechanical trench?

Then vidogames show up. Eventually they get past the “aliens on the top to blow up the good guy ship on the bottom” phase. In 1983, Atari releases the Star Wars arcade game. It’s a first person vector game and it includes, yes, the trench sequence. And this kid thinks to himself, “Holy shit!” The kid grew up some, but his vocabulary grew up a lot.

Over the years games got better, the kid got older and Star Trek: The Next Generation came along. With TNG came The Holodeck, which would be (if it could exist) a major change in the human race. Around that time, a thing called “virtual reality” was beginning to be noticed. Virtual reality was a far second place to what The Holodeck could do, but VR was reachable. Not 1990s reachable, but it could get there.

Finally, a few years ago, we got some other tech guy with a goofy name who was destined to be super rich. He brought an affordable virtual reality device to the world. Some may argue about the word “affordable,” but to me, anything less than 100 pounds and several thousand dollars makes it affordable.

And this kid, who at that point was actually an old man, started to get interested. Then a developer’s version was released. Then a second developer’s version was released. And even though this guy could afford to get one, he wanted to wait until it was ready for the masses. He wanted a version that would be more than acceptable than “proof of concept” or “it’ll work like this” or “your eyes will only bleed a little bit.”

That day arrived. And, because nothing can be easy, another company came out with the same type of thing at exactly the same time.

Now, this kid (now old man) has enough problems buying soup. You know, because there’s so many different types and which would he really want? Which soup will be a good experience? Which, out of these 52 flavors will stimulate his taste buds? Never mind that he could, if he really wanted to, buy one of each and try-em & toss-em at will. No, he’ll just get one, thank you very much, even if it takes hours to figure out which one.

So now there’s two competing VR devices. Both are fairly expensive by now. Both require one major update to his computer to work. So our subject does the smart thing: he replaces his video card first. Everything else in his computer is top-notch. Everything else was way overkill when he got it six years ago and it’s still over the top now, really. Everything thing else would work, just not the video card. He replaced it.

Research. He did research. Lots of research. Lots of reading forum comments, Reddit comments, blog posts– whatever information he could find about the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive he found, read, and absorbed like a fat glasses-wearing sponge.

A decision was made. He knew which one he was going to get. He made the decision and then he would go visit his mother and, when he got back home, he would push the button and make the rather expensive purchase.

That’s when he saw the tires and rims of his Challenger were missing. That, of course, means extra expense at least to the tune of $500, which is his deductible.

Our subject, I don’t mind telling you, went mad. Not noticeably. No, if you looked at him or talked with him he would have been amazingly calm. He would have shrugged and said something like, “Shit happens, right?” But inside… inside he was broken. The only thing keeping him up right was sheer will power. There’s a whole other backstory, see, that I won’t get it into. Let’s just say that a lot of events led up to this point and some would find it amazing that he lasted as long as he did.

So. Broken. And he decided, well, maybe he just didn’t need a VR thingy, anyway. After all, when would he get time to use it?

But he kept thinking about, our friend did. Every delay of getting his wheels back. Every time the insurance dude wouldn’t call him back. Every time he looked at a news story about a family during Christmas time he would think about it. Until he finally said, “Hey, so life hates me. If I can do this thing I want to do, then maybe I should do it anyway and say ‘fuck it!’ to cosmos.”

And so he did.

Wait, hold it. Don’t go anywhere. The story isn’t over. This isn’t the movies where the hero does his heroic act and then the credits roll. No, there’s more.

When he made the decision not to get the Rift, Amazon started a sale that included the Rift and a $100 gift card. It was supposed to be a one day deal, to his understanding, but he kept checking every day. And every day that option was available. It infuriated him. When he finally clicked on the buy button and realized he was some $600 poorer he stuck with it.

Then the gift card shipped. He checked the order page so he could track it because he likes tracking things. He likes to know when things leave, say, Dallas (not in this case) go to Georgia, flies back to California, flies into Dallas, drives to Austin, sits in the processing center for two days, leaves Austin, returns to Austin an hour later, sits in the processing center for a few more hours, and then gets on the truck for delivery.

Anyway, then he looks down at the breakdown for the charges: the Rift cost $499 and the free gift card cost $100. In all honestly, our guy would have been pleased as punch if the Rift cost $499 and there was no gift card. But, whatever, right?

So the gift card arrives and is clipped to his front door. No biggie. It’s just $100. A day later his Rift arrives and is left sitting in front of his apartment door. Luckily, his boss allows him to leave work early to get to the package before it’s hauled off by wheel thieves.

So now this guy, who, you remember, has been waiting for this moment (even if he didn’t quite realize it at the time) since 1977 can finally open the box and hook up the Oculus Rift. He does. Well, he tries to. His monitor, you see, has an HDMI connection going to the video card. The Rift requires an HDMI connection. The new video card has, in total, one (1) HDMI connection.

Okay. Well. He needs a DisplayPort cable. Or maybe an adaptor? He has tons of crap laying around. He roots around and sees that he does not, in fact, have an HDMI to DisplayPort adapter. If he needed a VGA connection he’d be gold.

Fair enough. Small setback. Order a DisplayPort cable from BestBuy he does because they have them in stock and it should be ready to pick up in an hour. Meanwhile, he decides to hook up the rest of the stuff because they need USB 3 connections and he’s got them in spades.

He plugs in the USB cable for the headset and is met with a green checkmark! It’s good! He plugs in the cable for the head tracking sensor and is met with a red x. An X? In red? It’s bad!

Probably something minor. He heads to the web and looks up the problem. It seems that the Oculus Rift works officially with one USB chipset. One that is not in his computer, anywhere. He updates the drivers to the USB controller he does have, as some Internet people have had good luck with that.

Good luck is not in our hero’s vocabulary. It doesn’t work. Time to get a new USB 3 controller card. One with, mind you, a very specific chipset. Does BestBuy have one? No, they do not. Speaking of BestBuy, it’s been well over an hour and he still hadn’t heard about picking up his cable. Because… they don’t really have one. He cancels and gives up for the night.

For the USB card he checks Fry’s, Altex (Altex, for God’s sake!), Walmart, HEB. Nothing. Nobody in the area has this thing. Order it from Amazon. Next day, this time, because he’s desperate. Drop in at BestBuy to see why cable never made it. Because they never had it. All right! Technology!

Early in the morning, the USB card arrives. Our friend opens his computer and the box for the card. It requires a SATA power connection. Luck! We have one open SATA power connection! Bad luck! It’s about three feet too short to reach the card! The card came with a SATA to Molex cable and a SATA power Y-cable. Neither of these would help.

No problem. Our friend is going to Fry’s to get a DisplayPort cable. He just also needs to pick up a SATA power extension. Easy peasy.

“You need a what?” said the sales guy.
“I need a SATA power extension cable,” I said.
“Like this?” he handed me a bag with a cable in it.
“No, that’s a SATA data extension.”
“This?”
“That’s a Molex extension. It would be like that, but it would have SATA connectors on both ends.”
“You need a what?”
“A SATA power extension.”
“Like this?”
“That’s a SATA data extension.”
“Let me find someone else that may know.”

Another salesman comes over.

“You need a what now?”
I sighed. “A SATA power extension cable.”
“Like this?”
“That’s a Molex power extension. It would be like that, but with two SATA power connectors.”
“Oh! We don’t have that.”
“Okay, well, let’s see,” I said. “How about a SATA to Molex converter and a Molex to SATA converter?”
“Yes, we have both of those.”

Okay, that might do the trick, if the computer didn’t catch on fire. Then it was time for the DisplayPort cable. They had one. They also had a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter that supported 4K.

The new, way more helpful, sales guy asked me, “Do you want both?”
“No,” I said, “I think I want to tempt fate one more time and just go with the cable.”
“Okay, I’ll write up the ticket for all this then.”
He handed me a slip of paper. I looked at it.
“You know, I think I will get the adapter, too.”
“No problem. I’ll go and get it and add it to the ticket.” He went off, got the adapter, handed me a new piece of paper.
“If you change your mind again before you make it to the cashier,” he said, “just tell the to go with the first order.” He gave me a big smile like he knew I was going to change my mind six times on the way to the front of the store.

But that didn’t happen. I got it all. I mean, our friend did. The subject of this whole thing. He got it all.

He put his bag o’ stuff down on an over crowded folding table and took out the Molex adapters. One was the wrong kind. That meant this wasn’t going to work.

Okay. Now what? The power supply is modular and he didn’t use all the Molex ones. Find the box with the power supply cables, grab a Molex one and plug it into the power supply! Then use one of the SATA to Molex adapters! Simple! The correct cable was found and it turned out that there were no empty spots left on the power supply to plug it in.

But, wonder of wonders, there was another empty SATA power connector. If it could be fed behind the motherboard (it could) it just might reach! Unravel the cable and it turns out there’s at least five empty SATA connectors. Take the back of the case off and there’s about fifteen more sitting back there. Hilarious. The cable was threaded behind and then out next to the card and it had power! One problem surmounted!

He closed up the case and looked at the bag that still held the new DisplayPort cable and HDMI adapter thing. It was sitting on…

Go on. Guess. Guess what that bag was sitting on, on top of that over crowded folding table. I’ll wait.

Yes. It was a DisplayPort cable. The one, in fact that came with the monitor that was causing such a fuss. It was sitting there the whole time. How did it get missed over the course of a couple of days? Who knows! Even worse, I cut out the whole part when our friend thought it came with a DisplayPort cable and rummaged through the box it came in to see if it was taped to some of the styrofoam. But, no, it was right there. On the table. Which begs the question: Why was the HDMI cable ever used at all? WHY?

So. Change the monitor to use the original DisplayPort cable. Put all that crap back in the bag to be returned. Because, you see, none of it was needed. At all. Only the USB 3 card was really necessary.

So, to bring this to a close, the Oculus Rift was installed. And it works. And loading up Elite: Dangerous for the first time was… magical. Almost, but not quite, flying through the trench of the Death Star.