final fantasy 7 (ps1)

i have a strange history with ff7. ff6 on the snes was one of my greatest game experiences of all time so it was inevitable that any followup would be disappointing. that kind of thinking never dawned on my bratty 16 year old self. instead, i was all hyped up by the idea of another final fantasy and of the fancy new 3d graphics. ff7 is literally the only reason i got a playstation when when largely been a nintendo loyalist for some time. the playstation1 was impressive to me. when i got ff7 and started playing it though i couldn’t help feeling that it was just okay…

i think i liked it well enough. it was not a bad game, but for me it could never compare to ff6. and it was such a departure from ff6 with the setting and characters. back when i had a ps1 i ended up only playing through disc 1 and then stopped playing entirely. that pretty much sums up how i felt about ff7 at the time. instead, i spent way more time playing final fantasy tactics which i found to be much more engaging.

over the years i’ve tried revisiting ff7 from time to time because of all the hype surrounding the game. i always wondered maybe i missed something playing this game? or maybe i really need to finish it to understand how good it is? but each time i tried picking it i ended up feeling the same way as before…basically, yes it’s decent, but i rather play something else.

it’s now 2016 and there’s a remastered version of ff7 coming out. i started playing the game again coincidentally and this time i approached it differently. i kind of cleared out all my previous opinions and suppressed the super hype surrounding this game. i approached the game objectively and just tried to enjoy it. and it turns out that i actually am enjoying it. the story is decent enough although kind of reminiscent of generic anime. there’s plenty of cute moments with the dialogue and characters. i really enjoy the battle segments, especially the way the enemy is all jittery. the special ability effects look great.

i’m probably close to getting to the 2nd disc now. it is a good game (and i never said it was bad), but is it the masterpiece that everyone makes it out to be – probably not. i imagine the ps1 and n64 generation of consoles were played by a lot of pre-teens that were born in the late 80’s. if i was that age when this game came out i’m sure it would be a beloved classic to me as well.

update 1/19/16:
not quite to the 2nd disc yet i had a bit further to go than i had though. ff7 has a really weird visual style. the style makes a lot of sense when you’re in midgar – a cyberpunk/anime sort of vibe. when you leave midgar though you run into traditional ff fantasy elements, european villages, a beach resort, traditional japanese settings, a native american pueblo with a planetarium, and so on. it certainly doesn’t feel cohesive. sort of reminds me of the batman forever movie where it simultaneously went for gothic batman, 60’s camp, neon vegas, etc. it seems from a design perspective that the game is a free for all…to me that is not a good thing.

ff7 suffers graphically from the technical constraints at the time which is a shame. i feel as though the art team probably came up with some beautiful hi-res renders which had to be mangled by dropping the quality down 300%. the low-res heavily pixelated jpeg backgrounds are often very difficul to navigate because you can’t tell what you’re looking at. i commonly think i’m looking at a pathway which in fact is actually nothing. the backgrounds remind me of early to mid 90’s PC adventure games.

the designers must have realized there would be navigation difficulties and resorted to putting large plain text labels in several places. the labels are incredibly ugly, but they are a necessity because it’s nearly impossible to discern what you are looking at.

one final gripe before i go to bed is combat-related. in traditional jrpgs when you advance your characters and buy new armor, you could expect to be taking less damage. especially from run of the mill common enemies. in ff7 i feel like i’m super leveled up for where i am in the game and have the best armor available (which there’s only one slot for armor…perhaps part of the problem?). anyways, i run into random encounters with common enemies that still take off ~200hp per hit. i’m never in any danger because all of my character max hps are over 1000, but nonetheless it’s annoying because i never feel like all my work on leveling is getting me any where. and the game levels you fairly often. maybe it’s somewhat of a meaningles gesture in ff7?

Posted in: Games by resinblade Comments Off on final fantasy 7 (ps1)

call of duty: world at war (xbox360)

i bought call of duty: world at war (waw) recently because it was heavily discounted and i generally like games with a ww2 theme. i don’t really have a long history with call of duty games or know terribly much about the franchise. i played COD: finest hour on the original xbox and thought it was decent. i never played it all the way through. other than that, i have played modern warfare1 multiplayer…and that’s my total COD experience.

at this point i’m practically finished with the solo campaign in waw on normal difficulty. the gameplay is decent enough…i do think that if this game didn’t have a historical setting and feel then it would just end up being a so-so/boring FPS. the historical aspect of the game makes it really interesting and feel significant. i’d say the graphics are adequate but i’m not entirely sure if they’re good or bad during the time period the game came out. i really like the levels of ravaged russia and germany as they really depict the destruction and dreariness well. the pacific levels weren’t overly interesting to me because i don’t think there’s too much you can do with island scenery to draw you in.

the AI is simply okay. sometimes i feel like my fellow soldiers are doing alright then other times i catch them with an enemy mere steps away and they’re doing nothing. i’m for sure that your squad will not advance until you do. this bugs me for one reason…in some sections of the game the enemy is obviously infinite so there’s no way to completely clear them out before advancing. in such scenarios all you can really do is take visible enemies out and then run forwards to some cover (rinse and repeat). the weapons are fine. whenever i get stuck with a single shot rifle though i immediately look for a replacement. your squad members do get targeted in the game, but the game does seem to suffer from the same flaw? that every FPS has…the fact that you always seem to be the most urgent target for all enemy soldiers. now if i slipped out of cover and was the first soldier visible it would make total sense that all the enemies were targeting me. otherwise it does not make sense that i’m still the favorite target when i’m surrounded by my squad members. it’d be cool for a game to make this aspect more realistic however i guess the downside of making it more realistic is that the game becomes easier. seems like with some more tweaking there could be a nice balance.

the most annoying aspect of the game are grenades. enemy soldiers use grenades a lot and you’ll have about 3 seconds of warning when one is thrown near you to do something about it. if you’re in the direct vicinity of a grenade you will of course die. if the grenade is thrown 12 o’clock in front of you then you have a chance to throw it back. this is your best option but it’s not always possible. the second option is get away from the grenade which doesn’t sound like a big deal but it often is. if you’re prone or crouched you’re already moving slow and secondly the slightest bit of terrain difference in this game will block your movement. for instance, some small rocks, a crate, or a branch, will all sort of box you in and limit your mobility. and lastly, when you’re in a large chaotic firefight it’s very hard to notice the grenade warning at times. i died more often from enemy grenades than anything else and i really can’t stress enough on how often these things are thrown. this aspect negatively affects gameplay, however, maybe it is realistic? i’m not sure on what the statistics of grenade use of were in ww2, but i can surely see there being little warning and little time to react when one’s near you.

my favorite level so far was “black cats” i thought it was a lot of fun.

Posted in: Games by resinblade Comments Off on call of duty: world at war (xbox360)

halo1 (xbox)

halo1 is the game that brought me back into console gaming. i had lost interest in consoles shortly after the playstation1 came out. that’s probably a good 7 years that i ignored console gaming entirely.

i played halo for the first time probably in 2003ish at a friend’s house and i thought it was amazing. the graphics were great for the time and the gameplay itself is timeless. the feeling of being on the surface of an alien planet felt authentic, large and semi open-worldish. the music was awesome too and the enemies actually felt alive instead of like mindless automatons. the final kicker that brought it all together though was the story and lore. i was completely drawn in at the time by the halo universe and determined to finish the game. this in contrast to a lot of classic FPS’s where the focus is usually on gameplay and graphics alone and the story/lore is insignificant. i enjoyed plenty of old FPS’s but i would mostly just mess around and use cheat codes eventually to check out later levels. but i was never compelled by these games to keep playing besides for simple amusement. from my memory, halo was the first FPS that i played that vastly improved on the formula and proved that the genre was capable of producing memorable games.

i’ve recently started replaying halo1 on an xbox360. it’s been over 10 years since i first played the game. it’s funny how badly 3d graphics age over time. as i said above i remember halo’s graphics being amazing when it first came out…nowadays they certainly are not that. the outside environments in particular lack a lot of details. however, to the game’s credit a lot of the game’s building interiors that consist of only hard angles still look pretty good.

Posted in: Games by resinblade Comments Off on halo1 (xbox)

super mario rpg (snes)

i didn’t own this game when i had an snes but i did rent it. at the time i remember hearing about it in nintendo power and my initial reaction was…wow this is going to be lame. i was a jerky judgmental teenager at the time and the idea of a mario-based rpg didn’t seem that appealing. i was still intrigued though since it was a squaresoft game. back then, squaresoft developed games were my favorite games to play (they only did me wrong once with mystic quest).

i recall when playing it for the first time it took me a little while to get into it. the game is very charming and eventually draws you in. it’s cute and funny. playing it now i only remember getting as far as defeating bowyer in the forest maze.

-slow battles early on with 1 or 2 people
-mallow sucks
-favorite team bowser, mario, geno
-i like the idea of extra damage but if you miss then u do sig. less damage or miss
-platforming kind of sucks because of the view (jump over things often) and this makes a lot of the mini games that should be fun fairly frustrating.
– not really difficult, haven’t had a single character die…but what thing i dislike from an RPG perspective is that once you move onto the next area your attacks generally suck because the new enemies seem to have a high defense. so you never really feel like you’re making progress leveling unless you run across old enemies

Posted in: Games by resinblade Comments Off on super mario rpg (snes)

exchange hybrid: migrating mailboxes

migrating to office365:
user account must be synced (dirsync/aadsync)
on-prem mailbox needs to have domains not added to office365 tenant removed
exchange online license applied

outlook client users with a cloud mailbox will need to enter their credentials at least once after the migration takes place.

as of oct 2015, onboarding is maxed at 1GB/hour for data transfers. it’s recommended to migrate mailboxes with delegate access rights together.

migrating from office365:
on-prem remote mailbox object must have correct GUID, see here for resolving mismatches:
choose on-prem database and domain
remote mailbox will be converted to user mailbox

if migrating all mailboxes to office365 then a hybrid is useful for using on-prem EAC for management (reduced cost exchange hybrid license can be used). also on-prem exchange can be used for relaying unauthenticated smtp traffic.

Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on exchange hybrid: migrating mailboxes

active directory: backup and restore

backups are done by the windows server backup utility which must be installed as a windows feature. a system state backup will be sufficient for backing up active directory. the other backup options are for bare metal restore scenarios.

to restore a system state backup, boot to the directory services restore mode and login with the local administrator password.

open an admin command prompt and run:
wbadmin get versions -backuptarget:f: -machine:dc1
f: is the location of the backups, dc1 is the name of the machine

wbadmin start systemstaterecovery -version:08/23/2015-03:00 -backuptarget:f: -machine:dc1

then run ntdsutil
activate instance ntds;
authoritative restore
restore database

Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on active directory: backup and restore

fire emblem series

fire emblem (fire emblem 7, gba)
the first fire emblem game i ever played. i had a lot of fun with it. i didn’t fully understand how important the rock-paper-scissors combat was when i played this and therefore i probably had a more difficult time than i should have. here i am rambling about it:

fire emblem – shadow dragon (nds)
shadow dragon is apparently a remake of the 1st fire emblem game. the cutscene and game map graphics are great. so far i’ve found the look of the combat graphics to be a bit more boring and generic than the gba releases.

the hammer and magic seem to work really well on armored foes. this game tries to offend you less with character deaths by constantly refilling your roster with new recruits. it still drives me crazy when a character dies…so i’ve been restarting the level each time this has happened. there are save points on the game maps themselves to help avoiding playing the whole level again. the character death concept still bugs me because this is an rpg where you put time into building up a character and you certainly don’t want to just throw away that time/effort with a cheap death. and definitely 90% of the deaths are cheap. some unit swoops in out of nowhere and picks off your wounded or weak characters. or there’s the baffling deaths when i have a character full health and some super unit appears and attacks twice and game over for that character. thankfully the 3ds games finally have a mode available to disable perma death. to me perma death in this game is a huge annoyance.

i’m not going to be all completionist on the recruiting. if i mess up on a recruiting then oh well…there will be more.

chapter 3: navarre can be recruited if caeda talks to him
chapter 4: matthis can be recruited if lena talks to him
chapter 5: wendell can be recruited if marth talks to him
chapter 6: ricard can be recruited if marth talks to him

Posted in: Games by resinblade Comments Off on fire emblem series

office365 notes (2015 edition)

i think i’ve previously noted this, but i will do so again. office365 does not really allow you to alter a federated user and in some scenarios this can be frustrating.

to retrieve the immutableid of an office365 user: get-msoluser -userprincipalname [upn] | fl

to blank out the immutable id of a user:
set-msoluser -userprincipalname [upn] -immutableid “$null”
note: user will have to be a cloud user for this to succeed
i imagine this command could be ran in bulk like so:
get-msoluser -all | set-msoluser -immutableid “$null”
^this works but the below is more targeted:
get-msoluser -domainname -all | set-msoluser -immutableid “$null”

disabling directory synchronization in office365 converts all users to cloud users but does not appear to clear immutableids. the solution for clearing a single user’s immutableid and resolving their sync errors is to rename their office365 UPN to the name and use the set-msoluser command above then change the UPN back to the federated name and run an aadsync delta.

info on domain migration:

disabling password expiration for office365 service accounts:
set-msoluser -userprincipalname [] -passwordneverexpires $true

microsoft has tried to make the installation of aadsync (microsoftazureadconnectiontool install) incredibly simple. which is great in a lot of a ways and bad in just a few. the bad is that the default wizard does not really give you any customized install options. it takes a one size fits all approach. this means that the wizard will automatically install sql express and set up a database. microsoft only guarantees that sql express will support syncing up to 100,000 accounts. sql server should be used when surpassing this amount.

to install aadsync and use full sql server the installation must ran be from the CLI. first run microsoftazureadconnectiontool.exe and immediately close it after it finishes extracting files. if you agree to a EULA or anything else then you’ve gone too far and the install wizard has started (which means sql express was installed). this part was kind of tricky because it wasn’t that clear in the documentation.
to start to install from the CLI:
c:\program files\microsoft azure ad connection tool\
directorysynctool.exe /sqlserver [sqlserver FQDN] /serviceaccountdomain [DOMAIN] /serviceaccountname [AD account] /serviceaccountpassword [AD password]
note: the domain is in the netbios format

manually running a sync
c:\program files\microsoft azure ad sync\bin\directorysyncclientcmd.exe delta

the automated sync that takes place every 3 hours is visible in the windows task scheduler as “Azure AD Sync Scheduler”. in my case this task was disabled by default. the first sync should be the “initial” type.

restore office365 users in bulk: get-msoluser -returndeletedusers -all | restore-msoluser
trying to restore users in bulk via the office365 web console is ridiculously inefficient.

deleted office365 users hang around for 30 days which is usually a pretty good thing. when you’re trying to fix a really messed up sync user though it can get in the way. the quickest solution is always to delete the office365 user and let a new one be provisioned/synced to AD (assuming this is an acceptable approach for the particular user). before provisioning a new office365 user, i find it best to permanently delete the old user and sometimes you don’t want to wait the 30 days. assuming the user has already been deleted, the following command will speed up the cleanup process: get-msoluser -returndeletedusers -userprincipalname [UPN] | remove-msoluser -removefromrecyclebin -force

in aadsync if a connector is being retired it’s important to delete the connector and its connector space. otherwise lots of sync errors will occur and possibly deletes in office365. the downside to this is if there are a lot of metaverse objects related to the connector (lets say 100K) then the deletion process will take a very long time – 10 hours+. the connector space (not the connector itself) should be cleared out for the office365 connector as well and then a complete import should take place with office365 and local AD connectors. then run a full sync cycle (initial).

info on aadsync:

Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on office365 notes (2015 edition)

exchange 2013 eac: can’t browse OUs

the browse/search OUs listing when creating a new user is blank.

edit c:\program files\microsoft\exchange server\v15\clientaccess\ecp\web.config on servers holding the CAS role.

adding following entry: add key=”GetListDefaultResultSize” value=”1000″


Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on exchange 2013 eac: can’t browse OUs

office365: remotely connect to exchange online via powershell

run this first if you haven’t already:
Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
you’ll probably want to switch back to Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted once done

$UserCredential = Get-Credential
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Import-PSSession $Session

at this point run desired PS cmdlets like so:
Get-MailboxStatistics -Identity [UPN]

to end the session:
Remove-PSSession $Session


Posted in: IT by resinblade Comments Off on office365: remotely connect to exchange online via powershell