mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

#imageLiteral, #literallyBroken

I’ve been entangled with Xcode a bit recently and I’ve added to my arsenal a scratchpad in a simple text editor with just this text:

#imageLiteral(resourceName: "name")

Why? Once Xcode (9.2 currently) transforms that macro into an image it’s impossible to get it back into a state where I can modify the image name by its name. Thanks, Xcode!

Introducing the Gentlemans Draft

Jeff, a fellow Android teammate, and I are excited to announce the creation of The Gentlemans Draft!

The Gentlemans [sic] Draft is a new, premier Magic the Gathering talk show that’s grounded in solving one of the most painful moments in a draft: you open a booster pack and there are a few cards you’d love to have. In a Gentlemans Draft we open a bunch of booster packs, talk about cards, and then – in gentlemen fashion – divide up the cards. Want all the rares and shinies in a pack? You got it!

As we’re on the eve of Rivals of Ixalan we’re planning to do a special pre-release show where we open up some pre-release boxes and talk through what kind of sealed deck we’d build. And on release day, January 19th, we’ll be opening an entire Rivals box!

Follow us on Twitch to watch our new shows live and follow us on YouTube to check out our past shows. GG!

Thank You 2017

As we close out 2017 I reflect on the ridiculous year we’ve had in the video game world. Normally, it’s a pretty simple exercise to pick my favorite game of the year. But 2017 was so stacked with games that I thoroughly enjoyed, it’s hard to pick just a single one. My highlights of 2017:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U, Switch) - Breath of the Wild was such an amazing game that I played it when it first came out on the Wii U and recently got it again for the Switch. If it wasn’t for Xenoblade, I’d still be replaying this gem again! Unlike the Wii U’s weak opening gambit I’m glad the Switch shipped Day 1 with this masterpiece that took some big risks that paid off in huge ways.
  • Persona 5 (PS4) - Persona 5 was off-the-wall amazing: engaging story, interesting characters, the slickest menu design, and a killer soundtrack. Persona 4 was so very highly regarded but I felt Persona 5 met those high standards and exceeded them! My only wish for Persona 6: kill off the silent protaganist!
  • Nier: Automata (PS4) - I don’t think many people expected a game by the eccentric Yoko Taro to have widespread appeal, but Nier: Automata did so many things really well that it is now a contender for Game of the Year in many people’s books. I absolutely loved the sci-fi tale of two androids battling against machines. Like the previous Nier, the soundtrack to Automata is an awe-inspiring masterpiece; Keiichi Okabe literally transfigured miracle into music!
  • Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (PS4, Vita) - While not in the running for my top game of 2017, Ys 8 deserves a call out for being another solid, addictive entry in the Ys series. This game was a ton of fun to play and much like its predeccessor, it got my Vita’s battery running on fumes so very often!
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch) - 2017 ends on a high note for me because I’ve been looking forward to Xenoblade Chronicles 2 since Monolith Soft announced they were working on a new game for the Switch. I’m nearing the end of the story in this entry and I’ve loved every minute of it. This game is deep and heavy on JRPG goodness. It has its flaws, but my expectations for this game have been met 120%.

Honestly, it’s impossible for me to pick one (or even two) of these games as my top game of 2017. This year was truly ridiculous in more ways than one. Here’s to a crazy 2018… But hopefully only on the video game front!

Mac Pro 2006 - A New Lease on Life

Visiting home during the holiday season reaffirms my family’s belief that software engineers and computer technicians are one in the same!

This year was special because the malfunctioning hardware was a 40+ pound “vintage” behemoth: the 2006 Mac Pro (MacPro1,1). My cousin got the machine into a state where it no longer booted and when she dragged it to the Apple store she got an Apple welcoming for a machine that is over 10 years old: they told her it was a “vintage machine” and that they couldn’t help her out.

A decade's worth of dust!

This Mac Pro cost $3,000 back in 2006 and I don’t think anyone would complain getting 10+ years out of a computer for that cost. But with a little over $400 in upgrades this machine feels fast, powerful, and brand-spanking new. So where did we go with $400 in upgrades?

  • OS: Snow Leopard (10.6) ~> El Capitan (10.11)
  • CPU: 2 x 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Xeon (no upgrades)
  • RAM: 2 GB DDR2 ~> 18 GB DDR2
  • Graphics: GeForce 7300 GT 256 MB ~> Nvidia GTX 660 2 GB
  • Hard drive: 250 GB 7200 RPM ~> 520 GB Crucial SSD

Note that while this machine only officially supports Lion (10.7) with the Pikify App you can get El Capitan (10.11) running perfectly. This is clutch because you can have a spiffy, powerful machine but if software vendors don’t support your “out-dated” OS you’re out of luck.

Upgrade complete!

Here are a few gotchas and tips for anyone looking to give their MacPro1,1 a new lease on life:

  • I first installed Lion to get the machine booting. But the only way to get the machine booting (even for the Lion installer) was to boot into Safe Mode (holding down the Shift key during boot). I was unable to track down why this was happening or fix it but once I upgraded to El Capitan, the issue went away.
  • El Capitan boots and runs with the stock GeForce 7300 GT but you’ll notice graphical glitches pretty quickly. The machine never kicked the bucket and crashed but I would not consider it usable without a graphics card upgrade.
  • Most powerful graphics cards usually require some external power to work. Macs naturally do not use the standard PC molex connectors so you’ll need to buy a special power cable to power your graphics card. For the GTX 660 I bought one of these Mini 6 Pin to 6 Pin PCI Express cables on Amazon and they worked perfectly.
  • With an updated graphics card you won’t get the Apple boot screen because the graphics card isn’t recognized until the OS loads but with this setup your boot times will be incredibly short. I recommend hanging onto your GeForce 7300 GT because if you have boot problems you can swap it in to help debug things.

And that’s that! It was a fun experience to breath some new life into this vintage, beautiful, and heavy machine!

Sponsor Showdown Results

Well, something highly unexpected just happened: I won the BaseTradeTV Sponsor Showdown!

I wasn’t very confident going in given I never 1v1 because I only play co-op, 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4. So I did what I do best in those matches: turtle up, hold off early aggression, and build the ultimate Skytoss army. I faced off against George and MissMagitek from Corsair and went to the rubber match in the finals against Jessie from Ting. In the end, a failed cannon rush and a proxy Void Ray rush won it for me!

In case you missed it you can watch the videos on Twitch:

Or if you prefer just watching short clips of the event here are some good ones:

It was very stressful but I put my faith in Skytoss and I had a fun time! GG!