Archive for January, 2010

The upcoming 2010 housing crash

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

People around me think that housing prices are low. They are only low compared to the extreme heights of 1996 when irresponsible banks gave irresponsible loans to irresponsible buyers. They are still high when compared to what the average person can reasonably afford.

This is why housing prices are going to crash, most likely this year:

1. Government interest rates have to eventually rise: The Prime Rate is currently 3.25. Except for the great depression, they are the lowest they have ever been. Historically they have ranged up to 20% with about 6% on average. Most people buy the house they can get a loan for, not the house they can responsibly afford. So lower interest rates increase competition for higher priced homes, and raise home values. Here’s a fuller article on the subject.

2. In the 1970’s, with one income earner, if the primary income earner lost his job his spouse could enter the workforce and help things get by. However, today most households already have two income earners, thereby doubling your risk of lost income due to job loss or sickness. As we are in a recession, the chance of job loss is relatively quite high.

3. Prices are still too high for the average family to afford. Typically, you can only buy a house 3X your annual income. Here in Orange County, the average house is 550K, but the average household income here is $96,436. As I live here, I know first-hand that $300K can only get you a small condo (basically an apartment) plus heavy association fees.

Reasons why I like Impuse more than Steam

Friday, January 8th, 2010

I buy a lot of games, and I like Impulse better than Steam for digital downloads.

  1. As far as I can tell, with Impulse you get the ‘real’ version of the game, meaning you can apply external patches from the developer. With Steam, you get a modded version that cannot be patched until Steam itself releases the patch. In the past, such as with X3: Terran Conflict, I’ve seen this take weeks after the official patch. Some of the games that I have have never been patched to the current version.
  2. The Steam download servers are slow, especially recently with their holiday sales. I’ve left downloads running overnight, such as when I downloaded the 5 GB game Silent Hunter: Wolves of the Pacific, only to find that the download stopped at 43%, and took another 12 hours to complete. With Impulse, I just bought Arma 2 about 30 minutes ago, which is over 8.42 GB, and it’s already at 75% complete.
  3. I’ve never had a bad experience trying to play the games I bought with Impulse. With Steam, when I bought Hearts of Iron 3 it crashes because of some problem with the Steam version of the game and the tutorial not working. The developer didn’t help me, and from the forum you can see this is a known problem that is basically being ignored. Silent Hunter also had installation problems when you buy the expansion pack and install it at the same time.
  4. With Steam when I had billing problems, there was no-one to contact, or else they hid the contact information well enough that I couldn’t find it when I wanted to. With Stardock, I get an email when I make purchases and every time I’ve responded about a problem, such as not being able to find registration codes, I’ve gotten a relatively quick response.

How to do manual torpedo targetting in Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Torpedo targeting in Silent Hunter 4: Wolves of the Pacific is very hard. The manual doesn’t correctly explain it and the online videos I saw are incorrect and incomplete.

1. Bring up your periscope and look at the target
2. Press L to lock the target. This way the periscope keeps looking at the target.
3. Press N to bring up the target recognition manual.
4. (In hard you can do this, but not realistic) Press Less than and Greater than to look at your target with the free camera. This makes identifying it easier.
5. Find the target in the target recognition manual, and press the checkmark in the upper right.
6. In the mid-left and upper right will be slider tabs. Press both of them to expand new windows.
7. In the upper right slider tab, press the button for target distance estimation. This is as described in the manual.
8. Drag down the mirrored target until the waterline of the mirrored version reaches the top of the mast of the real version.
9. Wait 5 seconds or more. The longer the better. The manual incorrectly tells you to press the clock button twice. During this time, I adjust the torpedo settings in the left slider window. Always set the torpedo to fast (I’m not sure why this is not the default). If you set the depth according to the target recognition manual you will shoot under the target. I’m not sure why. I’d just go by the manual, 20 feet for battleships, 12 for cruisers and large merchants, 10 for light cruisers and small merchants, and 6 for destroyers.
10. Do step 8 again.
11. Switch to the speed estimation tab (as per the manual)
12. Press the clock button. You will get a speed and bearing estimate. The manual is wrong about this, instead telling you to press the clock button twice. The online videos do not do this. Instead, they just guess at the speed. Anyway, the speed will be set automatically when you press the clock button using this method.
13. Press the red button to enter the speed into the TDC
14. I haven’t found a better way to do this, but you need the angle between the front of their ship and your submarine. As the online videos do, go to the navigation map and use the triangle. Click in front of their ship, online the bearing. Click on their ship. Then click on your submarine.
15. Quickly enter this angle back at the periscope screen. Then press the red position finder button. If it was already on, turn it off then on again. This locks the angle at your periscope, and updates the position according to the speed and angle entered previously. If you turn it on too early, as they do in the youtube videos, the the angle from you to the target will be when you first pressed it, using the default target speed of 0. So it will fire at an angle behind the target. When the position keeper is on, the point to shoot at will move as your sub moves, and will also move using the speed and angle values you entered in step 13 and 14.
16. If you are in hard rather than realistic difficulty, you should go to the attack map and check your work. The white X should be on top of your target. THe line from the X should match the bearing of your target. The most probable error is that the range is wrong.
17. Mathematically, the distance to the target doesn’t matter if they are directly in-line with your sub (0 degrees ahead for forward tubes, 180 for rear). So if you fire closer to these angles, then distance estimation errors hurt you less. But generally, you will need to correct the range to be quite accurate if you want any chance of hitting.
18. Adjust the spread, and fire a torpedo. You can also adjust the spread to compensate for errors – if the range estimate is too long, then your shot will go behind the target. You need to adjust the spread for each torpedo. For whatever reason, the speed and depth is saved per-torpedo but the spread is not.