Solving no audio after loading into a Fallout 76 game

I have a set of Bose QC25 headphones that I converted into Bluetooth headphones by attaching a Btunes adapter. This worked fine on my laptop, but when I started using a new desktop I ran into an issue where, after clicking through the start menu, the audio would cut out shortly after loading into the game. I solved this in two steps.

First, I started looking at the settings and did some searching around online and I thought the problem might be that the device only had 1 channel 16 bit output available. I couldn’t change it because the option was grayed out, so I figured it had something to do with the drivers. After reinstalling Windows, I never did go back and reinstall all of the drivers that came with my motherboard because I no longer had the installation disc and everything seemed to be working ok.

So, I went to the MSI website and downloaded the latest Realtek Universal HD driver for my motherboard, the MSI Mag B550m Mortar. Once installed, the headphones registered as two separate devices. One was a stereo output and the other was a “hands free” device that registered as an output and an input. I figured this was the microphone input.

I disabled the device registering as “hands free” input and also set Windows to “do nothing” (not lower the volume) when a “chat” was detected. Then, I tried to run Fallout 76 again, but I still had the issue with the audio cutting out. Even worse, the game started to hang and wouldn’t close properly. This clued me in that the issue was probably related to the microphone, so I started the game again and checked the audio settings. I turned off push to talk and started flipping through the chat settings (area, team, etc.) to see if there was an “off” option, but there wasn’t. However, for about 2 seconds after changing the chat mode the game audio would come back.

I looked at the Windows taskbar while the game was running and noticed a microphone icon in the bottom right. Fallout 76 was accessing the microphone even though I had disabled the only microphone device available. This was probably why the game was hanging and crashing on shutdown. I tapped the Windows key to open Windows Search and typed “microphone” and selected the option for “microphone privacy settings”. I went down the list and flipped Fallout 76 to “off”.

The next time I started the game, the problem was solved. There’s just some weird conflict between Fallout 76 and the Bluetooth adapter on my headphones, I guess.

Short answer:

  1. Make sure you have the most up to date Realtek Universal HD Driver from your motherboard manufacturer’s website installed
  2. Revoke Fallout 76’s microphone access in the “Microphone privacy settings” menu

Now that the audio issue is fixed, the next time I have a chance to play, I’ll actually be able to play.

Sunday Cycling

People enjoying the day at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, New York City

It’s been quite a while since I’ve gone out riding on my bicycle. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we basically resolved to stay home as much as possible, like most people did, I imagine. After a few months, we managed to get an indoor stationary bicycle, but it just isn’t the same experience as going out and riding around other people.

Yesterday, I literally knocked the dust off of my bicycle, pulled the bike rack out of the trunk of our SUV, and went down to Central Park. My wife went with me, but she’s more of a jogger than a cyclist, and she wanted to go for a run. She’s got a few marathons under her belt, which is pretty cool, so she ran and I rode, and we met up later to get take out for dinner.

Riding around the park, I saw that there were people everywhere. It’s still not as crowded as it used to be, mostly I think because there aren’t as many tourists around. But, there were a lot of joggers, casual and serious cyclists, walkers, sunbathers, and sight seers.

People boating in The Central Park Lake

When I was done with my ride, I spent some time by Bethesda Fountain. There was a woman giving an opera performance in the covered area below the roadway. By the fountain there was a public dance class. There were artists painting pictures of the scenery and some painting pictures of people for money.

It was really nice to see the city coming back to life again. Central Park was really depressing during the pandemic the few times we went because it was so empty. It felt dead. I didn’t even mind the smell of the horses as I rode around the southern loop of West Dr. and Center Dr.

Google Stadia test run with Destiny 2

At this point, the challenges of finding gaming hardware is pretty common knowledge, whether it be consoles or graphics cards. Last year, people were having issues finding the Nintendo Switch in stock. Now, you can’t find an Xbox Series X or PS5 to save your life. A graphics card either. At least, not at MSRP. There are plenty being sold for 3-4x the price on reseller sites, which is obscene.

Anyway, I didn’t realize how bad things were but I figured I’d make the best of the situation and give Stadia a whirl. It streams games to your computer screen, TV, or phone, and it’s supposed to be high quality so I thought it might be a nice alternative. Maybe even something to stick with when hardware shortages end, even.

Signing up for Stadia was pretty quick. Since it’s a Google product I just ran through a few screens linking my Google account to my Stadia account, chose what to share and what not to share on the platform (games/achievements/online status/etc), linked my Bungie account and Stadia account, hit play on Destiny 2 and there I was.

A few quick things I noticed are:

  • The video quality is surprisingly poor. My GeForce 970M renders the graphics better.
  • The controls are better than I expected but I can feel the latency drag.
  • I couldn’t access in-game chat in Destiny 2 or see anyone on my Clan Roster except for one guy, so I’m thinking there’s a weird hang-up where Clan interaction is platform specific. I still had my Clan banner and received Clan bonuses, though.
  • The actual Stadia interface and enabling a livestream are not difficult to use, but the menus aren’t very intuitive either.
  • Stadia will work in Microsoft Edge, but it doesn’t perform well.
  • When you open Stadia in Chrome, look for a + icon in the address bar. You can turn the website into a web app and pin it to your taskbar.

Here are two videos I created of Destiny 2 gameplay on Stadia:

Stadia gameplay footage of a Vanguard Strike called The Shadow Keep
Completing a public event on Europa

Connection

Connection speeds are pretty important with something like Stadia. I have a 300/30 connection with low latency. We regularly watch 4k on a 53″ UHD TV with no problems. So, I can’t imagine that negatively impacted my experience.

Summary

Long story short, I can’t see myself paying for games with missing functionality (like the in-game chat) that I probably already own on Steam to stream them at lower quality than my laptop can produce. I don’t actually need to game on my phone that badly.

With a $9.99 per month fee for Pro, which doesn’t seem to offer anything worthwhile at this point (the free monthly games are all low quality except maybe Hitman and a Tomb Raider title), I can’t see keeping Stadia past the free trial. I’m not really clear on the pricing, but some games are tagged “Pro”, so it makes me think I have to pay for the sub and still pay for the game and if I cancel my sub I lose the game?

For Stadia to be worthwhile, the library of available games would have to be bigger. For the subscription to work, it would have to be like Netflix. Bump up the price a bit and allow people to play what they want as much as they want. Right now, if you catch games on sale on Steam you can build your library at a reasonable price and not have to worry about the technical issues that can come with streaming games.

Stadia right now feels like something you would use in an emergency if your regular gaming system broke and you needed some time to get new parts or a new console.

Jumping on the MeWe Bandwagon

A screenshot of a sign-up page for MeWe including an image of a hand holding a smartphone showing MeWe and the text "The Social Network Built on Trust, Control and Love; No Ads. No Spyware. No BS."

I rarely use Facebook, partly because it eats up a lot of time but mostly because I started to realize just how much Facebook was doing with and profiting from my personal data. It’s creepy. So, I cut back my Facebook time to about 30 – 40 minutes every month or so. I’m not keeping up with everything on Facebook anymore and sometimes I wish I could when it comes to family, but Facebook really isn’t about family updates anymore and hasn’t been for a long time so I don’t really feel as guilty about walking away from it as I might have 10 years ago.

With everything going on with the election and the inauguration, alternative social media platforms have been getting a lot of sun. I’m always keen to try out new platforms, mostly to see if there are any great memes, but I hadn’t heard of MeWe so I decided to give it a try. It’s surprisingly well put together and fun to use, once I got over the learning curve and figured out which groups to avoid.

There are, however, some really basic things wrong with MeWe that are surprising. Here are three things I’ve noticed so far:

  1. If I create an album in My Cloud and upload photos to it, there’s no way to share that album with anyone, whether they be Close Contacts, Contacts, or Public. Those photos are dead weight. You have to create a photo post and add 50 images, share it, then create another photo post and add 50 images, share it, etc. That’s really messy. It would be nicer to create an album, caption the photos, and share it when it’s finished one time so people see the finished product. Granted, I don’t have a lot of albums that would need more than 50 photos, but I do have a few and other popular social sites offer this functionality and have offered it for many, many years.
  2. There’s no way to delete an album and have it just delete the photos in the album as well. You have to first delete the album in My Cloud and then you have to manually select every photo in your Photostream, clicking one at a time and then clicking delete which is absurdly tiresome and shouldn’t be how things work in any social network, free or paid.
  3. Once you’ve created your account, it’s apparently impossible to change your email address so I may have to delete my entire account to change to a new email address. Why this is a problem shouldn’t even need to be explained. I figured this out after opening a Proton Mail account, which is encrypted and comes with 500 MB of storage on the free account. I figured it might be nice to have a new account for professional messages, since my Gmail is now an advertising-filled dumpster fire like my Yahoo! email was before it.


I don’t want to use Facebook, but the alternatives really make it hard to settle in with glaringly obvious problems that should have been addressed a long, long time ago. MeWe isn’t brand new after all.

I’m reminded of how Signal is just now trying to add custom backgrounds and more customization options after this influx of users. They’re going to lose out to Telegram, which isn’t as secure, because it’s just more user friendly and more fun to use, because they didn’t take the initiative. It’s also possible to search for public channels or chat groups, which Signal doesn’t seem to support.

I submitted feedback about those issues more than once over the time I’ve been using the app. Now, the Signal boat is sinking and they’re trying to bail it out with new features rushed out in their beta version while people are choosing whether to hop on board or swim to the Telegram boat. I wonder how you explain that to all of the people who donated to Signal to create an exceptional and secure messaging app? That they created a product that lost out to another messaging app run by a Russian oligarch as a pet project?

I think I’m going to wind up using MeWe mostly for a handful of groups and some personal updates, but probably nothing too personal. I didn’t even sign up with my full name. The way that social media is being weaponized now is honestly terrifying and has a chilling effect on speech. Something you say today that is conventional might become a weapon to attack you in 10 years.

I think the 2020s are going to be a time when people take a step back and anonymize and the web goes back to how it was in 90s, before every post and comment online became part of a global ePeen contest. If we can get around current government and corporate efforts to prevent that from happening anyway. I imagine they want and need the US to move more towards a blending of offline and online identities leading to a shadow social scoring system. Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t one already in place.

Elder Scrolls Online Gameplay: Lycanthropy (plus Destiny 2 and Overwatch Gameplay)

Khajiit Dragonknight in front of unknown statue in Tamriel

So, I spent some time messing around with Elder Scrolls Online tonight. One of my gifts this year was the 2 volume book set of the ESO Lore. Elder Scrolls isn’t the most popular game out there. People joke that one of the hardest bosses in the game is a 1 foot wall because just walking in the game can sometimes be difficult, but I like how rich the lore is in the game, so the books were a great gift. They’re really well done, too. I’ll have to post some pictures later on.

Anyway, about two weeks I found out that you can contract vampirism or lycanthropy in the game. As I was traveling across Tamriel on my way to a castle where I was scheduled to perform a fire breathing and sword swallowing act, I ran into a werewolf shrine. I liked the idea of having lycanthropy, so I found a player whose character has it and that person helped me find someone that could infect my character with it too.

The process was a lot more involved than I expected. It had a mini questline that took me into a portal where I essentially proved my worth to Hircine, who is apparently the god of werewolves, by killing a mammoth with my bare hands and then sharing the carcass with the werewolf pack. Also, you pledge allegiance to the werewolves above all other loyalties in the game. Nifty!

So, now I’m ready to add mauling people as a werewolf to my favorite pastimes of murder, robbery, pickpocketing, and assault. I’m really enjoying the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild questlines!

This is a live stream of me playing Destiny 2. It was not my finest hour. I’m not too familiar with the Mayhem Crucible yet, and I was trying different subclasses to see what works, but Titan overall seems to suck for it. Warlocks have what appear to be heat-seeking ultimate abilities that are just ridiculous for that type of round.

And this is a little livestreamed footage from me playing OverWatch. OverWatch doesn’t seem to play nice with Nvidia’s screen recording software and kept hanging.