Running the tracert command on Halo Infinite’s servers

udp packets halo infinite

I’ve always been fascinated by networking, and diving into the fundamentals of IT with academics only took that need to know further. It turns out games have been a great way of going hands on thanks to the incredibly powerful Wireshark (a free and open source packet sniffing application). Poking around at multiplayer games has been an awesome way to see how things play out in real time.

Most recently, following the path between my PC and a game’s servers with the tracert command has been a great way of understanding more about real world networking practices. The tracert command uses the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) – a diagnostic protocol of the network layer – to map out each stop from your computer to an endpoint designated by you (IP address or domain name).

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The pains of sharing an external hard drive between two Xbox PC app installs

external drive management in windows 11

Deleting WindowsApps, Program Files, and XboxApps on your external hard drive is a matter of:

  • Changing ownership of this files over to your new computer
  • Editing permissions so that you have full control over these files
  • Booting into safe mode and deleting each folder

The official Xbox app for PC has gotten much better over time (especially with the release of Starfield), but you’ll still find yourself running into infuriating bugs. Steam is still far ahead in user experience despite Microsoft’s investment into both speed and functionality.

A perfect example of Steam’s seamless user experience over the Xbox app is in the process of managing external hard drives across two different computers. Whether you’re moving to a new PC or like to switch between a laptop/desktop, you’ll find that the Xbox PC app will refuse to cooperate between two distinct installs.

I’ve found that there are two main issues that crop up when using an external hard drive between two PCs:

  • You won’t be able to play previously installed games on a different PC
  • You won’t be able to install games on an external hard drive if games were previously installed through a different PC

To solve this, I deleted the contents of WindowsApps, XboxApps, and Program Files without having to wipe the drive completely (these were the folders I found to have associations with previous PC Game Pass installs).

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How to best manage input lag on Xbox Series X|S

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The best ways to lower input lag:

  • Always choose Game Mode on your TV (other modes can have more than 1/10 of a second of input lag)
  • If you’ve been having spikes of input lag that seem strange, switch to a wired controller
  • Microsoft optimized the official wireless controller for latency, but it can still be prone to interference
  • Choose Performance Mode over Quality Mode (30 FPS has double the input latency of 60 FPS)

I’ve had the Xbox Series X for about two years, and in that time it’s been mostly smooth sailing when it comes to input latency. There’s been a little weirdness at times (I’ll get to that below), but for the most part, responsiveness has come down to:

  • The display I’m using
  • The type of controller I’m using
  • The game I’m playing

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How to view and manage the Recycle Bin of an external D:\ drive

storage circular chart

Quickly manage and delete files in the D:\ drive’s Recycle Bin:

  • Navigating to the Recycle Bin of your C:\ drive will show all files/folders originating from the D:\ drive
  • Delete all files taking up space on your D:\ drive’s Recycle Bin by using the Disk Cleanup utility
    • Right click your external drive in Window’s File Explorer and click Properties
    • Click Disk Cleanup under the storage visualization of the General tab
    • Select Recycle Bin and confirm to delete all contents originating from the D:\ drive
  • Windows 11 handles drive management differently
    • Click Details under the general tab of Properties (replaces the Disk Cleanup button)
    • Click Temporary files
    • Select the check mark for Recycle Bin
    • Click Remove Files to confirm the deletion

If you’ve ever toyed around with the Xbox PC app then you know just how finicky it can be with external drives. After moving to a new computer I realized that it would take a little more than hitting the delete key on a few leftover files and folders. In the end, it was more tedious than it had any right to be, but I did eventually figure out how to install Game Pass PC games on a different computer with the previously used external drive.

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Monitor basics: running 75 Hz over HDMI

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Getting right to it:

  • Modern HDMI gaming monitors do support 75 Hz
  • Starting with HDMI 1.3 (2006) displays using the standard could output 1080p at 120 Hz
  • HDMI 2.0 (2013) introduced support for 1080p at 240 Hz

Despite the push for high refresh rate displays, 75 Hz monitors are still a great option for low latency gaming. They’re much lower priced than 144 Hz monitors, often have low input lag, and are usually 1080p (great for all PC build types). When it comes to hooking your monitor up to your GPU you’ve got two options: HDMI and DisplayPort.

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Yes, a 75 Hz monitor can run 120 FPS (with exceptions)

8.3 milliseconds

First things first: refresh rates and how many frames you get in game are related to one another but not quite the same thing. If you’re someone with a 75 Hz monitor (refresh rate) you can output 120 FPS (or more) depending on your setup. The only catch is that the end result may not be to your liking.

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Forza Horizon 5 works flawlessly with Windows Snap (PC Game Pass)

forza horizon 5 sunset landscape

One of the best parts of getting a competent PC has been the ability to multitask without a hitch. Being able to throw The Simpsons or The X-Files to the side while I play something has been incredible. Excess stimulation? Definitely. But it’s just one of the things Xbox Series X and other consoles can’t match.

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Easy fix for SteelSeries mouse blinking red

I’ve had my SteelSeries Rival 110 mouse for about 4 years now. It’s a budget model but it’s served me well. The only problem is that I noticed the RGB functionality became wonky after moving from a gaming laptop to a desktop. It was no longer the showing off the green I was using for years and instead was slowly blinking red.

The fix?

I knew that it couldn’t be the battery failing because…well…it’s a wired mouse. And then I remembered that I originally had to download SteelSeries software to set up the color I wanted. This turned out to be the solution. These days the software is called SteelSeries GG and in addition to device customization (CPI, RGB, mapping, etc.), there’s also aim training and audio enhancements available.

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PC Gaming: is 60 Hz the same thing as 60 FPS?

Getting right to the difference between refresh rates and frame rate…

60 Hz and 60 FPS (frames per second) are interrelated, but not the same thing. 60 Hz refers to the refresh rate of your display while 60 FPS is the number of frames per second rendered by your PC or console.

To put it another way, the frame rate determines how fluid any particular game is while the refresh rate of your monitor (or TV) will dictate how smooth a game will appear.

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Have an Nvidia card? Try this to fix Diablo 4’s screen tearing

Diablo 4’s performance has been absolutely maddening at times (especially as someone who just got a really good prebuilt). I’ve gotten huge FPS drops that just don’t make sense, and equally puzzling bouts of screen tearing. If you’re here, then you’re probably interested in the latter. The potential fix for this (if you have an Nvidia card) is pretty simple.

You’ve probably already tried turning on VSync within the game itself. And if you’re like me, the screen tearing persisted (for reference I’m using a Sony X800D TV). Instead, open up the Nvidia Control Panel and enable VSync on a system level.

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