Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Team Update July 2010

Well it has been some time since I did a team update, and I have managed a bit of playtime recently so some movement has occurred. The main Ekaterinae has one more weekly quest to go for her tier 10 shoulders, which will fully equip her in 251 and higher gear in every slot but wand. I actually missed the weekly this week so ahh well. Navarionae has continued gem cutting epics that Ariel transmutes and he has pushed the team over 20k gold. Although a big chunk of that is soon to be eaten because...

The Tree is in Northrend! Oh noes! I have healed probably 7 PUG Utgarde Keep thus far and I've seen everything from groups outright rude to healers to a Kingslayer tanking for a friend. I think I cast 4 heals that mattered the whole time. And by four I mean zero. Anyway, Ariel is grinding those instances and is mostly through 70 which means epic flight is coming soon and will perhaps cause some questing to be done too. However, I really like grinding one instance a day for xp.

Biancae has also been burning through rested time and has cleared most of STV out finally. She is working in Dustwallow for a bit longer although at level 43, she is really starting to think about Tanaris. So the horde main is moving on up and wow is retribution hard to die with. She's never out of mana to heal and she does a lot of damage. It's wonderful.

Clarissae is still parked in the late 20's. No movement there.

I also got to see Ruby Sanctum for 20 minutes last night. I thought the first mini boss was a nice challenge and I want to see the rest of it even though it seems the overall reaction is blah. That just might be the summertime, which is keeping me busy. Plus another business trip next week on top of Grand Prix Columbus (my one MTG tournament this year) and I won't be online much. However, check out my sports site (linked in the blogroll) for new college football articles starting up last week. Woot!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Do You Believe in Precognition?

Precognition (from the Latin præ-, “prior to,” + cognitio, “acquiring knowledge”), also called future sight,[1] refers to perception that involves the acquisition of future information that cannot be deduced from presently available and normally acquired sense-based information.

So a little non-wow entry today, although I will briefly report that Ariel has hit 69 and discovered what everyone probably goes through once. I had not discovered that when you dual spec at 40, your spells for the non-active spec DO NOT UPDATE when you train like normal. I had no clue but I always trained in Feral so instances seemed pretty hard but not out of the questions in TBC. Then my first forays into UK were failures and the second tank was nice enough to point out that my rejuv was not ticking for enough. So I check and sure enough, I'm 5 ranks behind schedule on Rejuvenation and even more/less ranks behind in every healing spell. This turned me from terrible into overpowered, so please note this when you dual spec early!

Now going back to the definition above, I'm a person who has beliefs and all but I've never really considered precognition seriously. But sometimes coincidence is so strong that you really have to wonder if sometimes you just get sent a message somehow. So last night I wake up in a cold sweat at 5 AM after a lengthy dream about losing my wallet and having my identity and my money stolen. I had trouble shaking it but I managed to get back to sleep. I even told my friends online about it this morning when I went into work.

I get a call from my wife later in the day that says her bank card was declined. This is terribly embarrassing, especially for people who have some money in the bank in savings like we do. So while we run at about $500-700 in the banking account at our low point each month, we never get so close to overdraft. But sure enough, I log onto online banking and we are overdrafted for like $250. I start to look at the transactions and starting last night around 1 AM in the morning, there were some suspicious transactions that happened with my wife's bank card. These escalated today when the account was overdrafted. So we obviously called the bank and she'll be getting a new card, I'll dispute the charges and the bank assures me we'll get the money back. However, as I find out this news I'm half-pissed and half-creeped-out because of my dream. Could that have somehow been precognition?

I indeed had absolutely no reasonable way to know the events that were happening to our bank account. Even had I logged onto online banking at that hour, I would have not realized the first transactions were bogus. I'm the kind of skeptic that would just chalk this up to random coincidence, but the dream was so strong. I have woken up in a sweat from a dream only about 4-5 times in the last decade. It's not pleasant. And it is unbelievably rare for me to remember a dream so vividly like I did this time, so perhaps there's just something in the brain synapses that makes connections and has some level of future sight. It certainly is creepy if that is true, I mean imagine the power of the human brain if we could harness that.

So while I may be in a bad mood about this banking trouble for the next few days, I will forget about this aspect of the incident far before I forget the strange coincidence that makes me wonder: Is Precognition Real?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Good and the Bad

It seems like since the Blizzard HQ has lifted the veil on the Beta information in Cataclysm, all hell has broken loose like the stock market. Every other day there is good news and then every other day there's bad news. This week the good and bad has been notable, so I got drawn out for a midweek entry! We'll start with the bad news doc...

Blizzard decided that the next step in the Real ID revolution is to force all posters on the official forums to use their Real ID's and thus their real names! Now take a moment to think about all the forums that have been on the internet for two decades, and think about why people are so drawn to them. It's the anonymity within a community, and making a name for yourself outside your real identity. I'm sure there are some professional community forums with real name ID's, but the vast overwhelming majority is anonymous user names. And that's how it should be because discussing things on a hotbed like Blizzard official forums opens yourself up to stalkers and attackers and general douche-bags.

So it begs the question as Larisa so elonquently put it...did Blizzard forget to do a reality check before announcing this change? Despite one day of overwhelming negative reaction from the blogging community, they are still not backpedaling much in the blue posts today. And then, in the most ironic twist, Blizzard has tried to decide that the blue posters will not use their real names "because it will be detrimental to our employee's security." Oh really? Maybe you think it's not just the blue posters that have hate mail and psychos coming their way?

As Larisa and most others concluded, this is a terrible idea. When real identities are forced, the forums will slowly die if they are not truly dead already. One hopes that Blizzard's infatuation with Real ID does not taint them so much that they make moves that will definitely make people run away from the community. Although there will likely be more traffic and comments in blogs then, which is a good thing! Silver lining...

Time to turn to the good news. The talent system is being overhauled after Blizzard listened to alpha and beta players who let them know that the talent overhauls were not good enough. And truly, looking at the proposed changes, they were not. The problem was that no matter how much you try to do, with 51 point top line talents, the talent trees were unnecessarily bloated and always would be. So now the revamp has been announced. I'd link the blue post but it is way to long to quote here. The overview is that you will be locked into a talent tree at level 10 by your choice until you put 31 talent points into it, which will happen at level 70 because talents are coming every other level instead of every level. The mastery bonuses are coming in a little quicker including at level 10 since you are locked to what you want to specialize in. I agree with this change considering the new LFG system, and assuming you can still switch specs at level 40. All the crappy talents can finally go away and the system can be simplified to be much better and more streamlined.

With the overall additions over time to the game, sometimes you have to pare away to make it better. And this is a good choice here. It sounds like Mastery will be it's own separate stat on gear as well which converts to something useful to you once you have Mastery trained at level 78 or beyond. So while Blizzard has made one crazy decision, they have made one great decision. One would hope the way they listened to their customers in the talent tree paring will be the same way they eventually approach the Real ID forum issue. Making your customers safe and happy is the primary goal in any business, and that's where the focus at Blizzard needs to be right now.

PostNote - I was not selected for the officer position in my guild. While I was disappointed, I was apparently second place behind someone who is far more connected and social, and she is such a sweet person that I know the position will succeed. Additionally, the guild leader gave me full authority to join forces with her and help her make things great, so I've chosen to pitch in that way and I'll obviously report on our big fun events as they come along. The first one is August 15, but no details allowed! there might be guildies around you know.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Public Service Announcement - Real ID

So Real ID has been live for a couple of weeks now, and the controversy has hit a fever pitch in some areas while other people rejoice at lost connections coming back into touch. For me personally, I saw the system as a good opportunity to keep in touch with the real life friends I joined the game to keep in touch with. Nothing more, nothing less. So when one of my two close friends (who plays either on other servers/factions a lot or other Blizzard games) who the system would be best for me to use it with refused initially to use the system, I balked. Well needless to say that someone accepted a friend request this weekend and then while nobody else was online went through three hours of trying to use parental controls and such, freaking out over the features of Real ID.

The entire problem appears to be what is called "friends of friends." Basically if you've ever been on Facebook you will understand that you can set up your facebook profile to be shown only to friends or to friends of friends (default). Most people do not understand this default and so get freaked out when a boss or employer can look up your information despite not being friends with you. So the facebook controversy has spread through the web and while they fixed their system to allow more control, Blizzard still has this Real ID system in its infancy. Hence my buddy freaks out because his account and all his toons are exposed to "10 million people."

That's not how the system works. All you can see in the friends of friends list (and that's only if you click twice to get into that information for a particular player) is a list of real names in no particular order. No identifiers, no toon names, no email addresses, no nothing else. Just a list of names. Hence, if you have a friends list of maybe 5-10 people, they are all pretty anonymous. There's no real privacy risk here, unless you don't want your friends to bother you when you are on a toon that is your getaway from it all. But that being said, there's one simple rule I have to share with all of you using Real ID.


In the example I just gave you, if you don't want to be bothered when on a getaway toon, do not give your Real ID to guild members or people you will likely be getting away from. If they are your true friends, you should be able to tell them that you are not wantign to chat or group at the moment and they would respect your wishes. Obviously if they do not respect those simple wishes, then they shouldn't be your Real ID friend. Arguably they shouldn't be your facebook friend either, but that's a whole different can of worms that I do not regulate well myself.

There's already one horror story out there for Real ID about stalking just 10 days after the system goes live. You can read it for yourself by Googling the Real ID stalker incident, but here's the short version. Girl adds boyfriend and a couple other people on her Real ID list. Her boyfriend is a moron who adds every guildie who will accept him even though he knows few of them in real life. One of such guildies is a little teenager who has been basically separated from grouping with the girlfriend because he's a harassing jerk. Teenager sees boyfriend's friends of friends list has only one female name on it, he googles this name, and calls the girlfriend at work. Oh the horror! What can we do to stop this crazy train?

OK snap out of it, chicken little. First off, the girlfriend should immediately drop the boyfriend from her Real ID friends list because he is not keeping a responsible friends list. You'll be able to tell by monitoring your friends' lists every once in a while, as if one balloons up dramatically you should drop them. Especially if there's some reason you can be identified in a plain old list of names and you have reason (like a guild stalker) to not be known, then be careful! Second off, if this story is true, and with 10 million people it probably is, the girl should call the cops on this dumbass. He wants to be a general stalking douchebag, let him learn a valuable life lesson about respecting authority and the rule of law. Don't go write a big internet story telling people Real ID is broken because you made bad decisions and then did not handle the consequences as effectively as you could have.

So to my readers who may want to add me as a Real ID friend, I say nay nay. It's nothing personal, but I keep my friends list to a select few real life friends. People who have reason to know my email address and people who will be responsible with their own friends list. If you wanted to look me up and you had my name, fair enough go ahead and call. But be prepared to face the consequences. And that's the end of the story.

So while I'm unhappy with a friend for buying into the internet freak out about the latest way Blizzard is invading our privacy and ruining the game, life moves on. Keep yourself safe out there, but realize everyone is not out to get you.