Monday, July 28, 2008

screw teron gorefiend

Earlier in the day on Sunday, one of my guildmates mentioned that since I'd expressed some interest in the Lich King beta information he was wondering if that might mean I'd reversed my decision to leave the game in September. I told him no, he was skeptical and asked "but why?", I got busy with some other stuff and didn't end up answering him.

Later that night, we get to Teron Gorefiend for the first time. The gimmick in this fight is that T-dawg will place a curse on a random player that will last 60 seconds. At the end of the 60 seconds, the player "dies" and is immediately turned into a ghost. 4 bad guy ghosts (constructs) also appear around the dead player, and they start running for the rest of your raid.

You have to try and destroy the constructs before they run up to the rest of the living players in the raid and start attacking them because the constructs are invulvnerable to all living players. As a ghost, you get some slowing spells to fight them... if you do it quick and do it right, no one in the raid will get hurt. If you fail and they make it to the raid, everyone dies and blames you.

It's tricky, but not impossible to pull off.

But here's the rub: there's no way to prepare for that part of the fight.. or to see what glitches might occur during the transition.

When you get turned into a ghost, your user interface is replaced with a new one with the ghost spells. If you are using the standard bar menu that Blizzard provides in the game, any macros that you had made are wiped out and you have to spend a few seconds trying to find the right buttons to hit on your new action bar (which is enough time for the constructs to get into the raid and start killing people). If you are using a customized bar menu mod (like Titan Panel) then this doesn't happen.

We spent 2 hours trying to figure out why some people were having problems and others weren't as the raid coordinators were using Titan Panel and trying to explain it in terms of what was working for them. Most of the folks in the raid weren't, however, so what they were telling people to do was actually causing confusion and getting us killed. When we finally got it sorted it out, we managed to drag Teron down to 30% health before we got overwhelmed, wiped, and weren't able to run back in because trash had started to respawn.

So... what's the point of this wall of text?

That a fight that we could have gotten done in an hour cost us 2, and we got nothing for our trouble. The fight was obviously designed to retard progress by presenting a challenge for the first guilds, but the flaw in the design is that now its technological glitches are tripping up newcomers and denying them anyway to find out about the glitches until it's too late.

In short, Blizzard has managed to engineer another a week of subscriptions through poor design.

And I tell you all that so I can tell you that when we figured out why people were dying, I sent a message to my friend saying simply:


how do you search the web?

Short version blurb about search engines: google's an index, yahoo is a directory. Go to google when you want to learn more about a subject, yahoo when you want to find specific information on something you already know about.

Today a 3rd contender has launched: cuil (pronounced "cool"... thank you web 2.0 phonetics). They're deal is that they index, too, but the results are presented in a "magazine" layout. The page is meant to be read left-to-right instead of top-to-bottom, and they wedge in images from the sites that the blurb they show you came from.

From my quick survey of it, it looks interesting and has the potential to fill in the 'research' niche. Let's you quickly browse through pages and figure out what's relevant and what isn't. Also, they're supposedly focusing more on the content of the page instead of page rank for their search results, so the idea is that you're more likely to get pages about the subject your looking for rather than 50 copies of some SEO's honeytrap site designed around getting you to click on a banner ad.

Cuil's also saying they won't be tracking user histories, which raises the question of "just how do they expect to monetize and subsequently profit of their search engine?"

Will be interesting to see how it works out. Don't think it'll replace google, but it's nice to have some options.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

so much for android

Back before The Crash(tm) on the older blag, I had a post about how I was interested in Google's Android platform. Based on Linux, Java APIs for hardware access, and some neat abstraction for stuff like location (can use either geolocation off of wifi network, builtin GPS transcievers, etc)... what wasn't to love?

Except for the fact that it was software without any hardware behind it. Originally, we were supposed to see phones in Q308, but that's starting to look like it'll slip. Providers are being jackasses because they don't want free messaging via XMPP to cut into the if-they-had-a-gun-it'd-be-robbery pricing on SMS. Phone manufacturers are balking at some of the requirements.

And now we find out Google's only issuing updated SDKs to the 50 participants of their Android Development Challenge.

So, nuts to that... It's gonna be the same story, different kernel as all the other phones. Time to give up and snag an iPhone. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

dr. horrible is live

Finally got a chance to watch Act I of Dr. Horrible after the site was hosed earlier today.


The actors do a good job of selling their emotions and the writing is pretty clever.

I definitely hope this goes on for more than just the 1 episode. :) Can't wait for Act II on Thursday.

Friday, July 11, 2008

O_o napster support is pretty awesome

2 posts ago, I used Napster as an example of my main beef with DRM: when the provider can't (or won't) authenticate your access anymore, you lose the content and thus you're renting it instead of buying it.

I just got an email from Napster's support team with instructions on how to fix the problem and who to contact if it doesn't work out.

What's amazing is that the previous entry was the only place I'd mentioned the problem... I hadn't created a ticket or anything because I wasn't really concerned with recovering the music. They just found the post, figured out my account and the tracks, setup a ticket, and sent me instructions. Within 2 days.

That's some pretty fscking impressive customer service, fellahs. :)

let me tell you about my boat

I ran across this story about some folks who apparently haven't learned anything from the Jaws movies (great white sightings + kids regattas = bad news). Eric suggested that I blog about it so I could retain my status as intarweb shark attack expert, but I'm kind of over that.

Instead, here's a video clip from the making of The Life Aquatic by Seu Jorge covering David Bowie's "Life on Mars" for a scene. In Portugese. He shows up in the background doing this a lot in the movie, and it adds a nice sense of surreality to it when you hear something familiar but kind of "alien".

Plus it sounds pretty cool.

Without any further jaw jacking:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

back on steam, but the account is empty

Purely digital distribution is nice for a lot of reasons, but the one drawback is huge.

In 2005, I purchased the album "With Teeth" from Napster for $11. Cheaper than buying the CD, but it was great in that 1) it allowed me to make an impulse purchase, and 2) I was able to get the music on my workstation (where I listen to about 95% of music). The drawback was that it was DRM encrypted and that now, 3 years later on a different PC, Napster has "forgotten" that I purchased the album and thus I no longer have access to the tunes -- unlike purchasing a CD, I merely ended up renting the music for a couple of years.

Same deal with Steam. It's an awesome content distribution system that has grown a huge library of available games and has gotten to the point now where you almost have to wonder if Valve is making more money as an online vendor than they did as a game developer. I purchased Half-Life 2 off of Steam the night it was released and was able to play the game within less time than if I'd jumped in the truck and driven to Wal-Mart for some 2am shopping.

The only problem is that now, 3 years later, I have an mild interest in replaying part of the game but am out of luck because I forgot the clever username/password combo, and don't remember what anti-spam address I gave them during registration time. From a self-help perspective, there's no way to recover the account. I don't have a CD and thus no CD key to use. Fortunately, the fact that I thought about all this before consciously making the decision to purchase (I guess "rent" is a better word now) the game and that this was the only game on the old Steam account have made it fairly painless to walk away from.

But it does give me a moment's pause when considering spending $20 on other casual games they have for sale there.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

depressing thought for the day

A lot of hay has been made that President Bush has a low approval rating, shedding 9 percentage points since January 2007 and hitting a current low of 32%.

Now the congress critters have hit single digit approval ratings. Yes, they're at 9%.

That's bad enough by itself.

But keep in my mind that both of the candidates from the major US policital parties that are up for election this year are, indeed, Senators and thus members of that 9% bunch.