Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TotD: DC Puts Neck In Noose, Dares Hangman.

How? By "rebooting" everything:
Starting this summer, the publisher will re-number its entire DC Universe of titles, revamping characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others from its 76-year history for a more modern and diverse 21st century.
Gotta admit, I'm not particularly invested here. But, there's a pretty established history of fanboys going apocalyptic for such actions... which runs into the reality that fanboys run your retail establishments and tend to respond by cutting orders to express displeasure and... well... you'd better hope your simultaneous online plan works out.

So, yeah, not without risk and definitely ballsy. But, probably also what needed to be done for the long term...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rant: Steve Ballmer

There are people out there who like to blame this man for Microsoft's ills. Here's the problem with that: everything that's wrong with Microsoft pre-exists Ballmer's leadership and goes all the way back to Bill.

When people sit there and go: "Well, he missed tablets... and phones... and... " well.. they'd like to forget that Microsoft almost never leads markets - which is odd given how much money the company spends on R&D - but instead gets dragged into them once someone notices they risk the core business model. Just look at recent history: The Internet... not important, until someone realized it was... Consoles... not important, until Sony started talking about using them to control the living room and home computing experience then... Hey Sega... oh... that didn't catch... err, quick get that in house... Music Players... wait... Apple's making how much money... tying up industry partners... and people are liking them enough that they're doing what????

Someone could likely do a more complete list, but those are the big ones from the tail end of Bill's reign to remind us that Microsoft's history is largely not one of market leadership, it's of being led by the nose as the tugs get hefty enough to get their attention. Especially outside it's core competency of servicing business needs.

There are reasons for that. Some folks like to blame "protecting Windows" or "protecting Office" but it's more broad than that and you've also got to give that protectionist nature its fair share of credit for actually getting MS moving sometimes. A far bigger problem is having to balance everything against retail partner needs: if Dell and HP aren't asking for Tablet OS's, you're likely not making Tablet OS's unless you're willing to go into the tablet business for yourself. Apple doesn't have that problem, nor Google to the same extent 'cause Google is basically looking where you aren't and aiming right into the market where MS barely had a foothold to begin with. There's also the reality that, despite the mass investment in R&D, there seems to be less time invested in foreseeing mass consumer customer needs and wants; placing the companies that do spend a lot of time on that on far more solid ground within their original launch windows and feeding a lot of "me-too!" initiatives (see: half a dozen incompatible short lived tacks at "killing" or, hell, just trying to "compete" with the iPod). Hence, the long established jibe that MS always catches up... about three product revisions later.

The problem now is that catching up in three isn't good enough because these days, by the time you ship those revisions, you've both built up a reputation of making things that aren't quite good enough/are shit and the market's moved on to the next thing as tech trends are moving an order of magnitude faster than they were in the 80's/90's. The best example of that is Zune where, by all accounts, the software/hardware combo finally got good enough just in time for the entire world to go: "Fuck Media Players, gimme my iPhone/Android that does it all!"... and the paradigm shifts again rendering your "refined" product irrelevant while pointing to the glaring reality that you've got nothing to slot immediately into that which replaced it.

Solving that when the corporate culture of "stay the course until the iceberg is this >< close" is so firmly ingrained amongst the workforce requires more radical transformation than just replacing the CEO. You'd need to weed the place from the top down into management as a whole. That's just not likely to happen because the same shareholders that are calling for Balmer's head aren't likely to tolerate project delays or too many bad quarters while someone puts things "back into order". People like to look at Apple and go: "Look at how Steve Jobs leads that company!"... but they gloss over the reality that Steve's built a pretty solid team of people under him and "groomed" them over years in his ideas of design and product focus until they are able to bring him things that are already 90%+ baked to be tweaked to precision; that's just as important.

The alternative is to do what the DoJ tried to force them to do after Netscape and break the company up so that it's divisions can better focus on their core markets without being bound by rules of engagement that prevent them from risking any other product. That's not happening either.

Maybe we just have to accept that MS's place in the industry is to be its 500 car steam train with an old cranky radio: it's a bit slow to get messages off the telegraph, and takes a while to stop and change direction, but it's going to build a great deal of momentum once it gets going the right way again. Replacing the engineer won't change much of that reality unless you're prepared to live with the necessity to shed some cars and/or cargo to reduce mass too. But, if we're going to make that acceptance then the bigger question becomes how long you're going to let successive engineers run the train as is lest they eventually learn of a paradigm shift too late to stop it from going off into the gorge...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

TyL: About Stored Food

1) You don't microwave mayonnaise.

2) You definitely don't microwave mayonnaise after it's marinated in tomato juices for 24 hours.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

TotD: I Wonder...

... if there's ever been a study as to how many of these: "Beautiful Models Wanted" posts and the like on Craigslist asking for head/body shots and/or video are just posted by guys for "personal use".

Just sayin.

Rant: Subways Update

It will likely take new road tolls and congestion charges and other revenue tools to help deliver “the biggest transit deal in North America, or perhaps the world,” says the man hired to pave the path toward the $4 billion Sheppard Subway.
Grab the popcorn, pull up a seat, and get ready for a good show 'cause the Toronto Political Games are about to begin in earnest later this year.

Personally, I'm on record as expecting this whole thing to get flushed this fall but, hey, I can't wait to see this city's response if council starts talking about creating toll roads... At least someone's not dumb enough to expect the private sector's going to be all that interested in footing the entire bill for the Ford's pet Subway.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

TotD: At what point...

... did an Out/Inside Round Steak go from being a cut of meat to a slab?

Swear to god, you have to scrounge to find one that doesn't look like it was tailored to form fit the packing by a butcher that's preoccupied with dreams of supermodels in leggings these days.

WoW: When We Tell You to Stop, You Should Probably Stop...

Running through Zul'Aman with a Tank who's just scraped his 346 together.

Me: Ok, just wait here while we res the healer...
First Time Zul'Aman Tank keeps moving forward down the path...
M: Tank, STOP!
First Time Zul'Aman Tank cruises ahead oblivious... triggers a spawn wave of "hiding" Lynxes, throwing us all into combat and preventing the res...


M: Which part of "Wait Here" and "STOP!" was hard to understand?
Tank: I did!
M: Really? Then how do you explain the existence of your corpse 40 yards in front of us....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

LS: How to Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse...

... from our handy friends at the CDC.

This is what you call smart marketing because, conveniently, a lot of things you'd do to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse are the same things you'd do to prepare for most other natural disasters and Zombies are trending again lately.

TyL: Why I'd Never Own A Condo

"Her monthly fees have now reached $900 per month but at least she isn’t a newly-landed immigrant or low-income parent, like many of the other residents. In his affidavit, Bisaillon also wrote that each unit could be on the hook for almost $20,000 before the condo’s finances are back in the clear."
Read on.

Seriously, a 30 year old building where you're paying essentially one bedroom apartment monthly fees for that part of town just in maintenance simply because apathy and disinterest in actually dealing with issues on behalf of the owners has let repairs build up to the point where there's "millions of dollars" worth to be done.

And this is a credible investment?

Screw that. Own a freehold house, pay your taxes, and then if you don't feel like fixing the walls or mowing the lawn at least it's your own damned fault when they fall in on you and the raccoons are advancing upon your trapped body from the overgrowth. I'd propose government address this through legislation to ensure it can't happen but this idea that we can push repairs and maintenance off onto the next guy as long as we don't have to pay for it has such a prevalent mindshare amongst "leadership" there as well that we've a $123 billion Infrastructure Deficit* that's going to come back to haunt someone.

They'd probably wonder what exactly the problem is they're being asked to solve.

* And that was just to stabilize things. In 2007.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Important Rapture Update!

Yesterday was only the spiritual rapture! The actual one is in October! But, you were judged yesterday so now you can rape and pillage to your heart's content without consequence!!!

I call Emma Stone's house! But, only if she goes back to redhead before I get there.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rant: "Of Course They're Moral, Upstanding People!"

Me: So, when are you two going to skip out of here for a night of wild drunken sex?
GF of Project Co-Worker: I'm the Children's Librarian, I can't do that!
Me: Hey, as long as you don't invite your customers, I'm not going to say anything...
For the record: this was at a post project party so it's not like they were at hand.

Anyways, there's this strange expectation in society that you can take a normal human being, give them a certain job title, and all of a sudden they start, nay, need to be a paragon of society: infallible, perfect, lacking in all human fault or sexual interests. This is, of course, completely wrongheaded but it's the lie we like to tell ourselves so we can go to sleep at night with that warm fuzzy feeling that none of the people we trust to do certain tasks are going to damage us or those we care about.

The reality is that every one of these "Sacred" positions - the priesthood, military, teaching, politics, policing, fire fighter... I could go on for pages... - are staffed by people and therefore potentially subject to every single vice or failing that every other person on the planet is subject to. Trying to maintain the illusion that they're not is when bad things happen because that's when we start burying bodies with backhoes:
"Priest's don't molest kids... this must never be known! Shift him elsewhere and quiet the family! Oh, and don't tell the next parish head about it either...",

"Cops don't beat people... whitewash this and assign him a desk for a few weeks until it blows over..."

"Teachers don't sleep with their students... resign... everyone will sign NDA's... and this all goes away quiet..."
All these decisions and more have been tossed out in the past as sops to maintaining the illusion of professional "morality" and, meanwhile, the trouble gets shuffled along and the victim count rises.

Whenever something questionable comes up, or just morality is raised as an issue, there's always one person who likes to think there's some sort of "morality" test that being applied to prevent these kinds of issues. But, reality hinders this twofold: firstly, true psychopaths are scarily effective at reading what you want to hear from them in response to calm your fears and, secondly, whether or not someone will take advantage of a situation is a factor that's least likely to show up when they know they're being tested. So, instead we rely on "feelings", be they right or wrong, because as long as our own "feeling" of "security" about someone is on a the positive side, we can get through the day (Bruce Schneier has a great TED on this "mirage", you should watch that).

Now, this is not to say that all people in these professions are secretly raving maniacs just waiting to implode: what I am saying is that they're all people and expecting any of them to not act as such at any point in their life often causes more problems than it prevents. Especially in the case of politicians: we don't treat the winners of Idol like they're the world's greatest musician or that they haven't lived before they stepped up on stage so why do we sit back and worship people selected through the exact same process - right down to the gleeful pandering for votes - as if they're the worlds greatest leaders and always working in my best interest? Doubly so if they're from the party I voted for. When we adopt this position - that moment at which we start turning a blind eye to what's happening and, instead, turn politics into the Great Sporting Event at which anyone who talks badly of "my team" is wrong, despite all evidence to the contrary, and should be beaten with my giant foam finger - is when we end up with bad governance as the people have given up their role of ensuring it by holding their representative(s) accountable.

Finally, the problem with expecting your definition of "morality" from people is that morality is entirely subjective. While there is likely to be overlap, what you find "moral" is not necessarily what the guy next door finds "moral". (Also note: there's a difference between moral and criminal and just because you don't like it doesn't mean it should be, or is, illegal.) Even more importantly, while I've provided some of the top end examples of "moral failure", a good percentage of traditionally "immoral" acts are so common in reality (take premarital sex from my opener as an closer to baseline example or, my personal recent favourite, the sports writers who found a picture of 19 y/o Brett Lawrie downing a Molson's on his Facebook Page and tried to spin him into sport's upcoming bad boy), that whether or not someone follows your arcane rules is often of less importance than whether or not they're actually good at their job.

As long as the "immorality" is not an impediment nor risk to the profession at hand that's what we should really be more concerned with.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

TotD: If I...

... tried to run a Text Adventure over text messaging I wonder how many people would get it and play along...

I suspect I'd get yelled at. A lot.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

TotD: Now That The Rapture Is Over...

... it appears to be we're all sinners.

Oh well.

Friday, May 20, 2011

TyL: Just a Reminder...

Common Sense very rarely survives contact with Good Health Policy once "Morality" intervenes

Thursday, May 19, 2011

WoW: Meanwhile, at the Activision Blizzard Headquarters...

Programmer: So, LFD has been a big success... and with 4.0 we've got all this pipe laid across continents so the server can match regionally instead of by Battlegroup like when it rolled out...
Dev: How can we go further with that?
P: Well... we've got the code in place to functionally "invite" people regardless of server... I suppose we could come up with a way to let people manually do that instead of relying on the server... the code so they can then Queue together already works great since these LFD PUG runs are able to Queue again at the end of the run as a group...
D: We could use RealID/BNet as the backbone for that... it already exists to provide inter-server com's so we'd just have to graft in the invite protocols from Starcraft II and allow it to talk to the party creation code from LFD...
Bobby Kotick: Hey, I like where this is going, and I'm gonna let ya finish... but how much extra can we charge to use it??????

Ref: Cross-Realm Dungeon Feature Coming Soon

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Link Storage: TED

Someday I'll explain the relevance of this. But, yes... TED.com: full of interesting conversations with interesting people, presenting a new one each week if I understand correctly, across a wide variety of subjects and fields. Agree with them or not, you're still going to come away having learned something...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rant: "Oh, NO!!!! Seth MacFarlane is Doing the Flintstones!!!!!!!"

... yeah.

See, here's the thing; if you actually watch the shows Seth does you'd already know that he actually loves the show - generally you have to have enjoyed and understood the original material to spoof it so accurately and scathingly - so worrying that he's going to go all "Family Guy" on it seems wrong headed. Also note that, despite the two follow-up series that were basically cash-ins on Family Guy's audience, at least one key writer in that house went on to create and produce one of the most beloved, and funny, kids shows of the last decade so the place is not just full of perverted ADD sufferers.

The bigger question is whether or not what made The Flintstones originally successful can even be converted to current audiences and, as Jaime Weinman points out about Bugs Bunny, whether or not the TV Executives will even allow what made the show work in the first place get on the air or declare it "unacceptable" for "modern" audiences. While the issue that he points to as making Bugs hard to recapture is less true for The Flintstones, the reality remains that both these creations are huge merchandising and marketing empires - The Flintstones had branded "family" product right down to cereals and Vitamins well into the 80's and early 90's that was largely driven by perpetual reruns - that are beloved memories to people. There's going to be pressure to recapture that broad based family friendly appeal and that means that going all Family Guy on it - at least in the sense of pushing the "taste" envelope - is fairly unlikely. So, while I could see some quick cuts I suspect any "adult" humour is going to be on the more subtle level of what you'd see back here.

With Phineas and Ferb long since past the episode count where Disney usually takes a show out of production and strips it into oblivion, maybe they should look into luring Dan Povenmire back to run the writer's room. One can dream, right?

Speaking of Disney... seeking to trademark "Seal Team 6"... really? Beyond the opportunism involved, how is that filing even possible? At a minimum, shouldn't the Navy already hold the rights to that and require licensing? At the furthest, how would the law allow one to acquire a trademark on a title that's seen use in media and content long before they gained their extra notoriety lately?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

TyL: Leveling 1-70 Horderifically...

I was going to do this as a 1-85 but, given how much overlap in quest content I can see ahead, I think I'm gonna be a bit leisurely about getting that done. Soooo, off we go:

1) The Goblin starting zone is ok but to be honest neither of the new ones did it for me in the same sense that the DK Zone did.

2) Brutusk alternated between an interesting way to do the hub transportation mechanic they introduced here and a kinda frustrating annoyance that all this fighting is going on and you're basically just sitting there for a minute watching a Kodo and it's current Rider do it all for you.

3) Internal Blizzard Bitch Duty: "Please take these Alliance quests, change names (Horde NPC's), adjust context (Horde-ish reasons), reuse targets", or vice versa.

4) No one who played through new North STV can argue they didn't see at least Zul'Gurub coming. If they try, please note that they're completely obtuse to story plotting and you should avoid talking about such things with them lest you go mad with frustration.

5) Speaking of plots... which instance gets revamped or Raid occurs to deal with all/some of Sylvanis' machinations? I doubt we'll have to wait another expansion for the tail end of Koltira/Thessarian's story at least. Also: if Sylvanis is heading for Raid Boss status, does this mean she and Jaina Proudmoore had a pre-Scourge "experimental phase" at Dalaran U?

6) New Searing Gorge is a thousand times more fun than old Searing Gorge. Spider Surfing! "Ugh! Why are you WET!"... ok... that particular chain was just wrong...

7) Going from New Cat City back into Outland without knowing the Horde quest flow really drives home just how wrongheaded they had quest structure back then. Outlands is full of quest hubs... everywhere... with overlapping area quests... at different hubs...

While you can see shades of where things were going (smaller hubs, theoretically less travel), in terms of back tracking and having to memorize which chains overlap from which hubs every zone is like refined Classic Questing at it's worst. If all they did was pick up the quest(s) (givers) and actually get the ones in the same area at the same hub so you're not running around the zone consolidating your quest list to prevent backtracking to places you've already cleared through they'd improve that experience dramatically.

8) Goblins can't tread water without sucking it up their noses. Really.
Hopefully they fix that. The worst part is that I can't get on a flying mount either because it doesn't think I've "surfaced" as well.

9) God, Garrosh starts out as a whiney bitch, doesn't he? I can see why everyone was thrilled to have him declared Warchief. Actually, there's a shit ton of Orc lore in the Outlands. I'm tempted to go back and complete a bit more of it in there but... most of it seems to be of the "redemption" variety and gets kinda repetitive after a while; even if it is entirely justified by "history".

10) It's no wonder that Frost Mages are feared on the PvP field: their mobility and control is insane. Playing one is like driving a zippy little Panzer Tank that's going to knock the treads out from under anything else that challenges it and then pick the chassis apart at its leisure from the hill over yonder.

Likewise, it's no wonder they can't get PvE balance right with it. When the bread and butter filler/setup spell does 20% more damage under optimum conditions in PvP but can't achieve that benefit when Raiding because Bosses don't root (in general), then it presents a rather large problem: every other DPS button is instant cast so strengthening those just makes the spec even more mobile, meanwhile jacking Frostbolt itself means that it goes BOOM even harder in PvP... insane when you can line it up with a Fingers Ice Lance and/or Brain Freeze to annihilate something in 3-4 GCD's, and removing the buff to bake the damage back in elsewhere drops the "skill cap" on the spec to the point where Finger's ensures there's really no synergy between the Root nature of the spec and any of it's DPS talents anymore.

I suppose Deep Freeze was intended to address this on bosses but being a 30 second cooldown means DPS output becomes fairly spike-ish instead of the reasonably consistent output you can get from otherwise rotating your roots on a mob and Frostbolt bursting it.

Quite the conundrum.

Friday, May 13, 2011

WoW: Doing it Right

Odds are if you've played the game for any significant period of time, you know this starter quest (H/A) in Hellfire where you've gotta kill demons to gather up demonic energy and blow up two Teleporter buildings near the Dark Portal. It's a very nasty little bugger (not so much in terms of difficulty; it's not exactly hard per-se), because there's a shit ton of patrolling mobs around these buildings and in the area to get to them which respawn much faster than you'd prefer sometimes. So, it's really easy to end up with more mobs than you want in short order and be dead in an equivalently small window.

Anyways, I'm working my way towards the second of these buildings last night on me Goblin... well... that's a tight pack in front of me but I can get through it if I'm careful...

Pulling the acid rain lady... fuck... too close to that other pat... OK... Ele root her, the Felguard and his little dog too... get some space... FUCK... moved into range of that other pat... Cone of Cold root them.... back to acid girl... burn her down... OK... group everyone back up... Freeze them... get some range.... GOD DAMN IT.... Cone of Cold the next pat... get back to eliminating people from the rooted group... this is working... I'm making a royal mess of things but keeping it together... Ice Barrier keeps my damage manageable... they're getting licks in though... mana's getting low... Barrier's down... Ele's fallen... two left... almost dry... they're swinging what's probably going to be the death blow ... Fingers of Frost -> Ice Lance -> one falls and...

... that's how amateur Frost Mages ding in style...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

TotD: How does...

... one tell the difference between someone making conversation, being a bit casual, and someone actually being flirty anyways...

This would have come in handy earlier today.

Monday, May 9, 2011

TyL: Just Say No...

[Edgewalk] will offer thrill seekers a heart-stopping, 360-degree panorama as they walk [held only by a safety harness] a 1.5-metre-wide platform a distance of 150 metres around the top of the main pod [of the CN Tower].

Not on your fucking life.

Summer Note: The Grounds to Ontario Place...

... will be open free (though, the rides/attractions... not so much).

If you want to have one last look at the place - since a large scale revitalization project to be announced later this year to try and make the place relevant again means swaths of it are likely to be bulldozed in the immediate future - then here's your chance to do so without having to pay $15 a head to get in the gate.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

WoW: My Goblin Totally Dies...

err, I mean Dyes...

Friday, May 6, 2011

DGtCDB: Heroic Zul'Aman

I don't normally do trash notes, but the trash in this place is actually worse than the bosses themselves (once you get their mechanics down), so I'm going to make some this time to try and help out. Note: If I state you need to kill a target, that means no wasting GCD's on AoE - that target needs to die in a glorious burst of combined single target damage in short order. Pad your meters afterwards.

Upon entering the instance we're going to take the first left, hugging the wall to avoid a pull, and go up the hill towards our first boss here: Akil'zon: the Eagle Avatar. To get to his temple, you'll have to work your way up through a gauntlet. The Tank, and party, should be aware that mobs will come up from the rear during this progression and be ready to pick up/misdirect/run them to the Tank.

Akil'zon himself is pretty straightforward once you get to him. Ranged and Heals should spread out at least 7 yards apart to avoid Static Disruption damage - this ability is magic and should be cleansed when possible to prevent stacking the nature damage debuff. The party will also take random damage from brown eagles, which can be largely ignored though are tagetable, but, periodically, a large white bird - an Armani Kidnapper - will scoop up a player: the player can continue to DPS/Heal but the DPS' priority should be to free this person because they will take damage as long as they're held captive. The last major ability he will use is Electrical Storm, an attack that will target a particular player - lifting them into the air - and create a storm cloud at their location. The party wants to stack under these clouds - like they would for Shadow Gale on Erudax or Unstable Grounding Field on Asaad - because the rest of the platform is going to be lit up with channeled lightning that will burn them down quick. Other than that, burn down the boss.

Heading back down the hill, we're now going to move towards Nalorakk: the Bear Avatar. The primary trash mob you need to worry about here are the Amani'shi Medicine Man. They can heal but, more annoyingly, drop two totems that heal and bubble their allies, respectively, so you either want to burn this mob quick or make them primary CC targets and kill them last. Failure to do either will make for a very long fight and, likely, a wipe.

Nalorakk himself is also pretty straightforward mechanics wise. His is a two phase fight with a Troll Phase and a Bear Phase. In the Troll Phase he will charge the farthest target from him 3 times using an ability called Surge that hits for just under 40K by default and increases physical damage taken from subsequent attacks by 500% for 20 seconds. One person taking consecutive hits from this will, in all likelihood, die so what you want to do is have Ranged/Heals stack up and then have the person who takes a hit move towards the boss so as to rotate the strikes between them all.

In the Bear Phase he will primarily use an ability called Deafening Roar which will silence casters for two seconds. In both phases, he will hit the Tank hard so effective use of cooldowns in paramount.

Leaving his alter and moving on, the path to Jan'alai: the Dragonhawk Avatar is complicated by the presence of two main mobs: Amani'shi Scouts and Amani'shi Flame Casters. Scouts, much like their Lookout counterparts in Stonecore, will run to drums and summon additional mobs until killed: they can be one-shot so killing them quickly so that they don't get to the drums will save yourself a lot of work. (Note: Warriors, Bears - if you're going to max range Charge a mob to open, for the love of God, charge the Scouts. Running into the pack way ahead of your DPS almost always means the scouts are going to get to the drums 'cause we're going to be chasing them unless you stun them and/or kill them yourself). Flame Casters are your second priority, or primary CC targets, in all cases because they AoE fireball and this will decimate your party in very short order - especially if two are left up for a long period.

Edit: The Flame Casters use an ability called Blazing Haste: Mages should spell steal this - it's a 300% casting speed buff - while Shaman should Purge and, I suspect, Mass Dispell shall work for Priests (though, I've not tested). Be very quick on removing this and you can avoid a lot of their damage - while also picking up a pretty nice buff if you're a Mage.

Arriving at Jan'alai's temple, this is a fight that basically requires you to be aware of your positioning and the situation at hand as he will execute two primary abilities himself. His primary attack is Flame Breath towards a random player that will leave a trail of fire on the ground and deal direct damage upon cast: move out of the way. Periodically, he will run to the centre of the room and cast Fire Bomb, littering the room with glowing orange bombs: find a gap and stay in it until they explode.

The primary mechanic on this fight is the summoning of Amani'shi Hatcher's. Two will run in from the staircase and then spit off individually towards each wing of the platform where there are Dragonhawk Hatchling eggs to be hatched. What you want to do is let one of these Hatchers through - assign one ranged, and one ranged only please, to nuke one of them, they die quick - to release these Hatchlings because the determining factor on whether or not you will clear this is your ability to burn these Hatchlings down and you don't want them all available to be released when the boss hits 35% health. As long as your Tank and DPS can manage burning these down over the course of the entire fight, it's very likely the last 20% health or so on this boss will simply involve you avoiding his standard mechanics and you're going to be out of here in short order.

On the patch towards Halazzi: the Lynx Avatar you'll want to be aware that you'll be ambushed periodically by Lynx packs - let the Tank pick them up before you go AoE apeshit - and have to deal with Amani'shi Beast Tamers. The later are primarily annoying because they can MC player characters - cleanse this with magic and burn them down - summon additional pet mobs, and order their pets to focus target specific players. Try and CC or Kill these quick.

Halazzi himself is pretty straightforward. He will drop Water Totem and, while you could kill it, it's far better to just move him away from this and move all your Ranged and Healers into its big, welcoming, green circle 'cause this is one of those times where doing so is in your favour: the Totem will restore Health and Mana to anyone in range so your Healers/Casters will be able to spam their best heals/spells and the party damage will be alleviated to a degree.

Now the rest of the fight simply involves burning down the boss as he swaps through phases in which he will summon a Spirit of the Lynx, which the Tank should try and control but has a loose agro table and can largely be ignored until it despawns if you're taking advantage of the Water Totem and have sufficient healing otherwise, drop a Corrupted Lightning Totem, which should be destroyed quickly, and periodically Flame Shock targets, which should be cleansed.

When he drops we'll move quickly towards Hex Lord Malacrass. He will have two adds and, where possible, it's easiest to just CC as many of those as possible, kill those you can't, and otherwise burn the boss. His primary attack you need to worry about is Spirit Bolts: a party wide Shadow Bolt AoE that, as DPS, it's handy to help your healer by using any cooldowns to reduce incoming damage. Next, he will cast an ability called Siphon Soul that does two things: gives him access to some of a specific player's class abilities and builds stacks of Drain Power on himself that decreases incoming damage taken and increases outgoing damage done. So, you need to be aware that there will be abilities brought into play by the boss that are not friendly - Hunter traps, Death and Decay, Totems, etc... - and that the longer you take to kill him the more likely he is to kill you.

Upon killing him, you will open a door to move towards the final boss: Daakara, the new Armani Warlord. When you open this door, lots of cannon fodder will charge your party: pick them up and burn them down quick for a straight shot at the boss.

Daakara is a three phase fight. In the first phase he will be in troll form and will Whirlwind and cast Grievous Throw on players at random: a bleed that requires healing to 100% to clear.

At 80% and 40%, he will transform to draw on a set of abilities from 1 of 4 possible Animal Avatar bosses you've fought before at random. Many of the attacks he uses are straight out of their playbook and should be countered accordingly:

Bear Form: sees him use Surge and complicate it with another ability called Creeping Paralysis that will increasingly slow players for 6 seconds before paralyzing them completely: hindering your ability to change the Surge target. Dispel Magic the paralysis whenever possible. He will also hit the Tank hard with Nearly Overpowered Blow: his own version of Overpower that can't be mitigated by anything but armour.

Eagle Form: Sees him spawn 4 Cyclones that will each individually move periodically to where a random player is standing in the room: move away. He also drops Corrupted Lightning Totem: knock it over. Finally, he casts Energy Storm which causes Casters - including Healers - to take 8000 damage every time they cast a spell as long as he's in this phase. Be careful and don't kill yourself.

Dragonhawk Form: Sees him use Flame Breath, be aware and dodge accordingly, Flame Whirl, an AoE flame attack that also increases Fire Damage taken, and Column of Fire, random flame towers from the sky that look like a Holy Fire cast and should be moved out of quickly. This is a very healing intensive phase so don't be afraid to self heal if necessary.

Lynx Form: Will see him spawn two Lynx adds, these should be burnt down quick, and charge players with two abilites: Lynx Rush, which hits initially for ~10K but places a 50K bleed on the target, and Claw Rage, which can devastate non-Tanks in general if allowed to run to fruition so the Tank should taunt the Boss back to him before the target's health gets too low.

Manage two of these phases, and you'll be done here.

Zul'Gurub will follow once I've had a chance to run through the place in full a few times. ZA seems to be the favourite in the RDF.

Lazy Friday: An Oldie But a Goodie

Some really fun animation work here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

DGtCDB: Appendix - The "Waggle"

I realized I used this term in a few descriptions without really describing what it is.

"Waggling" is what I call a pretty simple application of "strafing" - usually sidestepping one way or another though the direction is really entirely situation dependent - parallel to the way the boss is facing to see if he follows you when he goes to cast an ability. It's used for those abilities where a boss is going to turn, face, and follow his target to do a timed cast at the position where you are when the cast completes.

It's an especially useful little habit for melee to get used to because there's usually very little time for you to move if you wait for the other indicators - void circles and the like - as the "travel time" is frequently too short. For bosses like Erudax, the crash is already on it's way to the ground by the time the warning zone drops and you're not going to dodge it. As such, when the boss turns to face you a quick strafe one way or the other - I like to go quick right and then left to help confirm it's me, hence the "waggle" - can tell you if you're the target, because he will turn with you to follow, and let you know you're going to need to keep moving to dodge the attack.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

TyL: People Will "Link" Red to Turquoise...

... if there's even the remotest coincidental link. Case in point: Eerie links between Harry Potter, bin Laden.

I mean, come on... really? People are going to race out to see HP7.2 because OBL died? For little other reason than because the first film came out for the Christmas 2001 season and someone else pointed out, likely in /b/, that Voldemort died on May 1 (actually the 2nd apparently...)?


Shit, Ben Stiller better get going with rewrites so he can shoot Zoolander 2 then. Subtitle it: The Decade of Fashionable Terror and get it out quick for maximum profit.

The flawed basis for the entire article is the reality that people on the Internet will stretch to link events to anything as long as it provides LOL's or can be fit into their own brand of nerditry. Trying to project this into box office success - particularly that of a film that's entirely critic proof and likely to make hundreds of millions even if OBL pops up on Al Jazeera tomorrow going: "Ha, Ha! You got Sammy, my genetically cloned body double!!!! <evil cackle>" - is preposterously dumb for a very simple reason: no tween will give a shit about OBL once they run out of playground jokes in a week or two and the older fans were going to the show anyways. They just want to see the story of their favourite Movie/Book come to a close and that "event", in and of itself, will be its own incentive for other people who may have just watched on TV/DVD to show up too.

But, that there would just be too honest and non-current events related an assessment of the situation for the media to report.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

RFTP: Fast 5...

...is the kind of film which decides out of nowhere it's time for a car race. Why? Because we've not had one in a while, that's why!

Thoroughly cheesy and equally fun, no one's going to confuse Fast 5 for high cinema but it's definitely solid action/car porn for guys. Picking up immediately where the last film left off - the physics defying jail break of Vin Diesel's character from his prisoner transport bus - the movie is essentially a series of high tempo action sequences interspersed with comedy and glued together with just enough high grade Canadian Cheddar exposition to keep it coherent. Some people have called it Ocean's 11 meets Prison Break but really, at it's core, it's a "One Last Job" movie mixed with a little "Robin Hood-ism", as our hardened criminals are now tempered by their Police pal, stirred together using a spoon of "On The Run", and baked in an oven from "We're All Family".

The chase bit is probably the weakest part of the film as conceived. One of the problems is just how stationary the cast can get in a town "controlled" by people from both sides of the law actively looking to get their heads on a pike; literally or figuratively. There's a rather large suspension of disbelief required that a bunch of street racers with large prices on their heads can take over an abandoned warehouse and no one in town is going to notice the sounds of cars doing high speed laps around the space. There is a pretty standard double-cross setup that gets teased and then smartly tossed away though.

But, let's be honest here for a second, Inception levels of detail in the script aren't what anyone's coming to this movie to see. They're coming for the car chases and action and the movie is bursting with both so… if that's your thing you should probably see this. If not, then it's still a fun little film but you can probably wait for TV/Rental.

Note: Setup for whatever Fast and Furious 6 is going to be called is after the first set of credits, so you'll want to stick around if you're interested.

Monday, May 2, 2011

TLU: It's Only Really Been 18 for About 30-40 Years...

Mom: She double checked you you know.
Me: I swear to God, I'm getting a fake wedding ring just to stymie your efforts.
Mom: What, it's not like she's underage...
Me: I'm not sure how we got there from that, but ok...
Mom: But, even then, I mean, you've met my friend and her husband? He proposed to her at 13 when he was 30, then married her at 18. I suppose that it's more acceptable for guys to date younger...
Me: ... No... I'm pretty sure proposing to a 13 year old at 30, regardless of gender, is a good way to end up on To Catch a Predator these days...
Mom: I don't think you're a predator!!!

My mom doesn't watch TV news shows. Talking her down from this one took a while...

Sunday, May 1, 2011