Thursday, June 30, 2011

TotD: Trending Followup....

The strike is over, the month ends, and Archaeology beats out anger at Postal Workers by a landslide.

WoW: Why Archaeology Sucks - 70 Pageviews
Rant: Fucking Canada Post - 43 Pageviews

It was kinda close for a while, but then someone dug me up for the forum again... and then someone else decided I was "noteworthy" enough to be listed as "Criticism" on WoWWiki soooo pissed off people without their mail fix got trounced by hyperlinks appealing to annoyed people at the right places.

Live and learn.

I won't be doing many of these stats type posts - mainly because the Arch post tends to steamroll anything else I've written by miles and, lets be honest, the numbers aren't exactly operating on Penny Arcade scales even then. But, I just found Public Sector Union Hatred VS Most Annoying Prof. ever to be too interesting a "competition", in a kinda dark humour way, to pass up.

Hopefully 4.3 brings some of the Arch. updates promised in the Dev Q&A.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rant: Whoa... That's Gotta Hurt the Ego...

HMV Canada... a retail chain that did $320 Million in National sales last year... with 121 locations and their contents... sold to a "restructuring firm" for $3.2 Million.

Gotta say, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. Always... and I mean always... undercut by its foes Best Buy, Future Shop, Walmart, even local indy stores and the now defunct Music World & Sams in both video and music it really should've died a long time ago. Yet, for some reason, despite getting shafted, people shopped there with regularity.

Until iTunes came along.

Now its scrambling - having sacrificed a third of its space to the gods of bargain clothing fare in an effort to pay the rent, its downtown Toronto "flagship" store on Yonge just north of the Eaton Centre is now down to only the core wing - because people aren't buying music on media anymore... or Movies... or TV Shows...

They've tried to deal with this by diversifying into Games and Books... just in time to see distribution there start to increasingly go digital as well...

Plan B is to try and take the company's website - which has meandered from in house... to an Amazon store... and, apparently, back in house again - and make it relevant.

Too late. The players are pretty solidly baked now. This is where HMV needs to pull it's head from its arse and very quickly identify what they can offer that no one else can. The problem for them is that, historically, that hasn't been price and the people who are interested in niche music can't carry a whole chain of stores (why you don't see big classical and jazz sections, for example, outside the core location).

So, it's pretty likely that the price this company got it for was exactly right because the most foreseeable outcome here is extinction.

If I'm at HMV, I'd be shaking the dust off my resume and those high enough on the food chain ought best to be cashing out their company pensions -> personal RRSP's before it all disappears to England and the Government's kind enough to tell you just how boned you now are.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

TotD: My new co-Worker...

... can NEVER meet my former co-worker.

If former's persistence and talent for putting me off guard were paired with the later's knowledge of local practices I suspect I couldn't cope with the combined matchmaking onslaught.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TyL: Sometimes I Forget Who I'm Being Playful With

Me: Please, I can't be mean to you; you're going to set me up with your sister! *
Her: *all excited now* Really!!!! **
Me: err... no... ***

* this is me referencing our conversation earlier in the week
** this is her thinking I've changed my mind
*** this is me panicking as I realize I probably shouldn't do jokes involving context with someone whose English is excellent, but is still acclimating to the overall culture and doesn't quite have banter down.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

CBC R3 Playlist: Summer Doldrums

It's been kinda dire for new stuff over the last few months. Much of what little I'm adding is coming in because it's kinda interesting or amuses me. Expect a fair bit of that to end up on the purge pile next time around...

Japandroids - Young Hearts Spark Fire
Fembots - So Long
Cherry Chapstick - Silencer
The Skydiggers - Pull Me Down
Chow-Chow - Suits Like Animals
Young Galaxy - Searchlight
Greatest Explorers in the World - Hide and Seek
Parlovr - Pen To The Paper
Dinosaur Bones - Royalty
Pat LePoidevin - The Moonwolf Departure
Cripple Creek Fairies - Call In Sick

Aidan Knight - Knitting Something Nice
Sidney York - Dick & Jane
Hands & Teeth - Race To The End
Arkells - Pullin' Punches
J.J. Ipsen - DaDaDa
The Five Hole Band - (Thinking 'Bout Your) Five Hole (NSF Innuendo unfriendly Work environments)
Brasstronaut - Slow Knots
Gramercy Riffs - Call Me

As always, to be found over here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

TotD: Historically...

... if you've wanted to deter someone from doing something, which of these methods have been proven to be most effective:
  1. "Whatever... but at your own risk... and try not to annoy anyone..."
  2. Regulation, "red tape", and forms upon forms
  3. Prohibition*

Might want to think about that for a bit 'cause it's a relevant discussion.

* hahahahahha....

god, that was hard to hold in...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WoW: DPS Isn't Everything

Oh, it's useful... but on the list of metrics it's pretty far down. What's in front of it?
  1. Is the Boss Dead (This covers a lot of sins - especially the first time)
  2. Did anyone/everyone die? (If so, why? Are they failing to grasp mechanics? Did someone miss an interrupt?)
  3. Are we taking too much damage? Why? (Especially if this is preventing 1, and causing a lot of 2)
  4. Are there adds? Are we handling them appropriately? (failures here readily pile up to impede 1 and build up 2, and 3)
Good players are the ones that can manage those items while sustaining their DPS; anyone can stand and run through their rotation to put up big numbers on Patch, fewer are able to do this while dodging shit. Awesome players are that ones that are able excel at the above and abuse every tool in the box while doing so.

If you really want to be good at this game, learning the mechanics, what you can do to mitigate or avoid them, and paying attention to your surroundings and events is just as important as knowing your rotation. You don't want to be the guy in the room who's tunnelling the bottom of their screen watching cooldowns such that they become a mana sponge for avoidable damage or, worse, that asshole who throws hissy fits at the healers because they're dying when they really should have dodged something they could see coming a mile away.

Pro Tip 1: Learn. To. Fucking. Interrupt. Regardless of Spec or Role.
There are many fights where this is vital so, for example, sitting there and going: "I'm a Resto Shaman, I don't need Wind Shear on my bar!", when you're doing Nefarian and one relatively cheap Wind Shear prevents 30/40K worth of raid wide damage you're going to have to use expensive heals to top off and is off the Global Cooldown table so you can go immediately back to heals is pretty fricken dumb. In this case, damage prevented is mana saved. If you're DPS, it's not "Bitch Duty" when the boss won't die if you don't do it: it's the most important job on the floor. Likewise, tanks that don't interrupt, despite still achieving massive threat leads, and then scream that their healer let them die because said healer just got feared, for example, make me cry. If you think we won't know you're not doing this, you might want to wander through some of the other statistics Recount/Skada tracks next time you're on... (and that's before we feed the logs into WOL and the likes for analysis)

You can turn on nameplates and enable spell cast bars in the Interface menu to make your life easier for those non-50' tall critters but you may want to look into mods to get your enemy castbars more readily in view.

Pro Tip 2: Know your glyphs and keep a stack of Dust handy.
While more true for the later, your Primes and Majors tend to have one or two really situational glyphs in them. Knowing what those are, and which fights you want to abuse them on, can improve your DPS output or survivability for the exertion of all about 15 seconds of adjustment and a few gold.

Pro Tip 3: What do I bring to the fight?
Can I root adds? CC? Interrupt like a bastard? Soak tons of damage - even as DPS - through cooldowns? Know your toolbox so that when you're standing there for the first time and something happens you know, instinctively, how to respond to it or can suggest how to attack the problem if you wipe. Sometimes, you want to just try some of those things the first time to see if they work or not because it's more important to know what you can do in the future if it's not likely you're going to kill the boss.

Pro Tip 4: Keep your head up coming across the blue line or...


You can't play this game with your eyes on the bottom of the screen chasing action bar buttons while shit is falling around your toon mid screen. You're going to miss visual cues, that patch of fire under your feet, the buff that just went up in the boss window, or the curse that just landed on your buff bar. Tunnelling like that's going to frequently make you either a mana sponge or dead, depending on the whims and tolerance of your healer(s). Worse, it's going to make you a liability in the eyes of any raid leader who you're not sleeping with or is your drinking buddy and cause you to get bumped in short order.

So, what do you do? Start by learning the Keybind interface and getting your abilities mapped in a manor that's comfortable and intuitive to you. It doesn't matter how others do this if you can't execute with it. Thus, experiment and get something tailored to your own ability/playstyle so you can execute without looking. Next, figure out what you need to track to play your class/spec and then research and look for mods/addons that help you do it. There are often "packs" or individual items on offer that will help you track it all for your class and, most importantly, let you place the tracking elements on the screen such that you can better keep your eyes on what's going on around your toon and avoid the damage that you were having problems with before.

Just remember: packing so much stuff centre screen that you can't see what's going on around your toon isn't going to help either. Figure out what matters, get it centre, and use the rest of the screen to help you get used to scanning around. The goal here isn't just to get you tunnelling a cup sized circle centre screen instead of your action bar, it's to make you more aware of what's going on in the fight by letting you take your eyes off the bottom of the screen. If your job is to root the adds coming in from the left and now you're so focused centre screen that you don't notice them until someone starts yelling at you then you're still not doing what needs to be done as well as you could be.

Get comfortable with letting your eyes wander. As long as it's not onto your Girlfriend's Friend's Boobs. We don't need that drama in vent...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TotD: Trending...

Just over last few weeks:

WoW: Why Archaeology Sucks - 19 Pageviews
Rant: Fucking Canada Post - 16 Pageviews

If I were a worker at Canada Post, I'd be worried....

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rant: Patent Stupidity...

... or, if you can't beat them, patent their business model.

IBM's patent application attempting to gain title that would cover any business that stores and manages IP/Patents on computer is basically a shot across the bows of Non Practicing Entity (NPE) - companies which have accumulated patents but make no products themselves - businesses or, as they're better known, Patent Trolls in the ever more insane war between the two realms in the area of software. I say this because their entire business model involves storing and attempting to monetize IP.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that Software patents are bullshit but... eliminating them is problematic twofold:
  1. Software companies that make hardware are now disadvantaged against Hardware companies with vast technical portfolio's
  2. Those Trolls are making substantial coin, and are going to fight tooth and nail to keep their jobs.
Really, it's the first one I worry more about given the wars that are going on as companies like Apple begin eating the market share of companies like Motorola. It's this that leads to companies patenting every little thing - right down to Tabbed Palettes - just to maintain an inventory of "stuff" to countersue or defend their turf with.

To fix this you need to revamp the patent system itself to make it less easy to achieve, placing greater burden of proof on the patenting party that the patent is actually for something original, but... there seems to be little interest in doing this at the political level. So, we're stuck with companies wasting resources fighting to prove that Online Shopping existed prior to someone deciding to file a patent on the thing.

Which just goes to show that if you can throw enough bafflegab into your application paper you probably can patent stupidity... especially if it's an AI routine.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

TLU: To the Cute Census Girl

"So... do I get to ask you some questions now?"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lazy Friday: I Don't Know Which is Scarier

That this exists:

Or that it's apparently a meme judging from the related links

Thursday, June 2, 2011

WoW: Enhancement's Lament

There's very little class wise they do in WoW that can get me going as much as the frustration caused when it comes to looking ahead to plan equipping my Enhancement Shaman in the next tier with suitable weapons sometimes. The headaches with equipping this spec go back to a solution to a recurring design issue that, although it has a long term history and continues to pop up now and then, presented itself in Early Wrath hardcore: the need to keep Enhancement from chasing caster weapons to dual wield Flametongue Weapon(FT) and enforce the preferred setup of Windfury Weapon(WF) Main Hand, FT Off Hand, AGI Weapons both slots.

When this cropped up in Naxx - as the result of FT doing the same amount of individual strike damage regardless of weapon speed; heavily favouring fast daggers for more hits and Caster Weapon Spell Power to boost the output - the developers intervened around 3.1 to change the way FT would work so that the per hit damage would scale with the Speed of the weapon. Thus, the total FT damage put out by a fast weapon would be approximately equal to the total FT damage put out by a slow weapon over the course of a fight. Once they did that, you ran into a wall where the issue wasn't that using a fast dagger would cost you FT damage - slow/fast was now ballpark - but instead that you lost Lava Lash damage because of the lower strike damage (that nifty "X->X*2 Damage" stat on your weapon), of the fast weapon that would no longer be compensated for by higher FT damage output that used to occur from more strikes. Therefore, a fast weapon in the OH was now a net DPS loss. Itemization chaos ensued as choices which were viable suddenly vanished into the ether; leaving a 25 Man Interested Enhancement Shaman chasing exactly one drop for the OH slot heading into Ulduar: Angry Dread.

Pity the Enhancer who found himself in line with others.

Meanwhile, fast off hand weapons were now, for all intents and purposes, exclusively Rogue domain and quickly built up the shard pile as Enhancement would be living with +-2.6 speed weapons in both slots from this day forward; especially fun when Wrath Fist Weapons were hand specific and you'd need to wait for a One Hand Axe or Mace to drop to fill the opposing slot.

Ulduar, having been itemized just in time to see the change made, wasn't much better. Sure, a blessed Enhancer could get the fist off Hard Mode Flame Leviathan if they were in a quality guild.... and there were no Rogues in front of them. But, most had to work their way into Thorim for his maces to fill the OH or Mimiron for an alternative in the MH on 25 Man.

Pity the 10 Man Shaman who had to down Hard Mode Iron Council or Yogg-Saron to fill their slots.

Things came to a head in Trial of the Crusader when every single available Enhancement weapon drop was on some mode of Anub'arak, leaving the spec gimped until their guild was able to challenge the final boss of the Tier on each setting with regularity. Just before this point, the Devs acknowledged there was an issue as Ghostcrawler would come down from the mount to announce that they would address the source of this readily apparent itemization conundrum:
"Enhancement Shaman.... I have heard your cries!!! This is an obvious problem caused by the reality that Death Knights can't use Fist Weapons, Rogues can't use Axes and you can't use Swords... we shall address this!!!!

From this day forth, Rogues shall use Axes.... and all shall be good!!!*
and, lo, he would return to the mountain top and all would be good.... for a while.

ICC would come and the Raid and Dungeons would prove to be a boon of options for Enhancement Shaman: even their own drop. Cataclysm would come, Death Knights would move to STR Weapons and Combat Rogues would become our only shared partner worthy of consideration**. An incredible technological breakthrough in design would allow for the creation of One Hand Fist Weapons for levelling. There would be craftable weapons to take in to your first raid perfectly itemized (although, initially bugged for mats; arguably favourably if you hated farming orbs). Normal modes of the raids would have 2 BoE drops that were usable though Heroic Mode would be complicated by our only other weapon loot being on Nefarian. For the most part it seemed like they had things right... and then folks lurking around the 4.2 PTR started linking the Blacksmithing patterns available from the new dailies and....


Come on guys, you were doing so well!

On a bit more serious note, this is pretty clearly intended to be catch-up gear for those behind on progression and perhaps those (many... so very many...), who aren't farming Heroic Nef with regularity. I know new Direbrew Mugs will be coming to the AH but it seems silly make us wait until September while also providing a bridge craftable for every spec but ours. Especially now that all the Specializations have been stripped from Combat and you opened up weapon options specifically so that you'd have flexibility to allow you to serve more specs/classes. This is why I said elsewhere a long time ago that the WoW Team desperately needs an Editor in the itemization department to keep baseline items with class/spec usability this narrow from getting live - even to the PTR - because it's these moments that drive the idea that no one's giving much thought to the big picture.

*err... based on true events....
** Yes, yes... Hunters. I love my Hunter friends and all but, let's be honest here, they just want their sexy stats. As long as those add up to pretty numbers, the form they arrive in is largely irrelevant to the discussion at hand when they almost never swing them in PvE.