Archive for the ‘Beyond WoW’ category

Wrapping up Cataclysm

September 22, 2012

Not long now!

I’ve procrastinated tons and now I’m stuck with a long long to-do list:

– Collect 24 dailies to turn in
– Tune up my ret gear to make leveling faster
– Pre-order MoP
– Install MoP on my desktop and laptop
– Fix my laptop’s WoW UI

I think the only thing I’ve done so far is prepare enough food for me to not have to cook at all next week. (Why am I not surprised that food was my top priority?)

How do you measure an expansion?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

-“Seasons of Love” Rent

So many bloggers do their expansion recaps and it’s interesting to see who uses what as their expansion milestones. Some measure their expansions in class changes, some in game changes, some in tiers.

Me, when I think back on Cataclysm, the first thing that comes to mind is my guild chronology. I suppose then, that I follow the song and measure my expansion in love. Erm.

The Beginning of Cataclysm

Shortly before Cataclysm, the GM of my guild at the time asked me: “What are your plans? Are you staying with us? Will you still be playing your pally?”

I told him his questions were silly. I’d been happy in that guild for over a year. There’s no way I expected my feelings to turn very sour, very fast.

But they did, for a list of reasons too long for me to write out. So long, in fact, that I’m pretty sure I don’t even know all the whys to my change of heart.

I left, was devastated, held my ground, tried not to make an ass of myself (I slipped a few times), licked my wounds, checked out different raiding styles, got to know my inner-raider better, moved on, became a more grown up person.

More or less in that order.

I made up a lot of excuses for my not throwing much of a hissy fit. Mostly noble bullshit like how “I’m not like that” and “I’m going to be the bigger person” and “I learned my lesson last time”.

Yeah, that’s right! Bullshit!

The main reason I restricted my hard feelings to private conversations and comments on other blogs was because I didn’t want to burn my bridges.

Yep. Just in case I could be “just friends” with my ex guildies later on. It’s been a good plan so far. Since leaving the guild I’ve had good times with them at Blizzcon, in PuGs and occasional real life meetups. I’m proud to say I have the best ex-guildies in the world. So yeah, my advice to anyone grieving after a /gquit: never ruin the potential for perfectly good friendships down the road.

Those friendships might be a worth a lot more than your passing frustrations.

What else happened the beginning?

I remember there being a lot of bosses in three (four?) different dungeons. I liked that. On the progression race, having a lot of bosses clearly favoured guilds who raid more hours, but on the “I get bored of the same thing real fast” race, it was very satisfying. We didn’t have to start with the same boss every raid, or even the same dungeon. I like variety and I was served.

I remember the heroic 5s instances being a bit more challenging than we were used to. I liked that too. I didn’t find them particularly hard, even in PuGs, (maybe us holy pallies were just OP at the time), but they did force me to use all my spells, my teamwork skills and my favorite muscle, my brain.

Speaking of pallies and spells, the beginning of Cataclysm brought us Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance. Stirred us up a bit, after single-target healing for so long. I found we were still the most ideal single-target healers, but at least the addition of multi-target heals gave us the opportunity to take single-target healing vacations and try something new.

Then the middle of Cataclysm

I gave casual raiding a whirl. At the same time, I gave 10s raiding a try. Not that 10s are necessarily casual (apparently you get things thrown at your face, even through the computer screen, when you say offensive, sizist things like 10s = casual), this just happened to be a more laid back group who also did smaller sized raids.

My teammates were tons of fun (I do mean to crash their Mumble parties sometime in the near future!) but I learned pretty quickly that casual raiding is not for me. When I do something, I do it all the way. And while my pathological attachments to guilds may lead to believe otherwise, I’m not really a social person. Raid time is for raiding. Not telling stories, not waiting for people to log on, not reforging gear (unless there’s a strat change) and certainly not for going to the bathroom. I raided with them for about a year, but after some soul searching and a few entertaining (for everyone else) yelling matches between me and the main tank, I decided to be “just friends” with that guild too and move on to a more compatible team.

This is a good place to plug thoughts on 10s and 25s

Opinions on 10s vs 25s and on “the death of 25s raiding” never cease to be shared.

To me, it’s a personal thing. I’m a 25s raider. I like the occasional 10s as a side-raid to get to know my guildies (and more importantly, to get to know what my guildies are like when they’re drunk), but my little raider heart needs the beat of 24 teammates. I gave 10s a fair shot with Team Sport, but I missed having a large healing team, I missed being a single link in the chain, I missed the complex strategizing, I missed the large-scale wack-a-mole of 25s healing.

It’s not about what’s “harder” (I’ve found difficulty to depend more on who my teammates are rather than on my number of teammates), though I did wish 10s and 25s were treated like separate entities within the game. After all, the style of raiding is so different.

On those epeen sites, you can see the decline of number of 25s guilds. On recruitment forums, you can, however, see that there are plenty of 25s guilds. More guilds, in fact, then actual raiders. 25s raiding is not dead. Yet. Maybe one day Blizzard will decide that having a 25s tuning isn’t cost effective. I’ll totally understand and not be angry. However, I suspect that I’ll also stop playing WoW on that day.

What else happened in the Middle?

Heroic Ragnaros was a badass and gave lots of players nervous breakdowns. But not me. I was in a normal mode guild when the content was relevant. And when it stopped being relevant, I couldn’t really find the motivation to do extra hours when I could be doing so much fun stuff IRL.

There was a lot of questioning as to why Heroic Ragnaros was so much harder than final boss Heroic Madness. I question this questioning. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Heroic Madness is accessible to any somewhat disciplined raid team. Thus, for the first time, many, many players were able to end their expansion with a satisfying “I killed the last boss! On Heroic!”. And customer satisfaction is an important goal for a business, no?

I think it was a smart strategy to make the bragging rights boss (HRaggy) different than the satisfaction boss (HMaddy).

Also in Firelands, there was a lot of anger (and in my case, annoyance) when Blizzard decided to nerf Fireland by 20% in one go. I didn’t understand that one. The nerfs were supposed to accomodate guilds like the one I was in: normal mode with a slow and steady progression. Thing was, we were progressing just fine. We weren’t sick of the instance yet, we had to work for our kills but we weren’t discouraged either. Then Blizzard came in, yanked out the carpet, took away the discipline requirements for the bosses. We didn’t progress much faster after the nerfs, really. Once you take away the discipline requirements for a normal mode guild, you take away the discipline. Instead of killing bosses faster, we just goofed off more.

In the End of Cataclysm

When I left Team Sport, I went guild shopping which was scary and hard work. (I do have a post about it, but I never got around to finishing it. Post writing is also hard work.)

I did, in the end, find myself a home. I love my raidmates, I love the leadership, I love the raiding, I love my healing team, I love my fellow holy pally. They do tend to raid a tad early (I spend the beginning of my raids changing out of my work pants, stuffing my mouth full of food and trying to not to autorun into mobs), but otherwise I’m very happy.

I hope MoP does not have the same effect Cataclysm did.

ps. Important! If you are guild shopping and suspect your raiding interests to be similar to mine, I encourage you to check us out at http://www.occasional-excellence.com/ We still have a couple of open spots for MoP!

What else is at the End of Cataclysm?

Dragon Soul brought us LFR. I liked LFR. Early on, spending an extra night running it was tough, but I did like having it available if I missed a raid. It also made gearing up for my guild change much easier.

While, yes, the fights were stupidly easy and your LFRmates stupidly…stupid, I really didn’t mind LFR and I was glad to have that opportunity.

Dragon Soul wasn’t a well loved instance, and I do agree it lacked the epicness of Karahzhan, Ulduar and even Icecrown Citadel or the creativity of Zul’Aman (the original) and Black Temple. I didn’t hate it, though. I don’t think it would be my first pick for a final dungeon, but it had a few good moments. Notably the gamergasms Ultraxion’s Blue Crystal gave me time and time again, until Ultraxion started dying before the crystal came out (damn Ultraxion that minute-man!).

Of Blogging and Podcasting

I do miss blogging. I miss the excitement of watching my stat page, the amusement from reading search engine terms, the delight of discovering new comments and the satisfaction of publishing a Bossy Pally-approved post. And, most of all, I miss the friendships.

But at the same time, I don’t expect a sudden increase in post count. I’ve been having a lot of fun in the offline world – now that I’m no longer a student I’m finally living the life I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. Between living it up and working a demanding job, I’m just too tired to be coherent. It’s a good thing, mostly, it just means that the blog will most likely keep its current posting rate and its current reader count of approximately 3.

I feel like I’ve grown away from the community too. I still subscribe to a lot of blogs, but it seems that everything I read triggers one of 3 reactions:

1) I’m not interested
2) I’m interested and I’m thinking about it, but I don’t have the energy to write a response
3) I want to throttle the writer and scream at them: “OMG HAVE YOU EVER EVEN LEFT YOUR HOUSE BEFORE!?!?”

I suppose that’s how life goes. You grow closer to some groups and away from others. I do plan to keep the blog somewhat alive, I’m not deleting the personal blog either (it may even get some extra attention in a couple of months when my big big big project/dream comes closer to fruition) and I’ve told Oestrus that I’m not against recording the odd episode of the Double O Podcast.

I think a post-MoP grind episode might be a good follow up to our pre-MoP episode. And who knows, maybe a reader/listener will suggest a topic they’d like to us discuss and we’ll be overcome with inspiration… It could happen!

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For the Undergrads Fans – Followup to the Calgary Convention

May 15, 2012

Yeah, that’s right, I’m going to not talk about WoW again on my WoW blog. Hey, it’s my blog and I can write about whatever I want.

I’m also a bit behind the times on this post (I swear I’ve been working on these short lines for over a week now…the ol’brain just ain’t what it used to be) but I wanted to share a couple of links with my fellow Undergrads fans, and I want to show my support for a potential season 2, should all the stars align.

I swear I am borrowing this picture for a good cause!

So, remember last post about the Calgary Expo? Where I excitedly attended a panel by the writers of the college student and/or former college student must-see show, Undergrads?

And remember how I mentioned that it was a 10 year old show (actually, I suspect it’s a little older than 10 years, since I remember watching the French version of the show in high school, and I graduated in 2001), it aired for one season then got cancelled? And how the panel made a big splash at the Calgary Expo, with all of us fans discovering we are not alone.

The excitement went on after the Expo, even among fans who hadn’t been able to attend the convention, and all the buzz resulted in this portal website (which, I believe, was made by the show writers themselves). That’s right!

– You can catch the videos of Saturday’s panel (here, here and here – and don’t worry about there not being any footage from Sunday’s panel, both days ended up being almost identical. Funny how fans always ask the same questions.)!

– You can join the Undergrad’s Facebook Groupville (group that is actually admined by Williams, Cagan and Rheingold!)

– And! You can check out photos from the Expo on their Flickr page!

I challenge you to find me in the Facebook group!

Later, guy!

Treasured Memories from the Calgary Expo

May 1, 2012

It was touch and go there for awhile. Will I go? Will I not go? Calgary is quite far and with the tension sky high at work, I didn’t dare ask to adjust the schedule. But I did have Sunday and Monday off. Turned out the boy had those days off too. I asked him if he wanted to come to the Expo with me. He said sure. And thus we found ourselves arriving in Calgary early Sunday morning, tired from the long drive but excited to get our geek on. (It’s times like that I wish I lived within reasonable distance of an airport. My life would be 100% more time efficient if I could just fly places.)

Calgary Expo-what?

What a time was had! The guest lineup was intense. The entire main cast of Star Trek TNG reunited. Stan Lee. Billy West. Adam West. James Marsters. Dave Prowse (also known as Darth Vader). Adam Baldwin. Commander Sheppard Mark Meer. And those were just some of the super famous people present. Yet, for some reason, convention organizers were surprised when more than 50 000 fans from all over the world showed up.

On Saturday, convention goers discovered why most other major conventions have limited tickets. The inside of the convention centre was packed like a Tokyo subway car at rush hour (considering that a lot of geeks get nervous in crowds, I can only imagine how much panicking must have occurred that day) and the outside grounds, crawling with those who’d been locked out, were overrun. Going on Sunday ended up being the best idea ever.

We got there early in the morning and I had pre-bought and printed tickets for the two of us, like the wise convention goer that I am. We had a last minute addition to our party who didn’t have a ticket but, fortunately for her, I was at a pub crawl in Winnipeg about this time last year.

That’s right. While getting drunk in Winnipeg last year I befriended a fellow backpacker. A backpacker from Calgary. Who happened to text me on the way to the Expo, asking if I needed an extra ticket. After I pulled some sophisticated lineup strategy maneuvers, my Calgarian friend found us just as we were reaching the front of the line. We yanked him in, I paid for the ticket and, yep, all 4 of us got our passes. The moral of this story? Never turn down a pub crawl.

The WoW Crowd

The WoW community meetups are often the best part of these big conventions. Vidyala and Vosskah hosted a potluck on Friday night (I couldn’t go, unfortunately, since, well, I was at work 7 hours away) which I heard great things about. I did, however, make it to the supper on Sunday. The early planning went kind of like this:

Vid: Oh you’re coming! We should go for supper!
Me: We should! Can I invite people?
Vid: Um, ok.

A few days later, Vid, Voss, Darthregis, Chawajen, Kalesti, Rades, the Fannon family and the Bossy Pally party found ourselves seated at the downtown Milestones sharing Expo stories, WoW stories and housecleaning stories. Also drowned a donkey and a mermaid in Peach Bellinis. The night was too short, too short, too short. I could spend an entire week with these guys and still want to be around them.

I say I start planning my own conventions, just to draw out awesome WoW friends.

Undergrads

Unlike the rest of my party, I planned ahead. I printed out the panel schedule, studied it, rated the panels based on my interest in them and came up with a plan. One panel title was “How to just barely survive as a Hollywood writer“. It caught my eye. I’ve no ambitions to become any sort of pro writer (if I got offered a paid writing position, I’d turn it down). But while my personal goals aren’t in the field, I love reading or hearing about writers. Oddly, I kind of relate to writers.

So I read the description. Andy Rheingold, Josh A Cagan and Pete Williams. Pete Williams sounded vaguely familiar…

I got to the next line: Undergrads.

OMG Undergrads!!

How many hours did my friend Val and I spend in high school expressing our appreciation for Gimpy? How many times did my brothers and I make each other laugh with Cal imitations? How many family nights did I spend with my siblings, watching Undergrads reruns on Teletoon? How many friends did I force to watch introduce to the show? How many flashbacks have I gotten of Rocko reading Cosmo and saying “I think we’re all feeling a bit… *flips pages* premenstrual“?

I sat up-straight throughout the whole panel, drinking in every word. I squealed when Pete Williams did a Cal line (he sounded way better than my brothers and I ever did due to, you know, being Cal’s actual voice actor). I really, really, really wanted to run up to them after the panel and give them a hug.

Undergrads was one of the rare shows that played a huge part in my young adult life and I never in a millions years expected to meet the writers. Especially not in Calgary, 10 years after the show was cancelled (after 13 episodes). And if the experience was surreal to me, it seemed to be surreal to them too. They made my day when they said (I think it was Josh who said it, but I’m not sure) “It’s like we’re in Sliders, in a parallel universe where people have actually heard of our show.

Of course, they were bombarded with questions about the eventuality of a season 2. It sounded like they were absolutely ready for season 2 but the usual red tape (show rights and financing) was holding them back. But the attachment they showed toward their show, even 10 years after being forced to move on, made me very happy. It was wonderful to be sitting in that room with about 30-40 other fans (another upside to Sunday! Saturday’s panel apparently packed 250 people in the room and turned 100 away. Much less intimate.) and the 3 main writers, sharing our love of Undergrads.

If only I hadn’t been too shy to go to their booth afterward and talk to them…

Video Game Voice Acting with Mark Meer and Quinton Flynn

Do you know who else is awesome, besides writers? Voice actors. They’re the stars you never get to see, who you don’t often think of. In fact, if the better job they do, the less you recognize them. They don’t get the screaming fans and the big bucks. But when you do meet them in person, you’re quickly smitten, so much their passion and talent is captivating.

Mark Meer, I was familiar with. I’m playing a lot of Mass Effect these days. I didn’t, however, realize he lives and works really close to me and that I could go see him act all the time. Which I totally plan to. He’s hilarious. You know else who is awesome, besides writers and voice actors? Improv actors.

I didn’t know the name of Quinton Flynn, but the second he started talking and doing impersonations…oh yeah! As my friend Skip puts it, Flynn is “one of those 12 voice actors who are in everything“. It was just incredible to listen to him. From his normal speaking voice, you wouldn’t guess that he was a voice actor, but the second he slips into a character…wow! Suddenly you’re sitting in front of Timon (I totally watched Timon & Pumbaa as a kid!) or Raiden or Axel or Johnny Quest.

In was interesting having them give the panel side by side since they both have very different careers. Meer does a lot of impov and theatre acting, as well as consultation work on designing voices, while Flynn has been voice acting for cartoons and video games since I was a kid, and has a lifetime of experience. They had different elements to bring to the table and it made for a very enriching panel. But like all panels, it was way too short.

And again, I wish I had had the guts to go up to their booths after and ask for an autograph and a hug.

Moments of Awesome

Vid called me while I was hanging out by some booths. “Can you pick up Volumes 1&2 of Questionable Content for me? I didn’t think to get extras for my brother.

“Sure!” I said.

I was familiar with the name. But not being a fan of webcomics, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. A few moments later, I’m standing in front of Jeph Jacques (I totally interrupted his lunch too), knowing that I’m in the presence of someone amazing, but not knowing exactly the extent. He was super nice to me, autographed the books while I felt like a total poser.

I flipped through the books a bit before I turned them over to Vid. Definitely looked like something I’d enjoy. I was half tempted to keep them…

I’m now hooked. Questionable Content has a new fan. And that’s what conventions are all about.

Asked Vid and Rades if From Draenor with Love was going to have a booth next year. Conventions are about that too.

As the day was drawing to a close, a girl, maybe a few years younger than me, walked by, excitedly yelling on her cell phone: “I got hugged by the voice of Axel! You know! The voice of Axel! He gave me a hug!

Conventions are definitely all about that.

Not necessarily about getting hugs (since I was too shy to ask for any), but about getting excited with other people, notably strangers and celebrities, about things you’re not usually allowed to be excited about in public. I can’t wait until next time!

Remember that one time I BUILT A COMPUTER? – Part 3

January 26, 2012

Part 3, otherwise known as The Neurotic Pally and the Evil Windows. If you want to get caught up on the earlier parts, the beginning of the story is here and the middle of the story is here.

Software; or How I discovered that I prefer Hard Things

I’m out of pictures, so I’m going to recycle the “Computer is complete and running” photo.

Pretend you haven't seen this before.

Last post we ended with me powering up my computer for the first time, after a smooth hardware assembly process. I’m the queen of hard.

What you want to do as you power up your computer for the first time is access your BIOS. To access your BIOS, you hit “delete” shortly after you turn the computer on.

I give it a try.

I hit “delete”.

Nothing happens and my computer stalls, trying to find an operating system.

I restart my computer.

I hit “delete”.

Nothing happens and my computer stalls, trying to find an operating system.

I restart my computer.

I hit “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete”.

Nothing happens and my computer stalls, trying to find an operating system.

I’m freaking out here. Panicking, crying, threatening to throw my computer through the wall. I turn to Twitter and 5-6 people scramble to find a solution to my problem.

They link me tech support thread after tech support thread. They share their own computer building problems history. They do everything they can to lend me some insight into what’s going wrong.

It took about an hour of ripping my hair out (hey, I promised hair-pulling drama!) to find the solution. In the end, I found it on my own. Not because I was smart, but rather because of the opposite. No one else thought of the solution because they overestimated me.

Curious?

As I was browsing through a tech support thread (that I pulled up on my own), I came across this: “I’ve tried everything,” the poster wrote, “delete, F12, even escape…

Escape.

DAMMIT.

ALL THIS TIME I WAS PRESSING ESCAPE INSTEAD OF DELETE.

I blame it on the long day (or if you want some encouragement: if someone who confuses “delete” with “escape” can build a computer, you can build a computer too. If you don’t get the joke, you forgot to read part 1).

More Problems with Going Soft

The next step is installing Windows. I set my BIOS to boot from CD, I pull out my Pirated copy of Windows, plop it in the CD drive, restart my computer. And nothing happens.

Off to Twitter I go.

Fannon gives me a call. “When using a Pirated copy, you need to make an ISO image you can boot from. Copy it onto a DVD and use that as your boot disk.”

I own no blank DVD. It’s 8:45pm. Walmart closes at 9pm. I can totally do this.

I get home with my blank DVDs (after getting pulled over by a cop… he must have sensed I was about to engage in illegal computer activity). I do the disk copying. It doesn’t work. Fannon calls again. After a 50$ conversation (I have a pay-as-you-go phone. Long distance calls are about 6$ a minute), we come to the conclusion that illegal software isn’t for me and that I should go out and buy Real Windows.

Walmart opens again at 9 am. I’m there, ready to purchase my Real Windows.

I plop Real Windows in the CD drive and it all works brilliantly. I’m overjoyed.

Until Windows couldn’t find my hard drive.

Stupid Windows. My hard drive is RIGHT THERE. You know, like, right under my CD/DVD drive. How can you miss it?

I try to fix it on my own. First, I look in the Windows manual.

Have you ever looked in the Windows manual? One would THINK that most of it would be about “How to install Windows“. And it would include a section on “How to install Windows when Windows doesn’t want to be installed“. And it might also have a section about “What to do when Windows is about to cause you to throw your brand new computer out the Window, then rip off all your clothes and run out onto the street screaming.

But noooooooooo. The Windows manual is all about “Windows is wonderful and lovely. Look at all these happy families sitting together, looking at Windows 7 and its heartwarming new features.”

It’s frustrating that there are so little options when it comes to operating systems. Rich non-gamers can use Mac systems. Programming geeks can use Linux. And for the rest of us, there’s Windows. Windows, which kind of does what it wants, when it wants.

It was someone on Twitter (I can’t remember who for the life of me, which I’m hugely apologetic for because I probably owe them my life) who found the answer for me. I had to do this “part disk” command to make a partition on my hard drive. Now, WHY that’s not in the Windows manual or on the Windows website, I have no stupid idea. But, yeah, “part disk”.

After that, Windows booted up just fine.

No, wait, I lie. Windows found my hard drive, but refused to do anything with my hard drive. I solemnly make my way to the closet and close my hand around the hammer hilt. Thankfully, at that moment, Vosskah calls me on Skype.

Vosskah: Take a deep breath, it’s ok, lets go through it together.
Me: *sob* Ok.
Vosskah: Let start over from the beginning so I know exactly what you’re doing at each step. I don’t want you to feel like I’m underestimating your-
Me: You realize you’re talking to someone who mistook “escape” for “delete” right?
Vosskah: … It, um, happens, now lets take it from the beginning.

Obviously, AS SOON AS I’M ON THE PHONE WITH SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP, Windows works just fine. It installs itself, I can use my computer, I download SWTOR (yay!) and I redo my WOW UI.

Don’t Worry, The Soft Tails Tales Go On

I bet you thought I was home free, you did you did you did!

I did too. Until I turned my computer off for the first time. Ok, no, that’s not true. It turned off just fine. Turning it ON again…

Apparently Windows lost my hard drive again. Desperately wanted to boot from the Windows CD. No matter what I did to my BIOS, it wanted its CD like a baby wants its mommy. Yet, when I gave it what it wanted, it tried to install Windows again.

Install Windows again, AFTER I spend 2 days downloading SWTOR and getting WoW ready?

I think not.

As usual, I turn to Twitter. “Very weird,” the experts tell me.

Some suggest disconnecting my CD/DVD drive, other recommend fiddling with my harddrive connection.

My dad was a computer geek and computer destroyer. After watching him wreck several machines in attempts to “fix them”, I learned that the solution rarely involves disrupting sleeping wires. Deep in my soul, I knew my CD/DVD drive AND my hard drive were fine. Google led me to believe that it was a partition priority problem. However, I did not know what partition priority was, or how to fix it. My thoughts returned to the hammer in the closet.

Before I could destroy my property, it was time for work. I turned off my computer again, and marched out the door.

The End

When I came home from work that day, I tried turning my computer on again. And Windows loaded normally. As if it hadn’t taunted me to destroy it earlier.

I then realized that my computer was male. Because when an inanimate object gives you grief and seems to do what it wants, when it wants, it is a sign. A sign that said object is of the opposing gender.

I don’t usually name things, but I’m thinking of “Joel”. It’s a guy, so it needs a guy name. My latest infatuation is JL – Jaime Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire (most of the crushes I’ve had in my life have been on fictional characters. Fake people are so much more alluring than real ones). JL sounds a little like Joel. So Joel it is. Even if my internet connection thinks the computer is named Eloise, after my WoW mage.

Epilogue

I never got my computer bug free. It still refuses to load sometimes.

But, you know, when it happens, Joel and I sit down and have a talk about our feelings. Usually, all he’s asking for is to be turned off, to be allowed a minute to prepare himself to be turned on again. And I’m ok with that. Our relationship. It isn’t perfect, but it works. I listen to him, and in return he lets me run WoW and SWTOR with the settings on ultra.

I’d say our relationship is pretty healthy, would you not?

Remember that one time I BUILT A COMPUTER? – Part 1

January 20, 2012

This is part 1. Part 2 (with bonus hair pulling drama) will follow when I feel like it.

As I’ve been going on and on and on and on about on Twitter, I built a computer. All by myself!

My overall observation: “The statement ‘building a computer, OMG aren’t I awesome’ is somewhat misleading. The building part is by far the easiest and fastest step of the process. Building is a joke compared to the challenges represented by getting the parts from the shop to your small, isolated town and installing Windows.

I went through life, living each day, never considering building my own computer. My dad used to like to put computer parts together. A lot of my guy friends (many of them actually having JOBS that had to do with computers) used to build their computers. And their machines USUALLY turned out to be poorly functioning, virus-loaded bundles of junk. If these people who read computer magazines and who know what the letters CPU stand for aren’t very good at it, what the heck would I do with two boxes of computer parts?

Well. I made a discovery. I discovered that you can totally build a computer if you don’t know anything about computers. In fact, I highly recommend that you build your own computer BECAUSE you don’t know anything about computers.

I learned a lot from my experience. Words that made no sense to me (I knew a “motherboard” was something you had to get changed after smoke comes out of your laptop, but otherwise I didn’t have a clue) suddenly became part of my vocabulary. I even had a REAL conversation with a guildy the other day about graphic cards and their power supply requirements. Where I ACTIVELY PARTICIPATED! Hey, if I can talk about the Geforce GTX 500s series and voltages, so can you.

Oh, and by the way, I’m very annoyed by the fact that most of the savy and helpful people had to say things like “Ah yes, I built a computer for my girlfriend/wive/sister/female cat”. No one, not one person, said anything along the lines of “I built a computer for my boyfriend/husband/brother/male cat” Technology is power, fellow ladies. Take power into your own hands and stop letting penises control the technology in your household. I did it and you can too.

The Workbench

This is where we drool over the goodies I got to work with.

Here’s what we’ve got:

Intel Core™ i5-2500K Processor, 3.30GHz w/ 6MB Cache (Processor, 230$)
Zalman Z9 Plus Case w/ Fan Controller (Case, 60$)
Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 w/ DDR3 2133, 7.1 Audio, Gigabit Lan, CrossFireX / SLI (Motherboard, 135$)
Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB DDR3 1600MHz CL9 Quad Channel Kit (4 x 4GB), Cerulean Blue (RAM, 90$)
Seagate 1TB Barracuda SATA III w/ 64MB Cache (Hard drive, 160$)
LG Super-Multi 22x DVD Writer, SATA, OEM, Black (CD/DVD drive, 22$)
Cooler Master Silent Pro M 850W Modular Power Supply (Power supply, 150$)
eVGA GeForce GTX 580 1536MB GDDR5 PCI-E w/ Dual DVI, HDMI (Graphics card, 510$)
Asus VW224T 23inch (Monitor, 212$)
Windows 7 (Operating system, 220$)
Basic Microsoft Keyboard and Mouse kit (Keyboard – I couldn’t find one without a mouse – 30$)

Typically you’re supposed to go with a budget, but I tend to be more of the “best I can get with less” type. And I had no idea what computers cost. In the end, I spent a little under 2000$, including a monitor, Windows 7 and keyboard. I looked at premade gaming computers with similar parts, and they seemed to be within the 3000-5000$ bracket. So not only did I learn a lot from my adventure, I got more out of my money too.

How I learned to never order stuff online before Christmas

Picking out parts was pretty straightforward. I’m lucky enough to have a friend who knows what all those gibberish numbers and letters mean (GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 w/ DDR3 2133, really?) so for about 10 hours (in 3 sessions) we scrolled through my options together, part by part, talking about each piece.

If you can, I highly suggest getting one of those smarts friends, especially one who knows when to explain and when to wait for questions. And who ultimately leaves the final choice up to you. (I know, I know, those friends are a hard to find. That’s why I hang onto mine fiercely!)

On December 15th, I submitted my order. Memory Express, a relatively local computer store that came highly recommended by local friends, delivers for free, so I went with them. There was also the option of picking up the parts at the store, but I live 3 hours away from the city and figured delivery would be faster.

10 days before Christmas… Yes, sometimes I am really that stupid. (Which bring me back to this post’s theme: if a person stupid enough to order online 10 days before Christmas can build a computer, you can build a computer too.)

– On December 17, UPS had my package.
– On December 19, UPS took my package from Calgary (starting point) to Edmonton (the city nearest me).
– Delivery scheduled on December 22. Yay!

– On December 22, there was a message saying UPS was looking for my address. I double checked the address I gave Memory Express. It’s my address. No phone number for UPS, so I let them sort it out.
– December 26, still no change. I call Memory Express. UPS is closed for the holiday, but they promise to look into it.
– By December 27 the websales customer service staff at Memory Express recognizes my voice.
– On December 30th, I’m finally in touch with UPS. The address thing should be sorted out, but they won’t deliver until the New Year. I have some time off so I ask if I can pick it up in Edmonton. They say sure and point me to Purolator who will be handling the final delivery.
– December 30th in the evening, I get to Edmonton. Purolator gives me one box, my computer case. Tell me they’ve lost the other box.

That’s right, they lost a 1400$ box of computer parts that I drove a total of 6 hours to pick up.

– During the first two weeks of January, UPS calls me 3 times. Each time they ask for my address.
– On January 12, I receive my box of computer parts.

And that’s why I’m only level 16 in SWTOR.

If you’d like to hear more of this absolutely riveting tale, hang tight and part 2 will be delivered you to in 3-7 business day (read: in a month).

Is this growing up?

November 28, 2011

A few days ago, or maybe it was a few weeks ago, my guild decided to take a look at our loot system to see where we can makes some tweaks. We do, however, need to accommodate our More Focused, More Disciplined For More Kills attitude with a modern, attitude-appropriate loot system.

What happens when you bring up loot issues in a guild like mine?

That’s right.

Tumbleweed.

After about a week of poking and prodding, a few people finally spoke up and we got a bit of discussion going after last Tuesday’s raid.

I had no loot related photo, so I selected our other heated topic: the ethics of football talk. (Know that if Dralo and I agree on something, its gotta be srs bzn!)

To a group of people who don’t like to rock the boat, it was probably shocking, but I enjoyed it. The resulting dynamics were wonderful to discover. I felt like it was the first time I really got know my guildies as actual people and not just fellow raiders, and I love them all the more for it. Plus, some of them are kinda sexy when they yell. (But shhhh don’t let them know I said that! Can’t afford to be sued for sexual harassment.)

And me? The general me?

I’m playing once in awhile, still getting critted by work. I love my job, but dammit there is a lot of job. I’d estimate I do at least 2 hours of unpaid work a day, on top of my normal shift. I’ve become very fast, very efficient, but I can’t stop to think. Stop and you drown.

It’s still better than school. Don’t get me wrong. It’s WAY better than school. Those people who talk about how college is wonderful, a joke, the life? Liars or idiots.

Or people who didn’t do enough college to know what it’s really like beyond the first four undergrad years.

Ah, Nunu helping me with blog post research. Over 2 years ago. I wonder what's become of him.

I’ve always felt like college was sacrificing 10 years of my life. 10 years without significant romantic relationships (I know, I know, some students manage to have significant others while in college, but I couldn’t manage it. Us stupid people have to dedicate 100% of our energy to the books just to get by). 10 years of limited friendships. 10 years where I couldn’t start a family. 10 years of not being able to afford a car/a smartphone/the kind of food I like/having my own living space.

I love Nerzhul

You know, I get a half smile when I hear someone talk about gaming making them/their friend/their spouse/their cousin/their pet drop out of college. Gaming is what got me through school. Castle of Doctor Brain, Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, that NHL game where you can make the guys fight and Commander Keen got me through grade school. Kings Quest, Space Quest, Might and Magic and Final Fantasy got me through high school. Final Fantasy and WoW got me through college (10 whole years of it, sdsfgklsdjflsdkj).

Good ol'Conquest days

Thank goodness for gaming. And for the Final Fantasy message boards, the Red Tears, the Conquests and the Team Sports of this world.

It is worth it in the end. Even though it took forever to get where I am, and where I am is still a bit rough, I love the freedom that comes with having a secure job, and a job that is in high demand. And even beyond the job, I’m happy for the lessons I learned. I had to sacrifice a lot to get where I was, but it taught me to persevere, to live on very little, and it taught me to be patient.

I raid two nights a week. I level an alt for a couple hours sometimes. I plan on giving Star Wars a casual run. I might get Skyrim. But generally gaming is something I think about and say “…oh yes… I liked that once…” I say that about chocolate too. Gaming and sweets. The two things I’ve lost appetite for.

Nothing like the pewpews of 25 raiders

Now that I finally have somewhat a shred of control over my life, is it that I don’t need gaming anymore?

Is this growing up?