1313 and other random thoughts

This is my one-thousand three-hundred thirteenth post on this blog.  My name is Jason, also the name of the star of the Friday the 13th series of movies.  My wife was born on the 13th of March.  Back in the days when I managed a video store, my own personal account listed my address as “1313 Mockingbird Lane”, an address made famous by the Munsters.  My favorite holiday is Halloween, which is on the 31st, which is 13 in reverse.  And if you are into that sort of thing, you might know that we are currently living in the 13th b’ak’tun, which will draw to a close toward the end of 2012, which may or may not be a significant thing.  Thirteen has always been a good and lucky number for me.

I don’t believe in signs, though I see them everywhere.  The fact is, you can do it with any number.  If you decide that 27 is your lucky number, you’ll suddenly begin noticing all the 27s that appear in your life.  You’ll even being doing things that force 27s into your life.  I know a person whose lucky number is 14, and while 14s do randomly appear in her life she also makes a number of decisions based on 14s.  If offered two options, one that contains a 14 and one that does not, she’ll choose the 14 and see it as being a sign when she could easily have chosen the other.  Personally, I try not to make decisions based on 13s, and yet, here I am, rambling about 13s in post 1313 on my blog.

The Writer's Block

3" by 3" by 3" of literal inspiration

Borders is closing a bunch of book stores.  (Yeah, I’m done with 13s and moving along with no segue at all.)  Of all the brick and mortar stores around they’ve been my favorite because of their finer separation of categories, specifically in having a horror section as opposed to splitting up horror between mystery, sci-fi/fantasy and general fiction.  They also have a location that shares a building with a movie theater I frequent.  When we go to a movie, we always end up browsing before and sometimes after, and often end up buying a book or two (or five or ten).  The only good thing about the store closings are the discounts.  Lately, paperback books haven’t been seeing much of a discount on Amazon.  A $6.99 mass market paperback will be $6.99 on Amazon, so picking them up in a store can actually be better, especially if you have the store discount card and get 10% off everything.  With the store closings, most stuff is 25% off already, and they are still honoring the store discount card, so it makes picking up a few paperbacks a good deal.  And of course, a sale means more serious browsing, looking for books you might not normally buy at all but will if it’s 50% off.  I bought The Writer’s Block (pictured).  I promise to use it and post the results.  Despite my good fortune with the sale, the closing Borders locations will be missed, and since the only remaining Atlanta locations are the ones that are too far away for a casual visit, Borders may have lost me as a customer for good, and that is a shame.

A few weeks ago I went to a place called Hemingway’s down at the Marietta Square to see a band called 7 sharp 9.  With no expectations at all, I was fairly well blown away by their performance.  Being a band playing in a bar, they primarily stuck to playing great bar band music, rock favorites from various decades.  They played well and even threw in a few twists, the biggest surprise being a mash up of Prince’s Kiss and Sir Mix-a-lot’s Baby Got Back.  Even the smattering of original tunes they played (just one per set) were good enough that we picked up copies of all three of their albums.  They made a fan out of me in just one night.  It looks like they’ll be back at Hemingway’s in April and I plan to be there to see them again.  To the right is a very short video of them playing a cover of Blister in the Sun at a bar in Destin, FL.

I’ve been writing for Shakefire for a bit over a month now and I’m enjoying it.  Links to what I’ve written can be found each week in my A Week of Tweets posts on Sundays.  So far I’ve had the good fortune of enjoying everything I’ve reviewed for one reason or another, but I fear that is going to end this week as the next two CDs I’ve been listening to for review have been uninspiring and borderline awful.  I don’t like giving bad reviews but I like being dishonest less, so I’ll probably be lambasting a couple of artists and then maybe I can get back to stuff I enjoy.

And finally, is you have a few dollars you can spare, or even if you have a few dollars you think you can’t spare, consider tossing them toward the Red Cross for their efforts in Japan.  Every dollar helps, and with the earthquake, the tsunami, the nuclear power plant, the aftershocks, the volcano… they can use all the help they can get right now.

A Week of Tweets on 2011-03-13

  • SpongeBob SquarePants is always fun if a little strange & The Great Patty Caper is no different. @Shakefire http://bit.ly/h4pxAK #
  • Can I please stop supporting IE6 now in my web design? http://www.ie6countdown.com/ #
  • @ysharros I can't actually open the map. It just downloads a .kml file. in reply to ysharros #
  • @ysharros I surf dangerous and don't block anything. in reply to ysharros #
  • Synerginistic? Really? Do people grasping at buzz words ever listen to themselves? #
  • Started my Friday off right with a bowl of Peanut Butter Crunch. #
  • Thoughts & Prayers. #
  • Is it 2am yet? I mean, 3am yet? I hate the time change. Just stop it. #

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A Musical Interlude

It’s Friday, the end of the work week.  Enjoy this crop of music from various bands.

First up, a little ditty from No More Kings, a cover of Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True”:

Next, from 2006, an acoustic cover of OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” by Mat Weddle:

And finally, saving the best for last, and thanks to Karnatos for pointing me in the right direction, I give you “Ace of Spades”… the slow version:

Have a good Friday, and a good weekend.

Aaah! Zombies!!

In my quest to fill time on the odd occasion the wife has to work on the weekend, I browse Netflix in search of movies that I know she has no interest in watching.  This past weekend I stumbled on Aaah! Zombies!!  Take a look…

As you can see in the trailer, the movie takes a unique approach to the genre.  When the film is in color the main characters appear alive and everyone around them is infected by something that makes them act funny and move rapidly.  When the film goes black & white we see things as they really are with the characters being zombies that are moving slowly while everyone else moves at a normal pace.

Overall the movie isn’t great, but it was good enough.  I enjoyed the hour and a half I spent watching it.  It’s available on Netflix Instant, so if you have the time and the inclination, check it out.

Sneakin’ Around: Finding Dungeons

In a companion piece to yesterday’s rant on using the dungeon finder tool, playing a character who doesn’t kill means that the tool is useless to me.  So at least on this character I’ll never have to deal with that frustration.  The dungeons, however, aren’t useless.  For example, Wailing Caverns has a quest for picking up serpentblooms, which are ground spawns, so that means I can do it.  The trouble is that I have to actually go and find the dungeon.  I suppose trouble isn’t the right word, since I actually enjoy the exploring.

I know where the Deadmines are, but taking a peek at spoiler sites tells me that there aren’t any quests there for me to do as they all involve killing stuff.  Ragefire Chasm also appears to only have kill quests.  Shadowfang Keep as well.  I’m betting that most of the dungeons are going to be this way.  But many of them will also have herbs and ore to gather and mine.

In the meantime, I’m still traveling the world… just yesterday I ran all over Loch Modan looking for lost pages, which I found, and then I was ushered off to the Wetlands.

26 and roaming…

The Dungeon Finder

First, a confession.  Despite having used the dungeon finder in World of Warcraft as a part of my arguments for the erosion of quality social interaction in games, I had never actually used the dungeon finder myself.  I’d read tons of impressions and reviews, and made educated assumptions.  While my worgen is designed to play with the wife and the rogue is designed to play the game awkwardly, I also made a priest specifically to play with other random people.

The priest, Hrogammon, is a human (of course) and because you pretty much can’t group with people even if you pay them before level 15 I spec’d him out for shadow.  I plan to keep a shadow spec for soloing, but I’m also going to do a healing spec later in order to play in groups better.  (Besides, and I know people will argue with me, a shadow spec’d priest should be able to heal a normal dungeon just fine as long as he has decent gear.)  In any event, I figured that until the mid to late 20s and beyond there really isn’t much difference to the three trees anyway as the bonuses are small.  I could be wrong, and I’ll do more research later, but as I said, I’m going to have two spec’s eventually, so I’m not worried much.

Anyway, so I made it to level 18 by doing dailies and running quests up to and through Westfall.  When I completed Westfall and they sent me off to Redridge, I decided to head to Stormwind instead and try my hand at the dungeon finder.

I queued up as Healer and DPS, even though I knew full well that I was going to be plugged in as healing every single time due to the over abundance of DPS players.  The very first group I was thrust into was a perfect example of why playing a DPS stinks.  It was me as the healer, a paladin as tank and three warriors as DPS.  That’s right, three warriors had spec’d and gone into the queue as DPS only (has to be, because if they’d gone in as tanks, they’d be tanks and not all in the same group).  The only advantage here was that when the paladin had to leave, the warriors were actually able to tank and we kept playing until a new paladin showed up.  By the way, you’ll see a theme here in a minute.  The group lasted for a little while in the Wailing Caverns but then the paladin and two warriors disconnected, the other warrior and I wanted for a moment staring at the party portraits with disconnect lightning bolts for about five minutes then we both left the group.  During this time, the warrior and I talked, the most talking that had occurred the entire time, but sadly he plays on another server, so I’ll probably never see him again because I’m not about to give out my RealID to a random stranger.

The next group I had was in the Wailing Caverns again.  A paladin tank, warrior DPS, rogue DPS and a druid DPS.  Things were going along swimmingly, except I noticed that the other party members were leaving everything short of a green on the bodies.  If it wasn’t rolled on, it wasn’t looted.  Being a cash poor player, I started looting things, especially the occasional mana potion and beverage (to recover mana between fights).  The paladin said, “keep up”.  Which I did.  I continued looting, especially the quest items, and the paladin would randomly say, “keep up” or “go”.  Eventually I guess he got fed up with me because I was kicked from the group.  Now, keep in mind, at no point did anyone die, at no point did I miss a heal, at no point did they slow down (even the time or two when I told them I was out of mana), he simply didn’t like the fact that I was looting I guess.  Boot.  Oh well, can’t win ’em all, right?  Wait, I haven’t won any yet…  maybe next group.

So I queue up as healer and DPS again, and instantly I’m healer in another group.  Some castle with werewolves, I don’t recall the name.  We all grab the quest at the door, head in and fight the first boss who is literally right around the corner (okay, he’s around the corner, up some stairs, down a hall, and then down some stairs, but he’s really close).  While we fight, I take note of the group: paladin tank, warrior DPS, mage DPS, druid DPS.  The paladin, warrior and mage are all in the same guild.  We win!  Quest turn in!  Next quest!  “brb” says the paladin. “be back” says the mage. “afk” says the warrior.  The druid and I dance.  We tell some jokes.  We chat.  Around ten minutes later, no one is back yet.  They aren’t sitting down either, which means they are “active”, maybe chatting with the guild.  I try to get their attention.  The druid does too.  Eventually we give up and leave the group.

Back into the queue, Wailing Caverns again.  I still have the quests from before because we never get far enough to finish them.  Paladin tank, warrior DPS (have you noticed the pattern yet?), mage DPS, rogue DPS.  After a couple minutes, the paladin leaves.  The game makes me leader which I immediately pass off to the mage since she says she knows the dungeon.  The mage is a great leader.  Tagging mobs with stars for killing, skulls for sheeping, and more.  And she explains all this in chat, so we know what is going on and it works.  During this time we force the warrior to tank.  After a little while we get another paladin who takes over the tank duties.  The rogue leaves and we pick up a druid in cat form almost instantly.  The warrior leaves and we get another warrior DPS within like three seconds.  The new paladin is a great tank, the mage is leading us well, and I’m doing a bang up job on healing.  I’ve also decided that even though warriors probably should also tank, the fact is that self healing paladin tanks are awesome.  The tank and I get into a good rhythm of trading healing duties to keep her up and keep me from being out of mana so much.  We kill all the bosses we need, everyone has their hides and serpentblooms and we head back to do turn ins.  This is, of course, all going too well, so it needs to fall apart.  Apparently there is a second phase or something, in that we killed the bosses and it triggers an NPC to run through the caverns and you have to keep up and protect him.  At least three of us in group didn’t know this.  The mage says, “afk a sec” and the paladin triggers the NPC.  *sigh*  So it’s just 4 of us running wildly after the NPC, and the rogue, thinking he’s helping (or possibly sabotaging us on purpose) starts running ahead to fight mobs before the NPC gets there.  This results in two things: 1) I now have multiple heal targets, and 2) the NPC runs past the rogue who is fighting and goes deeper.  See, on escorts you need to make sure the NPC stops to fight when you do so that he doesn’t get too far ahead.  Pretty soon we are all fighting.  The mage catches up just in time for us to be fighting about 6 enemies at once.  The rogue dies, I die, the paladin dies, the warrior dies and the mage goes from full health to zero so fast I almost miss it as all the enemies attack her.  We respawn and run, but not fast enough, the NPC we were escorting is gone.  The paladin informs us that the dungeon cannot be completed now and quits.  The mage apologizes for being afk, I tell her she did great regardless, and she leaves.  The warrior drops.  And finally the rogue says, “healer u suk” and quits.  I quit too.

I’ll keep playing with the dungeon finder, but at this point I’m pretty sure my earlier assessments will stand.  It’s mostly anti-social, and when you do find good people, you find out they don’t play on your server and you aren’t likely to ever see them again.  However, I do see the value of a tool like this.  In a one shard world this would be awesome since every single person you played with would be someone you could continue playing with, and being a dick might end you up on enough ignore lists that it hampers your ability to use the tool.

A Week of Tweets on 2011-03-06

  • 5 years enganged, 5 years married. #fivebyfive #
  • I've now dumped Aero completely and gone to a desktop look circa 2000 because it is ten times faster. #thankswin7yourock #
  • I makes me both happy and sad when people I spy on finally wise up and make their Facebook private. #
  • I'm so happy to hear people are having fun with Rift. Perhaps I'll play about 10 days after launch when the queues settle down. #
  • I just wrote my first bit of AJAX. I feel like a real web developer. #
  • @Krystalle @rootwyrm Adding that to my arsenal. The Internet is made of cats, indeed. in reply to Krystalle #
  • The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu turned out to be better than I expected. Reviewed for @Shakefire http://bit.ly/eh5E6F #
  • Need a super simple way for random customers to be able to share their desktop with me for support. Suggestions? #
  • The biggest hit to journalism as it moves from newspapers to internet is the loss of copy editors. The spelling and grammar make me cry. #
  • I too am an F-18. #imwithcharlie #
  • Anyone been to http://atlantafair.com before? Is it worth going to? #
  • Less than a month to @scriptfrenzy, anyone else planning to play along? 100 pages in 30 days, had lots of fun last year. #
  • Take Me Home Tonight opens tomorrow, but you can read my review on @Shakefire today. http://bit.ly/g6YZSp #
  • I laughed. http://goodnightdune.com/ #
  • .ti ekam uoy tahw si efiL #

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Sneakin’ Around: The Bling is the Thing

So, being a rogue who doesn’t kill things can be very hard.  Not only because people are constantly asking you to kill things, but even when they don’t want you to kill them they sometimes just want you to beat them up, just a little.  And let me tell you, fighting with a fishing pole is not easy.  Well, unless you get a big fishing pole.

It turns out that in Duskwood there might be a crazy worgen who needs my help, and after they promise me I won’t have to kill him, I agree to go beat him up a little and then shove a potion down his throat.  I mean, I don’t want to kill people, but I’m not against applying a little pressure, for the greater good, of course.  I head down to the farm where this guy is hanging out and he jumps me.  I take a few swipes with my rod and reel, the only weapon I have, and he’s just not having it.  I run off to save my own ass from a beat down.

I make my way back to Stormwind to unwind at the Pig and Whistle, and to do a little cooking and fishing to calm my nerves.  I gather my daily fish catch and go to see what they’ll give me for it and I’m shocked when I get handed this ugly, gaudy, horrendous looking fishing pole.  The thing looks like a goblin made it.  Covered in gems and sparkling like the sun, I can barely stand to look at it, but I can’t look away.  But I pick the thing up, trying not to show the disgust on my face, and I nearly drop it due to the weight.  I break out in a smile that practically outshines this gods forsaken rod.

Ugly Fishing Rod

Yes, those are wings. It has two of them.

I head back to Duskwood and down to the farm, the worgen jumps me again and I brain him with my new fishing pole.  His tongue hangs out the side of his mouth and he is probably seeing stars as I shove the potion down his gullet.  I collect my rewards, I do a few more deeds for the local, and as they increasingly keep asking me to kill things I bid farewell to that dark and musty forest.

Armed with my new (ugly) rod and a 300 fishing skill, I decide to go find Booty Bay and see how I can do in the fishing contest there.  After one attempt, I realize it’ll be a while (and a flying mount) before I can seriously compete for the grand prize, but I spend some time fishing and chatting with the people, and hoping to pull up one of those rare fish the robot is looking for.  I don’t, but there is always next week.  And the week after that.  And the week after… well, you get the idea.

Level 25 and angling…

What I Read

I don’t maintain a blogroll here, or even links of any kind to other sites unless they are within posts.  However, in a fit of narcissism I decided that I would post a list of links to all the sites that are contained within my Google Reader.  So without further ado, presented here in alphabetical order, and in one giant ugly paragraph, is what I read:

.: Cedarstreet :., < witty title >, A Next-Gen-MMORPG, A Softer World, A Tree Falling in the Forest, Anyway Games, Applied Game Design, Basic Instructions, bbPress Blog, Bio Break, Brass Goggles, Brea Grant, Broken Toys, Clients From Hell, Coding Horror, Corvus & the IGDA, Crabapple Cove, Critical Distance, crowdSPRING Blog, Daily Dragon Online, daspetey, David Wellington, DESIGNER NOTES, Digital Diary Detailing Datamancer’s Deeds, Digital Gaming@Dragon*Con, Dinosaur Comics, DOGHOUSE, Don’t Fear the Mutant, Dragon*Con MMO, Dragon*ConTV, DragonCon, DreamHost Status, Eating Bees, Elder Game, Epic Slant, Ethos Incarnate, Experience Curve, Felicia Day, Fidgit, Fullbright, Fun in Games, Fun in Real Life, Game Design Concepts, Game Design Reviews, GARY WHITTA, Geek Girl in Training, Grim News, Grumpy Gamer, Hark, A Vagrant!, Heartless_ Gamer, I HAS PC, ihobo, indexed, International Game Developers Association Board, into survival., James Van Der Memes, Karnatos, Kieron Gillen’s Workblog, Kill Ten Rats, Killed in a Smiling Accident., Kung Fu Monkey, LevelCapped, Lost Garden, Man Bytes Blog, Middle and Up, MMOData.net, Mobhunter.com, Moo Tang Clan, Mumble, My Name Is Michael, National Novel Writing Month – Breaking News, Nerdist, Nerfbat, Netflix – New choices to watch instantly, Netflix Community Blog, Not Always Right | Funny & Stupid Customer Quotes, not much’a nothin’, On Beyond Zebra, One Of A Crowd, Online Games Are a Niche Market, Only a Game, Over00, PARA ABNORMAL – the comic, paulietoons, paulneuhaus.com, Penny Arcade, Picture’s Up, Play Like a Girl, Popnarcotic, PostSecret, Psychochild’s Blog, PvPonline, Quarter to Three, Radioactive State, Rands In Repose, Raph’s Website, Real Life Comics, Running With My Eyes Closed, Scott Hartsman – Off the Record, screen play, Script Frenzy – The Beat, Sexy Videogameland, Shakefire.com blogs, ShrinkGeek, ShutterDreams, Smed’s Blog, Stylish Corpse, Surviving The World, Symptom of a Greater Cure, T=Machine, Tami Baribeau, Teaching Game Design, Terra Nova, Texas State Word, That’s a Terrible Idea, The Ancient Gaming Noob, The Banstick, The Brainy Gamer, The Celtx Blog, The Common Sense Gamer, The GameDev Project, The Grouchy Gamer, The HoneyComb Engine, The Internet Crashed, The Mod Squad. Blog., The Oakstout, The Oatmeal – Comics, Quizzes, & Stories, The Office of Letters and Light, The Official DreamHost Blog!, The Psychology of Video Games, The Word of Notch, This Side… Down, Tish Tosh Tesh, Tobold’s MMORPG Blog, Twitter Blog, Undead Labs – News, Van Hemlock, We Fly Spitfires – MMORPG Blog, Welcome to Spinksville!, West Karana, WIL WHEATON dot NET: in exile, Wolfshead Online, WordPress Development Blog, Words from Ward, WorldIV, xkcd.com, You Got Red On You, You Might As Well Be Unemployed, zen habits, Zen of Design, Zombie Reporting Center

Make of this what you will.

A Week of Tweets on 2011-02-27

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