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Friday, December 15, 2006
WoW: wow.
Posted: 3:51:00 PM 0 comments
I finally got around to trying World of Warcraft. After purchasing and installing the 5 disk set, I got to playing. My opening thoughts on this game: wow.

First of all, when they call this a massive multiplayer online RPG, they mean MASSIVE. This world is HUGE! I've been playing for three weeks now, and I've maybe explored 20% of the game. This has its pluses and minuses. The obvious plus is the fact that they can stuff anything and everything into this game, because they have the space to do it. The minus is that it takes for freaking ever to get anywhere. Even with the various methods of travelling, you're looking at five to fifteen minutes to get from one zone to the next, assuming you're not sitting around the gryphons the whole time. It's absolutely epic, though. The detail is astounding, the cities are very well designed, and the environments are very atmospheric.

Secondly, the combat system isn't just hack and slash (although some of the quests can make you think so), as much of the game is based on team play. There is some actual strategy required to keep yourself alive, you can't just go into an area and expect to kill everything just because you're five levels higher than they are. Chances are they're either elites, or there's a large group of them waiting to mob you to death. Further, there are "buffs" and "debuffs" that improve or hinder your character, and the debuffs may or may not be able to be cured. Debuffs include stunning, paralysis, freezing (so you can't move), chilled (so you move slower), and a wide variety of poisons, diseases, and curses. Now, it's nowhere near as extensive as, say, Achaea is as far as their dozens of afflictions, but it is more than just "I hit you for 20, you hit me for 6, etc. etc. etc.".

There are various professions that you can take up that you can use to make your character gold. It seems pretty boring, but you can get into the cycle where you do your grinding (WoW's term for bashing) and collecting, and then you do your creating, shopping, repairing, and all the other miscellaneous things you need to do while you're in a major city.

There's no player-driven politics, but they do have guilds where people can get together for chat, help, forming groups, etc. This can be one of the more rewarding aspects of the game, as you actually get to interact as part of a team, which is a lot of fun.

Overall, I find it fun to play, and haven't run into the negative stereotypes I've heard about the players. 99.9% of the players I find are fun to play with.

You can check out the information on my two characters on Thottbot.

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Year in Review
Posted: 2:51:00 PM 0 comments
What a hectic end to 2006, where to start.

Work. Metro seemed like a decent place to work. The environment was laid back, the pace was healthy but not too quick. The people were great to work with. It had its problems, though. I never got a salary review, but didn't feel like I needed it, as the money I was making there supported me and then some. It came crashing down in late July, however, when my boss either got laid off, one among 100, to cut costs. We were now managed by a guy out of New York City, a long ways away from Houston. Consultants were hired for a project, sending off warning alarms. Why spend more money when you just cut back? Perhaps the lay offs were done to allow this, I don't know, but it looked silly. Then I started hearing some rumors about the future of the department and the office I worked in, all of which were bleak. Given what I knew within the company and taking the rumors with a grain of salt, I still got the impression that it was going to be a good idea to bail, and that's exactly what I did.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, I started a new job with US Interactive, a local company that does defensive driving websites. So far, it's not been bad, I'm just going through the usual bits of getting up to speed. They do C#.Net here, which actually is pretty nice. I'm liking working with it so far, but I have much to learn about how they do things here, and that is a challenge I feel I will enjoy in the coming months.

Outside projects. I had started a project with my friend Saurin a while ago. Originally, I was going to be the main developer and all-around technology person, something the HP I've mentioned in earlier posts is being used for. Things quickly went south when it was decided that PHP would be the better path, a language I previously have known nothing about. I didn't put up much of a fight for ASP.Net, as I wanted to keep an open mind when it came to server performance and what not. Another developer was brought on board, and it made sense for him to be the lead. After a couple of weeks of studying and writing PHP, I quickly realized that this project had become something I had no real interest in anymore. Saurin wants this project to move fast, and I can't deliver on that. Now, he's a great friend and all, and he's probably more than willing to wait for me to learn PHP, but quite frankly he's shooting himself in the foot by not getting himself a seasonsed PHP developer that can write more than one page a week. Earlier this week, I decided it was in my best interest to discontinue this project.

Another project I've been working on outside has to do with website building, and I'm not really interested in that either. It was another project that started as something big and turned out to be a lot less than what it was. I plan on removing myself from that project today.

It seems like with the new job and two less big projects to deal with, 2007 promises to be the year of the fresh start.

I have been contemplating for a long time to return to doing a weekly Internet radio program, similar to the TiS Weekly News, which ran as a test beta for two weeks before I decided it wasn't worth it. My format would basically be commentary on the digital music scene, spiced with a bunch of tracks from around the digital music community. Well, I think I'm finally going to start doing this, with the first show airing Monday, January 8th, 6 AM GMT (1 AM U.S. East Coast). The idea is for it to run an hour to two hours, depending on how much music I have to play and how much I have to talk about, including possible interviews and Internet callers. The show would of course be podcasted and archived for future listening. I don't have a name for it yet, but I'm going to be taking care of all the technological concerns this weekend before I head to Buffalo for Christmas and New Year's.

As for my personal projects, I've pretty much lost interest in a lot of them. It happened during the 4th of July weekend when I reformatted my computer and had days of trouble afterwards. After that, my frustration with things grew, and I realized I didn't have the patience to deal with making things work, so I passed on the projects for a while.

One project that hasn't died completely is OSMusic.Net. You may not see anything new there, but I am working on a basic graphical interface that will replace the clunky-looking boxes that I've grown to hate. No idea when I'm going to finish this project, as it's going to take quite some time to morph all of the tables, but it should look pretty cool.

I've been doing a lot of gaming lately, mostly for relaxation. I got hooked on to Aveyond through Kathy's Shockwave subscription. Aveyond is an RPG reminiscent of the old Nintendo RPGs, like Dragon Warrior. Then Kathy got me into Westward, an RTS based in the old west. It's hilarious. Both highly recommended.

My latest obsession, though... yeah, yeah, I know it's cliche, but I've finally broken down and started playing World of Warcraft. It was actually something I have tried under the advice of my new co-workers, most of which play, but it's something I've been considering trying for a long time. Kathy was none-too-pleased, largely due to some of the negative stereotypes found around the 'Net. She didn't get Leeroy, either. However, I have found the game to be quite different from what I was expecting, something I'll save for another post.

One thing I did accomplish this year was to finally get out of debt. Ever since the end of 2000, I've been in debt, and it's taken 6 long years to finally get out. I almost have the feeling that I can do just about anything now, and even have been thinking about finally getting some real music gear to do some real recording with. I probably won't be doing that until at least the second half of 2007, though.

2006 was crazy, especially in the second half of the year when I probably overwhelmed myself with responsibility, but I've been able to take a step back and recover. Kathy noted in the days up to my leaving Metro that I was a different person, nervous and unhappy. I knew this, and the night after my last day I was back to my normal self. I knew I would be, stressful things like this never last for long unless you let them, and I have a habit of eliminating unnecessary stress. You can't go through life worried and unhappy, you have to do what it takes to make sure that you don't stress yourself out for long periods of time.

Right now I am in a pretty comfortable position, and I think that 2007 is going to be a year of new things. I turn 30 in June, and a lot of thoughts about where to take my life from here have crossed my mind... we'll see how much I get to do in the coming 12 months.

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