Archive for the ‘Non-MMORPG’ Category

My 300th Blog Post

I just noticed that yesterday’s article was my 300th blog post. Absolutely insane, I tell you. For some reason the number caught my attention and really sticks out to me as a landmark. I guess that when I first started my poor little blog back at the end of the 2008, I never thought I’d stick it out for so long. And not only have I stuck it out but I’ve been loving every minute of it (except for when I get called a cock for writing provocative guest posts… well, maybe just a little).

300. Good comic. Good film. Good number of blog posts.

300. Good comic. Good film. Good number of blog posts.

If you look through my archives, I started off pretty strong in January 2009 and posted very frequently but it then it all took a big nose dive in the Spring as my commitment wavered. Back in March and April 2009, the pressures and commitments of work and relationships made it difficult for me to clear a path for my budding blogging hobby and I found things just weren’t clicking.

However, I woke up one day in May and decided, with sheer utter determination, that I was going to make a solid go of this whole blogging lark and since then I’ve been blogging almost every day with no sign of stopping. I think now I can honestly understand the whole mentality behind mind over matter and all that guff. If you want to accomplish something, you just have to make it happen regardless of the obstacles. Of course, now it sounds like my blog has done something tremendous like found the cure of cancer which it hasn’t (yet… that tomorrow’s post) but it’s still a personal sign to myself that I can actually do the things I want in life.

I’ve gained so much out of blogging that I never anticipated. I’ve made great cyber friends through other blogs and social networking and learnt more about MMORPGs than I ever could have imagined due to all of the great feedback I’ve had and other blogs that I’ve discovered. It’s all been very rewarding. If, of course, you think knowing a lot about an addictive video gaming genre is valuable.

My writing, another passion of mine, has also developed a lot in my last 300 posts. I started off very self-conscious then went through the stale, purely objective phase and now I’m entering more of a subjective, personal and intimate phase. I’m restraining myself less and writing more sarcastic and opinionated articles which are hopefully more humorous and engaging. It may not be to everyone’s tastes but it’s very interesting to me to see my style of writing evolve this way. I guess now I’m off the opinion that I want to challenge and shake things up a little (in a very British mild-mannered and sexual repressed kind of way).

So that was post number 301. Tomorrow, more interesting facts such as how I’ve received 4,033 comments, some not even spam. Excited? I bet you are.


I’m On The Google Buzz

I was very skeptical about Google Buzz when it first launched last week. Yes, I was that guy saying “do we really need another social networking tool?”. Of course, I was also that guy who didn’t like the idea of Twitter either… but now totally adores it. After getting into it for a few days now, I’m starting to feel the same way about Buzz too.

Google Buzz: Making Twitter Seem Less Good

Google Buzz: Making Twitter Seem Less Good

Buzz comes across as being exceedingly similar in concept and execution as Twitter, the only difference being that it doesn’t fall over every 5 minutes. In fact, it strikes me as a better implementation of an identical thing except now I can hook up everything I read, see and do into a single account as opposed to micro-blogging it in 140 words or less. Honestly, I feel a little sad for Twitter and can’t but wonder if Buzz is going to be the Facebook to their MySpace and eradicate them completely (albeit Twitter doesn’t look like a dog vomited on your screen). Poor Twitter hasn’t even had a chance to monetize itself yet. And does anyone even still use MySpace these days? It’s just so 20th century.

So Buzz is pretty cool although it does make me concerned about my privacy in a way that Twitter never did. I don’t really know if that concern is justified (I went into my account and turned off a lot of stuff) but just the fact that it links into my GMail account and Google profile is a little… disconcerting. Using it on my iPhone also gives me the creepy feature to be able to activate GPS and not only tell people my current location but also read all nearby “buzzers” (take note Internet! I coined the phrase first here!). I now know what Random Guy X is up to 3 blocks down the road from where I work. For some reason that just gives me the chills. I guess I’m reminded of the fact that it only takes one madman with a pick-axe to ruin my day.

I also feel like my brain is going to explode from information overload at some point. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Buzz… so much to read, so much to say, so many random people to stalk. At least I don’t have to worry about MySpace any more.

Anyhoo, if you fancy hooking up with me on G’Buzz (as they say on the street) then you can find my profile here. More than likely I’ll just ask annoying questions or make sarcastic comments every so often but then what else is social networking for?


Samsung Monitor Lust

Ever since we got some new 22″ and 24″ widescreen Samsung monitors at work I’ve been fantasizing about getting one for my home PC. I can’t really afford one and gosh knows I don’t technically need one (as my wife keeps reminding me) but the other week I came to the conclusion that I just can’t live without one. I don’t know how or why this fixation suddenly occurs but I name it the “Call of the Geek” and I react to it like a canine hearing a dog whistle.

Suffering is desire. Desire is Samsung.

Suffering is desire. Desire is Samsung.

Acquiring new bits of technology reminds me a lot of the drive behind MMORPGs. There seems to be a little bit in our brain that tells us that if we get another item or another upgrade then our lives will be easier, faster and more efficient. Perhaps it some sort of subconscious Nietzsche desire to become supreme beings and reach a state of utter perfection but it seems to really stir us onward in everything we do, and I feel particularly affected by it being a geek and gamer. I’m sure psychologists have a clever name and reasoning behind why we behave like this but all I know is that Samsung monitors are black and shiny and I want one.

The big problem is that there seem to be so many different models of widescreen monitors out there and I have no idea which one to pick. The P2250 or the P2270 or the SM2233RZ or the SM2333SW? Who would’ve thought picking a widescreen monitor would be so difficult? And that’s just from one brand. Plus I have no idea about what to look for in terms of specification. I know I want a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and nothing less but that’s about as far as my knowledge goes. Anyone got any advice?

Of course, I’m also open to suggestions for recommendations on any widescreen monitor, it doesn’t have to be Samsung (they do look very sexy though). I briefly considered Dell but dismissed them due to price and I always considered other brands like Acer to be a bit shoddy.

All of this does really remind me though of the four noble truths of the Buddha. For all of those non-Buddhists out there, let me summarise: suffering is desire. Pretty apt in this case huh?


Online Privacy And Why It’s Important

There’s been a lot of talk recently about online security and privacy, particularly directed at Blizzard. Although these issues affect every MMORPG, World of Warcraft is the most popular and thus most susceptible to the issues of account hacking and our rights of privacy.

Body Scanners - The new WoW Authenicator

Body Scanners - The new WoW Authenicator

Although WoW account hacking seems to be on the rise, it’s a minor concern to me and one I’m not actually that bothered about it. At the end of the day, the principle of hacking relies on security flaws in a system or how educated the user is in avoiding scams and attempts to get them to willingly reveal their password. Both of these things can be dealt with and don’t seem to lead to any deep moral quandaries. My real concern, however, is our privacy.

As you probably know, Blizzard recently made their WoW Armory feeds public. This means that anyone and everyone can view a list of your in-game achievements and accomplishments. Big whoop, right? Not quite. This apparently innocent feature has caused quite a storm and lead many to deride Blizzard for invading our personal privacy.

The scariest thing to me though is how the act itself is indicative of a lack of responsibility by those we should be trusting. We are entering a world in which everything we do is monitored and logged and we have to trust companies to be responsible with our information.

Let me explain. As a web programmer, I know a fair bit about the workings on the Internet and here a few tidbits of information that may shock you (although they’re probably/should be common knowledge).

  • Everything you do online is logged by your ISP. They keep logs of all of your incoming and outgoing traffic as well as a history of every website you visit.
  • Your ISP can monitor and read the emails you send.
  • Your email hosting company logs emails received and can read them.
  • Depending on the country you live in, websites you visit are first matched against a blacklist of sites before providing you access. The number of attempts to access the site are logged along with possibly even your IP address.

Pretty freaky, right?

Now, it may seen innocent enough when Blizzard are revealing your WoW activities to the general public but what if your ISP decided to create a publicly viewable RSS feed of every website you visit? How would you feel about that? Or what if they just decided to start checking your emails and posting them online? It doesn’t seem that unlikely consider Google already scan the content of your GMail emails in order to generate specifically targeted ads and British ISPs have come under fire for trying to implement behavioral targeting services based on your Internet activies.

This is the classic argument of “don’t reveal my private information” vs “if you don’t have anything to hide, why do you care”. Fact is, I know that my activities and information are tracked online and it doesn’t bother me. That’s not my issue. My issue is that it should my choice as to whether or not it’s revealed.

This issue with the WoW Armory reminds me a lot of the Facebook scandal last year when they decided to make everyone’s profiles publicly searchable. These matters boil down to trust between the user and the facilitator and, frankly, companies need to behave in a responsible manner if they’re going to hold on to personal and private information about us all.

P.S. Even your cell phone text messages are logged and stored for several weeks by your provider. Creepy stuff.


I’m A Swedish Hero

I’ve always considered myself the heroic type (I once thought about joining the Army but then dismissed it because it might be dangerous and require physical exertion) but it’s never been confirmed before. Until today.

I received an email from the Swedish Government stating that they consider me a hero to their people and an inspiration to both young and old people alike. There was a press conference earlier today and then parades in the streets of Stockholm. Shucks.

Just a shame they picked such an unflattering photo of me but I guess it was all they had to hand.

Still don’t believe me? The entire thing was broadcast on TV. Takes a moment to load but well worth it.

I guess this means I’ll be getting fan mail from Petter over at Don’t Fear the Mutant for some time to come.

P.S. If you want to make your own heroic movie to impress your friends and family with whilst boosting your ego at the same time, head over to http://en.tackfilm.se/.


Engaging With The Internet Can Be Hazardous For Your Health

2010 seems to have kicked off with a bit of a blogging bang (and not in a good way). Not only did I manage to cause a bit of a shit-storm myself (which in retrospect was a little bit akin to a 10 year old hitting a hornet’s nest with a baseball bat and then crying when he got stun) but then Matt (from World of Matticus) revealed that he got shafted over by Blizzard, an event only to be followed quickly by the ol’ chestnut that is the Tobold vs Syncaine rivalry (to put it politely). Fortunately the latter has come to a close and everything seems to be returning to a sense of normality in the world of the Interweb. Perhaps.

Beware of the Internet!

Beware of the Internet!

I was just starting to relax again when I was cruising around the cyber streets of Netville and I found some rather impolite feedback to a comment I had posted on a blog the other day. It was very mild really and didn’t offend me but it did make me wonder what the heck is happening to the Internet. It seems like as it’s growing it’s becoming an ever more hostile environment absolutely lacking in any restraint whatsoever. Or maybe it’s just that I’m noticing it more for the first time. Or maybe we’re just becoming more thin-skinned to abrupt feedback. Or maybe I’m just developing a new found knack for pissing people off.

I can honestly say that I’ve barely written anything, anywhere that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face in real life. Of course, in real life I can inject humour or sarcasm or subtly into my tone making it apparent what I mean and how I mean it and I can’t do that on the Internet. I have to rely on you guessing how I mean something and that doesn’t work very well.

I’m far from perfect but still, I don’t think I’ve ever just blatantly called someone an idiot or a dick (or worse) on a forum or in a game over something they said. I don’t think that way and I tend to not get emotional about people’s personal opinions. Yet this type of thing happens a lot on the ‘net and I can’t decide if people honestly think and behave that way in real life or if they only do it because of the protection that the anonymity of the Internet provides.

Either way, the Interweb seems to be a pretty strange place to reside these days and whether it’s in blogs, forums or within our favourite MMORPG, there always seem to be some drama going on, always, without any exception, over something incredibly petty. And if don’t think these cyber arguments are petty, I’d recommend you buy a ticket to the sunny destination of Haiti. I believe it’s selling a discounted lifetime subscription to something called perspective.


Dragon Age: Origins. Done.

I completed Dragon Age: Origins last Saturday evening, almost exactly two weeks after I purchased it (or rather traded in the PS3 version for the PC one) with a total of just under 50 hours clocked. Yep, I had a pretty intense Christmas holiday with it, exactly what I needed. I wanted a great single player game to get stuck into and I got one.

Without a doubt, Dragon Age is a fantastic single player game, right up there with Mass Effect, BioShock, Sins of a Solar Empire and golden oldies like C&C, Civilisation II and Final Fantasty VII (I’m just listing the games that I got truly hooked on and consumed my life for weeks). One of the highlights of it for me was having so much freedom of choice and ability to truly roleplay the character I wanted. I decided right from the start to be the “bad” guy or, well, the “misunderstood” guy who would do anything to end the Blight, to any extent. It made sense to me that a character who lost his family would be driven to the depths of darkness and lose his moral compass. He was also bisexual but that’s another blog post.

After playing MMORPGs for almost 18 months solid since playing another single player RPG, it was very refreshing and welcoming to be given so much choice in my character’s direction and influence. Dragon Age doesn’t hold your hand and prevent you from making bad choices. In fact, some of the decisions I made probably made the game harder for myself in the long run (such as killing a certain magical companion instead of accepting their offer to join my party) but they were my choices to make. I’m glad to say that I really tried to roleplay my character and not just min/max my stats and take the easy, most competitive routes.

Of course, DA:O isn’t without it’s flaws and there are a few biggies that will certainly niggle at you along your journey. For starters, the AI is shockingly bad and sometimes your companions operate just fine on their own and sometimes they act like they’ve had a frontal lobotomy. The selection of companions available is also very poor and you end up with something like 6 Warriors but only 2 Rogues and 2 Mages to choose from and it’s a little frustrating. The game is also incredibly long which, yes, most people will see as a good thing but to me to started to drag, especially around the Dwarven areas. It was a slog to finish (but worth it in the end).

My hat goes off to BioWare for turning out yet another excellent game. I have to give them kudos for making such an excellent RPG that hit the mark on so many levels and truly defined and highlighted the power and point of roleplaying games again. They’re all about character and story and Dragon Age has that in spades.

Suffice to say that I’m now hyped up for Mass Effect 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic more than ever.