Daily Archives: January 5, 2007

Blizzard Tries To Snow Me

“Are You Ready For The Burning Crusade?” they ask!

Blizzard Entertainment proudly invites you to return to the World of Warcraft on January 16th and journey beyond the Dark Portal, where an infinity of new experiences await you.

Given the high volume of returning subscribers we expect when The Burning Crusade? expansion goes live, if you are planning a return to Azeroth, we recommend reactivating your account as soon as possible in order to avoid the expected rush of launch-day activations.

The irony here is that not only is my account active, as it has been for the last 13 months, but this note came in while I was logged on and playing World of Warcraft. 

I have only ever had the one account.  I wonder how many other current subscribers got this note?

Of course, some other people have commented on this email and the logic (or lack thereof) behind it.

Linden Lab?

We were walking back from lunch the other day when I spotted a familiar name out of the corner of my eye:

Linden Lab.

You know, the people who make Second Life?  Only they are up in San Francisco, while I’m walking around down in Mountain View, about 40 miles south.  Is there another Linden Lab?

Here I am with the very small sign in Mountain View:

Mountain View Office?

You can tell it is winter in California because I am wearing a thick cotton short sleeve polo shirt, not the usual thin cotton ones I wear in the summer.

(Actually it was 50 degrees, but I had my beat up old jacket on and, in a moment of vanity, decided to remove it for the picture.  I would have been better off putting it over my head.)

The Journey is Half the Fun – Antonica

I started Blintz out on the heritage quest to get the legendary Journeyman’s Boots last night.  I have actually done this quest on four characters already (my ranger snuck in and did it at 30 before they put in a level restriction on the last stage) so I am reasonably familiar with the routes.  Still, doing it with a fae this time adds in a new dimension.

First, of course, as a fae, I can just jump off of anything and glide to safety.

Second, because I chose Glide as one of my fae racial traditions (it seems lame, but it is more useful than you might think, so I highly recommend it) I get a lot more distance off of every jump.

The first phase is the run around Antonica.  This is, by far, the easiest phase.  You have 14 minutes and can do it without any speed boost by just choosing an efficient route and sprinting every so often.

You start between the two towers on the Qeynos Highway and your first destination is the Tower of Vhalen.  That point is nearly visible from the two towers, so it is a fast leg.  But once up the hill to the tower and updated, as a fae you get to jump off the cliff and glide in the direction of the next objective, the Keep of the Gnollslayers.

I did not look up the quest before hand, and I could not recall what the most effecient route between Vhalen and the Keep was, so I just skirted south of the covered bridge, jumped the river (which a fae can do without touching the water if they have Glide!), hooked around the cliff and hit the south side of the moat surrounding the Keep for the update.

The next location is the Ruins of Caltorsis.  The old, approved method for hitting that point was to run south to the griffon station, take the griffon to the Tower of the Oracles, then run back to Caltorsis for the update.  I decided to modify this slightly based on some information I recalled from one of the updates while I was away.  You can jump off the griffons.  And as a fae, you can glide on down with no damage.

So I took the griffon towards the Tower of the Oracles, but jumped off around the northern covered bridge, recalling that the griffon takes a southward loop around to the tower station and would come no closer to the Ruins.  I ran north to the ruins, having to come in pretty close to get the update, then headed to the Tower of the Oracles.

The tower is easy, you can run right up that sheer cliff on the eastern side if you choose the right path.  You get the update at the top and can turn to the next objective, the Keep of the Ardent Needle.  On the way there I stopped to pick up a sparklie that was in my path.  As luck would have it, it was a shard that completed one of my collection quests!

I skirted the west side of the Keep for the update the headed back to the start/finish line between the two towers.  On the way I picked up another sparklie, which turned out to be another shard I needed, then sprinted to the finish line.

With pathfinding (a 16% speed boost), some sprinting, and fae enabled pathing efficiency, I was able to finish with 4:58 left on the clock even with the two stops to collect items.

Not a bad run.  Everything is grey in Antonica at level 31, with a few exceptions, so aggro mobs were not an issue.  I know I could cut a little more time off of it between Vhalen’s and Gnollslayer Keep and I probably did not jump off the griffon at the exact, optimum location, but there is no extra reward for being further ahead of schedule.

The next run is the Commonlands.  I wonder how the aggro Freeport guards will change the run.  They were all happy/friendly the last time I did it.

Five Things You Do Not Know About Me

Stargrace/Silverstep tapped me for the whole “five things” blog meme.  I bet I could come up with a lot of things most of you do not know about me, but I will try to pick five that are either interesting, on the gaming topic, or… neither.

1) Gaming Background: Despite my adherence to the high fantasy MMO genre of late, I did not get my start in gaming playing D&D or any similar rpg.  Instead, I played war games, primarily of the Avalon Hill variety (AH’s Tobruk, is my all time favorite) along with some miniatures gaming.  I was a kid though, so I could not afford all those little lead tanks, so a friend and I made due with squares cut out from a supply of surplus manila folders.  War games and Star Fleet Battles were the staples of my youth until my sophomore year of high school.  Then the rpg stuff began.

2) Soviet Studies: In college, in the mid-80’s, I decided to go down the Soviet Studies path as a major, giving up on my partially completed business degree in the name of patriotism (and a bit of boredom).  I started in 1986 with a couple of classes on Soviet History and Economics.  The history was fine, but the economics part rapidly became a series of courses in current events, since the economic situation under Gorbachev was in a constant state of flux.  I moved back to business when it became pretty clear that anything I learned in one semester became history or trivia by the next.  I still read a lot of Soviet history, but unless they come out with a Trivial Pursuit: GOSPLAN Edition, what I learned about the Soviet economy is not very handy. (Now you know why I have the unabridged Gulag Archipelago as an audio book, it was my way of reading it again.)

3) You Have Used My Product:  While I started in shrink-wrapped consumer software, I now work on enterprise level software, specifically IVR software.  You know, those annoying automated systems that keep you from speaking to a live agent?  That is what I do, though I have specialized in the speech recognition variety for quite a while, the ones that do not understand what you say AND keep you from speaking to a live agent.  Chances are you have used the product I work on and do not even know it.  Two major cell phone carriers, two of the three major game consol makers, two major airlines, numerous banks, credit unions, utility companies, libraries (ever received an automated call about an overdue book?), a major computer company, and the retail giant you are probably thinking of even as I write “retail giant” all use the software I have spent the last nine years working on. (And “retail giant” is actually a choice of a few, so you probably thought of the right one even if you changed your mind.)  If you have called them, or any one of a couple thousand other companies on the phone and have gotten an automated system, that was probably, in some very small way, my fault! Hah!

4) Should Have Been A Writer:  Maybe I should have been.  In college I had two very supportive English professors both of whom told me that if I worked on my mechanics (spelling never interested me, much to their dismay, so cheers for the modern spell checker, though it rarely helps with my habit of changing tense mid-sentence… or digressing in these asides) I might be a writer some day.  One of them was one of those terrors who strikes fear into freshmen, so hearing that at age 19 was a big deal.  I took that advice and sat on it, thinking I would get to it at some later point in life.  Then I suddenly found myself past age 40 and realized I never write anything but email and technical documents.  A writer writes every day, so among my motivations for this blog was the desire to start writing again.  I might never be a real writer, whatever that is, but I certainly will never be if all I ever write is product release notes that nobody every reads.

5) Silicon Valley Native: I work about a mile from where I was born, I am married to a woman with whom I went to high school, and I give very annoying direction because they always include references to landmarks that have not been around for the last 15-20 years.  In many places this would be common, but in Silicon Valley it seems like everybody here is from somewhere else.  It can be strange working down the street from your grandparents old house, knowing what used to be at half the retail locations around you, remembering how everything looked 20 to 30 years ago, and working with a bunch of people who have only been in the valley for 5-10 years and do not remember that the place was mostly orchards when I was born.  Such is life!

Now I get to tap a person or two, though I have to figure out who has not been taken yet.  Let’s see, how about the Chinese News Farmer, Alaph the Tired EVE Pilot, and, in a shot way beyond my reach (though well within driving distance) I am going to pick Jeff Green of Gaming For Windows just because he did that article about loading up EverQuest again.