08/22/07: Cool tech

Category: Geek Stuff
Posted by: Therem
A roundup of interesting innovations I've been hearing about:

06/16/07: Addicted to WoW

Category: Geek Stuff
Posted by: Therem
I probably shouldn't have bought a cheap copy of World of Warcraft when I was on vacation. It isn't like I needed a sleep deprivation aid, or had ever seriously considered trying the game. I was simply suckered by the cheap price on the endcap at Target. Oh woe! The day I bought the product that has taken over my life for the last two weeks.

So what is it, anyway? It's a "massively multiplayer online role-playing game" (or MMORPG for short; I like to imagine how that might be pronounced) with a fantasy theme that allows you to customize and play a character through many different quests and fights, increasing in experience and acquiring new skills and loot along the way. It's also an entirely online game -- you pay a monthly fee to play -- with over 5 million subscribers to interact with.

I started off mostly playing it like a solo game. My Tauren hunter, Cranius, got up to level 10 with only a couple of fleeting alliances to help him slay enemies. Then he was able to tame a pet -- hurrah! Here's what he looks like now, with the faithful Leona beside him.

Cranius Looking Heroic

In the last few days, though, I have been able to lure my friends Orson and Becky into trying the game (it comes with two 10-day trial codes in the package -- a pusher's dream!). Since they were just starting out, I created a new character to play with theirs: an Orc shaman named Grutch. She's already up to level 9, which is a bit surprising given how little time I've played her. I think it really helps to have some party members to join up with.

Of course, in the greater scheme of things, both of my characters are n00bs. The highest level you can attain in WoW is 70, and since the game has been out for a couple of years now, a lot of people have done it, some multiple times. I have found myself gaping at highly experienced characters in the game; some of them are really flashy looking, with crazy aura effects and/or minions following them around. A big part of the appeal of WoW is the lure of pretty new things to look at. Just yesterday, Grutch visited the orc capitol, Orgrimmar, for the first time, and just about every time I turned a corner I exclaimed at some cool new thing.

However, the game is not without its flaws. It's expensive ($15/month after the initial free month). It's sexist in the way it portrays female characters (though thankfully the sexism is cosmetic and doesn't affect actual gameplay). And it kills Korean babies.

However, I'm not stopping anytime soon.

Update 6/17/07: today's New York Times Magazine has a story about "gold farmers", people in China who work crazy hours for low pay just gathering loot to be resold (for real money) to other players. Though they mention that this is a longstanding practice going back to the earliest online games, the product they focus on is WoW.

In the same issue, there's a photo section comparing real people to the characters they play online. I think it's really interesting how many people look just like their real selves (how did Ailin Graef get the same dress on her real and virtual bodies?), because the stereotype is that everyone engages in wish-fulfillment online, making characters that look nothing like their pimpled, bespectacled loser owners.

tags: %l

02/11/07: Blog admin update

Category: Geek Stuff
Posted by: Therem
I was feeling nerdy today, so I made a number of changes on the blog. Here's what I did:

  • Updated to Nucleus CMS version 3.24

  • Added a link to the RSS 2.0 feed in the sidebar

  • Re-enabled the subscription option (see the Login area)

  • Added a list of the 10 most recent comments on the member info page

Unfortunately, the last thing I had to do today was disable the creation of user accounts. I've been getting spammed with fake user accounts for the past week, so I decided to take this measure temporarily until the flood recedes. Until then, if you don't already have a user account and want to create one, let me know.
Category: Geek Stuff
Posted by: Therem
For you legions of blog commenters who've been burning to link to web pages and include text styling in your comments, I've finally installed the BBCode plugin to do it. Now when you compose a comment you will see a list of allowed BBCode at the bottom of the window. There is also a link to the official BBCode reference site if you need any explanation about what each code is and how to use it.

Huzzah! Hooray! Garlands and confetti for all!

05/18/06: New web host!

Category: Geek Stuff
Posted by: Therem
After four years with Phenominet, I've finally switched hosting companies. Since I've been adding new things like this blog and the soon-to-be-live Gallery2 photo album I've discovered that Phenominet is way behind the times. Their MySQL and PHP versions are both WAY old and can't run some of the modules I want to use. And since their customer service pretty much sucks, and their administration tools are almost nonexistent, I decided to switch to something better.

I picked DreamHost, a friendly and bewilderingly fully-featured hosting company based in Brea, California. My feminist science fiction buddy Laura Quilter uses DreamHost for her domain FeministSF.org, and Orson had a good experience setting a site up there recently. Plus, they give kickbacks to people who refer new customers, even if the person referring isn't a customer! Wacky!

Already I am a very happy customer. It's obvious these people know their stuff. Not only do they have current (even aggressive) software versions, there are tons of helpful features and add-ons available for your site(s). If you want a referral code that will give you a discount to sign up at DreamHost, let me know.

Now, if only my domain registration doesn't become locked before the transfer is complete... therem.net is supposed to expire tomorrow, and I didn't initiate the registration transfer until today. You're supposed to do it at least a week before expiration. Oops. Maybe it will all work out.
Category: Geek Stuff
Posted by: Therem
Orson and I were just talking about web hosting companies and using DNS Stuff to look up information about our respective domains. I was surprised to see that since I last checked, someone has registered therem.com as their domain. I clicked on the link and when I saw that the home page was called "The Remnant", I thought I might have stumbled on some fans of R.E.M. Could I have been more wrong? Probably. But I was still shocked to learn that this near-twin of my own site belongs to a group of fundamentalist Christians dedicated to "praying for [...] the curse of death on our land to be broken by the reversal of Roe vs. Wade".

Let's just say that anyone who mistakenly swaps .com for .net or the other way around will be getting QUITE a surprise.
Category: Geek Stuff
Posted by: Therem
I've been admiring the new look of my friend Ben's web site for a few months now, and today I took the plunge and upgraded my own site to NucleusCMS, the blog engine he uses. You're looking at it right now. Isn't it cool?!

This new software has a much more active developer community than bBlog did, so there are loads of nice templates and plugins available. I'm really looking forward to adding a photo gallery like Ben has, but that will take a little more fiddling than I am willing to take on at this hour.

For now, I am content to have the base package installed and working and all my previous posts migrated. Life is good.
Category: Geek Stuff
Posted by: Therem
This news is precious:

David Bradley, the Inventor of Ctrl+Alt+Del, Retires from IBM
'At a 20-year celebration for the IBM PC, Bradley was on a panel with Microsoft founder Bill Gates and other tech icons. The discussion turned to the keys.

"I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous," Bradley said.

Gates didn't laugh.'

Well, I did.

12/15/03: A shiny new future

Category: Geek Stuff
Posted by: Therem
Behold the first post to my new blog! Marvel at its beauty! Bow before it!

To give credit where it is due: this blog would not exist if Jim Troutman had not urged me to create one. Thanks, Jim!