Monday, December 28, 2009

Important Critical Feedback For PUGs

"u suck" is not feedback, it is merely offensive noise. And if you can't provide more detail, then perhaps you aren't the ideal person to be offering feedback.

"Use shadowbolt as filler until the target is <25% health" is feedback.

Does everybody see the difference between the two statements? One of them is specific and not accusatory, whereas the other one just identifies the speaker as a douchebag.

That is all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have Another Slice of FailPUG

It finally happened last night: we stumbled into FailPUG-land. Kathy and I queued up for a random heroic and got heroic Halls of Reflection. This is an interesting instance, mostly because a really large percentage of the people imagine that clumping in the alcoves makes it "E-Z Mode".

it isn't. The melee have an AoE interrupt, and if you drag them all into the alcove then the healer is getting interrupted, which means no heals, which means dead DPS.

We got to wave 7 somehow and wiped. We came back in and tried it again in the alcove and wiped on wave 8. Seems like we're making progress, right? The third time we tried it in the big room with CC and everything. That was going well until one of the ranged aggro'd me (heals), and I died before the tank noticed him and picked him up (I suspect Vent would have helped here).

The tank ragequit at that point. Sigh. Frustrating, but children get accustomed to having everything handed to them and it takes a while for them to grasp that team sports aren't always about them getting exactly what they feel they deserve right exactly when they feel they deserve it.

We queued up again and got H ToC, which jebus haven't we seen that enough yet? The ele shaman posted the recount meters WHILE FIGHTING FACTION CHAMPS. And complained about the DPS. Why are you complaining about lack of DPS when everything is dying? This does not make me want to help you get your f*cking badges.

We got a DK tank. He was doing okay health-wise, but was losing aggro all over the place. I know DKs have AOE threat issues, and I wasn't really sweating it because I can keep everybody bubbled and running, but still ... get some threat plates. Black Knight phase two arrives, and he might be the first DK I've ever seen who didn't pop Army of the Dead here. Every single frame has the red square of Pissing Somebody Off Somewhere and I'm trying to keep everybody shielded and healed. In addition to bubble-spam, I have to chase the black knight and the DK; I assume the DK was trying to do something helpful but I'm mostly watching my raid frames and trying to keep everybody in range.

I chase the BK/DK pair right into a wave of corpse explosions. Dead priest ensues.

The ele shaman starts healing (yay dude! You seem to have some issue with DPS and "random pug" but way to change gears). I release and run back in, we finish the death knight, and collect the badges. While I'm rezzing the rogue, the DK ninjas the frozen orb, says I'm the worst healer ever in the game, and leaves group. Awesome finish.

So now I have six characters at max level and have put a grand total of two (2) people on my ignore list, both of whom came from one single PUG instance. I might unignore the shaman since he did, at the end, quit waggling his e-peen long enough to do what was needed to complete the instance, but maybe not. Life is too short for me to want to spend mine around e-peen wagglers.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rawr v2.3.3 is out

The big warlock patch must have gone in because it finally, finally stopped trying to get me to weight/gem MP5. What were they thinking, with that mp5 on a warlock thing? Preposterous!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recount and Discipline Priesting

Last night I stepped into a pug TotCr-10 with a warrior tank I know, who might become a friend and might become a raiding teammate. I didn't know anybody except him, so my expectations of "AWESOMENESS" were pretty low. The raid leader assigns the resto shammy to raid heals, and me (disc priest) and a resto druid (srs?) as tank heals then off he goes for the pull.

I will admit my druid isn't at level cap yet, so maybe there's a bunch of resto stuff I'll get between 75 and 80, but I would have sworn that druids are really good at rolling HoTs on a bunch of people and not so much at throwing huge heals on one guy. So yes, I think the healer assignments are off but I didn't say anything.

After the inevitable wipe, the druid posts the healing recount meters and says "the priest sux", because, I assume, it's my fault that the OT kited Acidmaw right through the DPS who were consequently too stupid to go get the fire debuff.

I replied that recount was a DPS tool that was spectacularly unsuited to dealing with healers, and that if you're a druid rolling HoTs on a whole raid and you're not at the top of the healing meter then you're doing it wrong (we'll come back to this shortly). He says, and I'm not entirely sure I'm spelling this verbatim, "nuh uh".

I followed up with telling him that recount fails at dealing with disc priest. He asks how that could possibly be, since Recount is made of WIN! Four other people in the raid answer him with variations on "damage mitigation" and "bubbles"; +50DKP to each of those people for cross-class awareness. He posted the overall healing done counts again, then left the group.

Which reminds me how much I really don't like people.

My lessons from this:
  1. Pugs are really random
  2. I should have spoken up about healing assignments. Just because I'm the last guy in doesn't mean I don't have valuable information to contribute.
  3. There are still some people who don't know how discipline priests work
I can really only address #3 here.

When a priest casts "Power Word: Shield", he puts a damage-absorbing bubble around the target. If the bubble is 10K, then the next 10K worth of incoming damage eats away the bubble instead of the target's health. But the combat log just shows "damage absorbed", it doesn't show "damage absorbed by Obamessiah's PW:S", so Recount has no way to credit the priest with the damage mitigated by the bubble.

Normally a discipline priest will have the glyph of Power Word: Shield, which heals the target for 20% of the shield amount. So you can look in recount at healing done, then drill down to get the details for healing done by PW:S and multiply by 5 to get the potential amount of mitigation done by PW:S. Note that you can't tell how much of the mitigation was actually used since, once again, the combat log doesn't assign absorption to the spell.

The second kind of bubbles that disc priests put on people are from Divine Aegis. This happens when your heal crits, and adds a bubble that absorbs 30% of the crit heal. Further crits will stack their DA bubbles up to a maximum of 125*[target level], or 10K on a level 80. And Prayer of Mending crits count as well.

You can kinda-sorta estimate the amount of PW:S mitigation your disc priest is providing from looking at the healing done by the glyph, and you can kinda-sorta estimate the amount of DA mitigation your disc priest is providing from looking at the crit heals from Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Penance, and Prayer of Mending. Add all that together and that's quite a lot of not-dying your disc priest is causing that recount just can't show your loudmouth know-nothing buddy.

Seems like a lot of work, doesn't it? And that, my friends, is why we say recount is for DPS.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Patch 3.3 Day

New patch! Woo hoo!

I signed in about 9:00pm last night, which is more or less when I normally get everything at home wrapped up and start playing. The realm I play on is on East Coast time, so quite often there are very few people online. Last night, however, there were a lot more people. Guildchat was full of achievements for people running the new 5-mans for the first time, and for PUGging with 10 different people, and all the other activities that come with new content.

I asked if anybody hadn't run the new dungeons yet and got a few responses. I invited Kathy, Dan, and two other guildies and off we went for our first look. It turns out that none of us had run them before, so it was new and shiny for everybody. We wiped twice, but that's not bad at all for a new team on new content. To be honest, after the first wipe I tabbed out and pulled up the overview so I could research the boss strategies as we went along.

First, these new dungeons are fun. I had a great time, especially the Halls of Reflection. The whole HoR fight where we're retreating before the Lich King, with ominous music playing and waves of scourge and trying to kill everything while Lady Sylvannus broke down the ice walls trapping us .. it was very cinematic. It also had some lore in it, so it wasn't just running around the arena killing faction champions and the Black Knight.

Second, there might be crowd control again in here. There were very few two-mob trash pulls, and four or five mob pulls were much more common. I had to dig through my spell book and find "Chain Undead" spell to put it back on my action bars. It's been a while since we needed CC, so it was a pleasant change of pace.

Third, it's always a jarring boss mechanic when you have to stop DPSing or healing when they do stuff. Running out of the fire/smoke/poison/magic/bomb/whatever is second nature now, but it's just unnatural to be standing face-to-face with a boss not unloading on him. There isn't much of that, so it retains its weird novelty and that's good.

There'll be more stuff later, like whether or not my priest gets his shadow spec back (he's dual disc/holy at the moment) and how awesome it is that my mage gets to have his water elemental out all the time, but for now it was just great to run brand new content and see brand new stuff and get some brand new shiny shiny lewtz.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Raid Leadering Is Hard, Yo

Really I just wanted to see the 10-man content with some sort of regularity with some of my friends. Now I have to worry about if the loot system is fair enough to current raiders without penalizing new raiders too much and stuff.


It was certainly easier when I just accepted the invite and showed up on time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Now I Don't Have To Write Anything

Real the whole unvarnished truth here: A Single Set of Rules On How To Raid ANYTHING. Read it. Learn it. Live it.

Thank you to Amber for finding this; I'm just trying to make sure everybody sees it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Epic x2

We ran Naxx25 this weekend (there's a whole long rage-filled rant there ... poke me later and watch the bile ooze out), and I managed to live through two (2) epic battles.

First, I broke my heretofore perfect record of finishing Heigan face down on the floor. That's right ... I survived the dance, finally. I even managed to get some DPS in the process because Devouring Plague and Shadow Word: Pain both work even when I'm in holy spec. I forget how long it took, but we had at least five people up at the end.

Second, we downed Instructor Razuvious in what was nearly a wipe, and got down to the last understudy with maybe five people up and him at 20%. Razuvious broke loose a time or two during the fight, but most of the people that died ate it from the fan of knives AOE thing he does. I do need to holla at Bearbehind, though. He tanked one of the understudies all by his lonesome for a long time. I also had no idea bears could get that much HP; he had like 50K when raid-buffed, which is just an insane amount of health.

Monday, October 12, 2009

More World of Warcraft stuff

When you start playing "World of Warcraft", you roll up a brand new toon and start at level 1. You click on the guy in front of you, he gives you a quest to go kill something or other, and you do it and get some experience. Repeat this and you go up a level, and now you're faster/stronger/deadlier. After a while, you get to thinking that that's what the game is: leveling. You also start to think about getting to the level cap and wonder what you're going to do afterwards.

Kathy and I have actual real-life friends (Hi Dan and Leigha!) who also play WoW. They're leveling up pretty quickly now, and are in the low 70s rolling through the Howling Fjord. Kathy and I are excited because soon they'll be able to go do stuff with us, as opposed to having us run them through things.

But Dan said something with regard to the level cap (I don't recall precisely what it was now) that reminded me of how much my thinking about the game has changed. Specifically: I'm amazed at how much game there is still left after you hit the level cap. In some ways, it's an entirely different experience when you're not leveling, but it's just as rich and just as overwhelming and just as time-consuming ... it just isn't concerned with your XP bar anymore. Weird.

So anyway, I have five toons at the level cap with four more in the 70s and I do not have time to play more than two of them. What with the working and sleeping and doing stuff outside the game and all. And of the two toons I'm actually playing, only one of them is geared at the level of my guild; the other one is still trying to gear up in heroics so I can run him in the second set of 10-mans.

I still recall what it was like questing for level, and I really enjoyed it and fully intend to resume doing it with the rest of my toons (gotta get one of each to level cap, of course). I just thought that I'd be done seriously working them once they dinged 80; now, of course, I realize the depth of my previous error in thinking.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I hate being sick

So now I'm sick. Started on Friday, and I really thought it was just allergies but I can be stupid that way. My poor baby girl (11 years old, now, so not so much really a baby) was running a fever and, when we checked her throat we saw white spots on it. So Saturday morning we trooped on down to the pediatrician's office.

Hooray! She doesn't have strep throat.

Boo! She does have mono.

I'm pretty sure I don't have mono, or at least I hope to diety I don't have mono. I do have a lovely cough and a slight fever and a head full of mucus. Bleah.

So now I'm "enjoying" a self-imposed exile to the bed and/or the couch with a belly full of faux-Sudafed (thanks, legislators and meth-heads!) in the hopes that I'll get my insides back in order enough to go back to work.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Shazam Is Awesome!

Shazam, the iPhone app, is completely made of awesome. The promo for the new season of "House" has a cool song that I didn't know, but Kathy and I wanted to buy it. In the bad old pre-Shazam days, we'd have just been screwed. Instead, fire up Shazam, hit the "tag now" button, and let the commercial play. Not only did it identify the song, but makes it easy to purchase from the iTunes Music Store. Yay Shazam!

Interestingly enough, that version pegged out the "relevance" meter when searching for the title. Apparently lots of other people are also Shazam-ing commercials too. We're a meme.

Now go download it for your iPhone and use it. A lot.

P.S. The song is "Grounds for Divorce" by Elbow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Universal Attribute

The Greedy Goblin went to Warsong Gulch. What he found there is people acting like people act: stupid. I recently farmed up enough marks to get my main (and Kathy’s main too, so you know how much of a beta provider I can be when I put my mind to it) the black war mount, and I found that (a) Warsong Gulch was the most frustrating of the three required battlegrounds, (2) PuGs all fought in the middle of the damned field for no damned reason, and (iii) I racked up several PvP achievements by standing in the flag room defending all by my lonesome.

What makes (iii) so surprising is that I did it on a 77 priest and again on a 76 hunter. Solo, in both cases, in a bracket that included plenty of 79 and 80 players. I expected it to just be a time sink, but I actually managed to get achievements in the process precisely the same way that GG observed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I’m Pretty Sure That’s Actual Irony

Gmail works better with Firefox than with Chrome.

F’rinstance, compose an email. Use the “indent” button to indent a line of text. Press enter to go to the next line and try to unindent it using the “unindent” button without also unindenting the line above it.

I’ll wait.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sadly Typical

Today I spent my entire workday with my head down, madly type type typing away. If I hadn’t met with my personal trainer today (and dang my legs are still all noodle-y), the only person I would have spoken to since leaving the house this morning would have been the cashier when I bought lunch. I might as well be working from home for all the personal interaction I squeeze into my busy busy day.

On the other hand, I managed to check off exactly zero (0) things from my list of things to get accomplished. Yay me!

But now the day’s over and I’m going home to play “Rock Band” with my sweetheart and as many of my kids as I can rope into it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


When I was a wee tiny lad, I was sick. A lot. Spent much of my first five years sick, including quite a bit of time admitted to various hospitals. Enjoyed spending time in an oxygen tent with double pneumonia sort of thing. And got quite a lot of injections in the process.

To this day I do not do well with shots. Not all that long ago, an injection would usually lead to my unconsciousness, or at least to serious tunnel vision and wooziness. Occasionally crying would accompany all of the exciting symptoms of impending falling out.

So of course when I acquired a wasting disease (I chose ankylosing spondylitis, which I heartily recommend to everyone), I got one that requires weekly injections to manage. The good news is that, with weekly injections of Enbrel, I’m not in pain and the disease isn’t progressing so I won’t be losing any more range-of-motion.

So anyway I had to go down today to have blood drawn as part of my managed weight-loss program (down 42 pounds so far … woo hoo!). Since I get shots every week and no longer cry/pass out, my wife didn’t go with me to hold my hand.


Holding hands with my wife is one of the best things ever.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Motivation … Fading … Fast

I don’t really want to work. The worst part is that I’m not terribly concerned that I don’t really want to work. I am, in fact, concerned that I’m not concerned because I am 100% booked for the next milestone and don’t have the schedule buffer to spend any time faffing around not-working.

I’m not concerned enough to do anything about it at the moment, but I have to keep an eye on that.

In other news, it’s sunny and warm out and I continue not to be a professional golf player, damn it all.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

"Star Trek” Is Made Of Win

I just got done watching “Star Trek” and ZOMG it is made of solid win and covered with awesome sauce. Our VP took the whole of the WLX team to see it this morning, and I could easily have watched it again once or twice right then and there. It was sweet.

The movie was great. It starts out exciting and kept the pace throughout. I sat there through the whole thing with a big grin except at the sad parts, where I got a little misty. Don’t tell.

The casting was phenomenal. I was really impressed at how well the actors inhabited the canonical characters. I completely believed that they were who they were supposed to be, and that they’d grow to be the characters we’d already met in ST:TOS. They even managed to sound like themselves without the actors doing impressions of the original cast.

I walked out of the theater amped, and have only appreciated the movie more as I’ve reviewed it in my head since then. This was a super experience and everybody should go see it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I've Tried To Explain Before

I lurv "Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld" and think you should all be watching it. Unfortunately I haven't done a very good job explaining, whether electronically or in person, why it's the funniest show on television.

Allow me to point to Matt Patterson's take :'Red Eye' at 500

Friday, April 17, 2009

This Ain’t A Scene, It’s A God Damned Arms Race

I have hosted my World of Warcraft addons at for as long as I’ve published addons (not long, actually). And for as long as I’ve known about it, I’ve used WowMatrix to keep all the addons I use updated because (a) WowMatrix had a Mac client, and (2) it aggregates addons from many publishing sites, not just Curse.

For quite some time, there’s been drama between Curse and WowMatrix. I am told, but this all happened before I was paying attention, that WowMatrix used to list the addons without links back to the author’s websites and stuff which, let’s be clear here: that’s really a bad thing. WowMatrix are also reputed (by Curse and WowInterface) to have done other asocial things, but as I said, that was before I was paying attention so I have no personal experience with it.

So now Curse and WowInterface have teamed up to implement some form of blocking so that my WowMatrix client can’t download addons from them any more. Crap.

Curse is certainly allowed to do that; it’s their service and they can provide it however they want to.

I however don’t have to like it, and will be moving my addons away from Curse to GitHub (probably) and having my WowMatrix link updated. It is really a trivial thing, but there’s not much else I can do (besides update my router to block the ads displayed in the Curse Client and poison the Curse addon data that they insist on reaping from my gameplay).

I also hope that WowMatrix is working on figuring out a way around their blocking.

EDIT: Upon further reflection, I have to refine my position a bit: I do not hope WowMatrix figures a way around this. Curse and WowInterface certainly deserve their ad impressions in exchange for aggregating and hosting their respective addons. I still think there is a significant amount of consumer surplus to be had here, though, in further aggregating the updating process. I've started building a proof-of-concept that will (a) auto-update all my addons from whatever source, and (2) will display the hosting site's ads and pass click traffic to them. WowMatrix is definitely in the wrong to obfuscate the ads from the hosting site, and I won't make the same error.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dang, That’s Cool

Passwords suck. Srsly.

In an effort to completely screw up my online existence, I decided I need to perform some password hygiene. So I have undertaken a project to provide all of my online personae with good passwords. “What is a good password?” I pretend to hear you ask? I’ll tell you.

It’s a password that’s so full of random crap that you can’t remember it. Bruce Schneier says you should write it down on a piece of paper and stuff it into your wallet, since we are all in fact pretty good at physically securing our pocket money.

But I can’t write small enough to write down all the passwords I need, so I went looking for a password manager. Additionally, I need the manager to have Windows and Mac OS X versions since I use both of those platforms every single day.

A bit of research led me to KeePass Password Safe. I gave it a shot and it looks good. Next, I worked on how to transport my passwords around with me. KeePass has portable versions of both Windows and Mac clients, so I copied both of them plus my database onto a thumbdrive.

Now I have to worry about losing and/or breaking my thumbdrive. The canonical fix here is backing up. So I look for a tool to sync a file (or set of files) between my thumbdrive and a machine somewhere. I didn’t find that exactly, but I did find this instead: Windows Live Sync.

There are clients for Windows (duh), but surprisingly enough we have a Mac client as well. Install on all of my relevant machines, set them up to sync a folder with my password safe it in, and now I have an automatically-synced copy of my passwords everywhere I want to go. Victory!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More WoW Machinima

I love me some machinima. “The Device Has Been Modified” is very stylish, very cool, and I really like the music:

Baron Soosdon has done some super work here, and seems to have quite a few other pieces under his belt. Well done, sir!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Me != Teh Innernets

I don't hate John Scalzi. In spite of our political differences (and holy crap there's a bunch of those), I think he's a smart, funny, respectable human being. I also enjoy watching him whip out the ClueBat(tm) because I'm like that about private property and taking authority over maintaining same.

You go, John. Kick 'em twice. Fargin' kneebiters, all of 'em.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Who Watches The Watchmen?

I do. It was really pretty good; both Kathy and I gave it 3.5/5 stars. I'm not sure how much it will appeal to people who aren't comic book types, but Kathy and I both enjoyed it.

It's dark ... make no mistake about that.

But holy christ, Jackie Earle Haley did a phenomenal job. Whenever he was onscreen, you could feel the controlled anger from Rorschach, and he was a serious serious badass. Mad props.

Monday, February 23, 2009

More Proof My Wife Is Smarter Than Me

I was resisting publishing my addon because it seemed more work than it was worth. Kathy, though, insisted I should put it up on Curse. I figured other people already had something to deal with the neverending influx of trash loot while questing; certainly I couldn’t be the first guy to keep having to throw crap away so I could loot the stupid mob so I could skin it.

So anyway, I published it: MakeRoom on To my complete astonishment, people downloaded it immediately without me even trying to market it. Then they started adding comments and suggesting good improvements.

As of right now, there are 463 downloads, and three people have marked it a favorite of theirs. Woo hoo! Go me!

As an aside, if you can translate the messages into other locales besides U.S. English, it’d be a big help: MakeRoom Localization. Thanks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

In Case You Find This Useful

Kathy was on me to put my addon up on Curse. So I did. It’s at There is a bug with the release version that’s posted that I can’t fix until I get home tonight, so if you want to check it out, do that tomorrow.

One Down, 15 To Go

I just completed my first week of the “20/20 Lifestyles” weight management program. For the first week, my diet was restricted to meal replacement shakes (sold by them, ‘natch), berries, and very lean protein. I was really glad to finish that first week and get to add some vegetables back into my diet.

The good news is that I lost 7 1/2 pounds that first week. Woo hoo! Go me!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weight Loss Program Woes

So I’m on this weightloss program for (counts on his fingers) four days now; nothing but meal replacement shakes and lean protein. When do I get to go back to Fatburger? I’m dying here.

World of Warcraft addon development is teh suXor

I’m leveling up a whole passel of toons. Six of them to be exact, and many of them have skinning as a profession. You can’t skin a corpse until you have looted it. Put those two together and you get “inventory is full”. A lot.

So I started writing an addon to notice when my bags filled up and destroy the cheapest grey item in my bag to make room for the new crappy loot item. When it was just that (find the single cheapest thing and get rid of it), it was all easy: just a bit of Lua code and Bob’s your uncle. Then I ran into the situation where I needed to loot two things before I could skin the mob. My addon destroyed the first item okay, but I was irked that I had to manually run the addon again to make room for the second crappy loot.

My friend SeanK suggested I open a window with some number of crappy grey items so I could easily click-to-destroy several of them at once. “No problem” I thought, and continued to think that right up until I actually tried to write the damned thing.

The documentation for the API is okay, such as it is, at WoWWiki. Blizzard of course doesn’t publish the API docs although I’m completely sure they have docs. But at least somebody is publishing something.

The big pain is the actual UI work. The UI is written in their FrameXML dialect (rather like XAML except really really poorly documented). The only saving grace was you can download a tool from Blizzard to extract all of the Blizzard-authored UI crap so you can see how they did it because really that’s all the docs they’re willing to share. Hmph.

The second big fly in the ointment is when you try to test the code. Lua errors in-game pop up a nice debugger window with stack traces and everything (from the !Swatter package, I think .. some addon I got as part of some other addon I wanted). But XML errors and your addon silently vanishes. Nothing. Nada.

And is there a schema file so you can validate your XML? Well, there’s a local copy embedded into the game files that you can extract via the Blizzard download tool, but why in the world does anybody do XML development environments without putting their schemata online at the URI where their namespace lives? Seriously … are you short the bandwidth or something?


Anyway, I finally got a release candidate after about two hours of honest effort embedded over two days of full-time cursing/researching/ReloadUI() iteration. Man, I wish we (MSFT) would take on addon development seriously because we would put out some serious motherf*@#!ing tools because THAT’S THE MICROSOFT WAY.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

They Both Screwed Up

Kathy and I watched the inauguration on teevee, and had a quick discussion about which of them screwed up the oath of office. I think we agreed that Roberts dorked it up, but the Language Log says they're both guilty. For extra bonus points, there are even Constitutional references in there! Win!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Recruit-A-Friend: A Post Mortem

On Thursday, the 90 days of my triple XP from Recruit-A-Friend (RAF) expires. I didn’t make the best use of my time, and at this point I really wish I had gotten serious about using it sooner. I wanted to scribble down a few notes in case I can save somebody else a bit of trouble.

First, let me say that I was trying to level up alts via dual-boxing. My wife and oldest daughter were just normally questing (they’re also RAF linked), and they got up to the low 40’s without much difficulty, but also without really working on it. If you just want to level up normally but faster, then go right ahead. Have fun. If this is you, then the rest of this won’t really apply to you.

Fun With Dual-Boxing

Like I said, I was trying to level up multiple alts. My original plan was to play two characters at a time, and then do paid transfers to get them from the linked account to my account after it was all said and done. I set up my environment  as suggested by WoWWiki and rolled up my first pair: a warrior and a rogue. I set the rogue on autofollow and drove the warrior. When I got into combat, I’d click back and forth between the windows furiously clicking and typing. It sort of worked until I got up to about level 10, where I was overwhelmed by the complexity of playing two reactive melee classes.

I looked at what was making things difficult, and it was that the follower needed to stop following to start fighting. Clearly I needed a caster as a follower instead. I also wanted to reduce the workload in managing the follower, so I wanted him to have two or three useful things to do.

I got a key broadcaster, so that any buttons I pressed in the main window would be duplicated into the follower’s window. I setup a handful of macros (follow the leader, assist the leader, heal the leader, get on/off your mount), and rolled up a rogue with a priest follower.

That worked much better. I drove the rogue, and when I ran into combat I’d hit the “assist the leader” button and the priest would Smite. I’d hit the “heal the leader” button and the priest would heal me. That worked great until about level 20 or so, when occasionally the priest would pull healing aggro and then I couldn’t kill the mobs before the priest ate it.

I refined the macros a bit to use “[target=focustargettarget,nodead,help][target=focustarget,nodead,help][target=focus,nodead,help][]” and to set the leader as focus. That worked almost perfectly almost all the time. I still died occasionally, but it was rarely from not getting the priest to do what I wanted him to do.

Leveling Guides

I am a big fan of Jame's Leveling Guides. I fdllowed his guides to level up my main from about 20 to 74 and was very impressed with the speed of progress and with the completeness of the guides. I also liked the price (free).

When dual-boxing, of course, you have to complete the quests for both toons. I never found a good way to automate the quest turn-ins, or to automate the looting, so I would have to click back and forth between windows to turn in quests, loot kills, and get the occasional quest that couldn’t be shared.

Also, I didn’t do all of the quests. In fact, I skipped over a whole lot of them, and skipped entirely doing quite a few zones. That’s because collection quests with drop rates that aren’t close to 100% really suck, and with 3x XP I didn’t have to do them. So I didn’t. Even with skipping collection quests, I still hit the level cap for the 3x XP well before the end of the guides.

Near the end, I gave TourGuide a try. This is an in-game addon that automates a leveling guide. It has a very minimal display normally, automatically tracks your progress through the guide with per-toon records, and is generally a lovely tool. Jame hasn’t posted most of his guide in TourGuide format, so there’s that to consider, but where the TourGuide guide matched the quests I was doing, it made it significantly easier to do (I did all of Dustwallow Marsh using TourGuide).


I enjoyed this, and will enjoy my new alts. I wish I had started seriously leveling them up as soon as I started the RAF instead of waiting until it was almost over because then I would have had a full set of toons at level 60+ instead of just the seven I’ve got now.

The dual-boxing was a fun challenge, and I enjoyed using my followers to help level up. I am looking forward to not having to use them, though, as they still represent a certain amount of duplicate effort (getting two full sets of loot items, clicking over to get/turn in quests, etc).

I also really enjoyed skipping all the stupid collection quests since I didn’t have to do them. Yay!

If you’re considering dual-boxing to leverage your RAF bonus, then I say “go for it.” If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to try to answer them.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Exciting new audiophile technology

Check out these new products from the Intelligent Design Team at Elemental Voice. They’re spectacular.

Monday, January 12, 2009

There’s a word for that?

English is written left-to-right, or LTR in programmerese. Arabic (among others) is written right-to-left, or RTL. And, it turns out, some languages are (or more precisely “had been”) written both RTL and LTR on alternating lines.

There’s a word for that: boustrophedon.

So now I have inflicted YET ANOTHER worthless piece of trivia upon your poor unsuspecting brain. Ha ha. I win.

Tournament Scrabble(tm) players, you already knew this one because it’s supposedly on your list of acceptable words. But you know what isn’t? “Boustrophedonically,” which is a real word but won’t fit within the confines of a Scrabble(tm) board. Neener, neener.

Monday, January 05, 2009

I Never Thought I’d Miss Mary Murphy

I hate hate hate her incessant screaming and neverending quest for catchphrase immortality. That said, we watched the premiere of “Superstars of Dance” last night; it was fun seeing more dance on television, but I would really have liked to hear the judges explain their votes at least somewhat. I especially would have liked them all to explain why they gave the Russian soloist such low marks. At least on SYTYCD the judges have to provide some commentary whereas SoD just has them spit out a number and nobody knows why they rated the dancer 6/10. Bleah.

It also took me longer than it should have to realize that the judge from India wasn’t negating everything the Argentinian judge was saying, he was just prefacing his vote of 9/10 by saying “nine” in some-language-not-English. Sometimes I are a dope.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Rock Band 2 Is Teh Awesum!!!!

Holy crap, Rock Band 2 is awesome. I've been playing it, both solo as well as with my two daughters, and it's been a whole lot of fun. It's awesome, covered in awesome sauce. In addition to all of its merits as a solo game, the fact that I can play it with two kids, one of whom is only 6, and still have good results says a great deal about its family-friendliness.

I'll now be telling everybody I know to upgrade. So far, that means ... um ... you.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Have a happy New Year, and I hope this year finds you and yours healthy and prosperous, or at least as prosperous as you can manage given what the hell is going on in these United States.