Sunday, February 26, 2006

Economic impact

Since I've been playing world of warcraft a lot more lately, I've been noticing some interesting aspects to the game.

The game world on a server is a micro-economic system unto itself. people are buying and trading and creating new things all the time. in this economy there is definitely a few places where you can basically be a middleman and profit. Identifying and controlling certain aspects of the economy is key to your success. I think i now find this the most interesting aspect of the game.

I've found a few spots in the economy where I can make a huge profit margin, and a many more where i can make a slight margin. For instance, if i spend my days fishing and cooking deviant delight (turns you into a ninja or a pirate), then its ALL profit, at an average market price of about 1g per stack of 5, thats about 5-10g per hour. but then the market has a saturation point, you can't sell 10g worth of this on a typical day. weekends move things in the market faster because of increased population.

Another good example of how to make a tidy profit is enchanting, or disenchanting. my leatherworker can buy stacks of thick leather on the auctionhouse for about 50-70s per a 10 stack. i can turn 5 leather into a headband, that i can either sell to the NPC merchant for 44s, for a quick profit, or turn around and mail it to my enchanter, who disenchants each headband into about 1-2g worth of raw enchanting materials.

Another market I'm in is bag containers. my tailor can buy the materials needed at slightly less than he can sell the bags for, and make a minor profit. only problem here is that again the market gets saturated. people only ever want 4 of your bags, however people are making new characters each day, which creates new demand at a fairly steady rate.

Its also quite fun to control the market values if youve got spare capital. lets say you do a search on the same item your selling, and some fool is trying to undercut you, seriously below market value. sometimes people will even put things up for less than cost. buy them up, and now your price is the lowest price, and you can resell their things later on for a small profit.

So to keep track of average market prices would be a complete pain in the ass, but there is an addon called Auctioneer that does all the math and statistic tracking for you automatically. its quite nice, and saves endless hours. i doubt id be spending my time as an auctionhouse whore if it werent for this little gem.

PvP is starting to suck, since i hit 60. the horde had incredibly good teams in the 50-59 bracket, but in the 60 bracket, we hardly ever win. I'm not sure why this is yet. it could be many things. lvl 60 players often have access to voicechat, ventrilo, teamspeak, etc. and are therefore more organized in certain instances. one might also argue that because the alliance player population is about double that of the horde, they have larger guilds, and therefore more opportunity to get organized. and it also follows that the more organized they are, the better they do at raids, and therefore they get better equipment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Once upon a time.

Oh and reading back in the blog it seems I never made a post about the tremblant trip this january. It was great, with a few exceptions. we were invited to go to tremblant for a weekend with Aaron (the other aaron), nick, and some unknown number of other people. communicating details wasn't well done this trip, as with other nick-scursions. the "chalet" was a pretty old house, with some pretty busted up furniture, some old used appliances, and about 8 twin beds (without sheets), and a couple of couches, a fireplace etc.

ok it wasn't bad, honestly, it just wasn't what i pictured a chalet to be. i picture a chalet to be a log cabin of some sort, with a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace, with brushed aluminum appliances, comfy beds, towel service, preferably at the bottom of the ski hill, so theres no need to park the car, and you can snowboard or ski to the back door of the place you're staying at.

what it actually was was some cheap furniture thrown into cheap house. you know the kind with the really thin walls. perfect for a college drunk-fest where people are just going to either toss their cookies up on your furniture or damage it. not so good for a relaxing snowboarding weekend.

so the unknown number of guests turned out to be about 12-14 people. ok so, 8 beds 2 couches, 12 people, and one bathroom with a barely-working toilet. needless to say the next morning, the lineup was huge.

and the directions, let me talk for a minute about nick and directions. let me say nick is not the best navigator in the land. he has been known to hold maps upside down, and get confused about which way was north. many many roadtrips with him has taught me this. to start off with, we ride from the perkins in ottawa, where we were all given maps. innacurate maps in several important ways. firstly, the people planning the trip weren't going to follow the map exactly, and this wasnt communicated, because partway through, the route on the map uses a ferry ride across the ottawa river, which doesnt run in the middle of winter. After a few hours of driving this detail emerged from nicks memory. secondly the map was innacurate in that it wasn't a map with a real destination. we follow the map carefully, and arrive at: a stop sign, on a road in the middle of nowhere. it is at this point we figured it would be best if we called Aaron. apparently they didn't know which cabin they were getting till they got there, which seems odd to me.

Anyhow, blah blah blah, long story short, we stay the night we live through it somehow, with a few extra bedbugs due to there being no sheets to sleep on dirty matresses with. my legs completely failed me about 3/4 down the tremblant hill, and i had to walk the rest of the way, loralei had a great time snowshoeing, Phil got a royal flush playing poker, and we all made it home allright. Also somewhere along the way I managed to overflow the dishwasher with detergent bubbles. Never ever transfer dishes from a soapy sink into a dishwasher, without thorougly rinsing them first.

This goes right in the books with the other nick-scursions such as the time he got left behind in algonquin park when we checked out the crater, the invisible chilli, and the guiness stew that never was.

Neighbors? I have neighbors?

And here I thought I was alone in this city.

Since we've moved into the townhouse, I've noticed something quite strange. Our neigbors are saying hello to us, and coming over to talk. Weird. At the apartment, we NEVER saw our neighbors, let alone held conversations with them. well, not entirely true, we occasionally saw our neighbors when they hogged the one washer and dryer every week with 6 loads of laundry.

I'm a little wary of inviting people into my place that i dont know, because ive got lots of nice things that people would love to grab and run out the door with, or come back for later with their friends. I was actually a little afraid of the movers, or the satellite guy when we moved in. honestly, they get to see all of your stuff, your home theatre, your computers, etc. if there was a group of people to "scout out" a robbery, these people would probably be the best qualified to do it. granted i've got home insurance, so hopefully that would cover my ass, but who really wants to go through that?

Snowboarding isn't going so well these days. I haven't actually been to the hill since the tremblant trip in january, and its almost the end of february. the move, the flu, and various injuries and bad weather has kept me away from the hill. I should go this week cause I'm feeling better and I'm mostly done of the move, but I'm finding a lack of motivation.

Snowboarding isn't the social event i thought it would be. i thought we'd get together and have some beers and share the lift together, and teach each other techniques or whatnot. but thats not really what happens when you're learning to board. what happens is you're on your own, your friends are visible for about 30 seconds after you get off the lift, not to be seen again for several hours. no beer consumed, no fun times had. because i'm alone on the slopes 99.999% of the time i figured if i was boarding solo, i'd just bring my ipod. but im afraid someones going to slam into the back of me or yell at me to get out of the way of something, so i can't put earbuds in, and board to the music till ive learned a bit more. Oh well, maybe I'll get better and start having fun someday.

Rotten Apples

I don't know how many of you actually deal with mac users, but they're everywhere. and theyre smug. theyve been claiming for years now that MacOS has no viruses. and there's a good reason for that. noone wants to build a virus for an unpopular platform. everyone wants to write for the mass market where they have a much better chance to spread. The macs lack of viruses and exploits isn't due to it being superior in any way, its merely a matter of popularity.

Anyhow, recently, in the last couple of weeks hackers have taken it to the mac users and developed some trojans and viruses of various sorts. so smug mac users, up yours. you're just now starting a long journey down a road where hackers poke and prod your every orifice. windows users have been experiencing this for ages, and we're adapting. we have virus protection, automatic updates, etc. you have none of this. as my friend frank used to say.. "good luck."

Also in other mac news, apple has switched their hardware platform recently to intel. theyre selling intel notebooks and intel workstations, claiming theres up to a 4x increase in speed. which is completely contrary to the argument that all mac users everywhere have put up, that their old risc processors have always been faster than intel.

Since apple has switched over to the x86 platform, there are a few things to keep in mind. x86 is cheap, anyone can get their hands on one for a couple hundred bones, unlike risc. because its cheap, its the platform of choice for windows and linux users alike. because of the large userbase, the hacking community is also quite large. because the hacking community is quite large, they've already developed a way to get MacOSX to run on just about any old x86 box, and doesn't require apple's special hardware anymore. Linky

This is quite interesting. apple has always needed to tie together its MacOS with its own proprietary hardware, and in doing so, makes a larger profit. however since its development for the x86 platform, theyre going to have a very very hard time preventing it from running on generic non-apple branded computers.

Not to say that this isn't a good thing. its great for the users. budget conscious users get to try out MacOSX on their own hardware, and if they like it, great. more power to the MacOS, windows could use a bigger competitor. Apple also makes some really great hardware solutions, elegant, solidly functional workstations and laptops that anyone would love to call their own, so I'm not sure theyre actually going to lose much business on that end, its just that theyre competing in a larger market now. instead of a big fish in a little pond, they're a medium sized fish in a gigantic pond.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pushing the envelope too far.

I felt a rant coming on, so rather than blasting it at nick, I figured I'd vent on here.

Game developers (some of them) are pushing the envelope in directions and distances it shouldn't go.

I'm pouring over the latest hardware reviews in search of a great new dual core CPU, and they benchmark on some pretty intensive applications, and some new games. what i'm seeing is the latest, most expensive hardware will not run some of the games developed today at high quality settings.

I think some in the game development community aren't hitting the target. they should make their target a beautiful, fluid game that runs on the highest end systems they can buy at the time of release, with all the settings turned on. what some are releasing is games that run like ASS, and dont look any better than the last generation of games, because you have to turn off all the nice stuff.

Look at F.E.A.R. for example. I own a pretty great gaming system, and with decently high detail turned on, it runs about 10 frames per second. thats a slideshow. Another good example of this is call of duty 2. it's based on the ancient quake 3 engine, and it chokes my system to death drawing a few soldiers.

On the other side though, games like world of warcraft, guildwars, unreal tournament 2004, battlefield 2, and halflife 2.. they all perform well on this generations harware, and they're gorgeous. of course the beefier the hardware you get the better it performs, but you never feel like you're compromising if you bought a decent gaming rig.

My theory is that game developers have been running on the theory that processor speeds double every year or so. this hasn't been true for quite some time. sure, systems are still getting faster, but not at the same rate. by the time some of these games get good enough hardware to run them, the game will be old and obselete. how worthless is that?

thats my rant for today.

V-day

I forgot to write about valentines day.

We spent the evening at home, and i picked up some salmon, asparagus and wild rice for dinner in by candlelight. I baked the salmon with a maple glaze, very tasty. i picked up some roses and some festive decorations for the table, and it was a nice night in.

For dessert i made poor mans pudding. something marjorie made for us when we were in PEI for christmas. brown sugar, butter, water and vanilla to make a syrup base, then you make dough with flour, white sugar, butter, milk and baking powder. i added some cinnamon and rasins in the dough just to be different. you plunk the dough on top of the boiling syrup and in 20 minutes or so you get this wonderful bready-syrupy mess thats great for dessert. Apparently an old quebec favorite during the depression. Pouding du chomeur.

We also got to catch up on last weeks lost episode, since we didn't have TV hooked up last week. to quote Quagmire "I like where this is going, giggity giggity!". I can't wait to watch the new one tonight.

Moving in.... for the kill?

Almost done moving.

This past weekend just about everything got done for the new townhouse. the movers came and did their thing, the rogers guy hooked up my cable internet, and the satellite installer guy mounted my dish and ran cables.

I was worried that i wasn't going to get everything packed up and ready for the movers to take when they came on saturday, because i had the flu mid-week last week. but a couple of nights hard work on thursday and friday pulled it off, and mostly everything was sorted, boxed, and disassembled. they did all the heavy lifting, and were really good about it, except they werent smart enough to get my giant leather hide-a-bed downstairs. they got it part way without really thinking about it, and then being stuck, just backed out and said forget it.

me: want me to take off the railing on the stairs, so it wont be in the way?
them: no, no, it won't even come into play, you'll see.
ten minutes later, and after much grunting...
them: ok lets take off this railing, its stopping us from taking it down the stairs.

me: what if you turned it around this way, and then that way?
them: listen, we do this sort of thing every day, just stay out of the way and shut up.
ten minutes later... failure.

geniuses they are not. after they left (I told them to leave the railing off), i took out the mechanical bits inside the couch that made up the bed, and with loralei helping, i easily got the couch downstairs. all it took was a bit of forethought and measurement.

the cable guy from rogers was probably the most rude cable installer I've ever had. he comes in and says "where do you want the modem?", so i take him downstairs and show him the demarcation point, and he says "i just need to know where you want the modem". well, i was getting to that. fine, here, in the computer room. figure it out for yourself. and he did. most other cable guys at least try and chat you up for a minute while they go about their install. maybe he was late or something.

the satellite installer guy shows up a little later, which is good, because the movers had finished and i was still getting the tv set up and all that. had to coordinate with the superintendent, to make sure he was going to mount it properly. so its mounted on the brick in front of the townhouse now, quite solidly, and out of the reach of hooligans. its also aligned properly with this guys spectrum analyzer, so we should never have outages in bad weather again, in theory. he used the existing cable running upstairs rather than fishing another cable through the wall. some kind of multiplexer that allows my cablemodem and the satellite feed to work on the same wire. fancy stuff.

the projector room is set up nicely now, but the only problem is the wall im using for a screen is unevenly shiny. someone did a half assed paint job there and I'm going to need to re-paint in the springtime. After some research, I've determined light grey paint will work the best with the projector for good contrast. repainting other rooms is a possibility too, but maybe its better to wait till the wedding is over and done with.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Pwnage

Back to work again, I'm exhausted. I've been moving incredible amounts of stuff all weekend into the new place. I haven't had this level of physical activity since.. well, the last time I moved. Nick was nice enough to lend a hand moving boxes and boxes of stuff saturday and sunday. After more or less moving boxes constantly for 12 hours a day, 2 days in a row, I had to come into work last night to do some server maintenance for a couple of hours, and give my brain a workout. all went smoothly.

So now we've got enough stuff to actually live in the new townhouse. bed, bathroom, computers, kitchen. I'm sort of piggybacked on my neighbors wireless internet router for the time being, until rogers comes to move the internet this saturday. Suprisingly I'm able to twist the anteanna just the right way and get 100% signal now, which is probably better than my neighbor is getting out of it. I also won't have satellite TV till saturday either. I've hired someone to come set up the dish, which seems like a lot less hassle than actually doing it myself.

Went to costco this weekend with the membership and got some storage racks for the basement. my friend here at work has these things called gorilla racks, which are these enormously heavy steel and pressboard shelving units. so there won't be any complaining that we dont have anywhere to put things in the storage room. they can apparently also turn into a workspace too, if i ever decide to become a handyman.

So all we're missing is the heavy stuff. the couches, the kitchen table, the dressers, the bookshelves. thats where the movers come in. there's still lots of utter crap that we don't really need. i think a good lot of the "stuff" thats left in the apartment right now isnt really necessary, and we need to throw it all out.

In other uninteresting news, I've still been playing world of warcraft the last little while on and off. Playing pvp on the evenings and weekends when i have a spare hour. I play the horde faction, and I've noticed something: The horde always wins. My theory goes like this, the horde are played by more mature and skilled game players, who have a sense of need to get organized and accomplish the pvp goals. the alliance faction are played by a larger percentage of children, who run one-by-one, headlong into the hordes organized, ruthless band of bloodthirsty competitive gamers. I can say this because out of the 50 or so pvp matches I've partaken in the last two weeks, I have lost a total of 1 to the alliance. Others might argue that the horde has overpowered characters, but i think its balanced, and the only real difference is player skill.

To those not in the know, the horde is comprised of mostly monster-esque characters. orcs, the undead, trolls, and the tauren. whereas the alliance is mostly human-ish: humans, dwarves, gnomes, night elves. more pink squishy sorts. I think children are more often than not are drawn to playing alliance. its also a well known fact that on most servers the alliance faction is overpopulated compared to horde, on about a factor of 2:1. so we're the underdog, and we still win. go figure.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Mustn't sleep... Must monitor core

Work is pretty slow here for the last couple of days. I'm not on the critical path for anything. I've put the ball in everyone else's court. Yesterday after 8 hours of browsing the web I was quite literally falling asleep at my desk. I actually prefer to keep busy, it makes the time go faster, and gives me some sense of accomplishment. But I guess everyone has days like this at some point. Maybe I've been too productive?

We finally got around to playing betrayal at house on the hill this past weekend, which was quite fun. gameplay goes along and you discover new rooms, flipping over tiles, with random events and items and whatnot. eventually the haunt phase begins, and one of you goes insane, and basically turns against the rest of the players. however what that scenario entails is also entirely random. they have books full of about 50 scenarios, and which one is determined by what room you were in and what omen card you drew last. The traitor gets his own book, leaves the room, and the rest of the players read their survival book and try to sort out a strategy to stay alive. Theres a lot of dice rolling, and some easy-to-do stat tracking with little sliders. its sort of like DND lite. very lite. It's also very easy to pick up and learn despite the intimidating number of peices included in the box. plays in about an hour, so we got a couple of plays in that night.

So we got the keys for the new townhouse now. we've been preparing the place and making it livable. replacing lights with new energy efficient compact florescent bulbs, putting up curtains, getting organizers and shelf units for the new space. the movers aren't scheduled till the 11th, but we're slowly moving things over just to get the clutter out of the way. Looking good so far.

This weekend I also got a costco membership. I've missed going to costco. its an interesting way of shopping. most of the time you can never get exactly what you want there, but you can certainly get your needs covered. in bulk. With the new place, storage space isnt so much or a problem, so costco started to look more attractive.