Wow Screens

One of the things that I noticed while trudging through every page I have ever written was that I made a lot of posts about games. I suppose that makes sense, as I do spend way too much time playing them. What I found odd, though, was that while I have spent more time playing World of Warcraft than all the other games combined, I have posted less about it than any other game. I have 11 posts about Guild Wars but only 6 that even mention Warcraft. I mean seriously, I have 8 posts that mention Roller Coaster Tycoon FFS, and I barely played that game at all.

As previously mentioned, I have logged more than 2400 hours of play time in WoW on my Horde characters alone. Were I to add the time played on Alliance characters that number would nearly double.  That is way more time than I have ever devoted to a game. Even Diablo II, which I played the hell out of, couldn’t hold a candle to that number. Not that I am necessarily proud of that, just that I found it odd that with all the time I have spent playing it I didn’t post about it more often.

The game can immerse me so completely that often I will sit down to play for an hour and the next thing I know the day is gone. At least it used to be that way. They have been changing the gameplay so rapidly over the last couple of years that all the parts of the game that used to take up so much time (traveling at low levels, professions, leveling new characters) has been reduced drastically. Rather obviously they are trying to expand their fanbase to include the more casual gamer, but making it so easy has really taken a lot of the fun out of it. I have 6 level 80 characters at this point, and each new character I level goes exponentially faster than the previous ones. Part of that is just knowing the game mechanics and quests, but a lot of it is just the big nerf bat that Blizzard has been hitting the game with.

Prior to the release of Wrath of the Lich King I only had two characters at max level. Those two characters consumed hundreds of hours of my time as I leveled their professions and ran 10 and 25 man raids to try to get the very best gear in the game. Of course at that time the difference between the gear you could get in the raids and the gear you could acquire otherwise was enormous. If you were walking around on a Warrior with the mace that dropped in Serpentshrine Caverns, people would notice. I got whispered dozens of times by people just drooling over it. Now the gear that you get from the top end raids is only marginally better than the gear that you can get with badges acquired through running 5 man dungeons. Why waste all that time and frustration trying to get items that are barely better than the ones they are just giving away? It seems so pointless.

I’m sure I’m not done with the game at this point, but it does get tiresome doing the same thing over and over again. As I said, I have 6 Horde characters at level 80, with another at 65, one at 62, one at 30 and another at 14. Once I get them all to 80, I will have one of every class at 80, and then what? I don’t think I have it in me to run all the 25 man raids anymore, and even if I did I am never home at the hours when most people run them. So I just keep leveling my alts with no real plan for what is going to happen once I have them all to max.

This all brings me to why I decided to write this post in the first place. It had been a while since I came home from work -usually around 2am on Monday and Tuesday- and just played a character through the lower level zones. Perhaps since it had been so long, I was able to see the game with different eyes. The artwork in the game really is pretty amazing (at least it was for when it came out), and I absolutely love the world when it is very late at night, just before the moon disappears and the sun comes back out. I have taken many, many screenshots during this late night/early morning time, and currently they are set to cycle as my desktop background. Here I decided to share a few of my favorites (click on them for 1280×800, the resolution I currently play in. They stretch well to 1680×1050):

Even if I don’t enjoy playing as much as I used to, I still love the screenshots. I especially like the top left one (shot off the cost of Shadowprey Village in Desolace) and the bottom right one (shot overlooking Spirit Rise in Thunder Bluff).

Fox News misleading people? Surely you jest

After probably three years without posting any news, this one is just too precious to skip.  Evidently Fox News is again accused of airing misleading video.  I know what you’re thinking, not Fox News, surely they mean one of the more dubious, liberal media outlets.  Fox News is certainly above suspicion on this sort of thing, right?  I guess not.

For the second time in just over a week, Fox News is coming under fire for misusing old news footage. The latest flap is leading some people to charge that the cable news network is intentionally misleading its audience, while Fox claims a “production error.”

Wednesday’s incident occurred when Fox News host Gregg Jarrett mentioned that a Sarah Palin appearance and book signing in Grand Rapids, Michigan had a massive turnout. As footage rolled of a smiling and waving Palin amidst a throng of fans, Jarrett noted that the former Republican vice-presidential candidate is “continuing to draw huge crowds while she’s promoting her brand-new book,”…

All sarcasm aside, is there anyone who is even remotely surprised by this?  Fox News has been a mouthpiece for the Republican party since its inception.  Their stock and trade is to mislead their viewers/listeners into believing what they deem necessary for them to believe in order to demonize Democrats (although there is no such thing as a Democrat to Fox News; All democrats are Liberal Democrats when spoken of) and push their viewers/listeners to believe that whatever it is they are talking about is so right that every person in the country -aside from a couple of Liberal nutjubs- is behind it.  If there is no evidence to back them up, they make up the evidence.  Probably the only thing I find surprising about it in this case is that the subject is of the “who gives a fuck anyway” variety.

The last time they were caught doing it, just last week, in fact, at least they were trying to sell bigger support for a Republican rally:

The current mishap comes on the heels of a controversy sparked last week when footage from a conservative rally held over the summer was played on “Hannity” during a segment on a more recent rally.

It is kind of a blessing really; People tend to get more conservative with age, and Fox News has a viewer base with a median age of 65 (all the websites that I could find with a median age for Fox News in 2009 had the same number.  Unfortunately all I could find from the Fox News website was a “30%” increase in viewership).  While they are keeping the fleece over the baby-boomers, they are further isolating themselves from the moderates with these antics.  I, for one, know that regardless of how conservative I happen to get as I age, I will never assume anything on Fox News is factual.  Of course as the nation ages, values will change, and the Republican agenda will probably start to more closely mirror my ideals by the time I am in my sixties.  That doesn’t mean I want to be lied to.

This particular piece of deception is of such little importance it would hardly warrant a mention were it not for the fact that it really exposes Fox News’ capacity to outright lie to make a point.  Perhaps they should change their taglines from things like Fair and balanced and We report, you decide to something more accurate, Op-Eds for Old People or Inventing a more Conservative reality, would certainly be more accurate.

Amusing Videos

I have just finished converting the last of my old webpages to WordPress.  The total page count was 441, which I thought was a little bit low for every page I have posted since January 2004, but it must be right.  Hell, I haven’t been posting much of anything lately, in fact I have only about 10 posts since January of 2008!

While trudging through the content of all those old pages, I did happen across a few things that I had completely forgotten about.  The first is Pandora. This is basically a radio station with a 30 second commercial every 15 minutes or so. You tell it a song or band that you really like and it will start picking out songs and artists similar to that. If you like what it is playing give it a thumbs up, if not give it a thumbs down. It will then find more songs and artists like that one, and on and on. I remember liking this a lot when I first started using it years ago, but giving up on it because I was crippled with a 56k modem connection that made the songs break up pretty bad. Now I am getting back into it. Even though my mp3 library has some 82hours of music on it, I find that I am getting pretty tired of hearing the same stuff all the time, and Pandora likes to throw in something I have never heard of from time to time. It’s a bit refreshing to hear something new now and then.

Cartoons I’d Like to Fuck (C.I.L.F):

This is a pretty damn funny song. I remember laughing out loud, alone, in real life the first time I heard it. I posted it previously, but it is worth putting up again.

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny:

This is another amusing song/video that I posted about some time ago.  It is also elol-able enough to warrant a second posting.

This last one is a group called “Tripod” that has a wonderful love song.  They do love their video games:

I strongly recommend that no one else click anything prior to mid 2005 in my archives.  I did take a few things away from going back through them though, the videos above, for instance.  I also realized that the old posts weren’t nearly as bad as I remembered them, at least once they were set into the new format.  Amazing how the visual presentation can make them seem less like they were written by a retarded three-year-old who was very sleepy while writing.


WordPress has arrived! I have been playing with the layout for the past couple of days and have managed to come up with a passable replica of the old shadowtwin site. Mind you, I am only trying to match that theme for my own sake; switching to wordpress is a HUGE change and I need to have some sense of familiarity. No doubt even that will change once I become more comfortable with the new system.

Since I got it up and running, I have been deleting the wordpress index file every time I am done editing it so that the page would continue to load as it normally did. I am going to quit doing that now. I have had a few moments of clarity where I realized a setting that I need to change, or that sort of thing, and having to then upload the index file before I could effect the change is rather annoying. So until I get the rest of the site set up and the files converted to the new format, you can find the old main page Through this link. It is just the blogger main page that has been running the site for the last few years.

If you happen by, drop me a note if you have any comments or suggestions for the new layout.

Again, Click here to visit the site you are used to.

CyberPower PC response

After my last, rather angry, post about CyberPower PC, I thought I should probably post that I did get a response from them regarding the condition of the PC when I received it.

First I want to say that one thing that they did right was to never try to blame the damage on UPS shipping. I say that because while it may be possible to believe that a component had come out of place during shipping, it doesn’t seem that it would have been possible for the graphics card to unscrew itself, the CPU fan to detach itself, the front panel fan control to loosen its screws, and the Motherboard tray to also loosen its screws. This was clearly thrown together very quickly, most likely due to my email telling them to give me my money back if they couldn’t ship it on the date promised.

As I said in the previous post, I put the components back in myself, tightened everything down, and fired it up. It seemed to work just fine except for a high pitched squealing noise that was coming from one of the fans. Since the two fans that were flopping around loosed during shipping were the one on the graphics card and the CPU fan, I naturally that one of those was going to be the culprit. But in typical, lazy fashion, I wanted to try the easiest ones first. So I began disconnecting the fans one by one (starting with the case fans) as I powered the machine up. It turned out that both of the 120mm side case fans were making a hell of a lot of noise. I was able to bang one of them around to get it a bit quieter, but I had to disconnect the other one entirely to be able to use the machine without getting a splitting headache. The back exhaust fan on the case is also making a lot of noise, however I think that it is just louder than the others due to it being an 80mm fan and -theoretically at least- running at a higher RPM.

I sent CyberPower PC an email at about 2am on Wednesday morning when I first opened the box. That email said that there was damage to the machine and linked to my last post for them to see it. I sent them another email at around 11am, after I was able to determine that the case fans were the ones in need of replacement. I finally got a response to the emails via a phone call on Friday night (more than 48 hours later). The guy was nice enough. He said it would be no problem to send me the new fans, they just needed to verify my shipping info. So we did, and that was that.

So on Friday night they verified the info. I expected they would ship them out on Monday, I would likely receive them by Wednesday. Instead, I got an email from UPS on Wednesday evening saying that they had only just picked the package up from CyberPower, I wouldn’t be receiving them until Friday. At this point it doesn’t matter a whole lot as far as the functioning of the PC is concerned, I still have three functioning case fans and have been running it without the fourth. What does matter though is that when they had the chance to really redeem themselves from a customer service standpoint, they failed twice. It took over 48 hours to respond in the first place, then they called to verify shipping, which was absolutely unnecessary unless they thought I had moved in the two days since they had shipped me the machine in the first place. Then it took them another 5 days to go ahead and drop the fans in the mail.

So, would I recommend CyberPower PC? At this point I would have to definitely recommend against customizing a pc through CyberPower and having it shipped to you directly. However, CyberPower does have pre-assembled machines available on NewEgg. The machine that I got from Newegg came in within 3 days, was assembled correctly, and has worked flawlessly for the last couple of months. Also worth noting, Newegg has probably the best RMA program in the business, I have never had a problem getting an RMA, nor do I get the accusatory “something you did caused it” attitude. You can get the CyberPower machine pre-assembled through Newegg cheaper than you can build it on their site, the only downside being you can’t customize it so you just need to make sure it meets your minimum requirements or plan to upgrade it yourself.

I don’t know if I just got unlucky on my particular order through Cyberpower, but I do know that while I would gladly order another CyberPower machine (even the one that arrived damaged has exceeded my expectations) I would certainly involve a third party distributor in future purchases. While they may be slow to react to a single customer, I would be willing to bet my house that they wouldn’t give Newegg that kind of lackadaisical response time. Even if they did, Newegg wouldn’t pass it on to their customers as they have their own reputation to think about.

In a nutshell, to get back to the point of this post. CyberPower did make it right for me in the end… It just didn’t seem like they were all that concerned about getting it done very quickly.

CyberPower PC disappointment

Normally I am not the type to complain. Well, I complain a lot here, but I mean in real life I am not the type to bitch about a lot of things. The world is an imperfect place, imperfect things are going to happen, if you spend your time bitching about it, you are dwelling way too much on it and it just puts you in a foul mood. But sometimes I just get really, really irritated.

I mentioned previously that I was extremely happy with my new CyberPower PC. Happy enough, in fact, that I decided to get one for my wife as well. The one that I am using I actually bought pre-assembled from Newegg, but I wasn’t able to find a similar deal on a similar system when I started looking to buy a new one, so I went straight to the company’s website instead.

They give you options… Boy do they ever give you options… In fact, they give you every option. I chose to go with a gigabyte motherboard with an AMD Atholn 3.0ghz processor complete with a mean ass cooling thing, 4 slots for DIMM (upgradeable to 16gigs), 4x2gig (some brand) RAM with heat spreaders, an nVidea GeForce 220 1 gig video card, 4x red neon cooling fans, 500gig HDD, 22x DVDR, front panel fan control unit, and a 600 watt power supply, also threw in a red cold cathode light just for fun. I put my order in and they charged my credit card immediately. Then it listed my estimated ship date to be 16 days later.

Now the delay in shipping wasn’t a complete surprise; the website actually displayed a date a couple weeks in the future, but I assumed that was just so people wouldn’t get pissed off if it took them 5 or 6 days to get their system. What was a surprise was that as I checked my order status everyday, they had not even began to assemble the machine on the date it was supposed to be shipped. The order still just read as “payment processed”. The lines for assembly date, quality control date, final quality control date, etc. were all blank.

Since it was already about 3pm on the day they were supposed to be shipping the machine, I dropped them an email that basically said, “Look, you haven’t even started to build it yet, give me my money back so I can buy the parts and build it myself.” That email got a quick reply stating that the (some brand)RAM I had ordered was on backorder, but that they would upgrade me to Kingston HyperX RAM so they could get the machine together and ship it that day.

So, at 3pm they had not even started to put it together, but by the end of the business day they actually did ship it. And a few days later it arrived at my door.

I just opened it up, and here is the first thing I saw when I got it out of the box:

That empty PCI slot you are looking at is where the video card is supposed to be. At first I thought that maybe they had forgotten to install it, but then why would they have removed the shield for the slot. So it must be in there somewhere…

Ah yes, there it is, hanging ever so precariously in the middle of that mass of wires, a mass of wire which can be seen much better in this picture:

You can even see the now completely broken cold cathode tube floating around in there amongst the wires. But the fancy light was the least of my concern. Here is how it looked as I began to pull the cover off to assess the damage:

The Video card is actually sort of connected to the CPU cooling fan, which has also fallen off of the fancy heat disperser thing. Now they are both floating around in there beating each other up as well as the rest of the components. Here are a couple more shots of the Video card and fan, taken simply because I couldn’t believe I was actually looking at it:

The enormous cooling fin system on the CPU is also bent, but doesn’t appear to be damaged beyond cosmetic. The screws holding down the motherboard are all loose. The fan control on the front of the box is also loose and flops up and down every time you touch it…

I am very disappointed with the condition of the system and the non-existent customer service prior to my angry email. If one of the components that I had ordered was not available, why didn’t they call or email me sometime prior to the day it was supposed to ship to ask if I would like to choose a different type of RAM? Was the sale so important to them that they rushed putting this together to get it shipped? I would have been irritated if it had taken an extra day to get the system, but I can guarantee you that if it had arrived in perfect condition I wouldn’t be writing this -despite the wait.

I put the parts back where they go and powered it up anyway. It is currently downloading updates. The motherboard, power supply, HDD, DVD, CPU, and RAM all appear to be in working order, the only question is which of the fans was damaged. I know one of them was damaged because I can hear the high-pitched squeal of it even as I type this. If it is one of the 5 dollar case fans I will simply buy a new one. If it is the fan on the Video card or CPU (which seems the most likely since they were the ones banging around during shipping) I will ask them to kindly send me a replacement -which I will install myself- and hopefully they will; I would love for this to have a happy follow-up, but I’ll be damned if I am going to send this back to them and wait another month to get it up and running.

Update Here