Voice Chat vs. Text Chat

I think there are some pros and cons to each.  I know a ton of people that just stay logged into ventrilo (a common voice server) all day.   I’m not that enamored with the voice chat, but it is definitely useful in World of Warcraft.  Certainly for action and socialization, voice chat is pretty cool.  Text chat is kind of a nice way to retain anonymity and casualness.  Anyway, this article from wired.com is pretty interesting:

Voice Chat Can Really Kill the Mood on WoW

World of Warcraft – Arena Season 2 begins June 19!

Should be exciting new season 2 rewards (and you can carry 5,000 arena points with you into season 2).   The new armor is nearly identical (slight color changes) to the Tier 5 armor for each class.  I guess this is because it’s similar in stats/power to Tier 5 armor.  (That and creating a ton of new visuals is expensive.)

All the ratings get reset so it’s off to the races again for unknown rewards.  This seasons top .5% got super-fast armored netherdrake mounts as rewards – that’s pretty cool.  So I’m assuming season 2 will have really cool rewards for the top players as well.

When the stats for the new armor and weapons gets posted somewhere I’ll link to it.

The Sopranos Finale

So I like the Sopranos… I don’t worship it though.  It’s a pretty good show and I’ve watched it on and off.  I’ve been a little bit more of an avid spectator for the last season because, well, it is the last season.  Now it’s over.  And let me say:  the finale kind of sucked.  I mean last week was pretty good and built up to what could have been a compelling end.  But really nothing got wrapped up.  I guess that’s ok but (vague spoiler) when a show ends in such a way that you think your DVR screwed up and cut off…. well that is just dumb.  I mean it wasn’t even a fade to black.  It was just black.  WTF.  Oh well, I guess it’s different.  But I hope it’s not a trend, shows that end with a straight cut to black after years – that’s a cop out in my opinion. 

WTF Is the Point?

Windows / MSN / Live (Whatever the branding is today) Messenger is something I use a lot.  Right now I can’t login.  I upgraded to a new version because it implied that might be the issue.  It wasn’t.  The message I am currently getting:

Signing in to Windows Live Messenger failed because the service is temporarily unavailable.   Please try again later.

Error code: 81000314

I got a similar message on the Windows Messenger I had before I upgraded to the Live one.  Anyway, so there is a “Service status” option which takes me to http://status.messenger.msn.com/Status.aspx and it says:

All systems are stable and running.

It even has a nice little check box.

So my quesiton is:  What is the point of having a stauts page if it lies?  Clearly the service is down, how could the status page not now?

BTW, Microsoft isn’t the only one that is at fault for this.  Blizzard’s World of Warcraft Realm Status pages routinely say things are up when they are down.

My plea:

If you are going to have a status page for your service:  TELL THE TRUTH – I mean, we are already using your service and we care enough about it to check the status page.  At least tell us the truth about what is going on.  K THX.


What the Hell – Using an iPod on multiple PCs

So I’ve complained a lot about Vista… and believe me I still have a lot of complaints.  But one of the biggest issues was getting iTunes and Vista to work together.  Which, while a hassle, worked.  (Now it works a little better because I got a Vista driver upgrade to my Razer Tarantuala keyboard which let’s me use the forward/back, volume keys, etc. more consistently while I’m in other apps.  So that process worked well.)

On the other hand, I’m not so happy with Apple right now.  They’re usually pretty good on the software and hardware fronts – and especially on integration.  I’ve got a few iPods – most of which are, honestly, collecting dust right now.  I use one when I travel, but recently I haven’t been travelling that much so I haven’t used it.  But on Friday we got an office for the game company and I’ll be spending most of my time there (as opposed to working from home).   More on this in a bit.

So given my large collection of music (mix of ripped MP3 files and iTunes purchases), I figured the easiest way to share them would be to use my iPod.  You would think since:

  1. The iPod is a hard drive.
  2. The iPod is authorized to play all the music.
  3. iTunes and the iPod generally work well together.

That I could just plug my iPod into my laptop and play my music.  Nope.  There are only three choices when I plug it in:

  1. Erase and Sync – basically make the iPod linked to this PC (which has no music).  not useful.
  2. Transfer Music – sync to this iPod.  I then have to authorize this PC with the iTunes store.  Not to mention it takes hours to sync during which time I can’t listen to my music.
  3. Cancel – this is dumb.  It shows my iPod in iTunes and I can see all my music.  But it is all grayed out.  WHAT THE HELL?

I might be wrong, but the experience I was hoping for was:

  1. Plug-in my iPod.
  2. It shows up in iTunes.
  3. I can play music from my iPod.
  4. I disconnect my iPod.
  5. I can’t play that music again until I re-connect it.

Now, I can play my iPod while it is sitting right next to my computer.  Where it doesn’t charge automatically.  Where the sound is not co-mingled with my PC’s sound.  It seems like this would be a common application for an iPod.  IMAGINE!  A mobile music library that I can play anywhere I want…. or not.

Wow.  That sucks.

Am I missing something or this just a horrible breakdown in the otherwise great iTunes/iPod ecosystem?

Net Taxes

 Article from News.com:   Net taxes could arrive by this fall

Yikes.  It’s here again – net tax debates.  The U.S. operates under a federalist system and has a long history of protecting states rights on all sorts of fronts.  However, this model is clearly showing signs of wear and if anything is going to break it, my bet (I wish I could bet) is on the Internet being the cause.  

The guy who thinks the Internet is made of pipes, Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens said he would like:

“to see an impregnable ban on taxes on the Internet.”

Wow!  Well Ted and I finally agree on something relating to the Intarweb… I mean Internet.   I say:  DON’T TAX THE PIPES… or anything flowing through them.

Here is why Internet taxes are bad:

  1. They are a huge burden on entrepreneurs.  Some states (like California) are pretty obnoxious about “nexus” which determines if you owe taxes to them or not.  It’s hard to keep track of and easily activated (like a sales person in California…. or possibly even one that visits a lot).  Anyway, collecting sales taxes is an incredible burden and just creates jobs for accountants and a requirement that entrepreneurs buy crap tax accounting software that makes developing cool and interesting applications very difficult.  This whole issue will be more critical as more entrepreneurs develop cool and interesting web businesses.   Whether it’s selling stuff on eBay – a big generator of new small businesses, but when does this qualify for sales taxes? – or a Web 2.0 innovator that has a cool new service that costs a few bucks a month or year for a premium service?  The burden on these business is quite significant.  Amazon and Dell can probably afford the accounting overhead, but not a small business. 
  2. If you think state governments are bad, imagine how obnoxious some of these little townships are.  I can’t wait until some backwater town decides to tax the Internet in some stupid way.  You know it will happen.
  3. Someone will decide to try tax e-mail or some bullshit like that.  That will be fun.  Let’s have various national, state, county, and city, governments tracking our every Internet activity so they can tax it.  Not to mention the joy someone in that chain will take in knowning what everyone is doing.  I’m sure nothing nefarious could happen…. uhm yeah.

If the bureaucrats who are so effective at wasting all the money we already give them insist on taking more, here are my recommendations:

  • Create a national sales tax and redistribute it to the states so at least it will be uniform to collect and pay.  (And if we’re lucky cause a panic and never pass.  Because, just like income tax, once they get their hand in the cookie jar they will never take it out.)
  • Only tax companies that do a large amount of business over the Internet.  Like $100mm or more so that the cost of developing systems to manage and pay all these gazillion different taxes (in Texas the sales tax is different in every county…. imagine having to sort that crap out as a small web site.)  

God save us from these jackass like Senator Michael Enzi from Wyoming who wants to mandate taxes on Internet purchases.   I’m glad that the National Governor’s Association is lobbying for this.  BTW, I bet those hypocrites don’t pay the voluntary sales tax now.

The states are collapsing into financial ruin from missing this sales tax so far.  Let them whine some more.  Besides, if they actually get money from some new windfall like this they’ll just waste it anyway.  No, I’m not cynical about government spending.  Not at all.  If only they were run like businesses. 

Oh and while I’m on the subject I love this one: 

“I’ve got to spend this money now or my budget will get reduced next year.”

Way to encourage the right behavior.


World of Warcraft – Arena Season 1 and Arena Season 2

Does anyone know when Season 2 starts?

I’ve heard its 90 days per season, but now I can’t find when the Arena stuff started.  I’m guessing that arenas started in late February or early March which means Arena Season 2 should be starting either the end of this month or early next month.

If anyone know when Arenas went live that would be really good to know!


Oh:  You will be able to carry 5,000 Arena Points into Season 2.  So I hope it has better stuff!

SHOCKING: Shock Jocks!

I think shock jocks are kind of dumb.  I can’t say I’ve every been into any of them.  I would generally prefer it if the radio just played music I like.  But then I don’t really listen to the radio that much at all so they, rightfully so, shouldn’t care much about what I think. 

This article from CNN/Money:  XM suspends Opie and Anthony is interesting.

In light of the Imus stuff (I mean he really seems like he’s just a racist idiot), this doesn’t surprise me at all. 

But, let’s evaluate this:


I mean these guys are getting paid millions of dollars a year to be jackass and push the edge of acceptable content.  And they attract very large audiences because of this.

There is bad taste on every one of these shows.  It appears the Opie and Andy thing is all about bad taste.  I don’t see how they can be punished for doing what they are paid to do.  But hey polictical correctness and whiners define common sense every day.

BTW, I think being a racist idiot is different from being a jackass with bad taste.  I think racist idiots should get some sense smacked into them. 


World of Warcraft – Patch 2.1

It looks like this patch is coming Tuesday (May 15) and that it is big.  Lot’s of changes here, especially in itemization.  It looks like virtually every level 70 epic (purple!) item is getting a significant buff in stats.  Especially items from Karazhan and the later instances (Serpentshrine Caverns, etc.).   Tier 4 and better armor is also getting bumped up.  Weapons are also getting a huge buff. 

For example, Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix, shown here in it’s post 2.1 stat (83.3 DPS +19 Agility +34 Attack Power) is currently 77.4 DPS, +16 Agility, +30 Attack Power.  This is a pretty big bump.  As a hunter I really appreciate it! 

I’ve been looking at posts on MMO Champion because they’ve been keeping a pretty good running update on what is happening on the PTR (Public Test Realm) with changes in 2.1.   Many of the updates are on WoWHead and Thottbot now too.  So if you want to see a specific change they might be better.  But MMO Champion is the easiest way to see what the latest news is.

They have also substantially reduced the honor costs of many PVP rewards items.  The epic PVP gems have been reduced in cost by 50% or more.   So if you’ve got some honor saved up, don’t spend it until 2.1!

The remaining question I have:  When is Arena Season 1 over?  I can’t seem to find this anywhere.  I can find references in blue posts (Blizzard / WoW employees on the official forums) that say Arena Season 2 is coming and will have new rewards.  They also say you can carry 5,000 Arena points forward into the new season.  So I’m curious to see how the rewards change.  (And hey, I currently have well over 2,000 points to spend and I don’t want anything that’s available right now.)  

So my guess is Arena Season 2 starts with Patch 2.1, but I can’t find anything definitive.  Anyone know?