Vista Boot Failure

Well apparently some part of my Vista boot record or something in the partiion manager got corrupted and late yesterday afternoon Vista decide to stop booting up for me.  At first, I though this was a hardware failure – maybe the bios or the motherboard or something.  Some of the lights on the front of my PC were yellow.  Anyway, after messing around with everything I could come up with to try to fix or recover from this problem I called Dell tech support.  I actually got someone knowledgeable and helpful at about 2AM.  He helped me through some ideas and eventually suggested this was probably some kind of boot record/partition corruption.  

So today I worked to solve this problem.  The good news is I fixed it.  The bad news is it cost me $150 in hardward and software and about ten hours.  That’s a lot of wasted time.  Anyway, I’m going to go get a drink now because if I stay near this computer much longer I’m likely to break something.  (I already got so made I smashed a keyboard… man did this piss me off.) 

After I cool down I’ll have a whole right up on what I’ve learned about repairing Vista.  Also, I’m going to do another right up about some magical thing called Windows Recovery Environment.  Which according to all the blog entries (including one from Jim Allchin) should solve problems like mine with ease.  However, if it actually exists I can neither find it or figure out how to use it…  And I like to think I’m pretty good at this kind of stuff.  Anyway, it might be related to Windows PE, but I’m not entirely sure.  

Anyway, I’m going to stop now before I go off on a full rant.  I’m hungry and mad, a bad combination.  Perhaps a nice glass of Faust (Faust is an awesome new cab from the folks that make Quintessa, which is one of my favorite wines) at Cru will calm me down. 

Vista and iTunes

I just read this article called Apple 2.0 from the Business 2.0 sight.  It says that iTunes and Quicktime are not compatible with Vista.  I am currently running Vista with iTunes and Quicktime and I haven’t had to install any work arounds or do anything weird.  (Unlike dealing with my video card.)  

I have not attempted to hook up my iPod (because I use it only for travel and it’s already configured with another computer) yet and when I installed iTunes it did seem to warn me that there might be an issue here.  But this doesn’t mean that iTunes is broken.  I’m typing this entry on a computer with Vista Ultimate Edition and running iTunes.  I’ve also watched several movie previews on this computer in Quicktime.  I especially like the trailer for 300 – I’m really looking forward to that movie.

My only gripe so far is I cannot seem to prevent Quicktime from taking over every video file type.  Personally I’d rather use Media Player for some things.  Oh well the conflict between players taking over file types from each other is nothing new.  I wish they’d knock it off.

More on the In-game World of Warcraft Scams: Argent Dawn COD Scam, Auction House Gotchas

 WARNING:  If you receive a letter from the Argent Dawn telling you thanks for all your service to them and saying they’ve attached the present as a reward or a token of their gratitude.  This reward appears as a gift-wrapped item (commonly available in many places in WoW, probably the easiest is the reward for cleaning a grime encrusted object in Gnomeragon).   Anyway, it turns out this is a high price COD (100-300g typically) so do not accept it.  Hit return and send it back.

 So this Argent Dawn scam is not the first scam of this type, but appears to be the most prolific.  I’ve received multiple of these letters (on my main and one of my alts).  I know lots of people that have.  I assume it is hitting other servers as well.  If you’ve been hit by this scam, please post a comment preferably with what server you are on.  I’d like to try to get a feel for how wide spread this is.

I’ve seen another scam, this one got me a long time ago, popping up a lot recently.  I call it the Auction House Gotcha.  It’s simple and it also falls in more of a gray area.  It’s probably not a technical rules violation but it is evil.  Basically, there are many trade items (ores, bars, leathers, herbs, cloth, etc.) that have tons of the same item listed.  Because of market efficiencies these tend to fall roughly around the same price point.  Often you will need many of these items, especially if you are leveling up a tradeskill, and you will just click to buy them.  Click, click, click.  The auction house pops-up a buyout notice with the price, but if you’re buying more than 4 or 5 you start to ignore this.  And then boom, you hit the one from the jackass who put it in at ten or hundred times the normal price and you just bought a stack of something for 100g.   Anyway, watchout for that one when you are buying a lot of stuff in the AH.


Outsourcing Warcraft

Well has written a story:  Outsourcing your ‘Warcraft’ skills

I think the point is kind of missed in many places in this story, especially by the “long-time Warcraft player” quoted in the story.  People say this is lame and misses the point of the game, but I disagree.  MMORPG’s have an inherent problem:  they have to throttle forward progress.  There are always a group of people who can play almost 24/7 and get ahead.  So much of the stuff, including leveling up and especially making gold, are repeatative and often boring undertakings. 

I’ll admit I had fun leveling from 60->70 and that was generally fun.  Kudos to Blizzard for putting in enough quests and fun stuff to make it not feel like a hellacious mind-numbing grind.  But earning gold is.  Grinding for reputation is in many cases.  These things are just not fun, but they are throttles within the game.

If you have a job and a life, you cannot necessarily do these things at the frequency level necessary to be at the top of the game.  This is in no way a reflection of your skills and it in no way makes you lame.  If you like the game and you want to stay at the top I think it’s fine to outsource. 

It’s not like you’re having these services run instances for you – they typically are not capable of that.  But if during downtime you have them make gold for you (cheaper, but possible riskier than buying it), grind reputation, or level up an alt (alternate or second) character (so you can try something different), I say do it if you have the money.  Spending money on this is cheaper than a lot of other hobbies. 

I’ve done it.  I admit it.  I think it was worth it.  Anyway, there you have it. 

Flying Mounts are expensive!

In World of Warcraft’s expansion The Burning Crusade you can buy flying mounts.  They are really cool and are also a requirement for many level 70 activities.  So if you play, you’ll eventually have to buy one.  There are two types:

  • Normal:  60% faster than walking and they can fly.
  • Epic:  280% faster and they fly really fast.

The epics are really cool.  I highly recommend them.  So here is what they cost:


  • Riding skill training to 225:  800g
  • Basic flying mount:  100g
  • Total price:  900g


  • Riding skill training to 225:  800g
  • Riding skill training to 300:  5,000g  (requires that your riding already be 225)
  • Basic epic flying mount:  200g
  • Total cost:  6,000g (assuming you didn’t also buy the basic mount in the meantime for an additional 100g)

So for an epic flying mount (you’ll definitely want one) you’re in for 6,000g.  What is that in real money?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  So I looked it up today and found gold (on my server) going for $188/1000g – down substantially from a week ago when it was about $300/1000g.

At the new, lower gold price of $188 per 1000g the epic mount would cost $1,128. (Over a thousand dollars of real money!)

So your glorious new flying vehicle (which Blizzard declares that it own) is almost as expensive as a real vehicle.

Oh and if you want to know how much it costs in time, it is even worse.  My guess is that you can earn 1000g in 20-40 hours depending on how hard you try.  So figuring 30, it will take you 180 hours of gold farming (what fun) to get enough for your epic mount.  If you make over $30/hr in reality land that means the epic mount IS costing as much as a real vehicle at $5,000+.  Of course the fallacy of this argument is that you choose to spend your time here, so what is your leisure time worth?  I don’t know but this seems like it’s starting to get pretty expensive.

More on Vista

So I’ve been using Vista for something like four days now.  In general I am really starting to like it.  It definitely takes a while to get used to somethings… like the back arrow to go back to the higher folder rather than the up arrow.

Some minor things seem to either not quite work or to have changed so dramatically that I can’t get them to work they way I want.  Some programs seem to behave a little badly, like Quicktime seems to take over everything in IE now even when I tell it not to and the only way I can get it to let go is to uninstall it.  Which of course breaks iTunes…  So that’s irritating.

Also when I switch from a full screen application (like World of Warcraft) back to the desktop it has some glitchy refresh thing going on.  Given that my video card has 768mb I won’t accept that this is a hardware problem.  Maybe I need more new video card drivers… which frankly I’m a little afraid to install (if they exist, I haven’t checked).

So I like Vista now that it is working, except for some minor things.  My hellacious experience with the install process sucked and I would warn people about that.  But now that I have it going I like it.  I think the UI is definitely a lot better and certainly cooler and more aesthetically appealing.

As I begin to use Office 2007 apps I’ll post my thoughts on them.

Vista Update: Better

nVidia released a new driver today that fixed the problem with the Apple 30″ LCD.  So now that Vista is running 2560×1600 I can actually use it.  I’ve installed Office 2007 and will start experimenting with that soon.

The key thing:  World of Warcraft seems to be running great.  LOL. 

Anyway, so far I’ve just been configuring things to my liking so I don’t have much to report.  My biggest issues now are finding my old iTunes playlists and stupid crap like that.  I did a fresh install but I guess that still saves a copy of all your crap, which is kind of convenient. 

Anyway the UI is nice and things seem to be running smoothly now, another update will soon follow.

ALERT: World of Warcraft In-Game Scam (COD E-mails)

A quick warning.  On Kil’Jaeden (where I play) there is a new scan going on and I expect it is probably happening on other servers as well.

You get an ingame mail from the Argent Dawn saying something like:

Thank you for all your hard work killing demons for the Argent Dawn, please accept this gift as a small token of our appreciation.

The mail will claim to be from some Argent Dawn figure and will have an attached package – typically one of the various gift wrapped items (like the reward from those grudge-covered objects in Gnomeragon). 

The scam is that it is COD and it’s easy to fall for because it looks like you are getting a present and 100g/300g (whatever they send).  But really you are getting a present for 100g/300g COD gold.  So when you click you lose the gold.  Boom!

I got one of these for 300g and fortunately didn’t fall for it.  I’ve seen several people sending warnings about the scam in general chat.  So be careful, it would suck to have some random scam yank hundreds of gold from you.


eBay Banning Virtual Item Sales

Article from  eBay bans auctions of virtual goods

Well this makes my weekly tracking report on account sales in World of Warcrat difficult to continue.  I was waiting to restart it once things stablizied, since the release of The Burning Crusade (the expansion) it has been unclear what the right metrics were.  There have been a few level 70 characters up on eBay, but not many.  So given this announcement I’ll delay the report.  I’ll start tracking gold again this week. 

This is unfortunate.  I, for one, think that being able to sell your account is a good thing.  It you put thousands of hours (like most level 70s) into this, you should be able to sell what you’ve accomplished.  It’s a shame a few purists think you should just have to throw all that away. 

Games are a big hobby for many people, most hobbies involve collection/building and generate some value (although are not often wildly profitable).  MMORPGs are no different – as you play you collect stuff for your characted and you build it up.  This has some value – no where near the time you put into it – and you should be able to extract that value if you leave.  It is unfortunate that some game companies do not take this broader view.

Please also read The Prince, The Pauper, and The Purist, if you are interested in this topic.

Vista Continued

OK, so my last post was perhaps a little to vitriolic, but I was pretty pissed.   I kept getting an empty blackscreen after the first reboot.  Anyway, I will say that Microsoft’s tech support was helpful, I only wish I hadn’t needed to call them.  It turns out I had to unplug all my USB devices to install Vista.  Wow, never would have thought of that.  I’m pretty computer saavy and I’m beginning to wonder how normal people ever get this crap to work.

Oh, even better, I had to download a driver from Dell (for my hard drive, which admittedly is Raid) to get it to do a clean install.  What fun.  I had to guess which driver.

Anyway, I finally got it working.  Although I’m still languishing in the world of 1280×800 which really pisses me off.  But I finally got to the bottom of it.  Apparently this is nVidia’s fault.  The nVidia 8800 GTX (top end video card) is stuck in 1280×800 because of a driver problem.  So if you are considering Vista, an nVidia 8800 card, and/or an Apple 30″ LCD… they do not currently work together.  Supposedly the Dell 30″ works.  Here is the quote:

GeForce 8800 GTX: Dual‐link mode high resolutions are not available on the 30” Apple display.

It’s good to see with all the beta and what not that this stuff still didn’t get finished.  It worked great on XP.