Rummys Blog An world of endless Monday

Friday, 30 April, 2010

Graceling

Filed under: General — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 12:24 pm

I’ve recently read Graceling by Kristen Cashore

It has taken me a good inattentive couple of months, sovaldi sale though really that was just the first third of the book. I finished the rest off in a couple of train days and it’s much more fun when read at the intended speed.

It’s a good book, viagra a fantasy romance with an arse kicking heroine who doesn’t really like kicking arses. Though that’s really badly oversimplifying it. Kristen has a slightly unusual writing style but it is very readable.  I recommend it. Definitely not trash. I’ll be reading her next one.

Rating B+ to A.

so quiet in here.

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 12:22 pm

So it’s been a couple of weeks and let me have a quick think of what’s happened.

Well, glands I’ve been on an ICC 4/12 reaid with the munq’s, and great fun it was too. We wiped a couple of times, but not on the bosses. It was cheering to see the achievement spam when Saurfang was put in his place.

I’ve aquired very little loot. Voa continues to give me Enhancement PvP gear or I lose the rolls. This week I expect the teasing to escalate to dropping a T10 piece I’ve already got.

I’ve had to work (work work I mean) some evenings 🙁

I seem to have almost given up on the daily heroic. Mostly bored and cba spending the time. I did try one the other night, a PoS heroic, but I bailed before the last boss, 6 wipes is more than enough for me, especially when the last one was on the tunnel run!

So really, fairly quiet. I even turned down an ICC invite last night from the Pie Bakers because I had work to do.
I’ve been thinking about changing my UI (again) and going for a pre-packaged one.. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’ve also been thinking about all the bufs I get, I’m curently in 3pieces of T10 and 2 pieces of T9 with the T10 totem and I get:
upto 2 Hasted Healing Wave or Lesser Healing Wave every time I riptide (T9 bonus?)
upto 230 extra spellpower from Riptide (totem?)
1 super-hasted spellcast everytime I cast riptide. (T10 bonus?)
Chilled Mind (from somewhere), random proc 1 per minute.

And that is why I’m casting Riptide continuously out of combat.

I’ve also been thinking a bit about this pie chart from a few posts back

Looking at it, only 4 of those slices are actively cast by me. I’m not counting Earth Shield because just because.  Pretty much half of my healing is effectively happening without any “intent”. Riptide, though significant, is often cast because of all the bonuses (4 different effects!) it causes rather than because I think its a decent HoT. Not that I’m averse to putting a HoT on someone, just that Riptide’s HoT isn’t really that hot.

This pie chart didn’t even include the Healing Stream totem which is currently bubbling for about 1000 HPS when there’s plenty of raidwide damage.

So much healing coming from what I think of as Hots (ie. fire and forget).

Wednesday, 21 April, 2010

ICC healing for the lucky lazy healer

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 12:05 pm

Here’s my guide for ICC healing if you are a) very lucky and b) lazy and c) have a good group that are ready to carry you.

Which pretty much sums up last weekends raid for me.

Basic instructions:

a) get out of stuff on the ground ( clouds, malady target marks, more about anything on the ground that wasn’t there before)
b) run away from things that are chasing you.
c) stand behind the boss, and to one side.
d) cast heroism when called to.
e) when DBM says you have something horrible, run away from everyone else.
f) when DBM says run, just run. Away from everyone else.
g) heal and dispell.
So, onto the detailed boss strategies 🙂

Marrowgar:

Click on him, run into the red circle. Heal. When he starts moving run away. When he stops, run back to the red circle.

Deathwhisper:

Heal.

Gunship Battle:

Heal.

Saurfang:

Heal. (optional: drop Earthbind totem near the melee just before he summons blood beasts.)

Rotface:

Heal. Don’t dispell anything, not your job (you’re being carried remember?). When you get the disease thingy run to the blob tank, someone else will dispell you.

Festergut:

Heal. Be in the “ranged” group. Stand away from the other players. When you get the orange blob above your head run to the middle of your ranged players and wait for it to go.

Putricide:

Heal. Run to the guy who’s green. If you get Oranged, run away. (this is a Theoretical strategy)

Valithria Dreamwalker:

Heal. Lots! This is your glory moment!

Blood Prince Council:

Heal.

Blood Queen Lana’thiel

Heal. If you get “linked” run towards the other one (Shadow Crystal Focusing Lens will help point you at the target). If you get Vampired, you’re unlucky, suck it up and go read some real strat guides!

Sindragosa:

The time to be lucky/lazy has passed, you are on your own in the big bad world of progression raiding.

Litch King:

Huh? What are *you* doing at the Litch King? You don’t need me!

Achievements

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 11:47 am

I’ve been doing some digging in the Armoury activity feeds for last weekends raid… and this is how many times the players in this group had previously successfully downed the bosses:

Player Marrowgar Lady Deathwhisper Gunship Saurfang Rotface Festergut Valithria Dreamwalker Blood Council Blood Queen Lana’thiel
D (Guild melee) 5  5  5  4  2  2  0  0  0
S  4  4  4  4  2  2  0  0  0
M  5  5  5  4  2  2  0  0  0
D (pug hunter)  6  4  3  2  1  0  0  0  0
S (guild healer)  5  5  5  3  2  2  0  0  0
T  5  5  5  4  2  2  0  0  0
J  5  5  5  4  2  2  0  0  0
E (Guild tank)  5  5  5  4  2  2  0  0  0
Flowersz (Pug healer)  8  6  6  4  0  1  0  0  0
L (Pug healer)  4  3  3  1  0  0  0  0  0

All of which means that no-one there had previously downed the last 3 bosses! No wonder they thought me and the L-Tree were good! personally I think it’s because *they* were good. Which leads me onto my next post..

Monday, 19 April, 2010

Amazing

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 12:20 pm

This weekend I pugged Icecrown. Actually, there I thought I was pugging, healing but the reality was much more exciting.

I was expecting a standard 3/4 boss raid before someone had had enough and left. How wrong I was! Although they were asking in /Trade  for a healer with the first 4 boss achievement, as soon as I joined they said they were doing Festergut and Rotface.. I warned them that I was pretty new to these bosses – I’ve seen them both but only downed the easier one. The raid kept me anyway.

I had joined a half-guild raid. 7 of the players were from a small Finnish guild and a DPS were and 2 healers were pugged in.

I knew something was up when I got  on Marrowgar.

And on it went.. within 50 minutes Saurfang was dead!

Onwards ever onwards! I was shocked when the group pulled and downed both of the Doggies (Precious and Stinky) one immediately after the other. Then we one-shotted Rotface and Festergut! One hour 20 minutes in and 6 bosses down.

Still the raid continued! Skipping Putricide for the moment. We were completely out of my “zone” I’ve never read the strategy or watched any videos about the next bosses we did.

So Valithria Dreamwalker was heroically saved on the first go. Blood Prince Council took 5 attempts, but after the Warlock respecced we downed them. Blood-queen Lana’thel went on the second attempt.

And then we went back to Putricide, for 3 attempts. By this time it was getting really late, and I had to bail before it was all over – I was getting up for a ride in six hours time! I’m a bit dissapointed because this has denied me yet another achievement, but I’d already pushed it beyond what I should have.

It was an amazing evening and just goes to show several things…

1. Druids healers are fantastic, I was consistently outhealed by our pugged tree despite them having lesser gear.
2. We got lucky with the random numbers, at no point did I get any of the more annoying debuffs (like being turned into a Vampire) that require doing anything except spam healing.
3. A good team can carry a lot of newbies. Pretty much every fight popped up an achievement for a couple of the group, and the crimson hall popped up 9 achievements!
4. Healers really don’t need to know a lot about strategy, I certainly understood bugger all about what was going on. I know why I’m a healer now!

There’s no way I’m going to let all this go to my head, I know I was “carried” by the group, not in terms of healing output, but in terms of having to know and execute the strategies. Still it was a very nice night with some very nice people (Priate raiding FTW!). They forgave me for running out of flasks and I even got to see Sindragosa – and run away quickly! 🙂

You don't usually see ninjas with talbucks peeking over their shoulders

More achivements! 

Vale of Belvoir

Filed under: Rides — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 11:39 am

Look! See! I’m smiling! Though it doesn’t really look like me.

So we went to Vale of Belvoir this weekend to do a 30km pleasure ride on Casper. We might have gone for a fillup 40kml competative ride except I was worried that Cas wasn’t quite fit enough for that distance, page and he had been lame a couple of weeks ago on a local 30km training ride.

I needn’t have worried he was sound and fit!

The Vale of Belvoir is  a very nice ride, syphilis I know my perception is biased because Cas was sound, the sun was shining and we had a “no-fight” ride.

Yes, of course we “doped” him up with stay-kalm, and I’m sure the calmer and the lack of other riders passing him helped keep him calm, but horsie aside V o B is a lovely picturesque ride.

It starts well, not long after you leave the venue you pass fields full of pretty chestnut thoroughbred mares all with cute little foals. You go past old buildings and tumbledown walls made from the local reddish yellow sand stone. Every couple of miles or so there’s a pretty little pond you can imagine the local kids spalshing and tadpoling in (not that I saw any). Later on in the ride theres fields of little black Shetlands, again some with foals. It seems like a place taken out of time. You wonder if Miss Marple is sat in someones reception room taking tea with the vicar.

The scenery is a little flat for my taste, but occasionally you even get a proper vista of miles and miles. As if the scenery weren’t enough on its own to persuade me to go back to this ride, the groundwork is mostly unsurfaced, dry, bridleway with a little roadwork (usually with a verge) and only the occasional stony farm track to remind you of exactly what you aren’t getting.

If Cas were still barefoot I think this ride would be a permanent fixture on our calendar.

Cas was in such a good mood I managed to let him walk alongside me without holding onto the reins. Of course, being Casper, he can only keep this up for so long before he gets bored and I have to catch him as he trots past.

My personal rating for Sunday was A+, I think it would be tough for this ride to get anything less than a B.

Friday, 16 April, 2010

grumble

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 12:00 pm

I can’t remember if I’ve said already but I’m back in the Munqui Tribe so don’t get confused. There were two raids scheduled this week, prostate one to do the weekly raid and one to try Onyxia.

The weekly raid eventually got started an hour late, implant now I’m used to it taking us half an hour to get our act together. I truly don’t care if it’s a little late because the wait time is invariably nicely sociable with plenty of chatter and fun. Of course I wouldn’t mind if we’re all there and ready either. I can go either way. But unfortunately last night we spent a long time sat at 8 players trying to find some more, prostate and in the end we had to send someone to Dalaran to pick up a random healer. I won’t go into the raid itself, we were a mix of overgeared and undergeared players that made for more than usually enjoyable fights. I’m not being sarcastic, I did enjoy myself.  I did feel a little sorry, though, for the pugged healer who was in 25man epics!

Anyway, that was Wednesday. Last night we were to do Onyxia, we had 13 signups which looked like we were oversubscribed. Yet still we ended up calling it 15 minutes after scheduled start because we didn’t actually have 10 munquis!

Now, I have made my choice between raiding or social for the moment, but I can’t deny being dissapointed at the low attendance. I feel that if you go to the effort of clicking the  sign-up button you should make some effort to be logged in on time even if you have stuff to do before you can actually be summoned. Even in a “social” guild.

/grumble

Monday, 12 April, 2010

Wowsers!

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 12:12 pm

Wowsers!

I know I’ve been awful quiet on the WoW front lately, condom I know you don’t miss my little updates, diagnosis but still here’s a little summary.

1. I’ve gone back to the Munquis. This is not a comment on the Bad Apples, infertility definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”. The bottom line… I wasn’t signing up for raids and I was missing all the stupid guild chatter.

2. Torvalion is mocking me for not playing DPS. I’m running VoA 10 and 25 each week and I’ve not had any resto drops, but I do now have 2 pieces of Elemental Tier 10. 

3. I ended up this weeked with an unexpected ICC 10 man invite to the Bad Apples 2nd team (yup, I leave because I’m not signing up and then end up raiding with them anyway, ironic). It was a really nice run, single shots on all of the first 4 bosses. And for extra feelgood I passed on a nice healer weapon upgrade to let one of the the lesser geared players have it. Since this was an unexpected run where I was filling in I felt that the badges were payment enough. And they were, what with an extra 5 badge bonus boss thrown in and a lot of reputation points from the trash. Anyway the extra badges have bought Flowersz a third piece of Tier 10 a week early!

And on the “bonus boss”. This is the second time I’ve seen him, the first time was in a pickup group and the RL’s explanation that time was so confusing:

“Ranged spread out and pass the disease on”

I asked him to be a bit clearer, like what is the disease and how do we pass it on. All I got was “scroll up and read what I said“, and variants of the same. Anyway I couldn’t figure out why I kept dying until after the third wipe I went and read up strategies on the web. The fight is actually quite simple, a standard “tank and spank” with the occasional player getting a “disease”.

The disease stays on the player for some time and then “expires”, if you are nowhere near anyone you die. If you are near others when it expires they get the disease (all of the nearby ones). Once you have had a disease you are immune for a little while – to stop “ping-ponging” the disease between two players.

So “spread out” is good to stop more than one player having the disease at a time – BUT you do have to get close to “pass the disease on”, or you die.

Anyway, last night the BA’s raid leader explained the fight to the newbies and we one shotted him. It does annoy me when Raid leaders don’t explain things well, even after being told that I don’t understand.

Playing with my new lappy

Filed under: General — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 11:35 am

Upgrading to 64bit Windows 7.

I tried to upgrade to 64 bit Windows 7 (taking a backup using the bundled Samsung Recovery Solution first). It didn’t go so bad, drugs there was a difficult period getting the network reconnected because I hadn’t already downloaded the appropriate driver, and couldn’t download it because….. I didn’t have the network drivers! Doh! Anyway, once I had the network drivers I tried to get a 64 bit driver for the video card, and that’s where it all went wrong. The 64bit driver package on the Samsung site refused to install because it said I wasn’t using the right Operating system, the bitmap also said something about “32 bit”. Samsung’s bundled update manager also failed and locked trying to install this driver. Bad Samsung! (I think they ahve since fixed this problem) 

So I called it and restored the old 32 bit Windows 7 using the provided Recovery solution available from the boot menu. Much to my amazement, 30 minutes later I was right back where I started, no problems at all! Kudos to Samsung for making a potential nightmare scenario painless. Kudos away from Samsung though for putting a duff driver up on their site in the first place! 

I will be keeping an eye on their site and probably trying again when they update this driver. [edit: they have put up a new driver now] 

Stepping into the 3rd dimension….

Cool, or what? (image from the Guardian online)

 So once I was back in the normal world I thought I would install a free 3D “anaglyph” driver. Installation was easy peasy and I donned my red/cyan cardboard glasses and braced myself for the ultimate in home 3D gaming. My girlfriend laughed at me for looking like a total whacked out geek. I need to get some steampunk 3D glasses, then at least I’d feel cool while she laughed at me. 

Is Steampunk Cooler?

How did it go? 

  • It ran fine.
  • It was indeed 3D.
  • It wasn’t even a little bit like “being there”.
  • I got a headache!

I shan’t be doing that again for a while! 🙂

R780 review

Filed under: General — Andrew.Rowbottom @ 11:27 am

Last week I got hold of a new laptop, see a Samsung R780. Something of a splash out for me since my old laptop was only 3 years old and probably still good for another year. I would have preferred the smaller model (R580) but it wasn’t available with the same kind of spec. There are some other reviews available on the web, site the most comprehensive is at notebookcheck.com, unhealthy this is a review of the slightly better model, but virtually everything still applies.

My very first impression was that it’s big, it’s literally twice the size of Sue’s netbook, a Samsung N140, as you can see in this photo:

More than twice the size of a netbook

 The second impression was surprise at how light it is, despite being a 17.3 inch screen it’s still lighter than my old Dell 15.6 incher.

Battery life.

I’ve gotten used to keeping my dell tethered to the mains socket and this one is going to be no different, the small battery means I’ll not get too much more than 2 hours of web browsing and, I imagine, barely any gaming before it’s time to recharge, still it’s enough for a bit of browsing in bed morning and evening.

The keyboard.

This is probably my least favourite bit. It’s a “scrabble tile” style of keyboard with a numeric keypad. The key caps are flat and the home keys aren’t marked very well. The numeric keypad means the actual typing zone is pushed off to the left. The very light-touch keys don’t give a lot of tactile feedback and occasionally seem to “bounce” giving me doubled up keypresses. I think I’ll have to go into the accessibility section of the control panel to see if there’s anything I can fix in software to reduce the bouncing.

More significantly for some users is the lack of “media” buttons, there are no mute/volume up&down/pause/next track/prev track buttons. The volume can be adjusted using FN+cursor keys and Mute is miles away. But this is an odd lack on a machine of this spec.

Weight.

As I mentioned, it’s quite lightweight for its size, it isn’t any trouble at all resting it on my laptop for extended playing.

Screen.

This is huge at 17.3 inches and quite colourful compared the the dell. It is “proper” 16:9 widescreen, though at 1600:900 not quite full HD. The angle of view is quite tight, particularly vertically, when it’s on my lap I can see that the top and bottom are slightly brighter than the middle, this dissapears if you put the machine a little further away, say on a desktop. Sue says that it is clearer from the sides than my old lappy though. I’m sure we will be able to watch iPlayer in bed with no problems. In fact the closer screen will mean that visually it will be much bigger than our TV (which is only 20 inches and a good 3m away).

Samsung’s warranty says that you can have up to 2 “light pixels” and 4 “dark pixels” with no more than 4 dodgy pixels in total. I was a bit worried by this, but my screen has no defects (your mileage may vary of course).

Performance.

Yup it’s well nippy. Some of this will be because its a new system missing all of the Crud that 3 years continuous use will put on an older system. Some will be because it’s Windows7 and not Vista. Some will be the 4GB instead of 2GB of RAM. And finally some will simply be the faster CPU and GPU.

Gaming.

For me, one of the most desired features of this machine was its powerful (for a laptop) GPU, an NVidia 330M which knocks the spots of my old ATI X1400. I only really play one game, World of Warcraft, but I can turn everything up to “Ultra”, knock the shadows down a few notches, set the NVidia to prefer quality, set the AA to max and still get a better framerate that I used to. I do like shadows! The big screen is really big and high res! I actually feel like I can see more of the world.

Heat and noise.

I never realised that this could be an issue, my old laptop got very warm, but not too hot to touch, this one is cool. And much quieter even under load than my old one when idle. That is nice in a quiet house like ours.

Bundled software.

 It comes with a bunch of fairly useful Samsung software, a blueray  player and dvd burner, and antivirus. It also comes with some 60 day trialware that, like all trialware, should simply be uninstalled! It does unfortunately come with only 32bit version of Windows 7 so half a GB of that 4GB RAM goes missing! Also it comes with NO recovery discs whatsoever, not even a restore disk! You are left entirely at the mercy of the recovery solution!

Webcam.

This is quite grainy, and I seem quite small in the image, but it is still better than having to carry around an external one.

Build quality.

 This seems fine, it is in no-way “industrial” but then they have had to compromise between weight and size. The worst thing is the DVD drive cover which is right where you grab the machine to pick it up.

Optical drive.

Although this model was advertised on Dixons site as having a DVD drive in fact it came with a Blu-Ray/DVD burner combo drive. Its a shame our main TV is only 1024×768 and doesn’t even have HDMI or VGA in so the bluray is redundant.

Price and alternatives..

I managed to snag this machine for £680, a decent price for the spec (common pricing is £790!). Note: mine is an i5 CPU with 330M GPU and BlueRay, and not the i3 CPU, poorer graphics card and no BluRay that is more common at the same price point – DONT get BURNT, I would not pay this price for the lower spec!

When I started looking I was going to get one of the ACER 5740G variants with very similar specs, 64bit windows instead of 32bit, a slightly better GPU – the overclockable ATI 5650, and 15.6 inch screen. After discounts that one was going to cost £660. I even got as far as placing an order when suddenly the stock dissapeared and the next delivery isn’t due for at least a month (if ever), the discount code would have expired and it would have ended up costing me £30 more.

Other alternatives were a Dell Vostro (business) which for a similar spec would have cost a reasonable bit less. But I’ve had a Dell and wasn’t impressed with their non-existant post sales driver updates, the old Dell had a nice piece of software that was supposed to let me know when new drivers were in – except it never did, not even when there were updates!

It’s a minefield out there with so many different variations on a single spec many of the spec sheets are wrong! MAKE SURE YOU ARE GETTING WHAT YOU WANT. I saved the spec sheet from the shop site when I bought mine in case they sent me a lower spec and I had to return it.

And finally I was looking at the Alienware M11x (again cheaper buying as “business” with the £90 discount voucher). I was seriously tempted, 6 hours of browsing-battery was very tempting, but a slower CPU, and very shiny screen were definite downsides, no built in DVD drive was also a minus. What finally soured it for me was the screen size, I cut a sheet of A4 down to the 11.6 screen size and looked at it – and NO, just NO! I didn’t even get as far as printing a snapshot.

Overall.

I got almost exactly what I was expecting from the review on notebookcheck, I am happy with it, and I’m still a Samsung fanboy.

Windows Experience Index

 

Click through for a huge snapshot.

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