The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

June 4, 2011

Ubuntu and the Asus G73SW-A2

Filed under: Games,System Administration,World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 10:30 am

My wife was kind enough to let me go purchase a new laptop. I chose the Asus G73SW-A2. Aside from games, I’m doing a lot of work with virtualization, and the 16GB of RAM will make this easier. I got the laptop on Amazon for about $2000 plus shipping. It’s a great value.
Ubuntu on a new Asus Laptop

April 25, 2011

The Cataclysm 1-60 leveling guide… or not.

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 8:05 am

I’ve been back in WoW for about two weeks after a long absence. The interface and game play have progressed a lot. The whole experience is more polished then when I left. Aside from playing through the goblin start area (my sister recommended it and now I do too), I’ve been focusing on bringing a paladin to 85.
Leveling, Cataclysm style

April 12, 2011

Back to WoW! Really?

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 9:10 am

I’m back to WoW after about a 2 year absence. One of the common themes in the other MMO’s I’ve played is that many folks deride, vilify, and otherwise bash WoW. Every game has its faults, but after a long hiatus, I now recall why I like WoW. It boils down to polish and population.
WoW again? wow!

April 21, 2009

EVE compared to WoW.

Filed under: Eve-Online,World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 11:25 am

There are apples, and then there are oranges… EVE and WoW are entirely different games. Why would I want to compare them? I have time for one online game and I have to decide which to play. There are other games out there with good communities, but I don’t even have the time to give these other games more then a cursory glance before deciding whether to jump in. Age of Conan looked really good, but during the initial release, there were so many bugs and crashes that it was difficult to play. The machine requirements are hefty too. Since then, I’ve been a bit hesitant to try new online games if the barrier to entry is too high. EVE and WoW both offer trial accounts which can be converted to full accounts. When I find other online games with a similar model, I give them a try if they look interesting.

World of Warcraft is a fun game with nice well developed progression. The leveling quests are interesting the first time through, and the raids are complex enough to offer a nice challenge for a few weeks. Dying in WoW is almost completely consequence free. The mechanics are simple enough that a ten year old can play fairly well, but complex enough that theory-crafting can improve how you play considerably. Initially, WoW has a very low ramp. You are presented with a few basic skills and the simplest of quests in a very safe area. Sadly even at endgame, there are a few accepted options for each class of character. If you see two pre-raid resto shamans, they will probably be wearing almost the same gear. Crafting in WoW is very simplistic. Gather mats, know the recipe, make the item (most of the time). Gathering mats is as simple as flying around looking for nodes or monsters.

EVE is almost completely class free for a new character. There is no leveling as such. You train skills and earn cash. There are several parallel progressions in EVE. The skills advance as time goes by. You earn ISK, and you buy or otherwise aquire better gear. One can also rise in the ranks of a corporation or alliance. As time passes for the new character they will probably focus on one area; combat, research, industry, mining… This specialization doesn’t preclude someone who has been a miner for years from training into combat.

If you’re new to the game, life is very harsh. There is a lot to learn in what seems to be a short time, and there are plenty of people out there that prey on new players. After the tutorials, there are no bread crumbs to lead you to the next step (unless you’re a combat pilot. In that case, there is the epic mission arc). Outside the very basics, everything else will probably be a complete mystery. It’s like the real world only without mommy and daddy or schools to point you in some direction. Well, that’s not completely true. There are corporations which help newbies along. There are sources of info on the web. There are friendly knowledgeable people in rookie and NPC corp chat, but there isn’t much hand holding upfront.

If you manage to get past those initial weeks of being lost and confused, you will probably run into pirates and griefers who enjoy making your life difficult. You will also realize that combat and dying have real consequences. You will lose your ship. You will get podded and lose your precious implants. If you are not paying attention, you can also lose weeks or months of training if you die without an up to date clone. It’s harsh. It’s all so very harsh. At this point, it may seem like EVE is made to reward those who lie and backstab and murder the most.

There are lots of ways to cut down on being the victim of pirates or griefers or scammers. If you’re willing to do a little research and be smart, life gets a lot easier. Just like real life, there is always some risk of being a victim though.

There is a light in all of this darkness though. EVE has a satisfyingly complex progression for almost everything. Skills show off this complexity well. For instance, to fly a cruiser, you need a fairly short list of skills and they don’t need to be trained very long. To effectively fly a cruiser, you need a much longer list of skills, and this list of skills will change depending on the purpose of the cruiser. A vexor requires good drone skills, good armor tank skills and moderate gunnery skills. A caracal requires good shield tank skills and good missile skills. This complexity of progression can be overwhelming, but it also means that a character has a lot of flexibility in choosing a path to being an expert.

The number of main professions in EVE is pretty amazing. One can be a mission runner (like me), a researcher, a manufacturer, miner, explorer, pirate, anti-pirate, etc. One can also specialize into some of the more gang/fleet friendly professions like forward scout, ECM specialist, or sniper. There are also combinations of professions which work out well.

The crafting system in EVE is as complex as anything else in the game. Each class of items requires different skills and different materials to create. One can do research on their blueprints to make them more efficient either in materials or time. One can also use the invention system to attempt to upgrade the item a blueprint can be used to make. Evelopedia has a good article on industry.

The market/trade system is very robust. There isn’t a centralized market. You can sell your item from whatever station you happen to be in, but someone has to go haul that item to wherever they are. There are buy orders, sell orders, margin buy orders, and special contracts. Prices will vary depending on where you are in the universe. Sometimes, prices will be drastically different just a few jumps away. This makes the trader/currier profession potentially lucrative. Here is a great article on trading.

At the end of the day, the reason I prefer EVE over WoW, at least for now, is that there is so much freedom and so many areas of the game to explore. For good and bad, it’s also a lot like real life because of this freedom. There is danger and opportunity everywhere. It’s what I imagine the wild west was like in 19th century America.

April 16, 2009

Decisions, decisions.

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 8:36 am

The new content patch is out for WoW with the new Ulduar raid. I sat there for a few minutes last night with my wow time card in hand looking at the WoW account management page trying to think of why I would want to play WoW. The fact that my sister and nephew play was all I could come up with. I realized that I’m not looking forward to raiding for some reason. I don’t want to level another character to 80. I don’t want to level up professions, or farm for mats, or chase achievements. Maybe in a month or two I’ll feel different. So I put away my time card and did a level 4 mission in EVE…

February 24, 2009

Ventrilo, Wow, and EVE Online under linux

Filed under: Eve-Online,Games,System Administration,World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 11:42 am

I use linux for everything computer related these days. My laptop has a windows partition which I never use except to reproduce some Windows XP problems I come across in my work as a sysadmin. The distribution I use these days is Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon). It’s a little long in the tooth, but I see no compelling reason to upgrade yet. I’m also a gamer. When I want to go buy a new game, I go visit WineHQ and verify how much functionality there is under wine. For the uninitiated, wine is the linux way of running windows applications. It’s not perfect, but it does an admirable job in a lot of cases.

I won’t go into detail on how to run wine as there are plenty of web sites which will help you with this. I will give some tips about some of the issues I’ve run into which aren’t necessarily covered in the install guides at WineHQ or other support sites. I currently run wine 1.1.15. This version needs to be compiled from scratch since it’s not part of any distribution yet. It’s not hard to do and WineHQ has good instructions. Ubuntu 8.10 comes with a fairly new wine, so if you’re looking for something which works out of the box, that’s a serviceable choice.

Who should run games on linux? If you’re a sysadmin, or are comfortable with the command line in a linux environment, then you have a good shot at success. If you’re new to linux, you’re probably in for a steep learning curve. The instructions at WineHQ are complete in many cases, but they will seem arcane to the uninitiated.

ATI Video cards: I always had many problems in the past when I tried to use wine with ATI video cards. In the past, the 3D support has been pretty poor for linux. Judging from the comments on WineHQ, the situation hasn’t changed much up to now. I have had good luck with Nvidia cards.

WineHQ: On WineHQ, there is a tab at the top of the page labeled “AppDB”. You can browse this section to find info about whatever you may want to run under wine. The search also seems to work well. Use this to look at the various application entries and comments about various problems and fixes.

Ventrilo: I’ve had some issues getting ventrilo to consistently run well. My guild in WoW and my Corp in EVE both use vent, so I have to suffer through. I’ve had the best luck with OSS set under winecfg. This is probably why I have to disable sound in WoW. I suspect I’ll have to do the same with EVE. With ALSA set, I get the event sounds, but no voice under Vent. I’ll update this when I get ALSA working properly. Push to talk works for me if I enable “Use Direct Inut to detect Hotkey”.

WoW: For me, this has worked mostly out of box for a long time. Follow the instructions on the WineHQ AppDB site and you should be good to go.

EVE Online: The classic content linux client from the EVE Online site worked fine for me. This is being discontinued when the next expansion comes out, so I’ll talk about the premium client. The install seems to work fine. Occasionally, the splash screen will pop up and the game won’t start. I have to kill the process when this happens. Up to now, the premium client locked up frequently if sound was enabled. I read on a forum that disabling hardware acceleration fixes that. I’ll try that tonight and update this post if it works. EVE without sound is ok, but I’d like to get it working. Again, if you follow all of the instructions at WineHQ, things should mostly work.

February 19, 2009

Of need, greed, and loot.

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 6:52 am

Our guild has been progressing in 25 man Naxx. That’s a wonderful thing. My healing is contributing, which is a nice feeling. I’m not making as many stupid mistakes, and the loot is an upgrade for me. I’ve collected 5 pieces of Naxx 25 gear and most everyone else has too. We’ll be ready for the next big instance to come out.

We had a few interesting loot happenings last night. Well, they’re interesting from my perspective. All of the mages were rolling on what looked like healer gear with MP5. I thought this was bad manners in the past, but all of them are rolling, so I can only assume that mp5 is an important stat for mages. We had a poorly geared warlock join us for the first time. From 8 bosses, he needed on 5 pieces of gear and got them. His choices didn’t impact my upgrades, but I’m sure some drama will develop over this incident. The first problem I see was that the raid leaders didn’t put any boundaries on this player. The second problem is that he’s greedy. Well, stuff happens. I’m looking forward to the fallout.

January 27, 2009

Waiting on More Wrath Content

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 9:02 pm

Our guild has Naxx, Obsidian Sanctum, and the Vault all on farm now. We’re working on phase 2 and 3 of Mag. I expct mag to be on farm in a couple of weeks. I have my 4 piece T7 bonus, and any other gear I get will come from 25 mans… which our guild is having a hard time organizing. Strangely, we have 3 groups of 10, who raid on two of the same nights, but there just isn’t much interest in getting 25 people all in the same place. Below is what the t7 shaman set looks like. It’s not very shamany. In fact, I could be mistaken for a mini-lich king.

January 13, 2009

Sapphiron Down

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 9:39 am

Our raid group took down 10 man Sapphiron last night. We spent about 2 hours learning the fight. The successful try was like someone flipped a switch. Up until then, we couldn’t get him below 70%, and then everything clicked and we downed him pretty fast.

There are several things in this fight that everyone has to pay attention to. First, you must get out of the blizzard. The damage piles up, and once you’re caught in the blizzard, it slows you so it’s harder to get out. In our group, we let the tank eat the blizzards so he didn’t have to move Sapp around and kill folks with tail swipe. During the air phase, everyone needs to spread out, wait for the 2 ice blocks, and then go hide behind one. The frost breath that happens soon after will one-shot you. If you took the cleanse talent, you’ll probably have to help with life drain. It needs to be cleansed as soon as possible as it not only does damage, but t heals Sapphiron.

The caster loot was limited to the Circle of Life. I passed, as our other shaman was replacing a blue ring and mine are as good as this one. The Helmet of the Inner Sanctum drops here, but we didn’t see it this time.

We did 3 attempts at Kel’Thuzad, but didn’t get him down. We got past the adds, but the ice blocks were our downfall. We’ll probably get that fight down next week.

December 27, 2008

I’ve Got Friends

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 7:00 pm

This post will focus on reputation rewards for the restoration shaman. There are lots of factions to look at in WotLK. Most of them have at least something for the aspiring pre-raid Shaman. Some of the equipment is as good as you can get in raids currently. This will probably change as Blizzard ships content patches out with higher level content. This is going to be a fairly simple list with some comments.

Alliance Vanguard
Lordaeron’s Resolve

Horde Expedition
Warsong Stormshield

The Items from Kalu’ak are starter items and should be replaced quickly… except for the cool fishing pole of course.
The Kalu’ak
Cuttlefish Tooth Ringmail
Totemic Purification Rod

There is no tabard for instance rep grinding, and the quest line to start getting Hodir rep is long. I assume this will be a requirement in raid guilds as things mature, much like the shoulder enchants from Aldor and Scryer were in BC.
The Sons of Hodir
Lesser Inscription of the Crag
Lesser Inscription of the Storm
Giant-Friend Kilt (leather)
Greater Inscription of the Crag
Greater Inscription of the Storm

Outside Naxx, mail belts are hard to come by. I would consider the one from Ebon Blade rep.
Knights of the Ebon Blade
Dark Soldier Cape
Kilt of Dark Mercy
Belt of Dark Mending (cloth)

Argent Crusade
Battle Mender’s Helm
Signet of Hopeful Light

Personally, I wouldn’t go for the cloth chest. I include it because the stats are nice tough. The Spell Power/Crit arcanum is for those who are doing more LHW spamming.
Kirin Tor
Helm of the Majestic Stag (leather)
Shroud of Dedicated Research
Arcanum of Burning Mysteries
Ghostflicker Waistband (leather)
Robes of Crackling Flame (cloth)
Pattern: Sapphire Spellthread
Design: Runed Scarlet Ruby

Again, I’d pass on the cloth sandals, but the stats are not awful. The Spell Power/mp5 arcanum is for a more traditional mostly chain heal healing role.
The Wyrmrest Accord
Arcanum of Blissful Mending
Gavel of the Brewing Storm
Grips of Fierce Pronouncements
Sandals of Crimson Fury (cloth)

Frenzyheart Tribe
Scavenged Feathery Leggings

The Oracles
Design: Sundered Forest Emerald
Sharkjaw Cap

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