Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category
I often post videos of ungrateful idiots. This is a refreshing change:
Amen to the thanks to the monks of Mt Athos, and to everyone who is faithful in prayer.
First trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby:
Visually impressive, in the usual (except for the dire Australia) Luhrmann style.
It will be worth seeing, but it is not Gatsby.
A month or so ago I outlined the reasons I would never play World of Warcraft again (mainly, Blizzard’s hostile attitude to its players).
But I checked in a few days ago to see what was going on. A new expansion pack has been announced.
WoW has a billion dollar a year income stream and some of the best game designers in the business.
And this is the best the WoW team can come up with? Kung Fu Panda?
WoW is becoming a Wii game.
For anyone not familiar with online role playing games (RPGs), while it is possible to complete much of a game such as World of Warcraft or Rift on your own, players frequently form groups to win fights or complete quests which would be impossible for a single player.
People take specific roles in a group. DPS (damage per second) players are the most numerous, usually three players out of a five person group. Their job is to kill the enemy.
Healers heal other players in the group.
Support players, usually found only in larger groups, provide enhancements (buffs) to other players, increasing their strength, spell power, health, etc. DPS, healer and tank players may also have group buffs.
Tanks offer themselves as targets to enemies. Their job is to draw the enemy’s attention to keep the healer safe, and to let the dps players focus on wearing the enemy down. The healer’s job is primarily to keep the tank alive.
If the tank is doing his job well, the enemy’s attention should stay on him, and dps players should suffer little damage, except for unavoidable aoe (area of effect) attacks.
The key task of any tank is make himself the most attractive target. In an RPG this is called threat generation.
Threat generation is largely a product of how a player is specced. This means how players distribute the talent points they accumulate as they progress through the game. Rift has a maximum of 66 talent points, reached when you get level 50. Sometimes players talk about ‘build’ when they are describing how they have used their talent points.
Although any class except a mage can act as a tank in Rift, there are very few circumstances where a cleric or rogue will be as effective as a well geared and properly specced warrior.
This is especially so since the new 1.6 Ember Isle update, which gave warriors several enhancements to threat generation.
The most common complaint about a tank player is not that he is hard to keep alive, but that he cannot hold aggro. This means that the enemies keep attacking the dps players or healer rather than the tank. The reason this happens is (usually) that the tank is not generating enough threat to hold the enemy’s attention.
The number one ability a tank needs to spec for is threat.
This is a link to my endgame rift tanking build.
This is Paladin/Warlord/Reaver build.
My pre-raid HP on this build is just over 12,000. With the Paladin’s Touch of Life, this effectively means an HP of about 20K.
This build takes every possible threat enhancement except the 20 point Warlord skill Promise of Steel, because that ability gives only marginal overall threat enhancement, and reaching it would mean taking too many self-healing or block abilities out of the Paladin or Reaver trees.
The only thing besides threat a tank should be concerned about is the best possible balance of armour, endurance, self-heal and block enhancements. A tank is not primarily concerned with group buffs, hence points in Tip the Balance, a self-heal, rather than Reverent Protection, a group protection buff, in the Paladin tree.
It is worth going up the Reaver tree to get Master of the Abyss, a superb aoe damage ability that heals for 100% of damage done, and for Soul Devour, an enhancement to the self-heal ability Soul Feast.
Where a tank needs to put points into damage to reach other skills, the total damage done is more important than the tree looking tidy, hence 1 point into Wasting Away rather than another point into Planar Attunement in the Reaver tree.
This build also gives you Intercept, which enables the tank to transfer threat from another player (often the healer) to himself.
Just a couple of notes for dps players. The point of your participating a group is not so you can gloat over the size of your dps. It is to get the group safely through to the end of the raid, dungeon or rift. This means you may need to sacrifice some of your highest dps abilties if they are also high threat. If you do pull aggro, don’t automatically blame the tank. Apologise to the group – it’s a pain for the healer as well as the tank. Think about which ability you used that was high threat. If you must use that ability again, let the tank know first so he can throw a threat enhancement like the Warlord’s Imposing, or use Intercept.
And remember, it’s a game, people!
I have played World of Warcraft for nearly three years. Now I am playing Rift.
I had two WoW accounts. That was from the time when you couldn’t have characters from both factions on the same account on a PvP server.
Because I had opened the accounts in different names I was not able to combine them even after that rule was changed – despite the fact they were paid with the same credit card, and all other personal information was the same.
Both accounts were hacked. Each time that happened, the response from Blizzard was accusatory, even rude.
I bought authenticators for both accounts. But the login only asked for an authentication key about quarter of the time.
Earlier this year I got an email from Blizzard saying one of my accounts had been banned, because I had been using a ‘hack.’ That’s a mini programme that enables you to move faster, walk through walls etc.
I had two 85s on that acccount, an ele Shaman and an unholy DK, plus a few other minor toons. I enjoyed playing the Shaman, who also had top level skinning, leatherworking and cooking. I was anxious to get that account back.
I emailed Blizzard saying I had not logged into that account for several weeks, and had never used a hack. I got a curt email back saying the decision would not be reconsidered. I emailed again, asking politely for an explanation. I didn’t get a reply.
I continued to play my other account for a while – I have three 85s on that one, a Lock, a Druid and a Pally. But my heart was not in it any more.
A month ago I said goodbye to WoW forever. For the last couple of weeks I have been playing Rift. It doesn’t yet have the depth of content WoW has, but gameplay is as good or better, professions are definitely better, the dynamic content is great, and support staff seem helpful and interested.
So far I have a level 32 Champion Warrior, and a level 14 Pyro Mage.
Rift will have to work hard to match the new content in WoW, and the attractions of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which launches in December of this year.
I have a suggestion.
One of the nice things about Rift is the soul tree system, which enables players to combine talents from different streams within a single class.
A major improvement, and something no other MMORPG has, would be to allow players to combine soul trees from any class – essentially allowing them to create their own classes. So you could combine a Champion/Riftblade Warrior with the Necro stream from the Mage class, or any other combination of any trees from any class.
This could be boosted by allowing any character to wear any armour, giving for example, speed and spellpower bonuses to cloth armour, parry and strength bonuses to plate.
This would add a uniquely flexible character and combat system to an already interesting game. If new content continues to be added, I think this change would make Rift unbeatable.
I have been ambivalent about Torchwood from the beginning. The constant ‘gay is cool’ theme was annoying. Captain Jack is cool, and he has casual gay sex, which he ‘needs.’
But gay is not cool. Indulging in homosexual acts is vastly more dangerous to one’s health than smoking or obesity. Let’s see the White House or the Australian Federal Government issue health warnings on that, and then I’ll start to listen to Michelle’s food advice.
Despite that, the stories were often compelling, and raised some worthwhile issues. At the end of Children of Earth, Jack sacrifices his gransdon, and his relationship with his daughter, to save millions of others.
In Miracle Day, the gay sex has become gay porn. And the story is so agenda driven that it is tiresome.
A ‘small town mayor trying to make a name for herself’ the ‘darling of the Tea Party,’ is presented as an even more grotesquely unattractive character than a pedophile murderer.
She calls for those who should be dead but aren’t to be placed in concentration camps.
Of course, for the last century it has been left wingers who have put put people in concentration camps, from Hitler’s National Socialists, to Stalin and Mao. Those same central planning leftists are the ones who have said that lives of certain classes of people, the handicapped, the mentally deficient, children in the womb, have no value.
The Tea Party is made up of people who value individual dignity and freedom, and the right to life of every human person.
So inventing a Hitleresque petty villain and trying to convince viewers she is somehow like Sarah Palin is as far from saying anything truthful as it is possible to get. And truth is important, especially in fiction.
And you could have guessed the plotters behind the scenes of Miracle Day are a huge pharmaceutical company which is only interested in profits, and is prepared to destroy millions of lives to get them.
It’s dreary and predictable. Goodbye Torchwood.
A letter from me to our local paper following a rash of rattled residents handing over credit card details to mellifluous malfeasants:
Residents report rorting by rascals ringing randomly.
Rancid rogues wrongly represent themselves as reps of reliable retailers.
These reprehensible rapscallions rip off retirees with relish.
Refuse rotten requests to ransack your RAM.
Ring off rapidly!
Kosher companies do not cold call clients for computer consultations.
Compliance with callous con-men may lead to credit card cancellation.
Help from hackers may lead to hijacked hardware.
Cut off cold calling quacks quickly!
In other words:
Neither Microsoft nor any other reputable computer security company cold calls users about virus infections on their computers, problems with their operating system, or anything else.
If someone calls you claiming to be from Microsoft Security, Global Internet Security, or any other tech supplier or tech support company, the caller is trying to scam you.
He may get you bring up the event log as proof of problems which urgently need to be fixed. The computer I am typing on lists 208 ‘problems’ for the last week. It is working perfectly. Problems listed in the event log are not a problem unless your computer is not doing what it should, when the event log may be a useful diagnostic tool for a technician.
Getting people to look at the event log is a good way of scaring old ladies, however.
Once you have checked the event log and are sufficiently alarmed, the scammer will either try to get you give him your credit card details to pay a fee for fixing these imaginary problems, or will give ask you to follow instructions which will give him control over your computer. This will allow him to plant malicious software which may track your key entries, giving him your ID and any passwords you use, or may pop up fake virus or system warnings later in order to get you to pay more money to deal with these further fake problems.
If you get a scam computer tech support call like this, just hang up.
As soon as I saw the previews for new Australian film ‘A Heartbeat Away’ I knew, and said, that it would bomb.
For the last several years, Australia has turned out movies which are preachy, boring, shallow, badly acted, have poor production values, or some ghastly combination of these faults.
Just who did script writers and producers think would want to see ‘A Heartbeat Away?’
This is a film about an irritating know all teenager taking over a brass band while the local community struggles against the machinations of an ‘Oh my God, please not again’ cardboard cutout of an evil property developer.
People who are interested in brass bands and band music are people of my generation or older. Did the film makers really think we would pay to go and see a movie that makes us look like a bunch of sheep – lacking commitment, whining, unable to organise ourselves?
Or were they aiming for the smart-ass teenager market? But smart-ass teenagers are not interested in brass bands.
If the film’s makers thought about this at all, the only group of people they could possibly have had in mind as likely viewers were people who go to the movies without having checked what is screening, and think to themselves ‘Well, there’s nothing else on, let’s see that.’
And once again, our money was used to make this. Thanks.
This is Ezra’s number six – The Innocence Mission – God is Love. ‘Rain or shine, this street of mine is golden.’ What a great line!
And this is one that is not on his list, but is definitely on mine – Gangstagrass – Long Hard Times To Come. This is the theme song from from the brilliant TV series Justified.
Over twenty years ago I wrote a short story for a church magazine.
I called it ‘Just Desserts.’ It was the story of a forty year old woman, Clara, moving into a small Australia town and trying to make a home there.
A small part of the story was about a failed cake which had to be repaired in order to keep a promise for a church stall.
Ten years later, I was a little surprised to find highly abbreviated versions of this story appearing on the internet as ‘The White Lie Cake.’ The story had been translated to the US, and stripped of everything I had meant it to be about.
I tried to get in touch with people who had reprinted the story, not to complain, but to set the abbreviated version in its proper context, and to ask for some acknowledgement. I registered the copyright in the US, something that is not necessary in Australia.
Eventually I gave up. It was in the wild, I had no control over it, and it was gone, a vagrant child.
Hollywood actor Barbara Kerr Condon found the story somewhere, and asked my permission to make it into a short film as a training exercise for her students. I was glad to agree, although there would be no financial remuneration. It’s a good little film, although Barbara’s version is much closer to the internet fable than to my original story.
By this time I had learned there was a one act play called ‘Just Desserts,’ and to avoid any confusion, changed the name of my story to ‘Sweet Vengeance.’
And here it is as a pdf file: Sweet Vengeance. Please enjoy!