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Archive for November, 2008

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authenticator1I’ve seen a few people searching on my blog for information about the Blizzard Authenticator. I don’t have one, but I’ve read a fair bit about them, so let me tell you what I know with a fair degree of certainty.

The Blizzard Authenticator is a small device you can attach to your keychain that provides a secondary layer of security to protect you from keyloggers and other morons who want to get into your account. Once you associate the Blizzard Authenticator with your account, you have to enter a number that is displayed on the authenticator in addition to the usual login name and password you normally have to enter.

As you can see from the picture, there is a barcode with a serial number on the back. This in technical terms is the encryption seed. When you buy the authenticator, you enter this serial number into your account. When you press the button on the front of the authenticator it takes your serial number and applies a secret Blizzard algorithm (likely fractal) to it that is relational to the current time and date. The result is a six-digit code that displays on the front of the unit. Since hackers don’t know the algorithm (or your serial number for that matter) the chances of them getting into your account are practically zero.

A few more random points:

  • No matter what anybody tells you, it’s not a USB device. It doesn’t plug into your computer.
  • It costs $6.50 and works wherever you play BUT make sure you get the right one for the region your account is registered in. I suspect the US version uses encryption algorithms that can’t be exported outside of the US. So there’s a different one for regions outside the United States. They’re all the same price.
  • If you lose it, you have to call customer support and verify ownership of your account to get “unhooked” from the authenticator

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northrendHey, there was an expansion a couple of weeks ago. Didn’t you hear? Like everybody else, I’ve been knee-deep in Northrend for a little while. Sorry I’ve been out-of-touch.

Most of you know I had three 70’s the day the expansion hit. I remembered hearing somewhere that the Horde were starting at one end of Northrend and the Alliance were starting at the other. What happened to that? I thought all the Alliance boats were going to the same place. Apparently that plan changed. So my strategy so far has been to start Nanoo on the east end (Howling Fjord) and Nanoo on the west end (Borean Tundra) and just get groups with Nenianae wherever I can since she’s not a really great solo’er. So far it’s worked out pretty well except for some Lightheaded/Tomtom incompatibility that seems to have ironed itself out.

I’ve done Utgarde Keep twice (once on Nanoo and once on Nenianae) and Nexus once with Nanoo. Poor Gweedo hasn’t seen the inside of an instance yet. Utgarde Keep didn’t inspire me a lot, but I really enjoyed Nexus even though the layout was really weird. My recommendation to you if you’re planning on running Nexus is to bring high-powered AoE with you. Those little respawning plant thingies I forget the name of are an enormous pain in the ass. They kept gangbanging our priest who died at least twice just because we couldn’t keep track of them and they kept attacking from behind. If I was able to herd them together into a tight group I found I could kill them with about two-and-a-half volleys. Probably a “real” AoE class could wipe them a lot more easily — but we didn’t have one of those.

I really wanted to tame one of those “bald eagles” as a pet for Nanoo and I finally did. I thought the ones in Grizzly Hills were level 71, so I worked like a dog to get to 71 and found out they were 72. Luckily I found out from good ‘ole Petopia that there are level 71 birds of prey that use the exact same model in Howling Fjord. What Petopia didn’t tell me was that taming one was going to be a lesson in repeated death. To find yourself one of these white-headed predators, you wander over to the area where you did the falconry quests. If you turn on track beasts, you will see little agro-neutral yellow dots wandering around. Some of them will be perched on little rock formations. Those aren’t the ones you want. Those are the males, which do not have the white heads. To find one of the females — a matriarch — you have to wander over to the cliff area where the dwarves are, but a little farther north. The females roost in the cliffs. So essentially you have to walk right up as close to the edge of the cliff as you can and look down to see if you can spot one, and try to tame it. I got lucky and one of them saw me and decided to try to peck my eyes out. (The females are hostile, not like the males.) Of course in the process of taming, I fell off the cliff. It’s a long way down. I really recommend you wait for the Imperial Eagles in Grizzly Hills if you want a bald eagle BUT if you can’t wait (like I couldn’t) it might be a good idea to bring a Parachute Cloak.

Two of my three “major” toons are hearthed in Dalaran already. Sure you can get a summon. Sure you can get a mage portal. But the cheap and easy way is just to join a BG group with the leader in Dalaran. Then either do the BG, or just /afk out of it. Then you’ll be returned to the battlemaster where the group leader entered the queue That’s how both of my toons got there.

Hope to have more impressions of more instances in the near future!

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chickenOne of my heroes from my childhood made a statement once about a starship he wasn’t too pleased with that he had just sabotaged. “The more they rethink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.” That statement has stayed with me for many, many years and it reflects my attitude towards addons. Yes Cartographer is wonderful (and I use it) but it’s just so damn big and there are so many things that can break in it — as is evidenced by how long it’s taken since 3.2 to get it stable again.

In a perfect world — in my perfect world — every addon would perform one function and do it well. That way there’s not as much that can break and when it does break, the loss is minimized when you have to disable it.

Annoying Buff Reminder is one-such addon. It does one thing (albeit for many classes) and it does it really well. Let’s use my shaman for an illustration of it’s use. Water Shield is — in my opinion — one of the best spells my shaman has. Unfortunately because of multiple things (attacking hits, critical hits scored, and time) that cause it to dissipate it’s very difficult to “manually” track when the buff has expired. Since I installed ABR, an obnoxious window pops up in the middle of the screen every time water shield drops. It also does the same thing when my weapon enchantment fades. I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say that my shaman is 250% more mana efficient since I got this addon, because my water shield is never down for more than a few seconds at a time. This alone — for me — is reason enough to have this addon installed, but it does something for virtually every class, not just shamans.

For my priest, it reminds me to cast Inner Fire and Fortitude. For my paladin it reminds me of blessings and Righteous Fury.

Last night I had to level my dagger skill from 0 to 360. With ABR it was a breeze. I just kept alternating Water Shield and Riptide, and my health and mana never dropped below 98% on a Northrend mob.

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frameYo. Design team. I can’t believe you guys didn’t think of this one yourself. At least I’m pretty sure you didn’t. I’ve browsed through the options screen at least two or three times and I haven’t found it, so I’m pretty sure you haven’t.

I used to have a job in my old guild as an event photographer. See… nobody wants to have to coordinate the pressing of the screenshot button with “the moment” of dinging 70, or 80, or any other really big achievement. Still, people want a picture to commemorate those big achievements, and the easiest way – by far – is to get someone else to do it. Especially if you can coordinate on voicechat.

Since you guys implemented the whole achievement system… (I’ll pause here for a minute so all you programming geeks can have your Eureka moment.)

Screenshots DO lag some computers, so it’s gotta be an option. But for those with fast processors and hard disks, wouldn’t it be great if there was an option to automatically take a screenshot every time you make an achievement? If the screenshot included the little achievement blurb at the bottom, it would be absolutely awesome. (Perhaps those with slower computers could have sub-options to select the categories of achievements they want to screenshot.)

Bliz boys, I just can’t believe you guys didn’t think of this yourselves. Better hurry. I’m pretty sure I hear an add-on developer racing to his text editor as we speak.

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Yup.  I made my Death Knight over again, and finished the quest line tonight.  I’m back in the free world, baby!

It’s been a long day.  Good night!

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wrath-of-the-lich-kingJust a smattering of random thoughts, impressions, and experiences from the last day or so that are Lich King related.

  1. If you don’t want to suffer on launch day, come to Canada.  I hit Wal*Mart at about 1:30 pm, shortly after lunch yesterday.  Not only were there no lines, but there were hundreds — maybe thousands — of copies.  This is the same as the experience we had with Burning Crusade.  Don’t ask me why American retailers suck.  They just do.
  2. A lot of people have asked me, both before and since the launch, what the first thing was that I intended to do after I had the expansion installed.  Yes, I made a Death Knight as soon as the game was loaded, but I didn’t play him immediately.  Most of yesterday — for me — was spent doing two things.  Gweedo fished a lot and upgraded his cooking and fishing skills.  Nanoo went on a scenic tour of the bottom half of Northrend, sightseeing and picking up flight points to connect the Borean Tundra to the Howling Fjord.  I wanted to know where all the flight points were so I could find them again later.  Some of them are really well hidden.  I found this article really helpful, as painful as it is for me to link them — at least you-know-who wasn’t the author.
  3. I did eventually play my Death Knight, a little last night and a lot more this morning.  Yes, it was fun.  But I’m not sure I’m keeping him.  It just doesn’t fit my playstyle.
  4. Northrend is gorgeous.  400% more gorgeous than Outlands on its best day.  I particularly enjoyed exploring Grizzly Hills and taking the “ski lift” down to the island of Kamagua.  Maybe it’s just because I’m Canadian, but Northrend feels like home and I love it.  If Blizzard ever let me build player housing in Grizzly Hills, I’d never leave my house.
  5. TIP: If you hear people talking about “moose”, they’re really talking about shoveltusks.  This only proves to me that 80% of Americans have no idea what a moose looks like.
  6. Everything is so damn expensive.  35g to train grand master professions?  Eeeeek.  I’m gonna be running dailies for the rest of my life.  My entire family of toons is nearly broke just from the training I did yesterday.  I’m hoping that Northrend starts to put back into my pocket some of the money it’s taking out.

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