Warning: Chuck Norris can now beat you up in World of Warcraft.
N.B.–I don’t truck in Chuck Norris’ politics, but I respect him as a martial artist.
Warning: Chuck Norris can now beat you up in World of Warcraft.
N.B.–I don’t truck in Chuck Norris’ politics, but I respect him as a martial artist.
I like to reinstall my OS every few months to keep things tidy and fully functional on my MacBook 5,1. In a typical nuke-and-pave operation, I format my hard drive and then install the OS with most customizable options unchecked to save space. Then, I configure the firewall and other security features before installing all updates. Following that, I begin installing applications that I regularly use (iPhoto, Microsoft Office 2011, Seashore, VLC, and World of Warcraft). Next, I update any of those applications that have newer versions available (Service Pack 1 for Office 2011, and several GBs of new content for World of Warcraft–more on this later). I copy back my backed up files back to the MacBook’s internal hard drive, and point iTunes to my external media storage space (due to iPhone and iPad backups and my addiction to iTunes U, I cannot keep the iTunes media folder on my MacBook’s internal SSD, or solid state drive).
During the reinstallation process this time, I took a look at how World of Warcraft updates itself. I knew that it uses P2P (peer-to-peer) technology to distribute software updates from Blizzard to users and then between users themselves (see above). This method reduces Blizzard’s networking overhead and cost, because users can help one another update their software without any user intervention thanks to the updating mechanisms built into Blizzard’s video game. What I find particularly cool about Blizzard’s implementation of P2P, something already well established in the opensource software crowd, is that P2P is not something that is inherently bad. As some folks from the RIAA or MPAA might assert, P2P is solely a means of distributing illegally copied files between computer users. However, the technology of peer-to-peer file sharing and software distribution is not inherently meant to evade paying for software. Instead, it is a novel means of distributing files and networking resources (e.g., Tor) between P2P users. It turns the old networking, top-down model on its head. With P2P, the network spreads out rather than simply from a single point of distribution outward. For businesses like Blizzard, this helps reduce their costs for an otherwise large downstream of data to users like me who reinstall their programs regularly. For users, this allows for the easy updating of software that is more dependent upon their own Internet pipe and its size for the incoming stream of data from many users (see below).
I have intentionally blurred the IP addresses and Blizzard IDs of the users within the P2P network who were helping me update my software, but you can see that each line above represents another computer user who is streaming tiny bits of the rather large 3.85 GB of updates for World of Warcraft’s latest installment, Cataclysm. As these files are downloaded, the World of Warcraft updating software on my computer pieces everything back together and verifies with a hash tag that the downloaded software is legitimate (i.e., not compromised with bad data or a virus).
Time Warner’s Road Runner Internet service in Northeast Ohio, at least in Kent, is anything but road runner-fast. So, I did have to stop the transfer during the evening so that Y could use the Internet, too. I did not find a way to throttle the P2P updating feature from within the World of Warcraft software. When we went to bed last night, I started the updater again, and it was done when I woke up this morning.
P2P is not all bad, and there are certainly good uses for it. I think it was a wise decision on Blizzard’s part to incorporate it into World of Warcraft. Will other companies like Microsoft or Apple add this to their OS updates? It is hard to say, because I believe that security is the one concern about distributing software in this manner. When the software is released into the wild for P2P distribution, a vulnerability could be found and exploited.
Yesterday, I updated my World of Warcraft client on MacOS X with the intention of taking a look around Cataclysm–something that I had not done since I loaded the game after installing my Intel SSD. I emerged in the Valley of Strength and felt the strangeness of what had taken place in the world of Azeroth. I knew my explorations would take longer than I had time to invest at that moment, so I exited for real life (RL).
I received two World of Warcraft Guest Pass Keys when I purchased my WoW: Cataclysm boxed set, and I would like to give them to someone who would like to try out WoW for 10 days free. The Guest Pass Key allows you to download the WoW client software from Blizzard here and then play the game for 10 days. If you are interested, I can email you the Guest Pass key, or I can mail you the card stock Guest Pass card with key, which features a female blood elf grasping a mana wyrm (pictured above). It’s first come, first served.
UPDATE: The keys have been delivered. Many thanks for those of you who stopped by and asked for them.
In case you missed it, Blizzard launched World of Warcraft: Cataclysm today. You can buy it in stores, or you can get it the way the Maker intended: as a digital download. Information about the world-transformative upgrade is available on the official site here.
There are some exciting new World of Warcraft developments just on the horizon.
Despite the worldwide economic meltdown and jobless recession recovery, folks still need to raid. Blizzard announced recently that they have not only maintained their World of Warcraft subscriber base, but it has increased to 12 million world wide players! The press release is available here.
Cataclysm, the anticipated expansion to World of Warcraft, now has a street date of December 7, 2010. Besides transforming Azeroth in fundamental ways, it adds the new playable races: Goblins and Worgen. Other features include level 85 cap, class and race changes, new zones, new raids, and the new secondary profession of archaeology. All new features are listed here.
In the upcoming Cataclysm expansion to World of Warcraft, players will be able to train in the secondary profession of archaeology. As I argue in my essay in forthcoming collection The Postnational Fantasy, World of Warcraft has cosmopolitan potential, because players are actively encouraged to explore Azeroth and engage its NPC characters cooperatively in addition to antagonistically. I suggest that a cosmopolitan ethos could be further encouraged by adding a language or translation profession so that PVP characters from opposite factions could facilitate cooperation between raiding groups for special dungeons that would require this kind of cooperative play. Now it seems that Blizzard has begun laying the groundwork for a system that I had not considered: archaeology. Learning about other cultures through the past can be positive, but it could equally be negative due to cultural imperialism and orientalism. Furthermore, it appears as if this new profession in World of Warcraft is geared for “treasure hunting.” When the expansion comes out in December, I will explore this new feature and report back. Read more about Blizzard’s implementation of archaeology in WoW here.
In the next issue of SFRA Review, I will have two non-fiction reviews, and one of those is on Hilde G. Corneliussen and Jill Walker Rettberg’s Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader. As a WoW player and researcher, I found this anthology to be an indispensable body of work on the W0W phenomenon. I am currently working on a paper in which I use my own digitally mediated definition of cosmopolitanism to demonstrate how a game like WoW can counterintuitively teach players to be more cosmopolitan in the physical world. Here is a short except from my longer review:
World of Warcraft (WoW) is the insanely successful fantasy and science fictional massively multiplayer online role-playing game launched by Blizzard Entertainment in 2004. It continues to break sales records with its expansion packs The Burning Crusade (2007) and Wrath of the Lich King (2008), and it currently supports a worldwide subscribership of 11.5 million players. The game, already lush with history and lore, has spawned a collectible card game, books, collectable figurines, manga, and comic books. Furthermore, it has seeped into the cultural archive. For example, it inspired an Emmy award winning episode of South Park titled “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” and it was featured in a Jeopardy! question. Also, the game’s fantasy origins do not prohibit it from being a postmodern mash-up of real world history and popular culture. Obviously, there is something to the World of Warcraft phenomenon that deserves further investigation and critique, but who has the time to study such an extensive and socially demanding rich text?
Enter The Truants. The members of The Truants guild are academics who study and play World of Warcraft. Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader, an anthology of essays edited by Hilde G. Corneliussen and Jill Walker Rettberg, is the end result of their in-game and online collaboration as players and scholars. They simultaneously studied the game and its participants, played the game themselves, and used the game as a place in which to meet and talk (in addition to other online and in-person collaboration work). Their gamer intensity is tempered by the rigor and attentiveness found in each of the chapters in this collection.
To read the full review, click over to sfra.org and join the oldest, professional organization devoted to the study of Science Fiction. Also, our 40th annual meeting will be in Atlanta, Georgia in June. Find out more about the conference here, and join us for author readings, essay presentations, and panels on the dual themes: Engineering the Future, and Southern Fried Science Fiction and Fantasy.
I may be an English PhD student, but I also enjoy working with computers. So, it was only a matter of time before I built a new PC for fun, adventure, and a bit of World of Warcraft. Don’t get me wrong, I love my MacBook Pro, but I’ve been unhappy with Apple and Blizzard since the MacOS X 10.5.3 update, which effectively destabilized any attempts at playing WoW for more than a few minutes at a time (if it launched at all). I had been running MacOS X 10.5.2 in order to enter WoW, but this was an imperfect solution, because I was missing out on all of the recent security updates and fixes.
I began researching the hardware that I wanted to use in the construction of my new rig a few months ago, but I didn’t put a plan into action until recently. I believe the fact that tipped the scale was that I learned that there was a Micro Center a short drive away in Cleveland. I would much prefer a Fry’s to Micro Center if I’m buying local, but I had to work with what’s nearby. I could have purchased my stuff online from a website such as Newegg, but I tend to go local due to problems I’ve had in the past with online ordered new system builds.
After comparison pricing, including rebates (oh, how Micro Center loves rebates), and checking in-store stock, Yufang and I drove to Cleveland one day, despite my being tired and not feeling well, and we spent a couple of hours at Micro Center. I walked out the store with an Antec mid-tower case with 430 watt PSU, Biostar TP43DA2-A7 (supports DDR2-1066 and sans the bells and whistles I don’t need), Intel Core2Quad Q6600 CPU (with lower price than Newegg!), 2GB Corsair Dominator DDR2-1066 (this was a next day exchange after my first XMS2 memory turned out bad), PNY nVidia Geforce 9600GT 512MB PCIe video card, Western Digital 160GB SATA Hard Drive, Samsung DVD+/-R SATA optical drive, and Acer 19″ 5ms LCD display. Besides the initial RAM problem, everything went together fine, and I was able to install Windows Vista Ultimate without headache.
I’ve found myself using the PC more and more since I’ve built it. However, I’ve been using it for school rather than gaming. In fact, I haven’t played WoW since I built my new rig–there hasn’t been any time for it. That’s okay though, because I’ve been getting a lot of good work done for my space exploration themed college writing course that I’m teaching, as well as my student research and professional duties for SFRA.
I’ll report more on my PC soon, particularly when I get to actually relieve some stress killing Alliance characters on Ner’zhul. Though, one thing that I don’t think I need to talk about is the Fact, and I mean that with a capital F, that Microsoft actively designed Vista to be irritating, counterintuitive, and maddeningly uncohesive.
One final thought–I like to think how science fictional it is that I can build my own computer. What would it have been like to imagine building your own computer prior to the introduction of the MITS Altair 8800 and later, IMSAI 8080?
I haven’t taken much of a break since Spring semester ended in May. I took a pedagogical course with Brian Huot, and wrote and presented a paper at the 39th annual SFRA conference in Lawrence, Kansas. I picked up a new hat from SFRA and became its Publicity Director. As such, I wrote a press release on the Lawrence meeting, which I’ll send out to the great SF magazines and journals once I finalize photo permissions. Now, I’m doing two book reviews–one for The German Quarterly and another for Foundation. I have a few weeks left before Fall semester begins and I still have to develop a syllabus for my writing class. I know that I’ll get it all done, but I need some extra relief from all this academic work!
One fun project this past week was building a new stand for Yufang’s electric piano. Her “professional” stand was too high for her to comfortably tickle the ivory, so I suggested that I build her a lower stand at a fraction of the cost of a store-bought stand. After a lot of planning, measuring, and figuring, I picked up some lumber from Lowes and put together a new stand to accommodate her Yamaha. Unfortunately, I didn’t consider the placement of the piano’s speakers, which are underneath its body. So, I added a Ryobi jigsaw to my toolbox and opened up the table top with spacious sound holes. Again, something wasn’t quite right–the keyboard wasn’t level. For some reason, the back of the Yahama is 3/4” lower than the front, which makes the keys skew upwards at about 10 degrees. Back in the garage, I added 3/4” stands behind the sound holes to elevate the rear of the piano so that it was properly level. Now, she has a badass stand that assists her showing off her mad skillz.
Logically, the next thing I wanted to do after handling power tools is kill monsters in an immersive virtual environment–World of Warcraft. I hadn’t played my two accounts in a long time (one of these gratis Matt Jasper), so I wanted to get back into the fray on Ner’zhul and kick some PvP ass. Since I last played, I had installed Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5.4 software update. When I launched WoW I learned that this update nerfs WoW and my OS in a big way. As a result, I reinstalled Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard twice (Why? Because that’s how I roll) troubleshooting the problem. Now, I’m running 10.5.2 and WoW without any problems. I expect to enforce Horde values later this evening–beware.
In two weeks, Yufang and I are traveling to Washington, DC for a few days to check out an SR-71 Blackbird and a Space Shuttle at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum annex next to the Washington-Dulles International Airport. We’ll also do some other sightseeing while we’re there, and maybe we’ll have a chance to hang out with my cousin Angie. More on this when we get back!