Friday, December 18, 2009

It Business Edge: How not to give writers credibility


Originally Posted by anthrex View Post
The real questions are which browser is more likely to reveal browser vulnerabilities; and which has the largest, most knowledgeable and critically looking community that has access to the browsers code?
This. Microsoft has a lousy history of not disclosing bugs until well after exploits are already on the market. Apple as well has a history of failing to disclose bugs until after exploits on are on the market. Both companies also have histories of failing to disclose many bugs that they receive, yet patch before exploits enter circulation, or bugs that never have any actual exploits made available.

Mozilla on the other hand... well... They and Chrome...

When a bug is posted for a Mozilla product here:

It's posted. It's disclosed. There's no hiding it. There's no not telling investors. It's made available for everyone to see. As the common user can submit bug reports and errors in a public setting, Mozilla doesn't really ever have a chance to hide or obfuscate problems with the code.

When a bug is posted for a Google Chrome product here :

Same thing. It's posted. It's disclosed. There's no hiding it. Sure, Google may not talk about bugs that affect their officially pre-compiled Chrome browser and ChromeOS, but as long as their source code is available, pretty much anybody can report bugs or exploits in the platform.

Like Microsoft and Apple, Opera doesn't maintain a public bug tracking system. While they do offer a form feedback,, they point to a non-tracking system for followup.

If your bug is being discussed in the Opera community forums, newsgroups, or mailing lists, a report has probably already been filed. Additional reports will then serve no purpose, as they will simply be marked as duplicates.
That being said, Opera has a history of accurately reporting problems and issues with their released binary code. Opera also has a tendency to follow an aggressive and constant patching strategy. I'm not exactly aware of Opera having hidden or failing to talk about exploits that were widely available for the platform.

KDE also has a bug tracking system : So bugs filed against the KHTML based Konqueror are again, like Mozilla and Chrome. The bugs are out there, no hiding, no obfuscating.

Now, from Chromium and Konqueror compiled against Mach BSD, we can get an idea of what kind of bugs Safari actually has, and what exploits could be used against Safari as all 3 share the same type of engine: KHTML / Webkit. That doesn't mean Apple's own behind-the-scenes mixing doesn't produce other odd errors.

Given what we know of the background data of the engines, and those producing the engines, I'm not really sure the author of the article knows what he's talking about if he's suggesting that we reconsider FireFox because of reported exploits. I'd almost say that sort of statement immediately disqualifies the author from any sort of credibility.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Fun with Apple Store

Had a few moments earlier today and I dropped by the relatively new Apple store in Augusta Georgia.... and then brought up the Acid3 test on several of the systems under Safari, and started running a Chrome Experiment on others. Wonder how long it will take the Apple employees to notice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Win7 New Install + FireFox New Install = Pain

Recently I started playing around with the Windows 7 Professional discs that I had pre-ordered several months ago. While the 64bit version installed fine, and is running fine, on the Core I7 processor that Intel sent me coupled with a DFI board from Hades, I can't actually say the same for my older Asus M2R32-MVP motherboard coupled with a Phenom 9600. While installation on the Intel system was blazing fast, and relatively painless, the install on the AMD system has been less than pleasant. From the start the installer just seemed to be taking twice as long for each operation, and I finally presumed a hard-drive problem. I'm on my third hard-drive now, and I've actually gone to the 32bit edition of Win7 over the 64bit version, as anytime I tried to run the Windows System Rating, to see if there was an issue with hard-drive speed that Windows would report, the 64bit edition blue-screened.

Since both the Intel and AMD systems are running at overclocked rates, I turned the overclock off since the blue-screen error said something about clocks. System still blue-screened when trying to run the system rating, and even basic operations like Web-browser and file management were visibly stuttering.

So I've switched to the 32bit version, and honestly, it's not that much better. Now, I've got both Mepis 8.0.10 and Windows Xp on other drives for this AMD system, and neither one of them seems to hang or take so long in each task. With just FireFox and IE open, the Windows Task Manager is reporting an astounding 918 MB of data is being used. In the processors I have 48,000k to firefox, 31k to explorere.exe, 23k to iexplore.exe, 21k to a different iexplore.exe, 15k to a dwm.exe, 14k to yet another Iexplore.exe, 7k to Catalyst Control Center, and then down to the rest of the system processors. What's weirder to me is that I've only got one Internet Explorer Window Open, and yet the system has 3 different executable entries?


Anyways, when I got to the point of installing Firefox, I ran into a slight issue. Interent Explorer wouldn't run the file directly, I had to save it to the hard-drive. Upon launching the FireFox installer I was greated with a systems permission pop-up, with the system asking me to either log-in as Administrator or use the current username. Attempting to install with the username that I'm under, the only username I gave during the actual physical installation of the remixed Vista SP2 Operating System, met with failure.

So I tried the trick of using control USERPASSWORDS2 in the white search box in the start menu. Not surprisingly, this command has been disabled from this shortcut.

I wound up having to type in CMD into the white search box, hit enter to bring up the command terminal, and only then could I enter control USERPASSWORDS2 and get power user version of the System Accounts.

Then I had to go to the Advanced Tab in the User Accounts Box, and click on the ADVANCED button under Advanced User Management.

Then, under the new Window, I had to go into Users and actually ENABLE the Adminstrator login.

Then I had to go all the way back to the original User Accounts box, re-open it with control USERPASSWORDS2... and finally I could set a password for my administrator account.


After these hoops I tried to install FireFox again, this time using my new Adminstrator login... and it worked.

Why do I have a feeling that this behavior was intentional on the part of Microsoft to prevent people from using FireFox on Win7?


Also as a note, the Advanced user control window can also be accessed through the Control Panel's Administrative Tools under Computer Management. However, depending on the version of Windows in use, these tools may not be exposed through Administrative Tools.


The 32bit version finally ran the system rating... Which was a bit odd. The Phenom 9600 scored a 7.1 calculation speed from Win7... versus the Core I7 920's 6.8. The Phenom 9600 scored a 5.5 on the memory test, while the Core I7 took a 7.3. The Phenom with it's crossfired RadeonHD 4850's took desktop and gaming performance ratings of 6.9. The Core I7 with it's crossfired RadeonHD 3780's took desktop and graphics performance ratings of 7.0. Where as the Core I7 took a 5.9 disk drive speed, the Phenom 9600... didn't. According to Windows, my Asus M2R32-MVP took a drive speed rating of 2.4.

So, it does appear that there is a driver issue or otherwise with Windows 7 on the older ATi board. Which is really depressing.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sansa e280: Key Locked, System Shutdown

For the past, well, while now, I've been using a Sansa c250 2gb as my portable music player. I had bought the c250 because it was really cheap from, and supported Rockbox. The Rockbox firmware also unlocked some capabilities of the hardware that Sandisk wouldn't enable in the default firmware, such as support for MicroSDHC cards. The default firmware topped at 2gb MicroSD cards, while the Rockbox firmware offers support for up to 32gb cards. Only, recently, I sat on the player damaging the screen. As a refurb unit, Sandisk wasn't willing to repair the unit, or allow me to purchase replacement parts.

So I started keeping an eye out for another media player. Recently 3btech offered an e260 4gb player for $40, which also is supported by Rockbox, but the unit wasn't actually in stock, and according to an email back from 3btech, wouldn't be in stock for a while, if at all. So I started searching around and found that TigerDirect was offering an e280 8gb player for $50. While the $50 price tag was a bit more than I had intended to spend, it was hard to ignore double the storage space for what was not double the price of the e260, or quadruple the price of the e250, the 2gb model which TD had for around $30.

So I bought it, and it arrived today, and I ran into a strange problem. SanDisk ships their players with the HOLD button enabled. This of course prevents accidental jostling or mishandling from activating the player in the box, since the battery comes pre-installed.

However, after turning off the HOLD button, I still got the message Key Locked, System Shutdown whenever I turned the player on.

I'm still not sure how I got around this, but I tried forcing the player to start in the firmware recovery mode, which is accomplished by holding down the RECORD button and hitting the power button. While in firmware recovery mode I hooked the player up to my main Mepis 8 system and verified that the 16mb root file was visible and mountable. I got some message on the screen about how the firmware recovery had worked, and upon disconnecting the e280, turning it off, and turning it back on... the default firmware loaded up normally.

So, I don't know if this will help anybody else searching for problems with the e200 series and Key Locked, System Shutdown, but somehow it worked for me.


And, update, it seems that the Hold Key itself is a little buggy. Over the weekend I took the player out of hold, but the lights wouldn't come on... jiggled the hold button, and poof... it was working.

Which actually is sounding just about right for the build quality of Sandisk's equipment compared to the c2x0 units I've gone through.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Borderlands - Cedega

Borderlands released earlier this morning on Steam and I've been fiddling with Cedega for the past couple of hours... so far it's been a no go.

The game does seem to feature an AMD processor check which halted the install, which when forced closed, seemed to be linked back or linking into a DXSETUP.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Changed Colors

You might notice that some of the colors have been adjusted here.

Well, there's a simple reason. When visiting this site on somebody's netbook, I found the links really, really, really hard to make out in the default orange and background white. This generally hasn't been a problem across the wide range of LCD panels and CRT displays that I normally use, so I haven't ever really noticed it before. On this person's little netbook screen, it was outright painful.

So I've gone with a darker background color to the page, and changed the links from orange to blue, which seem to stand out more. Hopefully this will work better across a wider range of hardware displays.


In... changing the colors... I've now got something else a little weirder in FireFox and Chrome at least. The left hand side bar extends further to the right, and the blog posts start in the center of the page and wrap all the way to the right...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is WIndows 7 still a Crossgrade? Yes.

While most people hear about the Linux and Apple fanatics in the news and various reports, very, very few times is the subject of Windows Fanatics brought up. Oh yes, they do exist. Just as Linux Fanatics and Apple Fanatics can't be told left from right, Windows fanatics shove their noses in a book and automatically declare everybody else wrong, clueless, idiot, and so on. I got a good dose of this when correcting somebody recently that their Windows 7 upgrade... wasn't an upgrade. It was a crossgrade.

Thing is, upgrades don't actually exist in the Windows world. They don't. This is not an opinion. This is not up for an argument. Windows Upgrades do not exist.

It is, however, possible to crossgrade across different versions of Windows. What you can do is trade the problems of one Windows system for the problems of another Windows system. In Windows 95 you traded the small size of the Operating System for increased bulk. I don't mean just amount of space taken up on the hard-drive, I mean the performance of the OS as well. Windows 98 didn't have high system requirements... but it couldn't run on some really low end computers that Win95 could.

From Windows 98 to Windows ME, Users traded off relative stability for better media controls. From Windows ME to 2000, users got better stability, but a server and work-space oriented system. From ME to Xp, users traded off system lightness for ever larger amounts of bloat. From 2000 to Xp, users traded in service pack numbers for what was the exact same operating system. From Xp to Vista, users once again traded in performance for bloat. Then from Vista to Windows 7, once again, it's the exact same operating system... but users trade off even more freedoms of use. Seriously, read the Windows 7 Licensing agreement. Nobody is purchasing the software, everybody is renting it.

Now, in being correct, this also means you'll find crossgrades in Linux and Apple. OF course, you might be thinking I'm going to say that converting from Gnome to KDE is an upgrade... and you might think that replacing that BSD based Unix with a Linux based system is an upgrade... but they are not. Those are crossgrades. It's trading off one interface for another, one system for another, personal opinions aside.

Apple, strangely enough, gets this aspect of computers. They made fun of it on a recent ad. Everything that's happening with Windows 7 now has pretty much been promised before. Lets be honest here, Microsoft's not exactly known for corporate reliability now... are they?

Thus I maintain that the only way you can upgrade from a Windows system is to get a Non-Microsoft Operating System.

Ignoring the social factors, such as licenses and freedom to use, just think about things from a performance and hardware perspective. If you around the Top500 supercomputer users, you'll find that from a performance standpoint, Windows doesn't compete with Linux on a processing basis. If you ask around Netcraft about servers, you'll find that Microsoft's not competitive when it comes to putting webpages online. If you ask the London Stock Exchange what they thought about Windows, you'll find that one of the worlds large financial institutions gave it a failing grade. If you ask Infinity Ward about Servers, you'll quickly find that rather than face the embarrassing question of why they use Linux servers and won't produce a Linux client, they just took dedicated servers away. No, stop laughing. I've brought this up before. Virtually all game developers and publishers don't use Windows to host multiplayer games. The Windows platform just isn't up to the task. So, they use Linux. But they won't produce a Linux client.

Even though, as Phoronix found out, games running under Linux are generally faster than the same code running under windows. And no link this time, you'll have to go dig it up yourself.

Then there is the security aspect. People can say all they want about the number of holes found and patched in various operating systems. What actually matters is the number of virus's that actually make it into the wild. Once again, Windows comes up short. The list of known virus's in the wild lists into the hundreds each day, while Linux, BSD, OSX, and pretty much everybody else chugs along peacefully.

Then there's the price aspect. Typically in the past Apple's were much more expensive options than a white-box Windows computer. If you want to buy a good Apple with a decent graphics card, be prepared to shell out some cash. That being said, Apple's most recent OS is just $29.00. Microsoft's entry starts at $300 if you were to buy just the entry level version outright. Course, that's not exactly fair to Apple is it, since you can only (theoretically), install Snow Leopard onto a pre-existing OSX install. The Home Premium Upgrade is $119, and that's still not being fair to Apple since it's OS doesn't come in a limited edition. If you want the Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade, the equivalent of what Snow Leopard is, you'd be looking at a massive $319 charge to get it retail.

So, once again, it's not really an upgrade there either. Of course, the pricing is intentional. Microsoft doesn't want people buying copies of Windows 7 to put on existing computers. Microsoft wants people to buy new computers with copies of Windows 7 pre-loaded.

Now, I could go on, but at this point it's be like taking a Mac-Truck and putting it through an already burnt down building. From all perspectives, Windows 7 isn't an upgrade from previous versions of Windows. It's just another crossgrade. And in comparison to it's competitors?

It's still a downgrade.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Nvidia: Fermi Faked?

I've actually got more to say on this subject, but while I figure out how to phrase what appears to be Nvidia's attempt to go bankrupt, take a look at what Semi-Accurate has to say on Nvidia's Fermi launch. It looks like Nvidia has taken the paper-launch to a whole new level.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NBC says No, Jay Leno Says: we'll do it anyways

Several months ago I wrote about how Top Gear USA, scheduled to appear on the NBC network, was doomed to failure. The rampant liberal democrat ideology that backs the majority of televised broadcast media simply can't accept a show like Top Gear. Well, recently, one of NBC's big stars, Jay Leno, showed up on the UK Top Gear. Shortly afterwards it was announced that Jay Leno would be hosting a segment to place Celebrities in a Green Car.

It doesn't take much effort to realize that Jay Leno, once asked to head up the USA themed version of Top Gear, probably had ulterior motives for showing up on Top Gear UK... Such as figuring out how to get the popular Star In a Reasonably Priced Car to work under the green dogma of the Liberal Democrats. Now, realistically, most people know that Green Cars aren't really that environmentally friendly. Once you get over the horrible environmental impact of just the battery production for a Prius, which admittedly does take a lot of effort, there's the fact that they just aren't that fuel efficient.

Case in point for me. A while back a friend and I headed up to Atlanta to go catch an Imax movie showing. We took his Prius, and our daily fuel average was... 14 miles to the gallon. Now, I know your thinking, how is that possible? Toyota says it gets 31mpg+!!! Well, for starters, the Prius, and many other hybrid cars, only really work in stop and go traffic. Many depend on Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems that generate electricity when the car is stopping. Others depend on fancy logic switching to work back and forth between the electric, and the gas engine. If you're laying on the gas through for a 100, 150, 200, or 250 mile stretch? The electric engine never even comes into play... and the gasoline engine in that Prius had just awful fuel economy at highway speeds. Quite simply, if Toyota really wanted to make a fuel efficient hybrid, they should have used a diesel engine.

Jeremy Clarkson once reported he got 73 miles to the gallon from a VW Golf Diesel. Well, one of my former coworkers from Sitel has a Golf diesel and made a trip from Atlanta Georgia, to Columbia South Carolina, to Orlando Florida. His Golf Diesel... managed 68mpg.

You don't see stories about these sorts of diesel fuel mileages on NBC, or ABC, or CBS, or MicrosoftNBC, or CNN, and as much as I dislike saying it, even Fox ignores just how efficient diesel engines can be. Of course, part of the lack of attention is due to car manufacturers. Car companies just don't seem to be interested in talking about how well their diesel engines perform, and the only time the comparison really comes up, is when car companies talk about HCCI.

Of course, some car companies are already looking for ways out of the fossil fuel and synthetic fossil fuel problems. For starters, many car companies know that Bio-Fuels are a dead-end technology from the start. Even back in the 1980's Georgia Power knew that corn supplies would never be enough to sustain the US's fuel consumption, much less sustain both fuel consumption and food consumption. GM, despite being run straight into the ground by Liberal Democrats, then rescued by more Liberal Democrats, had a Hydrogen powered Concept Car, the Hy-Wire. Honda also has an interest in Hydrogen, they actually opened the first filling station in the US. As the most plentiful fuel in the universe, Hydrogen powered cars are a viable alternative, if not the only realistic alternative, to keeping the vehicle system as much of the world knows it... working.

So, while Jay Leno deserves credit for getting Star in a Reasonably Priced Car to the US airwaves... it just serves as a beacon on just how un-interested broadcast media is in actually talking about, or doing something about, fuel efficient cars.

NCSoft Fusion Tour?

Anybody whose read this blog, even a micro-bit, knows I'm a fan of City of Heroes. I like the game. I like the way the development is going. What I don't like is that is that all of the game's special community events... only occur on the west coast. So unless I've got the money together to go out and hit Comic-Con or Hero Con, I can just forget about the special goodies at the special events. So far, as best as I can research, under Cryptic / NCSoft, and now just NCSoft, City of Heroes hasn't even shown up at established east-coast cons, like Dragon-Con.

In the past, the lack of any east-coast, or midlands, events was a bit confusing, as NCSoft was primarily based in Texas. Granted, the CoH developers were I think based in Los Gatos, California, and have remained in Northern California since being rescued from Cryptic. As a Publisher, NCSoft's lack of nation-wide promotional events was a bit confusing. As a developer, there were and are some financial issues with setting up an east-coast or midlands event, not to mention managing developers flying away for a weekend or so for the event... rather than working on the game.

While bouncing points back and forth on BattleClinic, I had an idea that might work. It's based on Nintendo's Fusion Tour.

Basically, NCSoft hooks up with a couple of bands for a tour concert. On Battleclinic I suggested a couple of band, SuperChick, Pillar, and Thousand Foot Krutch. Now, I specified these bands for a couple of reasons. For starters, their music is something most parents don't mind their kids listening to, after all, Nintendo found success with bands like Evanescence and Relient K. Second, some of their music crosses over well with the superhero theme of City of Heroes.

Then, hook up with a hardware manufacturer sponsor like Sapphire, Asus, or AMD and show off the games running on whatever the latest generation hardware. Case in point for AMD, they just launched the RadeonHD 5x00. Showing off CoH being playable on 6-different computer monitors in that really high resolution would do a lot for both the game, and for AMD's hardware sales.

A close-up concert tour / game demo would probably be more effective at not only selling the game to new players, but also bringing in potential customers from outside the gaming realm. Nintendo used that to great effect on the Fusion Tour stops.

Paragon Studios could also take the concept further for a Concert based Hero-Con. Plan a couple of events ahead of time, like allowing people to sign up for Task Force's held on the Test server. Lets say two teams go after Master of Statesman's Task Force on the test Server. The team that succeeds meets the bands behind the scenes. On top of that, people there for the concet get to see high level players going at it, which again, might help more people get interested in the game.

It'd be a bonus if developers were actually able to attend, so here's another suggestion. Video Conference. During an interlude or break for the participating bands, set-up a video screen and let the audience ask questions back to the game developers. Sure, it's not the same as Mr. Miller actually showing up in person... but it's a solution to getting the developers involved.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Net Neutrality: a stumbling block for conservative opinion?

By now it's fairly obvious to anyone with half a brain that anything the Obama administration does needs to be examined in the context of coming from a group of people that honestly believe Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin had it completely 100% right. Any plan of action suggested by the Obama administration needs to be closely examined and rejected just on the basics of common sense and grade-school learning.

So, when a site reports that Republicans as attacking Net Neutrality, and that an Obama backed FCC is for net neutrality, things need to be looked at with a closer view, because this just doesn't add up. Okay, yes, that site is Daily Tech, and lets be honest here, Daily Tech isn't exactly known for being accurate. The basic problem is, anybody with a lick of sense knows that anything Obama puts forward or backs can't be good for anybody but a dyed in the wool socialist. So, if Obama backing Net Neutrality, there's got to be something catastrophically wrong with the proposal.

Thing is, looking at what ArsTechnica (a site that also has problems with historical accuracy, although engineering accuracy is pretty good) had to say on the recent FCC speech about Net Neutrality, it's hard to figure out exactly what it is Obama wants or is backing that is so bad. I have a feeling that the liberal democrats are using my vocabulary... but not my dictionary. So, lets get a couple of hard-definitions on what exactly the fuss is about.

What is Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality guarantees that users paying for Internet Access get Internet Access, for whatever they want to access. There are no limitations based on the type of data being transferred. There are only limitations on the amount of information being transferred.

Thing is, by basing Internet Access Price on amount of information, there's a steady, and reliable metric for calculating how much a paying customer owes. Somebody who downloaded 50 gigabytes of information should indeed be paying more than somebody who only downloaded 5gigs of information. Many ISP's don't like the pay by total amount system though... and for good reasons. As Internet Access becomes more ubiquitous across Game Consoles, home computer systems, servers, phones, mobile computing devices, and so on, the amount of over-all information being transferred is going up. Other applications, such as bittorrent, can clog up available bandwith, and just a single computer running a bit-torrent application on a standard internal gigabit network can introduce unbelievable amounts of lag to other applications.

Many ISP's want to separate what users are doing with the amount of data, and control that data. Comcast, for example, has been caught deliberately slowing down the connections of users using peer-to-peer file-sharing applications. Many ISP's also feel that companies like Google should pay the ISP for the high amount of traffic Google generates, not just from people visting Google's Page, but also from the web-crawlers Google uses to index web-pages. The business plan of many of these ISP's is to charge users a higher price to access sites like Google, or to use applications like Bittorrent, changing the price dynamically on what a user does.

This of course sets privacy advocates on fire, and I agree. I don't think an ISP needs to know what I do with my internet connection. It's not that I'm doing anything illegal or wrong, but I other than improving network performance, I don't think an ISP has any business tracking how many times I visit in a day.

The business plan also sets off business's like Google and Amazon that depend on ubiquitous and universal access to their web-services. Why should an ISP care whether or not a user is accessing or Unless there is something catastrophically wrong with an ISP's network, such as AT&T's, where money that should have been spent on making the network better... has been spent on securing exclusive portable hardware contracts, ISP's shouldn't really notice any difference between 5gbs of information from one user or another.

I also need to stress that this business plan isn't a flight of fancy. Comcast has already tried metered internet access, and has had customers just walk away in droves. Most of the major ISP's in the US have figured out that users don't want to pay by what they do. Most of the major ISP's also know that unless every-single one of them steps forward at once, and they all do metered internet access, all it's going to take is one start-up offering genuine unfiltered, un-metered, universal access to the internet backbone... and the major ISP's are going to go broke.

Now, I'd like a clear explanation from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on where she stands on Net Neutrality. Does she, like me, feel that ISP's have no business tracking user information, much less forcing users to pay for what they do. I'd also like to know what she sees in the Obama backed plan that absolutely horrible...

Other than the whole aspect of having to have the FCC introduce more regulations that really shouldn't be needed to begin with.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In God We Trust: the Story Microsoft-NBC will probably never run

The picture pretty much explains it all. Microsoft NBC decided to run a poll on their site asking whether or not In God We Trust should be removed from US Currency. The crushing NO is hard to ignore. What's even harder to ignore is the listed 16,983,97 respondents. Almost 17 million people had responded to the poll, and 89% of them said no. What's even harder to ignore after that is that this is Microsoft NBC, a liberal democrat bastion. The vast majority of people who visit the Microsoft NBC website are not conservatives. They are not republicans. They are not moderates. They are died in the wool left-wing Socialists. To see this kind of result, with Microsoft NBC's demographic, isn't just staggering. It's full on mind blowing.

The big problem is, Microsoft NBC can't run this story. They are a company run by Liberal Democrats, for Liberal Democrats. Reporting that the vast majority of site visitors said no to one of the Liberal Democrats main objectives... isn't going to sit well with Microsoft NBC advertisers. It's not going to sit well with the Obama administration. It's not going to sit well with the Liberal Democrat controlled congress. So, Microsoft NBC won't have any other choice but to push this story to the side, and never comment on it.

You might have also noticed that I'm deliberately stressing the Microsoft NBC partnership here, rather than using the MSNBC shorthand Microsoft would much rather have consumers using. Many consumers still haven't put together 2 and 2, and still don't quite get Microsoft's close relationship with the Liberal Democrats and the Democrat party. I can't spell it out any more than I already have, but if you're buying a copy of Windows 7... you are contributing to the campaign funds for the likes of Obama and Pelosi.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bike Game for Wii Online

Quick idea from brain-storming at AC. (it's raining, and we haven't opened yet) Several years ago there was a cool stationary bike game at an event called Big Toys for Big Boys at the Augusta Civic Center. In the bike game players pedaled a stationary bike around an island. As players approached a hill, the resistance on the bike wheel increased, and as the players went down a hill, the resistance deceased. So as the player explored the island, the bike's resistance changed depending on the geometry. Apparently Fort Discovery also has a version of this kind of bike game.

So, here's the pitch: Nintendo's made a bundle off of Wii-Fit and it's balance board. Why not continue the fitness integration of the Wii platform? Get together with a couple of stationary bike manufacturers and partner to link the stationary bike against the Wii. Release a Wii-Game that allows players to pilot a bike through Wii Sports Resort Island that modifies resistance depending on the geometry of the island. Go up a hill, more resistance. Go down a hill, less resistance. There might even be a market for fitness companies to back-port this to existing stationary bikes.

For a more competitive setting, add in the ability to play online or via ad-hock wireless connections. This could be a big promotional boost for fitness places like Omni or Golds gym where multiple people could be on their bikes at once. I imagine it would also be useful for the home market, where a neighbor-hood fitness team could still schedule a bike-ride (and make sure everyone's actually there), even during rainy weather.

... Only... Nintendo doesn't take game suggestions... and I don't know any developers that would go after such a project (other than Konami).


Okay, I can see some FAQ arising from this:

Why the Wii and not the Xbox 360 or PS3?

For starters, the Wii is widely recognized as being tied to fitness with Wii-Fit. Neither the PS3 nor the Xbox 360 have reputations when it comes to physical fitness.

Second, the Wii's motion control is here, now. It's not some tech demo with a launch date sometime in the future. Nintendo's equipment is also cheap-enough that it could probably be integrated into existing stationary bikes without dramatically raising the cost.

Third, the Wii is cheap. Okay, there is a version of the Xbox 360 that is cheaper, but again, this comes back to what the Wii has now. The Wii has motion control and accelerometer feedback. The cheapest 360 doesn't, and you can probably bet that when Project Natal hits, it's cost will be significantly higher than the total cost of the Wii and Wii-Motion Plus.


Why single out Wii Sports Resort as a location?

As this idea was being cooked up, somebody commented that it should be presented to Nintendo. Only Nintendo doesn't take game idea suggestions (they haven't for years). Which means that somebody outside of Nintendo needs to take an interest in the idea and find a publisher or development team that might be interested. Also, for the idea to work, the publisher or developer needs a buyer off the bat. A chain of Health Centers picking up and sponsoring the development would do wonders in this skittish investor market. A major manufacturer of excerise equipment backing the idea as well would ease the minds of investors (and developers).


Wait, why not patent the idea and wait for somebody to actually do it?

First, I'm not sure the idea is actually patentable. The implementation of a bike that ties into a video game and sets resists on in-game geometry isn't exactly new. It's well over a decade old. The only new bits here are porting the concept to the Wii platform and managing game-connections in an online enviroment.

Second, as far as I can research, nobody has presented this kind of idea before.


Who would you like to see pick this up?

I think the best publisher shot actually is going to be Konami. Considering that Dance Dance Revolution got it's start in a gym and that Komani is still running Konami Sports Club, they'd be the logical choice to bring the idea to market.

Also, with a 3rd party developer behind the project, there's a chance that later on, the concept could be ported to other platforms, such as the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Evercool LD6025B-EC2

One of my favorite, if expensive, case designs from the past couple of years has been Thermaltake's Bach series. One of the design points of the case is two 60mm fans placed to exhaust air from the central processing unit. One of my problems with the retail Bach's is that factory included fans really aren't that good. Of the 3 units I have personally, and the 4 that I've built for clients, the original fans in all but one failed over within 6 to 8 months. Well, finally the fans in the last unit left started having problems so I went looking for a new set of fans.

I settled on Evercool's LD6025B-EC2 60mm fan, which was about $5 from Newegg. The tech specs of the fan were right in line with what I was looking for. It's claimed 2300±10% RPM speed, 31.62 CFM air flow, and 26 dBA noise sounded too good to be true. It was.

Yes, the Evercool LD6025B-EC2 can actually move 31.62 cubic feet per minute. It does not do it at 26 dBA. Two of these in my Bach case sounded like dueling Banshee's each having a crisis. My 6600 GT's from XFX made less noise than the Evercool fan.

Rather, I found something interesting on the package that was actually delivered. While Evercool's site, and Newegg, claim that the fan moves at 2300±10% RPM...

The packing claims that the fan runs at 4500rpm... which sounded a lot more like what the fan was doing.

In order to tone the noise down, I wound up putting the fans on some Zalman Fan Mate 2 controllers. My plan is to pick up a rear-slot fan speed controller and a 3pin wire splitter later so that I can control the fan speed without having to open my case up, and with using one in-expensive controller.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Movies - GI Joe

Saw GI Joe over the weekend, and it was rather... interesting. I got the feeling during the movie that one of the design goals had been to take pot-shots at the old animated cartoon when-ever possible. While I amassed a large number of GI Joe toys in the 1980's and early 1990's, I never really got into the comic books, or the overly cheesy cartoon series. Much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the GI Joe cartoon had a reputation for violence and misbehavior... that it didn't actually contain.

In the 1980's GI Joe cartoon, nobody ever actually got shot. Whenever GI Joe and their enemies, Cobra, met in combat, the cartoon took great pains to show everybody successfully jumping out of vehicles that were then destroyed by some of the slowest energy / optical based and concussive weaponry ever deployed. I know how fast a tank shell arrives, and at 100 yards, nobody is going to have time to unbuckle a seatbelt, jump out of a moving vehicle, and run to safety before the munition from an M1 Abram's arrives. Yet, in the GI Joe cartoon... both Cobra and Joe's had super-human level get out of the about to explode vehicle reflexes. The only time that I recall somebody actually dying in the cartoon was during the feature length animated movie.

So, with the new movie, the production team went out of their way to show off the carnage that actually occurs when GI Joe and Cobra meet head on. The result is a rather visually impressive demolition derby through downtown Paris, that culminates in the Eiffel Tower getting taken apart. While the French government seems to understand that the Joes did the best they could under the circumstances, that doesn't stop them from demanding that the Joe Team never return to France... ever... or from the primary army's recalling their soldiers... presumably to conduct a court martial.

In the same way that the movie focus's on showing that people actually do die, and do get hurt, when soldiers get involved with urban combat, the movie also took some shots at the old cartoon's ending tagline. Since GI Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were airing in a time in which there was pressure for cartoons to be educational, they often had show segments were a main character would go over some basic geography or life lessons. For GI Joe, this meant that every show ended with a The More You Know / Knowing is Half the Battle segment. Far from being educational, the segments were often so over the top, you could almost hear the voice actors gagging on the verbal pap. So, for anybody who saw the old cartoons, the use of Well you said knowing was half the battle in the new movie will cause a fair bit of laughter.

What will probably grate on most movie goers nerves though is one of the catostrophically bad use of movie physics as the movie concludes... and it's something PluggedIn picked up on. Ice doesn't sink. Yet, as GI Joe winds up, the Cobra detonate a polar ice cap to crush an underwater base. What's worse is that the movie had plenty of opportunities to come up with an in-movie plausible explination about what would happen if the cover over the Cobra base was breached.

As the Joe Team moves into the base, the use of the Ice Cover itself to contain tunnels, elevators, and other support equipment for the base is commented on. The base take-down would have been much more plausible if somebody had said something to the effect of: Uh oh... they're gonna blow the ice cap. That's gonna be a couple hundred tons of equipment... landing... GUYS! GET OUT OF THERE! THE BASE IS GOING TO BE CRUSHED!

Or better yet, stick to the crazy science theme. Something along the lines of: Hey guys... you wanna know how they got the ice to hold an elevator and a launching pad? It's not exactly... ice any more. It's been treated with some kind of chemical compound. It seems the base down there is actually holding this entire structure up.

For a movie that managed to handle physics presentations better than other action movies, it just feel apart at the end.

Still, if you want a movie that's not really cerberal... that is a bunch of things going boom... GI Joe's probably the best one this year.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Best Buy gives a glimps of how much Microsoft fears Desktop Linux

This summer has contained several interesting glimpses into the mind of Microsoft. Internal marketing slides leaked from Microsoft confirmed they believe what I've been saying for years: that the desktop linux market is larger than Apple's. While Microsoft's numbers are often about as trustworthy as a liberal democrat named Obama, the fact that they think that Linux has a larger user percentage on the desktop than Apple OSX is something they don't want any independent software vendors thinking about. Producing content for Apple OSX can be profitable for many companies, and if a company can figure out how to crack the desktop Linux market... that's Microsoft's nightmare scenario.

In fact, it's such a nightmare, that the training written by Microsoft for Best Buy contains more mud than the Australian Outback could if it suddenly had the entire pacific ocean dropped on top. One of Microsoft's hammer points is the lack of familiar applications that run atop Linux. Really? FireFox, Google Chrome, and Opera all run atop Linux. OpenOffice runs atop Linux. Pidgin runs atop Linux. A lot of Windows only software, like Photoshop, runs atop Linux using WINE type technologies. Popular MMO's like City of Heroes and World of Warcraft... run atop Linux through WINE or Cedega. Popular MMO WarHammer Online is coming to Linux... atop Cedega. Adobe Flash received a 64bit client... for Linux... which 64bit Windows still doesn't have.

As hard-core game developers like Raven, IDSoftware, and Epic found out, ignoring the Linux market can actually financially hurt. Unreal Tournament 3 was a legitimate flop out of the gate, and sales didn't take off until the game was playable under Linux, albeit it through system emulation. The reboot / return of Wolfenstein also flopped in retail sales, and from various emails that I've gotten through mepisguides at gmail dot com, I'm not the only person that canceled a pre-order or didn't pick up the game because of it's lack of a Linux client.

What's worse is that many consumers are starting to question how much Microsoft Windows products are actually worth. Microsoft's half-price pre-sale set off a red-light above many a consumers heads. Since Microsoft is the vendor that sets the value of it's Operating System, why suddenly double the price after a specific point in time? Also, why price the Operating System at such a high price-point compared to the only other mass-visible boxed retail OS, Apple Snow Leapord, when the amount of application content for Windows 7 is far less... developed?

The Best Buy training documents do illuminate just how far Microsoft is gone though. So many of the training points are so easily refutable, it's no surprise that average consumers can make the Geek Squad turn tomato red and beat a retreat behind a manager. What's worrying though is whether or not Microsoft actually believes the unadulterated marketing pap that drips from it's training for Best Buy employees. If Microsoft actually does believe what they say, it's possible that company might need to be ordered to take a sanity test.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

CoH: How I would "fix" Dark Armor and Fire Aura

This is more or less based on a half rant I posted in the CoH forums. After having tested my own electrical armor tank, and talked with other elec armor scrappers and tanks, I became rather incensed over the addition of the power to the Hero Archtypes. The reason for my anger is that in actual play, the Electric Armor was as good as the mixed defense / resist armors. A couple of Elec Armor tanks that had leveled to 50 stated that they were able to survive on the Cimeroran Wall (a location in Cimerora with multiple mobs of 50+ enemy critters) without having to utilize either the Tough or Weave pool powers. As I compared the new electrical armor powers to the existing dark armor and fire aura power sets, my own anger grew, culminating in a rant that Fire was censored when compared to electric. After having a few days to settle down and ponder the matter, I think I know exactly what ticks me off about the addition of electrical armor, and I think I know why it's clearly heads and shoulders above the other resist sets available for tanks. When Floyd Grubb talked about the addition of electrical armor, this is what he said:
The original plan was just to proliferate Electric Armor and to use this opportunity to make some survivability adjustments to the set at the same time
Survivability. That's what set Electric Armor apart from Fire or Dark.

So, with the idea of survivability in mind... exactly what would I do to fix the errors that I see in the Fire Aura and Dark Armor sets?

Well, lets first of all define what those errors are.
For Dark, my issues with the set are the inclusion of Cloak of Darkness and Cloak of Fear. Cloak of Darkness includes a +stealth component coupled with a minor defense. However, it doesn't do a thing to drop a Tank's threat level, which when coupled with the inherent gauntlet, leaves it one of the most pointless stealth powers in the game. Even worse, Cloak of Darkness often interferes with aggro control, and it's not uncommon for other players to be able to strip aggro away from my dark tanks.

Cloak of Fear contains a minor fear and it's supposed to leave enemies standing helpless. Only... it doesn't actually work. In my own actual play, Cloak of Fear worked fine on stuff that conned at a higher level. When fighting equal levels, enemies were more likely to take off running than stand still and cower. The larger problem is that Cloak of Fear's method of operation allows feared enemies to attack if attacked... and as a dark tank, it's a safe bet that the aoe damage Death Shroud is running at all times to help maintain aggro. Thematically then, the dark powers, when ported from the scrapper set with no changes, resulted in one of the worst aggro holding sets in the game. I've made the direct comment that whoever ported the power over gave no actual thought to making Dark a tanking power set.
For Fire Aura, the problems are a bit older in nature.
Before Issue 5 and Enhancement Diversification hit, Fire Aura was considered to be one of the best tanking sets available. In addition to having massive damage output on it's own, Fire Auras could get really high resists to a wider range of powers by maximum slotting their resist powers. When Enhancement Diversification hit though, the Fire Aura resists were never rebalanced against the new power caps. The result was a tanking set that had no native defenses and primary damage resist levels on par with Invuln armor Scrappers. As I see it, in over 10 issues, none of the development staff appear to have taken an in-depth look at the Fire Aura power set... even when porting the Aura to scrappers. It really seems that somebody keeps declining to actually look at what the power set accomplished... or didn't accomplish.

The specific problems with Fire Aura pretty much are as follows:.

The Burn power had a +fear attached, one of the highest fear causing powers in the game. To put this in perspective, my Illusion controller's Spectral Terror pet has a terrorize of magnitude 3. The Cloak of Fear on my dark tanks has a terrorize magnitude of 2. My Mastermind with Dark Miasma has Fearsome Stare which generates a terrorize of magnitude 3. On both my Fire Aura Tank, and Fire Aura Scrapper, burn carries a terrorize magnitude of 50. When the change was made, the addition of such a massive amount of fear to the power was intended to force Fire Aura Tanks to play with controllers who could keep enemies from running away. In practical play though, burn rapidly turned into a power that just about every fire tank said skip. As a power, burn interfered with aggro control, and even if you had a controller that could keep bosses locked down, such did little good against Giant Monster or AV class opponents.

Burn isn't the only issue Fire Aura has. There's also the temperature protection power, which boosts resistance to fire and cold damage. As I showed over on Gamenikki, the power brings almost nothing to a properly slotted fire tank or fire scrapper.

The final issue with Fire Aura isn't actually an issue. I love fiery embrace... but unless the player also takes fire melee, it's almost pointless. Fiery Embrace can basically be described as a build up that lacks the to-hit buff, uses more endurance, takes longer to recharge, and can't be slotted with any IO's. When making my Spines / Fire scrapper I just couldn't justify fitting Fiery Embrace into the build. When I did my archery / fire blaster though, I had no problems justifying both Aim and Build Up.

Okay, if you've been reading me for any length of time, you've probably heard most of this before, and what you really want to know is... what exactly would I do to fix what I see as problems? Well, everytime I've brought up the subject before, I've danced around the topic suggesting that certain powers need to be junked and replaced entirely. I'm not so sure that's an answer though. I think I can suggest fixes to the issues with Dark Armor and Fire Aura while staying true to the themes of each.

To fix Dark Tanks, this is what I would do.
I would drop the +stealth on Cloak of Darkness, boost the base defense rating to 10%, and add a defense debuff resistance of about 20% with the power text something along the lines of this: you wrap yourself in the shadows of darkness, leaving enemies puzzled as to where you are. When slotting the new Cloak of Darkness into ED this would give Dark Armor around 15% to 17% native defense, about on par with what a badly slotted invuln scrapper can manage in a mob.

I would drop the +fearon Cloak of Fear and boost the To Hit debuff to around 15% base, changing the power text to something along the lines of: Shadow Upon Shadow, Distraction upon Distraction. This Power causes enemies to wonder where they are aiming. Thematically, the new power, Cloak of Shadows, stays in the realm of Dark Armor. In realistic gameplay, a stronger defense coupled with a stronger to-hit should enable dark armors to spend more time in a fight. In addition, the status effects that serve the scrapper archtype well, but interfere with the job of a tank, are done away with.

One of the changes I'm not suggesting is raising the resist values. The problems with Dark armor are generally caused by status effects that interupt their ability to contain a mob. With a mob contained, even at level 20, my own darks were able to heal for 1000+ hit points off as little as 4 different enemies. I've had the pleasure of watching level 50 dark tanks top off heals for 3k+. The Dark Armor's propensity for taking more damage with lower resists is also mitigated with a higher native defense and a higher native to-hit debuff.
To fixFire Tanks, this is what I would do.
Dropthe fear on burn. Just get rid of it entirely. Rather, standardize burn with other fire abilities such as bonfire. Add in a minor stacking knockback effect. The idea is to baseline the knockback against a con-white minion as it approaches 50% health.

Now since I'm not in possession of a temp power to check enemy base specs, I'm having to do this off the cuff. My fire tank;s Greater Fire Sword can remove about half the health of a con-white scientist in PI with damage values of -131 / -91. The -131 / -91 50% health values seemed to be fairly consistent across minions from Malta, Nemesis, and Carnival of Shadow. So, I can extrapolate that the average minion health is somewhere around 450 hp. (131+91 = 222 * 2 = 444).

At level 50, burn does 51 ticks of 3.34 damage for 10 seconds, for an average n-boosted total damage of around 166 points. With the damage approaching ED that would be about 320 points of damage (166*2 = 332 :: 95% ~ 320).With rough estimation, this means that a con-white minion would be approaching 50% damage around the 37th tick or so of damage. (320 / 51 ~ 6 :: 225 / 6 ~ 37.5) The idea is that as the damage approaches the 220 damage mark, the knockback amount builds up and flings the minion away. As NPC's continue to remain in Burn, the knockback amount continues to build up, till lieutenants, then bosses, get kicked away.

This modification fits into the themes of the other fire powers on other archtypes. Also, as the mez effect is a knockback, gauntlet and aggro aren't actively interfered with. Fire Tanks can once again bring the burn power toaffect against larger mobs while gaining a bit of useful mitigation.

The second change I would make is to Temperature Protection. I'd boost the speed resist values to be on par with the Electrical Armor Resists, and boost the Cold resist, while dropping the Fire Resist Values. I'm thinking 15% Fire Resist, 15% Cold Resist, 40% speed resists.

This is followed up by a change to power that actually works alright as is, Healing Flames. One of the advantages Electrical Armor carries is that it's new Energize Power contains a regeneration boost that can put it's regen rate in the territory of the Willpower and Stone sets.

What I would do is halve the amount of Regeneration afforded to Fire Aura, and halve the amount of Endurance discount, and disable stacking. This would give Fire Tanks a 50% Regeneration rate boost and a 20% endurance iscount everytime Healing Flame's ticks off. As is now on my Fire Tank, I'm often put between the choice of staying alive, or taunting, and that's after over a billion in influence spent on IO sets.

The thematic idea is that coupled with the extra resistance to slows, Fire Tanks are in a better position to get their attacks off on a regular basis. Electric Armor still retains it's destinctive advantage of a power set with better endurance management, a higher possible in-fight regeneration value, and native speedups. The final change I would make is to bring Fire Armor resists up to part with Electrical Resists at 35% base resistance. There's no real thematic idea here other than that the base resists should have been raised when Fire Aura was ported to scrappers.
Fire Scrappers (and Brutes) a bit harder to... fix.
To use the dark armor set as a comparison, one of the problems is that thematically many of the status effects for Dark Scrappers work on scrappers since they buy time to do damage, then get out of the way. With Fire Scrappers, I'm not exactly sure if the massive magnitude of fear on burn is actually that bad of an idea. Thematically, most of the scrapper armors have an I'm in Trouble Tier 9 power. The Tier 9 Fire Aura scrapper power is Rise of The Phoenix which is more of a "I got over my head again" power.

While converting the fear on burn to a stacking knockback would fit thematically with the rest of the fire power-sets, would it really fit the scrapper theme? I think I would go ahead with the change anyways. However, I'd do an inverse of what normally is done when comparing Scrapper / Brute armors to Tank armors.

Traditionally, each Scrapper / Brute effect is down 30% compared to a tank equivelent. For the Scrapper / Brute burn I'd raise the knockback stacking rate. Again, basing this against the level 50 numbers from earlier, I determined that the knockback stacking should overcome a con-white minion around the 37th damage tick. For Scrappers, I'd take about 30% off that number, so that minions would fly off around the 24th damage tick.

The second change I would make is to increase the base resists from 22.5% to 27.5%. Like the change on Fire Aura for tanks, this is a boost of 5% and brings the resistances up in line with other resistance armor types.

The third change I would make is to modify Healing Flames again. For scrappers, I would give them values 30% under that of the Fire Tank variant. So where a Tank would have a 50% Regen Increase and a 20% endurance discount, a scrapper would have a 33% regen boost and a 13% endurance discount. As brutes have a higher HP cap, there would be a slight difference here as I'd give them a 25% Regen boost and a 10% Endurance discount.

The final change would once again be to Temperature Protection, bringing the fire and cold resists to 10% each, and boosting the resists to 30%.
Thematically, I think each of the suggest changes better fits the avatar's purpose. At the same time, while the sets are buffed, they aren't buffed to the point of clearly being better than another particular set. The fire Aura set retains it's ability to deal out more damage than other armor sets, but on tanks, it's no longer a distant second cousin with scrapper resist values. For Tanks, Dark armor becomes a set that can hold aggro, while still acting as a status effect AOE platform.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Nintendo prepping Displayport Wii for 2010?

File this one under the rumors that would be nice column. Recently site Kotaku reported that Nintendo was bringing the black Wii-mote, Nun-Chuck, and Wii-Motion Plus to the US in a new bundle. Strangely though, Nintendo did not announce that the Black Wii console was on it's way. Granted, the North American and European territories are used to getting the short end of the stick on Nintendo's colorful console releases. Just drop by someplace like Play-Asia, and you'll find a wealth of colorful DS units the US and Europe have never seen... and Gamecube systems... and Gameboy systems...

So it's of no big surprise that Nintendo wouldn't be bringing the black Wii to the US...

Or is something else going on? As most gamers know, Sony and Microsoft are gearing up their own motion control systems for 2010 releases, each hoping to claw back territory that Nintendo just gobbled up. As such, many gamers are looking to Nintendo to swing back with a High Resolution Wii... neverminding the development issues that would cause in trying to optimize for each platform.

Still, perhaps a hardware revision is in the works. Physically speaking, the Wii can't get much smaller and still retain compatibility with the Gamecube ports. ... That said... an updated Wii could contain an 802.11n wireless chipset, a gigabit ethernet adapter, and possibly... support for Displayport.

The Displayport is the interesting bit. For starters, it's pretty much backwards compatible. A displayport connector should be able to pass along the ypbpr encoding scheme currently carried by component cables.

Second, for Nintendo's purposes, it's royalty free. One of the many reasons cited by Nintendo for not including DVD playback in the Wii, despite having a DVD capable drive, is that they would have to pay a fee since DVD playback isn't free. HDMI, a competing technology to Displayport, also carries a royalty charge.

Third, Nintendo is quite close to AMD, who is invested in Displayport. Getting Displayport onto the Wii would be considered quite a feather in the cap for the standard and it's backers.

At this point though, it's just a rumor. It would be nice if Nintendo did surprise the US market with an updated Wii model and more display output options. Sadly, that's all it would be... a nice thought.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quake Live on Linux ID's test bed for future Linux Clients

From the HardOCP forums:

We are not currently scheduling native linux ports. It isn't out of the question, but I don't think we will be able to justify the work. If there are hundreds of thousands of linux users playing Quake Live when we are done with Rage, that would certainly influence our decision...
So, if you thought Wolfenstein's lack of a Linux client was a one-off, it wasn't. ID is apparently using Quake Live Linux to determine whether or not future game clients get ported to the Linux Platform. So here's a chance for Linux users to really hand in some hard numbers to ID software, and hopefully get Raven Software to put out a Linux client for Wolfenstein as well.

btw, as a side note, since I indicated on Twitter I'd be posting proof of order cancellation to Raven's lead guy...

When I ordered it

The change to cancellation request

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is Nvidia responsible for the no Additional OS on Slim PS3?

Sony has finally announced it's second worst kept secret. The PS3 Slim Edition, and the much lower price-tag. Compared to previous Playstation 3 units the new PS3 Slim shares many of the same features as the previous low-end models. Among the features missing from previous models include no backwards compatibility with Playstation 2 games. The PS3 Slim only features 2 USB ports compared to it's older cousins 4. While previous PS3 units had card readers for Compact Flash, SD, and Sony's Memory Stick Pro, the PS3 Slim lacks these ports.

In all fairness though, such isn't that big a deal. One of the advantages to USB is that you can buy a hub which allows you to attach more devices, and I know from personal experience that the PS3 does quite well at recognizing USB card readers. So the consumer really doesn't lose as much functionality as would be first appearent.

In fact, the only significant loss on the spec sheet is the loss of a firmware loader to allow additional operating systems to be installed. One of the high points at the Playstation 3's launch was it's ability for end users to install a PowerPC Linux. However, as users, such as myself found out, the only graphics support available for the Playstation 3's hardware was a base VESA mode. While you could get a display, you pretty much could forget about actually doing anything with the system beyond simple number crunching or base database work... and if that's what you were interested in doing with Cell, you were better off buying from IBM directly.

One of my questions surrounding the PS3 Slim is if Nvidia was responsible for the loss of a method to install an additional operating system. Nvidia doesn't have an open-source strategy. There is no intention on Nvidia's part to provide software developers with documentation or specification to write a driver for any of their graphics cards. Nvidia publically refused to add in the PS3's RSX support to Nvidia-Glx. The resulting lack of any accelerated video made the PS3 pointless as a desktop computer for all but the most basic of tasks.

Thus I wonder if Sony's decision to no longer support such functionality was based on Nvidia's choice to keep from supporting other uses of the PS3 system.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Champions Online : is it competition to City of Heroes?

If you've read this blog at all, it's a fair bet to say I like City of Heroes, and I don't like Champions Online. I've been over several of the background elements of Champions Online development, not just here, but also on other places, such as the wthcomics forum, and blogging system used over on Nodwick where I drug out my ancient LiveJournal login.

To short short short is this:
  • Microsoft and Marvel kill Marvel Universe Online, with internal reports citing quality issues with Cryptic's development.
  • Cryptic sells of City of Heroes and the development team to NCSoft. Jack Emmert is the only City of Heroes developer on record to not make the move to NCSoft Northern California.
  • Cryptic buys the cheapest Hero Game license available, which is Champions pen and paper role playing game.
  • Cryptic's former Marvel team converts MUO to Champions Online
  • NCSoft pumps money into NCSoft Northern California, more than tripling the development team size. New developers start training on how to work the existing systems and fixing many underlying problems.
I think that's a fair assessment of how things lined up. One of the important factors to remember, and one of which gaming site Kotaku loves to just conveniently ignore, is that the Cryptic Studios that is working on Champions Online is not even remotely related to the Cryptic Studios team that worked on City of Heroes. The only designer and code contributer of note is Jack Emmert. I, for one, am incapable of describing just how badly Mr. Emmert destroyed City of Heroes. I've been over before, lots of times, the brain dead design choices made by Mr. Emmert. I will concede that he did get the formula right... once. Yet, the more I listen to CoH players who have the 60month badge (or more), the more I'm struck by just how much of the City of Heroes gameplay that I like was driven by all of the developers around Mr. Emmert. The more I learn about the game's development history, the less respect I have for Mr. Emmert.

In the same way, I have very little respect for Bill Roper. Mr. Roper has a string of good titles from his days at Blizzard, ranging across the Warcraft, Star Craft, and Diablo brands. Yet, his most recent project was Hellgate: London. Now, I played Hellgate: London, and what struck me about the game wasn't the game itself... but Tabula Rasa. I actually mentioned the events... I think on Gamenikki... but as Tabula Rasa entered open-beta and retail, I reported the presence of a large number of astroturfers. Astroturfers were game accounts that pretty much sat in the opening zone of Tabula Rasa and proclaimed the game was destined to fail, everybody was off playing Hellgate: London, and so on. Strangely, the astroturfers were right... Tabula Rasa died out of the gate as Mr. Garriot's replacements / seconds in command drove the game straight off a cliff. I wrote about that too... more than once. By the same token though, Hellgate: London was also a flop.

This relates to City of Heroes because of some... well... in-game chatter. As Champions Online drives closer to it's own public beta and release, I've noticed accounts popping up across 4 different CoH servers which proclaim CoH to be dead. CoH is finished, nobody's left to play, everybody else has gone onto Champions Online. The text from some of these accounts is exactly identical to screenshots I took of the Tabula Rasa astroturfers... with only the game name having been changed. Now, I don't have proof that Bill Roper has actually hired the same marketing agency to do this sort of thing... but I find it more than interesting that the only relationship Champions Online has with Hellgate: London is Bill Roper, and that I'm seeing the same type of well, not false, but fake advertising in NCSoft games.

As I concluded on Nodwick's blogging system, I am biased. I don't like Mr. Emmert because of what I know he's directly done. I don't like Mr. Roper because of marketing activities that are just way too similar to be a coincidence. However, just as I find the marketing for Champions Online to be a bit too close to City of Heroes, such as the box art which features rip-offs of Statesman and Lord Recluse... some people find City of Heroes to be too-close to Champions Online.

I've seen some legitimate criticism leveled that CoH's feature list, as of Issue 16, strongly resembles the feature list for Champions Online. The very big problem with Champion Online's feature list though, is that it was full of elements that fell into two categories.
  • Stuff that Jack promised would come to City of Heroes
  • Stuff that Jack said would never come to City of Heroes
Champions Online feature list really didn't extend beyond that. City of Heroes Issue 16 brings a whole host of new features, such as power custimization, a completely new side-kicking / teaming system, and a non-linear character creation system... which is all stuff Champions Online championed at it's inception. Is this a case of a rip-off? Well... I'm not inclined to think so. I say this because I'm semi-aware of exactly how much work had to be done on the back end of City of Heroes code base to enable many of the features Mr. Emmert said CoH would never have. Knowing what work had to be done, knowing what assets had to be created for the work, and knowing the training that needed to be done... I don't think it's co-incidence that City of Heroes is launching such major base gameplay / graphics changes so close to the launch of Champions Online. I actually expect, much like last years introduction of level-pacting, for the new features to still be quite buggy, even after extensive closed and open testing.

In the short term, for the gamer who shops on feature lists alone, Champions Online doesn't actually have anything to really offer over and atop City of Heroes. Then there's the massive elephant in the corner of the room with Going Rogue printed on it's side. The development road-map for where City of Heroes is going within the next year is pretty clear.

One of the big rumors about Going Rogue is that it's going to be featuring another graphics update. Actually, I'm not so sure that's a rumor. I'm fairly certain somebody in Paragon Studios confirmed it, but I can't find any confirmation. The rumors about the update suggest that City of Heroes could be one of the first PC titles to be built against OpenGL 3.0 or even the just released OpenGL 3.2. Some have also suggested that Going Rogue will switch from Nvidia PhysX support to OpenCL for physics acceleration. The timing seems right since Apple's Snow Leopard will be packing OpenCL support, and both Intel and AMD are expected to have drivers for Windows, OSX, and Linux that will support OpenCL by the time Going Rogue launches. Switching to OpenCL would make it a lot easier for Transgaming to enable physics support across the non-windows platforms.

From a technical standpoint then... Champions Online poses little competition to City of Heroes. Even if the upcoming graphics update stays within the confines of OpenGL 2.0 or OpenGL ES, there's room for CoH to continue to improve it's user presentation. From a feature standpoint, City of Heroes is already set to deliver beyond Champions Online.

So, if everything looks so rosy for CoH... why is there any concern? I think another player summed it up best. 5 years in an MMO is a relative eternity, and CoH is old. Some also say that the improvements are too late. The old argument doesn't really hold that much weight for me. Zelda: Orcarina of Time is even older, and I don't see anybody knocking that game because it's old. The too late argument holds even less weight. Too late for what? Is there some kind of time-limit on MMO's that I'm not aware of? Yeah, City of Heroes has changed a lot from when I started, and it's fixing to go through another set of changes in the coming months. Personally, it's a better, much more rounded game. It's easier to access to play... but at the same time it's deeper than it was back in Issue 8.

My case in point is a player who asked me what I do once I hit 50 on a character. Didn't I just stop playing the 50? Hadn't I finished with my enhancements? No, and No. I've rebuilt several of my avatars over the years. My Fire / Fire tank is now fully IO slotted from a Hamidon Slotted build back in Issue 8. As the developers come up with new IO's, I've come up with more tweaks for my avatars, making many of my avatars useful in more in-game situations than they would have been even a single calendar year ago.

I think the bigger issue is that so many CoH players haven't gotten used to the changes in the game. Case in point, recently I ran into a player that was whining about the invulnerability power sets and that nothing had been done with the set for year. The rest of us on the team did a collective bwuh? and pointed to the Issue 12 Invuln rework. The last time this particular player had tried invuln... was back in Issue 6. I will say there are certain power-sets that haven't been addressed or rebalanced since then (FIRE AURA: GHOST FALCON: PLEASE RE-BALANCE FIRE AURA).

So much of the previous player base that left... generally did so when Mr. Emmert was in charge of the game... and I honestly can't fault many of them for leaving. I can say though, everybody who left CoH prior to Issue 10... is in for more of the same development behavior with Champions Online.

So, for me, I question just how much Champions Online counts as competition. I don't think it is. I think SOE's DC Universe poses a larger threat to City of Heroes player base.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

CoH - Stone Tank Build

For the first time in months, another build of my CoH characters. Like previous posts, this avatar is, well, still not completely slotted. I've got some changes to make. This posting though, is not at all like my other builds that I've put online.

One of the objectives I try to accomplish with my avatars is what I call practical builds. When I IO slot an avatar, I try to only use IO's that a casual player has a hope of getting. So I generally don't build avatars with expensive proc IO's or the extremely rare Purple IO sets. For the most part, whether or not the developers want to address this issue, an average player has no realistic chance of obtaining a full set of purple IO's.

For this avatar, I broke that rule. The avatar is my Stone / Mace tank. Now, I happen to be the opinion that in the current City of Heroes, players shouldn't make a stone tank unless they have the finances to IO slot their Stone Tank. The reason for this is that the Stone's final armor, Granite, has some serious penalties associated with it's use, which include a hefty debuff to global recharge speed, global attack strength, and global movement. Many of these debuffs can be dealt with by simply teaming up with other players. A Kinetics can erase the movement debuffs and recharge debuffs, and in mobs, erase the damage debuffs as well. An Empath or a Thermal Radiation can also ease the damage debuffs. However, in the current city of heroes, where a large number of players are AE leveled and have no practical game experience, it's not uncommon to be teaming with players that don't know how to use their buffs... although in all fairness, I am the one that has railed against Fire / Kinetics that never learned how to play kinetics to begin with.

Overcoming these stone armor debuffs without relying on teammates requires some of the most expensive and rare Invention Origin enhancement in the game. My build here ... is not going to work... for the vast majority of the player base. Obtaining the various IO's used to make this build required countless runs of Positron and Synapse Task Forces, and selling many merit obtained IO's for cash... and it still took me several months of saving to be able to make this build. I'd estimate that an average player might be able to duplicate this in about a year... maybe more.

So, why Stone Armor Anyways?

Well, Stone Armor is one of the best defensive armors in the game. At it's best, it's just about indestructible, capable of absorbing damage amounts that other armors can only dream of. That being said, Stone Armor is not a magic bullet in the game. While it's main penalty is the speed debuffs and damage debuffs in granite armor, for years the Stone set was the only Armor class to offer any defense against Psionics. However, this Psionic Protection comes from the Minerals power, which cannot be active at the same time as the Granite armor power.

My Goals for this Stone Armor build were thus two fold.
  • Erase the recharge penalty
  • Be useful in both armor sets, Granite and the other armors.

So why Mace?

Well, at first I had based the build off of my ice / mace for slotting. I knew what inventions the Mace set could accept, and I had an idea on what I could do with the IO's in the game. As time wore on and I learned more about how the game worked at it's base level, some of my Ice / Mace choices, well, missed the mark. Some of my slotting choices that I had in mind are still visible here in the stone armor, such as on Mud Pots.

Okay, lets start with a couple of overview picks. Here we can see that my love of franken-slotting continues. My apologies for the horizontal distortion. I normally play on a 16:10 wide-screen resolution, and the game itself doesn't handle scaling down to different aspect ratios very well.

Stone Armor Sets

Rock Armor: This is the basic smashing / lethal defense armor that stone tanks get. Here we can already see that it's defense value isn't actually that high. While I'm into Enhancement Diversification, otherwise known as ED, with my defense boost, I'm not even coming close to the 58% boost I had on my Ice Tank. This is because while my Ice had the franken-slotting of
  • defense : defense / endurance : defense / endurance : defense
my Stone armor has the fraken-slotting of
  • defense / endurance : defense / proc : defense / proc : defense / endurance

The reason for this particular franken-slotting is that the Gift of the Ancients set has a proc that boosts base run speed by 7.5%. and the Luck of the Gambler set has a proc that boosts base recharge speed by 7.5%. In City of Heroes you can have up to 5 of the same IO Buff before the effects stop stacking. So, I knew early on that I could get a 37.5% recharge boost (7.5% * 5) just on Luck of the Gambler alone. So I started saving up and buying LoTG with merits long before I ever actually made the Stone Tank as an avatar.

These particular proc boosts are based on the level of the player. If you are over the level of the enhancement, it will activate. If you go any further than three levels below the level of the enhancement, it will cease to proc.

Picking a level based enhancement proc for a certain level is known as Sweet-Spotting. The sweet spot for these level based procs when used against Granite armor is actually level 37. Level 37 is 3 levels higher than 34, which is the level cap for the Katie Hannon Task Force. At level 37 the procs will activate for the lowest level task force that a Stone Armor can use Granite In.

The reason I went with significantly lower level procs is that I had chosen the mace attack set, which is really, really, really slow to recharge. In order to be useful on the Sister Psyche Task Force, which caps at 25, the maximum level I could take for the recharge boost was level 28. I'll talk about the level 29 Gift of the Ancients run speeds later on.

Earths Embrace
: This power works much like Hoarfrost from the Ice tank I made. It's a buff that increases the player's maximum hit points. Hit points matter not just for how much damage you can take, but also because the regeneration rate of an avatar is determined by the number of hit points. The higher the base health, the more hit points one regenerates.

This power is incomplete. I still need to pick up a Numina's Healing / Endurance / Recharge to fill in the last slot. I'm also intending to drop a slot from the next power and put it here, and add in an additional Numina's Endurance / Recharge to boost the recharge speed. This should push the power closer to the ED capped 3minute recharge, and close to permanent outside of Granite armor.

Mud Pots
: Also known as what was I thinking. In my original plan for the build, I had intended to 5-slot all of my pbaoe powers with the Obliteration set. The Oblit is a great set, as it offers several fantastic buffs to damage, recharge, accuracy, and defense. Only... it's got a really, really, really big flaw. Oblits only offer one endurance discount, and it's in the quad-buff enhancement, so it's a really low endurance discount. That's a problem when Mud Pots is almost as endurance hungry as Focussed Accuracy, and there's no endurance recovery option available in the Stone or Mace sets.

My Alternative plan didn't really work either, but I'll get into that when we hit the Mace powers in the attack set.

For now, this slotting is going to change. What I intend to do is drop a slot back to Earths Embrace, two slot Mud Pots with the Cleaving Blow set for the small endurance recovery, and then fill in with two level 50 crafted endurance reduction IO's.

Rooted: This is the Stone armors first anti-mez power. It's also the power that too many stone tanks skip, and I quote, Because It's Too Slow. Rooted carries a high price for it's massive regeneration boost, and that's a dramatic loss in speed.

The Regenerative Tissue set offers an interesting proc, one that can be obtained at level 10, which offers a global regeneration boost. This proc is based on whether or not the power is active, so I put it in Rooted which I would be taking before the Health pool power.

As can be seen, the Regenerative Tissue set offers a 4% base running boost with just 2 procs. Unlike other healing sets, Regenerative Tissue does not offer a straight heal enhancement, so I went with it's maximum level healing / endurance enhancement. While I don't get the run boost in Sister Pysche, I do get it in Moonfire.

In order to press Rooted towards ED, I worked on obtaining the Numina Healing and Numina Healing / Endurance. As can be seen though, I didn't hit the ED cap, staying somewhere just below it.

Crystal Armor
: Okay, here we are back in the actual defense sets. Okay, while my Luck of the Gambler 7.5's stick to level 28 consistently, my Gift of the Ancients sort of meander around from 25 to 28. There's actually a simple reason for this. I wasn't paying attention.

While the 7.5 recharges are really expensive, and rare, the 7.5 run speeds are significantly less so. I paid somewhere around less than 2 million apiece in Wentworths... only... when I realized how cheap they were and that I had just wasted some 1000+ merits buying then from a merit vendor... I wasn't paying attention when I bid thinking something to the effect of I can use these on a friends stone brute when going rouge hits. So I picked up 4 level 29 procs instead of 28's.

The 25 on Granite was actually a drop during a low level TF.

: The second most important armor next to Granite. For literal years, the Minerals power was the only Psionic Protection available to tanks. Players wanting to run the Challenge Shadow Shard content desperately needed a Stone with Minerals to handle the Wisps. Now though, with both the Dark Armor and Willpower sets available, too many Stones skip Minerals or don't figure out how to play with it.

Because Minerals was so important to the End Game Challenge content, it was one of the few powers that could almost be soft capped with Single Origin Enhancements after ED hit, and Psionic Defense could actually be soft capped with a pool power.

Granite: According to many Stone Tanks, Granite Armor is the magic bullet. Once you get it, nothing can touch you, you are the best thing there is for taking damage.

Em. Wrong. Yeah, Granite is a good Armor. It does offer a decent amount of defense to a wide range of powers, and some stellar resistance to a wide range of powers. That being said, it doesn't offer complete protection.

Yes, I could drop the defense / endurance enhancements and go with straight defense enhancements... but even if I hit the 58% boost that my ice tank has... my actual defense amount would go from 30.54% ... to 31.6%. I'd only gain 1% defense at best, use up more endurance, and it just didn't make sense.

By the same token, in boosting the resistances, if I dropped a defense power to boost resistance, the most I could get would be 49%~52% on a single slot... which only boost my resistances to 76% at best. Only if I took up 4 slots and hit 58% ED cap could I approach a 79% overall resistance. Yes, that's better than a fire tank. That's a lot better than a fire tank. That's invuln territory. But that means taking lower IO buffs, and loosing out on defense... a lot of defense.

So, for all practical purposes, with only 6 slots, there's no way to make Granite the all-powerful armor. So, I didn't. I went with the best combination of procs, endurance discounts, and boosts I could get that put me into ED.

Attack Sets

Once again, why mace? Well, I had several reasons for taking mace. I knew it was a high damage power-set. I knew that many powers could take Knockback IOs and one of the KB IO sets had a chance for plus recharge and an accuracy / endurance IO... so I could get a nice buff, not increase knockback... Until I actually tried that with a Willpower / Stone Melee build... and found that that the Chance for Recharge + was just that... a chance. It was nothing to rely on for a play build.

I also found out about the 5 Type Limit, where you can only have 5 of the same type of set boosts... regardless of whether or not those boosts came from different enhancement sets. The 5 type Limit is based on the actual buff. So, the 10% regeneration buff on Luck of the Gambler... is the same 10% Regeneration buff on Scirocco's Dervish. In my defenses alone, I already had 5 Luck of the Gambler 7.5's and 5 Luck of the Gambler Defense / Endurance enhancements, so I was capped on 10% regeneration buffs.

So, after rethinking the attack side, this is what I came up with:

Bash: The unskippable power. Every Mace Tank has to take this.

For my enhancements, for this and my next two melee powers, I went with the Crushing Impact set because it offered a recharge boost with 5 slots. In addition, Crushing Impact also offers a maximum health boost, although a small one.

I sweet spotted the IO's at level 44. I would still get the buffs on the Eden Trial, but I would be pushing into ED on the damage.

Way back on my Ice / Mace I had skipped Pulverize and had taken Jawbreaker, which was a more powerful attack, although a bit slower. I went with pulverize because it was a quicker attack, which mattered more in granite armor.

: Another power I skipped on my Ice / Mace... although now I intend to go back and fit it in. The 255 damage count is hard to overlook.

Taunt: A requirement on all tanks. Don't let anybody ever tell you that Tanks don't need taunt... and if you see a tank without taunt, quit the team. Trust me on this, I've got 20+ on Shields, Dark, and Invuln, 45 on Willpower, and 50 on Ice, Fire, and Stone.

For my slotting, I went with Pefect Zinger, which offers a recharge boost for only 4 slots. I've also hit the limit on the 10% recharge boost, so the 3 slot buff does nothing for this build.

PBAOE Attacks

Okay, taking a minute to talk here, since this is where things get really ugly. As mentioned earlier, many of my original plans for the attacks had fallen apart. The Obliteration Set didn't have enough endurance discounts to make slotting up 3 high-endurance powers... worth it. My slotting that I used on my level 50 spines / fire scrapper, which mixed 2 Scirocco's Dervish with 3 Oblits for a regen and damage boost... wasn't a good idea either since I had already capped on 10% regeneration. I'd have 6 slots pretty much offering no IO buffs, and with only a 12% damage boost overall if I had done up mud pots and my 3 mace attacks, I'd still be down on attacks in granite. Then, in order to properly support the heavy endurance drain on Mud - Pots and push my regeneration to practical limits, I was just running out of slots.

Then, I had an opportunity open up in my Epic Power Slots that was too good to pass up, but I needed some slots there.

So, I rethought my goals for the mace powers. I was in a position to completely erase the recharge debuff on my Granite armor. But to do so, I'd only be able to give 4 slots, on average, to each of the 3 PBAOE mace attacks.

So, my goals lined up in this order:
  • Push Damage into ED
  • Accuracy
  • Endurance
  • IO Buffs that would help

This, is what I came up with:

Whirling Mace: The first of the PBAOE's. I was able to push my overall damage to 95%, straight into ED. I also managed 47% on accuracy and endurance. I also wound up with a global boost to Energy / Negative energy defense, and a global recovery boost, albeit it a small one.

I got the buffs by combining a 3 slot Cleaving Blow with a 1 slot Multi-Strike. Ugly, but I had achieved my goals.



Pool Powers

So, those are my attack sets. Now, for the pool powers. As before, the pool powers are used to fill in chinks in builds, and in the case of the Stone Tank, push it into the unkillable territory.

Recall Friend: All Stone tanks need to take the Teleport set. While I wish I had more slots for this power, I didn't.

: The reason why Stone Armor needs to take teleport is that the anti-mez power Rooted, and the final armor Granite, don't stack with any other travel power. The Leaping and Super Speed travel boosts disable Rooted and Granite on activation. I never tried to take the Fly set with Stone. Stone's that don't take the Teleport power probably don't have a firm grasp over how their armors behave.

My slotting choice for Teleport was the Blessing of the Zephyr set... and not just because it offers some very good defense buffs. It was also because the Winters Gift proc didn't help against the recharge debuff on granite, or the speed decrease on rooted and granite. The KB protection IO also comes in handy when traveling around Paragon.

Swift: I think this is the only time I've double slotted swift on a non-flyer. The base run speed really helps out.

: I often use Health as a platform for the Miracle and Numina procs. As it is an always on power, the buffs are also always on. Limited slotting means that I only have a 79% boost to it's regneration.

While I realize that Miracle +Recovery is expensive in Wentworths, it can be bought with around 240 merits. That's not really out of the range of a player that has done all of the Freedom Phalanx Task Forces.

By the same token, the Numina Proc is expensive if you go out and try to buy it with cash. Run real task forces and just buy it with merits.

One of my opinions in City of Heroes is that the Endurance System needs to be overhauled... completely. Even on archtypes with native endurance recoveries, like Willpower and Regeneration, players will still be feeling the sting of running out of endurance at the worst times. Even if you work on Invention sets that boost your recovery in every power, or increase your base recovery, Stamina never stops looking like a must-have power.

For my slotting I went with a crafted level 50 IO, a Performance Shifter Endurance, and the Performance Shifter Proc for a boost to my travel speeds.

Boxing: To be fair, I have ranted about how useless pool power attacks are. They should only if, and this is a very strong if, they cannot be skipped. While I was able to fit some slots in Boxing on my Ice / Mace for an IO buff, I just didn't have room here.

Tough: A lot of stone tanks will take the stone skin power because it offers smashing / lethal resistance, takes up no endurance, and can be had at an early level. Personally, stone skin is one of the most droppable powers in the stone armor set. Tough also works with granite armor, offers 3 times the amount of base resistance for the same attack types, and that becomes very important during high level play and my slotting choices for Granite.

My slotting choices on Tough consisted of the Aegis set for a run speed boost... and I still need an Aegis Resistance here...

And the Steadfast Protection proc with it's accompanying defense / endurance enhancement to help out with endurance consumption. The Proc is level based and caps at 30, which really is the sweet spot if you are trying to maximize's a power's resistance. While expensive in Wentworths, it's around 125 merits. Run real task forces for this proc.

Weave: I cannot emphasize enough how important Weave is to Defense based tanks. Yes, it's only a 7.9% boost if you cap the amount of defense, which I haven't... but it's very important. Here, once again, I'm using it as a platform for the LoTG and GoTA procs.

Epic Pyre Mastery

On all of my previous tanks, and on my scrapper, I worked very hard towards supporting Focused Accuracy. However, the change to FA a couple issues back rendered most of the slottings of FA next to useless. It doesn't matter how much you slot the To-Hit, the buff is going nowhere, and you still have a metric ton of endurance drain to deal with.

When I got to the higher levels and looked at which Epic Powers made sense, I started looking for ranged attacks that would support the Decimation or Entropic Chaos power sets which offered a recharge boost. I didn't want the Laser Beam Eyes power... just didn't make sense for my avatar... but then I realized I could get a debuff in the pyre mastery set, and slot up the hold, Char, with the Basilisks Gaze hold set... right up until I realized that Basilisks Gaze had a 7.5 recharge boost, which I was capped on, and not the 6.5 recharge boost that other newer buff IO sets had.

While I was trying to figure out what to do on my slotting, I got a purple Hecatomb drop... which... when crafted and sold... gave me enough money for an entire support Purple IO slot.

Ring of Fire: It's an immobilize. Little damage, but that wasn't why I took it.

Gravitational Anchor: I'm not meaning to be rude, but you'll either need to farm for months to buy this set in Wentworths, or get extremely lucky and get a purple drop that sells for over 300,000,000 if you start from Zero Cash. I wasn't starting from Zero, and this is the first time I've used a set of purples... but the recharge boost was just too good to pass up... even though it meant putting off slotting my Fire / TA controller and Willpower / Stone Melee Tank.

Melt Armor: Nobody expects the tank to debuff, and I've been over before... here or on Gamenikki, I forgot, just how bad this power is compared to it's controller cousin.

For slotting I went with Lady Greys Defense Debuff for the recovery and maximum health boosts, and for the sets 3 enhancements with recharges.

The Hard Final Numbers

Alright, so there's how I slotted, and how I intend to change that slotting in the near future. So hows the build actually play?

Well, for starters, with this slotting, I was largely able to tank a Doctor Quarterfield Task Force without using Granite, and no other defense or resists boost. Yes, we did have a Controller with Sonic Buff, but that controller had not taken either shield... a common occurrence among AE leveled players.

At level 47, I was able to drag generals out of the canyon on a level 50 invincible ITF. I went on an STF at 49, before I could slot the purples, and before I had slotted up Health and Rooted with the Numina IOs, I was almost at the point of being able to contain all 4 end AV's without external buffs. I actually should have taken a picture of that, but Cedega doesn't play nicely with screen-shots on ATi cards in full-screen mode.

With this slotting I was able to main tank an Eden Trial without granite... all the way up to the titan... at which point the sheer number of incoming enemies forced me into Granite.

So, I know this slotting works. I know, from a numerical standpoint, it's MoSTF capable. So, what are those numbers? Lets look.

Base Stats W/O Accolades or Armors On


Movement / Damage Resistance

Defense / Debuff Resistance

Status Protection / Status Resistance

Base Stats: Non Granite Armor With Rooted


Movement / Damage Resistance


Debuff Resist / Status Protection / Status Resist

Endurance Consumption With Mud Pots On
(lower right corner listing)

Base Stats: Granite Armor With Rooted and Mud Pots


Movement / Damage Resistance


Debuff Resistance / Status Protection / Status Resistance

Base Stats: Granite Armor, Rooted, Mud Pots, Accolades, Earth's Embrace

There we go. My Stone tank build as it is, well, right now.