Monday, November 29, 2010

Guild Relations Forum Again

With still no response from Blizzard, at least one Blogger has taken pity on the GRF posters and written an article on the situation.  Michael Jamais of QQ Spotlight recently published this article:  Dear Abbys of WoW struggle to find a new home.

As is mentioned in the article, there is a new forum outside the official forums created for Guild Relations.  Hopefully the word will be spread well enough before the old forums go dark that a new gathering place has been created at .  Those wishing to show support, please register and post.

Update:  GRF is back!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Demise of the GRF?

With Cataclysm on the horizon, Blizzard has launched new forums for World of Warcraft users.  Aside from any complaints I might have about the navigability or the color choice (could they have picked a color harder on the eyes?  OK, probably so), they have not chosen to include a Guild Relations Forum.

Several people came out of the woodwork to petition Blizzard for a Guild Relations Forum, but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears.  (In an almost unprecedented move, I posted there on my main.)  Sure, it was a lightly trafficked forum, but it filled a niche.  It was a "safe place" to ask sensitive questions, where posters could be reasonably certain to receive a civil answer instead of mockery.

As yet, there has been no response from Blizzard on the subject.  Some are taking this as a hopeful sign, showing that it hasn't been entirely ruled out yet.  Who knows?

Maybe after all the earthquakes have stopped and the fires are burning, things will settle down long enough at Blizzard to take a look at it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

In True Tempest Fashion

Tempest, like many guilds, has its traditions and quirks.  One quirk which has happened so often by now it seems to be a tradition is downing a boss on what has to be the absolutely last pull of the raiding period.  So it would make sense that something would happen in the absolutely last pull of the last hour of the last official raiding night of the expansion.

We had been working on some other achievements earlier in the raid period, but due in large part to the D/C boss rearing his ugly head, they had been unsuccessful. As Algalon 25 was something we really wanted to try before Cataclysm (and knowing we'd only have an hour to work on him, anyway), we decided to head to the Observatory for the last hour of our scheduled raid.  So for the first time, the Tempest 25-man raid faced Algalon.

Algalon 25 is still a boss which can wipe a raid, despite good ICC25 Heroic gear.  The fight requires an understanding of the basic mechanics, and it still requires good tank healing and dps.  Several of us had done it in 10-man, so we had a grasp of what would happen, but there were also several raid members, including the raid leader, who had never set foot in the Observatory.  (There was a lot of "oooh"ing and "aaah"ing, which is understandable, as the room really is quite magnificent.  I still feel the same way when I enter.)

And, yes, we wiped.  There is, after all, a learning curve involved.  Sometimes the wipes were due to silly errors.  Sometimes the wipes were due to raiders not knowing a detail or a trick or a recommended position.  But progress was definitely being made.  The Black Holes stopped being dropped in the middle of the room.  Raiders started keeping a better eye on the Cosmic Smash locations and trying to time the demise of the Collapsing Stars to not coincide with Cosmic Smash.  Tanks reworked their assignments to better handle the challenges of the encounter.

And finally, when our raid time had depleted and we were down to the last pull of the night, we won.

Congrats to all the raiders who proved that even after a frustrating night, Tempest can still pull it all together at the end.

We lit up the sky above Dalaran.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So I Fell . . .

Last night, I was playing on my not-so-baby Discipline priest, flying around Zangarmarsh (yea, that's how not-so-baby she is now), when the power went out for just a few seconds at my house.  Because I have an UPS on my computer stuff, as well as an UPS on the fiber Internet connection, my game signal was not disrupted, but my brain sure was.

In my surprise, I somehow managed to dismount and cast Pain Suppression on her.  (Probably dismounted by hitting the Pain Suppression button.)  As I almost never use Levitate, my fingers fumbled around and didn't manage to locate the appropriate button before she hit the ground.

"Oh, great," I thought, "Splat."

Suddenly an achievement notification box popped up:  "Going Down?"

In amazement, I saw that she was alive, if barely, thanks to, well, Pain Suppression.  Then the ludicrousness of the situation got to me, and I burst out laughing.

It's not every day you totally lose your mind and manage to get an achievement in the process.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stats Again!

Browsing the Stats section of Blogger for this blog has turned up a few interesting observations recently.

1. Referring Sites.  The vast majority of my referring sites are one form or another of one very predictable site.  But every so often, I find some site has apparently referred me for completely mysterious reasons.  Most recently, I found a referring site which purports to be a paid survey site.  (What that has to do with Restoration Druids, I have no idea.)  And most inexplicably, I found a referring site listed which . . . well, if its name holds true to its purpose, apparently deals in free sex videos.  (Anyone who knows me understands how completely surprised I was to see this one.  They'll probably be less surprised to hear there was one purporting to have kitchens on clearance . . .)

I have to wonder if those sites make a business of simply hitting random blogs in hopes that the bloggers will come to their sites out of curiosity and eventually give them business.  (Some sort of crawling robot or something.)  Or perhaps it is a similar tactic by those attempting to disseminate malicious software.  Either could be the case, but I'm not going to test it.

2.  Popular Posts.  For whatever reason, my most popular post by far (as in leaps and bounds) is my post about the Guild Relations Forum at the World of Warcraft website.  This post was written back in May, and as far as I know, is not exceptionally well-written.  Maybe someone has bookmarked it to be able to follow a link?  Maybe someone is trying to give me a hint that informative pages, rather than anectdotes or treatises on originality or the rule of law, are more in demand?  Go figure.  (Still not going to write a redundant healing guide, thank you very much.)

3. Audience.  I already mentioned my delight in seeing new countries on my audience list.  I'm now up to twenty-two countries where people have accessed my blog to one degree or another.  More than likely, the majority of them just sort of stumbled on it, because many of those countries do not reappear frequently, but that is all right.  They are still on my list.  (Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Moldova are the most recent.  I had to look up Moldova.)

While there is not enough traffic to this blog to be able to make any statistical pronouncements (such as percentages of people using various browsers--changes week to week), there are certainly things on the Stats page which make it worthwhile for me to follow.

By the way, Moldova is in Eastern Europe:

(Image from

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Glory of the Icecrown Raider

The last few weeks, our raid has been focused more on achievements than Heroic progression.  To be honest, with the demise of Professor Putricide (Heroic), we figure we're done with Heroic ICC progression.  (Heroic Lich King is a myth--non-existant.)  So we've been continuing our progression down another path.

Last week, we almost (soooo close--not kidding) managed to successfully complete an Immortal Naxx run.  We've also been helping several of our members complete their "Glory of the Ulduar Raider (25)" achievements.  (No talk at this point of "discovering" the last boss in TOGC . . . steadfastly maintaining that there are only four . . .)

And last night, we finally did "Neck Deep In Vile" to complete the "Glory of the Icecrown Raider (25)" achievement.

To be honest, I thought that "Neck Deep In Vile" was going to be much more difficult than it ended up being. ("Firefighter", which we did later on in the raid, caused us more trouble.)  I'm sure we were helped by the recent patch changes to our abilities, but even so, people just managed to do things right.  Nobody dropped a Defile in the middle of the room.  (Ok, there was one sort of in the middle, and someone happened to be DC'd in the middle of that, and the healers unwisely kept him alive . . . but it all ended up just fine.  The transition wiped the Defile, and the player came back on-line just in time to run out with the rest of us.)  Everyone stayed far, far away from the vile spirits.  The shadow priest sent into Frostmourne for the first time handled it with ease.  And just in the nick of time, when it looked like we might possibly fail, the Lich King killed us all, causing the remaining vile spirits to despawn.

Our engineers dropped a mailbox right then and there, so we could pick up our Icebound Frostbrood Vanquishers, and we ported to Dalaran to go hover above one of the floating islands and take a screenshot.

Grats to the many Tempest players who worked hard to accomplish this guild achievement!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Failure of Leadership

Last night, I failed as a leader.

We had a new recruit--a melee dps--who was friendly and eager to fit in with the guild.  He had been open, talkative, willing to share pictures on the guild forum, and so forth.  Perhaps he was trying a little too hard, but at least he was trying.

This weekend, he decided to post on his usually dead class section of the forum with some information on tanking.  One guild member almost immediately followed with something to the effect of "Haha, dps player teaches you to tank."  I recognized that as a juvenile response, but sometimes forums are like that, so I didn't worry about it.

What crossed the line was when that guild member and one other harrassed him about it in guild chat.  Right away, I whispered the first instigator, telling him that at least the recruit had posted, and if he wanted to teach it, he could post, himself.  He did not respond to me, although he did stop typing in chat.

Where I failed was in not calling out the harrassers publicly in guild chat.  If I had done so, the recruit would have known he was not alone, and it would have set an example for any other guild members who might feel inclined to join in the harrassment activity.  (I suspect there may have been more which I did not witness.)  The message would have been clearly sent that harrassment of other members is not tolerated in our guild.  (As we are stating in our policies.)  In trying to be sensitive to the feelings of the wrongdoer, I failed to address the needs of the harrassed.

This is something for which I should have drawn from my experience as a mother.  When one daughter gets upset at another and puts her down, especially in front of other other sisters, I do get on her case in full hearing of all, for similar reasons.  The girls need to know that denigrating a sister is not tolerated, and the sister needs to know that Mom is defending her right to be treated fairly.  (Any root issues are addressed separately.)

But recently, there was a misunderstanding in guild by which I allowed myself to be hurt and become a little gun-shy.  I was afraid of appearing over-bearing in trying to encourage members to be courteous with each other, and so I did not do as much as I was first inclined to do.  This was wrong of me.  I needed to get over it and recognize that what is right to do is right to do, no matter the reactions of other people.  (Hey, I'm a Mormon; doing what I believe is right despite the reactions of others is something I have had to live with my entire life.  You'd think I would be immune by now.)

Shortly afterward, the recruit left the guild.  While I understand the first few weeks in a guild are a trial period, intended to allow both the guild and the recruit to decide on the fitness of the match, I feel I could have done more to help this recruit integrate into the guild.  I especially regret having a recruit leave under the cloud of mistreatment from other guild members, as it is a point of pride that our guild habitually treats members with patience and courtesy.

Leaders must have the courage to stand up and be ready to take bullets, if necessary.  I did not, and there was a price paid.

To the credit of the initial instigator, he did return to the forums and delete his post, as well as apologize to the recruit who had left.  This was good on his part, and shows his heart is essentially in the right place, but the damage had already been done.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Raiding Physical Fitness

Often, when I speak of my raiding activities to other people, I compare it to a team sport.  While many cannot relate to the desire to have a dedicated time for playing a computer game, they can understand the commitment to a team.  And, like any team sport, there are some inherent physical hazards.  I, personally, have encountered repetitive motion injuries and vision difficulties.

If I was still working in the grill, doing catering, or if I was outside cutting grass all day, these problems may not have developed.  But I work at a computer, as many other WoW players do.

Repetitive motion injuries are injuries caused by, well, doing the same motion over and over again, particularly motions which place stress on certain joints.  Particularly well-known to computer users are carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow.  (Which, yes, can be developed by computer users, even if they do not play tennis, as I do not.)

When I switched from a catering role to a desk job, I knew my potential to develop such injuries was greatly increased.  I started by developing my left-hand mousing skills in an effort to reduce the stress on my right arm.  When I am at work, I mouse with my left hand, and when I am at home playing, I mouse with my right.  I hoped this would prevent difficulties.

As time went on, I found I was developing tennis elbow in my right arm.  I adjusted my seat at home and purchased a hand support to help maintain the proper angles in my arm and wrist.  (I hate wrist rests: they make me feel like my circulation is being cut off.)  I also started wearing a tennis elbow brace, which helped relieve the symptoms.

But over time, I not only developed tennis elbow and some twinges threatening carpal tunnel syndrome in my right arm, I also developed them in my left.  (Great.)  Something had to be done.

That's when I stumbled on a blog (sorry, I can't find the post--too long ago!) wherein the blogger was saddened to learn she had carpal tunnel syndrome and would most likely have to stop playing WoW.  Commenters had mentioned they had tried using the NSD Powerball with good results.

I figured that if $50 could save my game, prevent me pain, and help to avoid potential surgery, it was worth it.  So I ordered one with bells and whistles (the counter and the lights--grin factor is worth something) and learned how to use it.  When I went out on break with my co-workers, I took my Powerball with me.  When I was good enough to be able to walk and spin it at the same time, I kept it going while walking to lunch or to meetings.  People started joking they could hear me coming, but I was seeing results.  The twinges in my wrists and elbows disappeared, and as an added bonus, my forearms and hand grip became stronger.  (Useful when I am trying to trim weeds in my yard with a string trimmer . . .)

My vision difficulties were exacerbated by my age, to be honest.  At about 40-41, according to my optometrist, most people start to have trouble with their near vision.  Well, my near vision is great, especially for my age, but because I am spending so much time focusing at the distance of my computers, I have developed trouble with my eye flexibility.  I can see near, and I can see far, but I can't switch from near to far quickly.  This may not seem much of a problem, until you are focusing on a navigation unit in a car, then have to look up and read street signs.  (It's also inconvenient if you like to knit and watch TV at the same time . . . the TV ends up becoming more like a radio show.)

My optometrist said this is a condition which frequently appears in computer users and prescribed some vision therapy exercises.  She sent me home carrying cards with letters calibrated to certain sizes.  The large card is attached to the wall, and I sit about ten feet away, holding a small one.  For five minutes, I look back and forth, focusing on a near letter, then focusing on a far letter.  This should be done about three times a day.  (Which means I have copied the cards, so I can have a set at home and a set at work.)

Because I was traveling on Tuesday, yesterday evening was the first time I tried this exercise.  This morning, my eyes were soooooo tired and sore, as if I spent the entire evening crying.  I kept wanting to just close them.

While it is annoying to have sore eyes, I am convinced this is an indication the exercise is actually doing something.  (No pain, no gain, right?)  When I repeated the exercise this morning, I found to my amazement that about half-way through my timer, I was able to see a marked change in the speed at which I was able to focus on the far letters.  This is very encouraging.  I have every hope that this, too, will prove to be effective and help postpone the day I need different sets of glasses, despite all the time I spend on the computer.

I hope that, by nipping these problems in the bud, I will be able to prevent problems which have the potential to force me to reduce computer time.  (Or put me completely out of action due to expensive surgery.)  If a few simple exercises can do it, there's no harm trying.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A WoW Mom

When my youngest daughter was three, I was not a raider.

That doesn't mean, however, that I did not have a goal in Vanilla WoW.  At the time, I was trying to gain enough rank at battlegrounds to allow me to purchase an inexpensive swift riding mount.  (Having decided I would never be able to earn enough gold to outright purchase one . . .)

Anyone who has ever tried for this goal knows it was one which took a lot of time--much more than I could accomplish by following my normal patten of only playing in the evenings.  But I was a stay-at-home mom, and no battleground queue ever ran below 10 minutes, so with the support of my family, I felt I could do it.

And so I did.  I queued, then set the timer on my watch so I would know when it was time to turn off the vacuum and return for the bg invitation.  I ran ten-minute Arathi Basins over and over until my Alterac Valley queue would come up (took an hour and a half; we could queue for more than one thing at the time), then start all over after AV.

My kids were pretty computer-game savvy by this time, including my three-year-old, who was a proficient mouser and could play games for young children on the kids' computer.  But when it wasn't her turn, many times she would sit on my lap during a battleground run, where she hit the space bar over and over to make my regular speed mount jump.  The two of us had great fun together, me holding my littlest girl, giving her kisses, and her controlling some aspect of my game.  (If you don't think children love anything which gives them some kind of control over something the adults are doing, you don't know children very well.)

One day, I made the mistake of mentioning this in /bg.

I received the most scathing condemnation in return from a player who told me I was a poor excuse for a mother and should never have given birth.  (After all, I was "making" my three-year-old sit on my lap while I played WoW.)  It stung, even though I knew it was not true.

The lesson I learned from this is that there were misconceptions about mothers who might play WoW, so it was best to not mention anything about it.

The recent production "The Guild" doesn't help this much.  One character in the show is a mother of young children who habitally locks them out of her computer area with a child safety gate.  There are images of the children standing behind or hanging on the gate, crying for their mother, while she chatters on Vent.  She is portrayed as being very negligent in her role as mother, going so far as to leave her children in the toy section of a store while she meets in a nearby restaurant with her guildies.

There may be mothers like that, but I have not met any of them.  The mothers I know in WoW are very careful to take care of their children.  If you see them standing around in Dalaran and try to /whisper them, you may not get an answer back, because they have gone to the kitchen to feed their children or they are sitting on the floor, working a puzzle with their two-year-old.  They may have left to get some housework finished, as I used to do in battleground queues.  Or they may choose to play only when their children are asleep.

I did make my battleground goal.  My kids cheered as loudly as I did when I finally showed them my rank and my new epic cat.  And then I stepped away to do other things.