games world of warcraft

World of Warcraft Mist of Pandaria Release Date Announced and Preparation Suggestions

The magic date is September 25, 2012. Right now, the PTR is getting ready for what seems to be a major pre-release just before the expansion comes out with a major event to set into motion the next expansion. I believe the first of the raids as well as pet battles have been implemented and are in the testing phase.

So the big question is what to do in the meantime? I’ve outlined some things that you can do in preparation for the next expansion with regards to the current expansion:

  • Finish gearing your toons and alts.
  • Attempt to hit ilvl 390 or thereabouts using LFR, VP if you’re a casual player
  • Dispatch any remaining materials to the auction house
  • Finish leveling up any alts
  • Max out any professions that you can
  • Save up gold for the new mega mount
  • Buying any heirloom gear using your Justice Points

The key factor here is that you want to essentially complete any remaining elements in Cataclysm. More than likely, once the new expansion hits, all the current raids (especially LFR) will become things of the past. Also, your materials for professions will lose a lot of value, especially relating to gear.

The second thing is that you want to ensure that you have a healthy amount of gold for the upcoming expansion. Besides the new mega mount that will cost an arm and a leg, there will be tons of new opportunities for gold sinks such as the Black Market Auction House and the next level of riding (which I believe will be flying on Pandaria).

Finally, I suggest that if you currently are finding yourself Justice Point capped on your toons, you might consider spending those points on heirloom gear. Don’t forget that with the upcoming expansion, they will be introducing a new race and class. I’m not positive what will happen to your current Justice and Valor Points, but more than likely those will be reduced somehow. As a result, you might as well spend them any way you can prior the expansion.

Something else you might consider is just trying something different for the time being. If you find yourself bored, choose another game or get out of the house.


Why Product People Need to Be More Software People

I read articles in the past about how Microsoft’s product managers were formerly software developers. Also, I recently saw an inspiring article about Google’s APM (Associate Product Manager program) that Marissa Mayer oversaw. What I’ve come to realize over my career is that people involved in the product decision making process for technology/software MUST come from a software background.

Landing a role as a product manager is no easy task, but I’ve often seen inexperienced people or those who lack the tech savvy skills and never have been in the trenches achieve such a role. The problem with this situation is that software development requires explicit details in the design aspect. I’m not talking just about the look-n-feel but the software as a whole. Because developers work from requirements thought up by product people, those lacking experience will not be able to provide every little detail that the software engineer needs. As a result, software development often ends up having their requirements becoming tester driven as opposed to test driven.

Naturally, a tester driven requirements based product is bad because that implies both an anti-pattern in organizational behavior and the lack of thoroughness in the decision making process. The thing about developers is that most will adhere to the original specification and not take up the responsibility for handling more boundary cases. The reason for this is that most developers more than likely are overburdened and will make attempts to simplify their burden anyway they can.

However, the core problem is never cured, which is that the requirements need to be well defined and scoped out. The hidden issue, as I’ve witnessed, is that the people responsible for defining the requirements tend to be lazy to put it bluntly. In all honesty, it’s impossible to define every single boundary case, but where I’ve seen issues specifically with product managers is that an oversight in a requirement leads to feature creep. In short, a bug becomes a feature. And the reason why this is a major issue in software development is that a feature may not necessarily be trivial to implement.

The other thing I’ve seen with regards to poor product management is what I feel is the lack of appreciation for the effort something can take. Part of the reason why this can occur is that the product manager has little true insight in the way a product is developed. The only way this scenario can be avoided is if the product managers themselves perform a fair share of the software development or perhaps were a part of the software development process at one time.

I think part of the problem with product management is that people seem to confuse making a product with just throwing out ideas and doing a few mock ups. For software development in particular, ideas need to be reigned in with feasibility and combined with usability testing. Second, there needs to be a road map of how something evolves that is shared with the developers. The developers need to know ahead of time how something will work to take into account the architecture and design of a piece of software. Features cannot just appear out of nowhere, especially for time sensitive projects. And product managers need to learn to let go.

But I think that these issues can go away by strategically placing more software developers into product management roles. There generally is huge respect between software developers because of the mutual understanding of what their respective roles are. They understand what is necessary to get things done as well as the structure and processes needed to make things work. More than that they can simply communicate with each other. The non-technical product managers I’ve worked with often could not understand the technical details necessary to realize why something could be difficult. As a consequence, product may not be what was originally envisioned or delayed. Having someone there who recognizes the difficulties early on could potentially help define scope better.



Watched Idiocracy

Once again Mike Judge’s social acumen on stupid rings true in this movie. While not the funniest movie nor even being that funny of a movie, the social criticism in this movie is what made me fascinated. Essentially, Mike Judge is arguing that as a species humans are becoming dumber. While we are advancing elements of technology like the internet, the vast majority of our efforts are spent towards cheap entertainment while our interactions are becoming cruder and very primordial.

It’s completely fathomable of this dystopian future that Judge is predicting in this movie. He sees humanities incline towards decadence and barbarism as the primary reasons for the fall of humanity. The first scene establishes this dichotomy where we have two couples: 1) the rationale, intelligent and extremely modern type and 2) the alpha male Jersey Shore type that you find in a fraternity or football team. The rationale intelligent couple fears the economy and prohibits having children for a while. Unfortunately, their decisions for abstinence leads towards a tragic ending for their lineage as the husband meets a fatal end while the wife continually hopes for the perfect man. On the other hand, the imbecile couple breed quite frequently, eventually creating a huge tree of people that dominate society.

Even now, we can both situations occurring. For instance, in Japan the population is in a steep decline even being threatened for extinction. The thing about the Japanese is that they’re fairly smart on average as a society but the recent economic downturn has created fears for having families. But if you check out our own society at the poverty levels, you can see mass breeding. Similarly, the women’s movement can be partly to blame for the instillation of the whole “perfect man” scenario, where those with the highest (theoretical) qualities are the ones desirable, leaving intelligent ones (i.e. those that do not possess the most physically attractive traits) to remain solo.

Beyond that, the heavily advertised and corporate run world are underlying causes for the resulting decline in civilization. The Brawndo conglomerate is seen to have bought out the FDA and other agencies that regulate our health and food systems. Because of the mass employment by Brawndo and the blind fealty to their stock prices, a deadly circular chain is erected where people are too stupid to realize how Brawndo is killing the environment and destroying people’s health.

Although the movie is fiction, you cannot deny the parallels between that aspect and corporations like McDonalds, etc. who evidently have their hands deep in the backside of groups like the FDA to allow their unsavory products and methods of production to exist.

I think one of the interesting things about the film is how Judge does not attempt to directly point the finger at any individual but at humans on a whole. Some people might attempt to knock on so-called secret societies like the Illuminati or Bilderberg group as having setup this global catastrophe. Quite the contrary with Judge where he more than likely, realistically and correctly faults human inhibition as the number one source where all these problems are derived.

In many ways, Mike is correct with where he caustically aims his sights. At the end of the day, people are ultimately responsible for their own actions. If you examine the scenes of the trial and Not Sure’s Rehabilitation scene, the entire thing is setup as a one way spectacle, a catharsis for everyone except Not Sure and behaves like a reading from Orwell’s 1984 regarding the whole 2 minute hate acts. Here, no one attempts to listen to reason and instead revert to primordial instincts of brutality to achieve their momentary relief. However, only Not Sure, as the average Joe, does something different: he accepts responsibility and assumes the blame.

To me Mike is making an overt statement that people are simply reverting to a primitive period. Self sacrifice is considered noble, similar to how in the movie Prometheus, the engineers would sacrifice themselves to bring about prosperity. This is a direct message to the average person, a plea to get off their asses and make positive changes in the world, even small ones to prevent the human race as a whole from entering into this pathetic theoretical world.

As someone who has preached for years on the need to remove myself from the masses, I certainly align myself with Mike’s vision. I already see too many parallels and it scares me. For instance, the worship of stupidity and the degradation of intelligence as being “faggotry.” Add to the self indulgence we’re not that far from this end point.


Prometheus Theories

I still haven’t seen Prometheus but I’ve done a lot of reading and checking of clips to get a better understanding of one of my favorite movie verticals of all time. Many people have mentioned that the movie leaves viewers with more questions than it answers. As a result, there’s plenty of debates in terms of both the science and analytical readings of the movie. My blog here will attempt to address a little of both.

I think the biggest question in the movie seems to be what are the purpose of the engineers with their black goo. Much of the focus revolves around the mystery of the black goo and its functionality. The inconsistency of the black goo seems to confound people as people have a tendency to examine life with a linear mind set. But we have to look at a larger scale in understanding what that all serves.

The idea of using the engineers as a stepping stone to perhaps launch into Alien is one of Ridley Scott’s motivations behind the movie in revisiting the Alien universe. He simply asked the question, “Who is that guy in the chair?” However, both he and the main writer of the story need to provide an emotional motivation to get hardcore fans and others alike deeper into the movie. Hence, the linking of the engineers to a well established mythology (Prometheus) and the very essence of God itself.

Considering the growing debate of UFOs, encounters with aliens and even the appearance of aliens in the past 20 years or so, the appearance of these engineers coincide with the whole cultural phenomenon of extraterrestrial life. In the original script even, there is a rape scene (of sorts) of Elizabeth Shaw where she experiences what many UFO victims might describe as some sort of alien science experiment. Considering that she is sterile, this original scene as well as the trilobyte birth scene are keys to understanding a greater scope of what Scott and the writer are attempting to accomplish here.

That goal, imo, is attempting to ask or even answer some fundamental questions about our own existence: where did we come from? The subtle hints that Scott lays out in the film such as the fertilization of an assumed Earth by an engineer’s sacrifice at the beginning of the film, the genetic transformational powers provided through the black goo and the engendering of life where it once was not possible all allude to the engineers as a type of god-like species. In the original script, you can even see her own psychic debate with an engineer where she announces, “Not MY God.”

However, since the original script was thrashed in favor of what we see on screen, we need to take that route in order to still answer what the engineers’ purpose is in the movie. After all, if, indeed, an engineer at the beginning of the movie had sacrificed itself to create us, why would at the end of the movie another engineer attempt to supposedly destroy our species? This notion seems completely counter-intuitive, unless you accept Charlie Halloway’s overly simplified explanation that our Makers created us because, “they could” (I want to deny this explanation as the real one because Halloway’s character is the prototypical Alpha Male Jersey Shore Idiot type; so his reading of the situation has as much depth as an empty swimming pool).

Before getting into the Prometheus mythology, I want to delve more into the artifacts that the movie sets up. For instance, the engineer graveyard scene and hologram scene where the engineers are apparently running away from something. Naturally, the biggest question derived from that scene is “running away from what?”

Our only clues in answering that question given from the movie’s visual details are the trilobyte, the hammerpedes and the deacon alien at the end. With the exception of the deacon alien, the other two xenomorphs were not in the original script. I believe those were added to provide continuity with the Alien universe. The deacon itself, in fact, was probably modified visually to support the other alien movies, which eventually established the convention of the aliens assuming partly the DNA of their hosts.

But let’s attempt to take the three and isolate them as candidates in what the engineers were running away from. The trilobyte (aka Cuddles) is, imo, just an artifact to re-establish the convention of facehuggers in the movie. I do think there are other reasons for its existence, but I will delve into that aspect later.

The hammerpedes, I believe, were simply the results of accidentally intermingling with the black goo substance. If anything there is a resemblance to the tail aspects of the original facehugger in the strength and ability to coil around a victim. Also, the obvious deep throat reference. However, the movie does not provide additional clues to whether or not entering and remaining in a victim’s throat enact further impregnation. Just from a directional point of view, it seems that their real purpose is to scare people in the theater. But again, the question here is whether or not the engineers themselves are running away from this type of being and I think clearly the answer is no.

The deacon is perhaps the one thing that provides a possible answer. We see one mural where an alien-like creature is shown in a sort of odd pose. The pose possibly is something of worship by the engineers. However, if you examine the mural closely, you will see that there are other visual clues that might indicate that this is the result of the biological process from the facehuggers. In fact, someone posted a comparison of HR Giger’s painting of the temple scene that was supposed to be included in the original Alien movie. It seemed to be repurposed here.

More than likely the deacon/”adult” alien form is what the engineers are running from. If that is the case, the obvious follow up question is: why? Outside of the sheer terror that we know these aliens can possess, why would sophisticated engineers run from such a thing? Why not use a weapon or do something to destroy this creature? And why is it that Shaw is able to discover a decapitated head from an engineer? Why would a xenomorph do such a thing? Then how can we go from that aspect back to the fundamental question that Scott poses, which is how we came about?

Again, this is what makes the film interesting because of these questions that come to be. One internet writer analyzed the movie from a partly Biblical reading. He examined the film using some dates to create a few possible explanations. First, there is a connection to Christmas when the astronauts of Prometheus wake up. The year when they wake up runs close to the time Jesus Christ was persecuted. As a result, the writer suggests that the engineers provided a version of themselves (i.e. Jesus Christ) to us lowly, stupid, primitive humans in attempt to educate us to a higher being. Our brutal execution of Jesus Christ more than likely pissed the engineers off into writing us off.

Along those lines the writer talks about the dichotomy of creators (i.e. the engineers) and the destroyers (i.e. the xenomorph). Going back to the UFO/alien phenomenon/fascination in the past 20+ years, there is no question that there is a parallel as I established between the appearance of engineers and the UFO/aliens we establish in our culture. But let’s further examine the appearance of these engineers. Their physical nature is flawless with their muscles and more than likely their intelligence is equal. However, their size exceeds our own and they are pure white. These attributes can depict them as gods to the primitive human mind.

But those are details leading into establishing the xenomorph’s role as the destroyers or a satanic-like figure, at least from the writer’s point of view. I argue though that the xenomorph might not necessarily be THE destroyer. If not, then there’s definitely something more to them than the raw, biological violence that it manifests.

What I want to argue for is that the real destroyers possibly are the engineers themselves. Or perhaps not all of them. Or perhaps that their race is not unlike our own in that you have very complex groups vying against each other for control. Is it possible that the character Weyland is just another version of someone in their society? Someone who had a god-complex and wanted to go beyond their limits in sacrificing those around them for himself rather than sacrificing himself for those around him? It’s possible that the engineer who communicated with David saw parallel’s in Weyland’s selfishness, which destroyed his own people/group, hence why he grew angry. It defied the sanctity of some order/ritual/rite/convention of life that is well known and results in the decadence of civilization.

So here’s where I want to bring everything together into my own thesis. The engineers are not themselves just a species but a segment of a larger species. They have a purpose just like our own engineers and that purpose is to improve the universe. However, just like ourselves, their species may not necessarily nor always have the purist of intentions. You just need one egotistical nut who believes himself above all else or deigns to become above all else to disrupt everything. My guess is that they have their own Weyland/god-like character who wanted too much power and had manipulated the engineers into misappropriating the black goo.

The black goo itself is intelligent, just like how we are programming computers to become smarter about the world around us. It is not life itself but can be repurposed depending on the intent or genetic make up of the individual. The internet writer’s article makes this suggestion as we see the black goo having varying affects on everyone (except David). If you look at some of concept art for characters like Fifield or Halloway after being affected by the black goo, you will notice that they were supposed to morph into a more xenomorph-like creature. Of course, in the case of Fifield we get a zombie and Halloway’s eventual result remains a mystery after hottie Charlize Theron turns him molten.

Yet when you examine the end results of these transformations, you see how this black goo is attempting to convert people towards a certain type of mutation. You have the hammerpedes with their facehugger-like tail and the propensity to enter into people’s mouths, the trilobyte that clearly is an upgraded (at least a bigger, scarier) version of the facehugger, biomechanical-like appearance of Halloway’s face as his condition worsens, etc. It’s as if this black goo is making everyone towards this biological creature that will become the well known alien.

We have to return to the original Alien movie to better understand what this all means. It is Ash’s character who is able to objectively describe it: “You still don’t understand what you’re dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility…A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.”

The “perfect organism”. Is it possible then what the engineers are attempting to manufacture is this “perfect organism?” Has it always been this way? Let’s examine the original alien’s lifecycle (the non-James Cameron, director’s cut version): egg -> facehugger -> victim (Kane)-> chest burster -> xenomorph -> victim (intermediate stage/Brett) -> egg. This lifecycle precludes the notion of gender. Essentially, any living orgasm can fulfill the role of becoming the host for the next stage. There is no known restriction like gender for instance. I mean, we never once saw the equivalent of a female engineer as of yet.

So let’s go back towards the engineers. There’s always been this motive of using the aliens as a bioweapon and suggestions that the engineers on LV-426 were transporting the eggs for military purposes. In Prometheus, Janek’s concludes that the planet possibly was being used as a military bunker of sorts. Shaw sees the possibility of the canisters with the goo as heading back towards earth. When the engineer lifts off the ship, we can only assume that he is going to fulfill a potential mission of eliminating humans with the black goo.

Again though we have to ask about motivations in all of this. But first we need to summarize the possible things we’ve learned. The engineers are more than likely attempting to create the perfect life form via the goo. The ones that Shaw, etc. discover are evidently hostile (at least the one they awoken…then again he could be pissed in being abruptly awoken from a wet dream). There is a military purpose behind the black goo. They will head to earth. It’s possible someone from the engineer’s species has a godlike complex. There was a battle that might’ve occurred between the engineers on the ship and a xenomorph.

I think I’ve managed to establish a lot of “what’s” but not “why’s.” So the first thing I want to attempt to answer is why were the engineers running. If, indeed, the engineers were being chased by the xenomorph, then they should have every right to book. But let’s take that a step further and ask why would a xenomorph attack the engineers is the engineers had a hand in creating it? Wouldn’t you think that the engineers were capable of controlling their own creations? Or is the case of Frankenstein (again the Prometheus reference) letting his creation get out of control?

There’s no way of knowing exactly how the xenomorph could’ve gotten loose. But it is possible that you have some corporate greedy fucker like a Carter J Burke or Weyland who unleashes the creation to cause havoc. But if you have that greedy fucker, why not deal with him directly? Or were they able to identify him earlier on? Or why would that greedy fucker attempt to screw his own people?

My thoughts on this is that the said greedy fucker may not necessarily be a single person. It could also be a major disagreement between two sides. This is where the mythology of Prometheus comes into play. In the mythology, the Gods are the ones punishing Prometheus for giving mortals fire. Perhaps, likewise the engineers, who attempted to bequeath knowledge onto primitive man, were punished by their kind, especially after humans had failed to demonstrate any noble qualities in blindly crucifying a possible engineer/alien. So it’s possible that their species punished the engineers that made the bold attempt at enlightening us.

Additionally, it’s possible that some of these engineers made an attempt to defend us. There are, after all, stories of wars just above us between aliens over us. Isn’t that the whole notion of God vs Satan? The war of our souls?

That still leaves humans as a major problem for these species. Maybe our ignoble nature has motivated part of them to set course to destroy us. But will it be an obliteration or something else? We have established that the black goo genetically can alter things. So Shaw’s oblique, “There won’t be any home to go back to” might be hyperbolic. Just not the crappy world we know now.

We can only assume that the black goo will mutate humans and other organisms much like Fifield and Halloway. Or perverting our genes in the way that Shaw suddenly was able to conceive. If the end of the genetic transformation is the perfect species, then wouldn’t we be converted into some militaristic biomechanical weapon? That seems like a very plausible explanation for our eventual usage.

It’s possible that part of the flow of life as defined by the convention of these engineers is that the creation of simple life later would be used for military purposes. So the basic growth of primitive civilizations to later be upgraded using the black goo. Yet this reading seems to interpret the engineers as being quite callous. Again we have to look back towards the works of Mary Shelley and the mythology to find deeper meaning.

I think that again the real story is that the engineers are in a conflict with themselves. You have benevolent ones interested in the creation of life. Then there are those who are fascinated by the destruction of it and the violation of the principals of life. That is the very principle of how things work. Think about the world. To achieve true balance, everyone needs to sacrifice in order to make the world a better place. But when you get certain segments of society that refuse to give up their share, the rest of the world suffers.

Then look at the reasons why technology is created. We use technology to improve our lives. That’s what most engineers want and why we want to get into a profession like that. However, like anything, engineering can be perverted and misappropriated. You have engineers who are part of that segment of society that want to work for profit (not completely unreasonable) rather than the greater good and help to create things like nuclear bombs, spying tools, etc. There is no reason to believe that other intelligent beings cannot have similar motivations.

I think the engineer that Shaw encountered might be the only real mystery. On the one hand, I do believe that the engineer was genuinely angry at Weyland’s blasphemous request at prolonging his life. Hence why the engineer violently dispatched Weyland. I think that Weyland’s selfish revelation convinced the engineer that humans were impure and needed to be dealt with. Which is why he wanted to apparently return to his mission in destroying the earth. Of course, it’s hard to say whether or not the earth would be just destroyed or if the black goo would upgrade us into nefarious biological weapons. That message conflicts in some ways with the reading that the engineer is angry at our impurity. Upgrading us for weapons obviously in itself is not exactly your most noble act in the universe.

Yet the mural from the movie might attempt to answer some of this. In the mural, we see how what looks to be an engineer is subduing a bizarre creature. Up until now, we have never seen anything like the creature, which might be partly humanoid. Is it possible that the creature is a result of the black goo? And let’s talk about the notion of subjugation. Is the engineer controlling his own Frankenstein in this mural (so to speak)?

Isn’t another reason for engineering to control the environment? If that’s the case, then we can look at the possibility for the engineers using the black goo to control life itself. Life like ourselves. We might just be puppets in this universe. If we ever were empowered to finally realize that the higher being guiding many of our lives is just an alien, then it might be dangerous for that alien species as it’s well established people do not want to be slaves. We’ve always said that knowledge == freedom. Our own awareness in this universe would empower us to move beyond the limitations and many manipulations. And it’s always possible that these aliens have their own kind on earth pulling the strings. But at that point, I think I might be taking my readings too far at least with regards to the main script.

The only thing I’ve left remaining (for myself at least) is how we link this all the way back to Alien. I think down the road we will see some sort of links back to the Alien movie in a direct sense. For one, the planet/moon that Shaw and her crew enter is LV-226, not LV-426. And the ending to the engineer, despite being in a similar environment to the one seen on LV-426, is not the same at all. If it were, he would’ve been in the chair with the chestburster hole. Instead, we’re just giving small clues as to what might be to come.

I think that the next movie (which supposedly is entitled “Paradise”) delves into the possibilities of the engineer’s home world. If anything, I believe Scott has revealed that he wanted to move away from the pure Alien universe and expand it so we start looking more at these other beings and their motivations. Still you have to wonder how you get from an LV-226 to an LV-426. There certainly are parallels between the ships. But the main difference is the fact that the cargo ship on LV-426 contained alien eggs rather than the canisters. So your immediate conclusion is a direct link from the canisters back to the eggs.

Now, die hard canon alien fans have debated for years on what is canon, most notably the director’s cut of Alien, with the scene where Brett and Dallas are discovered by Ripley mutating into eggs. While future films pretty much have favored the James Cameron interpretation of where eggs come from (a queen), I feel that Scott will stick to his and Dan O’Bannon’s original vision. We’ve already seen that the black goo has some sort of genetic mutating powers and that visually there are parallels back to the original alien universe.

However, the connection between the ship on LV-426, the egg chamber, the canister chamber and the cut scene from Alien are what I think are the most interesting parts in all of this. First let’s examine the egg chamber and canister chamber between both movies. Something remarkable about both scenes is the layout. The canisters and eggs are pretty orderly. It’s not like they appeared in some random spots haphazardly. There is a design and organization to it. So I think that the engineers placed them that way. Again, you have to think of both as “cargo”.

The reason for establishing this fact is that the eggs eventually have to come from some place and placed into that cargo bay. Prior to Prometheus, one theory was that the eggs were the prior crew members of the derelict space craft. But I cannot imagine the aliens being so orderly and meticulous. Also, compare the way the eggs in the chamber appeared to the one on the Nostromo. The cocoon chamber in the Nostromo was created in a sloppy fashion by the xenomorph. The bodies of Brett and Dallas were strung against a wall. The eggs in the derelict were neatly placed in rows. Not to mention that they are smaller than the massive engineers.

That makes me think if the engineers could be abducting life forms like us around the universe and converting them into these eggs via the xenomorphs. This easily goes hand-in-hand with the alien abduction theories out there if Scott decides to use them. Also, we don’t see more of the derelict space craft to know if there’s an experimental area.

Maybe in a future movie, we’ll see Elizabeth Shaw discovering this process. There’s a certain cheese/horror factor about it that works nicely with what we know. But if done right, it ties a lot together. I prefer the combined notion of the warring faction of engineering species because then it describes a purpose for these biological weapons. Yet I want to take things a step further to talk about the xenomorph mural.

There is a sort of worshiping pose to this image. We have managed to provide this thing with some attributes, especially the notion that it is the “perfect organism.” But we also a while back described it as a “destroyer” and connected it to Satan. Something that we have assumed in all of this is that the engineers are manufacturing these species. But why create such a hostile organism? Obviously, once it’s created it becomes somewhat self sustaining and is damn efficient.

One argument is that the warring factions of engineers might’ve established this thing as their own deity. Or perhaps that a faction broke off and that an individual wanted to become this perfect organism and misappropriated the black goo to ensure it’s indefinite lifespan. After all, the cycle of its life is continuing and evolving. Kinda like Weyland’s true motivation.

Unfortunately, the convention of the alien has gone through numerous interpretations. At one point for instance, Hudson, in the movie Aliens, describes them as just “dumb bugs.” For the Alpha Male adrenaline junky type, we can always assume that surface level readings of the world are shallow. The alien itself seems to have quite a bit of consciousness on its own. For instance, how does the hammerpede know to break Millburn’s arms, shattering his bone to penetrate through the suit, to slither inside and then come straight up to the helmet and shove itself down his throat? For something that could be a “dumb bug” that’s damn crafty.

But what if these perfect specimens are that crafty and actually are not just “dumb bugs” but something with a far more sophisticated system. How can it know to penetrate one’s mouth to impregnate someone? How can it even know what a mouth or digestive system is? The black goo might empower part of that intelligence. Still that does make these things smarter than what we’ve assumed for all these years.

Now, let’s get back to the notion of the satan/destroyer xenomorph and the dichotomy of the engineering society. Is is possible that the xenomorph is the result of a corrupt set of engineers that wanted to prolong their own lives and not follow their conventions?

I think that is something which Elizabeth Shaw will discover. The aliens/xenomorphs are what these subset of engineers believe to be the next stage of higher life forms. They are intelligent and at war with the other sect of engineers. They are also technologically primitive and depend upon being parasitic, not unlike the people at top who use the slave labor of those below to accomplish their nefarious means. So they still require things like the space ships and hosts to prolong themselves.

What I think will occur in the future movie is the connection of this and we’ll get to see where these aliens really came from, whom the makers are and possibly where alien eggs truly originate from. With regards to the last part, we only got a small glimpse of the alien egg creation in the director’s cut. But it’s a major and interesting mystery as to the biological process of converting a human (for instance) into an egg. The black goo’s effects genetically explains one part. We do see small glimpses of Halloway mutating with his skin looking infected somewhat similar to the Brett egg from the director’s cut. Then we see how Shaw, who is infertile, miraculously is able to produce a squid-like creature that evolves into Cuddles, I mean a trilobyte resembling a facehugger. I think in the future movie we’ll see these two things come together where a xenomorph is infecting either an engineer or a human with the stinger of its tail (or perhaps the inner jaws) and the engineer/human mutating into an egg.

Besides, that director’s cut scene has left equally a large number of questions especially when it was put in. And I think that’s something Ridley Scott wants to answer.





PHP Curl File Upload

I spent a little bit of time trying to get my PHP to work with curl uploads. I’ve seen a couple of websites that have varying information, sometimes not really accurate nor helpful on the matter. So I want to present a barebones working example using PHP to demonstrate how to do a file upload with the PHP curl version:

$url = ‘/path/to/your/curl/service’;

$ch = curl_init($url);

$params = array(‘file’ => ‘@/tmp/myfile.jpg’, ‘id’ => 1234);

curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_TIMEOUT, 10);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, 1);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, $params);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
$ret = curl_exec($ch);

Here are the pertinent and points about doing things this way vs a normal post:

  • You MUST set the CURLOPT_POST option to true/1 (this will inform curl to do the multipart)
  • You must prefix the file you want to upload with the at (@) symbol. This will tell curl where to upload the file from.
  • You must leave the POSTFIELDS as key/value pairs. Usually, with regular POST calls, you would have to do something like key1=val1&key2=val2&key3=val3.

You might not necessarily need to set the type. I think that aspect may depend on the receiving service.

Hopefully, this tip will make your life easier when it comes to uploading files.

games world of warcraft

World of Warcraft: Druid Now Has the 4 Piece Set

I got lucky with two rolls tonight on my druid. One, which really isn’t as pertinent, is the Wrath of Unchaining trinket. Someday, I might attempt to gear as feral. Ironically, her feral gear actually is quite good and may make her a contender as a future bear tank. After completing LFR part 2 with a fairly decent group, I got into part 1 and managed to obtain the Deep Earth Gloves, making it her final set piece necessary to gain the 4 piece set bonus.

Although I probably won’t play her again until the weekend to finish up her Valor Point grind, I am quite eager to see the DPS differential. The 4 piece set makes her Starsurge spell increase in damage by 10% (which can be huge) and reduces the cooldown by 5 seconds. That effectively is a huge decrease in time as it makes the overall cooldown 10 seconds as opposed to 15.

Lastly, I managed to pick up the Band of Reconstruction. Normally, this might be considered a healer’s ring. But mastery is a nice stat for druids and spirit works well too as it provides hit. I guess it was a bit of a cheese on my part just to boost my item level. But I figured, “Why not?”

Despite all that, the next phase for gearing my druid outside of hopefully procuring a better weapon and trinket is going to a nasty valor point grind to obtain a better chest piece. I don’t see much of a point in fighting over the LFR ones. If I manage to get lucky on a roll, I might consider it. But there’s not a lot I can see stat-wise that convinces me to make it a goal. Maybe I might attempt to grab one just for my feral spec, but that’s as much effort as I want to do on that end. The remaining pieces for my druid are just her neck and feet. She has LFR pieces but I think it’ll be nice to get the full 397 version to max her out on item level as much as I can.

Hopefully, I have time to run my mage through LFR tomorrow night. It’ll be nice to see her get an upgrade or two as well.

games world of warcraft

Why Mike Preach is Wrong About Blizzard’s Direction

Mike Preach has a video on youtube explaining his thoughts on why Blizzard’s direction for World of Warcraft is wrong. Part of his belief is that the game is becoming too easy and that by making content harder, it’ll improve the overall player base and attract better players.

Let me preface this article by saying that I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike Preach as a youtube publisher and as a gamer. He makes excellent how-to videos, generally is positive and does his best to encourage players to be at their best at all time. He is the ideal gamer and the type of person you would want in your guild or at least your party.

What he fails to understand is that he’s working from a very privileged point of view. He does belong to one of the top world raiding guilds, Method. Also, he’s able to convey his viewpoint through his videos. More than that, he (I think) is a professional gamer. As a result, his viewpoint on the subject matter is incredibly slanted.

Now, I do agree that it is ideal for people to step up their game play. However, that cannot be done through enforcing it at the content level. Cataclysm has proved this by returning content difficulty to around he Burning Crusade level. As I have blogged on numerous occasions, the biggest problem has been that the differential between BC to Wrath of the Lich King in the growth of World of Warcraft’s player base has created high expectations inside of Activision. Since at the end of the day, Blizzard/Activision is after all a business, alienating a large portion of the gamer base through creating frustrating content is not an option. The layoffs at Blizzard clearly indicate Blizzard/Activision priorities.

Second, and here’s the big one, creating more difficult content does not necessarily attract better players in higher droves. You’re constantly going to get a hybrid of players where the vast majority are going to sit in between good to mediocre at best. These people may not necessarily give a damn about becoming a better player. In fact, I argue that most will just do the bare minimal to get by. Ever run End Time and notice how people are reluctant to do the hour glass? I ran an instance where a hunter revealed she didn’t want any responsibility. This is what I believe is the average mentality of the normal player is.

Not everyone has a positive attitude and wants to improve upon themselves. Most enjoy swimming in the stench of their mediocrity. Most don’t care if their mediocrity pulls the better people down. Just look around you and ask yourself how people aren’t attempting to do their best for the world. If that were the case, we’d have free health care, no censorship, real etiquette, honor, etc.

The thing is that I feel these mediocre people are the ones driving the better players away. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be players who suck. They can be kids who enjoy aggravating others. Two of my friends, who I felt were certainly far above average players, quit World of Warcraft during Cataclysm not just because of the content, but how the average boneheads would chase them out.

Making the content more challenging does not improve people as a whole. How many times have you ever been in a class where you have a hard ass teacher and the entire class rises to get straight A’s? I’m certain in that situation there will be the 1-2 who get the A and the rest will receive C’s. Similarly, games are like bell curves and in a social environment like World of Warcraft, you will see that the vast majority are C’s and below.

I think World of Warcraft suffers at the moment and in general for a few reasons. With regards to the current content patch, I see it as a test drive for Mist of Pandaria. Hence, why the content is relatively simple and why Blizzard more than likely is putting its resources into that rather than creating new content for the current expansion (in truth, Cataclysm was an abysmal failure as an expansion; I don’t know anyone who really enjoyed it). Second along these lines, there simply wasn’t enough end game content. The HoT instances pretty much are limited so it’s easy to grow bored once you’ve done them 3-4 times. The same can be said with Dragon Soul. But of course, beyond farming gear for your alts, if you really are bored by the content, why not find something else to do?

The other stigma that World of Warcraft suffers from is the mentality of raiding that it has created. I don’t think Blizzard initially intended raiding to be a competition. So progression raiders are the only ones that really care about acing through content. But that’s part of the problem and that’s where you more than likely are hearing the most vocal audience.

When I say the mentality of raiding, I think that people need to understand why it’s a huge issue. The biggest problem with end game raiding, imo, is the time commitment that raiding guilds can demand from their raiders. Professional gamers won’t care about this aspect since their lives only exist in the gaming world. But not everyone is privileged like that and many of us have major time commitments to families, jobs, schooling and whatnot.

This is why LFR is so important. For all the complaints, LFR is a great tool because it allows people to experience content that they may not necessarily get to see. I like it because I can join on my own schedule. I’m certain if I had plenty of free time and a more stable schedule, I could do regular raiding. But I really need the freedom due to various problems in my life.

However, I’ve seen raiders look at LFR as a slap in the face. They call the gear drops welfare gear and denounce LFR as not being “real raiding.” I think LFR probably is more frustrating than raiding in that your groups vary tremendously and that you have to deal with a great number of immature assholes. But to denounce it is a problem with the whole raiding mentality.

Here’s the thing about raiding. You need to deal with other people with a great deal of variance in skill. So making raids “hard” just drives off people. If you’re lucky, you’ll belong to a good guild that can help carry you through. But I think most people simply don’t want to belong to one and prefer soloing the game. After all, I think any people just play games to relax on their spare time. The social element, while being nice, may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Unfortunately, Blizzard makes raiding too much of their bread-n-butter when it comes to World of Warcraft. But I think the system itself is old, which is why I’m interested in the whole PVE Scenarios. Still, I think that more content should be individual based with options to allow for groups. For instance, why should LFR be 25 people? Why not give a handicap for long queue times? Let’s say you can’t find healers (the biggest problem). So instead, provide a buff to reduce the damage to the party as a whole. The problem should not reflect the available resources (or lack thereof). Or why not do more quests like the last one in Mount Hyjal where you fight Ragnaros? To me the game should be playable either by individuals or by groups.

Honestly, I think there’s no easy way the game is ever going to find that right balance of difficulty that can satisfy both sides of the equation. But the game does have to strike enough of a balance to retain its player base.


Annoyances with Javascript Popups and Browser Popup Blockers

I had an annoying issue with on Webkit browsers (actually browsers that blocked popups). The issue was that I needed to open a new window for Facebook Connect or Twitter authentication. However, the problem with Webkit browsers is that the popup must IMMEDIATELY occur after the action is triggered.

In reality, that statement is a misnomer. The thing about the popup is that you cannot have certain activities going on, namely network activities. I was doing something stupid where I needed to make certain AJAX calls prior to invoking However, at first I didn’t realize that the asychronous nature of the AJAX calls was preventing on the browser side. In one case, I was doing an FB.getLoginStatus() just prior to FB.login(). That normally might make sense depending on the circumstance. But I realized afterwards that my assumptions in doing that were incorrect and that I just needed to call FB.login(), which invokes a popup style window.

Similarly, with Twitter, I was retrieving the authentication url via an AJAX call and attempting to inject it into the url parameter. That was just plain dumb. Instead, I re-wrote my stuff so that loads up a url that contains a redirect to Twitter’s authentication page.

The thing is that the whole situation had me banging on my head all day long, especially when the logic of my login screen was working in a similar fashion but two other sections were not. Now, everything makes more sense.

games world of warcraft

World of Warcraft: Add My Rogue to the List

On Sunday, my rogue hit level 85. Unfortunately, because it was kinda late, I did not have a chance to run through the entire HoT Heroics to build up enough Valor Points to get her throwing weapon nor procure enough gear to hit LFR. However, the good thing was that the reset occurred today so I simply ran the gauntlet until I managed to grab enough gear to enter LFR. At the time of writing, my rogue sits at ilvl 373. Still has a few crap blues but she’s managing to pull off reasonable DPS. I’m pretty impressed by the combat rogue so far. The playing style is very straight forward and I’m actually having quite a bit of fun compared to Assassination.

What was cooler was that I could open all the chests I saved up. I must’ve had at least 32 chests. That gave me a ton of gold. Unfortunately for my rogue’s sake, I ended up passing it along to my mage. But it went to good usage as I ended up finishing leveling her enchanting. Although my shaman is my primary enchanter/tailor, I had been working on that aspect for my mage for a while. It really made more sense giving those professions to my mage rathrer than my shaman, but that’s another story altogether.

Going back to the chests, I was able to obtain quite a few greens. Most went to my mage to disenchant but I kept a few for my rogue to sell. The great thing at this moment is that all my 85’s now have mastery riding. So any remaining gold is just going to remain in their pockets. That’ll be great for Mists of Pandaria, especially when it comes to the mega expensive mount.

Main thing now is that I have all the professions covered. There isn’t a single thing I cannot do, except heal. But I consider that more of a play style preference as opposed to a more utilitarian role.

The only goals I have left for this expansion are 1) gear up my toons through LFR and VP; 2) help my guild hit a minimum of level 20; 3) buy the BoA helmet for my priest; 4) level up my priest post-guild hitting level 20.

It is nice seeing all these different classes from level 85. In reality, the game is just the game. But the trick is figuring out how each class manages to handle the same situation using their abilities. Classes seem to overlap at times in terms of similar abilities. For instance, slice n dice for a rogue reminds me of a Paladin’s Inquisition. Similarly, sinister strike is comparable to Crusader’s Strike, except that the cooldown time is shorter.

I figure it’ll take around 8-10 weeks to finish my rogue. Hopefully, the time is shorter than that. I really want to do something different just before MoP comes out.


Dear Sharon Stone: You Go Girl!

So people have accused you of being unfair to some stupid ass nanny. Of course, all these people sympathize with the nanny because they’re all poor and probably dishonest. They cannot see what we see. That is, that the people you hired probably were shit laborers, who deserved to be yelled at for stealing and taking advantage of you.

You see, just like yourself, I employee similar, uh, “people.” I think it’s a conspiracy by this one group because these people all are of similar ethnicity. I thought about asking them for their passports to ensure that I’m not employing someone illegal. But I feel as though I’m catering my life savings to a bunch of useless freeloaders. They claim to be Excellent Caregivers, but they don’t do anything remotely useful. They mostly cannot drive, they eat all my food, they barely do anything useful around the house and they just text people on their iphone all day long. Yet when I get a timecard, I cannot verify their true hours because I’m laboring away.

You have every right as an American to freely tell these people whom you employed what you think. Those people bit the hand that fed them by taking advantage of your riches. Yet it’s amazing how the American public are fast to condemn you just because you are beautiful, rich, successful and they are just the opposite.

The only difference between you and I in our respective situations is just scale. You have far more than I do, but I’m certain if (and when) I reach your level of wealth (or exceed it), I will personally love to meet you and discuss your experience. Perhaps, we need to do something about these laborers who try to scratch and claw beyond what they are worth up towards the top. The problem is that they attempt to nickle and dime us to death rather than making themselves into something more.

At any rate, your attitude is applauded and appreciated by your true fans. I’ve always been a fan of yours but now I realize why.