Yes, I'm still alive; I'm working on an in-depth view of the proposed Druid changes and I keep going back and forth as to whether I should actually post it or wait for talent trees to also get posted... there is so much up in the air right now.

Also, Guntir and I have been playing Secret of Mana, which we beat last night, for a gabillionth time and enjoying the absolute shit out of it. This has been usurping my free time, and work has actually been pretty busy, so I don't have a lot of opportunities to post this week.

Let's say I'm aiming to get the Cata post up by tomorrow.


Let's mention some stuff worth mentioning -

I have a Mac... I'm in the SCII beta, and they released the Mac client today (finally). Another thing I am waiting for is my Steam (Mac) beta invite... looking forward to playing the HL2 series again but this time on an amazing OS.

Additionally, if you look at MMO-Champ, they are suggesting that they believe the Cataclysm beta will be starting any day now. I don't know whether that's true or not (my source confirmed that if he had info, he'd tell me... but he doesn't have info), but one thing we can say is that Boubouille DOES usually know his stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if the Cataclysm beta DID start soon; maybe around May 4th... rumoring here... but almost certainly not before the end of the Tournament Realm. I wouldn't be surprised if it was ~3 weeks away. We'll see.

Next on the list of neat stuff... if you're into computer hardware (I'm a computer scientist by day... it's hard for me to ignore this) then you might enjoy this:

I have a Mac Pro circa 2008. The main HDD is a stupid 5400RMP drive (big capacity... slow read/write). So, I finally decided to upgrade my boot disk and ordered a OWC 100GB SSD. After about 2 hours of cleaning out my boot drive (lawl, 22GB of uncompressed Feral video moved to a different drive), I finally got my boot drive down to around 75GB, which will leave me plenty of space with the 100GB SSD for new apps and swap space (or Virtual Memory, if you like that term better). This drive has been getting ridiculously good reviews.

The first question you might ask, if you don't have a strong cmsi background, is "Why would you spend so much money on a 100GB SSD drive when you can get a 250GB SSD from another company at around the same price?" The answer is in the particulars of SSD technology. Supposedly, SSDs have a problem with write-speeds since they tend to get "fragmented" sectors a lot... not fragmented in the same way that old Windows 98 used to get fragmented, but some-what similar. Long-story-short, the 100GB drive I bought is ACTUALLY a 128GB drive with a 28GB partition allocated outside of the controller so the drive can make writes correctly to the main disk portion without causing this fragmentation. Two perks from this is that your write-speeds never degrade (BIG DEAL... REALLY BIG DEAL) and there's not additional overhead for read/writes.

The second question you might ask, if you don't have a strong cmsi background, is "Why would moving from a 5400RMP HDD to a SSD drive be something you would bring up on your WoW Blog?" The answer to this is because of how WoW works. WoW has everything in the game (textures, data, etc) inside .MPQ files. You can find these files in your WoW folder if you dig around a bit, and with a little googling, you can even find applications to open these files up.


Okay... I have written a Java Application to read/write these files. They are archive documents (somewhat like .rar or .zip). They differ in some important ways, but the gist is the same - they are giant houses of data. You can see pretty readily that they are on the order of at least 1-2GB in most cases, and there are a few that are even bigger than that. What does that mean? Well, every time you try and load something in game (zoning in particular, but also just logging into Dalaran for instance) you have to get all those sweet graphics, objects, map details, etc out of the .MPQ file. That means that you have to read that entire file into memory and extract what you're looking for.

As it turns out... 5400RMP drives do this pretty well; the 7200 drives do it faster... and so for and so on. SSD stands for "Solid State Device" meaning that there are no moving pieces (look up how regular HDDs work on Wikipedia if you aren't familiar here... not enough time to explain). In addition to this, SSDs have RIDICULOUSLY fast read/write times when compared to even the EXTREMELY expensive 10k RMP HDDs. SO, the idea here is that I'll be able to load all my WoW textures (and everything else) MUCH faster and reduce the load on my CPUs when loading this nonsense.

Very cool.

It's SUPPOSEDLY going to ship in a day or two, so when I get it all set up I'll write a review on it as it pertains to WoW. Additionally, I'm going to try some video capture to see how long a cold load into Dalaran takes on my 5400 versus the new SSD.

Alrighty... I'm pretty confident I'll have that Cata review up tomorrow... check back and mock me if I don't.