A mention on the Instance Podcast

Just a quick note to plug the Instance Podcast, especially episode for 25th Feb.

Why you ask? – Because these guys make Warcraft accessible, and still present useful information. And they used a tip from me, and now I’m stoked.

All Warcraft fans should check them out.
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Create your own (faux) Warcraft items

If you enjoy Warcraft and are looking for a subtle and entertaining ways to give some advice, then consider WoW Item Creator. Here you can create your won WoW gear and link to them.

My item (Pug Life Preserver ) was created due to a recent PUG in the Blood Elf area.

Its just too much fun!

Warcraft Mods that Rock!

After a short break I’m going to get back into WoW, and after all the patches; some of my mods needed to be replaced and updated. This made me think about what mods do I use every day, and which ones are vanity or just junky.

My final criteria was: Which mods should be in the default interface shipped with the game?

Here is my list:

CharBar – Add chat channel buttons to the rant area.

a Frame mod – of some sort. X-Perl is the one I’m using now, and having the capacity to change the look is excellent.

a Positioning mod – Bongos is my favoutite now, but any move it mod is a must have.

a Info bar mod – such as FuBar. Titan is another option, and I recently moved from Titan to FuBar due to the Ace support and a better selection of mods.

Atlas – They could charge for Atlas and I’d almost pay.

Ace and Ace2 – The best supported set of mod libraries. Even has an auto-updater for any mod written properly in it, so you don’t have to manually do all the checking and updating. Gold!

Banzai Alert! – tells you when you’ve got aggro. Most of my toons are in trouble when they get aggro, so a red flashing border is very useful. Makes it hard to ignore, and will train me not to do it.

ps. You can Google these, as giving out URLs will often result in all sorts of out of date stuff in the mod community.

The Harsh Cry of the Heron: The Last Tale of the Otori by Lian Hearn (quick review)

The Harsh Cry of the Heron is the book that I have looked forward to since finishing the first three books in the series. Reading them back to back would have been wonderful, but waiting for this release did not allow me to to recall and enjoy the detail in the first story.

In the three book build-up we learn the outcomes of Takeo’s fate. His family life brewing turmoil, his country at the brink of war, and his secrets returning to affect all those he loves – Takeo resolve is truly tested in this story.

This book takes a really long time to get to a good ending. I’m not being critical, the story is paced so that you really understand what issues the characters are feeling. The in between time is spend exploring what the peripheral characters are doing, which allows the reader to try and guess the ending.

For: The author has an outstanding skill of weaving a cohesive story.
Against: Its book 4 of 4, so don’t grab it alone. You need to read the other books to get some of the references.
Score: 8.5/10, but the series is almost perfect.

If you like strong female characters (such as in Daughter of the Empire) then this will be an excellent find.

Amazon Link
Lian Hern.com
Tales of the Otori Website

The Revenge of Gaia (quick review)

James Lovelock’s book on the steady decimation of the Earth, and the simultaneous ending of human culture is highly engaging; and shocking. Lovelock tells presents the background and societal drivers for the changes in our climate, and never hides the fact that he thinks we are already too late to save most of our civilisation.

This is a thought provoking discussion, and will disappoint readers who are looking for a casual and light style. It is also not a novel – you will need to be ready to read about scientific concepts to engage with this book.

For: A great reality check for issues around global environments, and while its not a neutral perspective (no apologies); it is passionate and direct. What if he’s right?
Against: Lovelock’s opinion of our situation is dire, and this is depressing. Not for those who don’t like science-ish books.
Overall: 9/10

Anyone who would like to know more about the effect of global warming and our apathy around the issue should read this book.
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A neutral perspective on CMS myths and selection.

Early last year the CMS market really started to get competitive (as if it wasn’t already spread enough).

In Australia that meant international companies sending sales and technology staff across the pond to talk directly to Aussie businesses, and make real connections; meaning local sales.

Toby Ward’s Blog had a summary and a few key points to make about CMS, and its a great little list of “traps for young players”.

However my take on the Ziff Davis source article, and Toby’s comments will hopefully (A) grant a perspective inside the CMS industry, and (B) more meat into the sandwich around these points.

Grain-of-Salt-Disclaimer: I work for a company that produces a CMS, so my comments come from practical experience. They also should not be viewed in isolation. Take it as read that I like our company and products, and will continue to work in application development no matter what happens in the future.
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Posted in CMS

Getting perspective

This week is about thinking, getting organised, and defining what is to come.

About once a year I used to sit back and look at whats happened, and what the next few steps will be. Its a de-brief and chill moment, and it usually happens around the end of year holiday break.

Not this December though, due to the huge amount of stuff going on, and all the traveling and entertainment that I happily distracted myself with.

So I feel refreshed? Yes. Got perspective? Not yet.

So my plan is…..

– Get to terms with which activities I’ll spend my out-of-hours on.
– Plan a set day each week for free form writing. Just a time to write whatever comes into my head, even if its useless. I used to do this years ago and had some great discoveries and ideas from it.
– Listen to more Podcasts and news in travel times.

Venture Voice Podcast #43, with a Fred Selbert interview is excellent. Anyone who is in media, internet, business start-up, or corporate machines should listen to this podcast. Its a real perspective on what his philosophy of life is, and how that mixes into his governance of businesses. direct mp3 link.

– Anything WoW related that is professionally delivered. Avoid all junk sites and junk casts. The Instance is a good example of a podcast doing it well.

Side note
This made me laugh: Useless Account and thats important too.

The Last King of Scotland (quick review)

The Last King of Scotland is a story set in Ugandan during the reign of Idi Amin. Based on a true story, the viewer follows a Scottish medical school graduate who travels to Uganda seeking a true life experience to juxtapose against his white urban upbringing.

While moving through the story Nicolas (the young doctor) behaves like a lost and impulsive twenty-something, amid an environment of political duplicity and horrid oppression.

In short: 3 out of 5

The Good: I have nothing except respect for Forest Whitaker’s skill as an actor. A stand-out performance. His Amin moves from silent, to brooding, to joyful, to fiendish with delicate precision.

The bloodshed is handled quickly without being indulgent, and the camera work changes styles to suit the scenes very well.

There is a small element of comedy in the film which comes from the stupidity of a young white doctor in a corrupt African nation, but it is dark humour born from the struggle and death around him that he fails to perceive.

The Bad: James McAvoy who plays Nicolas never really feels like he has the screen presence his character is meant to have. There are times throughout the film where Nicolas shows leadership and bravery, and also times where he shows a little moxie, but the portrayal never reaches either extreme.

The film shows the audience the climate of the country during Amin’s rule, and true to life shows the horror and misguided process of Amin’s eight year reign. But we never get far beyond Amin’s initial madness and paranoia. I would have loved to see more of this ruler’s perspective, consistent with his passion, and more of the process (however misguided) that placed him in power.

The political maneuvering by the British is shown to be diplomatic and subversive, but never really directly involved. Which begs the question of how did the British appoint such a leader without due diligence.

I was also surprised how much time was spent on the initial medical placement in regional Uganda, given that most of the film’s real story does not happen there, and does not need to contrast against it.

Blood Diamond (quick review)

Blood Diamond is one of those films that makes incredible use of character actors and realistic violence – to stunning affect.

The portrayal of Sierra Leone’s social landscape in the 80s is brutal, and even more powerful due to the human perspective we are initially shown as the film builds story. The viewer is spared no fantasy of a majestic and graceful African nation, and the politics external military involvement is depicted in a manner which suggests understatement rather than overt criticism.

In short: 3.5 out of 5

The Good: Cinematography is excellent. The tension is consistent, and the perspectives presented are realistic and intermixed very well. Characterisation is also good, and in some places very subtle.

The Bad: DiCaprio almost pulls it off. I am not a fan of most of his films, and here I still found myself viewing him as an actor, rather than a character. His performance is good, but he is outclassed by the other performances.

This film also uses an incredible amount of violence during the story, which is often repeated. So much so the battles start to become spectacular rather than confronting.