Housing and Horde

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Worth It

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One of the major stresses this year has been our house, and it has been several phases.  First there was the stress when we realized that the leak in the bedroom and the kitchen were due to the garbaged out wood siding.  Then there was the stress of trying to pick the right company and the right product.  Then of course the stress of waiting for them to finally get started…  we signed a contract in July and they didn’t actually start on anything until October.  Which lead to here was the stress of having strangers at our house over the course of three weeks, and quite literally just showing up to do the work with little notice.  Finally there is the stress looming over our heads of just how much it cost us, and trying to sort out how we are going to go about paying it all off.  However this weekend… I can finally say that it was probably worth it.  Once again we had a torrent of rain and even though we are still gun shy and kept checking the former leaks…  everything continued to perform like a champ.

Where the real “worth it” bit comes in though is the fact that we had a cold front blow in yesterday and as the day went on the house continued to hold its temperature to the point that even at 11pm it had not dropped enough to actually trigger the heater coming on.  The house is so much more insulated now and it is funny just how much of a difference that makes.  Previously our upstairs was painfully oppressive to be in during the winter months because the heater would be nearly constantly going, just to make it so that the downstairs was somewhere close to livable.  Now there are still variations between the two floors, but they are pretty minor.  The place it is most noticeable is in the Bedroom where it has always been the coldest room in the house.  While it is still not the warmest, it is largely comfortable in the mornings when I wake up… instead of having to make a mad dash to the shower to get some heat in me again.  So I have to say all in all… while it was stressful and involved a bit of financial pain… in the long run it is going to be well worth it.

Maybe I Should Heal

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One of the things I am thankful for is the fact that my Sunday night raid… is pretty chill.  Sure Drewie loses his shit when he doesn’t get a token drop, which is absolutely hilarious…  but overall people are more than happy to just show up… do the things that need to be done and walk away with loot.  My opinion right now is pretty high of the population horde side in general.  People seem really nice… like almost scary nice for being World of Warcraft.  I mean I would expect Nubzy and Facepull to be nice… or she would beat them into submission, but what I am talking about is horde players on our battle group in general.  The amount of random help that I have gotten out in the world, be it a buff or a heal… or simply a friendly wave has been pretty great.  Contrast this with my experience lately on Alliance which consists mostly of entitled ranting in dungeons, or the battleground that is tradechat.  I guess I can just see why folks can favor this side of the fence.

My problem in general with horde however is that other than the Tauren… I just don’t really like the racial options.  I’ve never been a “monstrous humanoid” type player to borrow the Dungeons and Dragons term.  I will say had the Horde gotten the Dark Iron Dwarves as a racial option… I would have converted years ago.  I think in order to play Horde for long I am going to have to get used to playing female characters… because while I really like Female Trolls and Undead…  I hate the male counter parts because of the hunch.  Similarly I think Female Orcs look way cooler than their male equivalents….  though I have to admit in the above photo Khariss looks badass in his Tier 5 set.  Mostly I am happy that Sunday nights is more than willing to let me pew pew pew or eventually move into a tanking role, because those are the things I care about.  However apparently I should have been a healer.  Since moving to the horde side I have been invited to no less than four different Heroic Hellfire Citadel groups…  pending I had a healing spec.  Everquest scarred me for life when it comes to healing… and from that point on… I have never really considered it a viable option for me to enjoy playing a game.  I wasn’t horrible at it… I just get insanely bored not hitting things in the face with a weapon.

More Stuff Than Time

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We’ve talked about this on the podcast some, but I think a large chunk of the magic of Final Fantasy XIV was simply the fact that we had so much content left to do.  As we whittled our way through it over the past year and a half, we eventually caught up to the point where we are now current with each additional patch.  That means once again we are waiting for content to get delivered, rather than having a huge backlog that we could be working through.  I think the reason why World of Warcraft is so compelling to me once again is that… right now I have this huge backlog of content to work through.  I am absolutely the “master of my domain” when it comes to the Alliance side of the house.  I have one of every crafter, and I can push up any character I choose… it is just the matter of dedicating the time to it.  Instead on the Horde side I have nothing…  well apart from a super supportive guild.  I am once again behind the curve and this has put the game in entirely new perspective for me.  I want to build my legacy on this side of the fence, and eventually reach a point of self sufficiency just like I have with my army of Alliance alts.

The problem is however that there are simply more things that I need/want to be doing than there are hours in the day.  Part of me keeps thinking… I will dedicated this day to working on alts, or this day to farming old content…. and instead I just end up working on content in Tanaan or trying to farm Valor to push up gear a little bit more.  All of it gives me this feeling that there is more to do than I could ever possibly do… and it is the same contented feeling that I had in Final Fantasy XIV.  When I have left World of Warcraft in the past, it is always because of the same thing.  I start poking holes in the game because I have quite literally run out of things I want to be doing.  Now I feel like I have this mission, and plenty of things that I want to be doing… and all it really took to reinvigorate me… was abandoning a decade worth of work.  I guess in a way this is like all of those times when I have stopped one Minecraft game, just to start a new one… because the old one had gotten stale.  The awesome thing about this is… that I still have every bit of work that I did over that decade…  just waiting on me anytime I want to visit it.  Which in truth I am regularly on my Alliance characters, I am just focused on catching up on the Horde side.

 

FATE Grinding Go!

Home Improvement is Scary

A good chunk of our week has revolved around planning for some renovations around the house, and I have to say the whole process kind of wigs me out.  I have been acting pretty calm and collected because I know it also stresses my wife out…  but I feel like I am wading out into an ocean that I know very little about.  The long and short of it is that we live in a house with wood siding, which is not exactly ideal for the climate extremes of Oklahoma.  Additionally our climate seems to really be a positive environment for termites…  and when we moved in we knew the house had some issues.  Then a little over a year after moving in… we had our first swarm.  We have been on a termite plan since and it has been nearly a decade of having zero activity, but we know there is some underlying damage in the siding, but other than cosmetic issues we had not really had any problems.

That is of course until recently when we during a particularly hurricane like horizontal rain… we had a very small leak in our kitchen ceiling.  After having the roofers out, they thought it was coming in along the garbage edge of siding and up over the flashing.  This is the point at which we first noticed… just how bad our siding really was.  Throughout the course of the week we had numerous contractors out who gave estimates… and we think we have maybe decided on a company and a product.  Right now we are looking at replacing all of the wood siding with fiber cement, which is this crazy stuff that feels like ceramic tile, but looks like wood.  But this means some major money, which has us also sorting out financing options.  Being an adult is an extremely frustrating thing.  We think we have a plan figured out… but even though I know this is something that really needs to be done… it is a massive decision.  I know things will work out in the end, but this whole process is exceptionally stressful for the moment.

CPUCores

I was asked by someone on my steam friends list last night, if this program worked since I had been running it.  I actually just started testing it last night, even though I purchased it long before it showed up on steam.  I do not remember how much I paid when I bought it, but I want to say it was somewhere around the $10 mark.  It promised to improve your FPS by improving your CPU utilization, and  this is something I had been frustrated by in the past.  The machines I use are quad core or six core… and it always felt like very little of my CPU time was actually being used.  At the time I figured what the hell, purchased it… and then got busy messing with other things.  When they went on steam the developer was nice enough to send me out a Steam key as well, and yesterday I actually started testing it.  Is this digital snake oil?  Well honestly… all I can really offer is a heartfelt shrug.

cpucores_wow_without_30fps I did some testing this morning with World of Warcraft which is one of the most poorly optimized games that I have played when it comes to utilizing multiple cores.  Hell lets me honest, the game itself is horribly optimized in general… but my theory was that this game seems to be extremely CPU limited, so in theory if CPU Core optimization would help any game it should help this one.  The above graph is taken from task manager and shows that for the most part all of the cores are running at around the same amount of load and an overall 36% utilization of my CPU.  In World of Warcraft itself I was standing in my Garrison and setting roughly 30 frames per second.  The latest release of CPU Cores features a “CPU Cores It” button allowing you to scan your current process list and apply  the change to an application that is running.  If you look at the graph below you see that with CPUCores turned on, it is now pegging two of my six cores and as a whole the CPU utilization is now 64%.  In game I was still standing in my Garrison but saw a jump from 30 fps to 40 fps… which is not really earth shattering but still not too shabby and is in line with what a lot of the reports seemed to indicate.

cpucores_wow_with_40fps The confusing thing is however… that it seems like CPUCores is only really using two of my six cores.  There are some settings in there to manually override what cores it is actually using to run things, so I figure I will continue to fiddle with it and see what I can get from it.  I didn’t actually record any of my measurements last night, but I saw a bigger jump when using my laptop.  I actually started to see comparable performance to my desktop which was kinda massive.  The general advice in the community is that this is designed for medium end systems to get some additional performance out of them, and that if you already have an extremely high performance system… it is likely not going to do anything for you.  Normally speaking I run Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward on my laptop around 30-40 fps… but last night with CPUCores running I was seeing 60-70 fps which is a big jump.  Laptops are notoriously bad at CPU utilization because they are designed to safe energy whenever they can.  I feel like maybe that is the magic bullet here for using this application, because honestly the results on my gaming desktop do not warrant the purchase.  I largely bought the app because I was curious if it worked, and for the most part it does seem to do something… because a 10 fps increase is still a 10 fps increase no matter how you chop it.  My hope is that over time it will continue to work better and it seems like they are just now starting to try and optimize for AMD processors.  As always… your mileage may vary and I probably would not have paid the current $20 price tag on steam.

FATE Grinding Go!

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So it appears that with 3.0.5 the changes to FATE experience have been noticed by the community.  As I looked at Duty finder it actually scrolled for the first time in a long while, with multiple FATE parties happening in different zones.  I decided to join the train in Dravinian Hinterlands and it seemed like the time spent was worth my time.  I had dinged 58 earlier in the day while running a dungeon with guildies, and after a bit of FATE grinding I managed to get to around the halfway mark to 59.  It is my hope that today I can run some more dungeons and FATEs and make a serious push for 59.  The community seems to have been reinvigorated by the patch, and it is shocking just how good Square Enix is at timing their content.  In the days leading up to this recent patch it felt like there was a slowing down as people finished their Law grind.  Instead now everyone is actively buzzing again as they are trying to get as much Esoterics as they can, so that within three weeks they can get those tasty tasty level 200 weapons.

Skyforge 2015-07-22 23-08-02-51 When I decided that I needed a break from FATE grinding, I opted to pop over into SkyForge and work on finishing unlocking all of the costumes.  After having played the tutorial as every class currently in the game… I have to say they all feel very unique.  You have everything from the mad bomber feel of the Alchemist, to the skill shots of the Archer, to the insane melee flurry that is the Slayer.  The problem is… the three classes that you get to choose from at the start are without a doubt the most generic feeling of all of the classes that I played.  This is rather unfortunate because while I feel it gives people a desire to unlock that class that they really want to play, it makes the initial grind feel meaningless and pointless since you ultimately have to play the lesser of the starter evils to get there.  I feel like this game could benefit from the Marvel Heroes approach to classes, allowing you to play a little of each of them and then after the tutorial choose the one you wanted to unlock.  I feel like eventually they will let us outright purchase these classes, but I have found that option sorely missing from the cash shop.  I would absolutely pay to unlock the Berserker for example or the Slayer…  but since I missed out on the founders packs I have no real way to do that.