Copyright

All blog posts, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted to the Author (that's me) and may not be used without written permission.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

PC, follow up

I finished the installation tonight, sans new video card.

It is great to see my PC running at Mach speeds. However, it is funny to see all of this on a simple VGA card with only 2 megabytes of memory. It can only display at 800x600 and is chocking pretty bad on some of the graphics.

If anyone is conversant with Vista's User Experience ratings, my PC is now scoring 5.2 to 5.9 (out of a maximum possible of 6.0) with the exception of the two video ratings-- both of those score at 1.0 (the lowest possible). I have a feeling that will increase when I get the rocking new video card I ordered. ;-)

I may have to pick up a cheap 6.0 PC speaker set, too. This new board is 6.0 compatible and it seems dumb to have my three speaker set plugged into it. We'll see-- sound isn't the most important thing to me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

PC Parts

I ordered some new parts for my PC from two different companies in order to upgrade to something a little better able to handle Vista and the games I like to play. And, frankly, because I wanted to.

I ordered the motherboard, CPU, and memory from Newegg.com, which is a California company that always has great prices and quick turn around, but I have to pay sales tax. On the same day and about the same time, I ordered a new video card from CompUSA.com online (I would have bought it or done a pick up from the CompUSA across the street from me, but it closed), which has higher shipping rates but no taxes.

I wanted at least a dual-core CPU. My new laptop at work is dual core, as is my wife's home machine, and I am impressed by the differences that makes in a system. Being a gamer, I like all the power I can get, too. However, when looking at the new motherboards, to service the dual core CPU I had keyed in on, I discovered a subtlety: none of those boards accepted my DDR ram (184-pin) memory chips and I couldn't find any that has an AGP port. Not one. So the 2 GIG of DDR ram I bought just over a year ago cannot be used in any MB I wanted, which is frustrating, and my decent if somewhat low-end AGP video card also couldn't be reused in the new system. Having to purchase brand new memory and a PCI video card, especially when I have perfectly good items already, upped the cost of the upgrade considerably. And smells a little like collusion to me, but I won't go into that now-- that may be a topic for a later blog entry.

I found a great deal on an AMD 64 x2 5600+ 2.8 dual core CPU, an ASUS M2N-E motherboard, and two 1 gig Crucial DDR2 RAM memory sticks from Newegg.com and purchased them. I was going to get a BFG Nvidia 7600 with 256 meg of memory video card too, but then I found an eVGA Nvidia 7600 card with 512meg of memory for the same cost with a $30 mail-in rebate from CompUSA. I prefer Nvidia to ATI even though a lot of sites and people say that ATI is faster because every ATI card I've owned has had some sort of issue-- sometimes due to a stranger flickering and poor polygon refresh, sometimes with program compatibility, other times with the driver updates (or lack thereof). So I stick with Nvidia now and am happy. I've had very good results from both eVGA and BFG lately, so look for their labels now.

Like I said earlier, both orders were placed at virtually the same time on Sunday morning. I used the same credit card to pay for both. I used the same shipping priority and service for both. Yesterday I received my order from Newegg.com and have already installed everything into my case and got it up and running (mostly- some things left to do tonight) using an old PCI video card I had left over. Just today I got the "shipping" email from CompUSA.com that they have filed my order and placed it for shipping tomorrow.

When I called CompUSA today about the order, the guy said that they have to verify everything. Well, my order with Newegg said the same thing. CompUSA guy said that they put the 1-2 business days notice to let you know how long it would take. Well, so did Newegg. The CompUSA guy said they have such high volume that it often takes the full two business days-- and that Sunday didn't count as one. Well, I know that Newegg does huge volume in So Cal, at least, and they counted Sunday as one of the two business days.

I wonder if CompUSA just doesn't hold onto some things on their online site for a couple of days. I've made a total of 3-4 purchases from their online site, and all but one of those has been delayed at least the two business days before the order was formerly placed and often didn't actually get picked up for shipment the next day after the order was finalized. While I am sure I will be happy with the video card when it finally arrives, I will think twice before ordering from CompUSA even if they do have a nice deal on something. I do not like this laissez-faire attitude and the length of time it takes to receive things. Newegg has always done it right and right now. That's how I want it.

Anyway, I at least I know the order is finally placed and, if it is picked up this evening and shipped from CompUSA's nearest state shipping yard, I should have it by Friday. I sure hope so, I would hate to get the machine up and running with all this speed and power using a crappy, five year old PCI card. That would mean no gaming for me this weekend, most likely.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Sad State of Affairs

George W. Bush has consistently lied to and cheated the American people. His politics have destabilized the world in general and our nation and its economy in particular. He has elected people who have lied to, cheated, and stolen from the American people. Dick Cheney has consistently lied to and cheated the American people. Their policies have created the biggest deficit this country has ever had and put is into a war with no plan, no exit strategy and, at this point, little hope of any lasting success.

Now the Vice President thinks he can claim he is not part of the Executive Branch of the government and that, although they created and passed the laws that are putting them in trouble right now, they weren't meant to be included in it. Hello? If you didn't intend to include your own offices, shouldn't you have stated that in the law you passed and then amended and passed again a few years later? If I claimed something similar on, say, murder, I would be laughed out of the courts and sent to jail.

And that is what gets me so fired up-- these two do these things and then expect that we're too stupid to know better. That they can just continue looking us in the eye and lying to us and get away with it. And, apparently, they are right.

Looking back on it, President Clinton getting a blow job and lying about it seems rather tame, yet we impeached him (but did not kick him out of office) over it. President Bush and his regime has done far worse. Why don't we impeach and remove him?

I simply cannot imagine that the majority of Republicans are proud to have this man as the head of their party. Most of the Republicans I know are very bright, involved people; they must be disgusted at how this Republican is thumbing his nose at everyone, themselves included.

I have contacted my Senators and Representative and asked them to propose Impeachment proceedings. I cannot in good conscience support this current government. I recommend that, if you feel the same, you do likewise.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Decidedly Unhappy

Sunday was a bad day for immigration related endeavors. First, I walked across the street to see if the Target Photo Studio could provide me with the four near-passport pictures I need. Their camera for taking such pictures is broken until Tuesday.
 
Next I stopped and got my mail. Noticed an evelope from the California Department of Justice and got a little excited-- I was hoping it was my clearance letter. However, upon opening it, they had returned my form and money order to me with a letter stating that I had to include fingerprints. The original form and instruction sheet was fairly unclear on that, so I took a chance and turned it in without and paid the price. Now I have to stop and get "Live-Scan" fingerprints done and then resubmit everything.
 
I'm getting a little tired of the one step forward, two steps back progress we're making on this procedure. Hopefully I can get the fingerprints this week, though, and we can move on to the last step -- the doctor's evaluation.
 
*sigh

Psycho is Right!

Driving to work this morning, I had just started out and was heading east on Bryan toward Culver. The new light at the high school was green in my direction, so I certainly wasn't expecting the black VW bug Turbo with the license plate "SYCOBLN" to suddenly come out from the lane on my left and turn in front of me, causing me to hit my breaks.
 
The crazy blonde woman then proceeded to tailgate, change lanes erratically, talk on her cell phone, and drive well, well over the speed limit when we both turned south on Culver. The irony is that I wound up behind, beside, or in front of her at every red light, proving yet again that speeding on surface streets just doesn't get you very far.
 
I believe strongly in truth in advertising and I was strangely pleased that her license plate reflected the reality I saw-- a psycho blonde with no regard for her own or anyone else's safety on the road. I'm just happy that I was quick enough to avoid her making me one of her victims. I wonder how pissed she would have been had she hit me and been delayed while we wait for the police and/or ambulances? Probably would have put a huge crimp into whatever was causing her to be in such a rush, eh?
 
Stupid.

White Seraphim

As long-time readers know, my favorite PC game is City of Heroes. I have posted many times about my enjoyment and exploits within the game. One of my last posts was about the fact I finally reached level 50 and "opened" the epic archetype in the game, called a Kheldian. Kheldians come in two flavors-- the peace-loving Peacebringers and the antagonistic Warbringers.

Kheldians are, to this game, as Superman is to the rest of the DC Universe. They have more inherent powers, more abilities, and more uses than the average archetype within the game. However, also like Superman, they have a strong weakness in the form of Voids and Quantums, a type of villain that is all too common and one which, even at levels well-below that of the Kheldian, can kick its ass.

One of the things that makes the Kheldian archetype so interesting is two power selections you get before and at level 20. You create a normal "human" hero as you see fit and you get the powers available to the Kheldian from which to chose. You begin play as a normal hero does, except that you already have the travel power Flight available. At around level 12 you can select the "Bright Nova" form, which changes your shape to a "flying squid" and grants you awesomely powerful ranged attacks. However, this is at the cost of any defense and/or damage resistance at all. Since I chose a Peacebringer, and the powers I can select from are mostly melee and ranged, I chose not to take Bright Nova. I felt I was a powerful enough ranged attacker as it is.

However, at level 20, the Peacebringer can select the "White Dwarf" power. This grants the Kheldian a form that is a "tank" class; meaning that it is entirely melee based, draws a lot of aggression from foes, has high hit points and armor/defense, and is a good friend to any class that is weak in melee combat (like Controllers, Blasters, Defenders).

I got the idea for a character called White Seraphim. Mary, a poor girl who is mentally unbalanced but in a positive way, believes that, when the Khedian Peacebringer appears to her as a bright ball of glowing white light, it is an Angel sent from God. The Kheldian/Angel asks to merge with her so that she may be made more than she was. Her strong Faith and belief this is a gift from God allows her to merge easily with the Kheldian. She uses her abilities as she believes a Seraphim (a type of Angel typically associated with being the combat arm of the angelic order) would, to rid Paragon City of the evils which infect it.


White Seraphim-original form

I finally reached level 20 with the character this evening and had the exciting opportunity to take the White Dwarf form. I figured, if I get requests for team-ups, this makes me more valuable. If the team needs a "blaster," my original form does a very good job (but is not as vulnerable or as low-hit point as a typical Blaster). However, if the group needs a front-line Tank-type character, I can suffice in that role as well.

Now, the form does sort of destroy the 'beautiful girl with wings' look I had going before, but it is a strong front-line character and I can already see some huge benefits to it.


White Seraphim-White Dwarf form (in case you are wondering, they are naturally somewhat see-through)

I only just took the power and haven't completely tested it out, but it has 3 melee attacks, an AOE taunt, a self-heal, and teleportation as its means of fast travel. The TP travel will take some getting used to, but the other abilities are all ones I've used before on my other Tankers and Scrappers.

So, now, I can really fit in any way possible. At higher levels still, my Kheldian will get a couple of Control powers and a self- and other-heal, will be able to raise itself from the dead, and a huge AOE energy attack that, I'm told, is wicked to see.

I know I've been talking a bit about WoW lately, but rest assured-- I am still playing CoH and loving it. And this new character really pleases me both from a roleplaying and "fun" perspective.

Excelsior!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Atypical Politics

The G8 countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Together, these 8 countries represent about 65% of the world's economy.

 

At the recent summit of the G8, an addendum item involved these countries pledging 60 billion US dollars of aid to Africa, to help fight disease and HIV/AIDS. While Bono may not think that is enough, it is still 60 billion more than was earmarked before and certainly no drop in the bucket. What disappoints me is that the US is pegged to provide $30 billion of that total.

 

Now, granted, that the US has the largest economy of any of those 8 countries. However, Germany and Japan in particular have strong, thriving economies and Canada, UK, France, and Italy are no slouches—they just don't have the same population as we do. Russia's economy comes and goes, but they are still pretty solid. So why is the US taking half of the burden?

 

When the world asks for UN help or peacekeepers to assist them, they are really asking for US assistance. Why is this?

 

When the December tsunami hit the Indian Ocean, America barely gave anything to it, in comparison to how we react to many of the crises around the globe—yet we gave more than any other country even in our reticence to send aid!

 

I am reminded of the story The Open Boat, by Stephen Crane, wherein a group of four men are trapped in a small boat. The four men struggle to reach shore after their ship sinks. Each of the three men uses the refrain, "Can you spell me?" to the oiler, who is the biggest and strongest and is not injured. They need him to take part of their turn at the oars as they row to shore.

 

However, once they get close to shore, and devise a plan to reach it from the boat through the rocky shallows and pounding surf, the only man who doesn't succeed is the oiler—all his efforts to get them close to shore on the behalf of those with him cause him not to have the strength or energy left to swim to shore when their small dingy capsizes.

 

I am starting to wonder if America is the oiler. Everyone expects us to bail them out, to be the world's police force, and to be the savior of their particular cause. And we do, as we feel it is our place to be that shining example of what is good and right in the world (even if what we think is good and right seems to have undergone a dramatic shift recently). And each time we do, we spread our armies a little thinner, our economy gets a little weaker, and more of our jobs go offshore and overseas.

 

Our economy right now is a house of cards. The situation with the so-called war on terror has weakened our strength, our resolve, and our economy in further ways (most especially by the rocketing costs of oil). We have record deficits in nearly every area of the economy. Our moral cache has taken a huge beating since turning our attention from terrorists to Iran specifically. Our so-called allies in France and Russia are constantly undermining our world position and funding those things we have asked them not to (including Iran, North Korea, China, and other rogue nations).

 

I think it is time for America to look inward. We have many problems here in this country that we are not addressing; homelessness, violence, environmental issues, continuing racial tensions, an economy on the brink of collapse, partisanship, and a judicial system that is running amok. We need to take four years and be more insular. We need to go back to the days of FDR and JFK and create public works or create a sweeping plan that can create jobs, reinvigorate our economy, change the direction of the country, and invest in our future. Something that we can accept the help of the other nations with, if they wish to participate in it, but that we keep primarily here, creating jobs, excitement, and a willingness to invest in our own ingenuity and resolve.

 

Maybe that plan is simply new road construction, new dams, building more nuclear power plants across the nation, and/or re-doing the levee systems in various places in the country. Maybe that plan is putting a man in orbit around Mars by 2020 or putting a small colony on the bottom of the ocean or up on the moon. Maybe the plan is something global that we simply do primarily at home (like maybe creating desalination plants and agricultural reform to Africa, or bringing the rest of the Americas into the 21 st century and helping them to become more of a factor in the world's economy, similar to the Panama Canal project).

 

I do not know what it is, but we need to focus for a time on ourselves and seek to solve some of the rampant problems plaguing the homeland. We need to stay out of world politics for a while and let the rest of the world take care of each other. By doing so, maybe the rest of the world will also learn not to rely so much on us.

 

Now, obviously, we cannot withdraw in a day from all of the things we have our fingers in now, but we can limit our interactions slowly and reallocate money, time, and labor elsewhere over the course of a year or two.

 

Iraq? We freed them from a tyrant and gave them the building blocks to democracy. It is now up to the people of Iraq to decide if that freedom is worth defending. Until they take up arms against the insurgents themselves, rather than aiding and abetting them, we cannot win there. But, if they do, our capitalistic society will happily move into a free, safe Iraq to make a profit.

 

North Korea? Why are they so focused on us? They want our money and our business. They look south and see how much a difference it has made to South Korea and they want that. All we need to say is this, "Stop your human rights violations, stop this posturing, open your borders to mutual trade, and our companies will gladly move in and boost your economy. It is that simple. That's capitalism." And then leave. Let them figure it out. Let other nations help them if they have problems along the way. Something similar can be said and done for every other conflict and crises around the globe.

 

We need to focus on ourselves, solve some internal, home-grown issues, and then reemerge stronger than ever to lead the world. Until we do so, we will constantly be spelling the other nations a little bit. Otherwise, if/when our boat overturns and we are forced to swim to shore, we may not have the strength to make it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Job Well Done

Most of my time at work is spent revising existing documents, maintaining existing help/source files, or occasionally creating new source documents for a product, feature, or whatever. For these tasks, the only person who really ever acknowledges the job I do is my immediate boss, as she's the only one who is aware of that.
 
It is somewhat ironic to me that the things I get praised for the most, the loudest cheers, the biggest thank yous, are the tasks that are the smallest part of my day or the easiest to do.
 
Recently, the manager in IT needed to write a quick and dirty manual to train his people how to use a new little web-enabled log he had created. He was struggling with it, then said, "I'll ask John if he can give me some pointers." I talked it over with him, asked for access to the application, and within 30 minutes had a nice document, well-formatted, with screen captures and a step-by-step instruction guide and definitions. He was so enthused that the next time he had something he didn't even bother to try it himself, he just went to my boss and asked for my help.
 
Another guy at work needed some help with a PDF. He needed to edit it, but of course a PDF is specifically designed to be locked from that sort of thing. But, as writers, we have access to tools and knowledge that allow us to get in there and do what needs to be done. I couldn't work on that request immediately, so forwarded it to Renee who had it done and back to him in under 10 minutes. He was so thrilled!
 
The company made the executive decision that all the Trainers should write, edit, and maintain their own training manuals, freeing Documentation up to work on other things. This past week, Cheryl in Training was struggling to get her project done as she isn't a writer, wasn't trained on the applications we use before having all the maintenance dumped on her, and had an immediate deadline looming. She called me for help. I was able to walk over, figure out where she was going wrong, right the ship, and teach her a couple of small shortcuts and tricks to use to make her life easier. Her response was a simple, "I love you!"
 
Even in my personal life, this has been true. For our Dungeons & Dragons group, I often request to be the secretary for the group. I then can't help myself; I format the document into chapters, add tables and charts, and even scan in the hastily drawn maps of dungeons and towns we make. They frequently wind up with cover-sheets, indexes, TOCs, glossaries, and more. Sometimes I do them as a novel, others as a journal, and sometimes from a single character's perspective (so the factual data is there, but biased by the character's perspective on things). Just things that, as a life-long writer, I can't help but do and feel excited about. My friends have often thanked me for that extra effort, which is always appreciated.
 
In the six and a half years I've been here, it has always been what are the easiest, simplest, quickest tasks or off the wall request that have provided me the most encouragement and joy in the job. Do you have a similar situation at your job, where the work you are paid to do is overshadowed by the work you do on the side or spur of the moment for others?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

WoW Support Follow Up

Well, I did send an email back to Tom in Support at WoW. I didn't expect much, but was pleasantly surprised to receive the following:
 
I apologize for any miscommunication on my part.

If they are bugs the game masters will make that call and collect the data for our testers.  Technical support does not do that, we exist only to your game running on your computer.  If the game Masters did not collect any bug data then the bug you report may be an intended  change to the game, in which case you can access the forums to let your opinion heard about the changes.

If you already reported this to the game masters that's all that needs to be done as they will make the call about whether to report it as a bug.  Any changes you want to see can be made as suggestions on the forums.
 
So, basically, I still wonder why the in-game help menu system does not state this fact more conclusively and clearly. However, it is nice to see I guessed correctly on the reasons for the response I got.

 

Another Step Closer

I just put two envelopes in the mail at work, to go out today. One is to the California Department of Justice and the other to the FBI and both are for the Police Clearance letters that the Canadian Immigration process requires. Both State and Federal say that it takes 3-6 weeks to process (shorter if you have no record, longer if you do, apparently) and return via mail to me.
 
This means I am down to two final steps I need to do before we can collect everything and send it in: I need photographs of a specific size/style for the application and the official medical examination.
 
I still find it a little funny that Canada has such a limited number of doctors who can perform these exams in the So Cal region. The nearest ones are in LA and San Diego, so I will likely have to take a half or even a full day off work in order to do this. I also have to take 5 recent photos, my passport, and any medical information I have with me for the tests. Which I really don't have something official as I've never needed something official-- I just see my doctors, they take care of me, and that is that. So yet another little wrinkle. I also don't really have or keep photos of myself, or even often make it into photos others take. So a second wrinkle.
 
But, along with the venue, dates, dress, some of the niceties, and church all getting finalized, we are getting closer and closer to the day we can turn in the paperwork and get the immigration ball rolling.
 
One step at a time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Support

In WoW there is a button with a red question mark on the main toolbar that, when clicked, displays a window with the various in- and out-of-game support options. I was experiencing some minor issues with my Druid, Lorent, and thought it would be a good idea to provide a bug report to Support so that the two items could be looked at and possibly fixed if it was determined they were indeed bugs.
 
I scanned through the list of associated errors and who to contact about them. The only one that seemed to apply was Technical. However, the window for Support said that Technical issues could not be resolved by the in-game GMs and provided a website to go to in order to see if others have discussed the issue, a phone number to call (ironically in the same area code as I am-- their main support building is the building next to mine at work), and an email address to send the bugs to otherwise.
 
I tried using the website first. However, in the two months I've been playing the game I have never once received a response other than "Text search temporarily disabled." So searching the site was pretty much out of the question (I did thumb through some pages of the tech support bug forum, but none of the headings looked like the issues I was having).
 
Next I tried calling the number. After 30 minutes of crappy music, I gave up. So I typed an email and sent it to the tech support email address provided.
 
Here is what I sent.
 
I have two technical issues for Druids while shape shifted:

1. I have a Druid character (Lorent, on The Scryers server) who has the cat form. The Cat form, as you know, has increased movement capabilities.
However, when I enter the Deeprun Tram area or just after getting off of a Gryphon, the extra speed is not evident until I reach the tunnel exiting the
tram or for about 10 second after riding a gryphon. I think that, if I  change forms (gryphon) or I am still in cat form, that my speed should not
be diminished while in the Deeprun tram area or shortly after getting off a gryphon.

2. When I am in a shape shifted form and reach a gryphon master and click once to bring up the gryphon master's dialog box, a second time to bring up
the flight path dialog box, and then a third time to select where I want to go, I should be automatically shape shifted back to a form that can ride the
gryphon as it is readily apparent that is the task I want to do. I should not receive yet another dialog box that informs me I cannot do that task while
shape shifted.
I thought I was clear and pretty polite about the two minor issues I was experiencing. The first was an issue that may be a bug in the programming that doesn't allow the feature to work properly for a set period of time or until you leave the area. The second was an annoying "feature" of the program that seemed needless-- I have told the program what I want to do, so just do it. There are other in-game things that cause the Druid to automatically shape shift back to his original form (for example, going from Sea Lion to main form when exiting the water), implement that same code for when you click on the travel location. Problem solved, and no need to click umpteen more times to get out of the form, close the error dialog box, and click back into the travel dialog box.
 
Here is the response I got from Support:
 
Hello John,

Thank you for contacting Blizzard Entertainment Technical Support.  My name is Tom and I will be assisting you today.

I apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced.

For World of Warcraft the preferred method of reporting issues with the game is through our in game support Game Masters.  If you are unfamiliar with how to contact them you can find the information here: http://www.blizzard.com/support/wowGM/?id=agm01257p

If you are unable to contact a Game Master a bug forum has also been set up as an alternative.  That forum is located here: http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/board.html?forumId=10023&sid=1

While I cannot guarantee a response, I can assure you the report will be read and investigated.  Thanks again for taking the time to help us identify and resolve issues like this.
 
The first paragraph attempting to answer my question says nearly the exact opposite of what the in-game messages said. Maybe he meant to add something that said "your issues are not actually Technical, therefore..." but it does not say that. It doesn't even imply it.
 
The paragraph after that one says to go to the bug forum (the same one the in-game menu already pointed me to). Now, granted, I didn't say in my original message that I went there already nor that their search engine for the forums seems to be permanently broken. And the rules for the forum state pretty clearly that you are supposed see if your issue has already been addressed before adding a new one. While I know many people could give a flying f*ck, but I actually try to follow that rule. Since I couldn't do a thorough search, I didn't want to add a bug report that may be a duplicate.
 
It is frustrating to try to point out an area where the game can be improved, trying to follow the company's own listed rules for doing so, and then receive a message that seems to imply that I did everything wrong and should have done the opposite of what the in-game message system seemed to indicate.
 
How I would resolve this issue if I was Blizzard (the company that produces WoW):
 
1. Simplify and Clarify what I wanted my users to do within the game. Have a simple message that reads:
Contact the game masters within the game and present your issue. They will tell you whether they can assist you with the issue. If they cannot, they will provide you with a ticket number and an email address and phone number where you can call to get further support on the problem. Make sure to include your support ticket number on all correspondence with the company so that your issue can be tracked properly.
That would be much clearer than the multiple pages telling you what they can help with, what they cannot help with, and making the user determine which category his issue seems to fit in best.

 
2. No "canned" support response messages. I don't know anyone who has received a canned response who feels it actually answers their question, provides correct information, or makes them feel like they have been listened to. Take the time to train your support people to actually read/listen to the issue, make notes or forward it to the appropriate queue for further review if needed, and then provide an email that says what action has actually been taken. If the volume you receive is high enough that you don't feel your support reps can do that, hire more support reps. If your volume is that high, you may also have more serious issues with your program that requires more investment in QA personnel or better programmers, too.
 
3. Implement a review process wherein someone reviews the emails/support calls for each month/week/quarter (whatever time frame works for the size of your business and number of calls received) and sees how well the support staff is queue the tickets and if issues in those areas are being addressed (so as to lower the number of support calls about a particular issue).
 
What is the most ironic of this to me is that, had I not received a response at all, I would be happier. They were minor but annoying issues that I just wanted to bring to the company's attention so they could determine if they wanted/needed to fix them. The shear fact that I got such an irritating response back from support makes my hackles rise and now I'm going to hammer this guy about it until I get a better response than this. So, now, this support guy's work queue will be affected by likely multiple conversations with me about a minor issue that could have been resolved early and easily if someone had just read the initial request and sent me back a message that said "We'll look into it. Thanks for pointing it out." I would not even care if they were lying to me and they simply deleted the email after sending the response. Or an email back that said, "This isn't really a technical issue. Please contact the in-game GMs to help you with this." OK, now I know where to go. Great.
 
It is more funny to me, too, because I know multiple people in IT and Support jobs. All of them are the types to actually read the message, weigh its value, and respond accordingly. Even when some of the people I know were at the lowest rungs of the support/IT ladder they did this. That sort of response is invaluable to the end user with a problem and I commend each of those who I know for his/her due diligence. It is obvious to me, after multiple disheartening convesation with various support people for various products and programs, that they are the rare breed.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

WoW

So a friend was playing World of Warcraft (WoW) and I wanted to play online with friends, so I downloaded the free install and played for 10 days. We decided to continue playing so I payed the fee and registered the game.

I'm having fun. I have created a Druid who is by far my favorite character, but I also have a Warrior and a Paladin to play around with as well (all on The Scryers, a Roleplaying server). I am thinking of creating a Mage and a Hunter here shortly, just to see how much I like them.

The cartoony nature of the graphics is visually appealing but a bit over the top. What stands out to me is that the game almost never needs to load. I play City of Heroes (CoH) pretty often, and I love that game, but you have to load for every zone change and instance. I am very curious how they programmed the game to so rarely need to load.

It is funny because, when people think of City of Heroes and put a mental image in their heads, I'm willing to bet that it is predominantly what the graphics in WoW look like. Whereas the CoH graphics are very realistic and natural.

I also did the 10 day trial on Dungeons & Dragons Online (ddo.com) at around the same time as the trial for this game. I truly loved the graphics on that one; very realistic and richly detailed. I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite DnD things personified in the game. However, in the end, the fact that it was the Eberron campaign setting turned me off. I like the Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk campaign settings, I enjoy the classes and prestige classes in the core systems, and I like to have the standard races available. So not having some of my favorite classes and races turned me off a bit.

Anyway, my time in WoW has been fun. My Druid is up to about 27 and is going strong. I have focused on the Feral qualities and abilities, minimally on casting (really only on the buff and healing spells). I really enjoy shape changing into the Bear, Sea Lion, and Cat forms. My only complaint is that I cannot use potions while changed, which leads to my death a little more often than I should be defeated.

For as much fun as I am having in WoW, CoH is having a double XP weekend June 15 through June 17 and I need to level up my Kheldian a few levels (hopefully to 20 and the next new form). So this coming weekend is all set for super heroes!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sexy?

I am having a bad arthritis day in my left foot. The center of the foot, just behind the toes but in front of the arch, is swollen and sore. Because of this, I am slightly limping around as my foot fits uncomfortably in my shoe and it feels like I'm walking with a small orb in my foot right there.
 
A woman at work who doesn't know me very well, she's one of those people with whom I do little more than share pleasantries when we meet in the halls, was walking behind me through the cubicles. I guess she feels comfortable enough with me and our working relationship because she followed me to my cubicle and said, "You have a sexy walk today." I smiled, as this woman knows nothing of my issues and was only commenting on what she was observing.
 
She went on, "Sort of like The Duke or Cary Grant used to walk."
 
I thanked her and she went on about her day.
 
It is true what they say about one man's garbage is another man's treasure. I thought I was having a poor day, and I always hate how pronounced my limp can be when I'm having foot issues (I have this thing about not showing my pain or "weakness" while at work). Yet, to this woman, it was a thing of beauty and interest.
 
Although the foot still hurts, a smile has brightened my day.