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WoW Not Responding

Ever since Patch 3.1 I’ve been getting this a lot.

wow-not-responding

Happens during the log in screen and sometimes just after showing up in Dalaran for a couple of seconds. After staring at a myriad of softer colors the sudden bright white burns into the back of my retinas for a few seconds.

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Reviewing the Belkin n52te

As promised, here’s my review of the Belkin n52te.

What Is The Belkin n52te?

The Belkin n52te is a basically a gamer’s pad designed for FPS (that’s First-Person Shooters, not frames-per-second :)), MMORPGs, and RTS (Real-Time Strategy) games. It has a handy design that supports your wrist to help keep you from having to shake awake your hand. With 15 fully programmable keys it should cover most of your needs, but also has an 8-way thumb pad and scroll wheel that can also be programmed for spells and abilities.

The n52te also has a few other features, but you can go read their site to get the info.

So Why Did I Buy It?

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I transferred from a PvE to a PvP server a few months ago. As such, I’ve become more interested in PvP as a means to defend myself. I have even gotten to the point where I’m starting to like it. Wintergrasp is actually fun, although the lag buff is annoying. What do you mean I’m not in range?! I’m standing right on top of him!!! Warsong Gulch which was my least favorite battleground due to the Alliance’s inability to end a round better than 0-3 is actually more fun now that I can actually kill Horde.

But the big problem I have had with PvP is that I…suck. So how to get better?

One of the problems I was having was trying to watch Horde run all over the place, follow them, attack, and not die ALL AT THE SAME TIME! The last thing on my mind is trying to look at my finger placement to make sure I’m on the right keys. I’ve found myself trying to hit Crusader Strike only to find I’d been hitting Divine Plea in an attempt to make it happen.

I purchased the Belkin in hopes that finding the right keys without looking would no longer be a problem.

PvP With The n52te

When it comes to PvP this handy toy is a godsend. Overall I have seen my performance in battlegrounds increase. The biggest advantage has been that with a limited size it’s much easier to automatically place my fingers on the right keys and not fumble around. I had however hoped that the thumb control would help me manuever, but I found it to be rather choppy. It’s not exactly the most responsive directional control. So instead I bound 4 additional spells to the N-E-S-W controls and that’s worked out great!

Raiding With The n52te

I finally got to try it out in a raid the other night. It worked great. The only problem I had was I was moving around my spells to get them keybound to the right places. This kind of screwed me up as I had a hard time remembering where my some of my spells were. I highly advise you to go practice somewhere for more than 10 minutes, if it messes with your setup.

Overall though when it came to raiding I didn’t see that much of a difference with the n52te, but then again I messed with my button placement. It works great, but in raids I generally have less of a problem with finger placement.

Setting Up Your Belkin n52te

Customizing Your Setup

Here’s what your setup screen looks like. Notice the 14 buttons, button 15 (default spacebar button below the directional pad), button 16 (a thumb button right above the directional pad), the 8-way directional pad, and the scroll wheel. Each of these can be programmed to different keys by left clicking and selecting the first option in the drop-down menu.

There are even 3 different keymaps so you can have different configurations if you like. I’m not mentally agile enough to remember 3 different settings so I’ll only ever use the one. I suppose I could use the other two for other games, but except for WoW all of my games are on the XBox360.

You’ll notice in my configuration that I have not assigned keys to the DPad NE, SE, SW, and NW. Until I get used to this thing I’m always afraid I’ll click the wrong direction getting the wrong spell. Button 15 is set up for my press-to-talk button on Vent. It’s in a slightly awkward position so I don’t use it for spells.

As you play around with this and change the keybindings, remember to click the Apply Changes button to activate. If you don’t, it won’t work properly in the game. The nice thing is you can do this while WoW is running and tweak things as you go.

Warning!

You’ll notice off to the side there’s a Macro Editor. I don’t know enough about what constitutes a macro that could get your account banned, but I’d be very careful making macros using this for WoW. Make your macros ingame. If it can be done there using WoWs macro editor, then you’re probably safe. Anything outside of that is something I’m too chicken to mess with.

Is It Worth It?

I paid $70 for mine. It’s a little on the pricey side, but if you’re looking to improve your gameplay in PvP it’s definitely worth it. Even for raiding it’s a nice tool and I think as I continue to use it I’ll see some improvement there as well. My test night was difficult just because I ended up messing with my button configuration 30 minutes before the raid. Not a great idea.

So if you’re a hardcore gamer, I’d be surprised if you don’t already have something. If you’re just a casual gamer that isn’t worried about the little extra this is going to provide, it’s probably not worth your money. It’s improved my gameplay and I’m extremely happy with it. 🙂

Random Tuesday

I was sick yesterday so wasn’t able to prepare a post for today so you get this fake post .

Car Break-Down (and the circle begins…)

My wife’s 1999 Ford Explorer broke down a couple of weeks ago. The transmission went out. A 10 year old SUV gas guzzler. Gas prices around $2/gallon. Over 140k miles. Approximately $3000 to rebuild transmission. We can’t get crap for it! 😦

She sold it “as is” for $600. I’m so proud! 🙂 We’ve been talking about having a third child sometime next year so we were planning on driving it into the ground and buying a mini-van. The Explorer just didn’t have the room for three car seats side-by-side. Unfortunately the ground hit sooner than expected.

We did trade my 2002 Toyota Solara in for a 2008 Chrysler Town-and-Country though. So we got a mini-van, with nice perks :), and got rid of my 2-door car that I didn’t like. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine car. Just what the hell were we thinking when we bought a 2-door car with a family?!

Anyway, point is that I bought a bicycle to ride to-and-from work. I only live 3.3 miles from the office according to Google Maps, so it shouldn’t be that big a deal, right? Wrong!!!

Confessions of a Fat Out-of-Shape Guy (Wait! Does round count?)

I’m 35 years old. I haven’t been on a bike since I was 21. They say you never forget how to ride a bike. I’m living proof that is true, but I’m proof that your mind and body will both forget how damn hard it is!!!

I grew up in the Rockies. Actually in the small town of Georgetown, ID. Go ahead check it out. When I say small, I mean small! I can’t believe they got someone to drive through and do the street views. Have you ever seen Napoleon Dynamite? That was filmed primarily in Preston, ID. When I was a kid going to Preston was kind of a big deal. It was a city!

Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away several years ago and my grandmother passed away right after Christmas, so I don’t know that I’ll ever get back there. If I could make a living I’d go back in a heartbeat! Farming isn’t too profitable, but I digress…

The Rockies are mountains. To me the Appalachians are just hills. I’ve been caught saying “just over the hill” and had someone correct me. So suffice it to say that living in the D.C. Metro area, there are no real hills. A 2% grade does not a hill make.

I made it about 2.5 miles to my work when I started to get light-headed. I pulled over and sat down for a couple of minutes on a nearby bench. It was still morning and the sun hadn’t been up more than an hour, but it was already starting to get hot. So rather than getting all the way to work, I decided to turn around and head home. At least I know I can make the distance.

Moral of the story: Biking kicked my ass! 😦 For the time being, my wife is going to drop me off at work with the bike and I’ll ride home until I’m in better shape. The first heat wave of spring and new approach to excercise left me feeling less than well that evening.

Noble Garden

I woke up really early the next morning and couldn’t sleep. I still wasn’t feeling well, but I was bored out of my mind so I logged in for a couple of hours until my body crashed and said “More sleep please!”.

I had been working on the Noble Garden achievements. However, 4am EST on a CST server leaves very few people to tag with bunny ears. Speaking of which I thought the achievements were somewhat amusing, that is until I read Kim’s thoughts on Noblegarden. One might argue that we shouldn’t take it as seriously, but I would hope you agree she has a very valid point. I find myself agreeing with her. That said, I’ll still do the achievements because I want the huge Meta-Achievement for the drake, but I’ll protest by not showing the title. (Sort of how I’ll never show “the Love Fool”. EVER!!!)

PvP

So after giving up on finding people online, I did dailies and eventually crashed. I logged in again later to take advantage of Arathi Basin holiday weekend! It’s amazing how often the Alliance wins during the day as compared to in the evenings or actual weekends. The kids must all be in school! 🙂

Not that I’m complaining, but why do weekends go from Thursday to Tuesday? Scratch that! More importantly why doesn’t my work weekend go that long?! 😦

Either way, I got to test out my new toy in battlegrounds.

Belkin n52te (…closing the circle)

After reading WoW Insider’s Encrypted Text: Tips for key binding your Rogue abilities I was really curious about the Belkin n52te. I asked about it on Twitter and Ken (Cheesus_) recommended it. So since my wife had $100 left from the sale of the car and she was feeling guilty since she spent some on an mp3 player device (not I-Pod), I got my Belkin n52te. I plan on posting my experience with it, but I haven’t gotten a chance to raid with it yet. I was sick yesterday and planned on going, but I feel asleep before raid time. 😦

Overall my  experience is positive. If there’s anything you want to know about it please ask. I hope to have a decent enough review for a post after my Wednesday raid.

Speaking of Twitter… (the tangent to the circle)

I’m 35 years old. I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to it. I log in once in a while when I have time. I get that it isn’t exactly a chat program, but it seems that’s what I keep trying to use it for. I like chatting online to friends. It fills up those long days where I have no deadlines. Twitter seems to be more for placing random thoughts and that’s great. It serves it’s purpose. But I can’t keep a thought long enou…ooh a penny!

Hacked!!!

hackers

Friday night I logged out at approximately 1:00am EST. Sometime after that one of my good friends was disconnected and when he tried to get back on he couldn’t access his account. Turns out his password was changed. When he started to investigate he found the e-mail associated with his account was also changed. He had been hacked!

I woke up at the butt crack of dawn (4:30am EST) to play before my family woke up. About an hour later I get a tell from a guildie asking if I can get on Vent. I log in to find my friend asking me if I can see him online. Of course I could. He’d been there a while. I’d even tried to whisper hello to him, but I figured he was AFK when he didn’t respond.

My friend could also tell he was online and he wasn’t happy about it. He’d been up all night trying to get back in. He even went so far as to create a trial account which is how he knew I was online. So I ran to the guild bank and sure enough, my friend’s two toons had pretty much wiped out the bank. There was only trash left. A few hours later it was all gone. He’s one of the Co-GMs and so has complete access. Fortunately, our GM never returned gold withdrawal access to us after a guild bank snafu that Blizzard fixed a couple of months ago so all of our gold was still there.

At first I wasn’t going to say anything to the guy. But I did whisper hello to him again while talking to my friend on vent and got a response, so it was definitely a hacker. What I don’t get exactly is the guy played for over a day on the toon. I always figured hackers would steal what they could and get out. This guy hijacked the toon to play.

We put in GM tickets and let them know about it. They tried to reset it, but evidently they didn’t understand the part about the hacker changing the e-mail so the password reset was e-mailed to the hacker. /sigh

My friend will be calling Blizzard and getting his account back today. You’d think that Blizzard makes enough money to staff phone lines 24 hours/day, especially on weekends when most people play.  But as my dad always used to say, “That’s what you get for doing your own thinking.”

Get yourself an Authenticator

I’d told my friend about getting an Authenticator in the past, but he figured he didn’t have anything to worry about. I know my friend well enough to know that he doesn’t do any of the things that most people think of when someone gets hacked. He downloads few add-ons, doesn’t buy gold or power-leveling services, or even visit questionable websites. So how did he get hacked?

I remember reading somewhere (and I can’t for the life of me remember where) that there are hackers out there with false Blizzard sites. As you try to login you are redirected to their site and unwittingly enter your login information. My friend recalled that while updating his account for Wrath, he had trouble accessing the site. He had to close Windows and try again. It’s my belief that this is how and when he was hacked.

Chances are you can get the majority of your stuff back, although I don’t think gold is among that.  I was told by a fellow guildie that you can even get your toons back if they’re deleted.  This evidently happened to him a few months ago.  The hacker left him a personal message in the names of 10 toons.  I didn’t ask what, but I bet it wasn’t nice.

Do yourself a favor.  If you haven’t gotten one of the Authenticators, get one now.  If you haven’t experienced getting hacked whether personally or through those you know, don’t wait for it to happen.  The $6.50 plus shipping is definitely worth the piece of mind the Authenticator will bring you.

Blizzard Authenticator

My Blizzard Authenticator came in the mail just the other day.  So far works like a charm!

I don’t visit gold buying or power leveling sites.  I visit a few forum sites, blog sites, etc. so I don’t know that I’d ever be in danger of geting hacked, but with all the stories out there from people claiming to have never purchased gold or paid for power leveling and still getting hacked, I decided to buy one.  Personally, I still think those that claim they didn’t do those things and still got hacked either are lying or they got ripped off by someone they gave their password to.

Anyway, I feel better about having it so it’s worth it.  Now the only question I have is how does it work?  By pressing the button, how does Blizzard know what password it’s giving me?  Does it send a signal somewhere?  If so, it’s awfully fast!  If anyone knows, please let me know because I haven’t found the answer and I’m too lazy to call Blizzard.