A Personal Note: Bink and Adora’s Bad Year


This is a personal post which is basically asking for a bit of help with our medical costs while we’re going through some tough times. The short version is that we’re both dealing with chronic illness & can’t afford to pay for the treatment we need as Adora is currently unemployed (has had 3 jobs this year, two of which essentially “evaporated”, and is constantly searching but in Post-Quakes Christchurch jobs are a bit harder to come by, but more on that later) and we’re getting no assistance from the Government and minimal help from her parents (Who split up ages ago, her Dad is doing what he can, but her Mother is fairly well off but refuses to help).

If we were both healthy we’d be fine. If Adora had a job we’d be fine. As it is, we’re not, and I’ve run out of additional options so I’m turning to the Interweb for help. As we’re both fairly independent and hate asking for help we’re starting a GoFundMe “campaign” to help with our medical costs, and our medical costs only. Anything left over after we get back to being self sufficient will be donated to SafeCare which again I’ll explain more about what it is and why later.

Warning: There may be a few triggery subjects in the following paragraphs, so you’ve been warned. That said, I’m going to generalize things as much as possible because I don’t like talking about it and it didn’t even happen to me.

Background Medical Stuff

Adora (ladies first) has Crohn’s Disease which is one of those nasty autoimmune diseases, in this case causing inflammation in the intestines & stomach. This means she can’t eat various foods without feeling like her insides are scrunching up, being so nauseous that she is prescribed chemo patient level anti-nausea medication or throwing up frequently/violently. Foods include olive oil, large amounts of dairy, MSG & various preservatives, and so on. It also means that we end up spending a bit more money on food to make sure there’s bland, easily digestible food in the house, or getting takeaways/fast food more often than we’d like.

As for myself, I’ve been plagued with headaches & muscle pains for many years (since ’99 when I had a CAT scan). Recently we’ve (meaning Adora, myself and our doctor) come to the conclusion that this is most likely Fibromyalgia, which isn’t conclusively diagnosed, but given my constant muscle pain that ranges from that next-day-after-a-good-workout ache for no apparent reason to curling up in agony in bed after taking all the painkillers I’m allowed to take at once (usually 1000 mg paracetamol and anywhere from 16 to 60 mg of Codeine) waiting for the pain to go away. It’s fairly random as to what hurts from day to day, for instance today my hamstrings and arms are sore, just above that slightly uncomfortable level.

The Bad String of Events

Ok, so that’s the background stuff out of the way. The actual start to our “Bad Year” begins roughly a year ago when Adora went to a party at a flat with some friends of hers. We’re pretty sure that a friend of a friend put something in her drink and sexually assaulted her while she was passed out. I found out about this a few days after the fact, mostly because Adora was worried about how I’d react. I ended up taking that Tuesday off work at short notice (because my boss is awesome) to be supportive and eventually take photos of the bruises for the police.

She’s now got PTSD and anxiety problems because of it, and has had quite a few panic attacks since then. Most of the professionals she’s seen have said she’s doing remarkably well compared to others. The criminal case eventually died due to it being a “he said/she said” type case, and the Idiot is still going out on a frequent basis, getting drunk and probably doing the same thing all over again because he’s a self-entitled dickhead (Sorry, I get angry about this every time it comes up).

Her mother (who has been referred to as “Darth Mother”) had been supporting Adora while she was at University but around October demanded that Adora drop all criminal proceedings because it would “make Darth Mother look bad in her social circles back in Dunedin”. Adora refused to do this, so all financial support was cut off.

We had been looking at flats to move into together, but that was outside of our financial reach at that point so I did about the only thing I could do and moved Adora into my flat as there was a soon to be vacated room going, and meant that I could cover both her rent and mine. That didn’t go down too well with one of the existing flatmates, but they moved out a couple of weeks later and eventually, after going through 6 months of dealing with another couple who weren’t that helpful, we’ve now got a nice decent flatmate.

Over the intervening period we did get some financial help from Adora’s Dad, who has done what he can, but we’ve had to bend over backwards to get Darth Mother to contribute the pittance that she is (because she “can’t afford to” but still builds a new house, buys $4000 German dishwashers and installs silk curtains), but because we need the money we have to put up with the demands that Adora behave like DM is a “good mother” via facebook posts, or the constant phone calls/texts saying that Adora is useless & fat, that she wishes Adora had never been born, or that being assaulted was all her fault (y’know, the usual “dressing provocatively”, “asking for it”, “teasing the poor guy” arguments). Usually these end up setting off panic attacks or Crohn’s flare ups due to stress. As a recent example, Adora somehow managed to get Darth Mother to contribute $90 this week, except what actually came through was the usual $50.

Things as they are now.

These days it’s a case of each of us looking after the other as best as we can, and depending on who is flaring up when it may be me looking after her with heated wheat sacks  & doing the dishes/cleaning, and she looks after me when I’m bad by getting me wheatstacks, cooking dinner and helping out with keeping the house tidy while I’m at work. The days when we’re both unable to do much are the worst, and we go through a 50 pack of 500 mg paracetamol/8 mg codeine every month or two. We’ve been cutting back on things as much as possible, and I’ve been stretching my resources as much as I can, but unfortunately there’s not enough money left to cover our on going medical needs along with rent, food, etc.

What we’re asking for

What we’re hoping for is that with whatever donations we receive we’ll be able to resume the treatments that we both need. Whatever money we receive from this goes solely to medical bills (to be outlined shortly), and whatever is left over when we’re able to handle it all ourselves will be donated towards SafeCare, the non-profit rape crisis centre in Christchurch, which has been refused government funding, who helped Adora through her interviews and examinations in the weeks after her assault.

My own needs are fairly minimal, $65 per hour of massage therapy, which I would normally have every 2-3 weeks, and around $57 for a few physiotherapy appointments to get my shoulder sorted out. For Adora her psychologist appointments are $150 per session (and she owes him $600 because Darth Mother refused to pay after previously agreeing to), she needs physio as well to help with her neck/shoulders, and currently owes our local Doctor about $200 for previous appointments/care. On top of that there’s another $100 for a Gastro specialist so we can get her Crohn’s medication sorted.

In total we have about $900-1000 in one off costs, and about $250 per week for ongoing expenses. Ideally we wouldn’t need to ask for help, but we’re hoping to get ourselves sorted financially within the next month, so this is just a stopgap.

So please, help us out

Warlords of Draenor – Elemental Summary July 1st


I’ll try to do monthly updates of things in the Beta for Elemental. If I’ve missed anything leave a comment and I’ll add it in.

Mana
Yes, there is currently a problem with Elemental mana use after the removal of Rolling Thunder (60% proc chance, returns 2% mana) and Elemental Focus (25% cost reduction via the Clearcasting buff), which should be fixed soon.

Echo of the Elements vs Lava Surge
There have been a number of posts on the interaction of these two buffs. Currently Echo is being consumed first, making the current Lava Burst not trigger the cooldown, then Surge is consumed on the next cast, effectively making it look like two spell casts at once. Echo will need further updates anyway, as a few of the spells it works with have been removed (eg: Earthquake).

Area of Effect Damage
With the removal of Earthquake the question is how Chain Lightning will fill all our AoE needs, or will we stay with the cleave DPS niche. The Chain Lightning Perk (20% bonus to EQ per CL hit) also needs to be re-worked after this spell removal.

Totemic Recall… recalled
Totemic Recall was removed with the comment that totems would no longer proximity agro mobs. Celestalon as since commented in a tweet that it will be reinstated.

PS: To anyone asking why I put a post with a July 1st date out on June 30th, I’m in New Zealand which is GMT+12, so it actually is the 1st of July here.

Donations


In the Gaming World there are people who earn a living through content creation. I’m not one of those, but I’m also not opposed to people sending a few $ my way to say “thanks for all the work”. If you want to be one of those people, click this button:

Donate Button

Please note that donating does not, in any way, entitle you to anything extra from me. If you want customised feedback, specialised reviews or whatever you should go somewhere else.

(I need a) Heroes: Falstad


So as you may or may not be aware, I have access to the Heroes of the Storm Alpha. It’s actually quite fun, and that’s coming from someone who found DotA/LoL complicated. I’m up to level 15, although that doesn’t matter too much in the overall scheme of things.

I’ve been playing Falstad a lot, so I figured I would run through the particular setup I have. It’s more of a hit & run type build as opposed to something a bit more tanky, but it works quite well. As there’s no real “talent calculator” out there yet, this is all going to be written down (whoo!).

Your basic abilities are Hammerrang (62 + 12 damage per level to enemies in a line, slowing them by 25% for 2 sec, and returns after being thrown), Thunderstorm (Passively hits for 52 + 12 dpl to a random nearby enemy every 8 seconds. Activation deals damage to up to 4 nearby enemies, with a 25% reduction per hit if hitting the same target multiple times) and Barrel Roll (dash movement, with a 90 + 12 pl shield for 2 seconds). The Heroic abilities are Aerial Blitzkrieg (deals 177 + 12 dpl to all near enemies, stunning for 1.5 sec) and Shock & Awe (311 + 31 dpl to enemies in a line).

Level 1: Take Path of the Assassin (+2 damage per level). The Barrel Roll improvements could be useful for a more tanky build, and Bribe only works on individual Mercs, not the whole camp (meaning you need 40 stacks for the Siege Ogres or for half of a Knight camp)
Level 4: Take Zap! (Thunderstorm’s passive cooldown is reduced by 2 seconds, from 8 to 6). If you don’t have Heroic Talents yet, level more… I mean take Vampiric Assault. It only works on auto-attacks, so it’s a very low regen method and not usually worth it vs other heroes.
Level 7: Take either First Aid, Battle Momentum or Fly Away. First Aid is handy for staying alive, although it’s a long cooldown and low return. Battle Momentum is handy to get more use out of your ability cooldowns, however it also means you run out of Mana faster. Lastly, Fly Away is handy for doubling your ability to jump all over the map, which can be very handy on all maps.
Level 10: I prefer Shock and Awe for the ranged damage component. Aerial Blitzkrieg is more useful for a tanky close combat role.
Level 13: Giant Killer or Lightning Storm. Giant Killer improves your basic attacks vs other Heroes, whereas Lightning Storm causes Thunderstorm to attack 2 targets with the passive hit (which is now a 250% increase over the base passive if you took Zap! earlier)
Level 16: Gust of Wind, Afterburner, Rewind & Stoneskin are all decent choices, depending on what you want to do. Gust of Wind makes Tailwind kick in after 3 seconds rather than 6 & Afterburner gives you a 3 second 100% speed boost, both of which can be handy for getting away from foes or chasing one down. Stoneskin is a standard 30% hp shield for 5 seconds with a 60 sec cooldown, which is handy to reduce the damage you’re taking. Finally, Rewind reduces your basic ability cooldowns by 10 seconds, effectively allowing you to use Hammerrang, Thunderstorm and Barrel Roll twice in quick succession.
Level 20: Fury of the Storm or Blast of Awe. Fury gives your basic attacks an extra “bounce” to two additional targets at 50% damage, while Blast of Awe doubles the Shock & Awe range and boosts damage by 25%. I haven’t tried Bolt of the Storm on any characters that can get it, but the extra mobility probably isn’t needed with what Falstad already has.

This focuses the damage output around Thunderstorms passive hits which still hit while moving, meaning you get some extra damage out to foes while running after (or away) from them. Hammerrang is handy, but save it for heavy density fighting for maximum damage (and to stop running out of mana when you use Thunderstorm on cooldown). Barrel Roll is your “get out of stuff” move, but while it doesn’t work against roots it’s awesome for getting away from Nazeebo’s Zombie Wall or other barrier spells. Taking Shock & Awe means you stay at range rather than getting in close with melee assassins and warriors, and the trick here is to predict where foes are moving, or shepherd them away from the lightning telegraph that warns of the incoming attack towards your waiting allies or something else equally nasty.

I’m going to try writing up more of these posts with heroes that I play, but given this took me a week or so to finish writing they may be few & far between (especially with the WoD Alpha changes).

Stand By For Stuff And Other Things


Ok, I’ve decided to resurrect this as my online Wall-of-Text posting thing. Content will eventually happen, and cover various games which I’m playing and feel like writing about, which will include World of Warcraft (mostly Warlords math and possibly Alpha content if I’m lucky enough to get in), Diablo 3, Heroes of the Storm (Yes, I’m in the Alpha for this) and whatever else I end up playing, which may include things like Wolfenstein: The New Order & Civilization 5.

One question for readers though: Should I put a donation/fundraising plugin thingie whatsit into my blog? I’ve seen various streamer/video types doing it (or having ad content), but since I’m a more infrequent text content producer I’m not sure of the pros/cons/etc, but it wouldn’t be for “extra access” or whatever, more just “Hey, I like that stuff that you do, have a few $$ as a thank you” type thing. Something like FundRazr is what I’m thinking, although if someone has an alternate suggestion that would be cool (or I just make a post with my Paypal details in it).

Oh, and yes, I’m working on a WoD 6.0 Ele spreadsheet for modelling/testing stuff. I don’t expect it will last past the release of WoD as things are much to variable to model accurately, but it’ll be useful as the Alpha/Beta goes on.

The Growing Divide in World of Warcraft Websites


There are many websites out there covering various aspects of the game, from general news to databases to focused subjects like fishing or pets. Over the years, most sites have interacted in some form or another with the database sites, most notably being WoWDB and Wowhead which are part of the Curse and ZAM networks, respectively.

I’ve always preferred using Wowhead, but I use both databases on a regular basis to check spell details, quest information, etc. I’ve even installed the Wowhead tooltip script on Totemspot which also does nifty things like previewing transmog sets in addition to the usual tooltip details.

Recently though, I was introduced to the uglier side of what happens when you have “competing” websites.

Over the weekend I received a message from one of the guys behind MMO-Champion & WoWDB on a WoW related IRC channel I hang out on. I’ve spoken to this person occasionally before, so I didn’t think anything of it when he told me my website was broken. I checked, and it was working fine, so I asked how it was broken. The reply was:

“when I click a link on any of the guide pages it redirects me to wowhead instead of wowdb”

I wasn’t too impressed by this suggestion, but I prefer being polite whenever I can so I didn’t tell him to shove off straight away. The rest of the short conversation involved touting the things that WoWDB did better, promises of being advertised on MMO-Champion and examples of other sites that are using it, with the implication that they also received this offer and switched because of it. There was even a link to a web traffic profile of one of these sites with the suggestion that the massive spike was due to their referral  although anything dated around the 28th of August makes me think the spike was just because of 5.0.4 (I didn’t have as large a spike on Totemspot, but the traffic increases are fairly similar).

I’m also not worried about getting more “exposure” for Totemspot, because simply getting visitors isn’t enough. I want to grow the forums, and that will take time. The site is also cheap enough to run on donations alone so I’m not worried about ad revenue.

The approach did irritate me, although I should admit if a site that was getting around 900 visits a day (pre-Mists anyway, it’s been steadily growing to the point where I might pass 3,000 visits in a single day and that’s with having my Elemental guide copied to four other locations) is one that gets bribed with advertising in order to increase their “market hold”, it’s both sad and amusing at the same time.

Curse has managed to lower my opinion of themselves on a fairly regular basis. They don’t seem to be happy until they have a near monopoly in a particular area, and will create functionality they can charge for by taking away free functionality or giving paying members access to more “exclusive” stuff. Examples of each are the Curse Client, where you can only download two addons at a time, and the constant beta key give-a-ways for various games. Correction, the Curse Client only downloads one addon at a time, but you can’t have more than two queued unless you have their “premium” membership. I’m not against the ads in the client, because that’s helping pay for the (minimal) amount of bandwidth used, but the now defunct MMO-Minion used at WoWInterface had ads, a premium “remove the ads” option but yet still allowed a One Click Update function.

It’s sad to see that because of the actions of one company there is a growing divide in WoW related sites where you either use their stuff, or your site is “wrong” or “broken”.

Handy Dandy Google Docs for 4.3


Being a spreadsheet guy, I build sheets for tracking stuff. For the last two expansions I’ve made a Jewelcrafter organisation sheet, so people can see who has what cut (at least, in the early days where cuts are limited). Early in 4.2 I also made a Legendary Progress sheet as well, if only to avoid the constant “how many cinders do you have?” questions.

I’ve made “blank” copies of each, for interested people to copy & use.

Legendary Progress

Jewelcrafting Cuts

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