Preparing for the Future

The world is continually changing around us. The way we do business, the way we communicate, our jobs, and our daily lives.

Some people naturally give themselves time to adjust as these changes occur. Others, like me, need to spend specific time focusing on improving ourselves.

Where I work there has been a slow change. It’s been a painful process for some, natural for others.

Many of the teams I provide Quality Assurance support for have shifted from a Waterfall to an Agile development method. Unfortunately the attitude towards QA didn’t consider that we’d also need to be trained and have been forced to stumble along to try to keep up with a sudden workload increase. No change operates in a vacuum, there’s been increased pressure on test automation (but I have yet to see if there is any more understanding of the implementation effort), and a constant search to reduce costs in general.

So I have new tools to learn, development skills to relearn, and methods to tackle.

First I found a great book on software testing in an Agile development process. It’s called Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams by Lisa Crispin, Janet Gregory, Brian Marick. Here’s a link to one of my favorite independent booksellers where you can order it.

I’ve only started reading it, but right away I can tell it’s going to focus on the topics and concepts I need to be prepared.

Software wise I’ve started teaching myself Selenium. It’s very similar to Quick Test Pro on the surface but underneath it may be even more powerful of a functional testing tool. It can operate as a plugin for Firefox, but if you’re able to code there is a much more powerful version of it that can be used within different software development environments like Eclipse. The plugin operates quite easily, just like quick test pro. If you’d like to use the ‘Web Driver’ version you need to prepare a development environment. Unfortunately there aren’t basic simple instructions around how to do this. Someone who has been using Selenium since early in it’s creation for a while will have little problem working with it. When you have someone who is inexperienced with configuring these development environments however, you have a few hurdles to get past. What flavor of Eclipse to install? How do you set up a Selenium project within Eclipse? What is Maven, and why do you need to use yet another tool to configure this development environment?

I hope to be able to answer those questions in the very near future. At first though I will be teaching myself the basics of the Selenium Firefox plugin, Everything needs to start somewhere.



Quality Alternatives

Last week’s RealID fiascos with Activision/Blizzard started some people asking on what else is out there. I’ve decided to take some time and analyze alternatives to World of Warcraft.

Before you can analyze, you need to not only identify what the potential alternatives are, but what your questions are going to be.

So for this I turn to you, fellow game players, what questions should be asked of alternatives to World of Warcraft? What are those alternatives?

Post in the comments below your thoughts and ideas.


We don’t call them ‘Pen Pals’ any more.

We call them friends.

Since I started playing World of Warcraft I’ve met piles of people I never would have met before. I’ve been around for marriages, births, new jobs, new homes, graduations, etc (though at times indirectly) for people who just 5 years ago I never knew existed.

I’m a better man for knowing them.

When I once long ago tried to explain people met over the internet to my parents I tried to go with the Pen Pal analogy. In trying to explain it, I realized it’s much more than that. I never would have traveled (even with my parents) someplace far away with the express idea of meeting my Pen Pal. Yet here I am, I’ve traveled to the West Coast and back, driven down to a convention I may never have tried to attend (twice), gone out camping, and been invited to a wedding where the best man speech referenced those like me who had met the groom in an online environment and made a beneficial impact on his life.

Was there a point in human history where this type of distant relationship building occurred before? Or is this something new, starting with those around my generation and the children being born today.

As I’ve mentioned before I use facebook. I’ve reconnected with some people there, but  due to the nature of the declared future of that site I’ve kept my interactions on it down low. used it to get back in touch with people I haven’t seen since high school, etc.  I don’t see myself planning a trip based around a group of people who ‘like’ the same ‘page’ of content on that site.

Catch ya’ll later.


Talking with your wallet


The issues with RealID continue to plague the World of Warcraft community. Multiple websites have been generated posting the personal info of various employees of Blizzard (I shall not link them here) in an attempt to show how bad this could be.

The fact is dear fellow Warcraft players, we approved this change already when we didn’t read the Terms of Service update that went out back in May and again in June. If this isn’t a lesson to read the terms of service more closely I don’t know what will be.

The latest rounds of updates added in-game advertising and Facebook integration of the service.

I agree with some of the other posters that this is being done with just one thing in mind. Increasing revenue as high as they can in a product which has a community of 11.5 million world wide, before that product loses interest.

World of Warcraft is an old game. There are others out there, alternatives that people like. People keep coming back to Warcraft for the community they made while there. Activision has recognized this and is attempting to capitalize on it before it is gone.

How do we the consumers fight this? We talk with our wallet. You can join the multitudes that are clogging the phone lines and the account management site and cancel your account. We can only hope this will change the mind of the decisions makers at Activision Blizzard. It may not. Unfortunately it may be too late, for we know deals have already been signed with Massive (an online game advertiser) and Facebook.

So Greg with everything you’re saying here, have you canceled your account yet?

I’ve canceled my long term accounts, and will only be renewing on a month by month basis, as I feel like it. I want to continue to play a game with the friends I’ve made over the years. I want to take this rag tag team we’ve built and reach our goals (as virtual as they are).

I know I’m not alone.

Tomorrow – today’s internet friends are so much more than the Pen Pals of our parents youth.


The Consumers Dilemma

Those of you who play World of Warcraft have by now learned of the announced changes around RealID with respect to the official forums. On the surface I can see ‘some’ benefits to this, it could prevent people from harassing you from behind an alt that you don’t know – for example.

The downside however is much much worse. A CM went and posted his first and last name in the discussion thread and it was responded to with some RL information about the guy. Some of the information is believed to be wrong (the home address is located 500 miles from Irvine, CA for example). There’s also phone numbers and other locations on the internet for contacting him (twitter, facebook). Even if all this information is incorrect – whoever shares that name and reported that they lived in CA has had various bits of information spilled out onto the web, and by this point have been harassed. The facebook page has been deleted, the twitter account is probably soon to follow.

This is why there’s a problem with this RealID direction Activision Blizzard. There are too many people on the internet who will cause harm with this information, even if they’re just ‘joking around.’

Linking all of someone’s posts to a single visible ID can be used to track and react to harassing, gold sales spam, trolling etc. But allow it to be a name we selected.

What do we, consumers of this medium have as options. Not many, and they’re all farily obvious.

  1. Cancel our World of Warcraft accounts.
  2. Don’t ever post on the forums again once this change goes into place (including support/bug reporting).
  3. Contact Blizzard and let them know how you feel.

Third times the charm

It’s been a while.
Hello internet.

Hrm, so what’s happened since well last October?

First off, the basement has flooded, so we’ve gone back to the drawing board. Searching out places that need to be resealed, and doing so. Then waiting till after next spring to make sure water doesn’t come in.

I’ve moved to the remote office. Get to wear jeans all the time etc. Been using the gym there (yay location perks) though not as often as I would like.

Recently my wife and I started a Couch to 5k in 9 weeks plan.
One week down, eight weeks to go.

More later, till then, be cool.

like seriously, be cool, it’s damn hot out there right now.



Seven years ago today, a change was made in my life on an official level.
It was a change I hoped for, shortly after we met.
We’ve faced various challenges over the years and emerged together on the other side.
I have never looked back.
I cannot imagine how my life would have been different if you hadn’t come into it.

Lauren I love you.
Happy Anniversary


I’ve gone and done it.

Well a few things actually.

First off, finishing the basement has kind of hit a speed bump. A big one. Basically my procrastinating tendencies kicked in. So after this craziness of this weekend (Congrats Dave and Hill) I’ll be getting back to work on things – and yes, I know there’s still no pictures showing on the basement progress page. I blame wordpress.

Secondly, I went and broke down and finally got myself a Facebook account. Between friends at work, friends online, and friends here at home I figured I held off long enough.


On Healing

In World of Warcraft I fill the role of a resto shaman. On top of that I am the healing lead for my raid. One of the hardest things to do is to determine if the healing is effective or the right healer is assigned to the right job.

Right or wrong these are the general rules I use:
• Single target healers on direct damage (boss) damage -aka Tanks: Discipline Priests & Paladins
• Instant cast or AoE healers on the raid: Shaman, Druids & Holy Priests

Now there are situations where a fight gimmick really encourages a particular healing type. However a skilled team can get around that.


Look Ma No PC

So I got my self an iTouch – the idea behind this will be to give my self more ways to access this blog.

So right now I’m sitting in a comfy chair with the sox vs phillies on while waiting for our sat night gaming session to get started.