Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just what I wanted right now...

At facebook we get those automatically generated ads, in your own language and adjusted to your ip address. Those ads are however not always all that clever. This is today's least lucky combination.

First: Borrow 250 000 Norwegian kroner with no security. Brilliant idea, get a huge loan at much larger interest than normal, now when interests are going up all over, living gets more expensive, job security is dropping, unemployment is rising rapidly and the oil fund is drying up as the shares it has been invested in are losing their value.

Next: Get 4% off on fuel. Now, this is useful, as fuel prices are dropping internationally due to much less consumption. If we don't keep up the use of carbon-based fuels, we'll never get the artics up to a livable temperature year round. North sea oil gets cheaper, but oddly, gas is no cheaper to the Norwegian consumer. Perhaps I should try to get 4% off, so I can contribute a little more to the global warming.

Third is the really brilliant one: Win a vacation to Thailand. That is: If the plane can land there, and the airport isn't blocked by demonstrations, the threat of a military coup abates and the president decides to give over the pwoer so the country can have a new, peaceful and democratic election.

Monday, November 24, 2008


By way of a colleague, a fantastic little video of the faces of video gamers, presented in New York Times.

Chocolate doesnt' work.

Among the important findings in research on health professionals in Norway: A chocolate bar is not enough of an incentive to get an increased response rate when physiotherapists are asked to report on their practice.

If dark chocolate doesn't work, what tools do we have left?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Twitter and blogger

I have been playing around with twitter for a while, and it's slowly growing on me. The conversations, the quick messages back and forth, the chance to see what's going on with friends: it's nice. What I can't do is reconciliate that with blogger. I will remove the twitter window from the blog because of that.

When I put the twitter window in, I was planning to use it to talk about Age of Conan experiences. Then I moved from Umeå and back to the rather crappy desk-top computer I still use at the college in Volda (no way am I even going to try to put it on the lap-top), and I haven't been able to play since June. I am supposed to get a new desk-top machine, but that was in August, and now it's November. Months of play-time lost, and months of having to rethink the twitter window.

I find that by displaying twitter to my blog, I show the short end of conversations. It feel silly, and also pretty intrusive as it displays my responses to other people, in a context where they do not talk to me. It's a break of the conventions of polite conversation, which is along the same line as hearing only one half of a phone conversation. You hear/see responses that indicate and reveal intimate information about the other party, while the other party is not there and is not even aware of in which context their information is revealed. It has overtones of gossip, outing and betrayal, which may be a reason why some find it so incredibly offensive to listen to cell-phone conversations in public places where they can't escape, like busses and trains.

Anyway, I don't want to be the one who shouts out intimate information about friends in the public square, while they aren't there. So down it goes, that twitter window. Not that I have been all that active in it, anyway.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Updated internet history anyone?

I am looking for a short and good and updated article on the history of the internet with a focus on multimedia and media convergence. Anyone?

So far, the best option I have found is Asa Briggs and Peter Burke: A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet. The two last chapters are on convergence and multimedia.

Any better suggestions? (Norwegian/Swedish/Danish or English.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

I am sick! Really!

I got the flu at perhaps the worst moment for my credibility in years. Wednesday November 12th I gave up, settled on the couch with cough medicines and paper hankies, and spent the day salvaging what I could for the students I would not be able to lecture the day after. At midnight the 13th Wrath of the Lich King was released.

When I logged on Thursday afternoon, I had already been asked several times how the expansion to World of Warcraft, the game I have been playing and writing about for several years, was. I had to respond to all that "I don't know, really, I know I am here with my laptop and the expansion uploaded and account upgraded but I still don't know! I am sick! It's true!" Even guild mates ruthlessly teased me when I finally came online. Nobody would believe my characters were not all level 71.

So, what have I found out in the now 36 hours since then?
My characters are all still below 71, and they have a long way to go. I did however get three of them 1/3 each to 71, so levelling is not going to be such an impossible grind once I no longer have a fever and headache.

I tried out a deathknight, and I was absolutely delighted! I'll blog more about that elsewhere and in Norwegian, here I just want to say that the interface and the storyline felt fresh and different. Already the story potential is grinding away in my head, and my deathknight is getting a life of her own. Yeah, I'll reveal that she's female. No surprise there. I get a kick out of having female characters with tragic backgrounds and not too easy futures. Too much Marion Zimmer Bradley early in my career as a fantasy reader, I guess.

Getting new skills in crafting and new areas in which to use them is a thrill. I haven't tried out inscription though, although I can definitely see the use for it. But getting to practice the skills is not that easy. As everybody else are out gathering, everything but skinning and, oddly, fishing is really hard. It's also tough to get the quests done in starting areas, as I have to fight other players for them, not just the mobs. I am very happy it's a pve server, as the fights are not literal. It's more a question about tagging fast, something a warrior isn't the best character for. By the time my shot goes off, a mage, a priest, a warlock and a hunter have tagged the next four mobs I need for the quest. And with my luck a druid has taken the fifth.

Do I like the expansion? So far I am exstatic. The "feel" of Northrend, where it all happens, is very different from Outland. I haven't been able to explore more than the very basic starting areas, but I have seen two of those. They are very different both from each other and from other areas, even if they are established by respectively the forsaken and the orcs - two well established factions with the Horde. I don't know about the Alliance side, we'll have to look for some of "the others" for reports from the other side... but I have no reason to believe they don't have the same experience. After all, a lot of the quest areas are common for Horde and Alliance.

I have only finished one instance. The other attempt was stopped by a paladin tanking in dps gear. While that can work out if the pally knows how to tank, this was one in gear which had clearly not been found in instances. Despite its epicness it was not made for the very specialised task which tanking is, and we kept wiping for 20 gold worth on my healer character. Which means the tank got to pay more than enough for the wipes, plate is a lot more expensive to repair than mail.

Both Utgard and Nexus are interesting instances. Utgard I did with an extremely experienced tank, so it felt easy. It still held some great upgrades for my dps character. Nexus was where we wiped, so I took a quick dislike to it. Where Utgard felt like the Hellfire Instances, Nexus felt like the Tempest Keep instances. Both instances had more in common with the Outland instances from The Burning Crusade expansion than those had in common with the classic instances.

And that's all so far. I am still not able to focus on playing for too long at the time, so I don't think I'll be raiding in Northrend this weekend, but I will try to use the rested bonus on the characters, and look at the quests. It's a lot more fun than to dwell on my lack of a voice and the fact that I would be mistaken for Rudolf if I went out right now, what with the glowing red and sore nose and all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Life outside the city

Much as I enjoy visiting cities, living outside them is sometimes much more entertaining and exotic. Today's message to the college was one of those moments. We have a guest lecturer coming in - well, we do a lot of that, a small college like ours just can't cover everything with our own staff. However, this one has more than one errand. He also sells potatoes.

These are not just any potatoes, they are carefully nurtured almond potatoes, a delicacy in a country where we eat potatoes with the rice or pasta. It is still such a wonderful message, such a strong reminder of where I am. The college is surrounded by fields where sheep and cows graze, and one of the huge public arguments lately was about using some of the best fields still left close to Volda center for a conference hall. And when you grow potatoes, you have to, quite literally, put your fingers in the soil, which is a Norwegian expression for having a reality check. Volda is a place where it's easy to put your fingers in the soil. And some people even manage to get potatoes out of it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Light over Volda

It's rainy, gloomy and dark in Volda today, and I don't want to go outside at all. That means this is a good time to remember how beautiful the place can be, with the contrasts between earth, water, air and fire in mountains, fjord, clouds and sunlight.

And a bonus picture of the midnight sun, as it passes a peak in Tromsfjorden, to shine on through the night and into the morning.