Dump Wowaceupdater for Jwowupdater

I’ve had problems with Wowaceupdater even loading for months. Then I heard from PhiLogical this weekend that he was having the same problems. Due to a recent Windows blows issue that necessitated a fresh install of XP, I gave Wowaceupdater another try.

After the download started, it stopped. I tried to resume it, but it told me that it had already begun and couldn’t continue. So I deleted the temp folder it was creating and calling out as the issue several times, but it refused to try again.

Throwing my hands up in the air, I decided to Google for a Java-based updater, just on a whim. I found Jwowupdater at http://code.google.com/p/jwowupdater/ and I’ve never been happier with a little piece of software in my life. Not only does it download your Ace addons, but you can point it to the interface addon sites to download updates to non-Ace addons.

Jwowupdater screen

All you need is to have a semi-current Java installation from http://www.java.com/en/download/manual.jsp and it will automatically link the .jar filetype for the updater to run with Java. The program’s interface is a bona-fide stupid-easy, but there is an excellent README included.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.

Guest Posts Available

doormat.jpgIt seems to be that time of year, folks. Gitr’s busier than he cares to EVER be, and it’s affecting his blogging, and your time-wasting at work. Cue the QQ on that second one, big time. My employer, for some reason that is beyond me, wasn’t fond of me writing posts outside of lunch hour, no matter how much waiting on other people I was doing.

Anyone who knows anything about blogging about content like this knows that quality content doesn’t often come in an hour. I just can’t bring myself to put out crap for all you fine readers. You deserve better than that. Nothing irks me more than 1-4 posts per day and no one commenting because the article sucks.

I’ll tell you what I do have time for, though:

Guest Posts with Passion

Based on the number of subscribers we’ve got going here in this community, there are more than enough blogs represented. Some of you are new to blogging and would like some link love. Here is your chance! Every guest post that passes muster will get a plug at the bottom about the author and a link back to their blog. We’re all in this together.

The rules are simple:

  • Make it real – show your passion about the topic. I really don’t care what it’s about, as long as it’s WoW-related. BGs, gameplay, Blizzard sucks, WoW news, screenshots. If it’s good, it’s good. 
  • Provide me with a 90×90 avatar for your profile and a short bio to go at the bottom. See the other authors’ bios for good examples of what to do.
  • I reserve the right to edit for grammar, spelling, and offensive content. Other than that, it’s all you. I’m a copyeditor by day, so if you want some polishing, let me know.
  • You must send your request to wow.gitr@gmail.com with the subject line: “Guest Post.” I am setting up a filter to forward those messages to notify me. You wouldn’t believe the stuff spam blockers don’t get on that address.

Blue Screens of Death

blue.jpgI keep getting a ton of those cursed IRQL_LESS_OR_EQUAL BSoDs recently on my new computer. I haven’t installed any new drivers, until this all started happening. It seems to be a Patch 2.3 thing. Even Flashing the BIOS didn’t do anything. I’ve got an nVidia 8600GT, ASUS motherboard with an nVidia NIC. So many variables involved.

I’ve messed with the tips about virtual memory, DEP, and physical memory dumps (I finally hard powered off after the counter hit 90). I found a thread at home about Blizzard addressing the issue with the lame tips above, but then I found this thread on the forums at school tonght:

How I did it for anyone that wants to know. I’m WinXP, go to start, Control Panel, Performance Maintenance (if you’re using category view) (System for Classic View) then Devise Manager, open up Display Adapters, click on your listed Nvidia card, and Rollback the Driver.

Have you had this problem? How did you fix it?

Patch 2.3 Opens New Doors for Level 70 Raiders and Non-Raiders.

Patch 2.3 Badge ChangesMost people know how badges work, and if you didn’t here’s a quick “readers digest” version on what they are and what they’re used for.

Ever since the release of the Burning Crusade, level 70s have been able to run heroic instances in Outlands (if of course they’re revered or higher with the instance’s faction.) In these heroic instances 5 level 70 players are given the opportunity to try their skills for upgraded armor and badges. Every boss in heroic instances drops only level 70 gear (the final boss dropping one epic item and a primal nether) and Badges of Justice, which are used to purchase epic items (and a primal nether for 10 badges) from an NPC in Shattrath’s Terrace of Light named G’eras.

Outlands gear at 70 is *nice*, but pretty much pales to the drops from Karazhan. Also, it’s not easy to get enough badges required to get all of the items you could use from G’eras when all you would get was 3 badges in all heroic instances except for heroic Mechanar (in which case you got 5).

Now though, Blizzard has made it easier to get that epic gear that G’eras has to offer by allowing badges to drop from all bosses in Karazhan and the newly opened Zul’Aman (some bosses drop more than one badge that can be picked up by every player in the raid). But wait! That’s not all! Blizzard also introduced new badge loot that rivals and at times beats out gear from Karazhan and Zul’Aman. Now that raiders can get badges from these two 10-mans it won’t be unheard of for each player to receive 20+ badges per week, without stepping a foot into a heroic instance at all. With this new way to receive loads of badges Blizzard decided to give the new gear a very high price tag compared to the previous epics. The cheapest items (which are Librams, Idols and Totems) are 20 badges and the gear gets more and more expensive capping out at 75 badges for the best items.

Although most raiders benefited from badge system thus far, Blizzard didn’t forget to help the non-raiders out as well. Remember those heroic instances? Well, with Patch 2.3’s release it became possible for players to run heroics with only an honored reputation for that particular faction. All in all it’s a win-win for raiders and non-raiders alike. I know for non-raiders the easiest way to get epics is battlegrounds (Season 1 arena gear can now be purchased with honor points!) and arena teams, but especially for players such as Moonkin druids (who aren’t usually considered for raids) this new badge system benefits them the most (a lot of the new leather gear for example is balance druid gear). Either way, if you raid or if you enjoy the freedom to actually go out weekend nights, Patch 2.3 has something for you.

New Warden in Town

For those of you that missed it – a good while back, Blizzard made the news in a hard way when consumers learned that the gaming company had included a sneaky bit of anti-cheating software into the World of Warcraft client. The software is called “Warden” and has been around for some time busting punks and catching cheaters in Blizzard’s Battlenet service. One of the less known features of patch 2.3 is a newer and much stronger version of the Warden. It is believed that this new version is significantly more powerful in its pursuit of those trying to exploit the games Terms of Service.

At first blush, this seems pretty reasonable. No one likes competing against botters and gold-pharmers for in game resources . Nor do they like the impact that these actions can have on server economies. For that matter it’s safe to say that the average gamer is even less thrilled about keyloggers and trojans, both of which can be used to hijack an account leaving the toons inside naked and penniless. If the Warden is there to protect us from the predations of tools like these – then more power to it right?

Maybe, maybe not. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Warden is technically spyware…spyware that runs on our home computer and dutifully reports our activities back to the Blizzard mothership. Creepy but not necessarily evil? I mean after all, Blizzard is just trying to keep the playing field level for the actual gamerz while providing no safe haven for professional cheaters, hackers, and gold/level pharmers. According to folks at Blizzard – that’s exactly the letter and spirit of their intent.

Despite this, there are an increasing number of folks who are up in arms about the Warden and markedly unhappy that the tool has taken up residence on their hard-drives. They claim that not only is the Warden able to comb through virtually all parts of your computer – but that its findings are often arbitrary and have been the cause of unjust bannings and account closures.

While it’s hard to measure the veracity of these claims, it is clear that the Warden has a great deal of power. Greg Hoglund, a security expert and author has spent a fair amount of time looking at what Warden does while it runs in the background of our game. According to Hoglund’s Blog, the Warden runs about every 15 seconds while we play and does a number of things including:

  • Reads information from the World of Warcraft Application and all of the dynamically linked code libraries that make it up
  • Grabs the “window text” from the titlebar of every open application window…including applications that have nothing to do with WoW
  • Through these open applications Warden was able to sniff through the e-mail addresses of contacts in chat clients, pull the URL’s of open websites and the names of all of his running applications – even the ones in his toolbar

According to Hoglund, the application then compares this information to built in “libraries” of “bannable data.” Simply put – if something you’re running is actively against the terms of service (such as a botting application like WoW-Glide) then that fact is zipped off to Blizzard who can then immediately flag your account for investigation or closure. This is a careful difference. No personal information of yours is technically passed to Blizzard, instead, they simply look at what’s going on in your system and then compare it against a list of things they think are suspect. If Warden finds a match – he calls home and tells mom about it. This allows Warden to be quite invasive in its exploration of our running processes – without technically telling anyone at Blizzard how much money is in our Quicken Checking Account.

“So what?” one might say, “I don’t bot, I don’t buy gold, and no one else has access to my account – so I have nothing to worry about.” In a sense, this is true, it’s easy to not fear a tool like the Warden when you game with the righteous. But what happens if you inadvertently surfed to a gold selling website and didn’t think to close the window before launching WoW? When Warden runs does it know the difference between someone buying gold and someone who’s just browsing? Does Blizzard care? The problem is that no one outside of Blizzard knows what the rules are when it comes to account banning or closure and thus it’s truly impossible to know how a certain action might be looked at.

To the truly paranoid this is on par with allowing police the ability to search your home at any time – with no search warrant – and then being subject to prosecution for offenses that only they know exist. Regardless of how you might feel about gold pharming or botting – there is a certain atavistic fear involved with someone that can invade your privacy at any time and report on your actions. Blizzard claims to only want to protect their game and their business (as well as your in game experience) from the predations of those that would exploit it. This is understandable – reasonable even. But every WoW player signs away a small (or large depending upon how you look at it) bit of their privacy when they accept the Terms of Service for the game, without really understanding what’s living on their hard-drive.

As of 2.3 – there is a new wrinkle. Not only do we have the toughest, meanest, most ruthless version of the Warden resident on our computers, but he now speaks a language that only Blizzard can understand. That’s right – the output from the new Warden is now completely encrypted. In the past, a number of bloggers and gamers supported Blizzard’s use of Warden because the results of the application rumbling around their hard-drive could be monitored by other applications or tracked by a good firewall. This is no longer the case. While the Warden may be as benign as ever to the honest WoW player, the fact remains that what he does on our systems is now completely obfuscated from even the most technical. While most of us will continue to play World of Warcraft – the fact remains that the application now resident in the guts of our game is one that monitors our actions and speaks in tongues. The results of these incomprehensible conversations have great power over our ability to play the game. Yet none of us know the rules it judges our worthiness by – or when it might find us wanting.

This latest action by Blizzard takes some of the luster off of what I believe to be an exemplary patch to the game. Now I don’t personally believe that Blizzard is mining my personal information or communicating my bank balance and shopping preferences to Blizzard. But the fact remains that I don’t appreciate that the functions of the tool are no longer transparent. Only time will tell how effective the new watch-dog program will be. Can it bring an end to the corruption of WoW economies by gold sales? Can it protect players from those that would compromise their accounts and steal the fruit of their in-game labors (or worse – their credit card numbers and account passwords?) Will it be a fair arbiter of justice? Or will we begin to see innocent people get their accounts banned because they surfed the wrong web-page, communicated with the wrong people in IM or received SPAM e-mail from known gold sellers?

While I don’t have a single tin-foil hat in my closet, I can’t help but feel a bit creeped out about all I’ve learned. I know from now on, when I play – I’ll close everything but the game itself. This in itself is a bit of a drag on my in game experience since I’m used to having FireFox open (with about a million tabs) and my mail and chat clients all open. As a mac user it’s easy enough to run WoW in a window and keep up with the rest of my online life at the same time. But like having to maintain some kind of half understood systema or to maintain command information security, I’m now feeling pressured to mitigate how I enjoy the game – because I just don’t know what it might say about me while I play.