So I was playing Diablo II today, and I came across something strange while shopping with my Level 31 Barbarian (click on the image to make it bigger):

That staff, just in case you’re too lazy to take a look, costs 1,122,304.

Now, if you do the math – your stash, at level 31 can only carry 800,000 gold, and at you can carry 10,000 gold per level – which means 800,000 gold in stash, and 310,000 gold on my person.

If you’re not in Maths Applied, I wouldn’t expect you to do the math, so for those of you that can’t be bothered – I can carry a MAXIMUM of 1,110,000 gold. Maximum. No more. Nada.

How on earth was I supposed to buy that staff, then? I have no idea… Besides, I was already poor from fighting Diablo in the Act before – buying mana and health potions will do that to you, as well as resurrecting your companion.

Anyways, here is one other rediculously priced item from the same store – the Static War Staff of Sorcery at 405,604. Enjoy.

The staffs aren’t even that good – so I’m not sure why they’re that expensive in the first place!!

File this one under “WTF”, Jim.

Comments below.

X-Plane 9 is AWESOME!

There’s just something about flying that makes me want to post about it.

Sadly, I can’t because I don’t have the time nor the money – so the next best thing is flight sims. I’ve always said that I should get into flight sims, and as of two days ago, I have.

X-Plane, currently in it’s ninth iteration, can be an FAA-Approved flight simulator for training purposes – that’s how realistic it is.

It contains over 60GB of worldwide scenery, and you can pick and chose which scenery you want installed. I chose to install the base and Australian scenery, which worked out to be some 4.6GB – not too bad.

There are TONS of addons, plugins, and extra planes available on the net for you to download, and you can fly planes like Serenity from some movie, and a whole heap of others.

Now I didn’t have much faith in X-Plane working on my paltry MacBook with it’s integrated graphics, but surprisingly, it does – but only under Mac OSX. Under Bootcamp’ed Windows XP, it just dies a gory Blue-Screen-Of-Death. However, under Mac OSX, it works fine – reasonable frame rates (enough to get 25+fps, which is all humans need for us to depict constant, smooth motion).

In fact, X-Plane 9 is so good that I’m thinking of buying a joystick for it. I’ve been looking at the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro – but I’ve read reviews on the net that scream “Crap build quality” and “A complete lemon” so I might hold off for a while. If you’ve got any joystick recommendations, I’d love it if you could stick them in comments. Seriously, though, it’s nearly impossible to fly an F-22 Raptor with your mouse. It’s just too fast!

And landing – ugh. I tried in a Chinook V-22 Osprey, and even that was hard! I have no idea how people can land Raptors and X-15s, and X-30s, especially when the X-30 can go over 730 (insert arbitary units here, I don’t have any idea what the readout on the dash is!)

…Helicopters are a pain to fly as well, because apparently I don’t know the concept of lift. Same deal for VTOL aircraft, such as the Harrier.

Flight sims for the win. X-Plane 9 wins over Microsoft’s Flight Sim X any day of the week, no matter which way you look.

Load Cash. Play!

There are just two simple and easy steps to getting a CANVAS pre-paid credit card.

Load Cash. Play.

It really is as simple as that. After you’ve load some amount of cash onto your CANVAS pre-paid Visa card, you can do all sorts of funky things – from buying things using the “Credit” option (as opposed to Cheque and Savings), to buying things online.

Why did I get one? Well, one huge gripe I have with PayPal is that for some online transactions can only be done after you’ve added a credit card to your PayPal account. Now, PayPal is a great alternative to the traditional online way of doing things, which involves a real credit card (debit or otherwise).

I thought PayPal was supposed to circumvent the necessity of a credit card, especially when buying things online, but it doesn’t – what’s the point of having a PayPal account if you need a credit card linked to it? Similarly, if you already have a credit card, what is the point of a PayPal account? Its some wierd paradox, to be sure. To add insult to injury, you can’t use PayPal’s “Virtual Mastercard” service outside of the U.S. WHY!

Unlike most Apple products, it Just Doesn’t Work.

Hence, pre-paid Visa card. Link it to my PayPal account, and voila! I can now use PayPal for most transactions. However, if I’m selling something on eBay or similar, I get charged exorbitant fees whenever I use my PayPal account! The alternative is to use my pre-paid Visa card – which only charges me to put money on the card. Again, WHY!

Anyway, my CANVAS pre-paid Visa card has arrived. It’s cool and black in colour, and will now accompany me until August 2011. Plenty of time for me to get a “real” credit card, be it Visa Debit or otherwise 😀

If you’re thinking of signing up (there are fees to do so), please fire me a quick email, and I’ve give you a referral email. In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll get $5 every time someone signs up to CANVAS and loads money onto their CANVAS card, but hey, you’ll be contributing to the “Support Benny Ling” fund…

Update: Well, I just tried to add the CANVAS pre-paid Visa card to my PayPal account – no go. Not happy Jan. Oh well, at least I’ll now be able to purchase things online, without PayPal fees and so on 😀

Speaking of RPG…

…here’s my character from WoW (click to see full-size):

Say what you want, but it’s a female Mage if you hadn’t already noticed – name of Iridissis. Where did that come from? I have no idea.

I’m a huge fan of RPGs, but just haven’t got the time to get into them properly.

Online based games such as Dofus, Runescape, WoW, and the soon-to-be Diablo III – they’re just awesome. Online RPGs give you the chance to interact with other people from all around the globe – but there are some horrible people out there, which just isn’t cool 🙁

Classics like Diablo II I am now getting into a heap – but what really draws me to RPGs is that they’re so flexible – you don’t have to follow a predetermined path, or do anything. Sure, there’s still a storyline, and some things you have to do, but apart from that, you play the game your way. Don’t want to kill Diablo cos he’s too hard? Well, tough. You have to kill Diablo to move on to Act V.

Maybe I should just forfeit my life and get into some real online stuff – like SecondLife. I don’t have to apply for lots of good Uni’s there, nor do I have to get a TER or 90 or above to get into the course I want.

Still, I’d like to think I have a good grip on reality, so I’ll continue to play Diablo – and try NOT to die when I fight Diablo.

Comments below.

I Love WINE!

Well, as some of you may already know, I’m one of those people that game on a Mac. One of the select few, who, despite crappy integrated graphics, try their best to game (CS: Source being the FPS of choice) on what hardware they have.

Now for some strange reason I can get Source to run under Steam (the gaming portal of choice) under Windows, under Apple’s way of Bootcamp – which is pretty much an emulated BIOS, since Mac’s use EFI nowadays.

However, under native Windows it runs great – as a slideshow. I get maybe 5-10fps – totally unplayable.

I even took the step to borrow and upgrade a computer that was just lying around to be able to run Source – something it now does a LITTLE better than it did. Only thing I did was up the graphics card from a Nvidia MX440 to a FX5500 – however, the mobo’s audio is screwed as a direct result of me giving the board a good shock a couple of years back – luckily, the processor, ram, HDD, and all the other parts are still fine. We replaced the case, PSU, and the board now works – albeit loudly as the fan for the PSU is attached to the heatsink by 4 different screws, none of which quite fit properly. Result? Massive vibrations and noise.

Luckily, I’m an advocate (glorified beta-tester) for this great app called CrossOver, by CodeWeavers. It’s basically a cross-platform app that emulates a VERY BASIC Windows environment so that your Windows apps like Office, Internet Explorer *shudder*, and other productivity-based apps. I use their derivative product called CrossOver Games, their Windows emulator designed purely for games (and Mac/Linux gamers!) in mind. From their website:

Based on the latest Wine Games development work, CrossOver Games allows Mac and Linux users to run their favorite Windows games in the environment of their choice. No rebooting, no switching to a virtual machine, and no Windows Operating System license required; CrossOver gives you the best performance possible if you’re not running on Windows.

For those of you that don’t know, it’s based on the WINE package – one of those recursive acronyms for “Wine Is Not an Emulator”. Basically it uses X11 under OSX for GUI stuff, and then wineloader is the process that makes the magic happen in the background.

Again, those of you that are in the know would have heard that WINE 1.0 was released not too long ago – CrossOver games was updated as a result of this. Now before the update to WINE 1.0, I had a couple of strange issues – things that I put down to WINE incompatibilities.

However, one particular issue frustrated the heck out of me – in Source under CX Games, I couldn’t play on Internode servers.because of their “server start screen”, that screen when you join a server, and says things like “Don’t Cheat!”, and “The player of the week is NOT YOU!” Now for some strange reason, I couldn’t click on the “OK” button underneath that screen on any Internode server. Bizzarely, GameArena (BigPond’s gaming portal) servers didn’t load the “Don’t Cheat!” screen either, but I could just hit OK and then all would be, okay.

With the WINE 1.0 update, and the corresponding CX Games update to 7.1, I am pleased to report that Internode servers on Source, under CX Games on OSX, now work.

Here blogs a happy, integrated-graphics card, Mac OSX gamer, all thanks to CodeWeavers and Crossover Games. And, of course, the WINE dev crew. Kudos to you, guys!

Comments below.

Etax is Ecrap.

Seriously, WTF.

If Microsoft, Apple, or any other software company can make decent pieces of software, why can’t the Australian Government?!

Etax is _the_ most horrible piece of software I have ever had the pleasure of using – no wonder I decided to lodge my tax return over the phone last year!

If you’re like me and have a job, you’ll be wondering how to lodge your tax return. A word of advice – don’t use Etax. The ATO said they were going to support Macs – they don’t. Even so, it’s still a totally crap piece of software, even under it’s native platform! Just generally buggy, and far too complicated.

If it were to be improved, it would have to have a massive UI facelift – currently it looks like we’re still in the old Win95 days – and we’re not, really. Vista is crap, but that’s another topic for another day 😛
Besides a major UI redesign, it would also need to be improved code wise. How about you make it cross platform, by BUILDING it in a cross platform language. I’m hesitant to say Java at this point in time because I know how good (and BAD! very, very BAD) Java programs can turn out – but programming languages such as Realbasic, a BASIC variant, are truly cross platform. Of course, this was the very first time I have ever heard of Realbasic, but hey – if it’s cross platform, it’s cross platform. Obviously.

Another thing they should add to Etax 2009 is the ability to have two modes: “Simple” and “Advanced”. Just like the Short Tax Return for those of us with less complicated monetary status’, it’d be just as easy as the online form. Advanced, however, would just be the current iteration of Etax – all the bells and whistles, all the questions, all the forms. I shudder to think of people that actually have to think about, and fill in, al that stuff. Don’t even talk to me about me filling it out in ten or so years time – I’m not looking forward to it at all! But hey, that’s what accountants are for 😛

Apologies for the totally non-inventive heading for this post – if you can think of something else (that is more creative), leave it in comments.

Dear Cupertino…

I’ve just been invited to contribute to an Apple-related blog, Dear Cupertino.

It’s a massively awesome idea – articles addressed to 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino CA (that’s the Apple headquarters, if you didn’t know) that outline how Apple products should be changed/revamped to make them “supercool”.

If you want, you can email me ideas for changes to Apple products, and they’ll eventually make it up there (but no guarantees).

I’ll also include your name and provide a link back to your website/blog if you so desire.

For all those who have clicked through to here from my Blogger profile on Dear Cupertino, welcome!

Diablo 2 is AWESOME!!

Really, it is.

I hadn’t got into this game back when it was actually popular, but after purchasing the Battle Chest from, it’s fantastic. Really is the best old-school RPG ever made.

The thing about Blizzard (the publishers of Diablo 2 and it’s expansion, Lord of Destruction), is that they manage to include both Mac and PC versions of their games on the same disc. This includes their whole product catalog, including greats such as Starcraft (I own the Battle Chest), Warcaft 3 (I also own the Battle Chest), and Diablo 2 (Indeed, I own the Battle Chest). Even some of the more recent games like World of Warcraft – sadly, I don’t own the Battle Chest, but it’s far too time-consuming an RPG for my liking. No single-player offline mode either.

No other software company, as far as I know, manages to include both Mac and PC versions of their apps on the same disc. Shame on you. If Blizzard can do it, why can’t you?!

Anyway. The weekend was fully hectic y’all, two 18ths in the one weekend is just enough for one person. Congrats to Ash P, Paul C, and Felicity J. ON the down side, my clothes now smell very smoky – but on the plus, I got to play Wii Sports and Super Smash Bros. Brawl!

However, I did manage to open a bottle with my fairly-old, bottle-opener-equipped, Billabong belt… I have to say, I did feel tough. I’ve owned that belt for a good 4 or so years, and this was the first time ever that I had used the bottle-opener feature. On a belt. It begs the question: what was I thinking when I bought it?!

There’s a weekend wrap-up from Chris on freshbytes if you’re interested – if not, take a look at some of the fireworks at Paul’s (thanks to Emily L for the camera footage, apologies for the utter crap quality):


Either I fail at Java, or Java just simply fails.

To me, it’s as simple as that – no ifs, ands, or buts.

Today in Computer Science I was trying to create either a Fibonacci sequence generator/recursion experiment (Input nth term of Fibonacci sequence, program then spits it back out the correct number in the Fibonacci sequence) or a stopwatch/number incrementer (press start to start incrementing, press stop to stop incrementing, press restart to reset counter) – none of which worked!

Sure, I didn’t have all the necessary skills (how DO you differentiate between different buttons?), but for something to be considered good (therefore, not fail), I run it past this rule: if it’s sufficiently complicated enough for me to have to refer back to the textbook or included manual, then the developer/creator has made it too complicated. To be honest, those projects weren’t outside the scope of my knowledge, but they were challenging enough to make me think.

If I ever get those projects working, I’ll post back here.

Either that, or Cocoa/Objective-C for the win.

Telstra, I salute you!

Oh, finally!

Telstra, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that their data packs are far too expensive and are now bringing up the included data in them.

It took them long enough!

Now the comparison between the $29 ‘yes’ plan (250MB data, 23 minutes calls) and Telstra’s $29 plan (2.5MB data, 22 minutes calls) is far closer that it was – which is how it should have been in the first place.

The difference between the two to bring them on par in terms of data is now $16.50 – a reasonable price to pay, because Telstra has far better 3G coverage in Tassie that Optus, which only reaches Taroona according to some reports.

So Telstra, I salute you. Data AND coverage ftw.

Original link courtesy MacTalk, and the Telstra press release can be found here.

I’ll wade through the usual stuff and just leave you with the important bit:

Telstra Data Packs

Telstra Data Packs

In other news, the UMAT (that’s the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test, folks) was this Wednesday. Section 1 was hard, 2 easy, and 3 mildly challenging… Hopefully, I’ll do well, but as we all know, how ‘easy’ (relatively speaking) the test was isn’t necessarily a reflection of how ‘good’ you went 😀

If you’re wondering why this post is here and not on freshbytes – it’s ‘cos I’m trying to cut down on the personal posts on freshbytes, instead focusing on things that affect school life and so on… If you have any comments, feel free to contact me.

This post was composed and published from OSX blogging software, Ecto. I like using it because I don’t have to be online to compose posts, but it also allows me to focus on what I’m writing instead of getting distracted – which means more high-quality posts for you! There are a few things I don’t like about it, though, one of which is how it handles images – IMO, the WordPress editor is far better and handling those sorts of things. Anyway, most posts here will continue to be published in this way, and I’ll be doing some of freshbyte’s posts in this manner as well. I should publicly thank Martin P for purchasing Ecto for me – credit cards are great things – and so here it is: thanks!

More things will be here soon, I promise!