viernes, 12 de diciembre de 2008

Why are they building spyware?

The average computer is packed with hidden software that can secretly spy on online habits. The US net provider EarthLink said it uncovered an average of 28 spyware programs on each PC scanned during the first three months of the year.

There are currently over 38,000 spyware and adware programs that are infecting innocent Internet users such as yourself through downloadable games, music, screensavers, pictures, pop-ups, emails, and the list goes on and on. Spyware and Adware can cause your PC to run extremely slow and even crash, and allow hackers and advertising companies to invade your privacy whenever they wish.

What Is Spyware?

Spyware is a broad term for programs that collects information from your computer without your knowledge or consent. Spyware is a software program that transmits a unique code to identify you (for tracking purposes) without your knowledge or consent. The programs collects or transmits information about your computer use, or other habits without your knowledge or consent.

This internet pest which is better known as spyware installs itself on your computer without your knowledge or consent. It performs other unwholesome duties, and continue to reinstalling itself no matter how many times you remove it.


It has become so pervasive that lawmakers in the US are looking into ways to prevent or regulate it. The Spy Audit by EarthLink reflects the results of scans involving over one million computers between January and March. It uncovered more than 29.5 million examples of spyware.

Why should I be concerned about spyware or adware?

Passwords, credit card details and other personal information could end up in the wrong hands. Your computer could get unwanted viruses, worms or even Trojan. You would receive unwanted emails. Your computer could be used by malicious operators to do damage not only your own computer, but to other computer users too.

How did I get spyware on my computer and how do I eliminate it?

It usually happens when you visit a web site, and are prompted to download something that is said to be "necessary" to view or use features of that web site. Also, you might want or download a program that has some nice features, but also installs program code that can send information out without your knowledge.

"By tracking and publicizing the growth of spyware, we can better educate consumers of its risks and encourage them to take steps to protect themselves and their families while online," said Christine Stevenson of Webroot, which conducted the scans.

People concerned about what might be lurking on their machine can download software such as the popular ZoneAlarm Pro, Pest Patrol, and Spybot to disinfect their computer.

Wife comments about BlackBerry Bold 9000 Smartphone

This phone is awesome. Like a lot of people I had been stalking and reading up on this phone for quiet sometime. When it was finally released I had to have it. This is my first blackberry and I am officially a fan. Initially, the iphone was what I wanted, but when I tried to use the touchscreen with my acrylic nails (which by the way you can't) I decided to wait until something better came along. Enter the Blackberry bold. It's fabulous. Other online reviews have stated that this is the first Blackberry with more features geared toward everyday consumers rather than business users (which is exactly what I am).

I wanted something that allowed me to keep in touch, get organized and be entertained on the go. The only thing the iphone wins hands down on is browsing online. If a site doesn't have a mobile application expect to give up in frustration. The side to side scrolling is annoying to say the least, I wish the text would wrap somehow. Even in column view it isn't an enjoyable process. The good thing for mac users, the online support forums are awesome. There are a lot of Blackberry fans doing amazing things and there are applications galore. I spent about a day adding things like Cram, and upgraded documents on the go - which allows pdf files to be read (something that should be included, but I won't complain much). I have been having trouble with pocket mac (minus a star for having to pay for pocket mac support - there was a lot of online discussion about problems and the need for an update and I had the hardest time trying to find the update - actually I never found it, I finally gave up walked away for a few hours, came back and everything was fine). The screen is nice, I am totally able to become engrossed in a movie. Mac fans and techies expect to spend a few hundred more dollars doing cool upgrades to your phone. It supports a 16 GB micro SD card, that will set you back about 100 (or wait until Christmas, bound to be a sale somewhere). Highly recommend Roxio 9 to get the media to your blackberry. You can move Tivo shows to your blackberry, remote access, streaming.

You can't do a bluetooth transfer for data and that is a minus, even the Razr could do that. People kept saying the Blackberry is really intuitive, and it is, but if you are coming from a different phone, expect a learning curve similar to going from PC to Mac. Sit down, do the tutorial, read the book, google for tips and pointers. Things are in places, I never would have looked. (Of course that could be a bigger reflection of me than the phone). All in all, this is the only phone I was willing to go back under AT&T contract for. I am very glad I waited. Another minus for battery life, I need to charge my phone everyday, so spend some money and pick-up a spare battery.

How to get your computer to work faster

I'm sure you've come across tons of articles and even suggestions from some of your friends on how to get your computer to work faster. Its really not that hard to increase your internet speed. I'm going to make it real simple for you and you don't need to be a computer geek to make this work. The first thing you need to remember is to never, and I mean absolutely never download programs especially free software without reading the fine print. Most free computer software will bombard your computer with spyware which will eventually bring your internet speed to a screeching halt! If your computer is already infected with spyware you can download the leading spyware remover called ad-aware which will scan your computer and remove spyware and tracking cookies from your computer.

Another way of making your computer and internet connection faster is by clicking on start, then run and typing in msconfig. Go to start tab and remove any program except your antivirus software and any other program which you must have start when windows starts. This tip will increase your computer start up time dramatically!

Step number 3, and I do this almost on a daily basis is to clean up your internet cache. Go to your control panel which you can access from your start button and click on internet options. Go to temporary internet files and clear your history. I would recommend that you also set internet history to a maximum of 2 days. Next step is to delete your temporary internet files including offline content. Last step is to delete cookies. Be careful though because deleting your cookies will also delete useful information from your computer.

These steps are the basics you can take which will speed up your internet connection immediately. I would also recommend doing a virus check on your computer on a weekly basis. If you don't have antivirus software, get it! You'll be happy you did. Just one virus can wreak havoc on your computer! Make sure you test your internet speed whether its broadband or dial-up, before and after you take these simple steps so you can compare if these steps you've taken have worked. Taking these basic steps will make you a happy surfer and will restore your faith in the World wide web!

Common Network Security Breeches

As more people are logging onto the Internet everyday, Network Security becomes a larger issue. In the United States, identity theft and computer fraud are among the fastest rising crimes. It is important to protect your network and ensure the safety of all computers and users in that network.

What is a Network?

In order to fully understand network security, one must first understand what exactly a network is. A network is a group of computers that are connected. Computers can be connected in a variety of ways. Some of these ways include a USB port, phone line connection, Ethernet connection, or a wireless connection. The Internet is basically a network of networks. An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is also a network. When a computer connects to the internet, it joins the ISP’s network which is joined with a variety of other networks, which are joined with even more networks, and so on. These networks all encompass the Internet. The vast amount of computers on the Internet, and the number of ISPs and large networks makes network security a must.

Common Network Security Breeches

Hackers often try to hack into vulnerable networks. Hackers use a variety of different attacks to cripple a network. Whether you have a home network or a LAN, it is important to know how hackers will attack a network.

One common way for a hacker to wreak havoc is to achieve access to things that ordinary users shouldn’t have access to. In any network, administrators have the ability to make certain parts of the network “unauthorized access.” If a hacker is able to gain access to a protected area of the network, he or she can possibly affect all of the computers on the network. Some hackers attempt to break into certain networks and release viruses that affect all of the computers in the network. Some hackers can also view information that they are not supposed to see.

Destructive Attacks

There are two major categories for destructive attacks to a network. Data Diddling is the first attack. It usually is not immediately apparent that something is wrong with your computer when it has been subjected to a data diddler. Data diddlers will generally change numbers or files slightly, and the damage becomes apparent much later. Once a problem is discovered, it can be very difficult to trust any of your previous data because the culprit could have potentially fooled with many different documents.

The second type of data destruction is outright deletion. Some hackers will simply hack into a computer and delete essential files. This inevitably causes major problems for any business and can even lead to a computer being deemed useless. Hackers can rip operating systems apart and cause terrible problems to a network or a computer.

The Importance of Network Security

Knowing how destructive hackers can be shows you the importance of Network Security. Most networks have firewalls enabled that block hackers and viruses. Having anti-virus software on all computers in a network is a must. In a network, all of the computers are connected, so that if one computer gets a virus, all of the other computers can be adversely affected by this same virus. Any network administrator should have all of the essential files on back up disks. If a file is deleted by a hacker, but you have it on back up, then there is no issue. When files are lost forever, major problems ensue. Network security is an important thing for a business, or a home. Hackers try to make people’s lives difficult, but if you are ready for them, your network will be safe.

domingo, 7 de diciembre de 2008

Affiliate big guys

Have you ever wondered how "the big guys" earn so much money on the internet? Sure, some of them have huge advertising budgets, which puts small business owners at a disadvantage.

But some of the biggest names today started out just like you and me. They had low advertising budgets and fumbled their way around the internet trying to get visitors to their websites and sell their products.

Even though they had terrific products, they couldn't sell them if no one knew about them. They put on their thinking caps to find the easiest and least expensive way to get visitors and make sales.

They finally came up with a plan that would benefit not only them, but others as well. If they could get other people to promote their products and websites, they could earn more money.

And so, Affiliate Programs were born! What a concept! A better way to get visitors to a website and sell more products!

They offer their visitors the opportunity to "partner" with them, often for free, to help sell their products. And many of them offer two-tier affiliate programs.

So if I sign up as an affiliate I can get others to sign up under me as my sub-affiliates. I earn a commission for sales I make directly to my customers. But I also earn a smaller commission for sales that my sub-affiliates make.

It's a winning situation for everyone! The "big guy" made money because he sold his product. However, he might not have made that sale if it wasn't for my advertisement. And I made money because I advertised his products.

The concept of affiliate programs is really not so new. It's similar to selling cosmetics or other products for many well-known companies.

For instance, I have no idea how to invent a new cologne, but I know how to sell it. Therefore, I could sign up as a representative for a cosmetics company. They, in turn, would pay me a commission for selling their products.

Why would they do that? Because they can't possibly reach all the potential customers by themselves.

By becoming an affiliate for someone who knows much more about computers and digital products than I do, I have the advantage of selling quality products that I can't create myself.

And they have the advantage of their affiliates doing some of the "leg work" for them because they can't possibly reach all the potential customers in this vast internet world.

The next time you visit a website offering products you like, check to see if they offer an affiliate program. Even if you don't wish to place an order for a product at that time, you can sign up as an affiliate.

In the future when you do order you may be able to use your own affiliate URL and give yourself the commission. Most companies allow this procedure.

In the meantime you can let your customers know that you have new products available, as well as affiliate programs for them to join. It's a great way to get backend sales.

So there you have it! The reasons for affiliate programs and why it makes sense for people to sign up. By offering well-known products on your website or in your ezine you are in a win-win situation and can potentially earn big money like the "internet gurus."

PPC arbitrage. Risky business?

Choose Your Product Wisely. The program should pay a commission of $15 or more, otherwise it won’t be worth paying for your clicks. And if the commission is very high, be careful. Some products like web hosting and satellite dish installations may pay commissions of $100, but you face intense competition from other affiliates, so the price you need to pay to get ad exposure and clicks will probably also be very high. Sometimes it is better to identify a niche product with less competition from other affiliates.

Track Your Campaigns Carefully. If you’re paying around 7 or 8 cents per click for a program that pays close to $20 commission, you need to make at least one sale for every 250 visitors. If you send 300 to 400 visitors with no sale, consider dropping it.

Days Of The Week Do Matter. When testing campaigns keep in mind the day of the week and even the time of day. Some products sell better on Mondays through Fridays, during business hours. Others, like entertainment products, sell better in the evenings and on weekends.

What top affiliates marketers do now?

No doubt you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule – which states that
20 percent of affiliates generate 80% of affiliate income, and
conversely, remaining 80 percent of affiliates generate only
20 percent of all income for most affiliate programs.

There are ten basics that will put your affiliate marketing
in the top 20 percent of affiliate earnings. Ten suggestions
that will transform your affiliate income from a trickling
creek that barely covers your hosting fees, to a roaring river
of extra disposable income.


1.Top affiliate marketers cloak web site links

Cloaking affiliate links should not be necessary, but is. Oddly
many site visitors refuse to visit your links if they see an
affiliate code appended to the URL when they hover their mouse
over a link on your web page. Sometimes they will type the
affiliate domain directly to the browser address bar while
removing your affiliate ID from the URL. To short circuit this
odd behavior, simply cloak the URL.

2.Top affiliate marketers write & distribute articles

Writing articles about your market niche is essential to gain
reputation as an expert in your field. But the biggest benefit
comes not just from writing those articles, but from having
those articles published by other web site owners and ezine
publishers. Your article gains you both reputation and links
from other web sites from the resource box appended to the
end of each article.

3.Top affiliate marketers focus on a market niche

Filling a web site with content reflecting a narrowly focused
product or service niche is a well known method of gaining web
traffic in your area of specialty. An excellent resource that
can help you determine relevant and focused areas to fill your
site with is called NicheBot. They offer innovative tools to
research and pinpoint market niches for your web site based on
the WordTracker Database and Google.

4.Top affiliate marketers use autoresponder series

Autoresponders are incredibly valuable tools that allow you to
send a timed series of email messages to those that sign up for
them. Most often those autoresponders are sent through a third
party provider. Some of the top providers are and

5.Top affiliate marketers create web pages to pre-sell

Creating either testimonial pages or review pages that discuss
and pre-sell the product or service you are affiliated with is
the best method of getting increased orders for your chosen
affiliate programs. Many programs actually provide either an
article or recommended text to sell their products for you and
allow reproduction of those articles with your links embedded.

6.Top affiliate marketers gather email addresses

The best affiliates collect email addresses on their web site
by offering free reports via the above mentioned autoresponders
or by giving away ebooks or through newsletter signup forms.
The best use all of these methods or more to build their list
of email addresses. This also allows you to contact potential
customers that would otherwise never see your site again after
clicking away to the affiliate program web site.

7.Top affiliate marketers advertise SOMEWHERE

Depending on your market niche you should advertise using PPC
and/or ezine advertising. Some categories of Pay-per-click can
be prohibitively expensive, but advertising somewhere is all
but mandatory to gain substantial additional traffic to your
site. There are some great bargains in ezine advertising and
some less popular PPC engines other than Yahoo’s Overture and
Google’s Adwords. Try 7search, Kanoodle and FindWhat for lower
Bids than the big boys of PPC.

8.Top affiliate marketers optimize for search engines

Search engine optimization is becoming more complex as more
and more webmasters participate, but the basics applied to
your site can increase visibility dramatically over time. The
most critical of the many SEO techniques is to use title tags
that reflect individual PAGE content. Many webmasters write a
master title tag and apply that site-wide. This is the worst
thing you could do for search engine ranking.

9.Top affiliate marketers give away ebooks or freebies

Everyone knows by now that giving something away is a great
traffic generator and allows you to gather email addresses
to allow contact of potential customers at a later date. This
strategy is employed by EVERY successful web-based company at
one time or another. Think of all the free things YOU have
collected online over time. Screensavers, software, ebooks,
discount codes, toolbars, white papers. They work!

10. Top Affiliate marketers have their own mailing lists

The best of affiliate marketers have their own newsletter or
ezine and gather email addresses on their site to build their
list of subscribers. Having this list allows regular contact
with potential customers interested in your site, your product
and your market niche. If you don’t write your own material or
think you can’t produce weekly content, there are hundreds of
authors out there that will gladly product articles for you.
The article distribution lists provide free content and ghost
Writers provide high quality content for a fee.

If you implement ALL the above techniques, you are guaranteed
to become one of the top affiliate marketers on the web. Then
you can create your own product telling everyone how YOU did
it, create your own affiliate program and have hundreds of us
selling for you.

Starting your own affiliate program, the easy way

Affiliate programs (also called Referral Programs or Partnership Programs) are essentially commission-based sales schemes.

Joining an affiliate program is a neat way to make money from your users. But just as you can join someone else's affiliate program, so you can set up your own program and invite webmasters to sign up. Here are my top 3 tips to succeed with your own affiliate program.

1. How to attract affiliates

One of the biggest fears new Affiliate managers have is in finding new affiliates. This fear is a stumbling block that stops many site owners from getting started with affiliate marketing. Interestingly, with a proper marketing strategy, getting affiliates may not be very difficult. Given below are some tips that may help in attracting new affiliates.

Find complimentary sites - "Complementary" sites are sites that sell products or services that compliment your offers. If you sell "gardening tools", a site that sells books on "gardening tips" would be a perfect affiliate.

Find content sites - There are many sites that do not sell any kind of product or service but are mainly content oriented sites. Such sites promote an idea, concept, study or belief. Content sites that are used as a resource for your target market are ideal affiliates.

Finally, there are several sites on the Internet dedicated to listing affiliate Programs. Get your program listed in these directories.

2. Classifying Affiliates for Better Management

The hardest part of administrating an Affiliate Program is deciding what your affiliates need to help make the sale. But, by carefully categorizing your affiliates, you can easily determine what their needs are and how to accurately meet them.

The first step is to pick at least three types of affiliate. Take a look at your affiliates and try to determine one outstanding characteristic that can easily be compared across the board and choose at least three types of the characteristic.

The Second Step is to determine the needs of each type. Each of your affiliate types will have different needs; some of their needs will overlap, but you should find a distinct difference in many of their needs. If you find that all of them have the same needs, go back to step one and re-think your types.

The Third Step involves the process of creating and compiling linking methods for each group of affiliates. Based on the needs you identified in Step two, create and compile linking methods for each type.

3. Safe Guarding Against Spam

Any time you run a program where your affiliates rely on other signups to generate profits, you will eventually have a problem with spam. One of your affiliates will inevitably get it into their head to blitz the Web with unwanted garbage.

When this happens you need to be ready to take action otherwise it will cost you! Your Internet company can boot you off your server and you can find yourself blacklisted. Not good for business. If you get an email from someone claiming they received spam with your URL, then take it as an early warning.

I am not advising you to immediately terminate the affiliate's account, but be sure to contact them to follow up on the complaint. Let your affiliate know you received a complaint and advise them to remove this person from their list.

If you only get one or two complaints, it's probably not spam, the complainants might simply have signed up for an email list and forgotten all about it. You will know when one of your affiliates is spamming, because you will get anywhere from 10 to 100 complaints in the same day all regarding the same URL.

The best thing to do in this case is to immediately terminate or disable the account of the affiliate URL that was spammed.

Running your own affiliate program can become an extrememly profitable venture for your business. You can recruit a HUGE sales force promoting your products for you, and ONLY pay them when you make a sale!

miércoles, 26 de noviembre de 2008

Place an internet phone call easily

he coffee the coffee can even be ordered from the WAP mobile phone or a standard Web browser. The most notable thing in the whole project is the integrated 8-inch touch-sensitive screen.

Place an internet phone call easily, no software to download. Pc to phone call ... BIG Discounts Low set up fees and minimum deposits Set your own sell rates.

Play on your mobile phone! Become a leader and save the world. Play Now ... You're missing... Movie screenings; Exciting sweepstakes; Great deals & discounts.

40% discounts on a new Macintosh software title every weekday. ... And 'stuff' can be anything, from your new mobile phone number to the Presidents.

Remember we are still offering big discounts for groups and multiple rentals. ... features, introduces world's first 120 fps video recording feature in a mobile camera phone

jueves, 20 de noviembre de 2008

World of Warcraft, players reviews

Well before i start i would like to say this is my first review so give me tips for my next one(: Ok this is a great game and it does grow on you. when you start off its not that great but you have to keep playing. im glad i did. i have been playing for about 5 months. the story line is very good and keeps you locked in. there are multiple professions to chose from so pick the one your most interested in. when you get a friend involved in this game when you start it makes it more fun. there are 2 expansions out to keep the story going, and when you reach lvl 70 (80 now) there are more things to do. the game starts out easy but progressively gets harder. the feature voice chat allows you to talk to your friends through wow with a mic set. i havent played to many online games but i can tell you im very impressed with this one. i recommend it completely. just dont get addicted. (:

World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King Review

This is the review from GameSpot about World of Warcraft, Wrath of the Lich King.

You can download a free version of WoW.

Though massively multiplayer online role-playing games have been around for years, it has taken this long for the genre's breakthrough hit to finally emerge. Here is the online role-playing game you should play, no matter who you are. This is because World of Warcraft brings out all the best aspects of this style of gaming, if not many of the best aspects of gaming in general. It also features many of the specific characteristics that have made Blizzard Entertainment's previous games so entertaining, memorable, long-lasting, and successful. Of course, the company's past track record did not guarantee that World of Warcraft could have turned out this well. Such high quality simply cannot be expected, nor should it be missed.

In World of Warcraft, you create your alter ego by choosing from a variety of colorful races and powerful classes, and then you begin exploring, questing, and battling in Azeroth, the fantasy setting featured in Blizzard's Warcraft real-time strategy games. Fans of those games (especially Warcraft III and its expansion pack) will spot tons of references here, and they will be impressed at how faithfully World of Warcraft translates so many of Warcraft's little details and even some of the finer points of its gameplay into such a seemingly different style of game. Meanwhile, fans of other online role-playing games will be impressed at the sheer breadth and volume of content on display in World of Warcraft, whose setting seamlessly connects a bunch of wildly different-looking types of places and somehow makes them appear as if they all belong as parts of a whole.

World of Warcraft is superficially similar to numerous other games that came before it, and it clearly draws inspiration from some of them. The fundamentals are all here, such as fighting dangerous creatures (optionally including other players), exploring the countryside either alone or in the company of other players, undertaking various quests, gaining experience levels and new abilities, and acquiring powerful items. However, directly comparing World of Warcraft with any of its predecessors would be almost like pitting a professional sports club against a school team. With all due respect to the other online role-playing games out there, World of Warcraft is in a league of its own. The game clearly benefits from not being the first of its kind, as the design issues that plagued previous online role-playing games are handled extremely well in World of Warcraft. In addition, the game's own subtle innovations turn out to have a dramatic impact on the flow of the action from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, and beyond. So the particulars of the game's design--along with its incredibly vast, beautiful, majestic world--translate into a one-of-a-kind experience that seems fresh and original in its own right.

Fortunately, the game is very approachable. World of Warcraft is a complex game whose complexity is carefully disguised by a simple, highly legible, uncluttered interface and an impressive 3D graphics engine, which delivers high performance on a wide range of systems while not skimping on pure flash. The game's interface is so slick and easy to learn and understand, and the gameplay itself is so quickly intuitive, that there isn't even a tutorial to wade through; there are just some helpful, optional pop-up tool tips, as well as an excellent printed reference manual that goes into specific detail about most of the various aspects of play. It's also important to point out that World of Warcraft runs fast and smooth. You can go from your desktop to being in-game in just seconds, and it's virtually just one great, big, seamless world. Loading times are as rare as they are brief. They only crop up when traveling across the game's enormous continents or entering some specific higher-level zones that are instanced for each player group, which guarantees you a fresh challenge.

So World of Warcraft is painless to get into--with the possible exception of you needing a credit card or prepaid game card to create an account, as well as initially deciding on which sort of character to play, since so many of the options seem like they could be interesting. And it turns out they are. So why not try them all? The game lets you create multiple characters on the dozens of different available "realms," each of which is a unique instance of the gameworld that is capable of hosting thousands of simultaneous players. Some of the realms cater to role-playing fans that prefer to play in character the whole time, while other realms are custom-tailored for player-versus-player action. Regardless, World of Warcraft's realms are nicely (if not densely) populated already, and the unfortunate issues with login and lag that plagued the game when it first launched were mostly taken care of in a matter of days. The game just has a solid feel to it that's uncharacteristic of the genre, and for an online RPG, World of Warcraft is surprisingly responsive. Actually, no qualifications are necessary: World of Warcraft boasts the tight control and polished presentation that's desirable in any kind of game.

After countless hours spent playing, the great first impression doesn't wear off. This style of gaming is notorious for being a time sink and for effectively forcing players to engage in repetitive, monotonous gameplay for hours on end in order to make progress. But in contrast, World of Warcraft will keep throwing variety at you, and the combat system at the heart of it features fast, visceral, action-packed battles that are fun and intense, whether you're fighting alone or in a group. Furthermore, World of Warcraft finally achieves that long-sought-after goal of many massively multiplayer games, which is to make the player feel rewarded regardless of how much time he or she invests in a single sitting.

This is due to several key reasons. For one, World of Warcraft has a nice, brisk pace to it, and the fast-loading, seamless world obviously has a lot to do with this. But, in addition, recovery times between battles are minimal, as even those characters without healing spells can still easily recover from their wounds by using bandages, eating a quick meal, or just from natural healing. The battles themselves are quick, too, and they scale nicely so that higher-level encounters don't just seem to drag on. Yet the pacing of the combat seems to strike a perfect balance, because it's not so hectic that those unaccustomed to fast-paced action games will feel overwhelmed. You can also look forward to facing some fairly intelligent foes that will do such things as flee when injured, tag-team with their comrades, and use some dastardly special abilities against you.

Much of World of Warcraft is structured around questing, so there's always something to do or somewhere to go, even if you don't have a lot of time. Whenever you enter a major new location for the first time, you'll feel almost overwhelmed by the number of quests available, which you'll be able to clearly spot since quest-giving characters helpfully stand there with a big, noticeable exclamation mark over their heads. Luckily, the game's more-than-a-thousand quests are made quite manageable by only being offered to you when you're qualified to complete them, and you can have no more than 20 quests pending at a time. So you'll eventually be forced to pick and choose, but this is for the best. The quests will always be there waiting for you until you accomplish them.

Though you may venture out into the wilderness and spend hours hunting monsters for the sake of it if you so choose, you'll always be able to undertake quests that help give a bit more meaning and context to your actions, flesh out the game's interesting fiction, and, perhaps most importantly, frequently yield useful items and a good chunk of money and experience for your trouble. Some quests are highly involved, multipart affairs that naturally entice you to broaden your horizons and venture forth into previously unexplored territory. Other quests challenge you to venture deep into enemy territory. It's here where grouping with other players seems most natural, because it gives you an edge in battle and because some quests can seem a bit too popular for their own good. This is maybe one of the only apparent design issues in the game: Sometimes you'll effectively have to wait your turn for a certain enemy or quest object to respawn, while at other times, foes will keep spawning in so quickly that you'll barely have a moment to catch your breath. Both types of cases can seem a bit silly, but since the underlying action and exploration is so good, "a bit silly" is about as bad as it gets. Other rough edges, such as monster "corpses," which occasionally can be seen standing upright and looking very much alive, could probably be counted on one hand. For what it's worth, we also encountered a few specific, minor issues with a few quests, though none of this really affected our progress or enjoyment of the game, and as with any online RPG, it's all subject to improvement.

Though the world of the game is very large, you can still effectively travel on foot, taking in the often breathtaking sights of Azeroth in between key points (you even earn some experience just for setting foot in new territory for the first time). As you explore, you'll also discover a variety of means of rapid transit. For instance, you'll be able to quickly and conveniently cover large distances by flying on the backs of gryphons, wyverns, and more, which can ferry you from point to point for a small fee. But before you can begin zooming about through the skies, you'll need to reach each destination by foot, which means there's definitely going to be a lot of legwork. Luckily, the sights and sounds of Azeroth, the network of roads and road signs in the relatively civilized areas, and the presence of a very helpful onscreen minimap as well as a full map, collaborate to make the simple act of running from point to point surprisingly pleasurable. It also helps that you can simply run away from most aggressive foes, as they'll lose interest in you and go back to their business if you keep moving.

Of course, player death is inevitable in a game such as this, but it's here where one of World of Warcraft's most unlikely innovations rears its head: Death in this game really is nothing to get bent out of shape about, so when you get killed, don't worry. Previous games of this type have made it a point of penalizing the player upon death (death should be very bad, right?), such as by inflicting an increasingly steep experience point penalty, directly resulting in a sense of failure and wasted time. More-recent online RPGs have doled out more-lenient penalties in the interest of appealing to more players, but World of Warcraft all but eliminates the sense of penalty altogether--which turns out to be a great thing. Here, death mostly just puts you out of the action for a bit, which is undesirable enough as it is. You automatically respawn as a ghost (or a wisp in the case of the night elf race) at the nearest graveyard, and you can usually double back pretty quickly to where you fell; alternatively, a healer-type character can resurrect you, or you can choose to come back to life at the graveyard (although you'll be weakened for a while if you do this). When you die, your items' durability will also degrade slightly, though this isn't permanent in the long run or harmful in the short run. You'll simply need to pay to get them repaired by certain types of non-player characters before their durability ratings drop to zero and they're rendered useless. In all, the game's death penalty feels just right, in that it's consequential without being frustrating.

Another of the game's subtle but important design innovations is there to benefit those who can't necessarily commit to making World of Warcraft a huge part of everyday life (as much as it can threaten to do so). The way it works is that whenever you're not playing the game, your character is considered to be in a rest state. When you return to a well-rested character, you'll temporarily accrue double the experience points you'd normally earn by defeating monsters, and the more time you spend between play sessions, the longer you'll enjoy the experience bonus when you resume play. The result isn't a system that penalizes hardcore players because they are still going to advance much faster than those who can't spare as much time. It mostly just gives everyone else a little incentive to keep coming back and to not feel bad about taking several days off from the game. You'll get a nice tailwind as you try to catch up to your friends who kept playing during the time that you took off.

These types of smart design choices would mean little if the actual act of playing as one of World of Warcraft's various combinations of races and classes wasn't enjoyable in and of itself. Fortunately, you pretty much can't go wrong with whichever type of character you opt for. There aren't an exhaustive number of races and classes here, but there's still plenty to choose from: eight different races and nine different classes, though not every class is available to every race. In contrast to some other such games, each of the classes feels very well developed. That is, there's no real sense of "class envy" in World of Warcraft (except maybe in player-versus-player combat). In most other online RPGs, many players invariably feel like they made a mistake in their choice of character class after a while, and they become acutely aware of their character's limitations and other characters' apparent strengths. Of course, those other characters have significant limitations of their own. In World of Warcraft, though, every class seems like the "best" choice. Each character class feels powerful and self-reliant from the get-go. No matter which type of character you choose to play, from a warrior to a mage, you'll be able to hold your own against the game's variety of monsters while also contributing significantly to a group of players.

Each of the character classes is quite deep. The hunter and the warlock are ranged attack specialists who get to fight alongside pets that can help deal damage and distract foes. The warrior, rogue, and paladin are multitalented fighters, capable of drawing their enemies' wrath from their more-fragile, magic-using allies, and temporarily bolstering their own abilities while crippling their opponents. The priest, shaman, and mage learn a variety of different spells that make them quite a bit more versatile than what's conventional. And the druid can learn to shape-shift into different animal forms, so it's kind of like a hybrid of many of the other classes. The classes feel pretty distinct right from the start, though they start to get really interesting at the 10th level when each one gets a signature ability of some sort. But it's not like you need to trudge through a bunch of experience levels waiting for the game to entertain you. From the get-go, even as you encounter lots of new quests and areas to explore, you'll also find tons of new equipment and gain lots of new or improved abilities.

The benefit of having a limited selection of character classes to choose from is that each one gets to be viable and interesting. The potential problem of this, though, is that you can end up with a gameworld populated by a whole bunch of cookie-cutter characters. Fortunately, the good variety of different character appearances and equipment help to keep things diverse from a superficial standpoint, and the presence of the talent and profession systems keep things diverse from a gameplay standpoint, too. Talents come into play starting at the 10th level, and they let you marginally improve your character's core abilities. This is represented by a multitiered character skill tree much like that of Blizzard's own Diablo II. You get a talent point each time you level up, and certain, more-significant talents become unlocked once you spend enough points completing their prerequisites. Whereas the new abilities you gain from leveling up tend to be instantly gratifying, the talent system is more about planning and differentiating your character over the long haul, and it works great in this regard. Since you can see all the potential talents available to your character, it can be fun to plan out how you'll be spending your next 40 or 50 levels' worth of points (even though it'll probably take you months to actually accomplish that plan). And should you ever decide you made a mistake, it's possible to reset your talent points and redistribute them.

Meanwhile, the game's profession system is a way for characters to lead productive lives outside of all the ugly, dirty business of questing and fighting. Professions mainly fall into two categories: gathering and production skills. You may have two professions at a time, and if you wish to be self-sufficient, then you'll opt for an obvious combination of one of each. For instance, a combination of skinning and leatherworking lets you claim valuable resources from slain beasts and then turn those resources into sturdy equipment. Or a combination of herbalism and alchemy will let you find and collect precious plants out in the field, and then brew them into a variety of useful potions. Blacksmithing, engineering, and cooking are some of the other options, and it's possible to mix and match professions however you wish. Regardless of what you decide, the goods you gather or make will be in demand. If they're not immediately useful to you or your friends, you can auction them off to the highest bidder, which you can do by going through one of the game's auction houses located in some of the biggest metropolitan areas. World of Warcraft's profession system is streamlined and easy to get into, much like the rest of the game. More importantly, it lets you quickly make useful things or some good money. Incidentally, one great way to put your handmade goods into the right hands is via the in-game postal service, which lets you send items as well as messages to other players even when they're offline. Part of Azeroth's charm is that, despite the predominantly medieval flavor, it features these types of relatively modern accoutrements.

Another one of World of Warcraft's great successes is how it makes your choice of character race have a noticeable impact on the gameplay. Like any online RPG, the game lets you choose from a variety of dramatically different-looking types of characters, from the hulking orcs to the limber night elves. But unlike most games of this type, the difference between the characters cuts below the surface. For one thing, each race has certain unique traits, like the tauren having a war stomp ability, which can stun their attackers for a while, and the burly dwarves being naturally more skilled with rifles than other races. Certain classes also have slightly different abilities depending on the race. But what really distinguishes the races is that, depending on your choice, your allegiance and starting location will change--and the variations here can be pretty extreme.

The eight races comprise two opposing factions: the alliance, consisting of humans, dwarves, night elves, and gnomes; and the horde, consisting of orcs, trolls, the tauren, and the undead (the latter of which are "forsaken," and not friendly with your regular old-fashioned, mindless undead). The game takes place in the wake of the events of Warcraft III and its expansion pack, and it explains that the conflict between these factions is ideological in nature, instead of being just a pure good-versus-evil thing. Regardless, members of one faction generally won't be well received by the opposing side; they'll sooner be attacked on sight. So your allegiance determines who your enemies are as well as which half of the world you'll be spending much more time in, at least at first.

There are six completely different starting points (the dwarves and gnomes, and the orcs and trolls, share residence), as well as six corresponding major cities (whose guards helpfully provide directions to points of interest should you need them), plus countless little towns, outposts, towers, caves, shrines, and so forth. Depending on your starting point, you'll get to undertake different quests, face different monsters, explore different territory, and so on. There are class-specific quests, too, so if you stick with a single character in World of Warcraft, you won't nearly see the breadth of the game's content (although you'll still get to see an awful lot). Even though the questing is roughly equivalent regardless of the race you choose, you'll definitely get a different sort of experience with each one. Nevertheless, in the simplest of terms, most of the quests either charge you with killing some stuff or transporting something somewhere, and all the quests descriptions are written out, so be prepared for a fair bit of reading. Of course, your choice of race and gender also superficially affects your in-game personality. In a nice touch, each race and gender combination has a variety of different verbal quips as well as its own little dance. Blizzard has always done a good job of imbuing its characters with personality, and it succeeds at this once again in World of Warcraft.

As mentioned, player-versus-player combat is available in World of Warcraft. In the vast majority of realms, it's purely consensual. For example, at any point, two characters may choose to engage in a nonlethal duel. But there's also some full-on gang-style warfare to partake in if you so choose. There are certain higher-level fringe territories in Azeroth that are considered neutral or contested, and it's here where the alliance and the horde may attack each other. In PvP realms, these attacks may happen indiscriminately, much to your chagrin if you're just minding your own business and questing alone. Your choice of realm is obviously important, but fundamentally, the PvP combat is fun and exciting like the rest of the combat. Each character class' versatility can really come into play when you're faced with a squad of player-controlled foes.

However, the fullest potential of the game's PvP elements has yet to be realized. The idea is that those who engage in PvP competition will earn honor points, which can be redeemed for certain benefits and bonuses, while those who just go around bullying low-level players may earn dishonor, resulting in penalties that ought to discourage such behavior. Furthermore, special battleground zones expressly suited for large-scale PvP competition will give further incentive for you to square off against the opposing faction. This all sounds great, but it's not prevalent in the game immediately postlaunch. It's apparent that World of Warcraft is a player-versus-environment game first and foremost, but the building blocks are there to make it a very interesting competitive game as well. In addition to taking on some epic encounters (suitable for massive raiding parties comprising dozens of players) and the ability to purchase and ride a variety of fast-moving mounts, the PvP combat is presumably what will keep many players coming back after they've already invested the hundreds of hours necessary to max out their character's experience.

No small part of the pleasure of playing World of Warcraft comes from admiring its richly detailed, visually inspired gameworld. The game sports its own cohesive, highly stylized look that's influenced by comic book art and anime, so it's far less "vanilla" than the look of most games and therefore likely to polarize players. Most of these players will probably think World of Warcraft looks fantastic, while a few of them might not like these characters' exaggerated features and animations, perhaps because they don't look realistic. At any rate, from an artistic standpoint, it's hard to deny that World of Warcraft is impressive. Not only is the game filled with tons of imaginative characters and creatures, but the topography of the world itself seems vibrant, larger than life, and incredible in scope, yet somehow believable because the art direction is so consistent.

You'll spot some excellent little details as you play, such as birds fluttering high up in the sky or squirrels and rabbits skittering about or skeletons of slain friends and foes dotting the landscape in the aftermath of a PvP skirmish. The various weather effects are also outstanding. In a great touch, the game takes place in real time, so if you play at night, it'll be nighttime in Azeroth too (and Azeroth is quite a sight to behold regardless of the time of day). But the best part about the game's visual presentation is how everything blends together: how one distinctive-looking area can somehow subtly transition into a new type of terrain that looks completely different, and how indoor and outdoor environments are seamlessly integrated. And again, what the game lacks in polygon counts--many of the character models look great, but aren't incredibly detailed--it more than makes up for in artistry and pure performance.

World of Warcraft also sounds uncharacteristically excellent for an online RPG. Subtle ambient effects work wonderfully in concert with the visuals, making the world seem that much more alive. Excellent audio cues highlight key moments, such as when you level up, when a friend of yours comes online, or when you accept or accomplish a quest. Beautifully composed symphonic music punctuates your travels, perfectly synchronizing with the sense of wonder you will likely experience as you set foot into the game's different, colorful regions. The music truly is outstanding, but by default it plays rather softly, mostly just for an extra bit of ambience. Meanwhile, Warcraft III fans will feel right at home during battles, which feature many of the same hard-hitting effects, as well as plenty of new ones. The game even makes great use of stereo effects as well as other audio tricks, resulting in clear and resonant echoes within cavernlike environments, in audio distortion when exploring or fighting underwater, and in other such things. World of Warcraft also makes good use of speech, both for player characters' occasional outbursts and also for all non-player characters, who'll verbally greet you, which helps evoke their personalities. Many of the enemies you'll face also make some rather memorable noises when you manage to draw their wrath.

The worst thing about World of Warcraft is that you can't just play it all the time. After all, chances are if you start, you'll never want to stop. Again, though, part of what makes this game so remarkable is it doesn't assume that all you have to do in your busy life is play this one game, and so it delivers a high-quality experience regardless of how much or how little time you're able to invest. Paradoxically, then, it can become the last game you'd need to play for weeks, months...who knows? The point is, World of Warcraft features an overall level of quality that's typically reserved for the best offline games, which have always had a leg up on online games in their ability to present tightly-woven, story-driven settings. But World of Warcraft achieves this in the context of a massive, evolving world populated by thousands of other players who you may choose to interact with, which makes the proceedings seem that much more meaningful. This is a stunning achievement that will make you feel privileged to be a game player.

viernes, 10 de octubre de 2008

Se murio June Manuel, la madre de Charlie Manuel

June Manuel, la madre del gerente de los Phillies de Filadelfia, murió el viernes por la mañana, pero Charlie Manuel estará en el banco de los Phillies, cuando cumplan los Dodgers en el Juego 2 de la Liga Nacional, en las series finales del campeonato.

Manuel canceló su juego pre-conferencia de prensa, pero estuvo en su habitual lugar detrás de la jaula de bateo durante la práctica de bateo de Filadelfia en Citizens Bank park.

June Manuel, que era de 87, al parecer sufrió un ataque al corazón el miércoles y murió el viernes en el Roanoke Memorial Hospital en Virginia. Ella vivía en Buena Vista, Va. Charlie Manuel, 64, es uno de los 10 hijos sobrevivientes. Había nacido en Northfork, W. Va., siempre fue muy cercano a su madre.The Phillies derrotó a los Dodgers de Los Angeles 3-2 en el Juego 1 de la CEN jueves por la noche. Juego 2 está prevista para 4:35 p.m. viernes.

Bueno, si hay algo en claro, a ella no la pueden culpar por el descalabro financiero, no?.