Thursday, April 29, 2010

Plants in Aquariums

We were at one of our local Pet Supplies stores recently. Not a PetCo/PetSmart, not that I have nothing against them, just this local supplier can do better deals on Blue Buffalo and Wellness pet food than I can get at PetCo. I asked the cashier if they carried live plants for aquariums, because I hadn't seen any plants and their fish section was quite small (they don't actual stock animals, just the supplies, feed, etc.) They didn't but she did tell us that there was an aquarium store just up the road.

How we didn't know about it before I don't know, because it was huge! At first I thought it was a pet store because it was so big and it was called PTF Pets (PTF = Pasadena Tropical Fish, btw), but inside were wall-to-wall tanks of fish. But not just fish; crabs and other marine critters and even some strange things that looked like 5-legged Octopus...would that make them Pentapusses? Pentapie?

I asked the lady running the show about plants and she escorted me to a tank with a dozen or so plants floating around the bottom (are they still floating if they're at the bottom?) and I picked out a couple of lively looking sorts (Narrow Leaf Chain Sword, and Red Wendth), then asked her about the proper method of installing them in my tank, because I'd put plants into my tank before which had not survived. Then again, that was probably a combination of the Snail infestation that came along with them, and me being a Noob and not following SOP for planting aquarium plants.

Growing out of the bottom of one of the pots were these lovely long roots and yet when I asked the lady about how to plant the plants she recommended I cut those lovely long roots off. She said if I bent the roots over to bury them in the substrate that it hurts the roots and the plant, and that's not good. That was probably one of the Noob mistakes I made last time. The other was trying to bury the sponge surrounding the roots in the substrate, because...I don't know why, I just did. It didn't work, because it's a sponge and it wanted to float, even when covered by rocks.

This time around I carefully cut the plants out of their little plastic pots and carefully pulled apart and removed the foam sponge surrounding the roots, then I carefully separated the plants because while it wasn't obvious at first glance each pot actually came with more than just one plant.

There were two Chain Swords in their pot, but I'm sad to report that their roots were very brown and I didn't like the look of them (the roots, not the plant itself). I still planted them because (as you'll see from the picture below) their foliage was green and looked quite healthy, so I'll just hope for the best with those two.

From the Red Wendth pot I got over six individual plants (this was the one with the beautiful, long roots) and the boy and I carefully trimmed their beautiful, long roots back to about half an inch before planting them in the tank, too.

Oddly enough, as Pike has noted on her Blog about her fish seeming happier after a water change, my Tetras likewise seemed excited (or at least more active) with the new addition to their tank, as they now have a small underwater forest (of sorts) in which to hide and swim through. Then again, I also did a 25% water change (I have a 2.5 gallon bucket so I siphon out a bucketful of water from my 10-gallon tank then add a bucket of water), partly because it had been over a week since I'd done a water change, partly because I needed to take some water out so when I stuck my arm in the tank it didn't overflow, and partly because I deliberately stirred up the substrate so there was a lot of fish crap floating around. It was so murky that even though I changed the filter prior to the water change, it was covered with junk within minutes and water was backflowing out of the filter. After topping the tank back up to 10-gallons I rinsed even more crud off the filter (yes, again), then later in the evening rinsed it off one more time.

I checked on the fish this morning at breakfast and we still had a tank full of fish, still alive and still seeming to enjoy their new underwater forest home. If they were going to die from something brought in on the new plants, with it being such a small confined space I'd expect the first deaths to occur within hours. But they were alive this morning and they're happy as clams now, 24 hours later, so obviously they've survived the addition of the plants. Now I just need the plants to survive being transplanted into their new home.

Finally, here's a picture...
Click to make FHuge!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tanking in CoS

I've been slowly upgrading my Tanking gear via the Auction House, with Drops (when the Tank doesn't Need them), and Badge items, but despite reading how easy it is to hit 540 Defense I'm still at approx. 480. But that still doesn't stop me from offering to Tank in a pinch when we really need to, such as on a recent Heroic CoS.

The Warrior Tank was clearly new to the game and expressed unfamiliarity with the CoS Instance, and we lost & replaced two Healers and two DPS before we finished the 10 Waves. (There were not going to be any Bronze Drake Reins dropping on this Run.) After hooking up with Arthas and our third replacement Healer and DPS we got to the top of the stairs and once again things went south in a heartbeat.

Lying dead on the floor I quickly whispered the Druid Healer not to drop group, that we'd kick the Tank and I'd take over. I knew the Hunter who'd stuck with me through this would kick the Tank if it was put to the Vote, and just like that the Tank was gone. I switched to Prot, donned my Tank gear and, to his credit, the Druid did not take one look at me and immediately drop group, although he did whisper me and ask if I had any more +Def gear.

This is it, I replied, but I do know this Instance and what I'm doing.

It's okay, he whispered back, I'll keep you up.

We restarted the Arthas encounter and everything went a lot smoother, although I did forget the third wave that ambush the party in the short corridor immediately before Epoch. That was certainly an 'Oops!' moment as I ran through to Epoch's room then stood there wondering what was keeping the others. (So much for knowing the Instance.) Back into the corridor I went, laying down Consecrate and doing everything I could as fast as I could to grab Aggro. We survived. Arthas makes for a good Tank in a pinch and Druid Healers are my favourite. I'm not saying they're better than the others, I just seem to have smoother runs when I'm backed up by a Druid.

After taking out Epoch and running the last gauntlet of Undead before getting to Mal'Ganis the Healer whispered me "OMG this is horrible!"

I whispered back, "But maybe just a little fun?" (Healers secretly love it when we overpull and give them something to do ;)

"Maybe ;)" was their reply.

We got to Mal'Ganis, Arthas and he had their chat, then I ran through my rotation and like I knew he would the Druid healed through my deficient Defense and the Demon Lord went down. But not without casualties. The Druid (or perhaps it was the other DPS) had whispered me earlier about the Hunter sucking but I'd chosen to ignore that whisper. Well the Hunter had died during the Mal'Ganis fight and he was not very happy about it, especially when the Druid told him to learn to DPS.

"You need to learn how to heal!" he retorted.

"Go die in a fire! :D" replied the Druid.

I looked at the Hunter, lying dead on the floor, and I just couldn't help myself.

"I think he already did :D" I typed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tanking: Perspiration, Inspiration, Perception.

After the first Heroic Random of the night I like to do a Heroic Normal. Not because I need the gear but because the Run is usually more relaxed, I get 2 Emblems of Triumph just like doing a subsequent Heroic, and I get more 50% more Gold. (I know, I know. Heroic sub-Bosses often hand out Triumphs like candy to trick-or-treaters, and Heroic vendor trash is usually worth more than Normal trash, yeah yeah. Normal is just relaxing, usually, okay?)

So I sign up for a Normal as Ret, wait a few minutes, and eventually find myself in the Pit of Saron. Everything progresses smoothly until we get to Tyrannus when the Warrior Tank starts throwing knives at him while he's flying around on his dragon waving his ePeen at us. Now pissed off and having had his say the Scourgelord refuses to come down and play. The Warrior says "bugged" (No shit, Sherlock), LOLs, and drops group, forcing us to wipe to reset the encounter, now sans Tank. Thanks for nothing, buddy.

While waiting I hit up the WoWWiki on Tyrannus and read through it. I can do this. I tell the group I'm dual-spec'd Ret/Prot and have reasonable but not fantastic Tanking gear. With DPS being easier to replace than a Tank my offer is accepted and we re-queue. Several minutes go by. No DPS. I re-read the the Boss strategy to make sure I know what I'm doing. Tyrannus is an easy Tank & Spank fight, as long as you avoid the splash damage from his dragon's ice breath and, if possible, drag him through his own mount's icy drool puddles. I'm not Def Capped (I have some +Def pieces, including this baby) but this is a Normal Run and I'm wearing almost all Purples. Nothing to it. Hopefully.

Still no DPS.

"Let's do this. 4-man it," says one of my comrades-in-arms.

And so we did.

It was intense. Really, seriously, freaking intense. My health got low at a couple of points but we got through it. Normal Tyrannus. 4-manned. Tanked by yours truly.

As Jaina started on her spiel our DPS finally showed up. Sorry buddy, you're too late. The party's over.

Next night. Halls of Reflection. Again a Normal Random PUG.

I dropped in mid-way through the opening battle, picked up what was going on (after a few seconds, it's rather disorienting to zone into the middle of a brawl) and started doing my Retadin thing. We downed Marwyn and apparently he didn't drop what one of the DPS wanted, so he dropped group as we ran down the corridor towards Arthas and Jaina. Then the Tank dropped group. I guess he didn't want to wait for a replacement DPS, even though the hardest part of the Run was already over and DPS are usually easily replaced.

After re-queuing and waiting a few minutes I offer to Tank the rest of the Instance in Prot spec, and again state that I don't have fantastic gear but it will do the job (for the content we had left, and if you know HoF you'll know we already had the worst of the Run behind us). The Healer and other DPS accept my offer and as we re-queue I switch to Prot, but when I don my Tank gear the Healer speaks up.

"Please tell me that's not your Tank set," he says.

It is, yes, I reply. Before I can add that it had done the job on Tyrannus the night before the Healer says, "F**k you both," and drops group.

"What an arse," says the remaining DPS.

We decided to hang out in the queue for a little while longer to see if we can't pick up another Healer and 2 more DPS but after 10 more minutes, with DPS coming then going (or at least their spot being filled out in the popup at the little eye on the Minimap) we decide there's no point throwing any more good time after bad time. We call it quits and bid each other adieu.

Next night. Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle. We head in with a Warrior Tank with almost less Health than me, and at 25-28K (depending on buffs) that should have been a sign. He manages to Tank the first room, then we head outside to Raven's Watch where we wipe on the first pack.

We regroup, run back in, rebuff, run out to Raven's Watch...and Wipe again.

The Warrior drops group and almost immediately a new Warrior takes his place. This guy has almost twice the health of the first guy, but the gear does not make the man and we wipe again in the very same place. This Tank doesn't wait for a second shot, drops group and almost immediately is replaced by a Tankadin. Finally we have a guy who knows what he's doing and we clear the Instance in almost record time, missing out on some sort of Speedy Kill achievement on Skadi the Ruthless by literally seconds.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Email Headers: Internet Detectiving 101

Time for some gibberish (for most of us, but not for some).
This is the full header of a recent Phishing email I received.

From Thu Apr 15 07:49:15 2010
X-Apparently-To: via; Thu, 15 Apr 2010 00:49:33 -0700
X-Originating-IP: []
Authentication-Results:; domainkeys=neutral (no sig);; dkim=neutral (no sig)
Received: from (EHLO (
by with SMTP; Thu, 15 Apr 2010 00:49:33 -0700
Received: from BLU0-SMTP93 ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.3959);
Thu, 15 Apr 2010 00:49:12 -0700
X-Originating-IP: []
X-Originating-Email: []
Message-ID: BLU0-SMTP9322D8F095F0D27C44F50ECF0F0@phx.gbl
Received: from vlpxfrcn ([]) by over TLS secured channel with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.4675);
Thu, 15 Apr 2010 00:49:10 -0700
From: ""
Subject: World Of Warcraft-Account Instructions
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2010 15:49:15 +0800
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2900.5512
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2900.5512
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 15 Apr 2010 07:49:11.0296 (UTC) FILETIME=[22DEE000:01CADC70]
Content-Length: 5211

At first glance it looks like the email came from but then you notice the Return Path has a different email address, from France. Sourges to be precise (I found the guy on Facebook via his email). But did Sylvain Borreda really send this email? Or did someone hack his email account?

The earliest and most reliable record of the email entering cyberspace is the bolded line, Received: from vlpxfrcn ([]). Googling this IP brings up a couple of pages, almost all being reverse IP Lookup pages...except for one, a non-existent page at: (A Chinese website. How cliché.)

If you're following along at home and you clicked the actual link on your Google search page you'll see that the specific page at no longer exists/cannot be found, etc.

But back on the Google search results page we can see that along with the IP there is additional identifying information. There's a phone number and an email address, and if we now Google we discover the apparently true identity of Mr. aka Guofang Tao, a Real Estate broker in Nanjing, China. (Go figure.) But is Guofang Tao really our Phisher? He is Chinese, but that doesn't automatically make him a Chinese Gold Farmer/Phisherman. He's like a Tootsie Roll Pop: the world may never know, because this is as far as my Internet sleuthing skills can take us.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Can you Ninja with a Greed Roll?

After getting all my gear back (some time really early Monday morning, according to the emails in my Inbox), I reinstalled WoW, BC, & Wrath, then commenced patching, and after about 4-5 hours I was logging in to play. (Despite having DSL my WoW patch DL speeds are not terribly fast. "Why, you seem to be behind a Firewall!" the Downloader will report, as if that's a bad thing)

My first Heroic on Monday night brought my Emblem of Frost total to 30 (I got all my badges & emblems back, praise Orion!) and I promptly spent them all on the i264 Libram of Three Truths.

Tonight I queued up for another random Heroic and found myself in the rather fun (at least I think so) Culling of Stratholme. I've done this one a few times on Heroic and seen a couple of Reins of the Bronze Drake drop. Some people Pass while others gleefully Roll, so I take my queue from those who do. When people roll Need I roll Need. Other times they'll roll Greed so I'll follow suit. On tonight's Run the Drake was mentioned just once as we ran through, with someone asking if we planned to do it. (Barring running out of time I wasn't aware it was optional, but apparently it is.)

We got to the Corruptor and killed him within the 25 minutes so naturally he dropped the Drake. Someone said Gratz and the first three rolls were Passes. I sat there watching the screen for a few seconds. I didn't need the Drake. I wanted it, but I didn't Need it. The fourth player rolled Greed so I followed his lead and hit Greed as well. He rolled low, I rolled high, and with that I had myself a new Epic Flying Mount.

As the group moved on to Mal'Ganis I was almost expecting to be booted from the party for being a Ninja, but it didn't happen. The player who lost the Roll never said anything, neither in Party Chat nor Tells, and if he had I was prepared to hand it over to him, even though I'd won the Roll. Not because I didn't care to be labeled a Ninja, simply because I didn't really need the Mount. But nothing more was said and we moved on and defeated Mal'Ganis.

The first time I got the Culling of Time achievement BIL and Steve congratulated me and asked if I'd won the Drake. When I told them I'd rolled Greed like the others they were stunned. "Dude! You Need Roll that!" they said to me, but I didn't feel right Need rolling on a Vanity item when others were just Greed Rolling.

Now I'd won the Vanity item with a Greed Roll and I still wondered if I'd done the right thing. Sometimes I think I'm a little too much like Melvin Smiley.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wii: MySims Agents

After quickly checking out a video review on my phone (you might think I'm crazy, but if you really believe we're not fast approaching The Singularity then I say you're the delusional one, so there :P) I decided MySims Agents was worth 10,000 of our 27,000 Dave & Buster points and having played it for several hours over the weekend, including watching both my kids play it (5 y/old daughter, 9 y/old son) I'm still in agreement with my earlier decision. This game is definitely worth getting, and not only if you have youngsters. Apparently you can pick it up new for $20 but we already had the D&B points so it was sort of like it was free. Either way it's good value.

The first mission, determining the owner of a dog, teaches you the basics without feeling too much like a Tutorial. You talk to people, get leads from them and make 'notes' in your Notebook, which you can review if you get lost or have to Save & Quit and can't return for a while so forget where you were at (which is more likely). You also interact with items in the game world like prying open boxes with your Crowbar, fixing/repairing/salvaging items with your Wrench, or finding clues/footprints, etc, with your magnifying glass. All three tools get upgraded over the course of the game, gradually allowing you to perform a greater variety of tasks like moving boxes around to create steps to access new areas, picking locks, repairing broken items, or analyzing items of note. All of these activities are completed in minigames by you, the player, not automatically by your avatar, which makes this more than just a simple, point & click adventure game.

You pick locks in a manner very similar to the puzzle game 'Rush Hour' and while the first couple of puzzles were easily solved, as I expected they would they quickly ramped up in difficulty. Nothing taxing, yet, but I'm only halfway through the game. (Actually I'm halfway through as far as Missions go, but last night's Mission took me several hours to complete compared to the first which was solved in barely an hour. I did do a lot of exploring and I'm sure I could do that Mission a lot faster now that I know what's going on, but if the Missions continue to get more involved I'd hazard a guess that I'm maybe only a third of the way into the game.)

Repairing broken items is a basic (so far) version of the classic PC game The Incredible Machine, and requires you to get the 'colored' parts on the board moving, using a limited number of pieces to connect batteries and wires with cogs and belts.

Analyzing items could best be described as a Molecule builder game. Sometimes you start with an empty board, sometimes you'll have a couple of atoms already in place. In either case you'll also have a 'bank' of atoms that all need to be placed on the board, some of which will only connect to 1 other atom while others will connect to 2, 3 or 4 atoms, and this is the mini-game that has been the most challenging so far.

The mini-games serve to both involve the player in the game, and make it more than just a case of walk around, talk to everyone, click on everything, now see if anyone has new dialog. Considering that's what even the most hardcore point & click adventures often boil down to, that's not necessarily a negative for those who like this type of game. If you're looking for action, you've come to the wrong town. This game requires to stop, read, & think about what to do or where to go next. And while you do have your Notebook and could just skip through the dialog ("Yeah, yeah. Kill 10 rats. Got it! Shut up already!") and consult that, unlike your quests in an MMO there is no end game in MySims Agents; the Journey IS the game, so I see no point in rushing through the game (it's short enough as it is!) Yes, it is a short game, but at $20 it's also a cheap game. Without a doubt you could rent it and beat it in a weekend if you cared to, so to add longevity they've included a 'collection' game, of sorts.

Scattered throughout the game are chests, boxes, and various 'easter eggs', and finding/opening these rewards you with clothing, accessories, or costumes for your Agent, or furniture or decorations for your Headquarters.

What's the deal with decorating your HQ?

Each of the items comes with a bonus to one or more of five attributes (off the top of my head, Science, Charisma, Nature, Sport, & Paranormal), and when placed on one of the four floors in your HQ (five including the lobby, but you can't decorate that) those bonuses increase the appropriate stat/attribute of the Team you have housed there.

The Team? Isn't this a game about your Secret Agent?

Well yes, it is, but as you play the game and complete Missions you'll meet various characters, and when a Mission is over you can recruit some of these characters, who will also have a combination of one or more of the five attributes. Some of them are fairly well-rounded and will have 1 to 3 points in 2 to 3 attributes (5 points total), some will be more specialized and will have 3, 4, or even 5 points in a particular attribute. Assigning similar characters to the same floor (maximum of 3 characters per floor) creates a team strong in one or two areas (and naturally weak in others), so placing items that enhance that team's dominant attribute will make for a team very strong in one or two areas.

But why Teams?

Because you can send these Teams out on Missions of their own, and their chances of success are based on how relevant their skills are to the particular mission, from Poor to Excellent. Successfully completing these Team Missions unlocks harder Team Missions and also rewards you with new items.

The Teams also don't just go out on their own, they'll check in with you from time to time, and often at an annoyingly inconvenient time, ("I'm walking across an I-beam 3 stories up here! You think you could call back later? No? Fine, what is it?") requiring you to make decisions possibly (still not sure if it's random or not) affecting the outcome of their Mission. For example, one Mission has your Team trying to get a Client to the movies (exciting stuff for Secret Agents, I know) and the battery on their phone is running out (so they called you and drained their battery even further. Smart Team you've got there.) They have enough power to check movie times or traffic conditions, and they want to know what to do. (Pop Quiz, Hot Shot! What do you do? What. Do. You. Do?) In my case I told them to check the traffic, so what happened? They called back to say "The traffic looks fine." Now I was worried that I should have checked the movie times in case there was a later showing, but I worried for nothing because they made it on time. Well of course they did, because they didn't encounter any traffic problems.

You're not really micromanaging your Teams on their missions. Usually you'll make 2-3 decisions per Team Mission at most, but when you've got 4 Teams out on Missions that adds up to 8-12 decisions you might have to make. Throw in that the Teams will often call in just to let you know there are no problems, and you literally can be balancing on an I-beam when a call comes in. "Everything is fine? That's great! Can I get back to trying not to fall 40-feet to my death now? I can? Thank you!"

Actually you can't die, at least not that I've found. So if you ever do fall off a rafter, I-beam, etc, you'll either land on the ground below or miraculously reappear at the beginning of your rafter, I-beam, etc. This is a MySims game, after all. It's designed for the kids, but it's sufficiently well done that it has a lot of 'grown-up kid' appeal, too. It doesn't have flashy graphics or gratuitous cleavage shots, there's occasional clipping in the animation, and it can be rather linear, but it's still a very well done adventure game that's fun for the whole family (except maybe 13-year old Jimmy who'd rather be playing Soul Caliber, and I can't fault him for that ;)

Saturday, April 10, 2010


More than once I've tried to log into WoW and got the 'incorrect password' message, and a chill always runs up my spine at seeing that, but when I re-type my password slowly (and correctly) I always get in.

This time I fired up WoW to log in and instead of 'incorrect password' I see 'Please enter your authenticator key'.

My what now? But I don't have an Authenticator!

And that's how I knew I'd been hacked.

I immediately retrieved the two emails I'd just deleted which, like the ones I've been getting every day for a month or two now, tried to warn me that I'd been hacked. When I moused over the URL in one of them it showed Blizzard's real URL. I actually had been hacked.

I called Blizzard and got "We're experiencing a high volume of calls right now. All operators are busy and we cannot take your call. Please try again later. *click*"

What the fuck???

They're so busy taking calls I can't even wait On Hold for the next available Operator?

To me that says they've got a majorly serious problem.

Here's the rub.

The password I use is not one I've used for anything but World of Warcraft.

The only person who has access to my WoW account is my wife and my 9 y/old son, and that's via my PC.

My PC is also pretty much used for nothing but WoW. Ok, there's the checking of email, Facebook activities, reading Blogs, etc, but for the most part I play WoW and that's about it.

I do visit sites like WoWWiki, WoWHead, Thotbott (or however it's spelled) but I'm also a security freak and have numerous anti-spyware programs like NoScript, AdBlock, AVG, Spybot S&D, etc.

I also doubt anyone could call Blizzard pretending to be me and satisfactorily answer my Security questions, not unless they're someone who knows me really, really well. And no, my wife wouldn't do this. That's not her style. She'd just log in on my account and Delete my characters. And she wouldn't clean out my sister's Guild Bank like this person did.

I don't have a keylogger on my computer because the software I listed above is not all that's in my arsenal, I have others, some specifically designed to find keyloggers, and all scans came up blank.

This means it was not someone close to me who hacked my account, and it (most likely) wasn't a case of me being hacked/keylogged.

In my opinion this was an inside job from someone inside Blizzard, and this is apparently what many people who have been hacked have claimed for a long time. Of course nobody has any proof because the only proof is an absence of proof (as in once you eliminate the impossible, all that remains, no matter how improbable, etc etc etc...) and that's not good enough. Not for court. It's good enough for me and for those who have been hacked but it still brings you no satisfaction. If anything it makes you wonder what's the point of playing Blizzard's game when they can't protect you from themselves.

After calling back numerous times I finally got into their automated help line and was able, eventually, to talk to someone who removed the Authenticator from my account and got me back into my account. The Rep also informed me that the hacker apparently had access to my email account, so when I got in I not only changed my password but I created a brand new email account and linked my WoW/Bnet account to it, rather than my old email.

I will be very curious to see if this email account receives any sort of Phishing emails and if so, how? If it's a brand new email account, not used for anything but accessing WoW, and so the only record of it being a WoW-related email is within Blizzard's own do the Phishers know to target it? We'll see if that that happens.

Finally I logged into WoW, and this is what I saw...

That's a far cry from the character model I displayed a week or so ago...those Spaulders are the Heroic badge-bought shoulders. They're worthless as far as vendoring which is why I still had them. I also had the badge-bought necklace I'd picked up literally a day or two before but everything else was gone, including most of my badges (& I was 2 Frost badges or one Heroic away from getting my new Libram!).

I logged in and my Pally immediately began falling, falling, falling. A window popped up with Accept or Cancel but there was no message accompanying it. I wasn't going to Accept anything without knowing what I was accepting. I fell for several seconds until being automatically zoned out and re-appearing on a ledge in Sholazar Basin, naked. Well not quite naked. I still had my Badge-acquired Shoulders and a Mining Pick. As a Miner/Skinner I used to carry a Gnomish Army Knife which the Hacker vendored (for 22-silver. Wow.) opting for the cheaper Pick. They then went Mining, on my character. They sold all of my bags bar my original Pack and one other, and both were almost full of Ore & Gems. When my character raided their Guild Bank my sister put in a ticket to a GM that I'd been hacked, and eventually my account was closed down. The hacker had been caught in the middle of Mining run.

Fortunately, with Pets and Mounts now being built into the paper doll and not carried like inventory, I was able to fly back to Dalaran where I checked my bank and saw it had been stripped, too. I put in a ticket to a GM to (hopefully) get my gear restored, then with trepidation logged out to check my other characters. My old toons on Kilrog (Kwazimoto & Co.) had also been stripped. I returned to my sister's server and clicked my Bank Toon. He was still clothed but none of the Auctions I'd listed before going to bed last night were up, nor was there any Gold waiting in the Mailbox for me...or in my inventory. And every other character was the same. Many still had random items in their packs but practically no Gold to their name.

I am willing to start all over again but I'd rather not if I don't have to. Naturally I'd like to get my gear restored and get my sister's stuff back, but I have no idea how long that will take. Do I just play a low level Alt for a week until Blizzard do something? What if it takes them several weeks to restore my gear. What if they won't restore it, or only partially restore it?

And then my own security measures got the best of me. I forgot my new WoW password. And I forgot the password to my new email WoW-only email account. And to be ultra security conscious I'd used my work email as the secondary email and I can't access that until Monday. So this weekend has been a sad, WoW-less weekend.

Fortunately! The kids and I went to Dave & Busters on Friday and I ended up cashing in 10,000 points (the boy and I save them up for the BIG prizes) and getting MySims Agents for the Wii. You can apparently buy it for $20 but it's not likely we'll save up our points for the 85,000 X-Box, so why not spend some of the points on a game for a system we already have.

It's a cute, point & click-style adventure game with a bunch of mini-games (puzzles) to play as your Sim Agent gathers evidence to crack each case. There's also things to find if you're prepared to look around, like new outfits and decorations for your HQ. It's a fairly typical MySims game with lots of customization available, but the way it's presented with you as a Special Agent solving cases means you need to actually think as you play. And I like that. I'm giving it an 8/10. It's not the perfect game but it's well done and is a lot of fun :)