mind your b’s and K’s: the arcane art of measuring download speeds

I’ve just upgraded to the 30 MB/s internet plan at Charter cable (and added HBO so we can watch Game of Thrones), so here’s the obligatory speedtest results.

It occurs to me that the units for download can be incredibly confusing. Charter advertises the download speed plan using units of Mbps. So, the question naturally arises, how long should it take to download something 18.3 GB in size? (and a related question, if I am downloading something at 300 KB/s, am I getting my max download speed?)

1 GB refers to a gigabyte (10^9 bytes) in this context, since we are talking about file sizes and network speeds. If we were talking about RAM, a GB would actually refer to a gibibyte. However, 1 Mb is a megabit (10^6 bits), not a megabyte (10^6 bytes), because of the small-case b. So 1 Mb is actually 1/8 MB (since there are 8 bits per byte).

So 18.3 GB downloading at 30 Mbps should require:

(size) / (speed) = (time)

(18.3 x 10^9 bytes) / ( (30 x 10^6 bits / sec) x (1 byte / 8 bits) = 18.3 x 10^9 * 8 / 30 x 10^6 = 4880 seconds = 81.3 minutes

Wolfram Alpha gets the answer right, too (and I like teh natural language query – very intuitive).

Now, suppose I’m rocking 300 KB/s according to a certain beta software download client. How am I really doing? The capital B means it is kilobytes, so that’s actually 300 x 10^3 x 8 = 2400 x 10^3 = 2400000 = 2.4 Mbps. Wait, what??

I’m only getting 1/10th my actual download speed for this??

This is why it’s important to do the math. Of course, the download speed may be limited by a lot of other factors, most notably how fast the server at the other end can deliver the data. I clocked almost 40 Mbps doing a speedtest with some local, low-ping server somewhere, but for downloading this big file I’m probably going a lot further and their server has a lot more to do than humor my ping requests. I guess I should be satisfied.

(But, I’m not. grrr….)

@Warcraft improves cognitive ability in older adults

There are plenty of brains in Warcraft
via @tomshardware, playing MMO games like World of Warcraft can help improve cognitive ability among older adults, according to a study at North Carolina State University:

Researchers from North Carolina State University have found that playing WoW actually boosted cognitive functioning for older adults – particularly those adults who had scored poorly on cognitive ability tests before playing the game.

“We chose World of Warcraft because it has attributes we felt may produce benefits – it is a cognitively challenging game in a socially interactive environment that presents users with novel situations,” says Dr. Anne McLaughlin, an assistant professor of psychology at NC State and co-author of a paper on the study. “We found there were improvements, but it depended on each participant’s baseline cognitive functioning level.”

Researchers from NC State’s Gains Through Gaming laboratory first tested the cognitive functioning of study participants, aged 60 to 77, to set a baseline. The researchers looked at cognitive abilities including spatial ability, memory and how well participants could focus their attention.

More information on the study here and here’s a link to the actual study at Science Direct.

This is unsurprising, because WoW’s complexity really scales with the player. You can easily access the game as a total noob but if you’re a diehard theorycrafter you cam minmax your way into elitist heaven. And there’s an entire social layer on top of that – you can play the game solo if you prefer, but from guilds to PUGs to PVP there’s plenty of actual human interaction that forces teamwork, competition, etc. There’s even a free market economy and the occasional plague. I think that the cognitive benefits for people with higher baseline are going to be more subtle, but like the Nintendo Wii I think that there’s an argument to be made for WoW in particular to become part of the therapists’ arsenal.

newbie 80 warrior… what next?

So, in celebration of getting to 80, I went ahead and Explored the world 🙂

Now here’s my dilemma. I’ve been working my way through Northrend, and hit 80 while finishing off Grizzly Hills. Now, do I continue the questlines in nrend or do i just go straight to the new cata zones?

I looked around and here’s pre-cata advice for finishing Northrend after 80:

If you’ve done the run to 80 before you shouldn’t do every quest in the zone; only the ones that will help you later.

Do Howling Fjord first, do the initial zone quests up to the ones that unlock the Utgarde Keep dungeon quests. Then do the Ka’luak quests in full.

Do Borean Tundra. Do Coldarra in its entirety to unlock the Nexus dungeon quests. Do Ka’luak quests until you get to Revered (or close to it, there’s easier ones in Dragonblight), and do the quests that lead up to and include finishing Temple City of Enkil’ah.

Run Utgarde Keep and Nexus at least once WITH the dungeon quests.

Do the majority of Dragonblight. The Goblin quests in the north area are optional, but nearly all the quests are important for something (Kirin Tor, Wyrmrest Accord, Ka’luak, Wrathgate).

By the time you do all those you should be Honored with Kirin Tor and Wyrmrest Accord, and Revered with Ka’luak. When you hit Lv.76 go to the Ka’luak vendor and buy a blue chest, and go back to the vendors for all three when you hit Lv. 78.

After that I recommend skipping Grizzly Hills and Sholozar Basin and hit Zul’drak for the Argent Crusade and Ebon Blade rep, both of which are in the lower areas. You could optionally unlock the Drak’Theron keep quests in Grizzly Hills, and probably a good idea to do the same for the flight point in Sholozar. If you intend to do Frenzyheart or Oracles, then stop by in Sholozar.

Once you hit Lv.77 go directly to Icecrown and do the quests to unlock Crusader Pinnacle and Shadow Vault, and start up the Argent Tournament quests. Then if you think you need shoulder enchants later go to Storm Peaks and do the entire Sons of Hodir questline, but only that. By then you should have enough dailies unlocked to not have to worry about anything else.

However, as the level cap is 85 these wont be as much of a gold bonanza – instead i could go straight to Hyjal, finish the zone, and then go do Firelands dailies for epic gear and better flying mounts. And then I can always return to northrend to finish off the Lich King.

What’s the better strategy here? I don’t even know all the pros and cons of each, so help educate me…

UPDATE – I just went to Hyjal, did three quests and got a sword that doubled my DPS. 0_o


Aabde on Staghelm, level 80


Level 10 – 5/14/09

Level 20 – 6/22/09

Level 30 – 8/7/09

Level 40 – 10/20/09

Level 50 – 12/12/09

Level 60 – 2/20/10

Level 70 – 6/24/10

Level 80 – 7/25/11

So, over two years. Note that it took over a year just to go from 70 to 80, so I’ve been in Northrend for a loooong time. Here are the dates of my Northrend questing achievements:

DEHTA’s little PITA: 7/14/10
Nothing Boring about Borean: 2/2/11
I’ve Toured the Fjord: 2/28/11
Might of Dragonblight: 5/21/11

This shows I’ve spent most of my time in the Borean Tundra (almost 6 months). That’s about how long I spent in Outland (from level 50-70).

At one time I had decided I was going to do all the quests in Outland, and was making some headway, but eventually gave up when I finally bought WotLK. I’ll reserve Outland achievements for my other alts.

I just noticed that there are quest achievements for the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor that I should have had credit for , but don’t – I assume they must have been added afterwards. Thats annoying 😛

On approach to 80

My main is approaching level 80, which has only taken me about two years of play 🙂 Of course the Flame Festival is going on now which will distract me once I get online again (today doesn’t look great for that, maybe tomorrow?). But as I get to “endgame” I am finally going to be eligible for raids and Wintergrasp and all that stuff which until now has been inaccessible.

The question is, what do I want to do? and how do I start?

I used to run battlegrounds when I first started but tired of the Kobyashi Maru aspect of them. I almost had the achievement for winning every BG once but then they changed it so that all BGs give the same kind of honor point (or is a valor point? I get confused). At any rate I have a good number of those saved up but am not really sure there’s any useful gear if any I could buy that would be useful to me now.

Also, I am trying to run a random dungeon every time i log on (which isn’t always possible) and thus am accumulating the other kind of Points there, too. Again, not really sure how many I need and what they are good for.

In a nutshell, I am a PvE player – I like to quest. I also like to do dungeons, in order to complete the questlines and get the achievements. What I want is better gear, I am very poorly equipped as most of my gear is quest reward stuff and I don’t have much gold to spend at AH.

From this comprehensive guide to PvP gear for the new 4.2 release, most of which is utterly incomprehensible to me, it seems like some PvP gear would be hugely useful for PvE. So, should I try to get some? How? What’s the best way to go about this?

I dont know if I will enjoy raiding, but right now I’m so under-equipped that it’s not even an option. I’d like to at least try it out. But again, no idea where to start.

I need a Newbie Eighty Guide to Gear. Tell me what to do, what the basic due diligence is. Any and all guidance appreciated!

UPDATE – should have mentioned, my main is a human Arms spec warrior, level 78 on Staghelm.

China and Azeroth: gold farm slavery

As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells.
Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for “illegally petitioning” the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.
it was the forced online gaming that was the most surreal part of his imprisonment. The hard slog may have been virtual, but the punishment for falling behind was real.

“If I couldn’t complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things,” he said.

It is known as “gold farming”, the practice of building up credits and online value through the monotonous repetition of basic tasks in online games such as World of Warcraft. The trade in virtual assets is very real, and outside the control of the games’ makers. Millions of gamers around the world are prepared to pay real money for such online credits, which they can use to progress in the online games.

The trading of virtual currencies in multiplayer games has become so rampant in China that it is increasingly difficult to regulate. In April, the Sichuan provincial government in central China launched a court case against a gamer who stole credits online worth about 3000rmb.

The lack of regulations has meant that even prisoners can be exploited in this virtual world for profit.

I have no words. read the whole thing.