Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ever buy gold on World of Warcraft?

Because you might be buying from criminals. But not in the way you think.

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.

"Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."

Memories from his detention at Jixi re-education-through-labour camp in Heilongjiang province from 2004 still haunt Liu. As well as backbreaking mining toil, he carved chopsticks and toothpicks out of planks of wood until his hands were raw and assembled car seat covers that the prison exported to South Korea and Japan. He was also made to memorise communist literature to pay off his debt to society.

But 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.

According to figures from the China Internet Centre, nearly £1.2bn of make- believe currencies were traded in China in 2008 and the number of gamers who play to earn and trade credits are on the rise.

It is estimated that 80% of all gold farmers are in China and with the largest internet population in the world there are thought to be 100,000 full-time gold farmers in the country.

In 2009 the central government issued a directive defining how fictional currencies could be traded, making it illegal for businesses without licences to trade. But Liu, who was released from prison before 2009 believes that the practice of prisoners being forced to earn online currency in multiplayer games is still widespread.

"Many prisons across the north-east of China also forced inmates to play games. It must still be happening," he said.

"China is the factory of virtual goods," said Jin Ge, a researcher from the University of California San Diego who has been documenting the gold farming phenomenon in China. "You would see some exploitation where employers would make workers play 12 hours a day. They would have no rest through the year. These are not just problems for this industry but they are general social problems. The pay is better than what they would get for working in a factory. It's very different," said Jin.

"The buyers of virtual goods have mixed feelings … it saves them time buying online credits from China," said Jin.

The emergence of gold farming as a business in China – whether in prisons or sweatshops could raise new questions over the exporting of goods real or virtual from the country.

"Prison labour is still very widespread – it's just that goods travel a much more complex route to come to the US these days. And it is not illegal to export prison goods to Europe, said Nicole Kempton from the Laogai foundation, a Washington-based group which opposes the forced labour camp system in China.

An article in the Guardian in the UK has quoted a man who was arrested in China. He said that on top of manual labour, prisoners were forced to play WoW for hours and raise gold, which the guards then sold to Westerners for monies. And the stakes are pretty high - as with those who shirked their manual labour, if you didn't fulfil quotas for gold farmed you were beaten. 

So when I went over to gank the farmers at Eastern Plaguelands, I was actually increasing the odds that they'd get whipped later that night.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I don't know if you guys have heard of this but...okay, actually I'm pretty sure you guys all know of nyan-cat. It is a recently sprung meme of a...well, a toaster cat. 
Nyan nyan nyan nyan!

It is accompanied by a catchy song played on loop, an that is the nyan cat. Recently I have discovered a derivative of the said meme, and I would like to share it with you all.

Follow the link and find out...yes, it is what you think it is. NYAN NYAN NYAAAN :3

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Woman will legally etch a man's eyes

In Iran a woman has been assaulted with acid by a man who was supposedly in love with her, but was rejected. Her face has been disfigured and her eyesight has been significantly reduced to next-to blindness.

After the trial, the judges have concluded that, according to the Sharia, which is their legal system, the woman is allowed to exact her revenge onto the man by dripping acid into the eyes of him as well ( while he is sedated and in a controlled amount and enviroment ) or send him to jail and have him pay a certain amount of money, which he probably can not afford. Even though the judges urged her not to make use of her right to exact revenge she chose the etching. She doesn't feel that any time in jail or any amount of money can ease the suffering she has undergone as a consequence of the assault. This should also serve as an example for any similar cases, she thinks. According to the judges, the sole judgement has already awed a statistically significant amount of possible perpetrators, that there has been a noticeable decline in this crimesector.

The punishment has not yet been carried out, and is set to be on Saturday the 14th of May. Humanitarian organizations have tried to convince her with money, to forbear putting the man through the same road of pain she has been through, though not successfully thus far.

On the left, you can see an image of the disfigured woman, holding a picture of her former face.

Interesting rights system ... Interesting choice of reaction to the rejection, from the man. I don't think he has any right to protest against this judgement. I'm not sure if I were in any of the two positions, assuming that the man gets his eyesight stolen as well, I'd be able to end the circle of hatred or simply devote my life to make the other person miserable ( or render him/her dead ).

Can you say, an eye for an eye...?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fat Tax - A fine for obesity?

Again, not strictly computer related but I've had some requests to do some non-related articles for the non-comp geeks out there =]

This one is slightly related, because it may affect some of us that sometimes sit around too much.

Essentially there is a proposal in Arizona to bring in an annual fine of $50 for people who are overweight/obese (also smokers). Of course they would exempt people who are overweight due to a medical condition, but any 'able-bodied' person who can address their weight issue would have to pay if they don't actively try to lose weight.

What are your thoughts on this? Concerns of course are the kind of people they target; (as it appears people working for the state w/ state insurance would not be targeted by this initiative), i.e. elderly people, children (what age do they draw the line at on both ends of the scale?)

Personally I think it's an interesting idea; and might influence some people's decisions. $50 a year seems quite low to me, but in the end it's several less Big Macs; ironic. At the same time I feel government profits could best be put towards educating people more about good foods and lifestyles. But this seems to be a dead horse that done been whipped good.

Also, I seem to recall in Japan there was a similar thing; you had to be within the 28-34 inch waist range or you might not keep your job. This is coming from distant memory so I can't confirm.

I guess it has come to that time, where obesity is such an issue (much like smoking/alc) that all the restrictions we do see against tobacco/alcohol might start to work their way into the realm of fast/food, and being governmentally ruled in some way. This seems like the baby step, but do you think it could lead to bigger (pun intended) restrictions in the future?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Florida accidently bans sex

Question: If your elected officials fail basic taxonomy, promote anti-science curriculum, and consistently attempt to undermine the fundamental unpinning of all biology, what happens when they start trying to legislate from this flawed view of reality?

The answer is this poorly-worded miasma of a law recently passed in Florida, which presumably was designed to prevent bestiality and promote animal welfare, but which has actually made it illegal, effective October 1, 2011, for anyone to have sex in Florida.

An act relating to sexual activities involving animals; creating s. 828.126, F.S.; providing definitions; prohibiting knowing sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal; prohibiting specified related activities; providing penalties; providing that the act does not apply to certain husbandry, conformation judging, and veterinary practices; providing an effective date.

Someone has constructed this helpful little graphic for the Florida Legislature to examine:

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So if you’re living in Florida on October 1, 2011 and would like to have sexual intercourse with a consenting adult, please check with your veterinarian or local livestock breeder first to make sure you abide by ”accepted animal husbandry practices, conformation judging practices, or accepted veterinary medical practices.”

TL;DR: Florida outlawed any sexual activities involving animals. Unfortunately, humans happen to fall under the definition of an "animal".

Sunday, May 15, 2011

[G] Q&A/Review of the Razer Naga Mouse

NOTE: In the future, I will be doing some non-computer/hardware related posts, if that's OK. Lots of random things I want to talk about :)

This is basically just a review of the Razer Naga wired laser mouse. This is for people who are interested in the mouse and looking to purchase it. I'm not trying to persuade anyone to switch from whatever mouse they currently have. I've seen some places where people are asking decent questions about the mouse and getting answers like "Naga plz that's for noobs." Sigh.

The focus of the article will be mainly around its usability around Starcraft II, as that's what I mainly play at the moment ^^
I'll answer some common questions and clear up a few misconceptions in a Q&A format so it's easier to search through. 

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How long have you had the mouse?
I've had the mouse for 8 months and I've used it with SC2 for 5 of those months. So I have a decent amount of experience with the mouse.

Is it hard to get used to?
The simple answer is that, it depends. For myself I purchased it originally to play WoW and then picked up SC2 later. It took about 3 or 4 days to get accustomed to for WoW. Since I started playing SC2 with the mouse (I never played BW, I know, lol @ me) for the control groups, I never really had to switch from using the keyboard 0-9 as my control groups to the mouse.

Although, for a few days I didn't have the Naga and I went back to my old mouse, the Logitech G5, and it was difficult getting used to the keyboard 0-9 when my muscle memory wanted to use my right thumb for my control groups. It was strange having to stretch my hand to do CTRL+6 and also mircoing 1-3 groups of units in a battle all with my left hand. I don't have small hands or anything, 6' male if that means anything. Though, I'm sure this feeling is normal for all people just starting to play SC2.

Is it hard to reach some of the buttons?
Somewhat. Again, I don't have small hands, but it does feel a little bit awkward pulling my thumb back to reach 10-12. For SC2 though, I don't see many people using 10-12 anyway. When I played WoW and actively used 10-12, it wasn't a problem, so it's just something that takes getting used to.

Do you accidentally press the side buttons/numpad while using the mouse normally?
No. Unless you really spaz out during battles and give your mouse a Hulk grip, you won't accidentally press any of the buttons.

Are the side buttons/numpad hard to press and won't they move your mouse/reduce accuracy when you use them?
Again, no. Maybe for the first 10 minutes or so with the mouse, it may move when you're trying out the side buttons/numpad, but after that you'll likely be used to it. I can spam the side buttons all day without the mouse moving.

Is this mouse banned at tournaments?
I'm no professional player, but from what I've read this mouse isn't banned anywhere. If you use the mouse to perform macros with more than one command, then yes, it is banned. It's no different than keyboards with 'macro' keys like the Logitech G15, G19, Razer BlackWidow etc.
If you use the mouse the normal way, with 0-9 correlating with 0-9 on your keyboard then you're fine.

This mouse looks huge! Sc2 mice are supposed to be small and lightweight.
This mouse is actually smaller than the Razer DeathAdder. I use that as an example because it seems to be TL's favorite Razer mouse, or at least the one that is often used in comparison with the Naga. In terms of LxWxH, the DeathAdder is 128 x 70 x 42.5mm. While the Naga is 116 x 69 x 41.6mm. Razer has a mouse comparison chart on their website if you don't believe me and want to see for yourself.
As far as weight is concerned, the DeathAdder is 133g while the Naga is 143g. And if you're someone who says "Whoa bro, 10g is a huge difference that I would definitely notice and it would totally throw my game off!" Aww, you're cute.

I use the claw grip and it's supposed to be for people who use the palm grip.
That's what Razer's website says but it really doesn't matter. I am someone who uses the 'palm' grip when doing normal things, but when games get intense, I naturally use the claw grip for faster movements. Even then, it doesn't feel awkward. I don't really have any experience using it with the fingertip grip, where people have only their fingertips on the mouse and are lightly gripping it. Maybe then you would find some discomfort since your thumb would be moving around to use the side buttons/numpad.

Is this mouse good for FPS? It's an MMO mouse and isn't for SC2.
At the end of the day a mouse is a mouse. You can use it for whatever you want. Just because it's advertised for MMOs doesn't mean that it is 'bad' for RTS or any other type of game. Using that logic, I could say that since it's advertised as being made for MMOs then that means it would be bad at flash games or surfing the web. It's a bit of a stretch, but you can see what I mean.

Will it make me better? Will it increase my APM?
This mouse won't make you better. It can be used as a tool to get better, but it won't throw you into Master's league as soon as you plug it in. Think of it in terms of efficiency. In theory, if you changed all of your hotkeys to be on the left side of the keyboard where your hands are resting, then you could get faster because the keys are closer and it takes less time than moving your hand out of place to the right side of the keyboard. It's the same idea with this mouse. Since 0-9 is on your right thumb, you don't have to stretch you pinky and index finger to press Ctrl+9. I don't really care how fast you are or what league you're in, a practiced person stretching to press Ctrl+9 will always be slower than a person practiced in using Ctrl with their left pinky and 9 on their right thumb.

As far as key bindings go, I haven't bound anything to the side buttons/numpad. The biggest advantage I see to using this mouse is that the control groups are all in one, easy to reach place. The only button I have bound on the mouse is the key I use to toggle speaking in Ventrilo which I have on one of the two buttons that is found near M1 or the left mouse button.

Do you have anything bad to say about this mouse?!?
Sure. It has a glossy finish on the sides of the mouse. This can annoy some people and for me it's easy to get dirty. I used to have hyperhidrosis and I play in hoodies almost exclusively, so my sweating is most likely the cause of the dirt or whatever. Maybe if it had a different surface I wouldn't sweat as much, I don't know.
Also, the first Razer Naga I had broke because of static shock. I often generate a good amount of electricity when getting up and down from the computer chair while playing. One day I got a very strong zap from the mouse and it no longer continued to work after that. Some say it's a problem with Razer's quality. Maybe. I don't really expect anything to hold up after a shock like that, though. I purchased the mouse from Best Buy and paid $15 for 2 years of protection through the "Geek Squad Black Tie Protection Plan." I just drove to the Best Buy that I purchased it from and walked out with a brand new one. 
There are some qualities that many people might not like as well. It's not wireless, it's not under $50, it has blue LEDs in it (I turned mine off in the settings so it wouldn't keep me awake), etc.

Should I buy this mouse? Is it worth the money?

I would say for some people that yes, the mouse will most likely help you improve. But for people who have been playing since BW, or use the standard keyboard hotkeys and are generally set in their ways with the keyboard control groups, it will most likely be much harder for you to make the switch than it was for me. I had no previous muscle memory built up before I started using it, as I said before, I started playing SC2 with it. If you have tons of time and maybe even years of SC2 experience under your belt, I could see switching to be quite difficult. I say this from having to use a normal mouse for a few days and getting used to the 0-9 on the keyboard for my control groups.
If you are pretty new to SC2 and are just getting used to using the hotkeys and control groups, I would recommend it. Or if you're a veteran and you think that the increased efficiency is worth the switch then I would recommend it as well. But if you're well set in your ways and comfortable with the 0-9 control groups on the keyboard, it would probably be harder to make the switch and set you back a good amount of practice time. 

Finally, as you would expect with other 'high end gaming mice', it's accurate, it's as fast or as slow as you want it to be. It has really nice software and updates from Razer. I haven't had any driver problems or anything of that nature. Yadda yadda, it does everything a gaming mouse is supposed to do.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My dear princess...

I've had a request to post some pictures of my computer, which I will very happily do so with no intentions of bragging whatsoever :P I am extremely proud of my computer and being one of those people that get high off of building computers, something like this in my hands is very pleasing. Without further adue, here are some shots..

NZXT Phantom is what the case is called. It's pretty big and heavy.

I had to buy four 5mm blue leds for the front or it wouldn't look so pretty.
With all the fans in the case (7), one cool thing to have would be their NZXT Sentry 2 controler. It's really fun to have and its touch screen! haha.
Clean as a whistle on the inside. The liquid cooling makes the system about as quiet as a whisper. It's very nice ^^

Hope you guys enjoyed a few quick pictures I took! Let me know if you have any questions or further requests!

Friday, May 13, 2011


Hello and welcome to Comp Chomp nom nom!

This is my first blog ever, so please go easy on me if I make any mistakes, and any feedback would be appreciated!

I've recently built my third computer, so I was in a very motivated-geeky-computer mood, so I decided to start a blog about, well, computers and its related-stuff. I will post some fun things, some good tips for the fellow geeks, reviews, recommendations, and generally everything cool.

Any requests would also be appreciated!
Thanks for following, and hope we will have a good time in the years to come =]