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10041  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: AoC server merge coming on: September 30, 2008, 11:23:56 PM
AoC is staggering no doubt, but I would keep in mind that they added a bunch of servers *after* the game launched due to probably the usual underestimating of the capacity they needed. When I first started playing, I recalled seeing "new server available" messages when I logged in, almost every day. So they may well just end up getting back to the number of servers they had at launch.

I think what it does reflect is their obvious "churn rate" since launch and that they're officially no longer in "growth" mode - I know that's "duh"  retard but this helps make that concrete. It's obviously not a hot new game people grab off the shelf anymore (it's Warhammer's 15 minutes of fame now, and soon the LOTRO and WoW expansions), so their mission is probably more of retention and survival than anything else.

Usually DOOMMM!!! is called for, imho, if there is an Auto Assault style "mass server consolidation." Netdevil/NCSoft merged about 8 or 12 servers (I forget the number, but it was about the same as City of Heroes has) into one giant server called "Nexus," if I remember it right, and you knew that was pretty much a portent of doom, and it was.
10042  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: September 30, 2008, 02:38:59 AM
Although the new game director has progress on many fronts to report in his latest letter at the forums, the truth is, all anyone is going to read about and pay attention to is... THEY'RE MERGING SERVERS! DOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!! Which conveniently is in the 2nd part of his letter...

http://forums-eu.ageofconan.com/showthread.php?t=95183
Quote
Another aspect which has popped up in the forums recently is whether we are going to do a server merge or not, and I can today confirm that we are actively working on an approach to merge servers, both in Europe and North America. It’s important for us to ensure the best gameplay experience for you all, and more healthy populations on each and every server will make sure we maintain healthy communities for the game in the future. Still, there are many complexities involved in this, and we want to ensure that everything happens as fair and streamlined as possible. That work has now started, and we are naturally making sure that guilds and players can get to new servers in the best possible way. We will come back with more info on this, but I hope that this will serve as a positive injection to the social scene in the game.
That aside, there are some promising things, but the new Ymir's Pass (55-60ish) zone still seems weeks if not months away.
10043  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - Welcome Back to LOTRO Weekend on: September 30, 2008, 02:27:08 AM
Welcome Back to LOTRO Weekend with Bonus XP!
http://forums.lotro.com/showthread.php?&postid=2256115#post2256115
Quote
Make sure you're ready to take advantage of everything that Mines of Moria™ has to offer by participating in a Welcome Back Weekend which includes bonus experience for all!

From October 2-6, 2008, we're offering free LOTRO access to our former players, and +25% bonus experience gain for everyone who logs in and plays. Returning players are invited to patch up, jump in, and start playing on their old characters to get them ready for Moria!

Prepare your characters for the wonder and dread of Moria by taking advantage of these bonus XP days! Tell your friends to log in and play, level your mains and alts, and get ready to Conquer the World Beneath™!
There, I've told my friends. You guys are my friends, right? Oh don't answer that question.  drool retard

Note: The 25% bonus experience is for everybody, as they say, and not just returning players.  icon_cool
10044  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 29, 2008, 07:58:51 PM
Saw an interesting Linux-focused "30 ways to mod your Acer Aspire One" blog item:
http://www.linuxhaxor.net/2008/09/27/30-cool-acer-aspire-one-hacks/

If I'm not mistaken, one of the beauties of the Scott Evest things (for those into them) is that instead of yanking various things out for airport security, you just take your coat off and stick it on the conveyor (probably you'd need to still yank the AA1 out separately though). One of their marketing gimmicks is showing actual X-ray type images of the coat showing everything in their proper place. I imagine with that much stuff though, the TSA person would probably look at it for a while.  icon_smile

They have regular open "vest" versions for warm weather climates. Although I think they're cool, I just can't justify that cost myself -- even the skimpier vests are pricey. I mean, what's the point of getting a $350 netbook and then buying a $250 coat?  icon_razz

A fully gimmick loaded coat/vest doesn't get TSA nearly as riled up as accidently putting your travel size shaving cream in a carryon bag and *not* inside a plastic zip bag. Gawd, it happened to me once, and I thought I would get sent to Guatanamo Bay. paranoid
10045  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 Gone Gold on: September 29, 2008, 06:34:02 PM
English-language demo came out today, this Blue's News item is gradually adding various download links:
http://www.bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/board.pl?action=viewthread&threadid=91803

I'm assuming this "scaling paranoia" is something related to Oblivion's handling of the concept.

I saw a preview of Sacred 2 in June that tries to explain how it works here:
http://www.gamersinfo.net/articles/2199-sacred-2-fallen-angel
Quote
The monster AI adjusts its aggression levels based upon character and party size, but not by scaling the difficulty of the monster. It uniquely adjusts the group size of the attacking mob until the fight becomes even. If you are of no consequence, you will be left alone; if you are too powerful, the mob will wait until it can gather additional creatures before attacking.
I don't know if that sounds better or worse than people might expect when "scaling" comes into the mix, just thought I'd mention it.

Personally, I'd vote for making scaling an "option" for single player players. Maybe it's not that simple (i.e., dev would have to balance the scaled and non-scaled versions separately), but I'm always in favor of giving players choices instead of forcing things on them that might keep them from buying the game.

The latest items I've dug up on the North American (CDV published) version from mid September was that they still weren't ready to announce if it would use DRM or not here (it was in Europe, just about everywhere, but it is a different publisher there). I would assume CDV will follow suit, but it was sort of interesting that as late as Sept. 10 or so, they wouldn't confirm that. fwiw, the way it's been implemented in the European version, you don't need the CD/DVD in the drive to play (but you do need Internet access for activation).
10046  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 29, 2008, 05:45:02 PM
I recall there was a massive fire at the main laptop battery manufacturer in early summer. From what I read, there is still something of a shortage for 6-cells given the massive demands worldwide. So it may be a while before the prices for buying 6-cell batteries separately comes down (the AA1, if you can even find it online, apparently retails $100-$110 or so). A lot of the new netbooks I read about are still coming with wimpy 3-cell batteries standard, probably for cost reasons as much as anything.

=======
Saw a product review of the latest Scottevest coat, and it includes a backpocket large enough for an AA1 (the reviewer has one so he knows).

Review:
http://www.gadling.com/2008/09/29/product-review-scottevest-scott-jordan-signature-system-jack/

Photo of all the electronic goodies he carried in his coat, including his AA1:
http://www.gadling.com/photos/sev-scott-jordan-signature-edition-review/1061790/
10047  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Command & Conquer Renegade did not deserve the bad rep it got. on: September 28, 2008, 02:41:37 PM
I bought it in its day and mostly found it disappointing. I mean, if you're coming at it *now* from the idea that everyone told you it was the worst game ever made, that's maybe the usual contrasting "impressions related to what everyone said" syndrome that happens with everything, including movies that can't possibly live up to good buzz completely (see The Dark Knight, for lots of people), and games that don't live up to promises. I can find people calling Halo, Oblivion and World of Warcraft "overrated" all over the Internet, for example.  icon_surprised

My own weakness is for various European games often trampled here.

In my case, I bought C&C: Renegade when it was released (early 2002), had gobbled up everything C&C released to that point, the game had tons of preview buzz, and I found it a letdown compared to other shooters I was playing at the time. I don't really think RTS devs should foray into FPS games without some guidance (even Blizzard wasn't developing the now pretty much dead Starcraft: Ghost on their own - they wanted a dev with some experience in it). Earlier Westwood did the underselling Diablo clone Nox. To some extent they seemed to be chasing non-RTS trends to broaden their games base, but it didn't seem to work out financially.

The odd thing is, if you dig up reviews (I checked IGN and Gamespot for example), they really were not all that bad (7.5/10, 7.8/10 etc.). C&C just had such a big name then, and I think most people (me included) expected perhaps more from it than it was going to deliver.

I did think the multiplayer game had interesting concepts, especially for its day. I was still dialup at that point, and it may have hamstrung my online experiences to some extent.
10048  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anyone got a Color Laser Printer? on: September 27, 2008, 11:05:08 PM
After all that, a Micro Center sales guy talked me out of the Samsung and down to a cheaper $109 Cannon Pixma MX310 all-in-one inkjet. His reasoning was that a laser was excessive unless I was really printing a volume of pages (though to be honest, he didn't seem to know anything about the Samsung laser anyway).

This Cannon model also has a neat little "mini scanner bed" for negatives and slides, and I hope to be able to dig up some old photos to share that way. And it is pretty much quiet as a mouse (My Okidata, even when it wasn't printing, sounded like a steam engine).

I just got it set up (for a change, it seems to have been designed to work with Vista 64-bit specifically as well as Vista in general, so it's reassuring to me) and... well that's off topic I guess, so I have no more to say here.  icon_smile
10049  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 27, 2008, 07:10:47 PM
Saw a new video review of the Linux AA1 at a UK site called Trusted Reviews:
http://www.trustedreviews.com/video/Acer-Aspire-One-Notebook

They have just introduced video reviews so don't expect terribly photogenic folks.  icon_wink I've seen few reviews of the XP version in the UK, not sure that model has launched there yet (or, maybe Linux is more popular in UK).
10050  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 Gone Gold on: September 26, 2008, 09:41:33 PM
I noticed Gogamer has a $10 off sale on this (which at least effectively cuts out the shipping cost).

I think I bought the UK version of Sacred from them way back when, and they I had to remember to download the UK updates, and eventually bought the UK expansion).

Yeah, I don't think I really need respawning in my Diablo clones either.  disgust

When I was a Darkstone nut in 1999 running a fan site and forum for that one, Delphine had the bright idea to add a patch that added respawning to all the dungeons. It mostly just drove me nuts. For example, I liked having some option to return to loot I had to left behind, without having to fight a war to get back there. It also sort of confused me at times -- I couldn't remember if I had already been certain places because now the whole thing had repopulated.

10051  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: City of Heroes Issue 13: Architect (mission creator; day jobs) on: September 26, 2008, 05:31:25 PM
Positron announced that due to ravenous demand for the ability to create custom NPCs for player-created missions (which isn't something they had planned on offering), they're breaking Issue 13 into two different updates (13 and 14), with the Architect now planned for early 2009 as an issue 14 that *will* feature the ability to create your own custom NPCs for your missions.  icon_cool

updated: Here's the link:
http://www.coh.com/news/archives/2008/09/issue_13_so_big.html
Quote
When we announced Issue 13: Architect a couple weeks back, we were overwhelmed by the positive response. Much of the feedback was centered around the Mission Architect system which allows players to create their own missions and story arcs. We have been actively following forum threads and private messages about the feature, and have even discussed it with players in person at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle.

It became apparent that you guys really want this feature, but in order to fully realize your dreams of writing your own missions you need creative control in one more key area: The ability to create "customized" characters to fight with or against in your missions. Adding custom characters has always been on our Mission Architect feature list, but we had considered it a "stretch goal." That is, we could launch the system without this feature because our confidence was high that the rest of the system was incredibly robust.

But after listening to you guys, we realize that this feature simply must be in at launch. You have convinced us that it is an integral part of the Mission Architect, and we have reworked schedules and timelines to accomplish this. Rather than push the launch of Issue 13 out completely for one (albeit really cool and very complex) feature, the Mission Architect is going to see a slight delay. What is not going to be delayed is the rest of Issue 13. To that end, the previously announced feature set for Issue 13, together with new features that we are announcing today, will become Issue 13 and Issue 14.

Issue 14 will take on the name "Architect" and contain the Mission Architect feature along with other features we'll announce at a later date. We are planning Issue 14: Architect to be released in the first quarter of 2009. Issue 13 is now called "Issue 13: Power and Responsibility" and be launched in the Fall of 2008.

Issue 13: Power and Responsibility
Issue 13: Power and Responsibility will contain the bulk of features we've announced previously, including:

    * Shield and Pain Domination powersets
    * Merit Reward system
    * Day Jobs (that include a suite of new costume pieces)
    * Additional Cimerora and Midnight Squad mission arcs

In addition, we have some other new exciting features to reveal that will be included in Issue 13: Power and Responsibility. These include:

    * Leveling Pact
    * Multi-Builds
    * PvE & PvP Powers rebalancing
    * Villain Patron Power Respec
    * Supergroup Base Repricing

Over the coming weeks we'll be providing more details about the above points, but let me give you an overview of some of them now.

The Leveling Pact: A new innovation to MMOs, this groundbreaking system allows you and a buddy to create new characters and have your XP be permanently in sync, whether both characters are online or not. You will always be the same level, even if your buddy plays ten times more often than you do! It's sort of like "Extreme Sidekicking."

Multi-Builds: Another innovation to City of Heroes, we are delivering the ability to have two different build-outs of each character, including which powers are selected and which Enhancements are slotted. This will now be possible for characters who want to take advantage of it. By visiting any Trainer you can switch the entire build of your character to an alternate one. You can use this separate build for whatever you like. If you wish to use different power selections for soloing and groups, you can do that. This even makes it possible to have different IO sets slotted for PVP and PVE. It's up to you.

PvE and PvP Powers Rebalancing: Floyd "Castle" Grubb and the powers designers have been hard at work in finding ways to strike a better balance between the many powers in the game. The scope of what they are doing is too broad to go into details here, but we're very excited and we'll share more information soon. Suffice it to say that we know that you don't want your PvE powers adjusted because of how they play in PvP, so we're taking a new tact in power balancing with Issue 13.

Summary
Issue 13 was so big we had to turn it into two releases, Issue 13: Power and Responsibility and Issue 14: Architect. Issue 13 will be going into beta soon and launching this Fall. It will include most of the previously announced features of Issue 13, and then some. Issue 14: Architect will include the full-featured Mission Architect and is scheduled to launch to the live servers in Q1, 2009. I am really looking forward to getting Issue 13 into your hands as soon as possible, and starting off a kick-ass 2009 with the release of Mission Architect.
The "Leveling Pact" feature of course brings up tons of questions. There's a thread on it with some dev answers:
http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=general&Number=12047361&bodyprev=#Post12047361
Quote
Here is the gist of how this works, when players enter the leveling pact (level 5 and below) their experience is all flattened to whoever was the lowest. Any incoming experience to any member is effectively split by the member count of the pact (which we are limiting to 2 initially). From that point foward, all members will have the exact same experience and always be the exact same level. If player A logs out and lets player B do all the work, it will take player B twice as long.

The reason I wanted this is because I've started other games with a group of friends, only to have our tight-knit party fall apart because of differing levels of commitment. I imagine I'm not the only person to create an alt for every combination of friends. Hopefully the 2 person pact won't have any serious problems and we will be able to expand it to full team size.
10052  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Warhammer Online hits 500,000 subscribers on: September 26, 2008, 03:56:41 PM
That's awesome, but yeah, let's see where it is in a month, or 3 months. Everything sounds pretty impressive so far (I'm only lurking for now), and it doesn't sound like it will have anything like AoC's teething pains (to put it kindly icon_wink). I wish it well (truly) and hope it keeps the momentum going. icon_smile
10053  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 26, 2008, 03:54:36 PM
Yeah I don't usually display my cloak either. I think really what's lacking is some ability to customize. I wouldn't expect them to go to the lengths they do in City of Heroes (where cape customization is so detailed, it's practically a fun little game in itself), some ability to change the cape style, trim, put some sort of logo on it etc. would be nice and give us a little more ability to feel unique.

I know though they have to focus on Moria and updates, and such. I wouldn't expect them to prioritize "helms being unappealing" and "cloaks being uncustomizable" high on the "to do" list. It still feels better to get it off my chest, so to speak. icon_smile

It's a small beef, it's just they obviously have talented artists (lots of environs in the game still take my breath away). You'd like to see a few helms that people actually want to make visible, and the artists can have their work enjoyed instead of hidden.
10054  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anyone got a Color Laser Printer? on: September 26, 2008, 03:06:16 PM
If it's not a demo model (my local Micro Center only has one in stock apparently), I hope to get this Samsung CLP-315 color laser printer tomorrow. Most important to my sensitive ears, it's supposedly extremely quiet. It's $199.99 (though I've seen it online as cheap as $169.99, I think at TigerDirect), and there's a $50 mail-in rebate going on now.

CLP-315 page at Samsung.
http://www.samsung.com/us/consumer/detail/detail.do?group=printersmultifunction&type=printersmultifunction&subtype=colorlaserprinters&model_cd=CLP-315/XAA
They have a different version called the CLP-315W that supports wireless printing, it's about $50 more I think.

While reviews are pretty good, most seem to indicate the print quality is not top-line razor sharp so whether it would cut the mustard for serious professional use (newsletters etc.) I don't know. For my purposes at home it seems ideal though.

I've been using an ancient Okidata LED printer since about 1997. It works OK but is noisy, and apparently (as a printer designed before USB printing became commonplace) it has trouble handling graphics, maps etc. now that I have to use a parallel-to-USB adapter on my latest computer. I tried fiddling with various settings, but it still tends to cut graphics off and get a "print overrrun" about 1/4 through the page.

I often use Mapquest, Google maps, etc. and even when I could get maps to print on older computers I had, it was frustrating not having color as so many things on maps are highlighted via colors. Heck, even printing some maps from lotro databases in color should be helpful.  icon_smile
10055  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 26, 2008, 04:10:18 AM
As promised, helm wise...

Helm as Broom Head... or is it a sheep head growing out of my head? Or is it the kind of wig some poor lady doling out food at the school cafeteria might wear?  icon_confused


Helm as... upside down teapot?... or is it, upside down goblet? Or maybe a goblet someone mashed through a giant insect?


Thus this gal Just Says No to visible helms...
10056  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Why are there no Warhammer Online Impressions thread? on: September 25, 2008, 10:12:14 PM
Are there any signs of a free trial (7 or 10-day maybe) at some point? Most of what I read here and in reviews/impressions (esp. Gamespy and VE3D takes of late) suggest it wouldn't really suit my PVE focus enough in the long run, but I'd certainly still like to give it a whirl somewhere down the road.
10057  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 25, 2008, 09:15:45 PM
Destructor, if you're willing to mail order (I'm guessing you aren't near a Micro Center retail location), Micro Center seems to have tons of them in stock now. My latest inventory check here in Virginia shows 337  icon_eek at that location. Many of their other locations have 90, 100, 200 or more in stock. But you can mail order from them as well (for mail order it's listed "in stock" and ships in 1-3 days). The only limit is "1 per customer."

XP version
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0293528

This week I've been using it a lot to show people photos and movies I took during some events on a 4-day vacation (sort of handy at work, our computers don't have speakers for the most part). And my mom enjoyed seeing stuff on its relatively big screen vs. on my Palm or my Zen MP3 player/photo viewer.

One co-worker is very envious, but she might prefer the 6-cell battery. And while I consider the keyboard maybe 2nd best in this 8.9" size range (next to the much costlier, hotter-running HP Mini-Note), people do initially worry the keyboard's too small. I don't think that concern goes away until you actually type on it for a while (and I don't mean typing "now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their" blah blah in a store). I mean, really type something for a few minutes on it.  icon_smile

I'm using it frequently to look up stuff for LOTRO. I know if I played in windowed-mode I could probably pull up my browser on screen, but it's really quite handy to pull up databases and maps on the AA1, and I can practically just plop it in front of my regular 19" monitor to see where I need to go -- which I often need help on in that game.  icon_razz

Of course, it's not something I *need,* I'm just looking for any practical/fun use for it, and it really isn't that hard to find such uses. icon_biggrin
10058  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 25, 2008, 05:49:08 PM
Cripes if you have 2.5 Gold, you're in far better shape and have far more willpower than I ever was/had.  icon_smile We dont' have a smiley that indicates "jealousy."  icon_cool

After some grueling group instances, my 48 Captain finally had about 1.3 gold. But rather than be nice and mail it back to my horse-less 36 Hunter, I blew it all on probably the most expensive 2-handed weapon in the auction house (worth it, but my Hunter cried "foul"  tear) I even sent a thank you in-game mail to the guy who crafted it.

My experience (limited) is most people want to just race their crafting skill to the max and then make high-end stuff. I've tried auctioning lower-end stuff I've crafted and generally there's no interest in them (you'll generally get better quest reward stuff). At the high end though (esp. with unique or one-use recipes) are some really special things. My Captain stumbled on a rash of nice high end bow recipes in Angmar and I've been mailing those to my Hunter (who has woodworking) in hopes I can make those eventually.

There's an L50 guardian in my kin with the highest end woodworking, and he apparently can craft one-shot "acorn summoner whistles" that anyone can use to summon a fellowship member to their side (if the summonee has travel rations). Or at least I think it's woodworking (the "wood carving" animation appears when he's making an acorn).

I am not really "good" at any sort of crafting aside from Prospecting yet, but fwiw I find the crafting easier to grasp and understand in LOTRO than in many other MMOs I've tried. Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa to me had utterly baffling crafting systems. AoC I had a better handle on than those, but I didn't really find it worth my time to pursue much.

LOTRO's crafting I have a better understanding of, and some of the crafting animations (while understandably repetitive) I do find kinda fun to watch/listen to. Although, when I'm trying to catch up on a skill, I invariably have to make 25-30-35 of something at a time, and then it's time to go watch TV while I'm at the forge...
10059  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 25, 2008, 01:27:21 PM
Taiwan's BenQ earlier in the month (I missed it icon_confused) plans to enter this category with both 8.9" and 10" notebooks. Other than apparently an LED-backlit screen for the 10" model, and maybe having the trackpad buttons in the preferred "below the trackpad" position, it's basically Par for the Course, feature-wise. Or are all the 10" netbooks using LED screens now?  icon_confused

Taiwan's BenQ joins low-cost netbook PC market
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSTP17193820080925
Quote
"For our new products, we hope we can have about five percent market share in one to two years," BenQ Corp Chief Executive Officer and President Conway Lee told reporters at a news conference, where BenQ displayed its "Joybook Lite" netbooks.

Lee did not give sales and shipment forecasts of its Joybook Lite PC, weighing about 1 kilo, and which has a 10-inch LED-backlit display [the 8.9" model seems to be a "regular" LCD] and a sleek outer shell to attract design-conscious customers.

Various links: (lots of photos)
http://jkkmobile.blogspot.com/2008/09/meet-benq-joybook-lite-u101-netbook.html
http://www.engadget.com/2008/09/12/benq-debuts-joybook-lite-u101-netbook/
http://eeepc.net/benq-to-release-the-joybook-lite-netbook/
10060  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 24, 2008, 09:06:59 PM
Maybe, but if I show you some of the ridiculous helms I've had (one looked like a big, ornate, upside down teapot), I think clearly you wouldn't think they looked appealing on a Dwarf, a Hobbit, an Elf, a Man or even a boar.  smirk I'll try to share my "worst helms" pics later if I can track the images down.

It's not unique to LOTRO. AoC has some interesting helms later on, but most early ones basically make you look like Johnny Carson-as-Floyd R. Turbo (you'll probably have to be at least 40 years old to understand that comparison ).  icon_razz

I'm sure Turbine would argue they "fit Tolkien Lore," but I'll bet Tolkien didn't envision people running around with upside down teapots and broom-heads and feather-dusters sticking out of the top of their skulls.  icon_razz In the end, it's not a big deal. I just kinda missed the excitement I've felt in other games (even Diablo II and its clones) when I got a new helm and couldn't wait to wear it. Now the "helm excitement" in lotro is strictly about improved stats, and I keep helm visual disabled on basically all my characters.

I do like that they added a fairly affordable "barbershop" feature while I was away and you can fairly painlessly change hairstyles as the mood fits ya.
10061  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 24, 2008, 06:31:43 PM
Even though it's still a small segment of things, I see more articles wringing hands about netbooks nibbling at the market for "real" notebooks:

http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/09/24/netbooks-vs-notebooks-thinkequity-sees-new-smaller-devices-eating-into-revenues-profits-at-apple-intel/
Quote
“We believe the netbook market is starting to make inroads into the core notebook market as a more price-conscious consumer opts for the cheaper alternative,” he wrote in his Intel note this morning. Intel is addressing the netbook market with its Atom processor, so the company is not being cut out of the food chain; but Rakesh notes that Atom processors sell at much lower price points and carry thinner gross margins. The Atom, he notes, sells for $20-$40 and carries a 45% gross margin, while the Core2Duo sells for $140-$250 and carries a gross margin of 56%.
10062  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - [upgrading Trial to full, retaining trial characters] on: September 24, 2008, 06:16:30 PM

Quote from: Xmann on September 22, 2008, 04:41:58 PM

ok, trial ended today and i want to upgrade my subscription to retail.    however, i want to make sure i upgrade the trial account so i can keep my character and not have to create new.

so when i log onto my account page, it gives me an option to purchase the retail digital version.   is this the correct way to upgrade?   just wondering because i don't see an option to upgrade the account, just to buy the game.
A few threads tackle this question. Some point to this tech support page (below, the URL is a mess, length-wise), and it should guide you through it.

The short answer is yes, you can just buy it digitally. However, make sure you log in with your *trial account login* if you want to keep your trial characters. Do not set up a new account login, or your trial characters won't carry over, is what they seem to say.

http://turbine.fuzeqna.com/lotro.support/consumer/kbdetail.asp?kbid=1846&SearchType=advanced&referrer=&CustID=&rfield=&usertype=&formaction=search&bUseEditor=&IncludeHTML=&gpn=&gpv=&keyword=trial&match=and&catID1=&catID2=&catID3=&sortmethod=rel+desc%2C+datemodified&submitbutton=Go
Quote
Question/Topic
How do I convert my Free Trial account to a subscription?

Answer/Article

You must purchase a retail copy of LOTRO and have a Retail Product Key in order to convert your free trial to a retail subscription.

You can purchase a Retail Product Key either by linking here [http://www.lotro.com/buynow/turbine] or by purchasing a retail copy of The Lord of the Rings OnlineTM in a store.

To upgrade your LOTRO trial account once you have a LOTRO Retail Product Key:

   1. Link to our Account Management website: https://myaccount.turbine.com/
   2. Wait for the page to fully load and log into it with the same Username and Password that you used to log into your LOTRO trial
   3. Once logged in, click "Activate Product Key"
   4. Enter your Retail Product Key
   5. Click “Submit”
   6. After submitting the Retail Product Key, you will be asked if you want to upgrade your Buddy/Trial subscription. Make sure to choose YES
   7. If you have more than one LOTRO subscription on your account, you will be asked which one you want to upgrade. Make sure you choose the subscription that you want to upgrade

Any characters from your trial account will be converted to your retail subscription.

The 30 free days of LOTRO gameplay begin once a payment method is selected and the LOTRO subscription is activated.
If you need more info, this Search Results page links to a lot of forum threads on converting trial to full:
http://forums.lotro.com/search.php?searchid=4636903

10063  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 24, 2008, 06:08:58 PM

Quote from: TiLT on September 20, 2008, 04:02:38 PM

Why are you slicing up that poor man's shoulder in the last screenshot? slywink

Georien was trying to cut Verdara's head off to get the cool helm.  icon_twisted

I got a fine quest rewards helm the other day, and it would look cool if not for what looks like a giant broom head mounted on top of it. It's been a common complaint since probably late beta that too many helms look silly/ridiculous/ungainly. Turbine's solution was to let you "disable" viewing of almost everything, but I wish they would just simplify some of the attempts at "helm flourishes" or even let you remove certain "components" from helms.

If I bring it up in chat, nobody disagrees - I always get a lot of chuckles and "oh yeah I haven't enabled helm view since I was level 5" and the like. Of course, a "cool helm design" is entirely subjective, but I can't help thinking if they just told the helm art designers, "Keep it simple," they would see more people enabling helm views in-game.

Xmann, I'll search the official forums and see if I can find an answer for you. I'm sure many others have brought up the "how do I upgrade a trial version and keep my characters" question before.
10064  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Vista (64-bit) freezing at startup on: September 23, 2008, 12:32:03 AM
The situation has been resolved. I thank one and all for suggestions.

After some fiddling the two programs are back to behaving well and the startup troubles are gone.  icon_smile

I think the problem is that CounterSpy upgraded its software to the new version in the background (probably while I was playing LOTRO). And you need to run the setup before it configures properly. So my theory isn't so much the two programs were conflicting - it was that CounterSpy wasn't set up yet and I had to get NOD32 out of the way temporarily to do that. Now I've re-enabled everything (including CounterSpy's Vipre AV), and all's well.
10065  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Vista (64-bit) freezing at startup on: September 22, 2008, 10:22:51 PM
Brendan, I think your question I didn't answer correctly - at some point recently CounterSpy upgraded itself to 3.0, which includes their new anti-virus service. And I'm almost positive now that conflicts with NOD32 (maybe it even detects Nod32 as an AV and blocks it, for all I know).  icon_smile

So thanks, I think you actually got my troubleshooting brain going in the correct direction.

Now I have to figure out if I like CounterSpy's AV enough to stop using NOD32.

Hmm. OK now I'm more confused. CounterSpy 3's own demo says its designed to run alongside AV programs, including NOD32, without problems. icon_confused Guess I gotta keep experimentin'.
10066  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Vista (64-bit) freezing at startup on: September 22, 2008, 10:12:25 PM
Oh. Man. You know what?

I didn't realize this but CounterSpy added a "Vipre anti-virus service" Service to its utility recently, I'm not even sure when. Just noticed that on the System Configuration list. I wonder if it's conflicting with NOD32? I'm going to see if disabling the Vipre lets me run NOD32 without problems.

We'll just say a prayer I just don't screw things up royally.  icon_razz

Or I guess conversely, I can just let CounterSpy be my end all and let NOD32 rot (I'm sure that's CounterSpy's marketing goal icon_neutral)
10067  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Vista (64-bit) freezing at startup on: September 22, 2008, 10:03:06 PM
Ew, thanks. icon_smile I guess I had stumbled into it via Control Panel/Administrative Services but the command line I always forget ("sysinfo" no longer works, I think that's what I often used).

No, I definitely had not installed anything recently (beyond LOTRO updating itself).

OK, it turns out I hadn't fully disabled NOD 32.
10068  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Vista (64-bit) freezing at startup on: September 22, 2008, 09:36:40 PM
So add me to the list of forlorn souls trying to troubleshoot a startup problem. It could be a hard drive problem following a defragmenting run the other day so I won't yell "Vista sucks" just yet, but I am at a loss right now.

And yes, I've run a Hijack This log but I don't really see anything fishy. I have taken a case side off to see if there was any nasty fan buildup (there wasn't, surprisingly enough).

Basically, it boots up, I get to the desktop, and then the hard drive grinds, and it freezes. If I'm lucky, I can get the Start menu to open, or Task Manager, but I can't do anything, no response.

I've tried multiple system restores from a few days ago, but it doesn't help.

I've tried disabling both my anti-virus (NOD32, 64-bit upgraded version) and anti-spyware (CounterSpy), and that enabled me to actually boot up, but then the system doesn't see my cable Internet connection at all. Both programs have been trouble-free for months now.

Right now I'm only able to access the Internet via "Safe Mode with Networking."

After doing a hard drive defrag run the other night I noticed it was booting up slowly the next day (though it would eventually get back to normal). I think something is keeping it from processing startup programs properly, but I just can't figure it out.

After various reboot attempts I got an ominous DOS_type message about the C-drive and it ran chkdsk and seemed to fix a few things (or at least try to). I'm convinced the defragmenter put some files in the wrong place, but I don't have any way of knowing.

Anyway, I really don't know what to do at this point. I've got my Aspire One handy in case I'm no longer able to get Internet access on this.

I do have system recovery discs, or I can run an original system recovery that HP provides [off a separate partition] I don't think it would delete what I have on the drives now, but I'm guessing my various games wouldn't work anymore without a re-install - I'm not playing much though, at least.

Another annoying thing is I stumbled into some way to access the sort of "sysinfo" startup tab XP offered [that gives you a checklist of start programs/processes to enable/disable], but now I can't remember how to get back to it. Driving me crazy, I can't even Google up how I did it.
10069  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 22, 2008, 12:04:26 PM
Here's an interesting tidbit about a Belgian hardware company whose "wireless modules" are destined for the AA1:

Option extends relationship with Acer, shares soar
http://www.forbes.com/afxnewslimited/feeds/afx/2008/09/22/afx5452676.html
Quote
Belgian business daily De Tijd reported Acer, the world's third biggest PC vendor, would be using Option's wireless modules in Aspire One, a new small laptop.

De Tijd said Aspire One, launched in June, would later this year be the first mini-laptop with an in-built modem and that Acer was marketing it aggressively.
I'm guessing this will be the 3G module, though it doesn't spell that out, per se.
=============

Mentioned that Packard Bell AA1 re-branding of sorts, and this Taiwan article seems to clarify that Acer wants to move their netbooks (AA1, basically) to other brand lines (though afik, Packard Bell is pretty much dead in the U.S., and is a brand they use more in Europe and elsewhere):

Acer expects to achieve revenues of US$20 billion in 2008

http://www.digitimes.com/systems/a20080922PD212.html
Quote
In additional news, Acer is also planning to transfer its netbook product lines to after 2-3 years to maintain the Acer brand image of signifying "innovation". The Gateway and Packard Bell brands will be associated with mainstream products, according to sources at the company.
Before I got my AA1, I didn't associate Acer with "innovation," I associated it with "cheap." Actually, price-wise, that's still what I happily associate it with, post AA1.  icon_cool So, I dunno if moving it away from the Acer name sounds smart, if they really intend to do that. I mean, the AA1 is finally giving Acer a "cool" product association for the brand name. I'd build on that, if I were them. But they didn't ask me.  icon_razz
10070  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Star Trek Online (Cryptic's "other" new MMO) on: September 22, 2008, 03:47:52 AM
My EBGames complimentary Game Informer subscription keeps reaching me with a "THIS IS YOUR LAST ISSUE! UNLESS WE HEAR FROM YOU!" warning cover on it. I figure I'll just let them hang for now.

However, the latest issue has a pretty detailed look at Star Trek Online with lots of interviews (including one with Leonard Nimoy, more focused on J.J. Abrahams' movie).

I feel more hopeful after reading it that you won't be reduced to piloting your Starship around the cosmos looking to "farm" Dilithium Crystals, and that the avatar combat won't reduce you to "grinding Klingons all day" to level. disgust

OTOH, a lot of what they're trying to explain (using the TV show episodes as a loose "template" for content instances, for example) are going to be hard for a lot of gamers to wrap their minds around. And they might end up with something like Pirates of the Burning Sea, which is interesting, and different, and in many ways unique, but also has consolidated servers, and isn't remotely in danger of having the largest player base ever.  icon_neutral Sometimes Being Different = Niche Product, and I doubt Cryptic wants that.
10071  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Re: Sacred 2 Gone Gold on: September 21, 2008, 06:35:11 AM
I did get and play Sacred and its expansion quite a bit. I never felt like they really recaptured the addictive "click-splurch" combat of Diablo I/II -- I felt Titan Quest did a better job of recapturing that, especially the Immortal Throne expansion. Of course, since Immortal Throne proved so addictive for me early last year that I got very painful right-wrist tendinitis, had to to wear various wrist braces for months, saw a doctor, and almost looked into getting surgery, I'm not really sure I *want* Sacred 2 to be *that* addictive.  paranoid I think (43) I might be getting too old for clickfest RPG-lites, in terms of my deteriorating limbs.  icon_lol

Anyway, what I loved about Sacred was its relatively non-linearity, huge world, almost like an MMO in some regards. I did find it brutally, almost unfairly difficult in places (something I often run into in European-developed games - they just seem to enjoy punishing gamers).

The GameTrailers trailer is pretty cool. But definitely you can't really judge how combat in a game feels from a video. I want it to be good - we'll see.  icon_smile If I find it remotely entertaining, I'm sure I'll be blabbing here all about it.
http://www.gametrailers.com/player/33309.html

The mounts in particular (tigers, what look like rhinos, horses you can leg-kick with etc.) look like a lot of fun:
http://www.sacred2.com/en/the-game/mounts.html

Everyone can get a variety of horses with bridle, saddle and armor options; each of the classes has its own unique mount (Seraphim gets the Tiger, Shadow Warrior the Hellhound etc.).
10072  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: T-Mobile German 3G for AA1; Gateway model on: September 20, 2008, 05:17:05 PM
Interesting tidbit about T-Mobile Germany's 3G package for AA1:

T-Mobile Germany Acer Aspire One 3G offer: €1 netbook with 2yr HSDPA contract
http://www.slashgear.com/t-mobile-germany-acer-aspire-one-3g-offer-e1-netbook-with-2yr-hsdpa-contract-1916780/
Quote
T-Mobile Germany have announced a deal which will see them selling a heavily-subsidized Acer Aspire One netbook along with 3G WWAN data access.  The setup, which will be internal an HSDPA modem, is similar to that recently announced by Vodafone in the UK, who have an exclusive European deal with Dell to offer 3G versions of the Inspiron Mini 9 netbook.

===================
Acer's been very chatty at the Hungary expo, and this item mentions that as they now own Gateway, they may launch a Gateway-branded netbook next year. This Electronista item dangles the possibility it could have a bigger screen and maybe enter the Wind/EeePC 1000 category (although they may just be whistling in the wind on that ).

Acer to expand Aspire one line, add Gateway netbook
http://www.electronista.com/articles/08/09/19/acer.to.intro.netbooks/
Quote
The company, which bought PC maker Gateway last year, will also launch a Gateway-branded netbook, Lanci indicated. While details on either are not known, it is possible the new Aspire ones will have a screen larger than the current offering’s 8.9-inch screen.

Other interesting pieces of information revealed about Acer’s future at the conference included the announcement that a 3G module equipped Aspire one will be available this October, while a WiMAX version will come in 2009. No prices were announced for either model.
10073  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: September 20, 2008, 04:55:46 PM
I finally canceled today. Not so much in disgust, but realizing I'm much happier back in LOTRO, and everyone on my buddy list in AOC seemed to have already quit anyway.

In case others belatedly quitting like me get confused at the account page -- I think once you go into your Account Details page, you'll see a Cancel button near the bottom (you may have to scroll to see it).

They give you a couple drop down menus to show why you're leaving, and then a chance to type some thoughts in. Mine were mainly about (at least my perception/opinion) the lack of enough regions/quests for PVE to keep it interesting in the long run (the upcoming Ymir's Pass might help around 55-60 or so but not much else), and way too much reliance on "reward poster hunts" (I'd stick with the free Dungeon Runners if that's all I wanted in a game) and repeatable quests as a mechanical means to keep leveling.

I know to some extent they're trying so hard to chewing gum-baling wire remedy both the PVE and PVP parts of the game, that they don't seem to be pleasing anyone (except the die hards that start cussing out anyone who criticizes the game at the official boards).

The fact the guy (Godager) who put years into the game is so soured on the experience he's exiting game development altogether, and that Anarchy Online's head guy (and I didn't particularly like AO when I tried it) is taking over did nothing for my confidence this week.

It's all such a shame because the combat, mounts, music, NPC voiceovers, all sorts of stuff, are among (imho) the coolest I've experienced in an MMO. But obviously there's a lot more to a polished MMO than that and even as maybe the last fan of the game here, I'm not sure how it's going to survive the next few months with Warhammer, and WoW and LOTRO expansions gobbling up the player population's interest.
10074  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: LOTRO - State of the game on: September 20, 2008, 02:52:18 PM
I got to do the infamous Fornost Instance (and, finally get these pesky Rotted Barghest Paws necessary for one of the Captain's 45 Quests  icon_biggrin) with my Kinship last night. Good grief, it took something like 5 hours. I didn't get much experience, if at all, for the actual combat (it's mostly upper 30s stuff) but the quest exp was still helpful, and some rewards were still useful (for my 48 captain).

The infamous paws (sometimes sold at the Auction House for a King's Ransom) were from Barghest about, oh lets say, 4 hours 45 minutes into it.  Roll Eyes I am told Turbine finally added some to the Bree Cave Instance, NW of Bree, just to no longer basically blackmail players into having to do such a grueling instance at a level you get no experience for combat in. I actually got 7 extra paws out of it, so I'm torn between charging, well, a King's Ransom at the auction house (maybe a moot point if they're in that Bree cave now), or saving it my kinship's House in case an up and coming Captain wants to save some frustration.

Anyway, caught some pretty fun screenshots during the instance. Here's some (apologies to dialups, I wanted to keep the images fairly crisp):




To be fair, much of the Kin is playing or interested in Warhammer, but they also seem pretty loyal/addicted to LOTRO. The server was really hopping last night, fwiw.
10075  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Anybody got an Acer Aspire One? (yet another mini-notebook) on: September 19, 2008, 07:54:53 PM
Something called ChannelWeb has some coverage of Acer execs holding a global press conference in Hungary:

Acer Execs Trumpet Virtues Of Mobility
http://www.crn.com/hardware/210602696
Quote
Gartner says 10 million Netbooks will ship in 2008, but that number will jump to 25 million in 2009, and Aspire One will help position Acer for the coming wave of Netbook adoption. "Notebooks are now becoming the primary PC, and we're now starting to see Netbooks becoming the secondary PC," Lanci said.

Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based system builder, has been closely watching the industry's transformation from standard desktop technology into all sorts of unique form factors that emphasize smaller sizes and better mobility.

"It's great to see Acer entering this market, because historically they've had high quality products at very aggressive price points, which should help this market segment grow even larger," said Swank.
10076  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 19, 2008, 07:40:09 PM
Packard Bell is launching an 8.9" netbook in November called "dot." Since the company is related to Acer (it seems to sound like they're both subsidiaries of something bigger), the first suspicion might be "rebranding" but Packard Bell execs ballyhoo it as a freshly designed one at least cosmetically though it sounds like the innards are pretty much the standard trappings for this category. As with a growing number of these, there's a slot for an optional 3G module though it's not entirely clear if that'll be available at launch.

Packard Bell Unveils New Netbook Perfect for Socializing [look under Sept. 19 listings at this page below]
http://www.packardbell.com/pressroom/pressrelease/
Quote
*Elegant Black Glossy Cover
*Deliciously Red Design Details
Packard Bell launches "dot" netbook
8.9-inch XP model aimed at families to go on sale in November
http://www.pocket-lint.co.uk/news/news.phtml/17784/18808/Packard-Bell-launches-dot-netbook.phtml
Quote
"We told our designers and engineers to rethink the netbook, to look at it through the eyes of a family, not a company. The result is the dot."

The popular choice for netbooks of the Intel Atom processor will also be featured in the dot, helping to increase battery life, and there's even room for an extra 6-cell battery should you fancy getting really heavy-duty use from it.

There's a 160GB hard drive for plenty of storage, and its 1GB of RAM should make for a fairly speedy performance. As additional extras, the machine has an optional 3G module for speedier browsing and optional webcam, should you so wish.

The dot is set to be released in Europe in November, starting at around €399/£315.
That's about $578 U.S., though it's not clear if it'll come to the North American market and prices don't generally directly translate like that.
===========
A quick search dug up:

Flickr photo gallery of the Dot:
http:[email protected]/2869143675/
Well, the "delicious red details" seems to refer to the clown-nose red hinges.  Roll Eyes It looks an awful lot like an Acer Aspire One, down to having a full size right shift key and the maligned mouse buttons left and right of the trackpad. So maybe it really *is* just a re-branding.  icon_confused
10077  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: WAR - smooth like a baby's bottom on: September 19, 2008, 02:43:35 AM
I've only played a handful of MMOs at launch -- City of Heroes, LOTRO, Tabula Rasa and Age of Conan. If Warhammer is more in line with the first two there (I consider COH and LOTRO to be the smoothest large-scale launch MMOs I've tried at launch), then color me impressed.  icon_smile
10078  Gaming / Multiplayer Madness (MMO or otherwise) / Re: Age of Conan Impressions on: September 18, 2008, 12:45:50 PM
I logged back in for the first time in weeks (although I'd reactivated LOTRO, I hadn't canceled AoC yet). Yesterday's patch didn't seem to cause me any problems, although I've read quite a lot of complaints at the forums (crashes, freezes etc.).

The guild I was in had understandably kicked out my L72 warrior at some point. Spawns seemed heavier/thicker in some areas than I remember, but it may just be the lack of players yesterday evening in the PVE areas.

The combat was still as fun and visceral as I remember it, but my quest list was clogged with endless hunt quests (They can put lipstick on a pig by calling them "Wanted Poster" quests, but they are what they are.  disgust), also as I remember it -- and it still bothers me the quest tracker can't have more than one quest up on screen as a time. That was the beginning of my "why don't they do it the way Turbine does it in LOTRO" syndrome (there the quest tracker can show up to 5 on screen at any time, really helpful when you're "multitasking" quests) which eventually led me back there.
10079  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Windows sound problem on: September 18, 2008, 12:37:28 PM
OK, I guess it applies to XP too (that part of the sound settings didn't seem to change from XP to Vista):
http://capitalhead.com/articles/disable-click-noise-in-internet-explorer-and-windows-explorer.aspx

Again though, it might not be the prob, it's just what comes up when I try various searches.  icon_neutral
10080  Non-Gaming / Hardware / Software Hell / Re: Ultra-portable discussion thread on: September 18, 2008, 05:28:46 AM
Who said Japan's boring?  icon_smile I just wanted to be clear what market I was babbling about.

And further proof the "General Media" is taking note of these things going crazy in the marketplace... (this one's from Canada). I don't agree with the sentiment expressed by the guy in the story's lead - you'll see what I mean.  icon_razz

Attack of the netbooks
http://money.canoe.ca/Forbes/2008/09/17/6793706-forbes.html
Quote
Most people will never notice a small black slab, otherwise known as an Asus Eee PC, quietly chugging along in a lonely corner of an office building. Robert Graham counts on it. The little laptop is busy hacking its way into corporate network traffic--allowing Graham to monitor a company's Internet traffic and possibly snoop passwords and other sensitive data. The device is small and cheap enough--$249 a pop [Eh? What's that? A corporate discount? saywhat]--that Graham doesn't even care if someone grabs or destroys it.

"They're disposable," shrugs Graham, who, as chief executive of Errata Security, gets paid to try to break into corporate networks.
Disposable? DISPOSABLE? Why I oughta...  icon_twisted

And a drop of reality on the notion these things are going as crazy as I seem to suggest:
Quote
Although the trend is getting buzz, analysts point out that netbook sales still amount to only a small drop in PC sales overall. IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell predicts net sales of 3.5 million PCs worldwide this year and 5 million next (although those sales could stall if the economy continues to chill). By contrast, all PC shipments worldwide are expected to be 311 million units.
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