Time for a change.

Greetings my friends.

I'm posting this to let you know that as of today, I will no longer be updating Conflagration.

The reason? Well because we've moved homes over to the fine folks at Wordpress!!

Conflagration, Version 2, can now be found at thebmatt.wordpress.com!

Head on over there and take a look around, folks! I do hope you'll enjoy it, because I'm loving what all it has to offer.


Avatar is a freaking REDEMPTION story, you morons!!


If I hear one more person blast Avatar for being an anti-capitalistic, anti-militaristic, pro-nature worshipping, white-people-are-evil-racists movie that isn't worth anything, I am going to punch them. Inna jimmies. If they don't have them, it'll be to the gut.

Seriously. Shut the hell up. All of you. You're idiots.

This is a film about a dude who's willing to do whatever it takes, hurt whomever or destroy whatever will get in his way, and doesn't believe in a thing beyond what he can see, all for selfish reasons, discovering that there is a much wider view of the universe than he has been led to believe, including a God figure that provides not just for the "chosen people", but any who will follow him. He changes. He sacrifices all that he knows for a better life, a simpler life, and relies on faith when all seems hopeless. And in the end, his example inspires others to do the same. He opposes those who kill and destroy for their own ends.

Are we noticing any parallels here?

Let's try looking a bit beyond the surface next time, shall we?


2009 Predictions wrapup!

Howdy everyone. You might remember back in January of last year that I made a set of 10 predictions that I thought would come true in 2009. Let's take a look at how I did, shall we?

1. The digital TV transition will be mostly hitch-free.
Yeah, I'm gonna call this one correct. There was a lot of speculation that a ton of people would be suddenly unable to watch TV and wouldn't know why, and that it would cause a firestorm of complaining, something that would be newsworthy. As far as I can tell, that didn't happen, probably because most new TVs sold for the past few years have all had built in digital tuners and the continues information campaigns caught most of the rest.

2. iTunes will cave to the pressure and go fully DRM free in music.
Kaboom. And about dang time too. 2 for 2 so far!

3. A really good Sci-Fi MMO will both come out and succeed.
Ooops. Here's our first biff. The Knights of the Old Republic MMO I talked about when I initially made this post has not yet been released, nor has Star Trek Online. The MMO space was still dominated, and quite hardily, by World of Warcraft.

4. The new Star Trek film will both be the Nerdtacular 2009 film, and will not be remembered fondly.
I am happy to say that in this one, I was only half right. It WAS the 2009 Nerdtacular film, but holy COW was it good. At the time I made this, we really didn't know much about this film, but there was a lot of speculation that caused longtime Trek fans to be nervous. We needn't have worried, because this film was spec-friggin-tacular. One of my favorite films of the year.

5. Both Marvel and DC will release more superhero films which futher build up to an eventual Avengers and/or Justice League movie.
Swing and a miss. Nothing from either of these 2 companies that built up to a big "team" superhero film.

6. The worship of Jesus Christ will explode in a formerly "closed-off" country somewhere in the world.
This one is hard to say, because I don't have any real proof to show this, given that most mainstream news sources won't cover something like this. I have heard, from several friends at my church in Waco, stories of large numbers of peoples coming to knew Jesus in several locations, including Vietnam. I trust these people absolutely, and since it's my blog and I don't really need to prove this to anyone, I'm calling this one correct, and happily.

7. Two out of the three major missing iPhone 3G features (cut and paste, Multimedia messaging, and turn-by-turn GPS directions) will be added via firmware this year
Two out of three. We got Cut and Paste and MMS for sure, but the spoken turn-by-turn directions are still a no. Yeah, that's right, I said they're a no. Why? Because the ludicrously expensive TomTom app and the even-worse AT&T "Navigation Plan" do not even come close to counting. They're pathetic. Actually, the GPS in the phone itself is probaly the one thing I absolutely HATE the most about the iPhone, because it doesn't even work. I know Tom Merritt over at CNET has predicted for the past 2 years that standalone GPS units would fade away as they were rolled more and more into cellphones and similar all-in-one devices. Personally, I don't see it, but my only experience is with the iPhone, and it not only shows me in the wrong area all the time, it also drops my location, repeatedly. Still, this prediction is a solid yes.

8. I will acquire one of the three current major game consoles this year, only to have the next generation of consoles be announced.
Wow, wrong on both counts. Didn't buy ANY of these consoles, and there's no new console news at ALL. Weird.

9. Megan and Julie will be living in the garage apartment before February ends.
I was kind of reaching for a prediction here. This seemed like something good at the time. Russell got em in there in time, though.

10. Josh and Angie's baby will be a girl.
Much to Josh's happiness, I was wrong here. He's a boy. I'm his Godfather. ^.^

So all in all, I got 6 completely right, 3 completely wrong, and about half and half on one. Not too bad, overall.

I don't really have any set predictions for 2010. I could do some for technology, but the folks at Buzz Out Loud pretty much covered that fairly well in this episode. I'd recommend you all start listening to that podcast this year and keep yourself informed on tech!

I could do some personal predictions, but none of them would be terribly interesting. I have plenty of HOPES for this coming year, and lots of wonder about all the possibilities it's got to offer, but nothing I can really "predict", per se. I'm just gonna look forward to what 2010 has to offer!


Merry Christmas ya'll!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, what few readers of Conflagration I have left! Heh.

In all honesty, I hope all of you guys have a very good Christmas. I hope God fills all of your homes with joy, blessings, and love. I hope you enjoy seeing your families or friends, whatever it may be. And I hope you all never forget the magical joy of this season.

As the year winds down, folks tend to look back on the year in retrospect, kinda evaluate where things are. Me, well, while the year has had it's up and downs in various places, and I have some regrets, there are 2 key factors that have entered my life this year that have made it absolutely a good year. The first one would be Josiah Henry, the son of my beloved friends Josh and Angie Henry, and whom I am proud to have been named the Godfather of. He's ridiculously cute and I'm amazed just thinking about what all is going to come out of his life, all the potential inside him.

The other key factor? A beautiful woman named Karen Wilson. A lady who is amazing in SO many aspects, and I adore so very much. Our relationship is one of the most amazing things to ever happen in my life, and I am so happy that she'll be moving here soon. We haven't always had a whole lot of time to be together, but when we are, everything just seems better. I know the whole thing is going to change once we're able to see each other every day if we want, and I'm beyond happy. I know she'll be doing something she loves: helping God's children who are going through hard times. I can't tell you guys how happy I am for her because of that. I don't know the words to express it right. I say all this with complete honesty though, it's not just a side benefit to having her here, closer to me. Yes, obviously, I am extremely thrilled about that, but having her working for something that she truly loves, that's what brings more joy to me. I need you guys to know that, to understand that, because it's really important to me that you do. I'm praying for God to use her. Not for anything huge, or showy, or something that'll get her recognition, because I know that isn't as important to her as this: I pray that just one, at the very least, just one person will believe God is real because of her faith and her love for Him and her love for His people. Because nothing would make her happier than that.

Do I have regrets? Sure I do. There's plenty of things I regret, but if there's one thing I've had to have beaten into my head over and over, it's that you can't change the past, all you can do is make the future better. Well, I'm taking all those things I regret, and I'm gonna do all I can to change things for the better. To all those I have hurt or neglected my friendships with, I am sorry. Know I love you all. I do want to be a more active friend in your life again, if you'll have me.

I really think 2010 is going to be an epic year. There's so much possibility in store for me, for all of my friends, for my family, for everyone now that I think about it. I really hope there's a lot of Epic in it for all of you guys.

In the meantime, I'm going to look forward to Christmas...and New Year's with my beautiful girlfriend. Oh...and having a week and a half off from work after tomorrow! Love you guys, and once again, Merry Christmas!


Tis the Holiday Season!

I know I'm way overdue for updating this, but I'm actually about to go Christmas shopping, so I'll just hit a few quick points.

1. Karen is amazing, I had so much fun when she was here for Thanksgiving, and I can't wait to see her in a few short days for her graduation!

2. If you're so inclined to purchase something for me for Christmas, thank you. It means a lot to me. You can find a list of things I'd like at my Amazon.com wishlist.

3. Champions Online was fun for a while, but ultimately several factors came together to make it not really enjoyable in the long fun. The graphics engine is terribly designed, the questing is repetitive and dull (bad for a game that lends itself well to making lots of different characters), the statistics and character building system is insanely overly complicated, and it does not lend itself well to community building. I did enjoy some of it's features (the character creator has a LOT of options and the Sidekicking system does wonders for getting folks to group together at any level), but it's got a long way to go to come close to WoW, and I've canceled my account until these issues are resolved.

4. Speaking of WoW, my Shaman's level 78, the druid's gotten some great gear out of Ulduar, and I'm looking VERY forward to exploring Icecrown Citadel with my raid team next week.

5. You might wanna keep an eye on the Doghouse Podcast at www.Doghousesystems.com. I'm not gonna say why just yet, but...just be ready for the next episode. ^.^

Okay, off to go shopping. Later everyone.


Playing Catch-up. Not Ketchup. Though that IS tasty...

Howdy folks, I know it's been a long time. I been very busy, what with crazy stuff going on at work, busy weekends, and as much time with my beautiful and lovely Karen as is humanly possible!

This past weekend, Karen was here with me for 4 days. We had a blast together, hitting up the State Fair of Texas, the Fort Worth Zoo, and plenty of delightful little eateries around here. I was extremely sad to see her go, but I know it's not too much longer until the next time we can see each other (which will be around her birthday). Hopefully soon we can be a lot closer to each other after she graduates!! I adore her so much.

Funny little sidenote: on the Sunday before she left, I fired up my laptop and got her to try out World of Warcraft. She made a little Blood Elf Rogue (durn Blood Elves!) andI got her walking around, looking at quests, and making with the stabby stabby! I definitely think she got the basics down pretty quick, and seemed to be enjoying it. After she got back home, she told me she was having withdrawls of me, Firefly (which she had never seen and we got through 2 and 1/2 discs of), and WoW. Hehehe. My girlfriend is an extremely gorgeous geek. I think I'm the luckiest dude on the planet.

Probably my favorite part of the State Fair? The bird show. Seriously, it was one of the coolest things I've watched. They had a wide variety of bird species ranging from exotic singing parrots, to crows which could retrieve dollar bills, to a stork which flew low over the crowd and nearly hit Karen, and a lot in between. I love animals, and most birds are pretty high up on that list, so this show was a wonder to see. Incidentally, if you ever want to know what my favorite color is, search online for an image of a Hyacinth Macaw. Their feathers are a beautiful dark blue that I just love. The Fair's over now, sadly, but next year I highly recommend you go and see this show, if nothing else. It's awesome. Incidentally when we went to the Fort Worth Zoo, it made going through the raptor canyon area a lot more enjoyable, having learned so much and witnessed the bird's behaviors in a semi-uncaptive environment. Which was really nice, considering that my usual favorite portion of the zoo, the Herpetarium, was closed down for renovation and relocation. Grrrrr....FAIL, Fort Worth Zoo. Bleh! Oh well, someday the snakes will return!

In my last entry, I talked about the Mimiron Hard Mode encounter in the Ulduar dungeon of World of Warcraft.

What I didn't mention was that all the other bosses have a similar "Hard Mode" achievement, in which you purposefully make the encounter more difficult for a better challenge and better loot as well.

If you manage to accomplish all of these achievements, you earn a meta-achievement called "Glory of the Ulduar Raider". And you get a reward for your efforts, a reward that serves not only as an awesome looking form of transportation, but a mark of distinction, that your team was able to accomplish the truly difficult.

That reward takes the form of a Proto-Drake mount. This one has been magically bound in metal as a hatchling, and now it's fully grown, covered in metallic plate that's slightly rusted. Hence, his name: The Rusted Proto-Drake. Rusty or not, I think he looks awesome. Here's a screenshot of my 10-man team on our new mounts.

We'd been working on this since gaining our first hard mode back on the 20th of May, and finished it off on October 7th with our defeat of Yogg-Saron on his Hard Mode, having the assistance of only 1 of the Keepers. Under the normal fight, all four keepers assist you.

This fight is utterly crazy as it is. One of the mechanics of the fight is a numerical value known as your Sanity. Getting damaged by Yogg-Saron will lower your sanity, and if it drops to zero, you go insane, and Yogg essentially mindcontrols you into attacking your fellow players. You normally can restore your sanity by standing in one of the green beams of light that Freya, one of the keepers, places around the room.

In the Hard Mode, Freya is not present, only Thorim is. Thorim must be present as he is the only one who can kill Yogg's Immortal Guardians in Phase 3 of the fight. You thus have to manage your sanity by taking as little damage as possible.

For our successful attempt, we had 2 players down when we reached phase 3, and most of us were EXTREMELY low on Sanity. During Phase 3, Yogg Saron casts a spell called Lunatic Gaze. While this is active, anyone looking at Yogg takes damage and loses Sanity. If you're low on Sanity, you have to watch the timer for when Lunatic Gaze is about to go active, and turn away from him before that happens. If not, you're that much closer to going insane. Yogg will constantly spawn Immortal Guardians, which must be killed. Normally when they reach 1% of their health, they cannot be killed by players anymore. Thorim, however, has the power to kill them.

Normally, the tanks and the melee DPS focus on bringing these guardians down, while all ranged focuses completely on ripping Yoggy apart. However, because I was so low on sanity, they told me to stay facing the Guardians, away from Yogg, and help bring them down. What followed was a lot of on-the-fly-moving folks around as people got too low on Sanity to safely attack Yogg. It was slow going, but it was going. Yogg's health was steadily decreasing.

Then the worst possible thing happened. Our main tank, Servillia, lost all of his sanity.

The guardians immediately turned and went after the rest of the raid, as did Serv. All we heard over our Ventrilo was the off tank, Thrakan, yelling "TURN AND BURN, TURN AND BURN!!" We all immediately turned around, faced Yogg, and unleashed everything we had. It didn't look good for us. With no one to control the Guardians, they ran around rampant, killing people, as we tried so hard to put out enough damage to bring him down, and it looked like we weren't gonna make it. I was furiously blasting with everything I had, waiting for when the guardians were going to come after me...

...and it happened. The guardians despawned as Yogg convulsed and fell over dead. We all earned our achievements, and began yelling with joy in Vent. I couldn't believe it, we'd finally done it. All the hard work, the repeated wiping, the frustrations, it had all paid off. It was done, and one of the coolest things I've ever seen in the game. So very cool. Just wanted to share that with ya'll.

Us celebrating in front of ol' Yoggy's dead self.

I've actually picked up another MMO to play when I need a break from WoW. It's called Champions Online. You've probably heard of City of Heroes, NCSoft's semi-well-known superhero MMORPG, this is along the same vein. I never played CoH, but from what what I'm told from those who did, Champions is better in nearly every way.

The game was initally being made by NCSoft, and grew out of a failed attempt to make an MMO on the Marvel Comics universe. However, they eventually sold it to Cryptic Entertainment, who finished the game and released it. You can buy it in stores or over the Steam download service.

The first thing that's worth mentioning about this game is the literally GINORMOUS character creation system. As someone who was used to the bare-bones character creator in World of Warcraft, this was nearly overwhelming. You have SO many options, so many costume pieces to choose from, that you could spend hours just playing with that. It does make sense though. In WoW, your clothing and armor change appearance as you get new equipment and put it on. In Champions, your appearance is what you make of it here. The items you get do not affect it in any way.

The first thing you choose is your powers "archetype". This is a collection of thematically linked together abilities and a base statisitics set. These range from Fire to Ice to Archery to Martial Arts to Power Armor to Sorcery to Telekinesis. There's a total of 18 archetypes to choose from, and what's truly killer is that you can actually pick around if you want to mix it up a little bit.

And that is perhaps the other truly amazing thing about this game, the sheer amount of customization you have. In WoW, if you're a hunter, for example, you're going to want the same set of stats on your items at all time.

In Champions, you gain the ability to, at levels 5 and 13, pick your "superstats". These two statistics will be what determines the strength of your powers, regardless of what archetype you select. Now, each archetype starts with a base set of statistics that gives you average values for all of them save two. These two are what they recommend you use as your super stats because they typically have other benefits for your archetyps, but they aren't required. You can thus mix and match whatever statistics you wish to focus on however you like. It's astounding.

And the customization does not stop there. You need not stick to powers from your archetype's pre-determined set, either!. As long as you have a minimum number of powers from one archetype, you can start learning powers from other types as well, and many of them synergize with certain other archetypes very well. For example, let's say you have a Power Armor hero, and he's gained a set number of Power Armor powers. If he gains a new power, he can switch over to the Eletricity Archetype and take the power Electric Form. Electric Form gives you a boost to Electricity and Particle damage, and aids in your energy gaining. The Power Armor archetype doesn't have many electric powers, but it has plenty of Particle damage in the form of it's many beam abilities!

The sheer degree of customizing, both in terms of character creation and ability gaining, means you will have yourself a truly unique character. Unless of course you fall into the truly sad realm of making characters that are blatant ripoffs of established superheros. I myself witnessed someone playing a Gambit copy known as "The Ragin' Cajun", and a Nightcrawler ripoff known as "Kurt Wagner" followed by a random series of letters. Those sorts of things are so very annoying.

I haven't gotten terribly far in Champions (Fireball, my pyrokinetic alter ego, is currently a mere level 15, while the hi-tech-armored bringer of justice known as Night Raven is catching up at level 14), but it looks to be loads of fun and a truly epic experience. If fantasty MMO's aren't your thing, I highly recommend you give the superheroic world a try. There's far more to the game than I could cover here in my basic review, and it's well worth your looking at.

I think that's all for now, my friends. Take care and I'll try to talk to you soon!



Well, it's another weekend, which marks a break point in the continual 5-day drudge through the work week before I get to see my lady again. October 15th cannot get here soon enough.

Well I suppose it COULD get here too soon, if it was right now, and then I'd be wondering why I'm writing this and not getting dressed and on the road. But then again, that really wouldn't be too soon either, honestly.

At any rate, she is off on a retreat with her sorority sisters, so we're unable to communicate until she returns. Which given that my friends Alex and Tiffani are together this weekend when they're normally seperated by half the friggin' country, seems somewhat ironic. While I am fiercely jealous, I'm also very happy for them. They ARE my friends after all!

Last night I completed a spectacular goal in World of Warcraft. To those of you who play and are at least mildly familar with the Ulduar instance, let me just say that our 10-man finally completed Mimiron Hard Mode and earned the Firefighter achievement.

To those who do NOT play or don't know just how insane that fight truly is, let me run it down a bit.

This is Mimiron. Mimiron is one of the Keepers of Ulduar, essentially a powerful being created by the Titans to watch over Azeroth, and more specifically the Old God imprisioned in Ulduar, Yogg Saron.

Hey Yoggy.

Unfortunately, Yogg has opened up cracks in his prision, and his power and evil has corrupted the 4 keepers, essentially driving them insane. Essentially, Yogg Saron's power causes the Keepers to destroy anything in their path using their areas of influence. Mimiron, as a clockwork mechanical being, is an expert in the areas of building machines. When you enter his workshop, he assumes that you're there to test our his newest and best invention yet. Which he does by unleashing its firepower on you.

His first part of his invention is the Leviathan Mark II, essentially a big ol' tank with mines, a napalm shell launcher, a battering ram, and worse. Once you wipe our it's health, he moves the tank away and moves on to the next part.

The second part is the VX-001 Anti-Personnel Assault Cannon. It's a stationary mobile turret. Mimiron rotates around the room and unleashes blasts of energy at anyone in his line of fire. He also radiates massive amounts of heat from the turret, launches rockets at you, and occasionally charges his turrets up for the P3W x2 Laser Barrage. That will kill you if he hits you with it, as will the rockets, instantly.

After you destroy the turret, Mimiron summons the final part of his invention, the Aerial Command Unit. This thing looks like a big head with a pair of helicopter blades keeping it aloft. In this part of the fight, he shoots plasma blasts at you, drops Bomb Bots that walk over to your raid and explode, and also summons Assault bots as well.

Now, if you manage to defeat the Aerial Command Unit, Mimiron will happily exclaim that the preliminary testing is complete, and now it is time for the true test.

The Leviathan Mk II will roll out, the VX-001 will sprout hands where it's turrets used to be, and dock itself into the Leviathan. The Aerial Command unit will attach itself to the top of the VX-001.

The V-07-TR-0N is now formed. It has most of all of the abilities of the 3 parts, including the mines, the Laser Barrage, the rockets, and the Shock Blasts. All three of it's parts are independantly targettable. And you must bring all three pieces' health from 50% to 0% at the same time. If you don't, they repair themselves.

So yeah, does it sound crazy? It's pretty nuts, to be sure. If you wanna see it in action, watch this video that another guild made of the fight.

And that's not even his HARD mode.

His hard mode is activated by pushing that big red button you may have spotted during the video before the fight starts.

That button activates the Self-Destruct Mechanism. It also gives all of his "parts" 25% more health, 25% more damage, and causes the room to start breaking up...and catch fire.

The fire is what makes this encounter nightmarish. It's constantly spreading, is only randomly put out by some various extra abilities that Mimiron gains, and essentially means you have to be almost continually moving throughout the fight or you burn.

It's insanely hard. Here's a video of the hard mode for you to see for yourself.

Yeah, we beat it last night for the first time. I was so happy to get that done. Now I never want to do it again, haha.

Okay, I'm going to end this one for now, but I'll leave you with a pic of my newest little reward for completing an achievement that takes a year to complete, because it requires you to do all the achievements associated with all the holidays in the game.