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Verified by Visa Sucks!

A day or so ago I tried to place an order online with play.com for a couple of items. After going through the checkout stage, I was greeted by the Verified by Visa (VbV) iframe, immediately a sigh – when I've seen this, it usually meets my order is going to be rejected 8 out of 10 times (happened to mum so many times over the years).

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It must have been months, maybe even a more (could be a year) since I've seen this screen: I haven't used many online retailers recently and if I do mostly eBay/PayPal. So when it asks for my password, I haven't got a clue. So I thought I'll try a couple that I use: 2 attempts later and I'm told I am not allowed to try again. Fine, so let's ask for a new password (after-all once you forgotten it, you should be able to ask for a new one?). Fill in all the details (which I'm not too keen giving on the internet), only to see Process blocked.. so now I can't even ask for a new password now? I am not even sure my new card is registered with VbV either, as it's only changed this month! So technically there shouldn't be any password assigned to that card, as it's a new card.

According to VbV since I tried like 2 times, I must be fraudster?! Now its saying the only way to Unblock it is to phone a number (usually phoning banks/companies, is a nightmare.. waiting ages on a phone in a queue, giving more details to someone).. Why do I have to phone a number to get an online process unblocked too? Surely you should be able to unblock in my online banking?! (Would make sense).. nope, nothing there (no mention at all). By the looks of it, there is no time-out on the block: My card is blocked for good on all VbV sites until I phone them (how nice)..

What a horrible system.. Visa you should be really shamed of it! An iframe is very bad implementation – you don't expect that from important payment systems! I would never use a frame, has it should transfer you to a full-page site (that shows you a secure connection). For many, it looks like a phishing scam (all too easy to make something look like it in 10..5 minutes)! There is no help; once something goes wrong you're forced to phone them at you're expense. Why isnt there some kind-of admin section for us account owners? If they are going to block you, then at least give you a counter telling you that you have just 2 goes. Why is the block permanent too? Surely 24-hour is good enough? Payment blocked is getting too common, you'd never used to get one unless it was for a very good reason.

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Even if I was a fraudster, then VbV hasn't even bothered to tell me about this activity by email (which it should know). So I would come to use my card, to find I'm blocked without any idea. Then I'll have to chase them up (probably waiting on there for ages) giving countless details to people, costing me money.

I'll probably get a phone-call from the bank later telling me that fraudster tried to defraud me.. yea.. That was me trying to actually buy something with the stupid thing!?! Why has forgetting a password caused so much trouble? Has the account owner should be able to sort myself, without having to get someone else involved. They scared the heck of mum the first time it happened, phoning her telling that someone tried to defraud her (wasn't actually a fraudster, but her in the end).

So in the end, what has Verified by Visa done? Well, just blocked legit sale.. thanks! Really useful – how can I opt-out (cant even do that), please?! All I want to do is set a new password... Yet in the real-world I can use near field communication (no PIN) up-to £15, or with a PIN without a problem.

Posted by Roguey on Monday 16th July, 2012   ·   Comment 3 comments   ·  

DIABLO 3 » Is Diablo 3 boring..?

You may think this is a bit of an odd question to ask for a video-game; however I have spent quite a lot of hours in it now, reaching into Hell mode. At first Diablo 3 was fun, running around exploring places and killing stuff etc. Very rarely would I die.

However now I am finding Diablo 3 hard work (since entering into Hell mode). In hell mode it's much easier to die (the increasing revive timer can really annoy you, forcing you wait up-to 30 seconds before coming back). This is bad enough, however if you were deep into a dungeon level, you are often put back at the very start. This is the same for bosses, forcing you to restart them. So you can easily spend a minute or two getting back to the place you were only to die within a second again (leading to some swear words). In Diablo 2 you could place a TP (or Town Portal) as a re-entry point, saving you from running across a whole map: your character would only make the portal not go through it. However in Diablo 3, your character automatically enters the TP without any control. So you can not leave a TP ready to come back through after you die.

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Health is a very odd thing in Diablo 3: in Hell mode you can have 10-15k life, which can disappear in mere moments. Potions can help recover some of it, however they have a very long cool-down time of 30 seconds! I understand Blizzard wanted a cool-down time, however 30 seconds?! Life-orbs can help with life recovery however these seem a odd idea. The life orbs drop randomly from monsters and act like potions, giving you a large boost to life. However these orbs can be so powerful that they overwhelm life stealing or potions. Sometimes these orbs dont drop, which makes it a lot harder. You can often die trying to claim one or two orbs, which seems a bit of silly idea.

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My next issue is with levelling, the system pretty much does everything for you. So you can not decide how you want to build your character. Every Demon Hunter, Monk, Barbarian etc. has exactly the same basic stats, just with different equipment (that changes some stats). So now reaching a new level doesnt mean anything. Your notice other people using the exact same skills, as there is little choice. I mostly just ignore it now, all you get is a few extra attribute points (but who cares?).

This brings me onto the equipment. It is very rare you find anything worthwhile in the game, most of is simply junk. You can fight a bunch of hard monsters in Hell mode and simply get one blue, or even white item (doesn't feel very worthwhile). The white items (the lowest grade) aren't worth picking up in the later stages of the game; bad stats and not worth any gold. You can also find that unique (which are supposed to be hardest to find) are worse than rare equipment (no idea why rare should be better than unique).

This kind-of brings me into socketing. In Diablo 2 you had Gems and runes. Gems gave you a set bonus, whilst runes could be used on their own or to create rune-words (when placed in a set order you could get something much more powerful). However in Diablo 3 the whole socketing process has been greatly nerfed. No runes at all (so no rune-words), and very limited sockets. You can only place 3 in armour, 2 in your pants (please no jokes.. yea yea, 2 gems in pants) and just 1 in your helm. In Diablo 2 you could place like 3 in your helm, 6 armour/weapons etc. Okies... they expanded on the gem range, however having a bunch of gems isn't all that exciting.

All the above makes me feel that my character is just exactly the same as every class character: same basic attributes, same skills, same level at the same place and hardly anything customizable. Even if Blizzard made the gems have a set attribute would help, as you could favour magic find, health, strength by placing them in your armour. However with armour pieces have set define gem properties, the only things making you feel different is your equipment (very hard to come by) and dye colour (which is hardly noticeable).

It's a real shame, if you could basically rip the mechanics out of Diablo 3 and replace it with Diablo 2 mechanics you would have a very good game. It's not like Blizzard has lost/changed the game completely, as Diablo 3 keeps the same perspective as Diablo 2 general. So, with the current system, is Diablo 3 boring? Well, yes when you enter Hell mode and further! Boring items, long revive times and not much to do. Even the maps dont vary much.

Posted by Roguey on Saturday 23rd June, 2012   ·   Comment 0 comments   ·  

MOBILE » Console Emulation on a HTC Wildfire S

During the past few weeks I have been trying to get a SNES/Genesis (Megadrive in the UK) emulator for my smartphone (a HTC Wildfire S). This is when I came across SuperGNES (A SNES emulator for Android). I got it off the Market, and then copied some Roms over to my SD-Card (by plugging my phone into the PC). A few moments later, my old SNES games appeared.. And they are actually running quite well too – which I was really surprised.

So, I start the game and try to use the touch panel controller. Well, it wasn't too well, sometimes the button wouldn't register (in a game like F-Zero this could end your race, if you don't turn correctly). I couldn't even control Bomberman too well either, most of the time I blew myself up! So I started to look for a controller for my HTC.

Well first thing was to look around the house. I had some PC controllers, PS3 and a WiiMote. Well the PC controls didn't work. I got some USB adaptors, but my phone doesn't have USB Host (or USB OTG): meaning the phone isn't good enough to become like a PC (just acts a peripheral). I found out that If the phone was running Android v3+ then I could do it (MY HTC is running v2.3.3).

The next try was the PS3 controller, after-all it's a Bluetooth device (and some have it working). I tried a trail app from the market, yet I got a problem with the driver. A driver or something couldn't load on my phone, so that was the end of that.

My next controller (or thing to test) was the Wii Remote: another Bluetooth device. This time the phone saw it and tried to pair. This is when the phone asks for a PassKey (which I didn't know). I tried 0000, 1111, etc. nothing.. I even tried to press space, delete and then okay. Nothing.. I tried a few more apps to get the Wii Remote working (like Bluez IME), yet nothing: the darn thing wouldn't pair. Apparently there is a problem with the Bluetooth in HTC phones which won't let you pair with the Wii Remote (something about a stack?).

I was starting to give up hope, when I come across a device called Gametel. This little device is Bluetooth controller: aimed at Android, iPhone and iPad. After all the problems I had, I wondered if it would work. So I contacted Gametel support: A guy called Andreas replied and said he just tested it with a HTC Wildfire and it works fine!.. although you may need to update the firmware to v1.3. Well a few days later this turns up:

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First thing to do is to update the firmware: this was fairly easy to do.. The pad had v1.0 to start with.

I can confirm that the Gametel does work fine with a HTC Wildfire S! I looked for ages to see if my phone would work, couldn't find anything on the net.

So, now I have a gamepad for Smartphone – which is tons better! In F-Zero I couldn't even finish the first race without blowing up or losing positions (with the touch controls). Now with the Gametel I completed the course and easy got to 1st place!


Posted by Roguey on Monday 18th June, 2012   ·   Comment 0 comments   ·  

Upgrading from a 9800GT to a 670GTX

For many years I had 9800GT: it was a great card and only cost £100 from a local seller. The 9800GT gave me a performance increase of 4x times my previous card, so for £100 it was a great deal.

Last year I upgraded my PC to an i7 2600k, however left upgrading the graphics card (so I was running a 9800GT on an i7). This was fine for a bit, has I wasnt really playing any new games as such (most ran on the 9800GT fine).

Now the time has come to update the graphics card: A month ago NVidia released a new series called the Kepler range. The Kepler seems to be the card to go for: support for the latest technology, more energy efficiency (I hate how cards demand more and more power), fast fps and even the type of cooler I like (blowing the hot air out the back of the case, my 9800GT blew the hot air back into the case). The older series GTX 560/570/580, they were putting some odd about of memory on them like 1280Mb, 1536Mb etc. With Kepler its simply 2Gb (this seem much better too)!

Well here's my PC with the 9800GT installed:

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I managed to get myself a MSI GeForce GTX 670 OC 2048MB GDDR5 (an over-clocked version). The core-speed is normally 915Mhz, which has been bumped to 965Mhz... I know its just like 6% more but this card was the cheapest at the store oddly, still 6% more than normal (warranted at that speed). Here is a picture of the card outside of the PC:

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Oh and btw for anyone wondering (I had troubles finding out this info), the power plugs on this card are mounted around 7inch from the back of the card. I needed to know, as may cause alignment issues in my case:

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The reason why the power plugs are mounted here is that the GTX 670 PCB isn't the full width, as the cooler actually extends the length of the card. Odd eh?
Anyway, this is the 670GTX inside my PC (with the side door off), as I'm just checking it:

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Well... Im off testing, have fun Smile

Posted by Roguey on Thursday 7th June, 2012   ·   Comment 1 comments   ·  

DIABLO 3 » Onto Nightmare mode

A bit ago I was a little worried that Diablo 3 was a bit easy. However by around act 4 in normal the game did start to get a lot tougher: I was getting killed a few times.

Now I am on Nightmare mode (where you go around again but with harder monsters and better items drop) and I'm getting some good battles, although having to be careful as some monsters put out some massive damage. I remember one skeleton guy with large axe charging it up, and then doing over 4,000 damage! I also seem to have problems with molten guys too (usually forget about their little parting gift, doh).

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Now I had a bit more time with the level system, I can understand how they done a few things. I do like the idea about unlocking a skill per level, as this allows you to change at any time. In Diablo 2 you would pick a skill, then that was it. This meant if you built your character badly, then you have to restart the whole game (no way to get back your skill points). However I would still like some way of boosting skills, like Guildwards. I feel the skill system has probably been dumbed down too much. I prefer Guildwars approach: skills belong to attribute (ie. Fire magic, strength, spawning power etc.). You are given a set amount of points, where you can assign them where you want (and can move them any-time in towns/outposts).

However I do feel that the attributes points in Diablo 3 should be assignable. Then we have some way of making our characters more customized, and levelling more important. Atm, levelling doesn’t feel all that important.

Diablo 3 dif. a very addictive game!

Posted by Roguey on Monday 28th May, 2012   ·   Comment 0 comments   ·  


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