Archive for the ‘PTR/Patches’ Category

4.2: Return to Fotm…er Form; oh, and T12!

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Some potentially sexy buffs are coming elemental shaman’s way:

May 10 4.2 PTR notes:

– Lava Flows now grants a 30/60/90% haste buff when a Flame Shock effect is dispelled, up from 10/20/30%.

– Thunderstorm now reduces the movement speed of players it knocks back by 40% for 5 seconds.

– Unleash Elements is now in the Nature school, and thus can no longer be used if a shaman’s Nature school has been locked out.

– The 4-piece Elemental shaman PvP set bonus (Gladiator’s Thunderfist set) has been redesigned. It now causes Lightning Shield to generate an extra charge, rather than consuming one, when it is triggered by receiving damage, up to a maximum of 3 (9 with the Rolling Thunder talent).

– Lightning Shield and Water Shield can no longer be dispelled.

– Glyph of Unleashed Lightning (new Prime glyph) allows Lightning Bolt to be cast while moving.

The main concern amongst the pvp community now is our mana (in)efficiency, which may or may not be resolved by the Unleashed Lightning glyph, since it will allow us to cast more lightning bolts. There’s also the manner of a defensive cd; yes, we can glyph EM, but what other class would have to use their dps cooldown in order to reduce damage they are taking? Only idea I can scrape off the top of my head at the moment would be to re-introduce Astral Shift, but have it be an ele-only defensive cd of some flavor.

As OP as some of these changes look on paper…well, they’re needed. Ele is extremely vulnerable in pvp due to the fact that 90% of our damage occurs when we plant our feet and turret spells into enemies…which happens for all of 1 second tops against half decent pvpers. Any time my friends and I encounter an ele shaman, I’m yelling at them to simply tunnel the shaman, which results in said shaman being dead fairly quickly.

Amongst the raiding community, there seems to be a large amount of “meh” regarding these changes, namely the new glyph. I’m honestly surprised at the lack of enthusiasm about a solution to one of our biggest weaknesses (damage while moving). Oh, boo hoo, we have to debate over which glyph to swap at this point…and on that note, who’s to say they don’t simply make our current LB glyph do exactly what this new one does, then bake in the 4% damage increase by default, or if we’re incredibly lucky, they bake it in as a 5-6% increase. I don’t expect this to happen, but all of this is on PTR, and things there are subject to change, such as the new legendary staff, as shown here.

Needless to say, I’m hoping these changes make it through PTR intact (at the very least) and to live. Speaking of PTR, our T12 has made it’s debut, and I’ll go ahead and say we are 12 for 12 in terms of having reasonably decent looking tier sets:

Shaman T12 on males

Shaman T12 on females

Preview video courtesy of MMO-Champion:



April 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Been a while since I could take the time to even touch this page. Fair amount of activity, but just a lack of time to get anything meaningful posted:

12/12 in normal content, FINALLY: Nearly 2 months (from around the time of my last post until now) ago we started on Nefarian. Not a difficult encounter, although for 90% of our attempts, I was resto due to a dearth of healers. Finally, last week we had enough healers I was able to dps, and equipped with my Reverberation talent I alone could lock down one of the P2 adds, thus allowing our other dpsers to go all out on their targets without worrying with interrupts (thus proving that dps shaman are king for this instance of interrupts). Up until last week, our attempts were constantly marred by disconnect after disconnect…and it wasn’t always the same people. Even folks with amazingly good hardware (myself included) would randomly get dropped out, only to come back dead (or worse, alive just before Onyxia respawned, resulting in more dead people if said person couldn’t take a dive in the lava fast enough). Last week, though, we finally overcame all of the garbage disconnects, excuses, and whatnot and made a corpse of Nefarian (again). Video of our first kill can be found here. Shadow priest POV. Also for whatever reason, Al’akir seems 100x easier on 10 man compared to 25.

Flirting with “FOTM”: If you’re looking for yours truly in the above video…look closer to the ground. That’s right, I was a goblin in that video. Feeling a bit bored, I checked out goblin animations and racials and decided to give it a go. Couple of days later, I started noticing a racial I was missing that was really starting to annoy me: Hardiness. Doesn’t sound like much, but I found myself in at least half a dozen instances of “if that stun wore off half a second sooner I could’ve gotten a heal off…” in the 3 days I was a good ol’ gobbie. That, plus I simply flat out started missing being an orc, heh. In fact, the experience has convinced me I should probably convert some of my alts to what I dub “the supreme Horde race”…but that’s an expensive endeavor. Cheaper than a weekend out on the town, I suppose, heh. I refer to goblin as FOTM because nearly half the Horde shaman on my server have race changed to goblin…and the whole feeling of “jumping on the bandwagon” had my skin crawling.

Elemental PVP, oh how I hate thee…: I’ve been moonlighting as resto for PVP for a fair amount of Cata so far. Elemental feels so pathetic for pvp right now that it’s simply frustrating to play. Quit my 2’s team in a fit of rage after losing several games in a row where I felt I could literally do nothing. Despite how frustrating ele PVP is, running around as resto right now reminds me of how god mode it once was late in BC (only surpassed by resto druids, but what didn’t they surpass then?). Rejoined the team, took some chill pills (simply a figure of speech; no drugs were taken during the queueing of arena) and just deal with it for now. Yes, I’m playing ele in 2s…fortunately my friend is a shadow priest, who has a fair amount of CC and peeling capability, which an ele MUST have if they want to do anything in arena now. The one game I went resto with my friend, we won…but it was a 20 minute ordeal vs an affliction lock/resto druid team. We’re not exactly patient with arena; we want games done in 5 mins or less, heh.

ARGH SO CLOSE: In the past 2 months I would slave away on weekends for various Call To Arms for BGs I needed achievements from, and now I stand 1 achievement away from the Battlemaster title I’ve coveted ever since seeing it in game: Arathi Basin Perfection. The infuriating part is I have this achievement on 2 of my alts, and I’m over 150 recorded AB victories on my shaman without a perfect win. I still say it’s a matter of when, not if…but damn, it’s irritating. Repeated efforts to form an organized group for it have fallen through due to folks not being online. Even without Battlemaster, I’ve managed to eek over the 12k achievement point mark, which felt pretty cool. Not sure if I’ll get to 13k, though! 😛

All for now…I’ll try to be a bit more prompt with updating this in the future, though, perhaps my once-a-week-or-two shenanigans, which I think is fair.

4.0.6 Elemental Shaman cliff notes

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Tremor Totem: Basically becomes a 6 second aoe fear ward on a 1 min CD.
Purge: Effectively cut in half.
Spiritwalker’s Grace: 50% duration increase, from 10 to 15 seconds
Lava Burst: 10% damage increase
Earthquake: 10% damage increase on top of benefitting from Clearcasting
Rolling Thunder: Charges are now generated by Lightning Overload procced LBs and CLs.
Hex: PVP duration down to 8 seconds, glyph reduces CD by 10 seconds instead of 15

Several pvp-oriented nerfs that were more aimed at our other specs, but still hurt nonetheless. The buffs we’re getting are fairly nice, but my main concern at this point is mobile dps. I find myself moving around quite a bit on most of these encounters, and being the turret casters that we are, it hurts dps fairly bad.

From a pvp perspective, the most annoying thing I run into is going OOM…and that’s without doing any off healing or using earthquake (which is borderline useless, but I like it for knocking people down in smoke bombs). Couple of arena games I was in last night had me hitting lava burst or LB keys and nothing happened…looked up and was like “wtf, I’m OOM”. I thought I read somewhere that Blizzard didn’t care to have caster DPS worrying about going OOM and that it’s more for healers to worry with.

It’s ok, though, because I’ll be able to see my Elementium Stormshield on my back and I’ll no longer look like I’m the ball sack of my mount whenever I use my Volcanic Stone Drake. O.o

Fire totems: Oh how I love (to hate) thee. Initial raiding impressions

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

The dust from the holiday shenanigans has settled down, playoff football is upon us, and many guilds such as mine are now kicking off raiding in Cataclysm. I’ve been splitting raiding time between resto and elemental, which doesn’t bother me whatsoever; If my switching to resto for a day means we start a raid on time, then I’m all for it, because I hate wasting time.

I actually find playing resto fun and enjoyable currently. It’s as if shaman have tools for healing any and all situations right now. The new “healing model” for Cataclysm has taken little adjusting to on my end, since my playstyle when healing already fit the framework Blizzard had planned for Cata healing. As far back as BC, I would always load up on MP5 (now spirit) on as many items as possible, for I am always afraid of going OOM. I preferred to gear for long fights, such as heroic LK during WotLK (a fight that could take upwards of 15 minutes for a kill). The resto shaman mastery, Deep Healing, works nicely in my opinion. It’s basically a form of crit that isn’t a chance; it’s somewhat more reliable, although I don’t know how exactly the game determines how much benefit your heals get on a target (something I may research on a slow work day, heh). I won’t advocate stacking mastery, mind you, but if you get some here and there on your gear, it’s not the end of the universe; worst case, you can reforge some mastery into haste/crit/spirit.

From an elemental standpoint, it hasn’t been too bad. In our 25 man runs, when I’ve been dps, I’m usually in the middle of the pack, leaning toward the top. In most cases, I’m within 10-15% of the top dps, which I find acceptable, since part of that can be attributed to level of play, aka me slacking. In non-gimmick fights, I’ve been averaging 15-16k. I suspect this number will go up in weeks to come due to not only acquiring gear, but better dps uptime due to knowing the mechanics of the fights.

One thing as elemental that’s been both a blessing and curse is our fire totems. It is a blessing that we are no longer relegated to having to be a “Totem of Wrath bot”, as I’ve seen it called (albeit with more suggestive language, heh). Now that we can consistently use dps totems instead of a buff totem, it’s pretty sweet…when the totems aren’t retarded. Searing Totem makes me want to strangle kittens at times. On many occasions when there is a target switch (aka one trash mob dead, on to the next one that’s right beside it), the totem won’t acquire the second target. I quickly learned to recall/redrop ST on the Omitron fight, because it’s insistence on hitting a shielded target caused us to wipe.

Then there’s our beloved Fire Elemental Totem. It’s a massive dps increase when compared to Searing Totem, but it would need to be since it’s a 5/10 minute cooldown (depending on whether it’s glyphed or not). FE, though, like it’s searing kin, has a mind of it’s own at times and will attack whatever it fancies, regardless of what mob has my flame shock on it. It also has a leash back in the event a mob gets too far away; this isn’t a big deal for searing totem, since it can simply be placed again. Not the case for FE, since it has a cooldown. FE also has a tendency to get insta-gibbed due to raid damage/mechanics, such as what happened to mine during Twin Dragons attempts in Bastion last night. I’m not sure what exactly gibbed it; there’s a pretty good possibility I plunked it down in a bad spot, or at a bad time, or both.

There’s an ongoing discussion of the fire totem matter in this Totemspot thread. There are a couple of ideas posted there that I find interesting, such as letting Unleash Flame, a spell seldom used as elemental, refresh or extend our flame shock’s DoT duration. A simple yet radical idea floating about is letting elemental shaman use the elemental totems (earth and fire) as permanent pets. The way I envision it, searing totem could be scrapped, thus relegating us to using Flametongue for the spell damage increase, then having the elemental function as a mobile searing totem. One downside is that it would lose it’s aoe DPS, but that spell could work akin to a mage’s blast wave, only without any knockback/daze (if they still have that). Otherwise the elemental turrets flame bolts at our target. The earth ele could simply function as a “tank” pet, which is pretty much what it does now.

Keep in mind the ideas posted here are 1. most likely not original, and 2. purely wishlisting, if you want to call it that. I’m not wishing for these things; if they are added, great, if not, no big deal. I honestly would never expect to have either of our elementals as permanent pets, even for just the elemental spec, since we would be treading dangerously toward being a warlock or hunter. I don’t see any harm in generating ideas, be they practical or ridiculous; any kind of idea could provide fuel for the proverbial fire that is the Blizzard think tank that conjures up the changes that DO take place.

Overall, I’m satisfied with my shaman experience in Cata, but that isn’t to say that it is perfect and is in need of no improvement. I’m seeing things, such as issues mentioned here, that could use some attention, but they aren’t game breaking issues at this point.

WoWbook: Do Not Want; RealID needs major refinement (and a dose of common sense)

July 7, 2010 4 comments

With last week’s patch 3.3.5, the RealID system was implemented into WoW, which allows you to add folks to your friend’s list via their email address (rather, the one they use for their account) and you can then see them online no matter what character/server they are on (and later on this will let you see them if they are on Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3, among others). I like the general idea behind it; it’s really nice for keeping in touch with a friend on a different server and/or faction. I’m not fond of the “friend of friend” feature where you can see the RealID of anyone you’ve friended. If that were removed from it, then RealID would be nearly perfect; I would also like the option of using some form of alias for a RealID…I want to call it an account name, but that’s a misleading phrase to describe it. Perhaps something akin to a Xbox Live Gamertag, rather than using our real names.

Then we get this nugget of info over the weekend:

Recently, we introduced our new Real ID feature – , a new way to stay connected with your friends on the new Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about our plans for Real ID on our official forums, discuss the design philosophy behind the changes we’re making, and give you a first look at some of the new features we’re adding to the forums to help improve the quality of conversations and make the forums an even more enjoyable place for players to visit.

The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name — with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. The classic forums, including those for Diablo II and Warcraft III, will be moving to a new legacy forum section with the release of the StarCraft II community site and at that time will also transition to using Real ID for posting.

The official forums have always been a great place to discuss the latest info on our games, offer ideas and suggestions, and share experiences with other players — however, the forums have also earned a reputation as a place where flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness run wild. Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment, promote constructive conversations, and connect the Blizzard community in ways they haven’t been connected before. With this change, you’ll see blue posters (i.e. Blizzard employees) posting by their real first and last names on our forums as well.

We also plan to add a number of other features designed to make reading the forums more enjoyable and to empower players with tools to improve the quality of forum discussions. Players will have the ability to rate up or rate down posts so that great topics and replies stand out from the not-so-great; low-rated posts will appear dimmer to show that the community feels that they don’t contribute effectively to the conversation, and Blizzard’s community team will be able to quickly and easily locate highly rated posts to participate in or to highlight discussions that players find worthwhile.

In addition, individual topics will be threaded by context, meaning replies to specific posts will be grouped together, making it easier for players to keep track of multiple conversations within a thread. We’re also adding a way for Blizzard posters to “broadcast” important messages forums-wide , to help communicate breaking news to the community in a clear and timely fashion. Beyond that, we’re improving our forum search function to make locating interesting topics easier and help lower the number of redundant threads, and we have more planned as well.

With the launch of the new, it’s important to us to create a new and different kind of online gaming environment — one that’s highly social, and which provides an ideal place for gamers to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships. All of our design decisions surrounding Real ID — including these forum changes — have been made with this goal in mind.

We’ve given a great deal of consideration to the design of Real ID as a company, as gamers, and as enthusiastic users of the various online-gaming, communication, and social-networking services that have become available in recent years. As these services have become more and more popular, gamers have become part of an increasingly connected and intimate global community – friendships are much more easily forged across long distances, and at conventions like PAX or our own BlizzCon, we’ve seen first-hand how gamers who may have never actually met in person have formed meaningful real-life relationships across borders and oceans. As the way gamers interact with one another continues to evolve, our goal is to ensure is equipped to handle the ever-changing social-gaming experience for years to come.

For more info on Real ID, check out our Real ID page and FAQ located at . We look forward to answering your questions about these upcoming forum changes in the thread below.

Update – Text updated to include more current and correct information regarding legacy forums and their use of Real ID. “The classic forums, including those for Diablo II and Warcraft III, will be moving to a new legacy forum section with the release of the StarCraft II community site and at that time will also transition to using Real ID for posting.”

No, no, NO. This is a TERRIBLE plan if it is going this route. I am not going to sit here and make up countless examples of how this can go wrong in VERY bad ways; this thread on EJ sums up a ton of them, and in a fairly clean manner considering how angered many folks are over this. There was a slew of threads on Arena Junkies, one of which pointed out the first Blizzard “sacrificial blue lamb”, whose Facebook, HOME ADDRESS, and FAMILY MEMBERS became known through lots of searching after getting his RealID. I could probably find that information again, but it’s not information I have any use for, other than it proves a point, which is that RealID could be used for very bad intentions. It’s crazy stuff like this that fuel my reasoning for not having a Facebook account at all.

I have about a dozen folks on my WoW friendlist with their RealIDs. I either know them personally or I’ve been gaming with them for years now. As much as I trust those folks, I am seriously contemplating removing all of them from RealID due to it’s current implementation. It’s safe to say that when RealID is required to post on official Blizzard forums, I won’t touch them with a 10 foot stick.

While I am heavily critical of the direction RealID is going, I do believe there can be a way to implement such a feature to where it allows players to interact and form social networks without handing out all of their personal information on a silver platter. Bulleting the points I just made:

  • Alias – Instead of plastering our real names all over the place, an alias could be used instead. Call it a Battle Tag or whatever.
  • Remove the “friend of friend” feature. I only care to disclose my RealID to the exact person I disclose it to, not to them and everyone else they know via RealID

I couldn’t tell anyone how to implement those ideas on a technical level, but I honestly don’t believe it would be difficult. Regarding my second bullet, perhaps the ability to disable that feature is in game because I don’t think I’ve looked through all the options, but I have a hunch that disabling friend of friend isn’t there.

I can only hope that some more thought has gone into this RealID system, because quite frankly, I see little thought or care within it.

Various Recent Blue Posts, June 2010

June 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve picked up on some interesting posts by Blizzard today that I thought I would share, starting with this exchange with Ghostcrawler regarding alts, BoA (heirloom) gear, and the achievement system.

The heirloom/BoA gear is in a good place now, if you ask me. With the chest and shoulders, your lowbie characters will sport neat-looking gear that provides decent stats and a massive 20% boost to xp gains. Couple that with a BoA weapon and most classes will shred through mobs as they blast away levels at a break-neck pace (only eclipsed by dual boxing Recruit-A-Friend accounts). If you manage to win the Kalu’ak Fishing Derby, you can obtain the BoA ring that bumps the xp rate by another 5%. Most characters can cover a large amount of gear slots with heirloom gear, so I don’t believe there’s much room for additional heirlooms. One I wouldn’t mind seeing would be a shield, say with stamina and hit rating…not sure what other stat could be added, since the item could be used by offensive casters (ele shaman), healers (resto shaman and holy paladins), and tanks (warriors and paladins), but decent shields can be tough to come by while leveling. I don’t view it as being a necessity, though. Heirloom gear is in a great place now, and has made leveling alts tons of fun. Uber gear alone makes leveling faster, let along uber gear that has +xp bonuses on it!

Now on to the achievement system…and I cannot WAIT for achievements to be account-wide/bound. I have recently ascended to an achievement level of OVER NINE THOUSAND, while my highest other alts flail around in the 3-4k range. With the achievement system being account wide, it will help folks like yours truly, who has ample raid experience on his main, get into pugs with my alts even if their gear/spec/whatever isn’t up to standards (such as the VoA 10s requiring 5k+ gearscore…please die in a fire). Not only that, but if it were to consolidate some achievements that are scattered about on various characters. I have at least 3-4 achievements towards the Battlemaster title that are on characters that are not my main, who has the majority of said achievements. Also, would it accumulate your battleground victories from all characters, or just take the highest number you’ve acquired on a single character? I would think (and hope for) the latter. Maybe we’ll luck up and the achievement system will become account-wide when is fully fleshed out (since I expect future Blizzard games to include such an achievement system).

Now, we also have some more Wintergrasp balance changes coming down the pipe. I’m surprised this particular change wasn’t implemented already. I expect there to be a lot of tears shed when this one goes live, particularly from realms where the horde/alliance population ratio is heavily skewed in favor of one faction (such as US Mal’ganis, where horde outnumber alliance by a ratio of around 4-5:1…maybe even worse now). I agree with the OP in this post; Tenacity sucks. I’d much rather balance the game by going by the lowest common denominator instead of relying on a buff of uberness that lets folks 1 shot enemies while requiring 10 of them to gather up to take down one person. I could see it being fun for a time or two, but not game after game after game, aka Windrunner horde and their constant 10+ stacks of tenacity.

Last, but not least, we have this wonderful bit about cross-battlegroup BGs. I can only hope that this is the answer for the annoying queue times for horde players that have cropped up ever since faction transfer was introduced. Perhaps this in conjunction with the new races in Cataclysm (from my observations, there are more people interested in going worgen than there are those wanting to play goblin), the queue times will finally even out to where they are a very short wait. As it is now, Alliance players have almost instant queue times, whereas Horde players find themselves waiting 10-15 minutes on average for a random BG queue to pop. I do wonder, though, if cross-battlegroup BGs work out well if it will extend over to arena. If so, there wouldn’t be any more of the “you’re either BG9 or you suck” jalopy going on, and queue times for arena would just about be non-existant (they just about are, least on Stormstrike at crappy low rating, heh).

As for me, things are going well. New guild is now 5/12 on ICC 25 hard modes, and we’re looking to make that 7/12 this Sunday. 10 man group should be going in tomorrow evening, so hopefully I’ll knock off a few more achievements towards a sick looking frostwyrm mount. 🙂

Icecrown Plateau: DPS shaman not cutting it?

April 2, 2010 3 comments

Whoa, 2 posts in a week for the first time in ages.

For those who may have missed it, the Finnish guild Paragon defeated the heroic 25 man version of the Lich King encounter last week, just before the 5% zone buff became 10%. Their victory was big news being it is the world first victory over the encounter, but it made just as much news due to the raid composition they brought to the table:

# 3 x Death Knight – 2 x Frost, 1 x Unholy
# 4 x Druid – 1 x Feral Tank, 2 x Feral DPS, 1 x Balance
# 2 x Hunter – 2 x Marksmanship
# 5 x Paladin – 1 x Protection, 2 x Holy, 2 x Retribution
# 3 x Priest – 1 x Shadow, 1 x Holy, 1 x Discipline
# 3 x Rogue – 1 x Mutilate, 2 x Combat
# 1 x Shaman – 1 x Restoration
# 3 x Warlock – 1 x Demonology, 2 x Affliction
# 1 x Warrior – 1 x Fury

Browsing over the composition will reveal that there were no mages, resto druids, or dps shaman involved in this winning group. Most posts I’ve seen while browsing forums as of late were of the flavor of “zomg mages r skrued agin” or something to that degree. However, having read this post on Stratfu, where one of Paragon’s own chimed in regarding their raid comp:

Something I’d like to add is that while shamans have been lacking in the AE department for some time, they’ve been an okay alternative for the buffs they provide. With the recent patch, however, frost DKs provide melee haste, and a moonkin in general is a better option than an elemental shaman. Now that the alternatives are very viable indeed, dps shamans are no longer carried by their buffs.

If you ask me, it’s the dps shamans and resto druids that drew the short stick in this one. It’d be trivial to fit in mages.

Funny how the class with one of the more iconic cleave/aoe abilities (Chain Lightning) is the one left out in the cold when it comes to aoe DPS, at least according to the comment quoted above. Magma totem is (in most cases) only worthwhile to our enhance brethren, and it’s dps is weak compared to others. Dinking around on my level 72 warlock, Seed of Corruption spam (at his level) is dangerously close to the dps of my shaman’s magma totem. We’re talking a character that isn’t even 80, much less one that has no where near the gear level of my shaman. I can only wonder what kind of dps I could pull off with that guy when I hit 80 with him (which will take forever; I tend to hate leveling in Northrend now).

Is one comment from a member of a world-class raiding guild the be-all-end-all as to balance issues in this game? No, it’s not. That said, I do not believe these words should fall on deaf ears. When the stars align and all the buffs are in place, I can lay down some solid dps…if I don’t have to budge. With all the moving required, plus not being able to use dps fire totems most of the time, elemental dps is still crippled compared the the rest of the field. Our attempts on 10 man LK have had me in last place on virtually every pull, no matter what stops I pull out to close the gap. Of course, this is in a 10 man, and as usual, I don’t have a demo lock handy to keep up their superior spell power buff.

I may brainstorm some ideas on what could be done to help elemental dps without running the risk of it being OP or game breaking for PVP (Oh how fun it is to balance two completely different game types within the same game). I wouldn’t be surprised if others have beaten me to some of “my” ideas, but I will post them anyhow. For now, work beckons…argh, only 45 mins left until the weekend!