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Review: DarkRoom

Continuando com a temática das reviews, desta vez venho dar-vos a conhecer a aplicação que estou a usar para escrever este texto. Chama-se DarkRoom e é uma simples aplicação de produtividade para autores.

O que é?

DarkRoom não é nada mais, nada menos, do que um editor de texto cuja principal função é esconder todo o background do computador, ou seja, criar um “quarto escuro”, sem distracções vindas do desktop, o que permite escrever sem ter a tentação de ir à web ou falar com aquela pessoa que acabou de entrar no messenger.

A aplicação é, como podem verificar no site oficial, um clone de uma aplicação exclusiva para o OS X (tiger) chamada White Room, criada devido à inexistência de alternativas para o Windows por Jeffrey Fuller.

Basicamente, é uma aplicação bem simples, não muito mais útil do que o bloco de notas do Windows, mas o simples facto de permitir escrever apenas com as palavras à frente é genial. Tal como já disse na review do FocusBooster, eu adoro aplicações simples. KISS.

DarkRoom permite algumas configurações básicas, tal como cores do ambiente e texto e o tamanho e tipo de letra. Também dá estatísticas sobre o trabalho corrente tais como número de palavras, caracteres e linhas.

Esta aplicação aplica-se mais a quem gosta de escrever maioritariamente ficção, ou algo do género que não precise de suporte de pesquisas ou formatação, logo exclui trabalhos escolares (por exemplo) ou profissionais a menos que tenham pachorra para depois passar tudo para um editor estilo Word para formatar como deve de ser.

Mesmo assim, tenho utilizado esta aplicação para escrever a grande maioria dos meus blog-posts e já não quero outra coisa. É muito bom não ser tentada a procrastinar com formatações ou outros programas visíveis, simplesmente abro a aplicação, new document, fullscreen e é só escrever. Como não tem spellchecking, nem me preocupo com isso, é só deixar as palavras fluir. Não há muito mais a dizer sobre esta aplicação, pois é muito simples mas, para mim, poderosa.

Podem fazer o download gratuito do DarkRoom aqui: DarkRoom

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Review: FocusBooster

Aqui há dias apareceu num dos meus feeds um artigo que demonstrava várias aplicações concebidas para aumentar a produtividade e eu, como muito interessada que sou nestas coisas (Vê-se, né?), decidi experimentar duas delas. As aplicações escolhidas foram DarkRoom e FocusBooster.

Hoje vou dar a minha opinião do FocusBooster e para uma próxima, a minha opinião do DarkRoom. Ambas são aplicações muito simplistas que me encantam pela simplicidade. Eu adoro aplicações que não tentam ser mais do que elas próprias, que sendo simples permitem realizar a tarefa a que estão destinadas com facilidade e naturalidade.

Mas antes de começar a falar do FocusBooster, tenho que apresentar o seu propósito. Esta aplicação foi desenhada para ajudar os utilizadores a cronometrar as suas sessões de trabalho utilizando o método de concentração e time managing “Pomodoro” (que alguns de vocês se aperceberam, significa tomate em Francês. Isto porque o senhor que inventou o método, Francesco Cirillo, utilizava um temporizador de cozinha em forma de tomate. Incidentalmente isto deu azo à frase que eu adoro presentemente, “Respect the tomato!”).

Este método consiste em escolher uma tarefa e dividir a concentração nesta em blocos de, por exemplo, 25 minutos. A cada 25 minutos, um intervalo de tempo a que se chama Pomodoro, a pessoa faz uma pausa de 5 minutos. Após 4 Pomodoros, tem direito a uma pausa mais longa, say, 30 minutos.

Não é um sistema perfeito, mas decidi experimentar, e descobrir esta aplicação foi perfeito para começar.

Primeiro, as coisas boas. Esta é uma aplicação simples, que não consome muitos recursos. É um simples temporizador com poucas opções, mas que mesmo assim é bastante funcional e mais prático do que estar constantemente a programar um temporizador. Permite também redimensionar a janela do temporizador e mantê-la acima das outras janelas.

As opções são bastante básicas.

Focus Booster Options

No entanto, a aplicação ainda tem alguns problemas. Por exemplo, podemos pausar uma sessão mas não continuá-la pois a aplicação dá-a como uma sessão finalizada e começa uma nova sessão. Embora isto me parecesse um lado negativo, talvez seja de propósito, uma vez que que segundo as “regras” do método Pomodoro, uma sessão não pode ser pausada a meio. De qualquer forma, seria bom ter uma opção para os que não querem seguir as regras à risca.

Outra funcionalidade que falta à aplicação é o suporte da pausa longa, ou seja, de X em X sessões ter o temporizador a contar a pausa longa, em vez de repetir a pausa curta.

Encontrei também o que me parece ser um bug, de vez em quando, quando se inicia a aplicação, esta parece esquecer onde a colocámos na última utilização e faz reset para o topo esquerdo do ecrã.

Mesmo assim, o FocusBooster é uma aplicação simples e prática que recomendo a todos os que queiram experimentar o método Pomodoro.

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Review: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

So, Cataclysm has been out for about a month now and has had time to show what it’s worth. Even before it had come out, I had already decided to do a review of it for this blog, and yes, in English, so it was readable to most of the WoW gaming populace. Mostly, I am doing this to have an opportunity to talk about one of my favourite games to date (more on this later?), World of Warcraft. While during this month I wasn’t able to (or in some cases, too lazy to) experience the full content of Cataclysm, I will talk about all that I was able to experience.

 

 

Warning: There will be SPOILERS ahead.

 

Levelling

 

Unlike many good people, I don’t think that only five more levels felt short or “not a full expansion”. In fact, by the time I reached 84 and a half, I was already a little winded from the sheer size of the new zones, most notably, Vashj’ir. This zone is HUGE but immensely fun. I mean, come ON 450% “flying” speed? Yus plz.

 

Truth be told, this has to be the expansion where I liked levelling the most. The storylines were good and entertaining, the mobs weren’t too difficult or too easy and the items interesting. I didn’t even mind replacing my ICC epics with greens this time. Not that I knew what it felt like to replace them in Wrath: I didn’t have any to speak of, from TBC!

 

Overall, gear is just a means to an end and it looks so nice this time around that I couldn’t mind even if I wanted to. The only gripe I have with the new gear is that most of it shares the same model(or, more correctly, texture, but I’ll be using model for both, for easier comprehension). For example, I replaced some green quality leggings with Balkar’s Waders and was disappointed when the model remained the same. But hey, at least it matched the rest of my gear, which, despite coming from very different dungeons, looked exactly like a matching set.

 

While I’m criticizing this, I understand that this is EXACTLY what users asked for, complaining about the “Outland clown syndrome” in which character gear would be horribly mismatched. I feel this problem was more due to the bright colours used to create the alien feel of Outland than the textures itself. Personally, I only have this syndrome while levelling, and it feels appropriate: you’re a scrub soldier climbing the heroism ladder. You get whatever pieces of gear keep your squishies under your skin. You are SUPPOSED to look like a mismatched fashion victim. Tiers and gear sets are for the ones who have proven themselves: Generals, Liutenants, Elite Soldiers.

 

The problem, however, has been fixed a little from the solution of Wrath. In Wrath, most of anything that wasn’t a tier was brown. And even some tiers were brown. I play a hunter. I played a brown Tauren, brown geared hunter. On a brown bear. I’m sick of brown.

Brown gear, courtesy of: The Players.

Brown, however, isn’t gone, but it has friends now, mainly dull reds, blues, greens and yellows. And purples if you’re a Mage. Or Warlock. Or Priest. Yet, now that I’ve returned to my main hunter, a purple, blue haired Night Elf, I am wearing brown dungeon/heroic gear, but at LEAST it has some dull red details. Hurray! I pretty much preferred my greenish black TBC PVP gear with fel falling from the shoulders. Delicious that gear, and not just from a stat point.

 

Which brings me to another point. The hype for Cataclysm said that we’d have different gear looks depending on what zones we quested in. Well…I quested through all of them and I can’t remember the gear being vastly different looking, so I was disappointed.

 

Speaking of zones, they are HUGE. I would safely bet that every zone of Cataclysm is roughly bigger than any of Wrath, with the exception of, maybe, Icecrown. Especially huge is Vashj’ir. This zone is so big that the map for it is divided in three sections! I mean…wow. The storyline is also awesome with the Earthen Ring and the shipwrecked Aliance (and I suppose Horde) storylines interweaving into each other to create cohesion and a unified feeling to the zone. The mix also weaves well into the main Cataclysm storyline, mostly when it comes to the Twilight Hammer (more than Deathwing himself). Overall, this is the zone that struck me most, not only for the beautiful scenery, but also for the compelling story and the sheer size of it, even thought getting to the very end exhausted me!

 

Visually, though, Uldum takes the cake. As an ancient Egypt fan, thanks to a special friend, I just LOVED that zone, especially the two gigantic statues at the bottom, framing the river delta. It was just beautiful, breathtaking. And I don’t run WoW with the graphics anywhere near the max.

 

As for the other zones, Hyjal, Deepholm and Twilight Highlands, well, I have little to say. Hyjal felt a little meh, even as a Night Elf I didn’t get the importance of saving all the ancients and helping restore the zone because, well, Blizzard, in my opinion, shouldn’t have left the healing of Hyjal to the next patch, but phase it. It would have felt a lot better this way. Twilight Highlands felt much like any other zone, but I don’t know what they could have done to improve it. I rather enjoyed the storyline from the moment I got to the Wildhammer Dwarves, but after helping them and getting to the dragons, I felt the quests and the story got a little bit…forced. The fight between Alexstrasza and Deathwing didn’t feel as epic as a fight between two massive dragons should. I’m pretty biased here though, I just love dragons. I imagine how disappointing it must have been for someone who doesn’t.

 

But I kept on with relative interest, I mean, come on, DRAGONS! : D It was when I got to Victor’s Point that Twilight Highlands lost the interest for me. Not even Master Mathias Shaw could keep me hooked and I mean, he’s pretty baddass.

 

You may have noticed by now that this all just talks about levelling from 80-85. Well, truth is, besides a Worgen (which I’ll speak of ahead) I didn’t do any low level levelling. I did grab my Tauren hunter and do most of Hillsbrad, now Horde controlled, and all I can say is: Good riddance. I wouldn’t do that “get me 30 human skulls” quest again if you PAID me. Otherwise all I can say is “Welcome to the Machine”.

 

Worgen and Goblins

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the hindsight to actually play the Goblin starting area, so I won’t be giving an opinion. I did however play the Worgen starting area and didn’t find it very inspiring or different. Honestly, the Death Knight area wowed me more and it doesn’t have the full technology use that the new starting areas do. That said, I made a female Worgen warrior. The only thing I’m disappointed about her is that her snout doesn’t look as feral as it should. Otherwise, I love her animations (yes even the dance, it looks slightly better in game than the model viewer naked model previews) and she just feels good. The new levelling stuff, mainly the skills you have and choosing a talent tree, feel very good and intuitive. I especially liked, as Fury, getting the Charge ability and dual wield abilities early on. I remember a warrior rolled a while back that never made it to 20 like this little doggy did. Too bad that end game was pressing else this girl might have had a future. Blizzard needs to implement paid class change or account wide achievements, as that deters me from changing mains.

 

Dungeons and Heroics

 

Two problems: too long, too long queues. Otherwise, fine. And by too long, I don’t mean “omg we spent two hours wiping, this instance is too long!”, no. A full dungeon run, at max speed with a competent group took me nearly an hour at the beginning of the expansion (comprehensible) but isn’t much faster now that most people have rep/dungeon gear. I think the dungeons themselves should have been shorter, with less but more difficult trash or mini-bosses between the main bosses.

 

Heroics suffer from the same problem but even LONGER queues. I blame this on how difficult and unforgiving it is to tank and heal, from what I hear, people prefer to pay it safe and just DPS. The current fights could use less healing/tanking challenges and more DPS races. Cut some slack on the tank and healer, please, we DPS want to do something too, during the fight. Keeping threat under control and CC are just too basic.

 

End game

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to get any raiding done. My guild is going to start raiding come February and that means I’ll be having exams. Hopefully not too many so I can jump right back into WoW.

 

So, what does the unemployed raider do at end game? Well, there’s a couple of choices, if you don’t want to level an alt. Mostly, it looks just like Wrath, you do your dailies, run the daily heroic/dungeon, level professions, play the AH, chat, do some achievements, PVP.

 

As for me, personally, PVP is out of the question. Starting crafted gear is just too expensive to dabble into right now and I detest PvP PuGs. Imagine the average IQ of a dungeon finder PuG. Now multiply it by 5 and subtract the resulting number. That’s the IQ of a battleground PuG. Why cap the flag if fighting in the middle gets me HKs? Don’t people play PVP to win?!

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try out Tol Barad, but I’ve read all about the current imbalances. Too bad, I could have used the win-trade honour to buy some decent PVP gear, maybe a few PVP mounts. But to this day, all I know is that the portal to Tol Barad is located somewhere in Stormwind, but I don’t know exactly where.

 

So, what I eventually did was pursue achievements and try out Archaeology (got bored with that for now). I finished Cataclysm Loremaster and completed Classical Dungeon Master as well as got some zones done for Loremaster of Kalimdor. I got the Cata dungeon achievements too.

 

I’ve tried levelling professions but, with the price materials are at now, that is an exercise in masochism, so I mostly end up selling the mats I get, mostly cloth (and I’m a Tailor, yay). I craft some things to sell too that are profitable, mainly Frost and Netherweave bags, high level buff foods and I flip pets. I’m for the first time in my life sitting at 13k gold. When I come back, I expect to double or even triple it, eventually, and then buy the gold sink mounts I so want, aiming first at the Vial of the Sands. I mean, it turns your into a dragon! How cool is THAT?! Worth every stinking copper.

 

That about sums up my current experience with Cataclysm. Seriously, despite all this I felt somewhat uncomfortable with it due to most new experiences being aimed for the Old World, low level characters. Maybe the next patch will bring new things to do and aim for, that will keep me occupied in the Summer.

 

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