Skill tree upgrade path

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Which upgrade path should I put points in?

Poll ended at Sun Feb 10, 2013 1:51 pm

Main Hand (upgrade CPU)
2
7%
Off-Hand (upgrade GPU)
10
33%
Backpack (buy SSD)
14
47%
Other (describe in the comments)
4
13%
 
Total votes : 30

Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:51 pm

I'm nearing the next level, and I would like to ask for advice regarding what skill to learn when I ding.

My current character attributes:
Main Hand: AMD Athlon II X4 640 (clocked at 3.4 GHz, it's the same tech as the Phenom II X4 980 but without the L3 cache)
- Level Up: Replace With AMD FX-8350. (drop-in upgrade, at stock speeds it should be 10-25% faster with similar or lower power consumption depending on the workload. Unsure whether to wait for the next stepping, I'm very close to leveling up at this stage and don't like hoarding attribute points.)

Off-Hand: NVidia GeForce GTX 460 SE (1024 MiB GDDR5)
- Level Up: Replace With GeForce GTX 660. (should be 25-50% faster with 5-10% lower power consumption)

Backpack: Samsung HD103SJ HDD (1 TB)
- New Skill: Add a Second Backpack Slot, Equip Samsung MZ-7TD250KW (250 GB SSD)

Please vote and let me know which upgrade path will suck the least for my character's development.
Last edited by Meadows on Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:13 pm

The answer depends on what you're trying to kill.

Are you trying improve gaming performance? Folding speed? System responsiveness?
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:17 pm

Ouch, looks like the GM/DM has been skimping on your XP. I would personally try to find a way get some bonus XP and maybe level up twice in one go. My current character tends to take off-hand attributes twice before going with the main hand, leaving the backback skill to only get gains every few levels.

As it is you probably can't get the GM/DM to toss you a bonus to XP. Depending on what areas of combat you focus on, will determine my suggestion, but it seems that going with an offhand upgrade would be your best choice. After that I would grind hard to get the main hand boosted.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:23 pm

ChronoReverse wrote:The answer depends on what you're trying to kill.

Are you trying improve gaming performance? Folding speed? System responsiveness?

α. System responsiveness is arse sometimes, but I very rarely reboot and after two decades I've gotten well used to waiting a few seconds for a program to start up.
β. I do not fold, and do not participate in any sort of distributed computing.
γ. I use FL Studio and Photoshop regularly as prime examples of CPU-bound activity, however I'm also an avid gamer (at least a few times a week) and the GPU doesn't allow me to use my native screen resolution of 2048×1536 except in light titles.

δ. I'm primarily interested in the major poll options, because I have 16 GiB of Mana available so channeling heavy spells like Photoshop is usually not an issue for my character. I'm also not interested in respeccing a new motherboard, which rules out the intel skill tree.

No matter what I pick, it will be a net gain, which is why I'm entertaining this coin toss here.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:43 pm

Main hand if you keep getting slain by The Eternal Progress Bar of the Unproductive
Offhand if you get strobe-effect disorientation from the Unwelcome Troll of Stuttering Framerates
Backpack needs an upgrade because everyone now makes items that really benefit from being stored in the Nimble Pockets of Instantaneousness, but you may not care about how quickly you can unsheath your MH and OH, instead preferring to focus on maximum DPS once you're swinging.

At any rate, since you're still levelling in the Phenomenally-Bulldozed Boglands and won't reach the Sandy/Leafy river-crossings of Intelligence anytime soon, perhaps you should just save your skill points until you get there - and instead treat yourself to a wider visor for your helmet? I find the new 27" ones imported from across the Neverending Ocean of the West were particularly useful.
Last edited by Chrispy_ on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:46 pm

I'd respec out of the AMD tree, it's been nerfed hard.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:14 pm

How hard are you pushing FL Studio? I'm not really seeing more than 75% total use on my i3 2100 at any point with 15-20 tracks in Sonar. Part of that is the better single-thread performance, some of it is Hyper Threading, and the rest is just due to my workload I guess.

Though I do come from the olden days of a 603e running Logic 4 and Logic 5, so I'm used to "printing" tracks to audio once I'm sure I'm done with the synth. Especially big sample libraries. Nowadays in Sonar it's a matter of pressing the Freeze button. Great for audio tracks, too, so you can get your stutter effects, reverbs, etc committed to disk and easily undone if needed. I'm sure FL Studio has something similar (AFAIK Pro Tools is the only major DAW without the feature). And it's even faster when you're freezing to an SSD.

So if you don't have a backpack, I'd be getting a 240GB or so backpack and loading all the audio stuff you can fit with your OS. Once you're done with a project, move it to mechanical storage.

Barring that, my second choice is off-hand. If you're not gaming at native resolution, you should be. Although with 50% more pixels than a 1080p display, that might be tough for a vanilla GTX 660.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:46 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:How hard are you pushing FL Studio?

Usually not very much, but my preferred working sample rate is 88.2 kHz (2× oversampling on finalised tracks), and I'd like to use it in real time. The reason is that I have a synth or two where sound is ever so slightly different in 48 kHz and 88.2 kHz. Right now, several of my projects underrun (sometimes constantly) when using 88.2 kHz in real time.

There's also the issue of rendering. I have a project or two that literally takes a full hour to render (with all the precision maxed out), even though multithreading is supported and enabled.

derFunkenstein wrote:If you're not gaming at native resolution, you should be. Although with 50% more pixels than a 1080p display, that might be tough for a vanilla GTX 660.

I doubt it. I'm against both antialiasing and vsync on principle, so judging by the reviews and the GPU's raw specs, it would probably let me crank the handle.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:58 pm

I would re-roll as Intel :wink:
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:15 pm

Meadows wrote:Usually not very much, but my preferred working sample rate is 88.2 kHz (2× oversampling on finalised tracks), and I'd like to use it in real time. The reason is that I have a synth or two where sound is ever so slightly different in 48 kHz and 88.2 kHz. Right now, several of my projects underrun (sometimes constantly) when using 88.2 kHz in real time.

There's also the issue of rendering. I have a project or two that literally takes a full hour to render (with all the precision maxed out), even though multithreading is supported and enabled.

I doubt it. I'm against both antialiasing and vsync on principle, so judging by the reviews and the GPU's raw specs, it would probably let me crank the handle.

Alright, fair enough. I prefer to do 24-bit 44.1 khz. If i'm never going to release anything higher-quality than 44.1 via CD or compressed audio, I don't mess with sampling higher, but I do appreciate having additional headroom that 24-bit audio gives, to help prevent distorting. But if that's your preferred sampling rate, then you're going to work the CPU a lot harder than I am.

Still a fan of freeze tracks, though - if you freeze a synth when you're set and go on to tweaking the next, then when you mix down to WAV, it goes really fast. At least in Sonar's case, it renders each freeze track at the highest quality settings at your project's bit depth and sample rate and all the fancy iZotope Radius algorithms already, so bouncing a stereo mix down is fast fast fast. Logic does it the same way and they both use a snowflake icon even. It takes some self-training to integrate it into your workflow, but you can go very far on budget hardware and the CPU becomes a non-issue. At worst you're routing a bunch of pre-rendered tracks through some effects busses and it's doing those effects real-time. Should still save you boatload of time overall, even compared to buying a new CPU. If FL studio requires you to bounce to tracks and then delete/disable the original, it's way less elegant, I suppose.

As for gaming, if you go without AA and without Vsync then yeah I agree you'll probably be fine with a GTX 660.

I'll stick to my vote for the backpack first and the off-hand next, but do as you want - it's your character and your account, after all.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:44 pm

I would advice you to gather more XP and wait till you reach Richland.

EDIT: Also, if you can't resist, upgrade to 660GTX that should be a nice boost for time being.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:16 am

Get a kick-butt off-hand to enjoy now, and then twink it to your new Intel character later on.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:14 am

Wait for the next expansions gathering as much loot as you can and then when both expansion packs come out see what you need. With luck they wont be buggy but still wait till your expendable idiot friends find all the bugs for you....
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:26 am

Jigar wrote:I would advice you to gather more XP and wait till you reach Richland.

It has the same Piledriver cores and I don't need the integrated GPU.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:15 am

Meadows wrote:
Jigar wrote:I would advice you to gather more XP and wait till you reach Richland.

It has the same Piledriver cores and I don't need the integrated GPU.


Are you certain there are no tweaks to the CPU end ? Also, If you select AMD GPU there is an extra boost because of Crossfire - but that totally depends upon you. I am not sensitive towards micro stuttering so i am really enjoying my HD7970 without any visual issues.

EDIT:
Techreport wrote:Richland are expected to deliver a 40% boost in graphics performance and 10-20% jump in CPU performance over their Trinity-based counterparts
- Link
Last edited by Jigar on Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:05 am

It's between the Off-Hand and Backpack upgrades for me. I've gone with the Backpack upgrade though because once you go SSD there really is no turning back.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:40 am

That's a difficult choice, as the mainhand and offhand are quite well balanced when taken together, but levelling up either of them will make you unbalanced and cause your character to walk funny (or the other one will hold the new one back). So I voted for SSD, as I reckon it's a good long-term purchase and you should notice the improvement for your big apps.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:53 am

I would have to say re-roll as Intel and either spec i5 or if you can get the rotation down i7. TR's spec guide is a good start as their guides are really top notch and they have done a lot of theory crafting.

Addendum: AH what you currently have to fund your re-roll.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:28 am

Jigar wrote:Are you certain there are no tweaks to the CPU end?

Pretty certain. Piledriver is Piledriver, cherry-picking is cherry-picking. I originally thought of waiting for Steamroller before making a move, but over the past few months I've warmed up to the idea of an FX-8350 enough to actually consider a purchase.

(Remember, Richland will have a performance edge over current Trinity versions partly because it's clocked higher.)

Jigar wrote:Also, If you select AMD GPU

I will not.

Mentawl wrote:That's a difficult choice, as the mainhand and offhand are quite well balanced when taken together, but levelling up either of them will make you unbalanced and cause your character to walk funny (or the other one will hold the new one back).

Actually, even as an AMD faithful, I think Piledriver is not the perfect choice right now (a notable improvement, but not "perfect") but sadly there are no news about Steamroller still.
This poll has been very useful, because it took my determination away about upgrading the CPU. As you may have read, my screen is larger than what the good ol' GTX 460 SE can handle, so I doubt a GPU upgrade would make the system unbalanced. (If anything, it might become more balanced.)

Right now I'm weighing my options and contemplating whether to buy the SSD, upgrade the GPU, or do both at greater expense. That last option seems more and more likely.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:42 am

I would upgrade the offhand GPU for more power and less mana draw, or save your money to get a discount in a couple of months when the shop restocks. "Real" applications aren't very CPU-heavy and IMO SSDs are overrated.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:44 am

All right, I dinged and also started an uncomfortable farming side quest that earned me a bonus skill point.

Although highly unusual of me, I opted -- in a leap of awkward faith -- to upgrade both my off-hand weapon and add the Rare backpack to my gear. We'll see in a few business days whether everything arrives to my door unbroken.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sat Feb 09, 2013 10:45 am

That's probably the best upgrade path if you can swing both at once. A GPU and SSD can last you through multiple upgrades, and then at some opint if you deicde you can upgrade the platform, or get an FX-8350 on the cheap.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:04 pm

MadManOriginal wrote:That's probably the best upgrade path if you can swing both at once. A GPU and SSD can last you through multiple upgrades, and then at some opint if you deicde you can upgrade the platform, or get an FX-8350 on the cheap.

I hope the new stepping (and/or Steamroller) leaves beta testing and appears on the live servers by the time I level up again.

Not that the FX-8350 is "bad" by any definition of the word, far from it. But I would still hate to think of buying it 8-12 months from now (my projected next upgrade), unless the price becomes even more compelling by then.
I've been using my Athlon since April 2011, so it's not like I can't hold out for longer.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:11 pm

Update:

After some days of painful deliberation, an online shopping cart I emptied and re-filled ten times with slightly different gear specs, and a shipping mistake that cost me two more business days, I have finally levelled up.

I opted for some bonus side-quests on the way in order to turn out really geeky-hardcore, and got a Samsung 840 Pro (instead of vanilla) and a GTX 660 Ti (again, instead of vanilla).

Good:
The gaming performance is impeccable. The card drives my monitor at its native resolution with no problems at all, I believe I can max out all my games. Twice the performance, yet power draw is the same as that of my GTX 460 SE! I even received a nice free t-shirt with the videocard (black with a bright green NVidia logo and text). Overall, I am very satisfied with this purchase.
I also installed my new ROCCAT Kone XTD laser mouse, and it's great. I love it so far.
As for the SSD, production applications like Photoshop or FL Studio load much faster and keep me waiting less, but nothing is instantaneous. OS functionality (such as opening Programs and Features, and waiting for the list to populate) is easily 10 times faster, and I'm sure I'd notice an even bigger difference if I explicitly benchmarked this thing synthetically. Also worth noting: the average time Windows spends on contemplation immediately after logging in has been reduced from 30 seconds to about 3. (Non-scientific estimations. These are all things that never really bothered me.) Sadly, the speed came at a cost, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Bad:
The videocard is long. It's not just long-long, it's black-man's-penis-long. Even longer than my old 8800 GT, and nearly a full inch longer than my previous card, the GTX 460 SE. Because I have a standard cheap ATX case and didn't want to spend even more on this ordeal, I chose to walk the sacrificial path and removed the eldest of my hard drive triumvirate to make room. It was a 250 GB Western Digital, and at this point, it was only spun up once a month to store a full system backup, anyway. I'll put my backups someplace else in the future. The remaining two drives (a 500 GB Seagate I use for games, and a 1 TB Samsung I use for media and everything else) were moved down to the bottom of the case, and the SSD found its place just above the videocard (right under the DVD burner), so the videocard -- barely -- fits in between now. My case is now officially a compressed mess of tight-fitting hardware and a random jungle of cables. I was never good with this sort of thing. Maybe a larger tower would make a difference.

Ugly:
I wasn't in the mood to reinstall anything, so I set out to do what I had already done a few times before, which is to clone the system disk (to the SSD) and carry on from there. To my dismay, Acronis True Image no longer supports cloning disks in the latest (2013) trial version, and a pirated version didn't actually work, so I defaulted to the freeware EaseUS Partitiwhatever Magic Doohickey. Surprisingly, this did the job. Or it appeared to, anyway, because the bootloader was skinned and fried alive in the process. I did not despair, I've seen this before: just pop in the Windows 7 install disc, and a very quick repair tool run will mend the ravaged boot manager in almost no time at all. Indeed, after a reboot, Windows successfully greeted me again with all my programs and settings, except one small but very important aberration: Windows Backup and Restore no longer works. At all.
Clicking its Control Panel link flashes the hourglass loading ring on the cursor for a split second, and then nothing happens. The Backup and Restore window simply doesn't appear. No error, no response, and an internet search came up with nothing. Stopping and restarting the respective system services -- Volume Shadow Copy and Windows Backup -- had no effect. I even ran a system file check (url) twice, which found nothing wrong. This lengthy torture cost me hours upon hours of time and misery, as my projected 1 hour PC fix-it session turned to 8, in two parts, with necessary sleep in between.

Moral of the story: the SSD upgrade gave me a bump in startup performance and a minor improvement in general system performance, but at the cost of irreversibly breaking a part of the OS that I actually relied on. I regret buying it.

All this brings us to the following issue:
I imagine an eventual upgrade to Windows 8 would solve this problem and fill in all the holes. However, I already made my opinion public on the topic of that OS. If anyone reads this, I hereby ask for advice on some free and reliable system backup software to replace the broken functionality.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:34 pm

Your post made me sad... Not because of your issues but because of that "black-man's-penis-long" phrase... :(
Ahem... Anyways, there were plenty of recommendations about reliable backup/cloning software in other threads, one of the most reliable being Macrium Reflect. You should try it, they have free version, though free one doesn't support GPT disks.
Also, I can't believe there are still so many masochistic people who prefer to inconvenience themselves with potentially running into issues with partition alignment or with OS SSD-specific settings or with OS bootloader rather than upgrading to an SSD in the only proper way - doing a completely fresh installation of OS on it :wink:
Last edited by JohnC on Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:36 pm

In the recent backup software thread, it seemed like the general consensus was Macrium Reflect, or at least there were no stupid problems reported. There is a free edition that will do what you need. If you still have the old OS disk, maybe try transferring the OS with different software?
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:08 pm

JohnC wrote:Also, I can't believe there are still so many masochistic people who prefer to inconvenience themselves with potentially running into issues with partition alignment or with OS SSD-specific settings or with OS bootloader rather than upgrading to an SSD in the only proper way - doing a completely fresh installation of OS on it :wink:


That's not the only proper way. ImageX | DISM can do it perfectly without a fresh install.

Technically so can the Windows Backup.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:44 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:Technically so can the Windows Backup.

My works and stuff are the most important, so I wasn't saving a complete OS image but about 100 gigs of "data I don't want to lose". In this sense, the backup I already had would've been mostly useless. I guess that was part of the problem, so in the future I'll simply save a complete system image and maybe do an extra save before any PC upgrades.

Macrium Reflect will be worth a shot, then.

Edit: it's a bit late but now I also get what you mean, MMO, and sadly it can't be done. The previous system partition was a 160 GB slice out of the 1 TB Samsung "miscellaneous storage" drive I mentioned earlier. After I noticed I had a successful migration to the SSD, a couple more reboots in I purged that HDD partition and reallocated the disk to be one contiguous piece of miscellany, so I can't go back now.
And everything else works perfectly by the way, it's just this 1 thing that broke, so I'll get over it.
Last edited by Meadows on Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:50 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
JohnC wrote:Also, I can't believe there are still so many masochistic people who prefer to inconvenience themselves with potentially running into issues with partition alignment or with OS SSD-specific settings or with OS bootloader rather than upgrading to an SSD in the only proper way - doing a completely fresh installation of OS on it :wink:


That's not the only proper way. ImageX | DISM can do it perfectly without a fresh install.

Technically so can the Windows Backup.


Well, yes, I know that. You seem to have missed the certain emoticon that I have placed after that paragraph :wink:
...but seriously, I personally prefer to do a fresh OS install when making an upgarde to SSDs... For me it's faster this way and greatly decreases the possibility of various issues or a chance for me to forget to check some SSD-specific OS feature which may need to be enabled/disabled after cloning the OS partition from HDD...
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Re: Skill tree upgrade path

Postposted on Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:00 pm

JohnC wrote:Your post made me sad... Not because of your issues but because of that "black-man's-penis-long" phrase... :(

While still within the letter of Forum Rule #8, I felt it was in rather poor taste as well. If it had been part of a thread title (i.e. showing up on the Hot Threads list on the site's front page) IMO it would've crossed a line.

JohnC wrote:Ahem... Anyways, there were plenty of recommendations about reliable backup/cloning software in other threads, one of the most reliable being Macrium Reflect. You should try it, they have free version, though free one doesn't support GPT disks.
Also, I can't believe there are still so many masochistic people who prefer to inconvenience themselves with potentially running into issues with partition alignment or with OS SSD-specific settings or with OS bootloader rather than upgrading to an SSD in the only proper way - doing a completely fresh installation of OS on it :wink:

Yknow what makes *me* sad? The fact that so many people simply accept that migrating your existing OS installation to a new boot drive is potentially a major ordeal. There's no technical reason It *needs* to be this way, and yet we've come to view it as normal. IMO it verges on a geek version of Stockholm Syndrome.
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