If I had to take a complete, total guess, I would say Blizzard prefers it that way. It forces you to make a decision. Do you want to socket the gems that are optimal for your class, or do you want to use something else to get the bonus? Would using different gems actually end up being optimal with that bonus? With strangely colored sockets, you actually need to consider those things. To pull a random example out of my rear, if a Protection Paladin's breastplate had two blue sockets with a socket bonus of 12 stamina, would there be much question as to what they would put there?
I think they quite prefer it when gems are a bit of a puzzle. If I socket A and B will it be better than C and D? If I socket X and Y instead, can I get the socket bonus and keep my meta gem active? It's sort of a minigame.
"I just rerolled a healing priest and I have a few questions about bubbles.
Is it now appropriate to bubble a tank before they pull, or does it still negatively effect rage gains? I kind of remember hearing that they were considering fixing it, but I can't seem to find if they actually did or not."
For now, you just want to be a little bit careful about when you use them. Specifically, at the beginning of a pull might be a bad time. After that? Go wild. The only tanks that will have a serious problem with this is overgeared Protection Paladins because they're not gaining any mana via Spiritual Attunement because they're technically not taking damage. That's a very specific situation, though. In Patch 3.1, which we'll probably be seeing in the next couple of weeks, that won't even be a concern.
For now, use them to your heart's content, just not right on the pull. And even in raids you can probably do that, just not 5-mans where your tank won't be able to get any rage right off the bat.
"I know it's not WoW related, but I'd like to know how Alex likes his Roomba."
I love it, actually. It works pretty well! It can't get absolutely everywhere so I'll still need to clean some things up by hand, but overall it's a great little toy. It vacuums while I'm working and can find its way back to the charging dock when it's 'done' and it's really easy to clean and empty. It's not really a hassle at all.
I've always wanted one but people kept telling me that they don't work very well. I eventually took a dive and bought it anyway and it turned out that the opposite was true. It works great! You just need to follow the maintenance instructions that come with it, like you'd do any real vacuum. Make sure hair doesn't clog up the brushes, all that. It's great. If you don't take care of it... yeah, you'll have problems. It might even start on fire! Take care of it.
"Is there any information on how the Children's Week quests are going to work in Northrend?"
Beyond the fact that the two new kiddies we truck around are Gorlocs and Wolvar? We don't know much.
"On Instance 141, Scott Johnson and Kurt Schilling both stated repeatedly that WoW was done for, that Blizzard has put it behind them and that they are moving on with all their cool ideas, innovations, and advances in gaming into the new MMO that Kaplan is now working on. I don't recall hearing anything of the sort. So, was Mr. Johnson talking out his arse, or did I miss some major info from Blizz, either subtle or stated?"
Edit: I (Alex) just wanted to stick a note here to say I didn't personally listen to episode 141 of The Instance, and my response isn't aimed directly at any of the hosts of the show. My response is in regards to the supposed statements, and not the hosts themselves. I apologize for any slight that comes of this- my goal is to answer what Medros asks me, and I would've answered it this way even if there were no names involved whatsoever.
That's pretty typical "we have no idea what's going on behind the scenes at Blizzard but I want to make something out of nothing" talk. WoW has many years left in it, even if that's only because their new MMO won't even be out for many years. If we want to assume they'll abandon WoW when their new MMO launches (I don't think they will), we also need to remember they don't want WoW to go away until that new MMO is released. Why would they stop trying to improve the World of Warcraft years before the release of their new MMO? Why would they deliberately try to lose their playerbase by not continuing to improve WoW? It's completely illogical any way you look at it.
As game developers, they wouldn't want to stop improving their game. As a business, they wouldn't intentionally encourage people to quit WoW, which is exactly what ending innovation on WoW would do. It's utter nonsense. If anything, they would use WoW as a testing ground for some of the concepts they want to use in their new MMO, but even that would only work to a very limited extent since their new game would use a different engine. They'll continue to develop this game right up until the next MMO's release and possibly even afterwards if this game still has a following all those years from now.
Update: There's lots of fervor over this last question and answer -- it seems that a lot of people don't quite agree that's what Scott and Curt (with a C) said about what Blizzard was doing with WoW and the next MMO. You can judge for yourself if you like -- the episode of The Instance in question is right here. Give it a listen and see what you think.
Have questions about the World of Warcraft? The WoW Insider crew is here with The Queue, our daily Q&A column! Leave your questions in the comments and we'll do our best to answer 'em!