Archive for August, 2009

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WoW Word of the Week: vagary

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

vagary

\VAY-guh-ree; vuh-GER-ee\, noun:

An extravagant, erratic, or unpredictable notion, action, or occurrence.

Example: The vagaries of Blizzcon will be what keeps the experience a pleasant one in my memory!


wwotwWoW Word of the Week is my weekly Sunday post to encourage the expansion of the average WoW player’s vocabulary beyond “noob”, “pwnd” and “FAIL”. The WWOTW will be used in every other post this week, and I urge you to use it as well!

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Highlights from the Blogosphere (8/21-8/27)

Friday, August 28th, 2009

It’s been a while since I did one of these posts! I’ve been having trouble keeping up with my Google Reader lately, but this last week has had some particularly great posts pass through, so I thought it would be a good time to get back into it!

Character Exercises (Part 1) @ Warpriestess
These are some great exercises to help you develop your character’s background and personality.  I’m thinking about filling them out here, I haven’t done any RP in a long time!

WoW is the Most Complicated Game Ever @ Critical QQ
Before reading this, I was against all the people arguing that Blizzard is simplifying too much, because I am sick of all the mathiness.  But Euripedes has a good point, it’s not that complicated… the people who enjoy the mathiness have done all the work for us, anyway.

Ah, what I’d give to be a newbie again… @ /Faulsey
Faulsey reminises about how exciting it is to see things in the game for the first time, leveling your first character when everything was still new.

How to be a Good Raiding Grunt @ The Angry Butterfly
Some basic raiding tips that some people STILL need to be reminded of.  DON’T ARGUE DURING RAIDS! Please!

The Kalimdor of my Heart @ The Angry Butterfly
Neglethe goes on a journey through the Kalimdor we all know, to remember it for what it is before it all goes *BOOM*.


highlightsHighlights from the Blogosphere is my weekly Friday post to share some of the interesting, funny or informative blog posts I’ve read over the past week.

You can check out all the blogs I read on my list of Other Peoples’ Blogs!

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On The Twisted Nether Blizzcon Round Table Tonight!

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

tnb_smallI’ll be joining the Twisted Nether Blogcast again for a round table discussion tonight!  It’ll include Hydra of Almost Evil and Brigwyn of The Hunting Lodge, as well as myself (and the hosts, of course). We’re going to discuss all the excitement of BlizzCon, since we were all there to enjoy it.

You can join us live tonight at 9:30PM PST (12:30AM EST) on UStream! If you’re unable to make it to the live show, make sure you download it post-production.

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12 Tips to Improve Blog Usability

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

bloggingBy no means do I consider myself an expert in the field of blogging.  In fact, after I began blogging a little more than a year ago, I did a lot of searching around for tips and advice.  Unfortunately, a lot of it comes off as preachy or condescending.  It also often is about how to maximize the number of readers you can pull in to maximize your revenue.

I’m not super concerned about that.  I know the readers will come if the content is there, and revenue?  LOL.

So I’ve compiled my own list of suggestions based on the past couple years of both reading and writing blogs. These tips aren’t really about what you write, because that’s totally up to you.  It’s about usability.

Content

Let’s face it – the most important part of your blog is the content of the posts themselves.  If you write it, someone will certainly read it.  But there are ways to make that process more enjoyable for everyone.

1. Use images. Having some sort of visual representation of your post, even if it’s a vaguely related stock image (see above) or screenshot will help catch the eye and keep your blog from feeling like a book.  If I visit a blog and all I see through the last 5 posts are walls of text, it will make me less inclined to read it all.

2. Use whitespace. Line breaks and paragraphs!  Break your content down into smaller segments to help people who only have time to skim the article, and to avoid overwhelming readers.

3. Use links. Referring to previous posts you’ve written will provide references and allow people to see your previous work.  Linking to other people’s related posts is how the blogosphere got it’s start.  Don’t be afraid to link multiple times for one reference!  For example, I might want to tell you about the new podcast by @Brigwyn of The Hunting Lodge!

4. Don’t post for posting’s sake. Ok, so I said I wouldn’t tell you what to write.  This is my exception:  Quality over quantity.  Don’t post purely “Sorry I didn’t post yesterday!” posts.  If you normally post every day and miss one because you had no time or inspiration, just let it go.  Your readers will not disappear because of one slip up!

Navigation

This one gets me a lot.  If I read an article I really enjoy, I may want to see what else the author has done… but sometimes that’s not as easy as it should be.  When choosing or creating a theme, try to incorporate multiple ways for a reader to navigate to your previous work.

1. Provide links to popular/favourite posts. A link section with the posts you are most proud of or ones you think are most useful will help showcase what your site is really about to exploratory visitors.

2. Use categories and tags. Tag clouds and category lists help users to find posts related to their interests.  If I want to find all your posts related only to your podcast, it should be pretty simple to do from your menu.

3. Have a search box. Yeah, we all know how to use Google.  But if I know there was an article on your site that I’d like to find again, I should be able to use your site to find it, rather than having to go through Google’s interface.

4.  Use previous/next links. Believe it or not, some people just like to browse.  Supply “Previous Post/Next Post” links on single post pages, as well as “Previous Page/Next Page” links on multiple post pages.

Display

1.  Display the publish date/time. It drives me crazy when I read an article and can’t find anywhere that says when the post was written.  Is the content still relevant?  Should I bother commenting on it?  The answer is different if the post is 6 months old or 2 days old.

2.  Provide contact information. It should be easy to reach you from your website.  Displaying your e-mail address or providing a contact form will allow people to avoid the frustration of trying to find a way to get in touch.  (How else will they tell you you’ve just won £750,000?)

3.  Make your RSS feed easy to find. I hate having to search around a page to find that little orage square.  Sometimes there isn’t one at all!  Many people prefer to use RSS readers to view blogs, and if you don’t provide a good link to your feed, some might not bother to follow yours.

4.  Don’t truncate posts within RSS. I understand you want people to come directly to your site instead of reading it purely through a reader.  Maybe you want to get some additional hits on your ads, maybe the formatting just looks better that way.  But this is not the way to drive them to click through!  It will just cause your content to go unread.  Unless you can somehow convince me the post is going to be worth a click through in those first 3 sentences, I probably will just move on.  Make your site very visually appealing and provide other services on it if you’d like to make sure people always click through.

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Brajana’s Blizzcon Adventures!

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

blizz

I’m sure you’ve all been filled to the brim with all the news you can handle, so I’ll let you simply digest it before I go into my own opinions on all the upcoming stuff.  I’m still trying to absorb it all myself!

Instead, I’m going to tell you the exciting story of my weekend, because I’m sure you want to know what I spent every minute doing.

Also, there are pictures!

THURSDAY

8:30PM Arrived at LAX.  Called for the shuttle, which was more like a cab since we were the only 2 people and it went directly to our hotel!  Driver had plenty of stories about driving Blizzard employees, including Mike Morhaime & co.

9:30PM Arrived at hotel.  Told that they lost our reservation. Commenced freaking out.  They ended up finding a room with a king bed AND bunk beds.  Score!

9:50PM Made it to the registration desk just before closing and picked up goodie bag and badge.

10:00PM Met up with The Elitists (Tristan and Andrew) and went to IHOP.  This was the first part of my lesson that all food and drink in the USA is BIGGER.  “What do you mean you only want 2 pancakes?”

12:30AM After going through the goodie bag, it was time for bed.

goodie bag

Quite disappointing goodies, all in all. Other than the in-game pet, all we got was an Authenticator and the n00bz doll, really. I was sad.

FRIDAY

9:30AM Walked for 10 minutes to find the end of the line to get in.  I’ve never seen so many people in one parking lot!

This is only the people in line ahead of us.  Behind us there was an equally large number of people!

This is only the people in line ahead of us. Behind us there was an equally large number of people!

11:30AM Watched opening ceremonies… so exciting!  Still amazed at how many people were there!

12:30PM Cataclysm Preview Panel.  Lots of exciting news!

2:00PM Went to Jack in the Box for lunch.  OMG all the food and drinks in this country are huge!

3:00 – 5:00PM Skipped The Guild panel for nap time.  *yawn*

5:15PM Class panel.  Unfortunately we missed the beginning due to nap time, so the first thing I saw when I walked in the room was “Hunters – NO MANA!” Whaaaa??

6:00PM Contests!  This was one of my favourite parts of the entire convention.  I’m not a big stand-up comedy fan, but Jay Mohr was awesome!  Some of the most amazing costumes… Loved a couple of the winners, but disappointed some of my favourites didn’t make it (Arthas!)

9:00PM TNB Meetup!  Met Fimlys, Nibuca, Brigwyn (who still owes me a drink!), Arrens, Leiandra, and a few others I am probably forgetting.  Won a prize!  My very first loot card: The Steps of Illidan!  Unfortunately, it seemed due to the setup of the patio I was unable to make it to the other side of the room to find out who was there.

My two favourite Dwarf Hunters!  Yep, the tallest Dwarves you'll ever see!

My two favourite Dwarf Hunters! Yep, the tallest Dwarves you'll ever see!

12:30AM Exhausted!  Bed time!

SATURDAY

10:00AM Skipped the Q&A panel and went for breakfast at Coco’s, so much tastier and cheaper than IHOP!  Thanks for the recommendation, @brendansparks!

11:30AM Game systems panel.  Got me super excited about the new guild advancement system!

12:30PM Skipped the Raids & Dungeons panel to finally get a chance to explore the convention floor and booths.  Tried to do the “goodie bag quest”, but were told it was too late to start… lame!  Since everyone was at the R&D panel, we were able to get into the stores with no lines and only had to wait about 30 mins to get in and play the Goblin/Worgen starter zones.  Bought 3 J!NX shirts, and they’re great!

The convention floor was spotted with amazing artwork and replicas!

The convention floor was spotted with amazing artwork and replicas!

2:30PM Class Panel (take 2). Found out it was just a rerun of Friday’s panel, but it was nice because we got to see the beginning part that we’d missed.

3:00 – 5:30PM Nap time… again.  I’m a big fan of naps.  We also decided to order pizza directly to our hotel room, which was a great idea.  Mmm, pizza.

6:30PM OZZY!!!  Sat with a bunch of people from the Blogger/Podcaster/Twitter community in the second panel room, so we weren’t actually in the concert but watched it on a screen instead.  Ozzy was… interesting.  He was a lot more cheery and bouncy than I expected.

9:00PM Headed to “The Sandbox” for the post-concert meetup.  Met up with Spooner, Tiggles, Fimlys, Saresa, Arrens, Greyseer, Syrana & Sideshow and some guy named Carlos.  Had some awful drinks.  Apaprently it’s a bad idea to order rum & coke in a bar in the US.  Also, tabasco + 151 = death.

Arrens the Rogue after making me drink the grossest drink ever! (the Budweiser, of course)

Arrens the Rogue after making me drink the grossest drink ever! (the Budweiser, of course)

12:30AM Official end of Blizzcon for me!  Had a wonderful time, although I think it wouldn’t have been half as good if there hadn’t been friends around to meet up with!  And (almost) everyone I met was not a wierdo.  I approve!  Until next year, everyone! :)