Ravana Attempts

Unbreaking Google+

Last night I had a message from a long time friend of mine, asking me why I was no longer posting my daily posts on Google+ to which I kinda gave a head tilt and went “huh”?  I had certainly seen my posts making their way to G+ anytime I checked my messages over there.  Then I took a closer look and saw that they all said “shared only with you” which kinda defeats the purpose of syndicating posts in the first place.  It turns out that nothing I have posted since July 28th has made it to G+ which is more than mildly frustrating.   I un-linked my account from Jetpack Publicize and relinked it a few times, but I never saw the prompt that I once saw asking me to select what type of sharing level for my posts.  So I took to the search engine to try and figure out what was happening.  Sure enough it seems like Google did something to change its policies with what level of access external apps have access to your account.  You apparently need to go into Settings > Manage Apps & Activities and then find the WordPress app or whatever else you are using for syndication.  This will allow you to edit the permissions for how it will be sharing to your feed, and like I said before apparently the new default is “Only You”.

After posting about this last night it seems that this pretty much happened for everyone universally.  I thought I would take a quick moment and at least explain how to fix it.  As far as syndicating my posts… I tend to take the approach of broadcast what I write pretty much everywhere.  Each of the social networks kinda has its own vibe and while I greatly prefer using Twitter, there are folks that read my content that equally greatly prefer G+ or Facebook or even Tumblr.  My goal has always been to deliver my content as in as painless of a manner as possible for folks to read.  I personally am not a huge fan of Facebook, and in fact I went through the crazy process of deleting my personal account once upon a time because it annoyed me.  However when I started blogging I signed up for an account just for the purpose of reblogging my content because I know there are people who do prefer to use Facebook.  Granted it might get annoying as shit if you follow me on multiple platforms to constantly see duplicate postings, but I guess that is a chance I am willing to take because I don’t want anyone to feel excluded or left out of the process.  Maybe this is strange but my daily posting thing… feels like all of us are taking a journey together and I don’t want to leave anyone behind.

Ravana Attempts

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As is always the case last night was we gathered up the Monday team and did some eight player content in Final Fantasy XIV.  We started the evening by burning through all four parts of Alexander Normal for the folks who are not running it and capping out early like I am.  At this point my Warrior is sitting at level 190 and I have everything I can get out of Alexander other than the chest piece.  So as of today I will be largely running the place to help out the gear on my Dragoon.  At some point I hope to get the chest piece but largely for cosmetic reasons because the Alexander gear set looks amazing.  Last week we managed to burn down Bismarck Extreme and now both the Monday and Wednesday teams are keyed for the next primal encounter.  As such instead of beating the sky whale again we decided to make attempts on Ravana Extreme.  Now going into this place we had heard horror stories about how rough the encounter was and how it was another Titan Extreme where you had to move exactly at the right time and keep repeating a pattern.  Honestly I didn’t see that at all.  Instead I saw an encounter with a repeatable pattern but significantly more wiggle room  to adjust as we went.

We made some serious progress last night, and I think more than  likely we will be able to defeat him next week.  Each attempt we kept creeping closer to the goal, and essentially what is going to be the make or break moment is dealing with the Final Liberation phase.  If we can learn that particular dance we will have the encounter, and it honestly did not feel like we were too terribly far off from that process last night.  Granted at this point we are significantly better geared than the first groups that attempted the fight, but my hope is that we can get in and start farming this guy so that folks can get the really awesome weapons.  In truth I hope that we can farm both primals because there are absolutely weapons that come from both of them that I would like to see.  We had the two handed sword drop from Bismarck last Monday and it looked amazing.  It is the stupid things like getting glamour items that motivate me, and at some point I want to organize 2.0 extreme primal farming runs so that we can start to get folks their ponies.  As it stands we only have a couple of ponies in the guild, and I think my Leviathan pony was the first.  We need to figure out a method because really I would like to make sure everyone gets at least ONE primal pony before other people roll on it.  Granted eventually it would be awesome to have people get a full set, but I would be happy with having everyone with just one as a starter.

Entering Whitevale

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This morning I am having one of those mornings when I am easily distracted.  The cats are tearing through the house chasing each other like they have gone mad.  There is a dog barking and it sounds like it is coming from my back yard… even though it is really across the green belt.  I keep flipping over to twitter, and having to force myself to put my fingers back on my keyboard and type in my WordPress window.  Largely since this is Blaugust I wanted to include this little tidbit because it absolutely happens to me too.  There are days when you cannot keep your train of thought, and I have learned to just go with it.  Start writing the things that seem most natural and eventually somehow you will get back on track.  Last night was one of those nights for me as well, and I flipped back and forth between games quite a bit as the evening wore on.  Before the raid I spent time over in Wildstar with the purpose of trying to “finish Galeras”, which is a bit of a daunting task because there are a silly number of quests in that zone and many of them you will never actually find unless you go wandering around aimlessly.  Bit by bit however I explored the regions of the map that had yet to be explored and I am now relatively confident that I have at least gotten most of the quests out of the way.

That now means the moment I have been dreading is upon me…  and I had to take the flight out to Whitevale.  I guess in part the reason why I have been avoiding doing this is that Whitevale ultimately was the zone that broke me when I played the game at launch.  I am not sure entirely what it is about the place, but it felt like moving slowly through molasses.  I think in part it was due to the fact that Dominion side there simply were never that many players in the zone, meaning that I could never get a group to do any of the group objectives, and the mob density meant that it was super hard to move anywhere without having to fight a dozen mobs.  The zone also seemed to have a higher concentration of the challenger and superior difficulty mobs than the other zones.  It seemed like I could not move anywhere without seeing one of those horrible flashing red shielded mob types that I had to try and chew through in vain.  As a result I have honestly been scared of getting to this zone because it was my fear that once again it would break me.  I have actually been enjoying the content so far, and finding playing the game refreshing.  So hopefully maybe I can make my way through Whitevale because supposedly everything on the other side of it… is significantly better.


Of Social Networks

A New Challenger Awaits

Yesterday morning I rather easily allowed myself to get  talked into a brand new social network account.  Over the last few days there has apparently be inordinate amounts of buzz surrounding the self proclaimed “Anti-Facebook” known as Ello.co.  The folks behind it posted a rather lengthy manifesto talking about their high minded ideals.

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

Yesterday evening it got me thinking… do we really need another social network?  I am a sucker for all things new and more than anything I accepted the invite as a way to go ahead and sign up and claim @Belghast like I have done so many times in the off chance that I want to use it.  This morning I thought I would talk about the various social networks that I use and what they mean to me.

The Network I Care About

During the launch of many of the social networks I dabbled in them, but the first one I found myself using on a daily basis was Twitter.  When I entered the world of games blogging it became my front doorstep allowing me to communicate and collaborate with other bloggers.  It doesn’t hurt that the WoW Blogosphere has such a tremendous twitter presence, but even after fading out of those circles I stuck around and found new cornerstones of the non-Warcraft landscape.  Over the years twitter has been a source of much enjoyment and much frustration, but at the end of the day it still remains one of my primary means of conversation with a lot of people that I care about deeply.  Ironically I would not likely be as connected to twitter today, were it not for the fact that my wife found such deep and meaningful connections there before me.

There is something genius about the sheer brevity of the 140 character limit.  It is just big enough to express a thought, but too small to go into much detail about it.  I’ve found the more I blog, the more I need my social interaction to be in small bite sized chunks.  So right now Twitter fits me perfectly.  There was a time when I was not blogging when I craved something more.  Ultimately if it is going to be a long discourse I end up posting it here, and simply echoing it to all of my networks for the sake of stirring up discussion either in the comments here or in the threads I post them  there.  The biggest problem I have with twitter is the fact that it is a very closed community to anyone who did not get in on it early.  It also frustrates me that I have friends who cannot get the name they want because someone who doesn’t use twitter at all and never has, camped it years ago.

The Network I Had Hope For

When Google Plus rode into the social network scene I latched onto it with both hands.  It was telling me everything I ever wanted to hear and more.  I shuffled into that network during a period of time when I was not blogging at all.  I’ve always found that I craved dumping my thoughts to the page, and need it as some sort of mental reset button.  Google Plus became this reset valve for me and I essentially started blogging regularly through the network.  The early days were pretty great when the only people that were on Plus were the people who cared enough to be on  it.  There were some really valuable networks of gamers and geeks to be found there, and it reached a critical mass around the launch of Star Wars the Old Republic.  Folks used it as a way to find other guilds and collaborate with them for events bigger than themselves.

Then Google opened the flood gates, and the awesome people got diluted by a sea of all the frustrating parts of the internet.  I watched awesome women go from being able to start genuine conversations about things… to having to constantly fend off the sexual advances of men making inappropriate comments in their threads.  I watched the people I cared about on the network slowly taper off their usage or retract into private circles.  Something happened for me at the same time… I started blogging again and more regularly, and my need to dump out my thoughts onto social media changed.  I started to favor brevity again, and as such retreated back into Twitter.  I still poke my head into Google Plus a few times a day because there are people I do care about that use it as their primary network, but I just don’t feel nearly as engaged as I once did.

The Network I Wish More People Used

When Anook launched it was yet another website that I signed up for but had no real use for.  I simply didn’t get it.  I expected it to be Raptr, but I saw none of the automatic games tracking hooks that I had come to expect.  In a moment of frustration I exclaimed to Twitter that I didn’t understand what was so great about this network, and why various people were using it.  At that moment as if by magic one of the hardest working community managers I have ever met appeared to explain.  The fact that he dealt with my frustration and quite frankly abrasive commentary… and stuck around to try and explain the mission statement in earnest says a lot about his character.  Lonrem explained that what they were wanting to create was not a new Raptr but almost a Facebook for Gamers for lack of a better description.  I made it my mission to start trying to use the site, and I have really enjoyed the interactions I have had there.

In fact I use Anook often enough that I have started to fear that people might think I was somehow being paid by them.  Truth is…  no one is getting paid, not even the amazingly hard working community manager.  This is very much a grass roots by gamers for gamers network, and that is why I have latched onto it so hard.  The problem is that right now it is inconvenient, and simply doesn’t play nicely with other things.  I can’t automagically syndicate my blog posts each morning to it, and there is no mobile client which for most of us is the real killer.  The thing is… I believe in its mission and I want to see it grow so I keep trying to force feed it to people.  I just wish it was a more active community, at least more active by the corner of the internet that I really care about.  The biggest feature for me is the Nooks themselves, because it allows you to carve up little communities related to the games you play but still all be in the same broad network.  I would really love it if more of you became active participants in what could really be an amazing community for gamers.

The Network I Actively Despise

Once upon a time there was this fledgling social network called Facebook.  At the request of some friends I signed up for it, and I somewhat enjoyed the interactions there.  There were these cool apps that let you do interesting things like draw pictures with other users, or make interesting buttons and post them on a virtual bulletin board.  It was a fun place full of light hearted interaction.  Then something changed… the world found out about it.  Over  a series of months it found like everyone that I really didn’t care about knowing still existed found me.  There is a weird social pressure to accept an invite from people you don’t even like.  I unfortunately did this over and over until my Facebook was full of things that frustrated me.  Essentially it became all too much like High School all over again, as the majority of the people who tracked me down were folks that I went to school with.  I decided I did not need that negativity in my life, and went through the overly difficult process of actually deleting your facebook account not just cancelling it.

The problem is in this world… not having a Facebook account can be a severe detriment.  There are lots of things that can only be reached THROUGH Facebook.  There were various contests and product giveaways that I wanted to participate in, and they all required that I have access to that network.  As such I started a new Facebook account connected to my blog, with the express purpose of only ever friending other bloggers or gamers.  It is pretty much a broadcast only medium for me, and I use it to syndicate my blog posts for the people who use Facebook as their social network of choice.  It is an account I really wish I didn’t feel like I needed to have, but until companies stop focusing so heavily on Facebook…  it will remain there.  You can follow me and I will likely follow back, but just realize that everything you are seeing is an echo of either Twitter or my Blog, and I don’t actually log in and interact there.

The Network Of Lofty Ideals

Now it brings us full circle to the network that started this present discussion.  Right now I have not made up my mind what I think of Ello.  There is a lot of what they are saying in their manifesto that I really do like.  The problem is the realist in me also thinks there will be a significant degradation of those ideals over time.  Google Plus started out this awesome place to interact with other like minded individuals… but mutated into a frustrating mess that is for some reason integrated with the world possible place on the earth for discussion…  Youtube.  At some point they have to stop being a boutique network and think about becoming a business… and I simply don’t see that their feature focused approach is going to bring them enough operating capital to stay afloat.  Granted the premium thing might work, especially for a niche site like Anook.  I would totally pay money to unlock more automated functionality to make my life easier.

For the time being I am using it… because to be truthful it is the new trendy toy.  I have a very small group of friends there, and for now it is a cool place.  The problem is that there are literally no privacy settings of note.  You either have a fully public account or a fully private account.  As such I think that everyone is posting very censored bits of information until they figure out how things like that will work.  Basically I would not post anything there that I would not also post on twitter or publically on Google Plus.  The design ethic pisses me the hell off to be truthful.  There is minimalism… and then there is crippling minimalism…  and Ello tends to be the later.  I’ve learned over the years that I am really just not a fan of minimalist design at all.  Give me lots of buttons and gadgets that let me configure things until my heart is happy.  For the time being I am somewhat rationing my own invites to the network until I see just how limited they end up being.  It feels very much like those early years of Gmail, when you had to know someone in the know to get access…  which has its positive and negatives.  Folks seem to be broadcasting, but not that many people seem to be actually interacting.