I have not been blogging in the past 3+ weeks, which is simply because there has been other matters – more work to handle before travelling abroad and then travelling abroad. Just returned home from a 2 week trip to California and Silicon Valley. The first week was a road trip with a few colleagues, first along highway 1 (most of the time) down to San Diego from San Francisco and then up to Yosemite and later back to San Francisco. For this part of the trip, Yosemite was the most amazing part – would have loved to spend more time there. The forest fire in Yosemite is worrying though and we did see the smoke from it in the distance.
The second week was a conference/learning journey with my employer and pretty much the whole company, with some quite interesting visits and events. It was quite an amazing and intense week; also the first time we traveled this far and were away for this long. Now I am back home, at bit jet-lagged and full of impressions and thoughts.
So a bit later this week I will probably be back with the blogging, after catching up a bit.
The Newbie Blogger Initiative is in full swing this month, so I thought I would provide a few suggestions and advice on writing blog posts. As I cannot claim to be a particularly successful blogger (no fame and glory), this is also a mix of things that I do as well as things that I do not do – at least not regularly.
- Schedule your blog writing, not your blog posting
Unless you write for a living, chances are that you may not be able to write blog posts at a regular, frequent interval and provide good content. Better then to schedule times for when you sit down and write blog posts. If you do not allocate time in advance, chances are you might not write anything – “no time right now”.
Once you are happy with a blog post, then you can publish it.
It may take 1 session, 2 sessions, 5 sessions – eventually you will have written something you are happy with.
- Avoid walls of text
Make it easy for your reader to read your text – people will generally read it through a browser on a computer, or perhaps a tablet or a mobile phone. Reasonably small paragraphs with some space in between will help.
New readers might also just decide to ignore your post, too much effort to figure out if it is worthwhile to read for them.
- In the first paragraph, write a summary and introduction to what your blog post is about
This is a technique that is used in newspaper articles, to capture interested readers and/or get part of the message across for those that are simply browsing.
A lot of people will be reading blogs through an RSS/ATOM reader or stumble upon blog posts through search engines. Without something to draw their interest, they might just consider skipping it if they are not a regular reader.
- Use a spell checker
Bad spelling and grammar can diminish the general experience of your post. This is in particular something to have in mind if you do not write in your native language. Not that native speakers are immune to bad spelling and grammar, but we who post blogs in other languages than our own may still be at a slight disadvantage here.
Regardless of what language you write in, chances are that you may be blind to the mistakes you make because your mind sees what you intended and not what you have written.
- When you have written your blog post, go back and update the first introduction/summary paragraph
If you have used the previous suggestion with a summary in the beginning, go back and rewrite it when you are done with your blog post. Chances are that what you ended up writing is not entirely what you initially thought you would write. Plus you might have thought of a much better way to describe it at this point.
- When you have finished writing the blog post, do not click Publish immediately
If you are like me you have ended up spending more time writing the post than you have planned for, it is late in the evening/night or you have to rush to do something else. Not a good time to publish it, especially if you are forcing or squeezing out the last parts. Chances are that you have forgotten something you wanted to include, some phrases will look weird, you have made spelling mistakes etc. In most cases it does not have to be published right now.
Relax a little bit, perhaps do something else and then read the post again.
If you are still happy with it, then publish it.
Personally I have been consistently bad at scheduling my blog writing time – the few times I have done that it has worked out well, I think. I am a bit too quick to publish something I have written also, especially after a (too) long writing session. For me, most of the hits I get on the blog come from search engines, but I have no idea how often or how many of these may continue to read what I write beyond what initially got them here.
This is not game stuff, but if you are a techie you might find this fun. Otherwise just skip it until next post
Apparently the company Groupon, which use Ruby on Rails, were looking for more talents to work with that. A recruiter from the company, most likely without knowing much about Ruby on Rails, contacted Mr Hansson for an opportunity.
I found that quite hilarious.
Through a post in Anarchy Online forums I found this wonderful site: Bad Translator. The site allows you to enter a limited amount of English text and then runs that text back and forth between English and some other languages a couple of times – you can select the number of iterations to run.
I ran a couple of sentences through the translator to see what happened:
- I got a level 58 Bureaucrat in Anarchy Online -> (30 iterations) -> I have 58 pages of fantasy
- Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please -> (30 iterations) -> They distort what you want
- Is that game just another WoW clone? -> (30 iterations) -> F This is how simple awareness of the game?
- I’ll be back. -> (30 iterations) -> Show
- Our village has been plagued by nasty rodents for a while now. Would you help us kill ten rats, glorious adventurer? -> (30 iterations) -> In mice, long-term illness. We’ll help guide you need?
- I am not young enough to know everything. -> (30 iterations) -> I know your children.
I have been a bit quiet in terms of blogging lately, which mainly a matter of a bit less game-related time, so most of that time go to playing rather than blogging.
The main game at the moment is Champions Online – great fun and a nice place to handle my altoholic tendencies. A bit of time is also spent in Fallen Earth, I do like the post-apocalyptic setting and I enjoy playing it every now and then. It fulfills a different type of game activity from Champions and they complement each other nice, I think.
I have been in a bit of a “fantasy rut” for a while now and I have very little interest in any current or new fantasy MMOs. For me the specific mechanics and features of a game may be a primary motivator, but rather the setting and how it has been used. I am a little bit surprised but also relieved that this may be the case – if the mechanics were all that mattered I think it would be very easy to lose the enjoyment of playing these games.
City of Heroes/Villlains has not seen much play either. It has been very much about the people for a long time there and with most in-game friends gone or in other games, there is little on the team-play part that keeps me around. Creating Mission Architect story arcs is still a very enjoyable solo experience, but I have been a bit discouraged by the lack of people playing the missions I have created and some of the things Paragon Studios has done here lately. When the Going Rogue expansion releases it will likely be more play, but right now I have a rather low attendance in the Rogue Isles and Paragon City.
One activity that has increased lately has nothing to do with games – mentalism. I have been a magic enthusiast and occasional hobby magician for more than 30 years. Over the years my interested has shifted a bit more towards mentalism, at least when it comes to performing. It is a branch related to entertainment through magic, but still a bit different. It is on the borderline on exploring our own inherent capabilities as well as taking a bit extra step to provide entertainment miracles. It is that border area of what is a real capability and what might not be, plus a high degree of audience participation that makes it such an interesting area.
It requires a lot of time to become really good (practice, practice, practice), although it is more a matter of sleight of mind rather than more traditional magic entertainment, which may be a bit more sleight of hand.
So, still around but remains to be seen how much blogging it will be in the near future.