Category Archives: blog thing

Have You Ever Question Time

There was a quiz over at Contains Moderate Peril, which was grabbed from Ace Asunder, where it had been borrowed from RNG, who got it originally from Vamp It Up Manchester, which probably makes it more of a UK thing, but it had a few questions I though might lead to amusing anecdotes about which to write, so I figured I would swipe it next.

Now that we have established the lineage of the quiz, let’s jump straight into the questions.

Driven or been driven at 100 mph/160 kmh?

Yes.  While the speed limits on US highways top out at about 70 MPH most places, there are plenty of long runs of road where you can get up to speed.  Also, cars tend to have the most ridiculously optimistic speedometers.  My Toyota speedometer measures out to 160 MPH, a speed it could only attain if you pushed it out of an airplane.

I think the first time I hit that speed was shortly after I got my drivers license.  My grandmother would let me use her car, a 1970 Buick Electra 225 with the 455 CID engine. (7.5L for those who measure in that way.)  It was a mighty motor, with more torque than a sane man ever needs, and I once laid a 70 foot long patch of smoking rubber on the pavement in front of a friends house.

It looked something like this… image borrowed from the internet

One evening I got onto highway 85 and nobody was on the road, so I decided to see if I could peg the speedometer, because I was a 16 year old boy in command of two tons of iron with a powerful engine.  I was well past 100 MPH by the time I passed Fremont Blvd and let off the gas to let it wind down so I could take the exit to highway 280 and fill up the gas tank.  I think I blew through almost a quarter tank getting that brick up to speed.  Gas was $1.29 a gallon at the time, which seemed expensive at the time.

Learned a possibly deadly skill?

I spent summers on my grandparents farm where I learned several skills that might fall into that category, the most obvious being how to handle and shoot firearms.  It is just a thing in the country.  At eight years old I was judged worthy of being sat with a bolt action .22 rifle and a baby food jar full of bird shot to pick off the starlings that would peck at the figs on the big tree my grandfather had planted.  I was paid 25 cents a head.  I also learned how to handle poison gas bombs for the ground squirrels and traps and a few other things.  I was, however, not allowed to get within six feet of the table saw in the barn because that was dangerous.

Ridden in a helicopter? Gone zip lining? Been Bungie Jumping?

I am going to lump these three together because they are all negative answers.

Been to an NFL game or Ice Hockey?

I have lived within reasonable driving distance of two NFL teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders, all of my life and I have never been to an NFL game. (The Raiders are leaving for Las Vegas though, so my opportunities will soon be reduced by 50%.)  NFL teams only play 8 home games a year, the stadiums are huge and crowded, the tickets are expensive, and I am not a fan.

I have been to many NHL games.  We have a professional team in San Jose, the Sharks, though I even went to a California Seals game back in the day.  I have also been to major league baseball, NBA basketball, and MLS soccer games as we have teams in the SF Bay Area close by.  Just never an NFL game.

Watched Dr Who?

PBS during my childhood seemed to entirely consist of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, nature documentaries, pledge drives, and television from the UK, including  Doctor Who.  I watched a lot of Tom Baker episodes and some of the Peter Davidson episodes.  If you ask me who my doctor is, the answer will always be Tom Baker.  If Gandalf were a time lord, he would be the Tom Baker version of the doctor.

Been to Canada?

I’ve been close enough to see Canada, but I have never actually been into Canada.  I’ve been to Minnesota, and that’s about the same, right?

Visited Disney?

Disneyland is an hour flight away.  You can hardly avoid it.  I have been a bunch of times, twice for company events where we left in the morning, flew down for the day, and got back home that nights.  I am also just old enough to have gone as a kid when they still had tickets, so saw the “E Ticket” of legend. That said, I am not a big fan and it is hugely expensive these days.  My daughter complains that we never go, but she has been to Hawaii more times than most people ever will.

I have also been to Disney World in Florida once and on a Disney cruise.  That mouse is everywhere.

Visited an actual castle?

That depends on what you call a castle I suppose.  I’ve been on forts and fortifications and in a palace or two.  But not a medieval castle, that being what I imagine the question is getting at, as that wasn’t really a thing where I live.  I did find an arrow head once though.

Visited Vegas?

Vegas is a 90 minute flight away and the location where many conventions and events take place.  I have been many times. (I’ve posted here about going to EVE Vegas at least five times.)  It is bright and shiny and colorful with some good places to eat.  But if you don’t really drink or gamble it can lose its edge pretty fast.  Also, the dirty, seedy underbelly of the whole thing is pretty visible if you start looking for it.  I enjoy the first day I go and am generally ready to leave by the end of the second.

The hardest thing for me about Vegas is that they allow smoking everywhere.  I’m from California where smoking in public is only allowed in very specific pariah zones.

Eaten alone at a restaurant?

I am not sure why this is even a question.  Yes.  Many times.  I see people do it all the time, though I am not one of those people who sets up a nest with a good book in a corner booth, but if I was alone and needed to eat I wouldn’t think twice about eating alone in a restaurant.  This must be one of those English things where they are always looking for something else about which to feel embarrassed.

Played an instrument?

I took trumpet lessons in school in 4th grade.  I wasn’t any good and didn’t have any passion for it.  I am pretty sure I just wanted to get out of class for an hour one day a week.

Ridden a motorcycle?

Yes, in the form of a dirt bike out on the farm mentioned above.  It was fun then, but I have no desire to ride one now.  I’ve seen what happens when cars and motorcycles collide.  If there was a question about seeing a dead body, my answer would involve a motorcycle accident I witnessed.

Ridden a horse?

Again, on the farm.  My grandparents didn’t have horses, but the neighboring farm did, so I got to ride a bit back then.  It wasn’t a big deal to me.  A dirt bike is more exciting to a young male I suppose.

Been skiing/snowboarding?

I have been skiing.  My stepmother liked to ski and so we went once or twice a year when I was a kid.  It was a very yuppie sport, expensive and inconvenient, and while I enjoyed it some at the time, when it came to the point that I had to pay in order to participate I stopped completely.

Gone to a festival?

Yes.  Maybe.  I am divining what these means from context, which is a multi-day musical event.  But I’ve only gone for one of the days, so does that count?

Driven a stick shift?

My first three cars were manual transmission.  By the time I got to the fourth car I was commuting daily across the valley in stop and go traffic and got tired of “rowing the boat” constantly, so went for automatic transmissions after that.  But hell, even F1 cars have paddle shifters now, which is something you add to an automatic transmission.

Ridden in a police car?

I have been frisked up against a police car, but never invited inside.  I have ridden in a fire engine though.  When the SFFD took over administration of Treasure Island in SF Bay and friend of my aunt’s drove us around the island in one of the fire trucks.  It was loud, even without the siren going.

Driven a boat?

A few times.  No particular stories to go with this though.  We live near the ocean and a huge bay and a freshwater delta and a series of lakes and reservoirs, so the opportunities are at hand.  Going water skiing in the delta was a thing when I was a kid.

Eaten Escargot?

No.  I poison snails I see, but don’t see the need to consume them.  I have plenty of more palatable food at hand.

Been on a cruise?

My step-mother again, she loves cruises and goes on a few a year.  Her and my father have brought the whole family along a few times.  As a floating hotel that brings you to the next destination while you sleep they are fine I suppose.  The food aspect is overrated to my mind.

The best cruise was probably on the Freedom of the Seas, which was the largest cruise ship in the world when we went.  That ship had a lot of space and things to do.  I enjoyed just being at sea on that one.  The Disney cruise was good too, all the more so if you have kids.  The rest have been on Carnival ships, which are okay but not as much fun.  I’d go again, but I am not interested enough to plan it myself and I’d rather go sit on the beach in Hawaii or by the pool somewhere, it being cheaper, more relaxing, and less crowded.

Been on TV?

In a couple of crowd scenes on the news.  Nothing that would have had my presence noted.

Been in a paper/book/magazine?

I was quoted once in the local paper when asked some questions by a cub reporter who then printed what they felt I should have said rather than what I actually said, much to my annoyance.  The problem with the news is that every story I have been personally involved with has had significant material errors and the reporting team doesn’t really seem to care.  If the news has a bad reputation these days, it is in part their own fault.

Eaten Sushi?

I live in California.  You cannot drive two miles without passing a sushi place.  I am a peasant and like things like California Roll and the Shrimp Tempura Roll, but I’ll eat sashimi.  Raw fish, fine.  Snails, no.

Seen a UFO?

Literally, I have seen many things flying I couldn’t identify.  Flying saucers or space aliens from other planets however, no.

Rescued an animal?

Out on the farm, depending on how you want to count rescue.  There were a whole series of dogs who showed up in various states of repair, hung around for the summer, and disappeared of their own accord.  A few cats too.

Met someone rather famous?

I like the modifier “rather” in this question.  It is a very English affectation, like you might not be expect to have brushed up against real fame, just some lesser degree of it.

We occasionally talk about famous people at family events and I always find it amusing who focuses on what sort of fame.  It seems to be divided up between sports stars, musicians, movie and television stars, and then there I am talking about tech luminaries.  So when it is my turn I always bring up that I have met and conversed with Steve Wozniak a few times.  But if you need somebody in one of the other categories, I got to talk with Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead a few times as he was something of a Macintosh enthusiast back in the late 80s/early 90s.

The Labors of Blapril

April is over, more than two weeks gone at this point… not sure how that happen so fast… and with it went Blapril, which encompassed the book end weeks before and after April.  So it is probably time to sum that up and move on.  Belghast already has his event summary up, so I am lagging behind as usual.

The Blapril went

For the six week run that was Blapril I managed to post 43 times, which adds up to once a day with one additional post.  That was more than enough to qualify me for the rainbow award, which went to people who posted 31 times during the event.

The Rainbow Award

Out of the 48 people who participated in Blaugust in some way, 20 of us made it to the 31 post mark, with Bhagpuss topping the list with 48 posts.

There were clearly some of the usual suspects on that list, myself included, who post regularly, if not daily, most of the time anyway.  But there were also some who pushed themselves to get in that many posts.

While most of my own posts were just me rambling on in the navel gazing way to which I have become accustomed, I did spend a bit of time focused on Blapril topics.

That, for me, is a lot of posts for this sort of event.  I tent to wander off on my own.

As for lessons learned… I think there is something to be said about how the pandemic is affecting us all in different ways.  Blapril was very much a reaction to the strange days we find ourselves in and, while some things seem to be close to universal… how oddly long March felt and yet how fast time has seemed to go by since gets echoed a lot… we’re all in out own little worlds with our own special problems.  As I pointed out in my post on motivation, I am actually busier than usual and that working from home all the time, sitting at my desk there all day, has actually diminished my gaming and writing time as, by the end of the day, I want to get up and go somewhere else.

So my drafts folder has filled up with post ideas and starting paragraphs, but actually finding the time and motivation to finish a post has been difficult some days.  Some bigger posts have been lingering, waiting for me to get back to them while I crank out some shorter items, often at the last minute.  It is one of those things that I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody else noticed a change, but I see it.

The sameness of the days and the new at home all the time routine bleeds into the sameness of the games I generally play, leading to a desire to break routines.  But routines are also the structure that keeps me going some days.  So there was no doubt some good and bad in the extra bit of pressure that Blapril brought.  But some people found it too much, and I can understand that.

So it sounds like Blaugust will be different this year based on feedback.  Some ideas are being bounced around and I fear that July and the gateway to Blaugust will be upon us before we know it.

But for now we celebrate Blapril and all of those who joined in.  The official final list of blogs:

I think for Blaugust I will put my other blog on the list.  It could use a bit more traffic and screen shot posts count these days.

My Top Five Most Viewed Posts Year by Year

Something of a follow-on to last Saturday’s post about the top five most viewed posts over the life of the blog.  Something of a Blapril thing in this last moment of the official Blapril season.

The Blapril commeth

I started looking at this as I was writing the last post, but decided to hold it as a separate entry, in part because that post was long enough already but also because I think this imparts different information.

The top five posts over the life of the blog is burdened by the inertia of past years.  As I noted, four of the top five have been in the top five for most of the life of the blog.  They were:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark

But looking at the top five post in a given year, I think that might give a better look at what was going on in a given year as opposed to what got crazy views for any given year.  So lets go back and see what was popular in past years:

2006 – The Blog Begins

  1. EVEMon 1.1.4 Released
  2. EVEMon 1.1.6 Released
  3. Portal to the Commonlands
  4. PowerColor Radeon x1950 AGP Review
  5. Five Features Blizzard Should Steal From EverQuest II

This was the chaos era of the blog where I hadn’t decided really what to blog about, so was all over the map.  I was playing EVE Online and had discovered EVE Mon.  That “review” is just a link to a review at a site that no longer exits and which the Wayback Machine seems to have lost.  As for the five features, I might choose a few different ones now.

2007 – The First Full Year

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. PowerColor Radeon x1950 AGP Review
  3. Tabula Rasa Beta Forum Access!
  4. x1950 AGP vs ATi2dvag
  5. Rejected Arasai Character Model

There is the first appearance of the top all time post.  More about that video card, which I apparently bought.  Tabula Rasa beta forums?  And that last one was linked in an EverQuest II news update on the official site.  That was back when somebody thought blogs mattered I guess.

2008 – Settling In

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. EVE Online – The Tutorial
  4. 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations
  5. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?

And now the top two all time and one contender are on the list.  My first annual predictions post.  See, that post was popular at some point before I beat it to death!  And a bit of serious writing about SciFi and why putting a fantasy skin on it isn’t working.  I should go revisit that as I would argue we’re still not there yet.

2009 – Pokemon Posts Show Up

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. Shaymin Event at Toys R Us
  4. Regigigas Event at Toys R Us
  5. Rotom Secret Key Event

The top two abide while Pokemon event posts gain the favor of Google.  Remember those download events?  Remember Toy R Us?

2010 – Chang in the Wind

  1. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  2. Arceus Event Annouced!
  3. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  4. Heroic Deadmines!
  5. Pokewalker Yellow Forest WiFi Event

The guild name generator is finally down the list a bit, though agents in EVE Online are still a pain to find.  More Pokemon events and the promise of a heroic version of the Deadmines for Cataclysm.  A pity it didn’t live up to the original.

2011 – MOAR Pokemons

  1. First Pokemon Black and White Download Event – Victini
  2. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  3. Download Mythical Celebi at GameStop
  4. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  5. Shiny Pokemon Events Coming to GameStop in January

So yeah, Pokemon was a thing.  It is years like this that I wonder if I should write more about Pokemon, not so much for page views as because apparently people want to read about it.  Did I actually have a Pokemon following here, and has it died off due to lack of posts?  Also, the agent finder showed up in EVE Online, so that post fell off.

2012 – The Peak

  1. Diablo III vs. Torchlight II – A Matter of Details
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  4. World of Warcraft Magazine – Issue 2
  5. Hulkageddon V: Unholy Union – Coming Soon

The blog is as popular as it is ever going to be.  The Civ II post shows up, but it was that Diablo III vs Torchlight II post that seemed to piss people off.  Then the leading Pokemon post of all time, followed by the Official World of Warcraft Magazine.  I have all five issues still plus the apology pets for shutting it down.  And Hulkageddon.  That hasn’t been a thing for a long time.

2013 – Google Turns Its Back

  1. April Fools at Blizzard – 2013
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. 6VDT-H – The Biggest Battle in EVE History Ends the War in Fountain
  4. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  5. Type 59 Being Pulled from the World of Tanks Store

That April Fools post is still the single largest day for page views on the blog.  The Fountain War ended with a huge battle while the two competing SWG emulators were being cautious about letting you just download the client.  And then there was World of Tanks and the Type 59.  I get a link to that post from the WoT forums every once in a while to this day.

2014 – Insta Levels Become a Thing

  1. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. Blizzard Isn’t Giving You a Free Copy of Warlords of Draenor
  4. Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What?
  5. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!

Warlords of Draenor hype and insta levels were being discussed.  That EverQuest post still gets a bit of traction now and then because it still isn’t obvious what you should do or where you should go when you do boost up.

2015 – Decline Sets In

  1. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  2. The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost?
  3. LOTRO and the Great Server Merge
  4. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  5. Level 85 in EverQuest… Now What?

When four of the top five posts for one year are from past years, that is a sign that things are headed down hill for your traffic.

2016 – Even WoW is in Decline Now

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  3. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  4. Executive Outcomes Leaves The Imperium
  5. Pre-Ordering WoW Legion at a Discount

That was the summer of Blizzard’s discontent, when Warlords of Draenor popularity collapsed and they decided they would never speak of subscription numbers again.  There was some hope in Legion and you can see some nostalgia influence as Alamo, a post from 2009, makes its first appearance in the top five.

2017 – Pokemon Revival

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2017 – Not Much to Talk About
  2. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  5. Pokemon Lycanroc event at GameStop

Write about Pokemon, get page views.  This seems to be a thing.  Also the eternal question about another EverQuest was alive.

2018 – April Fools Remains an Anchor

  1. April Fools at Blizzard 2018 is Mostly Just World of Warcraft
  2. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Burn Jita Back for 2018
  5. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest

April Fools tops the list again, but how long will it remain popular?  Not much longer if Blizz continues to waver on the idea.  Burn Jita was a thing, as was that Daybreak rumors post on Reddit that said they were going to stop development on EQ and EQII.  While that didn’t come to pass, there is some truth in the idea that the team would have to stop working on them to even come close to having the resources to make a new MMORPG.

2019 – Nostalgia Rules

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  4. April Fools at Blizzard 2019 is Pretty Much No Fools
  5. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?

A ten year old post about a silly item from the old WoW forums tops the list.  Nostalgia is a thing.  People were also interested in how many people played EVE Online, finding a warm ocean in Minecraft, and some meager April Fools.  Once again though, going on about the future of the EverQuest franchise made the list.  There might be something in that… I mean, besides the obvious nostalgia factor.

Lessons?

I suppose you can say that I should write more about Pokemon, April Fools, and the future of the EverQuest franchise.

You might also wonder how the top all time post only made the cut for five out of thirteen years.  But the years it did make it, those were big years for page views and it was way out in front for a lot of those years.

Also, as page views decline older posts that Google likes tend to dominate the top five.  I thought about doing the top ten for each year because that tends to bring in a few more posts from the given year, but that would just make the post much longer and would break from the whole “Top 5” idea that was going on.

As for 2020, Alamo is out in front already, followed by the search for a warm ocean in Minecraft.  The only thing new there is April Fools of course, and it is in fifth position as April Fools really fell down this year.  I suppose a world wide pandemic will do that.

A Flawed Profile in Gamer Motivation

Another set of shared posts started in the Blapril Discord channel around the Nick Yee/Quadratic Foundry gamer motivation profile quiz, and I was going to simply give it a pass.  After all, I had done that back in 2015 and then again as part of Blaugust last year.

But then I read the post from Bhagpuss on the whole thing and decided that I needed to take the quiz again right then and there if only to prove a point or two.  So I opened up a fresh Chrome session in privacy mode and ran off to take the quiz.  I already have a profile there but didn’t want to be tainted by anything I had done in the past.

One quiz later and the results were mine.  I am “Aggressive, Spontaneous, Gregarious, and Grounded” according to my answers.

My profile summary graph – May 2020

Just eight months back during Blaugust I was “Calm, Driven, Gregarious, and Grounded,” and had this chart.

My profile summary graph – August 2019

And about four years earlier, back in June 2015, I was “Calm, Spontaneous, and Grounded,” according to my answers, with the following graph.

My profile summary graph – June 2015

I guess there is a common theme in “grounded,” though that may be due to wearing a static strap while taking the quiz.  You cannot be too careful!

So what is going on here?  Is the quiz garbage?  Am I a liar, and an inconsistent one at that?

Maybe some of both?

That the quiz is garbage isn’t a hill I am willing to die on.  But I will stick with the idea that the quiz, like much in the realm of the social sciences, is trying to measure complex things via simple parameters.

And while I am demonstrably an unreliable narrator when I speak of my own motivations, I would contend that is because said motivations are not simple, but are often complicated, interdependent, and contextual.

So when I get a question like this about story absent any sort of context, there isn’t really any clear choice.

How important is this to me?

In a lot of games it isn’t important, or it is something that is organic to the game and develops over time.  There isn’t a whole lot of story in RimWorld or Civilzation V or Minecraft other than what you make.

In other games, like EverQuest II, there is a lot of rich story going on that I tend to skip pass.  I am at the quest giver saying, “Cool story bro, but just tell me who you need killed already.”  I honestly cannot tell you any of the big story arcs for any of the expansions in any but the most simple terms, if at all.

I am a little better in World of Warcraft, where I can at least tell you the major plot line of most of the expansions, but I still tend to read the quest objectives on the way rather than listening to any NPC tales.  Just give me the damn quest Anduin!

But in a game like Diablo III I am all about the story, which is part of why the post story seasons don’t do much for me.  Slaughter and levels upon levels and piles of gold don’t mean much as the context in which the really mattered has passed.

So if I am playing a Civ game, it is not important, if I am playing Diablo III it is extremely important, and if I am playing WoW or LOTRO is is somewhat important.  So what is my answer supposed to be then?  As with a lot of questions I went for the middle ground, which you can interpret as a shoulder shrug and append the phrase, “I guess” to the end.

And that is how I felt about a lot of the quiz.  Absent the anchor of a specific situation, my answer is always going to feel uncertain.  It is like asking me how important strawberries are to me.  I like strawberries, and they seem essential if we’re talking about a strawberry shortcake or strawberries and cream, but maybe less so if we’re talking about nuclear proliferation or civil rights.

It is thus easy to argue yourself into the position that everything on the list is not important at all.  Nobody is going to die if the storyline of your game is insufficiently elaborate.

Without context the questions are meaningless, and the quiz is no fun if you you just wet blanket the whole thing, so what happens to me is that I start to think of context where the thing in question is more or less important to me.

But those are all thoughts of the moment, and if I took the quiz in another two weeks I bet I would come up with a different set of contexts that would alter my answers.  I took the quiz less than an hour ago and, as an example, I cannot remember what came to my mine around this question regarding being an agent of chaos.

Not an Agent of KAOS

Right now I can come up with context that get me to any of the response options, but I cannot even recall the answer I gave, which at least implies I did not weigh it heavily.  It was very much in the moment.  And given that the only common thread in my three results is being “grounded,” which sounds like the opposite of being an agent of chaos, I almost feel like there should be a slider for how serious an answer should be taken.

I think the only thing I picked as extremely important was about explosions and blowing things up, which was probably my most visceral response.  But I don’t know how much of an indicator it really is.  Blowing things up for me tends to apply mostly to EVE Online or maybe Minecraft when I have some dynamite.

At the end of the quiz, once you get your score, you can then go to the game recommendations page.  My theory is that if you have answered all the questions correctly… yeah, what does that even mean… the recommendation results should include at least a few games you know and like in the top results.  According to the site, the results are based on the favorite games of the 1,000 people whose answers were closest to your own, so it gets around the whole “is the quiz even valid” and gets straight to “garbage in, garbage out” for results.

For the last two sets of answers I got the following recommendations:

Balanced (2020 / 2019):

  1. Elite: Dangerous / No Man’s Sky
  2. Borderlands 3 / FTL: Faster Than Light
  3. Factorio / ARK: Survival Evolved
  4. Subnautica / Factorio
  5. Fallout Shelter / Cities: Skylines
  6. Kerbal Space Program / Subnautica
  7. Portal (series) / Terraria
  8. Civilization (series) / Portal (series)
  9. Rise of the Tomb Raider / RuneScape
  10. Half-Life 2 / The Sims (series)

Not completely off the mark I suppose.  I own a bunch of those games, and certainly Civilization would make the cut and I guess RuneScape is an MMORPG, but there is nothing on the list I am playing a lot of lately.

“Balanced” refers to the relative popularity of a given title in people’s lists overall.  You can also see just “Popular” games or you can open it up to “Niche” games.  Going with “Popular” makes the list less likely for me. The Fallout series dominates as individual titles.

Going with “Niche” does get my Lord of the Rings Online on one list, and RimWorld makes the other, but it puts Cookie Clicker at the top of one of them and WTF is that doing on any list of mine?

Now I am curious to know what answers would get me to EVE Online or World of Warcraft as a top ten recommendation, even in the “Niche” category.  I want to reverse engineer this, to figure out which buttons I need to click to get an answer that matches a game I am currently playing and then evaluate whether those answers really fit me, even if it is only in the context of a specific game.

All of which seems to make this quiz and its results a good conversation piece or a starting point for some self-reflection, but it doesn’t seem to provide anything that one might qualify as a solid answer

Anyway, if you want to see the results and responses from other bloggers, Jeromai over at Why I Game has the list of links you are looking for.

My Top Five Most Viewed Posts

As tends to happen with blogger events, topics come up and become memes within the event with bloggers picking up the topic and running with it.  For Blapril the latest relates to some talk about blog traffic, namely the top five most viewed posts.

The Blapril commeth

Blapril is still live through the coming week, and I still have one more post about it, but I figured I could jump in on this idea as well.

Well, technically, I have already jumped in on this idea in the past.  The annual commemoration of the founding of the blog sees me post all sorts of meaningless information about the blog, including the most viewed posts over the life of the blog.  It is when I bare all the stats.  The last time around was for the 13th anniversary which hit last September.

At that time the top five posts for all time were:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark

That has actually changed slightly over the past seven months.  The same five posts are at the top, with the order being adjusted.

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator – 65,769 views
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit – 55,530 views
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID! – 42,962 views
  4. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online – 40,210 views
  5. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark – 36,188 views

The first post is from August 2007 and was perhaps the first headline of mine that Google grabbed onto, boosting it to the top back then, with enough traffic to sustain it.  The post is also the quintessential example of low effort, high popularity having taken about a minute to crank out the not quite 150 words that surrounded the link to the actual guild name generator.

The second is another Google special, as people to this day still type in searches asking about running Civilization II on 64-bit.  Even though it is from 2011, the info in that post is actually still applicable, as it works with Win10 as well.  And it no doubt says something about how solid Civ II was that I still get traffic on this today, 24 years after it launched.  At least this was a post I put some actual work into.

Then there is the Alamo post, which I put together on a whim back in 2009 because Meclin used to love that Alamo forum post.  This one was a slower burn and is the one on the list that doesn’t rely on Google search results.  Instead, it is one of those things where one person uses a search engine to find it, then posts it somewhere on Reddit, and the traffic comes from that.  With the coming of WoW Classic and the related nostalgia, this post has been getting a lot of Reddit links and I expect it will one day top the all time list.  While I put some effort into putting together this post, it was basically copying somebody else’s work to preserve it.

How to Find an Agent in EVE Online was very popular for a stretch and actually represented some work I put in to help the EVE Online community.  It was popular back in 2007 when I wrote it because finding an agent was, like so many things in the game, an absurdly difficult thing to do.  CCP eventually made this better with a “Find Agents” button that brought up an easy to use (in EVE terms at least) search window… and then they made it a bit worse with The Agency interface, but it is still not as bad as it once was.  This post gets almost no traffic now and has been falling down the list as time goes on.

Then there is a Pokemon post.  If I expanded to the top 50, there would be a lot of Pokemon posts on the list like this one, that related to specific events happening in specific versions of the series.  Google loved my Pokemon posts and sent a lot of people here for them.  They were often short lived.  This one related only to Pokemon Black & White, which again puts the post back in 2011.  But for a brief flash they were quite popular.  If you wanted make a blog to just get a lot of traffic you could do a lot worse than covering Pokemon related news.

The most recent post on that list is from October of 2011.  They have an advantage in that was also a time when the blog was still getting more popular as time went along, things peaking in early 2013, at which point Google made some changes to their search results that directly impacted blogs.  So those posts were in at the peak time and have had longevity on their side.

This made me wonder what the top posts were back then, so I went back to some of my old annual posts to get the all time tops from past years, just to see how that top five evolved.

Back in 2009, three years into the blog, there were already two of the current five on the list:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. Shaymin Event at Toys R Us
  4. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  5. What Is A “Tank” In EVE?

Also there is a Pokemon event post.  And the Blackrock Spire post remained pretty popular over the years, as it currently sits at 11th place on the all time list.

At the four year mark the top two remained solid:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  4. Five LEGO Video Game Titles I Want
  5. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?

At five years, which puts us in 2011, we have three of the current top five:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  4. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  5. Fighting Blood Elf Porn

With 2012 and six years of blogging, four of the current top five are now present:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  3. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  4. EVE Online – The Tutorial
  5. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit

In 2013, with the peak of the blog having passed, the top five actually includes a post from that year:

April 1, 2013 remains the best ever day for page views on the blog.  It has all been down hill from there.

At year eight and the start of the decline, still just four of the current top five.

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  5. First Pokemon Black and White Download Event – Victini

But there are two Pokemon even posts on the list.  See.

Nine years in things are still running along with the same top four, but there was enough Blizzard April Fools nostalgia to push the 2013 post back into the top five:

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  5. April Fools at Blizzard – 2013

That same list holds true for 2016 and the ten year anniversary, so I won’t post it again.  But the fifth entry, the Alamo post, is finally in the top ten, hitting 8th position.

The list is again the same for 2017, and the Alamo post is down at 10th spot.  Something must come along to give it a boost… like maybe the announcement two months later of WoW Classic.  November 2017 see it get 5,200 page views.

In 2018 the list changes just a bit as a Pokemon post gets a revival.  But Alamo is now in 6th position and closing.

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. How to Catch Zorua and Zoroark
  5. First Pokemon Black and White Download Event – Victini

Which brings us to the 2019 list, which I posted way up the page, and the current top five.

Basically inertia and Google have kept four posts in the top five all time since 2012.  And, honestly, I do not see the current top five list changing any time soon.  The next post in line, the Victini post, which gets a sudden bump in traffic any time Nintendo mentions that Pokemon, sits in sixth place and about 3,000 page views behind.  Then there is a whole clump of posts about 5,000 page views back from it, which seems like a pretty difficult gap to bridge given the decline in traffic.

It isn’t impossible.  The most viewed posts for the last couple of years have clocked in at around 12,000.  But this year looks like it will fall short of that… except for Alamo.  WoW Classic nostalgia and posts to Reddit keep driving that post up.  It has nearly 12,000 page views already this year, about 10x the Blizzard April Fools post for this year, which fell flatter than usual.  If that keeps going it might go up another spot.  But beyond that, I think I am stuck with this top five for a long time to come.

Others who have taken part in this post topic:

Seeing that last one, I considered doing a bottom five as well.  However, WP.com will only show me the top 499 posts and, closing in on the 5,500 post mark here, that only lets me see the top 10% of posts.  So the top five will have to do.

I am glad now that I spent the time every year compiling these lists, though in reviewing them the seem a bit wonky at times.  That Victini post shows up and disappears.  I suspect that WP.com wasn’t fetching the full list at times.  But overall it lets me track the trends.

Blapril and Staying Motivated

We are now into week five of Blapril and week seven of staying home in my part of the country.

The Blapril commeth

This week’s topic is about motivation and keeping it going.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

And never was there a more on point topic to my mind.  Motivation is leaking out of me.  I feel tired all the time.  Were it not for some of the structure I have around my writing I might very well be blog fading.

And I feel a bit guilty about feeling like that.  Like a few other bloggers, I feel like I am one of the luckier ones in this season of pandemic.  I still have my job, I can do it from home fairly reliably, nobody in my family has caught the plague so far, and we have a sufficient supply of toilet paper and other essentials to carry on.

So what is the problem?

Even I, a pretty dedicated homebody, am starting to feel a bit of cabin fever.  This is not help by the fact that my wife’s job is essentially on hold, being on commission and all, and the school district is pretending to do “remote learning” which totals up to about 3 hours out of my daughter’s week, so the two of them… the outgoing pair in this house… are really feeling confined by this “stay at home” situation.  My daughter especially, being 18, a senior in high school, with a job, money, and a car at her disposal, she was really on her way to a fantastic senior year.

Now it is all shut down.  Stay at home, no prom, no grad night, no parties, no graduation, and it is feeling really unfair to her.  And that doesn’t even get to college starting.  She is dying to go away to school (and to get away from us, for which I cannot blame her) but, while the school is whistling a happy tune about everything being normal by the end of August, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to how this will really play out.  So she is on edge and doesn’t have enough meaningful or fun things to occupy her, which also goes for my wife, so they end up clashing.  Even the cats are on edge.  They know something is wrong.

Meanwhile, I am very busy.  My company is very much in demand right now and there is a push to move features along faster to support our customers.  Working from home isn’t new to me, but I spend most of my work time at the office where I have a nice desktop machine with a big monitor.  I generally plan my weeks around getting stuff done at the office and doing follow ups and admin work at home.  But now I am always home, have more work, and everything at home takes me about 20% longer to do because my work laptop is dinky and I am prone to interruptions.

And in the midst of this I keep hearing about all the stuff I should be doing with copious amounts of free time I should have now.  Shakespeare invented calculus and Newton wrote Hamlet during plagues and all that.  Even at work HR has been filling my inbox with all sorts of suggestions about to use all these extra hours I am alleged to have.  So I am starting to feel like I must be missing something as I feel like I have less free time, not more.

So I am at my desk at home from when I get up until the afternoon begins to wane.  It isn’t a lot more time than I would spend normally, if you count the hour round trip that was my commute, but the commute was kind of down time, a step away into my car to listen to an audio book as I rolled home.  And after spending that much time at my desk, the urge to then stay there and play video games or write a blog post is pretty weak.  I want to get up and go somewhere else.

There is a pool of time in my day that goes towards video games and blogging, and that pool has grown more shallow, and mostly at the cost of gaming.  The joy of ManicTime tracking my time is that I see I’ve spent about half of the time playing as I did last month, the March of forever.

That eventually starts to impact my writing.  As I wrote about five years back, the two are intertwined, to the extent that one might speculate as to whether I game to blog or blog to game.  If I game less then there is less to feed my blogging and then I spend more time sifting for topics and putting something together which reinforces the cycle.

Meanwhile time seems to be speeding up.  March seemed to last forever, and we were only stuck at home for half of it, while April seems to have zipped on by.  Or at least the free time I can find seems to be moving at top speed, weekends slipping past in a blink.

This is about the point where I have dug myself deep enough into a hole that I should start telling you about how I got out.  A pity I don’t have a pithy line or easy strategy to share.  In fact, all I’ve got is that I find I have to buckle down and force myself to have some fun to relax.

I can still find a bit of peace, some relaxation, so escape, if I press through and actually play a game for a while.  There is this real reluctance to even both, a barrier of sorts that I have to get around or I’ll just sit there at my computer and look at the launch icons for WoW or EVE Online or Steam and then start reading the news or Twitter or, god forbid, Facebook.

If I can find a reason to log in, a mission, a goal, an op to go on, or something else I can immerse myself in, I can still find that bit of escape, the refreshment of not worrying about the present.  It can be like a splash of cold water on a warm afternoon. But, like everything else these days, it seems to require more effort than it should.

I am not sure that will help motivate anybody, but at least I am able to say that it is possible to find distraction, though you might have to try harder than usual.

Maybe reading another blog will be motivating, so I should link out to the Blapril participant list again.

Road Trip with Mojo Nixon

We are into the third week of Blapril here and my weekly posts about it are coming later and later in the week.  I may have to work on that.

The Blapril commeth

This week is getting to know you week.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

As with so many things, I am perhaps a bit skeptical that there is anything I can write here that would end up with anybody reading this “knowing” me very well at all.  I can recite biographic facts, dates and times of specific events, games I’ve player, colors I favor, religious beliefs, or my astrological sign and leave you no more the wiser as to who I am really.

And that leaves aside the deeper philosophical question of who we really are in any case.  Do I even know me?  Who am I really?

I get annoyed when I go to family gatherings and my siblings seem so keen to dwell in the past.  Specifically, nothing that happened after high school ever seems to come up.  Not that I am against living in the past.  This blog is, in a way, a shrine to the past.  We are, it seems a product of the past, just the sum total of our experiences existing in that razor thin sense of the present.  It isn’t that they go to the past, but they pick such a mundane part of the past to bring up.

So rather than something formulaic or statistical, I am going to tell a story about a past event that popped into my mind earlier this week.  It was sparked by Mojo Nixon.  I saw somebody asking, “Where the hell’s my money?” online about the stimulus checks we’re alleged to be getting some day, which just happens to be the title of a Mojo Nixon song.  So I brought that up in iTunes (you can listen to it here on YouTube if you so wish) and started listening to it and the rest of the tracks on the Frenzy album.  And that sent me back to when I first heard one of his songs.

It was the summer of 1987.  Or maybe 1988.  Bill and Tony and I were headed south out of Silicon Valley… that name was still fresh and meaningful back then… towards LA for the Crossroads of the West Gun Show.  It took place at the Panoma fair grounds and was the largest guns, militaria, antiques, and collectables show west of the Rockies at the time.  The event was absolutely huge, spread out over multiple event halls, and my friend Bill was (and remains) a big military collectables guy, so was headed to the show to scout items, make deals, and meet potential sources.

I think I had some vacation time handy, so went along.  I am not sure how Tony got invited, or who Tony really was other than being some sort of Armenian royalty whose family fled the place when the Bolsheviks took over.  He had a Russified Caucasian last name, put in for gas, and was good company, so he was welcome enough.

For some reason I ended up driving us down to LA.  I had a fairly new Mazda 626 which had a decent stereo and a cassette deck… the idea of a CD player in a car was at the luxury end of the market, if at all at that point… and we were pushing various tapes in the deck as we made our way south.  I didn’t have a lot in the car.  I think we went through the Repo Man sound track, but  I tended to listen to books on tape in the car on long rides, which were fairly common as my girlfriend at the time was going to Chico State, a four hour drive north from home.

Tony had a tape though.  He had Bill put it in the stereo and Mojo Nixon came pouring out of the speakers with I Hate Banks.  I had never heard him… or heard of him… before, but for three twenty somethings on the road in the middle of nowhere it was about the perfect sound track.  I don’t think we played another tape on the trip.

Interstate 5 is four and six lanes of blacktop through the middle of nowhere for most of its run through California, interrupted only by a bad smell as you pass by Harris Ranch.  So a loud sound track is appreciated.  We rolled on through the summer heat, windows down, yelling along with Mojo.

It wasn’t until we hit LA that we ran into traffic.  The fairgrounds are off of the 10 in LA, which is a major artery in the congestion that is LA.  I seem to recall seeing my first car pool lane on that trip, down there on the 10, or maybe on the 210, which required three people per car to use.  There were three of us, so on we went.

We stayed at a Best Western near the fairgrounds.  I still have a postcard from it.  We checked in, put our stuff in the room, and went out into LA for the evening.  I have almost no memory of that evening, not due to drink but just the fading of time.  I do recall, however, that we wandered into a record store where I found a copy of Back from Samoa by the Angry Samoans on CD, which I purchased and still have.  There is maybe 20 minutes of music tops on that CD.  Short songs were the punk thing.

The next day we got up early and headed to the show.  This is also a bit of a blur, though I recall going by the booth that had on display a Walther PP pistol owned by Heinrich Himmler.  I am not sure it was even for sale, but it was the center piece of somebody’s booth.

We spent a lot of time digging through displays of wings and badges.  Bill’s current passion was pilot wings and he could spot the good from the bad.  This was at a time when a lot of WWII stuff was becoming collectible and, thus, valuable.  Things that were laying in heaps into the 70s were suddenly becoming interesting as the 50th anniversary of the start of the war approached.

The problem is, a lot of the stuff is faked up.  Less so back then, but it was still pretty common.  Now the odds of anything you run across being authentic are pretty small, but Bill was an expert at spotting anomalies that marked fakes or at least put authenticity in doubt.  And he had a nose for the real deal.  So we spent the day deep in the minutiae of the collectors, occasionally stopping to goggle at some big item, but mostly talking to dealers with wings, badges, and patches.  And Bill found some deals.  He always did.  I remember going over to his apartment one day and finding it full of WWI British uniforms.  RFC tunics with wings in golden thread and uniforms of various regiments with ribbons and buttons shined bright, and uniform caps to go with them all.  He’d gotten them at some auction and they were all about the house as he sorted them and found buyers.

After the show shut down we went back to the room for a rest.  I then went out to meet up with somebody I knew through Air Warrior and hang out.  We nerded about the game for a while and I flew a bit on his account, which is where I twitched to some of the differences in the clients.  One of the controversies of the game, which Kesmai denied for ages, was that aircraft on the Mac client were not as powerful as those on the IBM PC and clients which derived from it, being the Atari ST and Amiga versions.  But playing on his IBM machine it was immediately obvious to me that the planes were noticeably more powerful.  Later it came out that the method for calculating engine horsepower was much more generous on that code base and it eventually was fixed.  But those of us who flew on the Mac felt validated when the news finally came out, not to mention a little superior, having often held our own even when the deck was stacked against us.

I headed back to the motel at about 2am, which back up in Silicon Valley would have meant having the highway to myself.  But LA, even then, was busy around the clock and the freeway, while not rush hour full, was still packed like it was maybe a Saturday afternoon.

When I got back to the motel room it was clear that something had transpired while I was away.  To start with, Tony’s clothes were in the pool, as were all the screens from the windows of our room, and maybe those from a couple of other rooms.  I knew ours were in there because all the windows were open and all the screens were missing.  There was a bunch of paper in the toilet… not toilet paper, but note paper…, the bathroom window was cracked, and the bathroom door had apparently been kicked in as the door jamb was split.   Tony was lying on the floor under the little coffee table that was in our room while Bill was bundled up in the comforter from the bed laying across the foot of it.  He was there because the top half of the bed was wet.

To this day I do not know what they got up to while I was away.  There were some empty beer cans, some of which were also floating in the pool, but not enough to explain wild behavior.  I got Tony up and we fished his stuff and the screens and what not out of the pool and tried to put the room back in some sort of order.  Then I found a dry pillow and a corner of the room and got some sleep myself.

The next morning we got up kind of early… youth knows no end of energy… and quietly checked out of the motel and headed north, stopping at the traditional last point in LA, In-N-Out Burger.

Now there is an In-N-Out Burger a few miles from my house, but back then the last one was off the freeway by Magic Mountain and Knotts Berry Farm and it was the usual routine to stop and eat there on the way home.  So we got out and had our double-doubles or whatever.  It is hard to say what the real draw of the place is, save for simplicity of menu and quality of product and service.  I might pick Five Guys some of the time, given a choice, but In-N-Out can be damn good when you’re in a mood for it.

We ate up and walked out to the parking lot where I put the key in the lock of my blue Mazda 626 2-door and got in, Bill in the passenger seat and Tony in the back.  At that point there was a car alarm going off and Tony, still a bit blurry from the night before, asked if the child’s booster seat had been there on the trip down.

We were in the wrong car.

My Mazda was parked three spots further down the row.  But my key let us into the closer one, or seemed to.  It might have been left unlocked, due to it being equiped with a car alarm, which was what I had been hearing.  It was surprisingly muted from within the car, but as we unassed the wrong car it seemed very loud.

Oddly, this was not the only time I ended up with the wrong car in LA.  My girlfriend and I were down there a year or two later.  I drove her down to LAX because her year of study abroad was departing from there and not up north.  We stayed the night and the next day I went to go put her luggage in the trunk and, when I opened it up there was a huge bouquet of flowers in there, which sent her into tears.  That quickly stopped when I announced we had the wrong car and moved to one in the next aisle which had my stuff in the trunk and no flowers.

Back at In-N-Out we quickly made our way to the correct car and left as quickly as we could, heading north for home once more.  Mojo Nixon once again blared from the speakers as we headed through the central valley heat, zipping along at well beyond the newly posted 65 MPH speed limit.

All of which came bubbling back up into my conscious thought as I listened to Mojo Nixon sing Where the Hell’s My Money earlier this week.  Listening to his music… and I think I own most all of his albums… brings me back to a youthful state of mind full or irreverence and lacking in much of the responsibility that weighs on me today.

So do you know me any better after that?  What if I told you I took that quiz and my top match was Frodo Baggins?  Any better? Probably not.

All of that seems like an eternity ago and very recent at the same instant.  Time is strange, memory is flawed, and in that the past is all we really are.

Being a California child, automobiles enter into many of my youthful tales.  Other car stories I’ve written about here:

The “Bill” in the latter of those two is the same “Bill” in this story.  I might have to record another tale or two involving him.  Maybe our Friday the 13th adventure.  But that is for another time.

Blapril and Figuring Out What to Write

We are deep into the second week of Blapril.  If you’re not sure what Blapril is… welcome I guess… go here and read all about it.  I would argue that even today it is not too late to join in.

The Blapril commeth

It is not too late because because there are six weeks worth of Blapril planned, having started in March and not finishing until May and, as I noted, we’re not even done with week two.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

This week is Topic Brainstorming Week and I am going to declare myself both good and bad at that.

On the “good” side of that statement I offer as evidence this blog.  More than 13 years and 5,400 posts down the road I think it is safe to say that I can come up with things to write about.  My basic goal is have a post for every week day, which would be about 250 posts in a year.  Looking at my stats, I have not fallen below 350 posts for any full year.

Arguing against that is the fact that I rarely, if ever, do anything that one would consider brainstorming.  Part of my systems studies minor involved trying to be able to find different ideas and points of view, which left me with all sorts of techniques for approaching problem solving and idea generation.  The books from that are some of the few I have hung on to for all the years that have passed since college.

But I don’t really do any of that.  Not usually.  In fact, I do what one might argue is the opposite of creativity, which is structure.  This blog has a system as to what gets posted and even when it gets posted.  For example, Blapril posts are something that mostly happen on Thursdays here.  today’s post got bumped by something time sensitive.  The instance group posts are a Wednesday thing.  Patch notes for EVE Online releases tend to be on a Tuesday, the month in review is on the last day of the month, SuperData is on the Thursday before that, and so on.

This is all because my blog is not so much to inform or review as it is to remember and create a timeline.  I went over this last Blaugust if you are interested in more detail.

So now that I have argued that I cannot really help you with topic ideas, let me turn around and try to help you with topic ideas… at least in a general way.

  • You don’t need a big finish

Early on in my blogging I felt that every post had to come to some sort of epiphany as its conclusion.  This was no doubt left over from school essays and such.  But not everything has to be a teachable moment or change somebody’s mind.

  • You don’t even need a big topic

I have at various times questioned whether or not a given topic is important enough to be worth posting about.  It is fun and fulfilling and feels good to take on big topics of the day.  But, in doing so, you may feel that your lesser achievements, your personal tales, your odd observations, might not stack up.  Don’t worry, they do.  I have found that a year or five years down the line it is often the little things I wrote about that end up being the most fun to rediscover.

  • You don’t need to be first

The truth of the matter is that no matter what you write about, somebody else has covered that topic before.   But it is also very likely that somebody will hear about that topic first from you… news doesn’t travel in a straight line… and even if you don’t have a radically different perspective on a given topic of the day

  • You don’t need a fresh new topic every day

After some time you may, like Alexander, weep when looking back at the breadth of your work, thinking that you have no new topics to conquer.  You may worry about repetition or covering old ground again.  Trust me, as you get older you’ll get over it.  And it isn’t necessarily repetitive to go back to a topic if something has changed, some experience has altered your perspective, or if enough time has passed that you want to explore a topic once more.  And by “enough time” I could me a day, a month, a year.  Whatever.

  • Every post doesn’t need to be a victory

It is always nice to celebrate wins, and some people can be reluctant to talk about failure, but after years of this I often find that disaster makes for a more interesting story.

  • This is all just my opinion

If you’re blogging goal is to tackle big fresh new topics first, drawing grand conclusions out at the end of each, who am I to tell you no?  But some people will worry about the above, worry if it is alright to cover a topic that might have already gotten a lot of play or express an opinion that aligns with somebody’s earlier post.  It is fine.  Nobody will mind.

In the end, the only advice I have that I will stand behind is the bit I trot out every year, which is to make the blog you want to read.  If you’re not happy reading it, or re-reading it as time goes by, I think you might have missed your core demographic.

Anyway, how about a few others with some better ideas or insights about actual topics this week:

Blapril Prep Week is Almost Over

It is Thursday already.  Or I think it is.  I went to my Wednesday morning meetings yesterday… unless that was a dream.

Anyway, the week is heading towards its close and I haven’t done much Blapril prep.

But that is probably okay for me.  I didn’t plan on doing much in the way of prep in any case.  I’ll worry a bit about coming up with enough posts and write out a list of some possible topics and, if history is any indication, events will overcome any plans and I won’t use half the topics I list out anyway.  Basically, with more than a dozen years of momentum writing a post every week day, I will probably just muddle through as always.

The Blapril commeth

However, if you are still thinking about joining in on Blapril by starting up a new blog, reviving an old one, or just joining along with your current one, it is not too late to get going.  This is only prep week, the first of six official weeks.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

Not sure if you can make it to the end?  Don’t worry about it.

Back in the early versions of Blaugust, the idea was to get out a post a day for a whole month.  But then the chill era took hold in Blaugustan, and it became less about hitting an arbitrary number of posts over a given time frame and more about connecting with other bloggers and sharing ideas and what one might call “community.”

You can still do a post a day.  There is a special rainbow achievement for that.  But if you’re new to the whole thing, there is an award for that, and if you make five posts you’ve earned an achievement.  And, for a lot of people, five posts will be more than enough.  It does take a special sort of mania to want to post every single day and not everybody wants to create a giant memory book of their online gaming life.

Anyway, if you are new and considering joining in, there are some posts up for you.  Belghast has some of the essentials:

There is also some sage advice out there that may help you along with the blogging process:

You can also find what passes for advice from me around here under the Blaugust tag. (You’ll see this post if you click there, but if you scroll down you’ll find past efforts.)  Like Bhagpuss, I have gone on about editorial style and blog comments and some of the finer points, but my basic philosophy remains that it has better to have written something, even something you’re not happy with, than to not write at all for fear of not achieving perfection.

Nobody who writes regularly should be completely happy with their work.  To be a writer is to be unhappy yet willing to go at it again in the hopes of a better result, or so I have been told.  Maybe you should care more about getting better than I do to be a “real” writer, but I am still ahead of somebody who never hits the “publish” button.

So, if you’re feeling it, give it a try.

And if you want more insight, there are plenty of participants in the mix now.  The current list of participating blogs (and vlogs) is:

The latest version of that list is available on the media kit page for the event.

There we are.  If you join in, you’ll get on the list.  If not, come and visit.

Blapril is a Promise that Blaugust is Bound to Keep

Pardon that mangled quote but I always feel like I have to find a different title when a bunch of people are writing about the same thing.

And, if you’ve been around the blog neighborhood, you may already know what I am talking about, and that is Blapril.

The Blapril commeth

Blapril is Blaugust come early.  Blaugust is the annual festival of blogging that Belghast runs, but with so many people at loose ends and with the general oppressive sense of the world, he thought it might be time for a community activity.

And while I am not thrilled with the name… everything is down hill from Blaugust I suppose, which works so well… I do applaud the idea.

Belghast has a full post about the event here with the usual options.  The schedule, which you may indulge in or ignore as suits you, is set out as follows:

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

That gives you six weeks of potential blogging motivation.

To get involved you can do some or all of the following:

  • The first step is to fill out the Sign-Up Form for Blapril 2020 which can be found here. Only those who have signed up will be given credit towards the awards.
  • Next make sure you are active on the Blaugust Discord and the link for that can be found here. This is the third year we have been active on Discord and it is a community that has managed to stay evergreen throughout the years. Maybe even share your content each day in the appropriately named “share-your-content” channel.
  • When you share your content on social media please use the hashtag #Blapril2020 for tracking purposes and to make it easier for those watching the event to find fresh content.
  • Mingle with your other Mentors and Participants because this is a community event, and part of the fun is getting to know the community. These folks represent a social structure that you can lean on for advice in the coming years. I personally deeply value my ties with other bloggers that I have built up over the last decade of doing this thing.
  • If you are so inclined there is a “gaming-together” channel on Discord for impromptu grouping in various games while the event is going on.

If you have a blog already, sign right up and get involved.  If you don’t have one, now would be an opportunity to get one going.

The participant list so far is:

That isn’t a huge number.  A lot of those people were still hanging around the Discord channel and chatting from last Blaugust.  But it isn’t too late to get involved.