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Kristopher Browne
Weird, Introverted, Linux/Unix/Mac Geek, Gamer, Husband, Dad
Weird, Introverted, Linux/Unix/Mac Geek, Gamer, Husband, Dad

Kristopher's posts

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A quick guide to the Lord of the Rings Online classes, with a basic paragraph on each, as well as visualizations on how they rank for different play features.

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It's sad to see her miss the mark on this, but what an amazing attempt.

I've always found it amusing that she's such a swimmer given the mythological meanings of her last name...

From another thread (with modifications), but sharing for public consumption:

Since you get 2 character slot to play for free, I'd recommend trying a minstrel or lore master, probably human or hobbit. There are a few classes in lotro which are fairly vanilla, similar to gameplay of any MMO: Guardian is straight tank, Champion is heavy melee DPS, Hunter is ranged DPS, Captain is support DPS/Hybrid tank, Burglar is light melee DPS/Debuff. The other classes: Minstrel and Lore Master for free, Rune Keeper and Warden for turbine points, are quite different, and can be slightly more difficult to play in exchange for offering a more varied and unique style.

I mentioned turbine points: Part of what makes LOTRO cool is that it's free to play for most content. For the things which aren't completely free, Turbine Points are the currency to work with. To some degree, depending on time invested, deed completion, etc you can earn enough points in-game to avoid putting any cash in. If you played one or two characters to max level without using points for anything but character specific unlocks, you could well have enough points to unlock some of the "paid" content, or open up another character slot and one of the restricted classes.

The introduction process of the game has each race given it's own brief introduction stage, then a second stage that's shared with another race (Human and Hobbit around Bree, Elf and Dwarf around Thorin's Gate) which lasts until around level 5-7. Those intros are instanced/layered so that you will be isolated from the main game until you finish them, but they give a good introduction to your class, the game basics, and the story to date.

That's actually part of the beauty of LOTRO: The story is layered on top of the system, so if you have only played into book 1, what you see will possibly be different that someone who's on book 2, though there's an in-game system for handling that which allows people to move into another "phase" of the game to work with others on a different phase.

World of Warcraft has phasing like that, but there's no mechanic for going into another phase... If you're in an area which phases, and someone is in a later phase, there's no way for you to interact directly.

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For folks considering picking up Lord of the Rings Online, Turbine has a page on their community site which has guides to each class and other aspects of the game:

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An absolutely amazing guide to tanking with my new favorite class... Quite possibly in any game (Sorry druid, I get tired of Blizzard telling me I'm playing you wrong)

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I think Mike here has hit on where Sparks fit into the + ecosystem, and by proxy part of why engagement on + seems to be higher and more interesting than Facebook already.
Google+ Diet: Day 2

Among the many social services I've given up in favor of Google+, Twitter was the best source of breaking news. I've also given up RSS readers. As a result, I'm feeling somewhat out of the loop in the news department.

At first, I thought Sparks might help.

I'm trying to understand what Google is doing with the Sparks feature, which hardly anyone talks about. As I understand it, Google has perceived that many people want to talk, but don't want to talk about themselves. I suspect that this is why people (my relatives, mostly), forward chain e-mails. They want to reach out, but feel constrained in what they should say or can't think of anything to say. Sparks is presumably a conversation piece -- a source of topics for people to start conversations about. (Every hit has a "Share" link below it, which puts the item right into the normal G+ stream.)

Sparks feels like a very sophisticated search tool for teasing out the "bigger" stories without the clutter of "smaller" stories. Bigness is more important than timeliness. The first page of results shows hits from the previous three days. The stories are clearly drawn from the Google News engine, using the Google News criteria for what's news, how old something is, and so on. But it's a paired down version.

There's little granularity or depth to the results. It's Google News for people who don't want to be confronted by too many choices. It's not censored for content. A search for the F word brings up an S-load of stories using the F word.

As part of my Google+ Diet, I've given up Twitter. had two accounts. One regular account, and another secret one packed with breaking news sources and people who tend to link to super timely stuff. I've been constructing that roster of news sources for, what, a couple years now? It's not going to be easy to replace. Sparks is definitely not up to the job.

I asked Google+ for the best sources of breaking news on Google+. Here are the comments I got (I added all these suggestions to my list):

For the most part, these are Twitter sources who jumped on G+ quick. To the best of my knowledge, no G+ specific source has emerged (the way, say, +Breaking News emerged as a Twitter-specific beast). So as a quick-and-dirty way to find breaking news sources, I slogged through Twitterholic looking for top twitter sources, then searched for them on G+. From this exercise I found +The Next Web . , +WIRED . , +Chicago Sun-Times and +Search Engine Land. As you can see, it's pretty slim pickins so far.

Oddly, +ReadWriteWeb Brasil is on G+, but as far as I can tell not the English-language one.

It's only a matter of time before Google+ is lousy with breaking news sources. And when that happens, it's going to be great.

One thing I do love about Google+ as a news feed is the fact that I can subscribe to a gazillion breaking news sources. When I'm hungry for news, I tune in to that Circle. But when I'm using G+ generally, the breaking news still shows up between the other messages. Another benefit is that I know when a breaking news story hits G+, any additional intel (this is false, this is old news, here's a better source, etc.) will appear instantly in the comments (rather than in an easily missed tweet later on). Yet another benefit: Many of the best tech pundit types out there both wax eloquent on everygreen subjects, but also break news. Whenever I see any pundit breaking news consistently, I'll add them to that Circle as well.

In summary, G+ is currently a poor substitute for Twitter in the breaking news department. However, like so many G+ flaws, they're easily fixed. The big, structural aspects are superior. G+ is going to be an awesome news feed. But not yet.

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