Pottermore – At Last!
Miscellaneous / September 12, 2011

Finally after 39 days, 21 hours and ten minutes, my Pottermore welcome email granting me access to the beta site finally arrived. As you can imagine, I was rather excited to receive this long awaited missive, and it was well timed as I am on holiday from work this week.  I logged on straight away and was immediately charmed by the beautiful artwork created for the site.  Much of it is interactive, so that in Chapter 1, for example, when you move your mouse over Professor McGonagall in her cat Animagus form her tail swishes.  The highlights of Book One on Pottermore have to be the choice of your pet avatar, Wand selection, and being Sorted into your Hogwarts House. When the time came to choose my pet avatar I knew I wanted a cat, being a cat lover.  I was torn between the tabby and the ginger, but the tabby didn't look like my Isis and the ginger had a similar look to Noah, so the ginger it was.   After purchasing my supplies at Diagon Alley, it was off to Ollivanders to be chosen by my wand.  After answering a few simple questions I ended up with a…

Short Story – The Protector
Miscellaneous / September 9, 2011

It hardly seemed less than a week since I was last in our comfortable, if tiny, flat in London, unaware of the existence of Amalisia, nor that my husband was its rightful king.  Yet here I was, staring across the field at my brother-in-law’s army and his dragons.  Let me just repeat that. DRAGONS!  I mean big, scary, fire-breathing lizards – three of them, and not too happy, to judge from the snarls and clouds of smoke drifting over.  What the heck was I doing here?  What could a website designer from Hammersmith hope to achieve against the might of a dragon-backed army?   Then I looked over at my husband, and remembered why I had come to this place.  His brother’s prisoner, chained, dressed in rags and beaten to within an inch of his life, he still retained that quiet, calm dignity and inner strength that had won my heart the first time we met.  I may not be able to do much, but I had to try.   Taking a deep breath to steel myself, I stepped out to confront the new king, ignoring the frantic mutterings from the ragtag little group at my side.  It had to…

Short Story – The Protector
Miscellaneous / September 9, 2011

It hardly seemed less than a week since I was last in our comfortable, if tiny, flat in London, unaware of the existence of Amalisia, nor that my husband was its rightful king.  Yet here I was, staring across the field at my brother-in-law’s army and his dragons.  Let me just repeat that. DRAGONS!  I mean big, scary, fire-breathing lizards – three of them, and not too happy, to judge from the snarls and clouds of smoke drifting over.  What the heck was I doing here?  What could a website designer from Hammersmith hope to achieve against the might of a dragon-backed army?   Then I looked over at my husband, and remembered why I had come to this place.  His brother’s prisoner, chained, dressed in rags and beaten to within an inch of his life, he still retained that quiet, calm dignity and inner strength that had won my heart the first time we met.  I may not be able to do much, but I had to try.   Taking a deep breath to steel myself, I stepped out to confront the new king, ignoring the frantic mutterings from the ragtag little group at my side.  It had to…

Let’s Kill Hitler – Doctor Who Review (Spoilers, Sweetie)
Miscellaneous / September 2, 2011

The second half of Matt Smith's second season as the Eleventh Doctor kicked off last Saturday with an episode entitled Let's Kill Hitler. It was written by show runner Steven Moffat. Following on from my previous entry regarding spoilers I saw this episode completely unspoiled, especially the reveal that Amy and Rory's friend "Mels" was actually one of River Song's regenerations.  In this case I believe being spoiler-free added to my enjoyment of the episode. Judging from the Television Without Pity forums, this seems to have been rather a divisive episode with some viewers turned off by what they perceived as Moffat's flaunting his cleverness in the viewer's face.  Personally, I really enjoyed it, although it owes a great deal to the charisma of Matt Smith and Alex Kingston playing The Doctor and River Song respectively.  Honourable mentions to Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan.  I really doubt I would have enjoyed this episode nearly as much with different actors.  Alex Kingston in particular appeared to have an absolute blast playing this episode. So with this episode we've now seen the first and last meetings between River and The Doctor from River's perspective.  We've yet to see the last from The Doctor's…

Let’s Kill Hitler – Doctor Who Review (Spoilers, Sweetie)
Miscellaneous / September 2, 2011

The second half of Matt Smith's second season as the Eleventh Doctor kicked off last Saturday with an episode entitled Let's Kill Hitler. It was written by show runner Steven Moffat. Following on from my previous entry regarding spoilers I saw this episode completely unspoiled, especially the reveal that Amy and Rory's friend "Mels" was actually one of River Song's regenerations.  In this case I believe being spoiler-free added to my enjoyment of the episode. Judging from the Television Without Pity forums, this seems to have been rather a divisive episode with some viewers turned off by what they perceived as Moffat's flaunting his cleverness in the viewer's face.  Personally, I really enjoyed it, although it owes a great deal to the charisma of Matt Smith and Alex Kingston playing The Doctor and River Song respectively.  Honourable mentions to Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan.  I really doubt I would have enjoyed this episode nearly as much with different actors.  Alex Kingston in particular appeared to have an absolute blast playing this episode. So with this episode we've now seen the first and last meetings between River and The Doctor from River's perspective.  We've yet to see the last from The Doctor's…

Battlestar Galactica Seasons 1 and 2 (Possible spoilers)
Miscellaneous / August 17, 2011

During a recent girls’ night out with some friends, the topic of discussion turned to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series.  Not having watched it when it was first broadcast, I decided it might be worth a look. I downloaded the initial mini series from iTunes and was immediately hooked.  I watched the entire miniseries over two evenings and straight away begged my friend to lend me the rest.  As of now, I have watched seasons one and two and am about to start on season three.  I read an article today in The Telegraph how watching television for long periods of time shortens your life expectancy.  In all honesty I can say I’d be happy to give up a year or two of my life to watch such quality programming as Battlestar Galactica, HBO’s Game of Thrones and Lost.  Anyway, I digress.  Battlestar Galactica.  Well-written, well-acted and well produced, it makes for compelling viewing.  I’ve already lost sleep by staying up too late to watch it. What I liked: Thought-provoking premise: BSG is a sci-fi show.  The show’s premise is that humanity is struggling to survive after a devastating attack by man made machines gone bad.  However, the writers use this premise to…

Battlestar Galactica Seasons 1 and 2 (Possible spoilers)
Miscellaneous / August 17, 2011

During a recent girls’ night out with some friends, the topic of discussion turned to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series.  Not having watched it when it was first broadcast, I decided it might be worth a look. I downloaded the initial mini series from iTunes and was immediately hooked.  I watched the entire miniseries over two evenings and straight away begged my friend to lend me the rest.  As of now, I have watched seasons one and two and am about to start on season three.  I read an article today in The Telegraph how watching television for long periods of time shortens your life expectancy.  In all honesty I can say I’d be happy to give up a year or two of my life to watch such quality programming as Battlestar Galactica, HBO’s Game of Thrones and Lost.  Anyway, I digress.  Battlestar Galactica.  Well-written, well-acted and well produced, it makes for compelling viewing.  I’ve already lost sleep by staying up too late to watch it. What I liked: Thought-provoking premise: BSG is a sci-fi show.  The show’s premise is that humanity is struggling to survive after a devastating attack by man made machines gone bad.  However, the writers use this premise to…

Pottermore – Slightly Bemused
Miscellaneous / August 16, 2011

So, this entry continues on my recent theme of Pottermore, JK Rowling’s latest website offering. Having worked many years on web projects myself, I’m rather bemused at how this project has been handled.  Honestly, when the early entry beta was announced did the Pottermore team not realise that several hundred million Harry Potter fans would be screaming at the gates, clamouring for IMMEDIATE access?  That means access now; not in October, not next week, now. Sometimes it seems as if the Pottermore team hasn’t quite realised that these beta testers are fans, not professional IT people.  Fans don’t care about balancing server loads, ensuring a good cross section of users across all languages or across regions.  They just want to access the new content from the brilliant mind of JK Rowling, to be chosen by a wand and to be Sorted into their Hogwarts House. The very low numbers (approximately 10,000 of the one million beta users) who have actually got to access the site since the beta started on the 31st of July appears to have left many people at worst angry and frustrated, at best apathetic about the new site.  In a fan’s perfect world, access would have…

Pottermore – Slightly Bemused
Miscellaneous / August 16, 2011

So, this entry continues on my recent theme of Pottermore, JK Rowling’s latest website offering. Having worked many years on web projects myself, I’m rather bemused at how this project has been handled.  Honestly, when the early entry beta was announced did the Pottermore team not realise that several hundred million Harry Potter fans would be screaming at the gates, clamouring for IMMEDIATE access?  That means access now; not in October, not next week, now. Sometimes it seems as if the Pottermore team hasn’t quite realised that these beta testers are fans, not professional IT people.  Fans don’t care about balancing server loads, ensuring a good cross section of users across all languages or across regions.  They just want to access the new content from the brilliant mind of JK Rowling, to be chosen by a wand and to be Sorted into their Hogwarts House. The very low numbers (approximately 10,000 of the one million beta users) who have actually got to access the site since the beta started on the 31st of July appears to have left many people at worst angry and frustrated, at best apathetic about the new site.  In a fan’s perfect world, access would have…

Open Letter to the Pottermore team
Miscellaneous / August 8, 2011

Dear Pottermore team First of all thank you for coming up with this innovative experience.  Harry Potter fans around the world had fun with the Seven Days, Seven, Books, Seven Chances to win early access. However…  Please remember that these are FANS who have won a COMPETITION for early access, not professional beta testers.  While it is clear in the Help information that not everyone will be granted access to the site at the same time, I believe you really need to manage fans’ expectations.  While most of us can understand that not everyone can get in at the same time, telling us we "may have to wait a few weeks for our welcome email" is not very helpful.  It’s only "a few weeks" until the site officially opens to everyone.  Rumours are floating on the internet ranging from "the emails are being sent now" to "you may not get your access until the day before everyone else."  Please clarify.  While anticipation can heighten excitement, nobody, not even the most passionate Harry fan, can maintain enthusiasm for an unspecific period of time.  All that will happen is that their interest in and excitement about the site will die off.  Please…