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Month: May 2014

How do you RSS?

Posted in Software

A few months prior to the Google announcement that Reader was going to cease operation I migrated my collection of RSS feeds over to NewsBlur. Mostly as I was getting annoyed at the Reader interface plus it gave me a chance to remove those abandoned blogs.
After using the site for a few months I decided that an annual fee wasn’t too much of a hurdle as I had first thought plus the interface was good enough that I was fast approaching the Limit of feeds you could have on a free account.

But why pay when there are many other offerings on the market?
Keeping track of blogs and posts is a time consuming process and using a Feed Aggregator is one of the best ways to try and digest them.
Yes there are many options, I could have easily signed-up to another web-based application such as Feedly, Bloglines, Feedspot, Pulse, FriendFeed or The Old Reader, or perhaps a mobile app like Flipboard.

For me the service was actually far more than I expected, the ability to search historical posts and save them for reading later. The ability to structure blog in a way you wanted that best suited you. Multiple layouts and formats meant that all my resolutions didn’t result

So NewsBlur, what is it?

NewsBlur FoldersThe basic version of the site allows you to get a feed for the system but RSS feeds, the number of posts shown and the refresh rate are all limited. This isn’t too bad if you only follow a handful of sites, who don’t update to frequently. There is also iOS and Android applications freely available plus you could build your own via the API if you really wanted.

The design allows for nested folders and folder level viewing, this means that for all the new RSS feeds I started following as part of NBI2014 they have their own folder called NBI2014 nested under a NBI parent folder. I can drill down to view a persons blog posts or I can select a folder and see all the posts from blog either under or nested under that folder.

One of the nice feature is there are a stack of Browser plugins that allow you to use unread counts etc, and a bookmarklet that you can use to add the RSS feed of the site you are currently visiting (this can be found under the Goodies and Extras menu option at the top of the panel).


#RSS #NewsBlur

Free-to-play warfare

Posted in Gaming

Ahh the sirenic call of World of Tanks pulls me back to the fast paced match based gameplay once again. To be fair I enjoy World of Tanks and they recent celebrated their 3rd Anniversary since launch, I have played the game since early beta and the urge to play comes in six monthly waves.

The free to play model doesn’t really bother me too much in the game, if you initially aim to plough through the game to reach top level then you will need all the XP boosts and bonus you can get, but “enjoying” the game seems to distract from the grind quite a bit. That said I also signed up on to shoot things with the How To Murder Time crew in War Thunder. The War Thunder franchise is directly competing for the same target audience and the World Of games.

Historically Wargaming.Net said the 3 titles games could be linked in a certain game mode in that outcomes of one warplanes match could allow for a strategic advantage in a Tank battle, but that is as close as the games will come to interacting in the same environment. However Warthunder is aiming to offer a game mode option that will offer the same environment for all players and vehicles types.

Maybe this will give them the edge in the ratings.

Worf Under

warthunder_logoThe WarThunder (Plane) game is rather fun and felt alot more fluid than when I tried out the World of Warplanes game. The Missions are fun and it’s easy to get distracted with taking down an enemy rather than the objective, and you can easily loose a match that way.

I haven’t bought any in game money yet and I may never do so, however on visiting the page to buy the in game currency “Golden Eagles” there is a distinct lack of what currency you can purchase them in, so I’m just going to assume that it’s grams of beetroot for arguments sake. Just need to find a way of sending it over the interwebs.

#WorldOfTanks #WarThunder

Adventures in blogging

Posted in Site News

This an odd blog post as this month will be the 14th anniversary of me owning the domain.
I have been using the name welshtroll since around 2008 and my website content was housed on various 3rd party site such as Tripod and could only be reached via Tripod URL, the static content was usually updated once a week/month. The original domain just redirectly to the hosted site rather than me purchasing hosting as it was very pricey at the time.

Looking back it felt like a lot of work for not much content, but then it was more humbling knowing that you had hand-coded the HTML for each page, far more rewarding for me as a website owner but also from a programming stance too.
Of course the content suffered and truly wasn’t that good as idea of personal blogs we’re only really defined in the couple of years beforehand.

The wayback machine indicates that I had a huge flash movie that acted as a button, of course no link means the rest of the site wasn’t captured.

Fast forwarding, we find a different host and a dark looking website with 6 authors attempting to hold together a collection of news/reviews/jokes and more. The menu system in use maybe java but I’m not sure.

The site is re-themed, the flash and java are no more and the website is full screen, which in the day would have been 800 or 1024 pixels, when viewed on a 1600px it looks rather pants.
This version of the website was where I coded my own Content Management System, it was quite an ordeal but rather educational.

Another redesign and the website has a calendar and the content looks like a cross between a blog and twitter. The content was primarily by 2 authors at this point.

The theme remains but the blogging looked to dry up around February.

I gave up on writing my own CMS system, moved to a software platform and I removed many of the website components that were not in use any more.

My Blog got hacked, embarrassingly I can’t even tell you well it happened, but I recovered pretty much all the articles. I put the website back together but using a different piece of software that I was more familiar with.

I continue to blog migrate my blog over the WordPress blogging software rather than the community CMS software I was using. I designed some plugins and signed up to Microblogging Sites Jaiku and Twitter.

2009 onwards
At this juncture my blog was more established and I got into the swing of thing, well only occasionally re-theming. My blogs tended to lean toward my favourite pastime gaming and that is what I usually focus on nowadays. If course I’ve had large periods of not blogging and have attempted to pick it back up time and time again.


Writing it all down it looks like I’ve been at this blogging stuff for ages, but in the very early days coding was half the fun and the content was more about the laughs than the quality. The middle years there wasn’t much working going on at my site and I was mostly focused on my clan site that I maintained and a social website that was soaking up 90% of my free time and 80% of my bandwidth.

I may locate some of the old content and archive it here when possible, not sure it will be public facing though, but this has been fun digging back through the history of my site and remembering some of the crazy time trying to get a mailing list working or embedded a survey.


Respecification, or how I learned to love my build

Posted in Gaming

Single player games often have many avenues if approach, if you play the game in a certain way you get an achievement, for example not killing any enemies, not losing any team members or completing on a certainly difficulty. What to play in a different fashion then you just head to the main menu and click New Game and try your hand at a different path, making the polar opposite choices to your last play through and most of the time this will earn a different achievement.

Torchlight 2 Achievements

Massive Multi-player Online games are strange as this re-rolling only happens at the players choice and generally not to try something slightly different on the same class. This is where Classes come in as being unique in that they offer a different wedge of the skill pie, but players don’t generally want to roll a new character to make a different skill selection.

Of course the investment of time can’t be compared to your usual single player title in the same manner.

The danger with skill selection is that’s it’s easy to pick a power that doesn’t work well for your build or perhaps in a group that power becomes obsolete. In Single player games your next skill point is just around the corner, yet with MMO games it could be a day or so away.

Enter the Respec.

This is achieved differently depending on the MMO, for some it’s an externally purchasable item using real world money or some cash-shop equivalent, certain games may not even offer the service.

I tend to prefer the respecs that are done in in the game doesn’t tend to break the immersion.

The Elder Scrolls Online lets you undo all skill points that have been spent, which depending on your level and how many skills you have, it costs 100gp for each skill, so 50 skill points will cost you 5000gp.

The City of Heroes\ Villains games achieved this in-game, Terra Volta Re-specification Trial for heroes, or Tree of Thorns Re-specification Trial for villains. These Trails could only be used to earn a respec 3 times. But they were also handed out after power set changes and you earnt them via the Veteran Rewards program. In a much later update you could be bought from the market ingame.

Star Wars The Old Republic allowed you to respec once a week for free, more could cost you credits.

Planetside allowed you to unlearn a skill once every 24 hours, additionally if the skill selected had any dependant skills those were also unlearned and the points freed up. After major skill changes full respecs were given out to player for use at any time.

For reference their are games that I have played that don’t offer a respec, The Secret World, Eve Online, Planetside 2 and Guild Wars stand out as being games that never really needed the functionality or it would undermine the mechanics of the game if implemented.

#Respecification #ElderScrollsOnline #SecretWorld #OldRepublic