Jul 10, 2010
Amber

Blizzard backs down on real names, now what?

So this past week, WoW players threw a fit when Blizzard announced that upon release of Starcraft II they would be forcing players to use their real names in the online forums. This news came on the heels of some really innovative things Blizzard has been doing with Battle.net. Similar to Steam‘s model but just for Blizzard games, you’re now able to log into all of your Blizzard games through a single Battle.net account. You will be able to contact people on your friends list through this account, no matter which game or realm they are on, and you can allow real life friends (or whomever you wish) to see your real name and search for you with RealID.

The logic, Blizzard claimed, behind forcing forum users to use their real names is that it would curb trolling and general forum debauchery like that which occurs on a daily basis on the World of Warcraft Forums. WoW players knew that they would be next and much bawling ensued. Some of the arguments were a bit far-fetched like female players crying the blues that they didn’t want to be “discovered” and “stalked.” I think most of them are giving themselves waaay too much credit. In reality, a lot of the complaints were also from fat dudes who have been playing sexy female Night elves and don’t want their cover blown.

Starlight?! Noooooo. I gave you all that gold to be my beautiful elf wife.

Some arguments were legitimate like workplace discrimination and people applying to jobs not wanting future employers to Google them, find out they play WoW and dismiss their application. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of stereotypes surrounding gamers, especially WoW players, so I can understand this stance. Of course there’s also the trolls who will harass you in real life too now with your real name for all to see. The major sentiment was that implementing this system harms the good players and really will do little to deter the trolls. I mean, it’s proven that real names don’t stop a lot of people from making asses of themselves online. Just look at Facebook, real names, photos, personal identifying information and all doesn’t stop people from trolling and generally making uncouth comments.

Blurred to protect the innocent?

Blizzard backs down

As people began threatening account cancellation and more sites picked up the story, Blizzard finally abandoned the real name concept. The CEO posted on the forum yesterday: Continue reading »

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May 13, 2010
Amber

You buy your glasses at the eye doctor? That’s so 1999.

I know I make a lot of posts about finding deals online. What can I say? I’m a bargain girl. But lately, the subject of glasses has come up a lot. The necessary evil. Glasses are one of those things you have to have in order to see but they cost a lot. Most people will simply purchase the most affordable/nicest looking pair from their doctor’s office and then be stuck with them for years — until their next appointment and they get a new prescription or until they break. This sucks.

First of all, glasses are a fashion accessory besides being a necessity. You should be able to have multiple pairs to wear in different situations/with different outfits.

ugly glasses

Don't get stuck with a pair of these for the next four years because you paid $180 for them and thought they looked ironically cool at the time you tried them on.

Second, you should always have a back up pair in case of the inevitable: You sit on them, you step on them, you drop them, you lose them behind the mattress in a night of passion, whatever.

A few months back, I had a major prescription overhaul. I apparently went from astigmatism but basically able to see without glasses to oh my God why are you driving you’re totally blind you’re going to kill us all. Anyway, after the doc gave me the little paper saying I have broken eyeballs, I skipped out of there, waving goodbye to the sad glasses sales lady.

From the warm glow of my monitor, I then purchased these bad boys:
order_thumbHow much? $100? No. $60? No. $35? No. $20? No, no, no. Wait for it…$8 (plus a little shipping). I get compliments and am asked a lot about where I got them (and the pair I had before) and people seem surprised I got them online. A lot of people have heard of the good deals on glasses online but I think they feel it’s too good to be true and stick with the old school methods. But I am here today to tell you that I have used two different online sites and have been completely satisfied and completely not scammed.

The site I bought this most recent pair from is http://www.zennioptical.com/. Their glasses range in price from $8 to about $30 and that includes the prescription. There are extra charges for bifocals, adding tint, transitions and other special things but who needs that stuff.

I know the site looks a bit sketch, I mean what’s up with this guy?

Sup, guys? Don't mind me I'm just a throwback to Geocities.

Sup, guys? Don't mind me I'm just a throwback to Geocities.

Continue reading »

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Mar 20, 2010
Amber

Gettin’ down on the FarmVille

I love FarmVille. The first step is admitting it.

If you don’t know, FarmVille is an application game by Zynga on Facebook. The goal of the game is to manage a virtual farm by planting crops and orchards, raising animals and harvesting/collecting the fruits of your labors. As you play, you gain both gold and experience points. Experience points count toward levels, each new level unlocks new plants/animals/items to purchase and the ability to expand your farm. Gold can be used to purchase seeds for planting, animals and various decorations for your farm. You can also get items and bonuses for unlocking achievements or “ribbons,” usually for doing things like planting a certain number of crops, milking a certain number of cows, etc.

Another large part of the game is interacting with other Facebook friends who play FarmVille. You can add your friends as neighbors. The more friends you have as neighbors, the larger your farm can be. Friends can visit each others’ farms and fertilize crops/feed their chickens giving them bonuses when they harvest. There are a number of free gifts you can send your friends to help them with their farms including trees, animals, decor and building materials. Another bonus to having friends that play are news feed updates. When a friend makes a certain achievement or finds a special item like a lost cat or “lonely bull” they have the option of sharing it on their Facebook feed, leaving the item up for grabs for other FarmVille-playing friends.

There’s the basics. Now I’d like to share some tips/tricks I’ve learned that have aided me in playing the game.

But, Amber, I hate FarmVille. How do I never hear about your stupid chickens laying eggs?

farmvillefeedFirst thing’s first, I understand that not everyone gets or even likes FarmVille. I’ve heard of frustrated people getting bombarded by FarmVille updates in their news feeds “defriending” people. This is completely unnecessary. If you don’t want to see FarmVille updates, or any other updates for that matter, Facebook has the option to hide them.

As you can see in the image at left, I’ve highlighted the “hide” button. It appears when you hover over the right side of a news feed item. Click on it and it will give you the option to hide FarmVille updates or, if you really don’t like your friends, all of their updates.

Got it? Now on to advice for the FarmVillains who still want to play.

FarmVille.com

gamefeed

My first suggestion is to ditch playing FarmVille through Facebook. Once I collect the free gifts from my friends on Facebook, I head over to www.farmville.com. Why? There’s several reasons. For me, the game runs much more smoothly on the site and has a really clean interface. The big reason, though, is the “game feed.”

On FarmVille.com, there is a convenient game feed (pictured right) below your game window. If you’ve ever been frustrated because you were too late on a game bonus as a result of getting lost in your Facebook news feed, then this will come as a relief. It places all of your friends’ FarmVille updates in one place. I’ve gotten so many more coin bonuses, free animals, gas, flowers and collectibles since I started using the Web site. I’ve also been better able to help friends requesting certain items or looking for help to upgrade their storage/chicken coops.

Another positive side of using the is exclusive gifts to send your friends that can only be found on FarmVille.com.

Another way I like to play, and this is not limited to FarmVille.com, is in full screen mode. It’s especially useful when your farm gets large so you can better see everything. This is done by clicking the button on your tool bar that looks like a little square on a big square next to the “+” and “-” zoom in/out buttons.

It’s a trap!

I’m an impatient person. One thing I can’t stand on FarmVille is when harvesting trees or animals you have to wait on your miniature sprite to walk all across the farm manually picking each cherry and sheering each sheep. You can speed this process up by trapping them. Continue reading »

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Feb 16, 2010
Amber

As #HAPPO as a job seeker

There is nothing I love more than social networking being used for a greater good. In these hard economics times we need to stick together and help each other. Thus was born helpaprproout.com. Help a PR Pro Out Day, or #HAPPO on Twitter, is a day for job seekers and employers in the PR field to connect. It’s all happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST Friday, Feb. 19. The idea is for job seekers to pitch themselves in a blog post and advertise it using the #HAPPO tag on Twitter. Employers will be searching by the hash tag and also posting openings in their companies. So far, there is a growing list of PR pros on the HAPPO site who will be helping to connect job seekers with employers in their prospective areas.

The sentiment that seems to be the most common with job seekers, from entry level to ultra-experienced, is the problem of getting noticed in a sea of applications. For many positions in journalism and public relations fields, candidates are vying for one position against 200 to 300 other people. In these cases, it’s often not about what you know but who you know. With HAPPO, employers are pledging to give prospective employees a chance by reading their pitch. It’s suggested to be creative and showcase your talents when participating. The best way to keep up to date on this event is to follow the HAPPO Twitter or Facebook page. I hope to see more of this kind of thing happening in all the fields where social media is such a crucial tool.

It breaks my heart to hear of people without work, putting out hundreds of applications and hearing back from none. Here’s to #HAPPO and to everyone finding a job in 2010!

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Feb 9, 2010
Amber

Lockerz: I just don’t get it

Last post, I talked about sites I believe are legitimate ways of earning money or prizes online. Now I’m going to talk about a site I am completely unsure of. I make no promises to anyone that joins Lockerz. lockerz-main_full

The premise of Lockerz is that you join their site and earn “ptz” by answering a daily survey question, logging in and inviting friends. When you invite 20 people, you become a “Z-lister” and get double “ptz.” Yeah, the names are lame. Anyway, the site is still in Beta but as of now you can only spend your points on redemption days. The thing that has made Lockerz users angry is that they will not tell you when redemption is, only that it is “coming” and could happen at any time on any day usually near the end of the month. That means you basically have to sit at your computer refreshing the redemption page for 24 hours straight for five days to ensure you get the chance to spend your points.

The prizes include DVDs and video games to PS3s, Xboxes, Nintendo DS, PSPs, Wiis, iPods and even laptops. The amount of points to buy these items varies and makes little sense. For instance, DVDs are more points than video games. You won’t know what prizes will be available until the redemption site opens and because of the large amount of users, you have to have light speed mouse skills because every prize sells out about two seconds after the page goes live. This results in many angry comments all over Lockerz Facebook fanpage, which they completely ignore.

The other part of Lockerz is the random video blogs they post almost daily that I am pretty sure no one watches. They’re usually some hipster inside jokes or have some semi-famous band that I’ve never heard of doing something wacky. Funny story, I commented on their Facebook page that no one cares about their videos and they deleted the comment then blocked me. Touchy subject I guess. Continue reading »

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Feb 5, 2010
Amber

Winning online … this is not a scam … I think.

Many people who know me know I love legit ways of winning things and making money on the Internet — the trouble is finding the legitimate sites. For the most part, you can’t go wrong on sweepstakes and contests sponsored by corporations. For instance, I won the Razer Carcharias headset from Mountain Dew when they were running their Game Fuel competition with Blizzard Entertainment. By watching videos and clicking around the site you made points each day. Those points were essentially like raffle tickets that you could use on their hourly drawings for lots of gamer and Mt. Dew loot — e.g. entering 200 points put your name in the drawing 200 times.

On Twitter, I have won free domain names from NameCheap (yes, this very site is a result of that) and a World of Warcraft prize pack from Blizzard, although it took its sweet time showing up.

MyLikes, formerly Likaholix which I posted about before, has been pretty sweet to me. I’ve won a lot of money (that’s right, cash) through their contests, which simply require that you make a list of likes for specific categories in the contest like “favorite beaches” or “best beer.” The webmasters choose the best lists, usually the most diverse and with the most detailed comments, and send money by Paypal or Amazon gift cards to the winner.  Continue reading »

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