Sorry I've been quiet for the last couple weeks. I've been busy at work, and I have several other diversions that have been occupying my free moments, instead of this blog.
As you may have guessed by the extensive Pottermore potions guide I posted two weeks ago, I've been spending a fair amount of time on Pottermore, honing my potion brewing skills, mainly. Dueling still seems to be down, so potions are the only way to earn House Points at the moment. I now have about 140 potions. While they take a long time to brew (the shortest one has to stew for 80 minutes), they don't require very long periods of active attention (maybe 3-4 minutes each). Still, if you add it all up, I've spent a fair amount of time brewing potions...and even more time in the Ravenclaw common room message boards, giving potion advice, general encouragement, and answering (and asking) some riddles. They could use some changes to the site (especially a REPLY option to comments, so we could find responses to our questions), but I still think it's a lot of fun.
My four-year-old laptop PC broke down in August, but two weeks ago I finally managed to install Windows on the MacBook Pro I use for work. My games are all on an external hard drive, so I can't play them from my office (definitely a good thing). I have to take the laptop home, boot it up in Windows, and plug in the external. It's been working pretty well so far.
At the moment, I'm using it to play an old-ish game: Hellgate. Two and a half years after I mourned the loss of Hellgate: London, it has come back from the dead, having lost the "London" from the title (but not its setting). It is largely the same in its undead form, slightly Asian-ified, less silly, a few poor translations here and there, but most significantly it has new locations...which I haven't reached yet (still too low level). I could go on about Hellgate, but this subject deserves its own post.
In other news, I finally got my new camera! My old camera, a Panasonic Lumix TS2, which at just over one year wasn't actually old at all, broke while I was scuba diving on the Big Island. Yes, I broke a lot of expensive things this summer (spent $700 repairing my car, too). The great tragedy in the camera breaking was that I didn't get any photos from my otherwise perfect and amazing birthday (dolphins and manta rays came to my party!). On the bright side, though, I'd bought the extended 2-year accidental damage warranty (phew!), and it was totally covered. I mailed it in to the Panasonic Customer Care people, they (eventually) called to tell me they couldn't get a replacement (the camera has been discontinued, I guess), so they'd be sending me a check for the full amount I'd paid for the camera last year! I was shocked. I'd been prepared to argue with them to convince them it was covered in the first place, and at best I'd have expected to be refunded the current market value of the camera. This was pretty ideal. I turned around and used that check to buy this year's model, the Panasonic Lumix TS3, which I found for less than the price of the TS2 last year. In addition to having higher quality video and a greater underwater depth limit (40 feet) than the TS2, it also has a GPS. In case, you know, you go hiking in the jungle and want to know the exact spot that you found a certain banyan tree. Or whatever. Hopefully I'll have some nice new pics with the new camera soon.
Last but not least, I was thrilled at the big announcement of the past week: The release date for Star Wars: The Old Republic is set for December 20, 2011. I'm so excited! I've already pre-ordered my copy, and I'm still hoping I'll somehow get in early for testing. On the Imperial side, I'm most interested in the Sith Inquisitor and the Imperial Agent. On the Republic Side, I'm most interested in the Smuggler and the Jedi Knight. And the Jedi Consular. And the Trooper (mainly because of Jennifer Hale). Oh dear, but they all sound so good! I think it'll come down to me starting the characters and seeing which ones draw me in to their stories and make me fall in love with their NPCs. Knowing BioWare, though, that's likely to be all of them. Yes, I'm in trouble. But it's a good kind of trouble I can't wait to get into.