So everyone’s blogging about Apple’s new iPad.  You know what?  I like it, I think it has a place.  I sit in the lounge trying to read web pages on my iPhone to find out who the person in the TV program is, or check my mail on it or whatever it might be.  I can see myself dragging the ‘pad off the table, checking a web page and then sliding it back on there.  I can see them being used in small business meetings.  I can see them being used to read magazines or similar material in that style.  Tried ordering from an online grocery store on an iPhone?  Imagine doing it in the lounge with your iPad, nice and convenient, big enough that you can read it.   Easier and more convenient than a laptop, who needs keys if you’re going to be mostly reading.  Not mobile as such, but certainly something you can drop into a backpack and drag out when you’re sitting somewhere.

Would I read a book on one?  Maybe.  But really when they’re cheap enough, I see them being the first permanent computer we have in the lounge.  Bored with the news?  Quick game of Peggle on the iPad while waiting for the movie to start.

The key thing of course is that it’ll finally drive tablets into the house – and give them a foothold – and that will increase the competition and drive new technology (hopefully).

I’m British, let’s talk about the weather

So we’ve crawled, wrapped in our fleece blankets and new hats, out of the freezing white bitter cold of December into the wet miserable damp grey cold of January.  We’ve managed to stay above freezing for a week or so, but it doesn’t make it any more pleasant out there.  I’m no lover of sun, I don’t like bright lights and never have, but I’d rather have the white cold of snow than the grey murk of whatever-it-is-we-have now.  Soon though it’ll be spring (and as we get older, the seasons come and go faster, so it’ll be spring before we know it and autumn will be fast approaching with summer just a hint of heat in the middle), and hopefully we’ll get out and get the outside of the house sorted a bit.

Woodwork, holes in the walls, the garden – that’s this years focus I feel.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Yes, I know I’m late to the party (borrowed it from a friend) and yes, I know it’s been said before, and yes, I know the game is really a vehicle for months of online player vs player gun toting action, and finally, yes I know that I could repeat the single player campaign on different difficulty settings, but, all that said, just over 7 hours of gameplay for the single player campaign at the selling price is shockingly bad value.

Lord of the Rings Online – Virtues, Traits and Deeds! (part five)

This is the fifth article in a series of articles about the Trait system in Lord of the Rings Online.  This article covers Class based Traits.  You can check out the previous articles here – 1, 2, 3, 4 or on the articles page.


Of all the Traits in the Lord of the Rings Online system, Class Traits are the most numerous.  As the name suggests, they are all unique on a per class basis, and there are many of them to choose from.  More than any other Trait, Class Traits will affect how your character performs in nearly all combat situations.  They change skills, improve effects, remove or replace abilities and generally have a profound impact on what your character can achieve.

Since there are so many of them, this article is not going to cover them all in any specific detail.  Instead it will focus on the general system, the Class Trait sets introduced in the Moria expansion and the bonuses they bring, and provide resources where you can find out more about what Traits your favourite character gets.

Gaining Class Traits

Earning Class Traits is the same for every class, and every Trait.  From level 15 upwards, using various class skills will trigger a new Deed.  That Deed will require you to use the same skill a certain number of times, at the end of that process you will earn the particular Class Trait as a reward.  Not all skills trigger Deeds at the same time, and since skills are earned at varying levels, you’ll earn the Class Traits at different rates as well.  Also, not all the Deeds are equally difficult and many are affected by play style.  For example, you may use Quick Thrust 50 times in a fight but use Shield Bash once per day, and as a result, you’re going to earn Deeds at different rates.  The intent I believe is to emulate improving your character in-line with those skills you use most often.  However, it doesn’t always work out that neatly because some underused skills are much improved by their Deeds so while you would not normally use them, you are eager to do so to gain the improved version.

The following image shows the Deed window open at the list of Class Traits, the progress of one of those Traits and details about how many uses are still required to complete the Deed.

Class Trait Deed Window

The number of times a skill can be used each day in order to progress a Class Trait Deed varies, and is usually based on the skill cool-down and whether it needs to be used in combat or not.  Non-combat skills tend to have a smaller use per day limit (5, 10 or 15 for example), while combat related skills that refresh quickly tend to be much higher (in the hundreds).  The number of times you must use the skill to complete the Deed also varies and can be in the low 10’s to 2000 or more.  For some skills you use all the time this won’t be an issue, but for other skills you’ll have to remind yourself to do something about using them, and as you can see above, you can add the Deed progress to your quest tracker sidebar as a reminder.

It is generally true that combat skills must be used on enemies which return experience points in order to qualify as having successfully used them to progress the Deed, and likewise, if you use a skill and miss, it may not count (usually skill dependant).

As you can imagine, all this adds up to mean that progressing Class Trait based Deeds can be very time consuming and something you need to work at, rather than just happening by default.  It also means you could still be working on them well beyond level 50.

Equipping Class Traits

Class Traits are equipped in the same way all Traits are, by visiting a Bard.  You’ll see the same dialog, and you simply select the Class Traits you have available from the left, as shown in the screenshot below.

Viewing Class Traits

Class Traits are viewed using the regular Trait dialog, but there is an added element of complexity since the release of the Mines of Moria – Class Trait sets.  Each Class Trait belongs to one of three different sets, the process is covered in more detail in the next section, but it results in there being three screens to look at when viewing your Class Traits.

At the opening screen of the Trait dialog, you can see your class Traits and on the right side all the bonuses you have earned (more on bonuses later), this is shown in the following screenshot.

Once you click on the ‘Class’ tab in the dialog, there is a further tab at the bottom of the dialog which selects which of the Trait sets you are viewing.  An example of a single classes set of Traits is shown below (click on each image for a larger version).

The icons in the Class Trait section are similar to the Virtue section.  A diamond on each edge means the Trait is equipped.  A coloured icon with no diamonds means the Trait has been earned but is not equipped.  A light grey icon with a ring means that a Deed is in progress to earn this Trait but is not yet complete, and a grey icon with no ring means that no progress is being  made to earn this Trait.

On the right of the dialog you will see a list of bonuses, they are explained in more detail in the next section.

Class Trait Sets

Prior to the Mines of Moria expansion, classes had a single list of Traits.  Sometimes they complimented each other, and in some ways groups of them directed the character towards certain roles.  With Moria, this was formalised into three sets for each class.  There is no requirement to only use Traits from a specific set, however, there are incentives to do so.   Each set is designed to give a character a certain focus, for example with Guardians there is a Trait set for generating more hate, a Trait set for doing damage with two-handed weapons and a Trait set for lasting longer in fights with single large enemies.  Each set has a name and a brief description which you can read.

Within each set, the Traits are geared towards the stated aim of that set, although it’s not always entirely obvious why some Traits are included (however since the Traits existed before the sets, there’s probably a few they just had to find homes for).  As mentioned, you are not penalised for picking Traits from a mix of sets, and it’s a valid approach to get the customisations you want.

However, if you do pick Traits from within a single set, the more you equip, the better the resulting set bonus is, and eventually, you earn the chance to equip a set specific Legendary Trait.  That list of bonuses are shown on the right side of the Class Trait window, as shown in the previous section.

Each set provides a minor bonus with 2 Traits equipped, better bonuses at 3, the best bonuses at 4 and with 5 equipped you get an additionally Legendary Trait which you may then use.  You do get all the bonuses you are eligible for, so picking two Traits from one set and three from another gives you two different sets of bonuses.  Changing your equipped Traits later will change the bonus and if you become ineligible for the Legendary Trait then you will no longer be able to use it.

The following screenshots show a Champion class Trait window.  Hovering over an equipped Trait in a set shows you any bonuses in effect.  The first shows a Trait from a set with only one Trait equipped (no bonuses) and the second from a set with 5 Traits equipped (all bonuses).

Class Trait Window - showing no set bonuses
Class Trait Window - showing set bonuses

As well as being listed when you hover over skills, the bonuses in effect are listed in the basic Trait dialog.  This is a repeat of the dialog shown earlier, on the right-hand side you can see the three bonuses that are in effect due to having 4+ Traits equipped from the same set, and no more than 1 from any other set (in this case).

It is well worth taking the time to understand the three different sets, what they mean for your character and which Traits you need to earn to achieve them.  It is not cheap to move Class Traits around, but it is one area that might support different play styles (solo vs grouped for example).


Class Traits provides the greatest and most visible customisations of your character.  They are the Trait above all other Traits that affect everything your character does.  They can totally change the way in which your character behaves during different kinds of combat and let you focus on the play style you enjoy most.

You can find out more about your Class Traits over at the Lotro Wiki, and you can check out information on Trait Sets (and all the Class Traits in them) at the Lotro Lorebook.

Lord of the Rings Online: Mirkwood Equipment

There are a bunch of Malledhrim reputation based vendors around Mirkwood in various camps (in Lord of the Rings Online), selling a range of equipment.  All the items are purchased with Malledhrim Bronze Feathers.  I spent ages running around the camps, trying to find the right stuff and make sure there wasn’t something better at another camp.  Rather than do that over and over on every character, I sat down with Grete and we typed up the info.

So, for a full list of all the stats, you can download this OpenOffice spreadsheet – mirkwooditems-full.ods

For a summary (with just the major stats), you can check out a subset of that information on this web page and you can download the OpenOffice spreadsheet version of that list here.

If you’re purely looking for a list of the items and where to get them, you can see that in this even smaller table.

Slot Armour Type Min Level Reputation Item Camp Vendor
Ear 60 Neutral Golloch Echad Sirion Gurdagnir
Ear 60 Neutral Thaliollos Echad Sirion Gurdagnir
Ear 60 Neutral Feredillos Echad Sirion Gurdagnir
Legs Light 60 Neutral Leggings of the Stars Echad Sirion Gurdagnir
Legs Medium 60 Neutral Leggings of the Scout Echad Sirion Gurdagnir
Legs Heavy 60 Neutral Enduring Leggings Echad Sirion Gurdagnir
Shoulder Light 60 Neutral Pauldrons of Destiny Echad Sirion Gurdagnir
Shoulder Medium 60 Neutral Pauldrons of the Tree Echad Sirion Gurdagnir
Shoulder Heavy 60 Neutral Enduring Pauldrons Echad Sirion Gurdagnir
Feet Light 61 Neutral Raindail The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Feet Medium 61 Neutral Boots of the Wandering The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Feet Heavy 61 Neutral Boots of the Scout The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Hands Light 61 Neutral Faerchain The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Hands Medium 61 Neutral Belegaim The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Hands Heavy 61 Neutral Derngaim The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Pocket 61 Neutral Charm of Spirit The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Pocket 61 Neutral Charm of Avoidance The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Pocket 61 Neutral Charm of Defence The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Wrist 61 Neutral Manadhechor The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Wrist 61 Neutral Angechor The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Wrist 61 Neutral Filegor The Haunted Inn Glorengail
Feet Light 65 Friend Boots of Wisdom Mithechad Eregriel
Feet Medium 65 Friend Boots of Mastery Mithechad Eregriel
Feet Heavy 65 Friend Belendail Mithechad Eregriel
Finger 65 Friend Manadhrin Mithechad Eregriel
Finger 65 Friend Arangor Mithechad Eregriel
Finger 65 Friend Sidhgor Mithechad Eregriel
Shoulder Light 65 Friend Nestadranc Mithechad Eregriel
Shoulder Medium 65 Friend Swift Pauldrons Mithechad Eregriel
Shoulder Heavy 65 Friend Pauldrons of Might Mithechad Eregriel
Hands Light 63 Aquaintance Gloves of Mastery Ost Galadh Suldathar
Hands Medium 63 Aquaintance Terchaim Ost Galadh Suldathar
Hands Heavy 63 Aquaintance Brenweaim Ost Galadh Suldathar
Head Light 63 Aquaintance Hat of the Valar Ost Galadh Suldathar
Head Medium 63 Aquaintance Bronwethol Ost Galadh Suldathar
Head Heavy 63 Aquaintance Tarchar Ost Galadh Suldathar
Legs Light 63 Aquaintance Leggings of Good Fortune Ost Galadh Suldathar
Legs Medium 63 Aquaintance Leggings of the Guard Ost Galadh Suldathar
Legs Heavy 63 Aquaintance Arambadanir Ost Galadh Suldathar
Chest Light 63 Aquaintance Curucham Ost Galadh Suldathar
Chest Medium 63 Aquaintance Hauberk of the Bear Ost Galadh Suldathar
Chest Heavy 63 Aquaintance Amarcham Ost Galadh Suldathar
Neck 63 Aquaintance Thalionhighil Ost Galadh Isthel
Neck 63 Aquaintance Brechigil Ost Galadh Isthel
Neck 63 Aquaintance Balanhigil Ost Galadh Isthel
Shield 63 Aquaintance Golthann Ost Galadh Isthel
Shield 63 Aquaintance Curuthham Ost Galadh Isthel
Shield Warden 63 Aquaintance Tirithram Ost Galadh Isthel
Shield Warden 63 Aquaintance Faeram Ost Galadh Isthel
Shield Heavy 63 Aquaintance Tirithamath Ost Galadh Isthel
Shield Heavy 63 Aquaintance Brogamath Ost Galadh Isthel
Cloak 65 Friend Golchol Thangulhad Andidhiel
Cloak 65 Friend Thaliongol Thangulhad Andidhiel
Cloak 65 Friend Cloak of the King Thangulhad Andidhiel
Head Light 65 Friend Helm of Excellence Thangulhad Andidhiel
Head Medium 65 Friend Saelthol Thangulhad Andidhiel
Head Heavy 65 Friend Golhar Thangulhad Andidhiel
Chest Light 65 Friend Hauberk of the Spirit Thangulhad Andidhiel
Chest Medium 65 Friend Ducham Thangulhad Andidhiel
Chest Heavy 65 Friend Hauberk of Vigilance Thangulhad Andidhiel

Tesco / Coke Zero

So it seems to be true.  Tesco (in the UK) has decided to stop stocking Coke Zero.  We noticed they didn’t have any and asked customer service, and they couldn’t find a re-order entry.  A few days later a friend said their Tesco (completely different part of the country didn’t have any either).  I checked their online grocery website (tesco.com) and true enough, no Coke Zero available there.

I e-mailed and phoned, and eventually got a reply from a guy saying he’d spoken to their buying department, and they had decided to stop carrying Coke Zero.  He couldn’t explain why, and didn’t understand why, but there you have it.

So now we’re buying our Coke Zero from Asda, and we may end up shopping there more often as a result rather than going to do supermarkets.  Tesco fail?

Edit: Let me know (in the comments) if your local Tesco is / isn’t stocking Coke Zero and if you’ve been able to find out why.

The true measure of irony?

I’m a LoveFilm subscriber and I wanted to rent Public Enemies.  However, it’s not been available on LoveFilm since it was released, always listed as just unavailable for rent.  Keep that in mind.  I have four lists on LoveFilm, Movies, TV, Wish List and Comedy.  Movies are stuff we want LoveFilm to send right now and likewise TV is the list we use to get the next disc in whatever TV series we’re watching.  The Wish List and Comedy lists have no discs next to them – so LoveFilm doesn’t dispatch anything from those lists.  They’re reminders of things we might want.

Back to the first point.  I wrote to LoveFilm to ask them why they didn’t have Public Enemies.  They replied and said they were having issues with their supplier, sounds like bollocks but okay, fair enough.  They also said, here have a free disc! Cool I thought, although let’s face it, it doesn’t cost them any money.

So I checked, and there was no sign of my new disc allocation.  And I waited.  I wanted to put the new disc next to the Movies list so they sent something to watch.

Later that day I received an e-mail telling me they’d dispatched something, but it was something from the Wish List.  Disappointing I thought.  Because I was sure you were supposed to be able to pick where the free disc came from, and I assumed I’d just missed something.

Anyway, I sent them another mail to thank them but say that it was a little frustrating that they had dispatched something without letting me pick the list, since the Wish List they used isn’t something I wanted a movie from right at that moment.

They replied, they were very sorry, to compensate me for my trouble they had given me a free disc!

Which I had no way of allocating to a particular list that I could find.

And so they dispatched something else I don’t really want to watch from the Wish List.

I believe this, my friends, is the true definition of irony (in combination with a battery powered battery power checker they make a wonderful couple).

Grete’s typing ..

If you ever wonder why Grete stops talking to you while you’re on the phone, or maybe some online chat or game.

Here’s why.

Fizz on Grete's head

Fizz climbs onto the back of Grete’s chair and then onto her head.

Fast Fizz!

Fizz hates the snow, she doesn’t like how it falls on her head without warning and how it looks on the ground.  I’m not sure she’s that bothered about the cold but the snow itself is a real issue.  She’s been out a few times, but she comes running back in.  I wanted a few shots of the garden (see previous post) and she wandered out.  While she was staring intently at the snow on the grass wondering if it was worth checking out, I managed to sneak up behind her.  These 5 shots are taken in the space of about 1.2 seconds.  She was a bit surprised, I love how in the fourth shot, her tail telegraphs the direction she’s about the head.

I was playing with the Picasa ‘movie’ stuff, because Grete suggested making an animated image, and as usual, it makes it too easy!  Here’s the youtube vid 😉