Archive for October, 2011

Today Pottermore announced that it was going to extend the site’s beta period  and close for several days beginning in November for some systems upgrades and site maintenance. 

After looking closely at all the information that we’ve gathered, we have decided to further extend the Beta period so we can improve Pottermore before giving more people access. This means the site will not be opening to new users in the immediate future, but please know that we will open registration as soon as we can.

Is this good, bad or ugly? While it’s a bad thing for non-beta members who are waiting to get on the system, my hope is that they truly took the feedback from Beta users to heart.  To do all the things that we mentioned requires some systems reconfigurations and some significant programming. 

The potential ugly?  According to, they are forecasting that the beta test period is going to last into 2012. 

Hopefully the new upgrades will be significant enough to make the users come back to the site and won’t disappoint new users when they are finally allowed in.


As a beta user I found the “feedback” button on the site completely useless. The comments area became the only area to provide feedback although you never knew if any at Pottermore was paying attention.

Today Pottermore posted a true user survey which is definitely a step above what they currently have.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a way to get our voices heard. We all want Pottermore to be a wonderful experience for all. Let’s give them our feedback so they’ll know what they need to do!
Please click the following link to take part in the Pottermore Beta testers survey:

This week the folks at Hypable posted an open letter to Pottermore’s new CEO Charlie Redmayne.  Redmayner, executive vice-president and chief digital officer at HarperCollins, brings experience from the digital book publishing world as well as internet start up companies such as teen site mykindaplace.

The letter gives some good advice to Redmayer on how to improve the site.  On their list of things for the him to do are:

1) Let us see real names. 

2) Give us more ways to interact with friends. 

3) Tell us when Chamber of Secrets will be available! 

4) The Purple Screen of Death has got to go. 

5) Are we truly being sorted into our Hogwarts House?

 6) Add features that make us want to visit the site on a daily or weekly basis.   

According to Hypable – “ Each house currently has within 1000 students of one another. It doesn’t seem like the even number of people in each house happened by coincidence. Are there truly an even amount of Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw students in the real world?”  There’s some really good discussion in the Hypable’s comments area about this this. 

Hypable staff brought up the idea of giving us games to make us want to go back.  One idea was having something akin to a virtual pet.  Someone in the comments agreed and mentioned having to care and feed for pet owls.  I think that’s great idea.  How about even pet dragon… maybe all those books we collected on dragons could then come in handy!

The comments left by fans provide even more insights and great feedback.   Someone brought up adding a trivial game based on the books or even based on the subjects in the Hogwarts classes and then have the “Professors” provide the correct answers.

Another person mentioned that target age for the Pottermore users.  Should it be for the younger generation that is just now discovering the books?  Or should it be targeted for the generation that actually grew up with the books?  Those who grew up with teh books are in their 20s, are net savvy and don’t need the child protections which seem to burden the site.

What do you think?


What’s Next for Pottermore?

Almost half-way through October and this means that soon the beta testing for Pottermore will come to an end and the site will be open for all.

What does this mean for the site?  Hopefully access issues will be resolves by then although I would bet money that we’ll have them.  The Pottermore version of the “Fail Whale” is inevitable but hopefully short-lived.

On a more positive note, I’m hoping this means that more features will be add to the site soon.

Currently only “moments” from the first book are available on the site.  I’m really curious as to how they plan to roll out the rest of the books once the site is officially live.   Will it be a slow release, 30 days apart to help build anticipation for the actual e-book releases in 2012?  Or will they suddenly appear sometime between November first and the New Year?   Nice holiday present!

These artistic works as well as all the technical enhancements that need to be done to them to help create the Pottermore experience take time to build.   Again, I’m going to keep my expectations on the conservative side.

I hope that the “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” moments will be up in November.  I’m looking forward to reliving those special moments… the flying car, the spiders in the forest, hiding in the girls’ bathroom.

Admittedly, I’m not looking forward to “going into the chamber.”  I have always hated snakes. Almost to phobia level.  I don’t even like typing the word snakes!   Pottermore People —  PLEASE don’t have a big snake jump out at me in 3D.   Really. I’d rather deal with spiders than snakes any day.

What moments are you most looking forward to while exploring the Chamber of Secrets?




Tell us what you think!

Getting sorted in Pottermore can be a traumatic experience for some people.  Many fans self-sorted themselves long ago.  They’ve bought  the “right” house ties and robes for their wardrobe, use House appropriate nicknames, etc.

So what really happens when you get sorted in Pottermore?

The sorting takes place when you reach Chapter 7- The Sorting Hat moment.  The test is a combination of personality test and literally a flip of the coin.    I suspect that a number of questions are set up to put you in potentially two houses and then a series of “coin flip” questions helps select which of the two you’d enter.  You can try to “game” the answers but that “coin flip” could easily throw you off…especially if the system is looking to balance the numbers between houses.  Somehow I really doubt there are an equal number Slytherins and Hufflepuffs in the world.

Questions are multiple choice.  The personality trait questions include what would you most like to learn at Hogwarts or or what do you want to most be known for?   The “flip of the coin” are literally “heads or tails” or “black or white.”

Your mood can also influence the final decision-making you choice and object or a road that maybe you wouldn’t have selected had you been in a better (or worse) mood.

For those who are put into the “wrong” house, this sense of injustice comes from a truth that we found out about in the second book. That is…the hat will take your choice into account.    So for those who feel they are in the wrong house–do you think it could possibly be a misperception of your strengths or the true nature of the houses?  Afterall, it’s JK Rowling’s world and she’s the one who makes up the rules.  Or, do you feel cheated that the system did not give you an option?

There are two possible remedies for this “injustice.”   The first is for the Pottermore system to consider give people an option (of at least two houses) once the beta testing is complete.  The second is that you wait for the system to be opened to the general public and get a new account so you can attempt to “game” the system. 

If you are selected for the same house the second time then may I share with you the Kubler-Ross 5-step model for grief and overcoming it…with a few modifications.  It’s usually for a traumatic loss. Then again, people are getting traumatized when the see the sorting hat results.

  1. Denial — “This can’t be happening, not to me.”
    Denial is the first emotion. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of possessions (and how much money you spent on House-related items)  and individuals that will be left behind (since you no longer belong to that meet-up). 
  2. Anger — “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”
    Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Denial is replaced by anger, rage and even envy.  The system programmers are blamed for not setting up the sorting test correctly or not fully understanding JK Rowling’s descriptions of the Houses.
  3. Bargaining — “I’ll do anything…”; “I will give my life savings if…”
    The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death entering the House in question. Usually, the negotiation for a second chance  is made with a higher power. For example, sending crazy tweets to JK Rowling or  Melissa Anelli of The Leaky Cauldron  in the middle of the night in exchange for a re-set of their profile (sorry folks, this won’t work).  Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand I will die be sorted into X  House., but if I could just do something to try again one more time…”
  4. Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to be stuck in this House so what’s the point?”; “Why go on exploring the rest of the Pottermore site?”
    During the fourth stage, the person begins to understand the certainty of the sorting. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse friends, hide their usernames, deny that they have beta access to Pottermore, and/or spend much of the time sulking. This process allows the sortee to disconnect from things of love and affection (ie the Potterverse). feeling. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage.  It is an important time for grieving that must be processed so dont’ be bragging about your house or your wand.  They don’t want to hear it!
  5. Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it (my house), I may as well join it.”
    In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their house assignment, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event.

For more information on the five stages of grief check out:

For more on the sorting ceremony check out this blog:

Disappointment Over E-Book Delay

Release of HP e-books and audio books on the Pottermore site has been delayed until 2012. 

According to the Pottermore Insider Blog   “Finally, the Pottermore Shop, which will sell the Harry Potter eBooks and digital audio books, will now open in the first half of 2012, in order to allow us to focus on our first priority: opening Pottermore to as many people as possible and making the experience as good as it can be.”

Feedback I’m getting from people I know, who are not part of Pottermore’s beta test, is mostly disappointment.  The first disappointment was that the site wasn’t opening to everyone on October 1st as originally announced. The bigger disappointment is the delay e-books which so many people are looking forward to. 

It’s not surprising that either of those events have happened. There is still plenty of work to do on the site–lots of beautiful moments graphics to create, games to build, etc. 

I also wonder if this isn’t a benefit for the e-reader systems out there that will need to update their operating systems to truly benefit from the features that Pottermore is planning to offer.

What do you think?

According to a recent Pottermore Insider blog, the Wizard’s Dueling section is temporarily down and the Potions section is being “tweaked.”

My personal opinion is that both games really need to be re-engineered.  At minium, retry or reset buttons need to be added.  Right now if you fail, or even successfully complete game, you are kicked out of the area with no way to easily return  to try again. (Hint:  Uses your browser’s back arrow vice the button on the bottom of the screen).

Neither of these activities make me want to visit Pottermore again for more chances to play. Playing the Wizard’s Duel made me feel like I was taking a typing test more than I was playing a game.  Also it might not be intuitive to everyone but clicking on the different books to the left of the spells list gives you additional practise spells from which to choose.  Brewing Potion is too time consuming. 

 At 80 minutes for the first potion (Cure for Boils) to complete, the system leaves you hanging with little to do.  While it encourages you to continue to explore Pottermore you most likely will get kicked out of the system by the time the 80 minutes are up or you’ll give up and move on to something else – which means you supplies are used up for naught.   It’s not always easy to find your way back if you leave the page either (Hint: Click on Potions, then click on cauldrons).  Also if you “leave”  Pottermore, and I don’t mean logout – just open another window to do something else, the system will get unstable.  When you recheck the potion, don’t look at the status bar, it freezes the minute you leave the window.  Make sure you check the actual percentage number.

My advice to anyone planning to do the potions is to immediately upgrade their cauldron.  The pewter cauldron is the slowest cooking cauldron.  If time is money for you, then pay to upgrade.

Another problem I have with potions is that if you mess up, and you know it, you can’t get out of the timer.  As a result you have to wait 80 minutes or so for the system to tell you that you failed.

So Pottermore, request that you make the Dueling game less of a typing challenge,  speed up the potions, and add reset buttons.  In fact, I’d like a reset button so I can re-explore the whole site again!  I guess that would mess with the house points too much but it would give us beta users something to do while we wait for the rest of the books to be loaded.

What other types of games would you like to see on Pottermore?

In addition to Wizard Chess, I’d like them to allow for multiple chocolate  cards to be found (and traded). How about a catch the chocolate frog (before it jumps out the window) challenge?   Quidditch pitch anyone?  Give us a chance to pitch the quaffle past a keeper.    Maybe a spells zapping something similar to Zuma?  How about Word with Friends or Scrabble with other members?  I’m sure Hermione would approve!     

You might also consider tapping into existing HP games that EA & Lego produce for WB.

Whatever is added in the end it really needs to be something that will make people come back and play!

Wands: The Druid Influence

The wood used for wands in J.K. Rowling’s novels strongly correlate to the Celtic or Druid folklore.  Why does Harry have a holly wand wand?  What about Herminone and her vine wand?  Did you know those match up to their birthday on the celtic calendar?

There’s obviously been a great deal of thought and additional descriptions that goes into the Pottermore descriptions. Continue reading