Sorry About The Terrible Mistake

This post isn’t mine for a change, it’s something I read in one of Michael Heppell’s emailed newsletters that struck a chord with me, so I wrote to him and his team and asking if I could "steal" the newsletter and share it here. They kindly allowed me to reproduce it below.

If you don’t already know about Michael Heppell, he’s a greatly sought after motivation and success coach, an international speaker and a best selling author with a number of thoroughly recommended books, such as ‘How to be Brilliant’ (now in it’s tenth anniversary edition) and ‘Flip It’.

“It’s my bad.”

As in the quirky expression our American cousins use when they admit to doing something wrong.

I’ve made a few mistakes recently and thought I should explain myself.

I used to have my newsletters proofed 3 times before they went out. The odd mistake would occasionally sneak by, but not too often.

Now they get proofed once at the writing stage and that’s it. It’s a time vs productivity thing. Of course (after the proofing) it still has to be cut and pasted, sometimes we add the odd graphic and then it’s released to tens of thousands of happy readers.


Well not quite.

There have been mistakes in my last three mailings. Not big ones, just daft typos.

But that doesn’t deter the grammar police. They’re in there like a shot. Pointing out that I wrote ‘word’ instead of ‘work’ and ‘Start’ instead of ‘Star ’.

That’s fine.

In fact I wish they would read my books and point out the mistakes. At least my publishers can fix them in a revised edition.

But with a newsletter, when it’s gone it’s gone.

Here’s the thing. In my last newsletter there were 258 words which were perfect. But did they get a mention? No, just the one word that was wrong. Easier to point out what’s wrong than what’s right.
It’s like your work, especially if you’re the boss. You end up focusing on the one thing that your team member got wrong rather than the 258 things they got right.

Let’s Flip It

I remember when I first read the One Minute Manager, being struck by the simplicity of ‘Catch people doing something right’.

So here’s my challenge to you.

Thank 5 people today for what they are doing right.

Simple, but is it easy?

Let me know how you get on.

Be Brilliant!

Michael Heppell (signature)

Michael ‘Thank You’ Heppel

Michael Heppell logo

There are a couple of reasons I particularly wanted to share this one. For a start I’m one of said grammar purists that can spot a missing apostrophe (in someone else work!) at 100 yards and always find at least one typo in any book. Sometimes whole sentences repeated (or cut off) and once a chapter upside down (but that’s a binding error). It does throw you off, if you’ve that sort of a mind.

It’s another reminder to focus on what’s write, sorry, what’s right in your world – and not let one insignificant typo or error ruin your day! A computer consultant friend gave me some business cards to hand out and my first reaction wasn’t, Sure mate, happy to help, it was to blurt out, You are doing upgardes now? His printers should have picked that up as well, but that’s the point, really. Most people wouldn’t even notice it, ever, while others will blow it all out of proportion.

Doctoral candidate: "How did you find my paper on economical cold fusion, Professor?"

Nuclear physics professor: "There was an error in chapter 3, you wrote ‘fission’ instead of ‘fusion’"

Doctoral candidate: "Yes, Sir, possibly, but the technology actually works. It’s been powering the lab for the past 5 months."

Nuclear physics professor: "As I was saying, chapter 3, page 47, fourth line. 5 words in if I recall."

Doctoral candidate: " ! "

( If you are a grammarian you could do worse than follow Grammarly on Facebook, where I got the apt picture below. Now I just need to leg it over to Shoebox Blog and get permission for using their wonderful cartoon!)

Blogging typo effect

How many English words do you actually know?

I managed 26/30 (Vicious Vocabulary Viper) and had to guess more than I’d like to admit. It’s not everyday you see some of the words listed and nearly a third of them I have either never heard of or was looking at wondering if it was archaic and out of use, or some numpty word that found it’s way into the dictionary in the past few years, along with ‘lol’ and ‘innit’. (I actually swore out loud when I heard “innit” (isn’t it) was now officially part of the English language.)

Google ‘cheats’ UK and Europe out of billions in tax. Same old, same old!

In a recent article by Ars Technica entitled After moving money around, Google paid tiny amount in European taxes

Basically the company created a shells company in Ireland to be its “European headquarters” and then set up a series of other shell company around the world – notably in Bermuda – and then charges its subsiduaries for its services and claims it all back. Officially it is "technical legal", but of course morally reprehensible. But what do billionaires care about morals, especially where money is concerned. (that’s rhetorical).

So, last year, on $22.8 billion in sales (of $60 million worldwide) they used exploits to claim all but $37.2 million back. Sounds a lot but it’s a paltry 0.16% of profits – when really they should be paying 40% or so. The report, taken itself from one in the Irish Times (Google pays €27.7m tax at Irish subsidiary on €17bn revenue only goes to raise awareness in my eyes of seemingly unstoppable power of these vast companies, often with turnovers rivaling that of many country GDP.

Amazing how much richer the rich can get by using tax loopholes – and how convenient that despite being widely known and widely and shamelessly exploited by big multi-nationals they are never closed, so the carousel goes on. The understanding is the big companies have a duty to their shareholders (and mostly themselves, of course) to use such tactics. You’d think – worldwide – that governments would have a duty to their electing citizens to stop this – but voters don’t directly line their pockets with back-handers, jollies and a myriad of other incentives to amend – or not amend – the laws to line their own equally greedy and self-serving pockets.

Google’s effective tax rate in the United States has fallen dramatically from 21 percent to 15.7 percent in recent years as the company has broadened its use of overseas tax benefits.

Perhaps when they perfect the art in their ‘home’ HQ in The United States (or elsewhere for other corporations) and all of a sudden the president has to tell congress and the nation how the one mighty country is officially bankrupt – because Google, once paying 21% on its billions in earnings, dropped them to 15%, to 1.5%, to 0.15% – and all the others, like Starbucks, like Apple, like Amazon, followed suit.

How can this have happened, they will lament – as civil wars break out because of the state of the economy. How can this happen? No, how can it not…

Irony is lost on cold callers

I’ve just spent 6 minutes on the phone arguing about irony!

The first couple of minutes to the initial telesales contact, the rest to her manager who was quibbling pedantically and accusing me of being hostile. It goes like this:

Them: Can I speak to …

Me: What’s it concerning?

Them: Removing you from nuisance call lists.

Me: Then talk to me, the phone’s in my name.

Them: We see you are on a lot of lists and are offering a service to remove you.

Unsure about this Smiley toon is quite unsure what to make of this.

What the? Please explain yourself! Smiley toon tries to get it.

Well this is frustrating Smiley toon keeps trying anyway, he know’s they’ll get it, eventually.

Well this is vexing Smiley toon’s patience reaches and passes its limits.

Them (manager): What don’t you understand, Sir?

Me: You presumably have a mortgage to pay, your sales girl obviously will have bills to pay, food to buy. You clearly are not part of BT offering me a free service, so how does this work?

Them (manager): Well there’s just a debit charge, you give us your card details…

Me: Do you not see the irony here? You are cold calling us, offering to remove us from a lists like the one you’ve bought with the intention of ringing people, then you skirt around asking me for money to prevent people – like you – calling me again. Whereupon, presumably, my status on said list is upgraded to SUCKER and sold on to the next company to call me and I get even more annoying calls.

Them (manager): Fine, you must enjoy nuisance callers. We’ll remove you from our list and not call you again. CLUNK!

I did 1471 and the number was 0845 2411525, which I duly Googled and found rafts of sites mentioning the company, some equally amused (and irritated) by the irony of the call, others going into details about the company behind it, listing directors and claims they were involved in other scams. I neither know nor care whether they was true, nor am I going to waste time on such matters, but it’s a useful observation. If it sounds dodgy, then it’s in your own interest to be cautious. I did however look at their website and rather that simply wanting ‘a’ payment, as they claimed, they wanted a subscription. That said, the ‘subscription’ is a one-off payment of £45 for the first year. Hmmm.

It’s worth pointing out that within half an hour of this I received a couple of other unsolicited tele-marketing calls originating in the Bournemouth area. Coincidence?

It get better though! On THEIR web site they proudly inform you: (my bold):

TPS is a government based service with over 70% households are registered with. Registration is free of charge and can be done online. This should be the first port of call you try when attempting to prevent unwanted sales calls being made to your telephone number. Telemarketers are not lawfully permitted to make unsolicited sales calls to any numbers that are registered on to the Telephone Preference Service central opt out register. This includes charities and political parties. Unfortunately, there seem’s to be a rise of telemarketing companies ignoring these rules & not cross referencing data-bases so customer’s may still experience a high level of nuisance cold calls. Here at Stop These Calls, we aim to give you a greater control of your privacy by eliminating these calls directly from the source.

Does a telesales company cold calling and asking for money to end cold calls sound like a scam to you? It does to me!

As I AM registered with the TPS and THEY DID make an unsolicited call to me, does that amount to an admission by them that they are knowingly breaking the law? A salient point, eh.

Here’s what one commenter wrote on Bad Numbers: A UK Reverse Telephone Lookup Built By You
"This company is preying on the old and vulnerable. They have just phoned my mum who gets very distressed about cold calling anyway. They are now taking the money from her when she can’t afford it and refusing cancel the policy on my instructions."

Another, on CAllerRR, warned:
"Received call regarding paying £5 for a service which I get for free from BT i.e. TPS – Naz (sales person) offered me the service for £2.50. She then quoted me last 4 figure digits of my debit card. When I told her the number was wrong she then asked me for the long number on my card – I refused point-blank to give her any details she became quite indignant. Obvious scam."
(Note how he claims they had the last numbers from his card as information.)

Another, on Narkive, looking into the company, observed:
"Nature of Business (SIC):
95210 – Repair of consumer electronics Hmmmmm!!!"
Not up on corporate law but if so I suspect Companies House might have questions if their Articles of Association and Memorandum of Association wholly neglect their telemarketing activities.

My sister has done a similar job, as has my cousin and another friend. I was even obliquely involved with a few such companies in the 90’s so I understand the industry a bit, the money involved and I’m not without sympathy for the poor sods doing the initial calling. I understand they are just doing their job, but I do tend to get a bit abrupt at times, especially if they are overseas based and cannot pronounce my name!

I already have a phone that offers call control and blocking* and am registered with the toothless wonder of the TPS (Telephone Preference Service)

*(International, Number withheld, no Caller ID and payphones and by individual blocking).

It is equally worth pointing out, quoting directly from the TPS website’s FAQ, that:
"Who pays for TPS?
No money is received from the Government to run the Service, the direct marketing industry pays for it."

It’s – possibly – better than nothing but at the same time there is once more the irony that the cold callers and direct marketers are funding a service to supposedly stop them making money. Okayyy! Yes, I accept it’s not that clear cut and in reality they want to clean up the market – but ultimately they want to remove the rogues so they themselves can clean up. If you see my point.
(If you are not familiar with the expression, ‘to clean up’, in slang, is to to make a large profit, often in a short period of time.)

Again, in fairness to the TPS and the job they do cleaning up their industry they do include on their web site a list of Bogus TPS Calls companies And yes, you guessed it, these clowns are on that list. The TPS warn:
Unregulated commercial suppression services, those making exaggerated claims and those operating fraudulently are not limited to the companies listed below.

They go on to add:

Beware of Unregulated Companies Charging For Their Service!
There are other companies that are not necessarily scams but they are not TPS. They usually claim to offer a similar or even an enhanced service to TPS.

They make exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of their service and may even suggest that TPS does not work.

Some of these companies are listed below: (It’s a long list!)

Stop These Calls

I take this view and recommend you consider it: I block as many unsolicited calls as I can. Anything that gets through is automatically considered a) definitely an unsolicited, unwanted and intrusive nuisance call and b) as such considered a scam.

See also :

OfCom: Live Marketing Calls

BT’s services to Stop unwanted calls

Particularly so if you are already registered with the TPS as not wanting to receive such unsolicited contact such as this, you can report them to the TPS,

You can also report companies like this to the Information Commissioner’s Office and, if enough people complain, they will take action. This can result in large fines for them.



Horseplay (©1987, 1989, 2011)

Horseplay is a board game I developed in the 80’s with the intention of turning it into magazine puzzles, computer games and even a television game show. It is a blend of Scrabble®, chess, draughts and even far older games like Chaturanga, an Indian version of chess for four players.

As an interesting aside, chess is said to have been invented by Wu-Wang of the Chou Dynasty, 1122 B.C. In China is was the "Elephant Game" and it travelled via Korea to Japan to in turn become Shogi, "The Generals’ Game". However, it goes far further back than that as excavations in Egypt have traces of a version of chess dating to back thousands of years B.C., though some of the relics proved to be from Senet, a board-game akin to draughts.

Anyway, I’ve decided to put it on the Net and see if it generates any interest. If not, maybe one day I’ll code it into a web game myself, xbox live perhaps, or, like as not, a phone app.!

Bear in mind I’m copying all this up from something I did back in 1987…

Horseplay Board game:

History and ‘future’ plans:

Horseplay computer game (early notes)

  • .

Horseplay game show idea (early notes)

  • .

Horseplay based puzzles

  • .

Equestrian game (draft)

  • .

Farming legendary plans and materials in Diablo RoS

In making this as authoritative as possible I’ve ‘farmed’ every possible recipe and legendary crafting materials including a frustrating few like the Gimmering Gemstone that I’ll never need (having preciously made the Staff of Herding). As such this guide is from a genuine players point of view – as opposed to a few pages of text lifted from forums and wiki’s.

I’ll cover level 12 plans first as these are the ones most will want. I’ve had three drop in the space on minutes on ‘normal’ (two of which were green sets) and one drop after hours of Rifts, so it’s unlikely that the difficulty setting applies to plans in the same way it does to all other legendary items. I should also note that I obtained many of these early on in the expansion – before the 2.04 patch which "greatly increased the drop rate for plans". The more you play (and that’s common sense, not a directive!) the more likely you are to get the plans you need.

Diablo ROS set recipes add up with Haedrig

Strangely, I’ve found, you are actually more likely to get a green set recipe like Asheara’s Vestments than you are to discover a legendary one for a single weapon or armour piece. Conversely, the more recipes you find, the more likely you are to get the one you need as recipes don’t repeat – once learned. If you’ve only trained the blacksmith or jeweller to a certain level you risk getting duplicate plans. Rather an incentive to level up Haedrig, Shen and Myriam sooner rather than later, eh!

If you want my advice, which I assume you do as you are here reading this, then the absolute best use of your time is to join ‘split farming’ parties doing act 1 bounties on ‘normal’ difficulty. They tend to be very fast – typically just five minutes, accrue rift fragments and give you a chance of getting legendaries like the Ring of Royal Grandeur which most consider the most useful item in the game. You can join other acts or use higher levels, but it’s not as efficient.

That’s top level plans. If you need older designs, certainly likely if you are a completist, then it gets a little more problematic as Blizzard, in their infinite wisdom, decreed that high level character can’t get them. If only it was that simple! I can’t say absolutely on this but I tested as thoroughly as possible and spoke to many in channels that substantiate my finding. The windows for plans dropping is tiny and given how fast you gain levels is makes it doubly hard as level 10 plans only drop for characters between level 55 and 60. If you don’t have the expansion it’s academic, but for everyone else it means starting an character and leveling them to 55 and … It gets tedious fast, as you can imagine. There is help at hand though!

Enter the merchant Dane Bright. He’s annoyingly hard to find as, while he’s in an easy to search area (Northern Highlands), he doesn’t actually load very often. You might be lucky and find him first try – or you might equally give up after running round the same zone for the hundredth time. RNG is a fickle mistress. Once found he will sell you a low level plan for around 5,000g. Note the word ‘a’. If you buy it and wait 15 minutes he will offer another, which you have to buy if you want him to restock. Unfortunately, unlike drops, he’s a vendor so you can get duplicates and the more recipes you’ve learned, the harder it becomes not to get repeats. There is an upside to this at least. These older recipes are not bound to accounts and so can be traded with other collectors. Be sure to search for the active Dane Bright communities, like the couple I’ve shown below.

Legendary plans merchant, Dane Bright, seen in Northern Highlands

Dane Brights legendary stocks changes every fifteen minutes - so long as you buy the plan on offer

Dane Bright communities can work together to help each other get needed plans.

Once you have the plans you need you can start farming some of the many materials available for crafting, though there’s no reason not to do both.

Farming legendary crafting mats in Diablo RoS

It should be noted that these materials can drop when doing normal bounties, you don’t need to Torment yourself to get them if you don’t want. My first recommendation is you look at Horadric Cache items of particular use to your character(s) and join parties farming split farming that act. They run fast so look at the map, see which if any of the bounties are (or will be) good for you and jump to it.

Diablo legendary materials stash

UPDATE 11/June/2014: Patch 2.06

Legendary crafting recipes have received several changes:


Legendary crafted items are meant to be both a stepping stone into end game items and a good place to spend crafting materials at the end game. While we like the fantasy of having the unique crafting materials, obtaining them was either keeping too many people from being able to complete the recipes in a timely manner or encouraging game flipping and similar less than ideal patterns of play in order to acquire them. As such, we are removing the requirement for unique items when crafting Legendaries.

Unique crafting materials are no longer required
Legendary crafting materials will no longer drop
Existing Legendary crafting materials will now be grey and have had their sell prices increased.

The change has made most of this article obsolete – instead of specific monsters for legendaries you’ll have to farm a lot of lower level instances for blue items to salvage!

I was recently accused (rightly in that instance) of being arrogant and at the risk of sounding arrogant again I have to say Blizzard got this completely wrong and they should have asked me! Honestly Blizzard, if you are doing me the honour of following my thoughts, do yourselves a favour and give me a consultancy post!

As it stood, as I pointed out repeatedly in places in this set of articles, the farming aspect for this was all out of whack. It wasn’t wrong as such, just unbalanced. Once more I am surprised at the lack of foresight and common sense from them. So, what would I have done to solve the situation and, as much as possible, keep everyone happy? It’s obvious – return the legendary component with the Forgotten Soul when you salvage! That way they would have kept the system they liked, kept players looking in new places for them and saved a lot of rehacking of code to remove the items and the crafting aspects. Ah well. How much would doing that had saved you, Blizzard?

My revised legendary mats stash – prior to vendoring for about 12,000,000 gold and freeing up a lot of bag space – now looks like this:

Diablo legendary materials stash - v2.06

First a word on drop rates for materials

According to a blue post, as of patch 2.04 (April 2014) the drop rates are:

Normal – 15%
Hard – 18%
Expert – 21%
Master – 25%
Torment 1 – 31%
Torment 2 – 37%
Torment 3 – 44%
Torment 4 – 53%
Torment 5 – 64%
Torment 6 – 77%

There is a noticeable jump in difficulty from normal to torment 1 but not vast if you are decently geared. By Torment 3 it’s getting slower and harder. By T6 it’s ridiculously hard to kill anything. In fact – and I firmly believe this is currently an imbalance in the game mechanics – it’s easier to kill a group of elites than a few regular creatures and given said white labelled mobs can inherit the attacks of the nearest elites it can get rather silly, especially if you are with the type of player that speeds through an instance to get only to the rare mobs – and pulls a horde of lesser evils in their wake. Using skills and tactics to beat a boss is fun – getting spam killed by a dozen white trash that inherit frozen and arcane sentry is not!

So, let’s look at that list again, this time in terms of risk/reward :

+0% Health, +0% Damage, +0% Gold Find, +0% Experience

Torment I:
+819% Health, +396% Damage, +300% Gold Find, +300% Experience

Torment III:
+2097% Health, +833% Damage, +550% Gold Find, +550% Experience

Torment VI:
+8590% Health, +2540% Damage, +1600% Gold Find, +1600% Experience

In going from normal to T1 you double the chance of a good drop but mobs take 8 times longer to kill and hit 4 times harder.

By T3, from normal, the chance of a good drop has now trebled but creatures need 20 times much damage to kill and hit back 8 times harder. By now you are far more likely to die from white trash that blues, yellows or purples – especially if they are archers.

By T6 the same creatures are now 86 times tougher and hit 25 times harder, but the reward is up to 77%. Huzzah!

Diablo 3 RoS difficulty chart

Source and greater information for above chart :
Diablo Fans : The Big RoS Number Crunch

BUT, that’s NOT a 77% guarantee of a drop – that’s a 77% better than normal and if normal is a 0.1 chance of getting a legendary item, at T6 the chance is still merely 0.177 but everything is 80 times harder to kill. Yes, in Rifts you see people regularly getting 3,4 even 6 legendaries for a full run – but can can also see people getting none. Just an observation, but one backed up by comments in blues posts, it appears that the rates for crafting materials are set individually, not globally, though rarity and ease of reaching of the monster in question make a far greater difference. Overall, if you do the maths, the chance of getting good drops are better at lower levels because of speed.

A different topic but worth a note – rifts increase the drop rate for legendaries somewhat but the scale for difficulty is otherwise similar. Recent changes in the game, including a doubling of drop rates for legendaries skews things but keep a balance in all things.

Here’s my rule of thumb for the difficulty you should be playing at:

1) You can kill a treasure goblin before it escapes.
Naturally some classes like Demon Hunters and Wizards have a great advantage in this, so if this is you it applies even more!

2) You can complete chest quests in time.
This falls into two categories – champions and masses. For the first you typically have 30 seconds to kill a small group of elite mobs, for the latter you have to kill 100 mobs, or five waves of mobs. If you cannot do this you are under-geared for the level you are in.

3) You don’t die when things get hairy!
In fairness this usually means you have amulets like Countess Julia’s Cameo that gives immunity to arcane sentries, or similar gear, but it also means having the right balance of skills to fight and to heal.
If you want boosting look into ‘rift it forward‘ where high level players don’t care if you die instantly, as long as you open the next rift for them. (This is actually a great way for getting gold, levelling, getting forgotten souls for crafting and works well for those doing normal Horadric Cache bounty farming)

Unless you are after green set items (or farming experience) it is far more efficient to get in parties that split up in normal, take an act each and pile up Horadric Caches – or bounty bags as some like to call them – which include some desirable and exclusive legendaries.

Note: While not part of this article I will point out that you can now get nearly all legendaries – including set pieces – from Kadala – if you spend enough blood shards. This fits in well with normal bounty farming and rift forwarding. Note also that legendary components do drop at all levels once you hit 70, as shown by the difficulty chart further up the page.

You would be amazed how fast rift fragments can stack up just doing normal bounties.


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