Pottermore Content: Number 4 Privet Drive

Time to discuss some actual Pottermore content!

But first… I draw your attention to the new Pottermore CEO’s comments on Pottermore’s future. You can stream or download Charlie Redmayne’s remarks and listen to them for yourself. But here are a few key points:

  • We will see new books on Pottermore in the “next few weeks and months.”
  • Content, rather than functionality, will become the primary focus in the next few weeks, and there will be a considerable amount of new JKR content added to the site.
  • “New interactives and community functionalities will be added in the coming weeks.”
  • Pottermore will be looking to port the Pottermore experience to other platforms, including tablets and phones – and to make greater use of Facebook and YouTube. (No timeline given on this)
  • The future may include enhanced ebooks from the Pottermore Shop. (No timeline given on this)

One thing to realize: Redmayne took over Pottermore in November. Apparently, not having the site up and running by October – as originally promised – and needing to migrate to an entirely new platform did not play well for the previous CEO.

So… what this means is that Redmayne was not involved in any of the Beta problems. His job was to fix them. And actually, dueling came up in December (a month after Redmayne took over) – after it had been down since August. Not a bad start!

Anyway, it sounds like Redmayne has the vision for Pottermore that previous leadership lacked. He wants to make Pottermore “amazing”… and he recognizes that it’s not close to being there at this point.

Now, on to some content…

A couple of weeks ago, I made my first purchase from the Pottermore Shop. Actually, I bought all 7 ebooks all at once and put them on my Kindle.

One nice thing about the Kindle is that you can see popular highlights. And the most popular highlight in PS/SS is this one:

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

That sentence has been highlighted by 7 people.

7 books, 7 highlights… interesting. But I digress.

Now, much as I love the opening line, and love its whimsical quality, I’m not sure I would have highlighted it. It’s not like it’s possible to miss it! After all, it’s the first line in the Harry Potter series!

Yet it is important… and JKR’s content on Pottermore gives us a little bit of insight into the thought process that went in to assigning that address to the Dursleys. The privet bush is, apparently, the quintessentially suburban British hedge bush. And that alone would make it remarkably Dursleyish.

But what I found curious is what she says about the number four in the “exclusive JKR content” for the very first scene in Pottermore. There, she claims that she has always found four to be a “rather hard and unforgiving number” – which is why she gave it to the Dursleys.


Obviously, four is the number of the square – and perhaps JKR does not like being boxed in. But in addition to the box, four is the number of letters in the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) – the Hebrew name for God. A considerable amount of Western music is composed in 4/4 time. There are four Gospels, four temperaments, four humors, four suits of cards, four seasons, four Beatles, four elements, and yes…

There are Four Hogwarts Founders, and Four Hogwarts Houses!

So JKR did not give the number four only to the Dursleys. She gave the number to Hogwarts itself.

I don’t know about you, but I find this point curious. Even back in the bad old days before the publication of Deathly Hallows, when many fans assumed that Slytherin = Evil and that it should be eradicated not only from Hogwarts but from the face of the Wizarding Earth (thus turning four Houses into three), JKR held strong and said that the four Houses aligned with the four Elements, and that they all were needed to balance each other out and reach fulfillment.

So what do you think?

  • In tying the four Houses to the the four Elements and claiming the necessity of each, was JKR trying to move beyond her antipathy to the number four?
  • In showing the conflict between the four Houses throughout the series (or at least between the three Houses and Slytherin), was JKR playing to her antipathy to the number four – and illustrating the hard, unforgiving nature of the number four?
  • Is the conflict between the four Houses necessary in order to arrive at the uneasy reconciliation at the end, when Harry offers his son a more enlightened, adult view of Slytherin House?
  • Or is it just oddly coincidental that the number four is both the number of the hard, unforgiving Dursley home and the number of Hogwarts Houses?

I await your comments…

Pottermore: Dueling Tips

Need a solid guide to dueling on Pottermore? ElmBlade43 has provided a fairly comprehensive guide in yesterday’s blog post: Dueling 101.

I have more than 5,000 dueling points and average 142-143 potency per duel, but that doesn’t mean there’s not still plenty more to learn. I got some great ideas from ElmBlade’s post and hope to use them to take my game to the next level.

Here’s to a 144 average, baby!

Pottermore: Two Million Students in the Great Hall

Well, that didn’t take long. Just a week ago, I was posting excitedly that the Great Hall had finally reached 1,000,000 students.

That number has doubled since then. And here is the evidence…

Here is the House breakdown at 2,001,849 sorted students:

Gryffindor: 520,772 members
Hufflepuff: 503,982 members
Slytherin: 501,654 members
Ravenclaw: 475,441 members

Here is the Points breakdown at 2,001,849 sorted students:

Slytherin: 37,003,557 points
Gryffindor: 36,862,963 points
Ravenclaw: 36,285,160 points
Hufflepuff: 31,874,152 points

Gryffindor trails Slytherin by about 150,000 points. But Gryffindor also has about 19,000 more students than Slytherin. Which will prevail? Numbers or skill? ;)

Regardless of who wins the first House Cup, I suspect the site will experience steady growth… but that there will be a big growth spurt when CoS is released and everybody – the PS/SS Beta group and the general public – explores CoS for the first time, at the same time, together.

Pottermore: The Death of the Exploding Cauldron?

This afternoon, my husband attempted the practice potion. He had the same difficulties everyone has the first time brewing, but when I asked him if he blew up his cauldron, he said that he didn’t really see anything very dramatic happen to his cauldron.

I attempted to show him what an exploding cauldron looked like. I went to the practice potion, tossed my snake fangs in the mortar and chopped them up, put four measures in my cauldron, and then intentionally overheated the cauldron during the 10 second countdown before waving my wand.

Black specks flew out of the cauldron, and the potion turned a sickly green… but no melted cauldron and no green goo splattered all over my workbench.

I have since searched the Web for a picture of a properly exploded and melted cauldron, but to no avail so far.

So… Did Pottermore eliminate the exploding cauldron to increase bandwidth (and decrease excessive expenditure of galleons)? Will the exploding cauldron become just one of those Beta memories… albeit a rather dramatic one (and a good source of self-deprecating jokes).

Well, whatever the case, while I was looking for photos of exploding cauldrons, I did come across some very helpful Potions videos by StormChestnut89 – one of the Gryffindors on the leaderboard in the Great Hall… and one of my occasional dueling partners.


Also be sure to check out StormChestnut’s YouTube Channel for some great tutorials showing how to make specific Potions.

ETA: ElmBlade demonstrates in the Comments thread that Cauldrons do indeed still explode on Pottermore… just not in the practice potion.

Pottermore: Questions from the Sorting Hat…

So… now that Pottermore is open to all, I can show off my Sorting Quiz without Spoiler Tags!

This is the Quiz that put me into Slytherin:

1) Given a choice between The Wise, the Bold, the Good, the Great, I chose The Wise.

2) Given a choice between several different scenes in an enchanted garden, I was most attracted to a luminous pool.

3) If a troll broke loose in the Headmaster’s Study, I would rescue the following items in this order:

  • 1st – the ancient book of runes thought to belong to Merlin (and yes, I would have given that same answer even if Merlin were a Hufflepuff!).
  • 2nd – the Headmaster’s nearly-perfected Dragon Pox cure.
  • 3rd – one-thousand years’ worth of Hogwarts student records.

4) Given a choice of different supernatural creatures, the one I was most likely to want to study was merpeople.

5) Given a choice of roads, I would have chosen the narrow, dark alley lit by lanterns.

6) Given a choice of dusk or dawn, I would choose dusk.

7) Given a choice of left or right, I would choose left.

Now, here is the Quiz that put my husband into Ravenclaw:

1) Same question, same answer

2) Same question, same answer

3) Same question, same exact order of items

4) Same question. My husband chose centaurs.

5) Given a choice of nightmares, my husband chose heights.

6) Given a choice of Forest or River, my husband chose river.

7) Given a choice of Heads or Tails, my husband chose tails.

Here are some explanations of our answers:

Question 1: “The Wise” is the answer I would have given 100% of the time. I suspect the same is true of my husband.

Question 2: I don’t know the rationale behind my husband’s choice in the Enchanted Garden, but I picked the luminous pool primarily based on aesthetics. I love the interplay of light and water.

Question 3: My husband and I both love Merlin and old books, so I suspect this is behind both our responses on what to save first with a troll on the loose. I personally figured that the Headmaster could concoct his Dragon Pox cure again based on what he remembered from the previous concoction, but something as priceless as Merlin’s book could never be replaced. However, even though the geek in me would have found it fascinating to go through the thousand years of student records and see what sorts of patterns and trends emerged – and how many detentions famous Wizards and Witches received – I would have felt guilty about placing the student records ahead of the Dragon Pox potion. So I thought it would be best to save the Dragon Pox potion before the student records… even though the student records would be more interesting to sort through. Dragon Pox “for the greater good.” LOL. Anyway, that’s the rationale behind my answer.

Question 4: Magical creatures was the toughest question for me, but it doesn’t seem to have caused my husband any hesitation. He chose centaurs because he considers himself a Sagittarius. Me, I tried to answer the question rigorously from within the Potterverse. :) Consequently, I quickly eliminated ghosts and centaurs. Ghosts aren’t scary in the Potterverse. They’re just kind of comical. And while I love the centaurs of myth, I don’t much like the centaurs of the Forbidden Forest. As for vampires and werewolves… I eliminated them because they have fairly strong House associations, and I already know so much about them. Merpeople, on the other hand, are fascinating within the Potterverse. They’re fierce – yet intelligent, mysterious, and musical. I could definitely see myself conducting a deeper study of merpeople.

Question 5: After answering question 4 differently, my husband and I were put on different tracks for the remaining questions. However, I suspect that he would also have chosen the dark, lamplit alley that I did if he had been given a choice of four roads. We both love classic, atmospheric horror movies. And that’s what prompted my response. I also would have loved the forest path I could have chosen, but the woods are three doors down from my house, so I can walk in the forest pretty much any time weather permits. (ETA: He says he may have chosen the forest path).

As for nightmares… I probably would have chosen the eye looking through the keyhole in the door. But I could easily have gone with heights… and probably would have debated the two possibilities in my head rather extensively.

Question 6: No question. I would choose dusk every time. I suspect my husband would too. And I would have chosen River, as he did. Forest is great, but you can often get Forest when you choose to follow a River. :)

Question 7: No question. I would choose left every time. I suspect my husband would too, given that he is left handed. As for Heads/Tails… I would have chosen Heads.

So… does anybody have any thoughts on which elements of these Quizzes gave my husband Ravenclaw and me Slytherin? We obviously have a lot of similarities.

I have a lot of thoughts on what put us into our respective Houses (and “random selection” is not among them!), but this post has gone on long enough, so it’s probably time just to conduct the analysis in the Comments thread. Have fun!

Oh, and feel free to post your own quiz questions and responses – and results.

Waiting for Pottermore: checking the spam

Well, here’s a little trip down memory lane… a blog draft that I never actually published.

It has, perhaps, some historical value in that it offers a sense of what the wait for Pottermore was like for the Beta testers who had not yet received their welcome emails. All we could think about was… WHEN AM I GONNA GET THAT STUPID EMAIL?!?!? It was really a lot like watching paint dry.

Here’s a little example of how I killed time while waiting (written August 20, 2011)…

Hey, you know the wait for your Pottermore Welcome email is starting to get to you when you start seeing poetry in the gibberish dumped in your spam filter.

After representation whatsoever of your blogposts I moldiness say i pioneer this particularised one to generally be top nick. I mortal a weblog also and necessary to repost a few shear of your articles on my own diary tract. Should it be alright if I use this as daylong I private reference your web diary or create a incoming linkage to your article I procured the snipping from? If not I make and could not do it without having your tolerance. I [deleted] collection starred this article to cheep and [social network mentioned] calculate motivated for publication. Anyway revalue it either way!

At first, I wondered if it was an honest attempt at communication in a second language. Then I checked the URL the spammer left. Porn site.

So yup, it’s spam alright. But the English is sooooooooo incomprehensible that there’s something  wonderfully surreal about it. I mean, “I moldiness say i pioneer this particularised one to generally be top nick”? Could Monty Python be much funnier than that?

Perhaps I really do belong in Ravenclaw!


Because as the House History tells us… the key quality for being sorted into Ravenclaw House is not merely intelligence but eccentricity. The House prides itself in its independence, intelligence, and eccentricity. After all, it’s the House of Uric the Oddball… and what could be odder than running through the spam filter with comedic intent?

Geez, that Hat had better not sort me into hyper-normal Hufflepuff.

Six days later, the Hat sorted me into Slytherin. And I’ve never looked back!

Pottermore: So What’s in the Trunk?

If you are new to Pottermore and are wondering about what items you can collect, I’m about to give you a list of all the items in my trunk. But I’ll let you figure out where to find them. I don’t want you to miss out on the fun! So just zoom in and out of each scene, and move your cursor around until you find something that lights up in purple… or are sure that there’s nothing there to find.

Since my trunk has a full collection of the trunk items for Book 1, I thought I’d share with you the whole list. I’ve indicated the purchased items with asterisks. The rest were collected… or at least used in some context.

(most of the ones without asterisks will earn you points if you collect them after you get sorted):
Alarm Clock
Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans
Brass Scales***
Brass Telescope***
Crystal Phials***
Dragon Egg
Golden Snitch (you will have to catch this, like Harry does)
Hammer and Nails
Moon Chart***
Old Cup
Postcard from London
Prefect Badge
Rock Cake
Salt and Pepper Shakers
Sea Shell
Shopping List (you will need to find this before you can shop for your school items and get your wand)
Slimy Seaweed
Vault Key (you will need to use this before you can shop for your school items and get your wand)
Winged Key (you will have to catch this, like Harry does)
Wizard Chest Set

Chocolate Frog Cards (all of these will earn you points)
Albus Dumbledore Card
Circe Card
Cliodna Card
Godric Gryffindor Card
Helga Hufflepuff Card
Hengist of Woodcroft Card
Merlin Card
Morgana Card
Paracelsus Card
Rowena Ravenclaw Card
Salazar Slytherin Card

Books (all of the ones without asterisks will earn you points)
A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration***
A History of Magic***
A Study of Recent Developments in Wizardry
Dragon Breeding for Pleasure and Profit
Dragon Species of Great Britain and Ireland
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them***
From Egg to Inferno, a Dragon Keeper’s Guide
Great Wizards of the Twentieth Century
Hogwarts: A History
Important Modern Magical Discoveries
Magical Theory***
Modern Magical History
Notable Magical Names of Our Time
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi***
Quidditch through the Ages

In addition to the items in the trunk, there are 10 findable Galleons lying around. These will earn you points… AND earn you Galleons.

There are also two findable spell books that do not go in your trunk but that earn you points when you find them… and give you a lot of spells that you can use for dueling: The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection and (everybody’s favorite spell book) Curses and Counter-Curses.

And finally, here is a list of the collectible ingredients sitting on my Potions Shelf. The replenishable items can be collected repeatedly – meaning that you never have to purchase these items for your Potions.

Collectible Potions Ingredients (all of these will earn you points)
Bat Spleens
Bezoar (replenishible)
Dried Billywig Stings (replenishable)
Dried Nettles
Eels’ Eyes
Horned Slug
Infusion of Wormwood
Leaping Toadstool
Mistletoe Berries (replenishable)
Salamander Blood
Unicorn Blood
Wolfsbane (replenishable)

I hope these lists are helpful to those who are new to Pottermore.

For those who are not new, please let me know if I’ve missed anything. :)