Category Archives: General

The week in review

This week I’ve started back at work after two weeks off. It takes about a week to completely flush things out of my head and actually focus completely on family and other projects.

The saga continues to get the car completely imported to Spain. Even though we kicked off the process last year, it needs some work done to pass the ITV – which includes putting EU fog lights in the front and rear of the car. We found a good garage but it takes a fair old bit of time to get there. I only really have Fridays to work on this, and a half day at that, so it’s taking longer that expected.

I’ve been battling the second week of a winter cold as well this week which really bites. Lots of coughing and not being able to breath through my nose. Not covid but probably flu.

Watching

I watched ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery‘ the other week and really enjoyed it. I followed up this week watching the original ‘Knives Out‘. I watched it when it came out but felt it was worth a revisit for the pacing and cast. I do love an ensemble cast.

Speaking of ensemble casts, I’m up to season five of The Office (US). I never really had an opportunity to watch it when it originally aired as I was living im the UK. It’s funny to be watching this after watching Brooklyn 99 – there are similar beats throughout.

I was surprised to see that there’s a Pokémon TV app available for the Nintendo Switch. We found it advertised in a recent card pack and downloaded it for free. You can watch just about every single episode of Pokémon in there, including the seasons that are no longer available on Netflix.

Playing

Apart from my regular Friday night Rocket League game with my friends, I started revisiting the Batman Arkham games on the Steam Deck this Christmas. I had long wished to replay Arkham Origins, but it’s been missing from all the Arkham collections over the years due to being made by two different game publishers. Chronologically it takes place before Arkham Asylum. I’ve seen it available to play on PlayStation’s streaming service but even with a high speed line and a decent tv, the prospect kind of sucks. I was pleased to pick it up for a couple of Euros from CD Keys last month instead.

On top of that I’ve got Rollerdrome for quick plays. The gameplay is like Jet Set Radio meets SSX with the fast-paced shooting I’m used to when I played Quake. The art style is vibrant, gritty and with a minimal palette. I love it.

On occasion I’ll pick up Vampire Survivors, but I have a real dopamine addiction problem with that game.

We rounded off the week with a trip to the beach, to fly our kite and get our feet wet.

Two quick links for Wednesday

Why ‘Bluey’ Resonates with Adults, Too As I’ve evolved into a parent in my mid-forties, cartoons have similarly grown into a more mainstream medium acceptable on both sides of the kid/grown-up age divide. But Bluey is different. My partner and I often stay up watching episodes by ourselves and also with the kids. It’s mature enough for adults, playful enough for kids (and vice versa) and makes me want to ‘Be More Bandit’.

Stanford Scientists Warn That Civilization as We Know It Is Ending It’s not that the world is ending, it’s that our version of it is. The Earth will go on… us maybe not so much.

Vampire Survivors

I treated myself to a Steam Deck after finding one secondhand on my last trip to London. Since then I’ve been re-discovering all of the Steam games that I piled up on my account for the last however-many years – as well as playing some that were either price-prohibitive or unavailable on consoles.

Enter Vampire Survivors, which has been out for a while and ticks every single one of my ADHD-dependent dopamine receptors. It’s simple as hell, only employing use of the left analog stick as you dodge and weave to destroy waves of the undead and then retrace steps to gather XP gems to level your character. Every time you level up, you can choose where to allocate your point – upgrade an existing weapon perhaps, acquire a new one, or allocate to defence etc. It sounds simple and gameplay can be pretty unforgiving, but then you get situations like this:

I am a GOLDEN GOD.

Vampire Survivors is available pretty much everywhere. Check it out.

Midjourney: Portal to another world, Lovcraftian horror

I’ve been playing a lot with Midjourney lately, trying to see what – after image generation – can be done with it. It’s been a source of some amusement on our Discord group. I think sometimes the simpler commands can yield the best results, such as the above, which only went through one variation before I was happy with the results.

I’ve also seen that people with a strong background in how filters, lens and other aspects of photography are getting some incredibly detailed images out. I only wish that the export resolutions were a bit larger.

iOS Shortcuts: Personal soundtrack

Over on Reddit I posted three ‘soundtrack’ shortcuts that I run on my Apple Watch and play through the watch’s speaker.

🔗 What a blockhead!: Plays a snippet from ‘Christmas Time is Here’ by the Vince Guaraldi Trio – also known as the ‘sad Charlie Brown music’ used in Arrested Development. Use when you need to leave a room in a dejected manner.

🔗 Horsey ride!: Plays the theme music from ‘Bonanza!’. Use when, like me, you need to give one of your children a horsey ride.

🔗 Theme from Police Squad!: Plays the intro to ‘Police Squad!’ by the Tom Kubis Big Band. Use for when you really need to make an entrance.


You’ll need to make sure you know how to allow untrusted shortcuts on your iOS device before adding these.

Book Aid International “Book of the Month” – How to Think Like a Coder Without Even Trying!

I’m incredibly delighted and proud that Book Aid International has chosen “How to Think Like a Coder: Without Even Trying!” as their Book of the Month:

“The fun exercises it includes can easily be done at home, in the library or the classroom without the need for a computer. As a result, this book will be an invaluable resource for community libraries and schools that do not have ICT facilities (or even electricity) but which want to give young readers and learners the opportunity to keep up with their counterparts across the world.”

Copies of “How to Think Like a Coder…” will be distributed to many of their partners with community library networks including the Uganda Community Library Association’s libraries.
Book Aid International works with public, community and prison libraries to ensure the books they provide are available to all without discrimination. They also work to increase the support available to people as they begin to read by training librarians and teachers.
More information on “How to Think Like a Coder: Without Even Trying!” is available here and here.

Speaking at the Bradford Literature Festival 2019

I will be taking part in the Bradford Literature Festival next month, and speaking about How to Think Like a Coder and some other coding-related topics:

Bradford Literature Festival was formed in 2014 to create a cultural and literary extravaganza celebrating the written and spoken word. The festival curates an atmospheric blend of voices, combining the work of leading writers, performers and poets with emerging talent. In 2017, over 350 events took place across 10 days, capturing the hearts and imaginations of more than 50,000 people.

We are passionate about education; inspiring a love affair with words and boosting literacy is at the heart of all our public and schools events. The festival’s schools initiative, which runs alongside the general programme, holds free events for students throughout the Bradford District. In 2017 our events engaged and inspired more than 12,000 young people.

It promises to be a great opportunity – really looking forward to it!