Things In General

Disruption upon Disruption (the journey back to online)


The temptation to apologize for not blogging as much as I want to is so overwhelming that I’m going to give in – I’m sorry, I really am. There has been (yet) another disruption (- two disruptions if you count the Scottish Referendum, which was totally amazing.)

It’s not (thankfully) another house move that’s blocking my blogging this time. No, this time and perhaps worse – NO INTERNET!
I hear you gasp, sympathetically (I hope). Yes, suddenly on 2 September, the internet as I know it in my building died and will remain dead until, well, it’s a long story and boring unless you have an interest in risers.

It took the usual few weeks to find out what was going on, and then the fun started (I don’t mean sarcastic fun, I’ve enjoyed this). Our riser issue, serious though it is, will be fixed in the fullness of time. The enjoyment has been in finding ways to still have an online life.

This blog post is therefore a triumph! Much more has gone into it than just the words. I’m thoroughly delighted to have had this experience, because it’s furthered one of my aims. Something I wasn’t intending to tackle just yet but it was on the to do list. And that’s to be able to function/work/write/doallmystuff anywhere in the world.

It wasn’t on the agenda for now because, apart from I can’t afford travel the world is not remotely peaceful, and we’re seeing the spread of Ebola too. It’s a rubbish time to be crossing borders and an even worse one for visiting other cultures. Fear and distrust are everywhere and rightfully so. Neither war nor disease can be taken lightly, people seek the protection of their own. So I wasn’t planning to travel and I wasn’t too worried about being online-and-mobile.

But I’m bothered about whether I’m online at all.

So I’ve been having a great time (quack)(don’t worry about the duck will explain later) finding workarounds.

This blog post is being written offline for a start – a habit I kept meaning to get into since it allows me to have a safe, easily accessible archive of my posts. I like WordPress lots, but last time I looked I couldn’t export my content as an easy, convenient .doc. Writing offline also gives me a chance to read and polish – it’s a fault of mine that I shoot posts out at top speed and I think that’s it done. Writing offline is habit I’m glad to develop.

For the online part, I found out all sorts of things. I’ll be uploading this post in a while using a little EE device which gives me mobile broadband. (I call this my ‘brick’ – I don’t think that’s the correct name) I could be uploading this blog post from a beach, whilst sipping mango juice. I won’t be, but I could do it 🙂 !!

Said beach would have to be in the UK and have 3G/4G coverage though. In other words my day-to-day needs are now fully met. It took a while to find this solution and a lot of the other stuff I tried and found out is situationally useful. For example if I fancy a nice cup of tea and a bun (or a meal) out while I work on something, I now have my favorite places I could go that have wireless internet. The gym has broadband attached to the treadmill and treadbicycle, library (what’s left of it) has free internet. All that kind of thing, useful to have it all at my fingertips. Later today I may go and ogle the ships in Leith Harbour. I can be online or offline, as I will. Noice!

Having located wifi sources out there, my android tablet + EE box + usb keyboard + cover/stand = a small app-dependent internet-capable computer. I can’t work with things like Blender on the tablet, but I don’t need to be online to work with Blender. As with this blog, that’s offline work, can be done at home in fluffy slippers and anything that needs uploading I use the little EE brick/go out and find a wifi hotspot. Sorted.

The tablet also works perfectly for such things as logging into a remote server via pUTTY and interacting with that server – there’s a helpful thing. In fact there are only a few things I can’t do using just that.

The EE solution means I’m constrained by a data allowance (took a monthly plan but I’m sure PAYG is possible, and I’m sure there are other providers) and of course, the internet I have this way is slow. It works but it’s slow. Or is it. No it isn’t really that slow. Or rather it might be, but I’ve now discovered that my broadband, cable, supposedly the fastest available was in fact pretty inferior. I already thought that, noticed that speed-checks showed it to be very slow – now it’s proved beyond a doubt. Because with this setup I’m experiencing similar speed. Cost is less with the mobile broadband by the way.

Global trotting would now just mean finding local internet access, the rest is sorted. The tablet + keyboard minicomputer, the phone as emergency backup, the laptop for heavy lifting. A wi-drive for portable storage – all those. Numerous Android apps have been discovered that fill in beautifully for the bloatier Windows “standard” software while I’m out and about. The ‘brick’ can connect up to 10 devices (including our laptops) – I quite like it. It wasn’t too hard to find my way back to the internet but I still want to become one of those wizards who can do it all with a Raspberry Pi and some rubber bands – I’ll keep that as an ambition. Doesn’t seem to be strictly necessary for now. I’m kind of sad about that. On the other hand everything I’m using now works and works together.

I’ve not tried gaming.

And that’s because, to my surprise, more than a month has passed without my playing any online games. None. Nada. Zilch. Ok, I logged into Flutter on my Android, whilst on the bus (oh yes, another discovery – our Edinburgh buses now have wifi). Apart from that absolutely none. The fact that so much time has gone by without me really noticing the absence of big AAA, online games is telling. Clearly, I haven’t missed them.

I could presumably play them now and will try it at some point. No rush. Very tempted to do a great big long ranty list of all the things I’m not missing about the AAA games, but nah. They have decisively lost the battle for my heart, time and money, lettem go.

I can pick out a choice few of the things I’m not missing in some other post – and there are things I am missing, but I have to think about it to notice them.

Oh yes, the duck. I keep hearing quacking in my head if some company advertises a “great job” – apparently this has now crept into any usage of the word “great” as an adjective. Let’s try it. “Great Scott!” Hmmm. No quacking. Oh well that’s a relief.

Categories: Android, Things In General, Useful Things

Big Catchup Post (Part 2) (Fun, fun, fun!)(+ wall of economy warning)

Before that person pops up and says “define fun”, I’ll answer. “No. Here is a definition of ‘arguing definitions’ instead: Arguing definitions will approach a point in the same way that repeating decimals do, they approach closure in increasingly smaller steps without reaching it. Forever.”

This isn’t an essay on fun, but it plays a large part and I don’t want to be stuck poking about trying to figure out what fun is before mentioning it. I will write on the understanding that if you know whether you like marmite sandwiches (or anything else) your fun-o-meter is working perfectly well and you should have no trouble knowing when you are enjoying anything, and should also be able to detect whether you are enjoying something so much that it hits the “fun” calibration.  There war not a definition in sight. And with that out of the way I launch!

Fun is pretty much the thing video games exchange for money and if the studios and publishers kept that firmly in mind, along with the not too difficult concepts “many people” and “fewer people”, they would make a lot more money with a lot less effort.

Illustration no 1 : Pvp is intense fun  for many people. Hardly anyone enjoys being ganked. Gank games can only make money by providing fodder, an expensive business involving (for example) making zones which are for PvE players who must then be lured to their doom. Good (not too ganky)  pvp games live forever though. I’m back visiting WoW. Not for the (post cataclysm) dismal levelling, but to indulge in some pvp. Guild wars 1 is still going because people go and pvp in it. Good pvp is going to bring in money, long term and without extra outlay because an awful lot of people get to enjoy it, compared to only the number of people who like to gank having fun.

Illustration no 2: Many people enjoyed Wrath of the Lich King, fewer people enjoyed Cataclysm. It’s safe to guess that zerging things in WotLK was fun for more people, I should think, and performing perfectly in Cataclysm was fun for fewer. But the costs to the company of creating raids would have still been there, whether they chose to please the few (and made less money) or the many (and made more money).

So it’s a fairly simple correlation to figure out, and I’m pretty sure people making games do recognise it at first. And then. Do  they get frightened by the sneering?  “Dumbed-down”, “casual”, “care-bear”, ring any bells? (Hey I got news for all you so-called hard-nosed business people. If ya can’t stare down a sneer because you can see past it to a fat bottom line, you’re not very good at business.)

There is also the argument that a branded name of hamburger is very popular but not good quality. True. Does fun come in graded qualities? You can force some system of measurement to the quality of fun, I daresay. I think I’ll leave that for the few people who think imposing a qualitative measure on “fun” is a worthwhile thing to do with their lives. Meanwhile, here in real, popularity is a pretty useful measure in video-games of how much money they will earn, just as it is in the hamburger business.

And finally there are the infinite obstacles, small and large, inserted into gaming in the name of monetisation. Fun, pretty much, gets lost in that mix. All too often the players and the game are competing for the same resource, a competition the game will always win – zero fun in that. This is structural and I’ll do a post later on it. Essentially: all the subtle variations of buy to win. The game sellers are always going to prefer that you pay them money for something over you play for something, and are in a position to nerf gameplay in favour of a sale.

Which brings me raither neatly to the fact that we’ve been having more fun in older games than in newer ones, something I’m sure a few readers will have noticed at the end of my last post. The newer games, the 2014-ish launches are absolutely not lacking in production quality. They are fabulous from that standpoint. And fun is not lacking either, but it’s gated. And that means fewer people, and that means less sales. Which is fine. A nice “interesting choice” for the companies involved. Bottom line though we’d rather fire up Terraria  here in this house than struggle with a thin economy in ESO. We’d rather romp about in EQ2 than battle to get FABkits in Wildstar, new and shiny though it is. It’s a pretty consistent thread of preference. We’re gaming, there to enjoy, and we play what delivers.

So here’s our current “Fun List” with all the fun parts attached and some things I found interesting bolded. You never know a strolling dev might come by and find an angle!

Skyrim: No surprise I’m sure. I love this game. I log in, I lose myself completely. I’ve got things to do and NPC’s to meet. It looks fantastic! I can kill dragons. I’m not simulating me. It has weather, I own a house (or three), Lydia is quite the most interesting pet I’ve ever come across, My wealth increases as I play, plus I get to loot treasure, or steal it. It has tales of epic adventure and intrigue. I get to use all the best weapons, the best enchantments and read all the books. There is no preferred playstyle.  Anyone who logs in gets to play the full game and play for all the best shinies.

Terraria: I already bolded this for Skyrim: There is no preferred playstyle in Terraria either. That’s probably a feature of single-player games really, where basically if you don’t deliver Fun (capital F) you plotz because there aren’t any other things to distract from the “client pays money, client receives fun” transaction. Terraria is also loved because: It’s deep, deep, deep. And because it’s quirky and funny. There is much discovery and exploration. I love that I can sit in a mud hut with a campfire while zombies batter the walls futilely to get at me – such a cosy feeling (!). It has atmosphere (and achieves this with pixel graphics). Crafting is completely relevant. I’m going to do a post on crafting rather than detail here but the essential is preffered-playstyles kill it. (Because if your raiders/pvpers/guilds/whatnot are getting all the good stuff, it leaves crafted items with no value.)

I’m still playing Wildstar but pretty much on the strength of the combat now, and unsub isn’t too far off. The addon that adjusts FOV helped my headaches enough to reach level 14 and I do have a house. It’s quite nice, all presets but cute enough, but there’ll be a struggle to do anything with it. I’ll be unsubbing for almost the same reason I unsubbed from ESO – stingy economy. In this case I can trade openly which is a relief, but thar’s a big problem Huge. I think I now know where all the austerity economists are hanging out. They’ve attached themselves to video gaming. It’s the exact same thing. Inadequate earnings, unavoidable and rising expenses. Unlike in real life though “austerity” in a game can be avoided by walking. I probably will. I do enjoy the combat in Wildstar – same thing as ESO in combat I don’t move like a slug while the mobs whizz around and that’s lovely. I think this game is pretty solid really and no reason it shouldn’t do well unless it… forgets to make sure that plenty of  fun is there for the many in it’s quest to captivate raiders.

I am not sure that describing Uemeu as a game does it justice. It is more like a toolset. It has, in fact, become a tool for me. In (yet another) post already written in my head, I’ll detail where we’re at with …Thingie (our long long long-term project). Briefly: there are apps and programs we use to explore ideas and prototype. Uemeu is the fastest way I know to for example, lay out a city, or check what the physics will look like when something happens. It’s pretty amazing and I’m totally enjoying watching it develop. But the fun part: it’s so open-ended. I have fun by sitting down for an hour or two and just playing with the infinite customisation. I can literally spend a week just fooling about with one composite shape (it’s been known) or a simple shape for that matter, or a lot of both. Or a world. Or portals. Or traps. Or miniquests. Or springs. Or all of them.  Or the new things. There are always new things. In as much as it’s a game, it’s a game where you build things. Worlds can be linked, multiplayer if not already fully implemented is possible. Sometimes the team run player-sessions where you can see this in action. There’s a lot to write about on this one, and I’ll be using that new patch as an excuse 🙂

And I’m leaving Neverwinter for the next post because this one’s pretty long, and I’d like to do some detail with Neverwinter, since it is the only game I know that actually gets the time/money relationship, amongst other things. It jolly well deserves a good look and a thorough pick-aparting.

Last words: Fun is subjective. This makes people who like things in boxes, and in measured quantities run for miles and miles, screaming and waving their arms! That alone makes fun a valuable thing.

Here endeth the second wall of text.




Categories: Fruit Salad, Game Design and Creation, Things In General, Vague Rambly Stuff

Big Catchup Post (what I played, where I’m at) (+ a lot of rambling) (Part 1)

Some extra news: Uemeu is due to release a new patch later this week – and it’s quite a special one,  judging by this video Woh.

I have 8 blog posts, I counted them, circling in my head like aeroplanes waiting to land. But before I embark on those, which are in fact all written with only the writing missing, I am going to gather all the small, disparate bits and bobs that are also sitting in my head marked (wistfully) “blog?” and do a Blah. Here it is then :

It has been an astonishingly busy year, but not much has happened. The busy is mostly people treadmilling harder and harder to stay afloat. Much activity, hardly any movement. People want to see you more often, more forms need filling in, whatever it people do, they’ve been doing it *more* for all they’re worth. Bless. Roughly every two weeks, something has fallen apart too. Cuts in staff do that. (It has taken over a year for some totally routine passport stuff to make it’s way through a backlogged system). Having to field the problems all this causes is death to productivity but wahey everyone’s very very busy so that’s ok then. Wee grumble there. Predictably everyone is also very very tired – punchdrunk I call it. So the summer hols are rolling in not a second too late. And with the make-busies all off their treadmills or winding down, space and time have expanded, and I can blog. Yay!

As always my sanity has been preserved and protected and safely girded in the Legendary Armour of Armourness by being able to log into a game when the day’s work is done. Gaming keeps my wits in and my countenance serene in a way that passive media just cannot.  Actually the passive stuff just induces impotent fury. One thing I won’t be blogging in detail about is the Independence Referendum here in Scotland. It’s little known, but the rules regarding blogging/tweeting about it in the run up to the day are very catch-all. So far nobody has cited them, but its Power with a capital p that this referendum is about, big wheels gnashing, not everything totally fair or square. On the other hand I can’t exactly ignore something so huge, so there will be general comments.

I’m pretty sure I AM allowed to say that the debate has been amazing. The debate really has been amazing. If you give people a whiff of democracy, they perk up no end! The main media has been using the tired Tribal model to report our referendum like some sporting event, (gnnnnh ! (err that was impotent fury)). I stay away. I can tell you faithfully from here, in the middle of it, on the ground, that what I’m seeing is nothing so infantile. I see people finding stuff out, thinking stuff through, and having lively interesting discussions about just about every aspect of our governance. It’s a privilege to be here at this time, and I get more accurate news from Twitter by now anyway.

My how I used to hate Twitter. But now it’s something I don’t think I could do without. Interactive peer-reviewed news suits me perfectly well. It’s fine. And it’s weird. I did used to sit in a chair for hours, idle, passive, watching like… it’s strange to think of watching TV now. What a peculiar thing to do. I haven’t unpacked mine yet. I haven’t watched it for think 3 years or so. It isn’t missed. The set itself is ancient too (pre-switchover whatever that was) and won’t be replaced.

No, Chickens, when I want relax I go computer! And the gaming’s been great. Added to that our long-saved for computer has opened some new doors. So between Twitter and video-gaming my sanity has been perfectly safe. And now I get to write about it too – truly life is wonderful! There’s a lot of ground to cover. I have been playing new games and old games and games that are still being made. I have discovered Skyrim! And I am totally besotted with it! And as a result I’m gradually reaching a grudging state of not minding too much about Steam. Which is now having a sale, so even more games there. I’ve discovered Android gaming. It’s been wild, I tell you, wild! And relaxing 🙂

I’ll start with the new games that I don’t intend to do whole blogposts about, but “I was there at the beginning so here’s what I thought” is what I’d like to write. Those would be Landmark, Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar.

I played a little of the alpha on Landmark, and I’ll visit again when it’s properly launched. It’s very pretty, and looks to become a nice game, but I stopped playing quite fast – two reasons. One, having to hold the left mouse button for ages to chop wood – it made my fingers hurt.  I know there was a workaround (I could have adjusted my hardware) but I wasn’t gripped enough to do that. And Two, (this is silly) my avatar’s legs reminded me of milk bottles (thin thighs, big whitish sausagey calves). The mouse problem is maybe solved by now, at least I hope so. I’m not sure I’m ever going to get over the sausagey calves but I’ll try.  (I know it’s silly, but it was that thing. Where once you’ve noticed something it keeps attracting your attention.) When I was playing all the building tools and interfaces weren’t working properly yet, though some were there. I think mainly for this game I’ll try it when it’s done. It was ok. It is a pleasant-looking world and building is right up my street. I’m not sure about the procedural generation. I have a feeling the human brain needs a lot of elements to feel interested. I climbed hills to find more of the same, but then player-made structures will presumably change that, and give places a more unique feel. We’ll see. It’s on the “try a few months later” list.

I very much liked the Elder Scrolls Online. It does not have the visceral grip of Skyrim which literally reached out of the screen and pulled me into that world the first time I played, but ESO is a fine game and there were many things I really loved about it. Yet, I hit the unsub button. The economy is thin. Players earn little ingame coin and spend much. Inventory, mounts and repairs. As in real life, if people can’t thrive and survive on what they can earn legitimately they find other ways – I’ve never seen so many bots!

Usually one would manage to garner extra ingame currency via an Auction House, trading with other players, but in this game there’s a wall. At the time I was playing I would have had to belong to a guild which could then trade with some other guilds. I read that this is some notion about localising markets. Well, they are localised right enough. To the extent that non-guilded players are barred.

Well, I am a busy woman. I do not have time to join and maintain relationships in one  guild let alone five. Which meant (at time of playing) I couldn’t do AH trade.  And that last point was the Unsub.

My self-esteem just isn’t low enough to pay full price (and a sub at that) for a gimp. I am delighted that guildy people have a guildy game, but I won’t be humbly subsidising the preferred-playstyle anytime soon. At least not on a regular basis. ESO is on the “visit sometime” list.

I do want to play this. That’s because the weather is fantastic, the lore is huge and satisfying, there are critters! and I for one liked the combat. In particular I liked this about the combat: my avatar did not move like slug while the mobs moved like quickfish. Well, it did, but the differential wasn’t as big as is usual in other games. I found, that if I had been playing ESO then played another game, it was very very noticeable that the enemy got to move normally or fast, and I was moving. in. slow. motion. The ESO balance feels far more natural and enjoyable. I like this game. Pity I’m not the kind of player they want. About that “visit sometime” list. WoW is on that list. It’s been 4 years since I played it. I’m back now having a visit. As more games appear the turnaround takes longer. The “visit sometime” list is a bit of a dusty attic.

The third new and big game I played was Wildstar. I think Wildstar is going to be a winner. I’m still subbed but I do have a problem. I’m one of the unfortunates that gets a bad headache from the display. I like the game enough to have tweaked my graphics card settings every which way and later today I’ll try the addon that adjusts FOV but I truly cannot play it for more than 15 minutes without inducing a pounding, horrid 7 hour headache. Quite bad. The plan is to limp along until I manage to get a house (at level 14 I think it is) and then make a decision about whether to keep subbed. Mostly, and all importantly, the game is FUN. It’s engaging, there is plenty to do, and the combat pulls me in. It’s like “one more chocolate”, the combat. I’m playing a medic. My progress is slow due to having to stop after 10/15 minutes, but I’m definitely enjoying this journey and if I do unsub, it will be with huge regret.

I want to add that I’m not keen on the Wildstar graphics as they are right now (on personal taste grounds). But I’m also not sure how much (or if) they contribute to the headache issue. Cartoony is fine. I am absolutely loving how I feel as if I’m playing a Pixar type movie, but the palette is very strident indeed.  A house is always an attraction for me but got to say living in a 3d-but-flatter, neon world detracts. I’m not one for going home to a road-workers’-jacket coloured garden, or acid pink anything 🙂 Well, maybe I’ll surprise myself. I’ll let you know when I get that house. My tweaked graphics save my sensibilities from luridness, for now. But it is clear that some tolerances perhaps shouldn’t be exceeded when it comes to displays – something I was only dimly aware of before. I did know that flickering in some displays can cause epileptic fits, but never realised there might be other things that could be harmful. Live and learn.

Quick note: most enjoyed and regularly played PC games right now: Skyrim, Uemeu, Terraria, Skyrim, Wildstar, Neverwinter, and more Skyrim. Yes, besotted is the word.

Here’s some of the what I call the ‘Referendum Effect’. Instead of just writing this blog I ended up having a solid think about health and safety, since two of the games are currently uncomfortable to play and would cause me harm if I continue, albeit probably minor harm.  I think Health and Safety Regulations get bad press for foolishness, but I don’t trust any company to keep me healthy and safe. I want those regulations. If they are silly, let’s change them! Meanwhile I hope both Landmark and Wildstar get more comfortable to play. (Landmark may have already sorted the hold-down-left-mousebutton-for-far-too-long thing, I have not been checking).

Going to leave it there for now because this is already a wall o’text.

(and Saor Alba)





Categories: Fruit Salad, Oddments, Things In General

The Dust Settles (housemove)

First and before anything I want to say sorry to the people whose comments I didn’t manage to answer while we did all the heaving and shoving. In my world if someone takes the time and trouble to speak to you, it’s a naughty thing not to take the time and trouble to listen and respond, so heartfelt sorries from me for that. (Of course some people open their mouths to release nonsense too – but if I hadn’t learned to deal with that somewhere along the line, I’d not have lived eh. That doesn’t happen very often though, and generally a thank you to everyone who gives me the time of day is how I feel about people who are kind enough to comment here.)

Very relieved I am that all this is over now, I must say and happy to be back here blogging, almost as usual. There’s a lot still to organise. We don’t have beds! So I suppose that’s a priority, sort of (hehe). I rather awfully don’t mind sleeping on the floor and am not inclined to hurry on that, but I realise other people aren’t as daft. I’m also not the worlds most enthusiastic shopper (understatement) and will have to make a special effort – ugh. I’ll do it next after writing this.

There was a ton going on between moving and being in the middle of Edinburgh during the Festival and gaming suffered bigtime. Poor laptop – it’s not been the same since it crashed while trying to load Vanguard while the servers were down. I know they’ve been doing some work on networking for Vanguard and maybe that contributed to the crash. Anyway down she went, and I couldn’t fix. Not because I couldn’t fix, but because I couldn’t get in to my own system. A fiendish combination of UAC (aged lappy is still Vista) and AVG meant that not even a chkdsk was possible. It would load as far as the AVG files then stop. AVG may not be the culprit, they swear they aren’t (but then they would), but that’s what happened. As a result I’ve discovered the wonderful world of boot USB’s but I lacked the time to really sort out a solution, and in the end took my beastie to a professional for a much needed clean and blast of air and to get the hard drive reformatted safely.

After that Wurm wouldn’t work. It still doesn’t, GW1 had the 2x Windows Media Player running in the background again (and I still haven’t remembered how I disabled it). Plus my down arrow key doesn’t work (but that’s due to wear and tear). I’m fond of my laptop and my computer professional person is looking for a replacement keyboard as I write. To cut story short, all my games need their little tweaks and workarounds redone, and I just don’t have the time.

But EQ2 still runs and I’ve played that a lot – certainly enough to justify a sub. That will continue now until other games come creeping back over time, but then I’ll unsub. If you play a lot, a sub is not bad value. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. The price point is wrong in my opinion, but my explanation will look like err, something only I could come up with: 15monetary unit/month only translates to .50monetary unit/day after a moment’s thought. In the first split second it comes across as daysinthemonth x2 (i.e.60)  monetaryunit per month and that impression stubbornly persists, against all math and logic and has to be re-undone every time I think 15monetaryunit. That will be because of how my brain works of course and I’ve no idea if anyone else shares the same reflex. At the risk of seeming even stranger another example is: 10monetary unit/month: first impression = “only 10!” – no calculation at all you will note, followed by “do I like this game 10monetaryunit everymonth much?”  I think the point I’m making mostly is that price point is a lot about how people subjectively budget or see numbers. If you don’t have some kind of personal relationship with numbers, I should think I can be safely ignored.

On the other hand a personal relationship with numbers does have some merits – I have an arithmetic system that is based on how I personally think about numbers. It goes “hmmm I don’t like that number I’ll change it to one of my favourites” plus some reverse engineering at the end. This works just fine and is very quick unless you’re  unfortunate enough to get yourself in a position where you have to add up columns, for which I have a different system(aha!)  (or grab a calculator works too).

How did I get on that subject? Oh, probably by trying to avoid shopping for beds.

Categories: Things In General

Apologies for the gap in service!

I am about to embark on house move no.2 back to my normal reside and the ancient laptop succumbed to one Blue Screen of Death too many and had to go to the vet. It is back now poor thing, convalescing and sulking in equal measure, having developed a nervous network error tic from the shock which is playing havoc, havoc I tell you with my normal online life. Wurmonline also now mysteriously (or maybe not) refuses to run – but I don’t have time to catch you up completely just now. I have been huddling, positively huddling in eq2 because it has kept working throughout all this and it has earned itself a sub for a few months for that – I know there’s a sub debate on, but I assure you this is coincidental and has more to do with security blankets than any detailed and interesting thoughts on payment models. I will be bahck when the boxes are shifted and everything is connected up again to my satisfaction!

Sorry rushed post and apologies also for unattended comments.

Categories: Things In General

On the Move (real life)

I have to get everything I own completely packed by 8.30 am tomorrow. No pressure then eh. It is mostly done, I have studiously decluttered and boxed things over the past couple of years, the process has eaten almost all of my spare time, yet somehow now the “last bits” just never seem to end. I guess it’s going to be an allnighter.

On the good side I have working internet at my destination. Service will resume when I have recovered – and I can finally burble here about plant pots and Wurm 1.1, going back home to Vanguard, and going even more home to EQ2 where daughter has purchased herself some kind of glade-cave which looks, as she puts it “aaahsum”.

It would be wonderful to get back to PlanetGardenShed too – but life has an unpleasant way of commandeering all my time – and I do mean every moment – for the most horrible looping activities instead. Ugh. Still, I can hope. At least the packing will be over. It remains to see what will leap into it’s place.

I’m very tired 😦

Categories: Things In General

I’m sorry I was so resistant to Twitter!

I hope I didn’t call it the work of the devil ….errr…. yes, well. I have been using it for a couple of months now and it’s really quite sweet. It does a very nice job indeed of aggregating news sources in a superbly concise format and saves me loading sites that are heavily overburdened with ads and tracking software (not only exploitative but o so sloooooooow).

It also does an extremely good job of letting me know when something is happening, far, far faster and more efficiently than the kingmakers (our mainstream media). If there is misinformation, there is no shortage of people quick to correct – which is no surprise.  The few with a mission aside, most people prefer truth and accuracy. (Yay for people!) I don’t have any apps yet – that’s still to be explored. If anyone knows any good ones I’m willing to have a look and give ’em a whirl. The bus remains my cleanest source of news, since I can filter it via how well I know the person talking but Twitter adds a new window to the world, which is welcome.

In particular, I like the way it undermines the kingmaker-media completely. I suggest they stop believing their own selves and have a good gander at what their potential customers really think. Might find it something of an eye opener (giggle) – and a rather large clue as to why their influence is waning and their sales are foundering. Still on the subject of the kingmakers I suggest they find a personable lefty to be nice to and rather quickly 🙂 – the right, right, right and right are not grabbing the public’s imagination in quite the way intended.

I’m in such a good mood today. I really don’t mind being wrong and admitting it – it actually cheers me up, it’s just like losing a wart. Now for some more Neverwinter!

Categories: Oddments, Things In General

Yay for young people with brainssss

gzzzz on your celebrity young man, you completely and utterly deserve it!

Categories: Oddments, Shorts, Things In General

Cucumber Eye Frizbees

When this family began, the first baby could only just about hold a mouse. Yes, as soon as they could do that they were exploring mimmies computer along with everything else the great world had to offer. It was part of the scene and part of their new little lives along with dandelions, clouds, peas, stones, butterflies and everything else. Then after that we went into about seven years of intense crafting. The productivity of the young is stupendous by the way.

This house became a truly wondrous cave full of glue and sculptures, paint and pictures. Clay, salt dough, old sprirographs collected from charity shops, rescued barbies, rocks, homemade kites, cardboard houses, collages, stars, moons, suns, butterflies, fluffy toys, things that talked to you when you stood on them at midnight, spiders, seedlings, meandering crayons, poetry, practice writing, drawings, paintings. I seldom left the house without glitter in my hair or opened my handbag without distributing sequins upon all and sundry. I liked it very much 🙂 – I think you can tell.  A lot of time was spent clearing workspaces, organising the general production and finding places for everything. The kind of housework I truly do not mind.

About 5 years into that crafting phase school erosion began in earnest, and although crafting continued unabated for a while, mental escape became more of an issue. This happens to us all I think. So, the focus shifted. Suddenly there grew piles of books, an interest in handheld gaming toys. Things that allow you to escape for a little while to another world and have some headspace that isn’t to do with grades, friends, competition. Discretely (and a bit sadly) I began storing the best of the crafted and gently steering the need for a mental haven into making a game ourselves as documented pretty much in this blog. Nothing too hefty, all more exploration and experiment. And above all everyone here and anyone that ventured in was encouraged to play!!!

This paid off of course – is it really all that surprising? The grades of my gamers are uniformly excellent, and years in maths are skipped. Etc. Games make you think, whether playing or creating them. So, that lasted a goodly while too, and now it’s teenagers, and the computer is fading. It looks like it’s going to be a few years of creating our own cosmetics, and otherwise developing personal style. They are finding themselves. (I will continue computer work in the background – I’ve discovered a couple of gaps in the schooling. Plus, I think I just like it.)This is also (as also documented) the best time to deconstruct, declutter and generally redo everything ready for their early adulthood, and my bit where they go off and do own thing. I solo half the time as it is, so that’s not going to be a big strain but at this point I can make my domestic environment more conducive to the things I like. What a lot of words. I’m having a big redo in preparation for the next years.

I will not write our eye-frizbee recipe fully since it didn’t quite work out (cucumber, green tea and witchhazel are what is in it). It was meant to be eye-gel. It smells great! And is quite nice to hold in one’s hand… very cool and smooth, but I think we should try again hahaha – oooo fun! I do hope I’m in for five years of cosmetic production to match the crafting and computer/book phases.

This weekend – avocado!

Categories: Comparisons, Introductions, Oddments, Things In General, Vague Rambly Stuff

Arg the heating

has packed in. I’ve made sure everyone is somewhere else (mostly grandma’s) and am holding the fort solo. I have an electric storage thing that will keep me warm, so it’s not too bad. Even so I’m in my hoodie. Being visited by people with soup. I refuse to call anyone out because it is Easter Sunday, of course. The funny thing is it was serviced last week. In this day of digital aids perhaps gas companies can time your boiler to fail during times when you will be charged double or triple for callouts??? hmmm…. Come to think of it tinfoil under the hoodie might work quite well and conserve heat. Whether it is a conspiracy is irrelevant. I’m still not calling anyone out until Tuesday.

I liked the format of the 3am post yesterday with the headings, so going to try using it again. (I’m being persuaded to abandon ship here, but meh, I’m ok. Plus still tired and in need of another peaceful day.) Figured out what’s wrong with yesterdays post – some fights are too big, plus there are just too many of them. Fights I mean – not tinfoil kind of “them”. To sum it up I’m worried how things are going in Britain but don’t fancy being squished in crossfire anytime soon. Ranting here is futile too. Most of the stuff needs to be settled through the courts at high levels. Meanwhile I strengthen the good things in life where I find ’em and keep an eye out for non-leech stragglers eh, that suits my temperament better anyway.

There is one thing I’d probably work to see improved – when the littlies are all grown and safe. That’ll be some time yet though. It’s a white fury issue with me, never mind red mist – I personally would be happy to see children’s social work dismantled one paperclip at a time and replaced with something that’s accountable, competent, properly monitored and effective. Too many failures. Of many kinds.  I’m stopping right there on the subject though. Now isn’t the time, and again, a rant here is futile.


It’s a perfect day for Wurm. I must say it’s nice to have 2 wild pigs come up and nose about while I fix a wall. The hunting cave looks like it’s worth expanding a little now too.


I’m having another go at all the paperwork while it’s peaceful round here. Thinning out old bills, tying up with string and depositing in mauve document boxes (hopefully never to be seen again !).

Vanguard (vital information!!)

Never mind the ultimate build, here’s how to move the store icon around the screen. Worth it’s weight in gold this. Thankyou, thankyou!!

Categories: Things In General, Vague Rambly Stuff

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