Friday, November 17, 2017

Checking in

Just checking in, it's been a while since I posted again.

I have ideas that pop into my head for posting but they tend to flee before I get back to my keyboard.

It was the birthday this week and this fella arrived :
Awesome isn't it ? Love him.
There he is, poking his head out of the bag so he can watch Thor Ragnarok. If you haven't seen that film yet, go see it. It goes out of its way to not take itself seriously and I think it's accessible too for those who haven't seen all of the Marvel movies. Like I have. It's huge fun. Thor, that is, some of the Marvel movies have been a bit poor and lose their fun.

Yep. Monday was a great evening.

Should be a good weekend too.

It'll take a certain toll on my outsides but I've had a couple of good weeks there. Not great weeks because I have a few delicate areas on my legs that are remarkably easy to redamage but good consistent healing is happening.

I need to read more actually. I have Leviathan Wakes (Book 1 of the Expanse) by James S A Corey on the iPad/Kindle and Revenger by Alastair Reynolds in paperback. And that's just the newest books.

Games and game watching are still how I occupy most of my time. Monday was busy but Tuesday and Wednesday were game watching instead of playing. Tireds are catching up to me at the moment. The main game at the moment is Stellaris ... still :-).

I may have broken myself on Stellaris though by reverting to Corvette swarms. Maybe not though. The latest game has come to a conclusion though. My race of spiritualist warrior psychics were quite happily taking over the parts of the galaxy they wanted to. They were having trouble taking on the ancient Fallen Empires but that was going to come in time. I made a mistake with one of my traps, so that big engagement didn't go as it should have.

However ... on came the Unbidden. And the Contingency.

The game has what Iain M Banks called Outside Context Problems. In the late game, it can spice things up by bringing out an End Game Crisis. The Unbidden are invaders from another dimension and the Contingency is where rogue AIs attempt to wipe out all life in the galaxy. There is also the Prethoryn Scourge.

It turns the end game away from effectively a mopping up operation into an actual challenge. It's the first time I've taken the game far enough to run into a crisis. I'm usually far more interested in the early building phase although in this game, I was getting a lot of enjoyment from having the AI fall into traps that I'd set for them. Using the noggin to turn engagements the way of my people, things like that.

As someone once said : If it's a case of dying for your country, make the other guy die for his country, the one you're fighting. Or something like that.

Anyway, the Unbidden came and started obliterating everything. I think part of the problem is a balance mod I was using, which also made the Fallen Empires too strong. I have a different mod in mind this time which alters the ship types.

But I should really play some other games before diving back into Stellaris. I haven't been back in Elite for a while, I'm currently listening to a Zombie Defence strategy game called They Are Billions which sounds amazing and there are a few more that are coming soon which sound great.

Like the Surviving Mars. I'm expecting this to be something better than the game Planetbase, which I enjoyed chilling out to as the colony grew. And Astrobase Command, which looked promising enough to join in with the kickstarter. And I expect I will acquire the space crime game, Heat Signature, in the sales. Frostpunk is a post apocalyptic survive the deep freeze game.

And I'd like to record some more gameplay videos too.

Yep. Tired. But still enjoying. And it was a :

Monday, November 06, 2017

Timewarping again

It definitely feels like there's something messing with time at the moment.

Oh and ...
It's almost that time again ...

Nooo ! I don't mean Xmas. Nope. Birthday season again. I'm not telling how old I'll be. Let's just say that if you count the age on fingers, I need lots of help. That's not so bad though. Or is it ? (Haha)

I do feel more and more these days that my body is my enemy. My outsides are steadily improving, very slowly but definitely improving. That's a combination of leaving it alone a little more and figuring out adequate ways of protecting it. The biggest issue is that one of the damaged bits will hit a threshold where it is just damaged enough .... and then it'll get worse very quickly. The protection helps to put a brake on it getting worse. Most of the time. Perversely though, the usual advice of "put pressure on the leaking bit" is bad ... as pressure can actually make my damaged bits worse.

But it is getting better. It would be good to be finally rid of this malaise that's slowed me down far too much over recent years.

It's not just my outsides though. My leg muscles were my biggest asset when playing cricket, now they feel like they're out to get me. Lots of cramp and that cramp leading to painful minitears in those muscles that get hugely sore.

My ouchies at the moment are those legs that are out to get me, a side that is suffering from strain and/or more cramp and a shoulder that periodically feels disconnected again.

And then an energy state that is ... somewhat lacking too.

I did ponder doing the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year but quickly abandoned those plans, partly due to what I was getting up to last week ... My week pattern is usually throw myself into work, tire myself out and chill out in the evenings. On Nov 1, it was a cinema run ... can't remember what I was doing on Friday.

(Thor Ragnarok - go see it, it's huge fun).

No. Ideas are there and I should really write up a few of them but when I get home in the evenings, I want to chill out. I suspect that's showing in the much lower frequency of posts lately. More ideas are coming actually from watching things like Ice Road Truckers, where they struggle to deliver loads via roads that are only passable when there is ice to even them out. And then there's Stellaris ...

The latest game sees me trying out the new rules coming about faster than light travel between stars. I have a warrior monk race that's been a bit slow starting up. The first war against the neighbours ended in disaster. But they're a challenger now after 3 wars that very definitely went our way. I'm curious as to where this game goes, it's good in a strategy game when you can reverse a bad start and come out ahead through better strategy.

Stellaris is responsible for a bit of timewarping too. I can start it up in the afternoon on a weekend and before I know it, it's dark and I'm late getting my tea.

But back to good times.

Yep. Birthday next week, Xmas markets open before then. I have plans ....

Friday pm should see me checking out the Xmas market here in Bristol. I miss the old Sausage-Inna-Bun. And I need shoes. My feet will hopefully be improved again to let me do the shoe shopping thing. I wasn't impressed with the shoe shopping potential up at the Mall last week. How can they justify £100 for a pair of shoes !! Crikey. I needs the sales and the bargains.

Next week will have a very fun evening watching Thor Ragnarok again.

It's worth it, honest and the company will be better than the film. And it's a great film too. Looking forward to it.

That's next week though, not many more to go until the Winter Break ! Gonna need it.

Me tired.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Trick or Treat or Space Aliens

Could be a busy week this week.

It's trick or treat night tomorrow which means I either close all the doors and go dark to suggest there's nobody home or .... I don't pretend there's nobody home and actually head on out.
The plan is to actually head on out, I need new work trousers as mine are developing holes in the pockets and need new shoes as I think mine will literally fall apart in a few months.

(I tend to use things until they break)

As excuses to head out go, it's a good one. And then there's Thor Ragnarok to watch on Wednesday, which I'm expecting to be fairly brainless action fun.

It's a genuinely fun event, Halloween. But .... there is that problem of unsupervised children who have got big enough to cause problems. Trick or treat translates into demanding sweets with menaces and not complying can lead to eggs thrown at your door, other vandalism and damage and worse. Like having flammable things used or criminal damage to cars. And fireworks are widely (too widely?) available at this time of year too.

Yep. There are elements out there in Britain that aren't what you'd really call savoury or neighbourly.

The other thing I'd be doing if hiding is quite possibly to bury my head in Stellaris. It's a grand space strategy game where the end goal is to take over the galaxy. And it's a cracking example of the genre too. For many years, I'd check out newer space strategy games and keep going back to the now ancient Master of Orion 2. I think there's a few people at work who were born after Master of Orion 2 was released.

They seem to have upped their game as well with the latest release. It's definitely been a more intense game this time around with the AI races declaring war at the drop of a hat, mostly targeting their wrath at my race.

So what am I playing this time around ? There's a lot of variation in Stellaris now, from warlike to peaceloving, spiritual to materialistic and more. I like playing the hive mind races but there are also Machine empires in the game now, which are curious but I think need a little balancing. You can be the Borg now.
(click for bigger and readable text)

We are the Domanna Horde. Or cute cuddly space snails. But beware, these space snails are the devouring swarm. The plague to devour everything. They like trick or treat but they have it turned around. Small children knocking on the doors of these snails saying "Treat" will soon find that they are the treat.

It is rumoured that at the last diplomatic council involving the Domanna, the Horde ate all of the other delegates. But they didn't stop there. They then ate the chairs. They ate the tables. They ate the curtains. Even the paint on the walls was not safe.

Or the carpets.

The last communication from the Horde was "Next time use Axminster and you must introduce us to the dog in the paint advert.". They ate the loo roll as well.

The space snails are voracious and insatiable. Also cute and not so fluffy.

(And I'm having a lot of fun around the intenseness of the current campaign. It's being a challenge, which is what I want from a game like this).

What's the situation at the moment ? I may not play again until the weekend due to being busy ... and avoiding having the intensity of the campaign tire me out in the week but :
We're the green patch in the North, with some empires around that are getting uncomfortably bigger. The last wars were won against the Zelvans to the south east and the Sintomoroi to the south but we had to give ground to the Spuxulac to the south west. Their fleet was twice the power of mine, which is a little deceptive because the way I have my fleet set up, it can murder fleets about 50% bigger.

Part of the attraction is that the game allows for you to counter an enemy's fleet design, so in this case I'm using an antimissile set up in response to the enemy using mostly missile ships. And it works. The small bubble of an empire to the North is what's known as a Fallen Empire, a race with massively superior technology that is almost suicidal to attack. Unless you plan well and have a fleet to counter their strengths. The Forerunners shall also be devoured by the Horde.

Not tonight though, I throw everything I have into work during the day and like to just chill out in the evenings. And Stellaris with its grabbiness doesn't really allow time for chill out.

Hmm ... NaNoWriMo starts on Wednesday ! I want to do this at some point but I don't think this year is going to be the year. I must write down a few of the various ideas that pop into the head though before they evaporate.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Films, fun, pain, phone .... stars !

Hello again. I'm not posting as much as I'd usually do am I !

Stellaris has something to do with that. It's a very addictive space strategy game that draws you in with the openness of its strategic situation and the randomness of what's likely to come next. Recommended if it's the type of game you're likely to enjoy. Very addictive though, if I start a session it'll be hours before I prise myself away.
And that does mean that I get distracted away from tapping the keyboard to let my thoughts escape my head.

Films !

I used up my last Avonmeads voucher to watch Geostorm on Friday. Avonmeads is a bit dated now compared to the other cinemas around but the cinemas it has are spacious and it's a fairly quiet cinema .... Which means less distraction around while you're trying to watch the film. I'm likely to get one or two more vouchers for there and use it as a Friday pm chill out.

Geostorm ? Enjoyable rubbish. It's a science fiction movie about a global weather control system that's going wrong. Cue disasters of epic scale and our heroes going off to fix it. The science of its fiction is awful. A space station that's spinning for artificial gravity .... but the floors are the wrong orientation.

(The idea with centripetal AG is that you spin up a cylinder ... and because objects keep moving until a force acts on them, they move such that you'd be standing on the inside surface of the cylinder. This had actual floors)

But this is the scifi nerd part of me talking there. The have fun watching a movie part of me loved it. As I similarly love The Expanse with its magnetic boots and artificial gravity both by spin and by thrust acceleration.

Last word on Geostorm - if you are flash sensitive, AVOID this movie. There is an extended sequence with very frequent lightning flashes and other sequences with alarm flashers going. It's highly likely to trigger people who are photo/flash sensitive.

Fun ?

Been back in Stellaris and it's a hell of a game. My Thargoid Hive were doing extremely well, getting further than I've gone in the game so far. They're a hive race which .... like my usual race, attempts to eat everyone else. Not quite full Devouring Swarm (mebbe next time) but yep. It's simpler when you eat your enemies in this game. The current game is with a Fanatic Pacifist race which might not go too much further because it's just so difficult to get in a fight with them. I can't declare war, just respond if people declare on me. And I can't trick my way into wars because the race is very limited in options to ally with neighbours and like .... protect them against the other bullying races around them.

Yep. Enjoying Stellaris again.

Pain .....

Yep. Body's not liking me too much at the moment. I'm repairing at last ! It could easily go backwards but my outsides are definitely improving. Slowly but yeah. Definitely better every day. Hopefully all fixed soon ? I hope so because I need new trousers, new shoes and don't particularly want to try shoes until I'm not wearing the bandages on my ankles.

Because the bandages are essentially a second layer and if I size shoes for them, the shoes will be too loose on my already thin feet.

Nah. Pain is because my body is not liking my mineral balance at the moment. The cramp is happening again (partly because Stellaris puts me in a tunnel of focus where I don't realise I need to drink enough!) and it attacks my legs and my side. If the leg cramps .... that's ok. Unless it happens while I'm sleeping and tears the muscle. Yep. No tear today but a fairly severe strain. Oops. I can manage that. But what tends to be total agony is when my side decides to join in .... not much way of breaking that cramp.

I know how to deal with that though. And ... my ideas for mitigating the acid trouble I have seem to be working. Idea 1 - try to avoid snacking too much in the evening, if I fill up my tummy the tummy goes to work making the acid to deal with what's in it. Idea 2 - minty things.

Phone :-)

It's good to have the reliable text messages again. My Samsung Galaxy S7 has issues with receiving text messages. I thought this was fixed by clearing the cache memory but this is only a temporary fix. I'm suspecting that one of the built in Samsung bloatware apps is responsible for intercepting messages. When the warranty expires, I'll root the phone and remove the bloatware. Besides, I don't particularly want Samsung tracking my movements with the phone.

The second phone is a Nokia 125 and .... cheap and cheerful. It does what I want it to do - text messages with the special lovely person. But it seems to have trouble with other things like a Bluetooth connection to the car. It doesn't want to know there. Just means I wait until I'm stopped before reading the message instead of having it pop up on screen. Oh and I took it off charge last Tuesday and one week later, it's just gone down a notch on its battery meter. I'm curious to see how long the battery will last.

Stars !

Gotta admit I haven't been back into Elite since doing a couple more legs on the rares trading route. I should abandon rares trading completely, something about it kills my enthusiasm for the game. Probably the 10 minute wait for the board to refresh and on a lot of stops, you only get a single figure amount of rare goods. Not worth it. I should explore for :
Pretty stars !

The latest expedition will be departing imminently. I think I've missed that but .... I wouldn't want to be part of an exploring group yesterday. I just want the route for seeing the stars.

Enough rabbiting on for now.

I'm looking forward to :
More Stellaris ! Being more aware of how to counter the enemies and going further in the game is .... awakening the interest. Great depth here.
Christmas market. Looks like the German market is back this year after a low rent pretender company last year. Happy Cookie Place returns !
Cookies are awesome.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Thoughts about the writing again ... and phone issues !

Phone first ...

I like my latest phone but it has a massive problem. There's a bug somewhere in the software that means I randomly don't receive text messages. Or rather, the message will be received and a delivery receipt will go back but it gets lost somewhere between receipt and inbox. The thought was that the cache memory (where the message goes between receipt and inbox) is having trouble but the fix for that hasn't proved particularly constant.

So if you've sent me a message and I haven't replied, this is why ! I only know about this problem because my close friend has been upset at messages being lost.

I'll be fixing the problem by getting a second phone for texts and emergency calls only (it just so happens that Vodafone apparently do a pay-as-you-go with unlimited texts ... bargain !) (essential disclosure note - I have nothing to do with Vodafone and they ain't paying me ! But I do have a very good and close friend who's messages have been going astray who is on that network.) That'll be tomorrow evening's job after work and before replenishing some very slim munchie stocks here ...

Back to work tomorrow, which I'm not particularly looking forwards to. I really should have gone to the doctor this week. In hindsight of course. Healing has been steady .... but I'll be back to wearing protective bandages tomorrow because my legs are still bad. Very frustrating.

On that writing though .... I have clearer ideas.

And a potential front runner character for the story. That's always a good thing to have, especially if you can use that front runner character as a means of drawing the reader into the world that you're setting up.

I'm still looking at the new colony story thing. And a potential borrowing of the TV series Arrow's tendency to have parallel timelines going in its narrative. So one timeline would be increasing tension as the colony group departs the world, the other timeline would be the first steps on the new planet. Terra Nova did this very well too, although in that case the parallel timelines were literal. Part of the story was set in our future, part of it was set in our distant past .... with dinosaurs.

And this story would be all set up around the idea : This world is turning into a terrible place while we watch and no one is doing anything about it. How about we leave ?

That's fairly familiar sounding isn't it ?

I guess I'm getting somewhat cynical about our leaders and their increasingly destructive tendencies. I've always tried to live my life with as little interference as possible from the idiots in charge but you can't avoid all that they do. And this story would be about those who have the opportunity to quietly slip away from the increasing hell they are a part of.

Wouldn't that be great if we could do that ?

Well, apart from Elon Musk and his plans to go to Mars, there sadly aren't all that many opportunities to do that with the technology we have. Well, outside of finding some place to go off the grid but that isn't really getting away from the core problem, it's hiding from it. You can isolate but not really get away that far. But I still would like to retire to that boat and live on that away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. I would miss my uncapped internet data though.

This story ... who's the main character ?

Well, the people I want to appear being collected up by this rogue group are the unwanted. The people who want to leave. The disadvantaged. The ones subject to prejudice. I suspect you're seeing a theme there, I see the reports in media and social media about the persecuted groups and can't see a way to help them.

So my main character is likely to be a homeless person, picked up from the streets of the main city of the world this will initially be set on. And like probably all of the homeless here, he's not there of his own choosing. He's educated, smart and has been picked out for potential. This means he's especially useful to me as the one writing, as I can explain the concepts as if to an intelligent person and through that, treat the reader with the respect of thinking they're intelligent people too.

And I'll pick up on the concepts from today's scenarios of Twit/Book and Discord chat servers too. Except definitely better run because Twit/Book has major issues with the sites (especially Twitter) allowing toxic users to run rampant. Also streaming .... because people need their news and entertainment.

But you also need an adversary. And this one will have that as another echo to our present - terror groups getting increasingly bold with the reaction from uninformed leaders being ever more trigger happy, leading to a situation that our rogue group eventually have to react to before it's too late. I'm unsure about the adversary for where they're going though. I sense it might be a reaction to the first major crime, where an exile suddenly .... disappears. Mysteriously.

Or maybe not so mysteriously, just messily. Nothing messes with the mind more than the impression of being totally safe being turned into sudden mortal danger !

I need to get more thoughts in my head though. Perhaps something for NaNoWriMo which is just coming up ...

There are a number of inspirations for this though. From The Expanse, which I hugely enjoyed watching. To Elysium, a scifi movie vehicle for Matt Damon which was showing off all sorts of tech that was handy for its narrative. Over to the two Heorot books by Larry Niven, Steven Barnes and the dearly departed Jerry Pournelle. And all that inspiration from real life and what I come into contact with.

It should be fun to write, it'll definitely be an outlet for many ideas I've wanted to write about as well as being an outlet for what I think of what I see around me in this world !

Back to work tomorrow though, definitely not looking forward to the wrestling with the beard. It's got fuzzy and needs to be annihilated ...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Netflix and .... hunting the aliens

Gosh, XCom 2 was addictive before .... and they've expanded it making it even more addictive.

One of the rather daft novelty features of the expansion is that they've added in a photobooth feature. Soldier gets promoted ? Snap. Finish a mission ? Snap. In this case, it was the team hunting down one of the alien boss creatures in its lair.

I've been enjoying being back in the game. I haven't been rushing it but this play through has already been almost the same length as my last two non-expanded playthroughs already. Enjoying it enough to not bother going into the other games in the queue - Elite, Deus Ex Mankind Divided and Mass Effect Andromeda. Oh and it's also kept me away from the Stellaris playthrough I was doing (although I think that one's off anyway due to the robot races needing a patch apparently)

It also kinda fits the playthrough style, with it being point, click, tell soldiers what to shoot at. And I'm good with that.

I'm off work at the moment, using up some of my annual leave to get a break before the Xmas mayhem properly kicks off. It was a good time too as a little bit of manic rushing around cleared off most of the urgent outstanding stuff. Just in time for the next batch of urgent outstanding stuff to pile up this week.

I'm hoping to avoid being a house hostage this time around. One reason for sticking around the house is for my tortured outsides to get a chance to heal up. I think they just need better protection and then they'll have a chance to heal up on their own. There is good signs of healing ... my ankles are back to the proper colour again (instead of being reddened and wounded). The usual trouble is though that if I attempt to clean it up at all, the removal of the bad bits is too much for the rest of the good bits.

There I go again with the mucky details that people would rather not know about.

I went to see the new Bladerunner movie on Friday ! I was underwhelmed. I sense this might have been mostly due to me being at about the end of my energy and otherwise in the depressive turn of my own personal cycle. A very well made film again, fantastic visuals, great characters, oppressive music and a story that kept you well guessing. My mirror tendency may have fired though and reflected the lack of emotion on the main character, which led to me coming out with a bit of a Meh feeling.

Good film though.

And I've seen a couple of poor ones since !

If I'm watching science fiction, the science has to be decent. Just passable will do if the story is good enough. One thing I'm looking for from Netflix is the chance to watch those films I am curious about but don't want to pay any money for. (The sub doesn't count because I'm paying that for things like Star Trek Discovery and The Expanse anyway). Tonight's was Mechanic Resurrection - don't watch it. It's a routine action movie with nothing really special about it. Your time would be better spent doing something like .... watching cricket as a non cricket fan.

Cricket's worth it - honest.

The other one was a TV movie about the first man to be going to Mars (fictional). This had so much wrong with it .... I wouldn't really know where to start or end. Let's just say that if there were two people on a space station (the only two) as depressed as those two were, there would be an emergency rescue trip before they blew each other out of the airlocks. And you don't simply turn around in space and come back, with our technology level you're going where you're going no matter what. We don't have the fuel to spare to stop and return like they were suggesting. We do the stop and return at the destination by using the gravity of the planet or moon we're going to in order to get what is called a Free Return Trajectory.

There's some complicated/not complicated mechanics around that which I may talk about if I start doing videos again with Kerbal Space Program ! I don't have a legitimate key to a video editing program now though (my trial has expired), so no new videos until I pay someone money.

The Expanse is well worth watching though. It has some magic science in terms of the propulsion that makes it possible but even that is limited to sensible levels. As in, accelerate the human body too much and it'll crush all the blood vessels in our brains .... which doesn't tend to end well. I may have to watch this series again soon.

But before then .... I want to read the books. I need to get reading again actually, it'll give me more ideas to add to those from the outside world for the book or two that are in my head wanting to get out.

And that may well be tomorrow's plan .... if I'm feeling up to it, then it'll be a run to the Book Barn, maybe Forbidden Planet too.

Mind you, last thought for today - there is that growing conflict between the amount of Stuff I have and the space I have to put the Stuff in. Digital is looking better in that way, as it shrinks the space that Stuff needs down to very manageable levels.

And that means more room for more Stuff !

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Expansive Discovery Netflix ...


Still here. Although it feels like I'm still under the influence of some of those bugs from last week. I only had Monday as working from home (bug quarantine), although I did also take Friday off to burn some of my flexi leave credit and to get some overdue chill out.
It's not been a properly serious bug, actually quite mild outside of the broken voice, chesty cough and bunged up nose but I suspect it's hit harder because I'm lacking energy again. I plan to do something about that with a pre Xmas break not this week but the week after. Should be good.

I suspect there might be a lot of Netflix watching while I chill out .... (Yes, I know what Netflix and Chill is ! This will be just chilling out with me and my pooter and various things on the Netflix).

Yep. I've signed up to it, tempted in by the new Star Trek Discovery series. I'm going to be very careful what I say about Discovery because there is massive potential for spoilers but I'm intrigued. What they've done with the Klingons is a disgrace though and it almost sucked all of the life out of the pilot episodes. Klingons are supposed to be pure fire. These were on tranquilizers and perhaps filmed with the speed turned down. They were rather different to the Klingons we know and almost wrecked the pilot.

Yep. Still intrigued by where they plan to go with it though. I'm a sucker for everything Trek or space scifi related, as long as it's done decently. (It was a real struggle to finish Independence Day 2 and I've turned off scifi B-movies before due to them being properly dire). The effects were definitely done well.

However .... I've been watching another series called The Expanse and that series definitely has my attention. I've watched up to season 2 episode 4 now and I'm very impressed with both the quality of the writing (I'll be checking out the James S A Corey books soon) and the effects on screen. When they do space battles, it's utterly gripping.

It's a near future book without many silly scifi tricks up its sleeve. There are no inertial compensators for G forces and they're throwing bits of metal at each other at speeds that easily puncture spaceship hulls ... and then go all the way through and out the other side. Yep. I'll be keeping watching this one. Might even watch it again from the start.

So that Netflix sign up has already been worth it for me, not for the Star Trek but for The Expanse.

It hasn't all been that though. I was thoroughly crashed out (and with poorly feet again) on Friday so thoughts of heading to the cinema to watch Kingsman and after, to stock up on munchies were shelved. (I had enough to last until ... erm ... tomorrow !) Instead, The Expanse and Stellaris.

Opening Stellaris yesterday might have been a mistake. And starting a war with a neighbour at midnight was definitely another mistake. (Cue a 4am session) But I did manage to not stay in there too much today. Just a couple of wars.
That's where we are at the moment and my machine race of exterminators (I'm playing with the new expansion) is steadily spreading its red mist across the galaxy. It's difficult playing as the single minded purpose destroyer races like that .... you can't be a friend to anybody. And everyone knows you're out to get them. It's a good start though.

I haven't been in Elite much lately. Just a couple of sessions trading the rare goods. Going for the rares might have been an error because I think it was killing my enthusiasm for the game with my previous character. I may go back to the old way of letting missions guide my path instead. Missions are a bit odd at the moment though, it keeps trying to give you missions to go to Colonia, 22,000 light years away. I'm not planning to do that again for a while.

Keeping myself busy though in my diminished state. Hopefully I won't be diminished for too much longer though, it seems like these latest bugs have really kicked me in the energy centre. I think it's connected to the state of my outsides (which have been better today as I've left them alone). The damage there can be really draining, in a fashion that it's a struggle to understand.

Low level pain can be very draining but that's not it in this case. It's more the constant sensation of Stuff coming from the bad areas. The feeling akin to a spider walking over the skin. The knowledge that a small flaw in your outsides is just itching (so to speak) to turn into much wider damage. The frustration when damage that should heal in a few days just .... lingers. It doesn't help there when I redamage it constantly by attempting to tidy it up.

I'm doing better than my TV remote though. It ded.

It ded past the ability of new batteries to cure it too. I'll have to take it apart at some point to see which part is ded but ... For now I'm using my amplifier's all in one remote to do the limited amount of TV control I need.

So :

Discovering Netflix, discovering Discovery on Netflix, looking into the Expanse and liking what I see and occasionally losing time into games like it was a time dilating black hole.

Back to work next week, hopefully with my voice back to how it should be !

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Interwebs and the Ills

I have Plague.
It's not bad manfluplague. It's a chesty cough and general ugh feeling. Light bugs not major bugs but whenever I go upstairs or attempt to do anything semi active, that's when I really feel it. I'm not just mixing up words like I usually do, I'm mixing up the letters too.

Hopefully it'll blow itself out over the weekend and I fully intend to not do very much in the active activities type of activity tomorrow. Nope. Tomorrow is cricket watching, chilling out and catching up on more gaming videos. I did start a new Stellaris playthrough last night, I've started an XCom 2 run as well plus there's more Elites too and getting achievements that I shouldn't have got on Motorsport Manager too !

Haven't been in Elite for a week. I've been staying away from stuff that uses too much internet while without a working cable modem. I have a 30GB contract (not as extravagant as it sounds as there was an offer going to give 30GB for the price of 8GB) and was using about 1GB a day apparently. Not quite sure what on, although I did note that the GoG client was doing very strange things moving a lot of data around the hard discs earlier. (I have monitors that keep an eye on activity on my main computer).

I've survived the lack of a modem by attaching both computers to my mobile phone with the hotspot feature. Actually surprisingly quick:
Ping of 35ms is actually pretty good and the download speeds are a bonus. I think it was consistent with that as well, although I think there were a few instances of lag. That might have been my pooter being loaded up. With the weather turning colder, I've turned the science sums back on so the pooter's busy again.

It does drain the battery though so the phone has gone straight on charge after getting home and turning the hotspot on.

The other limitation is that with the laptop connected to the phone for internet, it isn't connected to my main router. The one that my network audio streamer is connected to ... So for the first part of the week, I was listening to music via the laptop speakers (they're rubbish) and from a couple of days ago, via my portable Bluetooth speakers (decent, not as good as hifi).

So I'm back listening to the main hifi, which is great. I do like my music.

And I've been catching up on the youtubes today while feeling under the influence of bugs that will hopefully blow out before Monday.

PS The less said about VirginMedia the better ... When I called on Monday, I think the girl on the phone did everything but order the new modem. So I waited until Wednesday, no modem, called back again. This one was given the instruction "Don't deliver until Friday afternoon" and ... yep. Had to go to the collection place this morning because they delivered early, when I wasn't in.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Popularity, connected, mother

Ahh ... where to start.

I think my router is scared and died in fright. I think it got wind that I planned to talk about a film I watched on Saturday. A quite scary film, it was called Mother! and it's an 18 rated psychological horror. There was very little actual blood and guts (although it is there and it's truly nightmares level shocking - no spoilers) but it really hit its mark in terms of getting you on edge and totally in sympathy with the main character.

That central character is played by Jennifer Lawrence and I don't think we ever heard her name. The film was completely from her point of view, either showing the actress and her reactions (and she is BRILLIANT in this movie) or showing what she's looking at. It is amazing in terms of visuals and especially in sound.

You hear the silence (happily not disrupted by rustling from the audience!) and, when it's quiet, you hear every creak and crack in the house.

Yep. It's set in a house in the middle of nowhere, in which live an author and his wife. The author is suffering from creative block, the wife is steadily putting the house into excellent order while being frustrated that she isn't getting any attention from her love. You can see the depression and anxiety building in Jennifer Lawrence's character and this brings me to :

This is an amazing movie ... but I would not recommend people see it.

It evokes a lot of feelings, it asks you questions about yourself, it will definitely shock you, it may well leave you with very disturbing after thoughts. (I know my friend who saw it with me is definitely still disturbed by it). And it tackles depression and anxiety head on.

However, one aspect that drew my attention was the attitude of the author in the film ... He feeds on adulation. He has an ego that requires stoking, requires feeding and that ego doesn't care where the acclaim comes from. It lives and breathes on the applause of random strangers and totally misses the thoughts of his love, his actual inspiration. And when his love realises that, it is utterly crushing for her.

I like to think I'm the opposite. A certain creative instinct has awoken definitely since I started this blog oh so many years ago. And it's blossomed more in the last few years since I've found a few very special people to write for.

While I have that need to be creative, I'm not very good at doing things for me, I'm far more motivated to do things for other people. People I care about. And sometimes that's driven me into a form of madness, where I need to know what those special think about what I've written for them. I've come to realise that I can't make people look at what I write or create, it has to be good enough to grab their interest and keep it such that they come back to see the next things I write or create.

So in a sense, I think I'm the opposite of the writer in the film. I'll look at the hit counter and get a little sad if the hits over the month go below 1000. But I know that a decent proportion of those hits come from random bots.

I don't care about bots. I care about the real people.

So when a hit comes in and I recognise the pattern of the fingerprint as being from someone familiar, that's when I smile and get the happy feels. Because those familiar fingerprints come from people who like what I write and who care enough to come back for more.

And I think those people are awesome. You are who I write for and I try not to forget that.

So in that sense, I am the opposite of the character in the film, who would be despised by those who see it. I'm quite comfortable in that realisation and I hope it's the best way to be.

So that's Popularity and Mother, how about Connected ?

My cable modem has died ! OH THE HUMANITY !

I've gotten far too used to having constant connectivity to the internet. Watching gaming videos has replaced reading books for me. Sad but true. That said, I might well be opening up Revenger again after finishing this post.

Yep. The main router has died but I've managed to get partial connectivity back via using a mobile hotspot. And the desktop sees internet again due to resurrecting the old USB wifi dongle that I used on my Macbook (before Apple killed it).

It's actually pretty good too, at 18MBits/s download and 15Mbits/s upload. That's 3x quicker than my cable internet upload. But there's a monthly download cap on that, so I'm not watching the videos I'd normally watch. I should be getting a replacement in a few days.

Soon hopefully !

Friday, September 15, 2017

Shiply Creative

I've been seeing ads and suggested posts on the Facebooks lately about a t-shirt made up of spaceships that were the big influencers ...

It's a good t-shirt but I ain't gonna buy it. But it has given me an idea ...

I could do my own design !
Not that one. Although that's pretty cool too with all the various spaceships on it. What would be on mine ?

I have to say first up though that even though I could happily create the design and get someone to turn it into a t-shirt, I don't think I could ever post it anywhere the internet can see it. So many of these ships (probably all of them !) are wrapped up in copyright and outside of that, I'd probably see the design stolen and put up on Redbubble before the end of the year. I'm not making someone else money.

First and most spectacular has to be the Enterprise. You know the one. The original. The best one. The NCC-1701. Although perhaps the one after the refit with the squared off engines. I grew up with Star Trek and the various spin off series but that original Enterprise will always be the one in the heart.
I also grew up playing a lot of Elite, so the original Cobra (below) ship from there and the Coriolis space station (above) would have to be on there.
Frontier do t-shirts with the Cobra and Coriolis already.

Star Wars is a big one too, I'd want to see a Star Destroyer (preferably the iconic old Imperial Star Destroyer) on there. More coming soon there actually because my Lego Star Destroyer is nearly completed .... Oh and there needs to be X Wing, Tie Fighter and the Millennium Falcon too. I see part of this design being dominated by Lego.

Death Star ? Maybe. Definitely a snow speeder and a walker. I happen to have some little Lego versions of those. Wonder if I have the bits to create a mini Lego Death Star.

But it's not just the obvious ones. The big ones. The ships that everyone has heard about. As well as watching every episode of Thunderbirds going, I was very curious about Space 1999. I watched that again recently and .... it's a bit naff. They didn't really have the budget or the ideas to put the effects and storylines in that the setting Space 1999 set up deserved. I did like its classic Eagle spaceship :
The Eagle was essentially a big skeletally framed modular lander, with command cabin at the front and big engines at the stern. In the middle, it used mission specific modules, like the medical module above. A good ship that made sense for the setting.

The Firefly class transport Serenity has to be there too :
Another good design, with detachable shuttles, a pair of atmospheric engines that swivel to allow vertical flight, a big central cargo area and the iconic stardrive at the back. An excellent ship and a better crew. If you haven't watched the Firefly series yet, I'd recommend it.

Of course there would also be a TARDIS spinning around the picture somewhere and ... the one no one would expect :
The Odyssey from Ulysses 31, a cartoon from the 80s. Loved that series, must watch it again soon. (Credit Link for pic)

I'm sure all those pictures and ships could be made into a stunning looking T-shirt. I must see about creating the design ! I'm thinking that the Snowspeeder and the Walkers would be at the bottom, with a battle going overhead involving the other Star Wars ships. Perhaps a Death Star hovering over the horizon of Hoth ? And then the Coriolis station and the Cobra at the top.

There's a bunch more ships out there. But only so much room on a t-shirt ! (I'm not that big. Honest).

What other ships would you add ? Leave a comment !