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.
Quite.

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 ...

Hello,

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 !

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Pondering Upgrades

I've been pondering the computer upgrades again.
I do this every once in a while, usually when something comes along that pushes the machine I have a little bit too far. Either that, or something has gone bang or got too annoying and I want to throw new hardware at the problem.

This machine has done extremely well for me actually. At about £900 6 years ago, it's been very cost effective as my desktops go. Although that doesn't include the 3 new graphics cards, 1 power supply, 1 sound card, hard disc upgrade and a couple of other things I can't remember.

It's actually still doing pretty well, the only thing that is stressing it at the moment is the video encoding, which is actually just a matter of time. If I was to do the video thing more though, I would need a beefier computer to do it. Let's see what I would get now.

First up - just the gaming. The spec below represents a pretty good gaming PC, albeit without monitor, keyboard and mouse. These items are quite subjective but I am a fan of what I have now. My keyboard is a Steelseries M300 with mechanical switches (very recommended) and mouse is a Logitech (which is ok). I have an AOC 1440p IPS panel monitor, which I would also thoroughly recommend for quality and sharpness of image. I see monitor, keyboard and mouse as things you buy separately though, as you can transfer them between old desktop and new desktop.

Most of the prices below come from Scan, although not the memory. Scan are only offering Corsair memory and I've had problems with Corsair stuff before. Memory price is from Novatech.

Bits that make it go :
I'll switch back to AMD next time with their Ryzen processor. Intel haven't made any significant progress with their processors since mine came out 6 years ago and then AMD come along with something radical again. AMD Ryzen 5 1600 with 6 cores - £188.
That goes in a motherboard and I'm happy with the Asrock I've had for this machine. Asrock B350 Gaming K4 for £102.
And those two need memory - up to 16GB of DDR4 - 2.4GHz. I'm alarmed at how memory has gone up in price. I bought 8GB for £45 six years ago, that should have reduced. Yet ... it has gone up to £70 and 16GB is £139 by Kingston.
Graphics - if I were to get one, it would be an nVidia 1060 3GB for £200. But I have one of those already so I wouldn't have to pay that this time.

That still makes the upgrade a total of £429 without the graphics card.

You need a bunch of ancillaries to make the PC though :
Power supply - Silverstone Strider 700W for £53. But bigger than my usual because it has to support more hard discs.
Hard discs - for the gaming machine only, it's a 525GB SSD by Crucial for £148 and a 2TB drive by Western Digital for £60. Windows goes on the SSD, things that need speed go on the SSD and the rest goes on the 2TB conventional drive. This is a bit over the top (a 256GB is good enough) and you could shave £££s off the total by lowering these.
Cooling - £32 for a Silverstone cooler with a 140mm fan. The bigger the fan the better, you don't really want fan noise coming through to that microphone. And this one looks like it has enough separation to allow many sticks of RAM into the machine.
And it all goes in a case - I'd choose a case by visuals or finish but .... £37 for another Thermaltake case would be good enough.
Add Windows as well for £90.

The ancillaries there come up to £320 for a total of £949 with the graphics card. That's a bit more than the £900 ish I paid last time, although it excludes a cd rom drive. These are pretty much defunct now for PC with most software coming from downloads.

To make a video making machine though, that needs a little more.
Turbocharge the hamster wheel !!!

Bits I'd change :
Graphics - I'd up this a little (but not crazily as the prices really ramp up). nVidia GeForce 1070 cards bring more power .... at double the cost. That'd be an extra £200.
Hard discs - I'd add at least one extra 3TB drive, probably two for recording on. That starts at £75 for a Toshiba and £88 for a Western Digital (ain't touching Seagate again). These would go into a RAID array spanning the two discs. The reason for getting 2 drives by different manufacturers is so that if one drive dies, the other drive should not. It's a reasonable expectation that 2 drives in the same batch made by the same people would die at about the same time if subjected to the same conditions, hence going for difference as a priority.

You see ? Different is good ! In many things :-D.

The software I've used so far is nVidia's capture software, Audacity for audio and Magix Vegas for the editing. I'm happy with all of these so far, although I'd switch it up to something like OBS if I was to do the video editing more. A second screen would be handy for that as well.

So there we have it - £429 for the core upgrade, plus £200 if I were to get another graphics card (don't need one) and £320 for the bits in the case.

I don't need to upgrade yet but .... still thinking about it :-).

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Tireds, Trips, Trades

I've had one of those periods where I just really don't feel quite with it.

You know when you're not quite exhausted but you keep making the daft mistakes that you would if you were exhausted. Missing things out, confusing words, forgetting to do the obvious.

Hopefully not so much today but I was definitely doing that over last week, culminating in making more mistakes on Friday. I still have it in mind to do a Friday pm cinema trip to use up a few vouchers I have (and to see some great films) but retreated home this time around mostly due to the knowledge of being prone to those mistakes. I definitely didn't want to be driving back in an overtired state.

Besides, Friday had a couple of good games to finish off the Women's T20 cricket season followed by the men's finale on Saturday. It was tempting to make another trip out in search of Star Wars Lego. The kits for the new movie came out (in typically overhyped fashion to feed the marketing machine) on Friday and I have my eye on the Star Destroyer and BB-8.

And I did kinda want to finish off the epic exploration trip in the internet spaceship.
That's my Diamondback Explorer, stopping off at a colony run by the Party of Yoru, with a lovely nebula in the distance. After finishing off the trip, I had a couple of objectives in mind (all done) to use all the data collected in order to unlock a couple of engineers and to prepare the way for another.
Trip complete ! Green lines meet up again. Since then, I've been helping out with a couple of the week's community goals.
First up, a few trading runs in the Type 7 freighter, Alex Dewey. This one is named after a couple of the Ice Road Truckers. I'm looking forward to that series starting up again, although it's suffering somewhat by a feeling that it has been phoning it in by the numbers lately. That's unfair on the stars of the show, who get well and truly battered by the roads they're attempting to drive on. It's more a criticism of the producers of the show. But I'll still be tuning in for the next season.
That one's looking a bit battered as well now. I only bounced off stars twice ... and one of those was a bit of inattention where I didn't pick up where the "You're too close !" line was. Oh and I was almost blown up by station guns for another little bit of inattention where I completely forgot to ask permission before entering the station. They don't like that.

I did mention that I was suffering from not being quite right in the head lately wasn't I ... Hopefully that'll improve over the next week or so ! Must not overdo it. That's another reason I'm not likely to do many more videos (still got the footage I did last week !), I need that rest and go splat in the evenings after throwing all I got into work, although it has been great to read the comments of a few people who were encouraging me to make more of the videos. They seem to like my voice :-)

The Diamondback well and truly earned its place of honour in the hangar. I think it covered maybe 60,000 light years and earned 100 million credits (this is a lot) for the spacepiggybank. The next time I go out exploring will probably be an expedition in the luxury liner ships to a sizeable collection of beauty spots reasonably close to the populated areas. That might see my character through to its first Elite ranking.

But first - lots of trading to come in a Python, possibly to be called "Shipka 3.141" (Pi-Thon? I know ...) and before then, I enjoyed indulging in a bit of ship to ship combat in the latest glorious little fighter ship :
The Imperial Courier ship, Shaname's Sword. This one did itself proud as well helping out for one of the community goals. I do like the little ships, they are small, nippy and fun to fly around. They don't quite have the combat endurance or hitting power of the big ships though.

On to the next ship soon though which I think will be that Python with other fighty ships coming along as I need them for community goals.

Back to work first tomorrow though. What challenges await !

Monday, August 28, 2017

Videoing, cricket, trips

We've been enjoying a fairly sunny bank holiday here, which effectively means an extra day off and a 3 day weekend.

I have, of course, been inside looking after my tortured toes and watching the cricket while doing lots of internet spaceship flying. I have to admit, the addiction is waning a little bit although I think that'll come back more when I'm back in the bubble getting new ships to fly.
I've had that particular ship for very many light years so far :
The green line is approaching the start point again .... Although I will admit, I have abandoned the thought of coming back along one outer galactic arm in favour of straight lining it back again.

And seeing sights like :
I came out of hyperspace at the White (actually very very blue) star and quite possibly bounced off the yellow star behind it. This is after I turned around to take a look.

Yep. Still enjoying seeing the sights in the game. I've produced a third video (which is starved for views so far, I have 19 total to date and this one on docking has just 2), although that one saw the return of nvidia's capture software also unintended, capturing my voice too. I'd recorded that separately and told nvidia to ignore the mic (I know why it happened, I have my mic set to "Listen to this device", so Windows mixed it in).

I think I have sufficient footage to put a fourth video together, involving bimbling around the Colonia region and doing flybys of a megaship plus there might actually be an asteroid base in there. I also have footage from the open beta site. I must put a voice on that at some point. I won't be doing many more videos, unless I decide to make series out of games like Halcyon 6 or Cosmoteer. I've gotten what I wanted out of figuring out what goes into video making, it's up to others really to ... give me the motivation to produce more and the views aren't telling me that's something people want. Plus the days of making a fortune from youtube in your spare time are long gone !
Outside of that, I'm doing ok. I'm seeing slow repairs happen on my outsides. Situation normal there, it's ridiculously easy to set back any healing that happens but it is happening albeit slowly. I just have to give it chance.

My neck has got better ! It started recovering on Friday I think and has relented over the weekend.

I've been watching the cricket too. It's shaping up to be an exciting finish tomorrow, although hopefully not too tense a finish. I'll be happy to be able to disappear from work at about the normal time tomorrow (need supplies again) with the game done and dusted by tea with another England win.

I do like not knowing who's going to win in a game but I also like England teams to win. (Except maybe the footballers cos they ain't really an England team are they ...)

It'll be a great weekend of cricket next weekend too. I still need to watch Spiderman Homecoming ! First thought was to watch that on Friday pm when there was no cricket but .... I hadn't realised the ladies were having their finals day. Want to watch that. Solution - tv box recorder ! And then the mens T20 final is on Saturday. Been saving up my pizza tolerance for that.

Dark Tower was pretty good this week. It kept the tension up and did the required thing of bringing the viewer in steadily to a new and complex world. Definitely enjoyed that. I also enjoyed watching Valerian, making me the heretic amongst the Work-Ish mob.

I'll quite happily be a heretic if it means I'm enjoying something. Hmm. Maybe out in public isn't the best place to admit that.

Let's see .... I need ..... A DISTRACTION !
(Yes - the paint needs a severe case of retouching !)

First Earth like planet I've found so far in the travels.

Signing off for now but not before :

If anyone reading this is in Texas, stay safe !

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Making .... better movies ?

Video number 2 is uploading as I type ... (addon - upload complete ! Here's the link)

I didn't link my first effort because, to be honest, I don't think it's anywhere near the standard that I'd want to see from anyone on Youtube. And way below the standards I expect from myself. But that was a lot of the point of making the video, to learn, to test, to figure out what I'd need to do and what facilities I should have in order to make videos.

You can hear people talking about stuff .... but you never really fully understand until you're in the same position or doing the same things.

Tonight's is showing off some of the more beautiful sights I've seen so far in Elite ... and the most dangerous too.
Neutron star pulsar - yesterday. I talk about this one a bit in the video but typing is always more coherent with me. A neutron star is a stellar object that's gone through the lifecycle of being a star, exploded and left behind a fragment that condenses and compresses into the smallest possible object short of a black hole. It is a mass of protons and electrons all mashed up into a quantum soup of neutrons.

They're not so dense that they collapse further into black holes, instead they stay as these highly luminous micro-stars throwing off particle streamers as they rotate. I found a couple that rotated quite slowly, producing gorgeous effects like the one above.

I read an excellent short story covering these Neutron Stars too, by Larry Niven as part of his Known Space universe of novels and stories. I'd recommend trying that short story if you can find a copy.

There are some black holes in the upcoming video as well (it's still uploading as I type but a link will arrive later). They are definitely more terrifying as a moving image as you see the distortion of spacetime around the object of ultimate doom.

It has got me learning though, what would go into making these videos if I were to do them more.

Wot dat ?
Space and storage seems to be the big thing.

You need hard disc space for the games but the video capture, footage and ultimate output take up a lot of space. Tonight's video is about 25 minutes but the captured footage (not using all of it) takes up 15GB. The final video takes up 3.5GB.

I'll run out of hard disc space soon if I keep all the videos !

Processor is another thing that takes a hit. My i5-2500k processor renders the videos at about 4x the run time of the video. So an hour of video will take 4 hours to render. Newer processors are faster, more cores help with Magix Vegas studio.

And a big factor is the capture of sound. You can hugely tell the difference in quality between a headset quality mic and a broadcast quality mic. The sound is hugely different. I wonder how many people recognise my voice from the videos ? I don't recognise it but that's partly because you hear your voice through the direct connection between mouth and ear (the sound travels through your skull). You don't hear your voice how other people hear it.

Graphics .... will depend heavily on the game. To show off a new first person shooter type game, you'd want the super powerful £300+ and better graphics cards. But to capture Elite, my £200 nVidia 1060 seems to be good enough.

I'd want to build a new PC and get a decent microphone set up if I was to do the videos more. At the moment, it'll be occasional videos when I find something I think will amuse people. Perhaps Kerbal Space Program ... that's always good for sudden and hilarious failure leading to massive explosions.

I'm hyped at the moment and I hope people enjoy the video when it goes live ... soon ! (I am looking at the Youtube upload window in another tab and it's taking aaaaages ....) I ain't giving up the dayjob any time soon though. Youtube has turned hostile to its content creators and it wouldn't pay its way now.

Besides, I get to be involved with some very cool kit via work and I work with some great people. Not looking to change that just yet !