Personal

That's me in the corner

introvert Local personal

That’s me in the corner That’s me in the spotlight ~ [Losing My Religion, R.E.M.] I’m a classic introvert. I’m not shy, because introversion has nothing to do with shyness. It also doesn’t mean I have no social skills, no friends or that I can’t deal with personal contact - I’m quite happy getting up on a stage and speaking and have done so at several international conferences (and a local one last week), and I think most people will tell you I’m not afraid to express my opinion at such events.

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Free to play will neither destroy nor save the world

f2p free to play Games

So there’s been a ton of talk lately about the state of the mobile games industry, and specifically the place we’ve reached now in the race to the bottom on pricing, which has meant people concluding that if you make a mobile game today, it has to be Free To Play to be successful, and that this fact is either ridiculously awesome because it’s leading to vast riches from new audiences, or that it’s an insidious evil which is destroying the game industry forever.

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Pendulums

I don’t know about you, but I’m a swinger. Not in the dodgy suburban wife-swapping sense, but in the sense that many aspects of my personality - creativity, gregariousness, concentration for detail tasks etc - seem to be in regular flux, swinging back and forth like a pendulum - the frequency (or period, physics pendants) is different for each but there’s definitely a cycle there. I used to think this was odd, maybe even a sign of a very mild bipolar or something, because no-one in my professional circles really talked about it much.

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Startup adventure: excitement and loot, forests and monsters

Business risk startup

I’m passionate about the fact that there’s never been a better time for people with talent and passion to get out there and start their own businesses. The Internet has flattened the playing field considerably, and globalisation and the recession has led to a lot of people to realise that employment isn’t the safe harbour they might have previously thought it was. The opportunities for making an impact from a small starting point are more numerous than ever, and people are increasingly aware of their options in a way that was unthinkable 10-15 years ago.

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Creating drum sheet music with Lilypond

I’ve been trying to find a good tool to create drum-specific sheet music on my Mac, and have largely been frustrated. Expensive tools that do it all like Finale and Sibelius are just too heavyweight, both require lots of of tweaks to work well for drums, and felt a bit clumsy to me just because of their level of complexity. MuseScore looked great but the editing workflow just frustrated me, trying to get multiple voices in one stave (required when you have to chart up to 4 notes at a time in one place, because drummers have 4 limbs ;)) was far too fiddly and resulted in many annoying round-trips.

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My home-brew 'Steam Box' for the living room

Games hardware PC steam

I’ve already posted about how I’d decided to choose the PC as my ‘next-generation’ gaming platform, and last weekend I built the first iteration of that machine. I say the first iteration, because a PC is inherently an evolving platform, and I expect to refine it and upgrade it in future, but this is where I’m starting from. I thought I’d discuss the choices I made, and the experiences I’ve had so far. Be aware, this is a long one with quite a lot of technical detail, so buckle up 😀

My Criteria

The problem with buying a PC is that you can quite easily go absolutely nuts and blow a fortune on it, by creeping up specification scale gradually without even realising - it’s only a little extra to move one notch up on a component, but then the other components are letting the side down, and before you know it you’ve blown a couple of grand. So, I deliberately set myself very clear goals in building this machine and didn’t allow myself to stray from that:

  1. It had to fit in my cabinet under the TV and not look out of place, and had to work in a living room environment generally
  2. Despite 1, it had to be full ATX with room for 2 full-length GPUs (even though I only plan to buy one initially), and have good ventilation
  3. It had to be approximately the same performance as Xbox One / PS4, give or take, because that would be the benchmark for most game developers going forward. I’ll compare to the PS4 since that’s the more powerful of the two.
  4. I set a budget limit of £700-£800, or about 2x a next-gen console. Mostly this was because I felt I needed to set a reasonable limit to avoid the ever-persistent ‘just one more upgrade’ temptation on PC, but also because it felt like a reasonable test of whether you could build a decent lounge setup for a reasonable sum. It’s never going to be as cheap as a console, but I’m willing to pay extra for a more open & flexible gaming machine.

With that in mind, I went shopping 😀

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The "90% of startups fail" boogieman

“90% of startups fail” I hear this meme repeated over and over, from ordinary people whom it terrifies into spending a lifetime using their talents primarily for someone else’s benefit, to those business leaders who use it either to discourage shifting investment away from their ‘safe’ industries, or more subtly dropping it into conversation to increase the chances they’ll keep their best staff. I hate it, both because of the psychological blackmail it represents, and because for the vast majority of people starting a business, it’s total and complete nonsense.

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Evading the now

Creativity Internet media

Ever since I notionally transitioned into adulthood, I’ve always been interested in current events. Not just keeping up with the latest technological developments either, news in general is something I like to keep tabs on. Years ago, you basically had two sources: the fairly superficial summaries from TV news and tabloids, or the more in-depth coverage from broadsheet special reports and dedicated periodicals. Generally speaking you got the superficial once or twice a day, and something more probing every week/month.

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On the idolatry of investors

It’s seems you can’t tune into any sort of political debate on the economy these days without a glut of commentators and politicians lining up to tell us how all our problems can, nay must, be solved by ‘attracting investors’. We must do everything we can, we’re told, to catch the eye of these incredibly elusive and rare beasts, who are constantly on the move and always on the lookout for the juiciest pickings.

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On the Internet, everyone should know you’re a dog

One of the things I hear on occasion is the maxim ‘People buy from people’. Usually what people mean when they say this is that the only real way to sell things to people is to go meet them, shake their hands, wine and dine them, play golf with them, organise trade delegations to impress them, and so on. I’m sure that’s still the way it works in some industries, especially those which are large, slow-moving and headed mainly by the over-50s who are most comfortable negotiating over walnut boardroom tables.

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