Anything you can do, (A)I can do better

Aha! When I said I was aiming to post more regularly, I meant it this time!

Part of the reason for slow updates here are the length of my posts. So going forward, I may be making them a little snappier. Shorter, less substance, more viewings… the, uh, Youtube paradigm of content creation.

Oh no, nope, wait, that’s a terrible analogy. I don’t want to do that at all. And I’m being unfair to Youtube. Many content creators there are doing a great job of producing longer, more in-depth videos. I mean, I’m assuming. I don’t know, I don’t watch them; they’re too long.

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хаппи индэпэндэнс даи!

Yesterday’s post may have made it seem like today was all about the lightening of the UK Coronavirus lockdown, but there was one other big aspect of today’s date! Yes, you guessed it, celebration of the liberation from unscrupulous tyranny Alison’s first birthday! A year old already, good grief. Happy Birthday, poppet.

Also, I recently realised that you could automate the process I use to write Azbuka, the “fictional language” of Cloudgazer (actually just transliterated English written in the cyrillic alphabet). Thankfully, I learned my lesson here and instead of launching into yet another project to make said tool, I had a look to see if someone else had done it already. They have!

The Covid-19 Update

Tomorrow the UK will significantly loosen its lockdown precautions and –boy– it’s been a fun few months hey? Feels as though this year is going to be like one of those days where you wait for everyone to be free, spending time procrastinating and not really doing anything; only to have it all fall through and just end up going to bed, making a note to try again tomorrow.

It shouldn’t have to, though. For someone like me with all the resources (besides time) still very much at my disposal for what I do, it should’ve been an opportunity for me to get on unhindered and somehow maximise on the situation. And what is the situation, exactly?

Yes, given that this is the single biggest change to human behaviour to have happened in my lifetime, I should probably say something about it. Covid-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus, crept up on just about everyone. At first it was a foreign news story. Then it was a casually-dismissed threat, laughed off by arrogant politicians. Then it was a real issue, with a creeping wave of precautions. But eventually, it became apparent that containment had failed and we were all going to need to do something drastic.

Far too many ignored the warnings and carried on regardless. In the UK, as in many places, government was eventually forced to bring in a lockdown: no travel except essential, no visitors even family, work from home except if that isn’t possible; in which cases, don’t work at all unless you’re providing essentials for people to live. If you’re reading this today, you probably wonder why I’m bothering to explain it; just about everyone has seen something similar happen where they live; it may not be unprecedented as a pandemic, but as a social change there really has never been anything so sudden, widespread and life-altering. And the crazy thing is, if I’d posted this blog even just the start of this year, it would read like just another weird “what if” science-fiction scenario.

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Windows 10 May Give You Cancer (But Only If You Eat It)

Another click-bait title? Seriously? (Is it still click-bait when nobody reads your blog, or does that simply make it harder to swallow that you’re doing it for the lols?)

Anyway — so recently I was looking into getting a new compact PC to play Planet Zoo on the TV in the dining room. While researching such devices, I came across this rather severe little asterisk footnote at the end of the specifications block:

“Additional taxes and fees may apply. WARNING: This product can expose you to Antimony oxide (Antimony trioxide), which is known to the State of California to cause cancer. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov”

This would appear to suggest that not only does the industrial chemical Antimony trioxide give you cancer (the State of California knows this), but it is also somehow packaged with the entirely package-less Windows 10 software. In other words, Windows 10 gives you cancer! …says the State of California, anyway. Shots fired.

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Presumptive Prescription of Proactive Procrastination Prevention

It’s around this time of year I get all nostalgic for videogames I got as Xmas presents: Age of Empires, Baldur’s Gate 2… Mount & Blade Warband. Actually, I didn’t get that one as a present, so I’m not sure where the association comes from. But I’m also reminded of where I was this time last year, and it seems like every year it gets more unbelievable how little I’ve progressed.

This time last year, I was attempting NaNoWriMo again in order to finish the sequel (or one of them) to Cloudgazer. In it, there’s a scene where we get a look into the past of the main character Kiy, shortly after he became separated from his little sister Julene. There is this one scene where a young Kiy is bracing himself for the harsh reality that it may take him as long as a year to find her, as unbearable as that sounds. Those who read the first book (and the start of this one) know however, that Kiy will still be looking for her some 11 years later. I can sympathise with Kiy here, as I feel this is how so many of my project timescales go when I think back to the aspirations of my younger self.

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So Here We Are

I can scarcely believe it’s been 18 months since I last published something on this blog. I swore not to do any more of these “oh look how long its been I promise to write more soon” bullshit posts, so I suppose that’s probably why. What you don’t see, is the mountain of unfinished drafts that have been started in the interim, but which have not yet achieved a degree of quality or completion yet that I feel they’re ready for the great wild web.

So here we are. I’m still trying to write, and code games. I have a new day-job, web development, but I’m still working on pretty much all the things I was working on at the start of 2018. Scratch that, at the start of 2017 things didn’t look all that different. It’s tough to maintain momentum. But if talking about it will help, perhaps this is what I need.

The most significant thing that has happened is that I have gained a daughter; Lucy and I are now proud parents. That might seem to put stagnating timescales of personal projects into perspective, but as she’s only been around for a month or so I don’t think that’s fair on her.

Life, uh… finds a way I guess. Of getting in the way. One way or the other.

But I feel optimistic. Parenthood is an exciting time, and honestly, it is no exaggeration to say I am inspired every day. I never claimed to be the greatest person at time management. But perhaps, if I could just improve it a little, the fruits of all the years of work on so many projects might start to at least see the light of day.

Over A Fifth Of Our Atmosphere Is Now Toxic Gas!

Isn’t it outrageous when headlines grab people’s attention with a bunch of downright lies? The only trouble is… sometimes, as in the case of this one, they are true.

Technically.

‘Technically’ is one of those sort of words that hides a whole underworld of meaning under a modest, unassuming exterior. Sometimes, the technicalities make all the difference. So, read on for the *gasp* shocking truth about the atmosphere your doctor doesn’t want you to know! Number eight will enrage you.

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NaNope

Well, I failed NaNoWriMo.

Okay, so “failed” isn’t the most constructive word to use, but I am feeling somewhat masochistic and in need of a stern talking to. This has been a difficult year for me, but I feel I’ve been making a few too many excuses. I’ve been made redundant, headed out onto the hostile airless moon that is Self-Employment, and I published my first book; which nobody knows about and I’m struggling to figure out how to make people know about it. But I am free; what more do I need?

I thought that with my workday effectively under my control, I’d be able to negotiate with myself to get the necessary time I need to write 1,667 words a day (or sixteen-and-a-half centiwords, as I have started to think of it). Problem is, that amount of time with me is a bit long, it would seem. Something like 4-5 hours, most days. Which makes the challenge at best a 150-hour commitment that earns me exactly zero toward my monthly deficit of bills.

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The Story of Cloudgazer

This has been a big week for me.

Back in something like 2003, I was laying on my back, looking up at an angled skylight and seeing only lightly clouded sky. I found myself wondering: what if that was down? What would it be like to live in a world where the sky was like an endless ocean, above and around you? Where you travelled in airships between floating cities, like islands in the vast blue void?

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