five on a seat

With a heading like that, I feel like I’m channelling the Famous Five and that may yet lead me down an interesting path for headings…five take a flying jump and so on. Here’s another five articles of vague interest:

another 5

The downside of leaving it too long is that I end up with too many to cull to get it down to 5. No particular pattern to my selection, other than vague interest and curiosity.

drive update

After many years living mostly alone, living with teenagers, aside from the regular challenges of living with teenagers, has some unexpected issues.

The hard drive on the PS4 was full! We had to delete stuff to add a game.

I’ve never had a full hard drive on a console before. I don’t buy enough games and I tend to play in spurts. Back in the day, I bought a second memory card (8MB per card) for the PS2 just in case, but never used it. The PS3 continues to power on. The Atari’s games are standalone cartridges, no save files whatsoever.

The PS4 has 500GB and Sony have just released an upgraded model doubling the hard drive to 1TB. However, I had heard it was possible to install a new drive yourself and sure enough Sony even provide instructions. Somewhere along the way, I came across someone who had installed a 2TB drive as they figured 1TB wasn’t big enough. Given we’ve filled a 500GB in less than 12 months, they might be right.

On Saturday, I popped down the road and bought a 2TB drive for the princely sum of $175. This thing was about the size of a credit card and as tall as a few stacked. Got home and did a full back of the current drive which alas takes several hours.

On Sunday morning,

  1. I slid the cover off the PS4
  2. undid 5 screws
  3. took out old drive
  4. put in new drive
  5. initialised and installed system from USB
  6. restored backup, which also took several hours

All went well. The instructions were easy to follow and the hardest bit of the drive swapping was finding a screwdriver small enough.

Then I installed the new Assassin’s Creed :)

shelf by shelf 8 – a sense of adventure

I think this shelf answers the question of whether I have clutter on my shelves :-)

One thing I try to do in some spots is leave space for expansion, however all the space here suggests I may have done some weeding. I suspect I’ve probably tossed Robert Ludlum’s stuff and a couple of other writers of similar vein. Matthew Reilly seems to have hit just the right spot with me in a way that Dan Brown completely failed to do. Reilly’s last book “The Tournament” I have in e and not p, though I wasn’t particularly keen on that one. Otherwise, his action adventures have all been fab.

Two copies of Point Break could be seen as excessive but I lovez it so, plus I decided to get the bluray version when it was cheap. I loved both the recent Tomb Raider on the PS3 and Far Cry 3. The last God of War was ok but hasn’t really grabbed me as much as earlier releases. Then there is the snail shaped garden light. The downside of everyone knowing my nickname is “snail” means that at birthdays and christmas, people who don’t me well tend to try and find snail things. Some friends and family are very good at it, some not so much. With that said, I think I have access to a garden these days where I may be able to place the light.

shelf by shelf 2 #blogjune

Across. Not down.

Having chosen a starting point, I had planned to continue down the shelves, library-style; books in their groupings. Instead it was suggested that I go across to mix things up a bit. I like the idea.

book shelfTwo of my favourite comics growing up, along with Asterix and Tintin, were The Wizard of Id and Captain America. I have collected many compendiums of the Wizard, mainly though secondhand shops, most are rather tatty. I have some nice editions of Cap that appear on a shelf elsewhere. There is perhaps a certain irony in the pairing of Cap and the Wizard.

I first got into computing in 1981 and with my second computer in 1984 (Commodore 64) I discovered Infocom and the delights of text adventuring, or interactive fiction is it later became known. I eventually collected all their games, as well as those of Level 9 and Magnetic Scrolls. I used to buy UK computer magazines purely to read their section on text adventures. Though I haven’t played any in years, I usually have the Infocom suite on at least one of my computers.

a little bit of tech

I bought my partner the latest version of Google’s Nexus 7 for chrissy. Over the last couple of months I have watched it in use and played with it myself. This thing is light and cute and fast and cute. Really. At that point, I was using my Transformer Prime mostly in tablet mode though I was finding it a little on the heavy side for reading the SMH in bed.

nexusI thought a new tablet might be in order and had a look at the smaller ipads, figuring it had been a while since I bought an apple :-) I didn’t mind them but they didn’t impress particularly and just didn’t look as cute as the nexus. So a couple of weeks ago I bought a nexus for me, having checked staticICE for a good price. The nexus has rarely been out of my hands since. It is the best tablet I have ever used; it’s fast and the screen looks fantastic. It’s light in my hand and all my usual apps are running well. The size is just about right too, though I think slightly smaller might be even better. Battery life is fab and it’s always close to hand so I’ve been picking it up for casual reading every other moment. It’s been a long time since I read the SMH* on a daily basis but now I’m downloading it via the app every morning and having a browse throughout the day.

When setting up the nexus I used the restore option from my gmail account which meant all the stuff I used on the tablet and the phone, both android, were automatically loaded on to the nexus, and importantly that included their settings. Wifi access is fantastic. There are spots in the house which I thought were unreachable on the house network but the nexus still manages to get a bar of connectivity. One of those spots is the bed. With the previous tablet, I used to use my phone as a wifi hotspot to download the papers, whereas the nexus is fine.

I’ve even bought some games…I came across a mention of an interesting game called The Room and paid a huge 99 cents for it. Very, very addictive. It’s a puzzle game though not excruciatingly hard. Atmospheric with a strong steampunk oriented look and feel. Satisfying. I have since paid $3 to buy The Room Two which I’m now in the middle of.

* I recently bit the bullet and took out a subscription to the digital edition of the SMH. I now have it installed on all my devices across mac, PC, and android.

g is for games

I have to do a presentation tomorrow…just a 5 minute lightning talk but my consciousness is utterly lacking. I slept well last night and generally sleeping a lot better in recent months. Perhaps the buzz I mentioned yesterday has caught up with me. I don’t know.

I have managed to throw a few things together anyway and I have my topic sorted out: the preservation of computer games. However I’m not touching so much on the preservation itself but rather, what I believe is one of the controversies in the field. In book terms, we talk of content vs container especially as we describe the move from print to digital. For many books, the container doesn’t matter, however occasionally it does, and I have documented elsewhere my fetish for nicely bound editions of books that interest me.

So too, in gaming. There are numerous games that have been ported and for which there exist emulators on a variety of systems. This means that the content remains available as technology advances. I’m also interested in the potential for preserving the experience of gaming whether it be:

  • the sound of a dialup modem “handshaking” at 300 baud (or even 1100/75)
  • the whir of a C64’s 1541 disk drive as it loads data between turns
  • the sore thumb from overuse of an Atari joystick

This is a harder thing to preserve as it means preserving working equipment and in that direction, there are some efforts to preserve hardware too. With that said, does anyone really want to destroy their bodies using poorly designed joysticks anymore?

compiling memories

A post from Peta on lint today, referenced a quote from Graham Nelson. I never knew him but I recalled that I used to be in a related usenet community, though it must be said, I mostly lurked and rarely engaged. The community was devoted to interactive fiction, or as I knew it growing up: “text adventures”. Nelson helped reverse-engineer the code base used by Infocom to create their wonderful text adventures and built a platform called Inform, so that other people could write and share text adventures.

infocom titles

My singular contribution back in the, I think early 90s, was to compile that Inform code (written in C) tailored for those using the 68030 based Amigas. This was not a big contribution and simply involved running it through the compiler and uploading the resultant executable to an ftp site. This was back in the days when I was studying computer science at Wollongong Uni and had a commercial C compiler (then Lattice C, later owned by SAS I think) on my amiga to aid me in my work. I did have internet access to the uni computers but this was rather slow running at 300 baud so having my own compiler made a lot of sense. I didn’t really understand, or have much experience, with gnu and other such tools, at that point.

sputtering along

Been a while though with some good news: I’ve passed my 6 month probation at the State Library. I think that means I’m safe-ish for the next 18 months, until my contract ends. This is good news. I was saying to someone on Friday that while there are pluses and minuses, it feels like I’m in the place I should be. A different sort of work and a different sort of pace. One of the aspects of the job I’m hoping to develop more this year is dealing with data, particularly OAI and API type stuff. I’m still somewhat new at this sort of thing but have been pushing myself out into associated communities. Plus I’ve done a couple of coding workshops at conferences on interacting with such. Early days though.

However, it’s not all good as I managed to put back on all the weight I lost in my first 3 months in the new job. I totally blame an addiction to a computer game called Skyrim that lasted about 3 months or so. Very addictive. Most days, I would return home after work and sit on the couch, playing through til well past bedtime. Needless to say, weekends disappeared all too quickly. Food was rushed and consumed while playing. Not a healthy lifestyle. Though I’ve racked up a few hundred hours of actual game play, it remains unfinished. I stopped playing 3 weeks ago and have been rediscovering my life since, even cooking and eating at, if not a decent time, not too late either.

I’ve also been conferencing. In changing jobs, I was anticipating a drop in the number of conferences I attended. So far the only difference seems to be that I’m now self funding my attendance :-) In my first 6 months in new job, I have been to 5 conferences: NLS5 (Perth), Library Camp (Perth), THATCamp (Canberra), VALA (Melbourne), and Library Camp (Melbourne). Admittedly both library camps were one day events following a major conference. I think I’m enjoying the camp approach the most: there’s room for learning new things, room for talking about new things, and room for generally socialising. All done with a group of people similarly minded; made many new friends.

a coffeeThere’s been an odd development in the last 6 months too: I’ve come to the conclusion that I no longer like staying in hostel dorms. There, I’ve said it. The Perth trip last September was the first time I stayed in a room alone: though it was my own room in a hostel with shared bathroom/dunny. $70/night instead of $25. The privacy was nice. I didn’t feel like I had to be totally paranoid about my belongings…or worry about my snoring, or other people’s snoring. On my recent trip to Melbourne, I found a room discounted from $320 to $90/night and that was fab. I’m getting rather used to this :-)

On the tech front, I now have a mac desktop tower at home, XP based desktop at work, an XP based netbook (ASUS Eee 901), and an android based phone (Samsung Galaxy S2). Whereas in my previous job I had the same XP based laptop for work and home, the same netbook, and an iphone. 6 months on and the mac continues to piss me off regularly. Though I’ve recently been reminded that it has a full unix underneath it and I’ve just set up a web server (XAMPP for Mac as I have XAMPP for XP on the netbook) so I can work through the code from the workshops I’ve been to; not to mention as a space for developing code to handle XML and manage data sets. Some aspects of the mac I like and some aspects I don’t. It doesn’t seem as flexible as the PC or as modifiable. Being a keyboard junkie, I consider some of the keyboard shortcuts on the mac to be utterly stupid. Plus there’s a design ethos for the OS (Lion) to work better with smaller screens rather than my 22″ widescreen desktop.

The Galaxy S2 has been a wonderful delight – I was very fond of the iphone 3GS I had which I had to give up when I changed jobs. This was a few months prior to the launch of the iphone 4S. 6 months of use later, I love the S2 and am very happy that I didn’t wait for the 4S. Speed is good, flexibility is good, and modifiability is excellent. I still haven’t replaced my netbook but I have decided on the replacement: ASUS Transformer Prime. It came out a few weeks ago: looks and feels fab. Unfortunately, only the champagne version has come out locally so I’m holding off until ASUS fixes a couple of design issues (related to GPS/wifi) and releases the amethyst grey version locally. I’m a little old fashioned when it comes to tech and would like to be able to walk into a store and buy it…not to mention return it should there be an issue.

rip gygax

A mate emailed me yesterday that Gary Gygax had passed away. Like many folk, I too played D&D in my teen years, and most of the group are still playing as we all approach our 40s. Even though I don’t sit down and play with the social group these days (and truth be said haven’t for at least 15 years), roleplaying games remain my thang. My love for interactive fiction, and particularly Infocom (and others), springs from the same well. I was playing God of War on the PS2 last night and that too, reflects the sort of environment or genre that was inspired by the work of Gygax. A mixture of fighting and problem solving, taking on the role of a character and exploring new worlds, or old worlds differently configured. One of the strengths of traditional D&D style gaming is that it’s very social: a group of people, usually gathered in one room, combining their imagination to create a unique storytelling experience. Computer games try to approach this and give as much “freedom” to the gamer as possible, but it falls very, very short of that face to face creativity, where simply tossing a beer mug in a pub can create an interesting story in and of itself.