Well, this is now the third attempt at writing this thing. It wasn't until i said "2016 Reto" to my girlfriend did i know how to structure and write this post without it coming across as totally depressing. So, i'm going to write it in the style of a "Scrum Retrospective"*.
For those who are unaware, its an Agile-Scrum management technique. And if that made no sense; in essence we get the team into a room once every 2 weeks, and we go through what went well, what went badly, and what things we could improve on.
So, with those three headers in mind, lets crack on with 2016!
From a personal point; 2016 was rather good. I met my girlfriend, I learned a load at work, I've moved into my own flat, written a whole load of code, attended multiple tech conferences, traveled around California in a van, saw my big sister get married, tackled my OCD, dungeon mastered a fair number of Dungeon and Dragon games, and a whole load of other things i can't think of right now.
In essence, quite a lot of cool things. Here, check out this cool picture of San Francisco:
From a Video Game perspective, things have also been pretty good. Managed to play a few games such as The Flame In The Flood, Stardew Valley, and GTA 5. Oh and of course Pokemon Go, which i wasn't a fan of but it was rather great to have Pokemon be thrust into the public light again.
Films have been pretty great too. Deadpool happened, which no one thought it would and it was fucking great! Rouge One i loved, and glad to have a bit of Star Wars back in my life.
Books wise, i managed to FINALLY finish The Wheel of Time series, which was excellent. And also sneaked in The Martian too (highly recommend).
Trump and Brexit are the two obvious ones that come to mind. Brexit has thrown our political environment into total disarray, while Trump has shown that you can be sexist and racist, and still ascend to one of the highest stations in the world.
To me, these two events showed something much worse; how bad we are at communicating, especially when there are parties that are trying to withhold information.
For example, the DailyMail was totally pro-leave, to the point where facts didn't matter. They have now fully shifted into the position "opinion is fact", and should be treated as such. They've given up trying to create a line between the two. And the aren't the only ones to do this.
I think a great example of this was Corbyn. Though I don't agree with him as a party leader, it was interesting to see the media go totally crazy over it. The random and shit articles shared just to try and pursued people that he was "bad". Interestingly, this lead me to believe that social media had more power than was previously though and enabled someone who was so despised by traditional media to rise. This was a double edged sword though, as the concept of the Echo Chamber occurred. For those of you who are unacquainted with the term its the concept where all of your Social Media reflects your own views thus you end up in a sort of "bubble of news". Then of course, couple that with fake news, you've got a recipe for a hyped up collection of people all believing lies and not knowing what the hell is going on. And hence we entered into a "Post Truth" world.
And so Trump. And I'm not going into that mess without at least three shots of Vodka and maybe a couple of car-battery powered jumper cables attached to my nipples. A rusty car battery. And rusty cables.
Games had the standard COD crap that come out every year, as well as the mess that was No Mans Sky. Film wise, we had Batman Vs Superman. It was a mess. Lets not go into it.
On a more personal note, my grandmother died this year. It was rough, and i miss her greatly. Over the Christmas period my Granddad and Dad went out and bought two trees. We dug the holes, and planted them in her memory.
As my ex-housemate pointed out to me, i seem to pick up a new project every week. New ideas take president over old ones, which is not good as i never get anything finished.
So Instead, this year I'm only going to allow me to work on 3 different projects at any one time. So, what are these projects?
Those are the 3, plus trying to blog a little more as I've sort of forgotten to over the last 6 months.
I got into a crappy habit last year where I'd not have anything in the fridge, as i had a Sainburys local across the road. That meant i could go out and buy ingredients etc. whenever. I no longer have that luxury. Also, i found that i had less time at home, and less of a reason to be at home. Over the last 9 months, i felt as if I've not spent any time in my own flat. I need that reset time, and i plan to try and get it this year. Organisation is key.
So, that's 2016 in review. While a lot of it was doom and gloom, the world hasn't ended just yet. We should look to the future, and try and make it the best we can. Happy New Year everyone!
*Those of you who actually study Scrum, I'm aware this isn't quite accurate. But it gets the job done and that's what actually counts. No? Ok, process is what matters you Waterfall** loving corporate stooges.
**Waterfall is a software development methodology. Just, so ya know. Learnin' is fun and stuff.
So a few weeks ago, i gathered a small group of friends to play D&D (Dungeons and Dragons). And hereâs how it went.
First, lets set the scene. Twas a rather warm, Saturday night in early August. Weâd gathered drinks, food, and were sat round the table in a small flat in Upper Holloway, London, ready to begin our game.
The party consisted of Robbie, Rosie, Liz, and William. These four intrepid adventurers had no idea they were about to embark on a life changing, life affirming, journey through a magical world consisting of goblins, more goblins, some wolves, a Bugbear, and more goblins. Oh and, one character would become intimately aquatinted with a horse.
Anyway, our 4 characters began their journey with little information other than they were traveling towards Phandulin; a town to the south of Neverwinter who's inhabitants had recently rediscovered some old mines. As a result, these 4 found each other on the path to town, and maybe their fortune.
The party walked through the countryside, with the road taking twists and turns, with steep slopes on either side. Rounding a bend two dead horses appeared, riddled with arrows. Clearly not a natural cause of death. William, being of brave heart but soft of mind, decided to go and check them out straight away. Rosie, being equally curious, joined him. Liz and Robbie stayed with the wagons. Smart folk.
Suddenly, four goblins appeared, two sets on either side of the road. Of each pair of goblins, one had a bow, and the other a scimitar, with the latter loping their way down the hill towards the horses. A TRAP!
With the war cry of the goblins (think of the sound of a gobbling turkey, but poorly imitated) ringing loudly in the ears of the party, they sprang into action. Except, they were all startled, and so the Goblins had the jump on our untested party. Would the part collapse under the weight of this sudden attack?
The first of the goblins reached Will. Slicing with itâs Scimitar, it dealt a painful blow to William, causing winces from the rest of the group. Blood poured.
Next, a well place arrow from one of the hill goblins landed in Williams shoulder. Causing another collective wince.
The other running goblin headed into the fray, going for Rosie. Though due to a misplaced since of skill, the scimitar was thrown around wildly but totally missed itâs target.
The final goblin, who may have suffered from a slight and sudden bout of hayfever, fired his arrow into an adjacent tree.
Now it was our turn for our adventurous to fight! Robbie, pulling is bow from his back and nocking an arrow was fluid grace, fired and struck one of the goblins near William. It collapsed into a pool of warty flesh.
Liz, loosening one of her war axes from its belt hook, flung it up the hill. Hit over shaft it span, over and over. Until it laid to rest between the eye and nose of a goblin. It fell, leaking and quivering.
Rosie, rousing herself up from the âsurpriseâ, rounded on the goblin. Heaving her war hammer, she swung. However, the goblin managed to escape from reach, but not without loosing an arm to the hammer.
So far, our party has done well. Two goblins down. One missing a limb, and the other way seeming to be lame of aim.
But what of William?
Itâs said a mans bravery can be found in his blood. This could well be true; William had lost a lot of blood. He turned and limped his way out of the battle, towards one of the dead horses. Taking his sword, he sliced a cut through itâs belly large enough to crawl through; he did so.
The battle continued. Robbie, running up the hill where the last goblin archer could be found. Liz, sprinting forward, finished off Rosieâs job. Which left them free to follow Robbie.
Upon seeing the adventurers turn and run up the hill, the goblin decided to screw it and run for the hills. Though, most creatures are not fast enough to outrun an arrow. Robbieâs arrow struck through itâs leg, and caused it to collapse. Our the adventurers arrived, and Liz subsequently bonked it in the head putting it out cold.
From here, our party woke up the goblin, reclaimed William from a Horses innards, and went on to discover much more. I guess what Iâm trying to say is this; give Dungeons and Dragons a go. Find some friends, make an evening of it, and have a whole lot of fun.
If youâd like to know more, or would like to know what happened next; contact me on twitter. I might be tempted to continue the yarn.
Some of you who know me in the real realm, may know that i suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And those of you who don't; well, now you do!
I guess i should do some level of explanation as to what OCD is, and how it effects me and my day to day life. Fyi, if you came here for a blog about games or tech, this one ain't gunna be that.
Anyway, what does it mean? A lot of people think OCD manifests a little bit like this;
Which is partially true. Richard O'hara suffers from OCD, and that's how it affects him; two gunshots means he has to stamp is left foot 4 times while counting. But why would one do that? And what does it mean?
I guess it's probably easier to explain from my own perspective.
My own OCD boils down into 2 main areas;
The above two link together, and feed off each other. Lets start with Disaster prevention.
Each morning, before leaving the house, i'll count the hobs on the stove in a certain order. This order must be right, else i'm over powered with a sense of anxiety that is only sated when i complete this count correctly. The anxiety is caused by thoughts of that A: a family member might die, or the house will burn down, or something horrid will happen at work. And so on. This is where the negative / intrusive thoughts come into it.
But why would i think like this? I honestly don't know. This is not born out of logic. It's just how my mind works in this situation. It's sort of a ritual, a ward, against the day and bad things. Maybe a prayer?
The negative and intrusive thoughts are something that occur at almost any time, and they can be nasty. But actually, these are thoughts most people have. The difference lies in not simply bushing them off, but instead being scared and angry at yourself for having them. I beat myself up about having such thoughts. Not great.
Some of these thoughts skew risk analysis of a typical situation, such as thinking that if i shut this door someone might get trapped inside this building and there could be a fire and angry killer bees! Basically, if the outcome could result in something bad happening, not matter how unlikely it could be, it would result in a whole lot anxiety, and thus a whole lot of checking to make sure it's all ok, and this outcome can't occur.
I've tackled with the above most of my life. I remember being very young, and needing to wash my hands often as i was worried that i'd carry some form of bacteria that could kill someone. Since then, its manifested in a multitude of different ways throughout my life. Yayâ¦
So, why suddenly am i now writing about this? Well, recently I started getting OCD training (therapy?). OOOOoooooo!
What this means is that once a week i have an hour session where I receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This is basically a mix of looking at how my OCD manifests, and why. It also entails challenges such as leaving the house without checking things to show nothing bad will happen, or wishing ill on my therapist to prove that my negative thoughts have no effect on the outside world.
This has been rather challenging, and there have been times I've failed, but on the whole I'm slowly getting better. I'm learning tools to combat these thoughts and feelings, and ways to manage my anxiety, and deal with it's source.
The two main approaches that work for me are standing up to the thought, or abstracting myself away from it.
Standing up to your own mind is a little bit odd. Almost like two voices. One freaking out like a caged monkey, the other firmly stating that it's wrong, and shouldn't be worried about this. For example:
"OH DEAR GOD CHECK THE TAPS AGAIN YOUR HOUSE WILL FLOOD AND IT WILL COST SO MUCH MONEY"
"I've checked them. It's done. It doesn't matter. If the place does flood, i can solve that. It's not a problem"
"BUT NO! IT WILL BREAK EVERYTHING YOU OWN. YOUR HOUSEMATE WILL HATE YOU. YOU WILL SUFFER!!"
"My housemate wouldn't hate me. It would be an accident. I would forgive him for the same. I've checked it. It's fine."
The abstracting thought process is a tad different. It's more acknowledging the thought, and going "Yeah, that's fine. I'm allowed to have that thought. I'm not a bad person for it. It doesn't matter".
And so, over the last few weeks, I've slowly reduced the OCD tendencies that i have to do on a day to day bases. And it feels pretty good. Don't get me wrong, i'll never be 100% free of anxiety. It won't ever go. But i'm starting to feel far more in control. And i feel far more prepared for the future.
If you think you might suffer from OCD, then go ahead and talk to your GP. They should be able to refer you. Though it won't be an easy process doing CBT, it's worth it and you'll feel better in the long run!
Anyway, a slightly deeper blog post this time. Next one will probably be lighter.
This Easter weekend, I took a trip back to my home town where i got to see my family and friends. Was rather pleasant, and got to enjoy the country side. Anyway, whenever i meet up with my good friend Nick, we always get into discussing video games and how they've changed, how we've changed, and generally what we like and don't like. This time, he posed me a question; "Do we expect more from games now?" to which i couldn't answer. It's the sort of question that takes a little bit of breaking down first.
So, lets go ahead and break it down!!!
quick note: I'll be talking about consoles mostly. So try and frame the rest of this article that way... Thanks bud!
First, lets all acknowledge that games are not the same as they were 15 years ago. To put how long ago that was, the GameCube has been released (if not, at least announced) and the Dreamcast was on the scene. Games weren't really online, and were either fully solo experiences or local multiplayer affairs.
Jump ahead 6 years, and suddenly Xbox live and Playstation Network became a thing. Games needed to have some form of online offering, and developers were slowly getting to understand how they could leverage the internet in new and novel ways.
And now here we are at present day. Indie games have grown into their own genre in the public eye (they've always been around, but it's now more "a thing"). "AAA" gaming (i hate that term) is now bigger than ever, with larger budgets, bigger game worlds, orchestral music, voice acting, and big ass marketing campaigns.
So, it's undeniable that things have changed, but that doesn't really answer the question; do i expect more?
This is a little bit more difficult to define. I guess, above all, i expect to be entertained ("ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!"). I expect to enjoy myself, and come away with either a smile on my face, or a heavy heart after an emotionally weighty scene.
Fun is one of the main reasons why i bother playing video games. A level of escapism that allows me to forget the world around me for a few hours and just enjoy myself. This can vary, but for me it's usually it's narrative driven with some fiendish puzzles and rewarding combat. But this just narrows down what i like. If anything, I've become more focused on what kinds of games I'd enjoy since growing older; bit like with books, movies, and coffins.
So, games have changed, and i have a pretty solid idea on what i like. Do i expect more from games now?
I guess not. I know what i like, and as a result, i don't think i care if a game has amazing graphics ("Look at the shiny shiny"), or if they have some funky new feature such as jet packs. There are two great examples of this; The Elder Scrolls and The Legend Of Zelda. I'll start with the former.
I got into The Elder Scrolls when Number 4 was released; Oblivion. Which also just celebrated it's 10th birthday this past week. Congrats. I love/loved this game because it painted such a complete world. It had interesting quests. It had a fun combat system. It was just... Somewhere i could escape to and fully enjoy. Fast forward a few years, and Skyrim was released. I didn't buy it for it's graphics (though damn they looked nice; dem dragons yo), nor did i buy it for its innovations (mainly because there wasn't a huge amount), i got it because of the world.
One could argue that Dragons were a "gimmick", but they were part of the main narrative, and continued with the world building. You had to be careful of them. They were a challenge. They were a puzzle and an enemy rolled into one. That's awesome. Not something i expected, but a great addition. I don't require them in the sequel however.
In the space of a number of years, what i wanted from it hadn't changed, purely that i wanted more storyline, and another world to explore. True; without the additions it wouldn't have been as good. But to me, i wanted another trip to Tamriel. And that takes precedence over any new gimmick.
Lets move onto Zelda; that series that's not changed since Ocarina of Time was released in 1998. True, the graphics have improved, and there are new features and abilities, but mostly it's the same game that's been churned out for years. And yet I'll still buy them. They build such a compelling world (for me at least), with great dungeons and colour characters. It's like playing a fairytale of old. It doesn't get bogged down with politics of today, nor does it try to be anything more than it is; a simple tale of an adventurer trying to overcome insurmountable odds. I love that, and it's one of the reasons i love fantasy and sci-fi.
But do i expect Zelda to be more? I expect it to progress in some respect. I would like voice acting to be a thing, and I'd maybe want a more complete world. And that might be because I make that comparison between Zelda and Elder Scrolls, which is not entirely fair.
What i'm trying to say here is that there is no simple answer. I can't say I expect more from games when I play games that don't change much between iterations. At the same time, i do expect some change when it comes to ideas, and in some respect graphics. I think I'd get a little annoyed if Zelda was still 8 bit, regardless of the gameplay.
Well, that was an unsatisfying answer now wasn't it?
Holy shit, it's been way too long since my last post. Like two months. So with renewed vigour, here I am again; filling your screen with semi coherent ramblings.
Actually, I should probably go into why I've not written in a while. Simply, I put myself under too much pressure with writing. I want to be the best (like no one ever was), but I really got to walk before I can run, and remember I do this for fun. So, I'm back again to just write and have fun.
Guess I should talk about what I've been up to these last two months. First off, working real hard! Did a work hackathon which was awesome. Oh and coming up with crazy new ideas and concepts. Speaking of which, if you check out my GitHub you'll find like 4 partially finished projects involving Twitter Streams. I plan to do a write up of that stuff soon enough, so stay tuned (Sneak peek; Python can go suck it!)
I've also been playing around with node.js and Knockout js. Both have been a whole lot of fun, and I plan to try and convert this website over to it. Should give me more freedom than what PHP currently offers. I also really need to put my PHP framework up on Git hub, and let others have fun with it. Need to try and extract it out first, and create some documentation.
Speaking of my website, it could do with a few tweaks and fixes. First, the crazy SSH issue which comes from my self-signed certificate. Yeah, you'll spot that if you check your console. Ha! Yeah, I'll fix that when I convert to Node. I'll also try and make it easier to view Photos and other bits and pieces, as well as optimise for Mobile. Currently it looks a little shit.
Ya'll know I love Movies and Games. I've not only been buried deep code these last few months. Recently bought a copy of Red Dead Redemption, as well as Fallout 3. Both are excellent. I'll probably do some form of Retro Roundup soon enough. Also got to see Jurassic World recently, and thoroughly enjoyed it! Will get around to writing some form of write up before that disappears from the cinema.
When it comes to the random blogs like the "What is code"Â etc. I've got another piece already in the works about the internet. So watch out for that one!
And now looking back on all I've just written, I've just realised that I've got a lot to do over the coming weeks"Â¦ But let's be honest, I'd be bored if I didn't!
Oh, and they just added AC/DC to Spotify"...
Yep. You read that correctly; I'm going to discuss online dating.
Ah dating. The age old ritual that was first invented in 1769 by Richard Von Date, who created the concept to win a girls heart. Back then tea, biscuits, and pistols at dawn were used. Ah, simpler times. Anyway, enough history.
The invention of the internet has brought about many changes; an open forum for the world to share it's thoughts, a place where people can get news, and watch media instantly . So of course meeting and courting people would eventually shift into this virtual, instant realm.
Being an awkward software engineer (fucking nailing the stereotype there), I have little to no luck in the bar scene. Nope, that's jock territory. And as it turns out the library isn't the best place to pick up chicks (who knew?), so I decided to take the plunge into a rather known dating site called Ok!Cupid.
When you first sign up, you're assaulted with questions about yourself. I'm not particularly narcissistic, and filling out several lines on a self-summary is rather daunting. This is made worse by the sudden realisation that everything about yourself can be summed up in about 300 words, or roughly the length of a standard Tesco shopping receipt.
Next, onto the photos. I first thought this would be super simple but, turns out that past me thought it would be funny to always pull a stupid face (prick). So I'm left with a couple of half decent ones, and
blind naive hope a prayer that my "funny" and "witty" 300 words wins the affection of some passing lady.
So, with some trepidation I started messaging people, and started conversations with people from all over the country. Ok!Cupid has the great feature that gives you compatibility score based on the questions you've answered, and for the logical nerd within this was a total plus.
So, how was my experience? Actually, not the nose diving plane I thought it would be.
I've made friends, gone on dates, had some awkward conversations, had some weird messages, and pretty much everything else you'd expect from an online dating experience. Actually, this links in with the title. Once a message has been sent, that's it. There's no hoping the other person didn't hear, or they might laugh it off as a joke. Text is a cruel bitch, and one that doesn't convey tone particularly well.
When I signed up, a friend of mine also did. They had a very different experience. Why? Because they are female.
Basically, she's inundated with messages from guys. A mix of genuine nice messages, such as "hey, how's it going.
Do not despair reader (especially if you're a girl; it's like a German butchers who care very little for their stock in there) for there is still hope. Like I said, I've made some great friends online. Plus, I've met a lot of people who have gotten together online, and are now in like super committed relationships and stuff. So it does happen.
Happy New year everyone. This is the time of year everyone decides to reinvent themselves, and everyone deems it socially acceptable to do so. I now feel old enough that I can partake in this "resolution" stuff, and so this year I'll be attempting two things.
So, bring on 2015. Come at me bro, I'm ready for you!
This website was made using CakePHP, which is a nice MVC PHP framework. It takes a lot of the development time out of doing some of the more basic stuff. It also helps with code reuse and structure. Netbeans has an add-on that allows you to develop CakePHP apps with everything already set up; very useful! This was of course on Windows.
So, after a couple of hours of development I was ready to put this site onto my server and release it into the wild. Unfortunately, it wasn't that simple. Yay issues...
I did a straight copy and paste from Windows to Linux using FileZilla, and found that it just didn't work at all. Not good. So after some faffing about, I got well and truly stumped. So I created this thread on StackOverflow. This yielded some response, and one useful piece of information; folder naming. Linux cares about the case of the Folder names, whereas Windows apparently doesn't. So the straight transfer caused issues. It took me a good number of hours to find this: "app/config/core.php". In Windows, "config" defaults to lower case, whereas Linux requires it with a capital - "app/Config/core.php". This does imply that the Netbeans add-on is a little broken, so watch out for that!
My advice is that if you can't see this mistake, take a break from working for a few hours and come back. It really helps with noticing these silly errors.
"Yes! It's displaying something... Oh wait hang on... Wha... Ah crap" - Me, several hours ago. My next issue was that "/var/www/lib/Cake/Cache/CacheEngine.php" time zone wasn't set. As a result, it was causing a wonderful error to appear on the index page. Adding this "using date_default_timezone_set('Europe/London');" to the file worked wonders. Problem solved! Just add it to the area where you're getting the error. Oh and change the time zone as appropriate (Check the list of timezones here).
I then went on to switch the database over from my local copy to my development machine. Simple config change right? Yep. Errors? Yep. The application wasn't connecting to the database; I needed "mysqlpdo", which is a database driver. More information can be found here.
You can check if it's working by creating a small PHP page in your index of your website that displays all information about stuff using this function: "phpinfo();". On this page, it states if this module is online and working - look for "pdo". This should have driver information. If nothing is there, you'll need to add it to PHP.ini file. Using that page and those instructions, as well as StackOverflow, I finally got the darn thing working.
But that's not quite the end unfortunately. All the error messages were gone, but it wouldn't view any of the other pages, only the index. I'm using a pretty standard Apache2 webserver, so after messing around with the .htaccess files, I found that what I actually needed to do was modify the apache2 configuration file to allow for "AllowOverride All" within the section that outlined where my application was stored. For most this will be /var/www/.
At last, success! I'm not going to lie, I exclaimed very loudly when it finally worked - housemate was a little confused when I went running into his room and demanded a High-five.
I know this isn't the most in-depth guide or anything, but hopefully it might point someone in the right direct in the future/remind me of how I got it set up. Enjoy! Cheers, Harry
Hello all! This is my first post on this site, and hopefully wonât be the last! I keep making new websites, just because I love doing it. Over the years Iâve had so many blogs/websites that Iâve never stuck too. But this time Iâm going to stick with this, and just fill it with content.
Iâm not 100% what the content will be; most likely random stuff I find, code I write, or just weird stories that happen. Either way, I hope you enjoy reading, and find some use of the content I put on here.
Anyway, Iâll let you guys get on! Have fun, Harry