Old sayings

There are two phrases I said in university that stick out in my mind even now. One of them is behind the naming of this website as I noted on the about page.

The other went something along the lines of “I code in 8 dimensions”. I said while I was trying to figure out a tricky iteration loop, to try and describe the visual mindset I get into when I’m “in the zone” with something. I don’t know why I said 8 dimensions, but it seemed apt at the time.

I still kind of think that I think differently from other people. That I visualise things much differently. Not that anyone really thinks alike, but I think my mental processes are quite a bit different from what is considered the norm. I can’t simply turn my mind off – something which troubles me occasionally – it doesn’t relax.

It comes into my roleplaying as well – I get times when I’m not just pretending to be someone else, it’s more like I assume their personality. I don’t need to think about what they would do or say, I just do it – even if that’s at odds to something I would normally consider saying or doing. It’s a natural process – something I couldn’t analyse if I tried, and after having a couple of roleplaying characters make comments in my mind on something I’ve seen outside of a game, I have tried somewhat. Times like that (and like this) that I wonder if I have a mild form of schizophrenia.

Still, I can face the world.

The Hammershot

I like NERF guns. It’s not a secret. I like modding them too. Not the power mods other people do, but cosmetic ones. The guns just don’t look right in standard colours, though the Zombie Strike range is better than most. Even so, after I was done with my Hammershot, it looked even better than when I got it.

Hammershot

Repainted NERF Hammershot

I disassembled it (surprisingly easy – the internals are more or less one piece which slides right out) before hand-sanding it to get the sheen off it, and grining the logos and warnings off with a Dremel.

Next: painting. Grey plastic primer to give it an even coat to start from. Decuma Grey and Graphite Grey metallic spray paint (from Halfords) was the next step. After that, it’s all hand-painted with a mix of Games Workshop paints. The antique gold colour is a mix of Warlock Bronze, half-dried Shining Gold and a bit of Ironbreaker. The wood effect is Rhinox Hide overlaid with Skrag Brown then drybrushed with Dryad Bark (that took a little experimentation). The wrap I did in Khorne Red with a Carroburg Crimson wash. That strange bronze-silver colour on the lower bar is a mix of Leadbelcher and Warplock Bronze. The last step was to spray it all with a spray lacquer to seal the paint.

I did the sanding down and priming one day, and all the painting another. Possibly rushed it, and you can see the downside of that on the thumb slide (that small bit where the paint has slid off), but I’m very happy with the overall effect.

It received very positive reviews on its first outing at the No Rest for the Wicked Nova Corporation Ascension Day Party on Sunday night.

Conflict Resolution

So, over Christmas, I decided to play around with Bootstrap a bit. For those who don’t know, it’s a collection of CSS and JavaScript designed to make templating websites easier. I had something of a goal in mind: a website for Conflict Resolution.

Conflict Resolution is the company we set up to run No Rest for the Wicked (and other LARPs). I’d registered the domain name when we decided on the company name, but until recently, it just pointed at the No Rest website. Now, it still does (kind of), but I’ve set it up as it’s own site.

It’s actually nothing too impressive. I played around with some of the template suggestions from Bootstrap, found a style on Bootswatch I liked (Yeti) and combined the two until I had something I liked. The harder bit was getting the content right.

I’m quite happy with how it all turned out – now I just need to revamp the No Rest site to match…

And we’re back

Not that I expect anyone to have noticed the absence.

For the first time, I’m now in control of my web hosting. Following a disagreement with my previous web hosts QiQ, I’ve secured a VPS service for my own hosting needs.

It may take me a while to get everything sorted out, but it feels quite good to be able to set things up how I want them – without having to faff around with htaccess scripts that never worked properly.

That said, if you want cheap web hosting, QiQ is a good host to be with. They just weren’t the right fit for me any more.

IE-tan

A long while ago, I came across the OS-tan idea. It’s a very Japanese concept – creating characters based on software. The first version of this I came across is the attached image – various versions of Windows as anime-style characters.

OS-tans

Background, left hand side (clockwise from top left): Windows 98 (in the box), Windows 95 (wearing kimono), Symantec Antivirus (male), Windows 2000 (in front of Symantec), Windows Server 2003 (fish outfit, attacked by black cat), Windows NT (close to usual appearance, but has blue hair and a blue dress), Windows XP (holding her skirt down). Background, right hand side: Windows 3.1 and DOS (neither unusual representation is the “official” os-tan for each[clarification needed]). Foreground: Windows CE (left, fairy in light green outfit with USB wand), Windows ME (right, green hair, levitated by CE). Group image of the OS-tans, used under fair use. Artists: Sorenarini Toshiaki (illustration and finish) background Sore-Aki.

This has been expanded and there are various variants of the idea across the full range of OSes with some other software tagged in for good measure. It’s also no longer a solely Japanese concept as Western artists have picked up their pens as well.

What I find interesting today is that Microsoft has embraced the concept. In their new Asian marketing push (which they’ve also pushed across to their Western customers), they’ve introduced a robot-fighting (robots = androids; Android = Google) ass-kicking heroine (complete with naked transformation sequence). You can check her out in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHTUlF7NA2o

She’s got a Facebook page, with Japanese-style information. She’s got a real life actor that’s at the Asian trade show and her own theme tune. They’ve even given her a background that meshes with the idea that IE used to be slow and clunky but now it’s fast and awesome.

I recommend checking out the video. I don’t recommend the browser. I’m interested in seeing how this alternative marketing campaign works out for Microsoft.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

So I read two of the books. Then saw the film. That may have been a mistake.

The film does bear a resemblance to the book, but it may well be easier listing what they got right than what they got wrong (Most of the first third was accurate enough). Went to see it with Ailsa, Tara and Suzanne, and Ailsa was immensely unimpressed – but she’s geeking out massively about it; it’s entertaining to watch.

The film was enjoyable, but it doesn’t follow the book plot except in the vaguest sense. They reveal things from the second and third books, and added whole new parts cut whole cloth that weren’t even in the book, as well as redeeming one of the villains.

Still, it wasn’t a bad film – it just wasn’t the book. It’s likely going to be the next Twilight in terms of films (and audience), but has several things up on Twilight. For a start, the main character is actually pretty badass and doesn’t just wilt in the presence of danger and wait for her hero to rescue her. And vampires are mean, like they should be (as well as being beautiful creatures of the night).

I would probably recommend not seeing it with a bunch of impressionable teenage girls – they may shriek at the sight of Jace being badass.

Kick-Ass 2

Otherwise known as “Ass-Kick” or “The Ass-Kicker”. You’ll get it if you’ve seen it.

Went to see it with Sam, Andy, Andy and … I forget. It was a good film, I was entertained and I had quite a lot of fun, though I didn’t manage to see Luke in the big fight scene (I assume he was masked). It was hugely predictable, but that doesn’t matter – not when it’s done well.

There was character growth, and idiocy, and some really dodgy name choices on the part of the bad guys. I mean… yeh…

I don’t really have a lot to say about it, apart from apparently there was something after the credits and I missed it… Argh!

IoD National

So it turns out I’m really bad at updating this regularly. Who’d have thought that? Oh wait, I did.

So let’s try this again. This last weekend, I went down to Buckden for the IoD National. Having found out a few days beforehand that I wasn’t playing any of the games like I thought I had been, I was in a surprisingly good mood.

On the Friday, I co-ST’d/NPC’d Geist, then NPC’d/ST’d Awakening before spending the evening playing board games and drinking cocktails (thank you Matt Sanderson). The games were fun and I met some new people through the process of NPC’ing with them and ST’ing for them. Then there was the Mage soft RP session late at night which had both some surprising IC and OOC results…

Saturday morning, I was back to NPC’ing/ST’ing Awakening which was interesting, followed by the AGM. After that, I had a bit of a breakdown. I’m not entirely sure what caused it. A perceived exclusion, a lot of noise… I just ran out of cope. I held myself together enough to get to the NPC brief for Forsaken and I took longer than I should have to get in character – it was just a lot of effort to get into costume. I’m glad I did though, as I had quite a lot of fun ranting about the unnatural abomination that was my alpha (all in fun, no real-world views given). After that, I didn’t feel like doing much but I got caught by Reb as I went to go get some of my stuff and he convinced me to NPC for him. So glad I did – I haven’t had that much fun with a character in years… Apologies to any Lost players I may have creeped out.

Sunday brought about packing and some vague NPC’ing, but I was mostly just providing some continuity as I didn’t have much I could connect to and I couldn’t bring myself to stay in character for an extended period.

Then the long journey home.

Still, I had more fun that I expected, and I met some lovely people I hadn’t met before and reconnected with some lovely people I hadn’t seen properly in a while. All-in-all, an excellent weekend.

54 draw 3

This is a system that’s been getting discussed for a while. It’s a resolution system designed to be used for systems such as New World of Darkness in a LARP environment. You start with a full deck of playing cards (standard 52-card deck + the jokers [hence 54]). You then follow the below pseudo-code.

$dicepool = calculate_dice_pool($your_sheet);
$successes = 0;
$cards = draw_cards(3);
foreach ($cards as $card) {
	if (is_number_card($card)) {
		$temp_dp = $dicepool;
		while ($temp_dp > 10) {
			$temp_dp = $temp_dp - 10;
			$successes = $successes + 1;
		}
		if ($temp_dp >= $card->$value) {
			$successes = $successes + 1;
		}
	} else if (is_joker($card)) {
		$new_cards = draw_cards(2);
		$cards = $cards + $new_cards;
	} else {
		// failure
	}
}

It’s not so difficult to understand.