Sunday, 6 November 2011

Journeys of different types...

Well I blinked and the Earth has spun. It is that time of year again when time appears to be moving quicker than you can react. To think that it is November already is insane, I am not entirely sure where this year has gone to be honest. (Most of it disappeared into pits of stress caused either by Uni deadlines or living arrangements, but hey I got good marks at Uni and we now have a nice house share going on.) :)

The business cards I ordered from Moo.com after setting up an About.me page did not in fact turn up in time for Eurogamer, not that I really needed them anyway as the work I was doing there was not really for networking. Although in hindsight I really wish I had gone to some of the talks at this years Eurogamer, if nothing else to get my face noticed by the people conducting the talks as they were also at this years Game City. (Where I did take my business cards with me...) Yet Eurogamer went by in a blur of screens and people and the realisation that I do not have the right mentality for marketing, as time and time again it is a sector that keeps proving to me to be an area lacking in morals and fairness. But that is another debate...

Speaking of which there are many other things that I need to blog about at the moment, however right now I have a lot of work on and just need a break while I give my mind time to think. So I shall write about my time in London and then take it from there. I also need to re-think some of my online profiles, a separate Uni blog is useful, but ain't half confusing when it comes to updates from my end and probably the readers end as well. So for now I shall pass on my story of my brief Eurogamer Expo 2011 experience, that oddly enough wasn't really about the games...

Friday, 16 September 2011

DIY and Business Cards

Well it's now September...I have to admit that I am not sure how it got to this month. I feel like it has been a rather fuzzy year. (Might have something to with wishing most of it away due to the housemate from hell though...)

However things are looking up in regards to the house we now have a house full of people that all get on and it's turned into a nice happy house share. Not what I originally thought would happen when moving back here for Uni, but things rarely go to plan really. It has also meant that the other half has been having fun with some male company about and has been tackling one DIY project after another. (Doing a much better job of it than say my Dad has ever managed in his house - something about a hole in the wall and washing machines, I gather my soon-to-be step-mum was not happy with the results.)

At present however the men of the house are currently installing a new worktop in the upstairs kitchen, something that hasn't been done since the seventies by the looks of the d├ęcor. Meanwhile the girls are either out or getting ready to go out by the sounds of it. Not something I have done for a while as I have been trying to get on with work. Most of the time this has involved getting frustrated with the lack of software knowledge or annoyance as social media. (Depending on whether I am going Uni work or paid work.) Yet I suppose it is all a learning experience, a continual one at that due to the speed in which technology and the web are evolving. (Yet that is another post topic entirely really!)

I am however happy to have found this:

It's like having a business card online and has solved the issue I was having with creating a paper business cards and the ever evolving Google Plus/Profile page. I have been agonising over creating a design for use on some Moo.com cards for the past couple of days. Of course I had some great ones in my head but was having that frustration with software packages in realising them! :) Also when I finally got to a design I liked I found that trying to decide what links went on it was tricky. Not only is there the issue of having many places on the net where there are profiles, blogs, updates etc there is also the problem of trying to fit most of that onto the card anyway. For a while now I have been using the Google Profile page as a sort of splash page and a way to collect together all those links on the net. However the introduction of Google+ has ironically changed that. There is no direct link to the About Me page now, well there is but it's not done through your profile name yet. That and the system is still in beta so things are changing a lot and I am not always sure what is visible to non-Google+ users.

So the solution came to me while just randomly searching for business card ideas, I remember seeing something about this service years ago. Probably when I was looking into promoting myself at college, now I come to think of it. So I found this site: about.me, which is just what I was looking for, a splash page that I can add links to everything else to. (Owned by AOL - always did wonder what happened to them.) Also while I was going through the set up with the intention of using Google URL Shortener to create a QR code for the About.me page to go to. However while setting up my profile I was given an offer to have some Moo.com cards using the About.me page for free (as long as I had an advert for Moo.com on the card.) This also produced a QR code that will go to the About.Me page as well as let me edit the other details that are on the back. 

Now I don't have my own design on there, and I also don't have a job title or description as such. As I don't really have either at the moment - job title is hard to sum up and as for the other I didn't want to put student on there. So I thought just keep it simple just so I had something to hand out to people if need be. Have also ordered the Recycled paper for the cards which makes them easy to write on if need be. Overall a bit of a bargain really and when I have a job title/description or for use in my end of year show I shall be heading over to Moo.com to buy some cards. :)

So I may not have had the most productive of days, but the evening has been spent learning a lot more, getting details for the gas boiler that will hopefully get installed before the first snowfall of the year! :)

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Cleaning and Moving

It appears that a summer cannot go by without a vast amount of cleaning and the moving of furniture for me. Thankfully I have not moved house this time, although I came close to needing to thanks to the tension in the house due to the bad apple of a tenant. Now this time the cleaning and moving was all done in the same house, and it was needed to get rid of the smell and muck that the bad tenant left. (We are still trying to fathom how things got as dirty as they did - but when you hear about the long string of 'interesting' tenants this house has had you start to understand why each carpet clean produces black water.)


So today was spent sorting out the upstairs of the house, a lot of work had been done already, but there was a lot to do to finalise it all. (It's still not all done, but it's close!)

One of us was on carpet washing duty, the other on tidying and I was on lets move stuff and generally straighten. (Well that and sort out yet more bedding I swear it is breeding in this house there are a total of four double mattresses with only two double bed frames - don't even ask about the amount of pillows and duvets that have accumulated. Although I can't help but notice that the nice new pillows have gone missing since the last person moved out.)

This is also after a day of taking off very old polystyrene tiling from the hall way - or what was left of it. Which mainly meant the remains of some wood-chip vinyl painted wallpaper, which is a DIY or craftsmen nightmare, and then try and not damage the horsehair plaster underneath. All while on a ladder as this is on the celling...

Poor Bod, the only man in the house at present, was the one up the ladder the day before and today was the one using the carpet cleaner. He is going to have very sore arms by the end of it!

At least though things are getting better and from now on we can look forward to a cleaner and calmer house! (Hopefully one with hot water and heating before winter starts - the boiler packed in a couple of weeks ago and the landlord doesn't have the money to fix it right now.)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

All Change and Google+

Well things are certainly looking different around the Blogger Dashboard again, mind you all of Google is getting a bit of a overhaul. Although I have to admit in some cases it is not welcome as it is very white and with someone like me who has Dyslexia and finds black text on a white screen tends to jump about a bit. The new Google grey text on brilliant white is certainly something that needs getting used to. I am sure there are programs on my laptop and things I can do to overcome this, I just hope Google implements a small customising feature in the future that will allow either customs backgrounds to their services or the ability to change the background colour.

I did find this with one service the Google Calendar, which was far too white in the new layout for me, so I switched back to the old one and used a custom image in the background of the main time/date area. (A green tinted photo of Rangitoto.)

Anyway I am aware that all these changes in a service that I use most often on the web are in part to do with the launch of Goolge+. Something that I have been using for about a week or so now, although it still confuses me, as even though it is similar to Facebook and Twitter there feels there is a lot more to learn. Yet I am liking it and I am liking the fact that what you share and who you share it with has been put back in the user's control and made a darn sight more clear that Facebook ever was. (A service that I didn't want to join in the first place but am now forced to keep due to work.) So I am very happy to be using an alternative and it has been nice to see a lot of people I am friends with switch over to Google+. (Despite it's early days!)

I do wonder though when full integration with other Google services will appear, as the one thing I have noticed is the annoying lack of integration with Buzz and Reader. Unless Google+ is to replace one or both of these. As at present I have my Twitter account post automatically to Buzz, as does anything I Share in Reader and I believe anything I post to this blog. However it is not appearing on my Google+ Stream, which is annoying but then it would be difficult to limit posts from these services into the different Circles that have been set up in Google+. A lot of coding and kinks to sort out, in the mean time Ctrl C and Ctrl V are very repeated actions when wanting to Share anything to my Stream. Not that I have done that often as I have to admit I am not sure what to use Google+ for yet. Most others in my Stream are using to share things they find on the web or photo's of events they have gone to or their own blog posts. Very few appear to be using the Stream the same way the Facebook Feed or Twitter Timeline is being used. This may just be down to the small section of people I am following on Google+ but I even find myself questioning what I should post.


For example a quick post like: 'Just been doing a mountain of housework today, now time to settle down and get on with Uni work.' Would normally appear on Facebook or Twitter, as it is a little detail about my day. My reason for sharing it: not only is it possible to do so but also from my point of view for the benefit of friends far away. I say this not to sound egotistical, but because I like to see what my friends far way are doing by what they post, even if it is small as it feels that there is still a connection there in some form.

Although in saying that I think this is more necessarily out of convenience than preference, as in the past when I moved away or a friend moved away the best way to keep in contact was to write a letter and then post it. You would get a large update on what had been going on in their life and visa versa a long time after any of it actually happened. Now with the technology we have available it is more immediate and therefore a smaller more mundane update. I would still prefer to actually talk to and hang out with friends in person, but when you are scattered the technology becomes more important and small details about someone's day can at least make you feel more involved in their life despite your physical absence from it. But that may just be me and realising that most of my really good friends now live a fair way away due to my leaving for Uni.

Anyway that was a little off topic social commentary there, what I am still not sure about is what to use Google+ for. The one thing I am eager to try out soon though is the video chat in Hangouts as I have friends and family that live far away so it's the next best thing. However we are talking about family that run Linux machines, me with a Windows laptop and my friends with Mac Books, one in Vietnam. Trying to find a chat service that will work for all and in all countries seems to be a bit of a challenge. We have been using Skype for a long time now, but it seems to be getting more unreliable recently, and now Microsoft has bought it I fear it's free future on Linux and Mac. They are already charging for the use of Group Chat from what I can understand and this is a problem for when me and my former flat mates try to chat together as we tend to catch up all at once seeing as one of them is in Vietnam and dealing with timezones! :)

So I sent Invites to Google+ as soon as I could once I had joined with a note saying that this maybe a better way to chat to each other if Skype is playing up or going to start costing. However the test will have to wait as my friend all the way in Vietnam is having problems with her Mac Book and it now using a very old Acer machine that doesn't like being used. Hopefully when she gets her Mac fixed we can test Google+ to see if it can provide that functionality that we would like to have from it.

In the meantime though I am still unsure of what to use the actual Stream for...but then that's the point it can be for whatever you want to whoever you want. Unlike Twitter, Facebook and Linked In which all seem to have a precedent for what is shared on there be it from the services themselves or the collection of people on there. Google+ is that brand new thing that is what you make of it, not what it expects of you.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Things Look a Little Different

Well it has been some time since I have posted. Have been distracted with Uni and many other things that have been happening in life. Always the way when exciting and interesting things are happening the time to blog about it seems very sparse.

Although I am pleasantly surprised by the re-arrange of the Blogger Dashboard. It has become a lot easier to read and use, looks rather swish if you ask me. :)

Anyway for now things are as hectic as usual with goings on in Uni, life and the universe and everything. To be honest I really would get concerned if and when nothing happens as the quiet life would seem so abnormal to me these days...

The good things at the moment though out weigh the stresses...as the Doctor put it so well in 'Vincent and the Doctor'. (I have been re-watching the series recently.) So as long as my pile of good things always outweighs my pile of bad things then everything is okay. :)

Two good things at the moment is my finishing of my first year at Uni, with flying colours I might add, all units at grade A. (Suppose I did deservedly get that Learner of Year Award really...) I am also travelling around this week to see friends graduate shows too! Can't wait to see Angie's (having known her for 20+ years now) as I know it's going to be amazing.

Meanwhile I have a very busy summer ahead of me, with lots of things to do, yet I hope to get around to re-shuffling around here a bit and make things look prettier and also get some decent updates done. As always I think of the perfect post when I don't have the time nor equipment to post it. :)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Nice weather tends to bring out positivity...

Well the last Uni project was all handed in on time in the end...well with twenty minutes to spare at least. The overall design document was a little rushed in the end and don't get me started on the official dev diary for that project. My brain hasn't been up to the task of posting it all up in the right order recently. I am thinking of just uploading the whole thing as a word doc/pdf or splitting it up in weeks and then uploading it. It's a beast of a document over seventy pages! :)

Anyway today there is nice weather out and I am desperately wanting to get out into the garden to enjoy the sun and start on the massive job of clearing it...alas I am at my laptop with the windows wide open so as to enjoy the fresh air that way instead as I have a lot of work to do...as always.

The new project started at Uni, and they appear to be setting a large task so as to weed out the last of the slackers in the class. It is an interesting one though - the final outcome is an animation but in the meantime where are mini week long projects that need doing. This week the idea is to create a character from one typeface...it is an interesting one as I do have a small interest in typography, I just haven't had that many ideas yet, not ones that I would like to hand in anyway. Some of what the guys on the course have produced already has been really good. But I shall not talk about that here as it belongs over on the other blog! :)

I have also been having a bit of an admin day today, there has been much to sort out as I have had a lot to catch up on from what was a very stressful March that left me rather distracted.

My giant wipe-board is not only covered in project ideas at the moment but also a long To Do List as well, and every time I have the satisfaction of taking an item off the list another one appears! A lot of it at the moment is to do with the DSA grant I got through, lots of software and equipment to help study due to my Dyslexia. However it all needs installing and then learning - then I have to insure it all, get receipts validated to get the money back on things I've bought...a rather time consuming task really; one that I am currently tackling in small doses to be honest! :)

Yet right now the task I am putting off the most is sorting out the Uni blog, as it really needs doing before I start posting about the new project and I am really in over my head when it comes to catching up! :)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Too much for one week....!

Okay, it has been a while since I have posted on either blog, as it has also been a while since I have done any decent work on my Uni projects too. There are several posts for my Uni blog caught in draft stage at the moment - I hate posting back dated stuff as I never seem to catch up. But am going to have to bite the bullet and do so I think.

Anyway It seems that I am destined to always deal with many different things at once...no matter where I move to. Although New Zealand is becoming a more and more tempting idea. That or in the middle of no where in Canada, it may be cold but at least I'll be able to get some sleep. :) Needless to say I have not been this stressed since I was living on the south coast and that is saying something...

To top it off the world as a whole doesn't appear to be having a good time of it either at the moment. I have shed tears over what happened in Japan. It is a lot for one country to deal with all in one go, kinda puts things in perspective as troubling as I may find my problems at the moment they are petty in comparison. (That's not forgetting Christchurch and everywhere else at the moment too...) Yet in today's connected and networked world are we more aware of what is going on so it seems like more than in times past at times? As before the internet, before Twitter, events that are going on in the world now would not reach our news channels until most of the worst was over. The fact that there was video of the earthquake taken by people on their phones on YouTube mere minutes after it happened is something I find difficult to get my head round at times.

I have been keeping up with the developments in Japan mainly through the internet as well, using Twitter and websites to check on the progress of the brave people in Fukushima and watch the news websites show clips from the astounding video that people took of the destruction, in some cases as it happened, which as I said I still find hard to believe that this power of nature was captured on camera by so many people.

To think that if something like this had happened several years ago when the internet was not as it is today then it would be a very different story. We would only see pictures of the aftermath of the tsunami and quake, and only then if news channels had managed to get a camera crew out there. We would be seeing more static images of these areas washed away and even then it would be after a while as it would take time for news to travel to our side of the world. A long time in comparison to the time it takes today at least.

From what I gather also the internet managed to stay more or less a stable means of communication in Japan during this time and it has been nice to see companies like Google not only donate money but use their power on the net and their resources to help in more practical ways. Simple things like updating Google Maps as soon as possible to help rescue teams plan routes and help people find their way in a landscape that must seem alien to them now.

Also due to the fact that we have been seeing some jaw dropping video of that wall of water reaching land and the destruction it caused in it's wake, not only from the air but on foot also, it gives it a sense of perspective. To get that small glimpse of what those people went through, edited or not, it makes it a more real and it makes me realise that I am lucky to be seeing all this from the comfort of my own home and am not caught in it all. That I am to be thankful for all that I have...

Yet it does also make me feel helpless, as where do you start to clean up and repair something like that....I have a huge amount of faith in the Japanese to rebuild and recover from this. Sadly this is not the first time they have had to suffer a national tragedy like this... Yet the mentality of the people there as a nation is so very different from the people here it seems. I dread to think what state the entire UK would be in right now if it had happened to us....

Anyway the positives from all this really have been seeing how people have come together to help Japan, so many countries have sent people, resources, money anything they can to help. Which is heart-warming and despite events in my own life making me lose faith in humanity, this restores it in a second, as when things really are tough people pulled together to help each other out. Also the one headline that was not seen through all this, but was mentioned a lot on Twitter, was that many lives have been saved by the engineering and building regulations in Japan.

However one thing recently that caught me off guard slightly was logging onto the PSN recently on the PS3... as for start I have to admit I didn't expect it to be up with all that was going on, but then Sony are based in many different places these days. However on the 'What's New...' section there was something a little different; instead of the games that were last played on the console, instead of adverts for upcoming games there was the Japanese flag and it linked direct to the PSN/Red Cross appeal to help those in Japan. Seconds later my bank balance was a little less and every penny of that money went to help those that need it more than I right now.

I was amazed at how easy and simple that it was to do - a few presses of the button on the controller and I had helped in some minuscule way. Seeing that there are a fair number of PSN subscribers out there if each one of them donates a small amount it is going to add up to quite a large amount and will hopefully make that small difference over there. Thank you Sony for putting that up there and making it so easy for so many people to donate something so quickly.

For now though I have plenty to do in my own life right now, the most pressing of which is a presentation due tomorrow that at present I have not started on. With everything that has happened in my home and with my family this week I am behind in my Uni work. I am angry that I am behind as well as it I really shouldn't be, but I was stressed before things kicked off...even more so now and I just don't know where to start. So have been doing small little things here and there instead...but to me it just doesn't feel like enough. Yet it will have to do!

I have been told recently by a good friend that I am more than capable of the work that I have been set. That I always manage to do well even if I am dealing with more than most. I almost felt that he was saying that I tend to thrive in the interesting times in which I have been cursed/blessed to live in. :) I just need to remember what I have achieved through previous adversity and that I am dealing with little in comparison to people half way across the world from me.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Sleep and Social Media

It has been an interesting week...I choose to stay up a little longer and carry on working, not really by choice as the house was so noisy there wasn't much point in going to bed. However the work I did get done doesn't make that much sense...really need to re-write a post over on my site...sleep deprivation and dyslexia do not make for good comprehension for others.

Anyhow I have been spending the weekend catching up on some sleep and much needed rest, along with ignoring the possible sore throat I appear to still have. This translates into spending most the the weekend plugged into my laptop on the living room sofa and playing about with various interesting things to do with my website. I have also managed to catch up with some friends thanks to e-mail and multi-tasking smart phones, things that I have come to be thankful for now I realise a lot of my closest friends no longer live anywhere near me.

Yet I do appear to like doing website related work to unwind as well as editing things down to their pixels in Photoshop! It is a good thing though as I have now learnt a little thing about the API authentication on Twitter...well say learnt...sort of come to understand why it's there. This does mean that I now have Twitter integrated into my site so when I publish a post it will also have the option of being sent to Twitter. The widget also allows me to put share buttons on my posts which I have chosen to do for Twitter, Facebook, Buzz and Linked In as it gives me a handy way to publish posts to those sites if I need to as well. Am thinking ahead here more than anything, but at the same time am worried it will come across as to presumptuous. Yet I have been reading too many blogs and articles about your online identity and representation recently thanks to a site who's owner is coming to the university soon to do a talk on social media and networking. It got me thinking and in my ever organised, verging on OCD way, I wanted to have things in place now so as not to worry about them later when I am a graduate looking for work!

It some respects the social media thing seems like a intangible concept and some people believe that there is no need for an online presence. Some people on my course are even proud of the fact that they don't appear anywhere online. I am not of this opinion as I do have a lot of sites that I use and it is not until recently that I have been concerned with how all these places may appear, let alone promoting myself. As it's one thing to have an online presence it's another entirely to get that presence noticed. I do think it works though as I have a friend that got contacted by a company interested in her work due to her online portfolio. Yet there is also my blog and website which does not get viewed by many people at all. However I have not tried to get it noticed yet and am only just starting to learn about how to go about it...yet is it really going to be worth it or is it a waste of time?

My reasoning would be that right now it's not a waste of time as I am in my first year and have the time and the freedom to experiment and try and find out what works and what doesn't. I just need to be careful as I have recently discovered by Googling my own name nothing on the net is ever truly deleted. Something that I fear some of my younger class mates may not truly appreciate yet...

Anyway this is also a slight distraction from my actual work I am supposed to be getting on with at the moment. As I feel I have a serious case of writers/artists block and just can't get my head in the game for creating my game. Maybe if I tell myself that the deadline is in a week my elusive muse may return.... :)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

New Projects Begin

Well as always time appears to be escaping me! I have had a sore throat for a couple of days now, but am choosing to ignore it in the home that it would go away. :) Which it appears it has, however my head has not been in the game when in comes to Uni work for the last couple of days.

I have been slightly distracted in making banners for the various (websites? apps? social networks?) places I can be found on the web. I decided to do it as I wanted to create a bit more a visual 'About Me' page as it were and am experimenting on here with it all before I add it to my more 'professional blog' as it were. Basically I wanted to create a more visual about page rather than have it a wall of text or full of images of things I am interested in. So I decided to create some quick and simple banners using screenshots from the various sites I use and then just putting something quick and dirty together in Paint to suffice for now. However I couldn't quite bring myself to leave it like that so I ended up in Photoshop and using rulers, pencil tools, and editing at pixel level to create some banners that I'm still not entirely happy with but am okay with posting for now. It was basically a therapeutic exercise, something that I tend to do when feeling a little grotty, usually it's something to do with the Dreamstone. :) Yet after getting a my own domain finally sorted I am now settling into that and playing about with things, basically learning a lot more than I probably need to know in regards to passing my current degree. However it is something I enjoy doing and keeps me practised in software packages that I will be using for my degree. In regards to the Dreamstone project I am still not comfortable with my current web skills to do that site justice, and this time I don't want to put anything up until I am happy with it. Though I realise that I run the risk of never putting anything up! :)

Anyway we have started new projects at Uni and they are just the kind of ones that I like to sink my teeth into, as not only are we creating design documents in one we are analysing games in-depth in the other. Then to top it off we are now going over Maya in the tech classes, something I have been looking forward to.

My only regret about the current project though is that I am working on my own again, as I would have liked to have worked with someone this time. However most people seem to want to work on their own clear ideas for this one, which I understand as that was how I felt for the last one.

Other than spending too long moving pixels around in Photoshop this week I have also had to do the cat a great injustice by booking her into the vets. She has a small sore on her lip that really needs sorting and as of today a possible tooth broken. This cat is not going to have any teeth left at this rate, she has worse luck than I do. (Three teeth out in one go due to over eager wisdom teeth.) She's an old cat though approaching fifteen I think...though sometimes I wonder as I can't believe it's been that long since she was born, added to the fact that she looks like a cat half her age. (Even the vet agreed on that one!) Plus with the new mouse toy I purchased thanks to the recommendations of a friend she acts like a new born kitten when chasing it. :)

Anyway I should consider turning in now and try and get a good nights sleep as I have a lot of work to do tomorrow due to the lack of it yesterday. I am however tempted to finish off and post the drafts that I have sitting on my work blog.....sleep would be better though. :)

Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Tidy Up in Busy Times

Well, lets see this blog has just got a little thinner again! I am having a tidy up of things online and trying to ensure a little more organisation is applied to different areas. I think it maybe more for my benefit as I like having this all neatly stacked and organised, but also for ease of use during Uni. As for the first time there is a greater emphasis on the digital side on things on my current degree, not something I have come across before in this scale when studying in Brighton. There is a small form of irony in that as the south appears to be more focused on web services and accessibility but not in the education, up here there is very little information to be found on the net. Such as the bus timetable which is apparently spread through word of mouth as there isn't even a paper one available! Yet the Uni up here really are living up to their name of being a Digital Arts School.