The road to Gameblast 17

Last year Munki, myself, friends and co-workers took part in a Charity event for Special Effect called GameBlast. Apart from some bad planning about start times, we had an amazing time and collectively raised £643.58 for a truly amazing cause.

Incase you aren’t aware of the charity Special Effect is an awesome organisation who strive to give those who aren’t able to enjoy gaming due to disability the freedom of playing games again, allowing them to interact with friends and family.
Although I can type of the good things they do, I would ask you to watch the following video which can do a much better job at explaining things than me.

This year we are taking part in GameBlast17 on 24 to 26 Feb 2017, with a more carefully planned schedule that doesn’t start straight after work. I think we are aiming for two 12 hour sessions so that we don’t need to work out child care. We are hoping to play some multiplayer titles, and if we can get the camera setup working correctly we shall even stream  some table top board games.

We are still working out the schedule of what we are playing and when, but most of the PC gaming events we shall be hopefully streaming the gameplay.
This post was to give me a bit of a kick up the arse to complete my fundraising page as much it was to start putting the word out about the event.

Habit This

For the last half of 2016 I attempting to motivate myself in an effort to become healthier and be more proactive in some areas of day to day life.
I started to search for applications to aid in this quest and found that there are a number of applications that have health as a primary goal, but in many cases it’s wrapped in a game or a mechanics that aims to teach you the best ways to reduce salt or training for running.
Not only were these too focused but there was alot of things that I didn’t want or need, this task of finding an app wasn’t as simple as I’d hoped.

What I needed was simple, an app that allowed me to track habits, not only those linked to improving my health, but some that we’re more as a reminder to complete them regularly. At this time I didn’t want to have workout routines, meditation plans or linking to friends to encourage me, I wanted to control the tasks and choose how I wanted to approached them.

I’ll most likely post on the exercise topic at another time, but since breaking my ankle and having multiple veins collapse in my leg due to DVT’s, extended periods of time spend on my feet can leave me feeling exhausted and unable to move easily. Low impact activities are my main approach to exercise at the moment until I can stand more strenuous leg exercises. So all these couch to 5k type things look great but I’m not in any position to be able to engage with them right now.

After trying out a number of different applications including SuperBetter, Fabulous – Motivate Me! and Habit RPG, I finally settled on HabitBull, I entered in the habits I wanted to address and tried it out for a few days before purchasing the app.
The setup is simple and once I had habits being tracked it was pretty easy to keep updated using widgets on my phone homepage. Over the next few months I tweaked the habits, dropped some that weren’t really needed and added some new ones.

The image here is an example, one of my key habits was to drink more water everyday, I obtained a large drinking bottle so I had a standardised amount that I wanted to ensure I consumed each day to receive a green circle and not the dreaded red ones. Yes I welshtroll am a complete sucker for gamification of any kind, but maybe not as far as engaging fully with as HabitRPG, who’s approach seem to be more about microtransactions or making logging of activities a little more complicated that tapping an icon, I just want to get on with things and not spend too much time.

There are most likely other apps out there that achieve the same thing (please comment if you know of any), but for me HabitBull was the perfect app at the right time for my requirements.

I could have continued my habits into 2017 as they had been, but I want to challenge myself a little more and hopefully prove to myself that I muster the willpower to achieve more concrete goals. I am attempting to be more active on a daily basis after agreeing to a challenge laid down by one of my fellow streamers, I’m hoping that I can link this into my habits.

I want to continue with my drinking water, I have a fruit bowl on my desk at work to try and encourage me to only snack on healthier options.

Do you have new year’s resolutions/approaches ?

 

The 2016 theme park

As the year draws to a close and I sit looking back on the mental rapids that the whole world seemed to endured during 2016. Of course there was the political events on both sides of the pond, that appears to be a massive blow to the freedom of citizens and a boost to corporate greed.

There was the rollercoaster ride of celebrity passings that took away many people’s heroes and champions of causes close to many people’s hearts. Everyone had differing relationships with those who passed away and each had to watch a little piece of their memories darken. For me I will miss those that made me laugh not that I was necessarily a fan of them directly but their work was something that brightened my life over the years Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Andrew Sachs, Gene Wilder & Ronnie Corbett

Me, Myself and I

Personally 2016 has seen a number of changes to my work with a number of different faces and processes being introduced, also at Home we have had a few difficult times that parenthood books don’t really prepare you for. Sadly I haven’t really blogged too much despite waiting to find the time to keep up regular entries, I want to at least hit a low target of 1 post each fortnight maybe shifting to 1 a week if that is doable. Sadly my clan lost a member this year to illness, we approached this with a clan event held in their honour and a weekend of members sharing stories and everyone celebrating the times we enjoyed in our fallen comrade and each others company.

This year Munki and I have also taken to streaming, not on any regular schedule for the most part, but it’s allowed us to play around with settings and discover things, this has also lead to getting more involved with different streaming communities. We’ve found interacting with various groups of people from many different walks of life very interesting, similar to how our clan as always worked only a little more fluid and reserved.

Along with a number of MissPsyche’s community I have had my passion for pen and paper Role Playing Games rekindled which has been a refreshing break but has also allowed be to look at ways to play these games with my Son. This has now expanded into me looking into running a game for my clan mates that are interested in picking up pen and paper RPG games, hopefully with the Roll20 app.

Have a great New Year everyone.

Blaugust cometh

Blaugust the time for blogging, for a fresh start and in y experience for discovering wonderful bloggers you haven’t encountered before.
If you have not heard of the event before you should visit Belghast who created the event and read up on this years shenanigans.

Blaugust2016_500px

The challenge this year isn’t against the looming 31 day deadline, it’s about agreeing and keeping to a schedule. Of course some folks are hoping to blog each day, while others, like myself, are aiming a little lower. This is in an effort to get myself back into the rhythm of emptying my mind online, I’ve opted to post 3 times a week. I hope this will give me a guide on if it’s a schedule I could continue going forward or if it’s too much.

Remembrance

Sadly in the last month one of my clan members passed away after a drawn out fight with illness. It’s at times like these that our friendships, discovered in the virtual realms of the internet, prove to be stronger than those in meatspace.

This could not be more evident for me as a work colleague passed away earlier this year and despite having conversed and interacted with them on many occasions, I wasn’t remotely impacted as much as I was by the loss of a clan mate.

I touched on virtual friendships this in a post I made 2 years ago the last time I took part in Blaugust : Are friends electric?. Much of that post still hold true.

Healthy Troll

Since I learnt to drive last year I’ve not been doing a massive ammount of walking that could be considered anywhere close to a healthy amount, so recently I started doing more activities in an attempt to balance things out a little. I’ve been trying to find a routine that is both practical but that also caters for my health requirements.

During the waking hours one of my calves is permanently housed in a compression stocking due to collapsed veins, a gift from a post op DVT that just keeps on giving. As a starting point this limits the type of exercise I am able to endure as it needs to be low impact and not hindered by my leg. Currently I exercise in the evenings as by 6pm my leg is already as swollen as it’s likely to become that day, so removing the stocking to get a shower isn’t as difficult as it would be in the morning for example.

This didn’t begin life as a massive health push, but I’m hoping that I can build up the usefulness/stamina of my injured leg so it’s less of a burden and allowing me to undertake more varied activities.

Old coder eyes

This week there were two occasions when I had chance to glance at some code shortly before it was due to be rolled out to live. In both cases I looked over the code, not in any official capacity as both had been through testing and peer reviewed before I even set eyes on them.

However I found underlying problems in logic that would result in either unhandled exceptions or the wrong information being transmitted. Neither is a good outcome and I pushed both of these back to be refactored by the developer.

At no point do I consider superior to any of my co-workers but it struck me as weird that I was able to spot such things after only a cursory look at the code. Maybe it’s due my history in mainframe coding, where running your code was a right pain in the arse, so beforehand you walked through the logic to ensure it worked as it needed to.

Bruce-almighty-jim-carrey-typing-computer (1)

In my COBOL years when I was new to everything in the workplace and I was learning the ropes I had a co-worker named Tim, to whom I owe much of my early programming skillsets. I wasn’t that he told me how to solve issues, but rather how to get myself in the correct frame of mind to analyse my work, processing the code like the the machine would.

Maybe in today’s development environment it’s too easy to just compile and run the code and check the output rather than walking through the lines.
If the output is correct then this code goes to testing, again the same tests are performed just by a non-developer. The same tests are going to pass again and this code will be lined up to go live, where the end user will subject the code to more variations and non-test condition situations than could have catered for.

I know this is of course one area that test driven development looks to improve matters, I truly look forward to the day I get to see some TDD that is implemented correctly rather than half baked attempts that just cater for the happy path testing.

Maybe I’m fast approaching the “I’m getting too old for this shit” destination of my working life. Somedays it really feels that way, however other days, like today, I wonder if I need to step up and teach those less knowledgeable developers those lessons that I was given that turned me into the Pain the Arse I am today.