Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Through Fuzzy Eyes

I'm taking a spin back through the things I collected in my diigo feed, fav'd on youtube, liked on vimeo, posted on facebook and spammed into IRC. Here's the cream of the crop:

Web Sites

I've never been good at being organised. Over the years I've tried a heap of different project management / todo list software and for some reason only Trello has ever worked for me.

I've got calibre (the software I manage my kindle books with) hooked into GoodReads so I'm able to track what I've read, what I want to read next and get recommendations for more books.

Simple online photo management and hosting (when combined with dropbox, or similar).


Charles Stross' predictions of what the world will look like in 500 years.

Not once in any Star Wars movie does someone pick up a book or newspaper, magazine, literary journal, or chapbook handmade by an aspiring Jawa poet.

The unique adaptability of Homo sapiens is what allowed us to survive when so many other species died out, paleoanthropologist Rick Potts contends.

The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.

I hope this goes down as one of the all time best speaches given by a human. More people should be aware of these words.



6 wonderfully produced videos which focus on professional poker player Russell Thomas in the 3 month lead up to the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table. Russell contacted fellow professional Jason Somerville to help prepare.


Incredible footage of Jeb piloting his wingsuit through the infamous "crack".


Aussie comedian Troy Kinne and his mates sum up the olympics in typical Oz gutter mouth style.


TV channel TNT in Belgium placed a big red push button on an average Flemish square of an average Flemish town. A sign with the text "Push to add drama" invited people to use the button.


The closest most of us will ever get to a hot lap behind the wheel of an F1 car.


This video perfectly captures the thrill and freedom of downhill longboarding, with out the risk of losing your own skin.


[vimeo 35114449 w=425 h=240]

This amazing footage makes me so excited to fall out of a plane again.

[vimeo 35981251 w=425 h=240]

Armed with a paraglider, amazing skills and a kick ass camera, Jean-Baptiste Chandelier created an amazing video.

[vimeo 53914149 w=425 h=240]

1200 frames per second while zooming beside a sprinting cheetah, brilliant.


I finally got around to reading this master piece and it didn't disapoint. I trudged through the next two books in the series, but they don't come anywhere near the heights of the original.

Sensational. Stephenson has always been one of my favourite story tellers and in Reamde he delivers again.

One of my all time favourite books, I re-read this book during the year and the sequel, The Gripping Hand for the first time. Both are highly recommended.

TV Shows

Don't be put off by the fact that it is about Manhattan's top corporate lawyers; this show is funny, smart, sexy and deep.

My lovely wife is addicted to this show and dragged me into her obsession. Highly watchable and witty. The Castle drinking game is also pretty awesome.

If you haven't seen this yet, don't read anything about it. Just go watch both season. In order. Go. Seriously.

From the opening scene I knew I was going to love this show. Its Aaron Sorkin (of West Wing fame) at his best.

A modern spin on the old classic. It is thrilling, funny, and outrageous. Just as advertised.

A show about a bunch of friends who are in a fantasy football league. Doesn't sound like much does it? It is awesome.


Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by a new deputy and other authorities who want a cut of their profits.

The surviving crew members from NASA's Apollo missions tell their story in their own words.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Diablo3, Starcraft2, Trackmania, Poker

For me the shine of Diablo 3's gameplay has faded away into the controversial reality of the option of either grinding for gold or investing real money to continue to be able to progress through the end game deathfest which is Inferno difficulty. I found myself being pulled back to my Starcraft 2 addiction which I'd put on hold while I hacked and slashed my Demonhunter's way to level 60 in Diablo 3, but after completing my placement matches I couldn't help but consider my options.

My enjoyment of Starcraft 2 stems from the deep learning curve and the process of progressing along it. The Starcraft 2 ladder system naturally leads to a Peter Principle; you will be promoted until you reach your own skill ceiling and will then play only matches with those who are of equal skill. I just don't feel that I enjoy the game enough to warrent the amount of time, effort and study which would be required for me to progress beyond my current diamond ranking. Unless you're enjoying that process you've got to ponder why you're doing it at all.

Starcraft 2 has that cycle of learning and development to draw you in, Diablo 3's end game reliance on items and gear to allow you to continue to progress it comes down to receiving lucky item drops, investing further real money into the game to purchase items or grinding for in game gold (which Blizard continuously make harder and harder by patching sections of the game which are found to be the most rewarding in terms of gold collection).

With these thoughts flowing through my mind, I had a flash backs to other games which satisfied my desire for a learning cycle which results in the enjoyment of realising that your skills and knowledge are improving and thus your skill at the game increases. On which I hadn't thought of for some time was Trackmania. As a racing game, at its heart, it is quite simple. The tracks are created using premade sections and can therefore tend to be a little samey, but like most things in life the restrictions lead to amazing creativitiy and imagination. The game puts the track editor into the hands of the players and a huge number of tracks are available. Some which push the boundies of the game engine in spectatular and interesting ways. Players race on these tracks against a number of players from all over the world and an extremely broad and welcoming community has sprung up. It is a real thrill to be battling against players who are playing from countries you only rarely hear about in the news.

The Trackmania end game is an endlessly repetitive, frustrating and punishing thing. Players are driven to shave hundredths of a second off their record times, eeking out the slimmest of advantages and generally getting into "the zone" to produce near perfect laps. I returned to the game for the 1st time in 853 days (I know this because the game told me when I logged back in) and found myself ranked ~2,700,000th on the ladder. After a few sessions I passed other players on the ladder who were also inactive and climbed to around 1,200,000th and decided that I was enjoying myself enough to challenge myself to break into the top million. After a few more enjoyable sessions I reached my goal and also felt that I'd got back to the level of skill I'd had when I played the game all this time ago.

So I was left again pondering if I was enjoying this game enough to invest the time and effort to progress in skill further? Because while I really do get a kick out of chatting with other players who are spread all over the world, in the end my enjoyment of any game hinges on constant learning and development.

I realised that if I was going to go through a reset and invest in a game I should seriously consider diving back into poker. If I'm going to invest time and brain power into something, then poker has the large advantage of actually resulting in money.

After a week, 2,000 hands of cash games and 32 tournaments I'm ahead $500 (roughly 10 buyins for the stakes I'm playing) and really enjoying being back at the tables and more importantly; getting enjoyment from studying the game and learning.