Year: 2015

  • A Comfortable Year

    Looking back on previous posts from New Years’ Eve, 2015 almost feels like a disappointment. There’s no pictures of far-flung deserts and mountains this year—I haven’t been abroad with work for so long that British Airways sent me a nice letter, telling me I’d been demoted to a mere peasant in their eyes and could no longer abuse the facilities of the business class lounge.

    We did manage four days in Vienna, and whilst it went some way to broadening the family’s geographic and cultural horizons, it mostly consisted of us improving our understanding of how to sleep in high temperatures, and whether it is possible to live on a diet of schnitzel alone.

  • Blast From the Past: Dragon’s Claw’s Chromatic Skill System

    Back in the dim and distant past of my school days, Dreaming Awake was called “Dragon’s Claw” and was going to be a video game rather than a book. As far as I can tell from trawling the Internet Archive, not much was posted about it online, but for some reason today I remembered the design work we did on its skill system.

    To my knowledge no game since has implemented something like this — probably because it’s not a particularly great idea — but it has a certain elegance to it so I thought it worth documenting.

  • Exploiting Conde Nast Magazine Subscriptions (for fun and profit)

    I have a pile of unopened subscription copies of Wired UK piling up in the hallway, so this evening I decided to try cancelling my subscription. It looks like you can only do that by email or over the phone, but for other subscription changes, such as change of address, the Condé Nast parent company offer a very helpful website. Rather too helpful.

  • Optimising for Download Size

    If, by some vanishing small probability, you are a regular visitor to this website, you may have noticed a few subtle changes over the past few weeks. In part due to trying to access it from a slow mobile connection, and also in part due to a series of tweets courtesy of @baconmeteor which got me wondering how much data is required to load a simple page on my own website.

    The answer, apparently, is just over quarter of a megabyte.

  • Android Without Google

    For several years, I’ve been considering whether I could—and should—dispose of my Google account. Since I wrote the linked post back in 2011, my use of Google services has declined anyway, and I no longer use GMail, Google+ or Google Calendar. At the same time, it has become apparent that users are at the whim of Google’s decision to close unprofitable services (even beloved ones like Reader), and to force us into using others against our will. “Don’t Be Evil” is starting to look hilariously naïve.

    The last hold-out in my desire to dump Google is my Android phone. Without a Google account and the closed-source “Google Play Services” blob that sits at the core of an Android phone, the experience is diminished significantly. While I like my phone’s hardware, I am not fond of the Google integration that I no longer fully trust. So, for the last few months I have been experimenting with running Android without Google.

  • Last Flight of the Vulcan

    The morning dawned slowly, dark and damp. The roaring of the coffee machine echoed the roaring of the rain driving at the windows outside, and we assumed that would be that for the air festival this year. Looking at the forecast, it seemed like summer itself was over too. The next week will be overcast and wet, and then it will be September, and the long autumn season will draw in.

    But by lunchtime the weather had brightened; one last gasp of summer sunshine, just long enough to let the Vulcan fly her last Bournemouth show.