28 February 2013

I've been attempting to find my way through Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged since roughly January last year. I've heard both good and bad things about it but it's increasingly looking like I'll never form an opinion of my own about it as I'm seriously considering giving up.

It's not that it's a bad book per se, more like it's just too damn verbose. A point can be laboured for tens of pages. Whole chapters can provide little real progress.

This annoys me as I rather like the setting, the characters, and the core concepts. They're flawed, certainly, and there's a ridiculous amount of strawmanning, but there's at least an underlying idea that I want to have a think about even if I might ultimately disagree with it. Or not.

The book is nearly 1200 pages, or at least my copy is, and it takes me about an hour to read about 50 pages. That in itself isn't the barrier - time I have plenty of - it's simply the fact that it doesn't pull me in enough to make me want to keep up the pace.

A book that is easy for me to read might take just as long to read but I don't find myself keeping track of my progress or the amount of time it has taken. Atlas Shrugged on the other hand is in dire need of an editor.

Given my enjoyment of the narrative though I think I may take an alternative approach to finishing it. I've done a quick search and found what appears to be an unabridged audio book. I think I'll get my grubby meathooks on it and see if that can help me push through the vichyssoise of verbiage.

It's somewhat of a relief to be seriously considering shelving it (aha...) as I have a bit of a backlog of books that I'd like to tackle. I've put off reading Pratchett's Snuff for months in an effort to motivate myself but I think after more than a year it's perhaps time to call it a day.

I watch Cougar Town. I’d be ashamed of that fact except I’m not wracked with insecurities about trivial shit.

It’s a fun show and usually makes me smile but it makes jokes about one thing that I consider truly horrendous.

Now it should be noted that I laugh at some of the most distasteful things one can imagine. I have an extremely dark sense of humour and generally take the opinion that dealing with the harsher aspects of life with laughter makes for a happier existence than tears.

That said the concept of treating sex as a reward in a “healthy” relationship really turns my stomach.

Ellie-and-Andy-Cougar-Town-Best-Quotes-GalleryThis is most notable with Ellie and Andy. In the past Ellie is supposed to have been quite the loose woman. However during the events of the show seems to mostly treat sex as a tedious chore to be avoided and endured as little as possible.

A recent episode (S04E06 spoilers, if you care) had her husband, Andy, secretly save up the sex coupons he had received for Valentines Day each year. Ellie had thought that he’d lost them for the previous decade. Andy planned to use them to thoroughly ravage her to demonstrate just how passionate he still is about her.

Firstly the concept of sex coupons (not the first time they’ve appeared in E&A’s relationship in the show) disgusts me. Sex is fun, why on Earth would one ration it out as if there was some sort of finite supply?

Secondly Ellie avoids Andy after the first few coupons and is then extremely relieved when he notices and presents her with the remaining six, voided, in a box.

I use Cougar Town as an example of this sort of thing simply because it’s the most recent bit of content to stick in my craw with regards to this issue. If she’s not interested in sleeping with her husband then something is seriously wrong with the relationship. I think the humour is intended as light hearted but to me it just sounds like a resounding advert of one of the most tragic subreddits: /r/DeadBedrooms

Treating sex as some sort of reward is quite possibly the most off-putting thing I can think of in the context of what might otherwise be a healthy relationship. If I was offered that for my benefit I would refuse. Sex is a two way thing and if my partner has no interest in it then I do not feel comfortable doing anything with them. I am trying to be a less selfish person, not more.

Furthermore the idea that I am so undesirable to my partner that the main reason for sex is as some sort of gift or reward disgusts me. If they are so disinterested in me then why are we together? I am not some sort of cave dweller whose life is to be brightened by some self-appointed goddess descending from her ivory tower when a worthy offering has been provided. The only time that sort of thing seems healthy to me is when that specific dynamic is agreed upon as part of a BDSM-based relationship. In that case the level of communication required indicates a rather more intimate relationship than the more vanilla equivalent!

I rather like that this is dying off in other parts of popular culture even if it is taking a long time. Marge and Homer seem to have a relatively healthy approach to their sex life in The Simpsons, for example. In S021E05, The Devil Wears Nada, Marge is rather saddened by her husband’s stress-induced exhaustion and resulting lack of sexual appetite to mirror her own.

Essentially I’m sick of seeing things that make withholding sex/rewarding with sex an acceptable dynamic within modern couples. I’m not trying to suggest that if one wants it the other should always provide merely that (unless otherwise stated) a couple should see each other as equals and communicate what they want. Misunderstandings for the purposes of comedy are fine, of course, I’m not a monster.

<late post>

26 February 2013

200px-XML.svg I remember some years back borrowing a book from a library. Remember those? Yes, I don’t really know what they’re for nowadays either sadly.

Anyway, the book was on XML – Extensible Markup Language.

I didn’t finish it but it got me thinking about a few things or more interestingly got me thinking in a certain way.

An important concept discussed in the book was the concept of what markup actually is. There’s arguably two ways of formatting a document:

1. Inline

So some formatting pseudo code might go like this:

<font=Arial>Paragraph text with <strong>emphasised bit</strong>.</font>

Or alternatively:

2. External Markup

Using markup that defined what a paragraph should look like:

<normal paragraph>Paragraph text with <emphasis>bold bit</emphasis>.</normal paragraph>

(With a separate document defining style)

The difference may seem rather minor but it makes a world of difference. In the former each paragraph would have its stylistic elements defined each time and making a change would require going through and changing the values for each one. The second one just defines a certain style for what a paragraph should look like and making a change just requires modifying the style.

Of course anyone familiar with CSS understands this concept, it’s not exactly rocket wizardry. The point being to standardize the text of the document as just that – text. Style is handled completely independently.

What this would mean is that if the content was to be rendered in a different style the same concepts would show through. So emphasised text might be done in bold in one style and might be done in a different font size in another. The same source could be used for both and the modifications would be done “in post” so to speak.

So the former would always look like this:

Paragraph text with bold bit.

The second variation allows it to look like that, or like this:

Paragraph text with bold bit.

Or like this:

Paragraph text with bold bit.

Or virtually any other stylistic variation one can imagine without ever changing the source file.

Anyway, the point of this was simply the idea of by standardising things on an input level one could create something that is significantly easier to adapt to whatever media one could want.

For example, say further down the line one developed some voice synthesis software that didn’t suck and one wanted to use it to create an audiobook of the source text. Would it know what the inline style was trying to convey? No, it would just see that the text had originally been bold. Handy.

On the other hand if one defined things by the fact that they were supposed to be emphasised, or a quote, or whatever, well, then the synthesiser could be told what emphasis should sound like and know how to deal with it whenever it came up!

The central theme here is that by thinking about how to implement things before doing so one can create something that might not cause headaches further down the line. I am frequently shocked at how little foresight has gone into the things most people create.

This is evident with rules for Gorkamorka particularly. There’s plenty of rules we have never published on The Unnamed Gorkamorka Site simply because the author didn’t think about the future. By that I mean that they wrote some rules and gave them to someone to put on their site. They didn’t define criteria for sharing them in any way. At least under UK copyright law that means that they retain all rights and sharing them is a violation of their rights.

When we wrote rules for GoMo we released them under a Creative Commons license so it would be clear what could be done with them. If tUGS disappears we don’t want that to mean they end up orphaned works!

This is a practical example I thought of off-hand but it is far from the only one I have encountered. Similar lack of structured thought can be found all over the place and I wish I could wrap my head around the sort of mind that says “Who cares? Why are we wasting time on this boring crap?”

Personally I am very lazy. I work hard at being lazy. If I can put in a small amount of effort now to ensure future me doesn’t have to do needless busywork I will take that option!

</late post>

Dilemmas of the self

25 February 2013

A few days ago I tried playing Fallout: New Vegas and basically got bored.

I haven't finished the main storyline, I haven't finished the DLC, I haven't even hit the level cap (although my character is stupendously brutal).

The problem was just how empty the game is. There's a load of things crammed together in the centre of the map and the rest is, for the most part, empty.

It's not so much the lack of content in this case as the way it is distributed. The engine supports much bigger worlds but for some reason it has been limited. Fast travel exists. I shouldn't have to trek somewhere more than once and if there's extended journey time then throw in some damn random encounters.

Instead I find myself disengaged from the story and disinterested in the characters. I stalled in finishing it because I discovered none of my options actually covered what I wanted to do. I vaguely wanted to favour NCR but saw now reason they needed to control the Vegas strip to do it.

Speaking of the strip - it's tiny. Ugh. I barely ever visit it in game because it's three small areas and a load of irritating interiors with far too many loadscreens. Pass.

I find it funny that New Vegas is better than Bethesda's Fallout 3. It is, I would argue, but I've kinda hit my limit for Gamebryo-based Fallout, I think.

I'm not sure if I'll ever go back and finish them because I simply do not care about the story. I have no horse in the race because the options I want simply aren't there. Enemies are sporadic and about as much of a threat to me as a sharpened orange.

It concerns me that I might actually be done with the Fallout franchise. For years it was my favourite but I must say that the Gamebryo engine could argue an innocent man straight to Death Row. It looks bloody terrible and ruins my immersion like it's getting paid to do so.

Perhaps Fallout 4 will finally solve this problem but I'm just not seeing it happening any time soon, tragically.

Save me, Wasteland 2!

Step one: invent universe

24 February 2013

I have an extensive mental list of things I'd like to get good. Unfortunately I also lack the structure to ensure I make steady progress through each field.

For example I have an electric guitar and amp. I intend on learning to play at some point. I used to play acoustic many years hence but a change in teacher upon joining CCB killed off any desire I had to play. It stopped being fun and I was forced to learn notation rather than tab. Notation is all well and good but I had no intention of becoming the best guitar player who ever lived. I just wanted to be able to play enough to have a bit of fun.

I would also like to have a bash at programming in Python. I've tried my hand at programming in the past and found it too abstract for me to grasp. But much like my painting improved with age rather than practice it may well be worth another attempt. More patience makes many things easier.

Next on the unordered list would be knitting. I started that some years ago but currently lack the motivation to continue. I see no real use case for it so why bother, really?

On the other hand becoming proficient with a sewing machine would be of great use to me. I should really get mine repaired at some point...

Then there's more abstract things such as becoming a good presenter, learning to rap in the style of chaphop, improving my drawing skills, and any number of others.

Currently, as you may have noticed, I'm working on my writing. Sculpting is another focus but that's more for professional reasons. The writing thing may become of use in future too, admittedly, but it's a much more versatile skill, hence why it's being worked on first.

I try to write every day to ensure I get sufficient practice in. It's also an exercise in improving personal motivation and stimulating me to try to create content on some sort of sane schedule rather than with no end goal. I probably should learn what a "run on sentence" is though...

Scribbly scribbly

23 February 2013

Thinking back I really miss exercise books.

Their form factor allowed ideas to be broken down to fill single pages in an easily digestible way. Finishing one wasn't a huge achievement and so there was no need for it to be perfect.

Purple and thick for maths, grey for geography, green for biology, Spanish, French, and Latin, yellow for English, red for physics, orange for chemistry, dark blue for history. The details aren't important simply the number of different kinds. Orange sounds wrong though. Hmmm.

At school they became defunct around A-level if memory serves. Files replaced them and some of the ease of use was lost. That really didn't help now I come to think of it.

At university notes were our own problem and most favoured A4 notepads. Some would make notes on laptops but few bothered.

I recall revising for an exam, one of the few occasions I did, where I created an exercise book covering the subject. I condensed my notes into it and created something that was actually easy to revise. I passed that exam with flying colours.

The reason this springs to mind is that it seems the methods that worked so well for me in school now carry a certain stigma. That should probably be ignored given the efficacy of exercise books for me.

Had I used them for normal notes in uni perhaps I'd actually remember a little more from the academia side of the experience. It seems counter productive to joke about how little I learned but it rings true nonetheless. I taught myself a great deal and do not regret the time at all but as an institution I do feel it failed to deliver on its end.

If it's normal to not recall anything notable then I am rather disturbed. Personally the bulk of what I know of business management comes from practical experience and not from the paltry morsels that were slowly fed to me. Two hours of lectures per module? Did they realistically expect anyone to waste their time studying the paltry reading lists that were half-heartfelt foisted upon us?

I guess at some point I should take a real degree…

Chiz chiz

22 February 2013

There’s a bit of a conflict going on in my head at the moment about Sony and the PlayStation brand. Yes, it’s nerdy, but I love console wars.

The thing being that the PS3 was a useless console from the first things I read about it. I expected and was right that it has come third this console cycle. The hardware was trumpeted and gushed about by arrogant executives who left a terrible taste in my mouth and killed any interest in their offering.

Worse than that when I spoke to other gamers many of them were so ignorant as to not grasp the concept of the “Law of limiting factors”, or Liebig’s Law. I was taught this in GCSE biology in reference to photosynthesis but I’m fairly sure it got mentioned in the other sciences too. It’s an easy concept to grasp and if you don’t know what it is then please educate yourself.

The processor in the PS3 was a real piece of work. On the one hand it had a lot of power but on the other it was a mean SoB to code for, or so I’ve heard. Having a great processor is all well and good but I could not for the life of me grasp why they would bottleneck the PS3 is so many other areas.

Fans of Sony would argue that the fast processor made the others irrelevant. Some how they didn’t grasp that a puny amount of RAM would drastically limit what could be achieved. They argued that Blu-Ray discs could hold bucket loads of data and yet didn’t molesworthseem to understand that without a fast way of accessing it the capacity was pointless.

A great processor is no good without a well built system supporting it as any fule kno.

Any interesting technology Sony tried to provide was usually poorly implemented and hair-tearingly slow. My dislike of them as a company was well justified in my book particularly when one takes into account their smug arrogance. I find my own arrogance to be my upper limit in terms of tolerance and even I am a bit much.

So the dilemma I find myself grappling with is whether Sony have actually, I can scarcely say it, learned from their mistakes.

Their new console has a huge dollop of ultra fast RAM, a sensible CPU/GPU setup, and more interestingly has some dedicated hardware chips too. I can’t think of an accurate way of putting it but it seems like they’re putting in a dedicated encoding/decoding chip much like the one found on the RPi that will constantly be encoding the last few minutes (was it ten?) of game play allowing for streaming, editing, and uploading without putting additional strain on the system.

I’ve not heard the price point yet but it seems that there might actually be hope that this console won’t be such a pitifully stupid bit of tech. Furthermore the unveiling seemed to actually recognise that other manufacturers exist. The PS3 didn’t exist in a void but Sony have always tried to behave as if it did. Sorry, chaps, you’re not the only game in town. Ah-ha.

That said anything they say should be taken with a pinch of salt so large as to render even the blandest pasta inedible through excess of it. Until the device is in the hands of consumers I simply cannot trust them. I also don’t know how long this new attitude will last. Perhaps it’ll become the norm after they realise just how arsey they’ve looked for the last cycle or so.

Or maybe they’re just waiting to say “Had you going, didn’t we? FAGS! LOLOLOLOL!!”

At least then I wouldn’t have to find a new corporation to spit vitriolic loathing at…

I’ve seen some films in 3D. Well, actually, I can only think of one film I’ve seen in 3D – Captain America: The First Avenger. I may have seen others but they’re really not very memorable for their 3D-ness. Having to put in my contact lenses and squish my wide head into some scratching glasses is not my idea of a good time and I resent being charged more for the privilege.

There was a lot of talk about the Hobbit being in 3D now that I think about it. I watched it in 2D while sitting on a comfy sofa in the Dominion, feet up and a warm jacket draped over me like a blanket. It was wonderful.

3D TVs have become more available too but I’ve never bothered looking into the options because in all honesty I cannot muster a shred of enthusiasm for the technology. The only exception to this is the 3DS which utilises it for gameplay and requires nothing more than a clear line of sight.

The only thing I can think of that 3D is good for is co-op on the same TV. Each 3D channel renders one player’s screen. By wearing glasses with just one set of lenses rather than one of each player 1 and player 2 are able to see different things. Pretty nifty, certainly, but hardly a system seller.

Interestingly Sony stated the following about the PS4:

3D was a big thing a couple of years ago — we made it a big thing because it was lead by the consumer electronics side of Sony and we liked what we could do on PS3 using 3D stereoscopic," Yoshida said. "But now the consumer electronics side of Sony, or all of the companies have shifted focus from 3D TV to something else, so if they're not talking about it, why would we?

[-Shuhei Yoshida]

Perhaps we can see 3D go away for a while now? I’d really like that.

I say “a while” simply because I don’t feel the technology is ready for prime time yet. Once it’s convenient and affordable I’ll be on board but for now it seems a lot of bloody hassle for negligible benefits.

By the sounds of it the PS4 is going to be essentially a PC in terms of architecture – x86-based. It would seem Sony have at least learned one lesson from their mistakes with the PS3 – powerful hardware is no good if no one can justify the time and hassle of optimising for it.

I’m just going to take this moment to be smug about their “PS3 will have a ten year life cycle, minimum” claim. It’s the start of 2013 now, not 2017. I seem to recall criticising them for their ridiculous bluster some years back. Please allow me to take a moment to be smug.


On the plus side if the console is x86-based then with any luck it’ll make porting games to or from it easier than at present. I’m basing that on precisely nothing and you can just imagine me making this face if you like:yfrYc

8 GB of GDDR5 RAM for the system seems reasonable for the time period at least which is more than I  could say about the PS3. 256/256? Really? How did that seem sensible?

I’d comment on the other stuff they’re unveiling but it’s Sony. About half of it will probably be hype-filled rubbish and the rest will be poorly implemented half-assery. Pessimistic, certainly, but if I’m wrong then we all benefit.

The thing I find myself pondering is whether there will be another console generation after this or not. There’s no guarantee this one will succeed although I think there’s a good chance as long as the decisions each faction makes aren’t too daft. Oh dear gods, Sony, you’re going to need a real shift in corporate philosophy…

By that I mean that they are good at cool technologies and dreadful and “joined-up thinking” which is rather crucial to the way we use technology these days. Well, given the state of their finances it’s a case of adapt or die.

I’ve been reading about Disney’s use of forced perspective in their parks and whilst it’s fun as a curio it really reminds me of how I feel about Disney these days.

beast1Going on rides at their theme parks is one thing – much like a play the experience is something we agree to. In a play we enter the auditorium and agree to temporarily pretend the scenes happening on stage are real. Nothing new there. On a theme park ride if the lighting, sound, etc. are manipulated to make the charade more convincing then that’s fine with me.

Conversely in the park itself I feel more like I’m being lied to. My senses cannot be trusted there because the whole thing is an exercise in tricking me to part with my money. There’s a big difference between information disparity and actively misleading. The use of food smells to encourage appetite would be one example that annoys me. Given the way scent is wired into the brain it seems rather underhanded to manufacture something as a lure without any actual meat to what it promises.

The thing that puzzles me though is its appeal. People seem so excited to visit Disney World in Florida that it apparently the most popular entertainment resort on the planet. I can’t actually find a source on that but the fact that it’s mentioned on the Wikipedia page leads me to suggest that its colossal popularity is at least reasonably credible whether it’s completely accurate or not.

On the one hand the internal vocabulary of the Disney resorts treats them as if they are theatre performances but on that scale I find it so incredibly tacky. It’s not even the source material – if it was “Shakespeare World” and I could “meet” Caliban it’d still be pathetic. I have no problem with “living” museums on the other hand as they are recreating what once was so we can visualise it and staff generally are allowed to break character to some extent. Fiction on the other hand is much more difficult to maintain on a large scale because reality is not so easily dismissed.

I’m trying to put my finger on why I find the places so contemptible and it’s a little difficult. I think the sheer scale of the enterprise and the amount of resources being spent on something that adds so little to our lives depresses me. I’m not saying that having fun is a waste of resources more that the sheer slavish dedication to trying to create an impossible illusion and trying to call the cringe-inducing result “magical” is a bit much for me.

Some gaming news made me a little sad – after five years the weekly releases of Rock Band DLC would be coming to an end.

I haven’t played Rock Band in a while as I don’t currently own a 360 but back when it was new Matt and I clubbed together and bought a set of instruments for it. We didn’t play all that much but it was a great experience and I look back on it fondly.Q3 2008 090

Q3 2008 130Matt also bought some of the DLC because whilst the original soundtrack was good there was a lot missing. The DLC catalogue was growing constantly and the stuff that was up there was excellent.

In fact my only criticism was their disapproval of our band quote! The quote itself was “I’ll finish it later! Yeah!” (I’d link to an actual video but they’re all garbage, ugh). We were those guys…Q2 2008 235

I’m sure for many of us it was part of our university experience. For me it was a lot of fun and I look forward to having a set to play on again. Currently Matt has our set as I have too much stuff to move with a it is.

Back to the point about DLC though – it’s my understanding that Beatles version aside all the tracks were importable in later versions. To me that’s an amazing implementation of something I’ve just come to expect to get screwed on. Yes, that sentence was awkward, I know, but how often do we actually get to see sensibly implemented policies on these things?

As the rhythm genre has died out through fatigue and over saturation I’m wondering how long until it makes a resurgence. It’ll probably be a while and it seems extremely unlikely that the immense back catalogue Harmonix is sitting on will be available in a Rock Band reboot. It makes me a little sad as it was so much fun for me.

Also it’s one of the few times I’ve experienced music in a way I actually enjoy. The logical part of my brain solves the simple puzzle elements of the game while the emotional side soaks up the music. I would then carry the soundtrack around on my phone to get familiar with it.

I guess we have to grow up at some point but this game doesn’t seem to be one I need to put an age limit on. Now to setup a Rock Band fund!

Q3 2008 041

The only magazine I have a subscription to is Bizarre.


I keep copies of it in my bathroom and sometimes visitors ask about it. The thing being that whilst the pictures are pretty I actually do read it for the articles. The pretty alt girls are nice window dressing but if the written content wasn’t there I wouldn’t bother. I have an internet connection, remember?

Over the years I’ve read many magazines as most of us presumably have. Of them my favourites were PC Gamer and Micro Mart. I’ve also read a lot of FHM over the years but never my own copies. It’s not that I’m ashamed it’s simply that it wasn’t worth buying because it’s not all that good.

20010831What occurred to me as I opened my latest issue of Bizarre was that it doesn’t really plug many products. There’s music, film, and videogame reviews, certainly, but it doesn’t show off shiny things I might want and give prices and where to buy. In fact, when I think about it, it mostly focuses on unusual experiences and art of various kinds.

The thing being that buying things generally doesn’t lead to happiness whereas experiences become part of us:

Our results demonstrate that individuals who are less materialistic are happier, likely in part, because of how they spend their discretionary income.

[Howella, R., Iyerb, R., and Pchelina, P. (2012) “The preference for experiences over possessions: Measurement and construct validation of the Experiential Buying Tendency Scale”, The Journal of Positive Psychology,  7 (1) pp.57-71]

After reading it I don’t find myself wishing I had more stuff. Perhaps I wish I had done more stuff but there’s plenty of time to remedy that. This contrasted rather radically with how prudish much of Reddit was in a recent thread. Not that Bizarre focuses purely on kink but it’s what springs to mind when people ask me about the magazine.

I recall one person saying, “Is the S&M magazine in the bathroom your flatmate’s?”

He received the response, “Bizarre? No, it’s mine. It’s not an S&M mag though. I don’t think there is one sadly, otherwise I’d have a subscription…”

Are we having fun yet?

16 February 2013

There was a blog post on Gamasutra recently about time wasting in games. Now aside from enjoyment we’re not really getting anything out of a game and as such one could call the activity a waste of time. I’m not intending to discuss the merits of that argument today I’m more focused on the concept mentioned in the article – padding.

I don’t consider the post to be particularly well written, in fact it felt like it was illustrating its own point. That said though it makes a good point – why do so many games insist on padding out things with tiresome busywork?

Maps which are designed to tease your destination but require you to travel to Mordor and back to actually get there. I’m not suggesting a linear path is required with no obstacles but traversal should be fun rather than a chore.

Similarly there’s tasks that happen a lot in a game being dull - if I have to do it often it’d better be fun. In an FPS shooting should be great. Taking cover should be satisfying. If the basic mechanics aren’t fun then much of the game time is just going to be tiresome.

The example that always springs to mind for me is Saints Row 3’s vehicle entry mechanics. Much like in other sandbox games there’s a button to enter a vehicle. The player’s character opens a door and hops in. However that takes a while for no good reason. Holding sprint when entering a vehicle causes the player’s character to leap through the nearest car window putting them in the driving seat immediately.saintsjack

A game can’t be all fun but it does seem far too few developers stop to ask “Yeah, but is this actually making the experience more enjoyable?”

It’s a game. If I wanted to work for something and then enjoy myself I would do something real. Instead I want gratification. Pander to me already!

It has finally happened:ac5GNmt

It reminds me of the trailer for an episode of The Boondocks:

Of course the Linux struggle isn’t over by a long stretch but this may at least be a big step. Perhaps it won’t be and Linux support on Steam will be rapidly dropped but let me hope, will you?

It should be noted that Steam is not available on Linux for ARM just yet so things like the Raspberry Pi are excluded. Perhaps in time that will change but for now let’s be grateful for something.

The sale that’s on is cross platform, as per usual, and as such if you buy a game it’ll be available on any platforms it supports not just Windows or Linux. This means I have a fairly substantial game library already which is just damn cool.

Now that there’s a popular digital distribution platform I’m wondering what we’re going to see happening in the coming year. Will things be easier?

Then of course there’s how this factors into the planned Steambox’s future.

I’d say the excitement is killing me but then you might find yourself wondering who is actually writing this post. It’s going to be an interesting year on the techy side of gaming. Perhaps we’ll see a dramatic shift in how console gaming works or maybe there’ll just be another cycle of consoles. I rather hope for the former simply because it makes life more interesting.

Splishy splashy, come on!

14 February 2013

house-of-cards-final-posterI’ve not watched House of Cards yet but find it worth discussing due to its production and release.

See the Netflix logo at the bottom of the poster?

This show originally aired on Netflix, not on normal television.

Furthermore every episode was released at once rather than week by week. Personally, given the chance, I usually watch TV shows like that. I’ll download an entire season and watch episodes back to back until I either need to do other things or get bored.

"The world of 7:30 on Tuesday nights, that's dead," Fincher said during an interview at his offices in Hollywood. "A stake has been driven through its heart, its head has been cut off, and its mouth has been stuffed with garlic. The captive audience is gone. If you give people this opportunity to mainline all in one day, there's reason to believe they will do it.


Television networks bid for the show but were outbid by Netflix (Apparently around $100m for two seasons) and the reasoning for the win is what interests me. Netflix, like any company with half a brain, tracks statistics. They have analytical data on what people watch, what they like, and any number of other things. Through their data mining they were able to determine that there was quite possibly an audience for David Fincher, Kevin Spacey, and political thrillers.

Seeing that kind of data converted into business decisions and ultimately products we might actually give a damn about interests me greatly.

I generally like my stuff to be bespoke but often it’s not because I want to be special it’s simply because what I want doesn’t already exist or only exists at a laughably high price point.

This is the sort of thing I’d expect to see from Valve – assessing what we want to play and trying to make a product we want. The big difference between this and market research in the past is that these services allow more than mere sampling. Data can be gathered from every single user to form an accurate data set rather than a speculative slice.

The release schedule of all at once pleases me too and with any luck it’ll become increasingly common. I look forward to seeing the end of “Previously on” montages!

The writing part is easy.

13 February 2013

Some days I have a blog post up by ten minutes past midnight. Other days, like today, I really struggle. Writing two or three posts in a single day can be easy but sometimes I just hit an uninspired wall.

I don’t quite mean writer’s block in this case as much as a lack of interesting content. Some days I feel philosophical, other days geeky, or romantic, or any number of other things that work for writing. But usually it starts by seeing something that sparks something.

I often read or discuss things on Reddit that get me thinking, other times it’ll be something in the news. The problem with the latter is that lately I just haven’t seen much that I have all that much to say about.

Horsemeat? Incorrectly labelled food is bad. Whether you’re fine with eating horse is of no concern to me. Personally I’ve spent a bit too much time around family who love horses to think of them as food. Cows are a bit more drone like in that respect and I’m quite content to nom them instead.

The Pope stepping down? Catholicism is still relevant? Who cares?

Games Workshop being over zealous about their intellectual properties? Shocker.

Bitcoins becoming slightly more mainstream? Changes have been too small to really say anything about the currency’s future just yet.

The UK government’s free labour scam for large companies has been ruled illegal? Glad to see a bit of sense for once. Working for the community is fine but essentially providing slave labour to large companies seems a very bad idea.

Richard III found? Lovely. Why do I care?

Those were just the stories that stood out enough to get a sentence or three of commentary from me. So instead here’s a photo of something that' I’m sculpting:2013-02-13 20.39.45

Here, have an article.

6835514540_9aa0bb4774_zAt the time of writing I’m not religious in the slightest. I actively find organised religion disturbing and subversive. Those “Try Praying” bus ads creep me out and read like appeals to suppress critical thinking. Yuck.

That said some of my background is relevant – I was in Christ College Brecon’s choir (if you ever find one of their CDs I’m on it, although incorrectly listed as a soprano – I was an alto at the time). My school had chapel each morning and a full service on Sundays.

Lack of belief held no stigma, at least not in my experience. We were welcome to believe if we liked. I was never castigated for not praying and the singing was fun regardless.

The article is getting various responses and I’m not fully decided. Generally though I feel it’s a positive concept as long as it is kept in check. A free community gathering with songs and interesting speakers sounds like a perfectly good idea.

Troubling to many is the structure of it – commenters point out that it appears to be aping Christian services. I don’t really see why that’s a problem though – the aspect of the services that’s unpleasant is the mysticism and mythology, not the quiet reflection time or the fun songs.

I don’t particularly miss attending services but I can see why there would be a void in the lives of many once they leave the church. This seems lost on so many people though and instead is met with cries of disrespectful smugness and patronisation.

This is why I don't label myself Atheist. For the most part they are more ignorant than Christians.

Obviously they want to try and turn Atheism into a religious cult in the inverse sense (non believing rather than believing).

Fuck 'em. Set of smug twats.


My favourite response to that mentality is this one:

The important thing is that you've found a way to feel superior to both.

>Obviously they want to try and turn Atheism into a religious cult in the inverse sense

My goodness, those people are meeting up to have a good time together! They must be some kind of cult Surprised smile


I’m curious as to whether this will fizzle out or whether atheism will become a new pseudo-religion. As a system of “faith” I currently have no problem with it. It welcomes critical thought and science. Hopefully those things will help discourage excessive manipulation that comes with organised religion.

Or maybe we’re all screwed regardless? I guess we’ll find out in the afterlife. Or not.


11 February 2013

If you know me you probably already know about the Little Diles and their antics but you may not be aware of the series of illustrations Jenny has been doing:

(Hopefully that image isn’t just scaled in HTML, my apologies if that’s what Windows Live Writer has done)

There are many more planned, each one more adorable than the last.

You can also follow them on Twitter if that’s your thing @LittleDiles

“Tell me about”

10 February 2013

I mentioned that I backed Wasteland 2 recently and as it happens an update arrived yesterday that was more than a bit awesome.

Before continuing it should be borne in mind that I love the Fallout series. It took me a long time to accept Fallout 3. I still consider it “Bethesda’s Fallout” rather than actual Fallout on account of how much it diverges from the pre existing universe. It’s not a bad game at all, it’s just that it doesn’t quite manage to be a Fallout game.

For example Fallout 1 has some old music (Maybe by The Inkspots) as its intro music. There’s a fair bit of retro futurism too. However instead of a world that’s stuck in the 1950s it’s more like the future as imagined by the 1950s. Apparently Bethesda didn’t get that memo and went more than a bit overboard on the concept. It still works but it feels they really tried a bit too hard.

Why is this relevant to Wasteland?

Well Fallout was the spiritual successor to it. The original Wasteland was released in 1988 and looked like this:wasteland

A bit too old school for me. I tried to play it but couldn’t get into it. Fallout and Fallout 2 still look good enough for me:


Now Fallout 3 looks like this in game:335075-fallout-3-windows-screenshot-welcome-to-the-world-of-tomorrow

See any similarities between the interfaces?

What’s Fallout 3 missing?

The text box.

The choice of the first person perspective was supposed to make the game more immersive. For me it just allowed me to find fault in the world more easily. Repeated textures and bland re-used assets.

Fallout 1 (and 2 of course, they used virtually the same engine) had these problems too but that faded into the background for me because I was able to examine virtually everything. Looking at someone would give a description of them allowing me to imagine the specifics I couldn’t see. I hated that I had to take everything on face value in Fallout 3 because of this. The game felt so much shallower.

Then this video went out for Wasteland 2:

See that thing in the bottom corner?


I hear that the dialogue is going to be text only too. At the moment voice talent is costly and time consuming and as such dialogue is limited. In Fallout: New Vegas I must have heard the same three lines from every NCR trooper in the game hundreds of times. Ugh.

Text only allows for a much richer world at the moment. Hopefully in time we’ll either be able to synthesise speech or find a more time-effective way of working with sound but for now text seems to be the way to go if one is trying to build a rich world.

To me an RPG lives and dies on whether the world feels alive and interesting. I can overlook a lot of other failings if the world immerses me.

I’ll put it this way as a final thought: I enjoyed Fallout 2 (which I played first) so much that I dreamt about playing it. The ~200 hours of Fallout 3 I played didn’t have that effect.

I’ve not played The Longest Journey but I have played Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, its sequel. Ridiculous naming scheme aside it’s one of my favourite not-quite-point-and-click adventure games.

I actually pirated it and played it on a soft modded Xbox. The original, not the 360. I loved it so much I snapped it up on Steam when it became available (and was on sale, let’s not be crazy).origin_dreamfall-the-longest-1

The voice acting was wonderful and the story really sucked me in. It has some stupid combat mechanics but they only come up a few times thankfully.

The thing being that it ended on a cliffhanger.

As the game was old when I played it I wasn’t exactly expecting a sequel, well, ever. I knew it was supposed to have one but we all know how these things go – lots of good games never get “renewed” to use television parlance.

Then in recent months I heard some rumblings and this emerged on Kickstarter:


They’re asking for $850,000 (US) and at the time of writing (less than 24 hours into their 30 day window) they’re sitting at $266,483. I believe they’re using the Unity engine so perhaps there’ll even be a version for Linux. I can hope, right?

I personally haven’t contributed because the lowest tier that gets the game is $20. I’m not paying that much, sorry. If I’m backing it early I’d pay for a “no frills” copy of the game for, say $15. As there isn’t one I’ll be waiting until it’s released and buying it when it goes on sale.

I find very few Kickstarter project offer a tier I’m actually willing to pay for. I will be getting Wasteland 2 though when it’s released in Q4 this year – but let’s be fair, that’s the sequel to Wasteland, the game which inspired Fallout. As it happens it’s using Unity too.

I don’t think I’ve seen an engine be this popular now that I think about it. Hmm.

It occurs to me that many of the things I write about start with some connection to Reddit. It feels a little silly but when I think about it, well, it’s not that weird for me.

I used to frequent forums many times a day as well as Slashdot. After that it was forums and Digg.Sp6ba

These days forums aren’t really all that popular. I still use them for wargaming stuff but for other things they really feel like they’ve fallen by the wayside. Facebook and Twitter have arguably eaten the lion’s share of their “casual” traffic, although that’s purely conjecture on my part.

So instead of spending time on dead forums I’ve been using Reddit in place of those things. I have a Facebook account and a Twitter one too, but ultimately they don’t really fulfil my desire to interact with people online.

On the other hand Reddit is so vast as to offer a whole swathe of special interest boards for me to subscribe to as well as plenty more general things. I can get a nice digest of things which interest me from videogames to local matters, from shiny latex things to pretty photos of firearms.

Reddit is also apparently accessible enough to bring in the more casual folks and as such generates new friends rather than providing a discussion space for pre-existing contacts.

Furthermore the localised boards (such as /r/Edinburgh) allow me to easily organise meetups. A recent meetup thread had so many users tagged* that it reminded me of a forum with familiar avatars. Ah, warm fuzzy feelings.

*The tags in question are little labels one can assign to users to remember them. I have Redditors tagged with their real world names, for example

I’m wondering what may come next as Reddit seems to have more internet community (rather than an online community space for real world groups) than Facebook but still less than forums. Perhaps something combining Google Plus style “Circles” or similar with some profile customisation elements?

Or perhaps there’ll just be a new revision of Reddit that adds in some features little by little.

Either way, give Reddit a try, it’s a damn sight more fun than social networks and we’re not all freaks.

2012-10-27 23.00.24

Don’t knock it ‘till you try it was a prominent topic on Reddit today and reading through it I found myself thinking “You hadn’t tried that?”

I could understand if I was in my fifties or something but I’m not, I’m 26.

I’ve travelled, sure, but in this case I was talking about things like sushi and shower beer. What’s so scary about bloody sushi?! (It’s delicious, nom. I’ve made my own too but it’s not really worth the effort.)

Other highlights:

  • Badminton
  • Sleeping naked
  • Avocados
  • Listening to music in the shower
  • Going to the cinema alone
  • Being nice to people for no reason
  • Online dating
  • Parmesan in soup
  • Magic: The Gathering (and other nerdy games)
  • Various things best not discussed on a public blog

Are people’s experiences really so limited?

I currently live in a basement flat and spend most of my days in a dressing gown (it’s warm, comfy, and catches parts I drop whilst sculpting!). By all rights my experiences should be pretty mundane.

Except they’re not, apparently.

Anna recently mentioned her motivations behind going to our mutual friend, Julia, ‘s kickboxing fight later in February. Essentially it’s an experience which she does not expect to have another chance at in the foreseeable future. I’m going for the same reason, really.

I’ve also been to a bullfight. It wasn’t particularly fun but it’s another thing to look back on (hehehe, “bacon”). I consider the meaning of life to be to exist for enjoyment. That doesn’t have to mean fun all the time, just that the overall experience has been a positive one. So if I work until my eyes are fuzzy and my head aches but I end up with an excellent sculpt to sell on Fox Box then I would consider that overall a positive and satisfying outcome.

This also applies to my private life. The only person I am answerable is myself. I can enjoy whatever I want and don’t really care who knows it. The only reason I don’t discuss it on this blog is the easily indexable nature of it and the ability for things I say to be taken out of context.

Being afraid of negative judgement about these things seems silly to me. Being cautious about publicising it seems sensible but amongst friends I see no need for secrets. They like us for who we are and if they don’t then why are we wasting each other’s time?


I do not own an eReader. I’d like one but ideally it’d need to be waterproof. It’d be handy if it could show colour too but perhaps that’s me wanting, as Ross would put it, the moon on a stick.

Anyway as I’m planning on moving from Edinburgh I’ve been working on acquiring eBooks to replace the many books I’ve accumulated. Storing books is a pain and most of them I’ll never read again.

Hard disk space on the other hand is pretty cheap and I’ll be moving that whatever happens. Fantastic!

It was recently Jenny’s birthday and she is facing a similar storage issue. She also wanted an eReader. I couldn’t afford to get her one but thankfully a mutual friend was just upgrading. As such she let me go halvsies on her old one. Result: one happy Jenny.

I wanted to share some books I have with her though and I discovered that the ePub format is unintelligible to her Kindle. Righto, not a problem, let’s convert it. After playing around with a simple converter I was less than satisfied. I’d heard good things about Calibre but until now it had remained uninvestigated.

After playing with it for a few hours I can say it’s both excellent and awful. Interface by engineers springs to mind, shall we say?

I’ve catalogued some 160+ books so far with many more still to go but it does make managing my collection significantly easier. Also it has a portable version. I hate installing programs if I don’t have to, at least under windows.

Negatives as I see it:

  • Very poorly designed library interface
  • No real way of grouping books into collections (that I’ve found)
  • Far too few keyboard shortcuts


  • Exhaustive options
  • Excellent format management
  • Integrated sharing options (such as via email)
  • Pretty good use of large screen resolutions

The positives are possible because at its core it’s an excellent program. If their interface gets a good overhaul then I think there’ll be basically nothing to complain about. In the meantime, ugh, it’ll have to do.

I do find myself unsure how to feel about downloading the Discworld books though. I own at least one copy of all of them but they’re stored at my parents’ house down in Wales. I want to keep that particular collection but moving with them is far too much hassle.

Also when will there be a good comic book reader available?

*sleepy Fox noises*

05 February 2013

I was going to write something about violent videogames today but I’m kinda all ranted out.

Today was supposed to be a productive day and I intended to be up around noon (I was asleep around 0315; early for me). Instead I woke up around 1630 and wondered where on Earth the day had gone.

So instead of painting my truck extension kit:

2013-02-04 22.11.45

(The pink serves as an undercoat for the yellow)

Or work on my goblin troop weapons:

Work so far, that is to say there’s still lots of work to be done.

From top to bottom:

  • AK47
  • AK47 with drum mag
  • AK with alternate stock
  • AKS-74U

I find myself sitting here in a dressing gown with a head full of cotton wool.

The troop weapons are fun though as I had an idea. You may already know this but the AK family has a slightly bigger brother in the support role, the RPK:


The main differences between it and the AK are a heavier barrel (to make heat from sustained fire less of an issue), a bipod, a slightly different stock, and a larger magazine.

Given that the RPK can take the same magazines as the AK and that the stocks on my weapons vary a fair bit that boils it down to a slightly different barrel.

So on my troop sprue I’ll be including, along with an extra magazine, a barrel replacement. Chop the barrel off the AK with a drum mag and replace it with the longer barrel, trimmed to preferred length and voila! RPK!

I’m also looking forward to using the AKS-74U as part of some other models, possibly on a sling whilst the warrior uses binoculars or shouts down a chunky old Motorola phone.

So yes, my apologies for the lack of thought provoking post. Shiny things!

Are you coming to bed?

04 February 2013

It’s stupid o’clock again and I’ve been arguing debating with someone online.

What we’ve been having a, uh, heated discussion about is the idea of an open source tabletop wargame.

Imagine, if you will, a game where the books were available for free and the 3D models for the pieces were too. To play the game you could either buy the models from the company along with a printed copy of the rules or you could get them printed somewhere of your choosing.

Something between Kickstarter and Humble Indie Bundles would be the pricing model allowing for both tiered pricing and “pay what you want”.

Distribution costs would essentially be negligible and there’d be few, if any, ongoing expenses. The only investment would be time and creativity, really, some of which could be crowdsourced.

The chap I’ve been arguing with claims the idea wouldn’t work because most projects fail and it’d be hard work for no pay.

I get the feeling that he doesn’t understand how creative people work with regards to motivation.

When I sit down to sculpt for Fox Box I don’t think “Eventually this’ll make me so much money!”. I may prioritise projects based on what I think will sell well, that’s just sensible business management, but the money is not what’s on my mind. Instead I’m focussed on how awesome it’ll be to get the casts of this and building up my own.

My truck extension kit is about to go on sale, for example, after nearly a year of development. I may even have finished painting it by the time you read this. I love how the yellow armour panels look on it and how chunky the wheels are. It looks fantastic.

Similarly when planning projects part of it is the pragmatic side of “Will this be a good use of my time?” but things that I don’t find creatively stimulating to sculpt aren’t really considered. Part of the reason behind that is that I simply cannot do as good a job on things I don’t care about. I want to improve as a sculpter and as such need to focus on what will be a good next challenge.

So the idea that an open source game project is doomed to failure simply because it is hard seems ridiculous to me.

Writing my dissertation wasn’t that hard but it was annoying and stressful. Working on the Dust Rats with the other tUGS guys was fun, stimulating, and creatively satisfying. The finished document was just under 12,000 words long. It would have been longer but the extra bits of fiction written for it are still planned to go into a full-on expansion pack for Gorkamorka one of these days.

Closer than you might think.

03 February 2013

Last time I wrote about the cost of wargaming as a hobby and intended to write about 3D printing too. However that post got a bit long and I didn’t want to derail things by changing subject so drastically.

Where was I? Oh yes, this quote, with regards to the notion of Warhammer 40K being a very expensive hobby:

3D printing can definitely change that though.

3D printing is a rather interesting technology in that yes, it can replace traditional sculpting but.

Yes, it’s an awkward way to end a sentence but the but is big enough to deserve a separate paragraph. Thinking about paper printers in the home I know plenty of people who don’t have one. It’s not something I just assume everyone will have, even if they are/were recently students. They’re a pain to maintain and the ink/toner for them tends to be fairly painful to replace, financially speaking. Also most people who have one only have A4 printers. I’ve never met an individual who owns an A3 printer, for example.

Do they not exist?

Of course they exist! You can pick one up on Ebuyer for as little as £64! Admittedly a plotter which can handle A2 and A1 will set you back £750, but they’re still available through normal retail channels.362759-406412-800

Why do we not see them in the home though?

Simple – why would we need something that big?

The same applies to 3D printers. Ones which can print at the detail level required for Warhammer figures is rather costly. Prohibitively so for most people.

It’s not something I foresee changing in the near future simply because there’s no normal use case where I see it being necessary. In time, certainly, but there’s not much in the way of nagging demand for something that can manage to print human faces that are a few millimetres tall without obvious layer lamination marks.


The lines on that piece are where the layers have been laminated together.

I hadn’t considered it from this standpoint though:

Have you seen the prices lately? At this point, yes, I think buying a 3D printer would be cheaper than fielding a full army.

And you have to paint the minis yourself, either way.


Imagine in a year or two if one worked out how much an army would cost to buy in plastic and then spent that money on a printer good enough to print all the models required?

It’s an interesting idea, I feel, even if at the moment it’s not viable.

It wouldn’t have worked in the past due to size creep.codex_orks_v2

I actually looked up the point cost* of a mob of Orks in 2nd Edition WH40K (the codex in question was from 1994).

*Warhammer armies are based on points. A battle might be 1500 points each meaning each player could field units up to that total. In theory if the points were the same the armies would be roughly equally matched, although unit choice played a big part in who would be the victor.

A mob of vanilla boyz with the equivalent of sluggas and choppas was 5 – 20 models at 12 points per model.m1240070_60030103003_Orkcodexmain_873x627

In the most recent Ork codex a vanilla mob of slugga boyz consists of 10 – 30 boyz at 6 points per model.

Think about how many more models are now needed for a 1500 point game.

The models themselves have gone up in price, some more than others, but I don’t generally find the expense to be all that crippling taking things at my own pace. If I was trying to build an army over night, sure, but things take me a while!

As it happens the poster was apparently being sarcastic. Generally sarcasm is fairly obvious but in this case it seems that he didn’t realise how close to the truth he actually was. To be frank, his proposition is fairly reasonable.

Now to get a little snide, I’ll share his response to my comments:

Well, the fact that you need to analyze someone's off handed comment in such detail just leads me to believe you're probably not that much fun at parties.


A Reddit thread asked something pertinent earlier today:

What are you into that the average person "just doesn't get"?


Various things were mentioned but one was Warhammer 40,000. The top reply to it was:

Expensive as fuck though.

The reply to that was:

3D printing can definitely change that though.

I mention both as I want to talk about both. However this post is long enough so it’ll be going in the next post.

Talking about hobbies is tricky as it seems many people don’t have any. Let’s be generous and treat going to the cinema as a hobby (not being a movie buff, just going from time to time).

Last time I went to the cinema tickets were £8.70 each for a 2D showing.

That film lasted about two and a half hours. Once that time was over that was that. There was nothing tangible remaining, just as one would expect.

383418_md-Bommer,%20Dakkajet,%20Flye,%20OrksIf I buy an Ork Dakkajet it’ll cost me about £25 or so. I can take a while building and converting it (modifying it from its default appearance to make it unique) and then a while longer painting it. I can’t put an exact number on that but if it took less than ten hours I’d be amazed. I’m sure someone could throw one together much more quickly though so let’s halve that to five hours.

That’s £5 per hour.

How about a box of Ork boyz? Call it £15.

Similarly I’d expect anywhere from five to fifteen hours of work on them. I’d probably buy several sets to make the squad large enough (there’s ten in a set and I can field up to 30 in a unit). That’s a project that’ll take a while!

It’s costing a few pounds per hour, at most.

The thing being though once that time is up the models still exist. So what?

So they’re playing pieces! They’re not an Airfix kit to be hung on a wire, they’re a tactical option in an army to be used in countless games. Those games are usually free!

The cost is upfront, yes, but in terms of time and enjoyment it’s no more expensive than anything else. Want to go snowboarding? That’ll cost you both upfront and for each time you want to hit the slopes. Same with climbing or going to gigs (buying the music and then paying to see the artists).

I’m not suggesting it’s cheap just that it’s not as bad as many complain. Also don’t buy from Games Workshop directly, it’s a mug’s game. Buy from resellers like RocketHobbies, 25% off RRP. Pick up some Vallejo paints (17ml vs. 12ml and a much better container too).

Vallejo Vs Citadel

A few moments off.

01 February 2013

There was an article on the BBC earlier that got me thinking – not about its content but about its headline.

The concept of a four day work week with the same hours seems very sensible to me.

That is all.



Okay, fine, it’s not all. The point was that from every source I’ve read most people do not have five days worth of work to do. From the various sources I’ve seen the average office worker only does 10 – 15 hours of work per week. They’re still required to be at their desk every weekday though.

What does that mean for commuting? What would our pollution levels look like if they only worked three days a week?

Furthermore, what would happen if people just had more time off?

What if we employed more people for the same wage but half the hours? Of course other costs would have to decrease such as rent, but how hard would it be to balance things so more people were employed (and as such paying taxes) if their real income was lower?

By real income I’m referring to the amount of money they have left over after their main bills and taxes are paid. Not quite discretionary income as that covers food too, but the amount of cash they see for themselves each month.

The biggest outgoings are usually rent/mortgage, utility bills, transport costs, and taxes. That seems about right anyway.

It’d be interesting to see what would happen if we lowered the rent element of the equation along with taxes (to take into account an increased number of tax payers). It seems likely to me that increasing the number of jobs could really help and the majority’s quality of life would improve.

Perhaps I’m just being a bit of an economic fantasist there though.

Working either full time seems to be the only real option for most people though due to the expense of rent. Huge amounts of cash are spent on it due partly to housing shortage and partly due to what has become accepted as normal. Bit of societal upheaval needed there, methinks.

One Redditor commented:

I would happily take a 20% pay cut to work only 4 days a week.


Spreading that spare day throughout the week could be rather interesting as to how it would affect the economy. Instead of the weekend being when most had access to the shops a much larger number would be available mid-week.

I’m not trying to reach a specific point as I hope you’ve realised, I’m just trying to throw some idea seeds out there into the well-fertilised minds we have.