2010 Work

Jobsearch, Day One

Okay, kicking arse into gear to get new employment.

My method of job searching is to send notification out to a few recruitment companies who have been proven to Get It, add a couple of one’s I’ve not used before, and apply for interesting things I find myself. The recruitment companies bring some interesting stuff, but most of the really cool roles appear to come either from friends or looking at job boards. The new recruitment companies have been chosen (one more by luck, they happened to phone me on friday with a three year old version of my CV, the other is the new home of the recruiter who got me my last job), the trusted ones have been notified. That was 9am.

It’s now close to 10pm, I’ve had one interview (Recruiter L at Company T), I’ve got a phone interview tomorrow (Also Recruiter L, Company S), one company came via a friend, and they’ve expressed an interest in a meeting (Company G), a few more companies are looking at my CV. This is a suspiciously good start.

Computer Games Current Affairs


This is a flowchart to explain why people pirate movies.

Ubisoft, who publish games, have implemented a new DRM solution in reaction to the reported fact that too high a percentage of PC games are pirated. This new check requires you to be connected to the internet to play their games. This isn’t online, this is a single player game. Actually, it’s two games as announced, Settlers 7 and Assasins Creed 2. In the first case, the game saves as it quits, so when your connection comes back so does your game. In the second, the game will restore back to your last “checkpoint”, however long ago that was.

None of this actually matters. None of the mitagating circumstances Ubisoft have provided – “Without it the terroristspirates win”, “It hardly takes any bandwidth at all”, is all bullshit. My internet connection is just *not that stable*. Virgin Media are fine most of the time, and I know I need to bite the bullet and fix whatever keeps crashing the smoothwall box, but it’s really not the point. Being kicked out of Left 4 Dead, World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, anything I’m playing online; because I stopped being online is frustrating, but understandable. Being kicked out of a single player AC2 mission, or a Settlers game vs the AI, or a single player Prince of Persia level, or anything else at all because I stop being online is just stupid.

That’s not the major point, though. The point that ties it back to the first paragraph is this:

The pirates won’t suffer any of this.

A pirate player – with his eyepatch, his wooden leg, his parrot and his tricorn – won’t ever be kicked off a single player game because he’s not on the internet. The honest player who buys her copy and then has a quick game of Settlers on her laptop on the train? She’ll get kicked off when he goes under a tunnel. The pirate plays on.

The legal player who kicks his network cable fails the assassination and back to the desktop.

The pirate plays on.

The only people any of this shit hurts are the ones who pay for the software. They’re the only people who deal with “product activations”, with finding the manual that has the keycode, with DVD drives that don’t support the newest Securom systems; and, going back even further, they’re the only people who had to hold a matt black bit of paper up to the light to read the gloss black letters that let them start the game.

The pirates? Played on.

So I won’t be buying the Settlers 7, though what I saw in the open beta interested me. I won’t be buying AC2 for any system, XBox or PC. I won’t be pirating them either, though. In fact, from this point forward, I’m pretty sure that anything with “Ubisoft” on the box won’t be entering my collection in any way, shape or form. I’ll find another game to play on.

skimbit Work

Who needs sleep?

A little while ago, we were talking in the office about an app called “Sleep Cycle” for the iPhone. The way it works is that you put it beside (not under) your pillow, and then it uses the accelerometers and such in the device to keep track of your tossing and turning overnight, giving you a handy graph of how well you sleep. This is what the graph looked like the first night I tried it:

Sleep monitor

It’s pretty typical of the results for then. This is what it looked like for last Monday night, one week later:


Proving that, if nothing else, unemployment is good for my rest.

Yup, me and Skimlinks have parted ways, and I wish them all the best for the future, but it does mean that after a short break for rest (see above), relaxation (see previous post) and the betterment of my soul (er, still working on that bit) I shall be diving back into the sea of sharks that is the employment market.

Not looking forward to that, to be honest. Interviews suck no matter which side of the desk you’re sitting on. Anyone know of any interesting startups/companies in London needing geeks?

Computer Games

Bioshock and the ease of gaming

Having recently found myself with an influx of all the free time in the world, I’ve finally gotten around to finishing Bioshock.

Given I bought a new machine specifically to play it, bought the special edition on launch day and then played it until my mouse broke, I’m a little suprised it’s taken me this long to do so. Mostly, I got frustrated with it at one point (About ten minutes before the single most awesome scene in the entire game, as it happens) and never really got back to it. I did now (The secret to getting it running on Windows 7, incidentally, is to run it in DirectX 9 mode) and completed it. Everything I said in my original review still holds water (aha, ah ha ha), with the addition that the denouncement about 2/3 in is wonderful, but the game never really becomes as narrarivly awesome again.

Bioshock is a game that had more wanky articles written about it than any game since Deus Ex, and I’m not going to add to them, it’s very interesting that it’s pretty much the only game I can think of with a philosophical point to make. Ben of Critical Distance has compiled a great list of a lot of the articles on the game (as opposed to reviews of the game).

Instead, I’m going to talk on the subject of “Easy Mode”.

In the playthrough of Bioshock, I completed it on Easy, defined in the options as “I’m new to shooters”. I think I died twice in my playthough, entirely because I failed to notice I needed to use a health pack. I didn’t really run out of ammo or mana at any point either. Basically, I romped though the game without really having to try to hard. It was significantly more fun than my first play though.

The most common reason why I don’t finish games is that I get too frustrated with them. I hit a point where I have no ammo, or low health, and the save point is just before a massive ruck. My last save is several hours ago, and the very concept of going over exactly the same thing over again is enough to drive me to giving up. Playing games on Easy isn’t so frustrating, but it’s not really very satisfying either. I haven’t beaten Bioshock, I’ve just completed it. For this, I’m pretty much happy. My main enjoyment of Bioshock is the universe, the storyline, the history, the relationships, the resolution. The mechanics of repeatedly firing frag grenades at a Big Daddy to get me the last bit of ADAM I require to upgrade to Covered In Bees level 3 isn’t that interesting. The mechanics of setting up a perimeter before I do the thing that starts the invasion interests me more, but I can go play Left 4 Dead 2 to get that. Mostly I start games on Normal, but I think in the future, if I really care more about the world than the game, I might go for Easy.

So, those of you who are also gamers, what level do you tend to go for, given the classic “Easy”, “Medium”, “Hard” selection?


A new story

Help me make a decision:

What next(survey software)



thejointstaff: Stand by what I said: Allowing homosexuals to serve openly is the right thing to do. Comes down to integrity.

Adm. Mike Mullen – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The future is odd.


Fishy adventures in thailand

A (rare) thing not by me on here, and in fact by my brother Ben, who is teaching English in Thailand:

Day 1030 in Thailand. 9pm. Just walked downstairs to hear the quiet rushing of a mini waterfall in my front room. It seems in a bit to escape the concentration camp that is my 2′ x 1′ fish tank. My Japanese fighting fish has picked a fight with the base plate on the tank and won. Unfortunately attacking the base meant that he couldnt escape but the water could. Not only that but the water drenched the air pump which co-incidentally died a slow but painless death. Freeing the fish from his shallow ‘would be’ grave, I placed him in a bowl while I organised some temporary accomodation, for reasons only known to him, that particular bowl wasn’t quite up to his plant-filled, black and white gravel castle and escaped that too. Luckily for him I found him before greenpeace did.

My front room, sofa, chairs and christmas tree are all wet. The water even streaming down my drive into the road outside. Strange, it didnt seem that much when it was just sitting there..