pigeon attack by Velvet Marauder


How to make Iced Coffee

Take a normal sized French press (I’m using a Bodum Kenya 4 Cup Coffee maker)

Put in about half a packet of coffee (I’m using Tesco’s finest strongish coffee, because while good quality coffee is good, this takes half a packet per cafetière) (By half a packet, I mean about 110-120g, precision fans)

Stir it to make all the coffee wet.

Leave it for ten hours or so.

Filter it (For this, I plunge the french press, and then strain the remainder though a coffee filter. Which is, hilariously, the first time in around two decades I’ve used coffee filters for something not involving vodka)

Fridge the resulting coffee concentrate for a few hours, or until you’re ready to drink it.

In a glass, add a couple of ice cubes (If you feel enthusiastic, you can freeze some of the coffee into ice cubes and use those to not dilute the result) and enough coffee to cover them, a splash of simple syrup (sugar won’t dissolve) and another splash of milk or milk substitute (I like it with almond milk) to taste.

Enjoy (Optional).



RIPR is bad

Recently on Facebook I got into a discussion on why the government having unregulated access to any data on the internet is a thing I don’t like. In an attempt to stop posting content into the locked-box of Facebook, it’s here too.

So, the issue – for me, other people may be more militant – is that right now I – as a citizen – have no protection against the police. To arrest me, they need probable cause. To search my house, they need a warrant. To get my personal data from my bank, from my ISP, from my water company they need a legal document *about me* that explains why they want it and a judge has to approve it. The measures the government are currently using, the ones that they want to keep, and the ones they have been using on the *flimsiest* of legal technicalities, allow the security services to access and record my data (which includes financial transactions, personal relationships, business proposals, and data which I am under *legal obligation* to protect to the best of my ability to be not allow access by third parties) without notification, without record, without probable cause, and without protection from abuse. That’s me as a citizen.

Second issue is that I personally own a server, which provides internet services to people I know and trust. It’s SSH access, it’s email forwarding, it’s web hosting. Am I an ISP? Am I under obligation to keep the data that goes though my server? I’m not doing it as a business, I’m a private individual. If I do, then I simply can’t do it. First, morally, but also I don’t have the disk space to keep all this data for three years, and I’m not willing to be responsible for the security of it. That’s why I only forward emails in the first place. It will force me to cease to offer *to my friends* access to a property *that I own* because the government think they have a right to look inside it. It’s not quite being legally obliged to allow an employee to live in my house and record conversations I have when my friends are around, but it’s not far off.

And last, I am a white male, 18 to 35. I do not have any traditional reason to believe the government is predisposed to assume I’m guilty, and *I* have all these problems with the concept of my data being kept without any legal process; I can’t imagine the feelings of people who have good, and historically backed, reasons to believe the government does not have their freedom of expression at heart.


Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative

There’s a book available on Steam. Well, kind of a book, an interactive story based thingy, called “Portal 2: The FInal Hours”, and because I find Valve’s development process fascinating, I own it. One of the things it says is that for a long time in development, Portal 2 was going to use a completely new mechanic, one they’ve never put in a game before. Then, for a while it was based on the Gel gun. In the full game, you don’t get to put down Gel yourself, it gets pumped out of static pipes, and you can direct it with Portals. 

One of the differences between Portals 1 & 2 is that the new game slashed out the more pixel-perfect requirements of jumping. There aren’t any points where you *need* to do a precision jump into that portal there, it’s part of the reason the Aeriel Plates exist. If you missed the pixel precision, die and repeat puzzles from Portal 1, this is very much the game for you.

The setting is straight out of Portal. Somewhere between 1 & 2 of the main series, Nigel the Personality Sphere wakes up a test subject to put them though some experimentations with a new device they’ve cooked up. In this case, a device that shoots speed gel and bounce gel. Go forth.

This is a good game. It’s 27 levels of More Portal-style game, with its own spin on the formula. The plot is lifted, along with some of the jokes, from the first two thirds of the first game. The voice acting is good and the script is funnier than most full games. The level design is a couple of notches higher in sheer bastardry than the main game, with occasional lacks in knowing exactly what you are supposed to *do* next, but it does a good job of, once you know what you should be doing next, keeping the feeling of failure to being “I missed that jump” rather than “fuck this fucking game with a rusty portal gun”. There are a few instances where I felt like I was playing against the game rather than solving puzzles. Unless I’ve missed a trick somewhere, a couple of the solutions feel more like exploiting edge-cases of the physics system than a logical use of the tools at hand. 

Steam says I spent five hours playing it, and that was from beginning to end. At least 45 minutes of that was spent on one single level (entirely skippable, by a different route, for the game *knows* that this one is a bastard), a speed run of the most aerobic moves in the game where one slip will kill you.

The biggest problem the game’s got is that it’s up right next to, and directly comparable, to Valve, a company at the top of its game. I get the feeling when playing it that this is basically an alternate universe Portal, but in the hands of a less competent developer. This is in no way a slight to Eugenio Roman and the team who made it, but a few of the raw edges just feel more jagged in the engine that brought us the polished diamond shine of Portal 2.

That said, it’s currently £3.50 – normally £5 – for around five hours of portal-style spacial puzzling, and I’d recommend you buy it.


EOTE2 – London Town

EOTE2 – London Town

I awoke from dreams of a blue plague, on a train out of the city.

I returned to London this weekend.

The letter from the doctor said I was clear, my infection wasn’t fatal, and that I was cleared to return for periods of not more than twelve hours.

Jenna also got a letter, which was harder.

The guard at the station took my letter and checked it against the registry, and let me inside. I was…

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‘Voices In My Head’ by Stephen Lynch is my new jam.