T’was on a Monday Morning…

It’s a year since we finished completion on the house and were given the keys. I know this because the first thing I did when we got inside was to claim it (fig. 1).

fig 1. A claimed chimney.

Over winter we made a load of plans for what we wanted to do with the house, from garden improvements to loft improvements, and by spring we had sorted out some priorities and started to get quotes for things…

… and then Lockdown hit, and all that exploded.

So of the first twelve months of home ownership, we’ve spent six locked-down inside it, which is a good way for the minor annoyances to build up, and so when the harsher aspects of lockdown were lifted, we started to action those new things. Except, of course, they were all booked out by people in exactly the same situation, so it was a couple of months until anything actually happened.

First was a visit from Spotless to clean the windows and clear out the guttering. Last Wednesday was Instaloft, who boarded up the loft so we can use it for storage space, moved the hatch to a place where there’s actually clearance to climb up, and removed the metric crapton of shit that had been left up there, some of which I’d swear wouldn’t fit through the old hatch. The loft looks so much better now, and I’m very much looking forward to emptying our rented garage into it at some point.

fig 2. Lofty ambitions

Unfortunately the loft guys found some evidence of rodent activity in the insulation up there, so Thursday morning a guy from Total Pest Control came around to totally control some pests. The electrician from Instaloft also noted that our fuse-box was a couple of decades short of current regulations and some of our wiring had the sheen of a man with DIY enthusiasm. So on a Wednesday morning, the electrician called…

Tomorrow is a plasterer to fix up the old loft hatch, Friday a plumber will appear to tell us why the toilet backs up and the stopcock doesn’t turn, as well as some sage words of wisdom about why the boiler is in a stupid place and a couple of radiators don’t. Saturday someone will come to install a smart thermostat.

Sunday we rest.

Monday is Fyr & my anniversary, and we will spend it in the manner of our people: Looking at new kitchen light fittings on the B&Q website.

So the adventure continues.

fig 3. An House.

Personal Projects

Week 29 – Attack on Box Mountain

Hmm. I may not have actually left the house since the last update, which is a fairly bad state of affairs. Not one I’ll repeat this week.

Most of my free time has been spent attempting forced relaxation (You *will* sit down and play some mindless video games!) after the stress of the last few weeks, and attempting to conquer Box Mountain.

Also, I recreated our new flat in Sims 4, as per the header image.

I’ve mostly defeated Box Mountain in my own room, by the time-honoured method of shoving all the boxes into cupboards and ignoring them. This isn’t a long-term solution, but provides me with some working space, since my room also needs to be an office during the week. Networking’s been fun, since there’s a weird glitch on the wifi where it just stops sending packets every so often, for between ten second and a minute, then resumes as if nothing was wrong. Same was happening over 5Ghz as 2.5Ghz, and from everywhere in the house, which is distressing. This made actually using it close to non-viable, so I started running loose cables. This also being less than optimal, I got some powerline adapters, which is when I learnt that my room’s sockets are on a spur off the Kitchen, not the socket circuit.

Several hours of yak-shaving later, I have a connection, I have a desk, I have an internet. A whole one.

Empire’s coming up, so I’ve dedicated some time to admin around that. It’s my last one crewing until Odyssey’s over, and I’ve got mixed feelings about it.

Development-wise, I spent a while on Retort, my web-based interface to my wifi kettle (which is, of course, written in Flask), which now provides an API to my kettle too, which means I could use it to create statistics on how often its used, and when. This doesn’t seem like a sane thing to do, though, so I haven’t.

I also started some work on learning Angular.js, which seems like a good fit for a couple of things I’m working on – the Skute dashboard, but also a basis for PiracyInc’s front end. So far it seems a bit… magic, tbh. I’m doing complicated stuff in a fifth the code of a native jquery implementation, but I’ve got less of an idea how.

Onwards, however, and upwards.


Week 28 – Welcome to box mountain

It took three vans hired by three people, a medium sized one, a large one, and then a small one.

It took eight people.

It took a week.

We’ve finally moved into Oxford into our new flat. Currently unnamed, but mostly Box Mountain. Next time I consider moving house without hiring a moving company, just shoot me.


Mostly a failure. Shortly after last week’s post, my immune system came up to me with an invoice for lack of down-time and a stop sign. Wednesday/Thursday were lost to ill (and packing boxes, which didn’t help). Friday to recovery and then Ikea (Also not helping). Then the move Saturday/Sunday. Monday I managed to work over a dodgy 3G connection, Tuesday I didn’t even try. Now we have internet.


Tales from the Borderlands, Pillars of Eternity, Dragon Age Inquisition, The Secret World all dropped massive updates this week.  I have played none of them. So. Many. Boxes.


Plugged some holes in some code stuff, a couple of display fixes to the Odyssey management system in prep for the between-games update.

Moved house.

Hopefully this week should be a little more productive…

Computer Games Larp PHP Projects

Week 27 – A Blunderbuss For House Hunting

Last couple of weeks have been a little hectic, and the next couple seem to continue this trend. So:


Shifted to a new primary project at work for the first time in quite a while. Enjoying new challenges, and a more modern codebase to work from. My side of Skute has wound down a bit while others fan the spark a bit, which gives me a chance to plan the next bits for the API.


Still going though SWTOR, mostly. I’ve not had a lot of playtime.


Moving House

We have the keys to the new flat, big move is this weekend. We moved a few dozen boxes yesterday (Thanks Dan & Jenny for being awesome). Between that and Odyssey, I’m mildly dead now.


I’m a head ref for Odyssey, and work closely with the Story team to help everything go smoothly, and one of the things that didn’t go smoothly last time was our “Blessings” system – the system by which we add reactionary special statuses to characters (Blessings from their Gods, Curses, Long term effects of magic spells, transformation into bloodless monsters, Roleplay effects, Extra hitpoints, everything). Previously we worked with a somewhat Heath-Robinson contraption built of Excel and Access-based PDF generation.

Previously, I built a system called Mimir, which tracks the kudos priests and other characters can earn with their gods. We’re a more narrative-based than stats-based game, so the numbers get fudged a lot, but it’s a decent guideline. It’s also got a fairly fully-featured blogging engine, which is for debriefs.

Screenshot from 2015-08-12 15-45-00_croppedMy last couple of weeks not-working time has been spent extending and expanding that a lot. Folding in an Autocomplete library that linked to the current list of active players and the Blessing system (complete with three-stage approval process and player-facing PDF generation), and then a general once-over on the design has swallowed a lot of my coding time.

When I built it originally a few years ago, I built it in PHP (because I wanted to be able to make quick changes on the fly during an event) using a custom lightweight microframework, and Idiorm/Paris as the database/ORM model. I’m slightly surprised how well that’s held up. I didn’t need to edit the framework at all for this major revision, and Idiorm & Paris worked really well for me. The frontend’s built in Bootstrap, which gives me style without much effort – though I do need to bite the bullet and shift up to v3 – and I’ll be releasing it as Open Source once Odyssey is over, alongside graphs and statistics generated from the actual dataset.

I should put up another post later on about how well Odyssey went, but now I should be getting ready for work.

(Header photo: A Greek Shield Wall, at Odyssey. Photo by Charlotte Moss for Profound Decisions)

Personal Projects

Week 25 – The Working Progress

August is shaping up to be a busy month.

Work ramped up, both sides of the coin, after a time-bomb screwup I made several weeks ago suddenly got trodden on, and the other side hit deadline week. Trying to keep on top of both sides of that has been tricky, especially as this month I’m basically going full-time with what was originally supposed to be my temporary part-time contract, and is now tracked to last at least a year…

Odyssey is getting really quite close (it’s the 14th), and my sole contribution to the non-uptime bits, in the form of a new system to track Blessings/Curses and other Involuntary Special States, is nearly on track. The weekend’s task was to get PDF generation of blessings working, and from there printing, so I’ve sunk a few hours into that. The PDFs are being generated, although the text and design’s not quite there yet. Task for this week’s evenings is to finish that up, and import the existing blessings list.

Project Move-To-Oxford proceeds apace. We’ve now got the place, but are in an unusal limbo position while it’s repainted and the various ducks swim into alignment for the actual move to happen. I’m already pulling in previous move’s lists of people to contact and things that need to be done, but a lot of them have this massive overhanging dependency, so I can plan all I like, I can’t do anything yet…

Because the thing that I need now is a new, additional hobby for the remaining seconds in the day when I’m not already doing things, I’ve taken my occasional experiments in blending and infusing alcohol a step further into actually brewing things. I’ve got an article on my first batch of beer in a semi-finished state, and now I’ve also got a jug of mead merrily farting away in the dark corner of the kitchen.

For a friend’s birthday party I also dug out my traditional Cheesecake recipe, and revised and updated it with ten years experience making it. I even made a label to put beside it so people could see what was in it, and then entirely forgot to take it with me. So it’s presented here, where it can be entirely useless forever.



…which has, in general, been a week of text editors and trips to Oxford, and I’ve not been playing very much. However, I did declare “Sod it all” last night for a decent session of GTAV and then get distracted by Sims for a while (House moving always makes me want to play Sims, it makes life look so much neater).


New Flat Adventures Renews for a 4th series

I moved to London in January 2007. I’d quit my job in Bedford with nothing really to go for, save a feeling that it was time to move on, and got a job for Hotxt (later Trutap) in London the next day or so. Since then I’ve had some of the best employment experiences, and some of the worst. I’ve worked with startups primed to go global, startups on a dark and cynical path to oblivion, and startups with a hope and plan for the future that was just out of reach for them. I’ve even worked for established companies.

But last month, the new build houses where my garden used to be went on sale for £750,000. Eight months ago our rent went up by ~10%. At the end of September it’ll do so by another ~10%. I’m a software developer, earning a decent – if not excessive – wage, and I’m being rapidly priced out of the top quarter of the tube map. London house prices, and unregulated rent, are now completely too bad for me to deal with.

I love London a lot. Apart from the town I grew up in, it’s the place I’ve lived longest, and I’ll be sad to see it go.

But last Wednesday we wandered up to Oxford, and spoke to an estate agent directly out of central casting, and he took us to some expensive and tiny places. Then we went to the flat of a friend of a friend and… well, now we have a flat in Oxford.

It’s not all sunshine. Whoever told me (over the phone, annoyingly) that I could break out of the contract with the current place with 30 days notice was not entirely accurate, so we have to hope someone picks it up from viewings this month, otherwise we’re liable for another month’s rent on top while the contract expires. Our new Landlady needs to finish up doing up the new place, but that does mean I won’t be trying to move in the two weeks before Odyssey, so small mercies…


New Flat Adventures – Season 3, Episode 1, The Key To A Successful Move

I bought a new kettle yesterday.

There is a tradition that when I get to a new house, the first thing I do when I have the keys is go inside and make a cup of tea. This has happened every move since Bedford (Which is five), but was actually started with my very first flat of my own in Sunderland. So I bought a box of tea-bags in my lunch break on Friday, preordered a kettle and some cheap mugs in Argos at the same time, and picked them and a bottle of milk up on the way to Palmers Green where the estate agent is.

The flat is lovely. In total it’s smaller than our current place, but the kitchen is nicer. Also, it’s twenty minutes by bus from work, which is an improvement on twenty minutes to the first of two trains to work. It’ll gain me about three hours a day of extra life, which is worthwhile.

So me and Fyr went to sign the contracts, and in return for a great deal of money got a small set of keys to borrow for a year. Quite a small set of keys, in fact, because instead of being two full sets of keys for the house, it was in fact three quarters of a set of house-keys, four duplicate window keys and three duplicate mailbox keys. This is mostly fine, as keys we have can be duplicated.

The problem is, of course, in the fourth of the three quarters. For we have a deadlock key for the flat door, and we have a key for the back door, and we even have a yale key for the flat door. We do not, however, have a key for the building door, and it looks like the landlord’s phone number is office hours only.

Of course, from the back door we can access the front door, so it’s not a massive problem, but still. Keys would, generally, be handy.