5 Dec 2016 – Annoyance

I have had a rather annoying couple of days. I somehow managed to injure my right wrist, which has left it a bit aggravated, which is making typing, and especially mousing, quite painful. Given that almost everything I do, at work, and at home, is on a computer, that isn’t ideal. So getting it sorted asap is a high priority.

That meant spending the day visits physios rather than getting any work done. The verdict is the whole area needs a bit of a break so it can recover. That isn’t ideal, I have stuff to get down. Happily, I have found that using the Wacom pen tablet seems to aggravate things less, and while a little strange using it for general navigation, it works well enough. The Apple Pencil on the iPad works perfectly.

Thankfully, typing on my excellent Microsoft Sculpt keyboard is reasonably fine.

Bluey was happy to have me home for the day though 🙂



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































2 Dec 2016 – Game Dev

I have played games for as long as I can remember and for years now I have toyed with he idea of making one. With tools like Unity now mature, making a game is easier than ever, so I have taken the plunge and dived right into some development.

Currently I am gettin reacquainted with zBrush, which is my preferred 3D graphics tool. When paired with Maya, it gives you a powerful toolset for making assets.

1 Dec 2016 – Final Fantasy?

Final Fantasy 15 finally came out this week, and its causing me a problem. I have been a long time lover of the Final Fantasy series, but the more recent entries in the series have been pretty shit. So I sat on the fence with FF15 and waited to see what reviewers and friends thought. Happily, the consensus seems to be that FF15 is good!

While I am happy that there is another great game out in the world, and that we finally have another decent entry in the Final Fantasy series, it causes me a problem. While I would love to play FF15, I don’t think I really have the time.

Managing your time is always a problem, and not having enough seems to be the default state. When you pick up a game, you are essentially signing up to spending a certain number of hours to get through it. For a Final Fantasy game, that is a big investment, around 40 or 50 hours. I can get a lot of work done in 40 or 50 hours. I have a lot of stuff to get done, and generally, nowhere near enough time to get through it all. It’s hard to justify losing a weeks worth of work time just playing a game.

In this case, I think I’ll have to pass. The time it takes to get the full experience out of a Final Fantasy game is just too much at the moment. If I’m a bit less busy next year, I can always pick it up for half the price.

29 Nov 2016 – Debugging

I spent the night debugging so didn’t have a whole lot of time for writing. I did manage to squish the bugs I needed to squish though, so, satisfaction!

I did manage to snap this rather nice shot of the giant new tower that is rising it’s way out of the middle of Parramatta. It looks a little out of place at the moment, being more than twice as high as the next tallest building.

28 Nov 2016 – No Mans Sky

Despite all the shortcomings and negativity around the original release, I really enjoyed No Mans Sky. It was a nice relaxing game that was awe inspiring in its scope . The game was just a bit lacking in things to do.

Thankfully Hello Games have have stayed true to their promise to provide regular updates and dropped a huge first patch full of base building, upgrades, new tech to research and fine and your own giant freighter.

I’ve only dived back in for a bit over an hour so far, but the update seems great. Base building and freighters are both nice additions that allow you to make your mark and bring some creativity into the game. While the updates to the game in general are also nice. Planets look better and have less bizarre terrain, and animals seem more common.
I always have a lot of competition for my gaming time. There are too many good games and nowhere near enough time to play them all. I’ll definitely be spending some of those precious gaming hours digging into this update and building myself a nice customised base.

If you weren’t a fan of the original game, or just haven’t dived into No Mans Sky at all yet, I would recommend waiting a bit longer. The patch adds a lot, but there is still a way to go, hopefully we see another patch is about three months that completes the journey and get No Mans Sky to where it should have been on launch.

27 Nov 2016 – Work and Play

I missed a few days there, but it was worthwhile as I focused on some upgrades to our practice management system, and catching up on sleep.

We use FileMaker for our practice management system. It’s fast to develop and works well on iOs, which is important because iPads are our primary devices. But FileMaker doesn’t do everything we need, sometimes other services are required.

I spent the weekend integrating TypeForms and Quickbooks with out FileMaker app using the awesome Zapier and FileMaker’s PHP web publishing.

It took a little bit of messing about to get to work, but was surprisingly easy and provides a huge amount of power. I have a whole raft of ideas for powerful interrogations we can use in the future to improve the client experience, and make back office more efficient.

I also took the opportunity to catch up on running, since the week so far had been a bit light on exercise. I’m still slower than I would like, but moving in the right direction.

24 Nov 2016 – Driving and Maps

I don’t do a lot of driving. I think I only covered about 6,000Kms last year. I much prefer walking or public transport. However, it Australia, that isn’t; always practical and you just have to drive to get where you need to go. Today was a day where I had to do quite a lot of driving.

I am currently using Apple Maps for directions. I tend to alternate between Google Maps and Apple Maps depending on which one annoyed me the most recently. I know that map and directions is a hard problem, but it really should be better than it is. In one day, I managed to run into three example of Apple Maps stupidity.

First, I came across a bit of a traffic jam, in an area where it is pretty common. Because I know the area, I knew there this is a short backroads loop you can take to get around the jam. Apple Maps, for some reason, didn’t know this, and when I took the backroads route, stubbornly insisted that I u-turn back to the mess. Apple Maps was estimating 36 minutes to get through the jam, it took me 11 my way.

Second, Apple Maps did an intelligent re-reroute mid drive due to an accident, this involved doing a u-turn, which is fine. The call to change there route was the right one. This issue is the ridiculous number of turns it wanted me to take to execute this u-turn, when there was a u-turn bay right in front of me.

Finally, Apple Maps suggested another route change to save time, only it would not have saved me any time. Even the estimates that Apple Maps gave showed the current route as faster. No idea what went wrong there.

Google Maps isn’t any better and I get exactly the same kind of issues, and it feels to me like it should just be better than this by now.

23 Nov 2016 – Relief and Disapointment

This afternoon the recent heatwave finally broke and it was sweet relief. We have had a string of very hot and very humid day and it really starts to sap your energy and get you down after a while. So it was amazing this afternoon to walk out of the office into some light drizzle that was nice and cool.

I really love Apple, but they seem to be making nothing but errors lately. There has been the long running debacle that is the Mac lineup, the horrible rollout of the iPhone 7 and AirPods, the ditching of their monitor business, and now, rumours that the wireless router business is also getting the chop.

This is a huge strategic error by Apple. What Apple users loved about the company was that they made wonderful products that focused on niceness. A lot of that niceness comes from the way that Apple products work together, and some of that is going to be lost now that we don’t have Apple monitors or routers.

The routers is especially strange, with the Echo and Google Home really doing quite well, it seems to me that Apple should be staking a place in the market for Siri, in the off chance that this category takes off. Since I can’t get an Siri alternative, I get an Echo, and then, once I am used to Alexa, its that much harder for Apple to claw me back to their ecosystem.

What all this highlights is a huge structural issue at the core of Apple. There are tons of great people at Apple, and more than enough resources to hire as many more teams as they want. But there is a roadblock somewhere in the system (which I think is at the Jony Ive/Tim Cook level) that means stuff just doesn’t get looked at.

There is no excuse for a company the size of Apple to be leaving products, some of which sell really well like the MacBook Pros to languish for years without updates while the industry moves on. Apple needs to make its teams more autonomous and let groups, like the router team, or the Mac Pro team, make regular small updates to their corner of the Apple world without constantly having to seek approval from top management.

22 Nov 2016 – Train

Back to WORK today, which means back on the train For the commute. I quite like trains, they are fast and fairly reliable and you can get quite a bit of work done while commuting, much better than driving where you spend all your time, well, driving. 

Public transport also exposes you to lots of people. You get to see a nice cross section of society, which in today’s filter bubble prone world, is healthy. With everything online, it’s incredibly easy to slip into a bubble of facebook friends, twitter follows and RSS feeds that feed you confirmation of your own biases. Things like catching public transport, which expose you to people outside your usual bubble, even in passing, are valuable. In the same vein, I think its important to make sure you follow a variety of viewpoints, not just the people and publications you agree with. Far to many people don’t.

21 Nov 2016 – Busyness

Today was a bit of a lost day. I had the day off work, so there was the chance that much would get done, but a poor night’s sleep coupled with some rather upset sinuses meant it was very slow going. Well that, and errands.

I often feel like errands are the true enemy of getting work done. All those little tasks that have to get done, but take and inordinate amount of time to tackle. Mostly it is travel time that eats your day. A few quick errand can quickly eat up half a day when you have to drive and park for each one, and this gets even worse when you are going somewhere that is popular. 

For example, a simple pick up from the airport should only really take an hour. Its a 30 minute drive each way and, ideally, the plane arrives on time and you can time things so you are there just as required. That never happens though. There are almost always traffic issues around the airport that mean travel takes longer than it should and then planes seem to eievtiably be late. So something simple, that should only take an hour or so, takes more than two. Add a few of these together and that is one day quickly gone. 

I try hard to eliminate as many errands as possible, mostly by outsourcing things as much as possible, but sometimes the only way things can get done is by you physically being at a particular place, at a particular time.