And it keeps pulling me back in...

Jun. 26th, 2017 01:44 pm
alobear: (Default)
[personal profile] alobear
Last week, I finished listening to The Obelisk Gate, the second book in the Broken Earth series by N K Jemisin.

I was very interested that it started with the death of the three-year-old boy, which happened at the beginning of the first book, only this time it was told from the point of view of the father, who actually killed him. It was certainly a bold place to start the story, particularly since it presented him, if not in a sympathetic light, but definitely in a way that made his actions understandable.

While the first book was split into three narratives that showed three very different times in the protagonist's life, this book was split between her story continuing from where the first book ended, and the very different perspective of her eight-year-old daughter, who was taken away by the father after he killed her brother.

I preferred the storyline with the little girl, but the other one also developed in some interesting ways. There was a great deal of moral ambiguity, and all the characters had a lot of facets. The protagonists gained more flaws and the antagonists were portrayed with more depth, which made the various conflicts in the story infinitely more complex.

As with the first book, though, it was pretty grim and I was about ready to give up on the series, since I didn't feel attached enough to the characters, and some of the plot details were a bit hard to follow. Then the ending set up the next stage of the story in such a way that I was suddenly very keen to find out what happens next - and so I will persevere through to the end of the trilogy. Not right away, though - I need to clear out my brain with something a bit jollier first!

42.

Jun. 26th, 2017 07:35 pm
gb: (Default)
[personal profile] gb
Should use DW more. Should follow more people! But shared interests = lol what? True, I followed a few randoms and I used to enjoy reading posts about people in different fields/with different interests, but the DW randoms I followed don't post any more/only post once every 6 months. (and a distressing ratio of them turned out to be Islamophobes lmfao no thank you)

It is my hope that when my life stops being such a badly-tuned hold pattern, I can actively follow people on the internet again. I'm not in the city at the moment, but I feel more prepared to go outside my comfort zone and make new friends in person, too.

I have more thoughts I need to process about socialisation and my own self-enforced isolation not being healthy but being incredibly necessary at this stage, but gosh, I'm bored writing about it.

I've been sketching weird monster/centaur women. I think I will try polishing one of these sketches tonight.

Escape Room Rumours – 26 June 2017

Jun. 26th, 2017 06:27 am
[syndicated profile] exitgames_feed

Posted by Ken

news-spiral

Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions.

This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

A quieter week this time round. Big thanks again to Paul from Bolt Escape Games Dublin and Jackie from Exit Games Scotland for keeping me in the loop on Scotland and Ireland.

  • Scotland
  • West Midlands
  • Ireland
  • South East England
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • South West England
    • Bristol has been in want of another venue since Fathom Escape closed early last year. The good news is that a new company has finally arrived: Riddlr. They’ve got three games to entertain you, Prison State, The Brunel Enigma and Zombie Apocalypse
  • London
  • East Midlands
  • East of England
  • North West England
    • The Dungeons opened their escape room last week. Exciting to see Merlin, the theme park group, open up a permanent escape room.

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

It's six years since I quit my PhD

Jun. 25th, 2017 03:57 pm
happydork: A graph-theoretic tree in the shape of a dog, with the caption "Tree (with bark)" (Default)
[personal profile] happydork
It’s nearly six years to the day since I got on a jet plane and flew away from the wreckage of my attempted PhD.

Quitting my PhD was the second best decision of my life (the best was marrying [personal profile] such_heights) and has brought me so much joy, happiness, and personal fulfilment.

I think a lot, on and off, about whether there’s anything that could have helped me quit it sooner. I suspect probably not, to be honest — all anyone could do was what they did do, which was love me, support me, and welcome me back with open arms when I did finally come home.

But for my past self, the one who got on that plane weighed down with ambivalence, here are a few things I’m glad you’ll learn:


Thoughts for a quitter )

41.

Jun. 21st, 2017 12:14 am
gb: (Default)
[personal profile] gb
Having a really bad time getting my brain to quit intoning you are a hollow husk of a human being with no inherent worth and just help me draw stupid fun fanart already.

I'm legit worried I used up what little creative juice I had today on the rude email I sent to an office full of jackasses who deserved it.
venta: (Default)
[personal profile] venta
Yesterday morning, I attempted to make some scones. I have, historically, not made terribly good scones so thought I'd branch out and try a different recipe.

Scone but not forgotten )

Escape Room Rumours – 19 June 2017

Jun. 19th, 2017 06:15 am
[syndicated profile] exitgames_feed

Posted by Ken

news-spiral

Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions.

This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

Wow – it’s been a busy week there. Big thanks for Paul from Bolt Escape Games Dublin for letting me know about Ireland and Jackie from Exit Games Scotland for keeping her pulse on NI and Scotland.

  • Northern Ireland
    • There’s a new company about to enter the NI scene with Elementary Escape Rooms set to launch in Portrush near Coleraine.
  • West Midlands
    • Escape Stafford (unconnected to the nationwide Escape brand) have appeared on social media and look like they’ll be launching with a Jigsaw-inspired escape room and one themed around a chocolate factory
    • Escape Nation are also set to launch in Stafford with a space station themed game, the Citadel.
  • London
  • South East England
    • Time Trap Escape reopened their doors in Reading, this time permanently, with Rebellion – 1136.
    • The Escapement in Margate opened last week with two games Egyptian Exodus and Pirates of Polaris.
    • Escape Rooms Quest are set to open in Bournemouth with their first game called “The Zodiac: Chapter one”
    • Tulleys are well known within the scare industry but look like they’re branching out with Tulleys Escape Rooms – note that the farm does plenty of non-scare attractions and it looks likely the escape rooms will follow that strand at least in the first instance.
    • City Mazes Oxford closed Control Room 54 and replaced it with Professor’s Predicament which may be a Russian-designed escape room.
  • Ireland
    • I might as well have entitled this the Limerick update with three different companies appearing on the radar this week.
      • WeEscape are already well established in Cork and Dublin and look set to launch with three of their games in the city
      • Asylroom have an existing location in Galway – no details yet on the new rooms launching in Limerick.
      • Escape Limerick is an entirely new operation (and, for the record, unrelated to the Escape brand)
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • Can You Escape? in York opened Operation H.E.R.O.
    • Most news is good new with escape rooms but sometimes it’s not all positive. The Great Escape in Leeds hit the headlines due to controversy over their new game which is set in an Asylum. The local BBC news picked up on the story too. You can read the Great Escape’s official response here.
  • Scotland
  • East Midlands
    • It’s hard to find out much concrete information about Escape the Room but it looks like it’s been open for a while in Mansfield.
    • Trapp’d, the Corby-based company, are planning on opening a venue in Northampton
    • Hour Escape opened The Abandoned Cabin
  • West Midlands
    • Escape Time in Sutton Coldfield are running a weekday discount during June. Use code “6-for-60”.
  • East of England
    • Trapp’d, the Corby-based company, are planning on opening a venue in Peterborough.
    • Escape Skegness is the latest in the Escape franchises long list of venues.
    • Rustic Riddles opened this week with their first game, Pan’s Problem – an outdoor escape room.
  • North West England
    • Bury looks set to get its second venue with Time Race. Two games are already listed on their website – Vault 17 and the Invitation
    • Escape Stockport, unrelated to the nationwide escape room company that often chooses that style of name, have launched their web presence and look set to open with three games – Interrogation Room, Chemistry Lab and Pirates’ Cove
    • Mission Exit, the company based just outside Manchester opened their second game, Paper Chase
    • Here’s a chance to win an escape room in Breakout Manchester

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
[personal profile] karen2205
The fire at Grenfell Tower is amongst all sorts of other things, a reminder of something I learnt on 9/11.

Sometimes people, seemingly in authority, get it wrong and give out advice that is wrong for the situation. Blind obedience to advice can kill. Equally, in other circumstances, not following good advice can also kill. I know if I'd been in one of the World Trade Center Buildings and had been told to stay where I was I'd have done that. I'm older and less compliant nowadays. What would I have done if I'd been in Grenfell Tower? I don't know:-/

So, my advice, for what it's worth goes like this:

1. Nearly always you are the best judge of the situation on the ground, because you are there. There's an amusing pseudo-safety sign I've seen online that says something like "in the event of fire, evacuate the building before updating Facebook" and it's right. In an acute situation don't phone/email/poke the internet for help from friends or family instead of acting to get yourself somewhere safer. [Phone/email/internet for getting help if you *can't* help yourself to somewhere safer without help is different]
1.5. Teach children autonomy by stages as they can cope with it; the correct response to fire is to get out of the building and phone 999 before contacting a parent. You don't want your children not knowing how to act without your assistance, because there may be circumstances when you aren't there.
2. Advice from authority figures who are physically present with you vs. being on the phone stands IMO, a better chance of being accurate to your situation, but should still be subject to critical evaluation. Part of that critical evaluation might be that it's best to go along with for now, but that you need to keep the situation under review.
3. Advice can be perfectly good advice for most situations and still be wrong in your circumstances. Assume good faith, but remember they're people too and they make mistakes/don't have the same information you've got.

40.

Jun. 17th, 2017 11:59 pm
gb: (Default)
[personal profile] gb
Considering taking off and driving south again. Tomorrow, even. Not because I need to bug out this time, at least.

I have nothing pressing to do, I'm in a weird transitional period, and I need to put things in my brain that aren't Youtube videos before I lose what remaining ability I have to communicate with my peers.

I made two weird discoveries in the past half hour which reaffirmed to me finding things to do that aren't related to Internet or Nerd Shit is a really good idea. One of the discoveries is legitimately hilarious, yet also kinda fucked me up and I know no one I could vent to who'd really understand. (The other is TMI and I'm feeling bashful lmao)

It's time to go into the wilderness for a bit, hug a tree. Enter the desert. Fight a goanna.

EDIT: There is a non-zero chance I will reemerge even more obtuse and embarrassing, but if that's the way my psyche really wants to go, let's go then. Their Destiny Was Foreordained, and all that.

FFBE: E3 and other announcements!

Jun. 16th, 2017 11:46 am
xnera: The Ninth Doctor says, "Fantastic!" (fantastic!)
[personal profile] xnera
I'm making this post public, so feel free to share it with other friends who play!

To start off, let's go over the in-game announcements from this week: the Brave Frontier crossover is back! With it comes the 6* awakening of Tilith who is amazing. Here are her new skills:

* Affectionate Aura - Increase resistance to status breaks (100%) for 3 turns to all allies
* Sealed Light - Remove all status effects from all enemies
* Prism Heal - Restore HP (2500) and MP (50) to all allies except caster
* Radiant Light - Recover HP (100%) to all allies
* Goddess's Revelation - Revive all KO'd allies (100% HP)

This banner is a limited time only, so once it's over, Tilith and friends are gone. She's the best healer in the game, and will be for a good six months or so, so if you can, try to pull for her. Alas, the drop rates for this banner are really, really low. :( So, good luck, everyone!

Now, onto the E3 announcements! As you might know, FFBE's Global one-year anniversary is on June 29th, so we have a lot of exciting stuff coming out!
  • Expeditions - if you've played Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, you'll be familiar with these. Expeditions allow you to send a unit out to perform a particular task. While the unit is out on expedition, it cannot be used in a party. There are special rewards for undertaking expeditions, but it's not clear yet what those are.
  • EX point system - this is a new currency that you get when you purchase lapis, and can be used for items, tickets, and perhaps even a special unit that you can't get any other way!
  • Esper SP reset - did you screw up your grid when training your espers? Not to worry - you'll be able to reset the grid and start over for 100 lapis.
  • Removal of crafting time - All items will be crafted instantly!
  • New Dungeon Tiers Unlocked - Cactuar Dunes, Gil Cave and Enchanted Maze will gain an additional level that drops better units.
  • Story Unit Special Dungeons - special dungeons will be released in which you can only use the seven story characters. The dungeons drop equipment that has special properties for those units, but that can be used on any unit.
  • Sharing summon results - You'll be able to share your summon results on social media
  • Guaranteed 5* base in a 10+1 pull - there's confusion over whether this will be a free pull or not, so start saving lapis, just in case it's not!
  • Free Summon Campaign - get an additional free summon for 28 days!
  • Vault of Hidden Treasures - for two weeks there will be a special, easy dungeon that drops pots, cactuars, and other items
  • Anniverary Special Bundle - there will be a special bundle available for purchase, but we don't know the particulars yet
  • Special daily login rewards - the reward board is supposed to be really good for July, so keep logging in! There will also be a special reward for clearing the whole board
  • 5* vision shards - Right now, you can summon special unit Kelsus from vision shards. There will be more such units in the future, so hold on to your excess shards!
  • Enhancing Units - there will be a rate up chance of getting Great and Amazing results when enhancing units.
  • Half NRG Campaign - dungeons will be half their cost for the anniversary celebration period!
  • All Portals Open - All the portals in the vortex will be open
  • Fujimoto Rainbow Hoodie - players will receive this special equipment. All we know so far is that it is clothes--we don't know the stats.
  • FFX BANNER IS COMING! - Rikku, Tidus and Wakka are coming on June 29th!


For those not in the know, Rikku is the best support unit in the game. She has AoE 100% raise, and her limit burst is AoE Re-Raise! You'll definitely want to pull her. She's a 4* unit, so might be a little tricky to get, but won't be too bad. Tidus is a strong DPS who can chain with himself.

Also! There are rumors floating around that we will be getting Warrior of Light's 6* awakening soon! He becomes the best tank in the game, as he has AoE cover abilities.

That's it! Exciting stuff, isn't it?

Question thread #53

Jun. 15th, 2017 08:32 pm
pauamma: Cartooney crab holding drink (Default)
[personal profile] pauamma posting in [site community profile] dw_dev
It's time for another question thread!

The rules:

- You may ask any dev-related question you have in a comment. (It doesn't even need to be about Dreamwidth, although if it involves a language/library/framework/database Dreamwidth doesn't use, you will probably get answers pointing that out and suggesting a better place to ask.)
- You may also answer any question, using the guidelines given in To Answer, Or Not To Answer and in this comment thread.
venta: (Default)
[personal profile] venta
Today, I am supposed to be reviewing a colleague's pull request[*]. Multiple thousands of lines of Node.js and extremely Promise-heavy Javascript.

I don't really know Javascript. I've never used Node. I haven't done any aysnc programming in about 15 years. So when I say "reviewing", I really mean "learning a bunch of stuff from scratch in the hope of having the least clue what it's all about".

And the worst part? Earwormed by bloody Big Fun :(

[*] A "pull request" is some quantity of new computer code, which someone has submitted for potential inclusion in our Grand Bucket o' Code.

A mixed bag of entertainment

Jun. 14th, 2017 07:06 pm
alobear: (Default)
[personal profile] alobear
Last week, I watched Colossal, which turned out to be quite fascinating. Ostensibly, it’s about a woman who discovers she is inadvertently creating a giant monster that appears in Seoul at a particular time of day and mimics her movements, to varyingly destructive effect. What it’s really about is acknowledging the consequences of your actions (both for yourself and others), identifying and removing toxic influences on your life, and empowering yourself to make positive change both in yourself and in the world. A lot of it was quite uncomfortable watching, and it certainly wasn’t a comedy (as it has sometimes been presented), but overall it worked well, and I found it quite thought-provoking.

At the weekend, I went to Burlesque 2.0 at the Underbelly venue on the South Bank. I was familiar with most of the performers from other House of Burlesque shows, and the quality was very high. I also thought the over-riding theme of female empowerment and rejecting the trends of current world politics was well done and very effective. In true burlesque style, some of the acts were funny, some were subversive, some were powerful, and some were classic. It was a very good range, and I really enjoyed the show, particularly the second half.

Today, on a train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston, I read a book about a suicide bomber on a train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston, which was a bit meta for my liking. It was called The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe and it was compelling enough that I read it all in one day, in about four hours overall (I started on the train up to Manchester and continued over lunch, then on the train back). Having nine point of view characters was ambitious, but the short chapters and general interaction made it quite easy to keep track. To begin with, most of the characters felt very stereotypical, and some of the attempts at slang felt overdone. However, as the story progressed, all the characters gained depth and complexity, and the diversity was broad. Having the bomber as one of the point of view characters was a bold choice, but his voice was strong, and it was interesting to see his thoughts as the plot built up the tension. My favourite character, though, was his sister, and the aspect of the story I found most interesting was the presentation of his family - their reactions, how they were treated, and what happened to them afterwards. The book was pretty horrific, which really shouldn’t have surprised me, but the aftermath was handled really well, and given a lot of time and attention, which is unusual in this kind of thriller. The conclusion was satisfying, not least because it wasn’t neat or wholly uplifting. The irrevocability of the tragedy was strongly emphasised, and not all of the survivors were able to set aside their anger and prejudices to seek solace and connection with the others, which felt very realistic. So, not an especially enjoyable book, but a very effective one.

UK Games Expo

Jun. 14th, 2017 06:46 pm
alobear: (Default)
[personal profile] alobear
The first weekend in June, we went to the UK Games Expo at the NEC in Birmingham. We played a lot of Paperback, which gets better with more familiarity and inclusion of some of the expansions.

I also played three new games:

Thief’s Market is a sort-of bidding game where the start player rolls a set of dice with gems, gold and victory points on them, and then claims however many they want from the set, with which to pay for the cards that are available on display. The next player can then either claim more from the set or steal all but one from another player (the extra one goes back into the middle). This continues until every player has collected some dice and there are none left in the middle. The players then take turns to buy cards with their dice, which then give them additional powers or points for later in the game.

It’s an interesting dynamic in that you have to try and get the right combination of dice for the cards you want, but without taking so many that you become appealing to thieves. I didn’t do very well, but I enjoyed the game-play and would be happy to play again, to work out better tactics.


Fuse is another dice game, this one co-operative. A timer is set for ten minutes and each player is given two cards representing bombs to be diffused, with more laid out in the middle of the table. Each card has a different combination of colours/numbers of dice required to diffuse it. Every turn, a number of dice equal to the number of players is thrown and each player has to take one to work towards completing a card. If they complete one, they turn it over, collect a new one from the middle and keep going. The aim is to diffuse all the bombs before the timer runs out, with setbacks provided by cards that make you discard dice from cards in progress at certain points.

It wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be, from watching other people playing earlier in the weekend, but I don’t generally like timed games, and I didn’t enjoy the mechanics of this one enough to mitigate that aspect.


Isle of Skye is a bit like Carcassonne, but you have to bid on the tiles that are revealed, and build up points over the game through the placement and completion of various features in your land. I’m not very good at setting appropriate values on tiles in this way, and I didn’t do very well, but it was an interesting variation on a jigsaw-type game, and I’d happily play it again.


One of the main achievements of the weekend was that we bought a copy of Scythe, which we had played once before, last October. I was keen to play it again, so we duly set it up. I’m generally incapable of working out how to play games from actually reading the rules (I much prefer someone else to demonstrate and explain a game to me), but our resident rules guru was absent, so the role of explainer fell to me. I managed to figure it all out, successfully explain it to three other people and then beat them convincingly, which was quite satisfying! I’m looking forward to playing Scythe again, especially when one of our friends finishes making the print-and-play My Little Pony version!

Charity

Jun. 14th, 2017 01:40 pm
lnr: (Default)
[personal profile] lnr
During the election I filled in a "Vote for Policies" thing, which basically showed you the policies of all the main parties in your area without indication which was which. I got a small tear in my eye at the inclusion in the "Equality and Rights" section when I found one party included:

* Ensure a woman’s right to choose a safe, legal abortion – and work to extend that right to women in Northern Ireland.

Today I learn that the supreme court has ruled that women from Northern Ireland, who cannot legally access an abortion at home, have no right to an abortion on the NHS if they travel to England. I'm enormously saddened. Having already sent some money to the Red Cross (which I hope they'll use to help the poor people who've just lost their homes and friends and loved ones in the tower fire last night) I've now also sent a small donation to the Abortion Support Network, who help women who need to travel and pay to access something which I would receive for free. I sincerely hope this situation is one which is changed in my lifetime, but with the DUP having a disproportionate amount of power in the UK at the moment I'm not sure I feel like it will be soon.

This isn't something that people should have to rely on charity for.

http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/News/2017/June/Grenfell-Tower-fire
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-40271763
https://www.asn.org.uk/single-donation/

39.1.

Jun. 14th, 2017 02:46 am
gb: (Default)
[personal profile] gb
I think I accidentally killed my intentionally absurd Utena opening parody idea, but not because of lack of technical ability, time or spoons.

It's because I went looking for reference art, instead read a whole pile of Utena meta (much of it written by miserable people) and not only am I now miserable, I don't want to subject any other property I like to that misery either even if only in the most shallow manner imaginable lmfao.

On bright side: Utena is still very good, and finding the meta led me to this post which is Extremely Me.

... I think redesigning the file schema has meant I've also killed my coding project, again, but I have enough things keeping me up to 3AM, I'll worry about that later.

What I should do is read through ohtori.nu until I cheer up. That site rules. EDIT: It worked! But now it's 4am...