Showing posts with label Off Topic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Off Topic. Show all posts

Friday 29 March 2024

OT: Starfield


I finally relented on the Steam nagging screen, and am writing a review of Starfield, which I have been playing pretty much daily since it was released. I just noticed I'm writing an essay rather than a review, so figured I'll "own" it and post it here as well as give it to Steam/Bethesda.

Would you recommend this game other players? Yes.

There's some good gameplay in this, but around the edges. I wish the rating system on this had at least a "maybe" option as well as "yes" and "no". this is a 6/10 game (I'd rank Skyrim and Fallout 4 as 10/10 games, to compare).

The main quest is sterile and repetitive, and the main NPCs are on the whole obnoxious and unengaging. Companion AI doesn't seem improved over FO4: they are always just in the way, rather than being helpful. Too much dialogue is too repetitive. Note to the Bethesda scripting team: each canned script line should only be used once (maybe once per humanspace week or something, just not every time I come within 1m of the person). Silent NPCs would be better than irritating (and vaccuous) repetition. it detracts from immersion. Can't wait for Bethesda to integrate chatgpt-ish AI into NPC comms; it would mix it up a lot, and - I'm afraid - probably better than the current script-writing which is mediocre.

The faction quests are too short and linear, but more interesting than the main quest.

Inventory imbalance needs a look at. One needs tonnes of resources to play the game effectively as an outpost builder, but it's too hard to ferry about the place without mods to adjust / negate weight. It's not fun to be a cargo carrier (especially as the cargo capacity of ownable spacecraft are so low - at leat to start with, but they never get great).

Intersystem cargo transport is unusable on my rig, because as soon as I have more than one of them, the game blocks every few seconds (I guess it's doing cargo placement calculations? This only really needs to be done when arriving at an outpost, and could be rolled in to the load-screen-time, surely?), and it gets worse and worse with the more links added. I have read a lot of ppl have had this. The rest of the gameplay in the game is fine on this PC, so it's not just down to a badly spec'ed machine, I think: it's badly implemented code in the game. If cargo transport ran transparently in the background (like it does in FO4), then this would solve a lot of the inventory management issues. I just have a mod that zeros-out the weight of resources, so I carry them all around with me in my rucksack ;-)

Combat is fun, I'm not getting tired of that. And I like stealing the baddies' ships. That said, the need to use the scanner in combat to trigger some of the "social manipulations" is clunky. I know a lot of people have already told you that.

I also like planetary surveying (if a bit mindnumbing ;-), and I like building outposts, but they're a bit buggy. Still. After six months. But it's the part of the game I enjoy the most: finding the right spot to build, and then building. Object snapping could do with some work though.

The space part of the game is disappointing. There's no real travel, and no space exploration. It's just "fast travel exploration". Other games - even decades old - do this better.

I think the radiant quests in Starfield are fun though. It could do with a few more bases when doing the "kill the baddy" quests, but I'm not tiring of them yet. They are very "no-brainer", but it's telling they're more engaging than than the scripted quests. The scripted quests are a bit brain-dead and no real variation on "push the blue button so you can get to the red button… then to the yellow button…" sorta thing we had in Doom, 30 years ago. I know all RPG quests are basically like that, but it seems more apparent in SF than in FO4 or Skyrim. I think the level designers phoned-it-in a bit in Starfield.

I've played Starfield a lot (really a lot; less than I work and sleep, but more than anything else since it was released), but most of this is just as something I do with the sound off whilst I watch telly or YT, or listen to a book or use my brain and 50% of my attention for something else. This is a poor comparison to when I replay Skyrim or FO4, which I still actually enjoy.

I sure hope this is down to some vagary of the Starfield team composition or leadership, and not something that is going to bleed back in to the other franchises Bethesda own.

Right. I have some Ecliptic mercs to spacejack.


Saturday 19 November 2022

Off-topic / no technical content: I have a dilemma


This is off-topic and has no technical content to it at all. It is about a personal situation I have. This is the only place I have to post large wodges of text publicly, hence putting it here. And hey it's my blog: I'll post what I want ;-)

I have a dilemma.

Context / history

My neighbour and I share a front door to the street, and we had got onto nodding terms with each other. When her new baby arrived I fussed a bit over the new wee girl and got to talking more. My neighbour has three girls, approximately 15, 8, <1. They live in a flat that is at most 2 bedrooms. It will be like mine, which is to say it will be very very basic.

She is on a key meter for her electricty, and these display the balance on the meter, which is inside the front door, so I pass it daily. Often (once a month? Every coupla months?) it's in the red, and their power is off.

We each pay for one of the lights in the shared area (stairs, hallway to the front door), and I have been making a point of giving her £20 every few months to cover her share of it.

She has had bailiffs around chasing her ex, who owes the council money for parking fines.

She has had the police around to escort her current partner away from the flat, as he was being abusive. He is, btw, back.

Someone from a charity brought a bag of food around "for the lady who lives upstairs with the kids. She looks like she could do with some food".

I think it's reasonable to say she's struggling with life.

Recently she came to me in a flap saying she hd a debt she needed to pay now, and she couldn't and could she borrow £20? I offered £50, and she did not hesitate to take it. I told her she did not have to pay me back as I could afford it, and she needed it more than me. This is not terribly altruistic of me: I give £50 to charity each month, and that month I gave it to her instead. [shrug].

A few weeks later she texted me saying she needed another £20 in her account as she needed to pay a bill urgently. And she'd pay me back. I transferred £50, and reassured her she didn't need to pay me back, but that we can't keep operating like this.

She's knocked on the door to give me £20 back - I reiterated she didn't need to but she insisted - but within the day she meekly came back and asked if she could take it back again. Because reasons. Fine.

This is all fine. Thusfar.

However now she is texting me every week almost for more money, and I have drawn a line under this enterprise saying "look, 'borrowing' money from your neighbour is not a workable way of solving your issues. I don't know what is, but this has to stop. Please don't ask me for more money".

The calls/texts continue. I am ignoring them. She is still friendly when I meet her on the landing or on the street.

She has actually paid back the £120 she ended up "owing" me. I asked he to keep it: she refused.

Here is my dilemma

She's broke. The UK is not a good place to be broke. Social services are struggling, food banks are struggling. Really a lot of people are struggling. I don't want anyone reading this as anything as a fact that is contextually significant: she is from an eastern European country, her English is not great and I suspect her education is not great either. She does not appear to have any family over here.

On the other hand I am not struggling. I can afford to just give her the money (and I can also afford to also keep giving £££ to charity each month too if I wanted to). I'm not a fountain of cash, but £50 here or there doesn't matter.

Theoretically I stand by my position of "asking yer neighbour for money is not a sustainable solution to your problems". But she has kids who need to eat & have a roof & be warm. Should theoretical economics trump hungry kids?

I have found myself thinking "this is not my problem" or "this should not *be* my problem". But it's my neighbour. Someone in my community. Who needs help and has asked for help.

Whether or not the govt or local council should be dealing with this is neither here nor there. We have a shit, evil (actually evil) government, and we know they don't give a shit about poor people. I can't change the govt (other than one vote at a time), but I can change this situation maybe.

I feel I am being more "middle-class" than I am being a caring person. But all the points above nag at me. I'm currently holding the position of "no, no more money; I am not the solution to your problems". But I suspect I might be mistaken, or being overly "priveleged" about this because I can afford to prevaricate over principles vs hunger.

Thoughts? And if you don't wanna put them publicly here, my email address is on the blog's Communications policy page. Or a lot of my readers know other channels to ping me on and discuss.



Saturday 8 July 2017

@dac_dev Twitter account

Yes, this thing is still alive.

This morning I indicated on Twitter I was discontinuing my usage of the @dac_dev Twitter account. I'll just be using my @adam_cameron one from now on.

@NXRK made this observation just now:

Just to be clear: my twitter account is the @adam_cameron one. The @dac_dev one was created specifically for promoting this blog, and the "brand" that was my existence in the dev world, such as it is. Specifically the CFML dev world.

I don't want to promote that brand any more, or at least not such that I want to keep it separate from my "real" self. Or more that there's simply not enough usage of that account to warrant me having to keep it separate from my own account.

I won't be deleting the @dac_dev one, and I have set it to send me emails if anyone hits me up there, but I am not paying attention to it any more, nor do I intend to post anything to it.

As with anyone's account on Twitter, you are free to keep an eye on my mumblings on the @adam_cameron one. I'm less polite there (if that can be believed...), and it's definitely more "general" commentary. Rugby, cricket, specious social commentary, naive political observations and photos of my meals. Well: not the latter. I'm not a complete twat(*).

In a closely-related moved, I've chucked-in my participation on the CFML Slack channel too. I was not getting anything positive out of my membership there, and she shitness of some elements of the CFML community was doing my head in (if yer reading this, I'm almost certainly not including you in that shit demographic).



(*) based on just that metric, I mean.

Sunday 1 January 2017



Update, 2017-01-01:

I've tweaked this slightly today to... erm... strengthen some of the language, and add back in a coupla passages that for some reason got scuppered in the self-imposed "editorial rush" last night.

And - yes - take note ye shrinking violets: I use coarser language even than usual in this article.

Well, yes... 2016 was a disappointing year, yeah? Like many other people will be doing / have already done, I could rattle off a list of celebrities that have died, and offer that as "proof" that 2016 was a bit of a poor showing. Because, you know, that's how we measure how good or bad a year is these days, right? Celebrity death.

FFS, the real reason why 2016 has been such a bloody disappointment is because our "civilisation" has got to the point that that is how we measure things. Via celebrity head count. Seriously... I feel a sense of empathy with the families of all these noted people who have died this year, cos having a family member die really fucking sux. But I don't really know why we're all carrying on like the death of [insert name of celebrity here] in any way changes our own blimin' lives. Yeah, sure, those dead musicians are not going to produce any more albums for us to listen to. But plenty of other people will produce albums to listen to. We can listen to those ones. And movie stars? Do people really measure impact on their lives by whether they get to see another movie starring [name of some actor here]? Really? Are we so detached from reality that we think these people are parts of our lives?

What's happened to our society that we're all wailing an gnashing our teeth over this sort of thing?

There has been a bunch of actual shitty things that happened this year.

The UK demonstrated it couldn't be trusted to vote in a referendum about the continued viability of itself as an international consideration: instead decided to consign itself to ultimately be marginalised archipelago off the coast of Europe. The Europe we used to belong to. The Europe we were better for being part of, and that was better for us to be part of. Nah. We were all a bit easily swayed by shit-eating-grin-wearing nazi-wannabes like Nigel Farage, who managed to convince us that there's too many immigrants here already, and this is a problem. I realise it's now seen as a bit trite and simplistic to suggest the exit-voters were all about stopped those that "come over here, and take our jobs", but I've yet to see any evidence that that's not why the vote went the way it does. What's worse is that when speaking to exit-voters about these foreigners "coming over here... etc", I point out to them that I'm a foreigner who has specifically come over here to take a job. Without a pause for breath I'm reassured that immigrants like me are OK. And it's not cos I'm a Kiwi. It's cos I'm fuckin' white and I speak English (kinda ;-). I'm so embarrassed for this country - my home - that there are so many people who think this way that they have an impact on national policy.

One of the actual bad things about 2016 is that the UK fucked itself. It voted to fuck itself. We've become Country McCuntFace.

Oh... Jesus... then there's that freak that the States elected to be president. The one good thing about that is that it stopped making Poms look collectively stupid, and reminded us that USA will always go one better than anyone else. Even if it's in the "how to fuck up a vote and ruin your country" stakes. Even if Trump doesn't do anything stupid (and there's no chance of that happening), you've made yerselves an international laughing stock for the next four years. Oh, fuck it, knowing you lot it'll be eight years.

The jury is still out as to whether you've inadvertently elected a Russian goon as president too. Inadvertently in a two-fold way: the electorate certainly didn't mean to; and - less certainly - Trump doesn't realise he's being played. That one could pan out either way, I think.

At the same time the Four Horsemen are present and accounted for with the same list of war, famine, pestilence (oh, and the other one is "conquest", apparently... had to look that one up) that goes on all year every year. Because we don't bloody learn. Because we care about celebrities but not actual people. Especially fucking foreigners (ask yerself this quickly: how many marketplace bombs were detonated in various countries around the world today? How many can you name? How many innocent people just doing their shopping died? I read of a couple, but I too cannot name where they were, and the body count didn't seem memorable).

Second update:

To be clear, I posted this before the well-publicised attack in Istanbul. This news broke about 15min after I posted the article :-(

If the media is to be believed, we still can't even collectively own-up to screwing the planet's climate, ultimately at our expense. I can't believe that debate is still going on. Well it's not a debate. There is no indecision. Except for the media's agenda of perpetuating an idea that there is a debate.

Another real problem is encapsulated in that previous para: "if the media is to be believed". Who the fuck knows if the media can be believed any more? I used to think I could at least trust the Beeb and the Guardian to deliver my slightly-left-of-centre truth each day. But it's becoming more and more clear that the editorial slant of all news organs is now more important to them than actually telling us what's going on. I can't believe people read the Daily Mail or watch / read Fox News as a mechanism for becoming informed. Well I should believe it, because... well... refer back to the UK EU Membership Referendum and the US general election. That said: really a lot of people didn't vote in the UK referendum, and a cadre of morons in the States decided they couldn't bring themselves to vote for Clinton (because they wanted Bernie instead or some other fucking stupid excuse)... if only to stop Trump.

At the same time fascist freaks like Le Pen and Wilders in their respective countries seem to be gaining traction via a similar way of public thinking. Earlier in the year people were "celebrating" that the far right was defeated in Austria, whilst glossing over the fact that they were only just defeated. 46% of the vote went to the nazi-lite bloke.

There's 14min of 2016 left.

Back to the celebrity thing. if that's yer yardstick of how to measure "good years" vs "bad years", then yer in for a shock. Statistically the baby boomers are gonna start dying now. We're seeing the periphery of this happening now (statistical outliers). It's only going to get "worse". It's also going to get worse because the bulk of the people wringing their hands about such things grew up in a fairly golden time without much war or conflict or challenge in their lives, so "my favourite musician just died" really does seem to them to be something significant in their lives. Plus we've also grown-up in an age of increased "communications intrusion" into our lives. So we're just exposed to more celebrity than earlier generations used to. So we'll be finding a sea of dead celebrities to get upset about in 2017 too. And perhaps 2018, if Trump and Putin allow us to have one.

And all the while we will focus on this, and soak up the bread and circuses that our media will feed us whilst the truly shitty things in this world continue unabated.

So that's uplifting.

For me, 2016 was as follows:

  • my sister did not die of cancer. That was on the cards at the beginning of the year, but she's OK.
  • My brother seems none the worse for wear after a heart-attack in 2015. That's cool.
  • My dad died. I have concluded I am simply never going to move on from that.
  • My mum is in a secure ward at her care home, as she's a bit too loopy these days to be allowed out in public.
  • My son is 5, and he's a dude! I don't get to see him as often as I'd like. More often than his mother would like though, I think ;-)
  • I have blood pressure "issues", but they seem mostly OK at the moment.
  • My job is still pretty good. Perhaps not as good as it was a coupla years ago, but there's opportunities to be taken advantage of still. It's cool.
  • I've got excellent friends and rellies(**) and - on the whole - I don't have much to gripe about.
  • Oh! I have a mate who's Nan was 99 throughout most of 2016, and she's still around now it's 2017. I've never met her, but this pleases me.

As for 2017 (and, bugger it, typing this in a second time as it didn't save the first time):

  • I'm about ready to give up on the UK. I might shift to Ireland if I can. I have a job there if I want it (yes, boss, I do!), and Dublin is a lot closer to Galway where my boy is than London is.
  • I'm gonna go to NZ one last time to watch cricket with me mates (South Africa will be handing NZ it's arse on a plate, but hey: it's still cricket). After that I intend to only return for family funerals.
  • More likely than not I will simply watch my health than do anything about improving it. :-/
  • At work I've had a rough patch for the last month or so in which I've been asking "remind me again why I subject myself to this each day? Oh, a visa. That's right", but I hope to get back into my rhythm of really enjoying going to work each day and hanging out with me team.
  • I do also need to do something about keeping myself "technologically fresh". I need to study more and experiment more.
  • First things first though: I need another beer (*).

Oops... I meant to press "send" bang on 00:00:00. Missed it by a few sec.



(*) just in case you wondered... no, not really drunk when writing this: I've had three beers over the course of as many hours. The poor quality of the writing is down to being in a rush, as I only decided to write this at 11:30pm, and wanted it done by midnight.

(**) I have two entire other families (long story) I did not mention in this article. But only cos they're all trucking along fine.

Saturday 17 December 2016

That new Star Wars movie

If you need to be told that an article entitled "That new Star Wars movie" is perhaps going to discuss that new Star Wars movie, and intrinsically that's going to include details of the plot then... well here you go:

This contains spoilers.

I'll leave some space before I say anything else, in case that's not clear enough for you, and you think "oh, I hope what Cameron says here doesn't discuss that new Star Wars movie... I haven't seen it and I don't want it spoiled".

Oh for fuck's sake why do I do this to myself?

Firstly, Adam Tuttle is dead right on two counts:

This is true. I watched the trailers for this and though: "haha, nicely played: this doesn't look like crap!", and pretty much decided to see it on that basis. He followed up with this:

I'm the same. I've not actually enjoyed one of these movies since the third one. To save some confusion: I don't give a shit how Lucas decided to number these, or whether they're prequels, sequels or spin offs: I number them chronologically based on their release dates. In this case I mean: Return of the Jedi: the third one. I liked that one. I was 13 when I saw it (in 1983), and I've always had a soft spot for "space ships and laser guns" movies. And it was a good kids' movie. And I was a kid.

It demonstrates AdamT's point that I also knew what date this new one was being released (well: within a week or so of the date: "early Dec"), and I figured a coupla nights ago... I'd be in Galway on Saturday afternoon with two options:
  1. sit at the pub and write a blog article about consuming SOAP web services with PHP. Oh, and drink Guinness;
  2. or go to the local cinema and kill a coupla hours watching this movie first.
I don't wanna think about SOAP yet, so I decided on the latter. On the way home from the cinema I decided to procrastinate on the SOAP thing further by wittering on about the movie instead. I've got the Guinness though. There's always Guinness.

But anyway AdamT was right... there was some anticipation from me to get to see this latest Star Wars movie, and given - despite my best efforts - I don't actually enjoy them, I suspect it's just the nostalgia thing he mentioned.

So, yeah, I scooted down to the cinema and watched the movie. Interestingly there was only about another dozen people in the auditorium. I guess it's either not the draw "a Star Wars movie" used to have, or Saturday afternoon is not a popular time, or the Irish are too sensible to waste their time on such nonsense. I like to think it's the latter.

In case you don't know, this one is the story about how the goodies got hold of the Death Star plans just before the beginning of the first movie, and got them to Princess Leia and R2D2 and what not, and off they went to be chased by that Star Destroyer, and the rest of Star Wars goes from there.

Here's the problem with this new one from the outset: we already know the goodies in this movie succeed in their efforts to steal the plans, and we also know that they all die. Hey I told you there was going to be spoilers. Why did we know they'd all be dead at the end of this one? Well if they weren't they'd still be around for Star Wars etc, wouldn't they?

As a sidebar I am a big fan of the movie Alien, and before I developed a sense for decent movie writing, I also really liked Aliens. I always thought it'd be way cool if there was a linking story covering the period at the LV426 colony before they all got wiped out (some scenes of this made it into the extended mix of Aliens)... showing the colonists being overwhelmed, and only two of them being alive at the end. But even then it occurred to me the denouement wouldn't work as we already know what it would be.

Same here with this movie: Felicity Jones (I've no idea what her character name was: it didn't matter) was always gonna end up dead. And that other geezer she was with. Dead. Along with all the red shirts they were with. Well obviously they were gonna end up dead: they were only making up the numbers (this includes the yeah-we-get-it-it's-The-Force blind dude and his... brother? Pal? Who knows? Who cares?). This was, accordingly, a movie without any real overarching sense of drama.

One thing I did like about this movie was all the nods to the earlier movies there were. I'd usually think this would be self-indulgement / self-knowing / "Joss-Whedon-esque" sort of movie making, but hey, this thing is a nostalgia exercise more than anything else, so why not. I mention this cos I chuckled when they did indeed open with a triangular thing coming down from the top of the screen - eg: the Star Destroyer in the first movie - but this time it wasn't some big spaceship, it was a visual illusion of the way a planet's rings were in the planet's shadow (you'll need to see the scene to get what I mean). On the whole these things were inconsequential but I spotted a few, and they made me chuckle.

I was surprised to see Mads Mikkelsen in this (slumming it slightly, IMO), and he delivered his lines well and seemed convincing in his role... although it was a pretty small if pivotal one. I mention this because most of the rest of the acting was either pretty bland, or the players were the victim of pretty turgid writing (I was reminded of Harrison Ford's quote "George, you can type this shit, but you can't say it!". This was alive and well in this movie too, despite Lucas having nothing to do with it).

Forest Whitaker was a prime example of victimised actor here. His lines were so awful even he couldn't save them. I actually wonder if there was more material for his character originally which was excised, cos I really don't see why he was in the movie.

Felicity Jones was OK, but in comparing her to... ooh... [thinks]... Daisy Ridley in the preceding movie, who I though "hey, you've made a good character here!", I didn't get the same reaction. But she was completely OK, and one of the few people not over-egging their performances.

The comedy robot sidekick was better than usual, but it was still a comedy robot sidekick. It's interesting though that - on reflection - it was probably the second-most-rounded-out character after Jones's one. More so than all the other humans.

On the whole the script was dire. Uncharacteristically for me I found myself repeatedly muttered "for fuck's sake: really? Did you really just make the poor actor utter that line?" But I have to realise it's aimed at people with limited attention spans, and limited... well... age. Be that chronologically or... well... ahem.

What's with the capes? Why did that dude... the baddy guy who wasn't Tarkin or Darth Vader... wear a uniform which otherwise would never have a cape (none of the other dudes with the same uniform had one), had a cape basically clipped on to it. Who the fuck has worn a cape since the Edwardian era?? I never understood that about the likes of Batman or Superman either. Fucking daft.

But actually that baddy guy wasn't too badly drawn and portrayed either. He didn't seem "one note evil" like CGI Cushing or Darth Vader. Vader with his cape. Fuckin' dick.

(later update: shit it was Ben Mendelsohn. Fair enough he did a decent job then. Thankfully his script wasn't as bad as Whitaker's)

The visual composition of the thing was impressive, as one would expect from one of these movies. I think they overdid the "huge impressive but strangely odd design for the given situation" buildings a bit. And it was clear there was a design session of "we need new environments... these things always have new environments... I know: rain! Let's do rain! We've not done rain before! Oh and Fiji too. Let's make one of the planets look like Fiji: we've not done that before either". Still: it all looked impressive. It also pretty much looked real too, which is an improvement on some of its predecessors.

There was also a lot of "exciting" action set-pieces, except for the fact they're not exciting at all, because we all know that the action bits during the body of  the movie will only ever serve to maintain the attention-span of the viewers between sections of exposition or travel to the next set piece, and nothing really important will happen during them. Like key characters being killed or anything. Just the red shirts (or white-suited storm-troopers in this case).

All I could think in the final space battle thing was that - once again - they've committed too many resources to this thing: there's not a few TIE Fighters, there's a bloody million of them, so obviously any of that action is not going to actually contribute to the plot, as there's no way the goodies can realistically beat them ship to ship, so something else needs to happen. So: no drama, and might as well not bother. It doesn't even look impressive as lots of small things whizzing around the place is not impressive. So it's just a matter of sitting there going "oh just get on with it, FFS. Get back to the plot".

I also thought the people in the Star Wars technical design dept should talk to the ones from the Battlestar Galactica one. Those were capital ships. None of this "we'll fire a coupla laser beams at you every few seconds", but "we'll throw up a wall of lead and fire, and small craft just ain't getting through it". Star Wars capital ships just aren't impressive. Oh, OK, I did like the way they finally got rid of the shield gateway thingey though. That was cool. It also reminded me of the scene in RotJ when one of the star destroyers lost control, and crashed into the surface of the Death Star.

Speaking of which: why was there no mention of the fact they were building two Death Stars? Those things would take ten years to build, so they were clearly both underway at the same time.

I did think "ooh shit, now yer fucked" when the AT-ATs showed up at the beach battle. Although obviously they were just gonna get destroyed or just not matter anyhow. I grant some of the ways they were destroyed struck a chord, especially in contrast to their seemingly imperviousness (is that a word?) in The Empire Strikes Back. The rendering of them made them look solid and foreboding though. Completely impractical, but quite foreboding.

How come only one person in the movie had a fully-automatic weapon? And why did it have a slide action (like a pump-action shotgun) which occasionally needed using?

What was with that computer of theirs? At the end when they were trying to get the plans. why did it need a manually controlled thingey to find the hard drive that they were looking for? I realise it was a plot device to slow things down a bit so the baddie could get there for that final showdown, but is that the best they could come up with? Shitty, lazy-arse writing.

Why was the controller console for the satellite dish way out there at the end of that catwalk?

Why did the Death Star miss from that range? I mean other than a setup so that the two goodies weren't instantly vaporised, instead giving them a moment to be reunited and have a wee hug (that was telegraphed too. Sigh) before being all tsunami-ed.

Why the fuck do I keep going to these movies?

In the end, I'd rate this movie as follows:

  • visually impressive in a vapid way;
  • not bad for a Star Wars movie. Probably the "best" one since RotJ;
  • but let's make it clear: that's damning it with faint praise. This is an intellectually barren movie, aimed at kids (at least psychologically, if not chronologically). In that I know adults that actually like this shit, it's just further proof of the infantilisation of our culture, and at that I despair.
  • I'll  give it 6/10 mostly cos it does indeed achieve what it sets out to do... I'm just not the right audience for it. But seeing the kiddies waiting outside for the next session all excited made me remember what it was like when I first went to Star Wars, aged eight, 38 years ago.
  • If I was a kiddie, it'd be an 8/10, I reckon. It's a bit bleak for a kiddie though, as they won't understand all the rest of the story kicks-off from the end of this one. That and that pretty much everyone of note in the movie dies. But at least they wouldn't notice how fucking stupid and bad almost all of the human-element of the movie was.

Oh... I thought the very ending was good: getting the plans to Leia's spaceship and off they went... 5min later for the Star Wars plot to start. That was all right.

Right. Another Guinness and I better try to find 1000-odd words to write about SOAP.

Sorry for the off-topic shite, but writing this all down here will save me some Twitter conversations about it. And, hey, it's possible click bait ;-)



Thursday 8 September 2016

My Dad

This article is very off topic for this blog.

My dad, Don Cameron, was born way back in the 1930s, in Dunedin in the South Island of New Zealand. Dunedin was a small city at the far end of a small country distant from the rest of the world both geographically and temporally. South Islanders have the reputation of being no-nonsense sort of people, who are honest and - if they say anything at all - say what they mean. Dad was a bit chattier than yer average South Islander perhaps, but he was definitely a man of that time and place. He was the youngest of a batch of seven kids.

Later the Cameron family moved to Auckland, and Dad did a bit of his schooling in Auckland at St Peter's, and a bit of it back down in Oamaru in the South Island, at St Kevin's - a catholic boarding school. The family were fairly staunch (some might say austere) Scottish Catholics. I'm not the family historian so I'm gonna be light on dates here... I base my knowledge of Dad's past on his stories and anecdotes. My sister - who is the family historian - will be shaking her head in disappointment here.

Dad played rugby and cricket as all NZ lads do, and - from what I understand - was a pretty good cricketer in his time.

Returning to Auckland and at some stage after finishing school and wondering what to do next, Dad decided a job was in order. So he walked downtown and into the NZ Herald building (it used to be on Queen Street). The Herald was the main morning newspaper in Auckland and the top half of the North Island. Dad ended up heading in there for a job cos - I think - some friend or cousin or someone his mum or dad or aunty or someone knew put in a good word or something, as was the way of things in 1950. And shortly after that, he exited the building with a job. 48 years later he retired from that job.

I dunno what he did when he started, I think running copy around the place and proofreading and stuff, but Dad's career-proper got underway when he joined the sports department, basically in an intelligent sporting person's dream job: being paid to watch sport. Particularly the sports he loved the most, rugby and cricket. Although he also covered sailing and golf too. And probably anything else that needed reporting on at the time.

I am in awe of Dad that that's what he did for a living.

Along the way the job took him to the West Indies for cricket, all around Europe with the All Blacks for rugby,  and the UK for cricket, to the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka for cricket, and back and forth to Aussie for both sports almost like it was his second home. He even found himself in South Africa during the apartheid era for a rebel rugby tour.

Rolling back a bit, in the mid 50s Dad met Mum and they dated and got married in 1958, and me big brother came along in 1959 and me big sister in 1961.  There was a bit of a gap and they adopted me in 1970. I always liked holding over my bro and sis that M&D were just landed with them; they actively chose me. What a little shit ;-)

They also bought a house in 1958, and I'm sitting there right now as I type this. 2m away from the bed that was mine from 1970-1989 when I moved out. I'd be sitting on the same bed if it was still there, but the room's been moved around a bit. Other than that not much has changed in this house. Kids and dogs and cats (and goldfish and canaries and axolotls and so on and so forth) came and went, but Mum and Dad remained. Oh and there were a coupla grandchildren showing up along the way too.

Mum and Dad were a great continuity in all our lives. Things just didn't change. It's good that some things don't change. I liked being able to fly halfway around the world back to NZ, walk into their house, past them ("yeah g'day Mum; g'day Dad [keeps walking towards the kitchen]"), to the fridge and locate the same old block of cheese that was always in there, and make meself a snack. OK, it was a different block of cheese each time, but it amounts to the same thing. You know what I mean. Mmm... cheese. But I digress.

Things, unfortunately, don't stay the same forever. in 2016, Mum and Dad were both in their early 80s. Things get tougher as one gets old, and unfortuately Mum became ill and was too ill for Dad to look after by himself. So she's moved away from the family home and into a nearby care home. We kids started to wonder how well Dad would get on by himself, whilst also not being that comfortable with the idea of finally surrendering the house that had been all our family home for the entire time we existed as a family (even M&D at least owned this house before they moved into it when they got married).

To use a cliche that would annoy my father, fate intervened. He had a fall, and being old: that isn't as trivial as it sounds. He ended up in hospital, and they did some tests and poked and prodded him and tried to make him better, but as well as the fall they found a few other things wrong with him. And he wasn't ever gonna be leaving the hospital. Well... he left the hospital after a month or so and moved into the same care home Mum was at.

Things were going down hill, so last week I decided I better head back from the UK to NZ to... well... pretty much say my good-byes to me old man. I did not want the next time I was heading back to NZ to be his funeral, which sounded like was going to be taking place before the end of the year.

I got back to NZ last week, and saw Dad on Friday-last. I'm sad to say it was clear he was on his way out, and have been kicking myself that I did not get back sooner. But I got to see him, and more importantly he got to see me, and we spent some time together. We had a good Fathers' Day on Sunday: we got Mum up from her ward to sit with Dad for a while. She told him it might be time to go to sleep.

After that they had to up his meds so he was not aware of his surroundings any more. But we were there, my brother, myself; and mostly my sister who stayed by his side relentlessly each day.

But... and you could probably predict where this was going... at about 1pm this Wednesday gone, my father died. I was sitting here - right here - playing f***ing Skyrim at the time. WhyTF was I not there? Well... that's something that can't be undone. And in the bigger scheme of things: doesn't matter I guess.

I read a quip on Twitter the other day reminding us tech-industry people that next time our parents seem frustrating because we need to show them how to do the most mundane things on their computers, that they had to take the time to teach us how to even use a spoon.

My dad taught me how to use a spoon. He wiped my bum. He clothed me and he housed me. He saw to it I went to a good school. He praised me on the odd occasion I did something good; he softly admonished me when I got caught out not being so good. Occasionally I was chuffed cos I could tell he was proud of me. He tried (and for the most part failed) to teach me to bat and bowl, and to pass a rugby ball. And to play pool. My dad taught me how to play pool. How cool is that? He taught me to drive. He didn't get too f***ed off when I crashed his car. Again. And that other time. He bought me beer, and let me buy him beer.

Through all this I never really realised exactly how much my dad loved me until my own son came along, five-or-so years ago. One thing I think I did right is that I got on the phone to him straight away and told him I finally knew how much he loved me. As a father loves his children.

I love my dad so much. And I miss him so much. And I hadn't finished letting him buy me beers yet, and telling me yet another new story about his adventures in sports reporting, and his life in general as a bit of a scallywag.

This is the only photo of Dad, my boy Zachary, and meself:

Donald ("DJ") Cameron. 1933-02-20 - 2016-09-07. I hadn't finished buying you beer, Dad.

Donald Cameron jr.

More professional obits:

Friday 26 February 2016

I'm more polylingual than I thought

(and before I start, I am very very much not polylingual. The only language I notionally speak is English. And don't even do a very good job at that).

However I had a bit of a surprise when I came to test the sample code for a quick article I'm gonna write on the flight tonight:

Bloody Swahili? Ha. If only.

Obviously (?) that's my usual Maori sample text: the colours of the rainbow in this case.

But apparently "whero" (that's "ferro", btw... Maori "wh" is kinda like a cross between an F and an H...) is "hero" in Swahili.

Sawa basi.


Monday 4 January 2016

Quicky: essential read about variations of ways of disagreeing with stuff

I'd not normally do this, but this was a very good read, and as I seem to be in the business (O that it paid!) with disagreeing with stuff, it's kinda relevant here. Here's the article: "How to Disagree". I hasten to add I don't know the author, Paul: I simply spotted a link to this on Twitter (thanks @paraic for the heads-up).

Paraic's also pointed me to a good diagram to summarise the article:

Courtesy of File:Graham's_Hierarchy_of_Disagreement.svg from Wikimedia

For my part, I've been aware of the earlier part of the list as "no go territory", as they're just examples of logical fallacies and fairly easy to identify as a waste of everyone's time. They're the stock in trade of the comments section of the likes of the Daily Mail (which are in equal measures hilarious and soul destroying), and the longer comment threads go, the more they tend towards the beginning of that list, I think. This is a variation of Godwin's Law, I guess.

I see a lot of the DH1-DH4 on... some tech related forums I participate in. And if yer reading this blog, you probably do too (participate on the forums I'm talking about, I mean). I find it disappointing and unhelpful. And I've pretty much given up trying to communicate with the relevant miscreants.

What I try to aim for in my own disagreements is DH5, if not DH6. But of course my tone sometimes lets me down as I wallow around dangerously towards DH0. I'm aware of this, and do actually try to not be so bloody petulant. I do like to think that my point / case is generally solid, even if my approach isn't (I'm grimacing as I type that...).

Anyway, forget the nonsense I'm typing here. Go read Paul's article. It's excellent.


It was hilarious that someone validate their style of communication at me by pointing to this very article and claiming they conduct themselves "towards the top of the triangle", whilst starting their diatribe by calling me thick-headed. O I wish it was on a public forum so I could link to it. Chuckle.



Saturday 24 October 2015

RWC: quarters and a semi

More "off topic" rugby shite here.

I meant to write something midweek about my experiences with the quarter finals weekend, and predict what would happen in the semis. Well one semi is done, and - spoiler alert - I'm glad this article is not entitled "FFS", and include only a link to the match report of South Africa beating New Zealand. Cos, thankfully, that didn't happen.

But let's wind back a week first.

Last weekend I promised myself a quiet Friday because I had a huge mission on Saturday. So I went to the pub and caught-up with a coupla mates I'd not seen for a bit, and downed a pint or two too many (I think it was six. I was aiming for 2-3). So Saturday started not with a hangover, but with a bit of a malaise. And I needed to meet my mate Lloyd and traipse up to the All Blacks v France quarter final in Cardiff. Anything involving Lloyd also involves a lot of beer. That said, if Lloyd was writing this, he'd be saying "anything involving Cameron...", so fair enough.

We met at the pub at Paddington and basically worked out how all the matches would go, except for the ABs v France once. It was cut and dried. And we had a single pint. Mine was named for NZ rugby hero Zinzan Brooke, and it was actually pretty good: Zinzan’s World Cup Drop (from Windsor & Eton Brewing).

I stuck to my guns and thought Wales could tough it ought against an ordinary South Africa, and no-one outside South Africa would ever will the Springboks to win anyhow. Then Ireland would clean-up a keen but under-qualified Argentina, and Aussie would sort out Scotland.

The train to Cardiff seemed to take an age, and our two-cans-each (me: Guinness-via-widget; Lloyd drinks lager) didn't last. A third covered the rest of the trip.

Cardiff cannot handle the number of people that were there. It had not earlier occurred to me that as well as the ABs v France match on Sat, Ireland was playing Argentina there on early Sunday afternoon as well. So the entire city was full of Kiwis, Frogs and Irish (and occasional but rare Argentine). Oh, and a few Welsh, but they were mostly in London for their own foray against South Africa.

All the pubs were absolutely full already (and I mean all the pubs), so we settled on a restaurant with a bar area, and - key - no TVs. Ergo no rugby mob. We got our pints and used ITV Player to stream the match on my phone (Nexus 5... OK screen but not great). We quickly accumulated four French fellas and a coupla Channel Islanders (supporting bloody France!!!) around our huddle. This is the good thing about rugby camaraderie, btw... the oppo is not the enemy; they're our mates. We had a great time with the lads (and one girl), watching Wales... not win... against South Africa. It got pretty close at a point, but Wales were outplayed and the best they could do was to get close to South Africa. 23 - 19.

So we knew that if the ABs beat France (big "if"), we'd have the Saffers the following week. First things first: we needed to sort-out the French.

We headed off to the ground, trying to find an intermediary pint with little luck. By the time we got in an served anywhere, we had to actually show up for the match. I ended up sneaking a pint out of the pub we got into (and served at after about 20min), only to be caught with it 10min later at the gate of the stadium. I abandoned it.

Our seats were close to the corner again (similar to the Namibia match), and not too bad. As it turned out we saw a lot of traffic down there in the second half. I've enjoyed being at Millennium Stadium in the past, but it was way too manic this time. The queues for beer were at least half an hour long, and... we didn't arrive with 30min spare. There's no way a sports stadium should have any more than a 10min queue for anything. Rugby with no beer. Hmmm.

62 - 13

Sixty-two to bloody thirteen. The All Blacks blew the bleu and the rouge off Les Tricolores, leaving only their traditional blanc on their flag. They're used to waving that standard. What a fricking monstering. We scored nine tries to their one. We destroyed them. I hasten to add that my fairly churlish reaction here is not epicaricacy, but relief. France have always been the team we fear. Not South Africa (in my era of watching rugby, anyhow), not Aussie, not England. France. This was the first time we had beaten them in a play-off match in the elimination stage of the World Cup. Sure we've beaten them twice in the final, but in '99 they thrashes us in the semi, and in 2007 they also sent us packing in the quarters.

Saturday 17 October 2015

RWC: down to the pointy end of things

In about an hour I'm heading off to Cardiff to watch something happen between the All Blacks and France. I have no idea what the result will be, as... well... France is a tricky prospect, and they seem to be playing OK so far in the RWC. NZ hasn't really had much of a chance to test their legs yet, other than that early unconvincing 26-16 victory over Argentina. The other pool games for NZ were perfunctory affairs, in which the ABs won, but not particularly spectacularly. I can only hope they are holding back. And unleashing today.

I don't get actually wound-up by much in this world, but this sums up my gut feeling at the moment:

It's been a bloody good World Cup so far - with some unexpected results (but, in all honesty: not that many) - and I hope the only "unexpected" result today is Wales beating South Africa. The Saffers are a bit ordinary this year, but Wales have had a lot of injuries and will need to play a blinder to match the opposition. Still: they could do it. I would really prefer to be playing Wales next week in the semis than the South Africans. Of course I'd prefer either of those to France being the ones to be taking one of those teams on. I shall not think about that.

Am pretty pleased that it's Wales playing South Africa and not England though. My sense of epicaricacy was well fed when England fell short against Wales, seemingly crushing their spirit in the process, meaning they really didn't show up against Aussie. Aussie look bloody good though.

I reckon the rest of the matches this weekend will go according to plan for the match favourites. So we'll see Ireland v Aussie in the other semi final. I dunno if Ireland can beat Aussie now: they've lost too many key players. And by that I mean Paul O'Connell really. I see Sexton is back in the starting XV for the Pumas match, which is good.

I'm still hoping for a NZ v Ireland final.

But we gotta get there first.

And I gotta get to Cardiff. Well: I need to get to the pub at Paddington to meet my mate before heading up there first...

[grimaces with anxiety]


Wednesday 23 September 2015

RWC: don't forget to watch Scotland v Japan

After Saturday's f***ing amazing World Cup upset in which Japan beat South Africa (the Guardian describes it "Japan beat South Africa in greatest Rugby World Cup shock ever"), I think we should all be paying attention to how Japan continue to fare against the other teams in their pool. Ostensibly South Africa are one of the strongest teams in the tournament, so this suggests lesser-ranked teams like Scotland and Samoa might be a bit concerned about their chances against Japan, and this definitely changes things in Pool B.

Scotland get to find out what it's like to be on the receiving end of this new rugby juggernaut (OK, I'm overstating it there) this afternoon at 2:30pm (BST). That's 09:30 Eastern Time, and 06:30 Pacific time for those in the States (well: in those TZs in the States). And I'm sure people elsewhere in the world will have the geographical and temporal savviness to be about to work these things out for themselves. I'm making a point of sharing the kick-off time, because the fact it's mid-afternoon surprised me. It's bloody inconvenient actually, cos obviously I'll be at work, so can't watch it :-/

The IRB Rankings have been updated to reflect the weekend's matches, and as it stands Japan is ranked 11th; Scotland 12th. So it should be a fairly interesting match, and an important one for both teams. If you've not watched rugby before, it might be a good match to check out.

As I said the other day, I'm off to Olympic Stadium this evening to watch France v Romania. Am really looking forward to that.



Saturday 19 September 2015

RWC: South Africa v Japan

Firstly: holy f*ck! Yesterday I said this:

Pool B

There's a strong fight for second spot here, with Samoa and Scotland being strong contenders, and Japan having half a chance if they have some luck. South Africa will be clear winners of their group. USA just rounds out the numbers

South Africa (3)
Scotland (10)
Samoa (12)
Japan (13)
USA (15)

I think Scotland are playing uncharacteristically well, and will just edge Samoa.


The South Africa v Japan game was something to behold, and Japan won. Fantastic stuff. This really changes things in this group, and I don't know what to think now.

It was not a case of South Africa playing badly: they played a good game, but Japan hadn't "read the script" and came out fighting, indeed taking an early lead. Throughout the whole match the score seesawed:

(South Africa) 0-3 (Japan) (8min)
7-3 (17min)
7-10 (29min)
12-10 (33min and HT)
12-13 (43min)
19-13 (44min)
19-16 (47min)
19-all (55min)
22-19 (58min)
22-all (60min)
29-22 (62min)
29-all (68min)
32-29 (72min)
32-29 (@ 80min, which is fulltime, until there is a stoppage)
32-34 (84min)

Japan just took it to South Africa, and both teams had an answer every time the other scored. Although the South Africans had a look of disbelief on their faces for a lot of it.

The last 10min - when South Africa got ahead and looked like holding on - spelled the end of my fingernails, but that last 4min after full time was... just... something to behold. At the 80min mark Japan had a chance for a fairly certain penalty which would have tied the scores, but they decided "ballocks to this, we can win this", and took the line out and slogged on. They crossed the line at one point after a huge rolling maul, but neither the ref (nor the TMO, nor me) could see the ball being grounded, so they reset for a scrum and kept going. Then at that 84min mark a gap opened in the Saffer defence and Japan took advantage of it. History made.

So what happens in that group now? I'm sure South Africa will regroup, but now both Scotland and Samoa will want some of them, and both sides will be picturing themselves winning. South Africa could well exit the tournament in the pool stage here, and... what... I can't call the result really.

That Japan side can beat either Scotland or Samoa to top the group, and any of South Africa, Scotland or Samoa second. I'm gonna hope for a South Africa early exit (this is epicaricacy at play), and Japan to top the group with Scotland second. This, however, will not change the quarter final results. Although England will have just sat bolt upright and gone "what have we got here then?"



Friday 18 September 2015

RWC 2015

The Rugby World Cup starts today, so technology & on-topic-ness be damned.

The RWC is held every four years. In its current format, 20 finalist teams compete in four pools of five teams each; the top two going through into quarter finals, thence to semi finals and a final (oh, and a "bronze" final to compete for 3rd or 4th place). There are 102 teams in the current world rugby rankings, and the 20 finalist teams are those in the top 20 positions at a certain date. Qualifications for the next World Cup start shortly after the preceding one.

The last World Cup was held in New Zealand in 2011, and the winner was New Zealand, narrowly beating France in the final (final score 8-7). RWC 2015 is being held in England, with a coupla games in Wales.

There have been seven Rugby World Cups thusfar:

  • 1987 - New Zealand beat France 29-9, at Eden Park in Auckland
  • 1991 - Australia beat England 12-6, at Twickenham in London
  • 1995 - South Africa beat New Zealand 15-2, at Ellis Park in Johannesburg
  • 1999 - Australia beat France 35-12, at Millenium Stadium in Cardiff
  • 2003 - England beat Australia 20-17, at Stadium Australia in Sydney
  • 2007 - South Africa beat England 15-6, at Stade de France, in Paris
  • 2011 - New Zealand beat France 8-7, at Eden Park in Auckland

So NZ, Aussie and South Africa have won it two-apiece, and England once. France have had a few chances, but have never quite made it.

Below are are my predictions for this year. Note that I actively support the All Blacks (that's NZ, OK?), Ireland and Wales; actively do not support South Africa, Australia, England and France. I'm ambivalent about the rest, although I don't mind Scotland or the Pacfic Island nations winning a match.

So, how is it going to come together? I'll go pool by pool.

Wednesday 1 July 2015


So today is summer in London, and we're supposed to be hitting 33°C this afternoon, around about knock-off time.

Friday 26 June 2015

Nice touch on Stack Overflow at the moment

I just noticed this in their header:

And btw... good work today, United States.


Monday 20 April 2015


I don't often directly mention my day job or my employer on this blog, but it seems relevant to what I'm up to today, so I'll break form.

Today I start my sixth year at This is the longest period of time I've ever been in one position (I split my time at Straker NZ and Straker UK as different roles, as the jobs were quite different).

Friday 20 February 2015

Thursday 5 February 2015

Waitangi Day 2015

Tēnā koutou:
It's Waitangi Day again (see "Completely and utterly off-topic: Waitangi Day" & "Waitangi Day again"), and I'm about to go back to NZ for a few weeks, during which time I'm gonna be eyes-glued to the Cricket World Cup which is being cohosted by Australia and New Zealand. I've managed to scrounge tickets for NZ v Aussie and NZ v the Poms, which should be two of the better games in the tournament.

So here's some stuff about NZ cricket.

Monday 20 October 2014

CFCamp: a Crocodile Dundee moment for me


That's not a shot glass. This is a shotglass.

It was a bit of a messy night last night. Well, indeed, we basically sat around all afternoon @ the Stadthalle at Germering drinking Tegernseer Hell, so it was getting messy even before the evening.

Am currently sitting in Luis' CommandBox presentation. CommandBox continues to look impressive.

Quite a content-lite article this. I just liked the size of that shotglass, basically.

I'll try to write something more useful later on. But I'm also doing Twitter updates tagged with "#CFCamp" as things occur to me. That might be a better way to find out about what's going on @ CFCamp.