A More Interesting Life

Recreating life as I go along

Day 4 – 19 Courses I would like to see on Coursera

I have to admit, I am not that familiar with Coursera, so it is entirely possible that some or all of these courses already exist. The reason why there is only 19 here is because when I wrote the original list, I somehow skipped number 15.

  1. An internet of things course, covering the history of the idea, common technologies such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi and drones, as well as its implications and potential.
  2. A cryptography course, covering a little bit of history, but with a focus on understanding the maths behind it, as well as common algorithms and their vulnerabilities.
  3. A cryptocurrency course, explaining the technical details and algorithms, as well as the new applications such as smart contracts and side chains.
  4. A design course for engineers, explaining how to gain visual literacy, as well as the effects that shape, layout and colour has.
  5. A Unity 2D course, explaining thinking in Unity, as well as common techniques and pitfalls.
  6. A modern economics course, showing the new thinking in economics, and the implications of the lack of rational consumers in real life.
  7. A Chaos Magic course, covering sigils, godforms and post-modern magic.
  8. A Writing Course, covering triaging ideas, structuring articles, and evaluating the quality of my own and others writing.
  9. A 3D Printing course, explaining the common techniques, the history and implications, as well as the pitfalls.
  10. A Multiplatform Mobile App Development course, covering the common frameworks, design decisions, ways of structuring code, and limitations.
  11. A JavaScript course for engineers used to C-based languages, highlighting the differences and common mistakes when developing and marketing applications.
  12. An ERP course, with a large overview and explanation, as well as insight into commonly used systems, and how it applies in a variety of industries.
  13. An Interactive Fiction Development course, explaining common tools, such as Inform and Twine, as well as design principles, significant games, and writing techniques.
  14. An LCHF course, explaining the science and research behind it, as well as how to implement it.
  15. A Lesser-known Social Media Course, looking at social media such as G+ and LinkedIn, as well as domain-specific social media.
  16. A Mindfulness course, covering history, culture, research and techniques.
  17. A Non-western Mythology Course discussing Africa, Native American and other culture myths.
  18. A Modern Mythology Course, looking at modern myth-making such as movies and comics, as well as the modern myths that spread on social media.
  19. A course on RPGs, covering their history, as well as the various movements (indie/OSR/etc…), and the impact that technology has had on the hobby. It should also cover LARP and CRPGs.

Day 3 – 21 Moments during the day when I could close my eyes and sit quietly

This one was fairly straightforward. I have a pretty open day.

  1. On the train during my commute
  2. In the bathroom
  3. On the platform, while waiting for my train
  4. While at a coffee shop, waiting for my coffee to be ready
  5. At my desk, while waiting for a build to complete
  6. When I am early for a meeting
  7. While waiting for a computer restart at work
  8. When I am in a meeting where I have nothing to gain from, but it would be rude to walk out
  9. While waiting for a printout to finish
  10. When I sit down for a meal
  11. During the opening credits of a show I am watching
  12. While sitting with my daughter in my lap, waiting for her to fall asleep
  13. After I wake up, while the house is still quiet
  14. In the car, when somebody else is driving
  15. At night, after the rest of the family has gone to bed
  16. While waiting for the kettle to boil
  17. Any time I need a break at my desk
  18. While on hold on the phone
  19. While I sit with my daughter as she plays
  20. During the break between classes during my Danish lesson
  21. Waiting for a video to buffer

Day 2 – 21 Apps I would like to use

Since I spend a lot of time thinking and reading about apps, this list was both easy and very difficult. The easy part comes from the fact that I have thought about app ideas for a long time, the hard part was due to the fact that I know a lot of the apps, so trying to come up with something new was a challenge. (I am pretty sure that some of these exist, anyway)

  1. An app that switches internet sharing on and off based on whether it can see any known WiFi networks.
  2. A Final Version App
  3. An app that aggregates RSS feeds, G+, Twitter and Reddit
  4. A location-based reminder app
  5. An app that notifies me of nearby events I may be interested in
  6. An app that displays a goal on my lock screen
  7. An app that allows me to post to social media, without displaying the feed
  8. An app to remind me if I need a jacket when I head outside
  9. An app that posts directly from photos to WordPress
  10. An app that simplifies making pixel art from other images
  11. An app that checks if a logo would convert well to an icon
  12. A structured decision-making app
  13. An app that automatically deletes other apps that have not been used in a long time
  14. An app that downloads YouTube videos for offline viewing
  15. An app to specify that certain WiFi networks should not be used for large downloads
  16. A location-based news app
  17. A ketone level tracking app
  18. An app that tracks everything I read, asks for the main points, then posts them to my blog
  19. An app to run a Synereo node from my device
  20. An app to quickly determine my current level of fatigue, and its impact on my performance
  21. An app that reminds me to take breaks, but only if I am in-between tasks, or my attention is fading.

Day 1 – 20 Things I do not like that I am grateful for

This is the first item in the ideas series. The hardest part of coming up with this list was actually thinking of things that I do not like… I try to be generally positive about life.

  1. I am grateful for having had a fight with my wife yesterday, because it means that we are close enough and care enough about each other to get upset.
  2. I am grateful that my baby daughter went to sleep very late, since it means that she is healthy, curious and full of energy.
  3. I am grateful that my older daughter talks so much, because it helps her fit in and meet people.
  4. I am grateful for having problems with my 3D printer, since it gives me ideas how to make 3D printing better.
  5. I am grateful that I have dry skin, since it acts as an early warning system for my general state of health.
  6. I am grateful that I struggle to find the time to exercise, since it means that I have a full life.
  7. I am grateful for the clutter in my study, since it means that I own a lot of things.
  8. I am grateful that a lot of my clothes do not fit, since it show me that I have lost weight.
  9. I am grateful about the crack in my phone screen, since it means that I worry about damaging the phone less, and it helps me distinguish it.
  10. I am grateful for having to walk up a steep hill on my way back from work every day, since it means that I get at least some exercise.
  11. I am grateful for my unresponsive space bar, since it forces me to focus more on what I am typing.
  12. I am grateful for the difficulty in coming up with ideas, since it means that my mind is getting a real workout.
  13. I am grateful for my extra weight, since it shows that I have lived a life of plenty, and makes me seem friendlier.
  14. I am grateful for Jacob Zuma, since his policies helped my father-in-law get a contract, and helped us make the decision to leave South Africa.
  15. I am grateful for having a small car, since it is cheap and economical.
  16. I am grateful for having to wake up early, since it allows me to start the day while the house is quiet.
  17. I am grateful that we live far from the city, since it is quiet and relaxed.
  18. I am grateful for having to mow the lawn, since it gives me a workout, and a simple, solvable problem.
  19. I am grateful for my internet connection being slow, since it means I waste less time online.
  20. I am grateful for my low-spec graphics card, since it means I am less likely to waste time playing games.

Becoming an Idea Machine

About two weeks ago, I first heard of the book Become an Idea Machineby Claudia Azula Altucher, and immediately decided that I have to buy it. I have encountered the method in James Altucher’s writings, but Claudia’s list of ideas was something I felt I needed to get myself started. The basic idea is to come up with 10 ideas on a given topic, every day (the topic changes every day as well)Become an Idea Machine

She includes the suggestion that if you  feel you cannot come up with 10 ideas, come up with 20… I have also imposed a rule that I am not allowed to look ahead to the next topic, until I have finished the ideas for the day.

So, the first day, I felt I could not come up with 10 ideas… And the next… Eventually I just decided that I am going to stick with 20. I have been doing it for the past 12 days, and I really am enjoying it.

So, I have decided to start posting the ideas on my blog. I will post one set a day (so, ideally, they will be about 12 days behind my actual writing). I will post the first of the ideas after I post this.

My new favourite writing tool: q10

I have heard of the idea of a full-screen, plain text editor years ago. I liked the thinking behind it, but I always thought that it would feel like going back to the time of WordPerfect (for my younger readers: WordPerfect was the main word processing software in days of old).

As part of figuring out what I want to do with my life, I have decided to start writing more, and finally decided to give one of the distraction-free editors a shot. I settled on q10. I promptly downloaded it, installed it… Then forgot about it for a few months.

q10 Screenshot

Yesterday, I wanted to do some freewriting to clear my head, and I remembered about q10, so decided to give it a try. I was very impressed. I never realised how much of my attention gets taken up by the business that normally surrounds my typing area. While I was never consciously aware of it, writing in q10 felt a lot more relaxed, without all those things to distract me. The only thing on the screen, besides the text is a small strip at the bottom, which lists things like the number of words and pages. I am pretty sure that you can switch the strip off as well.

Checking the website now I can see that q10 does have all the features you would expect from a text editor, accessible through a set of keyboard shortcuts.  I have not used many of them, but that is something to keep in mind for the future.

I really think that q10 is perfect for doing first drafts, and getting ideas together. What it does lack is formatting of any sort, so you might want to use it for the initial writing, and use something else to add formatting afterwards.  For those of you planning to take part in NaNoWriMo next month, I think it would be a perfect tool.

On top of all that, q10 is completely free.

Refining Direction

Going forwards

Changing Direction

I have been thinking a lot about my life and its direction lately. One of the outcomes of all that thinking is The Life List, in which I have listed some of the things that I actually want to do during my life.

I will be putting more effort into this blog, as well as changing its direction somewhat. I am going to try to start writing more in-depth articles, and using it to hone my skills as a writer (yes, I know that I need a lot of honing).

I still need to put in a lot of thought about the exact direction for the blog, but I hope that it will develop naturally as I work on it. I will also put in more effort into actually attracting readers here. I want this to act as a springboard for my future projects.

I will need some help in all of this, so I will need you to let me know if I can do anything to improve, either my writing, my blog, or anything else, for that matter.

 

Project London Review

I first saw Project London’s trailer in 2010 or so, and I really admired the concept of a special-effect heavy movie financed with crowdfunding, and created using free software (specifically Blender). I was very happy when I got the chance to watch the review version.

The movie tells the story of Nebraska Higgins, who sees his father, Arizona (a lot of the characters have place names… We have Arizona, Nebraska, Chicago and Canada… I may have missed some while watching), killed by the Joint Command, a global government formed by earth Governments and alien refugees. Nebraska ends up getting involved with the London Underground, a group opposing the Joint Command, for reasons that get revealed during the course of the movie.

The plot of the movie is solid, and delivers some interesting twists. While I do not enjoy being spoon-fed the setting in a movie, Project London takes a bit too long to actually make the setting clear, and ends up just being confusing in the beginning.

ProjectLondon_Frame-14

The acting leaves a lot to be desired, especially where the minor characters are concerned. I did enjoy Branson Anderson’s, who manages make Jerry an intriguing character, despite not saying a word, and spending the entirety of the movie in a gas mask.

The special effects, which created the main buzz behind this movie involve some very impressive and well done CGI. Unfortunately, when combined with the actors, the special effects fail, and it felt like I was watching a SciFi movie. I am not sure if this was due to the technology used, or due to the actors not working well with the green screen.

Overall, Project London has a good story, but a bit too many flaws for my liking. While its scale is impressive, especially with the low budget and use of crowdsourcing, the overall execution is somewhat lacking. I really hope that other film-makers will use some of the triumvirate‘s ideas to create their own movies, since I think that their model has a huge amount of potential.

Idea for Vampires and Sunlight

This is just something I came up with a long time ago while thinking about the old vampiric weakness to sunlight, hopefully it is an interesting spin on it.

The idea is that Vampires get more sensitive to the sun as they grow older. A newly created Vampire would be able to walk around during the day time, although he would be uncomfortable on a clear day.

The Oldest Vampires are forced to live in absolute darkness, since even moonlight hurts their sensitive skins. They have to work through proxies and agents, never seeing any light.

A city frozen in time

CityScene

MayDay by Wili

This is an idea for a scene, rather than a setting. It should work in any setting that incorporates some sort of magic, although I would really struggle to add it into anything that is even vaguely hard science.

The scene takes place in a city that is frozen in time for some reason, but the PCs and NPCs are still active. It should provide an interesting, if somewhat surreal backdrop… It could work well for an over the top fight scene, or even a chase, as the participants hide behind frozen smoke, or stand still not to be noticed in a crowd of unmoving people…

ConstructionSite

Urban View by AndyK

If you want to expand the idea, perhaps time has frozen in the city a very long time ago, and another civilisation has risen in the city, around the elements of the old frozen time. So, people live in buildings, sharing their home with a family who sits frozen around a table mid-conversation. Perhaps an ma standing by the door is used as a coat rack, and there is a washing line strung between a child’s ball hanging in the air, and her mother calling her home.

 

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