Hello! I studied Computer Science, and live in Bath. I write code, design games, and occasionally tweet.
Hello! I studied Computer Science, and live in Bath. I write code, design games, and occasionally tweet.

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Feb. 1, 2019 in Photos, Snow

Let it snow

Not a great photo, still alive. Have an avatar generator.

25 Days, 25 Languages Dec. 1, 2018 in Text

This year I am going to take part in the 2018 Advent of Code, where each day, two new programming challenges are uploaded to the site. But as I live in the UK and I don’t want to ruin my sleeping schedule for a month, competing for the leaderboard is out of the question. Instead, I am going to challenge myself to use 25 different programming languages.

For this I will treat different versions of the same language as the same language, so no Python 2 and Python 3 solutions. However, I can use C, C++, and C# as they are all different languages, even if they are rather similar syntactically. As for what language I pick on the day, it really depends how I am feeling. If the problem is simple, I am more likely to choose a more complex or unfamiliar language. I’ll be saving some language for when I am really struggling.

My solutions will be posted on GitHub.

Edit: Oops, so that didn’t happen. Not long after starting this challenge I broke my dominant wrist roller-skating, and just in time for Christmas! But anyway, this means that it is unlikely that I will finish this. While incomplete, I am glad I attempted it and will definitely consider using Rust in future projects - it is a nice language.

Reddit You're Terrible, Please Be Worse Nov. 15, 2018 in Rant, Text

Reddit, the 18th largest site worldwide is a fantastic site full of fun user-created content, amazing photos from around the world, and crazy far-right conspiracy theories. The web experience is great too. On desktop you can see several posts at a time amidst a sea of extraneous white-space. On mobile the site fills your browser until it is time to nag you, at least twice, to install their app. And then touch-events are registered 1​cm up the page for no good reason. Or images refuse to load no matter what you do. You get the picture.

And I find myself going back.

Other social-networks simply don’t grab me the same way that Reddit does. Reddit is a never-ending fire-hose of content, you can keep scrolling, and keep scrolling, and keep scrolling, and keep scrolling, and I do. Facebook is a useful tool, but I never find myself scrolling through the news feed. Twitter is an endless feed of announcements, politics, and small things taken out of context. LinkedIn is a professional waste of time. Twitch is background noise, I listen to it, I don’t watch it, and I don’t feel that I waste the little time I spend there. YouTube, well I spend a fair amount of time on YouTube. There are great videos published near daily, but my subscription-feed is curated, and the front-page is limited.

Reddit just keeps going.

I only have finite time in a day, in a year, in a life, and I don’t think Reddit is a good way to spend any of it. I set perpetual Cold Turkey blocks on Reddit and other distractions on my computers. I do not have a Reddit app installed on my phone, but I do have a web-browser. I try to not use Reddit on my phone, I do it anyway. I clear my history from time to time to clear Reddit from my suggestions, it comes back. I definitely need to try harder.

I think I would block Reddit entirely if I could.

As far as I know, there is no perfect method to block Reddit on a non-rooted Android phone (I like Google Pay and similar applications) like there is on a regular computer. Cold Turkey has an Android app, but it blocks the phone instead of Reddit. It is still a useful app but it’s not what I am looking for. You can use an app to setup an Accessibility, VPN, or DNS blocker but doing so is finicky. Either it needs a persistent notification, drains what little battery life my old phone has left, or needs to be configured for every single WiFi network you connect to. I recently found BlockSite which seems promising, but I am a little concerned about how easy it would be to uninstall.

This isn’t great, but there is a solution.

Reddit, you keep making your site worse on a near weekly basis. Mobile used to be fantastic, fast, and worked well. First adverts and sponsored content were added which is fair, a site needs to earn money to survive. Cookie banners came next, but they are commonly thought to be required by law (I am not a lawyer). Then the site started to nag you to install the app, which is annoying but only seemed to appear once per tab. The touch-events bug came after, stopping browsing sessions in their tracks. Next Reddit added the blue pill at the bottom of every page, it’s really annoying to close. And now, Reddit has added yet another prompt to install their app. On every page you now need to confirm that yes, you want to continue using Google Chrome. If you make a mistake, or the touch-events bug strikes you will be whisked away from your dark Reddit experience into the stark white Play store.

So thank you Reddit, and please keep up the good work.

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The Consto Family of Fonts Oct. 24, 2018 in Text

Something I have been wanting to do for a while, is to make a handwriting font.

The four fonts

  • Consto Ballpoint - The first of four fonts. A sharp font that is too the point.
  • Consto Marker - A softer font, made using your favourite brand of permanent markers.
  • Consto Pencil - A sketchy font made using a pencil. A rough and jagged font with lots of bumps.
  • Consto Pixel - A three by three pixel font, it is surprisingly legible, it could not be any smaller.

Swedish Army Band Oct. 21, 2018 in Music, Videos

Swedish Army Band Swedish Army Band

See the Swedish Army Band play their instruments! Sorry about the shakyness.

BBC Radio Playlists Oct. 18, 2018 in Music, Text

Sticking with music, here are three playlists each containing every BBC Radio station in 320kbps, 128kbps, and 94kbps.

Composing Folk Music with Markov Chains Oct. 14, 2018 in Apps, Music, Text

This week I used Markov Chains to create folk music. It is output in ABC and rendered using ABCjs.

The music it makes is a little bit strange and it doesn’t really understand how many beats should be in a bar, but if that is a problem up the iterations. Keep raising the iterations and eventually you might even hear a tune that you know!

Under the hood, it is relatively simple. I started by downloaded about 300 folk tunes from Sourceforge. After making an Ajax request to load them, it “parses” each tune into a data structure that is easy to work with. Then two Markov Chains are generated for the title and for the music, the other attributes are just chosen randomly. Tunes can be played back with or without chords, and on any instrument. Click here to start.

Bring the Light Oct. 7, 2018 in Csharp, Games, Text, Unity

I teased with an idea, and here is a very basic demo of it complete and released. Just a warning, it runs poorly, looks bad, and isn’t fun to play. Enjoy!

Bring the Light

On a more serious note, while this is not the result I wanted I have definitely learned, or at least re-learned a few things. Looking over it, a project like this is likely too big for me, at my current skill level, with the short amount of time I gave myself.

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How to Play: Box, Reverse, and Stratego Chess Sep. 28, 2018 in Games, Rules, Text

Box Chess!

Not to be confused with chess boxing, although feel free to play box chess boxing. Box chess is a new, dumb, derivative, variant of chess that we almost certainly reinvented down at the pub on a Friday night. To play take a standard chessboard. No piece is allowed to enter or pass through c3-c6, d3, d6, e3, e6, or f3-f6. The knight however can jump over the spaces and land in the center two by two square. It was fun, and strange to play. If bishops feel to week swap the blocked spaces for c4-c5, d3, d6, e3, e6, and f4-f5 to form a ring instead.

Reverse Chess!

Reverse chess is quick, simple, and deadly. Start the game with the row of pawns swapped with the back row. That is it. Unlike a regular game of chess which starts with a slow (relatively) ramp up reverse chess is action packed from the beginning. Every piece is at risk and you are one move away from being checked. I also suspect that this dumb perversion of chess could be solvable, or the start at least be optimised. What is the best first move, take a piece or check? I do not know!

Stratego Chess!

Stratego Chess is chess, played on a Stratego-like grid. The squares d2-d3, d6-d7, e2-e3, and e6-e7 are blocked out and no piece, no even the knight can enter. Unlike Stratego the pieces are not hidden, it is a mix between the two.

I have been Slacking Sep. 17, 2018 in Text

This summer I finished my exams, developed this blog, traveled across north-western Europe, graduated from university, relaxed in Center Parcs, moved to Bath, started learning new instruments, and started working for Netcraft. It has been a busy time where I have traveled far and done many things. But when I think about it, I do not feel I have done enough. I feel that I have failed to create. I need to change this.

So, what will I make? I’m honestly not entirely sure. I am planing to start with a couple of Unity games and I am considering resuming work on some previous ideas. From there, I want to work on a lower level, and I have ideas. But, I do not only want to make games and demos. I want to experiment and make new, different things. Maybe I’ll write fiction, compose music, make art. Who knows? I don’t!

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