Wednesday, 30 July 2008

I'm still alive...honest.

Sorry for the lack of updates as you can imagine its been a hectic few days, some home comforts are in place now, and the fridge is slowly filling with food and bits. You would be amazed how bland food tastes when you have no salt and pepper. I had to resort to nicking sachets from Ikea (fast becoming my home from home) but have finally found a cruet set and the section of the supermarket where they store spices yielded some salt and pepper..Spag Bol tonight....when I can find some Tomato puree.

I'm loving having a carpet, but other things are proving harder to source. Washing machine is coming tomorrow and the Bed on Friday so hopefully then a good nights sleep will encourage me to work a bit harder on the decorating..I have been doing it, but not at anything like the pace I had intended.

The bike now has a proper bike chain and saddle bags...will add pictures later, and is without a
doubt the single best purchase of the week so far. I can travel all over with ease and carry a full load of shopping back and forward..Sadly I couldn't quite figure out how to put the bed on it to cycle back the 7km so had to have it delivered...somehow I think that was for the washing machine.

Lights and blinds are up, as indeed are some nice snazzy black nets for the patio, there will be curtains on there too at a later day.

One thing that's becomning apparent though is how costly setting up a new home is....funds are diminishing rapidly so am now having to make extra checks before I go on a shopping trip...The sofa and TV may have to wait.....However speaking of TV I've bought a USB TV stick for the laptop which works a treat and as well as several dutch channels shoinw subtitled UK/US programs I get BBC1 and BBC2...hmm and to think I set my sky plus at home to record almost all BBC programs...ah well.

Phone and internet are on order, but won't be online for 3-4 weeks, a fair amount of time, but I guess thats just how it is here..the process of signing up was easy enough though, but the guy in the shop put my date of birth down as 1st Jan 2008 (the date on my renewed ID. So I got an email through from the phone company...hopefully I answered it ok, as it was all in Dutch....which as you can imagine I'm not exactly fluent in yet.


Sunday, 27 July 2008

Breda, the lost blog days sent by using my mobile

Day 1

Well actually I'm writing this the day after in word since I don't have t'internet at the moment I'll store it up and post it all at once when I get to a hotspot.

Arrived in Breda safe and sound as always, depite the very rowdy mob of apparently lost club 18-30 lads on the plane who were heading to Amsterdam for a drunken/probably debauched weekend of shmoke, shecks and shnapps. Why they all had to shout at each other at the top of their voices, even when sat next to the recipient of their words of wisdom, the whole trip is beyond me. But I was pleased to reach the relative oasis of silence that is Schipol airpot.

Anyway, a pleasant and typically uneventful train ride later, on arrival at the apartment, The enormity of how bare it all is started to become a reality. I had a lot of things to get hold of as quickly as I could to make even the most basic of living possible. I'd made a short list on my laptop while on the train...but of course no printer to print it out..damm, how do these pen things work again?

I switched on the fridge, took a few measurements down using my reacquired skill with the pen thing, and then set off to explore the immediate area, I had a short list of things I had to get as soon as I arrived. Coffee and a kettle being high on the list after my 2 hours sleep and 4-30 rising that morning.

A glorious sunshiny day meant it felt nice to be out and about, though everything was so quiet it felt like an old fashioned Sunday rather than a bustling Friday. I think they were keeping out of the sun...very wise as it turned out.

Fortunately not too far from the apartment, about 20 mins walk I found a handy DIY store, and lucky for me they had most of what I need, including some nice and not too expensive wall paper (which wasn't going to cost €2500). They happily arranged things and even suggested I could pay on delivery by cash if my visa card didn't work..I should explain my visa debit card is a bit hit and miss over here, they're Mastercard people for the most part so Visa sometimes works and sometimes not. I need to wait till some funds arrive in my Dutch account before I can be sure I'll have a working card payment system so I keep some paper cash on me at all times just to be sure.
So step ladders, lights, decorators bits and bobs loaded up, I noticed also a rather neat 2 person sofa bed, on sale there among the fairly limited choices of furniture and household goods (no kettle arrgh) reduced by €100 to €89. Ah...thinks I, something to sit and sleep on while we get the work done that can later stay in the spare room/office.

So purchases made (Visa worked) and arrangements to deliver the next day sorted. I continued my wander around and found a nice little open air shopping mall/square with a chinese/asian food store...aha..all the requirements needed so Bina can make a nice curry for me when she comes over :).....or I could make my own. So Cumin, Turmeric etc all purchased (Visa worked) I then spotted a proper supermarket across the square.

Ah good, a source of the soon to be required toilet roll and just about everything else needed. 3 big bags of shopping later and the reduction of my limited supply of paper cash (Visa didn't work); I’m heading back to the flat. I started to realise something I will now call Brian’s Law of the relativity of nearby things.
Which states,
"The distance between 2 points is relative to the weight of shopping you have to carry while travelling on foot between those two points"
I need to add some extra conditions which cover the devastating effect a blazing hot sun can also have, before I send in a paper to the Nobel prize people.

Thankfully the Dutch have a serious liking for trees, and they're planted everywhere, so several shady stops to catch breath later, I arrived back at the apartment...Loaded up the fridge with much less than I thought I'd bought...and wondered where I could buy a kettle to make a brew.

By now it was mid afternoon, I was flagging a bit so decided to pump up the handy airbed I brought with me to sleep on tonight and have a bit of a lie down for 10 mins, there being no chairs yet and the concrete floors leave a lot of dust on your clothes.

I have another law, which I shall call Brian’s first law of comfort.
"The comfort of a mattress of repose is relative to the level of tiredness in the person using said mattress of repose"
I lay down and dozed for 30 mins or so...I was very tired.

Next a trip to Ikea, or eekeyyah as they call it here. Since it was way over the other side of town I had to take a Taxi, and a was very lucky to find Pim, a student doing taxi work during the holiday who took me to eekyyah and gave me his number so I could get him to pick me up when done. There's no taxi rank at Ikea..sorry eekeyyah...bugger.

So begins the buy buy buy phase of the day, everything from plates, cutlery, pots, pans,cups, glasses, towels (I remembered the towels) , a folding chair and other things were stuffed into a trolley as I went on my, "oh I'll need that" trip, around the homeware section.

In the furniture section I located the bed I'd already scouted out at Leeds Ikea, and also spied a really nice low cost settee which I decided was better than the one I had planned to buy from my scouting trip last week. I checked that they could deliver ok and yup no problem (and visa was ok), but I held off buying those till the total of my buy buy buy streak had been worked out...ermm it was kinda high at €255 ..but you can't really go without a toilet brush and chopping board can you...not in the same room though of course.

Pim helpfully collected me after I called him and helped me load and unload the goodies at the other end and I then wrestled with the lift to get everything in before the doors closed.

But I still hadn't found a kettle, the long day and lack of caffeine had me on my last legs, so necessity being the mother of invention and all that, I built up my small milk pot I'd got during the buy buy buy streak and boiled some water on the hob.....boy those halogen hobs are fast.

No sugar (I'd forgotten) but that was the best cuppa I've had in an age.

And that’s it, I hadn’t brought any light fittings home since they were all being delivered tomorrow and I needed the step ladder coming in the delivery to fit them, so as darkness started to take hold, I fired up the laptop to watch a couple of episodes of Top Gear I'd downloaded before I left.

I had bought one ikea lamp though, which I could move around the rooms so time to plug it in the bathroom (yes they have power sockets in the bathroom here) then have a nice hot bath in the HUGE bath..(I mean huge you can snorkel in this thing) and turn in.

And this is where Brian's law of comfort kicks in, in a bad way...despite being totally shattered, I'd had a nice semi- doze in the bath till it got cold and was feeling a little more refreshed than I was during my earlier nap.....this was clearly the most uncomfortable bed I'd ever lay on, and sleep would prove to be a long time coming...

It will eventually...and tomorrow the hard work start... at least I'll have a different bed to sleep on if everything arrives as promised.

Day 2
Oh what a rough night, took ages to get to sleep, all sorts of strange new sounds..the underfloor heating for example is water fuelled which when its quiet you can hear sloshing around the pipes...and though not loud you can certainly hear the trains from the station a few hundred yards away, ah..and the garage doors...oh yes...the garage doors...hmmm that could be a problem.

The airbed partly deflated during the night so I had the middle part of my body sleeping on hard concrete, but eventually I did get to sleep though I start today feeling quite knackered....hmm not a lot of difference from the usual then.

The sofa bed arrived at 10-30 and it looks lovely. I don’t know if that’s because it actually does look lovely or thoughts of a more comfortable nights sleep are making me see anything that has cushions as lovely…Whatever the case, its nice to sit down on something other than a plastic eekeyyah chair. The first home comforts feel good.

I add to that soon by buying a kettle at a cook shop, pretty expensive at €75 but I suppose it’s a keeper so might as well get a good one. The lady in the cook shop suggested I try the dept store D&V for a vacuum cleaner, which I need to suck up dust and stuff while sanding, so a cheap, almost disposable item is what’s needed here..

And sure enough like most dept stores in the UK the 3rd floor was homeware and had a franchise of Dixons in place. Kettles there were actually about the same price, with really cheap looking plastic kettles going for €55. Suddenly my €75 for a decent kettle didn’t seem so bad.

Fortunately, a cheap vacuum was available. And €61 later, including a €1 disposal tax. I was walking back to the apartment with a big box and a small box just heavy enough to have me stopping every 200yards to rest my arms.

Getting home I now again appreciated the joy of a cushioned sofa. I’ve now realised the need for transport is more important than I thought, Breda isn’t a big town by any means, but to paraphrase Eric Morecombe, I wouldn’t want to paint it. And the walking to and from the DIY store and supermarket and town are starting to take their toll on my aching feet. (remember to buy some comfy shoes Brian...soon)

So today I become an honorary Dutchman and bought a bicycle…which had a puncture before I rolled it out of the store. Fortunately they fixed it for me since I don’t have any of the essential bike owners tools…like a pump.

I got the bike from the same local DIY shop, it seemed to be cheaper than Halfords in town, and also I needed a few more bits and bobs from there, including a pasting table…which they loaned out for a €35 deposit. I knew I’d have to make another walking trip despite buying the bike as the table was too large and heavy to carry on the bike, so while they repaired the puncture, I walked back to the apartment cursing every tiny puff of wind that caused he table to pivot around my arm and cause the bottom of the table to clip my ankles. Brian’s Law of the relativity of nearby things came into play again and once I’d got home, I had to have a sit down and a brew on the ever more appreciated sofa, before I walked back very slowly, to pick up the now pumped up bike.

Here she is…what a beauty eh…0-20 in whenever I can be arsed.

Bikes are rather expensive here, I guess because they are pretty much in demand and considered essential, so no need to do many special offers. Also they get nicked a lot I’m told, so have to get hold of a good heavy chain as soon as I can, as the nifty on board locking system on the back wheel won’t stop the seasoned bike thief.

The trip to eekeyyah cost me €50 in total, for both trips, €20 each way and €10 tip for the helpful and on call Pim. So the €200 for the bike does represent a bit of a saving as I’ll have to make several more trips to Ikea for more blinds, curtains and other bits and bobs,.

So off I went to Ikea (no need to for the funny pronunciation now I am mobile for myself) on the bike. No problems at all, took 25 mins of easy cycling. The Dutch bike lanes are amazing, you can go pretty much anywhere on bike without having to worry about the cars, on the way I passed the new IGAD offices where I’ll be working and timed it at 13 mins to get to work, at a very steady pace. Once I get used to cycling I think 10 mins should do it, 5 if I am in a major hurry after the inevitable oversleeping.

I took the chance to have a look around some of the other stores at the retail park where Ikea is located, about 7 km from the apartment. The most interesting one was MicroMarkt which is basically like a huge Comet/Dixons place with all manner of TV’s Hi Fi’s White goods etc. So probably the place I will buy my TV and washer at some point.

One thing there amazed me, and I’m annoyed I forgot to take my phone with me so I could get a photo. They had a TV which must have measured 16 feet at the diagonals. I was the size of a wall, and plasma, not a projector. Amazing..I want one…but the €79995 price tag might put me off….I’ll get a picture of this amazing screen next time I’m over have to see this thing to believe it.

So having checked out reasonable if not spectacular prices for tv’s and so on, I popped over to Ikea before they closed at 8.

I got a quilt and some knives at Ikea this time, didn’t want to take too much this trip as it was really just a scouting trip on the bike. Before checkout, a much needed cuppa and refillable cola, in the restaurant gave me the chance to swipe a handful of sweetener packs for home (still no sugar) but I’d missed the last serving for food.. Wisely I picked up a blue Ikea bag as I paid for my things, since these can act like improvised backpacks, and that proved to be a good idea, when I couldn’t get the quilt to lock into the parcel shelf.

My trips around town and to Ikea have taken their toll though; I’m shattered, not much chance of getting any sanding done today. So I do the next best thing and put up the blinds in the bedroom…a perfect fit and I can now get a bit of privacy in the room. I also have a look at the light fittings for the bath and WC but its getting too dark now, so that’s a job for tomorrow.

I put down some paper carpet protector in the bedroom, I bought from the DIY shop this morning and pull the sofa bed into the room and open it out on to the paper to avoid it getting covered in cement dust.

I was looking forward to an early night, and settled down in much more comfort than last night to snooze; that is until one of the smoke detectors in the flat started pinging for no apparent reason…..Lucky I have the ladders now, so could get to it. I tried to remove the battery on it…only its main’s power…I try pressing the reset and it goes off for 3 rings but then stays silent.

So tired now, must get some sleep.

Day 3
Another rough night, the smoke detector pinging had me on edge for ages, it never did it again but all the same, it had woke me as I was dozing and I became aware of all the sounds in the flat again and found it hard to settle…even in this level of luxury/

The heating system is also a cooling system, and since it was such a hot night last night (25degrees) the cooling system worked hard to try to keep the temp down. And that means the ventilation system in the store cupboard behind my bed was whirring away all night. I tried to find a way to switch it off but couldn’t find out how…I’ll need to get Henk, the carpet guy, to help me with the Dutch instructions for the system tomorrow, I don’t want that whirring away all night.

Its Sunday……now something I didn’t realise, was that unlike the UK where shops and stuff are open at least till 4…here they close….pretty much everywhere is closed….damn that’s something I hadn’t thought about. I had planned to buy the bedroom wall paper today and get that done but not going to be possible. So today I think the best I can do is sand and size all the walls and then clean up in preparation for the carpet coming tomorrow.

Despite my best intentions, the enormity of the tasks involved in getting the wallpapering done before the carpet is laid is too much for the time and my tired old bod to manage. I’ll have to just make the process as clean as possible today, and buy more carpet protector so I can do the walls when the carpet is down.

I’m going to go over to the Asian store again now , which I hope will be open (and easy to get to on bike) and get some chillies…curry tonight :D


Thursday, 24 July 2008

Phew what a scorcher....kinda

Been a busy and warm day here in balmy Bradford. Not much sun unfortunately though.

Spent most of it with my daughter Danni, as I'm not going to see much of her for the next 6 weeks or so, that hurts and I'll miss her a lot but I'm hoping she'll come over to visit from time to time and of course I'll see her for our lunches and movies when I'm back in the UK.

The less we see of each other though more more we seem to connect and I love the chats we have now compared to the daddy-small daughter stuff we used to have (though I miss that too sometimes).

I can still get her to say Daaaaaaaad at me from time to time (for all non parents out there, making your child squirm with embarrassment and say Daaaaaad at you is the greatest feeling in the world.)
She's just started to find her feet in the world and has met a really nice lad, (he has a job....faints, and a car, …coma) much better than the immature oiks she's "dated" before.

I'm incredibly proud of the way my scrawny, ex-chavette daughter is maturing into a lovely young lady, even though she has to work on that "uh?" noise she makes at times, and a bit less make up, and smaller earrings, and and:D

So aside from time with Danni, its been final packing, a trip to B&Q for some odds and ends I'll need for the decorating straight away; Sorting out last minute letters and problems at the Post Office with the card this time...bah!

Have a Taxi booked for 5am to take me to the airport and now going to start making up a list of things I have to buy in order of importance since the budget won't stretch to buying all at once..Towels...must remember to buy towels..and pillows...oh this could go on for a bit.

I've packed a sander, my electric screwdriver, a cable extension and a few basic tools in my case so if nothing else I can get the walls smoothed down within a couple of hours of arriving. Must buy a mop and bucket and cloths for cleaning up...that'll get messy!

Just got to pack up my dev kit in bubble wrap and foam and put that in the case as well in case there's any issues with my project which has gone off to Submission now, hopefully that'll be fine and I can get a sign off on that and start messing about with my own stuff for fun.

Oh....Nintendo were perfectly happy with my solution to the EEPROM corruption, I knew they would be, 24 hours wasted though just because some QA guy couldn't understand there is a difference between severe and partial corruption. Ah well its over now, I can chill.



Last Day in the UK

Well not strictly true, but it is my last full day in the UK. I leave at 6.55am tomorrow to start a new life in The Netherlands, (I have to stop calling it Holland apparently).

Because the bank was slow transferring money to my account (it hit this morning) I've had to leave some things till the last minute so I'll be rushing around a fair bit today and probably won't be able to post for a while till I get over there and find a hot spot to hook up to. My Flat's internet won't be online for a week or 2 I'm am I going to live without the internet....easy I'll be too busy decorating.

I have to say I'm feeling all kinds of mixed emotions about this, on one hand great excitement, on the other a degree of trepidation as I leave everything behind me, including my refound partner, I hope the distance won't be too much of a strain on our new fledgling relationship, but I feel it will work despite that, we've lost and learned so much and gained so much back, we'll work it out.

I said goodbye to my mum on Wednesday, gave her a big hug, which was kinda nice and sad. She's looking forward to coming over to Holland soon to visit me though...even more so when she realised I'd buy the tickets (tut).
I never got the chance to say bye to my middle Brother and his family, though we don't actually see each other much as I'm a useless brother/uncle and seldom make the effort, I would have like to have seen them before I went, but if they are reading this...ermm seeya bro, I'll try to make more effort when I pop over to go see you and the brood. My youngest brother in Scotland I don't get to see very often, but he knows I love him for being a nutter, hope he can pop over to the Netherlands soon, he'll love it there.

This is an opportunity I have to take on a personal and professional level. I've become weary of the constant rat race here, the need to chase work constantly and having had a project canned recently the insecurity of freelancing gets scarier as I move into my grey haired flatulent years.
I haven't really got a clue what I'm going to do when I get over there, aside from the immediate plan to sand down the walls and try giving them a coupe of coats of paint before deciding if I need to wallpaper. I'll have to just play it by ear.

I've got my big case all packed up, its just under the alowed 17Kg, assuming my crappy Tesco bathroom scales are accurate, and my overhead locker case is stuffed with undies and socks and hopefully will be enough to keep me clean and smelling fresh till I can sort out a washing machine(or find a laundrette)

So...I better crack on, if I get a chance I'll post an update tonight or tomorrow, and also let you know the situation with out QA friend.


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Ah, there is something worse

Bloody banks, they can take your money out of your account 0.0235 nanoseconds after you press ok on an ATM, but try putting money into your account and it takes 3-5 days....This despite recent promises that they are speeding up the system.
Balls to that, its a con so they can keep your cash a bit longer in the system and avoid paying interest and hope you overdraw a bit while you're waiting.

Normally I wouldn't be too worried, but I'm trying to finish up some things in the UK before I head over to Holland, and wanted to arrange a transfer to my new dutch account so I'd have euro's to hand over there on my Dutch Bank cardm, but looks like I'll have to take out cash at the ATM, pay commision and visa charges.

Bloody pain...hopefully some funds I'm expecting will arrive tomorrow, otherwise it'll be begging bowl time to get me over to Breda so I can sand the walls down before Monday...

Bloody banks.

In other news my QA chums had to back down on the power down issue but they managed to find another bug? that they are sticking on....I won't bore you with the details but its regarding a reset of a header corruption on an EEPROM and an erase of an individual profile for a profile corruption.. I did it right, they don't think so and we need Nintendo to give a judgment.

More time wasted I fear.


Tuesday, 22 July 2008

There's nothing worse

Than Bad QA

Not that the QA on my current project is bad, on the whole it's been excellent, but clearly someone at the publishers end is being a bit of an arse and insisting that he KNOWS there's a way that the DS can avoid powering down before it has done its EEPROM save.. (you corrupt it y'see if you switch off before its saved out)

Of course said QA guy doesn't actually know what the function is called, or what, I wager, game he's seen it done on before, but he KNOWS theres a way you can do it.

There isn't......I checked, I got all my DS coder friends to check too.

But this QA guy, knows it can be done.........yawn

I'll wait for him to get the message then mark the bug as closed...4 or 5 hours wasted there, nice.

edit...Nintendo can't be much for what he knows then eh!

Monday, 21 July 2008

It's not fair

Getting too personal on this blog, time for some work related stuff.

I'm a Nintendo registered developer on the DS, in my own name. Not too many people can say that, usually it's companies only who get that status.
It happened more by accident than design I suppose, I did have my own company when I applied for it and then got it, but when that company died I transferred the status to my own name.
Either way it didn't cause a problem with Nintendo, and I frequently boast about being one of the few individual registered game developers, its a source of pride for me. I make no secret of the fact I work from home producing DS games and clients don't mind and so far Nintendo don't mind.

But, I'm not a Wii developer, why? Because I work from home! Its a standard policy of the Wii Developer Status application, that your work address should not be the same as your home address... I'm not even allowed to apply for that status and if I do, and get a no, I have to wait 6 months before I re-apply.

Now to my mind that's absurd, I'm a legitimate one man business, registered with the tax office, paying my NI and stuff, and more importantly producing DS projects for the last 4 or 5 years (and other Nintendo projects for 15 years or so before that).

But as far as Nintendo are concerned I'm not a suitable candidate for Wii developer status????

This sucks. It sucks becuase I want to work on the Wii, its a nice machine, I've helped out a few people on it and it is really cool, I've had access to the docs and so on via a tiny developer in a rented office who needed me to do a few weeks work for them. (Incidently they have since gone bump and who know's what happened to their dev kits, but I know one of the 3 "directors" is operating as a freelance contractor...on Wii....I may investigate further)

I own one, I like it, I want to work on it. I can't....this isn't as clear cut as my Iphone pain, this is worse. Nintendo won't allow me to be a Wii developer.

Because I work from home!

That simply isn't fair! It not only prevents hundreds of legitimate contractors from working on the Wii, it makes a mockery of their claim that the Wii is a more indie developer friendly platform.

As a proven contractor with considerable history and expereince, I'm essentially not allowed to buy the tools of my trade becuase I choose to work from home. Can you imagine a plumber walking into a hardware store...

Plumber : 'Ello. I wish to register a purchase.

Plumber: 'Ello, Miss?

Owner : (turning around, very angry) What do you mean, "miss"?

Plumber: I'm sorry, I have a cold.

Plumber: I wish to purchase a spanner.

Owner: Oh yes sir, what kind of spanner.

Plumber: I wish to purchase one of your fine Wii Spanners, having had considerable success with the smaller DS spanner I feel it is time I moved up to the bigger level.

Owner: Indeed, can I see your certificate of accreditation of entryship into the hallowed Wii Developers Club?

Plumber: My what?

Owner: Are you registered with Nintendo Sir, y'see you have to be registered before you can buy anything from the Nintendo Shelf. Its policy y'see.

Plumber: Look here my good man. Did I not already inform you not half an hour ago that I have had considerable success with the DS Spanner.

Owner: Oh yes, the ah, the DS, remarkable spanner the DS, isn't it,eh, Beautiful spanner.

Plumber: The DS Spanner don't enter into it, I can't develop on the Wii with it.

Owner: Yes that right you need the Wii Spanner for that, have you got your certificate? It's Policy y'see sir, can't sell you a Spanner without a certificate cant even let you see it without a certificate. Policy y'see. So can I see your certificate?

Plumber: For the Wii?

Owner: Yes...the Wii, not the DS, the DS don't count y'see.

Plumber: (turning head away sheepishly and muttering ) ermm no, I work from home

Owner: Excuse me Sir, what was that, you have a gnome?

Plumber: (puffing himself up and facing the owner) no I said, I work from home.

Owner: Ah well that explains it then, sorry but I can't sell you a Wii Spanner you're not allowed to take them home. Policy y'see.

Plumber: Not Allowed? (voice rising) Not allowed to take them home, why not?

Owner: (sharply with rising assurance) Security!

Plumber: What do you mean “Security”.

Owner: Well y'see Nintendo don't think that your home is especially secure, y'know with people wandering around and stuff asking ohhh whats that, can we pirate some games and stuff.

Plumber: But that’s absurd, I have a locked office at home and no one gets in.

Owner: Nope sorry, I can't help you, come back in 6 months. Policy y'see.

Plumber: But..

Owner: 6 Months. (owner turns back and puffs smugly on cigarette

Plumber But?

Owner: .....

Plumber: (deflated,turns and walks away)


Saturday, 19 July 2008

Lost and Found

My love life is a mess..Its been an absolute shambles most of my life. A divorce and a failed long term relationship figure highly in the cock up columns of my life. (But a beautiful daughter is there, in the makes life worth living column)

My marriage and divorce was a bad time in particular, but after that I met an incredible woman, an amazing woman, a supporting, understanding, funny, beautiful woman, and she made great curry. We became friends, lovers and in time I moved in and we became partners.
After any nasty divorce you are scared to commit to people and it took me a long time to commit to this incredible woman who offered so much and asked so little in return, but in time I started to realise this was genuine, unconditional love. I started to see the 2 of us as old farts in deck chairs watching the sun go down. I found the ability to trust and be comfortable with someone who was the perfect partner.


A year back, my long term partner and I split, it was a pretty devastating, she asked me to go, I didn’t have the emotional strength to fight, so I left. I decided to push on with work and forget my new ex.
I tried dating again but it wasn’t really working. Fat, Scottish blokes in their 40’s with wind problems and smart arsed, sarcastic senses of humour are not especially good catches, and women of that age with or without wind issues tend to want husbands and long term commitment, something I just didn’t see as being possible any more, and I’d pretty much decided that I’d be better off on my own.

Then something unexpected happened, I got pissed…not just a wee bit pissed, no I got rat arsed sodden, probably going to wet my bed, pissed…And taking on some advice from my depression councillor to answer the unresolved questions in my life, I wrote an email, I wrote a long rambling email to my ex, and I asked her, why did she dump me?

And she told me, but I have to say, I thought her reasons were rubbish and it was clear that we’d parted for the wrong reasons, my problems with depression and work, had really prevented us from discussing what had caused us to drift apart. I told her in a series of ever more pissed emails (no bed wetting though thankfully) how I’d felt about her, how it broke my heart that she’d asked me to go and how hopeless I was without her.

We started to talk, she made an effort to find out where I was living, even though I never told her, she turned up at my door and left me in shock that she'd made an effort to find me. We realised our feelings were still strong and that despite the fact in our time apart, we’ve moved on in our lives and our circumstances have changed so much that we can’t live together again for the time being. We have decided to see how we can re-kindle our relationship

Her name is Bina, she just read my blog and wanted to know why I’d not mentioned her. Now I have.


Big Dutch Women?

So I'm wondering, do I want to meet this women, or....

And where does she dry her knickers?


How Much????

When I was in Holland I managed to sort out some carpets for the apartment, it was a bit more expensive than I think you'd need to pay in the UK but getting it all delivered, fitted and ermm whatever you do to carpets, before I arrived, seemed like the best idea.

I also tried to sort out the decorating which was a bit more complex and wasn't able to pin down when I was there but I got a quote today for papering and painting.....around €2500
€2500.....whats nearly an armful that is? Actual materials were costed at around €900 and the rest was labour over a week......A week???

I dunno about you but that seems a tad pricey to me. So unfortunatly I've had to say no, I do get a fairly decent relocation package to help with stuff but I have to pay it out first to claim it later so thats a bit of a stress on the savings account, and I don't think I can fork out €2500 for decorating plus buy furniture plus buy electrics plus live for a month before payday and payback on the outlay.

hmmm this moving lark could be more expensive than I was expecting.

The trouble is the carpets are getting laid on the 28th so I don't want to be painting and splashing walpaper paste when new carpets are underfoot. So I'm going to have to go over there earlier than planned to do some basic decorating before the carpet gets laid.

bugger...just cost 75quid to change my flight time to the 25th...hmmm definitly getting more expensive.


Friday, 18 July 2008

The weary traveller returns

I got back from Holland last night , pretty tired and sadly lacking any sign of a shmoke or a pancake. The landing at bradford seemed a bit rough, but everyone survived.

What a fantastic place Holland is though, I am now the proud owner of a Dutch bank account all sorted out in 2 days (can you imagine that in the UK) and all the paper work has been signed to the apartment...I've signed up with the local town hall to get my Social Security number (a requirement if you work in Holland) and I've found a curry house, a kebab place and a subway all within 5 mins walk of my apartment. Now I just have to find some way to get it all furnished and comfy on a budget of £1.75.

One or two surprises came up when the agents were walking me through the place though..I have a huge powered storage area in the complex basement to store stuff...and access to communal secure bike store..Fantastic! I was a bit worried about where I'd store some of my junk and of course in Holland a bike is almost compulsory so these bonus items are just amazing. Apparently this is the norm in an apartment complex so it was assumed I'd know about it....result!

The apartment has really a cool underfloor heating system which is in part powered by a complex and always working ventilation system in each room...yes a ventilation lingering flatulence issues, it all gets sucked out and used to heat the last a use for farts, I feel so proud that my wind problems will be contributing to the Dutch environmental efforts.

Breda itself is a fantasic peaceful and relaxed town, very much an outdoor cafe feel to it, though as its the holidays there were not too many students around so perhaps that contributes to the calm and peaceful nature of it all. No doubt I'll see when the students get back.

So the next couple of weeks are going to involve a lot of planning and packing to get stuff over there.


Sunday, 13 July 2008

Going for a Shmoke and a pancake.

I'm just getting packed up ready for a trip over to Holland for a couple of days to sort out paperwork for my new job, and most important view and hopefully sign for an apartment the University have helped me find.

Furnished apartments turned out to be quite expensive, so I've had to look for somewhere unfurnished. Unlike the UK though, The Dutch have an interesting view of renting unfurnished apartments...they mean that more literally than you can imagine, no flooring, no skirting boards, no light fittings, nothing, you get an empty box that you are supposed to decorate to your own tastes, and when the time comes to leave you can negotiate with the new tennent to see what parts of your decor they want to buy, including apparently the wallpaper???
Unfortunately my new apartment is just that, brand new, so there's nothing to negotiate and its about as bare as you can get..see the photos

Again though the university have come to my aid and have put me in touch with a decorator who will hopefully be able to get everything done before I make the official move over. I'm just going to get the most basic of wall paper, curtains and flooring done to get started with, I'll collect clutter as I go.

And in other news

While getting ready to nip over to Holland I went to the post office to get some Euro's for the trip. I was really annoyed though, because despite having a perfectly valid debit card with some cash in the account, and a valid Visa card, the post office's stupid system refused to take my cards.

Ok ok, these things happen, but why does it have to print out innacurate rubbish which leads the cashier to assume you are usings stolen cards or something.

The print out said, card declined, please refer to card issuer....which as you all know is credit card speak for, he's an axe murder, give him a dirty look and send him on his way.

Now as I said the cards both had funds in them, as I was clearly able to prove by nipping out to the cash machine, and coming back with crisp new notes to pay for my euros.. Of course, taking cash out on a credit card (my debit card having a stupidly low withdrawal limit, so I had to use both) meant I got charged an extra 1.5% on that cash transaction.

All because the Post office can't get its card system to authorise valid cards or is it just another conspiracy to charge us for using cards.....grrrrrr


Saturday, 12 July 2008

Y'see Y'see

You know that expression it never rains but it pours...well heres a good example.
In my last post I gave you considerable insight into the suffering that is caused by material want.

Some of you will understand just how much I am suffering and will no doubt be nodding your heads in agreement and sympathy.

You'd think that would be enough, but no, good old fate has to use a blunt rusty spoon to open an even deeper wound in my heart and then throw some salt in there.

10 minutes ago I got an email from Apple, I just got accepted into the IPhone user development program.... None computer geeks out there will be saying so what...but my fellow computer geeks will know exactly what this means..The chance to actually write and SELL some games on an IPhone.
Something I've been waiting for since the Iphones 1st went on sale and I downloaded the woefully inadequate 1st version of the Software Development Kit, even going so far as to get hold of a Mac Mini, a machine I'd never use for anything other than Iphone Development.

My heart skipped a beat, I was aware I was holding my breath, I could feel my face blushing and my teeth were sore from the rare exposure to air caused by the width of my grin. I may have farted, its hard to tell. I shouted, "c'mon my son" at the PC as I joyously clicked on the link to download the appropriate software and register my name with Apple as an official Developer.

And of course, slowly, almost in a the way that a brick wall of self denial couldn't resist the sledgehammer of reality suddenly becoming clear, the realization that I don't have an IPhone, started to dawn on me. I have to elaborate on yesterdays Haiku like comment.

I don't have an IPhone.
I want an IPhone.
I have developer status and no IPhone
I can't make games for the IPhone.
I can't afford an IPhone.

I suffer.

Boy that Bhudda guy was REALLLLLLY good.


Friday, 11 July 2008

Material want only brings suffering

I want an Iphone.
I can't afford an Iphone.
I suffer.

Bhudda was right....what a smart chap he was.


Wednesday, 9 July 2008

My new Job

Ok today is a big day, I’ve had the contracts for a few days now, and even though I made up my mind to take the job pretty much as soon as it was offered I wanted to be 125% sure in my mind I was doing the right thing, then give myself time to change my mind if I had any doubts…I have no doubts.

Today I put my signature on the contracts, and tomorrow I post them. This is such a huge break for me but I’ve decided that to not take the chance would be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done…well maybe the 2nd stup…no third….oh actually….I’ve done a lot of really stupid things…but the time has come to stop adding to that list.

I’ve been a games programmer for so long that even though I’ve enjoyed occasional forays outside of games, I’ve missed it and come back to it as soon as the chance has arrived. Its sorta in my blood, I love coding, I’m never happy when I’m away from my PC for too long.

So, this job, which rather came out of the blue as the result of a harmless enquiry for more information has to be something very special to get me excited.

I’m going to teach…more specifically, I’m going to teach games programming….A fantastic way to use up all that horrible knowledge I’ve accumulated, forgotten, re-found and re-forgotten, but not have to worry about the pressure of constantly producing product.

From the end of August, I will be a lecturer in games programming at NHTV in Breda Holland…..

Holland, the land of my ancestors (my great grandfather was Dutch and hence the abbreviated Dutch surname).

Holland a clean polite friendly country where I can escape from the politics,filth and growing bigotry I’m finding all around me here in the UK.

Holland which is only a 50quid flight back to Bradford if I want to see my friends and family and more importantly if they want to come see me.

Holland a place where I can have a “shmoke and a pancake”…except I don’t smoke and pancakes contribute to my flatulence problems.

Holland…where something something blah blah..nice things etc.

Fortunately (almost) everyone speaks English there so I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble settling in and the University is providing help with relocation and helping with all the paperwork. I’ll try to pick up a few key phrases though;
“Where’s the loo?”
“Sorry that was me, just light a match.”
”Do I get a discount for 2?”
Stuff like that.

So why the change? Simple I need to change, I’m old, boring and have a flatulence problem cause by the ingestion of large amounts of junk food over a period of many years. If I don’t do this, I’ll probably end up dead in a tragic methane explosion related accident.

And the really great thing is, I can still write games, I’ve got lots of free time and holidays to be able to continue development of my game engine and take on small/medium sized projects which I can fit around me rather than having to take anything that’s going because I need the work, and stick to harsh deadlines. A plus point would be if I can hopefully involve my students in the process to get a real understanding of what’s involved.

Its been a major bugbear of mine for some years, that when I was in positions where I hired people, the quality of graduates who came from games development courses was usually pretty dire. There’s multiple reasons for this, the politics of the UK university system, the bums on seats mentality of many universities, the simple addition of the word games to a media course to get more students who end up with no real understanding of what writing games involves. Etc…this is a rant for another time.

So…to solve the problem, get in there and do it yourself. And that’s what I plan to do. NHTV is very firm in its approach to getting genuine industry pro’s involved in the courses so that the students can learn from people who are actually doing what they aspire to do. I think that’s the most logical and sensible approach I’ve ever come across and want to support that as best I can.

So…Goodbye full time freelance games coding, Hello. full time games programming teaching and part time freelance game coding/consultant/production……(will that fit on a free business card do you think, they usually only let you have 20 characters??


Inspiration comes from all kinds of places

ok ok so the advert itself is slick, and designed to sell, but I found the sentiment behind this, utterly compelling and exactly how I've come to view life and how we harm, injure or enrich those around us and how they do the same to us. Life is connected in so many ways and we don't need to look for supernatural explanations to things just look at what has made us who we are.

Its very life affirming especially to us atheists who see the world in very human terms.

A few of my god bothering friends occasionally ask me how I can not have god in my life...this answers that question so much better than I've ever been able to.

Your view may be different of course, and I don't want to put this forward as any kind of anti-god debate fodder, it clearly was not intended as that, it just give me some validation for how I feel about life without god in it.

I'm not actually anti god, the idea of a big invisible man in the sky who tells people to kill everyone who does not worship him, and who'll send those that manage to get through life avoiding being killed by those who do worship, to a big bonfire for all eternity....but he loves you! Is a great idea. (Apologies to George Carlin for the paraphrasing)

I'm just personally not a believer, I have no issue with those that are...but next time you want to want to know what makes an atheist or a humanist this and think about it.

Such a shame such a beautiful concept is used to sell phones, but it is worth sharing


A fun way to start the day

I'm a regular contributor to an industry forum called The Chaos Engine (anyone in the industry should check it out, anyone wanting to be in the games industry can try and check it out but you probably won't get in..hmm I'm going to post some thoughts about that later..I promise)

Anyway aside from the usual boring rants about religion, politics and how unfair work is, the people there also promote their own blogs and share their views on life the universe and everything

Just recently they have added a list of other games developers blogs, so having a little nosey through I found this. I've added it at the bottom for you as well.

Apparently its been around for a while so sorry if you've seen it before, but somehow I missed it, I thought it was amazing and I still have the smile on my face..It's set me up for the day.

The guy in the video used to work for a games company called Pandemic in Australia. Proof that games developers can't dance, but they can bring joy to the world


Tuesday, 8 July 2008


After nearly 30 years of messing about with computers and fond memories of playing MUD on the old Janet network, I've finally decided to give this blog thing a go. Good eh? Now...what do I put in here.

I suppose I should start with a quick hello to anyone reading this...anyone?? hello?

Well anyway.. A little bit about me. I'm trying to decide if I should keep this anonymous or come out of the closet so to speak………hmmm I’ve always found its easier to be myself, so hello I’m Brian Beuken, I’m a computer games developer currently living in Bradford in the UK.

I'm not sure exactly what form this blog will take, probably a bit of a brain dump when I can remember to post something, but I'll try to remember and put some interesting techie stuff in as well as my occasional famous rants about...ermmm stuff that I rant about.

I’ll fill in the profile stuff later but for now a few details….

I’m 44, which is positively ancient in my industry, hence the nickname. I’m divorced and separated but seeing someone...its complicated! But we’ll get into that in more detail when I get to know you all a little better as there are developments in the offing.

I’ve been a computer games programmer for 27 years or there abouts. I have written nearly 60 games on different machines in that time and these days I’m doing mostly small freelance projects on the DS.

Generally speaking I’m not allowed to talk too much about the projects I work on when they are being completed, but as long as I don’t give too many details I might as well talk about my work a little in some of these posts.

So why the blog after all these years, go get a cuppa ready…this may take a while.

Well several months ago I got ill, not in the traditional way, I sunk into a very deep depression following a load of bad crap that most people get in their lives… in my case though it just all seemed to hit at once, problems with a work project, problems with life, problems with my health, problems with relationships, problems with ….basically everything. If you can imagine your life going into free fall in the space of a few weeks..that was me!

I think its important to get these things out sometimes so I’m not afraid to say that while it was probably one of the worst periods in my life it was also eventually one of the most energizing…because I got some help which helped me to see that most of my problems were my own making, and this encouraged me to made some radical decisions about my life and ways to make changes.

While I was getting help it became clear that I'd actually been coping with depression for several years and though I'd sorta known I had it, I'd ignored it and pushed through by sheer will power or immersing myself in work and other interests.

Computer programmers seem to be especially prone to depression, perhaps it’s the level of mental internalization we do when we work, certainly the lack of socializing when you work for yourself is not great, whatever it is its not good for you, and there comes a time when will power and work simply won't mask it anymore and you end up a crumpled mess unable to function beyond the most basic tasks. Thats when you need to wake up and smell the coffee as they say.

I’ve spoken to many of my friends and colleagues recently who’ve all admitted they’ve gone through similar and worryingly in some cases more severe depressions.

Since getting some help, and some nice happy pills for a few months to make things seem less pointless, life has improved dramatically. Karma is working in my favour again. My work project sadly fell as a casualty, but other aspects of life are picking up, and I’ll fill you in on these as we go.

The blog is here to let me look back on things as I move forward with a new attitude to life, the universe and everything. There’s an very exciting new job on the horizon and a huge huge life change which will involve moving to Holland, so with all these new changes a new blog seemed like a good idea. I’ll explain more about this later as some of the details are still a little sketchy and I want to get everything understood before I report on it all.

So the point of today’s post aside from laying down the foundations…if you have depression, get it sorted! There’s really no need to feel that bad and there is a way to make things better..