Monday, 29 March 2010

Less dribble, more owww

The drink worked wonders and a few days later no real problems to report, but now I'm quite uncomfortable due to the stitch the jaw surgeon put in to stem some bleeding..its a dissolving one so it will go in a few more days, but in the meantime its causing a fair bit of localized pain as it pulls on some tender healing gum.

Bahh...all the more reason to buy more booze I think.

In other news......Jodie has shown some interest in learning to play guitar...though I am far from being a competent player or teacher, I can certainly show her some basics and see if she takes to it...Not too keen on her playing on my Breedlove though, so have made some other arrangements....... ;)

A Crafter Twin Bird GA....a suitably girly guitar..

she seems pleased :D


Thursday, 25 March 2010


So I went to the Jaw Surgeon today, he isn't too sure what the problem is either so he took a biopsy of the offending area. Now when you hear the word biopsy, you kinda expect a syringe needle taking a core sample...not a scalpel taking a dirty big chunk of gum followed by some pretty serious bleeding needing cauterization.

Of course my mouth was numbed with some local anesthetic so won't feel the damage for an hour or so..just enough time get too drunk to care.

Results in 10-14 days.


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

House and medical fun

Well the house purchase is moving forward at a fair old pace, we signed the pre-sales contract last Friday. This is something I've not come across before though and is mandatory here in Holland.

Its basically a commitment to buy now that basic terms are agreed. We can still haggle over some issues but essentially it means we can't be gazumped, or indeed we can't back out, without having to pay a hefty fine.

Only failure to raise the finance is allowed to break that agreement. So we're all good to go now.

And on that note, we've been busy chasing up the various documents and insurance schemes and employer decelerations needed...and yes..finally I registered with a Doctor. So that I can have a medical for the life insurance.

Which is just as well since I have to make a small trip to the hospital outpatients tomorrow. I went to the dentist last week, to have a check up and also to investigate a long standing ulcer/infection/something in my gum which has refused to go away despite all the brushing and mouth washing you can imagine.

The dentist said she didn't know what it was and wants me to go see the jaw surgeon at the hospital for better tests. Bugger...I hope my insurance covers this! Pretty sure it doesn't...since dental is extra and I don't think we have that, the visit alone with a couple of xrays was €109...pretty expensive. I hope the outpatients thing is considered medical..which is covered.

Kind of appropriate following on from my last post about US health care. If I have to pay out on this it will be fairly expensive. Fortunately I can probably cover it ok, but imagine if I was on a low income..Then indeed it becomes a choice, as so many US right wingers are saying their choices are being removed by the healthcare scheme..but the only real choice that is left when you have to worry about money is to get treatment or not to get treatment.


Monday, 22 March 2010

Education...not health care

So Obama finally got the healthcare bill through...I'm pleased to hear it, as someone put it on facebook, its nice to welcome the USA into the mid 20th century.

I mean...ok so I get that the American mentality is somewhat different to Europe, and they hate the idea of central government telling them what to do (do they mind state government telling them???) But to suggest that Obama is a communist and a fascist in the same breath is staggeringly ignorant of the realities of what is going on.

Reading some of the amazing accusations from so called tea party members, as well as supposedly well educated republican politicians is like listening to 5 years olds descending into my, dad's going to beat up your dad, and your mom and and and, cos he smells bad and...

I mean really...the amounts of absolute twaddle..on both sides, but mainly on the anti side, are just staggering. Is the average American truly incapable of separating fact from fiction, or using their thinking skills to work out when they are being lied to, and can they not tell when they are spouting utter shit?

The most vocal of opponents are those who clearly have absolutely no idea what the health care bill is about..they've picked up on some irrelevant sound byte fed to them by those who want to preserve their income, and used it as a mantra to protect their "freedom" from damn communistic fascists. It really is mind numbing.

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”...I'll leave you to work out who said that...but look at it carefully and ask yourself...who said anything about removal of freedoms, who said anything about socialist states, who said anything about death panels..etc.

But it has passed, finally, will it work? Who knows...its still basically an insurance scheme which now more people will pay into and get coverage, and in theory not be refused for medical treatment. With caps set on various fat cats ability to earn mega fees for providing health care...ironically, it could actually end up saving the US billions of $ and reducing premiums due to the larger numbers of people now making contributions. As well as providing a healthier workforce, as the NHS did in the 40's,50's and 60's in the UK (not before being resisted by doctors fearing their earnings would go)

But of course those caps mean, that big corporations can no longer make as much money as they used to..instead of taking money in, they now have to actually pay some out or face the governments new legal systems forcing them to provide healthcare for all.

Think about for all.....I can that not be a good thing?

I can't help but wonder if Obama really has taken on the wrong target, its not healthcare the US needs, its education. It needs to make its people more aware of the way they are so susceptible to clear and false propaganda and also more aware of the way that politics outside of the US has actually produced incredible benefits.

Ultimately it really is about money, there's no erosion of freedom involved, there's no socialistic/communistic/fascist state being set up (don't they even know what that means??) Its a simple government edict to healthcare providers to stop the gravy train and start looking after the people who pay for a service they've been refused to money men, only interested in money. Thats the truth of 21st century America.


God Please the United States of Mamon.


Running for the board of the IGDA

I have already stated on the IGDA forums that I intend to run for the board of the IGDA at the next possible opportunity (not sure if that means next year or the year after due to there being a 2 year membership requirement). But I am going to start making it better known, and set up another blog somewhere to detail my campaign.

Of course as such a vocal critic of the IGDA my candidacy is going to be controversial and should I be lucky enough to win a place I will by necessity be there to make major changes to the organisation and help those on the board already fighting for change who are currently hampered by an old guard of ineffective members and closeted procedures.

But I’m not just going to run on a, bring them all down, mandate…nor am I running to give myself a nice title to add to my sig line and promote some romanticised ideal of what I can do for the IGDA, I want to establish a set of policy points that I intend to pursue, designed to make the IGDA more relevant to game developers.

So I have outlined an initial draft of things I want to bring to the board.

1) Total transparency and reporting of board activities
2) Simplification of vote of no confidence in the board or individual members
3) Promotion of training for management and project management
4) Definite commitment to speak out about crunch
5) Establishment of a IGDA Good working practices award
6) Pressure console makers to form educational programmes
7) Support for indies and freelancers to work in mainstream development
8) Explanation of workers rights and contract
9) Split executive control to geographic sites

1) The board as it stands is somewhat secretive and often self serving, we’ve seen instances of board members seeking the role simply to promote their own status, agenda’s or in one case to scupper established programs. The board must be totally transparent and accountable for its actions. I would like to see recordings of all meetings made available* and notes of who holds what opinions kept. If someone clearly is not fulfilling their role to the benefit of the organisation it has to be possible to see that.

2) This follows on from point 1, if the board is open and accountable there therefore has to be a straightforward procedure to rebuke or in some cases remove that member, or the board for failing to uphold its obligations to the members.

3) There are many management and project management and quality control organisations out there, which the IGDA could hook up with to provide information or training on proper business and project management methods. Our industry often shows staggering levels of ineptitude on even the most basic working methods for running a company or project. The IGDA could and should reach out to organisations who represent professionals in these fields and bring that experience into the industry.

4) Crunch is evil. Lets not get bogged down with endless debate about what exactly is QoL, lets instead focus on a simple fact, Crunch, being the enforced working of unpaid overtime, is evil…and it must be spoken out and fought at every turn.

5) The IGDA must set up a Good Working Practices award, and establish a means of investigating companies to determine if their working practices are fair and do not use crunch to drive their profitability. This could be a voluntary application for this award, or it could be a long term investment by the IGDA to seek out the best companies and to highlight those who do not meet a standard that should be expected.

6) Sony currently have a fine, though still limited educational program, Nintendo and Microsoft sadly do not, which means that many future game developers do not get exposed to the development skills they will need when the enter the commercial market. IGDA should seek to work with Nintendo and Microsoft to establish such programs to ensure future graduates are fully able to contribute to the industry when they graduate.

7) In an industry when competition often results in regular unemployment, many developers see smaller business models as a way forward, but all the main console makers effectively prohibit their systems being used by home based or casual office workers, this needs to be addressed.

8) Many developers are often unaware of their rights as employees and employers., The IGDA should be a reference point for developers to explain what is and is not allowed in dealing with the day to day workings of a game development company.

9) The IGDA is supposed to be an international organisation, but it clearly is very US centric, and it needs to be able to deal with other geographic issues equally I would propose a division of its membership administration into Americas/Europe/Asia subsections which are better able to deal with geographically specific issues. This admin can be answerable to a main board.

There are many other issues I have with the IGDA, some of which I hope to explain in detail and formulate additions to this draft set of ideas. But mainly I feel that the IGDA needs to be what it says it is. An association for Game Developers.
Many people argue that the IGDA is not and never can be a union. That’s perfectly fair and true, but it can be a voice FOR developers against exploitation of developers, it can be a vehicle for change, it can set things in motion that benefit developers and their employers (who are also developers by definition). It can help to make development a fun, fair and rewarding career or it can continue to be a pointless social club where rank and status and freebees at conferences are more important than actual on the ground improvements in the conditions developers work in.

I welcome any and all comments on these proposals

*Of course, some things need to be debated in private before opinions can be formed, but executive board meetings should always be public and open, and what is said there should be available for discussion and if needed censure.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


pissed off about a lot of things today, mostly by my heavy poker loss last night, only the 2nd time I've come away out of pocket with that group of keen players...45 euros down, but my god, some amazing hands, in a last desperate attempt to claw it back I went all in on a pair of 9's with an ace kicker on the final hand which everyone also went in with, giving a huge 80+euro pot....I beat 3 of the revealed hands all playing madly with high cards,, only to be beaten by a pair of queens...amazing hand ...a great way to spend an evening even with the loss.

But also quite pissed off by news that the IGDA has not yet revealed the voting results from the recent board election. That is absurd..a democratic process has been turned into a secret ballot by people who's reasons for doing this are not revealed. I have high hopes for this board, knowing some of the members as being proactive people wanting to make changes..but it seems the old guard are still hanging on there and maintaining some concept of superiority.

The are elected, therefore answerable to the members, and to not provide details of the vote which directly relates to the members wishes is beyond farce.

Before they've even started, they may have scored the biggest own goal possible by treating the members like children who don't need to know how things work.....

edit..yup an own goal...I got a response from the board chair Gordon Bellamy which confirmed that the board made the decision by consensus, not to make the results public, just let the candidates know the details and move on.....


They made a decision, not to release the results of a democratic process...who the hell do they think they are?
Apparently there were "well thought out opinions" on why it was a good idea, that a democratic process should be kept secret, but that he was doing all he could to make things better next year.......

Absurd...I hope those people with those well reasoned opinions have had those opinions detailed and noted for the minutes, so we can make a point of booting their idiotic arses off the board 1st chance possible.

Here we are at the 1st hurdle this board has faced and it fails immediately because it knows better what should and should not be made public.

I despair..I really really do.


Friday, 19 March 2010

and I'm still cute

but my little brothers...not so much


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Men. Be warned

Fathers, husbands, boyfriends, those of you who are "lucky" enough to live with members of the female persuasion.

Look in horror at what a woman can do to you!

Yup...thats my finger there, minus a big chunk of skin and soft tissue, still bleeding some 8 hours after the incident.

An incident caused by the reckless carelessness of a woman.. A WOMAN...who left her leg shaving razor in the shower.
Not content with leaving it in the shower...they left it on the shelf...even worse the left it blade up and exposed...just waiting for someones hand to grasp blindly for the shampoo, leaving behind the devastating injuries you see here m'lud.

I put it to you, that should the guilty party ever be found, they should be severely punished for not only the pain it has caused, but the quite probably lack of much practiced guitar playing at tomorrows IGAD Jam session.

Since it is impossible to determine which of the members of the female persuasion has caused this horrific injury, due to their being 2 of them in this household, both of whom deny any direct knowledge of the placement of this item or torture.. We will have to simply develop a new house rule.

NO razors in the shower.

oh and Brian does not have to do dishes for a week cos he has a poorly finger.


Monday, 15 March 2010

God Given Genius?

Well as a devout and practicing athiest I would probably say more a case of innate skills and lots of practice, but who knows...Sometimes some people are just touched by the genius stick.

I've been playing a lot of guitar recently, practicing for the next IGAD Jam (we're doing some metal..gulp) and in the process have been listening to lots of my favorite guitarist. SRV, Peter Green, Clapton, etc...Of course I get quickly snapped back to the reality I can't play even 5% of well as them. Which leads me to simpler things.

I keep coming back time and again to 2 songs, featuring the incredible Ray Lamontagne. The guitar work is actually very simple, but there's a quality in this mans playing that is just so hard to pin down

This is Burn, played Live, and sounding just like the album..His guitar playing is the exact opposite of everyone I am trying to copy, yet in its incredible simplicity it is as pure and moving as anything I've ever heard...oh, and that voice and the passion in the way he uses it.

Anyway..I can almost play this quite happy...I had a go at singing it...and realized again why I haven't really sang for 30 years...its not nice, there's little chance of it ever getting a public outing..but I might work on it.

Also, this keeps getting played on youtube.

Again I now have this very simple guitar pat almost worked out..but the delicacy of his playing is so really hard to achieve, and just listen to those lyrics...wonderful.

If you don't have a Ray Lamontagne album in your collection..get one..they are all amazing and you will almost certainly buy the rest (think there are 3 now). Youtube has lots of his live tracks and fan videos of his album tracks. Go treat yourself..

Oh his duet with Damian Rice (also an amazing player who's simple style hides real feeling)on To Love Somebody, is amazing beyond words.


Thursday, 11 March 2010

And now for the fun bit.

Well Jodie liked the house, so we decided on the spot to offer the asking price, which basically means the deal is done, subject to bank approval and so on.
We could have made a lower offer, but since its only just come on the market, there's little chance of them being in a negotiating mood. And we do want this house, it ticks off all our criteria boxes and we want to get in before Winter.

Its a cracking house, has 3 floors with 2 good sized bedrooms on the 2nd floor and a box room that will make a great office, also a large modern bathroom.

Lounge is typically modern Dutch, compact with connected kitchen, but being new (built in 2003) it works for us. Though we will have to update the kitchen at some point and get a proper oven sorted out.

Top floor is the most exciting, its one large open room which we're going to turn into a playroom/2nd louge guest room. It also has a bonus of a small balcony to chill out on so you get sun at both sides.

A garden and storage/work shed complete the package.

It really is just what we are looking for and I hope everything all goes to plan and we don't hit any unexpected issues.

Pics...which are straight off the estate agents site and tbh are not good...surprsingly they make the rooms seem smaller than they are, most estate agent pics exagerate size.


Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Found it!!!

Apartment living is cool, but of course with 3 people, it is a little tight for space, but we have incredible benefits of being close to all the amenities we need, the train, the town, work etc. So we've been very reluctant to give all that up.

But needs must,we know at some point we have to bite the bullet and buy a house and due to our age it may be the 1 and only house we buy here. We have been looking at houses on and off for the last 6 months, its been pretty dire. Houses for sale in our immediate area are incredibly expensive, or very very pokey and run down.
Fortunately there's been no great rush, which has allowed us to take our time and view lots of places and rule out those that don't work for us. Too far from station, too far from town, run down, needs work, etc.

Now though I think we've found our perfect house......Close to station (walking distance in fact from here), close to shops, close to work, modern, spacious and at a price we can afford,

The whole process of buying a house is a problem though, it is of course all Dutch to us, so we're going to get some friends to help us and see if we can put in a suitable offer and see what happens.
Oh all this is subject to Jodies approval of course, she's going to come see it with us on Thursday, hopefully to rubber stamp our choice. I think she will approve, she has been quite excited about the idea of a house she can bring friends back to rather than an apartment.
Watch this space...the next few months could get interesting... I won't post pics just now in case it jinxes things.


There really are no shortcuts


Sunday, 7 March 2010

Its important, knowing you're being a prick!

Let me tell you a story…I’ll Americanize it a little so that some cultural references are understood.

When I was a child, I was a bit of a smart ass, I was the smartest kid in class though junior school, could read at a level several years older, collected facts and trivia like a sponge, could beat all comers at chess, cruised through school work and thought I knew everything. I was a big fish in a small pond. I could ponder the mysteries of existence, science, life and the universe, and actually make sense of it all before I was 11.

I didn't of course, know everything that is, I was a kid who was just a bit smarter than my class mates. But like most smart ass kids, I took great delight in showing others how smart I was, egged on a little by some proud if slightly misguided aunties who felt my superiority was actually genetic and should be trumpeted. I didn’t mix well with those I was demonstrating my smartness to, I would snear at them, ridicule them, point out their clear flaws in thinking and most tellingly dismiss any thought they had on any subject with my staggering intellect which could cut someone in half then leave them reeling with my sharp sarcasm for which there was little defense. I won many arguments, at least in my mind I won them, I was the centre of the known universe and incapable of being wrong. The pope had nothing on my levels of infallibility.

Of course this didn't make me very popular, the standard response of these kids, when beaten to an intellectual pulp by me, was to call me a prick and make fun of my strange surname, I didn't like that very much, but it proved to me that I was better than them because that was all they could manage. I didn’t need them, I was better than them so why should I care? I rose above it, like the colossus I was, unless of course I pissed off the bigger boys, when again my great intellect would be used to make use of my other skill, common among smart asses, groveling like a wimp to avoid a beating!

As I grew older, and went to high school, I mixed with other kids from much further afield, many were as smart or smarter than me, it was pretty crushing. My one claim to superiority went out the window, yeah I was still bright, but y’know its not the same being one of the crowd. I still had this huge chip on my shoulder, I couldn't help myself and would continue to be a prick to those I could still lord it over...and reveled in my resulting isolation, I cut myself off from the crowd (though my nicotine addiction mean I had to make some connections) sure that I was king of my own little world and didn’t need anyone.

Then of course, hormones, acne and dreaded teens hit, social acceptance became more important and I eventually learned a life changing lesson. If people are calling me a prick...then maybe I am a prick...A degree of self reflection was needed, and sure enough I wasn't just a prick I was the biggest prick you could imagine. I was worse than a prick, I was a selfish self obsessed wanker. This had to change…

It took a few years…and if I’m honest, even well in to my 20s I was a prick. But I managed to stop myself being a prick, just often enough that I learned the best way not to piss people off and invite the prick comment, was to stop, think about things from their viewpoint, to think…am I being a prick? That level of self reflection is very hard , but it gets easier with practice and age.

I am still capable of being a prick, and on occasions I lose that control and act like one (especially when drunk, flustered, stressed or depressed)…but I usually…usually, realize it and make amends. I don’t behave the way I did as a child anymore, because it would of course make me a prick, I’m a grown man, proving how smart I am to people I believe are not as smart as me is of course very prickish. I‘m not even sure I’m that smart any more, I mix with some incredible people whose smarts are just staggering. I don’t need to do this anymore. I prefer the honesty of interaction with people regardless of how smart they are, I am a people person who revels in learning from others and broadening my mind.
Of course I still think I know everything…I’m human after all (And the weakest link is just no challenge to me). But how I communicate that is what avoids the prick insults.

Why am I telling you this….well the point of this post, is probably lost on 99.99% of you, but some may read it and will almost certainly view it as a personal insult…but its not, its an observation.

If enough people tell you your being a prick, you probably are being a prick…and you need to develop that tiny amount of self reflection to look at yourself critically and decide, am I being a prick? If the answer is yes…fix it. If the answer is no….you're delusional and a prick…try the self reflection bit again.

Most of us are capable of being pricks, with the right stimulus, almost all of us are capable of self reflection and remorse for it..I’ve discovered though some people are not, which is sad, mad and a bit tragic really!
People like you more when you’re not a prick, people respect you more when you’re not a prick, and people develop closer bonds with you when you are not being a prick, in fact, apart from the satisfaction it gives a smart ass child who does not yet know any better, I can’t see any reason to be a prick

So…all of you…Stop being pricks.

Its not big and its not clever

Thursday, 4 March 2010

How cool is this? How Black is this.

Bina bought me a cracking Simpsons shirt when she was over in England, she shipped it back in a box of goodies so I only got it yesterday...
Here it is, everyone at work thought it was funny.

oh and this is my explorer, taking all the colour out of the air, its none more black ;)


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

updates are few and far between sometimes

Been a fairly uneventful week this week.
I have a lot of work at home time this academic block since I'm only teaching 1 class, so spending time at home working on the course work for that has been quite therapeutic..last block was incredibly busy so its good to get a lazy block following that.

We're all starting to turn our attention to the completion of the PSP project we've been doing as a collective school project which is now pretty much done and looking excellent, we just need our design team to produce multiple levels and a few new game twists to get it all sorted.

I'm looking into doing a DS version also, which is technically a bit more awkward due to the lack of power and texture memory, as well as making the current slightly buggy PC version viable as a commercial release (perhaps even the mac). I hope we can reveal it soon, its a really smashing little game.

Of course I want to do it on Iphone/Ipad too. It probably won't make a lot of money, though NHTV will benefit from any PSP sales since its been their student input that's driven that along. But a few quid coming in from the other versions shared between the games owner and me will be nice. (might buy a guitar bwahahaha)

In home news.
Bina has got herself a role in an amdram play with an expats theater company in Dordrecht. She's really buzzing about it, and I'm looking forward to seeing her on month Dordrect, then the world!!!

I've given up on my guitar lessons...mainly because I missed a couple when I was ill, and realized I was learning more from the jam sessions and collective need to rehearse, and of course they are cheaper, I'm still practicing everyday though and there is a definite improvement, which I hope I can maintain.

Oh and we're back to taking Dutch lessons....I better get some strepsils to deal with the inevitable sore throat as I mangle the hard and soft G's of the language.

ah well...back to the joys of PC coding.