A new season awaits...

I am back and the plan is to write at a more sustainable, consistent pace… fingers crossed!

So having quit my job at the end of June, I then took some time to apply to some other jobs, but it seems that the tech industry for all it’s perks still requires people to work 5 days a week. If I am looking for a job I would like to be 4 days/week maximum. On Thursdays, I look after my son, which is exhausting but something that is irreplaceable, basically where I spend my time is more valuable than that extra day’s worth of salary each week.

Anyway after multiple failures to secure a job, an interesting thing started to happen at the same time. Multiple people started to approach me about developing a website for them and a couple of them have even referred me to others as well.

Therefore at the beginning of August I registered my own company, akmiller technologies limited! I am excited and nervous all at the same time, but I pray and hope that this will grant me the flexibility to have time with family, earn a living and even develop some ideas that I have. I also plan to write here more, particularly about the practical steps to setting up a business, some of the challenges I face and the ideas that I have started to develop.

Speak soon!

PS If you want to chat with me, jump over to the contact page and get in touch.

#contracting #business #freelancing

Off topic - Games I have recently enjoyed

Something slightly different today, as the title suggests I will have a small ramble about some of the games I have enjoyed playing recently.

First up is Ronin, meant to be a copycat of Tom Francis’ Gunpoint and the inspiration is very obvious, this games takes the stealth genre and slams in the puzzle genre in a highly effective way. It creates what I would term a realtime puzzle, this is one that is different almost every time due to what you do before the puzzle component starts. An explanation of the gameplay would help at this point; there are two distinct phases of play, realtime movement & turn-based movement. The realtime movement is when the player is moving stealthily and has not been seen by enemies, however as soon as the player has been seen by an enemy the turn-based action kicks in. In this mode you can see where shots are going to be fired and given your only weapon is a katana, the player needs to get up close and personal to take down enemies. This means jumping back and forth, dodging bullets, knocking out enemies and waiting for the opening to go for a kill. The extent at which you will need to do this is reliant, however, on how good your stealth skills are. If you can take more enemies down while in stealth mode, the turn-based puzzle becomes easier. The story is light on details but sufficient to keep me engaged for length of time to play the game, with the difficulty curve stretching me at all the right points along the way.

Second is The Room and The Room 2, these are both incredibly detailed puzzle games with an intriguing story as well. The puzzles are not too obscure, but the hint system ensures your never really rage quitting with frustration. In these games there is an incredible physicality to any action you perform, be it opening a drawer or a chest, there is weight to every object in the game. From this it is my hope that they take these games into room scale virtual reality as I think they would make an amazing experience and would naturally fit into that paradigm. I would also recommend using these games to introduce someone to video games as the puzzles can be solved between 2 of you, discussing what to do next.

Finally today I have enjoyed playing the latest (Shadowrun)[http://store.steampowered.com/app/346940/] game. This time based in Hong Kong you are thrown in at the deep end with the story kicking off with a bang. This time around they have significantly improved the hacking part of the game (enjoyable as I normally play a Decker) by introducing barriers which can be destroyed or hacked around, stealth within the Matrix, and ambushes in the real world. However what really draws me back is the world that the team has created, it feels complete and lived in. Across all 3 recent games that I have played (Shadowrun Returns, (Dragonfall)[http://store.steampowered.com/app/300550/] & Hong Kong), the dev team have kept the consistency of world intact while having three independent campaigns. This is likely in part down to genre, which makes world building easier than most genres, however it is still impressive to be consistent in the writing, art, sound to bring a real sense of belonging and liveliness to a place.

What I love about all of the games I have mentioned today is that they can easily be played on a laptop without a mouse, so are perfect for a longish commute (dependent on battery life). This is great for myself as it forces me to play games that would normally be lower on my list when sat in front of a more powerful capable machine.

#offtopic #games #ronin #trackpad #shadowrun

Sleep > Writing

Sleep is more important than writing a long article…that is all. Time for more sleep before I have to be awake for the whole day.

#sleep #writing

Recommendation - Wired UK

Ah! I missed a day, it probably didn’t help that I was working from home. Anyway I am back so on with today’s post.

Today a simple recommendation, I have mentioned their podcast previously, now it is the turn of the magazine, Wired UK. Every issue without fail, since I first started buying them roughly 8 years ago, has been interesting and informative. There have only been about 5 issues which I have not bought, the first 4 since I only discovered Wired UK in WHSmith when issue 5 was out and maybe 1 or 2 since then.

What I really like it that every story is interesting and presents a solid informed point of view, whether you agree with it or not that is another thing, but every story has been throughly researched to present a cohesive opinion of a subject, tell a unique story or even just reveal the latest businesses, product or ideas. Generally magazines have never interested me, I have flitted through the pages, idly looking at the pictures, reading the occasional short article, however with Wired I have read every issue cover to cover like a book. Granted this might not be the best for retaining all of the information contained within, but I have certainly not regretted it one bit. Actually, I need to go catchup on the latest issues so will leave you dear reader with one command, go check it out, I doubt you will be disappointed with your purchase be it in paper or tablet form (I still prefer reading the physical copy).

#wired #business #tech #cover2cover #magazine

Blankness

Well today I am just writing, I have been sitting here trying to decide what to write, but nothing is ‘jumping out’ at me, my mind if completely blank on a specific topic to write about. But since I ‘need’ to get something out by 9am, I have just started to type…

Blankness is terrifying, it’s like standing on the edge of a cliff about to jump but not quite being able to do. When you do jump, all the correct thoughts will come flooding back (ie that you do have a safety system like a parachute so you will land safely while enjoying the falling). Staring a blank screen feels the same, once a topic comes to the fore and the words start to flow then becomes a simple matter of ‘pen to paper’, but before then my mind is darting around trying to work out which topic to pick (I do have a list of potential topics), then for each how to attack each topic of which specific bit of the topic to broach. This can be all very confusing & stressful with the clock ticking towards a deadline, hence why today I just started writing.

It has been a nice experiment (one which I think I will repeat in future) but let’s hope that tomorrow a spark it kindled so I have a topic to write about.

#blank #noidea #offtopic