Thursday, 27 September 2018

Return to Uni

Tonight, I return to university.  No I'm not starting any course, I'm going to the first meeting and greet as an Alumni Fellow.  To which I've signed myself up and been accepted, I don't think this lets me add any letters after my name, but it's nice to drop into conversation that you've a Fellow of your old university.

This will be the first time I've returned to the Newton Building in the Nottingham City Center since it's massive renovations over the last decade and I'm excited to see what they've done with the place whilst also feeling a little trepidations as to what they've done with the place.

For University seems to be a very different business to the one I left when I graduated.  I was the very last year where public entrants to University had their fees paid, I left university with a degree and zero debt, which is practically unheard of then and even more so now.

I therefore look back with memories of the technology, the modules and the learning pathway I was upon and I see where it led me, but also what was worthwhile and what not.

Worthwhile was my programming techniques, some of the data modules and parts of the advanced technology subjects, like Artificial Intelligence.  Things not of use, the Business models, the presentation or self-worth items and the database modules.

The latter were pretty useless as they taught nothing about scaling, nothing about what was then the emerging field of cloud computing, you were on person on one machine with one very old copy of DBase or FoxPro or evil of evils Microsoft Access.  None of it carried over into the placement I was on whilst still on my course nor into modern use of data models and techniques.

The business models were not that much use, because simply the dot com bubble had just burst, the bottom had fallen out of the high priced computing model and so as I hit the work force at the turn of the millennium I was one of many voices crying out for the same jobs, which could be filled by a salary dictated graduate position or Jimmy Bloggs who's just read about it in a "Learn Computers in 24 hours book" but cost the company 1/4 the price.

There in lay the first challenge, the cost of being a graduate, you companies were seeing computers and computing power as an ever cheaper resource, Moores Law was still in effect at the time, the cost of the machines you were driving was ever decreasing, yet you were demanding the same or higher salary.  It made no-sense to business middle or low-runners.  So the highly skilled had to find highly niche or skilled jobs rather than getting in on the ground floor of IT and computing businesses.

Fast-forward into those roles however, and the price to reward difference of a graduates skills became obvious to the employer, they had initiative, skills to tackle anything thrown at them, and the confidence in their own skills to exercise and even expand on the problems and tasks set them.  Where as I observed first hand lesser experienced hands go down with the proverbial suicide project*.

Graduating with no debt however let me leverage lesser paid roles, to drive myself out into a web of wide businesses, from underwear manufacturing, time and attendance systems, web enabled pressure monitoring systems, remote SMS data collection, entertainment system engineering and most recently international development of pay to play entertainment products (fruit machines).

I think today, nearly twenty years on from graduation, I have a larger experience base in the development field than most peers I meet around me and critically as I've always diversified my thinking and skills I've kept myself interested in technology (this blog is evidence of some of the crack-pot things I get on with).

So tonight, I return to University to meet and mix with peer Alumni, lets see where this goes.

* This is my phrase of the month by the way, in a few months time I maybe able to explain why.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Age Demographics by Local Radio

I listen to my local BBC radio station, not the national stations, just the local one.  I had this very channel inflicted on me when I was a child, and always thought the music choice was about 20 years out of date quite fuddy duddy.

Anyway, I find myself now in middle age and can't help but stop and pause when a song I remember from my teens or twenties; songs which I think are awesomely cool I might add; come up on this very same radio station.

I think the songs have aged well, it makes me want to continue listening to this channel which I so derided as a kid... And I can't help but think it makes me feel old.

What would some young person of today think of my taste in music?

Sunday, 16 September 2018

That Moment....

When after ten years with your significant other, know them inside and out and they turn around and declare...

"You know what, I'll have a Fillet of Fish"

Totally blind-sided me this has.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Righting Blizzards Greatest Mistake

I hated something about Cataclysm, so much so the moment I saw it I stopped even looking... It was a change, a death, a travesty... But with the magic of community reverse engineering we can roll it back...

Blanchy, we love you...

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Form of Ready Player One Sequel?

I've just finished a re-read of "Ready Player One"; and I heard tell that Ernie had embarked on writing a sequel... Now before you all start I make the distinction between the film and the book, we are talking about the book.

In fact, those of you who haven't read the book... (Spoiler alert)... It starts out being written as the true story, to set the record straight... Straight up calling the movie out as wrong!  Oh yeah, love that preemptive strike on the Spielberg saga.

Anyway, the sequel eh?... Lets gather around the camp fire and think about this...

It can't be another hunt, we've had a hunt, Z is the man now, we may get a little friction between the members of the high-5 and Z maybe?... But it's going to be about what they find within the folds of the fabric of the Oasis.

Perhaps whether Halliday's Avatar was some form of personality transplant from his real-world body into the Oasis, some form of literal Ghost in the Machine?

I'd like to see some form of digital court, like a war-crimes tribunal, all accounts whom were Sixers being required to justify their existence?  Maybe some form of play on "The Odessa Files" in digital form, with IOI has the continuing evil?

Maybe there's some form of massive community lash back, everyone died on the release of the Cataclysm, Z resurrected the High-5 members, but everyone else was perma-death?

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Projects and General Update (September 2018)

I have no idea why you can hear my breathing so loud on cam... I promise I don't walk around wheezing... at least, I don't think... Shit, maybe I do?... Fat man fail I guess... 

I'm pretty sure I blogged about my gut having to go, it's not... At all.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Ikea Server Rack is Finished

What kind of bloke gets to play with servers on his day off?  A damn lucky one my wife always tell me?.. Am I lucky?  Or do I have a plan?  I think I have a plan, this is a project I've been meaning to sort out for quite some time, now I have a week off of work, I'm knocking things out the park... Sooo......

Meet my new server wrack, so this is a pair of Ikea Lack Coffee tables, one with the feet fitted, and it's screwed down onto the top of another, with a pair of wheel which I also got at Ikea.

I've reinforced the leg uprights, and I'm busy fitting out the rear with a dedicated switch and power setup.

It's all on wheels so it can go anywhere in my office with relative ease.

And yes, these are my older Poweredge servers (from my fan/noise reduction videos).

Only the top unit is operational, with all the drives fitted and a full compliment of memory (64GB I think is in it).  Its socking a quad port gigabyte Ethernet at the moment but I have a whole box of fiber channel cards to go into the machines up here taking me up to 4Gbit per card (full duplex) and I plan to fit two cards in each machine so we should bond up to about 8gbits... We'll see, waiting on the cables to arrive from Hong Kong.

My other item is to get myself a dual Socket 1366 based server soon, just to play about with 6 core 12 thread CPU's (so up to 12 cores 24 threads) and perhaps in the new year I'll go up to the E5- series of Xeons to massive amounts of threads.

At the moment though, load balancing various things on my AWS instances and dropping to my own hosting is more my interests...

And a friend of mine has reminded me of a project he and I need undertake - watch this space.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Britains Steepest Road?

I saw this on the BBC about a road which was at a 40% angle in Harlec, Wales...

You know what?  I think Nottingham has a contender to beat it, if it counts... Newfield Road.

Specifically the curve at the western end of that road, it's immensely steep, very short and I believe carries you up around 24 meters in around 60 meters of distance which is 40% in my book.

There's also a road I don't know the actual name of in Gedling (which my driving instructer used to torture me doing uphill starts) he called it "Big Bertha".

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Spread the word....

Hey Eddie... Spread the word... 

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Gamer Clarity

I had a bad time getting off my addition... Addiction?... What am I talking about?  Drink?  Drugs?  Women?... No I'm talking about Azeroth.

Yeah, I was addicted to World of Warcraft, in a big way, it came after a time being a member of a top flight Day of Defeat teams - Yes, I was once a hardcore FPS player folks - Enemy Down ladder anyone?  Yeah, old school....

And myself and another couple of players on the team (waves to Chaplain) were looking for something else to play, and it was the weekend before I started a new job - the job I currently still have technically - and a friend came to stay (waves to Paul) and he'd just bought a new game "World of Warcraft".

Now I knew about Warcraft, I'd played the RTS games (I even still have my copy of Warcraft II on the shelf behind me) but I'd not ventured into any MMO ever before; yes EverQuest and even Ultima had passed me by.  And I went out that night and bought the game from the local Asda.

I rolled a human, a Warrior (flexes muscles) and I roped Chaplain into playing too and that was it, I was hooked... I played every hour I could, my day was get up, boot PC, walk dog whilst machine booted and kettle boiled, back in tepid tea, toast and check the auction house and may be pick up a few nodes of metal ore before work.

I'd work until lunch when I had an hours gap at that time, and I lived 10 minutes away from work, so it was drive home, see the dog, feed him, and check the auction house, check my mails, post messages to guild members (yes I ran a guild) planning the nights activities (usually an instance for either myself as the main tank or the main guild priest to get gear - so everyone else could get theirs that little bit more easily) and it was back to work.

I'd blaze through the afternoon and be setting off home as soon as I could, arriving home I would walk the dog again and either we'd stop at the local chip shop for a kebab or I'd call for a pizza on the return trip, that would arrive when we got home and the dog would curl up around my feet whilst I played and ground and quested all night long.

I found achievement beyond my normal day, I found organizing the team purposeful (at the time I had gone from running a team of folks at work, to being the most junior developer, a hard knock so I channeled my team building and drive into the guild - not always to great success, but I ran two different guilds in my time - one a family style small team the other a vast ramshackle affair of infighting and subterfuge).

After years, I mean years, the vanilla game, The Burning Crusade and through to Wrath I played all day everyday, in Wrath I became a top flight PVP terror (not on the arena circuit, but out in the world, world PVP baby!)  I digested every tip, watched hours of "", I lived and breathed that game.

I was still playing ten years ago when I had a revelation, at work I had the chance to start to lead product, to do that my focus, my drive, my energy had to be focused back on work, away from play.  I'd already diluted my Warcraft time anyway - as by then I also ran two accounts (carrier pilot) in EveOnline and a multi-billion ISK empire and a small corp of players.  But work needed my focus.

I had met my future wife as well and frankly grown up... "When one becomes a man, one has to put away such childish things"... So I quit, boom, overnight, my final two characters a 68 priest and 78 druid were to be the last I took to higher level, Wrath was the last expansion I played.

All my characters now sit in the pergatory of the unsubbed account, but I yearn to see them again.  I'm sure you've all seen my efforts to set up my own server (an on going affair I might add), and it's that yearning for the old days which drives me to want to do that, time is the only stopper.

Time, the one element missing when I quit before, the yearning was there, but time is short and you have to focus.

At the moment at work I'm focussed on a delivery of a new product to a new market, I need that time back to myself, but I also need a release.  The current gaming trend for high impact, high drama, like PUBG is not doing my relaxing any good, the stress of World PVP would not in Warcraft either, and Eve - forget it, nerve wracking - so maybe my original home World of Warcraft PVE, on EU Thunderhorn server?  Maybe my old characters are still there?

Xelous the 60 warrior.

Eylomae the 60 hunter - who must look completely out of place in 2018 with a full set of Beastmaster (tier 1 I called it, but I've recently learned it's considered tier 0.1 - if it's even called the Beastmaster armour set at all!).

And all the rest, Blackthorn my bad-ass 80 Mage... 

I thought I might resubscribe the other day, it hit me like a pang in the gut, to call Chaplain and say "3pm Stormwind Gates, EU Thunderhown, Xelous will march back into town".  But I couldn't make myself do it.

So much has changed in the game, some maybe for the better, but to my play experience, to my recapturing the past so much has changed for the negative.

The moment of clarity shone through, I can never go back, I am still a gamer, though of which game is yet to be seen.