November 24, 2007

Election Day 2007 - addendum

Just back from the tally room. Some friends called me to say they were going, so i decided to turn up. It was kind of fun to get swept up with the election and looking at the back of the heads of famous celebrities that most of the nation were watching on TV. I got swept up in staring at the massive tally board with all the updating numbers. I’m such a stats nerd.

Oh, and it looks like we’ve got a new government too. I guess I was part of the moment.

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Election Day 2007

It’s Election Day in Australia, and I’ve already done my civic duty as mandated by law (voting is practically compulsory in Australia; technically all you have to do is get your name crossed off the ballot sheet but you might as well vote while you’re there). The queue was massive, and due to the nature of Canberra there were an equal number of interstate voters to make things interesting for the officials.

I’m debating whether I’ll rock up to the tally room later this evening, but I’m doubting it. While it might be fun to drink in the presence of political celebrities and get caught live on multiple TV stations, it’s been a heavy week (I’m in the office right now on a Saturday) so I might collapse in front of the TV myself. I get a kick out of watching election day special reports; it’s like watching a hard core strategy game with endless stats - and the fate of a nation is at stake!

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November 20, 2007

Keeping my journal alive

I’ve been meaning to post an entry here about the new research building I’ve moved into, but I couldn’t find the words when sitting in front of the computer. So instead I’ll repost the entry I stuck into my journal over at to stop my old journal from dying from neglect. I won’t bother changing it too much since it’s pretty much the same as what I wanted to post here, except that it has a slightly more game oriented feel from the combination of stuff I’m posting over on my site. Anyway, onto the cut and paste:

I’ve been neglecting this journal so long it slipped off the page. I feel guilty when that happens. Unfortunately, I feel more guilty that I don’t really have anything game related to post. I’ve hardly had anything to do with games in the last few weeks - making or playing them. But I feel obliged to keep my smiling little avatar on the journal post, so I’ll post the sort of things I post over on my own blog in both places for this week until I have something particularly gamey to talk about.

At the moment game development has slipped to a fairly low pegging in my priority list, which currently stands as follows:

1. Settle into new research building

Last week my research group moved into a brand new building on the other side of the university campus. It’s a pretty nice place: good view, good equipment, nice orange paint scheme, great coffee machine, closer to where I live. It’s got some downsides too: it’s only one and a half blocks from the closest pub, which is a fair walk compared to the old building (one block) and where I live (right next door). Plus the great window view means if the air conditioning is off then you need to strip and douse yourself in ice water to survive.

All in all I think the new place is a step up, but at the moment since everything is brand new nothing really works properly and it’s going to take some time to get back into the groove. Which is annoying, because I’ve got stuff I’d really like to do. As shown by task 2:

2. Move a few steps closer to finishing this PhD

According to my enrolment information I am meant to be wrapping up my studies in March next year. Unfortunately the research work I’d like to complete would take me until 2014. I am told that every PhD student feels this way at this stage, but it bugs me that I am such an expert procrastinator I spend more time writing elaborate work plans during the day then actually implementing them.

Lately though I feel I’m making progress, but the day calendar doesn’t have very many sheets left in it for 2007 so I feel the necessity for spending a few extra hours and a Saturday here and there in the lab. Plus a fair few hours at home too. Next year this will be number 1 and 2 on my list. Possibly 3 as well.

3. Get a webcomic started

I may have mentioned this before, but as well as working on games I’ve had plans to make a webcomic. It’s a relatively recent dream - only started a couple of years ago - but it’s pretty strong none-the-less. I even listed it on my 2007 New Year’s “List of Stuff to Do This Year” that I create in place of resolutions. I’m doing pretty well this year: start a website, create a game (Brixtar counts, but only barely); both checked off. I’ve still got “finish the first draft of my PhD thesis dissertation” to do - touch on wood to finish.

And then there’s “Start a Webcomic” - which is both extremely easy yet hard to tick off the list. I mean, I could just throw anything old thing together, post it on my website, and call it a webcomic. But the whole purpose of me wanting to start a webcomic is to have a vehicle for practicing art and creative writing, so I want it to be as good as I can reasonably make it. Something that dies in the first month isn’t going to cut it.

So in the interests of making something adequate I’ve been doing some preparation. Or more accurately pre-preparation: I realised I don’t know a lot about webcomics or what’s out there. I’ve been branching out into webcomic forums and reading a variety of what’s available. It’s the latter that’s been the biggest time sink - have you seen how massive the archive of webcomics like Sluggy Freelance are? Sheesh.

At my current rate I don’t think I’ll launch before January next year as I’ll need a dozen or so strips for a decent lead time, but I’ll consider it a success if I’m making the strips in 2007. This is still a possibility, although it might be over the Christmas break.

4. Variety of Social Activities to round off 2007

If you hadn’t noticed from the calendar and my mention of it at least twice already - it’s almost the end of the year! This means there’s a whole bunch of stuff you need to do involving other people - end of year parties, farewells for people heading overseas, greetings for people coming back from overseas, buying gifts for Christmas, general celebration of summer (note my home hemisphere northerners), and so on. The undergraduates have all finished their exams, so they flee the city like the simple minded migratorary species they are. Us postgraduates rule the campus, and we celebrate by drinking beer. Admittedly we also do that during semester too, but at least we aren’t now surrounded by youngsters who think the experience is novel.

5. Vegging Out

Been doing this far too much, but it’s getting hot and I haven’t listened to all the directors commentaries on my Futurama DVDs yet.

6. Develop another goddamned Flash game, you slacker!

And here we get to game development! At least it’s on the list. Unfortunately I haven’t mustered the energy to actually do anything - I’ve been saving that for one of the higher ranked items. At this rate, I may have to wait until the Christmas break before I have the time and lack of cares to actually get the ActionScript neurons firing again.

I’m hoping once I get settled in to the new building I’ll have the ability to plan something in as I really want to get more Flash learning in, but I’m afraid for a little while it’s still going to be second to comic skills (and very third to the PhD work). They don’t make free time like they used to.

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November 8, 2007

Minor annoyances

In a cruel twist of fate, it looks like my brand new laptop screen has developed another dead pixel in the centre of the screen, which is all the more annoying due to the lengthy process and the effort the local salespeople made to replace my old one. Sometimes it seems the pixel gods have some grudge against me. No use crying over burnt pixels in any case, particularly if it’s just the one.

Filing under other minor annoyances, my research group is moving to a new building. I seem to be off the email list so the move snuck up on me - I knew it was coming up but I didn’t know it was this week until admin staff were asking why I hadn’t started packing. This means I’m going to get little done in the office today, and I’m forced not to come in tomorrow. Forced days away don’t seem like a holiday to a PhD student; I’m going to be working anyway, just away from my fast internet. Considering the flexibility of a PhD schedule is that I can take weekdays off at will and come in to work on Christmas Day if I wished, it’s a bit of a downer to have a mandatory day off.

I also doubt I’ll get much done next week while everyone is settling in, although it’ll be nice to check out a brand new office building. Thankfully I’ve moved all my core stuff to my laptop, so I’m ready to go whereever and whenever I wish.

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November 2, 2007

Stupid Internet Memes Ruining My Creativity

As the comments to my last post have shown, I have been less than successful in weaning myself off the more useless parts of the Internet. It’s hard to muster the willpower when you have a computer on most of the time. But I’ll give it another shot over the weekend, where I can justify not having frequenct email contact to the rest of the world.

I’ve been spending most of my spare time trying to brainstorm ideas for a webcomic, but I’ve been in a creative drought (not a good starting sign). I’ve been trawling through my memories of my life experience to look for good concepts, but that’s been pretty depressing. My memories seem to split into the categories of the mundane or the unbelievable. Mundane would be much of my recent life; most of the day on a computer, working on hobbies at home, sometimes hanging out with friends; normal, everyday life stuff.

The unbelievable ones are even more depressing, because it’s hard to tie them all together. Plus many of them have been done so often they are now cliches, which is totally unfair. There’s a couple of years of my life which needs surpisingly little embellishment to turn into the story of how between working for a dysfunctional game company I helped a ninja, a Japanese exchange student and an eccentric tech-head who lived in his own hi-tech fortress to build a team of cute robots to take on the world - but it no longer seems that original. Stupid internet memes!

I think I’ll put this aside for a little bit; I really want to start a webcomic this year, but it’s hard to make the creative juices flow when you think too hard about it. I also really need to get back into Flash, so I’ll try to whip up that shooter game I was working on before my laptop needed repairs and limit myself to the weekend to complete it. Canberra has effectively a three day weekend with Tuesday off (and I don’t think many people will be working that hard on Monday), so I can feel a bit more relaxed.

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