9 Aug 2013

Look up to a shining light

Author: will | Filed under: LBC, music, video, YouTube

There are days when a Loose Bloggers Collective topic is fun and bothersome. Shackman came up with “If you could only hear 5 more songs what would they be and why?”, well I can’t pick 5. I have narrowed it down to 6. Or 38 depending on how you count.

Let’s start with a bit of creation, “Baba Yatu” by Christopher Tin.

This has shown up on the blog before. Its a favourite I discovered by accident when Jemima Kiss and Aleks Krotoski were talking about game music on the Tech podcast. And for those of you who didn’t guess or recognise it, its the opening sequence to the game Civilization IV, and was the first video game theme to win a Grammy award. Its a soaring theme that feels like hope. Its also the “Our Father” in Swahili.

And I just love it. When I find a song I love I tend to play it repeatedly live a seven year old. A lot of YouTube bits passed over my screen.

The next three all have the same source. I used to review music, so when a song stuck, it needed to be good to stick.

First is the loud “For the Kids of the Multiculture” by Sonic Boom Six.

SB6 are a Manchester based band I heard nothing about before I heard the track. And I played it silly. Its the kids saying, we may be different, but we will work together despite of what’s put against us. It’s soft of inspiring.

Next is “When the Night Kills the Day” by Lauren Pritchard.

I knew something was wrong about this song, then I realised that “Blue Roses” is a euphemism for bruises. Its the song of the abused still in love with her abuser. And based on an old job which sometimes haunts me, I know there is a lot of truth in those words.

Lastly of the three is “It’s Not Easy Letting Go” by Candi Staton.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bought the CD behind this. Candi Staton is best know for her classic disco tracks and remixes, but It’s not easy, is an older sound. Its a love song, most of her songs are, but this is, sometimes you have to let go, and the resignation in her voice shows that its a breaking heart singing with a brave face.

And now, the numbers go weird. I got interested in mashups (back when they were called bootlegs. I know, I know, its a really messy term now), and DJ Earworm was a feature since the very beginning. Now this gut has a reputation, so much so that Annie Lennox approved him to do a mashup of her back catalogue in “Backwards, Forwards“.

The track features parts of “Why”,  “Walking on Broken Glass”,  “Little Bird”,  “No More I Love You’s”,  “Waiting in Vain”,  “Something So Right”,  “Dark Road”, “Sing” and “Shining Light”. It ends up being a bit of a retrospective of a great artist.

DJ Earworm has a reputation now. In 2007 he took the Billboard top 25 for the year and ran his magpie brain over them to make a single track. Its become a yearly tradition now. My favourite is from 2011 with “World Goes Boom“.

There are some tracks that just make you want to dance. Isn’t that enough for inclusion (and no I’m not going to list the sources).

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on the theme of “If you could only hear 5 more songs what would they be and why?”.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar. And I think I need to find a link for Shackman.

These books are part of my childhood, and pretty much sum up the contradiction of pleasure and pain… the pleasure in playing a game, the pain of making the game work.

One of the CoderDojo kids complained that in writing a computer game involved too much writing. And he’s almost right. There is a lot of writing, its called writing code for a reason. Not clicking code, not dragging code; writing. Its a pain in the fingertips, and in the head.

But making these games thought me. I was a bedroom coder. Once I had it working, it would be saved and experimented with. I hacked my own dogfood, well, hacked my own demon dog battles.

The funny thing is, these games are pretty much as retro as you can get. Part of me wants to fire up a Commodore 64 emulator to see how they work. Part of me wants to convert these to Javascript canvas games, even it it runs the potential wrath of the Scholastic authors and publishers.

I want to see old memories run.
I want to hack old memories in to something else.


This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on the theme of “Contradiction”.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar.

15 Apr 2013

Mentors

Author: will | Filed under: CoderDojo, LBC

I suspect that I’m unusual in the LBC in that I’m childless.
Having said that, I’ve ended up working with kids thanks to CoderDojo.

And if its something they are interested in, they learn fast.
I suspect the secret to teaching kids something complicated, is the same as getting a game to work well… ramp up to a small win very quickly, then you are given the permission to grind through the hard parts.

Let them make something they can see very quickly, and then, then, you can move on to showing them how to make something else.

For example, I’m introducing my current crop to HTML5 sprite animation (thank you +Rob Stocker for the sprite sheets), and the quick win was getting the sprite on the screen, no animation, but showing them how, by hand coding, they can change which sprite shows up. Automating the changing images is how to create an animation.

But these kids are sponges. They learn fast. Show then one application of the technology, and they will try to apply it elsewhere.

And as I returned to CoderDojo Mahon recently (they have the room for computer parts to plunder), I was slightly surprised to discover that there were no adult mentors. There were adults, the parent mentors were there, but the ones teaching we all kids themselves; the ones I started teaching.

And one of them moved his ideas sideways, and this 13 year old was teaching android app development to a bunch of 10 year olds (and a few 16 year olds trying to keep their heads down).

Teach a young dog new tricks, and she will go on to teach the older dogs, like the example below.

Embedded Link

A special picture – CoderDojo
This is a very special picture, because it is indicative of the heart of the CoderDojo philosophy. I received it a few months ago from a mother at the NSC CoderDojo in Cork. It was…

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on the theme of “Kids”.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar.

23 Mar 2013

Days with my feet in the clouds

Author: will | Filed under: Cork, LBC, thinking

In ancient Ireland there were three classical elements; fire, earth and a combined element we would describe as air/water. The fact that air and water used to be considered as the same element says a lot about Irish weather. And I’ve been living that combination on and off.

The weather was foggy, raining heavily and windy. Its a combination which shouldn’t exist, but it did. For a few days. Only when evening came and I ventured down the hill did the weather change, and I realised that I had spent the day inside a cloud.

So that’s where I’ve been spending my days. I’ve been quiet here. You see I’ve changed cities again, and I’m back. I’m living in the house I’ll have to pay property tax on (I’ll grumble later). And that’s where I made the simple mistake.

I thought that be getting back to my old haunts that I could get some of my old life back. I thought that I would have time denied to me while living away.

I was wrong.

I was right.

Apparently it takes 40 days for a habit to take hold. And not blogging was such a habit. I’m not actually sure where my time went. I’ll have to keep a time spending diary, unless keeping such a diary takes too much time. But in the process of trying to get a life back together, I stopped doing something which requires a bit of hard thinking.

Blogging. Some optional courses. Toy making.

Pulling this ramble back to the LBC topic; frugality is not just about cash. Frugality is not just about scrimping. Frugality is also about spending wisely. And since time cannot really be saved (unless you really have a time machine), how you spend your time matters.

Or rather you need to force yourself to spend time on what matters to you, and what matters to those around you. If you care enough you will find the time to do something.

Sometimes you’ll need to force yourself to do something, sometimes you’ll force yourself to let something lapse. Sometimes you’ll form a rigid, regimented timetable. Sometimes you’ll discover that rigidity also means fragility. Sometimes you’ll lapse thinking “I’ll do it later”, but “later” never becomes “now”.

If it matters you’ll force yourself to break the easy options (usually sleep, and boy does that compound problems for later), and  do “something” to force “now” from the loving arms of “later”.

Like finding that time to sit down in front of a keyboard and type. Eight weeks later.

Time flies away, even if you don’t spend it.

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on the theme of “Frugality”.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, Maxi Malone, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Shackman and Grannymar.

25 Jan 2013

Self Help Bookings

Author: will | Filed under: LBC, Uncategorized, Writing

I'll admit that sometimes best intentions don't work out as well as expected.
I joined the LBC, the Loose Bloggers Consortium the idea was that I'd write more.

Then life got in the way. In my case, a new job in a new city.

Well, I'm about to return home*. I have plans, and things to work out (and a new job). But I think I'll have regular time to sit down. Eventually as I don't know my time-table properly and I have at least 3 games to write for the classes I'm mentoring.
But one of my half brain-farted ideas was to write a book.
Or at least a story… so…

I'm wondering if instead of writing the usual "insight based on the topic of the week" if I could get away with writing an essay or a short story with the topic in mind.
And furthermore, string all the stories in to a (semi?) coherent narrative.

I do have the characters in mind, but I didn't have the, well, will to do it.
I can either do these as the usual LBC posts, or pull these off for a different day of the week (I might also re-wind the clock back to the start of January to give me a run up).

Besides, according to some self-help books you need to declare your intentions to do X, that way you can't back away from X.

So, any objections at this attempt to help myself to actually do something unusual?

* It's complicated, but I'm not going to explain personal geography on a system that archives and logs everything I write

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on the theme of “Self Help”.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar.

25 Dec 2012

Touched

Author: will | Filed under: fiction, LBC, Uncategorized

She was touched to receive the exquisitely packaged chocolates.

Her next of kin discovered that crema was a hazelnut cream and not a vanilla cream. When the nuts touched her throat, it swelled from anaphylaxis shock.

This almost tweetable murder mystery is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on the theme of “Touched”. And was not written in the local accident and emergency.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar.

6 Dec 2012

The rain falls down

Author: will | Filed under: Ireland, LBC, music, video, YouTube

The icy weather across the country has broken for rain. And I'm playing catch-up with the Loose Bloggers Consortium, again.

The missed topics are "Rains", "Doom and Gloom" and "Music" so the song below comes to mind. "When the Rain Falls" by Eleanor McEvoy.

This song first came to my attention when the "A Woman's Heart" CD came out. This was an all female, all Irish, compilation of songs and the title song sung by Mary Black was written my Eleanor McEvoy. Unsurprising as she is one of Ireland's highly accomplished songwriters (I really hope there is a league table hidden away somewhere for this title). The album released in 1992 spawned a few sequels and spin-offs and a couple of tours. Poke around YouTube and you'll probably catch a few of the tracks.

The song its self is a jazz, well blues, influenced number. "I woke up this morning" isn't how it starts, but its a collection of minor disasters following a break-up. The coffee's run out, the milk has gone off, the heating won't start, have trouble getting on-line, and when she does, the nasty reminder awaits.

And then it rains.

But it sounds so good.

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on “rains”, “doom & gloom” and “music”.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar.

20 Nov 2012

Two cups of coffee sitting on the wall

Author: will | Filed under: blogger, charity, LBC, Links

Its a simple idea, but in Ireland I think it would need to be adapted slightly, simply by putting a closing time on the wall.
What am I talking about well…

Giving is sometimes easy, but you can make it easier. Say you set up a café where you can buy a cup of coffee. Usually you can buy a cup for yourself, but to give back you can buy a cup "for the wall". The wall gets, essentially an IOU. Where the U can claim a cup of coffee later on. Which means someone down on their luck can come in, and order a cup from the wall.

Would you donate an actual cup of coffee?

I am a terrible blogger. Not just content, but frequency. In an effort to combat this I joined with the loosely affiliated "Loose Bloggers Consortium" with the plan of using the blogging deadline to force me to blog more. It hasn't exactly worked. One of the members is Padmum in India. She brought this story from Italy to my attention on the subject of "Pleasure". She is also an excellent blogger, and its an excellent idea.

Embedded Link

Pleasure: Two stories
Cup of Coffee on the Wall
From the Internet
I sat with my friend in a well-known coffee shop in a neighboring town of Venice, the city of lights and water. As we enjoyed our coffee, a man entered and sat on an empty table beside us. He called the waiter and placed his order saying, ‘Two cups of coffee, one of them there on the wall.’ We heard this order with rather interest and observed that he was served with one cup of coffee but he paid for tw…

9 Nov 2012

Thankfully

Author: will | Filed under: LBC

The LBC are looking at “This Will Be My Epitaph” as a topic, and Grannymar offered a tombstone generator.

So this is my epitaph, because I like puns.
Unfortunately the generator can’t take accented characters, it should read “Dearly departed, Buíochas le Dia”.

Buíochas le Dia should translate as “my the blessing of God be upon you”, but it’s usually simplified to “Thank God”.

If you know anyone in Ireland, “He’s gone, thank God” can have two very different meanings. It would be up to the viewer to decide which.

And no, I’m not putting a QR code on my tombstone. Unless it was hidden in other carving that is.

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on the theme of “This Will Be My Epitaph”.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar.
7 Sep 2012

After Life

Author: will | Filed under: LBC

“What does Heaven look like”?, the snark in me thinks that looks pretty much like every other nightclub once the lights are turned on. However this is a Loose Bloggers Consortium question so I suppose I should take it seriously.

The typical view of heaven is consisting of clouds with be-winged harp players sitting about the place, but that sounds boring for an eternity.

Hirokazu Koreeda may have a better take on it. The film “After Life“, which he wrote and directed, presents itself in the waiting room to Heaven. There are no Pearly Gates (or the waiting room is just inside) where the newly deceased are met by social worker types who get them to sort through their memories.

It seems that Heaven is a single minute memory, all others are deleted, played in a loop for all eternity. Come to think of it, depending on the memory, this could be Hell.

All of this begs the question, what moment of your life would you pick? A moment of contemplation, delight, passion, consummating a passion, respite or wonder. Can you create a false memory for use?

Could you create a party with all your friends and family? One that never existed, but everyone was happy at?

This is a Loose Bloggers Consortium post on the theme of “What does Heaven look like? “.
To find out that the others in the consortium think, check out, …
Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, The Old Fossil, Grannymar.