Tuesday, 27 July 2010

AV campaign poster

Over at Lib Dem voice there is currently a competition running to source a poster to promote the Alternative Vote campaign, for next years referendum. 

Here is my offering:

If you came here via the comments page on LDV, please take your time, have a look around the blog, and if you are feeling really adventurous, maybe leave a comment or two. Cheers.

looking for work

I'm not sure any semi-regular experience comes close in the horrible stakes to job-hunting. It's so ridiculously soul destroying and demoralising that it leaves you unconvinced as to your ability to do any job at all. And I say this as someone who has only received one rejection letter to date.

Let me start from the top:
I found out last week that the company I work for is in severe dire straits. This was confirmed for me on Wednesday when it was suggested that instead of my usual work, it may be best to prepare a CV.
This was duly completed and the job hunt began, if not hastily, earnestly. The problem was (and indeed remains) that not only am I not particularly clear what I want to do, but my career to date has not really been targeted enough to give me a proper fall back.
The obvious contender for a holding role is to do some design work, admittedly that's far from obvious looking at this blog, but it has been the key thread through my career to date. Thing is, these days everyone wants to see a portfolio. I'm not organised enough to keep a portfolio. I had trouble enough remembering where the my work was on the server. Finding work I did 3 or more years and 2 computers ago is like looking for a needle in a haystack. When someone forgot to provide the needle.

I can do other things of course. I mean I can write, or at least I hope I can. If you've made it this far then at least I can write a bit anyway. But once again employers want to see a strong portfolio of work. That tends not to mean a hideously untargetted blog and the occasional note on rwdmag.com. Besides, the few jobs I have seen that do exist have balls and all to do with what i know.
'Do you have a passion for luxury hubcaps?' Does anyone?

To save repeating myself down the list of skills that I have in some measure, it's essentially the same story. I can do the job but either don't have a portfolio handy, or haven't been doing it professionally for anything like long enough.

Luckily I do have a way of amusing myself even in these irritating times. On seeing one job that I considered I had a chance for, I replied, 'are you looking for the ultimate all-rounder? Well look no further!'

Yes I know what you're thinking, that's either breathtakingly arrogant, mind numbingly stupid, or both. Frankly I'm not sure I care, after another day in our rotting corpse of an office, I needed some entertainment, I was tired of typing up the same empty platitudes and maybe, just maybe someone arrogant and stupid is just what they were looking for.

Friday, 16 July 2010

More re-hashing: Raoul Moat and Facebook

Posted on a forum of which I am a member, about the RIP Moat facebook pages. In reply to a call for them to be banned.

As far as I can tell the page that was removed was done so because it breached the T&Cs of facebook (I believe there were comments inciting violence). The problem with banning this sort of group as you seem to suggest, is that you won't actually be stopping people from thinking these things. You just won't be able to search for them. I actually think it's quite a good thing these pages exist, because then you know who the nutters are!
The far more pertinent question is surely what drives people to want to join this sort of group? If you take the group away, those people that are publically sympathising with Moat will instead do so in private. What makes tham sympathise? A few of the crazies that joined his group may be dangerous, they will continue to be so regardless of whether they can announce it on facebook.
I still blame it on the media. I think the prolonged coverage made him an obvious 'anti-hero'. People want to be famous, and if they can't sing / act / kick a ball then suddenly this new route to stardom has emerged. Terrifying really.
While I don't agree with the banning of internet pages of this ilk, I have no problem with what Cameron seems to have said (not heard his words directly). This is a case of someone with influence offering an opinion, I'd rather the PM (of any party, except the obvious) use this influence than the papers that try and do it on a daily basis*.

*This bit refers to something that the PM said in PMQ's expressing his distaste for the facebook groups.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Guitar hero: On tour review

It has (once again) been quite a while since I blogged. So to remind myself what it's like to use the blogger software and to help achieve my goal aiding potential employers by having all of my writings in one place; here is a review I wrote for the TVUSU magazine about 2 years ago. Enjoy.

 You know something is awry with guitar hero – on tour almost as soon as you first switch on the power. A rather colourful warning is displayed espousing the necessity of regular rests, followed by a further warning suggesting how best to hold your DS while playing. If you hadn’t already worked it out, Activision are letting you know that for all that the guitar hero franchise is, one thing it isn’t is ergonomic!

To put it in plain text, the ingenious attachment that Red Octane have devised for use with their portable incarnation of a multi million selling game is supremely uncomfortable. This isn’t out of bad design either, the strap around your hand has to sit so tightly so save you smashing £100 worth of DS lite all over the train platform and the buttons sit almost as well as could be expected (though to make the angle between the buttons and the users fingers a little less than right would have been pleasant). The problem is quite simply that the format does not transfer as well to a handheld format as one might expect.

Of course, the tardy and dedicated reviewer that I am, I persevered on through the RSI (which in the days of the Wii is little more than an occupational hazard anyway) to find out how valid an addition to the series ‘on tour’ is.
Due to the limited amount of space on a DS cartridge, the career song list is limited to 5 venues which between them house 25 songs spread over the 4 difficulties now familiar to guitar hero veterans. This in itself is no bad thing and completely excusable. What however (to me at least) was completely inexcusable was recycling songs from guitar hero 3, especially as (despite the missing button) the charts for the songs felt so similar. This would all be well and good if only newcomers to the series were expected to play, the problem with this approach is that isolates those fans of the series that don’t want to be playing the same songs again.

The game play itself should be very familiar fare, even to many who don’t themselves own a video games console. Notes move along the screen in time with the music and as the notes reach a marker, the player ‘strums’ (using a special plectrum shaped stylus) while holding the button whose colour corresponds with that of the note.
    Guitar Hero-On Tour offers three single player modes; I will spend little time discussing the obligatory career and quick play settings, as they are fairly simple and indeed quite self explanatory. What does deserve some column inches though, is the new battle mode. Not quite a new thing in itself (Guitar Hero 3 had three ‘boss’ battles against guitar legends and… Satan) what is different here is the fact that you can play any unlocked song against a CPU controlled adversary. In this you can gain the upper hand by launching power-ups at your opponent to temporarily disadvantage them. Unfortunately, like every other good idea in this game, it just doesn’t work well enough. To activate the power ups, or in some cases to recover from those that your enemy has hindered you with, you need to perform actions on the touch screen, while the song continues running on the other side! This makes using or recovering from power-ups nigh on impossible. While disappointing, it’s hard to see exactly what Red Octane could have done better.

So, to conclude, I wouldn’t really recommend this game to fans of the series, as it’s just not in depth enough to really offer value for money. That said I wouldn’t recommend it do newcomers either. The awkward design of the controller may well put you off learning and the track-list just isn’t inspiring enough to draw you through the game. A shame as nothing has really been done badly, it just probably would have been better off not being done at all.